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Tigers DH Delmon Young wins ALCS MVP award

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Tigers DH Delmon Young wins ALCS MVP award

DETROIT (AP) Delmon Young is finally playing up to his vast potential.

Perfect timing.

Young was selected MVP of the AL championship series Thursday after batting .353 with two homers and six RBIs for the Detroit Tigers in a four-game sweep of the New York Yankees.

The designated hitter capped his latest clutch performance with a run-scoring single in the first inning to get the Tigers off to a good start en route to an 8-1 rout in Game 4 that put them in the World Series.

``He got hot again this year at the right time for us,'' manager Jim Leyland said. ``He stepped it up under the big lights. Not that they are not bright all year, but they are a little brighter this time of year. He stepped it up two consecutive years for us. And the MVP, what a tremendous honor for him.''

Earlier this year, Young found mostly trouble.

Back in April, he was charged with a hate crime and suspended by Major League Baseball. His older brother, two-time All-Star Dmitri Young, said that was a turning point in Delmon's life.

``It forced him to focus on being the player that was the No. 1 pick overall,'' Dmitri Young said from California in a telephone interview Thursday night with The Associated Press. ``He's gotten a chance to show people who the true Delmon Young is, and not the guy who did what he did on that one night.''

Delmon Young, the top pick in the 2003 amateur draft by Tampa Bay, was arrested nearly six months ago in New York on a hate-crime harassment charge. He was accused of yelling anti-Jewish epithets at a group of tourists, tussling with them and tackling one to the ground while the Tigers were in town to play the Yankees.

Young was suspended for seven days without pay by the commissioner's office. He appeared briefly in a Manhattan court in August for an update on the misdemeanor case and his lawyer said Young was trying to work out a deal with prosecutors.

Young has said he regrets what happened. His lawyer, Daniel J. Ollen, has said the player reacted to something that was said to him. Young is free on $5,000 bond and due back in court Nov. 7, after the World Series.

It wasn't the first time he's been in trouble. In the minors, Young was suspended for 50 games in 2006 for infamously whipping his bat and hitting an umpire after the then-20-year-old player struck out looking.

But over the past two years, he's been an October nemesis for the Yankees, hitting five playoff home runs against them as Detroit eliminated New York both times. Young's seven career postseason homers - all since 2011 - set a Tigers record, and he's second in franchise history with 14 postseason RBIs.

``They've got some great pitchers over there and I was able to find some holes,'' he said.

Young, who batted.267 with 18 homers and 74 RBIs this year, became the first player with four game-winning RBIs in one postseason series, according to STATS LLC.

Just don't expect much of an answer if you ask him to explain his postseason success.

``I have no clue,'' he said. ``I need to figure it out for the season, too.''

Playing in the postseason for the fourth straight year, the 27-year-old Young drove in as many runs as the Yankees scored in the entire ALCS.

Now, he's headed to his first World Series.

``That was thanks to our starting pitchers,'' Young said. ``They carried us the whole playoffs so far, making it easy on the offense by putting up zeros on the board.''

Young's bat is crucial to the Tigers because he hits right behind Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder, providing protection for both star sluggers.

Big league success runs in the family, too.

Dmitri Young was a .292 career hitter who played in St. Louis, Cincinnati, Detroit and Washington from 1996-2008. The former slugger, who is 12 years older than Delmon, had a great view of his kid brother's home run during a 2-1 victory in Game 3. Watching Delmon play in Detroit for the first time, Dmitri was in the 25th row behind home plate. He captured video of the solo shot, starting with the crack of the bat.

``I put my phone up and bam!'' the elder Young said with an ear-to-ear grin. ``I'm real proud of him.''

The next game, Dmitri watched his younger brother play on TV.

``He stepped up and helped the team do what they were supposed to do, doing what he does best in big-time, big-light situations,'' Dmitri Young told the AP. ``Most people were writing him off during the year, but he proved people wrong - again.''

The elder Young was the 2007 NL comeback player of the year after bouncing back from personal, professional, legal and substance-abuse problems to hit a career-best .320 and become an All-Star for the second time.

Dmitri Young said he stopped drinking alcohol on June 21, 2011, and has lost 80 pounds. After watching his brother play in the World Series, he will focus on the California Big League Academy Da Meathook Switch Hitting University in in Camarillo, Calif.

``I'm healthy and that's the most important thing to me,'' he said.

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AP Sports Writer Mike Fitzpatrick in New York contributed to this report.

