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Sports Then and Now



Baseball Playoffs Have Feel of the 1980s 5

Posted on September 28, 2014 by Dean Hybl
With their first playoff appearance in 29 years, the Kansas City Royals are partying like it is 1985.

With their first playoff appearance in 29 years, the Kansas City Royals are partying like it is 1985.

If you followed baseball in the late 1970s and early 1980s and then haven’t paid attention for the last 30 years, the teams appearing in the 2014 baseball post season probably don’t seem that strange to you.

Included amongst the squads that will be battling for the World Series Trophy are the World Series Champions from 1979 (Pittsburgh Pirates), 1981 & 1988 (Los Angeles Dodgers), 1982 (St. Louis Cardinals), 1983 (Baltimore Orioles), 1984 (Detroit Tigers), 1985 (Kansas City Royals) and 1989 (Oakland A’s).

Of course, what those of us who have been following baseball for the last 30 years know, is that of these teams only the Cardinals have won another World Series since the 1980s (2006 and 2011) with the 2006 victory coming over the Tigers, who also appeared in the World Series in 2012.

With the exception of the Dodgers, who have made the playoffs seven times since winning the 1988 World Series, and the A’s, who have made eight playoff appearances since losing the 1990 World Series, the other teams in that group have seen some pretty lean times since the 1980s.

No team has waited longer to get back to the post season than the Kansas City Royals.

After making the playoffs seven times and finishing no worse than second during a 10-year stretch from 1976-1985 that culminated with their World Series Championship, the Royals went into a nearly three decade tailspin.

After winning the World Series, the Royals were still generally competitive for the next decade as they had a winning record six times and finished second in their division three times between 1986 and 1995.

However, their second place finish in 1995 came despite a losing record and from that season through 2012 the Royals had only one winning season and five times had a season winning percentage below .400. Despite going from a seven team division to a five team division with realignment in 1995, Kansas City finished as high as third place only three times in 17 seasons. Read the rest of this entry →

GM’s Have Much To Discuss At Baseball’s Winter Meetings In Nashville 0

Posted on November 26, 2012 by Rick Swanson

Besides Hot Stove banter there is much that can be discussed at next week’s GM Meetings in Nashville, TN

With the MLB Winter Meetings in Nashville rapidly approaching, here a few meetings that Bud and his crew should schedule.

The first meeting should be with Bud and every team in the American League. In 2013 there will be 15 teams in the AL, and we need to take a new vote on the DH. Lets say that Houston will vote to eliminate the DH since they never had one. Do you think there are seven other teams that would vote the same way?

The next meeting should be regarding the new schedule.

It might be too late to scrap the model adopted by baseball and change to a more balanced schedule in 2013, but it certainly is early enough to start on the 2014 schedule.

In 2013 each team will play 19 divisional games and 20 interleague games with six teams.

In 2014 a balanced schedule would have each team play 18 divisional games and 20 interleague games with five teams. Eliminating rivalry games every year, will allow baseball to rotate a complete division with all teams playing in every park every three years.

Balanced schedule:

72 Interdivisional – four teams 18 games each
70 same league- ten teams seven games each
20 interleague- one complete five team division four games each

The next meeting will be called Wild Card improvements.

The first thing should be to change the Wild Card Game into a series, WCS. Changing it into a three game series will make it more exciting for fans, and each team will have at least one home game.

Rules for tie breakers also needs modifying. If both teams qualify for post season, then they should never play a game in which the losing team advances, like what would have happened this past season if the Yankees and Baltimore tied.

The next meeting will be called instant replay.

Here is the proposal.

Each team will be allowed three wrong challenges per game.

Each team will have a red ball that would signify a challenge. When a team throws the challenge ball across the foul line, a challenge will start.

The challenge must be made within five seconds of the original call by any umpire. Any umpire call, except balls and strikes could be challenged

After the red ball crosses the line, the four umpires will have 30 seconds to watch replays while staying on the field, using the giant screen in every park.

After 30 seconds each umpire will signal their call. If the result is 2-2 then the original call stands.

All replays will be shown in every park, including balls and strikes.

Umpire Strikezone Scores will be included in every boxscore.

The next meeting will be for rule changes.

Read the rest of this entry →

Will Bud Selig Ever Go Away? 52

Posted on January 13, 2012 by Dean Hybl

It appears that the prayers of baseball fans will not be answered as Bud Selig is sticking around for at least another three years.

Like a veteran player who doesn’t know when to hang up his jersey, looks like Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig is determined to stick around as long as possible. Though it was originally announced that 2012 would be his final season as commissioner, Selig has now changed his mind and will remain in his role until at least the end of the 2014 season.

Shockingly (or maybe not), major league owners voted 29-1 to extend Selig’s contract for two additional years to ensure that Selig will be commissioner at least past his 80th birthday at a reported salary of $22 million per year.

Given his hubris, it seems very likely that Selig will do everything he can to remain in control of the league at least through the 2016 season as that would ensure he passes Kenesaw “Mountain” Landis for the longest tenure as commissioner in league history.

What seems strange is that while ownership considers Selig to be a great commissioner, many outside the owner’s boxes look as Selig as the epitome of all things bad about baseball.

While football had already started to eclipse baseball as “America’s Pastime”  when Selig took over as interim commissioner in 1992, he seemingly has spent the last 20 years doing everything he can to ensure that baseball never gets close to retaking that title.

