Archive for the ‘NFL’ Category

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.

Is Another Expansion Boom Looming?

Posted: April 29, 2013 in CFL, MLB, MLS, NBA, NFL, NHL

The National Basketball Association relocation committee has recommended against the Sacramento Kings relocating to Seattle to revive the SuperSonics on Monday.  There is now speculation that Seattle may be granted an expansion franchise for the 2014-15 season.  The NBA isn’t the only league looking at expansion currently, as the Canadian Football League has made expansion to Ottawa official, Major League Soccer is close to granting an expansion club to New York, the National Football League aims to increase its global image, and the National Hockey League has been rumored to be looking at two expansion franchises.

Canadian Football League – The CFL has twice had to leave the Canadian national capital when the Rough Riders folded and their replacement, the Renegades followed suit in 2006.  By 2008, the city was granted another expansion team to begin play in 2010, which was continually pushed back and currently is set at 2014.  The team is expected to announce that it will be called to Ottawa RedBlacks on June 8th.  The league will likely be content with an uneven number of teams, but should it eventually look for a tenth franchise, Moncton or Halifax would seem to be the front-runners for a team to represent all of Atlantic Canada.

Major League Baseball – The MLB has no plans at expansion, and there are not that many markets that would seem ready to support a new MLB franchise for the time being.  Though it should be noted that MLB has experimented in the past with the Expos de Montréal playing games in San Juan, Puerto Rico before the franchise ultimately relocated to Washington, D.C. as the Washington Nationals.  Furthermore, the 1998 expansion that brought the Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays and Arizona Diamondbacks into the league featured three strong candidates in Mexico City, Monterrey, and Guadalajara, suggesting that the league may be more than willing to extend its bounds outside of the United States and Canada.

Major League Soccer – It won’t be the Cosmos, but Major League Soccer is coming into New York City with a team to rival the New York Red Bulls, a team that currently plays in Harrison, New Jersey.  The 25,000 seat stadium will be located in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park and share parking with Citi Field, home of the MLB’s New York Mets.  An ownerships group, stadium deal, and prospective owner should all be finalized within four-to-six weeks.

National Basketball Association – With Seattle the obvious expansion candidate for the 2014-15 season, should an expansion take place, the only remaining question is whether the league would stay at 31 teams or go to an even 32.  Louisville and Kansas City both have NBA-quality arenas done, and neither subjects the league to competition from the NHL.  Other markets that could house future franchises include St. Louis and Vancouver, a city that lost the Grizzlies to Memphis in 2001.

National Football League – The NFL is the best attended sports league in the world, but lacking even a team in Canada, the league has remained strictly within the United States apart from exhibitions in Toronto, Mexico City, and London.  The league could eventually see teams in all three of those markets, and with a “struggling” NFL franchise being relatively prosperous to teams in other leagues, the league has no extraordinary need for relocation (except maybe Jacksonville).  Besides international markets, the league needs to look at the second largest market in the United States: Los Angeles, a city that (with its suburb Anaheim) has two teams in the MLB, two in the NBA, two in the MLS, and two in the NHL.

National Hockey League – Amid the league’s third work stoppage of the Gary Bettman era, reports began to circulate that the league would be awarding two expansion franchises in the near future, most likely to Quebec and suburban Toronto.  With the NBA to Seattle efforts, Seattle ended up in the mix as well, but unless the NBA expands there, there will be no stadium to house an NHL team.  Portland and Kansas City both have made efforts to lure the Phoenix Coyotes from the desert.

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.

EXPANSION: Which Leagues Are Ready For It?

