Analysis. History. Perspective.

Sports Then and Now



Major League Baseball Honors Jackie Robinson Today 3

Posted on April 15, 2016 by Mike Raffone

MIKE Comic 125 Jackie RobinsonOn April 15, 1997 Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig mandated an unprecedented edict. It was never before witnessed in any American professional sport.

Selig ordered all Major League Baseball teams to officially retire the #42 jersey in honor of Brooklyn Dodgers great Jackie Robinson.

Selig’s historic move recognized Jackie Robinson on the 50th anniversary of his 1947 debut. On that day Robinson became the first black baseball player in the modern era to cross the color barrier that existed in the sport.

It’s hard for us to image today, but Jack Roosevelt “Jackie” Robinson’s bold, courageous decision to break the color line in 1947 opened the gates for other worthy, yet unfairly discriminated against, black baseball players.

Thanks to Robinson, other talented black baseball players quickly followed and begun playing on other previously all white teams in Major League Baseball.

As a player with the Brooklyn Dodgers, #42’s fortitude also kindled dialogue beyond the baseball diamond when it came to our country’s ugly segregation policies. Many attribute that Robinson’s brazen baseball move of crossing the color barrier helped propel the long overdue and ultimately successful Civil Rights Movement.

The Movie 42 Tells Robinson’s Story

Robinson’s heroic and individually spectacular personal life story was told in the motion picture 42 (release date: April 2013). It chronicled Robinson’s struggles and success as one of America’s most respected athletes ever.

When he joined the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947 as a 28 year-old rookie, #42 overcame significant public scrutiny as well as regular cruel and unnecessary racial abuse. He was the target of ugly taunts, knock-down pitches and hateful insensitivity directed at him because of his skin color.

However, the Dodgers’ tough talking manager Leo Durocher took a firm stand in defense of Robinson. Also, legendary Dodgers shortstop Pee Wee Reece’s comment in support of Jackie Robinson will never be forgotten. While standing with his arm draped around Robinson’s shoulders, Reece said, “You can hate a man for many reasons. Color is not one of them.”

The son of a Georgia sharecropper and a Southern California domestic laborer, Jackie Robinson immediately proved his mettle and demonstrated his athletic excellence. Despite the racial abuse he suffered, Robinson rose above the fray.

Instead of fighting back on the low ground, he immediately made an impact on Major League Baseball and quickly became a rising star.

Robinson was voted Major League Baseball Rookie of the Year in 1947. Soon after, he won both the National League batting title and the National League Most Valuable Player Award in 1949.

Jackie played his entire ten year career with the Brooklyn Dodgers. A first-time ballot Hall of Fame inductee, Robinson’s career accomplishments included six all-star games, a World Series Championship in 1955 and impressive lifetime stats of a .311 batting average, 1,518 hits, 137 home-runs, 734 runs batted in and 197 steals.

In addition to being selected to Major League Baseball’s All-Century team, Jackie Robinson was named #44 on The Sporting News’ list of top 100 baseball players ever.

As a result of what he accomplished after formally hanging up his baseball cleats in 1956, this remarkable athlete became a cultural icon.

Robinson is widely admired and credited for overcoming other barriers beyond the baseball diamond. He broke additional color lines that existed in mainstream America at the time.

Jackie Robinson Broke Through Other Racial Barriers

ABC Sports hired Jackie Robinson as the first ever black sportscaster ever to cover Major League Baseball. In the late 50s, Robinson crossed a business barrier and became the first ever black Vice President of a major United States corporation when appointed by Chock full ‘o Nuts Coffee.

Before his death in 1972, Robinson accumulated a never-to-be duplicated resume as a distinguished retired athlete.

Besides his Major League Baseball Hall of Fame induction, Robinson chaired the NAACP.

Plus, he received our country’s two single greatest non-sports related individual honors; i.e. the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Medal of Honor.

TIME Magazine named Jackie Robinson among the top 100 most influential people of the 20th Century.

TIME Magazine’s ranking not only honored a most worthy athlete, but also a courageous American who helped transition our country away from its ugly discriminatory past.

MIKE on sports!

