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There may not have been any World Series titles in the area this year, but there were two MVP awards.
Cody Bellinger of the Dodgers won the NL MVP award on Thursday while Mike Trout of the Angels won the AL version of the award.
Let’s start with Bellinger.
“It’s just a dream come true, man,” Bellinger said. “You play the game as a kid, you dream of it, but you literally never think that it’s going to be you in this position.”
Bellinger, 24, became the 12th Dodger to win the MVP award. He is the Dodgers’ first MVP since Clayton Kershaw in 2014 and their first position player to win the award since Kirk Gibson in 1988.
He received 19 of the 30 first-place votes, 10 second-place votes, and a fifth-place vote. Milwaukee Brewers right fielder Christian Yelich finished second and was given 10 first-place votes. Washington Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon was third. He received the other first-place vote.
Dodgers infielder Max Muncy finished 16th in the balloting with an eighth-place vote and a 10th-place vote. Left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu was 19th with an eighth-place vote.
Bellinger batted .305 with 47 home runs, 115 runs batted in, 15 stolen bases, and a 1.035 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in 156 games. He was issued a league-leading 21 intentional walks and provided elite defense at three positions — right field, center field, and first base. He also won a Gold Glove as a right fielder and a Silver Slugger Award. He is the fourth player to win MVP, Rookie of the Year, and a Gold Glove before the age of 25, joining Johnny Bench, Fred Lynn and Dustin Pedroia.
“There wasn’t one part of his game he didn’t dominate,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said in a statement.
Yelich, a product of Westlake High School, bested Bellinger in most offensive statistical categories, including batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage, but a season-ending knee injury in September hurt his candidacy in the two-man race. He finished with a .329 batting average, 44 home runs, and a 1.100 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in 130 games.
Trout learned he received the honor for the third time in his career while sitting in front of a roaring fireplace in Iowa, where he and close friends and family members had met for their annual hunting trip. He had 17 of the 30 first-place votes. Houston Astros infielder Alex Bregman finished second and had the other 13 first-place votes. Oakland Athletics shortstop Marcus Semien finished third.
Trout has presented a strong case to win the MVP award in seven of his eight full seasons. The electorate snubbed him four times, voting him second in favor of a candidate that played for a postseason contender on each occasion. The only season Trout did not finish first or second in MVP voting was when he finished fourth in 2017.
“I definitely was [nervous],” he said. “I’d be lying to you if I [said I] wasn’t.”
Voters could have dinged Trout this awards season because he missed the final three weeks tending to a nerve issue in his right foot that eventually required surgery.
Trout’s numbers were too convincing to neglect.
Trout hit a career-high 45 home runs, drove in more than 100 runs for the first time since 2016 and batted .291 in 134 games. Despite not playing after Sept. 7, Trout led baseball in on-base percentage (.438), owned the highest AL on-base-plus-slugging percentage (1.083) and was second in the AL in home runs.
“One of the greatest players I’ve ever laid my eyes on, and one of the better people I’ve also been around inside this game,” Angels general manager Billy Eppler said of Trout. “Great ambassador, total role model.
“I’m about as proud of him as I could ever be of anybody.”
Jrue Holiday scored 36 points and stole the ball from Paul George three times in the final minutes to spoil George’s season debut and lead the New Orleans Pelicans to a 132-127 victory over the Clippers on Thursday night at New Orleans.
George was playing for the first time since signing as a free agent with the Clippers because he’d been recovering from shoulder surgery last spring. He did not appear rusty, scoring 33 points in 24 minutes, only to be done in by late turnovers at the hands of Holiday, who finished with six steals, including one on Lou Williams’ attempted bounce pass in the final seconds to seal the victory.
Derrick Favors had 20 points and a career-best 20 rebounds in the first 20-20 game of his 10-year career. Frank Jackson added 23 points in a reserve role.
The Clippers played without Kawhi Leonard, who was being rested for the third time this season to ease stress on his sore knee after playing a night earlier in a loss at Houston.
In a wild melee at the end of Thursday night’s NFL game, Cleveland’s Myles Garrett ripped the helmet off Pittsburgh’s Mason Rudolph and used it to strike the Steelers quarterback in the head.
Garrett, a former No. 1 overall pick and defensive star for the Browns, faces a likely suspension from the league and potentially legal trouble for his actions, which came in the final seconds of a 21-7 victory by Cleveland.
Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield didn’t hold back in criticizing his teammate in a postgame interview with Fox’s Erin Andrews.
“I didn’t see why it started, but it’s inexcusable,” Mayfield said. “I don’t care, rivalry or not, we can’t do that. That’s kind of the history of what’s been going on here lately, hurting yourself, and that’s just endangering the other team. It’s inexcusable, he knows that. I hope he does now. It’s tough. We’ll see.”
Philip Rivers admitted Thursday that he was almost certain the Chargers were going to advance into field-goal range last week and beat Oakland in the closing seconds.
