The Yankees got the three MVP-caliber seasons from Cano

It is a political statement, though: Trump is deeply unpopular as POTUS, and Maddon even admitted that not going to the White House is a political statement. So, when you do the opposite and go to the White House, why isn’t that a political statement, too? Well, because it’s Maddon, like he always does as a manager, will say whatever he has to in order to shield his players and bosses from criticism. That’s an annoying but understandable trait for a manager, but when Maddon is using the same tactics for something more meaningful than adults playing sports in their pajamas, when he’s shielding the decision to visit the White House behind his privilege as a well-off white man, well, annoying doesn’t quite cover it.

Maddon says he’s going out of respect for the office and the building itself, a line that prioritizes the figurative symbolism of the office over real people. Real people like any Cubs fans who have been targeted by the president and cabinet working inside of it, whether because they’re a minority or an immigrant or LGBT or on Medicaid. And at a time when the voicemail inboxes of senators are overflowing with messages from constituents especially concerned about that last part.

The Yankees got the three MVP-caliber seasons from Cano, and they also got four starting-caliber seasons and five All-Star seasons. If there’s a tiebreaker between these two teams, it’s that the Yankees haven’t had a second baseman worth two wins since Brian Roberts in 2014. Starlin Castro appears ready to break that drought, though.

As for the other guy on the East Coast? Dustin Pedroia got close, and the Red Sox have enjoyed five starting-caliber seasons, six All-Star seasons, and one MVP-level season, which is outstanding compared to the rest of baseball. But they couldn’t quite get where the Phillies and Yankees were.

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Andrew Hawkins’ brain donation makes retirement even more bittersweet

Andrew Hawkins is one of more than 1,000 people — athletes, including football players, and military members — to pledge their brains for study by the Concussion Legacy Foundation since December 2015. More than 1,900 have donated in all since 2008.

To Barkley’s credit, he’s not backing down.

“I stick by what I said. I’m not going to make this personal … he was all whiny last week,” Barkley told ESPN Radio. “I’m good and I’m straightforward. I’m never going to get personal on an NBA player.”

All James did was ensure that “Inside the NBA’s” TV ratings will be through the roof Thursday night.

In fact, he said he was more upset with the commentators who were making a big deal of the exchange. Barkley said he played golf the past two days.

“It was ‘done’ after he said what he said and what I said (what I said in response),” Barkley said when host Ernie Johnson asked if this episode is over. “And It bothers me when people are like, ‘Well, what are you going to say?’ I’m like, ‘Dude, I’m not 12,'” Barkley said. “‘Oooh, he said something bad about me, I’ve got to say something bad about him.’ I’m not 12 years old. I’m a 53-year-old man who’ll be 54 in three weeks. This notion that just because somebody insulted me . . . I’m not 12, I’m not back in Leeds (Ala.) as if I’m in projects, where if you knock a stick off my shoulder and all hell breaks loose.”

Barkley set off James last month when he said the Cavaliers superstar was being “whiny” Trade Cheap Jerseys for publicly calling for roster help. James ripped Barkley in response, referencing several of Barkley’s infamous Super Cheap Jerseys off-court actions. Barkley stood by his comments and said he would stick to basketball.

Bryce Harper to Little Leaguers: ’No participation trophies’

Why that’s surprising: Holland was a great mystery this offseason. He hadn’t pitched in the majors since 2015 with the Royals, sitting out 2016 after Tommy John surgery, and nobody knew quite what to expect.

The Rockies rolled the dice, offering Holland a $6 million deal with a $10 million mutual option for 2018. The contract was loaded with incentives based on appearances and games finished. He’s been better than anyone could have reasonably expected ’ 19 for 19 in save opportunities, with a 1.37 ERA and 28 strikeouts in 19 2/3 innings. If teams would have known he’d be this good, you can bet he would have gotten more than a $6 million guarantee. Kudos to the Rockies for taking the chance.

Bryce Harper’s competitiveness has never been in question, so it’s no surprise he advocates honing that trait from an early age.

Speaking to a group of Little Leaguers in the D.C. area Saturday morning, the Nationals star offered up some advice during a Q&A session. Though the start of the exchange doesn’t appear on the video posted by a WJLA reporter, Harper concludes with this:

As much as they might tell you, ’Oh, it’s OK you guys lost’ ’ no, Johnny. No participation trophies, OK? First place only.

Take it from a guy who graced the cover of Sports Illustrated at age 16 and hasn’t looked back since, kids.

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