2016 MLB Preview: Is It the Year of the San Francisco Giants (Again)? 1

Posted on April 03, 2016 by Dean Hybl
Madison Bumgarner will look to build on his 18 win season of 2015 as the Giants look for their fourth World Series title of the decade.

Madison Bumgarner will look to build on his 18 win season of 2015 as the Giants look for their fourth World Series title of the decade.

Since winning their first World Series in 56 years back in 2010, the San Francisco Giants have become the kings of the even year in Major League Baseball. It is an even year, so does that mean it is again time for the Giants to win the World Series?

Though the Giants posted a respectable 84-78 record last season, they were well off the pace of the playoffs as they finished eight games behind the division winning Los Angeles Dodgers and 13 games out of a Wild Card spot.

Their past championship teams have been built on a foundation of strong pitching and that will certainly have to be the case again if they hope to make a run in 2016.

The addition of Johnny Cueto would appear to be a great move in that direction. Though he finished 2015 with an 11-13 record and struggled during his tenure with the World Champion Royals, Cueto should benefit from returning to the National League this season. He registered an ERA under three runs a game in each of his final five seasons with the Cincinnati Reds (including 2.62 before being traded to KC in 2015).

In addition, Jeff Samardzija is back in the National League after posting an 11-13 record with 4.96 ERA pitching for the Chicago White Sox in 2015. Though he has registered only one winning season during his career, Samardzija has shown signs of greatness and should benefit from being part of a solid rotation.

The remainder of the staff includes three pitchers with All-Star pedigrees. Madison Bumgarner was 18-9 with a 2.93 ERA last season and is the clear staff ace. Jake Peavy was 8-6 with a 3.59 ERA in 19 starts last season.

Matt Cain has struggled the last three seasons, but if he is able to regain the form he showed while winning 55 games between 2009 and 2012 he will be a great end of the rotation anchor for the Giants.

The position lineup is led by perennial All-Star catcher Buster Posey. The 2012 MVP has been a steady performer since missing most of the 2011 season due to a horrific home plate collision. He has played at least 147 games in each of the last four years and in 2015 hit .318 with 19 home runs and 95 RBI. Read the rest of this entry →

Remembering Major League Baseball’s Mr. November Derek Jeter 0

Posted on November 01, 2015 by Mike Raffone

MIKE sports comic Mr. November

This athlete tops the charts as one of Major League Baseball’s most admired and respected players ever.

In addition to Derek Jeter’s Captain Clutch nickname, the former New York Yankee also came to be known as Mr. November.

Jeter got the name through unique circumstances surrounding the postponement of the 2001 World Series.

He not only earned his own separate month on the calendar in Major League Baseball lore, but he also will be remembered as one of the greatest players and most trustworthy athletes of his generation.

It’s only fitting that we honor him on this first day of the month of November.

Due to the shocking September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York City, the Fall Classic between the New York Yankees and the Arizona Diamondbacks was delayed. Games were pushed back until late October. The Yankees won Game 4 of the series when Derek Jeter hit a walk-off home run in the 10th inning. This extra-inning game took place for the first time during the month of November. The Yankee Stadium scoreboard recognized Jeter’s historic moment and immediately called him Mr. November.

Historically, Jeter excelled in the post-season where he won five World Series championships and batted an impressive .351. The Yankee shortstop also played in a total of 152 post-season games. During that time, he made 679 plate appearances and collected 191 hits. No wonder why Derek Jeter was known for being clutch.

In addition to his remarkable post-season statistics, Jeter served as a terrific role model during his 20 years with the New York Yankees. The Yankee great is expected to be a first ballot Hall of Fame inductee.

This 1996 American League Rookie of the Year and 2000 World Series Most Valuable Player made 14 All-Star appearances. Mr. November’s also collected five Silver Slugger Awards and won five Gold Gloves.

Legendary baseball coach Don Zimmer appropriately called Jeter “the all-time Yankee.” Upon retiring last year, Jeter ranked as the all-time New York Yankees leader in hits, games played, stolen bases and at bats.

Over and above his baseball exploits, Derek Jeter’s leadership and ever present smile made him one of the most successful product spokesmen in sports.

Global brands like Nike, Gillette, Ford, VISA and Gatorade paid Mr. November handsomely to endorse their products – no matter what month of the year.

