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Sports Then and Now



Waiting for the Weekend: MLB Is Trying to Force the Orioles Out Of Baltimore 0

Posted on July 15, 2017 by Dean Hybl
There are a lot more empty seats for a Saturday afternoon Orioles game than there used to be.

There are a lot more empty seats for a Saturday afternoon Orioles game than there used to be.

I used to think that the New York Yankees were the greatest enemy of my favorite team the Baltimore Orioles. However, it is now becoming abundantly clear that the greatest threats to the future of the Orioles is not a division rival, but instead the evil duo of the Washington Nationals and Major League Baseball.

While it may take another decade or two to come to fruition, it now seems abundantly clear that the goal of the Nationals and Major League Baseball is to force the Orioles out of the city they have called home since 1954 (during which time three different franchises have called Washington home).

Considering that for 50 years the Orioles were one of the model franchises of the league, the fall from grace is quite surprising and disappointing.

It all started when Major League Baseball seized ownership of the Montreal Expos and in 2005 moved the team to Washington, DC.

At that time, Baltimore owner Peter Angelos fought the effort to move the team fearing that it would negatively impact the Orioles television revenue and fan base since Northern Virginia and Washington had long been an important part of the fan base for the Orioles, but while he could not stop the move, he did get some short-term financial concessions.

The Orioles received majority ownership of the MASN (Mid-Atlantic Sports Network) network and were given the rights to broadcast Nationals games at a discount from 2005 through 2011. While this was a short-term win for the Orioles, it seemed to have created resentment from both the Nationals and MLB.

When the initial broadcast compensation agreement ended in 2012, the Orioles were looking to secure future rights at a rate of $34 million per year, but the Nationals and MLB wanted closer to $100 million. Eventually, an arbitration panel made up of executives from other franchises said the value was as much as $66 million. The Orioles appealed the ruling saying the rate should be decided by a group not selected by MLB. The case was in the courts for several years before the ruling came back this week saying that MLB had the right to select the arbitrators.

So, in the five years that this issue has been festering, it appears that MLB and the Nationals have decided that they don’t just want more money from the Orioles TV network, they eventually want the Orioles out of the market. Read the rest of this entry →

2014 Major League Baseball Preview: Is Money the Answer? 10

Posted on March 30, 2014 by Dean Hybl
Despite hitting 86 home runs the last two seasons, Chris Davis is still one of the most underrated players in baseball.

Despite hitting 86 home runs the last two seasons, Chris Davis is still one of the most underrated players in baseball.

Several major league baseball teams spent the winter spending money like a drunken sailor in hopes of moving to the top of the league. Yet, as we prepare for the 2014 season the teams expected by many to contend are a combination of big money and middle payroll teams.

For now, the Los Angeles Dodgers have surpassed the New York Yankees as the team with baseball’s highest payroll. However, that doesn’t mean the team in the Bronx is suddenly being frugal. The suspension of Alex Rodriguez hacked a large salary off their payroll, but the Yankees made up for that by signing Japanese pitching star Masahiro Tanaka and high money free agents Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann.

While several teams in recent years have been able to make the playoffs without high payrolls, once the playoffs begin the higher payrolls have generally had an advantage. That was quite obvious last season in the two playoff series that went to a decisive game. The higher payroll Cardinals and Tigers each started a seasoned veteran in the fifth game of their division round playoff series (Adam Wainwright and Justin Verlander, respectively). Their opponents, the Pirates and A’s, each started a rookie who wasn’t even in the major leagues when the 2013 season started.

Having a high payroll is no guarantee that a team will make the playoffs, but big off-season spending has certainly put several teams in a position to contend.

Below are a few thoughts heading into the 2014 season:

Baseball’s Most Underrated Player
In the last two seasons Baltimore Orioles slugger Chris Davis has hit 86 home runs, driven in 223 runs and scored 178 runs, yet ESPN’s recent player rankings didn’t have him listed among the top 25 players in the game. The Sybermetrics disciples have become so enamored with WAR and other made-up stats that they have forgotten that driving in and scoring runs is the name of the game. As a team, the Orioles have been generally dismissed despite having two consecutive solid seasons, but they have a very potent offensive and if David has another strong season the O’s could again be in contention throughout the season.
Read the rest of this entry →

As Soon As Possible: Stephen Strasburg 4

Posted on August 07, 2011 by Teddy Bailey

With Strasburg, Nationals may contend in 2012.

