Archive for December, 2012

Most sports teams have officially defined histories, yet the official records are not always accurate, or don’t reveal enough background.  In some cases, these claims are dubious, while in others, they are undeniable.  In this article, a few of these mishaps will come to light, while a few commonly accepted – but little known – scenarios are discussed as well.  The first article of this series features five scenarios, with more likely to come in future editions.

The Cincinnati Reds – The Oldest Professional baseball Team – Or Not.

The Cincinnati Reds are popularly thought of as the oldest professional baseball team, but these claims – which are even endorsed by the team – prove to be completely false.  The Cincinnati red Stockings were the first team to declare themselves professional for the 1869 season after the National Association of Base Ball Players voted to allow payments to be made to players.  However, the notion that the Reds that play in the National League today can lay claim to this title is completely wrong.  Not only did several teams illegally pay players before it was allowed, but the Red Stockings simply are not the same franchise as the modern Reds.  The Red Stockings would go on to play in the 1870 season after their undefeated 1869 season (in which they did not win the championship, due to the methods used at the time to determine the title), but would not field a team for the 1871 season of the new National Association of Professional Base Ball Players.  In 1876, a new Red Stockings would be admitted to the new National League, and even they would not be able to claim association with the current franchise.  The Red Stockings would disband on June 18th, 1877, before being revived on June 21st of the same year.  On December 4th of the same year, the Red Stockings would be expelled, only to be re-admitted a day later.  The controversy surrounding the franchise would not end there, as the team would leave the NL on October 24th, 1879, only to rejoin on on December 3rd.  On October 6th, 1880, the team would be expelled from the league, and this time it was permanent.  A new team of the same name would be founded as an independent team in 1881, before organizing the rival American Association for the 1882 season.  In 1890, the new team would join the National League, where the Cincinnati Reds have participated in every season since.  So which team is oldest surviving team in the league?  That is up for debate, though the usually accepted claim to the title comes from the Chicago Cubs, despite suspending operations for the 1872 and 1873 seasons.  The Atlanta Braves – who actually have deeper connections to the original red Stockings than the Reds do – are the next oldest after becoming a founding member of the new National Association in 1871 as the Boston Red Stockings.

The Cincinnati Braves?  Atlanta’s History Goes Back Further Than Boston and Milwaukee

Despite the claims of the modern Reds that were shown to be false in the above section, there is just one MLB team that has real connections to the original Red Stockings, namely the Atlanta Braves.  After the Red Stockings reverted to amateur status and subsequently folded, the members of the team were dispersed between a new club in Boston and the Washington Olympics.  The new Boston team was organized by former Red Stocking Harry Wright, and also featured Cincinnati stars Charlie Gould, George Wright, and Cal McVey.  Due to the history of its new stars, the Boston club was named the Red Stockings.  Throughout their tenure in Boston, the Red Stockings would have several names attributed to them, including the “Red Caps”, “Beaneaters”, “Doves”, “Rustlers”, and “Bees”, before eventually settling on “Braves”.  The Boston Braves would relocate to Milwaukee in 1953 and Atlanta in 1966.

The “Steagles” Roots Go Back Further Than The 1940’s Temporary Merger

Many readers may know of the war-time merger of the Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers in 1943, commonly known as the “Steagles” or officially, the Phil-Pitt Combine.  However, what many don’t know is the fact that this isn’t the first time these teams had merged.  Take a close look at the events that occurred and see if you notice the oddity that resulted from their first merger:

  1. Art Rooney sells Pittsburgh Pirates (now Steelers, not the baseball team or the hockey team that relocated to Philadelphia before folding) to Alexis Thompson.
  2. Thompson announces plans to relocate Pittsburgh as the Boston Ironmen, pending NFL approval.
  3. Philadelphia Eagles owner Bert Bell sells half of Eagles to Rooney.
  4. Rooney and Bell announce that the former Eagles will be renamed the Pennsylvania Keystoners, splitting games between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.
  5. NFL rejects relocation of Pirates to Boston.
  6. Rooney and Bell move their team to Pittsburgh full-time as the Steelers, while Thompson brings his team to Philadelphia instead.

Did you see it?  If you didn’t, the Eagles became the Steelers, and the Pirates became the new Eagles.  However, the league record book includes the history of the original Eagles with that of the current franchise, and the Pirates with the Steelers.

