Andrew McCutchen claims NL MVP award in landslide

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The Pirates have their first NL MVP since 1992 after Andrew McCutchen received 28 of the 30 first-place votes on Thursday to easily top Arizona’s Paul Goldschmidt for the award.

Goldschmidt finished second with 242 points to McCutchen’s 409. He was second on 15 of the 30 ballots. Yadier Molina finished third with 219 points. He got the two first-place votes that didn’t go McCutchen, both coming from St. Louis Post-Dispatch scribes.

After Molina were Matt Carpenter (194), Freddy Freeman (154), Joey Votto (149), Clayton Kershaw (146), Hanley Ramirez (58), Carlos Gomez (43), Jay Bruce (30), Craig Kimbrel (27) and Shin-Soo Choo (23). Goldschmidt and Gomez were the only players in the top 12 not to be part of a playoff team.

Barry Bonds was the Pirates’ previous MVP, winning in 1990 and 1992. Before that, Willie Stargell was co-MVP with Keith Hernandez in 1979 and Dave Parker won the award in 1978.

McCutchen hit .317/.404/.508 with 21 homers, 84 RBI and 27 steals to lead the Pirates’ on their surprising postseason run last season. He had even better numbers in 2012 (.327/.400/.553, 31 HR, 96 RBI), but he settled for one first-place vote and a third-place finish in the MVP balloting then with the Pirates winning 15 fewer games (79-83 to 94-68).

Derek Norris signing with the Rays

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Yahoo Sports’ Tim Brown reports that Derek Norris is signing with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Norris was released by the Nationals nine days ago, made redundant by the Nats’ signing of Matt Wieters and by everyone sliding down a notch on the depth chart below him. Norris hit only .186/.255/.328 with 14 home runs and a .528 OPS for the Padres in 2016.

Still, there always seems to be a place for a backup catcher. For Norris that place is Tampa Bay.

The Braves are banning outside food. And they’re probably lying about why they’re doing it.

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Here’s a thing a lot of people don’t realize: there are a lot of ballparks that allow you to bring in outside food.

Not all of them, but a lot do. They don’t publicize it, obviously, because they want you to buy their expensive food, but if you go to the concessions policy page on most team’s websites, you can get the scoop. It often lists “soft-sided coolers” under “permitted items,” which is code for “yes, you can bring your own food in.” Some may specifically limit THAT to sealed plastic water bottles, but for the most part, if you can bring soft-sided coolers into the park, that means it’s OK to bring in grandma’s potato salad and a few sandwiches. They may check your coolers, of course, to make sure you’re not bringing in alcohol or whatever.

The Atlanta Braves have always allowed food into the ballpark. But thats going to change in shiny new Sun Trust Park. The AJC reports that the Braves have announced a new policy via which ticket holders will not be allowed to bring in outside food. Exceptions will be made for infant food and for special dietary restriction items.

Which, OK, it’s their park and their rules. If they want to cut out the PB&J for junior and force you to buy him a $9 “kids pack” — or if they want you to forego grandma’s potato salad to buy that pork chop sandwich we mentioned yesterday — that’s their choice. Everything else about the Braves new stadium has been about extracting money from fans, so why not the concessions policy too?

My beef with this is less about the policy. It’s about their stated reason for it:

The changes are a result of tighter security being put into place this season throughout the league, said the Braves spokesperson.

This, as the French say, is horses**t.

We know it is because not all teams are prohibiting outside food. If there are tighter security measures across the board, other teams are implementing them without the food restriction. Even the Yankees, who take security theater to extreme heights as it is, are still allowing fans to bring in their own food.

The Braves, I strongly suspect, are using these measures as an excuse to cut down on competition for their concessions. Which, like I said, go for it. Just be honest about what you’re doing and stop blaming “tightened security” for your cash grab.