Red Sox

Ex-Red Sox coach Lovullo named N.L. Manager of Year

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Ex-Red Sox coach Lovullo named N.L. Manager of Year

Paul Molitor and Torey Lovullo both presided over turnaround seasons, guided their teams into the playoffs and won Manager of the Year awards by wide margins.

The paths they took, those were totally different.

Molitor needed a clubhouse talk to calm down the Minnesota Twins, his players angered by moves the front office at the July 31 trade deadline.

"I still believed," Molitor said Tuesday, recalling how he helped his team overcome "that speed bump."

No such distractions in the desert.

In his first full season as a skipper, Lovullo built a culture of communication with the Arizona Diamondbacks. He often referred to the "love" teammates had for each other - and Lovullo certainly loved the midseason deal that brought big-hitting J.D. Martinez to the D-backs.

"We are going to be one year better," he said, adding his club would be even "more united" in 2018.

Molitor won the American League Manager of the Year award after the Twins became the first team to make the playoffs following a 100-loss season.

Molitor drew 18 of the 30 first-place votes in balloting by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Cleveland's Terry Francona was second and A.J. Hinch of the World Series champion Houston Astros finished third. Voting was completed before the start of the playoffs.

Lovullo got 18 first-place votes, too, in earning the National League prize. Dave Roberts of the Los Angeles Dodgers was second and Colorado's Bud Black was third.

Roberts, Black, Milwaukee's Craig Counsell and Dusty Baker, since let go by Washington, also had first-place votes.

Molitor joined Frank Robinson as the only Hall of Fame players to win a manager of the year award, which was first presented in 1983.

"I was aware of some of the history," Molitor said.

The Twins went 85-77 this season and captured their first playoff spot since 2010 before losing to the Yankees in the AL wild-card game. Last year, the Twins led the majors with 103 losses.

Brian DozierJoe Mauer and their Minnesota teammates were in the midst of a 5-13 slide when the Twins traded closer Brandon Kintzler to Washington for a minor leaguer less than a month after he made the All-Star team. They also dealt away Jaime Garcia after he won his only start since they got him from Atlanta.

"A little bit of a wrinkle," Molitor said.

Molitor's message to the Twins at that point was "not magical," he said. Instead, it was fairly simple and straightforward: Believe in yourselves.

"I still had a lot of optimism," he said.

The 61-year-old Molitor was born and raised in St. Paul, Minnesota, and got the last of his 3,319 career hits with the Twins in 1998.

Shortly after the playoff loss, Molitor got a new three-year contract to continue managing the Twins.

The 52-year-old Lovullo guided the Diamondbacks to a 93-69 record and their first playoff spot since 2011, a year after they went 69-93.

Lovullo was Boston's bench coach when he ran the Red Sox for 48 games in 2015 while manager John Farrell underwent cancer treatment.

Powered by Paul GoldschmidtJake Lamb and Martinez, and led by pitchers Zack Greinke and Robbie Ray, the Diamondbacks made the playoffs this year. They beat Colorado in the NL wild-card game before getting swept by the Dodgers in the Division Series.

The Diamondbacks were swept in a three-game series at Minnesota in mid-August, outscored 27-8 at Target Field. Less than a week later, Arizona began a franchise-record 13-game winning streak.

Going into a new season, Lovullo's team has a new target.

"It didn't end the way we wanted. The Dodgers walked through us," he said.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Pedro Martinez hopes MLB owners, players can think about fans and compromise

Pedro Martinez hopes MLB owners, players can think about fans and compromise

The NHL has announced a return-to-play strategy. The NBA could announce its plan as soon as Thursday after a Board of Governors vote.

And then there's Major League Baseball.

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MLB's first proposal was quickly shot down by the Players' Association, which submitted its own plan over the weekend. That's also expected to be immediately dismissed. And as the days tick by, the hopes for a 2020 season get dimmer. While there's still time to salvage a season, the lack of productive dialogue between the league and the MLBPA is getting discouraging.

Speaking on NBC Sports Network's "Lunch Talk Live" on Monday afternoon, Pedro Martinez voiced his frustration with the stalemate.

"I'm hoping that both sides actually stop thinking about their own good and start thinking about the fans," Martinez said. "I think this is a perfect time to have their baseball teams out there and try to have the people forget a little bit about what's going on. It's not only the pandemic, it's everything that's going on. People need something to actually do and find a way to relax. I hope that the Players' Association and MLB realize how important it is to bring some sort of relief to people."

Martinez is spot-on with the sentiment that sports returning would be a welcome respite from the news right now. But getting players back on the field is proving to be complicated, especially as the sides navigate the financials of a shorter season without revenue from tickets.

"The economics is the dark part of baseball. The business part of baseball is dirty. It's dark," Martinez told Tirico. "And I hope that they take into consideration who pays our salaries, what the people do for us, how important the people are, and forget about or at least bend your arm a little bit to find a middle ground for the negotiations.

Let's not be selfish about it. Let's think about the fans, let's think about the families that are home that want to at least watch a baseball game and distract themselves from all the things that are going on.

Ongoing disputes over money are reflecting horribly on the sport, and cancelling the entire 2020 season could do irreperable harm to a sport that has seen its popularity ebb in recent years.

Fans can only hope that the sides take Pedro's advice, and find some common ground — and do it quickly. 

Relive Manny Ramirez's greatest moments on Red Sox legend's 48th birthday

Relive Manny Ramirez's greatest moments on Red Sox legend's 48th birthday

One of the most entertaining players ever to don a Boston Red Sox uniform was born 48 years ago today.

That would be Manny Ramirez, who celebrates his birthday on May 30. In honor of the special occasion, Major League Baseball tweeted an awesome video that includes some of Ramirez's greatest moments:

Watch below:

That cutoff of Johnny Damon's throw never gets old.

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Ramirez joined the Red Sox in 2001 after spending the first seven seasons of his career with the Cleveland Indians. From there, he became a key contributor to two World Series titles (2004 and 2007) and furthered his legacy as one of the best right-handed hitters of all time.

He isn't done yet, either. Ramirez announced just a couple of months ago he is hoping to find a roster spot in Taiwan's Chinese Professional Baseball League. More "Manny Being Manny"? That sounds great to us.

We wish a very happy birthday to one of the greatest (and most interesting) players in Red Sox history.