Friday, October 26, 2012

SEC Update: Week 9

By Keith Antigiovanni

Week 9 for the SEC begins tomorrow with plenty of good matchups. First the #1 team in the nation, Alabama (7-0, 4-0) faces another undefeated SEC team, Mississippi St. (7-0, 3-0). Alabama must continue to win while Mississippi St. is thinking upset all the way.

Florida (7-0, 4-0) and Georgia (6-1, 4-1) play in their annual "World's Largest Cocktail Party" in Jacksonville. If Florida wins they clinch the SEC East title for the 12th time since 1992 but if Georgia wins they have the inside track for a second straight division title.

Texas A&M (5-2, 2-2) tries to bounce back against struggling Auburn (1-6, 0-5).

Missouri (3-4) looks for its first SEC win against Kentucky (1-7, 0-5).

Tennessee (3-4, 0-4) is still trying to win its first SEC win this year against South Carolina (6-2, 4-2).

Ole Miss (4-3, 1-2) vs. Arkansas (3-4, 2-2).

In other news, the Champions Bowl pitting the Big-12 champion vs. the SEC champion is set for 2014 as an answer to the Rose Bowl which features the Pac-12 and Big Ten champions.

Friday, October 5, 2012

NL Wild Card

By Keith Antigiovanni

The National League Wild Card game between the St Louis Cardinals and Atlanta Braves is not only the first year for this postseason experiment but matches two great successful NL franchises that have forged a memorable postseason rivalry the past 30 years. The Cardinals are the most successful NL franchise ever while the Braves are the best NL team since 1991 and have future Hall of Famer Chipper Jones in his final playoff run after announcing it would be his final year.

In 1982 Whitey Herzog's led the Cardinals to the NL East title while Joe Torre led the Braves to the NL West title. St. Louis went on to sweep the Atlanta in the NLCS en route to the World Series title over the Brewers. Herzog would lead the Cardinals to two more WS appearances in 1985 and 1987 while Torre would be dismissed after the 1984 season.

In 1996 Tony LaRussa led the Cardinals to the NL Central title in his first year as manager for the Redbirds, made the NLCS and were leading the defending WS champion Braves 3-1 until Atlanta stormed back and won the final three games and get back to the World Series.

In 2011 the Braves led the Wild Card for most of the year until a late season collapse and a Cardinal late season run gave St. Louis the playoff berth en route to their 11th World Series title.

Its only fitting that the Braves face the team that nudged them out on the final day of the 2011 regular season and for the Cardinals to defend their title as a true Wild Card team after winning it all as a Wild Card team the previous year.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

NFL Game of the Week

By Keith Antigiovanni
The Tennessee Titans (0-1) go west to face the San Diego Chargers (1-0) this Sunday in an intra-conference match-up. The Titans lost on opening day to the AFC rival New England Patriots 34-13 in Nashville while the Chargers beat AFC West rival the Oakland Raiders 22-14 on the road.
The Titans are coming off a 9-7 season in 2011 in which they missed the postseason on a tie-breaker while the Chargers are coming off an 8-8 season and also missed the playoffs.
Historically both franchises are charter American Football League (AFL) clubs from 1960 and were the participants of the first two AFL Championship games in 1960 and 1961. The Houston Oilers won the 1960 AFL title 24-16 over the Los Angeles Chargers and then won the 1961 AFL title 10-3 over the San Diego Chargers after the Southern California franchise moved 100 miles southeast following the 1960 season.
Houston qualified for a third straight AFL title game in 1962 but were defeated by the Dallas Texans 20-17 followed by the Chargers in 1963 who won their first and only AFL championship over the Boston Patriots 51-10 at Balboa Stadium.
This is not considered a “glamour” game because neither is a “big market” team but an important early-season game for both teams. The Chargers are usually slow starters under Norv Turner and need to get off a strong start to save Turner’s job while the Titans need a win to avoid going 0-2 .

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Pacific Coast League Regular Season Standings

By Keith Antigiovanni

The regular season wrapped up on Labor Day with the Reno Aces (81-63) winning the PCL Pacific North. Reno faces the PCL Pacific South champion Sacramento Rivercats (86-58).

The Albuquerque Isotopes (80-64) also held on to their lead and won the PCL American South and will face the PCL American North champion Omaha Storm Chasers (83-61).

The winners of the two playoff series will square off in the PCL championship series with the winner advancing to the Triple A championship game in a couple of weeks.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Pacific Coast League Standings

By Keith Antigiovanni

There is just over one week left in the PCL regular season.

The Albuquerque Isotopes are 4 games up on the New Orleans Zephyrs with a magic number of 6 to clinch the PCL American South. The defending PCL Champ Omaha Storm Chasers have already clinched the PCL American North.

The Reno Aces are also 4 games in the PCL Pacific North over the Colorado Springs Sky Sox and also have a magic number of 6 to clinch. The defending PCL Pacific South champion Sacramento River Cats have a 5.5 game lead over the Las Vegas 51's with a magic number of 4.

There are no Wild Cards in the PCL and the first-round series will consist of  the PCL Pacific North vs South champion and the PCL American North vs South champion. The eventual PCL champion will face the International League champion in the Triple A championship game on September 18.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Arena Bowl XXV

By Keith Antigiovanni

The Arizona Rattlers wrapped up the 25th season of the Arena Football League and the franchises 20th season with a 72-54 win over Philadelphia in Arena Bowl XXV.

The Arena Bowl win was the Rattlers first title since 1997 when they defeated Kurt Warner's Iowa Barnstormers in Arena Bowl XI. The win also marked the return to dominance for the Arizona franchise which had been one of the league's great teams between 1993 and 2004.

The franchise began in 1992 as one of four expansion teams along with San Antonio, Cincinnati and New Orleans and were coached by former Dallas Cowboys' quarterback Danny White. White led them to the playoffs in 1993 and an Arena Bowl title in 1994 after they upset Orlando 36-31.

