Aided by umps, Angels run away with Game 1

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The Angels, who have had three of their last four postseason runs spoiled by the Red Sox, took a big step towards getting the Rally Monkey off their backs with a 5-0 victory in Thursday’s ALDS Game 1.
Boston had plenty of reason to gripe after the game. Torii Hunter should have been rung up on strikes before walking to lead the bases in the third. First-base ump C.B. Bucknor missed Kevin Youkilis’ obvious tag on Howie Kendrick to extend the fourth inning. Bucknor had an even worse call in the sixth, when Youkilis had to jump off first base to make a catch. He clearly came right back down on the bag, yet Bucknor called the runner safe anyway.
That none of those plays came in innings in which the Angels scored means there won’t be any long-term controversy here. Still, those extra pitches Lester was forced to throw added up. Vladimir Guerrero should have been the first out of the fourth, not the last of the third. Jeff Mathis, the easiest out in either lineup, never should have come to the plate in the fourth, yet he made the last out after the blown call on Kendrick. Had things worked out differently, perhaps Torii Hunter never would have made it to the plate to hit his three-run homer in the fifth.
In the end, it probably wouldn’t have mattered anyway. After an encouraging first inning, the Red Sox turned in mostly atrocious at-bats against an impressive John Lackey, who pitched 7 1/3 scoreless innings. The only threat was a two-out rally in the sixth, when Dustin Pedroia singled and Victor Martinez walked. Youkilis went on to work a 3-0 count and then took what was clearly ball four on the TBS pitch trax, only to have an inconsistent Joe West call it a strike. He went on to ground out, and the Red Sox put just one runner on during the final three innings.
The story of the game was Lackey’s performance. He allowed four hits, walked just the one and struck out four. Darren Oliver replaced him in the eighth and retired five in a row to end the game. It was Lackey’s first postseason victory since the 2002 World Series. He had been 0-3 in six outings since. Boston was shut out in the postseason for the first time since 1995.

Mets’ Curtis Granderson wins 2016 Roberto Clemente Award

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 02:  Curtis Granderson #3 of the New York Mets looks on during batting practice before the game against the Chicago Cubs at Citi Field on July 2, 2016 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Mets’ outfielder Curtis Granderson has been named the 2016 recipient of the Roberto Clemente Award, an annual distinction bestowed on the major league players whose dedication to the game of baseball is evident both on and off the field.

Granderson is the 47th recipient of the award since its introduction in 1971, and, according to’s Anthony DiComo, the fourth Met honored with the distinction following former members Gary Carter (1989), Al Leiter (2000), and Carlos Delgado (2006).

The 35-year-old contributed 30 home runs and a .237/.355/.464 line during the Mets’ 87-75 run in 2016, but it was his work off the field that set him apart. Over the past six years, Granderson helped fund a new baseball facility at his alma mater, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and partnered with Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign to combat childhood obesity. He has also been recognized for donations to the YMCA, United Neighborhood Houses, and City Harvest, among other charitable organizations. Most notably, he founded the Grand Kids Foundation, an organization that has furthered the education, fitness, and health of kids living in Chicago since 2007.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred recognized Granderson’s efforts in a brief ceremony preceding Game 3 of the World Series:

Curtis Granderson is an outstanding ambassador for our game and a positive role model for kids. His commitment to the many communities that have touched his life and the great impact of these efforts makes him a very deserving recipient of our most prestigious award. On behalf of Major League Baseball and all of our clubs, I congratulate Curtis and thank him and all of our nominees this year for everything they do to make a difference in the lives of others.

Joe Maddon’s biggest influence? Michael Scott, naturally

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 28:  Manager Joe Maddon of the Chicago Cubs speaks to the media before the game in Game Three of the 2016 World Series against the Cleveland Indians at Wrigley Field on October 28, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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We all get inspiration from various sources. Sometimes, it comes from a mentor or peer who has excelled in their field. Sometimes, it’s a video of a dog owner dressing up as his golden retriever’s favorite chew toy (just me? Okay).

If you’re Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon, it’s Michael Scott, regional manager of the Scranton branch of Dunder Mifflin, Inc., founder of the Michael Scott Paper Company, and one-time star of the hit television show Fundle Bundle. At least, that’s what he told the press during the club’s pregame conference on Friday afternoon.

Thankfully, the Cubs don’t have to worry about Maddon emulating the more outlandish behaviors Steve Carell exhibited on The Office. If anything, the praise Michael heaps on himself as the World’s Best Boss could be aptly applied to Maddon’s managerial style — Spencer Gifts mug and all.