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Sports Then and Now



Umpire Big Egos are a Bad Thing for Baseball 0

Posted on April 18, 2015 by Dean Hybl
Jordan Baker added himself to the list of awful ego-driven umpires by ejecting Ubaldo Jimenez during the Orioles-Red Sox game on April 17, 2015

Jordan Baker added himself to the list of awful ego-driven umpires by ejecting Ubaldo Jimenez during the Orioles-Red Sox game on April 17, 2015

Umpires who think they are bigger than the game has been a thorn in the side of baseball for generations. With Bud Selig, who seemed unwilling or incapable of addressing the problem, now out of the way, it is time for his replacement, Rob Manfred, to address this critical issue.

The problem was amplified last night when umpire Jordan Baker, who first umpired in the majors in 2012, made a ridiculous call that has the potential to impact one of the teams involved for days.

It is one thing when umpires make the wrong call on a close play and hold their ground. While you would hope they would be most concerned about getting plays right, part of being good at your job is feeling you are correct. Fortunately, the addition of replay as an opportunity to correct umpire mistakes has helped this phase of the game.

However, the bigger problem, and the one that Baker exemplified last night is when an umpire makes a horrible judgement call that cannot be altered by replay.

With the Baltimore Orioles clinging to a 1-0 lead with two outs and no one on base in the fourth inning, pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez was working on a no-hitter when Boston Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval came to the plate. Considering that Jimenez was horrible in 2014 and fortunate to even make the starting rotation this season, you can guarantee that his focus was to continue the scoreless streak he has had to start the season and to keep getting players out.

So when his first pitch to Sandoval, who as a left-handed hitter with a large figure is known for setting up close to the plate, sailed in and hit Sandoval below the shoulder with a slider, you can bet that he disappointed to have added a base runner, but ready to move on to the next batter, Mike Napoli.

Watching the game live, there seemed to be nothing out of the normal until suddenly Baker came out from behind home plate and immediately threw Jimenez out of the game. There had been no warning or any previous close pitches by either team.

According to crew chief Jerry Meals, who of course is going to defend his fellow umpire, Baker felt that Jimenez was retaliating for a hard slide Sandoval had made into second base earlier in the game.

First, even if the hit-by-pitch was done in retaliation, that is part of the game and has been for generations. However, there is no evidence that the errant pitch was related to any previous action. It was just a bad pitch. Read the rest of this entry →

PEDs in Baseball 3

Posted on July 16, 2014 by Scott Huntington

a-rod

Performance enhancing drugs are a major problem in Major League Baseball, largely because of the league’s lack of testing until recent years. Following the 1994 player’s strike that led to the cancellation of the World Series, baseball’s popularity in the United States dwindled.

The only thing that brought the fans back was the 1998 home run chase between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, which ended with both players breaking Roger Maris’ single season record. It was later revealed that both players were taking PEDs during this season, but MLB did not have any testing procedures in place. In recent years, baseball has taken some steps towards cleaning up the sport, which has included suspensions of some high profile players.

First Suspensions

After MLB introduced its new drug policy in January of 2004, it was only a matter of time before some players were suspended. The first suspension was handed out on April 3, 2005 when Tampa Bay Devil Rays outfielder Alex Sanchez was given a 10-day ban. A total of 12 players were suspended in 2005, including all-stars Rafael Palmeiro, Ryan Franklin, and Matt Lawton. In 2005, the league and the player’s association agreed to make the penalties harsher for first time offenders, since each of these players was only suspended for 10 days. Read the rest of this entry →

A Look Back at the Greatest Hitter of All Time 17

Posted on June 05, 2014 by Scott Huntington

On this week of sports history in 1959, the great Ted Williams got the 2,500th hit of his Hall of Fame career. And since it’s always an appropriate day to talk about the fantastic talent of Williams, this occasion is as good as any. Let’s take a look at what he did for the Boston Red Sox and how he earned the nickname, “The Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived”. Williams did just about everything a hitter can do, going from a young baseball player in San Diego to a first-year Hall of Famer and baseball legend.

