And now, Dennis Miller on the wussification of the Harbaugh-Schwartz scrum


He could have made this opinions known on ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” game had someone allowed him to stay in the booth instead of booting him for John Madden/Tony Kornheiser/Jon Gruden.

Instead, comedian Dennis Miller, who doesn’t want to off on a rant here, nonetheless called into “The Dino Costa Show” on SiriusXM Mad Dog Radio last night and offered this take on the Jim-on-Jim crime that occurred at the end of the Detroit-San Francisco game last Sunday:


“For God sakes, are we adults or not? “Now they want to send Schwartz and Harbaugh to a re-education camp… What in the hell happened to this country? When did we become such wusses?”

And don’t get him started on NFL rules …

“It’s not even football anymore,” he said. “And you know what? I like the ‘no launch’ rule. Obviously, that makes sense. These are pool tables they are playing on now … I like the ‘crown of the helmet’ thing. Nobody wants to see anybody Darryl Stingley’ed out there. But if they’re going to turn this into another jagoff 9 to 5 operation that people try to escape from on the weekend, another politically correct piece of shit, where I got Ed Hoculi going into a tarp like Earl Warren with the Zapruder film to figure out if it’s encroachment, then the league’s going to go away eventually.

“All I know is this. The league dines out on Franco [Harris]‘s ‘Immaculate Reception’ for 30 years now. If you watch the play, you don’t see whether the ball strikes the turf or not. Everybody’s stupefied that Franco caught the ball. I guarantee you that would have been ruled ‘not-a-catch’ on the field, they would’ve went to the replay and they would’ve said they had inconclusive evidence to overturn.

“Is that really the business the NFL wants to be in, overturning Immaculate Receptions?”

Anyone out there in need an NFL booth analyst, we’ve got a contact for Dennis in Santa Barbara that’s still good.

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Yes, a po’d Gumbel went there and used the “P.O.” word for Stern … see how that prevents HBO from ever getting ‘Inside the NBA’


Because Bryant Gumbel has the last word on HBO’s “Real Sports,” he threw this out for his final thoughts segment after last night’s telecast concerning “Old Man River” David Stern:

“If the NBA lockout is going to be resolved any time soon, it seems likely to be done in spite of David Stern, not because of him. I say that because the NBA’s infamously egocentric commissioner seems more hell-bent on demeaning the players than resolving his game’s labor impasse.

“How else to explain Stern’s rants in recent days? To any and everyone who’d listen, he has alternately knocked union leader Billy Hunter, said the players were getting inaccurate information, and started sounding chicken-little claims about what games might be lost if the players didn’t soon see things his way.

“Stern’s version of what’s been going on behind closed doors has, of course, been disputed. But his efforts were typical of a commissioner, who has always seemed eager to be viewed as some kind of modern plantation overseer treating NBA men as if they were his boys. It’s part of Stern’s M.O. Like his past self-serving edicts on dress code or the questioning of officials, his moves are intended to do little more than show how he’s the one keeping the hired hands in their place.

“Some will, of course, cringe at that characterization, but Stern’s disdain for the players is as palpable and pathetic as his motives are transparent. Yes, the NBA’s business model is broken, but to fix it, maybe the league’s commissioner should concern himself most with a solution, and stop being part of the problem.”

Next episode, Gumbel reads aloud a chapter of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” with his own footnotes.

The Bleacher Report’s Dan Levy responded with a tweet: “I can’t wait until David Stern calls Bryant Gumbel ‘some kind of sports media pharaoh.’ #letmypeoplego

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Why former LMU pitcher C.J. Wilson is the coolest guy at the World Series


(AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Texas Rangers’ C.J. Wilson answers a question during a news conference before practice for Game 1 of the World Series.

By Ronald Blum
The Associated Press

ST. LOUIS — The coolest person at the World Series is C.J. Wilson.

The Texas Rangers pitcher chilled out as he prepared to face the St. Louis Cardinals in Wednesday night’s opener. He spent 2 minutes in a Dallas cryotherapy chamber, where liquid nitrogen lowered the temperature to a frosty 295 degrees below zero in an effort to speed body recovery.

