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Sports Then and Now


How to Play Pickleball

Posted on October 10, 2017 by Scott Huntington

If you haven’t heard of pickleball yet, don’t worry — you will. Pickleball is the result of what comes from mixing badminton, court and table tennis together.

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It may have a funny-sounding name, but there’s no question as to its legitimacy as a sport. There are over 15,000 courts in the United States and over 2.5 million participants of the sport in the United States.

Unlike many other popular sports, pickleball has participants spanning all ages, career paths and stages of life — including high school teenagers in their physical education classes to aged citizens in retirement locations. Tennis, racquetball and ping pong players are all attracted to the game, its competitive nature and the social aspect it inspires.

Pickleball’s Beginnings

The first ball was struck by the first paddle over the first net in the summer of 1965 on Bainbridge Island, Washington, at the home of Joel Pritchard. Mr. Pritchard, at the time, serving as State Representative and later on as Lieutenant Governor of Washington, and his friends Bill Bell and Barney McCallum returned from their game of golf to discover a house full of bored family members.

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They attempted to start a rousing game of badminton for everyone but the shuttlecock was nowhere to be found so they improvised with a whiffle ball. Due to the size and weight of the ball, they lowered the net and cobbled together paddles from plywood materials they found from a nearby shed.

After one game turned into a dozen and friends were introduced to the family sport, the name Pickleball was chosen due to the term used for the boats that return with their catch – “pickle boat.” The Pritchard family would later get a dog and name him Pickles, which would begin the legend of the name of the sport.

How to Play

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Anywhere from two, three or four players take solid paddles and use them to strike a polymer ball with holes over a net. The dimensions and layout of the playing field are similar to that of a badminton court, with rules similar to tennis but with a few modifications. Only the serving team can score points, and it’s played to 11 — however, a team must win by two.

When the game first began, the paddles were made from wood only, but with the popularity of the game increasing, the paddles are now made from lightweight composite materials like aluminum and graphite. The ball for Pickleball has holes through it similar to a whiffle ball, but different ball models are used for indoor and outdoor use and come in several colors including white, yellow and green.

Support of the Game

The game, while growing popularity and legitimacy, still retains its small town, indie feel. In 2016 the Pickleball U.S. Open was only watched by 20 people in the stands, but this was due to extreme heat weather and not the popularity of the game. As soon as measures were taken to protect fans in the stands, the audience at the 2017 US Open swelled to 200 attendees at every match.

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If you’re a beginner to the game, you’re quickly learning the allure, if you’re trying it out for the first time, just start playing and the fun will infect you quickly. Anyone can play with any opponent — making pickleball not only an excellent athletic experience, but also great for forging new friendships and for multi-generational families to bond over.

Vintage Video: The Magic of Roger Staubach

Posted on October 08, 2017 by Dean Hybl
Roger Staubach led the Dallas Cowboys to two Super Bowl wins and 23 fourth quarter comebacks during the 1970s.

Roger Staubach led the Dallas Cowboys to two Super Bowl wins and 23 fourth quarter comebacks during the 1970s.

It seems like just about every week at least one NFL quarterback leads his team to an exciting comeback victory.

Of course, exciting comebacks are nothing new. In the 1970s, Dallas Cowboys star Roger Staubach became known as Captain Comeback for his many late miracle comeback wins.

As part of our Vintage Videos series we look back at the career of Staubach, including some great YouTube videos of one of the iconic quarterbacks in NFL history.

During his nine seasons as the starting quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys, Roger Staubach seemed to always have the uncanny knack of making the big play needed to lift his team to victory. He led the Cowboys to 23 fourth quarter game-winning drives during his career, including 15 times with his team trailing.

The Cowboys reached the playoffs in eight of his nine seasons as the starting quarterback and advanced to the Super Bowl five times.

He was named MVP of Super Bowl VI and also led Dallas to the title in Super Bowl XXII.

Staubach was a winner even before joining the Cowboys.

He spent three seasons at the Naval Academy and as a junior in 1963 won the Heisman Trophy while leading the Midshipmen to a 9-1 record and a number two national ranking.

