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Braves’ Freddie Freeman beats out Mookie Betts, Manny Machado for NL MVP award

Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman easily won the National League MVP award Thursday, topping off a trying year that saw him become so ill with COVID-19 he prayed, “Please don’t take me.”

Freeman got 28 of the 30 first-place ballots in voting by members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts got the other two firsts to finish second, and San Diego Padres third baseman Manny Machado was third.

In a season affected from spring training to the World Series by the pandemic, perhaps it was fitting the final major award of the year went to someone who had been infected by the virus.

Three weeks before the delayed Opening Day in late July, Freeman’s body temperature spiked at 104.5 degrees and he lost his sense of taste and smell. At one point, he recalled, he said a little prayer because “I wasn’t ready.”cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale8

“I got off to such a slow start,” Freeman said on MLB Network after Dale Murphy, a two-time NL MVP with the Braves, announced the winner. “I just didn’t know when I would get my legs back.”

The 31-year-old star bounced back in a big way, batting .341 with 13 home runs and 53 RBIs while playing all 60 games. A powerful lefty batter with the ability to spray the ball all over the field, he led the majors in hitting 23 doubles and scoring 51 runs.

Boosted by the four-time All-Star, the Braves won the NL East and came within one win of reaching the World Series for the first time since 1999.

Chicago White Sox slugger Jose Abreu earned the American League MVP, a recognition for leading his team back into the playoffs for the first time since 2008.nfl cheap jerseys nike

This was the first time since Ryan Howard and Justin Morneau in 2006 that a pair of first basemen won the MVPs.

Betts, 28, was bidding to join Frank Robinson as the only players to win the MVP in both leagues. The outfielder earned the AL honor in 2018 while leading Boston to the World Series title.

Traded by the Red Sox to Los Angeles early this year, Betts hit .292 with 16 homers and 39 RBIs and was the catalyst in the Dodgers’ run to their first championship since 1988.

Machado hit .304 with 16 homers and 47 RBIs as San Diego made its first playoff appearance since 2006.

Daryl Morey likes Philadelphia 76ers’ roster, says goal is championship

Daryl Morey, speaking Monday for the first time as president of basketball operations of the Philadelphia 76ers, expressed excitement about the championship potential of a roster built around All-Stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.

“My goal is to win a championship, so whatever gets us there is what we’ll do,” Morey said during a virtual news conference officially announcing his hiring. “But I would say to have two star-plus players in 24 and 26 years old, that is why I couldn’t get Doc Rivers to come interview in Houston.

“He saw this roster and he said, ‘It’s amazing,’ and ‘Sorry I couldn’t fly to Houston to meet with you, Daryl.’ And then, obviously, I end up here a couple weeks later. … It was pretty cool.”

Last month Morey agreed to leave the Houston Rockets, where he had run the team’s basketball operations for more than a decade. At the time, he said he was planning to take a “gap year.”

But on Monday he found himself sitting alongside Rivers (hired as coach last month after a departure from the LA Clippers), general manager Elton Brand (whom Morey is now ahead of on the organizational depth chart) and owner Josh Harris.

“That was my plan,” Morey said of taking a gap year, before adding with a smile, “My kids are giving me a lot of crap about it.nfl cheap nike jerseys

“I’m a pretty competitive guy, but that was my plan. My wife was actually urging me to do that. But Elton and Doc and Josh were relentless, just relentless, as soon as I stepped away. Frankly, the more you look at what Elton has put together, on this roster with Joel and Ben as the headliners but with great players — Al [Horford], Josh [Richardson], Tobias [Harris] and some of the younger players brought in last year — I’m with Doc.8

“He and I have been chatting a lot, and the more you dig into the players that are here, the more you get excited about what this team can do.”

In the span of a month, the Sixers have landed one of the best and most respected coaches and executives in the NBA. Harris said that, in both cases, when he and the rest of the Sixers’ ownership had an opportunity to pursue both men, doing so was a no-brainer.

“You have to be self-reflective,” Harris said. “When we came out of the bubble, we were self-reflective. It didn’t work last year. We were disappointed. And also, it’s hard. People like Doc Rivers, or coaches like Doc Rivers, executives like Daryl Morey, they’re under contract. It’s very hard to get them out of their current situations. It’s very rare they leave current situations, or you have availability to talk to them.nfl nike jerseys cheap china

“So, the minute they were available, we jumped on it, and yeah, I think we’re now really well set up with great leadership and great people. I think it is a new dawn, a new era, and I hope it lasts for a long, long time. And I think hopefully it will yield success on the court. I believe that it will.”

