Red Sox

Benintendi ALCS Game 4 catch is AP's play of the year

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Benintendi ALCS Game 4 catch is AP's play of the year

There may have been better catches, but it'd be hard to find a better and bigger one - given the stakes - than Andrew Benintendi's diving grab in Houston to end the Red Sox's 8-6 victory over the Astros in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series. 

The catch of Alex Bregman's bases-loaded liner to left field gave the Sox a 3-1 series lead and is the Associated Press Play of the Year for 2018. 

Here's the AP description:

1. A dive into Red Sox lore

Andrew Benintendi may never make a better catch. The left fielder for the Boston Red Sox made a diving grab to end Game 4 of the AL Championship Series, a huge play on his team's run to the World Series title. Boston led 8-6 in Game 4, up 2-1 in the series, but the bases were loaded in Houston and the crowd at Minute Maid Park was roaring. Alex Bregman hit a liner that was sinking fast, and if it had gotten past Benintendi the Astros would have likely scored three runs to win. But Benintendi dove perfectly, snared the ball just above the grass and the rest is now Red Sox lore — as well as the play of the year.

The Sox, of course, would go on to win Game 5 to wrap up the series and head to the World Series, where they also won in five games over the L.A. Dodgers. That also included a spectacular Benintendi catch in Game 2.  

In fact, AP's Top 3 plays of 2018 had New England connections. But the other two were not so good for the locals.

No. 2 was actually two plays, both shots by Notre Dame's Arike Ogunbowale: The buzzer-beater that knocked UConn out of the NCAA women's basketball tournament in the national semifinals and her go-ahead hoop two nights later in the final against Mississippi State. 

No. 3 was also two plays, both in which the Patriots were victimized: The Eagles' "Philly Special" touchdown catch by quarterback Nick Foles in Super Bowl 52, and the Dolphins' "Miami Miracle" last-second lateral TD scored by Kenyan Drake that beat the Pats on Dec. 9. 

Ouch. Those still smart.

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How Curt Schilling feels about narrowly missing Hall of Fame in 2020

How Curt Schilling feels about narrowly missing Hall of Fame in 2020

Curt Schilling had a feeling he wouldn't make the Baseball Hall of Fame's Class of 2020. He was right.

The former Boston Red Sox pitcher finished 20 votes shy of earning a Hall of Fame nod Tuesday, as shortstop Derek Jeter and outfielder Larry Walker were the only two inductees.

Hours before the Hall of Fame revealed its results, Schilling tweeted he didn't expect to make it this year but hoped Walker and Jeter would.

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But what about his own fate? Schilling, who has just two years of ballot eligibility remaining, has criticized the voting process in the past. The six-time All-Star took the high road Tuesday night, though, congratulating Jeter and Walker while advocating for Scott Rolen to join the Class of 2021.

Schilling didn't totally steer clear of the Hall of Fame debate, though. The former Red Sox pitcher disagreed with a Twitter user who believed Andy Pettitte deserves Hall of Fame recognition for his playoff success, then admitted he doesn't see either Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens getting into the Hall.

Clemens and Bonds' suspected use of performance-enhancing drugs has denied them entry into the Hall for eight years. The debate for Schilling revolves more around statistics: He won three World Series titles (one with the Red Sox in 2004) and is the only non-active pitcher with more than 3,000 career strikeouts who isn't in the Hall of Fame.

Schilling also has had numerous off-field controversies and has gotten into hot water several times for making controversial comments. The 53-year-old was on his best behavior Tuesday, though.

Curt Schilling misses out on Baseball Hall of Fame, Derek Jeter, Larry Walker in

Curt Schilling misses out on Baseball Hall of Fame, Derek Jeter, Larry Walker in

In his eighth year on the ballot, Curt Schilling again fell short of making it into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

The Hall of Fame announced their Class of 2020 on Tuesday night. Two players got in. Former New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, who was one vote shy of being a unanimous selection, and former Montreal Expos and Colorado Rockies outfielder Larry Walker, who just squeaked in with 76.6 percent of the vote in his final year on the ballot.

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Meanwhile, Schilling earned 70 percent of the vote to finish third in the voting. He finished 20 votes shy of the 75 percent threshold needed to qualify for the Hall.

Two other notable candidates with Red Sox ties, Roger Clemens and Manny Ramirez, didn't make the cut either. Here are the full results from the voting, per the BBWAA.

Schilling wasn't expecting to get in as a part of the 2020 class. He said as much on Twitter before the announcement while wishing luck to Walker and Jeter in the selection process.

Schilling had previously indicated that he wouldn't have a problem being left out and noted that strong players, like Luis Tiant, never quite made the cut for the Hall of Fame.

Still, Schilling has two years left on the ballot to qualify. And he was up 9.1 percent from his 2019 voting numbers (60.1 percent), so he is certainly trending in the right direction.

Perhaps 2021 will be the year for Schilling.