Arizona made the playoffs 12 straight years (1993-2004) and appeared in five Arena Bowls (1994, 1997, 2002, 2003, 2004) winning the first two. White and the team parted ways after the Arena Bowl defeat in 2004.The next four years (2005-2008) the best the Rattlers could do were 2 (.500) playoff seasons. The league went on hiatus in 2009 and returned in 2010.

Kevin Guy became the new coach in 2008 and stayed with the team throughout the hiatus. Guy led them back to the playoffs in 2010 with a 10-6 record, then returned to the playoffs in 2011 with a 16-2 record, a Western title and a return to the Arena Bowl only to fall just short against Jacksonville. Arizona posted another brilliant season in 2012 with a 13-5 record, second straight Western and conference title but this time finally won that elusive third championship.

Arizona can be considered one of the greatest franchises in the history of the league with a regular season record of 187-105, 17 of 20 years in the playoffs, 12 semi-final appearances, 7 Arena Bowls and 3 championships.

Today in U.S. History

By Keith Antigiovanni

August 17:

1943: USS Tang (ss 306) launched
          USS Wasp (cv-18) launched

Friday, August 10, 2012

Today in U.S. History

By Keith Antigiovanni

August 10, 2012:

1944: United States troops capture Guam

1949: United States Department of Defense is established

1956: USS Monticello (lsd 35) launched

1957: USS Hull (dd 945) launched

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Arena Bowl XXV

By Keith Antigiovanni

The teams for Arena Bowl XXV are now set with the National Conference champion Arizona Rattlers going against the American Conference champion Philadelphia Soul in New Orleans Next Friday (August 10).

The Rattlers clinched their 7th Arena Bowl appearance with a 75-69 victory over the Western rival Utah at home while the Soul path to the final was much easier in a 89-34 win over defending champion Jacksonville.

Arizona and Philadelphia did not meet in the regular season this year but both have prolific offenses.

The Rattlers are in their 20th season and have been one of the top three franchises in the quarter-century history of the league with a regular season of 187-105, 17 years in the playoffs, 12 conference title/semi-final games, 7 Arena Bowl appearances and fifth attempt at winning a third championship.

Danny White, the first coach in franchise history, led Arizona to the playoffs 12 straight times (1993-2004) which included the 1994 and 1997 Arena Bowl wins, three straight appearances (2002-2004) but lost two of them to arch-rival San Jose. After the 2004 Arena Bowl White and the Rattlers went their separate ways. The next four years the team would only go back to the playoffs twice (2006, 2008) but did not advance.

After the league went on hiatus in 2009 Arizona returned as a league power with three straight playoff years (2010 10-6, 2011 16-2, 2012 13-5). The Rattlers have won back-to-back division titles and now conference titles but are still looking for that elusive third championship this year.

Meanwhile their opponent began in 2004 and won the final Arena Bowl in 2008 before the hiatus in 2009 and did not return until last year.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Today in U.S. History

1942: USS Essex (CV-9) launched

1944: Operation Cobra ends, when U.S. forces under General Omar Bradley launch offensive following Invasion of Normandy

1965: USS Tripoli (LHP-10) launched

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Arena Football League: First Round Playoffs

By Keith Antigiovanni

Just one week after the Arena Football League (AFL) wrapped up its' 25th regular season the first of three rounds of the post-season was played this weekend.

Utah (12-6) defeated the San Antonio Talons (14-4) 35-34 in the Alamodome Friday evening and advanced to the franchises' first conference championship game or semi-final game.

Their opponent will be the Arizona Rattlers (13-5) who triumphed overthe arch-rival San Jose Sabercats (12-6) by a score of 51-48 at home. Arizona was swept by San Jose during the regular season but managed to finish on top of the Western Division over Utah and San Jose by one game.

The win helped the Rattlers advance to their 12th conference championship game or semi-final game in the past 20 years (1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2011). Arizona is also the defending National Conference champion.

Meanwhile in the American Conference the defending Arena Bowl champion Jacksonville (10-8) won by a slim 58-56 margin over the Southern Division rival Georgia Force (9-9) and will hit the road to face the Eastern Division champion Philadelphia Soul (15-3) who dispatched New Orleans (8-10) 66-53.

The channels and times for the conference championship games will be announced during the week.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The new playoff system in College Football

By Keith Antigiovanni

A few weeks ago the University Presidents finally agreed on a new playoff system in college football, well actually the first playoff system in college football that begins in 2014.

For the first time in its long history amateur football's highest level football teams will have to win postseason games in order to qualify for the National Championship game. You can make the argument that the conference title games were the first playoffs which they are but only at the conference level.

The new system includes two semifinals and a title game which will be football's "Final Four". This is where the similarities to college basketball end however because there will be no football tournament with the continuation of the bowl system.

The championship game and semifinals will rotate with the current BCS locations (New Orleans, Tempe, Miami and Los Angeles). There will also be two additional top tier bowls most likely Arlington (Jerry's World) and another city that has not been named yet.

The history of college football championship has been confusing at best. Until the bowl games there was no system (1869-1935). In 1936 the Associated Press (AP) began voting for the best team but many times regional bias and the lack of out of area coverage caused the voters to go with the programs they had actually seen. In 1950 the United Press International (UPI) became the second major poll to vote for a national champion.

Many other polls were added over the years but no significant changes were made until 1998 when the creation of the Bowl Championship System (BCS). The BCS pitted conference champions and at-large teams in the major bowls with the top two teams in a national title game which was one of the current BCS bowls. In 2006 another BCS bowl was added but it had the feel of cheating an actual playoff.

In 2011 two teams from the same conference (SEC) ended up in the title game even though neither was forced to win a playoff game in order to qualify. The new system changes that but rather than arguing over whether the #3 team was left out it will be now the # 5 team.

No system is perfect but this a good first step towards a true national champion in college football.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Dog Days Are Here

By Keith Antigiovanni

It looks like the "dog days of summer" are upon us now with the NBA Finals over and the NFL/College Football still over two months away. For sports fans this is can be boring time of the year or if you are a baseball fan it can be the best time of year as MLB enters the main stage of the sports world with no competition.

