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Sports Then and Now


Baseball Playoffs Have Feel of the 1980s

Posted on September 28, 2014 by Dean Hybl
With their first playoff appearance in 29 years, the Kansas City Royals are partying like it is 1985.

With their first playoff appearance in 29 years, the Kansas City Royals are partying like it is 1985.

If you followed baseball in the late 1970s and early 1980s and then haven’t paid attention for the last 30 years, the teams appearing in the 2014 baseball post season probably don’t seem that strange to you.

Included amongst the squads that will be battling for the World Series Trophy are the World Series Champions from 1979 (Pittsburgh Pirates), 1981 & 1988 (Los Angeles Dodgers), 1982 (St. Louis Cardinals), 1983 (Baltimore Orioles), 1984 (Detroit Tigers), 1985 (Kansas City Royals) and 1989 (Oakland A’s).

Of course, what those of us who have been following baseball for the last 30 years know, is that of these teams only the Cardinals have won another World Series since the 1980s (2006 and 2011) with the 2006 victory coming over the Tigers, who also appeared in the World Series in 2012.

With the exception of the Dodgers, who have made the playoffs seven times since winning the 1988 World Series, and the A’s, who have made eight playoff appearances since losing the 1990 World Series, the other teams in that group have seen some pretty lean times since the 1980s.

No team has waited longer to get back to the post season than the Kansas City Royals.

After making the playoffs seven times and finishing no worse than second during a 10-year stretch from 1976-1985 that culminated with their World Series Championship, the Royals went into a nearly three decade tailspin.

After winning the World Series, the Royals were still generally competitive for the next decade as they had a winning record six times and finished second in their division three times between 1986 and 1995.

However, their second place finish in 1995 came despite a losing record and from that season through 2012 the Royals had only one winning season and five times had a season winning percentage below .400. Despite going from a seven team division to a five team division with realignment in 1995, Kansas City finished as high as third place only three times in 17 seasons. Read the rest of this entry →

“Is that a Sport or a Hobby?” Debating the Purpose of Popular Pastimes

Posted on September 15, 2014 by Scott Huntington

Everyone’s got at least one hobby.

It is the competitive nature of certain pastimes that raises the question as to whether they are sports or hobbies. A sport could be defined as a competitive activity that can be performed by an individual or team that is played against others for entertainment purposes. The activity typically involves both physical exertion and skill.

Meanwhile hobbies are understood to be activities done alone or with others in one’s spare time for personal enjoyment. While certain hobbies can be done competitively, practically all sports function on a timetable laid down by an organization responsible for governing all related competitions.

Compare that to competitive hobbies that are done in one’s selected free time.

Some pastimes can be performed either as hobbies or sports, which leads to some general confusion. Are the following activities hobbies or sports? Let’s find out!

Golf

golf

We begin this list with a sport that is often associated with leisure time afforded to older retire gentlemen or a “paper pusher” hoping to make a good impression on his boss.

For some, golf is very much a hobby. This is because it is strictly done during free time. But this game’s long history suggests that it is indeed a sport.

The sport of golf meets all three major requirements to be considered such. Read the rest of this entry →

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Famous Athletes Afraid of Flying

Posted on September 10, 2014 by Scott Huntington

Professional athletes spend roughly half of their time on the road during the season, so flying between destinations is part of the job. Therefore, athletes who suffer from aviophobia, or a fear of flying, may find it very difficult to handle the constant air travel. Sports teams tend to travel in style, taking chartered planes to their road games, but this doesn’t make the trip any easier for these athletes who get just as nervous for the plane rides as they do for their athletic events.

Wayne Gretzky

wayne

You wouldn’t know it by the records he broke on the ice, but the Great One was actually terrified to fly early in his career. His roommate at the time, Ace Bailey, eventually learned how to calm him down before flights and made flying much easier for Gretzky. Tragically, Bailey was on one of the planes involved in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Gretzky also used a hypnotist to help him get over this fear.

Cortland Finnegan

Despite his fearless attitude on the football field, Cortland Finnegan does have one fear: flying. When he was selected to his first Pro Bowl in 2008, Finnegan thought about taking a cruise ship to the game because the thought of flying over the Pacific Ocean terrified him.

