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Sports Then and Now


Cowboys and Steelers on Par with Dominant Eras; Meet Again in 2016

Posted on November 13, 2016 by Chris Kent

As two of the National Football League’s iconic franchises, the Dallas Cowboys and the Pittsburgh Steelers evoke legacies and memories that date back to the 1970’s. That is where the two franchises forged their reputations as being elite. The two teams met in a pair of Super Bowls and combined to play in seven during the decade. With wins over the Cowboys in Super Bowls X and XIII,

Chuck Noll coached the Steelers to a 4-0 mark in the Super Bowl in the 1970's.

Chuck Noll coached the Steelers to a 4-0 mark in the Super Bowl in the 1970′s.

the Steelers gained the upper hand in the matchup in the 1970’s during which they went 4-0 in Super Bowls and claimed the status as the team of the decade. The two Super Bowl matchups between them in the 1970’s were classics. Pittsburgh claimed a pair of four-point victories with a 21-17 win in Super Bowl X and a 35-31 victory in Super Bowl XIII.

While both franchises fell off the very top of the NFL pedestal in the 1980’s, they came back to prominence in the 1990’s during which they met in a third Super Bowl, that being Super Bowl XXX in 1996 which Dallas won 27-17. It was the third Super Bowl title in a four-year span for the Cowboys who were the team of the decade. Dallas was lead throughout the 1990’s by Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, and Michael Irvin, who collectively were known as, “The Triplets.” They combined with a mammoth offensive line that featured multiple pro bowlers and a pro football hall-of-famer in guard/tackle Larry Allen that dominated opponents. Meanwhile, the Steelers had emerged as a contender with back-to-back trips to the AFC Championship game in 1994-95. Pro football hall-of-famers Rod Woodson and Kevin Greene were part of those Pittsburgh teams and soon to join in 1996 would be another eventual hall-of-famer in Jerome Bettis.

The mere mention of the Cowboys and Steelers dueling on the gridiron is enough to get any football fan’s attention. The names on each side represent a hall-of-fame roll call of players and coaches. For Pittsburgh it is the dominant era of “The Steel Curtain” defense in the 1970’s that took the league by storm. That defense was made famous by the likes of “Mean” Joe Greene, Jack Ham, Jack Lambert, and Mel Blount who are all in the pro football hall of fame. L.C. Greenwood was also part of the Steel Curtain and was named to the NFL’s 1970’s All-Decade Team. Leading those great Steelers’ teams was the late Chuck Noll who was 4-0 in Super Bowls, the only coach in the Super Bowl era besides Bill Belichick to win four. Those Pittsburgh team’s of the 1970’s also had firepower on offense behind the likes of Terry Bradshaw, Franco Harris, Lynn Swann, John Stallworth, and Mike Webster who are all in the pro football hall of fame. Read the rest of this entry →

World Series Game 7 is Special Baseball Treat

Posted on November 02, 2016 by Dean Hybl
Corey Kluber is trying to become the first pitcher since Mickey Lolich in 1968 to start and win three World Series games.

Corey Kluber is trying to become the first pitcher since Mickey Lolich in 1968 to start and win three World Series games.

It is certainly fitting that a “World Series for the Ages” between two teams trying to break generational streaks of disappointments would culminate in a winner-take-all seventh game. Regardless of whether the Chicago Cubs or Cleveland Indians come out victorious, the 2016 World Series will go down in baseball annals as one of the most memorable World Series of all-time.

This marks the 37th time that a World Series champion will be crowned in a seventh game. Of the previous 36, 14 have been one-run games and four were decided in extra innings.

The last time a game seven went to extra innings was in 1997 when the Cleveland Indians could not close the game despite a one-run lead in the ninth inning and ultimately lost in the eleventh inning on a game-winning hit by Edgar Renteria.

While the closer for the Indians in 1997 was the shaky Jose Mesa, if Cleveland enters the final innings of this seventh game with a lead they have the strength of a bullpen that has been lights out during the 2016 postseason.

