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Costly Baseball Thumb Injuries, Then And Now 0

Posted on November 22, 2017 by Joe Fleming
The Los Angeles Angels could not overcome the thumb injury suffered by star Mike Trout during the 2017 season.

The Los Angeles Angels could not overcome the thumb injury suffered by star Mike Trout during the 2017 season.

Considering that the wounds are relatively minor, a blistered or sprained thumb has caused considerable consternation in baseball over the years. In the 2017 season, a sprained thumb might have cost two teams each a playoff berth, and of course, there’s also that famous thumb injury in 1986 which arguably extended the Curse of the Bambino another twenty years.

Medically, a sprained thumb affects the tissue in either the interphalangeal joint (thumb knuckle) or metacarpophalangeal joint (thumb base). In addition to physical activity, arthritis often causes either a hyperextension (when the thumb moves backward) or hyperflexion (repetitive motion). A few simple exercises, and perhaps a thumb brace and a little ice, usually cure the problem. But alas, these measures were insufficient to change the course of history for these three teams:

2017 Los Angeles Angels

The World Series Champion Houston Astros eventually ran away with the American League West title in 2017, but in May, preseason favorite Los Angeles appeared to be in the driver’s seat. Then, in a May 28 loss that brought the team’s record under .500 for one of the first times that season, MVP candidate Mike Trout sprained his thumb. Read the rest of this entry →

Rise Of Analytics Help Trigger New Era In Sports 1

Posted on October 27, 2017 by Kent Tukeli

Advanced analytics have completely changed basketball and baseball strategy at the highest level. After decades of traditional wisdom ruling over the NBA and MLB, coaches and front offices were forced to adjust to new data sources which revealed valuable competitive insight.

Professional hockey went through a major change in the 1990s, with NHL betting odds favoring teams which made the switch to trap-based defensive systems. Since then scoring has almost returned to pre-trap levels as analysts attempt to utilize modern analytics to uncover the next big edge in hockey. And the best sports betting sites have had also had to adjust their betting lines accordingly.

NBA Analytics Created The Three-Point Revolution

Basketball might be the most extreme example of how analytics has influenced a sport’s strategy at the highest level. NBA champions of the 80s and 90s ruled the paint, including legends like Magic Johnson, Hakeem Olajuwon and Shaquille O’Neal. The action has moved far away from the key, with the three-point shot dominating the newest offensive schemes and strategies.

The record for three-point attempts was broken once again in the 2016-17 season, this time by the Houston Rockets, who bombed their way to a second-round playoff exit. The previous record holders, the Golden State Warriors, earned their second NBA championship in three years. No team has won a ring without elite three-point shooting for nearly a decade.

Basketball analytics have progressed to personal electronics worn by players around the clock, with players being monitored almost incessantly. Before the modern age of the three-pointer, a three-point shooting center or power forward was a rare luxury. Now, players who previously focused on banging in the paint must develop a jumper if they expect to start on most NBA rosters.

Curry-KD

MLB Analytics Lead To Home Run And Strikeout Records

Perhaps the most stat-intense sport in the world, baseball has always recorded the history of their game meticulously. The advent of modern analytics and micro data has allowed statisticians to run through an abundance of data to determine the best hitting, pitching and batting strategies. Read the rest of this entry →

Vintage Video: George Springer Channels Joe Rudi With Playoff Catch 0

Posted on October 21, 2017 by Dean Hybl
The catch by Astros outfielder George Springer in the 2017 ALCS was remeniscent of the grab by Joe Rudi of the Oakland A's in the 1972 World Series.

The catch by Astros outfielder George Springer in the 2017 ALCS was reminiscent of the grab by Joe Rudi of the Oakland A’s in the 1972 World Series.

When Houston Astros outfielder George Springer raced to the wall and made a crucial catch of a Todd Frazier blast in game six of the 2017 American League Championship Series it brought back memories of another great catch by the wall in a previous post season.

In game two of the 1972 World Series, Catfish Hunter and the Oakland A’s were clinging to a 2-0 lead when the Cincinnati Reds batted in the bottom of the ninth inning. Future Hall of Famer Tony Perez led off the inning with a single. The next batter, third baseman Denis Menke, hit a long blast to leftfield that looked destined for extra bases. However, lanky outfielder Joe Rudi raced to the wall and made a backhanded catch at the wall to secure the out and force Perez back to first base. At the time, the catch was considered one of the greatest postseason catches of all-time and was an iconic moment of that seven-game series.

It also proved critical, as Hal McRae eventually drove home Perez with a single, but Rollie Fingers came in to get the final out in a 2-1 Oakland victory. Had Rudi not made the catch off Menke’s blast, the Reds would have likely tied the game and had an opportunity to win it in regulation. Given that the A’s ultimately won the Series in seven games, that moment was certainly pivotal to Oakland winning the first of their three straight World Series.

While it is yet to be determined whether Springer’s catch will help propel the Astros into the World Series, it certainly was important in game six as it came with two runners on and only one out in the seventh inning. Had Springer not made the catch, Justin Verlander would likely been pulled from the game and the Yankees could have been poised for another big inning as they have done several times throughout the 2017 playoffs.

