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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 →

  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Hall of Famer Tony Oliva
      July 17, 2022 | 2:15 pm
      Tony Oliva

      After waiting for 45 years after his retirement, the Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month is finally taking his rightful place as a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

      Before injuries cut short his Hall of Fame worthy career, Tony Oliva was one of the best hitters in baseball and combined with Hall of Famers Rod Carew and Harmen Killebrew to make the Minnesota Twins a perennial American League contender during the late 1960s.

      Discovered on the baseball fields of Cuba by a Minnesota Twin scout, Oliva came to the United States in 1961 and within three years the American League Rookie of the Year. There have been many great MLB players from Cuba, including a new generation of stars today, but it is hard to argue that there has been a better player from the island in MLB than Oliva.

      Read more »

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