The problem with baseball for many years is the fact there is no salary cap as most of the teams begin to play out the string for the remainder of the year. For the fans of smaller or medium market teams July and August can seem like a very long time.

College Football is only 8 weeks away and the NFL opening weekend is 9 weeks but for now enjoy the summer (if it isnt 100+ degrees where you are).

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

College World Series Wrap Up

By Keith Antigiovanni

The 2012 College World Series seems like it just began but it was over after the Arizona Wildcats outlasted the South Carolina Gamecocks 4-1 in game 2 after beating the Gamecocks on Sunday night. The game was tied 1-1 in the eighth inning until Arizona broke the game open to give Coach Andy Lopez his first national title since 1992 when he led the Pepperdine Waves to the CWS title.

Arizona won its first CWS title since 1986,fourth overall and represents the PAC-12 first CWS title since 1998 when USC won their most recent championship.

South Carolina under Coach Ray Tanner was striving to become the first team to win three straight titles since the USC Trojans of the early 1970's (1970-1974) but were shut down by Arizona pitcher Konnor Wade putting them behind the eight ball going into Monday night.

Arizona's victory helps put the once powerful PAC-12 back on the college baseball map after SEC domination the past two decades with LSU (6 titles), South Carolina (3 finals, 2 titles) and Georgia (2 finals and 1 title).

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Interleague Play: Is it Over Yet?

By Keith Antigiovanni

After what seems like a few months of interleague play in major league baseball I'm ready for intraleague play to begin. The two things I have finally concluded about this experiment is:

1) The American League is much better team for team, 22 games better thus far
2) There are two many interleague games (252), over 10% of all major league games.

Fortunately this year the West, Central and East teams were all matched against their interleague counterparts which made it easier to figure out when the games were on since most of the teams were in the same time zones. For anyone who follows minor league baseball all of these regional match-ups bring back memories of AAA baseball which is also regional.

The AL West vs the NL West conjures up images of the old Pacific Coast League when there teams up and down the West Coast teams in the PCL such as the Los Angeles Angels, San Francisco Seals, San Diego Padres, Oakland Oaks and Seattle Rainiers.

The AL Central vs the NL Central also brings back images of the old American Association (1902-1962, 1969-1997) which was the AAA league in the midwest that include the old Denver Bears, Minneapolis Millers, St. Paul Saints, Kansas City Blues, etc.

And finally the AL East vs the NL East brings back memories of the old majors and the eastern AAA league, the International League, when they were based in the east prior to expansion (1961). Of course there were no major league teams in Tampa Bay, Miami or Atlanta then but Toronto, Baltimore and Atlanta spent time as International League cities before they became major league towns.

The first few interleague series were interesting but the novelty has worn off and I'm eagerly awaiting the beginning of intraleague play again next week.

Monday, June 18, 2012

College World Series

By Keith Antigiovanni

Who said baseball isnt popular in the South? When people think of sports in the southern region of the United States they tend to think football or NASCAR even though college baseball and minor league professional baseball have been popular in the South since the early 1900's.

The success of the Southeastern Conference (SEC) in college football is well known among sports fans but the success of the SEC in college baseball the past 23 years has been much more subtle as the conference sent three teams to the College World Series (CWS) for the second straight year.

Eight teams qualify for the CWS in Omaha every year and since 1990 (23 years) the SEC has sent 45 teams out of a possible 184 slots which amounts to almost one quarter. In 2004 the SEC sent half the teams and have sent three teams 6 times (1996, 1997, 1998, 2011, 2012).

An SEC team are the defending back-to-back champions, South Carolina and in 2011 they defeated another SEC team, Florida in the final Series. The LSU Tigers have also been a powerhouse in that span with 12 trips to Omaha and 6 championships (1991, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2009).

Georgia is the only other SEC team to the win the title when they won in 1990 and made the final series in 2008. Every team besides Mississippi and Kentucky have made to the CWS in that time.

What are the keys to the SEC success in college baseball? It could be many things:

1) strong athletic programs
2) enthusiastic fan bases
3) carryover from the college football
4) quality stadiums

While SEC baseball fans cheer on their teams in the month of June the college football season is just over two months away. Will college baseball ever be as popular as college football in the South? Probably not but it seems to be as popular there as anywhere else in the nation.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

2012 College World Series

By Keith Antigiovanni

The NCAA's "Elite Eight" also known as the College World Series begins this friday (June 15) in Omaha, Nebraska. This will be the 66th annual College World Series and the 63rd consecutive time in Omaha.

Of the 8 finalists, 6 are no surprise (Florida, South Carolina, Florida State, UCLA, Arkansas and Arizona) but two (Kent State, Stony Brook) were not expected to be in Nebraska this weekend when the playoffs began a couple of weeks ago.

For the first time in many years almost all of the teams have not won a CWS title, with South Carolina being the exception as the defending back-to-back champions and Arizona.

Bracket one will play on friday with UCLA taking on Stony Brook and Arizona versus Florida State.
The Bruins made the final series in 2010 but lost 2-1 to South Carolina. Florida State has made numerous appearances in the College World Series but has yet to win the title.

Bracket two will play on saturday as Arkansas goes against Kent State and Florida faces South Carolina in a rematch of the Final series from last year.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

2012 NBA Finals

By Keith Antigiovanni

After a lockout in the first two months of the regular season and 23 weeks of regular/post season basketball the two participants of the NBA Finals are finally set.

Eastern Conference:
The champions of the Eastern Conference, Miami Heat are in their second consecutive NBA Finals and third in the past 7 years. The Heat had a good regular season (46-20), a first round playoff sweep of the New York Knicks and two very turbulent playoff series against the Indiana Pacers and Boston Celtics.

Since Lebron James left the Cleveland Cavaliers for Miami as a free agent almost two years ago the Heat were expected to not only win an NBA title but become a dynasty after James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh infamous press conference/ stage appearance.

