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Sports Then and Now

Big Bad AL East Isn’t So Tough After All 18

Posted on October 07, 2011 by Dean Hybl

Former Tiger Curtis Granderson will watch his former team play in the AL Championship Series.

Well, so much for the American League East being heads and shoulder above the rest of the American League in talent and baseball stature. Following the Detroit Tigers 3-2 victory in game five of the ALDS to eliminate the New York Yankees, we are now ensured that a team from one of the “lesser” divisions in the AL will represent the league in the World Series for the second straight year and fourth time in the last seven seasons.

There is no question that the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox are still head and shoulders above the rest of the league in terms of spending, but they both are proving that in today’s baseball world money doesn’t buy you quite as much as it used to.

Don’t get me wrong, money has definitely helped them both become consistent contenders. The Yankees haven’t had a losing season since 1992 and have made the playoffs in all but one season since 1995 while the Red Sox last had a losing season in 1997 and have won two World Series and made the playoffs eight times since.

However, while spending lavishly on salaries to attract the top free agents and available veterans has helped both teams maintain a stranglehold on at least one playoff spot each season, it no longer seems to be enough to ensure they dominate the World Series. Read the rest of this entry →

Rangers Top Orioles in Battle of Baseball Division Leaders 0

Posted on April 11, 2011 by Adam McCallister

Just days after spending time in the hospital, Jeremy Guthrie allowed just one run in six innings against the Rangers.

Less than 24 hours after the two best teams in the American League split a Saturday doubleheader, the defending American League Champion Texas Rangers returned to Camden Yards for the rubber and final game of the three game series and proved that they deserve to be considered the best team in the American League after the first full week of the season.

The matchup between lefty Derek Holland (1-0, 4.50 ERA) and the Orioles opening starter, right hander Jeremy Guthrie (1-0, 0.00 ERA) made for an interesting story line.

Guthrie, getting his second start of the season after battling pneumonia like symptoms a few days prior, looked healthy walking around the clubhouse during the pregame routine.  Guthrie in his only start of the year against the Tampa Bay Rays, allowed only 2 hits, striking out 3 and walking 1. But this time he was facing a much more potent lineup with the Rangers.  In the second game of the Saturday doubleheader Texas tagged Oriole pitching for 13 hits including 3 home runs.

The Rangers have a team batting average of .306 against right-handers in this young season.  Josh Hamilton (.381) and Mitch Moreland (.333) are the offensive leaders.  The Orioles were hoping that Guthrie’s history of success against the Rangers would hold as he entered the game with a 3-0 record against Texas and the O’s were 4-3 against the Rangers when Guthrie has the hill.

The Orioles were facing southpaw Derek Holland who in his only start this season went 6 innings giving up 3 earned runs on 7 hits and striking out 5.  In 2010 Holland averaged 5 and 2/3 innings in his 10 games he started.  Holland previously hadn’t enjoyed much success against the Orioles with an 0-2 record.

However, so far this season the Orioles are batting just .180 as a team against left-handers with only has 2 players in the lineup batting over .300, Matt Wieters (.333) and J.J. Hardy (.333). Unfortunately, Hardy missed the Sunday game after leaving Saturday’s game with a strained left oblique muscle.  He will have an MRI Monday to diagnose the injury.  Replacing him at shortstop was Robert Andino, who was getting his first playing time of the season.

As it would turn out, Holland and the Rangers proved to be too much for the Orioles to overcome. The struggles against left-handed pitching continued as the Orioles were unable to capitalize on a number of chances. Read the rest of this entry →

Being a Staff Ace Isn’t What it Used To Be 1

Posted on October 31, 2010 by Dean Hybl

Despite being the staff ace, there was never any thought by the Rangers of having Cliff Lee pitch three games in the World Series.

If I was writing this column in 1970 or even in 1990, it would be about Cliff Lee’s preparation to start game four of the World Series for a Texas Rangers squad that trails two games to one and desperately needs a strong performance from their best pitcher.

However, because we are in the year 2010 when pitchers are often treated like fine china, this column is about how the Rangers must figure out how to win three more games though their staff ace will pitch just one more time in the series.

What is interesting about the decision by Ron Washington to pitch Tommy Hunter in game four, instead of to start Cliff Lee on three day’s rest, is that it really isn’t a decision at all. I every interview from prior to the World Series through game three, Washington never wavered in his insistence that Lee would not pitch a day earlier than normal regardless of the situation in the Series.

Given that Lee struggled in the first game with a week of rest, it makes sense not to take a chance bringing him back early. However, the decision means that should the Series come down to one final game, the Rangers would not be pitching their staff ace.

Of course the same would be true for the San Francisco Giants, but even with consecutive Cy Young Awards to his credit, there has never been discussion about maneuvering their rotation to get a third start out of Tim Lincecum.

What is interesting about the situation for the Rangers is that just a year ago, Lee and his previous team the Philadelphia Phillies were in the same exact situation.

Trailing two games to one against the Yankees, Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel did not start Lee in game four though the Yankees were pitching their ace C.C. Sabathia on short rest. The Yankees went on to win the game and take a 3-1 Series lead. Lee won game five, but the Yankees claimed the Series in six games. Read the rest of this entry →

  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Archie Griffin: 2-Time Heisman Winner
      December 11, 2022 | 1:42 pm
      Archie Griffin

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month is the only football player ever to capture college football’s top individual award twice.

      As a star running back for the Ohio State Buckeyes, Archie Griffin claimed the Heisman Trophy during his junior season in 1974 and then was able to repeat the honor the following season.

      Griffin joined the Buckeyes for the 1972 season, which happened to be the first in which freshmen were eligible to play varsity football, and made an immediate impact. After fumbling in his only carry of his first game, Griffin more than made up for it in his second game by rushing for 237 yards against North Carolina. By the end of the season, Griffin had rushed for 867 yards.

      Read more »

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