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Kate Upton clarifies comments on BBWAA awards voting

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Last week, model/actress Kate Upton criticized the Baseball Writers Association of America — two writers from Tampa Bay, specifically — because her fiancé, Tigers starter Justin Verlander, was snubbed from the 2016 American League Cy Young Award despite getting nearly twice as many first-place votes than Red Sox starter Rick Porcello, who won.

Upton wrote on Twitter, “Hey @MLB I thought I was the only person allowed to [expletive] @JustinVerlander ?! What 2 writers didn’t have him on their ballot?”

She continued, saying, “He had the majority of 1st place votes and 2 writers didn’t have him on their ballots?!! can you pick more out of touch people to vote?@MLB”

Upton added, “Sorry Rick but you didn’t get any 1st place votes? you didn’t win. #ByeFelicia @MLB keep up with the times and fire those writers.” She then retweeted a chart posted by Justin’s brother Ben statistically comparing Justin to other Cy Young candidates.

In particular, Upton was critical of MLB.com’s Rays beat writer Bill Chastain, who sent in his AL Cy Young ballot a week early and left Verlander off entirely, believing nothing could happen that would alter his vote. In Verlander’s final two starts, he pitched 7 2/3 scoreless innings with 12 strikeouts against the Indians, then pitched seven innings of one-run ball with eight strikeouts against the Braves, lowering his season ERA to 3.04. Porcello gave up six runs in 12 1/3 innings in his final two starts, causing his ERA to rise to 3.15. Had the two Tampa writers (Chastain and Fred Goodall of the Associated Press) each given Verlander at least a third-place vote, he would have had enough points to overcome Porcello.

Chastain said to the New York Post, “At the time, I thought I picked the best five guys. Maybe I should have waited until the end. When I voted, it looked pretty clear to me.” He added, “I wasn’t out to get Verlander. It was nothing personal.”

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports asked Verlander about Upton’s “dismissive comments,” but Verlander directed him to his fiancée. She said:

In the time since Upton made her initial comments, she has been dismissed by many for a multitude of reasons. But she does have a point. There really shouldn’t be any reason for a writer to turn in his or her ballot early, especially in a race that was as close as the 2016 AL Cy Young Award.

Some will say that forcing writers to wait until the end of the regular season to vote gives them little time since the playoffs start almost immediately. However, balloting is done via email now, not snail mail.

Others will say that the small window of time gives the writers little time to do research. The process of research should be a continuous process throughout the last month or two of the season. The final week or two of the season won’t invalidate that research and small adjustments — like ranking Verlander above Porcello — can be made.

The BBWAA does its awards voting prior to the start of the offseason because it prevents some players from getting an unfair advantage due to having good teammates. It also somewhat mitigates recency bias. The voting should not, under any circumstances, be moved to the end of the postseason.

Games started between 3 and 3:30 PM EDT on October 2, the final day of the season and all ended by 7:15 PM EDT. The first postseason game, the AL Wild Card game, started at 8 PM on October 4. That’s just over 48 hours, which is plenty of time to send in ballots, barring extenuating circumstances.

Reds acquire Darnell Sweeney from the Dodgers

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The Reds acquired utilityman Darnell Sweeney from the Dodgers in exchange for cash considerations, J.P. Hoornstra of the Southern California News Group reports.

This is the second time that the Dodgers have traded Sweeney. The club sent him to the Phillies along with John Richy in August 2015 for Chase Utley. The Phillies sent him back to the Dodgers this past offseason with Darin Ruf in exchange for Howie Kendrick.

Sweeney, 26, made his major league debut in 2015 with the Phillies, hitting a meager .176/.286/.353 in 98 plate appearances. With Triple-A Oklahoma City this season, he hit .227/.290/.412 in 131 PA. While Sweeney’s bat hasn’t proven to be anything special, he has played second base, third base, shortstop, and all three outfield positions, so his flexibility will make him useful at some point.

Bryce Harper to Little League players: “No participation trophies, first place only”

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Nationals’ star outfielder Bryce Harper had some words of advice for a local Little League team on Saturday, telling a crowd of young players and their parents that winning matters far more than any participation trophies they might receive for their efforts on the field.

“As much as they might tell you, ‘Oh, it’s okay, you guys lost…’ No, Johnny, no,” Harper explained. “No participation trophies, okay? First place only. Come on.”

The panic over participation trophy culture has swelled over the last few years as studies continue to suggest that children are happier when they’re praised for their accomplishments, rather than rewarded for simply trying their best. The general idea is that kids aren’t motivated to succeed when they know they’ll receive a ribbon or medal celebrating their efforts at the end of the day — regardless of whether they win or lose. (Granted, it stands to reason that every kid can feel the difference between winning a championship trophy and receiving a participation ribbon.) Some have taken the idea to an extreme, claiming that when a child receives too many accolades for mediocre or poor performances, it can warp the way they view the world by generating a sense of undeserved entitlement.

Harper kept his tone light during the Q&A session, however, drawing cheers and applause from the majority of parents and a few of the kids. The 2015 NL MVP has routinely taken his own advice over the years, earning Rookie of the Year honors, four All-Star nominations and a Silver Slugger award since he broke into the major leagues in 2012. Next on his list? A World Series championship.