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Votto one of three finalists for MVP

Published: Monday, November 06, 2017 @ 6:51 PM

The Reds’ Joey Votto singles against the Cubs on Sunday, July 2, 2017, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. David Jablonski/Staff
The Reds’ Joey Votto singles against the Cubs on Sunday, July 2, 2017, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. David Jablonski/Staff

Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto is one of three finalists for the National League Most Valuable Player Award, Major League Baseball announced Monday.

The winner will be announced at 6 p.m. on Nov. 16 on the MLB Network. Votto is going up against Paul Goldschmidt, of the Arizona Diamondbacks, and Giancarlo Stanton, of the Miami Marlins.

“It’s very exciting,” Votto said, “and I’m honored to have been amongst the finalists. These are two guys I have a great deal of respect for, and there are several guys who weren’t among the finalists who I have a great deal of respect for. Just being in that conversation is meaningful to me.”

IN REVIEW: Numbers behind Votto’s season

If Votto wins, he would be the third Red to own two MVP awards. Joe Morgan won in 1975 and 1976. Johnny Bench won in 1970 and 1972. In all, the Reds own 12 MVP awards.

Who is Joey Votto: Ten facts about Reds first baseman(David Jablonski - Staff Writer)

Votto hit .320 with 36 home runs and 100 RBIs. He became the fourth player in Reds history to start at least 162 games in a season. He reached base a league-best and team-record 321 times. He led the league with a 1.032 OPS.

Votto, 34, became the third player in baseball history, following Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, to record at least 175 hits, 130 walks and a .450 on-base percentage for a player 33 or older.

RELATED: Former Red on Hall of Fame ballot

Votto could become the rare MVP from a last-place team. The Reds finished 68-94. He still expected to be among the finalists because he respects the voters from the Baseball Writers Association of America.

“I’ve always felt like the voters are savviest and most objective people in baseball,” Votto said. “A lot of the other awards are voted amongst people in their own little echo chamber. I feel like the writers, because there’s so much distance and so many different opinions and so many schools of thoughts and also because there are so many voters, typically the voting done by the Baseball Writers Association is the most objective and most researched. I think the points system helps. A lot of the other awards don’t have that sort of system. There’s a reason why the Cy Young, the Most Valuable Player, the Manager of the Year, those awards have a quite bit of a history to them and they’re very distinguished awards. The players respect the people that win those awards.”

Former Colts, Broncos, Falcons TE Jacob Tamme announces retirement

Published: Thursday, November 23, 2017 @ 2:19 PM

After nine seasons in the NFL, tight end Jacob Tamme announced his retirement on Thanksgiving day.

The former Indianapolis Colts, Denver Broncos and Atlanta Falcons tight end has been a free agent all season but decided to call it quits on Thursday.

Originally a fourth-round pick of the Colts at the 2008 NFL Draft, Tamme spent four seasons in Indianapolis. While he was there, he had his best season as a professional in 2010 when he hauled in 67 receptions (a career-high) for 631 yards and 4 touchdowns (a career-high).

He then went on to follow legendary quarterback Peyton Manning to the Denver Broncos, where he would spend three seasons. His first seasons in Denver was his best, catching 52 passes for 555 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Tamme then went on to spend two seasons with the Falcons, establishing a career-high for yardage in 2015 with 657 receiving yards on 59 catches. Tamme’s teams participated in two Super Bowls, but the Kentucky product never won a championship during his career.

The 32-year-old was an integrated strategic communications major in college and also received his MBA before entering the NFL. However, it’ll be interesting to see how he chooses to use that in retirement given that he earned just over $13.2 million during his playing career.

Texas Tech WR Keke Coutee among Earl Campbell Award semifinalists

Published: Thursday, November 23, 2017 @ 2:17 PM

Keke Coutee’s outstanding season continues to earn him recognition.

The Texas Tech receiver is one of 10 semifinalists for the Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award, which recognizes the best offensive player who was born in Texas, went to high school in Texas or attends a Texas University. In addition to being a Red Raider, Coutee went to Lufkin High School in Lufkin, Texas.

Coutee’s 1,074 receiving yards rank seventh in the country, while his 73 receptions are the ninth-most. Both marks are the second-best totals in the Big 12.

Coutee, who was also a semifinalist for the Biletnikoff Award, is one of four receivers up for the Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award. The junior is one of 12 receivers in the country with more than 1,000 receiving yards.

Coutee and the Red Raiders conclude the regular season Saturday against Texas. Texas Tech must win the game to become bowl eligible.

On the Beat: Michigan’s motivation is to beat Ohio State

Published: Thursday, November 23, 2017 @ 2:16 PM

Around this time four years ago, much of college football was prepared to see a bloodbath unfold in Ann Arbor.

