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Sports Then and Now



Amazing Season Surprises Coming Out of Major League Baseball 2

Posted on September 14, 2015 by Brooke Chaplan
The surprising Houston Astros have been doing a lot of celebrating so far in 2015.

The surprising Houston Astros have been doing a lot of celebrating so far in 2015.

This season has been an exciting and topsy turvy one for Major League Baseball. Teams with historically mediocre records are dominating the teams with historically good winning records. Players that no one ever cared about, let alone heard of, are now standouts. Take a look as we outline the top surprises of this year’s MLB season.

The Astros
If you had asked sports fans a year ago who they thought would be winning the AL West, probably zero would have said the Houston Astros. Before this season, the Astros last winning season was in 2008. Between 2008 and 2014, they had four seasons with more than 90 losses. Ouch. Now they are Major League Baseball’s Cinderella team. The Astros are sitting on top of the AL West, with the Rangers just nipping at their heels.

Pitcher Ryan Madsen
Everyone loves a comeback story, and it doesn’t get much better than Ryan Madsen’s comeback. The right-hander missed most of the last four seasons due to injury. After diligently recovering, his ERA at the All-Star break was 1.51. He averaged one strike per inning he pitched. He’s helping to lead the Kansas City Royals, who have a healthy lead in the AL Central Division this season.

Bruce Bochy
Dave Stewart, general manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks, said the biggest obstacle to defeating the San Francisco Giants is their manager, Bruce Bochy. Actually, he jokingly recommended that his players kidnap Bochy before they played the Giants. Why? Because the first foreign-born manager to win the World Series has done so three times. He also passed the 1,500 win mark two seasons ago.

Despite these remarkable milestones, Bochy’s career started with humble beginnings, as a rarely used backup catcher. This season, ESPN polled MLB players, scouts, coaches, and general managers to find out who they thought was the best GM in the league. Bochy won by a landslide. Read the rest of this entry →

Baseball All-Star Selection Process Hasn’t Improved Over Time 2

Posted on July 04, 2011 by Dean Hybl

Derek Jeter will be starting in the 2011 All-Star Game despite hitting .260 with 20 RBI.

Despite continual tweaking designed to make the process as fair and consistent as possible, the selections for the 2011 Major League Baseball All-Star Game follow the history of rewarding past accomplishments and dominant teams while overlooking a number of deserving players.

Selecting the players for the All-Star Game has been a challenge for generations.

The most egregious example of exploiting the system occurred in 1957 when ballot stuffing in Cincinnati led to the Reds having the top vote getter at seven of eight field positions. Eventually, two of the players were replaced in the lineup and fans lost the right to vote for the All-Star starters for slightly more than a decade.

Since fan voting was restored in 1970, the biggest problem has not been ballot stuffing, but instead a tendency for fans to vote some of their favorite players into the lineup regardless of whether they were having the best year of a player at that position.

Some all-time greats, including Brooks Robinson, Rod Carew, Wade Boggs, Reggie Jackson, Cal Ripken Jr., Ozzie Smith and Johnny Bench continued to be selected by the fans even in years when they were clearly not the best player at their position.

The unintended consequence of this desire to see certain fan favorites is that other deserving players don’t get the recognition of being All-Star starters in years when they were obviously the best player at their position.

One such example was first base for the American League during the late 1970s and early 1980s. After moving from second base, where he was an eight time starter, Rod Carew was voted by the fans as the starting first baseman every year from 1976 through 1984. Read the rest of this entry →

  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Rocky Colavito: Super Slugger
      March 30, 2020 | 7:24 pm
      Rocky Colavito

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was just the fifth player in Major League Baseball history to have 11 straight seasons with 20 or more home runs, yet could not sustain that greatness long enough to earn a spot in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

      In some sense, the legend of Rocco “Rocky” Colavito Jr. began long before he ever started pounding home runs at the major league level.

      Born and raised as a New York Yankees fan in The Bronx, Colavito was playing semipro baseball before he was a teenager and dropped out of high school at 16 after his sophomore year to pursue a professional career. The major league rule at the time said a player could not sign with a pro team until his high school class graduated, but after sitting out for one year, Colavito was allowed to sign at age 17.

      Read more »

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