The Celtics-Clippers Connection

Irv Levin wanted to own a NBA team on the West Coast, but the league would never let him move the team he owned for one reason: the team he owned was the Boston Celtics.  Meanwhile, John Y. Brown’s Buffalo Braves were struggling on and off the court, having come off two straight tenth-seed finishes in the eleven team Eastern Conference.  Desperate to sell the team, Brown had an idea.  The Buffalo Braves franchise would be traded for the Boston Celtics franchise, and the Braves – now owned by Levin – would move to San Diego and become the Clippers for the 1978-79 season.  The Clippers would continue to struggle finding a home, lasting only six seasons in San Diego before their 1984 relocation to Los Angeles.

The Washington Senators Replaced By The Washington Senators?

When many sports historians take a quick glance at MLB standings throughout history, they see a Washington Senators franchise that lasted from the 1901 season of the American League – its first since unilaterally declaring major league status – until their 1972 relocation to Texas to become the Rangers.  However, the matter is a bit more complex that that.  While a Washington Senators appears on every standings sheet during that period (though they were officially the Washington Nationals for quite some time, but the name was never adopted by the media), it is actually two separate franchised.  The original Washington Senators relocated to Minnesota for the 1961 season, but Washington politicians threatened to take legal action against the league for stripping the city of its franchise.  However, the league found a solution, as the Los Angeles Angels and a new Washington Senators franchise would be ready in time for the 1961 season, making it seem as it the Senators had never left.

2013 MLB Draft

Posted: December 11, 2012 in MLB

The draft isn’t for several months, but it is never too early to look ahead.

High School Top 100

College Top 50

The Astros and Cubs have the first and second picks, respectively. The Astros are moving to the AL, and while there has only been one other league change in the modern era (Milwaukee to the Nl in 1998), they may be inclined to go for a power bat like Meadows. They were linked to Mark Appel last year.

The Cubs would seem to like Frazier, as a seemingly great all-around prospect, but also have an obvious lack of pitching in their minor league system, though it has improved as of last with the additions of Arodys Vizcaino, Juan Carlos Paniague, Dillon Maples, Pierce Johnson, and Duane Underwood.

The Los Angeles Galaxy win their second consecutive MLS Cup

The Los Angeles Galaxy win their second consecutive MLS Cup

The 2012 MLS Cup was the first Cup to occur in December and the first that was to be awarded to the participating team with the better record.  In what was to be David Beckham’s last game (and possibly Landon Donovan’s as well), a rematch of the 2011 MLS Cup was set between the Houston Dynamo and Los Angeles Galaxy at LA’s Home Depot Center.

Both teams had several opportunities early, but it wasn’t until the 44th minute when Houston’s Calen Carr gave the Dynamo a 1-0 lead going into halftime.  Carr would not make it through the game, coming out with injury in the second half that saw the Galaxy score three goals to take the Cup.

Omar Gonzalez opened up the scoring for LA in the 60th minute, assisted by Juninho and Franklin, equalizing the match 1-1 in front of the Galaxy’s home fans.  Houston’s Bobby Boswell would receive a yellow card in the 64th minute on a penalty in the box, setting up Landon Donovan’s 65th minute penalty kick that put the Galaxy in front 2-1, a lead they would never relinquish.  Donovan would receive a yellow for time wasting in the 92nd minute, a move that was referred to as a “veteran move” by the announcers, for their was little risk of receiving another card that late in the game.  In the 93rd minute, Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall earned a yellow card and set up Robbie Keane’s free kick that put the Galaxy up 3-1 in the 94th minute.  The game could have been even higher scoring, as the Galaxy were called offsides twice on balls that went into the net, including one case where the announcers referred to the offsides as a “ridiculous call”.

In the end, Beckham left Los Angeles and the MLS a champion.

POLL: The Future of Sco Sports

Posted: December 1, 2012 in Uncategorized

While I personally like to cover soccer, a majority of my audience is from the Chicago area, where the sport’s popularity has not soared as much as in other markets like Seattle, Portland, Kansas City, and Vancouver to name a few (though the Fire do have one of the most respected MLS supporters groups).  This MLS Cup in particular will certainly earn a larger television audience than in years past as Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder David Beckham plays his final game in the league in front of the home crowd, while fellow Galaxy midfielder Landon Donovan is undecided but a good possibility to retire.  Due to this, I have prepared a bit of background on the league, the teams, and the history.

