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Sports Then and Now



2011 American League Preview: Is the East Still the Beast? 1

Posted on March 26, 2011 by Dean Hybl

The addition of Adrian Gonzalez should help lift the Sox back to the top of the AL East in 2011.

The question in the American League is whether the usually dominant East Division will regain the form that saw teams from that division make five of seven World Series between appearances by squads from the West.

While the Boston Red Sox, who failed to make the playoffs in 2010, made serious moves to regain playoff form, the other two powerhouses in the division, the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays, did not make the same player gains.

With the Chicago White Sox, Minnesota Twins, Detroit Tigers and Texas Rangers all seemingly positioned to make a run at the playoffs, the wild card team in the AL could come from a division other than the AL East for the first time since 2006 and only the second time since 2002.

AL East

The conventional wisdom is that the AL East is a three-team race, but both the Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays are better than many teams that will be contenders in other divisions.

The Tampa Bay Rays won the division a year ago, but lost a number of important components in Carl Crawford and Carlos Pena and Jason Bartlett. To replace the offensive losses, the Rays have brought in former superstars Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez. Though both players are on the down sides of their careers, they should at least provide some production to offset the losses. The strength for the Rays will remain their pitching staff, with David Price and James Shields leading a unit that ranked second in the American League with a 3.78 ERA in 2010.

After reaching the AL Championship Series a year ago, the New York Yankees made relatively few changes to their lineup as catcher Russell Martin will likely be the only new addition to the opening day lineup. While in general the Yankees still have one of the most explosive lineups in the game, the age of veterans Jorge Posada, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez has to be of concern as the Yankees move into 2011. The biggest question for the Yankees is in the pitching staff where ace C.C. Sabathia is the only reliable starter. Phil Hughes and A.J. Burnett must improve their consistency while the Yankees are also relying on unproven Ivan Nova and a trio of former major league aces to fill the void left by the retirement of Andy Pettitte. Read the rest of this entry →

Felix Hernandez is AL’s Top Pitcher; What Would Cy Young Think? 2

Posted on November 18, 2010 by Dean Hybl

Felix Hernandez claimed his first Cy Young Award despite winning only 13 games in 2010.

How ironic is it that an award named for a pitcher who won 511 games, including more than 30 on five occasions, has now been awarded to a starting pitcher who won 13 games in a season? That is the question that can now be raised following the selection of Felix Hernandez as winner of the 2010 American League Cy Young Award.

Playing for a team that won only 61 games, Hernandez posted a 13-12 record with a league-best 2.27 earned run average. It was his low ERA, rather than his lack of victories that made him the overwhelming choice of voters for the award.

This marks the third straight year and fourth time in the last five years that the American League Cy Young Award winner has also led the league in ERA. In 2006 (Johann Santana) and 2008 (Cliff Lee), the pitcher also led the league in wins. However, that has not been the case the last two years when first Zack Greinke with 16 wins and now Hernandez has set a new AL record for fewest wins by a starting pitcher who wins the Cy Young.

In many respects, it is a predictable trend given the changing landscape for starting pitchers over the last couple decades.  Because starting pitchers now typically are asked to only pitch five to seven quality innings per start, their ability to personally control win-loss records has declined. Read the rest of this entry →

MLB Mid Season Report Card: Part 4 – AL East 2

Posted on July 16, 2010 by Don Spieles

New York Yankees (56-32): A+

What can you say about the Yankees? They have the best record in all of baseball and look pretty much unstoppable. They are, as usual, chock full of stars – Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeeter, Robinson Cano, and Curtis Granderson have combined for 62 home runs and 255 RBI. The teams on-base percentage is an AL best .353.

New York Yankees players Alex Rodriguez (2nd L), Nick Swisher (33), Andy Pettitte and C.C. Sabathia (R) wear black armbands in honor of Yankees principal owner George Steinbrenner during a tribute before Major League Baseball's All-Star Game in Anaheim, California July 13, 2010. REUTERS/Alex Gallardo  (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

The Yankee Machine has been further galvanized with the passing of its owner, George Steinbrenner.

