Yes, Virginia, there are rivalries beyond Red Sox-Yankees

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Marc Normandin has a fun column up at Sports On Earth today, talking about the rivalries in baseball beyond Yankees-Red Sox. He hits the Cardinals-Reds, Dbacks-Dodgers, Rays-Red Sox and Nationals-Braves. Yours truly is quoted in the Nats-Braves section.

For what it’s worth, my view is that while Nats-Braves is a rivalry now, the Braves have never really had a sustained rival. Partially because the Braves have moved from city to city and then switched divisions in the mid-90s. Partially because there has never been a sustained head-to-head thing between them and other teams. They stunk pretty bad for a long time, then when they were good their challengers were always different. The Dodgers for a bit, the Giants for one awesome year, and aborted Expos thing that could’ve been amazing if the team hadn’t been dismantled. A more recent cycle of Mets-Phillies-Nats. Throw in the notion that, yes, there is some truth to how passionate Braves fans can be and you get a lot of rivalries of opportunity as opposed to rivalries that really run deep.

Anyway, a fun article. I’m sure everyone has their own notion of what a rivalry is and what teams they truly loathe.

Jackie Bradley, Jr. named ALCS MVP

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Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley, Jr. was named the Most Valuable Player of the American League Championship Series after his club punched its ticket to the World Series on Thursday night against the Astros.

Coincidentally, the Astros’ Game 5 starter Justin Verlander was ALCS MVP last year en route to a championship.

Bradley went 0-for-3 with a walk in Thursday’s Game 5, but he hit a three-run double in Game 2, a grand slam in Game 3, and a go-ahead two-run home run in Game 4. That’s nine RBI and three extra-base hits across five games. He also drew four walks.

Though Bradley had a solid regular season, he was not near the top of the list most people would’ve expected to win ALCS MVP heading into the series. During the season, he hit .234/.314/.403 with 13 home runs, 59 RBI, 76 runs scored, and 17 stolen bases in 535 plate appearances.