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Sports Then and Now



LeBron: Blame Canada Instead 1

Posted on July 25, 2010 by Ryan Durling

You can’t blame LeBron James.

Seriously.

LeBron was born in December of 1984. Not two years later, Run-DMC covered Aerosmith’s 1977 hit, “Walk This Way.”

Those two facts are very much related.

See, everyone went up in arms when LeBron broke up the LeBronettes and decided to play backup guitar in Dwayne Wade’s band. But he really only did what successful athletes/artists/actors have been doing his entire life.

Prior to the mid-80s, it was rare to see anybody go to bat for one of their rival’s teams – figuratively or literally speaking. When DMC covered Aerosmith, suddenly collaboration became the thing to do. It was a surefire way of saying, “yeah, I know I’m good, but imagine how good I could be with somebody else whose talents equal mine in a complimentary manner.”

Bird never would have played with Johnson. Russell never would have played with Wilt or Kareem. But why would they? They were the best at what they did and who needed anybody else?

The Prince still has some work to do before NBA fans will anoint him King.

Elvis didn’t mix with anybody else, and neither did the Beatles or Beach Boys a decade after him. Steve Miller? Don Henley? Freddie Mercury? He shared everything else with the world, but not his musical talents. None of them collaborated.

What about Pacino or Stallone or Harrison? Or DeNiro? Not in the 70s, anyway. Ford and Stallone, now well aware that they’re past their respective primes, have done a great job in supporting roles in the last 15 years or so – the atrocious Rocky Balboa notwithstanding.

Not even in the 80s did movie stars go out of their way to collaborate. Bruce Willis, Nic Cage and Tom Cruise – all rising stars in their own right – carried their own films, some more admirably than others.

But around the mid-80s, right when Run and Aerosmith were changing the game for good, a young Michael J. Fox teamed with Christopher Lloyd for the trans-generational hit Back to the Future. Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman tag teamed on Rain Man. The rest of the 80s would see some classic teams produce epic hits: Kevin Costner and James Earl Jones in Field of Dreams (1988),  Costner and Tim Robbins in Bull Durham (1988), and Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally 1989).

It took longer for collaboration to catch on in music, primarily because there was such a divide in the 80s between the long-established Rock scene and the up-and-coming hip-hop genre. Ice Cube, Ice T, Eazy-E and Dr. Dre worked together late in the 80s in their N.W.A. project, but produced but one hit together, “F*ck the Police,” which earned a letter of warning from the FBI and will likely go down in history as the song that started the rap movement.

Dre and Snoop Dogg began the 90s by collaborating on a glut of hits that – mercifully – pushed MC Hammer and Right Said Fred quickly off the front pages of the Billboard charts. En Vogue and Salt-N-Pepa, two groups influenced by Dre, were no strangers to collaboration either. It was Tupac who made collaboration big in hip-hop, however, working with artists from different labels and pushing their careers forward. Read the rest of this entry →

2010 Baseball Previews: NL East – Could the Phillies Actually be Better? 3

Posted on March 24, 2010 by Don Spieles

With less than two weeks left until opening day, let’s abandon the designated hitter and take a look at the Senior Circuit, otherwise known as the National League.

In the eastern division, the NL is right up there with its AL neighbors – well, almost, anyway.  In the last 10 postseasons, the World Series representative from the National League was an eastern division team for four of them (Mets in 2000, the Marlins in 2003, and the Phillies in ’08 and ’09), winning in ’03 and ’08.  Things are looking decent for that to be the case again in 2010.

1. Philadelphia Phillies

Many predict that Halliday will have a historic year in Philadelphia.

Many predict that Halliday will have a historic year in Philadelphia.

At some point, things will have to work out in favor of someone else besides the “Phightin’ Phils, but it would be hard to make a case for it being likely this season.  As if the Phillies weren’t the odds on favorites based the fact that they are coming off of two consecutive World Series appearances, they also went out and picked up a picked up a pitcher by the name of Roy Halliday.  On paper, the Phillies getting Roy Halliday is the equivalent of the Lakers getting LeBron James.   Many already have this newest Philadelphia son pegged to be the NL Cy Young winner.  Some even mention the NL MVP, as well.  There are even a couple of optimists who think he could win 25 games now that he’s in the NL and playing for the offensive juggernaut that is Philadelphia.  While 25 seems a stretch (in 11 season, Halliday has had 25 decisions or more only three times,) AL pitchers who move to the NL seems to have great initial success.

Read the rest of this entry →

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    • Tony Oliva: Hall of Fame Worthy
      April 21, 2019 | 5:18 pm
      Tony Oliva

      Cuba is known for producing great baseball talent and there has arguably been no one from the island better than the Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month.

      Before injuries cut short his Hall of Fame worthy career, Tony Oliva was one of the best hitters in baseball and combined with Hall of Famers Rod Carew and Harmen Killebrew to make the Minnesota Twins a perennial American League contender during the late 1960s.

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