Instead, Verlander eventually finished the inning without giving up a run and the Astros went on to win 6-1 and force a decisive seventh game.

Below are videos of Rudi’s catch in 1972 and Sprringer’s in 2017. You can see that they each made a long run to grab the ball at the wall and help save victories for their teams.

Joe Cronin: Player-Manager 1

Posted on October 01, 2017 by Dean Hybl
Joe Cronin

Joe Cronin

In recognition of the start of the baseball playoffs, we recognize as the Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month a man who managed pennant winning teams in Washington and Boston and spent more than decade as a player-manager.

When the Boston Red Sox acquired Joe Cronin following the 1934 season they didn’t just get an All-Star player, they also got a new manager. Read the rest of this entry →

How to Clean up Old Baseball Equipment 1

Posted on August 31, 2017 by Scott Huntington

Sometimes, the new baseball season demands new equipment. If your favorite pair of cleats is separating from their hardened soles, for example, it’s time to trade them in. However, lots of the equipment we put aside as worn out actually has life left in it.

As companies look for cheaper ways to manufacture gear, consumers can be forced to deal with what is ultimately a lower-quality product, and who wants to spend more money on new equipment when you can get more use out of pieces you’ve already paid for? Instead, why not breathe some new life into that old mitt or bat?

Reconditioning Your Mitt

glove5-800x519

A good baseball or softball glove can last decades, but you’ve got to take care of it properly. Some newer gloves are made of synthetics, which are softer when new but break down more quickly than their natural counterpart, leather. A leather glove requires care, or it will dry out.

When you pull an old leather glove out of storage, it will probably be dry and stiff. A good cleaning and some leather conditioner go a long way toward restoring its supple feel. Wipe the glove down with a damp cloth, and if it’s stained or dirty use rubbing alcohol to remove discoloration. If mold or mildew have grown on it, use a rag soaked in vinegar.

Next, select a conditioning agent. Since so many things are made of leather, you’ve got your choice between old-school options like saddle soap or more recent synthetic conditioners. Use a damp rag and work the conditioner into the glove. Read the rest of this entry →

Doping In Sports: Through The Lenses Of Time 1

Posted on August 21, 2017 by Tyrion Smith

doping-sportsWitnessing the whole BALCO fiasco and long trials of Barry Bonds along with Mark McGwire would have made you wonder that these are the first cases of doping in sports, especially in baseball, but that’s farther from the truth. Yes, the baseball doping was highlighted way more than other incidents of steroid use by athletes in the US, partially because of congressional hearings in 2005 and critically acclaimed movie ‘Bigger, Stronger, Faster’.

Initial Phase

The fact is doping history in sports goes all the way back to ancient Rome when chariot racers were used to drink an herbal pre-workout of sorts before races, heightening their focus and endurance. That’s one of the earliest forms (100 AD) of competitive sports known to mankind. Fast forward to 1889, and ironically, a baseball player openly admitted using testosterone, a rather organic form derived from pigs and dog’s testicles. Sure, there were few instances of athletes experimenting with caffeine and liquor here and there, but come on, caffeine and booze can’t be considered doping despite their proclaimed performance enhancing effects.

First Causalities

Soon after the use of testosterone in 1889, the world witnessed the horrors of steroids in 1896 when Ephedrine intake caused death of English cyclist, A.Linton. Then in 1904, Tom Hicks collapsed at St. Louis marathon, and though he won the event, doctors proved use of Strychinine and Cognac.

The Booming Period

After that we saw a boom in the use of drugs that enhance performance of humans to somewhat super human level, across sports and in wars as well. Call it leaked secretive documents or conspiracy theories, soldiers in WW II were given Amphetamines to boost their endurance and focus, both Allied and Axis.

Finally, we see the mid-1900s, when the use of anabolic steroids was rampant and we witnessed highly tuned muscular physiques. It was the era of superiorly muscular bodybuilders like Sergio Oliva, Arnold and later Dorian Yates, Ronnie Coleman and Phil Heath ushered a ground-breaking phenomenon where human limits were pushed to the max. Soon HGH joined the list of anabolic doping agents as the most potent activist. Ironically, the very sport of bodybuilding highlighted the absolute potential of HGH and doping agents, in addition to its side effects. The number of causalities and deaths directly related to abuse of HGH, insulin and anabolic steroids, in bodybuilding is among the highest and the facts are widely documented on social media. However, that happens only when you misuse them. Learn more about HGH here. Read the rest of this entry →

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  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Bulldog Turner: Two-Way Star
      November 12, 2017 | 8:52 am
      Bulldog Turner

      Bulldog Turner

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was a two-way star for the dominant Chicago Bears teams of the 1940s.

      Though Hardin-Simmons College in Abilene, Texas was not known as a football power, legendary head coach George Halas could find great players anywhere and chose Clyde “Bulldog” Turner with the seventh pick in the 1940 NFL Draft.

      Read more »

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