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Joey Votto of Cincinnati Reds apologizes to James Paxton, Canada for remarks – WSAIGO Sports
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Joey Votto of Cincinnati Reds apologizes to James Paxton, Canada for remarks

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Joey Votto apologized for his comments belittling fellow Canadian James Paxton‘s accomplishment of throwing a no-hitter in Toronto, writing that his remarks “came out of a side of jealousy.”

Votto, who is from Toronto, said in a podcast released Tuesday by Yahoo! Sports that he “couldn’t give a rat’s ass” about Paxton being the first Canadian to throw a no-hitter on his home country’s soil.

“I don’t care almost at all about Canadian baseball,” Votto said on the podcast. “I wasn’t raised inside of Canadian baseball really. I’m coming up on half of my life being in the United States working and being supported by American baseball.”

“Clearly my reply came out of a side of jealousy for a Canadian baseball athlete being celebrated in the city of Toronto. It was an odd reply and one I am terribly ashamed of.”

Joey Votto, in apology written for Canadian Baseball Network

He added: “As far as Toronto, and Canadian baseball, and the country of Canada, and (James Paxton) being Canadian, I don’t care at all.”

In an apology written for the Canadian Baseball Network, Votto said he was “ridiculously selfish and short-sighted” with his answer and is “saddened that I was so flagrant with my remarks and more importantly that I offended so many people that mean so much to me.”

Votto won the Lou Marsh Award in 2017 as Canada’s athlete of the year, the second time he won the award, and he played for Team Canada in the World Baseball Classic in 2009 and 2013. But those appearances didn’t come until he was already established in the majors as an All-Star with the Cincinnati Reds.

“When asked about baseball in Canada, the Blue Jays and specifically this event, it took me back to the times and my resentment for not making Team Canada in high school, not being drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays out of high school, or not being picked for the Olympic team while in the minor leagues,” he wrote.

“Clearly my reply came out of a side of jealousy for a Canadian baseball athlete being celebrated in the city of Toronto. It was an odd reply and one I am terribly ashamed of.”

Paxton, who is from British Columbia, threw his no-hitter in the Seattle Mariners‘ 5-0 victory over the Blue Jays on May 8.

“To James Paxton, the Blue Jays, the Toronto fans, the women and men all across Canada that work so hard to promote and support Canadian baseball, I am sorry for my selfish comments and I humbly ask for your forgiveness,” Votto wrote.

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Mariano Rivera, Lee Smith and what makes a Hall of Fame closer

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With Mariano Rivera still tracking at 100 percent in the Baseball Hall of Fame balloting, it’s clear that the Cooperstown electorate has settled on a couple of things. One is obviously that Rivera belongs in the Hall of Fame. But the possible unanimity in his selection also tells us that the once-hot debate about whether relievers belong in the Hall of Fame at all is now settled. The dissenters have all but disappeared.

There is still at least one out there, Boston-area sportswriter Bill Ballou, who wrote about why he couldn’t bring himself to list Rivera on his ballot. As a result, rather than ruining Rivera’s chances of becoming the first unanimous selection, Ballou decided not to submit a ballot this year. Now, I don’t agree with Ballou, but he did have defensible reasons for his position: The save is a terrible statistic, and closers aren’t used frequently enough to fully test their mettle. He likened closers to place-kickers in the NFL, like 23-year-veteran Adam Vinatieri.

The save statistic is indeed terribly flawed, but it’s also unique in one respect. For years and years, its existence has had a profound impact on actual on-field strategy. Pitchers like Rivera weren’t used like traditional relief aces, who were likely to enter a tie game, or even down a run or two, to wriggle a club out of a jam. Those relievers threw more innings, too, while Rivera, Trevor Hoffman, Dennis Eckersley and so many others were reserved for rarefied usage patterns defined by the parameters of the save rule — a statistic cobbled together by the great Chicago sportswriter Jerome Holtzman. In his book “Smart Baseball,” my ESPN colleague Keith Law has a chapter on this titled “Holtzman’s Folly: How the Save Rule Has Ruined Baseball.”

The thing is, these days we have enough tools to work with that we can identify the best relief pitchers, of both the present and the past. Most of these measurements are much more telling than saves. By the way, I am intentionally trying to avoid the “closer” label here because these definitions are forever shifting. The National League reliever of the year last season was Milwaukee’s Josh Hader, who finished tied for 20th in the NL with 12 saves. I don’t recall there being any sort of uproar about this. Hader was very clearly the best reliever in the league and there was also little doubt that even though he didn’t close many games relative to other premier short relievers, he was providing massive value to the playoff-bound Brewers.

The most common metrics tossed around when it comes to Hall of Fame debates are WAR and JAWS, the latter the brainchild of Jay Jaffe, a writer for FanGraphs.com, an ESPN contributor and author of the excellent “The Cooperstown Casebook.” JAWS is built upon WAR methodology in an effort to balance career production with peak value.

With or without JAWS, one thing that everyone can agree on is that Rivera is the best closer of all time and most would argue that he’s the best reliever, period. So if you can construct an argument that he doesn’t belong in Cooperstown, you are constructing an argument that no pure reliever ought to be there. One thing you might point out is that Rivera’s 56.2 career WAR ranks 227th all time, right between Orel Hershiser and Robin Ventura. His JAWS score (42.5) is the best of the pure relievers. It ranks behind Eckersley, who accrued a good chunk of WAR as a starting pitcher. But among starting pitchers, Rivera’s JAWS score would be tied with David Wells for 124th in history.

Jaffe lists relievers separately, so you’re comparing them only to each other. That’s clearly the way to go, but it doesn’t address the larger question of if relievers should be in the Hall at all. The fact that the bottom-line value of Rivera — the consensus best at his position — is roughly comparable to very good, but definitely not great, starters is at the heart of the argument that relievers aren’t Hall-worthy in the first place. However, most analysts seem to have come around to where I’m at: For relievers, it’s not about the quantity of their innings, and it’s not really about saves, either, and it’s not about WAR. It’s about the impact they have on winning, and WAR captures only a sliver of the picture for that position.

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Red Sox manager Alex Cora hedges on White House visit

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BOSTON — Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora, a Puerto Rico native who has been outspoken about its need for hurricane relief, indicated on Thursday that he may skip the World Series celebration at the White House over President Donald Trump’s policies toward the island.

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Buster's Buzz: Red Sox repeat? Four question marks facing the champs

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From health to hangovers, Boston still must find a few answers in its quest for a second straight ring.

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