Baseball

Braun receives NL MVP

Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun won the National League Most Valuable Player Award on Tuesday after helping lead the Brewers to their first division title in nearly 30 years.

The left fielder received 20 of 32 first-place votes and 388 points in voting announced by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

“I’m not going to pretend like I wasn’t anxious or nervous because I was,” said Braun, who was sitting on the balcony of his home in Malibu, Calif., when he received the call that he had won. “I was obviously thrilled, excited. It’s honestly difficult to put into words how much this means to me.

Los Angeles center fielder Matt Kemp, who came close to winning the Triple Crown, received 10 first-place votes and finished second with 332 points. Braun’s teammate Prince Fielder finished third with 229 points, and Arizona’s Justin Upton finished fourth with 214 points. Fielder and Upton each received one first-place vote.

St. Louis’ Albert Pujols finished fifth. It was the 11th consecutive year the three-time MVP was in the top 10 in balloting.

Braun led the NL with a .597 slugging percentage and had a chance to overtake Jose Reyes for the batting title on the last day of the season but finished second with a .332 average. The four-time All-Star had 33 homers, 111 RBI, 109 runs scored and stole 33 bases as Milwaukee won a franchise-best 96 games. His 77 extra-base hits was tops in the league.

Kemp led the NL in homers with 39 and RBI with 126 and was third in average (.324), but played for the NL West’s third-place Dodgers. He also won a Gold Glove.

LABOR DEAL SIGNED

Baseball ensured itself of 21 consecutive years of peace at a time the NBA season might be canceled because of a lockout as the players’ union and owners signed an agreement for a five-year contract running until December 2016.

“We’ve learned,” commissioner Bud Selig. “Nobody back in the ‘70s, ‘80s and the early ‘90s, 1994, would ever believe that we would have 21 years of labor peace.”

The agreement makes MLB the first pro major league in North America to conduct blood tests for human growth hormone, allowing it during spring training and future offseasons but for now only studying whether it will be implemented during the regular season.

The deal, which must be ratified by both sides and drafted into a formal contract, expands the playoffs from eight to 10 teams by 2013, lessens draft-pick compensation for free agents, expands salary arbitration by a few players and for the first time allows teams to trade some draft selections.

SHORT HOPS

Yankees closer Mariano Rivera said he might need surgery to repair his vocal cords. ... A homeless man was arrested after he allegedly broke into the home of Chicago White Sox general manager Kenny Williams, drank beer, made himself a pizza and even started to defrost a lobster before leaving wearing Williams’ clothes and his World Series ring. Williams got the ring back from the suspect. ... The sale of the Houston Astros to Jim Crane was completed, and the franchise will move from the NL Central to the AL West in 2013. ... The Braves signed 14 players to minor league contracts, including former Mariners infielder Josh Wilson and catcher Jose Yepez. ... The Marlins acquired left-hander Wade LeBlanc from San Diego for catcher John Baker. ... The Red Sox appointed Mike Hazen and Brian O’Halloran assistant general managers.

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