Miami struggled at times in the 2010-2011 season but pulled it together in the playoffs and won the Eastern Conference only to lose against the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Finals. Coming into this year the pressure was even greater for the talented trio from South Beach and facing elimination twice against Boston this week Miami posted two resounding victories in games 6 and 7 to get another chance at a championship.

Western Conference:
The champions of the Western Conference, Oklahoma City Thunder are in their first NBA Finals since 1996 when they were the Seattle Sonics but first Finals' since they moved to Oklahoma four years ago.

The Thunder have improved significantly every year since 2008-2009 when they were 23-59, the following they made the playoffs but were eliminated in the first round. In 2010-2011 Oklahoma City won the Northwest and reached the Western Conference Finals but like Miami lost to the Dallas Mavericks however the Thunder appeared to be a team on the rise.

In 2011-2012 the Thunder finished tied with the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference for the best record and won the Northwest again. Oklahoma City also managed to polish off the three Western Conference powers in consecutive playoff rounds.

They swept Dallas in four in the first round, defeated the Los Angeles Lakers in five games in the second round and knocked off the venerable San Antonio Spurs in 6 games after they were down 2-0.

In the process the Thunder become the first team besides Dallas, LA and San Antonio to win the Western Conference since the Utah Jazz in 1997-1998.

Game 1 will be on Tuesday and it will match the superstar-filled Miami Heat with all the pressure in the world on them against the built-from-scratch Oklahoma City Thunder who are young, athletic and appear to have no pressure on them.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

NCAA Baseball Super Regionals

By Keith Antigiovanni

The NCAA Super Regionals, baseball's "Sweet 16" round is set and will begin play this friday between June 8 and June 11

Florida will face North Carolina State in Gainesville
South Carolina hosts Oklahoma in Columbia
Oregon plays Kent State in Eugene
Baylor takes on Arkansas in Waco
TCU travels to Los Angeles to face UCLA
LSU is at home in Baton Rouge against Stony Brook
Arizona is in Tucson to face St. John's
Florida State is also home in Tallahassee versus Stanford

The winners of the 8 Super Regionals will advance to the 63rd College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska in two weeks.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

American Association: Professional Baseball's Midwestern Roots

By Keith Antigiovanni

Professional baseball teams have existed in the Midwestern United States since the early days of baseball. The tradition continued into the early 1900's when the Major Leagues featured teams from the "Big Market" cities in this area (St. Louis, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago) but there were many "medium or small market" teams in the Midwest before expansion.

In 1902 the American Association was established as a Triple A minor league with 8 charter cities ( Columbus, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Louisville, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, St. Paul and Toledo).
These 8 teams stayed together until 1952 when Toledo moved to Charleston, WV.

Expansion and major league teams moving west caused more change in the 1950's when the Boston Braves displaced the Milwaukee Brewers in 1953 and the Philadelphia Athletics forced out the Kansas City Blues in 1955. The Brewers moved to Toledo and became the new Mud Hens while the Blues moved to the Denver and became the new Denver Bears.The Columbus team also moved after the 1954 season and became the Omaha Cardinals.

The Dallas Rangers and Houston Buffaloes of the Texas League joined the AA in 1959 and stayed until the AA folded after the 1962 season.

In between there was a lot of parity among the teams. Of the original 8 clubs from 1902 the number of pennants won among the teams were very close: St. Paul, Milwaukee and Minneapolis each won 9, Louisville won 8, Kansas City won 7, Columbus won 6 and Toledo won 2.

The AA were also one of the leagues that competed in the Junior World Series, the AAA World Series, starting in 1905 against the International League with teams from the East. The AA went 26 and 21 in that Series.

The clubs were close there too with the Columbus winning 6, Louisville 5, Indianapolis 4, Milwaukee and KC 3, Minneapolis 2 and St. Paul/Toledo 1. Even the Denver Bears won a Junior World Series in 1957.

In the 1960's the major leagues began to expand and the two more AA teams were replaced: St. Paul Saints and Minneapolis Millers when the American League's Washington Senators moved to Minneapolis before the 1961 season. Charleston also folded after 1960 followed by Toledo in 1965.
Even with the additions of the Texas teams the AA was at only 6 teams in the final season of 1962. Houston was forced to move to Oklahoma City when the National League placed an expansion club in Houston, Texas.

The AA teams dispersed into different leagues: Pacific Coast League and International League between 1963 and 1968 but the league would return in 1969 with additional MLB expansion forced the need to have another AAA league.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

20 Years of MLB in the Rocky Mountains

By Keith Antigiovanni

The Colorado Rockies 2012 season marks the 20th season of Major League Baseball in the "Mile High" city of Denver, the state of Colorado and the entire Rocky Mountain region.

Despite the poor start to 2012 Rockies' fans have been able to celebrate 7 winning years (1995, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2007, 2009, 2010), 3 playoff appearances (1995, 2007, 2009), and a National League pennant (2007) which led to the franchises' only World Series appearance.

The past 20 years represents the Major League years in Denver but prior to 1993 the region enjoyed minor league baseball since the turn of the 20th century. Denver fielded a Western League franchise during the first half of the 1900's which were interrupted 3 times (1900-1917, 1922-1932, 1947-1950).

The Denver Bears began the 20th century with a Western League pennant in 1900 and followed it up with three more pennants before WWI (1911-1913) after they changed their name to the Grizzlies.
The Grizzlies went on hiatus after 1917 then returned to the Western League in 1922, withdrew again after the 1932 season, only to reappear as the Denver Bears again in 1947. In 1948 the Bears built their own stadium, aptly named, Bears Stadium near what is now Interstate 25. This stadium would become the infamous Mile High Stadium where Broncos' great John Elway made so many fourth quarter comebacks New seating were added to the stadium in the 1960's and 1970's.

Denver won the pennant again in 1952 before they joined the AAA American Association as the affiliate for the New York Yankees (1955-1958).