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Michigan's Moritz Wagner could be Wizards' solution for a stretch-five

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Michigan's Moritz Wagner could be Wizards' solution for a stretch-five

The pre-draft workout process can be an exhausting journey for players, with so many flights, hotel rooms and NBA arenas that they can all blend in together. Michigan big man Moritz Wagner, though, may have felt a sense of comfort in Washington for his pre-draft workout for the Wizards on Wednesday.

It was just over a year ago that his Michigan Wolverines cut down the nets at Capital One Arena as champions of the Big Ten conference.

"It was good memories, man. Never gets old," he said while glancing around the stadium.

Wagner, 21, will be seeing a lot more of Capital One Arena once he joins the NBA ranks and it is conceivable he ends up in Washington. They hold the 15th pick in the first round and the 44th pick in the second round and Wagner could be within their reach.

Wagner had an impressive workout in Washington and could provide what the Wizards need. He is a big, mobile and can spread the floor. Wagner was terrific at stepping out to hit threes off pick-and-rolls at Michigan and that ability would work well with Wizards All-Star point guard John Wall.

Wagner measured in at just under 7-feet at this month's NBA Combine, fifth-tallest among those who attended. He averaged 14.6 points as a junior this past season and made 39.4 percent of his threes on 4.1 attempts per game.

With three years of college experience and an NBA-ready jumper, Wagner believes he can step right in and help the Wizards.

"I think what we did at Michigan, sharing the ball and playing as a team, very organized basketball, that can help big-time," he said. "It's basically pro basketball I was playing on a different level."

As Wagner will tell you, he is very confident in his abilities. He is comfortable in his own skin and that includes openly discussing his faults. He feels good about his ability to score at the next level. Defense is where he needs to prove himself.

Despite his size, Wagner wasn't much of a rim protector in college. He averaged just a half-block a game as a junior. The Wizards need rim protection badly and he likely would not provide that.

Wagner, though, believes he can bring more to the table defensively than the numbers would suggest.

"I think I've been an offensive guy all of my life, but the more that you mature as a player, you understand that both sides are important. Without defense, you aren't going to play at any level," he said.

"I think the most important thing that I wasn't able to show in college is that I'm able to switch the ball-screen, especially with the way the league is going. Switch on everything and stay in front of guards as a big guy."

Wagner is from Germany and looks up to Mavs legend Dirk Nowitzki, who is entering his 21st season and will be in the Hall of Fame someday. Nowitzki's game has always been built around shooting and, though he developed into a decent shot-blocker in his prime, was never an elite rim protector.

Wagner hopes to follow in his footsteps playing a similar style.

"He was my MJ. He kind of shows you 'okay, this is possible and this is doable.' It's just basketball," Wagner said. "It gives you a lot of hope. It gives you a lot of belief and motivation."

Hear more from Wagner in his one-on-one interview with Chris Miller in our latest Wizards Tipoff podcast. His interview can also be found in the video above:

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Believe it or not, this isn't the first D.C. vs. Vegas postseason matchup

Believe it or not, this isn't the first D.C. vs. Vegas postseason matchup

In what is perhaps the most unexpected Stanley Cup Final pairing in recent memory, the Washington Capitals and the Las Vegas Golden Knights are going to make history this year.

Either it is going to be the first expansion team to win a title in their first season, or it will be a team looking to end a 27-year title drought for one of the biggest cities in the United States.

But what it will not be is the first D.C. vs. Vegas postseason matchup.

Going even farther back than the Capitals last Stanley Cup appearance (1998), the Georgetown Hoyas and UNLV Rebels met in the 1991 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

Sin City took the first, and up until now, the only postseason bout between these two cities. The Larry Johnson-led University of Las Vegas squad powered right past the Hoyas in the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament.

[D.C. sports and Second Rounds, I know right?]

Coming fresh off the NCAA title in 1990, UNLV waltzed right to the Final Four before meeting their demise against Duke. It also ended up being the last game for Dikembe Mutombo in a Georgetown uniform.

While in all likely-hood this will not be the final game/ series for Alex Ovechkin rocking the red, it may be his last and only chance for him to play this far into a postseason.

In the past two seasons, Vegas has gone from zero professional teams to having a Stanley Cup contender, a WNBA franchise, and lined up to take over the Oakland Raiders in 2020. 

Now time for the Golden Knights' Cinderella story to come up a little bit short. 

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