At the time, Selig was the owner of the Milwaukee Brewers and like the other owners in the game had tired of a commissioner whose focus was on the integrity of the sport, rather than supporting the owners and their desires.

When the owners fired Commissioner Fay Vincent, they installed Selig on an interim basis and within two years he was spearheading a battle with the players union that would eventually ensure that the World Series would be missed for the first time in 90 years.

While both sides can certainly take some of the blame for missing the World Series and the subsequent agreement that ensured that teams willing to over-spend would have a significant advantage over other teams moving forward, the fact that Selig was running the show for the owners makes him culpable for that disaster.

Between 1950 and 1994, only four teams (two of which were expansion squads) registered 10 or more consecutive losing seasons (1953-1962 Chicago Cubs, 1953-1967 Kansas City Athletics, 1969-78 Montreal Expos and the 1977-1990 Seattle Mariners). Since 1994, five teams have reached that dubious plateau (1993-2011 Pittsburgh Pirates, 1993-2004 Milwaukee Brewers, 1994-2005 Detroit Tigers, 1998-2007 Tampa Bay Rays and the 1998-2011 Baltimore Orioles). In addition, the Kansas City Royals have been below .500 in 16 of 17 seasons (2003 being their only exception), the Cincinnati Reds have been below .500 in 10 of the last 11 seasons (2010 being their only winning season when they won the NL Central) and the Colorado Rockies have had a losing record in 10 of the last 13 seasons.

Yes, there have been small market teams like the Minnesota Twins and Oakland A’s that have enjoyed occasional success, but the A’s have not had a winning record since 2006 and the Twins lost 99 games last season to illustrate that even small market teams that are able to build winning programs do not have the same ability to reload that is afforded to teams with greater revenue streams. Read the rest of this entry →

Recent Stories Putting Black Eye on the Face of MLB 3

Posted on August 30, 2010 by Don Spieles

For as much as Bud Selig tries to make sure that Major League Baseball always puts its best foot forward, sometimes people just can’t seem keep from tripping him up. Here are four recent stories that make baseball look less then wonderful, one that centers on Selig, himself!

Nationals Handling of Steven Strasburg

Washington Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg throws against the Florida Marlins during the fourth inning of MLB National League baseball action in Washington in this August 10, 2010 file photo. According to the team's website, Strasburg has a significant tear in his ulnar collateral ligament will likely require Tommy John surgery, the team announced in a conference call on August 27, 2010. Picture taken August 10, 2010.  REUTERS/Larry Downing (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)As a friend said to me recently, “Well, that was short-lived.” He was, of course, speaking about Strasburg’s time on the MLB stage. Many (including your truly) predicted that Strasburg would not see the big show this year at all. Now that the young ace is scheduled for Tommy John surgery and will be missing possibly until the 2012 season, perhaps the Nationals brass is wishing that those predictions had proven accurate.

You certainly don’t have to look far to find success stories related to what is perhaps the most well known surgical procedure after a tonsillectomy. Some notable names who have made the papers after the procedures include Kenny Rogers, Tim Hudson, Chris Carpenter, John Smoltz, and Mariano Rivera. There is no reason to be overly pessimistic about Strasburg’s furture.

The bottom line is that his career need not have started with this setback. They monitored his pitches, innings, and all of that. But what was not taken into account (or so it would seem) is that there is a huge difference in throwing in front of 5,000 fans in a minor league game, and then throwing in front of 50,000 fans on a national stage. Especially when the pitcher in question throws as hard as Starsburg does. Read the rest of this entry →

MLB, John McCain, and the Dietary Supplement Safety Act of 2010 12

Posted on February 15, 2010 by Don Spieles
McCain, Pro Athletes Discuss FDA Regulations Of Dietary Supplements

John McCain (seen here with Rob Manfred (L) executive vice president of labor for Major League Baseball, during a news conference on dietary supplements, on Capitol Hill, February 3, 2010) has the support of MLB. Should he?

Just days before the Super Bowl, Senator John McCain (R – Arizona) officially announced the Dietary Supplement Safety Act of 2010 (DSSA10). The bill, which he is co-sponsoring with Senator Byron Dorgan (D – North Dakota) proposes to give the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) control over the dietary supplement industry.

Inspired in part by the questionable make-up of certain non-prescription supplements, some of which have been blamed by athletes for their positive drug tests, has many supporters (including Bud Selig) that believe that, if signed into law, this bill would be beneficial for both sports and the public at large.

On the surface the bill seems likable enough. The profit margin on dietary supplements and vitamin sales topped $2.25 billion in 2007. Many of the items are marketed so as to lead consumers to the notion that they had true medicinal value while they are supposedly made up of ingredients heretofore not regulated.

McCain’s speech specifically mentioned the concept of certain manufacturers who are less than honest about ingredients, including substances that they should not be. This is the argument that the jocks use, as in, “I was only taking supplements. I had no idea they contained a banned substance!” According to McCain, they may not be lying after all. The issue gets a little bit cloudier, though, when one stops and thinks about that very issue. If the supplement manufacturers are adding substances that they should not be, they are already subject to scrutiny by the FDA. This from DailyPaul.com (as in Ron Paul): Read the rest of this entry →

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