The 1957 team won the AA pennant and went on to take the Junior World Series (AAA Series).  In the late 1950's Denver was one of the cities selected to become a charter franchise in Brancy Rickey's new major league, the Continental League (CL) but the majors responded with expansion to eliminate any chance for the CL to gain a foothold and Denvers' hopes of becoming a major league city ended for now.

 The Bears became an American Association power until the league folded after the 1962 season. Denver moved to the Pacific Coast League for 6 seasons (1963-1968) before they rejoined the new American Association as one of six charter franchises.

The success of the Denver Broncos and Denver Bears franchises' between 1969-1992 helped convince the National League to approve Denver as a major league expansion team on July 5, 1991 just two months before the Bears won their final AA playoff title and another AAA World Series over the Buffalo Bisons of the International League.

In between 1969 and 1992 Denver became a dominant AAA market by winning 10 divisional titles, making the league finals 12 times and won 5 American Association playoff titles (1971, 1976, 1977, 1983, 1991).

Rockies' fans it may be tough now to watch this current 2012 team but Denver can still boast a rich tradition of professional baseball history over the past 100+ years.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Big-12/ MWC Baseball Standings

By Keith Antigiovanni

The regular season in NCAA baseball will be complete after tomorrow

The Baylor Bears (20-3) have already clinched the regular season Big-12 title
Texas A&M (15-8) is in second followed by Texas, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State all tied at 13-10

Missouri (9-14), Kansas (7-15), Kansas State (7-16) and Texas Tech (6-17) will have to win the Conference Tournament to have a chance at the NCAA Playoffs.

New Mexico (17-6) leads the Mountain West followed by TCU (16-6)

SDSU (12-10) is in third followed by UNLV (7-17) and USAF (5-18)

Monday, May 14, 2012

PCL Standings: May 15

By Keith Antigiovanni

After six weeks of play the American Conference pennant leaders are pulling away while there are no clear favorites in the Pacific Conference.

Omaha (24-14) leads Iowa (16-20) by 7 games and 10.5 games over Memphis (13-24) and Nashville (12-23).

Albuquerque (24-14) has taken the lead in the Southern division in recent weeks over New Orleans (20-17) and Oklahoma City (20-17) while Round Rock (17-21) has struggled for most of the year.

In the Pacific, Colorado Springs (19-18) and Reno (19-18) are co-leaders both 1.5 games over Salt Lake City (18-20). Salt Lake has struggled since their standout hitter Mike Trout was called up to the Angels a few weeks ago.

Fresno (25-12) leads by half-game over Sacramento (25-13) while Las Vegas (19-18) and Tucson (12-25) bring up the rear.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Rangers/Angels:A Breath of Fresh Air

By Keith Antigiovanni

After years of baseball fans outside the northeast U.S. being "forced-fed" the same old 4 hour long Yankees-Red Sox games it looks as if the "west" is in the process of developing its' own version with the Rangers- Angels rivalry.

What proof is there that this is now a premiere American League rivalry? Check out the slate of national games this weekend. On friday night The MLB Network showed the Rangers/Angels, FOX saturday game is showing Rangers/Angels and ESPN will show the Rangers/Angels as its' sunday night game.

Texas has been to two consecutive World Series while the LA of Anaheim won the World Series 10 years ago and won the AL West five out of six years between 2004 and 2009. Prior to the 2000's the Rangers dominated the division with 3 out of 4 AL West titles in the late 1990's.

The Rangers-Angels does not have the history of the Yankees-Red Sox nor the close proximity of the two cities. Arlington/Anaheim doesnt exactly have a "marquee" ring to it but both teams represent huge media markets (Dallas/Fort Worth and Los Angeles) and both markets have numerous other professional and collegiate teams which means high ratings for the TV guys.

Historically both teams joined the AL as twin expansion clubs and the majors first expansion teams in 1961, the Rangers as the Washington Senators and Angels as the Los Angeles Angels. The Senators moved to Dallas/Fort Worth in 1972 and became the Rangers. Prior to expansion both markets were very successful "minor league" markets going back to the early 1900's.

Dallas and Fort Worth were separate teams and were part of the Texas League while the original Angels were in Pacific Coast League territory. Dallas and Fort Worth dominated the Texas League between 1902 and 1958 with Dallas winning 11 pennants and Fort Worth with 14 pennants. Both clubs won numerous playoff titles and Dixie Series (the World Series of the South between the champions of the Texas League and Southern Association).

Meanwhile on the west coast the Angels were dominating the PCL with 14 pennants in 55 years (1903-1957) but were forcerd to move before 1958 when Walter O'Malley moved his Brooklyn Dodgers to the Southland.

In 1972 when the Rangers started they also joined the AL West and have been division rivals with the Angels ever since but until recently there were very few defining moments in this rivalry and there has still yet to be any.

Despite its' relative newness the Rangers/Angels rivalry is a definite breath of a fresh air for baseball fans all over the country.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

SEC Baseball Standings

By Keith Antigiovanni

There are only two weeks left in the regular season and all 12 SEC teams are jockeying for the postseason with the SEC Tournament and the NCAA Playoffs which ends with the 66th College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska.

10 of the 12 colleges will be playing today. The South Carolina Gamecocks (15-9) are the top team in the SEC East and leads by a half game over the Kentucky Wildcats (15-8). South Carolina is in Fayetteville to face the Arkansas Razorbacks (12-11) in the final game of a three-game series. The first two games of the series have been split and an Arkansas tie would create a tie in the East between South Carolina and Kentucky. The Wildcats have a bye today and do not play again until wednesday.

Florida (14-10) is third place in the East and also has a bye today. Georgia (11-12) will play Auburn in Athens, Vanderbilt (10-13) is on the road in Knoxville to play Tennessee (8-15).

The LSU Tigers (15-8) lead the SEC West and is away to complete their series with the Ole Miss Rebels (11-12). Mississippi State (12-11) is tied for second in the West with Arkansas and will play Alabama (6-17) today. Auburn is 10-13 and plays Georgia.