Michigan limped to a 2-3 record in the second half of the 2013 schedule, and entered the annual rivalry game against Ohio State as a 16 1/2-point favorite. Nobody gave the Wolverines a chance to beat Ohio State that year.

Instead, the game went down to the final play, and Michigan went for the win. Playing on a broken foot, Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner sent two-point conversion pass to the corner of the end zone, intended for Drew Dileo. Ohio State’s Tyvis Powell intercepted Gardner to secure the 42-41 win.

Four years later, very few people give the Wolverines a chance to beat the Buckeyes. Michigan is a 12-point underdog for Saturday, and has yet to beat an opponent that is ranked or has a winning record. There isn’t a lot of faith in seeing a potential upset.

But no matter the records or how Michigan’s season has gone to this point, the Wolverines will dig down and find something extra when they play Ohio State. That could put Michigan in position to win.

This rivalry game means a lot — a lot more than many on the outside would value. Michigan has beaten Ohio State just twice in the last 15 years, and the fan base’s angst in regards to every loss to Ohio State continues to grow. To some, it’s a forgone conclusion the Buckeyes will head back to Columbus with another win in the series.

To others, this is a last chance for redemption. This game is even more meaningful to Michigan’s players. Especially Michigan’s seniors and fifth-year seniors, who don’t want to be the latest class to go four or five years without a win against Ohio State. That is becoming a dubious habit in Ann Arbor.

That, also, should be more than enough to ignite a competitive fire under the Wolverines.

On the Beat: How Iowa playing Black Friday football has become a tradition

Published: Thursday, November 23, 2017 @ 2:16 PM

IOWA CITY, Iowa — In what seems like eons ago, Iowa played Minnesota almost every year to end Big Ten play, and the game always took place on Saturday.

There were some bone-chilling days like in 2010, when it was 14 degrees at TCF Bank Stadium for a late-afternoon kickoff. There were some warm nights like in 2008, when points were scored everywhere in the Metrodome. There were snow angels by Iowa receiver Danan Hughes, snowballs fired from the stands and memorable sendoffs.

When Nebraska joined the Big Ten, it took many of us aback to see the league paired up the Cornhuskers with the Hawkeyes to end the season. My first thought was: Wow, no more Iowa-Minnesota to end the season. The second was: Are the Hawkeyes and Huskers going to play on Black Friday?

Nebraska’s Black Friday tradition already had survived one realignment from when the Big Eight merged with the Southwest Conference to form the Big 12. The Cornhuskers played old rival Oklahoma on Black Friday from 1990 until 1996, when Colorado became the finale. Outside of Nebraska, Black Friday and the Blackshirts seemed almost as intertwined as Thanksgiving with the Detroit Lions.

Originally, Big Ten officials planned to keep the Iowa-Nebraska game on Saturday. Then both Nebraska and Iowa administrators lobbied for a move to Friday. The other Big Ten athletics directors approved the change, and the teams were set to play on Friday for only 2011 and 2012.

Iowa wanted to make sure fans received the move amicably before making it permanent. Although there have been complaints about work-schedule adjustments and Thanksgiving dinner alterations, the move largely has been a success for the Hawkeyes and their fans. For the first six editions, the Black Friday game aired on ABC. In 2015 when Iowa was gunning for a 12-0 regular season, that game became the most widely viewed Black Friday game on ABC in 10 years.

Black Friday is an exclusive viewing window in what Big Ten senior associate commissioner Mark Rudner calls “fertile territory” for games. Ohio State-Michigan overshadows any Big Ten game that airs on the final Saturday. It doesn’t matter if a divisional title is at stake in another game, Ohio State-Michigan is a bull in a pasture full of cows. It was great for Iowa to bend its season finale away from that Goliath.

The Iowa-Nebraska Black Friday tradition ends after the 2019 game. Nebraska’s former athletic director Shawn Eichorst wanted to shift the game to Saturday. Iowa balked, and the series now is slated for early November. In 2020 and 2021, the Hawkeyes will play Wisconsin in the finale and the Cornhuskers will face Minnesota. Iowa athletic director Gary Barta said he plans to talk with Wisconsin counterpart Barry Alvarez about moving that game to Friday. Eichorst backtracked on his previous statement and vowed to keep Black Friday before he was fired. It’s possible both games could air on Black Friday in the future.

On a day when half the country takes some form of vacation day, it makes sense for Iowa to continue the Black Friday tradition. It’s a nationally televised game on a near-exclusive stage. Maybe it hasn’t quite had the winner-take-all feel, but the games matter. It gets out of the Ohio State-Michigan shadow and more people see it. That’s a win-win as far as I’m concerned.