But, he added, it was an errant throw from way back in the opening quarter that “bothered me most because I really don’t know if I’ve ever missed that throw like that. Ever. I don’t know if I’ve missed one like that in the backyard.”
On the game’s first drive, Rivers had Keenan Allen alone on an in-route that would have put the Chargers somewhere close to the Raiders’ 10-yard line with a first down.
Instead, the pass soared over Allen and into the hands of safety Erik Harris, who then flipped the script — and the field — by returning the ball 59 yards to the Chargers’ 31.
Oakland eventually kicked a field goal and was on its way to a 26-24 victory that resulted in what appeared to be a season-high level of Chargers frustration.
“It wasn’t like it was a contested throw and I tried to squeeze it in there,” Rivers recalled. “It was wide open. That one bothers me. … It just sailed on me. I knew right away. It came out high and not good.”
The Rams are 5-4, but going into Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears the defense has played well since an Oct. 13 loss to the San Francisco 49ers.
It is no coincidence.
The Rams traded for shutdown cornerback Jalen Ramsey after the loss to the 49ers. They defense was subsequently stout in victories over the Atlanta Falcons and Cincinnati Bengals and in last Sunday’s 17-12 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“Jalen’s a game changer,” safety Marqui Christian said Thursday.
Players say the arrival of Ramsey, 25, caused a philosophical shift and new identity for the defense. With a player that essentially shuts down one side of the field, the Rams have been able to better disguise coverages and play more aggressively.
Ramsey’s ability to track an opponent’s top receiver all over the field forces quarterbacks to abandon their primary option. That skill provides defensive linemen and edge rushers more time to apply pressure.
“The man can play all the routes, so it definitely makes it easier on the defense when you have him on one side,” defensive tackle Michael Brockers said.
Keary Colbert’s long, sleepless and ultimately unforgettable Saturday began with an early flight out of Los Angeles International Airport. It ended with bowl eligibility and a new baby boy.
When the Trojans receivers coach arrived at LAX Saturday morning, the rest of USC’s coaching staff was already in Tempe, Ariz., preparing for a game at Arizona State. Colbert had stayed home the night before, preparing with his wife, Safiya, for the arrival of the couple’s first son.
Khari Colbert had originally been due 10 days earlier, the day before Halloween, which would’ve been a dream scenario for the former Trojans wideout. During consecutive road trips to Notre Dame and Colorado, family and friends stayed by his wife’s side while Colbert crossed his fingers, thousands of miles away, hoping the timing would allow him to be there.
But Colbert’s son wasn’t born during either road trip. Nor was he born the week after — as Colbert and his wife had hoped — when USC was home to play Oregon. As they waited, the due date came and went.
“Of course,” Colbert said, “he had different plans.”
So doctors scheduled an induction the following Saturday, with USC on the road against Arizona State. It would be tight but, with an early kickoff, Colbert was confident he could get back in time.
He arrived that morning at the Phoenix Airport Marriott 15 minutes before USC’s staff meeting, and from there the day was a whirlwind. Two of his receivers would turn in career performances as Michael Pittman Jr. caught 13 passes and Amon-ra St. Brown racked up 173 yards receiving in a narrow win over Arizona State. All the while, Colbert tried to keep his mind on football.
When the team landed at LAX, shortly before 8 p.m., his son was still holding tight.
“He’s a true coach’s kid,” Colbert said. “He understands it’s football season.”
Alex Iafallo scored 23 seconds into overtime and the Kings beat the Detroit Red Wings 3-2.
Kings forward Adrian Kempe scored with 1:48 remaining in the third period to tie the score at 2-all, and Iafallo got a shot into an open net after Drew Doughty‘s pass caromed off the boards. The Kings won consecutive games for the second time this season.
Anze Kopitar had a goal and two assists for Los Angeles, and Jonathan Quick made 19 saves.
Brent Burns scored on the power play and Evander Kane had a short-handed goal in the third period, helping the San Jose Sharks beat the Ducks 5-3 on Thursday night for their fifth straight win.
Tomas Hertl scored twice for the Sharks, who added a road victory to four previous home wins. The run of success has come immediately after a five-game losing streak.
Logan Couture finished off the victory with a goal in the final minute, his third of the season.
Rickard Rakell, Jakob Silfverberg and Max Jones scored goals for the Ducks, who stumbled to a 2-3-2 record on a season-long seven game home stand. The Ducks opened the season 6-1-0 at home.
TODAY’S LOCAL MAJOR SPORTS SCHEDULE
All times Pacific
Sacramento at Lakers, 7:30 p.m., Spectrum Sportsnet, 710 ESPN
UNLV at UCLA (basketball), 7:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network, AM 570
BORN ON THIS DATE
1967: Basketball player Eric Anthony
1981: Golfer Lorena Ochoa
1995: Basketball player Karl-Anthony Towns
1998: Golfer Hinako Shibuno
DIED ON THIS DATE
1990: Race horse Alydar, 15
2007: Baseball player Joe Nuxhall, 79
Watch the Myles Garrett-Mason Rudolph incident by clicking here.
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