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This is the last weekend without an NFL game until 2022. Enjoy it while reading our latest Friday Conversation with a major MLB social media personality.

Stroud Shows Out

Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports

Quinn Ewers, a quarterback for the No. 4 team in the country who signed a $1.4 million NIL deal, didn’t even travel to Minnesota for Thursday’s game — let alone start.

Instead, it was redshirt freshman C.J. Stroud who helped the Buckeyes avoid an early blow to their College Football Playoff hopes, firing four touchdown passes — all in the second half — to complete a 45-31 comeback victory over the Golden Gophers.

The 19-year-old’s second-half eruption in his first start was even more impressive in context.

  • Per ESPN, Stroud is the first Buckeyes QB with three passing TDs of 50-plus yards in a game in at least 25 years. 
  • After a 58-yard, one-interception half in which the offense put up 10 points, he finished 13-for-22 for 294 yards and a 222.3 passer rating.
  • Stroud featured in three games last season backing up 2021 No. 11 pick Justin Fields.

Ewers was the No. 1 QB prospect in the country, but Stroud was named the Buckeyes’ starter last month and put a definitive stamp on the decision with the performance. Unlocking his earning potential will be easy if he holds the job and puts up those numbers.

He was among five Buckeyes to receive a leased car via an NIL partnership with a local dealership. With a Ewers-level $1 million deal, he can buy one of his choice.

The Overlooked Reigning MVP

Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports

Shohei Ohtani is the runaway favorite for AL MVP — and rightfully so — but his Angels aren’t exactly flying high this season, and he doesn’t have 100 RBI.

Meanwhile, 2020 AL MVP Jose Abreu just had arguably the best August of anyone in baseball — and has quietly put together another monster season for a serious World Series contender.

The White Sox first baseman was named AL Player of the Month after batting .330 with 10 home runs, seven doubles, and 25 RBI in 28 games.

  • Abreu is the only player in MLB to reach 100 RBI (102) thus far this season.
  • In August, his 74 total bases led the AL, and his homers and OPS (.1043) ranked second.
  • Abreu and the White Sox are 78-56 and hold a 9.5-game lead over the Indians in the AL Central.

Abreu has been consistently productive with the White Sox. He has driven in 100-plus runs in six of his eight seasons since signing a six-year, $68 million contract in 2013 that was followed by a three-year, $50 million extension in ’19.

As the anchor of a White Sox lineup featuring Tim Anderson, Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert, and Yoan Moncada, Abreu is positioning himself for another extension of the deal that’s paying him $17.7 million this season and will increase to $19.7 million in ’22.

It’ll help that he shows up as the postseason approaches: This is the second consecutive August that the 34-year-old has earned POTM honors.

Friday Conversation: Jimmy ‘Jomboy’ O’Brien

Jomboy Media

Jimmy “Jomboy” O’Brien is an online personality and content creator — with over 375,000 Twitter followers — specializing in MLB videos. The lifelong Yankees fan runs the rapidly growing Jomboy Media, with some of the most popular podcasts in the industry. He first went viral (over 8 million views) with a recap of Aaron Boone berating an umpire, then drew national media attention with his breakdown of the Astros’ cheating scandal.

Sports Section sat down with O’Brien to discuss the origins of Jomboy Media, his baseball fandom, and much more.

Below is an excerpt from out sitdown with Jomboy:

Were you always a baseball guy?

I’ve always been a baseball fan. I’m born into it. I remember when I was 7 years old and the Yankees won the 1996 World Series and we were at a friend’s house — all the adults were hugging and clapping, and I was watching in awe as the Yankees dogpiled on the mound.

How did Jomboy Media evolve?

It’s a hobby that has become a media company. We went from just tweeting and GIFs to writing articles to a podcast — then (tech entrepreneur) Andrew Chapin saw it and said, “Hey, if I gave you $25,000, would you try to turn this into a full-time gig and try building something?” The growth has been insane and organic, really rewarding. I give a lot of credit to our audience.

Is it fair to say the Aaron Boone video was the first one that really put you on the map?

That was the first that went beyond the internet world. When it happened, I was getting interviewed on the radio, MLB Network was having me on to talk about it, and ESPN was writing an article about it. It was the first time people outside the internet grabbed it and shared it to other places.

Did you imagine making a living the way you do now?

I always liked writing, but it was always taking part-time jobs, so I had space to do some creative stuff on the side. And maybe, deep down, I lived that way because I thought this could become what it did.

Read the full conversation here.

Making Headlines

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

U.S. Open: British teenager Emma Raducano defeated China’s Zhang Shuai to advance to the third round. It is the 18-year-old’s second career major after reaching the fourth round at Wimbledon in July. Also: Top seed Ashleigh Barty and (4) Karolina Pliskova advanced in the women’s draw, while top seed Novak Djokovic and (4) Alexander Zverev each advanced in the men’s draw.

Soccer: The United States men’s national team drew their World Cup qualifying opener 0-0 with El Salvador. 

NHL: The league and NHLPA announced that NHL players will participate in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

Tokyo Paralympic Games: China leads the medal count with 184 (85 gold, 53 silver, 46 bronze), Great Britain’s 111 (37, 34, 40), RPC’s 107 (34, 29, 44). The U.S. is fifth with 34 gold, 34 silver, and 24 bronze. The Games end Sunday.

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Comments? Suggestions? You can reach me at chris.kuc@thesportssection.com or follow me on Twitter.