The New Schedule Format – The Montreal Impact entered MLS as the league’s 19th team in 2012, bringing massive changes to the league’s schedule and playoff format.  With a ten-team Eastern and nine-team Western conference, the league chose not to increase the length of the season to 36 games to keep a balanced schedule.  Instead, the league created an elongated season with more bye weeks with different schedules for each conference.  The Eastern Conference teams would play each West team just once, seven of their conference rivals three times, and the remaining two teams twice.  The Western Conference teams would play each other three times each and each Eastern team once.  To account for this, the league removed their wild card rule that made two teams in a conference playing each other in the MLS Cup possible (much the same way the Cardinals and Brewers from the same National League division met in the 2011 NLCS), instead opting for five seeds in each conference.  These changes pushed the MLS Cup all the way back to December, and it would now be hosted by the team with the better record, as opposed to a Super Bowl-style pre-selected site, setting the stage for the most intriguing MLS Cup yet to be played again in front of the Galaxy’s home fans.

The Cup – The MLS Cup was first contested by D.C. United and the Los Angeles Galaxy in 1996.  United would win, and would dominate the league’s early landscape, winning three of the first four, interrupted only by the expansion Chicago Fire coming out victorious at the Rose Bowl.  The Galaxy would have lesser fortunes, failing again to D.C. in 1999 and falling to the San Jose Earthquakes – the team that became the Houston Dynamo through a controversial Cleveland Browns-style suspension of operations – in 2001, before defeating New England for their first title in 2002.  The Galaxy would prevail again in 2005 and then again in 2011, as they aim to tie D.C.’s record four titles in 2012.  The Dynamo would win in each of their first two season in Houston, 2006 and 2007, as the officially entered the league as an expansion franchise, despite keeping the entire Earthquakes roster and personnel.  Ironically enough, had the league not granted the first Earthquakes’ championships to the new team of the same name, Houston would have that tie of four, and would be looking to not only keep Los Angeles from tying them and D.C., but looking to take sole possession of the most in history.

The Houston Dynamo – The fifth seed in the Eastern Conference, the Dynamo beat the Chicago Fire on Halloween to advance to the Conference Semifinals, where they would defeat Kansas City, before taking on D.C. in the Eastern Finals.  The Dynamo have a short but decorated history, featuring MLS Cup championships in each of their first two seasons, and having qualified for the Cup in four of their first seven seasons.  The club opened its soccer-specific stadium this year in BBVA Compass Stadium, holding a capacity of 22,039.  The Dynamo’s season started with chaos, as longtime Dynamo and fan favorite Brian Ching was left unprotected and then controversially selected by Montreal (which was well within their rights) leading to chaos in the Houston front office that eventually was able to reacquire him.  Well known players include Bobby Boswell, Will Bruin, Luiz Camargo, Ricardo Clark, Brad Davis, Boniek Garcia, and the goalkeeper Tally Hall.

The Los Angeles Galaxy – The Galaxy are perhaps the most star-studded franchise in league history and were one of the league’s ten inaugural clubs in 1996.  Easily the best-known team in the league, the Galaxy brought in David Beckham before the 2007 season, helping the league’s popularity and economic strength soar.  While the former England captain is the most internationally recognizable player on the team, most would argue that the US international Landon Donovan and Irish international Robbie Keane are the Galaxy’s most effective players.  While the Cup has already been made out to be all about Beckham, this very well may be Donovan’s last game as well.  Making the game even more intriguing, is that the Galaxy succeeded in earning home field advantage when Houston qualified for the championship, the only Eastern Conference playoff team that had a worse record than them.  While it ultimately fell into the hands of the Eastern Conference Finals to grant the Galaxy home field, they had no easy path reaching that point, defeating Vancouver in the first round after trailing early, knocking off the Supporters’ Shield winning Earthquakes, and then barely holding on to a three-goal aggregate lead to knock out Seattle and advance.

Sco’s Prediction: Houston Dynamo 1 @ Los Angeles Galaxy 2 with goals coming from Camargo, Beckham, and Donovan.

Where/When to Watch: Due to the weather and field conditions in December, the game has been scheduled for 3:30 PM Central Time on ESPN live from Los Angeles’s Home Depot Center.