ted

From Birth to Baseball

Williams, who was named after Teddy Roosevelt and his father, was born in San Diego as Teddy Samuel Williams in 1918. Before he could earn the nicknames “The Kid”, “The Splendid Splinter” and “The Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived”, Williams was first taught how to play ball by his uncle, Saul Venzor. Williams starred on his high school baseball team at Herbert Hoover High as a pitcher, garnering himself offers from the New York Yankees and St. Louis Cardinals. However, his mother thought he was too young to move far away, so Williams signed on to play for the minor league San Diego Padres.

It didn’t take long for Williams to be noticed after playing ball for San Diego by Red Sox general manager Eddie Collins. After signing with Boston and playing some minor-league ball, Williams got his chance in The Show. Williams played from 1939-1942, including his legendary 1941 season (which we will talk about later), before being drafted into the military. Williams would serve on both the U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Navy from 1942 -1945 and then again from 1952-1953. Williams’ unique major league career didn’t keep him from becoming at least one of the greatest. Fittingly, Williams homered on his final-ever at bat in 1960. Read the rest of this entry →

Baseball’s Beginning 23

Posted on April 23, 2014 by Scott Huntington

Before it became America’s pastime, before all of the performance-enhancing drugs, before the Babe, before the Big Red Machine, and even before the Yankees wore pinstripes, baseball began. Like many things that began long ago, the origins of the game of baseball are unclear. Although the puzzle may not be entirely complete, we certainly have plenty of pieces which show us the path that was taken to get to how baseball is played today. From its roots across the pond to the development of more modern rules, baseball’s genesis was not one simple event in sports history.

Ted-Williams-WWII-Baseball-Korea-Air-Force-Photos-09

Rounders

Just as football developed from an alternative way to play rugby, baseball wasn’t created out of thin air. Instead, it came from an old English game known as “rounders”. Rounders was derived from the sport of cricket, but with some obvious differences, such as running in a more circular path rather than a straight back and forth one. As baseball’s ancestor, rounders lent its diamond shape to the modern game, as well as having a pitcher located within the diamond, though in rounders the pitcher is called the “bowler”. Read the rest of this entry →

Actor Peter Scolari Turns In His Red Sox For Yankees’ Pinstripes In “Bronx Bombers” On Broadway 8

Posted on February 06, 2014 by Joe Gill

hk6T8NG49bGkaEPb8IvRO10OivKBOfWs2I6-l7Ctiu4Most people know Peter Scolari from some of his older work on TV shows like “Bosom Buddies,” or that old New England favorite “Newhart,” or younger people know him as the dad in HBO’s popular series “Girls.” Theater goers may know him from his recent role in “Lucky Guy” with longtime colleague Tom Hanks.  However sports fans, even those in Boston, may know him for the crack Red Auerbach  role he played in “Magic/Bird,” and now as gasp, a Yankee, playing Yogi Berra in the new play that opens in New York this week, “Bronx Bombers.”

 Why would those around Boston flock to New York to see a play about the Yankees?
We asked Scolari, who has some surprising answers that may be of interest.

 

The new play is about the Yankees, why would those fans in Boston be interested?

 

PS: Well, the first act actually takes place in a Boston hotel, the day after the famous 1977 game where Billy Martin pulled Reggie Jackson out of the game. Yogi Berra, my character, summons the parties together to try and solve what’s wrong with the team, and as you can imagine it is quite chaotic, so some Red Sox fans should revel in that memory.

 

You grew up a Yankees fan but did follow the Red Sox for quite a while correct?

 

PS: That is right. During my teen years and into my early ‘20’s the Yankees were not what they were later on, and I loved the Red Sox of the late 1960’s’ Yaz and Tony Conigliaro and Jim Lonborg had such a great run, they were so much fun to watch I was really taken by them and followed them religiously.

 

Your dad actually had some pretty strong baseball ties as well?