“So 35 degrees should be no big deal, right?” Wilson said today after examining the frigid forecast for Game 1 at Busch Stadium, where he starts against the Cardinals’ Chris Carpenter.

Wearing a dark ski cap, dress shirt and vest in the interview room, Wilson said he read about the Dallas Mavericks trying out cryotherapy last season, when they won the NBA championship, and had Rangers head athletic trainer Jamie Reed check out the relatively new treatment with Casey Smith, his Mavs’ counterpart.

“I’m kind of an experimental guy. I’ll go for the hyperbaric chamber, drink a new type of sports drink that’s supposed to keep your blood sugar regulated. I’ll do whatever,” said Wilson, one of baseball’s best talkers.

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McCourts may sound as if they’ve got it figured out again, but bankruptcy court could nix latest divorce settlement this time


When Frank and Jamie McCourt did a jurisprudent musical chairs routine outside a downtown L.A. courtroom last June, trying to convince everyone that they’d reached an amicable resolution in their divorce proceedings, too many things were left lying around to trip everyone up.

This time when the music stopped, there was only one chair left.

And Frank apparently gets to sit in it.

Unless Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig can pull it out from under him in two weeks.


Through Frank McCourt’s spokesman, he and his former wife today said were “pleased to announce that they have settled their divorce case,” and ownership of the Dodgers is no longer in question.

It’s all on Frank now. Red ink and everything.

A hearing on Wednesday in L.A. is supposed to make that stick.

Next up, an Oct. 31 lawyer-up battle with Selig to see if McCourt can prevent the MLB from seizing one of the sport’s most storied franchises away from him and find a new owner.

The Los Angeles Times reported Monday that Jamie has settled for a $130 million parting gift from Frank, due in the spring of 2012. If he has not paid her in full by that deadline, the agreement stipulates that he has to put the team up for sale.

That could be forced anyway by MLB in two weeks after its hearing with a U.S. bankruptcy judge in Delaware. But if that judge allows McCourt to keep the team, how does he pay Jamie the $130 million without a media rights deal done?

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Play It Forward: Oct. 17-23 on your sports calendar

Highlights of the week ahead in sports, both here and afar:



MLB World Series Games 1 and 2: Texas at St. Louis, Wednesday and Thursday, 5 p.m. each night, Channel 11:

The Rangers are back for seconds in the 107th Fall Classic, and they appear to be in Cruz control. After an ALDS against Tampa Bay where he went 1-for-15 and five strikeouts in four games, Texas right fielder Nelson Cruz smacked a record six homers and drove in another record 13 runs to earn the ALCS MVP award in the six-game victory over Detroit. And he did it hitting seventh in the lineup.


“It was fun to watch,” said teammate Josh Hamilton, last year’s ALCS MVP. “When Nellie gets in those streaks, they can come at any time. That’s what the funniest part is. Every at-bat when he’s up there, it could be the at-bat where he hits another one.”
The Cardinals, who may be the wildest of wildcards to have made it this far in the postseason, are the last NL team standing in the Rangers’ way, with Chris Carpenter back on the mound. They somehow have a home-field advantage only because of the NL winning the All-Star Game. Seem fair? Games 3 and 4 are Saturday and Sunday in at Arlington, Tex., so if the Rangers steal the first two, this thing could effectively end without venturing into the next work week.



NFL: Miami at N.Y. Jets, 5:30 p.m., ESPN:

As to whether Dolphins receiver Brandon Marshall (above) plans to somehow get himself ejected by picking a fight with someone, Jets coach Rex Ryan says: “If he wants to get kicked out of the game in the second quarter, I think he should. … I’m just happy that he’s not picking on me to fight him.”


NHL: Kings vs. St. Louis, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW:


Two weekends after the season started, and after four games played in places far, far away, the home opener. Will the players, who have traveled more than 17,000 miles in the last couple of weeks, have their heads in the correct time zone for this one? We’re also trying to figure out what’ll be louder: The ovation that Kings’ Mike Richards gets when he finally plays at Staples Center, or the reception that “Seinfield’s” Michael Richards gets next time he plays a local comedy club? Unfortunately, Drew Doughty is already on the injured list.


