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Sports Then and Now


What’s Next for the Winners & Losers of The 2015 Grand National?

Posted on April 20, 2015 by Andre Smith

2015-GrandNational-1After another fiercely battled rush to the winning post, and mercifully with no horses being harmed in the making of the epic Aintree race, the 2015 Grand National once more bought a host of surprises from its field of talented runners and racers. The race itself was won by the Irish-bred, British-trained Many Clouds, owned by Trevor Hemmings and trained by National Hunt racing trainer Oliver Sherwood.

Many Clouds himself has been enjoying plenty of attention since his win at the 2015 Crabbie’s Grand National earlier this month. The winning racehorse who clinched the victory ahead of Saint Are, Monbeg Dude, Alvarado and race favorite Shutthefrontdoor was paraded through the streets of Lambourn the day after the big race to a huge turnout of supporters. The win marked Irish jockey Leighton Aspell’s second Grand National title who has now clinched back-to-back triumphs at both the 2014 and 2015 National’s.

Even though Many Clouds was feeling the heat after the race and needed some time out to cool down and relax again, the thoroughbred was fine and thankfully came through the race unharmed, as did all the horses that competed in the tough and often brutal race held at Aintree in Liverpool. Read the rest of this entry →

How to Start Cycling in Competitive Events

Posted on April 20, 2015 by John Harris
Competitive cycling

There are many levels of competitive cycling.

The cycling world might have been rocked by revelations about Lance Armstrong, but it’s still going strong. Cycling is one of the best sports to get involved with, whether it’s at an amateur or more professional level. Once you start cycling in different events, you won’t be able to stop it becoming your whole life. If you already feel yourself turning into one of those people who always talks about cycling, you probably want to get started and enter a few competitions and events. But if you don’t know where to start, it’s not too hard to begin.

Get the Gear

You won’t get very far without a bike. There’s no need to rush out and buy all the latest equipment right away, from a bike that costs thousands of dollars to a lycra bodysuit. But you need to start somewhere, even if it’s just with a secondhand bicycle. First, decide what sort of riding you want to do. A city bike like these beautiful Shinola bicycles will get you around an urban environment if you want to start cycling to work. A road bike or hybrid is good for longer distances while you’ll need a mountain bike for challenging terrain. You’ll also need some appropriate shoes and clothes and a water bottle as a minimum to get you started.

Join a Cycling Group

If you want to meet other cycling enthusiasts and train with them, find a local cycling group. You’ll find like-minded people who meet up to ride together, talk about cycling and maybe even go on trips. You might find that they enter events together too, in case you’re a bit nervous to attend your first one on your own. Read the rest of this entry →

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Umpire Big Egos are a Bad Thing for Baseball

Posted on April 18, 2015 by Dean Hybl
Jordan Baker added himself to the list of awful ego-driven umpires by ejecting Ubaldo Jimenez during the Orioles-Red Sox game on April 17, 2015

Jordan Baker added himself to the list of awful ego-driven umpires by ejecting Ubaldo Jimenez during the Orioles-Red Sox game on April 17, 2015

Umpires who think they are bigger than the game has been a thorn in the side of baseball for generations. With Bud Selig, who seemed unwilling or incapable of addressing the problem, now out of the way, it is time for his replacement, Rob Manfred, to address this critical issue.

The problem was amplified last night when umpire Jordan Baker, who first umpired in the majors in 2012, made a ridiculous call that has the potential to impact one of the teams involved for days.

It is one thing when umpires make the wrong call on a close play and hold their ground. While you would hope they would be most concerned about getting plays right, part of being good at your job is feeling you are correct. Fortunately, the addition of replay as an opportunity to correct umpire mistakes has helped this phase of the game.

However, the bigger problem, and the one that Baker exemplified last night is when an umpire makes a horrible judgement call that cannot be altered by replay.

With the Baltimore Orioles clinging to a 1-0 lead with two outs and no one on base in the fourth inning, pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez was working on a no-hitter when Boston Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval came to the plate. Considering that Jimenez was horrible in 2014 and fortunate to even make the starting rotation this season, you can guarantee that his focus was to continue the scoreless streak he has had to start the season and to keep getting players out.

So when his first pitch to Sandoval, who as a left-handed hitter with a large figure is known for setting up close to the plate, sailed in and hit Sandoval below the shoulder with a slider, you can bet that he disappointed to have added a base runner, but ready to move on to the next batter, Mike Napoli.

Watching the game live, there seemed to be nothing out of the normal until suddenly Baker came out from behind home plate and immediately threw Jimenez out of the game. There had been no warning or any previous close pitches by either team.

According to crew chief Jerry Meals, who of course is going to defend his fellow umpire, Baker felt that Jimenez was retaliating for a hard slide Sandoval had made into second base earlier in the game.

First, even if the hit-by-pitch was done in retaliation, that is part of the game and has been for generations. However, there is no evidence that the errant pitch was related to any previous action. It was just a bad pitch. Read the rest of this entry →

What’s New in Football?

Posted on April 18, 2015 by Ashley Andrews
Bringing the NFL back to Los Angeles has been a big part of the NFL's off-season discussions.

Bringing the NFL back to Los Angeles has been a big part of the NFL’s off-season discussions.

In an effort to weed out truth from gossip, this article explores the NFL’s rumor mill…..

There have been many rumors about upcoming changes in the NFL, and Commissioner Roger Goodell has stated that fans can look forward to the league evolving in the next couple years. Goodell does have an exceptional reputation for making decisions that improve the league’s brand, so it’s exciting to see what’s in store.