MIKE on sports!

Stop the Spitting in Major League Baseball 2

Posted on October 19, 2015 by Mike Raffone

Spitting in Baseball

This cheeky comic may make your toes scrunch, but it speaks volumes about a vile habit that remains unchecked in America’s favorite pastime.

It started way back THEN in the 1800’s when baseball first blossomed and chewing tobacco was all the rage. Unfortunately, spitting in baseball has continued til NOW in 2015 as the sport thrives.

So, it’s about time someone like me addresses this scourge in sports by writing about it in today’s Sports Then and Now blog.

Spitting in baseball is a major league problem.

While watching this weekend’s ALCS and NLCS playoff games, I once again found myself disgusted by the disturbing discharges emanating from eminent National and American Major League Baseball players.

These orally induced actions seriously sully my spectating enjoyment and probably yours, too.

My guess is that all of America agrees with me on this issue. Baseball players, coaches and managers spit waaaaay too much. Read the rest of this entry →

The Evolution of Baseball 4

Posted on August 31, 2015 by Ashley Andrews
Though the game of baseball has evolved quite a bit since its early days, there are still many components that are similar.

Though the game of baseball has evolved quite a bit since its early days, there are still many components that are similar.

With the postseason and World Series creeping toward us, many baseball fans get a little nostalgic about the sport. They reflect on the games they watched in the ’70s and ’80s, and they typically lament the direction the game has gone since then.

They aren’t just talking about the attitudes of players or their astronomical incomes. It also applies to the playing of the game itself. Since its inception, baseball has made a remarkable evolution through technology and adaptation. Here are just a few of the ways that it isn’t your grandfather’s game anymore. Whether you like them, hate them, or don’t even understand them, they’re where we are now.

Instant Replay

We might as well get to this one right away, hadn’t we? Baseball has always had a very low-tech nature. Wrigley Field even shunned lights until 1988. Indeed, much of the game’s appeal has always been that even impoverished kids on a rocky vacant lot can cobble together enough basic gear to play.

So it was a bit blasphemous for some fans when Major League Baseball began doing limited video review of certain types of plays. But the fact is, the founders of baseball might have put the technology to use when they first developed the game, if it had been available. As excruciating as it can be to watch an umpire stand there with headphones on for three or four minutes, it’s tough to deny that the mysterious reviewer in New York City is getting most calls right. Win or lose, you can’t argue with that.

Gear In High Gear

With each passing year, the technology behind and within the game becomes more complex. Catcher’s masks are sleek and made of space-age materials. The cleats used today could get you traction on an iceberg.

In perhaps the most dramatic changes, bats have reached an interplanetary level of evolution. The timber swung by DiMaggio and Maris as kids is nothing like youth baseball bats from HomerunMonkey.com, and even the equipment they later used in their professional careers pales in comparison. Sure, pitching is tougher today, but knowing about the bats of the past makes it all the more impressive what those players were able to do.

Statistical Overload

This is not exactly an on-field factor, but it certainly has an impact in the game. Numbers are being crunched at a greater rate than popcorn and Cracker Jacks in modern ball parks. It isn’t enough just to know a player’s batting average or ERA. He also has a slugging percentage, on-base percentage, and a detailed statistical profile of his hitting proficiency on odd-numbered days when the moon is waxing and the temperature is a multiple of 14.

The thing is, these numbers aren’t just tossed around like a pre-game warm up ball. They are actually used. They drive fielder positioning, pitch selection, and base-running predictions. Read the rest of this entry →

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 →

  • Follow Us Online

  • Sign up for Email Updates

    Sign-up to get daily updates of all the great articles and information on Sports Then and Now.

    Enter your email address:

    Delivered by FeedBurner

  • Check out the best free bets at freebets4all. Learn how to convert online bookmakers free bets into guaranteed cash using the matched betting technique.

  • Affordable Satellite TV Great prices on Dish network packages.

  • Gear up for your next trip with new North Face Backpacks from SportsUnlimited.com. Shop great Field Hockey Sticks from Grays & Gryphon.

    Football Jerseys

  • Current Poll

    Where is LeBron James Among All-Time NBA Stars?

    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...
  • Post Categories



↑ Top