East: South Carolina 15-9, Kentucky 15-8, Florida 14-10, Georgia 11-12, Vanderbilt 10-13

West: LSU                15-8, Arkansas  12-11, Miss ST 12-11, Ole Miss 11-12, Auburn 10-13

Thursday, May 3, 2012

20th Century Baseball Pennant Winners: 7

By Keith Antigiovanni

The pennant winner for the Texas League, Southern Association, American Association and Pacific Coast League between 1930 and 1935

Texas League Pennant Winners:
1930: Wichita Falls Spudders
1931: Houston Buffaloes
1932: Beaumont Explorers
1933: Houston Buffaloes
1934: Galveston Buccaneers

Southern Association Pennant Winners:
1930: Memphis Chicks
1931: Birmingham Barons
1932: Memphis Chicks
1933: Memphis Chicks
1934: New Orleans Pelicans

American Association Pennant Winners:
1930: Louisville Colonels
1931: St. Paul Saints
1932: Minneapolis Millers
1934: Minneapolis Millers

Pacific Coast League Pennant Winners:
1930: Hollywood Stars
1931: San Francisco Seals
1932: Portland Beavers
1933: Los Angeles Angels
1934: Los Angeles Angels

Saturday, April 28, 2012

SEC Baseball Standings April 28

By Keith Antigiovanni

SEC Baseball is not as popular or well-known as its' football counterparts but still features a high level of college baseball and is the home to the back-to-back College World Series champion South Carolina.

Recent CWS appearances by SEC teams
2005:  Florida
2008:  Georgia
2009:  LSU (champion)
2010:  South Carolina (champion)
2011:  South Carolina (champion), Florida

The SEC West is made up of Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, LSU, Mississippi, Mississippi State

The SEC East is made up of Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vanderbilt

SEC West standings:                Overall
LSU                  12-6                 34-9
Ole Miss             9-10               27-15
Arkansas             9-10               29-13
Miss State           9-10               26-16
Auburn                8-11               23-19
Alabama              6-14               17-27

SEC East standings:
Kentucky            14-5                36-7
South Carolina   13-7                 32-11
Florida                13-7                33-10
Georgia                 8-11              24-19
Tennessee             7-12              22-20
Vanderbilt             7-12              10-23

Friday, April 27, 2012

Some Respect for the San Antonio Spurs? Part 2

By Keith Antigiovanni

The San Antonio Spurs' 107-101 victory over the Golden State Warriors clinched the 13th consecutive season of at least 50 wins in the regular season which dates back to the 1999-2000. The streak would be even longer if not for the 1998-1999 lockout that wiped out 32 games. That year the Spurs went 37-13 en route to their first NBA title in a 4-0 sweep over the New York Knicks.

The 1999 NBA title was not only the first championship for San Antonio but the beginning of what has become one of the greatest dynasties in professional sports. After their NBA championship/abbreviated season in 1999 many of the experts and NBA fans felt the Spurs were a fluke and their title deserved an asterisk but they continued to win in the 21st century.

Between the 2000-2001 and 2009/2010 seasons the Spurs posted the best regular season record in the NBA at 573-247, 10 straight years in the playoffs, 7 division titles, 5 Western Conference Finals, 3 Western Conference titles and 3 more NBA championships (2003, 2005, 2007).

The second championship was a six game series victory over the New Jersey Nets in 2003. The title-run was bittersweet since David Robinson announced his retirement during the season but Robinson went out a winner. The Spurs continued to add great players between the 1999 and 2003 titles when they signed Tony Parker (2001) and Manu Ginobli (2002).

For the remainder of the decade the trio of Duncan, Parker and Ginobli would continue San Antonio's winning tradition. The Spurs have also continued their dynasty into the 2010's with a 61-21 season in 2010-2011 and Southwest division title followed by another playoff run this year with a 50-16 record and another Southwest title. They have posted an overall record of 111-37 the past two seasons and are now 684-284 since 2000-2001.

Time will tell if the Spurs can win a fifth NBA title this season but until then lets give these guys credit for doing and that is winning basketball games.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Some Respect for the San Antonio Spurs? Part 1

By Keith Antigiovanni

As someone who is not a Spurs fan or even much of a basketball fan but I am aware that San Antonio have been a winning team for almost the past quarter century with very little fanfare of the years.

I have also noticed that there are two types of basketball fans, the first are true fans who follow their team and know very much about the game. The second type of fans are the ones who follow the "Big Market" or winning teams and get most of their information from ESPN.

The true fans along with the basketball people (people working in the NBA, coaches, general managers and former players) seem to rate the Spurs very high but the second types (bandwagoners, casual fans and media) seem to rate them very low or ignore them altogether no matter how much they win.

San Antonio has won so often over the years that it has now become conspicuous when they are left out of the conversation of great teams past and present. The media spends a lot of time talking about the Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics, Dallas Mavericks, Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks because of their winning history and/or television market size.

The Lakers and Celtics are understandable because they are the two most successful NBA franchises of all-time, the Bulls are big market and had a great run in the 1990's, the in-state rival Mavericks have a winning record all-time, made 2 finals and won an NBA title which is good but not when compared to the Spurs, but why all this talk about the Heat and the Knicks?

The Heat do not have a great history (919-935) but have been to two finals and won a championship while the Knicks are a mediocre franchise (2525-2556) all-time with 2 NBA titles but none since Richard Nixon was the Commander-In-Chief.

The media is missing the boat on what is an NBA success story in the Spurs and the millions of potential viewers throughout the state of Texas and the Southwest region of the United States.

The Spurs history and market-size are often thought of as modest but their tradition goes back longer than the casual fans think. The Spurs franchise began in 1967 a few hundred miles to the northeast as the Dallas Chaparrals, a charter American Basketball Association franchise. The Chaparrals were a decent team but could not gain a foothold in football crazy Dallas and moved to San Antonio in 1973.

In their 9 ABA years the Dallas/Texas/San Antonio franchise made the playoffs 7 times but did not win an ABA title. In 1976 they were one of the four ABA teams (Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers, New Jersey Nets) that moved to the NBA. From the time they joined the older league the Spurs were winners. They qualified for the playoffs their first 7 years, won 5 division titles and reached the conference finals 3 times but could not win an NBA title.

