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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

    • Rusty Staub: A Man For All Ages
      April 8, 2024 | 1:26 pm
      Rusty Staub

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month is a former major league baseball player who came into the game as a teenager and stayed until he was in his 40s. In between, Rusty Staub put up a solid career that was primarily spent on expansion or rebuilding teams.

      Originally signed by the Colt .45s at age 17, he made his major league debut as a 19-year old rookie and became only the second player in the modern era to play in more than 150 games as a teenager.

      Though he hit only .224 splitting time between first base and rightfield, Staub did start building a foundation that would turn him into an All-Star by 1967 when he finished fifth in the league with a .333 batting average.

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