Derek Jeter is SI's Sportsman of the Year

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Derek Jeter wasn’t the MVP of his own league in his own sport but, according to Sports Illustrated, he’s now the Sportsman of the Year:

“It’s unbelievable. It was completely unexpected. It came out of the
blue,” Jeter told The Associated Press during a break in the photo
shoot. “When I heard it, what can you say? It’s one of the greatest
honors you can achieve in sports.”

The 35-year-old Jeter is the first Bronx Bomber to be tapped for the
award that has been given out since 1954. Swimmer Michael Phelps was
last year’s recipient.

The Sportsman of the Year Award is something of a moving target, with weird zeitgeisty things having a lot to do with who wins it. Brett Favre won it a couple of years ago for “his perseverance and his passion,which, strangely enough, is one of the reasons everyone likes to hate on him today. The whole Red Sox team won it in 2004, putatively for historical reasons, though strangely enough the 2005 White Sox didn’t get it despite the fact that they broke a longer championship drought. It’s the sort of thing that makes one ask (heaven forbid) whether magazine sales have just as much to do with the award as athletic accomplishments do.

But it’s not just about on-the-field achievement, of course.  I think the best ever Sportsman of the Year Award came in 1987 when SI gave it to six different athletes, some known, some not-so-well known, citing their charitable efforts as “Athletes Who Care.”  This year SI cites Jeter’s philanthropic work as a big reason for the award.  If that was the main driver, as opposed to simply wanting a Yankee on the cover in a year with little in the way of monster stories, good for SI.

And no matter what SI’s motivation was, good for Derek Jeter.  I have my fun with him from time to time simply because it makes Yankee fanboys crazy, but he is a Sportsman in the truest sense of the term, and he is deserving.

Bobby Valentine on short list to be U.S. Ambassador to Japan

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 12:  Former MLB player Bobby Valentine attends Annual Charity Day hosted by Cantor Fitzgerald, BGC and GFI at BGC Partners, INC on September 12, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Cantor Fitzgerald)
Getty Images
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There is literally nothing you could tell me that the incoming administration is considering which would shock me anymore. As such, I saw this story when I woke up this morning, blinked once, took a sip of coffee, closed the browser window and just went on with my morning, as desensitized as a wisdom tooth about to be yanked.

Rob Bradford of WEEI reports that Former Red Sox, Mets and Rangers manager Bobby Valentine is on a short-list of candidates for the job of United States Ambassador to Japan:

The 66-year-old, who currently serves as Sacred Heart University’s athletics director, has engaged in preliminary discussions with President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team regarding the position.

When contacted Thursday night, Valentine refused comment.

Huh. Given his history, I’d have assumed Valentine would be a better choice for the CIA, but what do I know?

Valentine managed the Chiba Lotte Marines of Japan’s Pacific League for six seasons, leading the team to a championship in 2005. He also knows the current prime minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, as both went to USC. Assuming championship teams meet the country’s leader in Japan like they do in the United States, Valentine has at least twice the amount of experience with top political leaders than does, say, Ned Yost, so that’s something.

The former manager, more importantly, is friends with Donald Trump’s brother, with the two of them going way back. Which, given how this transition is going, seems like a far more important set of qualifications than anything else on this list.

Report: Dexter Fowler will take a physical in St. Louis on Friday

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Dexter Fowler #24 of the Chicago Cubs reacts after lining out during the third inning against the Cleveland Indians in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
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Update (8:51 PM EST): The deal is in place, according to Heyman.

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Update (8:27 PM EST): Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the Cardinals made an “over-the-top offer” to Fowler to ensure he’d sign.

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Frank Cusumano of KSDK Sports reports that free agent outfielder will take a physical in St. Louis on Friday. Presumably, that means that Fowler and the Cardinals have gotten pretty far along in negotiations.

Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports recently reported that Fowler was looking for $18 million per year. The Blue Jays reportedly made an offer to Fowler in the four-year, $16 million range several days ago. The Cardinals’ offer to Fowler, if there is indeed one, is likely somewhere between the two figures.

Fowler, 30, is coming off of a fantastic year in which he helped the Cubs win their first World Series since 1908. During the regular season, he hit .276/.393/.447 with 13 home runs, 48 RBI, 84 runs scored, and 13 stolen bases in 551 plate appearances.

Fowler rejected the Cubs’ $17.2 million qualifying offer last month. While the QO compensation negatively affected Fowler’s experience in free agency last offseason — he didn’t sign until late February with the Cubs — his strong season is expected to make QO compensation much less of an issue.