The AL All-Star ballots: Ellsbury and Hamilton fighting for the start

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The final update in AL All-Star balloting before the starters are announced on Sunday is in, and it breaks down as follows, which is how it has broken down, more or less, for the past few weeks:

C: Russell Martin
1B: Adrian Gonzalez
2B: Robinson Cano
3B: Alex Rodriguez
SS: Derek Jeter
OF: Jose Bautista
OF: Curtis Granderson
OF: Josh Hamilton
DH: David Ortiz

The only position with any real up-in-the-air to it is that last outfield slot, which Hamilton holds over Jacoby Ellsbury by around 120,000 votes.  And for the record, Asdrubal Cabrera holds on to second place at short, which could be notable in the event that Derek Jeter is either not yet back from his calf injury or if he’s held out of the All-Star Game as a precaution.

Mariano Rivera awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom

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Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Trump on Monday. The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the highest civilian honor to “individuals who have made exceptional contributions to the security or national interests of America, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”

Babe Ruth was posthumously awarded the medal last year. Yogi Berra got it posthumously in 2015, and Willie Mays and Vin Scully were also awarded it the same year.

Trump and Rivera are close. Rivera, who is from Panama, has been criticized for his relationship with Trump. Defending that relationship, Rivera said on Fox & Friends in July, “Mr. President Trump to me, he was a friend of mine before he became president. So, because he’s president I will turn my back on him? No. I respect him. I respect what he does and I believe he’s doing the best for the United States of America.”

Rivera, 49, served on Trump’s Opioid and Drug Abuse Commission in 2017. In 2018, Rivera co-chaired Trump’s Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition. Rivera also co-hosted a fundraiser dinner for the America First Action PAC, which supports Trump and was also hosted by Donald Trump Jr. and Fox News personality Kimberly Guilfoyle.

This past January, Rivera became the first player ever inducted into the Hall of Fame unanimously. He is the all-time leader in saves with 652 as well as adjusted ERA (also known as ERA+) at 205. He retired with a 2.21 ERA and 1,173 strikeouts across 1,283 2/3 innings, spanning 19 seasons with the Yankees.