After struggling in the late 1980's the Spurs were fortunate enough to draft David Robinson out of the United States Naval Academy in 1987. Robinson fulfilled his Naval committment before he began his playing career for the Spurs in the 1989-1990 season.

Robinson became a star-NBA player and helped the Spurs become a perennial playoff team for 7 straight years but no championship and was injured in a preseason game before the 1996-1997 season. San Antonio ended up having its' worst season since joining the NBA but the ingredients for a dynasty were just getting into place.

Just 18 games into the 1996-1997 season General Manager Gregg Popovich fired Coach Bob Hill and stepped in to replace him as the Spurs' skipper. The Spurs also used the number one pick they received thru the NBA's Lottery Draft to select Tim Duncan.

The following season (1997-1998) with Popovich at the helm, Robinson coming back from injury and a Rookie Tim Duncan the Spurs drastically improved to 56-26. This season showed the tremendous potential for what was to come in the near future for the Spurs franchise and the city of San Antonio.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Dixie Series

By Keith Antigiovanni

Before Major League Baseball expanded in 1961 it was a regional sport which stretched from the northeast to St. Louis in the west and south to Washington DC.

However there were numerous "minor leagues" which were unaffiliated independent professional leagues that filled the void of a major league team throughout the South, Midwest, Mountain West and Pacific Coast.

Two of the leagues, the Texas League and Southern Association agreed to play in a championship series, the Dixie Series, starting in 1920 which was considered the "World Series of the South". It was great for the fans because not only could they follow their team in a pennant race but fans could keep track of the pennant race in the opposing league to see which team they could be facing.

The Fort Worth Panthers under manager Jake Atz dominated the Texas League and went on to dominate the Dixie Series in the early 1920's winning 5 of the 6. In 1920 they defeated Little Rock in 6, in 1921 they beat Memphis in 6 and looked to three-peat until the Mobile BayBears stopped Atz' Cats with a 6 game series win in 1922.

The Panthers rebounded with 3 more Dixie Series titles (1923-1925).  After Fort Worths' great run parity became the rule as the Dallas Steers (1926), Wichita Falls Spudders (1927), Houston Buffaloes (1928) and Birmingham Barons (1929) rounded out the roaring 20's as series champs.

in 1933 the Shaugnessy playoff system was instituted in both leagues as the league champion would have to win 2 playoff series and win the Dixie Series. The New Orleans Pelicans won the series in 6 games over the San Antonio Indians and followed it up in 1934 with back-to-back titles over Galveston.

The Fort Worth club re-named the Cats won 3 more Dixie Series during the Great Depression decade in 1930, 1937, 1939. In 1930 Fort Worth won in 5 over Memphis, in 1937 they won again in 5 this time over Little Rock and again in 1939 over the Nashville Vols. The series' loss to the Cats did not deter the Vols as Nashville went on to win 3 straight series' in the early 1940's. In 1940 they swept Houston, in 1941 they beat Dallas in 6 but just a few months after the United States entered the war following the Attack on Pearl Harbor on 12/7.

The war caused a shortage or manpower which affected all levels of sports but in 1942 the Vols continued their dynasty with a 5-game series win over the Shreveport Sports. The Dixie Series was put on hiatues the remainder of the war (1943-1945) but resumed in 1946.

The boys from Big-D won their first Dixie Series in 20 years with a 4-0 sweep over the Atlanta Crackers in the first Post War series. The Houston Buffaloes also won their first series in 20 years with a 6-game series win over Mobile. Birmingham won a third championship in 1948 while Nashville won their fourth Dixie Series in the 1940's in a competitive 7 game series against the Tulsa Oilers.

In 1950, the golden years of the "minor leagues" were nearing an end as most clubs were now affiliated with the majors as the "Fabulous Fifties" began. Americans began to stay at home and watch Television which hurt attendance in the majors and minors but the Dixie Series continued on for another decade.

The San Antonio Missions won ther first and only Dixie Series in 1950 in a 7 game series over Nashville. Birmingham won two more titles (1951, 1958). The 1951 was a 6 game win over Houston and the 1958 series over Corpus Christi. Memphis also won its' first title in a 6 game series over Shreveport.

Mobile won its' first title since 1922 when they defeated the mighty Fort Worth Panthers. Houston became the only repeat winners in the decade with back-to-back series wins' over Atlanta in a series reminiscient of the Atlanta Braves-Houston Astros NL Playoff series of the late 1990's and early 2000's. Despite the close defeats in 1956-1957,Atlanta won a second title in 7 games over Houston in 1954.

Overall Standings            appearances             wins
Fort Worth                       10                             8
Houston                             8                              4
Nashville                           7                              4
Atlanta                              7                              2
Birmingham                      6                              5
Dallas                                5                              3
New Orleans                     5                              2
Memphis                           4                              1
Mobile                               3                              2
Shreveport                         3                              0
San Antonio                      2                              1
Tulsa                                 2                              1
Little Rock                        2                              0
Beaumont                          2                              0
Oklahoma City                  1                              1
Chattanooga                      1                              1
Wichita Falls                     1                              1
Corpus Christi                   1                              0
Galveston                          1                              0

While the northeast enjoyed the World Series in the 1920's thru 1950's the South enjoyed their own World Series.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

20th Century baseball: 6

By Keith Antigiovanni

Pennant winners and playoff series winners of the Texas League, American Association, Southern Association and Pacific Coast League in the late 1920's (1925-1929).

