The Red Sox were supposed to have three MVP candidates, but it’s down to one now: Jacoby Ellsbury went 4-for-5 with his third homer in six games and four runs scored in Tuesday night’s takedown of the Blue Jays, raising his average to .321.
The 28-year-old Ellsbury is up to fifth in the AL in average, ninth with a .380 OBP and sixth with a .546 slugging percentage. He’s second with 108 runs scored, ninth with 27 homers, ninth with 94 RBI and fourth with 36 steals. He’s now tied with Gonzalez for the AL lead with 321 total bases.
Ellsbury is seven steals behind the Yankees’ Brett Gardner, so it doesn’t look like he’ll become the first player since Ty Cobb with the 1911 Tigers to lead his league in both total bases and steals. However, he’s on pace to become the 18th player in major league history with at least 350 total bases and 30 steals and possibly the 10th to have that many total bases and 40 steals. The last two with 350 total bases and 30 steals were Jimmy Rollins and Hanley Ramirez in 2007. Alfonso Soriano actually did it three times: 2002, 2003 and 2006.
Ellsbury has been particularly amazing since the beginning of July, hitting .346/.403/.651 with 18 homers, 54 RBI and 53 runs scored in 63 games. That’s be 47 homers, 139 RBI and 137 runs on a 162-game pace.
I don’t know if that makes him the AL MVP, but I think he’s joined Jose Bautista and Justin Verlander to form a trio that’s a clear notch above the rest of the pack.
There’s an interesting article over that the New York Times in the wake of the Colin Kaepernick stuff. This one is about the history of the National Anthem at sporting events.
The anthem is a fixture for as long as those of us reading this blog have been attending games and it’d be weird if it wasn’t there. But it hasn’t always been there, the Times notes. Indeed, it was not a regular fixture until 1942 when it was added for the obvious reason that we were at war. The other major sports leagues all adopted the anthem soon after. The NBA at the inception of the league in 1946 and the NHL in the same year. The NFL’s spokesman doesn’t mention a year, but notes that it’s a non-negotiable part of the game experience. The non-negotiability of it is underscored by the comment from the MLS spokesman who notes that they felt that they had no choice but to play the anthem when that league began play in the 1990s.
I like the anthem at ballgames. It just seems like part of the experience. I like it for its own sake, at least if the performance isn’t too over the top, and I like it because it serves as a nice demarcation between all of the pregame b.s. and the actual game starting.
But this article reminds us that there is no immutable structural reason for the anthem at games. Other countries don’t play their own anthems at their sporting events. We don’t play it before movies or plays or other non-sports performances. It’s a thing that we do which, however much of a tradition it has become, is somewhat odd when you think about it for a moment. And which has to seem pretty rote to the actual ballplayers who hear it maybe 180 times a year.
Rangers reliever Jeremy Jeffress was arrested on Friday for driving while intoxicated (DWI). According to a report from WFAA-TV in Dallas, Jeffress changed lanes without signaling and almost hit a car. While he was undergoing sobriety tests, he could not keep his balance or stand on one leg. His blood-alcohol content registered at .115.
Major League Baseball has opted not to suspend Jeffress as he has voluntarily chosen to check into an inpatient rehabilitation clinic, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports. He’s expected to spend about a month at the clinic, which is based in Houston. There is still a possibility Jeffress can rejoin the Rangers in time for the postseason.
Jeffress issued a statement, which Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports provided:
This is not the first time Jeffress has had trouble with substance abuse. He was suspended 50 games in 2007 after testing positive for a second time for a drug of abuse, which was marijuana. He tested positive again in June 2009 and was suspended 100 games. It was later revealed that Jeffress suffers from juvenile epilepsy and he was self-medicating with marijuana.
Hopefully, his time in rehab helps him recover from substance abuse. Substance abuse is an issue about which people have a shortage of empathy, especially when it comes to celebrities, including athletes.
The Rangers acquired Jeffress along with catcher Jonathan Lucroy from the Brewers at the August 1 trade deadline. They sent prospects Lewis Brinson, Luis Ortiz, and a player to be named to Milwaukee. In nine appearances with the Rangers, Jeffress has a 4.00 ERA and a 6/5 K/BB ratio.