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Sports Then and Now



Enough With the Sideshow, Time For The MLB Playoffs 0

Posted on October 06, 2012 by Dean Hybl

A blown umpire call let the St. Louis Cardinals get away with a major blunder in the eighth inning on their way to defeating the Atlanta Braves in the Wild Card Playoff Game.

Even after nearly eight hours of baseball, one of the worst calls in playoff history, uneven play by every team and victories by the two road teams, it is still hard to know exactly what to make of the first “Wild Card Day” in Major League Baseball history.

Since in the old playoff system the Orioles and Rangers, who were tied with records of 93-69, would have been meeting in a one-game playoff, there really was just one game that was added to the playoff schedule in the new format. And while there was some excitement, there was also controversy and ultimately a team having their season end in a one game showdown despite finishing six games better than the other team during the 162 game regular season.

For the Atlanta Braves, it marks the second straight year that they have been edged out of a trip to the LDS by the St. Louis Cardinals. However, unlike in 2011 when the Cardinals used a month-long Braves collapse to sneak ahead of them in the standings, this time they did it with a head-to-head wild card victory.

Some have used the awful infield fly call in the eighth inning as justification as to why you need more than a one game “winner take all” playoff to determine which team will advance. The thinking being that over time breaks even out and seasons shouldn’t be decided on one questionable call.

I understand the argument, but the reality is that while the eighth inning call will go down as one of the worst umpiring mistakes in playoff history (whether MLB wants to acknowledge it or not), there were many other instances that contributed to the Braves’ loss. The atypical fourth inning error by future Hall of Famer Chipper Jones directly led to three runs and erased an early 2-0 Braves lead. The Braves made three errors during the game and only two of the six runs given up were credited as “earned runs.” Read the rest of this entry →

Turner Field Creates Special Memories for a First-Time Visitor 0

Posted on April 17, 2011 by Dean Hybl

Nate made lots of friends during his first Major League baseball experience.

As a lifelong baseball fan I know that while it is great to watch the game on television or listen to a radio broadcast, there is nothing quite like going to a ballpark to experience it in person.

No matter how many games you have attended, there is something special about being in one of baseball’s grand cathedrals to watch the best players in the world participate in America’s Pastime.

However, there is nothing like experiencing the thrill for the first time.

I have been blessed over the years to have spent many great days at ballparks with my parents, brothers and other friends, so I was thrilled this week to have the opportunity to share my passion for baseball with my five-year-old son Nate as he made his first trip to a Major League Stadium on April 16th to see the Atlanta Braves host the New York Mets at Turner Field.

Thanks to great hospitality from a long-time friend and the wonderful atmosphere, amenities and staff at Turner Field, his first Major League experience was an amazing day that he thoroughly enjoyed at the time, but I expect he will appreciate even more as he gets older and realizes just how special his day was.

Even though I have had the great fortune to work at professional stadiums on a regular basis during my career, it is still a neat experience to be driving down a road and suddenly have a grandiose stadium emerge from seemingly out of nowhere.

Since this was Nate’s first trip to Atlanta, just seeing all the big buildings and extravagant roadways was excitement enough, but to see such a large stadium suddenly appear along the road was quite exciting. Nate has been to the very nice minor league stadium in Greenville, South Carolina, but Turner Field takes the experience to a completely new level. Read the rest of this entry →

  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Drew Pearson: Mr. Clutch
      August 7, 2021 | 6:59 pm

      Drew Pearson

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month is a former NFL wide receiver know as “Mr. Clutch” for his penchant for making big receptions at crucial moments of the game. After waiting for more than 30 years, he is finally earning his rightful place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a member of the 2021 Hall of Fame Class.

      During his decade with the Dallas Cowboys, Drew Pearson had a habit of making the big catch at the right moment to help the Cowboys time and again snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

      The favorite target of Hall of Fame quarterback Roger Staubach, Pearson was widely recognized as one of the great receivers of his era. Though at the time of his retirement many expected Pearson to easily breeze into the Hall of Fame, his enshrinement was derailed by changes to the game which artificially inflated receiver stats and made the numbers he produced during a time when wide receivers weren’t catching 100 passes a season seem inferior.

      Read more »

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