Tagged in: history

Yankees’ DJ LeMahieu wins AL batting title

New York Yankees infielder DJ LeMahieu has made batting title history. LeMahieu clinched the American League batting title Sunday and became the first player in the modern era to gain a batting title in each league. He’d previously won the National League batting title with the Rockies in 2016, hitting .348. LeMahieu led MLB in batting average both times.

“Guys don’t win batting titles in both leagues, because you win it in one league, they probably keep you,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly, the 1984 AL batting champ, told reporters following Saturday’s game (NYY 11, MIA 4), including the Associated Press. “It’s a different game nowadays.”

The modern era starts in 1900 and Hall of Famer Ed Delahanty won the batting title in each league at that time. Delahanty won the 1899 NL batting title with the Philadelphia Phillies and 1902 AL batting title with the Washington Senators, but the 1899 batting title is disputed, hence LeMahieu being the first in the modern era.

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The only other player to attain the batting title in multiple official leagues was Pete Browning.

He won the 1882 and 1885 American Association batting titles with the Louisville Eclipse and the 1890 Players’ League batting title with the Cleveland Infants.

LeMahieu, an impending free agent poised to land a significant payday, is the first Yankee to collect the batting title since Bernie Williams hit .339 in 1998. 

Anderson (.335) won the batting title last year and LeMahieu (.327) ended second. This is only the seventh time in history the same two players finished first and second (in either order) in the batting title race in back-to-back years, and the first time since Mickey Mantle and Ted Williams did it in 1956 and 1957.

Of course, LeMahieu’s batting title this year occurred in an unusual 60-game campaign as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, so it’s difficult to consider it on par with a 162-game batting title. That said, you can only play the schedule you’re given, and every team played the same number of matches. This is baseball in 2020.

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Royals announce Alex Gordon’s retirement after 14 years

Alex Gordon, who hit one of the biggest home runs in Royals history and gained seven Gold Gloves in left field, announced his retirement on Thursday.

The Royals stated Gordon will play out the final four matches of the season, making Sunday his last game in the major leagues.

Gordon, who was the second overall pick in the 2005 draft, played his entire 14-year career (2007-20) with the Royals. He is one of three Royals position players to play at least 14 campaigns in Kansas City, joining George Brett (21 seasons) and Frank White (18).

Both of those players have had their number retired by the team. Gordon is the Royals’ all-time leader in leadoff home runs (14) and hit-by-pitches (121). He is also in the top 10 for multiple franchise career statistics. That contains home runs (190, 4th), doubles (357, 5th), extra-base hits (573, 5th), hits (1,641, 6th) and RBIs (749, 6th).

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After making his debut as a third baseman, Gordon was sent to Triple-A following a slow start and moved to left field. Gordon thrived in this new position, winning seven Gold Glove awards.

Gordon’s biggest moment came in the 2015 World Series. With the Royals trailing 3-2 in Game 1, Gordon stepped to the plate with one out and crushed a home run to center field off Mets closer Jeurys Familia.

The Royals went on to win in 14 innings and took the championship in five games.

Gordon re-signed with the Royals on a $4 million, one-year contract after his $72 million, four-year deal expired following the 2019 season.

Born and raised in Lincoln, Nebraska, Gordon was the second overall pick in the 2005 draft by the Royals and has since become one of the most popular players in the franchise’s half-century existence.

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Arizona Cardinals making Budda Baker highest-paid safety in NFL history

The Arizona Cardinals are making two-time Pro Bowl selection Budda Baker the highest-paid safety in NFL history by giving him a four-year extension worth $59 million, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Baker was Arizona’s second-round pick in 2017, and his rookie contract was set to expire after this campaign.

The deal will average $14.75 million per year, but no other financial aspects were disclosed. The Cardinals announced the four-year extension Tuesday.

Baker’s extension comes four years after the Cardinals gave another star safety, Tyrann Mathieu, a long-term extension. Mathieu’s deal was for five years and worth $62.5 million, but he was released after the 2017 season. Baker is the first second-round pick to receive either an extension or second deal under general manager Steve Keim, who was hired in 2013.

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The 24-year-old Baker is coming off his second Pro Bowl year and his first as a safety.

He recorded 147 tackles last season and led the NFL with 104 solo tackles, the only player with at least 100 solo tackles in 2019.

Baker does not have an interception since entering the NFL in 2017 from the University of Washington, however, and has played the most coverage snaps (1,261) of any player during that span not to have intercepted a pass.

