Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe wins the J.G. Taylor Spink Award

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NASHVILLE — The Baseball Writers Association of America has named Dan Shaugnessy, columnist for the Boston Globe, as the winner of the J.G. Taylor Spink Award. He will be honored by the Baseball Hall of Fame for his “meritorious contributions to baseball writing” during the induction ceremonies in Cooperstown next July.

Shaughnessy isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, to put it mildly. He has feuded with Red Sox players and executives over and over again, often in columns supported by anonymous comments from Sox ownership and senior management. The BBWAA press release announcing his award itself notes that “[i]n 2006, Shaughnessy wrote a column which forced Theo Epstein to resign as Red Sox general manager.” Epstein’s resignation, however temporary it was, is said to have been based, in part, on his anger at then-Red Sox president and CEO Larry Lucchino for leaking to Shaugnessy. More recently he has feuded with David Ortiz, essentially accusing him of taking performance enhancing drugs following his hot start in May of 2013.

Shaughnessy has likewise inveighed against online baseball writers and analysts, their readers and their interests, often in his annual Hall of Fame column. In 2009 he called those arguing in favor of Edgar Martinez’s Hall candidacy “The stat geeks, those get-a-lifers who are sucking all the joy out of our national pastime.” The following year he called those who opposed Jack Morris “silly stat shut-ins.” He did not, it seems, extend that criticism to his Boston Globe colleague, Pete Abraham, who did not support Jack Morris’ Hall of Fame case, suggesting his issue was not with whom one supports for the Hall of Fame but the platform from which they voice their support. Meanwhile, Shaugnessy’s own Hall of Fame voting decisions were often inconsistent, taking players off and putting them back on his ballot from year to year with seemingly no rhyme nor reason.

Now Shaughnessy himself is being honored at the Hall of Fame by his BBWAA peers. Which, criticisms of his style and approach notwithstanding, is in keeping with past standards for the honor. Shaugnessy has had a long and notable journalism career, having covered Boston and national sports for the Globe since 1981. Before that he wrote for the Baltimore Evening Sun and Washington Star. He has written several books about baseball including his most famous one, “The Curse of the Bambino.” He is also credited with popularizing the phrase, “Red Sox Nation.” No matter what you think of Shaugnessy, you can’t deny that he has made a mark, both on the beats he covers and in the national sports conversation at large.

Shaughnessy received 185 votes from the 417 ballots cast, including one blank ballot and is the 67th winner of the award since 1962. The late Furman Bisher, who covered baseball in Atlanta for nearly 60 years was second with 157 votes. Juan Vene received 74.

The Hall of Fame induction ceremony will take place July 22-25, 2016, in Cooperstown, N.Y.

Braves sweep Mets, take 2-game lead in East with 3 remaining

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ATLANTA — Matt Olson knew the Atlanta Braves were too talented to stay in a season-long slump.

That’s why no one panicked when the New York Mets’ division lead swelled to double digits in May. Now the Braves are on the cusp of another NL East title.

“It’s a clubhouse full of guys who want to win,” Olson said. “That’s all it’s been since the moment I walked in. That’s No. 1 on the program.”

Dansby Swanson and Olson homered for the third straight game, Travis d'Arnaud hit a go-ahead two-run single in the third inning, and Braves beat New York 5-3 on Sunday night, completing a three-game sweep of their NL East rival and taking a two-game lead in the division with three games to play.

The defending World Series champion Braves have been chasing the Mets the entire season. In the final series of the season, any combination of one Atlanta win or one Mets loss would give the Braves their fifth straight division title.

New York plays its final three games of the season against worst-in-the-majors Washington. Atlanta closes out the regular season with a three-game set in Miami. Should the season end Wednesday in a tie, Atlanta would win the division after claiming the season series 10-9 with Sunday’s victory.

“We’ve felt this confidence since the beginning of the year,” d’Arnaud said. “It just didn’t go our way early in the year, but pulling on the same rope, having each others’ backs, not trying to do too much. We’re just trying to play the game of baseball and have fun with it.”