Golf: PGA Grand Slam of Golf, final round, TNT, 4 p.m.:

Charl Schwartzel (Masters), Rory McIlroy (U.S. Open), Darren Clarke (British Open) and Keegan Bradley (PGA Championship) qualified to represent the golf world in this two-day event from the Port Royal Golf Course in Bermuda. The first round runs 4-to-7 p.m. (delayed) Tuesday.

Series: “Man V. Food Nation,” 6 p.m., Travel Channel:

A NASCAR eposide taped near Watkins Glenn International in New York features driver Joey Logano taking on the “Atomic Bomb Challenge” – a three-pound bacon double cheeseburger loaded with pulled pork and the meaty Rochester hot sauce over an additional pound of fries — at Sticky Lips BBQ.


College football: UCLA at Arizona, 6 p.m., ESPN:


The Wildcats stooped to firing Mike Stoops before the Bruins could do anything about Rick Neuheisel’s future. And that could make a difference. “I know that team will respond in the way that they should, meaning that they will come out and play and play as hard as they can,” said Neuheisel of Arizona (1-5, 0-4 in the Pac-12) now led by interim coach Tim Kish, previously the defensive coordinator. “Whenever there is a change, whatever the reasons why, there is always kind of a fresh start … They are going to a lot of energy when they step on to the field and we’ve got to match that.”

Soccer: Galaxy at CD Motagua, 7 p.m., Fox Soccer Channel:

Do the Galaxy really need to be focusing on these kind of contests with the MLS Cup playoffs just around the corner? Where are their priorities? Saturday, they finish the MLS season at Houston (4 p.m., FSW).

NHL: Kings at Phoenix, 7 p.m., FSW:

Another reason to pack the bags? OK, if only for Arizona. Can we drive this time?


College football: West Virginia at Syracuse, 5 p.m.; ESPN; Rutgers at Louisville, 5 p.m., ESPN2:

Another look at Mikhal Marinovich, the Syracuse defensive end.

NHL: Ducks vs. Dallas, Honda Center, 7 p.m., Prime:

Jonas Hiller looks like he’s got his vision back. Now he’ll see Stars dancing around him.


College football: USC at Notre Dame, 4:30 p.m., Channel 4:


Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick tried to rally the students with a speech last week, asking them to get so rowdy that “I want you guys on that Saturday night at least once to make USC have a false start penalty.” The other thing: Don’t get too rowdy. “We haven’t had a night game here in a long time because people are concerned about … the consequences it will have on our conduct. You can solve that problem. So help us on that Saturday night to make the loudest, most raucous, but safe environment in college football.” So, he wants it both ways? For the 83rd edition of the rivalry, the Trojans face an Irish team that’s rattled off four wins in a row. Sophomore Tommy Rees, who engineered a sloppy 20-16 win at the Coliseum over USC last year when Matt Barkley was injured, has again effectively kept the starting quarterback job once held by senior Dayne Crist (Notre Dame High of Sherman Oaks).

NHL: Kings vs. Dallas, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW:

The Stars have already jumped out to a 4-1 record, with all four wins at home. They’ll play the Ducks the night before this one in Anaheim.

College football: Washington at Stanford, ESPN, 5 p.m.; Auburn at LSU, 12:30 p.m., Channel 2; Oregon at Colorado, 12:30 p.m., FSW:

The Huskies and Cardinal are a combined 11-1 this season, first and second in the Pac-12 North. Washington has scored at least 30 points in each of its first six games.


Rugby World Cup, final game, noon, Channel 4:

The semifinals and quarterfinals were shown live from New Zealand — meaning they were on at about midnight. This time, there’s about a 12-hour delay.


NASCAR: Sprint Cup Good Sam Club 500 at Talladega, Ala., ESPN, 11 a.m.:

Five-time champ Jimmie Johnson, who finished 34th last week after a crash with 19 laps to go at Charlotte, has dropped to eighth place and 35 points behind Carl Edwards in the Chase and looks like it’ll be a huge uphill battle. There’s no SI cover curse?

NFL: Indianapolis at New Orleans, 5:20 p.m., Channel 4:

During a week where Buffalo, Cincinnati, New England, Philadelphia, San Francisco and the N.Y. Giants have a bye, NBC probably should have taken one as well instead of going up against a World Series contest.

