MLB announces an ‘All-MLB’ team

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We have All-Stars and Gold Gloves and Silver Sluggers and stuff, but we’ve never had an “All-MLB” team, a-la the NFL’s “All-Pro” team. Until now that is.

Major League Baseball announced today that it is launching an official “All-MLB Team,” recognizing the top performances by players in the 2019 regular season.  The inaugural All-MLB choices will be announced on Tuesday, December 10 during the Baseball Winter Meetings in San Diego.

Like most of MLB’s more recent awards and honors, the All-MLB team will be selected via a combination of a fan vote and a panel of experts. As for the fan vote, starting today and continuing through December 3 at 5:00 PM Eastern, fans may vote for their 2019 All-MLB choices. Like the other fan votes, fans can vote more than once — once every 24 hours on this thing — at MLB.com. No one at MLB ever tells you that that’s a nifty way of driving traffic to a page sponsored by a single, exclusive paid sponsor — in this case Scotts — but such is business in the 21st century.

The non-fan-voting portion of this will be decided by a “decorated panel of media members, broadcasters, former players and other officials throughout the game.” The panel vote will be weighted equally to the fan vote. There will be a first team and a second team All-MLB squad.

The nice touches: there is no need to balance American League and National League. It’s all just one team (and the second team) regardless of league. Likewise, outfield will not be separated by left, center and right field, allowing people to pick the three best outfielders, full stop. There will be a DH, five starting pitchers and two relief pitchers for both the first and second All-MLB teams. It seems light on the relief pitchers given that teams have more relievers than anything else on their roster, but let’s leave that discussion for another time.

Biden praises Braves’ ‘unstoppable, joyful run’ to 2021 win

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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said the Atlanta Braves will be “forever known as the upset kings of October” for their improbable 2021 World Series win, as he welcomed the team to the White House for a victory celebration.

Biden called the Braves’ drive an “unstoppable, joyful run.” The team got its White House visit in with just over a week left before the 2022 regular season wraps up and the Major League Baseball playoffs begin again. The Braves trail the New York Mets by 1.5 games in the National League East but have clinched a wildcard spot for the MLB playoffs that begin Oct. 7. Chief Executive Officer Terry McGuirk said he hoped they’d be back to the White House again soon.

In August 2021, the Braves were a mess, playing barely at .500. But then they started winning. And they kept it up, taking the World Series in six games over the Houston Astros.

Biden called their performance of “history’s greatest turnarounds.”

“This team has literally been part of American history for over 150 years,” said Biden. “But none of it came easy … people counting you out. Heck, I know something about being counted out.”

Players lined up on risers behind Biden, grinning and waving to the crowd, but the player most discussed was one who hasn’t been on the team in nearly 50 years and who died last year: Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

Hammerin’ Hank was the home run king for 33 years, dethroning Babe Ruth with a shot to left field on April 8, 1974. He was one of the most famous players for Atlanta and in baseball history, a clear-eyed chronicler of the hardships thrown his way – from the poverty and segregation of his Alabama youth to the racist threats he faced during his pursuit of one of America’s most hallowed records. He died in January at 86.

“This is team is defined by the courage of Hank Aaron,” Biden said.

McGuirk said Aaron, who held front office positions with the team and was one of Major League Baseball’s few Black executives, was watching over them.

“He’d have been there every step of the way with us if he was here,” McGuirk added.

The president often honors major league and some college sports champions with a White House ceremony, typically a nonpartisan affair in which the commander in chief pays tribute to the champs’ prowess, poses for photos and comes away with a team jersey.

Those visits were highly charged in the previous administration. Many athletes took issue with President Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric on policing, immigration and more. Trump, for his part, didn’t take kindly to criticism from athletes or their on-field expressions of political opinions.

Under Biden, the tradition appears to be back. He’s hosted the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks and Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the White House. On Monday he joked about first lady Jill Biden’s Philadelphia allegiances.

“Like every Philly fan, she’s convinced she knows more about everything in sports than anybody else,” he said. He added that he couldn’t be too nice to the Atlanta team because it had just beaten the Phillies the previous night in extra innings.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was later questioned about the team’s name, particularly as other professional sports teams have moved away from names – like the Cleveland Indians, now the Guardians, and the Washington Redskins, now the Commanders – following years of complaints from Native American groups over the images and symbols.

She said it was important for the country to have the conversation. “And Native American and Indigenous voices – they should be at the center of this conversation,” she said.

Biden supported MLB’s decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to protest Georgia’s sweeping new voting law, which critics contend is too restrictive.