BASEBALL

Astros’ Altuve named AP’s Male Athlete of the Year

JOSE ALTUVE

Jose Altuve led the Houston Astros to their first World Series title with a win over the Los Angeles Dodgers in November and picked up the franchise’s first MVP trophy in more than two decades a couple of weeks later.

And the diminutive second baseman already is looking for more.

“Winning the World Series, winning the MVP, you feel like you have everything,” Altuve told The Associated Press. “But my perspective is to try and get better every year and if we win one World Series, why not win another one?”

Altuve, who was one of only a handful of players who endured the Astros’ painful rebuilding process en route to this year’s championship, which gave hope to a city ravaged by Hurricane Harvey, was chosen as The Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year.

Results of voting by U.S. editors and news directors was announced Wednesday. The 5-foot-6 dynamo got 715 points, beating out New England quarterback Tom Brady, who had 646, and third-place finisher Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James, with 626.

Altuve is a five-time All-Star who led the majors with a career-high .346 batting average and his 204 hits topped the American League. He is the first player in MLB history to lead his league in hits in four straight seasons. He tied a career-best with 24 homers and had 81 RBI.

HOCKEY

WORLD JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIP: Jonah Gadjovich scored twice and Canada routed Slovakia 6-0 on Wednesday night at Buffalo, New York, to improve to 2-0 in the tournament.

Maxime Comtois, Taylor Raddysh, Sam Steel and Jordan Kyrou also scored and Colton Point made 20 saves.

David Hrenak made 48 saves for Slovakia.

In the lone Group B game, Philipp Kurashev, Nicolas Muller and Valentin Nussbaumer scored and Philip Wuthrich made 27 saves to help Switzerland open with a 3-2 victory over Belarus.

SOCCER

WORLD CUP: Vitaly Mutko, a top Russian official who has been dogged by allegations of involvement in the Russian doping program, says he will step down as head of the organizing committee of the 2018 World Cup.

PREMIER LEAGUE: Liverpool is breaking the world transfer record for a defender, concluding its long-running pursuit of Virgil van Dijk by signing the 26-year-old Netherlands center back from Southampton in a $100 million move.

BASKETBALL

NBA G LEAGUE: American Airlines has apologized to two members of the Memphis Hustle – the Grizzlies’ affiliate – who were kicked off a plane in Dallas after a flight attendant wrongfully accused them of stealing blankets.

Airline spokesman Joshua Freed said guard Marquis Teague and forward Trahson Burrell boarded the Sunday flight from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport to Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The flight was operated by Envoy Air.

Two first-class passengers gave the players their blankets as they headed to their seats in coach. But a flight attendant accused them of theft and the players were asked to leave the plane following an argument.

An airline manager apologized to the players and they later flew first class to Sioux Falls, Freed said.