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Sports Then and Now


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.

Read the rest of this entry →

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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.
Read the rest of this entry →

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 →

Best College Shot Blockers of the Past 30 Years

Posted on March 26, 2014 by Scott Huntington

By taking a look at March Madness and the way college basketball teams advance through the tournament, it’s easy to see how valuable an elite shot blocker can be. Protectors of the rim have always been an important part of the college game and have been some of the best players in the history of the sport. Unfortunately, the blocked shot didn’t become a statistic until the ‘80s, so greats like Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain couldn’t leave their mark completely. However, the last 30 years or so have given us plenty of great shot blockers. Here are the best of the best.

Hakeem Olajuwon

Olajuwon was easily one of the most dominating forces college basketball has ever seen. His defensive prowess led the Houston Cougars to the Final Four in each of his three seasons playing for the school. Had he stayed for a fourth year, Olajuwon would almost certainly be the all-time leader in blocks. He totaled 454 rejections with an average of 6.61 blocks per 40 minutes.

David Robinson

david-robinson-navy

Known as the Admiral, Robinson is one of the best shot blockers of all time, which is all the more impressive considering he didn’t start playing basketball until his final year of high school. Robinson recorded a total of 516 blocks in his four-year college career at Navy, averaging 5.55 blocks per 40 minutes. Robinson is one of only six players to block at least 14 shots in a single game and he holds the record for blocked shots in a season with 207. His knack for rejecting shots earned Robinson both the Naismith and Wooden Player of the Year awards.

Read the rest of this entry →

How Exactly Does March Madness Work?

Posted on March 23, 2014 by Danielle Ward
Who will follow Louisville as the NCAA Champions?

Who will follow Louisville as the NCAA Champions?

March Madness, unless you have fair idea of what it exactly is, is bound to leave you confused as to what it means! It’s a cool name given to the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s, that’s NCAA, basketball tournament for men and women teams, held from the second week of March into the first week of April. At the end of this high octane basketball marathon remains the undisputed national champion of basketball at college level. The NCAA oversees more than 1300 college and university members, and is managed by volunteers from these member institutes. Certain criteria are laid down to define active members, and these active members are allowed to participate in tournaments. Also, based on the number of sports sponsored for men and women by the schools and colleges, they are arranged in 3 divisions. Out of all the teams from Division 1, 68 men’s teams and 64 women’s teams are invited to the national championship. A selection committee sits before the tournament to decide upon the invitees. Read the rest of this entry →

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    • 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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