Cubs

The latest from the Jerry Sandusky trial

791714.jpg

The latest from the Jerry Sandusky trial

From Comcast SportsNet
BELLEFONTE, Pa. (AP) -- Jerry Sandusky's defense attorney compared the former Penn State assistant coach's high-profile child sex-abuse trial to a soap opera on Tuesday, telling reporters to "stay tuned" to find out if Sandusky would take the stand in his own defense. Asked what soap opera he'd compare the trial to, defense attorney Joe Amendola initially said "General Hospital," then "All My Children." Sandusky is charged with 51 criminal counts related to 10 alleged victims over a 15-year span. He's accused of engaging in illegal sexual contact ranging from fondling to forced oral and anal sex. Prosecutors rested their case Monday after presenting 21 witnesses, including eight who said they had been assaulted by Sandusky. The identities of two other alleged victims are unknown to investigators. After Monday's session wrapped up, Sandusky looked an Associated Press reporter in the eye and said nothing when asked if he planned to testify. Judge John Cleland said defense witnesses should be finished by mid-day Wednesday, and closing statements were expected Thursday morning. The defense portion of the case included a former Penn State coach who said he knew Sandusky brought boys into showers but never saw him do anything wrong. The six witnesses spoke to Sandusky's reputation but did little to directly counter the accusers' testimony. Remaining possible defense witnesses include Sandusky's wife, Dottie, and an expert who could discuss whether Sandusky has "histrionic personality disorder," which experts have called a personality disorder characterized by inappropriate sexual behavior and erratic emotions. The list of potential witnesses also includes a physician who spoke with key prosecution witness Mike McQueary the night he said he saw Sandusky attack a child in a football team shower in 2001, and members of former football coach Joe Paterno's family, although it was unclear how they might fit into the defense case or whether they will be called. Sandusky's arrest led the university trustees to fire Paterno as coach in November, saying his response to the 2001 report from McQueary showed a lack of leadership. Paterno died of cancer in January. Dick Anderson, a longtime Penn State assistant and Sandusky friend who retired in January, testified that he and other members of the football staff were present when Sandusky brought young boys into the team's showers. He said he never witnessed anything inappropriate. "If Jerry would bring someone in with The Second Mile, they had been working out, for whatever reason they came in, it was not uncommon ... with the other coaches in the shower as well," Anderson said, referring to the charity for at-risk children Sandusky founded in 1977. Anderson, who coached at Penn State from 1970 to 1983 and again from 1990 through the 2011 season, said adults and children often shower together at gyms. He noted, for example, that it's not unusual for him to be in the showers with boys at the YMCA. Anderson also spoke in detail about the long hours of coaching and the recruiting trips required for the job, which could lay the groundwork for a defense argument that accuser testimony about regular contact with Sandusky may be inaccurate or exaggerated. Anderson said he did not know Sandusky had been barred by university administrators from taking children onto campus after the 2001 incident was reported by McQueary, although that was disclosed in court documents and has been widely and repeatedly reported since Sandusky's arrest. When lead prosecutor Joe McGettigan asked him if that fact would surprise him, Anderson said yes. The defense's case focused largely on Sandusky's reputation. Anderson said he was "well thought of in every regard," former Penn State assistant coach Booker Brooks called his reputation "exemplary, top-notch," and local political consultant Brent Pasquinelli, who raised money for The Second Mile, called him "a local hero." Besides Anderson, Brooks and Pasquinelli, three other witnesses testified for the defense Monday: a woman who ran a golf-related charity to which one accuser was recommended by Sandusky, a young man who knew Sandusky through The Second Mile and vouched for his reputation, and a schoolteacher who said Sandusky seemed genuinely interested in helping one of the alleged victims in the case. None was on the stand for more than 10 minutes. Tom Kline, a Philadelphia lawyer who represents one of the accusers, said he was served a defense subpoena on Monday, ordering him to produce a copy of the fee agreement he has made with Victim 5, along with copies of his interactions with reporters.

Why did Kris Bryant get a first-place vote in this year's National League MVP balloting?

1117_kris_bryant.jpg
USA TODAY

Why did Kris Bryant get a first-place vote in this year's National League MVP balloting?

Kris Bryant was the 2016 National League MVP. And despite having what could be considered an even better campaign this past season, he finished seventh in voting for the 2017 edition of the award.

The NL MVP was awarded to Miami Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton on Thursday night, a fine choice, though it was nearly impossible to make a poor choice, that's how many fantastic players there were hitting the baseball in the NL this season.

After Stanton, Cinicinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto finished second, earning the same amount of first-place votes and losing out to Stanton by just one point. Then came Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado, Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon and Washington Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon ahead of Bryant.

But there was someone who thought Bryant deserved to repeat as the NL MVP. Yes, Bryant earned a first-place vote — as did everyone else mentioned besides Rendon, for that matter — causing a bit of a social-media stir considering the Cubs third baseman, despite his great season, perhaps wasn't as standout a candidate as some of the other guys who finished higher in the voting.

So the person who cast that first-place vote for Bryant, MLB.com's Mark Bowman, wrote up why he felt Bryant deserved to hoist the Kenesaw Mountain Landis Memorial Baseball Award for the second straight year.

"In the end, I chose Bryant because I believe he made the greatest impact, as his second-half production fueled the successful turnaround the Cubs experienced after the All-Star break," Bowman wrote.

"Though I don't believe the MVP must come from a playoff contender, in an attempt to differentiate the value provided by each of these three players (Bryant, Votto and Stanton), I chose to reward the impact made by Bryant, who produced the NL's fourth-best OPS (.968) after the All-Star break, when the Cubs distanced themselves from a sub-.500 record and produced an NL-best 49 wins."

It's easy for Cubs fans and observers to follow that logic, as the Cubs took off after the All-Star break following a disappointing first half. As good as Bryant was all season long, his second-half numbers, as Bowman pointed out, were especially great. He hit .325 with a .421 on-base percentage and a .548 slugging percentage over his final 69 games of the regular season, hitting 11 home runs, knocking out 21 doubles and driving in 35 runs during that span.

Perhaps the craziest thing about this year's MVP race and Bryant's place in it is that Bryant was just as good if not better than he was in 2016, when he was almost unanimously named the NL MVP. After slashing .292/.385/.554 with 39 homers, 102 RBIs, 35 doubles, 75 walks and 154 strikeouts in 2016, Bryant slashed .295/.409/.537 with 29 homers, 73 RBIs, 38 doubles, 95 walks and 128 strikeouts in 2017.

Of course, the competition was much steeper this time around. But Bryant was given the MVP award in 2016 playing for a 103-win Cubs team that was bursting with offensive firepower, getting great seasons from Anthony Rizzo (who finished third in 2016 NL MVP voting), as well as Dexter Fowler and Ben Zobrist. While the Cubs actually scored more runs this season and undoubtedly turned it on after the All-Star break on a team-wide basis, Bryant was far and away the best hitter on the team in 2017, with many other guys throughout the lineup having notably down years and/or experiencing down stretches throughout the season. Hence, making Bryant more, say it with me, valuable.

So Bowman's argument about Bryant's impact on the Cubs — a team that still scored 822 runs, won 92 games and advanced to the National League Championship Series — is a decently convincing one.

Check out Bowman's full explanation, which dives into some of Bryant's advanced stats.

HandiKapping presented by Xpressbet

HandiKapping presented by Xpressbet

In the latest edition of HandiKapping presented by Xpressbet, NBC Sports Chicago's David Kaplan makes his picks for the weekend.

Kap made his picks with the help of Eddie Olczyk this week.