James Harrison Read the rest of this entry →

The Annies Are Getting Their Guns: Women Sports Shooters on the Rise

Posted on September 05, 2014 by Scott Huntington

This is part two of my previous post on the history of shooting sports.

girlsshooting-e1378485289504

Annie Oakley rose to fame in the 19th century, renowned around the world for her incredible marksmanship. It was said that Oakley was so skilled a markswoman, she could shoot the end of a cigarette between her husband’s lips or put holes in playing cards launched into the air before they hit the ground.

Part of Oakley’s novelty wasn’t just her skill; it was once considered extremely rare for women to be able to handle a gun, let alone shoot one with that kind of skill. But things are changing, and fast. Let’s take a look at in what ways.

More Women Gun Owners Than Ever

Women gun ownership is growing at a remarkable pace. Last year it was reported that gun ownership among women had risen by 77 percent since 2005.

Opinions are divided as to why more women than ever are learning to shoot. Some believe that guns have been highly glamorized by a pro-gun American society. Others point to the vulnerability that many women experience in terms of violent crimes. An armed women may feel safer when by themselves than their unarmed counterparts. Read the rest of this entry →

The History of Shooting Sports… in 5-Bullets

Posted on September 03, 2014 by Scott Huntington

Firearms have been around since 1260, but were nothing more than a barrel, charged with a measure of black powder.  The first firearms where weapons of war, but once the technology could be refined into smaller, more accurate devices, they were primarily used for hunting.

One of the biggest problems with firearm precision had to do with the construction of the barrel and the shape of the round blasting from the muzzle.

• It Took 600 Years for Shooting Sports to Immerge

rifiling

It wasn’t until firearm manufacturers began to implement ‘rifling’ in mass production, rather than the conventional ‘smooth bore,’ that these devices were considered precision instruments.  The US Civil War (1861-65) was the first instance of large-scale implementation of the supremely accurate ‘gain twist’ rifling for military applications. Also before then, the round itself acted more like an unpredictable knuckleball, because it was nothing more than a lead sphere.  The musket ball design had to change to the more aerodynamic ‘bullet’ shape that we know today. Read the rest of this entry →

6 Greatest Sports Bets of All Time

Posted on September 01, 2014 by Kimberly Powell
Tom Brady's safety to open the scoring in Super Bowl XLVI proved to be worth $50,000 to one sports gambler.

Tom Brady’s safety to open the scoring in Super Bowl XLVI proved to be worth $50,000 to one sports gambler.

Thousand Dollar Wager on Safety as First Score of Super Bowl XLVI

In American football, the ever elusive ‘safeties’ have only ever been achieved seven times throughout its history. This is where the ball carrier is tackled down in his own end zone; the ball becomes dead in the end zone, or the offense commits a foul in its own end zone. One American still decided to make a bet and a $1000 one at that. With the odds stacking up against him at 50-1 from the MGM Grand sports book, his chances looked bleak. The better knew his stuff, as Tom Brady of the New England Patriots was called for intentional grounding in the end zone to account for the first points of the Super Bowl and making the lucky winner  $50k richer in one night.

Betting on Cardinals to Make and to Win 2011 World Series

On September 12, 2011, the St. Louis Cardinals were five games back from a wild card spot with just 15 games left to play. An unidentified St. Louis fan staked $250 on the Cardinals making the World Series at 500-1 odds. He obviously felt optimistic, as another $250 bet was put down on his team actually winning the World Series at 999-1 odds. The Cardinals blazed through the month of September, collecting win after win. By October, they had taken down the heavily favored Phillies and eventually defeated the Rangers in seven games to win the series. The pay-out was a huge $375,000. Read the rest of this entry →

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    • Rod Carew: Hitting Machine
      July 5, 2014 | 3:42 pm
      Rod Carew

      Rod Carew

      With the Major League All-Star Game being played this year in Minnesota, we recognize as the July Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month one of the best hitters of the last half a century who was named to 18 straight All-Star teams, including in each of his 12 seasons with the Twins.

      Few have been as good at the craft of hitting a baseball as Rod Carew. During 19 major league seasons, Carew won seven batting titles and hit .330 or better ten times.

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