HardballTalk

David Ortiz wasn’t on the ballot on Tuesday — only two men were: Marty Walsh and John Connolly — but the Red Sox’ DH got the most write-in votes out of anyone, so that technically made him the third place finisher.

Not that it was particularly close. There were only 560 write-in votes, of which Ortiz got the most. The winner got over 72,000 votes.  But it’s a pretty good showing for a guy who doesn’t play any defense.

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One hundred and ten years ago, the American league ballclub from Boston without an official nickname defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1903 World Series, the first edition of the historic and prestigious championship series.

Later renamed the Red Sox, that same Boston team would win it all in 1912, 1915, 1916 and a likely fixed 1918 series in which both the Chicago Cubs and Red Sox are believed to have thrown different games a year before the more famous Black Sox scandal.  After that series, both teams would fail to win another one for years, creating rumors of curses such as that of the “Bambino”, Babe Ruth, who was sold to the rival New York Yankees and that of the Billy Goat and William Sianis in Chicago.

The Red Sox came close in 1986, before a series of events including a ball finding its way through Bill Buckner’s legs saw the Red Sox fall in a game six in which they held a two-run lead in extra innings and lose the series in game seven.

It would be another eighty-six years after that 1918 championship before Boston, long in control of the Boston market after the Braves left for Milwaukee in 1953, would find themselves atop the baseball world, champions at long last and finally over the Curse of the Bambino in 2004.  The sweep of the same St. Louis Cardinals franchise they beat tonight came just a year after Aaron Boone walked off in the ALCS to send Boston home at the hands of their greatest rivals, while the series-fixing mates from Chicago experienced a game six meltdown before falling to Florida in a seventh game.  Boston found their revenge during their 2004 title run, rallying to win the ALCS decisively in game seven against their familiar foes from The Bronx after trailing the series three games to none.

Under Boston native wunderkind general manager Theo Epstein, now with the Cubs, the Red Sox would not stop at one, sweeping the Colorado Rockies in 2007 to continue to spoil the once annually suffering fans at Fenway.  The only thing the team seemed to fail to accomplish under Epstein, was to win the World Series at their historic home field of Fenway Park.

In 2013, the city of Boston suffered a tragedy, as a pair of Chechnyan radicals bombed the Boston Marathon, as the city united in mourning under the phrase “Boston Strong”.

Boston fans would be disappointed just a few months later as the Bruins inspirational Stanley Cup run fell short, allowing two goals in seventeen seconds near the end of game six of the finals as the Chicago Blackhawks won their second championship in three calendar years, just as the Red Sox had in 2004 and 2007.

Finally, going from last place in 2012 to first place and tied for the best record in baseball with St. Louis in 2013, the Boston Red Sox are the world champions!  After defeating the Cardinals 6-1 in game six, outfielder Shane Victorino proclaimed, “Boston Strong!”

BLOG: 2013 World Series Prediction

Posted: October 23, 2013 in Uncategorized
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Might start doing more blog-style posts instead of news story style articles here, mostly because it allows me to insert opinions and stray from the traditional format.

For some reason or another, I did not continue my playoff predictions this season.  In the past, I’ve had varying levels of success, making every pick right in 2009 and all but the World Series in 2010.  I would have picked both St. Louis and Boston to defeat Los Angeles (Dodgers) and Detroit, respectively prior to the start of the LCS’s, but just to make it formal, I’ll put this one in writing.

As a Cubs fan, this is a very painful pick to make, and I would honestly be thrilled to be wrong in this case, but the St. Louis Cardinals will win the 2013 World Series in six games, and I was half-tempted to go as low as five.

The two teams finished tied for the best record in baseball this season and will face off in a best of seven series that will begin tonight in Boston.  While both teams are great ball clubs, the Cardinals are just a team that knows how to win, especially in the postseason.  I normally do not subscribe to the abstract, but in this case it always seems to work out that way.

For all the Cubs fans living in Southern Illinois and Missouri, I feel sorry for you with the wrath of having to see your biggest rivals celebrate a championship your team has not won since 1908.

