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Sports Then and Now


First-Round Draft Woes of the Raiders over Past Ten Years

Posted on April 08, 2014 by Scott Huntington

The news that Johnny Manziel has recently been on a two-day visit with the Oakland Raiders has raised some eyebrows around the NFL. It has also brought back memories of some of the Raiders’ terrible first-round draft picks. And with the likes of JaMarcus Russell in Oakland’s recent history, it’s easy to wonder if Johnny Football with be the Raiders’ next big bust. No matter what happens with Manziel, Oakland won’t be rid of its terrible draft record anytime soon, so let’s look at who the Raiders picked first over the last ten drafts and who they looked over.

JaMarcus-Russell

2013: D.J. Hayden

Although it’s far too early to decide what sort of player Hayden will ultimately turn out to be, it’s worth noting that he is one of only three players on an NFL roster out of the eight first-round picks that the Raiders have had over the past ten years. Another note that may be of importance is that Sheldon Richardson was taken directly after Hayden. Richardson’s impressive rookie campaign points in the direction of potential dominance in the future, but we’ll just have to wait and see.

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40 Years Ago: Hank Aaron Becomes Baseball’s Home Run King

Posted on April 07, 2014 by Dean Hybl
It was 36 years ago this week that Hank Aaron became the all-time home run king.

It was 40 years ago that Hank Aaron became the all-time home run king.

Given how much emphasis sports put on championships, it may seem a little strange that the most significant home run in Major League Baseball history was not hit during the month of October, but instead was struck in early April by an aging player on a team that wouldn’t come close to reaching the postseason.

Such was the case 40 years ago, on April 8, 1974, when Hank Aaron forever cemented a place for himself in baseball lore with his record breaking 715th home run.

Every die-hard sports fan has a number of moments that are forever etched in their subconscious memory – to the point that even years after the fact they can recall not just the special moment, but also where they were and what they were doing at the time.

Though I was only six-years old, the night when Aaron set the home run record is one of those moments for me.

My family was paying special attention to the record because we had family friends who were from Atlanta and thus big fans of Aaron and the Braves. “Hammerin’ Hank” had tied the record during the season opener in Cincinnati and there seemed to be little doubt that he was going to set the record during the home opener, which was being shown on national television by ABC. However, for a while there was some doubt whether we would be able to see it.

It was a stormy Monday night in my hometown of Keysville, Virginia, thanks to a powerful early spring thunderstorm that brought lightning, thunder and heavy rains. There was no such thing as cable television in our town in 1974 and because we were about 75 miles from the closest television station, even with having an antenna on the roof we never really had crystal clear reception. The general practice at that time was also to unplug the television during electrical storms so that the TV wouldn’t get zapped. Read the rest of this entry →

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Hosts Tipped for World Cup Success

Posted on April 02, 2014 by Pete South
Called by some the next Pele, Neymar will try to make Brazil the first host to win the World Cup since 1998.

Called by some the next Pele, Neymar will try to make Brazil the first host to win the World Cup since 1998.

With just three months before the start of the tournament, many soccer fans will have one eye on this summer’s World Cup in Brazil. While there is still plenty of twists and turns before the start of the tournament in June, the betting odds are beginning to give punters an idea on who could go on to lift the famous Jules Rimet trophy in Brazil. With the world’s gaze descending on the colorful South American country, the excitement is building ahead of a World Cup that looks set to be one of the most keenly-fought tournaments in recent memory.

While Spain will head into this World Cup as the defending champions and winner of the past two European Championships, the betting odds are tipping host nation Brazil to win the tournament for a sixth time. The hosts are considered to have the best chance to win the World Cup despite not winning the tournament since 2002. With the help of the home fans and a talented squad, Brazil have been given odds as short as 3/1 with some bookmakers.

Not since 2002 have Brazil boasted a squad packed with the same sort of talent that saw them win their fifth World Cup title, led by Ronaldo’s incredible goal scoring exploits in Japan and South Korea 12 years ago. While Ronaldo now spends much of his time as a Team PokerStars SportsStar -representing the brand who also took over Full Tilt Poker to make them the biggest online poker provider- the former striker will be hoping to watch on from the sidelines as the new Brazil side look to repeat the success achieved by himself and the rest of that 2002 side. Read the rest of this entry →

The History of Tailgating

Posted on April 02, 2014 by Scott Huntington

Tailgating has become such an integral part of American sports that it’s hard to imagine a time without hours of grilling, drinking and socializing before a game. Nowadays, tailgating is prevalent in nearly every major sporting event, but it wasn’t always a foregone conclusion that fans would meet and party before every match, game or contest. Tailgating has come a long way from its inception: pioneers of the act led the way to portable grills, booming stereos, cold beer and casual games. So let’s look at how tailgating came about and how it has become so popular.