The Sixers entered last season with sky-high expectations, only to fall short. The team was hindered by injuries — most notably to Simmons in the NBA bubble in Orlando, Florida — while the trio of Simmons, Embiid and Horford, in particular, struggled to fit together.

But while Embiid and Simmons are about as big of a departure as one could find from the small-ball, 3-point-shooting team Morey and Mike D’Antoni built with the Rockets, his long-standing philosophy has not been to chase 3-point shooting, but to chase stars. And, repeatedly, Morey went out of his way to praise Embiid’s potential, in particular, during Monday’s news conference.

“Well first I would say, how we play is going to be up to Doc,” Morey said. “But that’s one reason I’m very excited to be here is to work with a championship coach like Doc. I think — and I think he agrees with me, he can jump in — the best way to win in the NBA is to take your talent and figure out how to utilize them the best. Right? It’s not to take your talent and hammer it into a particular system. It’s to try to get the most out of who you have.

“It doesn’t take much to look at when Joel is on the floor and healthy, and he’s been in here twice a day for quite a while, he’s very focused and motivated, this is an unbelievable defensive team. The fact that he’s also an extremely good offensive player … Joel is the kind of player you win championships with if you look back through NBA history. We were trying to build our best team around our talents in Houston, but here Doc is going to take the talent we have and use them to the best of our ability.”

Indianapolis Colts QB Philip Rivers salty after review turns incompletion into interception

Colts quarterback Philip Rivers didn’t hold back in voicing his displeasure over the NFL‘s murky rule of what is and isn’t a catch after a play was changed from an incomplete pass to an interception in their loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.

Rivers attempted a pass to receiver Marcus Johnson down the sideline in front of the Colts’ bench with 11 minutes left in the third quarter. The ball was underthrown, which allowed Ravens cornerback Marcus Peters to turn around and become the primary target. Peters had the ball in his hands when Johnson became the defender and tried to knock it out. Johnson appeared to knock the ball out of Peters’ hands as he was going to the ground.

The play initially was called an incompletion, but Ravens coach John Harbaugh threw his challenge flag. The officials changed the call and said that Peters had control before fumbling. That explanation didn’t sit well with Rivers.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale8

“It’s gotten so jacked up how the catch rule is,” the quarterback said. “No one who has been around football or watched thought that was a catch, including the guy [Peters] who dropped it. But some guy who has probably never thrown a football in his life gets to decide.”

Peters said he thinks the officials ultimately made the right call.

“I think I made a play with the ball. I was going backwards for multiple steps, [and] I had control over it,” Peters explained. “So, I think it was an interception. I kind of went over and asked Philip Rivers if he thought it was a pick. He didn’t think so, but that was a [heck] of a job by Coach [John] Harbaugh. [The coaches] upstairs, they got that called down, and they went with it. So, I appreciate it, and the team does, too.”

Al Riveron, the NFL‘s senior vice president of officiating, said there was “clear and obvious visual evidence” that Peters controlled the ball and took three steps to establish possession before fumbling.

The Ravens took advantage of the changed call to score what turned out to be the winning touchdown in their 24-10 victory over the Colts.nike nfl jerseys cheap paypal

Rivers tried to soften his stance on the changed call at the end of his Zoom session with the media.

“I’ll probably get in trouble for saying the guy has probably never thrown a football, but they called it an interception, so it’s an interception,” he said. “Bottom line is I probably shouldn’t have thrown the ball. Shouldn’t have thrown it short. You throw it short, you leave it in other people’s hands.”

GM Brodie Van Wagenen among those leaving New York Mets after sale to Steve Cohen

General manager Brodie Van Wagenen and much of his front office are leaving the New York Mets, the team announced Friday.

The moves were announced less than an hour after hedge fund manager Steve Cohen completed his $2.4 billion purchase of the team.

Special assistant to the general manager Omar Minaya, assistant general managers Allard Baird and Adam Guttridge and executive director of player development Jared Banner also are leaving. The status of senior vice president and senior strategy officer John Ricco was not mentioned.

Cohen ended the Wilpon family’s control of the franchise after 34 mostly frustrating years and took the title of chief executive officer. He hired former Mets general manager Sandy Alderson as team president in his first move and ended Jeff Wilpon’s tenure as chief operating officer.cheap nfl jerseys from china nike

Alderson, not Cohen, announced the baseball staff departures and said he had started the process of building a leadership staff.

“I want to thank Brodie, Allard, Adam and Jared for their contributions over the last two years,” he said in a statement. “I especially want to thank Omar for his long and distinguished service to the Mets in many important capacities.”8

Van Wagenen was a player agent and co-head of CAA Baseball before Wilpon hired him to replace Alderson after the 2018 season. The Mets went 86-76, finishing third in the NL East, and Van Wagenen fired manager Mickey Callaway and replaced him with Carlos Beltran.

