Paul Konerko, Jimmy Rollins named co-winners of the Roberto Clemente Award

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Via the MLB Public Relations Twitter account, retiring White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko and Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins have been named the co-winners of the Roberto Clemente Award. The Clemente Award goes to the player who best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship and community involvement. The nominees, one from each team, were announced back in September.

Konerko and Jim Thome founded the Bring Me Home Foundation eight years ago to raise awareness and support for foster children and families. Chicago White Sox Charities honored him earlier this year for his charitable work with a bobblehead. Per Chuck Garfien of CSN Chicago, Konerko is the first member of the White Sox to win the Roberto Clemente Award.

Rollins and his wife Johari created the The Johari & Jimmy Rollins Center for Animal Rehabilitation as well as The Rollins Family Foundation. Rollins also holds an annual BaseBOWL tournament to raise money for the Arthritis Foundation. As Kevin Cooney of Calkins Media tweets, Rollins is the third Phillie to win the Roberto Clemente award, joining Greg Luzinski (1978) and Garry Maddox (1986).

This is the first time more than one player has won the Roberto Clemente Award in the same year. Kudos to Konerko and Rollins, two of the game’s most upstanding players, for their well-deserved accolades.

Nationals complete NLCS sweep of Cardinals, punch ticket to World Series

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The Nationals will officially appear in the World Series for the first time in franchise history. The team that had a 19-31 record in late May, putting manager Dave Martinez on the hot seat, improbably fought back to snag a Wild Card slot, won the play-in game, beat the heavily-favored Dodgers in five games in the NLDS, and polished off a sweep of the Cardinals in the NLCS on Tuesday night, winning 7-4.

After Patrick Corbin tossed a scoreless top of the first inning, the Nationals’ offense wasted no time getting to work. Single, double, sacrifice fly, RBI double, intentional walk, reach on error, RBI single, two-run single, sacrifice bunt, two-run single. That’s how the Nats hung a seven-spot in the opening frame against Dakota Hudson and Adam Wainwright.

To the Cardinals’ credit, they cleaned things up from there. The Nationals would not score for the rest of the game while the Cardinals clawed back for a run in the fourth before plating three runs in the fifth. Yadier Molina went yard off of Corbin in the fourth. In the fifth, a Tommy Edman ground out and a José Martínez two-run double accounted for the Cardinals’ runs in the fifth.

Corbin ultimately gave up the four runs on four hits and three walks with, impressively, 12 strikeouts across five innings of work. Tanner Rainey worked a 1-2-3 sixth. Sean Doolittle did the same in the seventh.

Doolittle remained in the game in the eighth, getting the first two outs before relenting a single to Marcell Ozuna. Right-hander Daniel Hudson entered for the four-out save opportunity. Hudson hit Molina with a fastball, bringing the tying run to the plate in the form of Paul DeJong. DeJong worked a full count, then walked to load the bases. Pinch-hitter Matt Carpenter emerged from the dugout to take his cuts against Hudson. After five tense pitches to Carpenter, Hudson got him to ground out to second base to end the inning.

The Nats went down quick in the bottom of the eighth. Hudson emerged from the dugout to send the Nationals into the World Series. He did just that, getting Kolten Wong to fly out to shallow left field for the first out. Matt Wieters popped up to the catcher in fair territory for out number two. At long last, Edman flied out to center field. Nationals win 7-4.

The only other time the franchise reached the Championship Series was in 1981 when the Expos lost three games to two to the Dodgers. The Expos/Nationals then went from 1982-2011 without a playoff appearance. The Nationals lost four Division Series appearances in a row in 2012, ’14, and ’16-17, three of which went the maximum five games. Now they’re in the World Series, improbably. They will await the winner of the ALCS, which the Astros currently lead 2-1.