Posted: November 27, 2012 in CFL, MLB, MLS, NBA, NFL, NHL

Expansion has always been a topic of discussion for every major sports league, though many leagues in the past have met their deaths because they’ve expanded too much (especially the NASL).  Baseball Prospectus recently released a study that shows which ten North American cities would be best suited for MLB expansion earlier in November, the NFL has obviously been looking at Los Angeles, rumors have circulated of the NHL planning expansion into Quebec and Toronto’s suburbs, and MLS has expanded every season since 2005 (though that streak will end in 2013, with the second New York club expected in 2016 or 2017).  While expanding a league’s footprint is usually a good thing, some leagues may not be ready for it just yet.

National Football League – The NFL is the Everest in the professional sports landscape, with attendances rivaled only by some of the more popular college football teams and revenues through the roof.  The league’s 32 teams are the most of any major league, yet a glaring omission exists in Los Angeles.  The NFL and AFL have combined for three teams in the city since the AFL’s inception in 1960: the Chargers (relocated to San Diego in 1961), the Raiders (relocated to Oakland in 1995), and the Rams (relocated to St. Louis in 1995), but stadium problems forced the latter two out, leaving the city without a franchise.  Serious consideration has been given to either relocate an existing team or place an expansion team in the city in the proposed new Farmers Field.  In the case of the NFL, the time is right for expansion into the nation’s second-largest city.

Major League Baseball – Many MLB teams are seeing considerable success financially in recent years, but other teams such as Tampa Bay, Cleveland, and of course the Marlins who traded away all of their star players in a single trade just a year after receiving a new publicly-financed stadium.  While some markets may be able to support a team, specifically Northern New Jersey and Portland, relocation would seem to be the better route to take.

Canadian Football League – The Canadian Football League originally announced an expansion team for Ottawa in 2008, but the franchise has yet to begin play even after holding an expansion draft and has only recently broke ground on a stadium.  As it stands, the eight-team league is expected to expand to nine in 2014 or 2015, but the obvious struggles in launching a team in the Canadian capital should thwart attempts at any further expansion for the time being (though Halifax or Moncton are still being considered)

Major League Soccer – Major League Soccer is probably the major league best poised for expansion, as the league has expanded rapidly since 2005 with positive results: Chivas USA and Real Salt Lake (2005), Houston (2006), Toronto (2007), San Jose (2008), Seattle (2009), Philadelphia (2010), Portland and Vancouver (2011), and Montreal (2012).  In a normal scenario, this would water down the league’s talent pool, but soccer’s talent pool is so international that there is almost no risk of a shortage and the continued expansion has brought many healthy franchised into league, greatly improving its economic situation.

National Hockey League – Amid the lockout, rumors have circulated that the NHL was close to awarding expansion franchised to Quebec, Quebec and the Toronto suburb of Markham, Ontario.  While this would provide the league with new healthy franchises in the great hockey market that is Canada, and both cities could definitely support teams, it also takes away possibilities for relocation of some of the league’s struggling franchises (of which there are plenty of).  The verdict on the NHL would have to be a no.

National Basketball Association – The NBA has grown as a league in recent years, surpassing the MLB as the second most popular professional league in the US.  However, it is clear that the Sacramento Kings want to relocate, as they can not reach a proper stadium deal in their current city, and whenever a scenario like this exists, the first method to grant teams to new cities has to be relocation.

ScoSports Coverage

Posted: November 20, 2012 in MLB, MLS, NBA, NFL, NHL

ScoSports is a new independent blog aimed to provide the top news from around the American sporting scope.  Coverage is intended to include mostly Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer, National Basketball Association, National Football League, and the National Hockey League, though coverage will certainly venture elsewhere in the case of big events.

About Jackson Scofield

I’ve written for various sites including ChiCitySports.com and WorldSeriesDreaming.com, and still do, but have found myself trapped by the limited scope of the websites, focusing on just one city or just one team.  Recently, I decided it would be best to also have my own blog where I could write about sports in general, though a little bit of Chicago bias may still be prevalent.  I am graduating in May and am looking to attend college with a Sports Journalism major.
You can follow me on twitter as @jacksonSCOfield (personal) or @WSDScofield (Cubs minor league).