The only game seven appearance for the Chicago Cubs was during the 1945 World Series. The game seven starter for the Cubs that year was Hank Bowry, who had lost game five and then pitched four innings of relief to win game six 8-7 in 12 innings. He didn’t make it out of the first inning of game seven as the Detroit Tigers scored five runs on their way to a 9-3 victory.

This time the Cubs have the luxury of pitching a likely Cy Young Award winner who is working on regular rest after starting game three.

Though Kyle Hendricks did not allow a run before being lifted in the fifth inning of game three, the Cubs ultimately lost that game 1-0. Hendricks will certainly be trying to duplicate his performance in game six of the National League Championship Series when he allowed only two hits in 7.1 innings.

His adversary for this game seven is looking to become the first pitcher since Mickey Lolich in 1968 to win three games in a World Series and first since Bob Gibson in 1967 to win games 1, 4 and 7 in the same series. Just for the record, Lolich recorded complete game victories in games two, five and seven in 1968. Read the rest of this entry →

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How Shared Football Stadiums Prep for Game Day

Posted on October 25, 2016 by Daniel Bailey
Oakland Alameda Stadium is currently the only stadium used for both the NFL and Major League Baseball.

Oakland Alameda Stadium is currently the only stadium used for both the NFL and Major League Baseball.

If you’re a big football fan, you most likely already know that several NFL and college teams share the same stadium. If you aren’t aware, there are 13 NFL teams that still share their football stadiums. While the NY Giants and Jets play on the same field, the Oakland Raiders actually share their stadium with the Oakland A’s. This is the only NFL team that still shares a stadium with an MLB baseball team. So how is this possible? The term used when each team is prepping its field for game day is, “flipping the field.”

Flipping a field isn’t an easy task. It takes a lot of time, money and labor to make sure that each stadium is ready before the teams run onto the field. It can take 12 crew members a whole work day to get the field ready for the team’s next game. This isn’t cheap either; it can cost up to $250,000get all of this done.

To lay it all out, Equipsupply created an infographic that goes into the behind-the-scenes details of what it takes to get these football fields ready for each and every game day. So next time you’re prepping for your tailgate festivities, you might think about all the work that it took to get your favorite team’s football field ready for kick off. Read the rest of this entry →

Cubs vs. Indians: Baseball Gods Send America a Much Needed Distraction

Posted on October 23, 2016 by Dean Hybl
The Chicago Cubs got to celebrate their first National League pennant in 71 years. Will they have another celebration following the World Series?

The Chicago Cubs got to celebrate their first National League pennant in 71 years. Will they have another celebration following the World Series?

With just two weeks remaining in one of the bitterest presidential elections of all time, the Baseball Gods have provided a much needed national distraction that has been a combined 176 years in the making.

While many Americans likely cannot name the last five World Series Champions, even casual sports fans are already aware that the Cubs and Indians will be playing in a World Series for all ages.

After all, these are not just any two Major League teams, these are two teams with epic histories of finding new ways to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. There have been movies, songs, poems and books chronicling the failures and collapses of these two storied franchises.

What we do know, is that within the next 10 days either the 68 year streak of futility for the Indians or the 108 year streak for the Cubs will be over.

How we get from here to that moment is a compelling story that seems likely to shift at least some of the Facebook and Twitter focus from the Trump-Clinton election to America’s pastime.

The Cubs are not only making their first World Series appearance since 1945, but they finished the regular season with the best record in baseball for the first time since they lost that dramatic seven game series to the Detroit Tigers 71 years ago. Their 103 victories is the most in a season for the Cubs since winning 100 games in 1935 (they lost that series in six games to the Tigers).

Though the Indians have made three World Series appearances since last winning a championship in 1948, until the Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA Championship earlier this year to end the 52-year championship drought for the city of Cleveland, their burden seemed just as daunting as that of the Cubs.