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Dan Wheldon: 1978-2011


(AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)
Dan Wheldon smiles during driver introductions for the IndyCar League’s Las Vegas Indy 300 today.

Dan Wheldon has died from injuries after his car went sailing through the air during a massive 15-car wreck early in today’s Las Vegas Indy 300.

He was 33.


Drivers were told of Wheldon’s death in a meeting about two hours after the fiery crash that many drivers said was the worst they had ever seen. Only 15 cars were left racing after it happened.

Wheldon won the Indianapolis 500 twice, including last May.

Wheldon started 34th in the 34-car field in the final IRL event of the season, given the chance to win a $5 millin prize if he was able to come all the way to win. He had moved up to 24th place by the 11th lap.

ABC was live with an onboard camera in Wheldon’s car during the telecast on the 13th lap commenting about his position when, at the top of the screen, what would be the accident that took his life began to unfold with smoke and cars spinning out.

“It looks like Dan Wheldon may be involved in it,” said ABC broadcaster Marty Reid as the red flag came out to stop all racing.

Minutes later, a helicopter was flying Wheldon to a local hospital.

“Many people ask me why I always sign off, ‘Til we meet again,’ because ‘Good bye’ is always so final,” said Reid as he closed today’s telecast of the race, with a video of Wheldon celebrating his most recenty Indy 500 victory by drinking milk in the winner’s circle.

“Good bye, Dan Wheldon.”

Some of our tweets (@tomhoffarth) sent while watching the race:

At 12:35 p.m., as the race started: Dan Wheldon should have his $5 million game face on: Let’s be safe out there. …

At 1:30 p.m.: say a prayer now for dan wheldon … how fast excitement goes to horror in IRL

At 1:45 p.m., a retweet from Ashley Judd, the wife of driver Dario Franchitti: Thanks everyone for prayers. No update on Dan yet except unconscious but vitals are good. Everyone here very scared. Pray for medical team.

At 2:30 p.m.: It’s been 1 1/2 hrs since Wheldon crash and no update. Drivers in a meeting. Danica seen crying. #prayersforwheldon

At 2:45 p.m.: From today’s Q-and-A with Wheldon: Can you go from back to front safely? “Absolutely” he said: #prayersforwheldon

At 3 p.m.: IRL’s worst nightmare: Dan Wheldon passes away, drivers ready for a 5-lap tribute in season finale.

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1 1/2 hours later, Wheldon’s condition deemed ‘serious’ after crash


(AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)
Dan Wheldon is transported to a medical helicopter following a crash during the IndyCar Series’ Las Vegas Indy 300 auto race today in Las Vegas.

Associated Press

LAS VEGAS — IndyCar driver Dan Wheldon has been seriously injured after his car went sailing through the air during in a massive 15-car wreck early in Sunday’s Las Vegas Indy 300.

The Indianapolis 500 winner, in line to win $5 million had he won the race from the back of the 34-car field, was injured when he car flew over another on the Lap 12 wreck and apparently caught part of the catch fence just outside of Turn 2.

Wheldon was transported unconscious to a hospital in a helicopter.

Paul Tracy, who was involved in the wreck, said a team of doctors was working on Wheldon, but there was no word of his injuries. A helicopter lifted off from the speedway, and an IndyCar official confirmed Wheldon was onboard.

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Q-and-A with Dan Wheldon: Whether or not he wins a full $5 mil, he’s still got a sweet ride


If Dan Wheldon can wheel his way to the finish first in Sunday’s IndyCar Racing League World Championship at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, there will be a $5 million bonus waiting for him.


Well, actually, he’ll split that with a fan who entered a contest.

But then, his team owner really gets the $2.5 million. After he pays his bills, Weldon’s reported 40 percent slice of that amounts to — carry the two, adjustthe carburetor — about $1 million.

After taxes . . .

Gadzooks, how much is it really worth it for last May’s Indianapolis 500 winner to risk his neck maneuvering from the very last spot of a 34-car field to win the 200-lap season-ending race? Is it all a Vegas mirage?

“I don’t really know all the intricacies about how that $5 million is split up,” the 33-year-old Brit said, stopping in L.A. this week before heading to the race. “But I don’t think I’m obliged to let anyone know about it either.”

