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Sports Then and Now



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 →

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      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month won a Bronze Star in Vietnam before going on to win American League Rookie of the Year honors and playing 14 seasons in the Major Leagues.

      Though only 5-foot-8 and 170 pounds, Al Bumbry was a four-year basketball player at Virginia State College (now University). The school restarted its baseball program during his career and Bumbry hit .578 during his senior season to earn notice from the Baltimore Orioles, who picked him in the 11th round of the MLB Draft.

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