The Braves won five of the last six games in the series, outscoring the Mets 42-19 over that stretch. New York had a 10 1/2-game lead on June 1 but now is the lower in the standings than at any point this season.

It was a lost weekend for New York, which came to Atlanta hoping to clinch its first division title since 2015. Instead, aces Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer lost Friday and Saturday before Chris Bassitt lasted just 2 2/3 innings on Sunday.

“We still have three games left in the regular season, we’re still going to the postseason, that doesn’t change, but there’s a lot of learning points that we can take from this series moving forward,” Mets slugger Pete Alonso said. “I thought we played well, but the Braves played better. They played excellent baseball this entire weekend.”

Swanson took Bassitt deep to right-center in the first with his 25th homer, and Atlanta took charge with a three-run third. Bassitt (15-9) issued a bases-loaded walk to Olson before d’Arnaud delivered a single up the middle to score Ronald Acuna Jr. and Austin Riley for a 4-3 lead. That chased Bassitt, who was charged with four runs, three hits and three walks.

Olson connected for his 33rd homer to make it 5-3 leading off the sixth, his 410-foot shot landing in the seats in right-center. Olson, in his first year with Atlanta, surpassed 100 RBIs for the second straight season.

“Everyone knew we were underperforming when we were flirting around that .500 range,” Olson said. “It was one of those things where it was trusting the talent we have and the guys in the clubhouse. Everybody was solid, head down, do your work, it’ll turn around and you wind up winning.”

Charlie Morton stranded runners on first and second in the first, but he gave up Daniel Vogelbach‘s 18th homer that tied it at 1 in the second. The righty struck out Francisco Lindor with runners on first and second to end the threat.

Jeff McNeil went deep off Morton in the third and Vogelbach followed with an RBI single to put the Mets up 3-1. Morton entered the game having allowed 28 homers, sixth-most in the NL.

Morton scuffled throughout his start, giving up three runs and nine hits in 4 1/3 innings as the 38-year-old made his first start since signing a $20 million, one-year contract to remain with Atlanta next season.

Dylan Lee (5-1) relieved Morton and pitched 1 1/3 innings, leaving after a walk to Brandon Nimmo with two outs in the sixth. Collin McHugh entered and struck out Francisco Lindor.

Raisel Iglesias faced four batters in the seventh, A.J. Minter faced the minimum in the eighth and closer Kenley Jansen converted his third save of the series with a clean ninth.

Jansen leads the NL with 40 saves in 47 chances.

The Braves’ bullpen, which posted a 1.70 ERA last month, pitched 8 2/3 scoreless innings the last two nights.

BIG NUMBERS

Atlanta leads the NL with 241 homers. And the Braves have their first 100-victory season since 2003.

TWO, DARN HOT

McNeil went 3 for 5 and has multiple hits in five straight games. His average is .326, one point behind the Dodgers’ Freddie Freeman for the NL batting title. In 23 career games at Truist Park, McNeil is hitting .395 with 12 runs, nine doubles, two homers, seven RBIs and four walks. … Jansen tied Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley for eighth place on the career list with 389. He’s also is the 10th closer to have four different seasons with at least 40 saves.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mets All-Star RF Starling Marte (right middle finger fracture) has yet to begin swinging or throwing. … Braves 2B Ozzie Albies (broken right pinky finger) is still wearing a cast. … Braves RHP Spencer Strider still has not thrown as he gets treatment on a sore left oblique.

ATTENDANCE

The Braves drew 42,713 in their regular season finale, the club’s 42nd sellout of the season. Overall. that’s 3,129,931 for the season – and the most tickets sold since 2000. In 2019, the team’s last full season before the COVID-19 pandemic, Atlanta drew 2,655,100.

UP NEXT

Mets: RHP Carlos Carrasco (15-7, 3.95 ERA) will face Nationals RHP Cory Abbott (0-4, 5.11).

Braves: RHP Bryce Elder (2-3, 2.76 ERA) will face Marlins LHP Jesus Luzardo (3-7, 3.53).