MLB named “sports league of the year”

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I’m picturing a black tie gala, everyone who matters in attendance. When the nominees are read, a four-way split screen comes up with Bud Selig, Roger Goodell, David Stern and Gary Bettman, all looking hopeful.  As soon as the winner is announced, the losing three all purse their lips and try to act like they ain’t mad:

Major League Baseball was named Sports League of the Year at the 2012 Sports Business Awards presented by SportsBusiness Journal and SportsBusiness Daily last night in New York.  The award recognizes the success baseball enjoyed in 2011 coupling unparalleled drama on the field with record business performance and innovative fan engagement. Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig accepted the award on behalf of the league.

Of course, everyone goes to these things for the after party. I heard Elton John’s was, as usual, off the hook.

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Starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani will pinch-hit and pinch-run for the Angels in 2018

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The Angels’ bench is looking woefully thin this winter — so thin, in fact, that manager Mike Scioscia says he’s considering utilizing starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani as a pinch-hitter and pinch-runner on the days he’s not scheduled to pitch.

I’ve never had a pitcher pinch-run,” Scioscia told reporters Saturday. “There’s more bad than good that can come out of it. But Shohei is not just a pitcher. He’s a guy that has the ability to do some of the things coming off the bench, whether it’s pinch-hit or pinch-run, and we’re definitely going to tap into that if it’s necessary, because we feel we’re not putting him at risk. It’s something he’s able to do.

Granted, spring training allows for a certain amount of experimentation before managers and players decide what works best for them, so this may not be the strategy the Angels employ for the entire season. In addition to coming off the bench between starts, Ohtani is also expected to see 2-3 days at DH every week, forcing Albert Pujols to shift over to first base to accommodate the new two-way star.

Ohtani’s hitting prowess has already been well-documented — he has a lifetime .286/.358/.500 batting line from NPB and crushed a batting practice home run during his initial workouts with the team this week — but his skills on the basepaths have received less attention so far. MLB Pipeline describes the 23-year-old phenom as a “well-above average runner” whose speed has yet to manifest stolen bases: he’s nabbed just 13 bases in 17 chances over the last five years. That’s a number Scioscia hopes to see increased this season, though he doesn’t want his ace pitcher making any head-first slides on the basepaths to do so.

To be sure, it’s an unorthodox role for any young player to step into, but if anyone can pull it off, Ohtani can.