In 1947, Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in American sport when he took the field for the Brooklyn Dodgers as the first African American to play in the formerly all-white baseball league.
Seven decades later, even though the racial tensions are nowhere near what they were when Robinson made history, one of the United States’ most storied sporting franchises still clings to a term many critics argue supports racial intolerance.
The NFL’s Washington Redskins have carried their name since 1933, when they were the Boston Redskins. When the football team moved to the capital four years later, they brought the name with them and have held it ever since. FULL POST
Baseball is a game of statistics. But among the statistics, there are numbers that have greater meaning among both players and fans alike.
One of those is the record for home runs in a single season. In Japan, that record was set by Sadaharu Oh, who hit 55 homers in 1964. In the years since, two other foreign players had equalled Oh’s mark.
But recently, former U.S. major league player Wladimir Balentien finally broke through, hitting home runs number 56 and 57 in just his 113th game of the season. I’m not great at math, but one homer every two games is a fantastic accomplishment.
Oh, but I have forgotten to mention the other issue that always seems to accompany home run records in baseball. Controversy. FULL POST
There is no shortage of storylines heading into the final game of the Fall Classic.
On Friday night, the Texas Rangers will either hoist their first ever World Series trophy, or the St. Louis Cardinals will triumph for the 11th time in their storied history – good enough for second most all-time. FULL POST
After watching what was arguably the most exciting day in Major League Baseball history on Wednesday, one may come to expect more of the same drama in the upcoming playoffs. Sadly, that won’t be the case.
On the final day of the regular season, the Tampa Bay Rays and St. Louis Cardinals completed their remarkable September comebacks to claim baseball’s final two playoff spots at the expense of the Boston Red Sox and Atlanta Braves respectively. Or you can also say the Red Sox and Braves completed their epic collapses, it really doesn’t matter. FULL POST
The Fall Classic came to an end Monday night, with the San Francisco Giants defeating the Texas Rangers in five games to claim their first World Series title since 1954. The Giants not only ended a 56-year wait for baseball’s ultimate prize, but will notably bring the trophy to San Francisco for the very first time, having been based in New York for each of their previous five triumphs.
Although coming short at the final hurdle, the Texas Rangers also had a significant first this postseason as they reached their maiden World Series in team history. That’s a massive achievement for a franchise that was founded in 1961 but had never won a playoff series prior to this season. The Rangers got that monkey off their backs by ousting AL East duo Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees on the way to the finals.
In spite of the Cinderella stories put on display by both the Giants and Rangers, many baseball pundits will argue that in order to be most successful, the sport needs the big-market teams to shine come playoff time. For example, the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox pull in major media attention whenever they play and assure TV networks of good viewership.
The New York Yankees are one of those teams that fans love to hate. You either love the Yankees or you hate them, rarely is there middle ground. Winning the 27th World Series title in franchise history has given the “lovers” of this storied Major League Baseball club reason to smile and the “haters” even more ammunition!
But there’s something that the Yankees have done that can be lauded by even the so-called “haters”: they’ve helped make the very American sport of baseball become even more of a global game.
Nine of the World Series-winning players on the New York roster were born outside of the United States. The list is fronted by Hideki Matsui, the first Japan-born player to win the World Series' Most Valuable Player award.
Matsui came to the Yankees as a superstar in his native land, a winner of three titles in Japan. But what he did on the game’s biggest stage was simple remarkable. His batting average in the World Series was .615 and he was 8-for-13 at the plate with three home runs and eight runs batted in. Through a translator, Matsui said that he amazed himself: “It’s awesome. Unbelievable.”
Millions of baseball fans in Japan watched Matsui’s heroics. They tuned in at home, in offices, in bars and restaurants, and many even filled downtown Tokyo electronics stores to check out the World Series clinching game. The word “proud” was used time and time again when Japanese baseball fans spoke of the historic performance of their native son.
Asia has always been a hot bed of baseball talent, with Japan feeding the Major Leagues with a number of mouth-watering prospects. Taiwan is now considered an up and coming, talent-rich nation in the region. Of course, Latin America’s contributions to the Major League landscape can not be overstated and now Europe may even be getting in on the mix! This past summer, one Major League team even signed a prospect who calls Germany home. Sure, football will always be king in many parts of the globe, but it’s good to see a sport that I grew up with making major inroads outside of North America.
Forbes magazine has listed the New York Yankees as the fifth most valuable sports franchise in the world. Don’t be surprised if you see Yankees hats and shirts in places where baseball is still a curiosity. After all, who doesn’t want to count themselves as being associated with a winner? Okay, I’m sure the world’s Yankees Haters will take a pass!