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Sports Then and Now


US Still Fair Weather Football (Soccer) Fans

Posted on July 31, 2014 by Jeremy Biberdorf
American fans were locked in during the 2014 World Cup, but will they stay excited about soccer over the next four years?

American fans were locked in during the 2014 World Cup, but will they stay excited about soccer over the next four years?

To see the images that flooded American news and social media, one would think that the US lives and breathes football (well…”soccer”). It’s true, United States patriotic spirit was in full bloom during the Americans’ solid run in the most recent World Cup. So what does this mean for lasting nationwide interest in the beautiful game?

It would seem that sentiment is at an all-time high for the red, white, and blue. Never before have so many identified themselves as football fans. But when the rubber meets the road, most US football analytics have not increased within the past decade. The nation has spent more on football merchandise since the 2010 world cup, this much is true. But rabid fandom seems truly dilute nationwide. While some Americans know the names of their nation’s top players, and some could even tell you the latest UK football odds, only 1.2  tickets to this year’s Cup were sold for every 2000 residents. Read the rest of this entry →

Ricky Carmichael: Motocross Legend

Posted on July 18, 2014 by Scott Huntington

Ricky Carmichael has taken a nontraditional path to the NASCAR circuit; he got there by absolutely dominating the motocross world. Born in 1979 in Clearwater, Florida, he first began racing motocross at a very young age. His parents were either very supportive of him or very nearly criminally negligent of him because he began racing at the incredible age of 5.

ricly

For the next ten years, he owned the American amateur races; as he went on to win an astonishing 67 titles. That’s nearly seven titles per year from age 5-15. Then in 1996 he decided to stop beating up on all the poor amateur racers and made the jump to pro racing. You know how sometimes there’s a bit of a learning curve when an athlete turns pro? You always hear people talking about college quarterbacks being stunned their rookie years by the speed of the NFL and so on. Well, there was no such harsh transition for Ricky Carmichael. In 1996 he won the AMA Motocross Rookie of the Year Award racing for the Kawasaki team.

Read the rest of this entry →

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PEDs in Baseball

Posted on July 16, 2014 by Scott Huntington

a-rod

Performance enhancing drugs are a major problem in Major League Baseball, largely because of the league’s lack of testing until recent years. Following the 1994 player’s strike that led to the cancellation of the World Series, baseball’s popularity in the United States dwindled.

The only thing that brought the fans back was the 1998 home run chase between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, which ended with both players breaking Roger Maris’ single season record. It was later revealed that both players were taking PEDs during this season, but MLB did not have any testing procedures in place. In recent years, baseball has taken some steps towards cleaning up the sport, which has included suspensions of some high profile players.

First Suspensions

After MLB introduced its new drug policy in January of 2004, it was only a matter of time before some players were suspended. The first suspension was handed out on April 3, 2005 when Tampa Bay Devil Rays outfielder Alex Sanchez was given a 10-day ban. A total of 12 players were suspended in 2005, including all-stars Rafael Palmeiro, Ryan Franklin, and Matt Lawton. In 2005, the league and the player’s association agreed to make the penalties harsher for first time offenders, since each of these players was only suspended for 10 days. Read the rest of this entry →

Three Notable Triple Crown Winners

Posted on July 11, 2014 by Scott Huntington

With the defeat of California Chrome in the Belmont Stakes, we were robbed of witnessing one of the greatest accomplishments in American Sports: the completion of the Triple Crown. Only eleven horses have won the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes — the three races that make up that vaunted title. Some names of Triple Crown winners are more memorable than others, but let’s take a look at three of the most notable.

Sir Barton

SirBarton207

Sir Barton was the first horse to win the Triple Crown, when he won the Belmont Stakes in 1919. Originally, Sir Barton was just supposed to be the pacemaker for a higher regarded horse named Billy Kelly, but that all changed when Sir Barton won the Triple Crown by five lengths. He never trailed in any of the races he competed in, but somehow Sir Barton never really got the recognition he deserved.

His legacy was somewhat marred when he lost a match race against the famous Man o’ War. Sir Barton had some hoof problems that were compounded by the track’s hard surface, which led to his seven length loss to Man o’ War. Still, being the first ever Triple Crown Winner is something Sir Barton could be very proud of. Read the rest of this entry →

St. Andrews, the oldest Golf Course in the U.S. … Isn’t

Posted on July 09, 2014 by David Bryce
St. Andrews in Yonkers, New York is billed as the oldest golf club in the United States. But is it really?

St. Andrews in Yonkers, New York is billed as the first golf club in the United States. But is it really?

It’s commonly claimed that the oldest golf course to be founded in the United States is St. Andrews, in Yonkers, New York. It’s one of those little bits of trivia meant to show that you are a true aficionado of the sport rather than a mere schlub. Doubt it? Go visit their website. It’s the very first thing they say about themselves.

Except, it isn’t.

It’s not even true that it’s the oldest U.S. course to still be in use, or even in continuous use since it was built. First started as a three hole course in 1888, St. Andrews has been open every year since, providing 126 years of continuous play for golfers in the States. During that time it has expanded from three holes to the “standard” eighteen hole, par 71 course that is known and loved today, and lauded as the first and oldest golf course in the U.S.

Unfortunately, neither claim is true. Those titles were earned earlier, in 1884. There’s just one small problem with naming who holds them. Two courses were founded that year, and no one is quite certain which opened first. One is the Foxburg Golf Club in Pennsylvania. The other is Oakhurst Links in West Virginia.

Which came first? It’s hard to say. Both have a claim for that preeminence. But the exact date of the first game played on the course is uncertain. Without knowing that, it’s impossible to appoint a single winner. So let’s take a quick look at both.
Read the rest of this entry →

75 Years Ago: The Iron Horse Says Goodbye

Posted on July 03, 2014 by Dean Hybl
Lou Gehrig said goodbye to his fans on July 4, 1939.

Lou Gehrig said goodbye to his fans on July 4, 1939.

Imagine if one of the most iconic athletes of the current era suddenly retired, announced he had an incurable disease and within two years was dead. That is exactly what happened in 1939 when iconic New York Yankees star Lou Gehrig pulled himself out of the lineup after 2,130 consecutive games and then 75 years ago, on July 4, 1939, said goodbye to New York fans with his famous “luckiest man on the face of the earth” speech.

For 13 years, Gehrig was baseball’s most durable player as he famously was in the lineup every day. But durability wasn’t his only strength, he was also the best first baseman of his generation and was a run-producing machine.

Only Gehrig could push the Sultan of Swat, Babe Ruth, into the number three spot in the batting order. He drove in 140 or more runs nine times during his career, including 185 RBI during the 1931 season. In 1934 he claimed the triple crown as he hit .363 with 49 home runs and 166 RBI.

Interestingly, likely because the Yankees did not reach the World Series that season, he finished only fifth in the MVP voting as Mickey Cochrane earned the award. Read the rest of this entry →

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

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