First Instance

battle-of-bull-run-posterBelieve it or not, tailgating didn’t have anything to do with sports in the very beginning. In fact, the first-known instance of tailgating occurred during a much more serious event in American history than any football or baseball game. In 1861, the Battle of Bull Run marked an historical event in both the Civil War and the act of tailgating. Onlookers enjoyed picnic-style meals while cheering on soldiers during the battle. This marked the inaugural tailgate party, however strange it may seem.

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2014 Major League Baseball Preview: Is Money the Answer?

Posted on March 30, 2014 by Dean Hybl
Despite hitting 86 home runs the last two seasons, Chris Davis is still one of the most underrated players in baseball.

Despite hitting 86 home runs the last two seasons, Chris Davis is still one of the most underrated players in baseball.

Several major league baseball teams spent the winter spending money like a drunken sailor in hopes of moving to the top of the league. Yet, as we prepare for the 2014 season the teams expected by many to contend are a combination of big money and middle payroll teams.

For now, the Los Angeles Dodgers have surpassed the New York Yankees as the team with baseball’s highest payroll. However, that doesn’t mean the team in the Bronx is suddenly being frugal. The suspension of Alex Rodriguez hacked a large salary off their payroll, but the Yankees made up for that by signing Japanese pitching star Masahiro Tanaka and high money free agents Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann.

While several teams in recent years have been able to make the playoffs without high payrolls, once the playoffs begin the higher payrolls have generally had an advantage. That was quite obvious last season in the two playoff series that went to a decisive game. The higher payroll Cardinals and Tigers each started a seasoned veteran in the fifth game of their division round playoff series (Adam Wainwright and Justin Verlander, respectively). Their opponents, the Pirates and A’s, each started a rookie who wasn’t even in the major leagues when the 2013 season started.

Having a high payroll is no guarantee that a team will make the playoffs, but big off-season spending has certainly put several teams in a position to contend.

Below are a few thoughts heading into the 2014 season:

Baseball’s Most Underrated Player
In the last two seasons Baltimore Orioles slugger Chris Davis has hit 86 home runs, driven in 223 runs and scored 178 runs, yet ESPN’s recent player rankings didn’t have him listed among the top 25 players in the game. The Sybermetrics disciples have become so enamored with WAR and other made-up stats that they have forgotten that driving in and scoring runs is the name of the game. As a team, the Orioles have been generally dismissed despite having two consecutive solid seasons, but they have a very potent offensive and if David has another strong season the O’s could again be in contention throughout the season.
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Summer 2014: 5 Reasons to Be Psyched About Sports

Posted on March 29, 2014 by Dixie Somers

The 2014 Soccer World Cup highlights a busy sports summer.

As if a cold and snowy winter isn’t enough reason to look forward to the summer, the months of June, July and August 2014 promise something for just about all sports fans.

There is never a bad time to be a sports fan because there are great events spread throughout the year, but this summer should be especially great for fans across the board. Some think that the world of sports slows down in the summer and there isn’t anything worth watching—how wrong they are! If you can’t get enough sports, prepare yourself for an awesome lineup and get psyched for sports this summer. Read ahead for the best events to keep an eye out for:

2014 Golf Men’s U.S Open
The U.S Open is one of the toughest and most prestigious golf tournaments played on the PGA Tour every year. This year’s edition of the tournament will take place June 12-15 in Pinehurst, North Carolina. It will be the third time the U.S Open was held at the No. 2 Course at Pinehurst.

2014 FIFA World Cup
The World Cup is the most watched sporting event in the world, and the 20th tournament will begin on June 12. The entire tournament will last just over a month, and it will be played at 12 different arenas throughout Brazil. There is nothing quite like watching the national soccer teams of 32 country battle it out for one of the most prestigious prizes in professional sports. Read the rest of this entry →

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  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Hoyt Wilhem: Knuckleball Workhorse
      April 7, 2014 | 8:51 pm

      The April Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was 29-years-old when he made his major league debut, but still managed to pitch for 21 years and become the first pitcher in MLB history to appear in more than 1,000 games.

      Hoyt Wilhelm made his professional baseball debut as a 19-year-old in 1942, but after serving in World War II (earning a Purple Heart during the Battle of the Bulge) and then spending five years in the minor leagues it wasn’t until 10 years later that he would make his major league debut.

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