But when Beltran was implicated in January by commissioner Rob Manfred in the Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal during Beltran’s final season as a player in 2017, he lost his job within days without managing a game and was replaced by quality control coach Luis Rojas.

New York went 26-34 and missed the expanded playoffs in the shortened 2020 season.

Many of Van Wagenen’s moves failed to work out, including acquiring second baseman Robinson Cano and signing free agents Todd Frazier and Jed Lowrie. All three were among his former clients.nfl cheap nike jerseys

Van Wagenen congratulated Fred Wilpon for “an intelligence and love that made all of us feel that we were a part of his family” and Jeff Wilpon for an “incredible opportunity and the unwavering support” and for “unrivaled work ethic and sacrifice” to create Citi Field, which opened in 2009.

“We took a team that had suffered losing seasons in 2017 and 2018 to contention in 2019 and onto a chance for real success in 2020 prior to the pandemic,” Van Wagenen said in a statement that thanked staff, players and fans. “While we didn’t reach our goal in 2020, the work that you put in to keep everyone safe and healthy in the midst of the COVID-19 threat played a significant role in the return of and the successful completion of the Major League Baseball season.”

Friday’s moves make Rojas’ future uncertain. Fired Astros GM Jeff Luhnow, who completed a season-long suspension last week, could be a candidate for the analytics-oriented Cohen.

Atlanta Braves decline $3.5M option for reliever Darren O’Day

Right-hander Darren O’Day’s $3.5 million club option for 2021 has been declined by the Atlanta Braves, making him eligible for free agency.

O’Day receives a $250,000 buyout, completing a deal originally set to guarantee $2.5 million. He had a $2.25 million salary this year, which wound up being worth $833,333 in prorated pay for the shortened season.cheap nike jerseys nfl7

O’Day was 4-0 with a 1.10 ERA in 19 relief appearances this season, striking out 22 and walking five in 16 1/3 innings. He made five postseason appearances, allowing two runs and four hits in 2 1/3 innings.cheap nfl jerseys from china nike

O’Day gave up singles to Joc Pederson and Chris Taylor in Game 2 of the NL Championship Series, and both runners scored when Corey Seager homered off A.J. Minter in the Braves’ 8-7 win.

Will Chargers receiver Mike Williams put it all together after up-and-down start?

Mike Williams is everything you’d want in a wide receiver. Big — 6-foot-4, 220 pounds — fast (4.49 seconds in the 40-yard dash) and able to land in the most awkward positions imaginable. And get up standing. Unhurt. Well, maybe with a few aches and pains.

“I don’t even think about it,” said of his often-acrobatic landings. “My mind is ‘catch the ball.’ When you land it can be pretty violent.

“But I don’t think about it. However I land, I land. I’m just trying to make a football play.”

He’s made plenty of football plays for the Los Angeles Chargers thus far this season, developing an early connection with rookie quarterback Justin Herbert. He is averaging 17.3 yards per reception, hauling in 18 passes for 312 yards and three touchdowns, despite dealing with nagging injuries.

Williams has always stronger and bigger than just about everyone dating back to his childhood growing up in Tampa, Florida, playing both football and basketball for Plant High School. He signed to play football at Clemson but the hops from hoops always stayed with him.buy nike nfl jerseys cheap7

“Me and the homies playing in the backyard,” he explained. “Throw the ball up … we all made catches like that. It’s nothing to the people back home.”china nike nfl jerseys cheap

Herbert took notice once he got settled into the starting role and coaches pulled out the playbook. He discovered that Williams is a matchup nightmare for nearly any cornerback or safety.

And that’s why Herbert said he knows now that anytime he sees Williams, the No. 7 overall pick in the 2017 draft, on the sideline covered by a single player, he’s going to Williams because he knows the receiver will make a play on the ball.

“It’s on tape,” Williams said. “I’ve shown I can do it. He [Herbert] has seen it. Coaches have seen me multiple times doing it.”

And so he does and, at times, is very successful. After a shoulder injury before the season began (from diving in practice, something Chargers coach Anthony Lynn obviously frowns upon) he has, also at times, been show-stopping. But is this the year that he finally breaks through?

In 2019, he had 49 receptions for 1,001 yards and a 20.4-yards-per-catch average (which led all receivers) and two touchdowns. He caught 10 touchdown passes in 2018, a season in which he had 43 receptions for 664 yards. He leads the league in receptions of more than 35 yards dating to the start the 2019 season.

