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MLB names World Series MVP Award in Honor of Willie Mays

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Major League Baseball just announced that it has renamed the World Series Most Valuable Player Award in honor of Willie Mays. Beginning with the 2017 World Series, the MVP of the Fall Classic will now be recognized as the “Willie Mays World Series Most Valuable Player.”

The announcement comes on the 63rd anniversary of “The Catch” Mays made in the 1954 World Series on a deep fly ball off of Vic Wertz in the Polo Grounds. The throw that came after it was almost as amazing. As was the fact that the Giants beat a 111-win Cleveland Indians team in four straight games.

There was no World Series MVP Award that year. It officially began in 1955, though the BBWAA’s Babe Ruth Award for the best postseason performance dates back to 1949. It still exists too but, unlike most other awards in which the BBWAA honor is seen as more prestigious than the MLB honor, no one really cares much about that while many fans can name multiple World Series MVP winners. It probably has to do with the fact that the World Series MVP Award is handed out the night of the final game of the World Series when everyone is excited whereas the Babe Ruth Award is given out weeks later after everyone is in offseason mode.

Some irony about it all? The Catch notwithstanding, Willie Mays was actually pretty terrible in the World Series. He hit a combined .239/.308/.282 in four World Series, and his teams lost three of those four Series. We’ll let that slide, though, because (a) he’s Willie Freakin’ Mays; and (b) The Catch is something far better-remembered than whoever had a great batting line in any given World Series.

Astros push ALCS to Game 7 with 7-1 stunner against Yankees

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There’s just something about playing in your home ballpark. The Astros decimated the Yankees at Minute Maid Park on Friday, riding seven scoreless innings from Justin Verlander and a pair of big runs from Jose Altuve to win 7-1 and force a Game 7 in the American League Championship Series.

Through the first four innings, however, the teams looked equally matched. Luis Severino no-hit the Astros through 3 2/3 innings, losing his bid on Carlos Correa‘s line drive single in the fourth. The Astros returned in the fifth to do some real damage, drawing two walks and plating the first run of the night with Brian McCann‘s ground-rule double off of the right field wall. Things didn’t get any easier for Severino. Jose Altuve lined a two-RBI base hit into left field, upping Houston’s advantage to three runs.

Verlander, meanwhile, muted the Yankees’ offense with seven innings of five-hit, eight-strikeout ball. While he didn’t come close to matching his complete game effort in Game 2, he was still plenty dominant against a struggling New York lineup. No player reached past first base until the sixth inning, when a pair of base hits from Chase Headley and Didi Gregorius gave the Yankees their first runner in scoring position. That didn’t last long, though, as Gary Sanchez grounded out on a 3-0 slider to end the inning.

In the seventh, Houston’s ace got into another spot of trouble. He walked Greg Bird on six pitches to start the inning, then plunked Starlin Castro on the wrist. Aaron Hicks struck out, in part thanks to a questionable call by home plate umpire Jim Reynolds, but it was Todd Frazier who presented the biggest threat after returning an 0-1 fastball for a 403-foot fly out to left field. Luckily for Verlander, George Springer was there to bail him out with a leaping catch at the wall.

The Yankees kept things exciting in the eighth, too. Aaron Judge ripped his third postseason home run off of Brad Peacock, taking a 425-footer out to the train in left field to spoil the Astros’ shutout. That was the only real break the Yankees got, however, as Altuve, Alex Bregman and Evan Gattis returned in the bottom of the inning to tack on another four runs, including Altuve’s solo shot off of David Robertson:

Ken Giles handled the ninth, expending 23 pitches and giving up a base hit and a walk before retiring Frazier and Headley to end the game. Thanks to Houston’s winning efforts, the two teams will compete in their first seven-game Championship Series since 2004 — and this time, at least one of them is guaranteed to come away with a win.

Game 7 of the ALCS is set for Saturday at 8:00 PM ET. Houston right-hander Charlie Morton (14-7, 3.62 ERA) is scheduled to face southpaw CC Sabathia (14-5, 3.69 ERA).