MVP Award has evolved since Fred Lynn won it

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MVP Award has evolved since Fred Lynn won it

Like many baseball fans, Fred Lynn will be tuned in later today when the MVP awards for both the American and National Leagues will be announced on national TV, followed immediately by interviews by satellite, texts, cellphone calls, and postings on social media. Its a far different scenario than when Lynn won 37 years ago.

To be honest with you, it was a non-issue, Lynn said Thursday morning by phone from his home in Southern California. Because after the season was over I was so crushed that we lost the World Series that nothing really mattered to me as far as awards. And there was no ballyhoo. No one talked to me about it. It was really a non-issue.

In fact, I dont even remember when they gave me the Rookie of the Year award. When the MVP came down, I was driving across the country and I learned about by either seeing it on TV or reading about it in the newspaper and no one could even get hold of me to talk to me because I was en route from Boston to California in a car.

Its so different than it is now. You hear Youre an MVP and I thought Thats great. Theres no interviews, there was none of that kind of stuff.

Lynn, the 1975 Red Sox center fielder on the team that suffered a crushing loss to the Reds in the World Series, made baseball history that season becoming the first player to win Rookie of the Year and MVP awards in the same season. He won both in landslides. He beat out teammate Jim Rice for the Rookie of the Year, with 23.5 first place votes. In MVP balloting, Lynn took 22 of 24 first place votes, beating Royals first baseman John Mayberry, 326-157 the 169-point margin of victory was the largest ever in either league.

A lot of things from that season stand out playing in the World Series, coming up with Rice, playing with Carl Yastrzemski, Rico Petrocelli, Carlton Fisk. His three-home run, 10-RBI game on June 18 in Detroit. But as a rookie, Lynn, who played 17 seasons, was just trying to keep his head down and do his job.

But he wasnt thinking about postseason awards at the time.

No, he said. No one talked about it. Not even the media. We were so intent in getting to the playoffs. And you have to understand as rookies in those days you were seen but not heard. No one was going to ask our opinion about anything. They went to the veterans. Its not like now.

Lynns accomplishment didnt really sink in until much later.

For the first couple years after I had done that, wed play on the road and theyd have a quiz for the fans, What player was the first to win both? he said. And my name would come up. And then I really didnt understand what I had accomplished until my career was over. And you look back on it and you say You know what, that was pretty groundbreaking. Because rookies in those days, we were second-class citizens, even on your own club. You had to prove yourself not only to fans and the media but to your own teammates. So it was much more difficult for rookies to do anything because a lot of times rookies didnt even make the club.

Thursdays MVP announcements, especially that of AL MVP, will be accompanied by a great deal of national and international -- attention, along with much debate, discussion, dissection, and analysis over whether the right player won. Angels center fielder Mike Trout, who was named the AL Rookie of the Year earlier this week, has a chance to join Lynn and Ichiro Suzuki as the only players to win both awards in the same season. Trouts strongest opposition will come from Detroit third baseman Miguel Cabrera, who etched his name in the history books this season, becoming the first Triple Crown winner since 1967, when Carl Yastrzemski accomplished the feat.

Although Lynn lives in Southern California, and has ties to the Angels from his four seasons playing for the club, he hasnt seen much of Trout. Lynn got a chance to see the Angels phenom in August, when the Angels and Lynn visited Fenway Park at the same time.

I always watch centerfielders, anyway, Lynn said. And I just said, Wow, this is a big kid. He looks like hes about 220. I played football. He looks like a fullback, almost like a middle linebacker, and with speed. So thats a really, really rare combination. You dont see it that often. You see one or the other, the size or the speed. He kind of reminds me of when Bo Jackson came into the league.

Hes a fun player to watch. I watch defense. I dont watch offense, because a lot of guys can swing the bat. And guys that size its no surprise that he can hit home runs. But I watch guys defensively. Thats what Im noted for and thats what I watch in other guys, and thats pretty much how I judge centerfielders, not with their bat but with their glove. So hes fun to watch, theres no question about it.

Asked if there was anything about Trouts game that reminds Lynn of himself, he laughs and quickly replies, No!

No, because of our size differential. At the end of the 75 season, I was wearing down. There was no weightlifting in those days, you have to remember, and I was barely 6-feet tall and by the end of the season I bet I was about 170 pounds. This kid hits about 225.

So, who does Lynn think should win the 2012 AL MVP?

From what Im hearing its going to be closer than I think it should be. But its Cabrera all the way, Lynn said.

Cabrera stepped up big time in September and he carried that club and all of a sudden hes leading in every category. And you go, Hey, wait a minute, we have a Triple Crown candidate. And not only did he carry that weight on his shoulders, he carried his whole team. You look at what he did in September, he hit .333 with 11 home runs and 30 RBI in 31 games, whatever it was. Men on base, ho got the big hit. Got the home run. He did all these things. And his team won. And they won because of him primarily. So that was the deciding factor. As an ex-player -- I played with the last guy to do it, Yastrzemski -- so I know how difficult it is to achieve that feat. And to be able to say that you got your team to the playoffs, too. The other guy didnt? I think its a no-brainer.

In your lifetime you might not see it. And if he doesnt win, it just shows me that these new sets of criteria or statistics have crept into our game that no player was a part of, no player thought of these things. It was a guy from MIT. If he doesnt win, Ill just say What? How can you do that to a Triple Crown winner and a guy that got the team to the playoffs?