Are new stadiums being built? Is the National Football League interested in establishing new expansion teams? These are questions fans are asking right now, but the people in charge are keeping mum, except for few details.

All About the Benjamins
Goodell has a solid reputation for helping owners maximize their annual earnings, and most (if not all) the upcoming changes are geared toward more profits. The NFL hasn’t experienced any problems generating impressive revenue each season, but that isn’t going to stop expansion from happening.

Statistics show that the NFL has consistently increased its profits each year, and the overall revenue is over $9 billion. The commissioner, league officials, and team owners are going to continue to push for additional revenue, which is why expansion rumors should be believed. Expanding their market is a surefire way to earn teams more money. It’s the right time to establish a new team in a big city. Read the rest of this entry →

Jordan Spieth Keeps Golf’s Youth Movement Going

Posted on April 12, 2015 by Dean Hybl
21-year-old Jordan Spieth led wire-to-wire to claim his green jacket.

21-year-old Jordan Spieth led wire-to-wire to claim his green jacket.

Watching 21-year-old golfer Jordan Spieth re-write the record books at Augusta National, you couldn’t help feel a sense of déjà vu. Has it really been 18 years since a 21-year-old Tiger Woods totally dominated the 1997 Masters for his first Major title?

Of course, we now know that what Woods did in April 1997 was not a fluke. He went on to win four green jackets among his 14 major championships.

What will be interesting for us to look back on in 18 years is whether the performance by Spieth triggered a period of dominance similar to that of Woods or if the 2015 Masters will become best remembered for being one of 10 second place finishes by Phil Mickelson in a Major tournament.

Given that Spieth already has three PGA Tournament wins, has finished 21st or better in the U.S. Open twice and in two trips to the Masters has a second place tie and now a tournament championship, it seems likely that this is just the beginning of a long and successful career for Spieth.

If that is indeed the case, the future for professional golf is looking mighty bright.

It was just a couple years ago that many were asking what would happen to the PGA after Tiger and Phil.

Now, with Spieth joining an impressive group of “young guns” who have either won or contended for majors before their 30th birthday, the sport seems poised for a long period where multiple stars take turns battling for victories.

Of course, leading the pack is Rory McIlroy, who at the age of 25 has already won four major titles and with a 12-under par score at the 2015 Masters might have reached the career grand slam had it not been for Spieth’s magical performance.

Other young stars who will compete with McIlroy and Spieth for years to come include Martin Kaymer (two majors before age 30), Webb Simpson (won 2012 U.S. Open at age 27), Keegan Bradley (won the 2011 PGA Championship at age 25), Dustin Johnson (eight top 10 finishes in majors at age 30) and 25-year-old Rickie Fowler (finished in the top five in all four majors in 2014).

In addition to these 30-and-under stars, the sport also includes several major champions who are in their early 30s including Adam Scott, Justin Rose, Lucas Glover, Bubba Watson and Louis Oosthuizen. Read the rest of this entry →

State of NCAA Men’s College Basketball is Debatable for What is Best for Game

Posted on April 11, 2015 by Chris Kent

As the 21st century moves forward, college basketball is becoming more and more known for the early departures. The so called “one and done era” has been alive for more than a decade. Gone are the days when student-athletes made a splash as a freshman and then continued to do so over three or four years in college.

Look no further than Kentucky for proof of this. Since John Calipari was hired as the Wildcats’ head coach in 2009, Kentucky has been the prime source of the “one and done era.” Add in a few sophomores who decided a second attempt at a Final Four or a national championship was worth coming back for and the Wildcats have been a landslide leader in this trend of kids leaving school early for the riches of playing pro basketball.

A total of seven Kentucky players declared to enter the NBA Draft earlier this week.

A total of seven Kentucky players declared to enter the NBA Draft earlier this week at a press conference shown here.

Last year was no different. After falling two wins short of becoming the first undefeated national champion in 39 years – following their 71-64 loss to Wisconsin in the 2015 national semifinals – , Kentucky announced that seven players from last year’s team have declared for the NBA draft. Among the seven are four starters including the starting backcourt of sophomores Andrew and Aaron Harrison, freshman center Karl Anthony-Towns, and junior power forward Willie Cauley-Stein. The others are forward Trey Lyles and guard Devin Booker, both freshman, along with 7-foot sophomore center Dakari Johnson.

All seven have the ability to play at the next level as either starters or reserves. Some have the potential to start right away for anybody while the fortunes of others will be influenced by how the NBA Lottery turns out. Early mock drafts have Anthony-Towns competing with Duke freshman center Jahlil Okafor – who has also declared for the draft – for the top overall pick. Anthony-Towns is  6-11 and weighs 250 while Okafor is 6-11 and 270. Both were among the nation’s dominant big men last season.

Should all seven of these players be drafted, it would set a new record for the most players selected from one school in a single draft. The Wildcat’s six selections in the 2012 draft – lead by top overall pick Anthony Davis – is the current record. Davis had lead Kentucky to the national title in 2012 in what was Calipari’s first championship. Read the rest of this entry →

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  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Horton Smith: First Masters Champion
      April 3, 2015 | 8:58 am
      Horton Smith

      Horton Smith

      In 1934, the Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month became the first winner of what is now considered among the most prestigious of all golf tournament championships.

      Horton Smith made his professional golf debut in 1926, in 1929 he won eight tournaments and in 1930 finished third in the U.S. Open and tied for fourth at the British Open. However, he entered the first-ever Masters (then known as the Augusta National Invitational) in 1934 without having previously won any of the tournaments that would eventually be considered the “majors”.

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