World Series MVP Sandoval gave Giants all the momentum

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World Series MVP Sandoval gave Giants all the momentum

DETROIT -- Asked early Monday morning about the existence of momentum in baseball and if Pablo Sandoval provided his Giants teammates with it in Game 1 of the World Series, Will Clark had a simple answer.

The 1989 National League championship series MVP and current special assistant to the Giants said Sandoval gave the club three jolts of confidence earlier in the week when he blasted three home runs in the opener of the Fall Classic, including two off Justin Verlander.

Sandoval was named the 2012 World Series MVP after the Giants closed out a series sweep of the Detroit Tigers with a 4-3 win in 10 innings at Comerica Park late Sunday night. The man affectionately known by his teammates as Panda became the first Venezuelan-born World Series MVP after he hit .500 in the Series in 16 at-bats with a double, three homers and four RBIs.

You bet your ass there is (momentum), Clark said. He definitely got us off to a whale of a start in the World Series against probably one of the best pitchers in the big leagues. To be MVP, he deserves every bit of it. Thats a big momentum switch.

Much of the talk ahead of the 108th Fall Classic surrounded Detroits starting rotation, which was headed by Verlander, the reigning American League MVP and Cy Young winner. While the Giants required six straight wins in elimination games to reach the World Series, the Tigers breezed to an AL pennant behind their pitching.

But Giants players said any internal doubts about they may have had about their chances were erased when Sandoval launched a 0-2, 95-mph, letter-high fastball from Verlander into the stands in center field in the first inning of Game 1.

Its something we needed for sure, reliever Javier Lopez said. Obviously, Verlanders one tremendous pitcher. To be able to go out there and know were facing a guy throwing 95-plus and the stuff that he has, and the outings he had (against) the Oakland As and the Yankees. We knew we were going to have a tough test and that was awesome. (Sandoval) stepped up not just then but all series long for us.

Sandovals average was the ninth highest in World Series history for players who had a minimum of 15 at-bats. The Giants third baseman went 1-for-5 in Sundays victory and had a hit in all four games.

Less than five days after his Game 1 heroics, Sandoval said hes still in shock of how the Series opener transpired.

I still cant believe that game, Sandoval said. Its the game of your dreams. You dont want to wake up. You do a lot of things to win that game because (hes) one of the best pitchers in the league, you want to try and face him and try and win the game.

Wednesdays encounter wasnt the first between Sandoval and Verlander. In July, Sandoval hit a three-run triple off Verlander in the All-Star Game at Kansas City as the NL rolled to an 8-0 victory over the AL. Teammate Angel Pagan said Sandoval proved the at-bat wasnt a fluke in Game 1 and the rest of the World Series.

People was wondering (if) what happened in the All-Star Game was real and (Sandoval) showed that it was real, Pagan said. Hes a very tough competitor. Hes a very tough hitter. Ive said it before many times -- whenever hes hot sometimes he can be too hot. He showed it right there.

Dan Hayes is the White Sox Insider for CSNChicago.com

Obama celebrates World Series champion Chicago Cubs at White House

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AP

Obama celebrates World Series champion Chicago Cubs at White House

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama celebrated the World Series champion Chicago Cubs on Monday and spoke about the power sports has to unite people.

"Throughout our history, sports has had this power to bring us together even when the country is divided,"Obama said at a White House ceremony for his hometown team. "Sports has changed attitudes and culture in ways that seem subtle but that ultimately made us think differently about ourselves."

"It is a game and celebration," he said, and noted that "there's a direct line between Jackie Robinson and me standing here." Robinson, a second baseman for the Brooklyn Dodgers, broke Major League Baseball's color line to become its first black player.

The White House event came four days before Obama hands the presidency over to Donald Trump following one of the most divisive elections in recent memory.

It also follows a weekend in which civil rights icon John Lewis said he didn't consider Trump a legitimate president because of Russian meddling in the election. Trump responded on Twitter by criticizing Lewis as "all talk" and suggesting the Democratic congressman take better care of his Georgia district.

Obama has a home in Chicago, but is a longtime White Sox fan. He rooted for the Cubs after the Sox failed to reach the playoffs.

His wife, first lady Michelle Obama, however, is a lifelong Cubs fan. She greeted Cubs players before the ceremony, which Obama noted was her first appearance at some of the roughly 50 events he has hosted for championship college and professional sports teams.

The Cubs gave Obama two baseball jerseys — home and away — with the number 44, among other gifts. Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo also wears the number, and Obama referred to Rizzo as "my fellow 44."Obama is the nation's 44th president.

Obama said it will be hard for him to wear the jersey, but told the Cubs: "Do know that among Sox fans I am the Cubs' No. 1 fan."

Hours after the Cubs won the series in November, Obama asked the team on Twitter if it wanted to visit the White House before his term ends Friday.

The World Series title was the first for the Cubs since 1908, and they won it by defeating the Cleveland Indians in seven games.

Giants avoid arbitration with Nunez, Smith, Kontos

Giants avoid arbitration with Nunez, Smith, Kontos

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants avoided arbitration with three more veterans on Friday, agreeing to one-year deals with third baseman Eduardo Nuñez, left-hander Will Smith and right-hander George Kontos.

Financial details were not immediately available. MLB Trade Rumors' projections put Nuñez at about $4.4 million, Smith at about $2.3 million, and Kontos at about $1.7 million. The Giants reached deals with all six arbitration eligible players this offseason. 

Nunez, acquired last summer, will enter camp as the starter at third base. He posted a .269/.327/.418 slash line and 12 stolen bases after coming over from the Twins.

Smith was also acquired before the trade deadline, and he had a 2.95 ERA in 26 appearances for the Giants. He is expected to play a pivotal role in setting up for new closer Mark Melancon. 

Kontos has long been Bruce Bochy's most reliable reliever in the middle innings and he could move to a higher-leverage role in a revamped bullpen. He had a 2.53 ERA in 2016, his fifth season with the Giants.

The Giants had previously reached one-year deals with Cory Gearrin, Ehire Adrianza and Conor Gillaspie. They have not gone to an arbitration hearing since 2004, when a deal could not be reached with A.J. Pierzynski.