October 31, 2013 by
The Boston Red Sox slid past the St. Louis Cardinals to win Game Six and the 2013 World Series.
After a 2012 season filled with internal bickering, a trade that removed three of the best players from the roster and a record that was the third worst in the American League, who could have predicted that just 12 months later the Boston Red Sox would be the 2013 World Series Champions?
Yet, despite basically starting from scratch with a roster that included a dozen new faces, there were the Red Sox defeating the St. Louis Cardinals 6-1 in game six to claim their third World Series title in a decade and first being clinched at Fenway Park since 1918.
The final game was perhaps the least dramatic of a World Series that had two “first ever” endings.
Game three, a 5-4 Cardinals victory, was the first World Series game ever ended on a fielder obstruction play. Then the next night, the Red Sox tied the series at two games each when Koji Uehara picked off Kolten Wong with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning to preserve a 4-2 victory.
As was the case throughout the season, the key for the Red Sox against the Cardinals was timely hitting, strong starting pitching and a lights out bullpen. Read the rest of this entry →
October 15, 2013 by
Kirk Gibson completely changed the 1988 World Series with one swing.
It was 25 years ago today that Kirk Gibson limped out of the Los Angeles Dodgers dugout and into baseball immortality. In his only at bat of the series, Gibson blasted a home run off future Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley that not only lifted his team to victory in the first game of the 1988 World Series, but set the stage for a surprising series victory for the underdog Dodgers.
Though Gibson’s home run did not end a World Series the way blasts by Bill Mazeroski and Joe Carter did, his homer arguably was just as important in deciding a series as any other home run in history.
The 1988 Oakland A’s were believed to be virtually unbeatable. Assembled with a combination of home grown players and experienced veterans and managed by Tony LaRussa, the A’s won 104 games in the regular season and then swept the Boston Red Sox in the American League Championship Series.
Oakland scored 800 runs during the season and were led by Jose Canseco, who hit 42 home runs, drove home 124 runs, stole 40 bases and hit .307 to earn American League MVP honors. They also had an outstanding pitching staff including 21 game winner Dave Stewart and lights-out reliever Dennis Eckersley, who led the league with 45 saves in his first full season as a closer.
To the contrary, many believed that manager Tommy Lasorda had been using smoke and mirrors to coax his Dodgers team through the regular season and into the World Series. Sure they won 94 games in the regular season, but as a team hit just.248 and Gibson was actually the team leader with a .290 batting average and 25 home runs while finishing second on the squad with 76 RBI (Mike Marshall led the team with 82).
The Dodgers were in the 1988 World Series because they had one of the best pitching staffs in baseball. Even with perennial ace Fernando Valenzuela enduring the worst season to that point in his career, the team still had an ERA under three runs per game.
The main reason for that was Orel Hershiser, who was on his way to winning the Cy Young Award with a 23-8 record and 2.26 ERA. Read the rest of this entry →
September 20, 2013 by
Billie Jean King’s 1973 match against Bobby Riggs was anything but normal.
It was 40 years ago today, September 20, 1973 when Billie Jean King struck a major blow for women’s athletics by defeating the flamboyant Bobby Riggs in a made-for-television extravaganza billed as the Battle of the Sexes.
It is hard to step back in time 40 years and remember just how different the perception of female athletes was at that time. While today great female athletes are revered for their talents and in some sports are regulars on network television and in front of large stadium crowds, in the early 1970s women’s athletics was given very little value by much of the general population.
While today women are generally judged athletically based on their own skills and abilities, in the early 1970s equal rights era many dismissed the accomplishments of even the best female athletes because they were obviously not competitive with male athletes.
In early 1973 former men’s tennis champion Bobby Riggs proved that by thoroughly dismantling Margaret Court, one of the top women’s tennis players of all-time and still today the record holder with 24 Grand Slam singles titles, 6-2, 6-1.
Before facing Court, Riggs had actually first challenged Billie Jean King, but King initially declined the match, which led to the contest against Court.
After Riggs defeated Court, he again challenged King and this time she accepted.
Their match was played in front of a crowd of more than 30,000 at the Houston Astrodome and viewed by an estimated television audience of 50 million in the U.S. and 90 million worldwide. Howard Cosell, who was at the peak of his visibility on ABC Sports and Monday Night Football, was the lead broadcaster for the match. Read the rest of this entry →
August 22, 2013 by
The Ashes is one of the most desired and certainly one of the most interesting trophies in sports.