Congratulations to the Orlando City Soccer Club after knocking off the final major obstacle in their path to becoming Major League Soccer’s twenty-first franchise as Orange County commissioners approved funding for their new stadium.

Requiring five of seven votes by the commissioners, the meeting lasting approximately six-and-a-half hours came to an end that gave Orlando City supporters reason to celebrate.  The funding plan for the twenty-thousand seat soccer stadium had previously passed the City of Orlando’s vote by a six-to-one mark.

Within the next thirty days, Orlando City SC and Major League Soccer will work towards finalizing their expansion agreement, putting the affectionately dubbed Lions in a position to enter the league in 2015 alongside the previously announced New York City FC.

The reported expansion fee of $70 million is significantly less than New York’s $100 million fee (New York is the nation’s largest market and an existing franchise, the New York Red Bulls, plays in its New Jersey suburbs) but more than Montreal paid (approximately $40 million) to enter the league for the 2012 season.

With the all-but-official inclusion of Orlando City SC as one of the league’s four additional expansion franchises announced beyond New York City FC.  Two of the remaining three teams are widely expected to be awarded to a group including David Beckham and Marcelo Claure destined for Miami (ETA 2016) and another to play in Atlanta (ETA 2017) under joint ownership with the National Football League’s Atlanta Falcons.  The remaining franchise is seemingly up for grabs, with Minneapolis-St. Paul, San Antonio, St. Louis and Sacramento appearing to be the leading candidates.

Chicago, Illinois.  Home of an NFL team, a NBA team, a NHL team, a MLS team, an AHL team, a WNBA team, a professional ultimate frisbee franchise and two MLB teams.  A city of several smaller but more distinct ethnic communities that collectively form the nation’s third-largest city.

On the city’s North Side, the Cubs reside in the Wrigleyville neighborhood in Lakeview, while the White Sox and their only slightly better results in the past century play ball in the South Side’s Bridgeport neighborhood, just south of the famous Chinatown.

This city is not New York, residents do not identify themselves as being from Queens or Brooklyn or Manhattan, but rather just as Chicagoans, with either the North Side or South Side being presented with some frequency.

Even when the sides of the city are presented, the only meaning it holds in the sporting world is in baseball.  Someone from Queens will be a Mets fan and you are more likely to find a Nets fan in Brooklyn than you are in Staten Island or The Bronx.  In Chicago, it doesn’t matter where you live, you are most likely going to be a Bears fan or a Bulls fan or a Blackhawks fan.  There is no sense of “I hate the Bears because they are on the east side,” or “I hate the Bulls and Blackhawks because they play on the west side.”  For the most part, with the Packers and Cardinals fans aside, Chicagoans are used to rooting for their great city.

So why is it that when the city has the privilege of hosting two major league teams in one sport that almost never play each other head-to-head (just four times a year and the teams have met in exactly one postseason series, and that series has long passed, taking place in 1906), that the city must be divided, hating the other team that represents their city just as much as the team they support does?

Chicago won its first baseball championship since 1917 when the White Sox swept the Houston Astros, who at the time were divisional rivals of the Cubs (e.g. a rivalry that actually matters), in the 2005 World Series.  Instead of a huge city erupting into celebration, only the smaller portion of the city that supported the White Sox rejoiced in the glory of being the best team in the world.  For Cubs fans, many were rooting for their rivals from Texas over their home city they held so dear, missing out on celebrating the city’s first major championship in seven years since 1998, when both the Bulls and the expansion team Fire took home league championships.  The Sox, who at the time played the Cubs six times a year (a figure that has since be reduced), had beaten the team that the Cubs played fifteen-to-sixteen games per year, almost ten percent of their 162-game schedule.

So why is it that the team who had inflicted more pain to the Cubs record-wise historically, and the team that had by far the largest direct effects on the Cubs, losing such a dreadful thought for the North Siders?

The fact of the matter is that two passionate fanbases collide when placed too close together, and neither will ever understand entirely how irrelevant this rivalry is and that each team is capable of bringing reason to celebrate to the great city of Chicago.