His only obligation: Win a ride for the 2012 IRL season. Believe it or not, he’s still unattached.

Before he grabs the wheel for the No. 77 car entered by Sam Schmidt Motorsports and Bryan Herta Autosport in association with Curb Agajanian, Wheldon shifted into Q-and-A mode about his chances for success:

Q: What are you gonna buy if you win this thing, a new car?

WHELDON: I think at my age, I’ll do something more sensible. The question I have: How quick will it get into my bank account? There’s really nothing specific that I’d like. Honestly, since winning at Indy, it’s been a very busy and hectic schedule. I’ve enjoyed it very much, but maybe I owe my wife a vacation.

Q: What kind of car would someone like you drive around town anyway?


A: Right now, I just have an Acura RL (which generally cost $50,000 new). Honda takes pretty good care of me. Besides, I rarely drive. When I’m home in St. Petersburg, which is quite rare, I’m just relaxing.

Q: How fast can you get it going?

A: Whatever the speed limit says.

Q: Helio Castroneves holds the present-day IZOD IndyCar Series record for winning from the farthest back starting position — he was 27th at Chicagoland Speedway in 2008. Is it more difficult three years later to do something like that?

A: Much harder. The depth of the field, it’s far more competitive than it was back then. But it’s still very possible. You’ve just got to have good pit stops. Don’t count me out.

Q: And you can do it safely?

A: Absolutely.

Q: Then what’s the strategy? Weave a lot? Lay back and wait for an opening? Be patient?

A: Honestly, you get to the front as quickly as possible. You can’t afford to sit back and wait. Take the direct route. Run fast, stay out of the danger zone, and once you’re up there, it allows your guys to be more flexible with their strategy.

Q: You could also just wait for guys to crash their own cars, like JR Hildebrand did on the last lap of the 500?


A: To me, that’s not the best way to win. I did speak with JR afterward and asked why he did what he did. He was extremely concerned that he was running out of fuel, and if he got behind a car, he’d have to ease off the gas, then get back on the gas, but that would have sucked up a lot of fuel. He didn’t have enough to even do that. It’s one of the things that can happen, but …

Q: Yeah, but his crash won your team $2.7 million. That isn’t bad.

A: I think unfortunately no one is going to let him ever forget that one.

Q: During a test run a couple of weeks ago in Kentucky, you finished 14th after starting 28th. That didn’t impress you?

A: It wasn’t what we wanted. We thought we should have been more competitive. We understand now why it happened. It’s obviously important to us that we learned a lot from that race and won’t have the same problems in Vegas. It’s not something I was happy about but it was a prep race, and hopefully we get the bugs out of the car now.


Q: This being Vegas, you’re listed with 15-to-1 odds from MGM to win the race. How does that sound? Would you bet on yourself?

A: No, it’s not legal for any driver to bet on himself in the series. But 15-to-1 . . . it’s one of those things that’s hard to judge. Honestly, do I think I have a shot? Absolutely. The team has given me a car that will be fine, no doubt. But you’ve seen the way races go – everything has to go right. I’ll tell you the truth: I’ll be going for it, with everything in my power to finish the season with an exclamation point. I’m not going to undermine how talented the field is either.

Q: And you’ve apparently pulled off this trick before?

A: Yeah, when I was at Richmond in 2004, I was last and won it. And it’s probably a similar distance here. Maybe a little shorter track. The speedway in Las Vegas definitely bodes for a fast car to get to the front.

Q: So you’ve gone the whole season without a regular ride, even after winning the Indy 500 for the second time? What’s the problem? Are you too high maintenance?

A: (Laughing) After this offseason, we’ll just have to wait and see.

Q: Heck, Danica Patrick is leaving the IRL after this race. She can’t just give you her spot with Andretti’s team?

A: Until a deal (with Andretti) is signed, you can’t say you’re 100 percent confident. Certainly, this year put me in a stronger position than last year. You just never know

Q: Can you stay sharp playing racing video games?