When Keenan Allen left the Week 5 game against the New Orleans Saints with back spasms, coaches told Williams to “go out and play.”

He did that, and then some. He caught a dazzling 64-yard touchdown pass with 3:40 left in the fourth quarter to give the Chargers a 27-20 lead, one of his five receptions for 109 yards against the Saints while battling a hamstring injury.

He also put the Chargers in position to win by making a leaping, 29-yard catch in double coverage with 15 seconds left to play and the game tied at 27-27, setting up Michael Badgley for a game-winning field-goal attempt. Badgley missed the 50-yard try, but Williams put him in position to be the hero.

Colorado knocks Seattle out of first in West

Keegan Rosenberry scored the go-ahead goal late in the first half as the Colorado Rapids defeated the visiting Seattle Sounders FC 3-1 Sunday night.

Andre Shinyashiki and Cole Bassett also scored for the Rapids (6-6-4, 1.38 points per game), who moved into seventh place in the Western Conference based on points per game.

Jordan Morris scored the lone goal for the Sounders (10-5-5, 1.75 ppg), who dropped out of first place in the West behind idle Sporting Kansas City.

MLS announced last week that qualification for the playoffs would be determined by points per match, as Colorado had five games postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Shinyashiki opened the scoring in the 11th minute, taking a cross from Sam Vines and putting a header from 10 yards out just inside the right post. Nicolas Benezet also was credited with an assist.

Morris tied it in the 22nd minute, redirecting a cross from Cristian Roldan into the net from close range.nike cheap nfl jerseys8

Rosenberry made it 2-1 in the 42nd minute. A Colorado corner kick was headed away by Sounders defender Yeimar Gomez Andrade, but the ball fell to Rosenberry, who was about 23 yards out in the middle of the field. His low volley made it through a maze of players and just inside the left post.

The defending MLS Cup champion Sounders nearly tied it in first-half stoppage time, but Colorado goalkeeper William Yarbrough made a left-footed kick save at the near post on a 5-yard shot by Raul Ruidiaz.nfl nike jerseys for cheap

Bassett extended the Rapids’ lead to 3-1 in the 75th minute, scoring on a header from 7 yards out off a free kick from Jack Price.

Yarbrough made two saves for Colorado, and Sounders goalie Stefan Frei stopped seven shots. Colorado outshot Seattle 16-9, including 10-3 in attempts on target.

CONCACAF Champions League set to play out in U.S. in December bubble

The conclusion of the 2020 CONCACAF Champions League will be played out in a centralized location in the United States between Dec. 15-22, after the competition was suspended midway through the quarterfinal stage in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The games will be played behind closed doors and will be one-leg knockouts rather than the usual two legs, CONCACAF said on Monday.

However, the quarterfinal first legs that had already been played will count and those second legs will be played as part of the December tournament.nfl cheap jerseys nike

“The football community across the region, and the fans of the remaining eight teams in particular, can look forward to an exciting centralized finale of the competition in December and the crowning of a regional club champion,” CONCACAF president Victor Montagliani said in a statement.7

There will be high-frequency COVID-19 testing in the bubble-like environment for the tournament, with no fans allowed into the games.

The second legs of the quarterfinals already started — Olimpia vs. Montreal Impact, Atlanta United vs. Club America, Tigres vs. NYCFC — will take place over Dec. 15 and 16, although the times and locations are yet to be announced. Honduran side Olimpia take a 2-1 lead from the first leg against Thierry Henry’s Montreal, while Tigres are 1-0 up versus NYCFC and America thrashed Atlanta 3-0 in its first game.nike cheap nfl jerseys

The LAFC against Cruz Azul game will be a one-game shoot-out, as will the semifinals and final. The winner of America against Atlanta will face LAFC or Cruz Azul in the semifinal with Tigres/NYCFC to play Olimpia or Montreal. Both games will be on Dec. 19.

There will be no extra-time at the quarterfinal or semifinal stage, with games instead going straight to penalties, although there will be extra-time for the Dec. 22 final, should the teams be level after 90 minutes.

Monterrey is the current CONCACAF Champions League holder, with Mexican teams having won the last 14 editions of the region’s club tournament.

Detroit Tigers GM Al Avila says AJ Hinch, Alex Cora being considered for manager job

Tigers general manager Al Avila said Friday that Detroit is not ruling out the possibility of hiring AJ Hinch or Alex Cora for its manager vacancy.

Hinch and Cora were suspended through the 2020 postseason for their roles in the Houston Astros’ sign-stealing scandal. The Astros fired Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow on Jan. 13 and Cora lost his job managing the Boston Red Sox the following day. Cora spent the 2017 season as bench coach on Hinch’s staff with Houston.