If anything in the Yankee roster can be considered a weak spot, it would have to be pitching, but keep in mind that most teams would kill right now for pitching as “weak” as that of the Yankees. All five starters currently post .500 records or better. They are second in the AL in ERA (3.81). CC Sabathia and Phillip Hughes are other-worldly and their strength more than makes up for an over paid and unpredictable AJ Burnett. Mariano Rivera, although showing sings of age and spending some time sidelined with minor injuries, is doing his usual with 20 saves and a 1.05 ERA. Joba Chamberlain is a serious weak spot in the bull pen, but with all the Yankees have going for them, the fact that they have essentially screwed up what could have been a premier set-up man by insisting on having him start the last couple of season, it is not enough of a drag on things to really matter.

Simply stated, if the Yankees are not in the World Series this year, then divine intervention will have to be blamed. And with George Steinbrenner now in the ethereal plane, acts of God against the Bronx Bombers seem unlikely. Read the rest of this entry →

Opening Up The “Last Time The NL Won An All-Star Game” Time Capsule 0

Posted on July 14, 2010 by Ryan Durling

Last night, for the first time since my baby sister was born, the National League won the Major League Baseball All-Star game. For those of you who missed my running timeline of things that happened the last time the NL won an All-Star Game because you don’t follow me on Twitter (shameless plug: www.twitter.com/HubSportsLive), here’s the complete version:

  • Last time the NL won an All-Star game, they didn’t play hockey in AZ and baseball’s most cherished records were held by guys named Maris and Aaron.

One of 1996's greatest highlights was also the scene of one of its greatest tragedies

  • Last time the NL won an All-Star game, Bret Michaels was a musician, Tom Cruise wasn’t a theologist and Tiger Woods was a golfer.
  • Last time the NL won an All-Star game, MTV played music videos, AOL was the preferred ISP and @UmpJoeWest didn’t have his own twitter handle
  • Last time the NL won an All-Star Game, Kirby Puckett was loved by everyone and Derek Jeter, Chipper Jones weren’t yet household names.
  • Last time the NL won an All-Star Game, “Macarena” was on top of the Billboard charts. Who Let The Dogs Out was, sadly, still four years out.
  • Last time the NL won an All-Star Game, Betty White was a ripe, young 74 and Joe Torre was in his 1st year with the Yankees
  • Last time the NL won an All-Star Game, the Yankees hadn’t won a World Series in 18 years and we thought we were done with Bush as President
  • Last time the NL won an All-Star Game, neither Kobe Bryant, Peyton Manning nor Alex Rodriguez were world champions. There’s a happy thought.
  • Last time the NL won an All-Star Game, Conan O’Brien wasn’t the name of the gum on Jay Leno’s shoe and Seinfeld was still filming new episodes
  • Last time the NL won an All-Star Game,  “The Rachel” was a popular hairstyle, leggings and cords were trendy and Blink 182 wasn’t yet famous
  • Last time the NL won an All-Star Game, the Cowboys were America’s team, Nintendo 64 was released and a sheep named Dolly was a celebrity
  • Last time the NL won an All-Star Game, Robert Dole was a presidential candidate and not a Pepsi spokesperson

This look familiar? You must have been born after the NL won its last all-star game, then.

  • Last time the NL won an All-Star Game, OJ was a free man, Clinton wasn’t impersonating Kennedy and Tupac was still alive
  • Last time the NL won an All-Star Game, Britney wasn’t a MILF, Miley was in diapers and nobody knew about Megan Fox.

Sad but true. Sad, but true.

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    • Sid Luckman: Chicago Bears Legend
      September 28, 2019 | 7:09 pm
      Sid Luckman

      After years of struggling to find a consistent quarterback, the Chicago Bears now hope third-year player Mitchell Trubisky will be their quarterback for years to come. As the Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month we are recognizing the best quarterback in Chicago Bears history.

      Chosen out of Columbia–where he played tailback–with the second pick in the 1939 NFL Draft, Sid Luckman spent 12 seasons as the quarterback for the Bears and led them to five NFL Championship Game appearances and four titles.

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