In this year’s Ashes, England has returned with a stunning series of victories to win back the Ashes for the third time since 2009. A poor showing from the Australians, combined with an inspiring display of force from the England team, has well and truly put to rest the embarrassingly dry spell of losses experienced in the 1990s.
The Ashes is perhaps one of the most famous trophies of any sport in the world, not just in the cricketing sphere. Its emblem – a tiny urn just 11cm high – stems from a mock obituary for “English Cricket” that was published in the Sporting Times in 1882 after a humiliating loss for England after a match at the Kennington Oval. The memorable quip – “The body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia” – began to overshadow to the upcoming tour in Australia, in which captain Ivo Bligh vowed to bring back the Ashes for England.
Since then, the two countries have played over 300 Test series. Both teams have tended to use Gunn and Moore cricket bats, available from cricket retailers such as Talent Cricket.
1932-33: The Bodyline Tour
The genteel world of cricket is not usually known for its controversies. Nevertheless, the 1932-33 Ashes have gone down in history thanks to the questionable “bodyline” tactics employed by the England team under Douglas Jardine. Bodyline was a style of bowling employed primarily to counter the superb skill of Australia’s batsman Don Bradman, considered perhaps the best Test cricketer of all time. Bodyline delivery involved bowling the ball towards the batsman’s body on the leg stump side, in the hope that the resultant leg-side deflection could be handled more easily by fielding England players. It was intended to intimidate, hoping to break the extraordinary skill of Bradman. Read the rest of this entry →
July 24, 2013 by
After having his home run reversed, George Brett had to be physically restrained from umpire Tim McClelland.
It is hard to believe that it was 30 years ago, July 24, 1983, when New York Yankees manager Billy Martin set off “Volcano Brett” after Kansas City Royals star George Brett launched what appeared to be a two-run home run in the top of the ninth inning of the final game of a four-game series between the two teams at Yankee Stadium.
The scene of a totally unhinged Brett erupting out of the dugout and having to be restrained from home plate umpire Tim McClelland by the other umpires and his teammates is a familiar one that has been replayed extensively over the last three decades.
However, the entire incident is an amazingly interesting time capsule for baseball from an era before steroids, corked bats and other unlawful tricks to get an edge completely changed the game of baseball.
In re-watching the video, it is almost comical to think anyone would take Martin’s argument seriously and legitimately consider that having a little pine tar more than 18 inches up the handle of the bat would play any role in Brett’s home run off Goose Gossage.
However, after Martin spent time pointing out the indiscretion to McClelland and the other umpires, they actually measured the bat against the plate and then McClelland famously signaled that Brett was out, thus launching one of the most famous tirades in baseball history.
Of course while the Yankees technically “won” the game on that afternoon with Brett being the third out, the victory was overruled by American League President Lee MacPhail. He ordered the game to continue following the Brett home run with the Royals now leading 5-4.
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June 07, 2013 by
The ’91 NBA Final was the defining series for the future of the NBA for the next decade. The best player in the league would learn how to win on basketball’s biggest stage. Michael Jordan and the Bulls would win six titles including the ’91 affair. The Lakers would not see glory again until they retooled for the Kobe and Shaq era. This series was certainly a definitive passing of the torch moment.
The first stage was part abdication and the rest annihilation. The Chicago Bulls finally vanquished their long time nemesis the Detroit Pistons in a convincing sweep. For three years leading up to this moment, the Bulls made continual progress towards usurping the Pistons dynasty. Each successive time they met in the playoffs, the Bulls came closer to beating them. Finally in 1991, the Bulls overcame their most bitter of rivals. Many notable Pistons left the court with eight seconds left, in a last gasp show of defiance.
While the conference finals featured Chicago overcoming their most bitter rivals, the NBA finals were a changing of the guard on a national scale. The Los Angeles Lakers were at the end of their “Showtime” dynasty. James Worthy and Magic Johnson were at the end of their storied careers. The stranglehold the Lakers had in the Pacific Division, ended this year as Portland finished first in the division. One last run was on the plate for these Lakers, as they triumphed over Portland in six games.
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