Thursday’s Sports In Brief

National Sports

BASEBALL

NEW YORK (AP)Shohei Ohtani’s two-way season was so incredible, MVP voters filled out the top of their ballots only one way.

Ohtani was a unanimous winner of the American League MVP award for a hitting and pitching display not seen since Babe Ruth, and Bryce Harper earned the National League honor for the second time.

Ohtani received all 30 first-place votes and 420 points in balloting by members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. He batted .257 with 46 homers, 100 RBIs and a .965 OPS as the Los Angeles Angels’ full-time designated hitter, and went 9-2 with a 3.18 ERA in 23 starts on the mound with 156 strikeouts and 44 walks in 130 1/3 innings.

Toronto first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. was second in the AL vote, and Blue Jays infielder Marcus Semien finished third.

Harper received 17 of 30 first-place votes and 348 points from a separate panel. Washington outfielder Juan Soto was second with six firsts and 274 points, and San Diego shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. was third with two firsts and 244 points.

NEW YORK (AP) – The New York Mets finally found a general manager, hiring Billy Eppler to complete a drawn-out search that took so long it drew ridicule.

Eppler was fired as GM of the Los Angeles Angels a little more than a year ago after five unsuccessful seasons. But he landed the same position with the Mets following a recruiting process that became the butt of jokes while dragging on for more than six weeks since the 2021 season ended as New York failed to attract its top targets.

Eppler gets a four-year contract to become the 16th general manager in Mets history and their fifth head of baseball operations in 13 tumultuous months. He will be introduced by the team Friday via Zoom.

TORONTO (AP) – Two months with the Toronto Blue Jays was enough to make pitcher Jose Berrios change his mind about waiting one more year to reach free agency.

Berrios finalized a $131 million, seven-year deal to stay with the Blue Jays, passing up the opportunity to become a free agent next offseason.

A two-time All-Star, the 27-year-old right-hander said his decision was simplified by getting a brief experience of life in Toronto after the Blue Jays acquired him from Minnesota on July 30. He went 5-4 with a 3.58 ERA in 12 starts for Toronto, finishing 12-9 with a 3.52 ERA.

Berrios can opt out after the 2026 season to become a free agent, giving up $48 million over the final two seasons.

DENVER (AP) – The Colorado Rockies agreed to a $14.5 million, three-year contract with catcher Elias Diaz.

His deal covers one season of arbitration eligibility and two years of free agency.

Diaz, who turned 31 on Wednesday, hit .246 last season with a career-best 18 homers, tied for third-most among National League catchers. He also threw out 42.1% of base stealers, a mark that ranked behind only that of Kansas City’s Salvador Perez.

CHICAGO (AP) – Most minor league players will get their own beds provided in team housing under a new Major League Baseball policy.

Stepping up improvements for minor leaguers after widespread criticism, MLB’s housing policy will require teams to provide furnished accommodations, with a single bed per player and no more than two players per bedroom. The housing must be ”located at a reasonable, commutable distance from the ballpark,” the commissioner’s office said. Teams will be responsible for basic utility bills.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

Jim Calhoun, who led UConn to three national titles, has retired again, this time from Division III Saint Joseph.

The 79-year-old Hall of Fame coach, who has struggled with stomach cancer and other ailments, said his health was not a factor in his decision to leave the former women-only school in West Hartford, Connecticut, after spending more than four years helping it establish a men’s basketball program.

Calhoun ends his career with a record of 920-397. That includes 248 wins in 14 years at Northeastern and 625 in 26 years at UConn, where his teams won NCAA titles in 1999, 2004 and 2011.

He sent more than two dozen UConn players to the NBA, including Ray Allen, Rudy Gay, Richard Hamilton and Kemba Walker.

SOCCER

NBC will pay more than $2.7 billion to continue showing the Premier League for another six years, almost tripling the value of American rights to the world’s richest soccer competition, a person familiar with the deal told The Associated Press.

The agreement was announced by NBC for the U.S. English- and Spanish-language broadcast rights. The person divulging the financial figure spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the terms were confidential.

NBC’s previous six-year deal, which began in 2016, was worth $1 billion.

– AP Sports Writers Joe Reedy and Rob Harris

LOS ANGELES (AP) – Coach Bob Bradley and Los Angeles FC said they mutually agreed to part ways.

Bradley was the first and only coach in the Major League Soccer expansion franchise’s four-year history. The former U.S. men’s national team and Swansea coach led LAFC to the Supporters’ Shield in 2019 amid three consecutive playoff appearances, but LAFC missed the MLS postseason this year while finishing ninth in the Western Conference.

TENNIS

TURIN, Italy (AP) – The top three players have advanced to the semifinals at the ATP Finals.

Third-ranked Alexander Zverev joined No. 1 Novak Djokovic and No. 2 Daniil Medvedev in the last four at the season-ending event for the top eight players by beating Hubert Hurkacz 6-2, 6-4.

Zverev qualified second in his group behind Medvedev, so Zverev’s semifinal opponent will be Djokovic, who won the other group.

Medvedev’s semifinal opponent will be determined Friday when Andrey Rublev meets Casper Ruud on the final day of round-robin play.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) – Wimbledon champion Ash Barty finished No. 1 in the WTA singles rankings for the third consecutive season, while Katerina Siniakova topped the doubles rankings for the second time.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Trending Stories