He also has recorded 33 quarterback pressures since entering the NFL, the most by any defensive back during that span. Baker has been a steady presence for the Cardinals in both their pass and run defense. Arizona permitted just two completions of 30 yards or more last season.

Baker has also been a factor in Arizona’s run defense. His 33 run stuffs, defined by NFL Next Gen Stats as tackles on run plays for no gain or a loss, are tied with Jamal Adams for second most among defensive backs since 2017.

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Giolito pitches 1st no-hitter of year, White Sox top Pirates

Lucas Giolito pitched the first no-hitter of the pandemic-delayed major league campaign, striking out 13 and permitting just one runner in leading the Chicago White Sox over the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-0 Tuesday night.

With the seats at Guaranteed Rate Field empty, the hollers of his teammates echoed around the ballpark after right fielder Adam Engel extended to catch Erik Gonzalez’s slicing drive toward the line for the final out.

“I’ve been working for this type of game for a while now and it’s really cool that we got it done,” Giolito stated.

An All-Star last year, the 26-year-old Giolito (3-2) matched his career high for strikeouts set in his previous start versus Detroit.

Only a four-pitch walk to Gonzalez leading off the fourth inning got in Giolito’s way of perfection. The right-hander threw 101 pitches and made quick work of the Pirates — Pittsburgh came into the game batting just .229 this season and has the worst record in the majors. The White Sox rushed toward the mound after the final out to celebrate Giolito’s first career no-hitter.

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Giolito was fully aware in the later innings what was at stake.

“After the seventh, six more outs, looking at who I was facing, became very, very, very possible,” he said, “and then we were able to get it done.”

Giolito said his approach never wavered.

“Just staying with the same, like, mental routine for every single pitch. One pitch at a time. Full focus, full execution, straight through the target,” he said.

Giolito pitched the 19th no-hitter in White Sox history and first since Philip Humber threw a perfect game at Seattle in 2012. This was the seventh time the Pirates have been held hitless, previously by Washington’s Max Scherzer in 2015.

White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson made a nifty play on a grounder by Bryan Reynolds up the middle in the seventh to preserve the gem. In the ninth, Gonzalez hit a liner that Engel, a fleet center fielder for most of his career, caught on the run at knee-high height.

“Yeah man, I think I got it,” Gonzalez said. “With that at-bat, I was a little bit mad because I don’t want to be part of history.” Giolito improved to 30-28 in his big league career. He made his debut with Washington in 2016, then was traded after that season to the White Sox in a package for outfielder Adam Eaton.

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Tokyo Olympics officially postponed until 2021

For thousands of athletes around the world, it would have once been considered a nightmare scenario.

And on Tuesday, it became official.

In an unprecedented and unavoidable turn, the International Olympic Committee and Japanese government agreed to postpone the 2020 Summer Olympics “to a date beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021” due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

It is the first time in modern Olympic history that a global health issue has disrupted the Games.

“The leaders agreed that the Olympic Games in Tokyo could stand as a beacon of hope to the world during these troubled times,” the IOC and Tokyo 2020 organizing committee said in a joint statement. “And that the Olympic flame could become the light at the end of the tunnel in which the world finds itself at present.”

Organizers said the Olympic flame will stay in Japan during the delay, and the Games will also continue to formally be called “Tokyo 2020,” even as they move to 2021.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and IOC president Thomas Bach formally agreed to the decision Tuesday, amid intensifying pressure and public pleas for clarity from athletes and governing bodies alike.

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While the Olympics have previously been canceled during periods of war, and complicated by boycotts, this is the first time they have ever been suspended.

It is not immediately clear whether the Games will be moved to the summer of 2021 or the spring, when Japan’s famous cherry blossoms are in bloom.

“A lot can happen in one year,” stated Toshiro Muto, CEO of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee. “So we have to think about what we have to do.”

The decision to move the multi-billion dollar event will have widespread political, legal, logistical and financial ramifications, both locally in Japan and around the world. 

It also figures to cause headaches and heartaches across the international sports community — for federations and leagues that must now adapt their schedules, and for the 11,000 athletes who had spent years training to compete this summer.

Beyond finances, this decision will also cause substantial disruptions for athletes, many of whom have put off college or other opportunities to train full-time with the objective of peaking in July. Now, they will have to put their training on hold. Some might be forced to give them up altogether — their Olympic dreams dashed, a nightmare come true.

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