Even in the scenario where both teams face off in a World Series, it should be seen as a blessing that no matter what happens, at least it will be the same city winning it all as opposed to another city like New York or Los Angeles.

This is not to say that all intra-city rivalries are irrelevant, as some hold more value than others.  For example, the three NHL teams residing in New York City and its suburbs: the New Jersey Devils, the New York Islanders and the New York Rangers all play in same division and have faced each other several times in the postseason.  These teams directly contribute to the failures of the others in a way the Cubs and Sox never will (barring major league realignment).

Forget Barrett and Pierzysnski.  Whether you are a fan of the Cubs or the White Sox, next time you see your “huge rivals” in the playoffs in a year in which your team falls short, embrace them and root for this great city to come out on top of the baseball world.  You know how this can feel if approached right, Chicago has a fresh taste of winning in its mouth thanks to the 2010 and 2013 Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks.

The Jacksonville Jaguars replaced the St. Louis Rams as the designated home team for the annual NFL International Series in London, England’s Wembley Stadium in 2013.  The Rams, along with the Jaguars, were candidates to relocate overseas, but decided to focus on securing a long-term lease at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis instead of marketing themselves on the international scene.

The Jaguars, who had signed a contract to host the game every year from 2013 to 2016, are getting anything but exclusivity in the NFL’s presence across the Atlantic, as the league added a second London game in 2013 and announced on Tuesday that the 2014 season would feature a grand total of three games in London.  The Jaguars remain as the host of one of the games, as guaranteed by the contract, while the 2013 secondary host, the Minnesota Vikings, will be replaced by the Atlanta Falcons and the Oakland Raiders (the latter being yet another relocation candidate, though the team would likely target its former home in Los Angeles in that event).  The road teams and dates for the matches have yet to be determined.

At least one other game will be played outside of the United States in 2014, as the Buffalo Bills will host their annual Bills Toronto Series at the Rogers Centre.

It seems to be only a matter of time before a team is playing a full eight-game home schedule in the United Kingdom, and the team has – much to the chagrin of U.S. Soccer fans – been touted as a potential huge source of income for the English Football Association, the governing body for soccer in England.

NFL expansion outside of the United States will inevitably cause some concerns.  If a team is located in England or Mexico City in the future, would it be of benefit to the national teams of those countries that are inarguably the two biggest rivals of the United States Men’s National Team?  And if a team is eventually placed in Toronto, whether it be the Bills or an expansion franchise, will the Canadian Football League be able to survive without its largest media market?  Such a move could potentially lead to the demise of both the Toronto Argonauts and the nearby Hamilton Tiger-Cats, and to a lesser extent the Ottawa REDBLACKS expansion team set to begin play in 2014, and could lead the Canadian population as a whole to relegate their league to a minor league status nationwide.  Of course, the most enraging issue for some fans may be the continued lack of a franchise in the Los Angeles metropolitan area, which lost both the Rams and Raiders in the 1994-1995 off-season, as the Rams left for St. Louis and the Rams moved back to Oakland.

Perhaps the best path for the NFL to take should it opt to expand outside of the United States would be to place a team each in London, Los Angeles, Toronto and Mexico City, but the moves will not come without significant controversy.

Sad story

CollegeFootballTalk

It doesn’t get more heartbreaking than this.

Thursday night, Overland Park (Kan.) Shawnee Mission West High School football player and Kansas verbal Andrew Maloney had just caught a 63-yard touchdown pass when things began to go horrifically wrong.  The defensive back/wide receiver’s coach said the player became dizzy and disoriented; his cousin, who was at the game and rushed onto the field after noticing something wasn’t right, said “Andre [was] laying there, drooling, with his head tilted to the right. He was conscious, but you could tell he wasn’t clear. He was mumbling. It didn’t make sense.”

Maloney was rushed to a local hospital via ambulance and underwent a three-hour emergency surgery to remove a blood clot.  Sadly, the surgery was unsuccessful and, Friday, the family decided to remove a non-responsive Maloney from life support as the stroke claimed the high schooler’s life.

He was just 17 years old.

“We…

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