However, now that the pressure of a city has been lifted from their shoulders, it almost seems like the Indians are playing with house money. While their 68 year World Series drought is certainly significant, it pales in comparison to that of the Cubs and the national fan base that watched much of their misery over the last several decades thanks to the WGN super-cable network. Read the rest of this entry →

Tips for Tailgaters

Posted on October 21, 2016 by Matt Rhoney

football-tailgating-2Football season is here, and that means one thing: tailgate parties. Yes, it’s time to get your finest football friends together and prep for the big game in style. What could be better than grilling and chilling outside on a weekend, getting psyched to watch the big dogs rumble? Just remember to plan ahead. There’s a little prep work you’ll need to do in order to keep things fun and safe, but it’s nothing too tricky.

Food

Feasting before the day’s events is absolutely essential. Who wants to eat a $7 hotdog inside the stadium? Tailgating is the best way to get your football food fix—grilling your own grub is cheap and delicious.

Brats, burgers, chips, salsa, and other heavy-hitters should be the centerpiece of the tailgate meal. They’ll keep you full and provide the powerful energy you’ll need to keep up with the thousands of amped up fans going wild in the stadium.

Drink

Be careful here. While beers are often a key element of the tailgate party, alcohol also ruins more parties than anything else does. Think about who’s coming to your party. Anyone who drinks too much or might decide to drive after they’ve had an unsafe amount? Then leave the alcohol home. You can still have a great time without drinking.

Remember also to check labels when shopping for beer. The craft beers people drink nowadays are often much stronger than the Buds and Millers many of us grew up on. Just one or two imperial stouts or IPAs could make you unfit for the road. And it should go without saying that you need to leave hard liquor at home.   Read the rest of this entry →

Prescott’s Impressive Play Poses Quarterback Dilemma in Dallas

Posted on October 19, 2016 by Chris Kent

Who Dak?

Prescott has lead Dallas to five straight wins.

Prescott has lead Dallas to five straight victories.

That is a question that has been answered with rave cheers from Dallas Cowboys Nation through the first six games of the 2016 season. To answer the question in terms of a bio, he is Rayne Dakota “Dak” Prescott, the Cowboys’ rookie quarterback from Mississippi State University who stands 6-2 and weighs 223 pounds. Drafted in the fourth round with the 135th pick overall this past spring, Prescott was pressed into action much sooner than expected due to the compression fracture of the L1 vertebrae suffered by veteran starting quarterback Tony Romo in a preseason loss at Seattle on Aug. 25. Since then, Prescott has played well and above his rookie status. He has opened his NFL career with a 5-1 record as a starter and has already set an NFL record by throwing 176 passes without an interception to start a career, surpassing the record of 162 formerly held by Tom Brady. While he lost a fumble and threw the first interception of his career in a 30-16 win at Green Bay on Oct. 16, Prescott has shown tremendous poise. He has guided Dallas to five straight wins, the team’s longest win streak since 2014 when they won six straight and were 6-1.

Prescott is a sturdy quarterback with a strong arm and mobility. He has made smart decisions with where he throws the football which is perhaps his most impressive quality. Six games into his NFL career, Prescott is 125-for-182 for 1,486 yards and 7 touchdowns. Even more impressive is his completion percentage of 68.7 and the fact that he has only thrown one interception thus far. He is averaging 247.7 passing yards per game and has an average per attempt of 8.2. While Prescott benefits from playing behind the best offensive line in the league and the impact running of rookie Ezekiel Elliott – who leads the NFL with 703 yards rushing – , he is also capable of avoiding the rush. Prescott has run for three touchdowns this year while totaling 67 yards on 20 runs. Prescott stands to only benefit from a healthy Dez Bryant – a pro bowl wide receiver – who is schedule to return from a knee injury on Oct. 30 when the team hosts Philadelphia. Read the rest of this entry →

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