Plus the fact that heres another thing Im not hearing much. Hes a first baseman by trade. So he was willing to move to third base. Obviously he knows hes not Brooks Robinson. But hes got pretty soft hands, he catches everything that he can get to, and hes got a pretty good arm. He knows that their team is better with Prince Fielder over at first. So hes willing to go to a new position. And when you do that, theres a stress factor that you cant even imagine. And no ones talked about that. Its stressful. Ok, Im playing third, dont screw up. These are things he wouldnt think about if he was playing first. So that tells me hes a real team-oriented guy. You love to have guys like that on your club. Theyre willing to sacrifice themselves for the good of the team. That is points. Trout played better defensively. Well, OK, what if you put him at third base or someplace where he really feels naked out there? So thats a big deal. This is a real team guy. I just like the guy a lot.

Tatum easing into new challenge with Celtics

Tatum easing into new challenge with Celtics

BOSTON -- While the newest Boston Celtics were scattered about while at a community service event, 19-year-old Jayson Tatum was sitting in a really comfortable-looking chair, resting. 

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind unlike any he had ever experienced, beginning with the pre-draft process, to workouts, to the draft itself and all the appearances and media engagements that have followed. 

“It’s a lot,” Tatum, grinning, told CSNNE.com. “But I’m taking it one day at a time.”

That steady-as-she-goes approach served him well during his lone season at Duke. 

Keeping an even-keeled approach will bode well for him as he gears up for his first taste of NBA basketball beginning with summer league practice this week in preparation for next week’s summer league action which begins in Salt Lake City. 

Boston’s summer league opener will be July 3 against Philadelphia and the top overall pick Markelle Fultz, at the University of Utah’s Jon M. Huntsman Center.

Tatum, who has not played in a five-on-five game since Duke’s loss to South Carolina in the NCAA tournament, is admittedly excited to get back on the floor this week. 

“I can’t wait,” he said. 

Celtics Nation feels the same way about Tatum, selected with the third overall pick in last week’s NBA draft. 

Although it’s only a preseason game, there will be expectations and with that, possibly some added pressure for Tatum to show he was such a coveted player by the Celtics. 

“That’s why Duke helped me a lot,” he told CSNNE.com. “Duke, the best program in college basketball, we were always on the national spotlight good or bad, whether we were winning or losing. That will help me a lot preparing for the Boston Celtics.”

And like Duke, Tatum will have to fight his way on to the court although he readily admits the challenge is much greater in the NBA. 

“Isaiah Thomas, Jaylen Brown, Jae Crowder . . . we didn’t have those guys at Duke,” Tatum said. “It’s gonna be tough; just try my best and get in where I fit in.”

Tatum said he will at times lean on his more experienced teammates, one of which was a former teammate of his – sort of – in Jaylen Brown. 

“I’ve known Jaylen for a while,” Tatum said. “We played with and against each other in high school at AAU camps. 

Tatum added, “at the AAU camps, sometimes we were on the same team and sometimes we were not.”

While much has been made about how the two are similar, Tatum sees both having strengths that complement, rather than compete, with each other. 

“He’s further along than Jaylen was skill-wise and he’s not as far along as Jaylen physically,” said Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations. “Again, he’s 19 years old. I don’t want to put any expectations … I want to give him time to grow. We’ll see. He’ll definitely have a role, get a chance to play. And how well he performs is up to him.”

Tatum’s assessment of his game and Brown’s goes as follows:

“He’s a lot stronger, bigger than me,” Tatum, who is 6-foot-8, 204 pounds, acknowledged. “He’s much more athletic. Offensively, I think that’s what I excel in, being smooth and my ability to score. I can just learn from him, the things that he went through last year.”

One of the things he has already picked up on, is that Brown is a pretty smart – and at times clever – dude. 

Not long after Tatum picked jersey number 11, Brown, who wears number 7, took to social media and came up with a 7-11 theme that has already lead to some pretty snazzy t-shirt designs. 

“I thought it was funny,” Tatum said. “It’s catchy; I like it.”

And the Celtics really like Tatum’s game which has been compared at times to former Celtic great Paul Pierce. 

“I hate to make those comparisons when kids are 19 and let his game evolve into whatever it is,” Ainge said. “The similarity is they have good footwork. They both have really good ways to create space for shots. But the similarity … they’re both very good defensive rebounders. Those are two things that stand out to me with Jayson that are Paul characteristics.”

Tatum knows he’s a long way from being in the same company as Celtic royalty such as Pierce. 

Before then he must first earn minutes on the floor which will not be an easy task. 

But Tatum’s demeanor, much like his game, has seemingly always been a bit more mature than most of his fellow basketball brethren. 

Tatum credits his parents, Justin Tatum and Brandy Cole.

“They raised me to be different, be more mature and stand out above the crowd and be my own person and be comfortable in my skin,” Tatum said. “That’s how I’ve always been.”

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: How does the Chris Paul trade affect the Celtics?

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: How does the Chris Paul trade affect the Celtics?

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0:41 - Tom Curran, Tom Giles, and Kayce Smith discuss the Rockets acquiring Chris Paul and how that trade can actually have an affect on the Celtics plans.

5:06 - Ian Thomsen joins BST to talk about if the Celtics are the front runners for Paul George, what would be too much to give up to the Pacers, and why it’s important to sign Hayward before trading for George.

11:21 - Evan Drellich joins from Fenway Park to discuss Rick Porcello getting his 10th loss of the season and if the struggling offense might be a season-long problem. 

14:58 - Tom Curran and Kayce Smith give their thoughts on Nate Burleson saying that Julian Edelman is the most under-appreciated receiver in the last 10 years.