After graduating, he spent five years in the U.S. Navy, including a tour in Vietnam. Read the rest of this entry →

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4 Amazing Products You Need For Your Fishing Trip

Posted on October 08, 2017 by Dave Parker

fishing-3Many anglers are resilient when it comes to making changes and adapting to the amazing technological advances that are slowly creeping up on them. Despite being particularly useful, the best depth finders and fish finders are still used rather scarcely. It takes a whole lot of time to convince a fisherman or woman who has utilized the same techniques for the past two decades to try out something new.

We’ve made a list of four great products that you ought to consider if you’re into angling and are looking to give a shot to some gadgets. Keep in mind that many of those that we will mention are user-friendly and convenient, and that’s because they’re made to be utilized in the close proximity of water and your potential catches. In fact, most fishing gadgets nowadays are made to allow you to catch more fish.

  1. Fish finder bite alarm

Whenever the fish seem to refuse to bite, it can be tedious to keep on waiting without having a chat with your fishing buddies. It’s a good idea to place your rod on a stick or holder in your boat and then start waiting. With a fish finder bite alarm, you will find out the exact time where you have a shot at getting a catch. This type of device can be installed on virtually any type of rod, and the neatest thing about it is that it makes a sound each time there’s a bite. Some models are even equipped with a LED indicator in case you’re a fan of nighttime fishing. Read the rest of this entry →

Dallas and Green Bay Take Centerstage Today in Rematch of 2016 Playoff Thriller

Posted on October 08, 2017 by Chris Kent

Call it a rematch.

The Dallas Cowboys host the Green Bay Packers in week five of the NFL season today. While revenge will be the intent of the Cowboys, the Packers will be looking for their third straight win and with it claim early season supremacy over their NFC brethren.

Green Bay’s 34-31 win over Dallas in last season’s NFC divisional playoff game at AT&T Stadium – AKA Jerry World – ended the Cowboys unexpected storybook season at 13-4. Dallas won the NFC East for the second time in three years, buoyed by a franchise-record 11-game winning streak. While the Cowboys were in control of their eventual division championship throughout the season, their season came to an abrupt end when Aaron Rodgers worked his late-game magic with a one-of-a-kind throw that has been firmly entrenched in the storied lore of this matchup.

Aaron Rodgers and Jared Cook connected on this clutch play in last's year's dramatic playoff win over Dallas.

Aaron Rodgers and Jared Cook connected on this clutch play in last’s year’s dramatic playoff win over Dallas.

Facing third-and-20 from his own 32-yard line with 12 seconds left to play, Rodgers rolled out of the pocket to his left and spotted tight end Jared Cook running toward the side line. Rodgers fired a long pass to Cook who caught it while bending at the knees and dragging the tips of his two feet inbounds before falling out of bounds. Three seconds remained which then ticked away as Mason Crosby drilled a 51-yard field goal to send the Packers to the NFC Championship game and Dallas into the offseason one-and-done. It was a bitter defeat for the Cowboys and their fans who have waited nearly nine months for the two teams to meet again.

The defeat was even more deflating for Dallas when you consider that the game was full of drama, something the Cowboys’ franchise has always been known for. Dallas went up 3-0 – its’ only lead of the game – at the 11:28 mark of the first quarter before Green Bay scored 21 unanswered points to take a 21-3 lead with 8:14 left in the second quarter. Playing from behind nearly the whole game – a position they were rarely in the whole season – the Cowboys were taken out of their normal comfort zone. The Packers lead 21-13 at halftime.

Rodgers three-yard touchdown pass to Cook gave Green Bay a 28-13 lead early in the third quarter, a score which remained entering the fourth quarter. Dallas continued its’ rally by scoring consecutive touchdowns 7:31 apart in the fourth. The second one came when Dak Prescott connected with Dez Bryant on a seven-yard scoring play. Prescott’s two-yard run provided the two-point conversion and the game was tied 28-28.