 

PS: yes that how I really came to love baseball. He was an accomplished player when he was young, an All-American shortstop at Drew University in New Jersey, and then he became an attorney and represented several athletes, including Rocky Graziano and Elston Howard, in some business dealings, so I always had a love for the game. It’s also ironic because Elston is one of the players who comes back to life in the second act of the play to help Yogi fix the Yankees.

 

7moNzlj64kvf714bfUGep-eZxqRerOAUMYXe41OkLPUDid you get to meet Yogi?

 

Yes, actually during the World Series, he and I and my wife, who plays Carmen Berra (Tracy Shayne), sat and watched one of the Red Sox-Cardinals games together and talked about his time with the team and where the game is today. It was quite an amazing evening and a great help in forming the character.

 

How is the role of Yogi different or similar to that of playing Red Auerbach?

 

PS: I loved playing Red, and some of that yelling he was famous for comes out in my Yogi portrayal, as he was not always the quiet guy that most people see; he has a very strong personality  and that comes across in the play. They were both strong leaders, and had the respect of everyone around them and were very, very driven to win and were highly successful. I think that is probably the trait that comes across in both.

 

It’s a Yankees play, but is it for other fans as well?

 

PS: I think so, because it shows how teams and personalities can help lift us to new heights. By the way Babe Ruth is also in the play, and we know where he started as well, so there is another tie to Boston, albeit probably not a great one for red Sox fans, and Derek Jeter is in the play, who I believe has the respect of Red Sox Nation as well. The story is really about the beauty of the game and its personalities more than wins and losses, and it has great lessons for fans of all ages, so I think people can relate to it no matter who they root for. It’s not as much a Yankees play as it is a play about overcoming obstacles and dealing with life’s curveballs.

 

Any plans on maybe a hockey play down the line for you?

 

Hey maybe I can play Don Cherry somewhere…right now we are hoping for a long run with “Bronx Bombers,” and I will continue the work with “Girls,” that’s good for me right now.

 

Bronx Bombers opens February 6 at Circle in the Square in New York. For all the details visit http://www.bronxbombersplay.com/

MLB Lifts Ban on YouTube Videos, Makes Baseball Games More Accessible 2

Posted on June 08, 2013 by Ryan Kuketz

MLB_Logo

 

Have you ever wanted to watch a baseball highlight without going on MLB.com and trying to navigate their ridiculous video section? Well that might not be a problem any longer. Major League Baseball has finally lifted its ban of Major League clips on YouTube. As every other sports league was easily accessible worldwide, the tyranny of Bud Selig wouldn’t allow even a 30 second clip of an MLB game. Now MLB has finally joined the 21st century and has posted full game videos of classic games, and have eased their ban on others posting MLB videos.

One of the best full games MLB had posted thus far is the 1999 all-star game at Fenway Park.

 

 

Every Red Sox fan remembers this classic!! Ted Williams is comes out of Center field waving his hat to the crowd, and even the players are in awe of the greatest hitter that ever lived. The when the actually starts, Pedro Martinez strikes out 5 of the 6 batters he faces.

If you have 5 hours to kill, you can always watch game 5 of the 2004 ALCS

And you can even follow it up by watching the Red Sox win their first World Series in 86 years!

Although the MLB YouTube channel isn’t spectacular, its a start for the league. The NBA, NHL, and even European Football have been big commodities on YouTube, and people all over the world now have the opportunity to follow teams without paying with a limb for an MLB subscription

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    • Horton Smith: First Masters Champion
      April 3, 2015 | 8:58 am
      Horton Smith

      Horton Smith

      In 1934, the Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month became the first winner of what is now considered among the most prestigious of all golf tournament championships.

      Horton Smith made his professional golf debut in 1926, in 1929 he won eight tournaments and in 1930 finished third in the U.S. Open and tied for fourth at the British Open. However, he entered the first-ever Masters (then known as the Augusta National Invitational) in 1934 without having previously won any of the tournaments that would eventually be considered the “majors”.

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