A: I have a relationship with Simraceway, and the simulators are increasingly popular. With the fact that IndyCar has cut back on track testing, it does allow you to keep in rhythm, but you can never beat being on the track. I’ve used the simulator, and it’ll be launched (online) toward the end of November, and it’ll be fun to see how the consumers use it. There’s a lot of stuff I have done prior to Simraceway, but I’d say for the profession, there are a lot of racing games now adays that can duplicate the tracks very realistic, but there’s still that feel of the car that’s missing.


Q: As far as Danica goes: What did she mean to the IRL during her stay?

A: I think she’s done a huge job for the IndyCar series, and a great job at that. She attracted the mainstream media as well as the regular race media. She arrived at a point in the series where it someone like her, and she handled herself very well. She was a great ambassador and NASCAR should be proud to have her. She’s positioned herself very well.

Q: Do you consider her track record in IRL – one win in 150-some races over some seven years – impressive enough?

A: Maybe you’re a better judge looking from the outside, but she did win, and that’s not easy. It’s very hard to win any IndyCar race. Name all the drivers who we consider very good who haven’t even done that.

Q: One last thing: Are you worried that if you win, you’ll have to do a steamy GoDaddy commercial, since they’re putting all the bonus money up?

A: Judging by the popularity of them, it’s probably not a bad thing. You were asking about replacing Danica – that would be a step in the right direction.

Q: Even if they ask you to take your shirt off?

A: That’ll be between me and them to discuss.

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Wooden in pictures: Another keeper


There aren’t enough John Wooden books to fill an entire library. Yet.

So, having come across the latest — celebrating what would have been his 101st birthday — we decided it was worth getting the word out.

The UCLA Today faculty and staff news website gives all the background on “John Wooden: Basketball and Beyond — The Official UCLA Retrospective,” released by ASUCLA and UCLA Athletics (linked here)

Dick Enberg writes the introduction. Denny Crum has the forward. Rich Hoffer took care of the text for what’s ultimately a large photo book.

Nan and Jim Wooden, his son and daughter, said of it: “We feel it’s a fitting tribute to our father and his legacy to have this first book chronicling his time coaching at UCLA. The book documents what was the most personally and professionally rewarding era of our father’s life that we feel should be celebrated and shared with as many as possible. It is also especially meaningful that it is being released today on what would have been his 101st birthday.”

For a limited time, the book will be at the UCLA Store for $30. Order it at this link. That’s 25 percent off the list price ($40) when it in retail stores on Nov. 1. Amazon has it linked here.

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The final IBWAA awards: Angels’ Trumbo ties for AL rookie; D’backs Gibson wins NL manager

The final MLB awards as voted upon by the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America:


== American League Rookie of the Year:
1st : Mark Trumbo, Angels, and Ivan Nova, N.Y. Yankees (tie)
3rd: Eric Hosmer, KC

== National League Rookie of the Year:
1st: Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta
2nd: Freddie Freeman, Atlanta
3rd: Danny Espinosa, Washington

== American League Comeback Player of the Year:
1st: Jacoby Ellsbury, Boston
2nd: Melky Cabrera, Kansas City, and Casey Kotchman, Tampa Bay (tie)

== National League Comeback Player of the Year:
1st: Lance Berkman, St Louis
2nd: Ryan Vogelsong, San Francisco
3rd: Carlos Beltran, N.Y. Mets/San Francisco

== American League Manager of the Year:
1st: Joe Maddon, Tampa Bay
2nd: Jim Leyland, Detroit
3rd: Ron Washington, Texas


== National League Manager of the Year:
1st: Kirk Gibson, Arizona
2nd: Ron Roenicke, Milwaukee
3rd: Fredi Gonzalez, Atlanta

== American League Executive of the Year:
1st: Andrew Friedman, Tampa Bay
2nd: Dave Dombrowski, Detroit
3rd: Jon Daniels, Texas

== National League Executive of the Year:
1st: Doug Melvin, Milwaukee
2nd: Kevin Towers, Arizona
3rd: Ruben Amaro, Philadelphia

== American League “Rollie Fingers” Top Relief PItcher:

1st: Jose Valverde, Detroit
2nd: Mariano Rivera, N.Y. Yankees
3rd: Jonathan Papelbon, Boston

== National League “Hoyt Wilhelm” Top Relief Pitcher:

1st: Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta
2nd: John Axford, Milwaukee
3rd: J.J. Putz, Arizona

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