The Packers retaliated on their ensuing drive with Crosby’s 56-yard field goal putting Green Bay up 31-28. That left the Cowboys with 1:33 following the ensuing kickoff. Prescott took Dallas on a 6-play 47-yard drive in 58 seconds to set up Dan Bailey’s 52-yard field goal knotting the score at 31 apiece. There were still 35 seconds left and Rodgers used it to put the Packers in position to win it behind his now legendary play.

Rodgers finished the game 28-for-43 for 355 yards with 2 touchdowns and 1 interception while compiling a 96.6 quarterback rating. Prescott, in his first career playoff game, was 24-for-38 for 302 yards, 3 touchdowns, 1 interception, and had a 103.2 QBR. Rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott – who lead the NFL in rushing with 1,631 yards during the 2016 regular season – ran 22 times for 125 yards. Mistakes were relatively even as each team had one turnover while the Cowboys had a slight 3-2 edge in sacks. Read the rest of this entry →

Remembering Playground Legend Connie Hawkins

Posted on October 07, 2017 by Dean Hybl
Connie Hawkins was a four-time All-Star with the Phoenix Suns.

Connie Hawkins was a four-time All-Star with the Phoenix Suns.

In the days before 24-hour sports networks and social media, basketball legends were created in places like the playgrounds of New York City. One of the original playground superstars was Brooklyn native Connie Hawkins, who has passed away at the age of 75.

Before he had ever played a college or professional game, Hawkins had already created a reputation as a player you had to see to believe. His thundering dunks and quick step was a forerunner to Julius Erving, Dominique Wilkins and LeBron James.

Though his professional career started late because he had the misfortune of being associated with a college point-shaving scandal during his freshman year at Iowa, for which he was not implicated, once he reached a greater audience he was as good as advertised.

Shunned by the NBA, Hawkins spent four years showing his dynamic skills as a member of the Harlem Globetrotters.

Hawkins finally began his professional career with the Pittsburgh Pipers of the ABA as a 25 year old during the 1967-68 season. He was an immediate All-Star and league MVP averaging a league best 26.8 points while grabbing 13.5 rebounds per game. During the playoffs, Hawkins averaged 29.9 points to lead them to the ABA Championship. Read the rest of this entry →

The New York Jets Know You Should Always Be Closing

Posted on October 03, 2017 by Andrew Scott
Former Cleveland Browns quarterback Josh McCown will be looking for his third straight win when facing his former team.

Former Cleveland Browns quarterback Josh McCown will be looking for his third straight win when facing his former team.

The New York Jets know that to pull off an upset against the Cleveland Browns, the Browns being a one-point favorite at SBG Global Sportsbook, they need to know their A-B-C. A-always, B-be, C-closing. Always be closing. Always be closing. They learned the hard way that, as head coach Todd Bowles told the team’s official website, “when you get somebody down, you have to kick them while they’re down. We didn’t do that this game [against the Jaguars], but we pulled out a win. Going forward, we need to make those types of plays to close people out.”

To his point, no one is downer than the Browns. As matter of fact, the only person who’s arguably lower in the head coaching pecking order than Bowles, it’s probably Cleveland’s own Hue Jackson. It actually does boggle the mind that it’s 0-4 Browns rather than the 2-2 Jets who are the faves on this one, when it could and probably should be the other way around. But then again, it could have been, the other way around, with the Jets the team with the losing record and the Browns breaking even, that’s how similar these two are. There but for the grace of God, right?

Sure, the Jets have won two straight, but they have lost their two road games – which mirrors their ATS record as well. Moreover, Josh McCown, their starting quarterback, who knows Jackson well, has never won three starts in a row. So, if one thinks about it, McCown is sort of like Ultraman. You know, “Because of Earth’s polluted atmosphere, Ultraman can only retain his gigantic form for three minutes. Time is running out.” Will McCown lead a team to a three-game-winning streak for the first time in 15 years before he runs out of time? If can’t get it done against the Browns, then he’s certainly no more than a two-hit wonder. Read the rest of this entry →

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  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Joe Cronin: Player-Manager
      October 1, 2017 | 8:21 am
      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.

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