The Tigers are in the market for a replacement for manager Ron Gardenhire, who retired on Sept. 19 with a little more than a week left in the season. Avila was asked about Hinch and Cora, and while Detroit’s search appears to be in a very early stage, the GM at least seemed open to the possibility of hiring one of the suspended managers.cheap nike nfl jersey

“Really, I can’t say that I’ve eliminated anybody,” Avila said. “The cheating scandal is not a good thing, obviously. They’re serving their suspensions, and once their suspensions are over, then they’ll be free to pursue their careers. So we have not eliminated anybody from our list at this point.”8

Avila said interviews will be conducted by video, but he could meet face to face once the list of candidates is down to a small number.

“We could finish this sometime in October. It might go into November,” he said. “Really, we’re not in a rush. We’re kind of taking our time with it.”

The Tigers went 23-35 in the shortened season, finishing in the AL Central cellar for the third time in four years. They did bring up two of their most highly touted pitching prospects in Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal, so that duo got some experience in the big leagues.

Avila said it is important that the next manager be able to help with talent evaluation, since there are important decisions to make throughout the roster. He sounds open to a variety of experience levels for managerial candidates.

“I guess one thing you could eliminate is a guy that maybe played and has absolutely no coaching experience, no managerial experience, and goes from being a player directly to a major league manager,” he said. “I probably wouldn’t go that way, but everything else I would say is in play.”nfl cheap jerseys nike

Avila also said the Tigers are making changes in the pro scouting department and that a few people there are not having their contracts renewed.

Doug Pederson, Philadelphia Eagles have ‘trust and faith’ in Carson Wentz amid struggles

Philadelphia Eagles coach Doug Pederson said that he did not consider replacing Carson Wentz with Jalen Hurts during Sunday’s night’s game against the Dallas Cowboys, adding that Hurts and Nate Sudfeld need to be ready in case that situation comes up down the road.

Wentz turned the ball over four times and ended 15-of-27 for 123 yards with a pair of touchdowns in a 23-9 win over the Cowboys.

“Carson is our starter, and we’ve got a lot of trust and faith in him that he can get the job done. By no means was I in a position to make a decision or make a move [Sunday],” Pederson said. “It’s just something that we’ve got to continue to coach, we’ve got to continue to get better. He understands he has to get better in that area. We also understand that our backup quarterbacks here, Jalen and Nate, have got to be prepared, whether it’s a situation like that or an injury situation where they have to go in and play. My mind wasn’t there. I wasn’t going there. I was going to give Carson every opportunity to win that game for us. He’s capable of doing that, and I wasn’t in that frame of mind.”nike cheap nfl jerseys

Wentz is on pace for the worst statistical season of his career. He leads the league in turnovers (16), interceptions (12) and sacks (32), is 31st in completion percentage (58.4) and 29th in yards per attempt (6.1). His play had picked up over the past few games as he led multiple comeback efforts before tailing off against Dallas, which entered the game as the most giving defense in the NFL.8

Hurts, the team’s second-round pick this past April, has been sprinkled into the offense over the first half of the season, lining up all over the formation including at quarterback, where he’s completed two passes on as many attempts for 27 yards. Hurts has played 23 snaps total. The offense has generated 215 yards (9.3 average) and two touchdowns on those plays.

“Jalen’s doing a nice job. He’s prepared during the week, and he understands the game plan,” Pederson said.

“I think that you can’t do go in and say, ‘hey, learn the offense like Carson knows it right now,’ but I think you can do some things with him that allow him to be successful if we had to. But he’s in a good position. He studies hard during the week with Nate, and he’s prepared if called upon.”nfl nike jerseys cheap china

Pederson referenced his experience during the 2015 season, when he was offensive coordinator of the Kansas City Chiefs, in explaining why he is sticking with Wentz. The Chiefs started 1-5 but the coaching staff kept Alex Smith at quarterback, and Kansas City rattled off 11 straight wins from there.

“Not saying that we are going to win 11 straight here, but what I’m saying is, we are going to work through our issues. We are going to work through our problems,” Pederson said. “Carson understands that we’ve got to hold everybody accountable, and it starts with me, and I’m going to look at myself in the mirror. I’m going to look at some of the decisions and calls I’ve made in the first eight games, and that’s part of what this [bye] week is about, and it’s about getting better. The only way we get better, especially with some young players on offense that are playing, who are getting valuable reps, is to continue to work, and they have to work with Carson. That’s what we are going to do, and that’s our focus moving forward.”