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Sports Then and Now



Baseball Playoffs Have Feel of the 1980s 12

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 →

Dick Groat: Two Sport Superstar 2

Posted on September 02, 2011 by Dean Hybl

Dick Groat

The September Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was a two sport collegiate standout who eventually settled on baseball and helped lead two teams to World Series titles.

As a college standout at Duke University, Dick Groat was a two-time All-American in baseball and basketball and was the collegiate Player of the Year in basketball as a senior in 1952 while averaging 25.2 points per game. His number was retired by Duke following the completion of his basketball career. Read the rest of this entry →

Pirates’ Shipwrecked 8

Posted on August 08, 2011 by Teddy Bailey

After a strong start, the Pittsburgh Pirates have wilted in the heat of summer.

It has been 18 long, dreadful years since the city of Pittsburgh shared a playoff experience for the Pirates. Trust me, it will be  19 very shortly.

In a competitive NL Central, there’s no margin for error. The Brewers lead the division by 3 games, with the St.Louis Cardinals on their back, and the Cincinnati Reds are being quietly diminished as a division contender. It’s one thing if you go 3-7, or 4-6, but 0-10? Really? Here’s how the Pirates’ ship sank, and how it happened: Read the rest of this entry →

Small Markets and Big Hearts 15

Posted on July 15, 2011 by John Wingspread Howell

Thanks to the play of their young star Andrew McCutchen, the Pittsburgh Pirates are among the small market teams having surprise success in 2011.

Don’t look now– or perhaps you have looked— at the tables on the Sports page, but 2011 is becoming the year of the small market team. The Brewers have been climbing the standings in the NL Central, the Indians have been in and just barely out of the top of the AL Central, the Pirates have been over .500 more than they’ve been under thus far, and the Nationals (not a small market team but a small market performer) have been bobbing up and down along the .500 line.

And that’s only baseball. Oklahoma City made a run in the NBA. Buffalo had one of the best records in the second half of the last NHL season, taking Philadelphia to seven games in the playoffs. Western New York (Buffalo-Rochester) is currently dominating Women’s Professional Soccer. In men’s soccer, Real Salt Lake has emerged as a power. And of course the mother of all small market towns, Green Bay, won the mother of all American sports championships, the Super Bowl.

So what’s going on?

Perhaps there’s a lesson in what seems to be driving the US Women’s National Team in the World Cup. Despite coming into the tournament as a favorite, the US team hasn’t made the cup finals since its last victory, in 1999, and had to play in this year, after losing four matches leading up to the tournament. If you know enough about sports to be reading this, you know the story. And while the United States is anything but “small market” in almost every respect, we are certainly small market in the soccer world, despite more success in the women’s game. Read the rest of this entry →

Friday The 13th: 13 Unlucky Professional Sports Franchises 8

Posted on May 13, 2011 by A.J. Foss

The Steve Bartman foul ball is just one of many unlucky moments for the Chicago Cubs and their fans.

Today is Friday, the 13th, a date that superstitious people believe is unlucky.

With that in mind, here is a list of the 13 most unlucky teams in professional sports.

These are teams that have not won championships in the past few decades, have suffered numerous devastating losses, and fan bases that believe that their team is cursed.

13. Phoenix Suns (NBA)
The Suns have more regular season wins than any other NBA franchise without an NBA championship, as there have 19 seasons where the team won at least 50 games, three of those of at least 60 wins, and been to the NBA Finals twice, only to lose both times.

Suns fans believe the reason for their bad luck stems for the 1969 NBA Draft where the Suns and Milwaukee Bucks were up for the number one pick, which would be decided by a coin flip.

The winner of the coin toss would get the #1 pick and would select Lew Alcindor, now Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Suns executive Jerry Colangelo called “heads”, but the coin landed “tails” and the Bucks won the rights for the #1 pick and of course picked Alcindor, who led Milwaukee to a NBA title just two years later.

12. Philadelphia Eagles (NFL)

The Eagles have gone over a half a century without a NFL title, their last championship coming in 1960.

Most of the Eagles’ heartbreak has come in the 21st century as the team has made five appearances in the NFC Championship Game, only winning once in 2004, where they advance to Super Bowl XXXIX and lost to the New England Patriots 24-21.

Philadelphia also appeared in Super Bowl XV but lost to the Oakland Raiders and lost the famous “Fog Bowl” to the Chicago Bears in a loss that many Eagle fans feel cost them another appearance in the Super Bowl. Read the rest of this entry →

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  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • George Musso: From Longshot to Hall of Famer
      August 5, 2017 | 4:52 pm
      George Musso

      George Musso

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month went from small college long shot to Pro Football Hall of Famer.

      When George Musso finished his college career at Millikin College in 1933, Chicago Bears coach George Halas offered the 6-foot-2, 265 pound lineman a tryout and eventually a $90 per game contract, but had serious doubts whether he could make the transition from small college football to the NFL.

      It took a year for Musso to adjust, but by 1935 he was an All-Pro tackle. Two years later, he moved to guard and again earned first team All-NFL honors. He became the first player in NFL history to earn first team All-League honors at two different positions.

      Read more »

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