Nearly a year after undergoing Tommy John surgery, Stephen Strasburg threw 31 pitches (25 strikes) and allowed 1 run on 3 hits in his first rehab outing for the Hagerstown Suns. He looked sharp and the Nationals are praising his recovery, but are also hurrying it along with the goal of having him back in the majors before the end of the season.

The Nationals have yet to make the playoffs in Washington, as the drought of 29 seasons go back to the 1981 NLCS as the Montreal Expos fell to the L.A Dodgers. Understandable, the Nationals want to build up and rise as a Major League Baseball team. But hurrying an injury like Tommy John on your future of the team, is not understandable.

At 55-59 and in an impossible NL East, the Nationals are back to their familiar state. Last place. Therefore, there should be no reason to get Strasburg back to Washington healthy and take the risk. It’s not the Nationals have any chance of making the postseason, I don’t think a team who’s 20 games behind the Phillies can win the division, but somehow, someway, the organization believes so.

Although I don’t agree with the rush, Strasburg does indeed to be back as soon as possible. I believe Washington can make the postseason with Strasburg in the rotation. Here’s why:

Only four games under .500, Washington has a fairly decent ball club. There has been plenty of bright spots for the Nationals, with slugger Michael Morse boasting a .327 average and 19 Home Runs with 67 RBI’s tearing  up pitching and becoming a go to guy for the capital’s team. Along with Morse, the Pitching Rotation has had it’s fair share of blemishes, but this year has been a little different. SP Jordan Zimmerman is a questionable 7-9, but a 3.12 ERA has shown that the lineup has not driven in runs for him. John Lannan has had an acceptable season, at 8-7 he has given Nationals fans a couple wins to cheer about. Read the rest of this entry →

Managerial Moves Take Baseball Back in Time 2

Posted on June 25, 2011 by Dean Hybl

At 80-years-old, Jack McKeon is back as manager of the Florida Marlins.

I’m not exactly sure what it means for baseball that 68-year-old Davey Johnson is back in the dugout as a major league manager and of the two managers hired in the last week he is the youngest by a whopping 12 years.

The hiring of 80-year-old Jack McKeon as manager of the Florida Marlins and Johnson as skipper for the Washington Nationals is an interesting twist for a game that in recent years had been trending toward giving young coaches a chance to manage in the majors.

Both Johnson and McKeon have enjoyed long and successful careers in baseball, but neither is the answer for the long haul. Johnson has reportedly agreed to manage the Nationals the remainder of this season and through the 2012 campaign, but if the team doesn’t continue to make strides, you know that certainly could change at any time.

McKeon will likely simply finish out the season for the Marlins, who have had nine managers (including McKeon now twice) in the last 11 years.

Some have compared the return of McKeon to what happened in 2003 when he replaced Jeff Torborg after a 16-22 start and went on to lead Florida to a 75-49 record and the World Series championship. Read the rest of this entry →

What Could Have Been? The Story of the 1994 Montreal Expos 33

Posted on September 03, 2009 by Dean Hybl
What Could Have Been? The 1994 Montreal Expos had the best record in baseball at the time of the strike.

What Could Have Been? The 1994 Montreal Expos had the best record in baseball at the time of the strike.

Had Major League Baseball and the Baseball Players Association made some different choices 15 years ago, September 2009 might have been a great time to be a fan of the Montreal Expos. If I close my eyes, I can almost picture it.

The City of Montreal is a buzz for baseball with record crowds filling the new state-of-the-art downtown stadium to watch the Expos battle for another National League Eastern Division crown.

Fans are also excited to relive the memories from 15 years ago when the 1994 Montreal Expos forever solidified a place for baseball in Montreal with a thrilling run to a World Series title.

Indeed what a run it was.

Read the rest of this entry →

Waiting For The Weekend: Break Up The Nationals! 0

Posted on August 14, 2009 by Dean Hybl

Waiting for the weekendWhat an interesting week in professional sports. The New York Yankees took the bats away from the Boston Red Sox, the Washington Nationals suddenly looked like a real major league team and the Philadelphia Eagles surprised the league by signing Michael Vick. Here are just a few kernels to chew on:

Break Up The Nationals! Oh, Well Never Mind
After winning a grand total of 32 games during the first four months of the season, the Washington Nationals suddenly showed a pulse with an eight-game winning streak in early August.

While five of the eight wins came over teams (Pittsburgh and Arizona) with losing records, the Nationals also posted a three-game sweep over a Florida Marlins squad that is still contending for a playoff spot.

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.

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