Texas League Pennant winners:
1925: Fort Worth Panthers               Fort Worth playoff champion
1926: Dallas Steers
1927: Wichita Falls Spudders
1928: Houston Buffaloes                  Houston playoff champion
1929: Wichita Falls Spudders           Dallas playoff champion

American Association Pennant winners:
1925: Louisville Colonels
1926: Louisville Colonels
1927: Toledo Mud Hens
1928:  Indianapolis Indians
1929:  Kansas City Blues

Southern Association Pennant winners:
1925: Atlanta Crackers
1926: New Orleans Pelicans
1927: New Orleans Pelicans
1928: Birmingham Barons
1929: Birmingham Barons

Pacific Coast League Pennant winners:
1925: San Francisco Seals
1926: Los Angeles Angels
1927: Oakland Oaks
1928: San Francisco Seals                 San Francisco playoff champion
1929: Mission Reds                           Hollywood Stars playoff champion

Playoff series were sporadic prior to the Shaughnessy Playoff System in 1933. The pre-1933 playoff series generally involved split season champions where the champion of the first half would play the champion of the second half.

The Shaugnessy Playoffs were the top 4 teams in a league with either the #1 seed facing the #4 seed and #2 vs #3 or #1 vs #3, #2, vs #4 depending on the league.

In 1920 the intraleague Dixie Series began with the champions of the Texas League facing the champions of the Southern Association.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

20th Century Baseball: 5

By Keith Antigiovanni

Professional baseball pennant winners of the Texas League, American Association, Southern Association and Pacific Coast League in the early 1920's (1920-1924)

Texas League Pennant Winners:
1920: Fort Worth Panthers
1921: Fort Worth Panthers
1922: Fort Worth Panthers
1923: Fort Worth Panthers
1924: Fort Worth Panthers

American Association Pennant Winners:
1920: St. Paul Saints
1921: Louisville Colonels
1922: St. Paul Saints
1923: Kansas City Blues
1924: St. Paul Saints

Southern Association Pennant Winners:
1920: Little Rock Travelers
1921: Memphis Chicks
1922: Mobile Bears
1923: New Orleans Pelicans
1924: Memphis Chicks

Pacific Coast League Pennant Winners:
1920: Vernon Tigers
1921: Los Angeles Angels
1922: San Francisco Seals
1923: San Francisco Seals
1924: Seattle Rainiers

Monday, April 9, 2012

Texas League/Pacific Coast League: Week 1

By Keith Antigiovanni

Tulsa (3-1) and Frisco (3-1) are currently the division leaders in the Texas League.
Northwest Arkansas (2-2) and Springfield (2-2) are tied for second in the North with Arkansas (1-3) brining up the rear.

Corpus Christi (2-2) and Midland (2-2) trail Frisco by one game and defending champion San Antonio is 1-3.

Omaha (3-1), New Orleans (3-1), Oklahoma City (3-1), Fresno (3-1) and Colorado Springs, Reno, Salt Lake City and Tacoma are all 2-2.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

20th Century Baseball: 4

By Keith Antigiovanni

Pennant winners of the Texas League, American Association, Southern Association and Pacific Coast League in the second half of the 1910's.

Texas League Pennant Winners:
1915: Waco Navigators
1916: Waco Navigators
1917: Dallas Giants
1918: Dallas Giants
1919: Fort Worth Panthers

American Association Pennant Winners:
1915: Minneapolis Millers
1916: Louisville Colonels
1917: Indianapolis Indians
1918: Kansas City Blues
1919: St Paul Saints

Southern Association Pennant Winners:
1915: New Orleans Pelicans
1916: Nashville Vols
1917: Atlanta Crackers
1918: New Orleans Pelicans
1919: Atlanta Crackers

Pacific Coast League Pennant Winners:
1915: San Francisco Seals
1916: Los Angeles Angels
1917: San Francisco Seals
1918: Vernon Tigers
1919: Vernon Tigers

Thursday, April 5, 2012

20th Century Baseball: 3

By Keith Antigiovanni
Pennant winners from the Texas League, American Association, Southern Association and Pacific Coast League in the first half of the 1910's:

Texas League Pennant Winners:
1910: Dallas Giants/ Houston Buffaloes
1911: Austin Senators
1912: Houston Buffaloes
1913: Houston Buffaloes
1914: Houston Buffaloes

American Association Pennant Winners:
1910: Minneapolis Millers
1911: Minneapolis Millers
1912: Minneapolis Millers
1913: Milwaukee Brewers
1914: Milwaukee Brewers

Southern Assocation Pennant Winners:
1910: New Orleans Pelicans
1911: New Orleans Pelicans
1912: Birmingham Barons
1913: Atlanta Crackers
1914: Birmingham Barons

Pacific Coast League Pennant Winners:
1910: Portland Beavers
1911: Portland Beavers
1912: Oakland Oaks
1913: Portland Beavers
1914: Portland Beavers

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Return of the Miami Marlins

By Keith Antigiovanni

The Miami Marlins open the 2012 season against the defending World Series St. Louis Cardinals after 19 years being known as the “Florida” Marlins. The South Florida franchise changed their name to the Miami Marlins in the offseason and will be moving into Marlins Park, a new baseball-only stadium, near the old Orange Bowl. The name change makes sense because the Marlins are too far south to represent the entire state of Florida. There is also another major league team in the state (Tampa Bay) which might take exception to one team representing the entire state.

The name Miami Marlins also has history which the Marlin franchise can draw from the way other former expansion franchises (Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Angels, San Diego Padres) have used for historical and marketing purposes to connect the professional baseball backgrounds between major league and “minor” league teams.

The Miami Marlins played in the International League in 1956-1960. They won the Playoff title in 1957 before moving to the Florida State League in 1962. The Marlins won 4 consecutive regular season (1968-1971) pennants and 3 straight playoff titles (1969-1972) under Manager Woody Smith. In 1971 they became the Miami Orioles when their major league affiliation and helped the Baltimore 

Orioles become one of the dominant franchise throughout the 1970’s and early 1980’s until 1981. The Miami Orioles also won the 1976 regular season title and the 1978 playoff title.

The history of professional baseball in the Miami area prior to 1956 was unstable. The first pro team, the Miami Hustlers of the Florida State League played in 1927 but folded in their second season (1928) and then there was the Miami Wahoos of the Florida East Coast League in 1940 but the league folded in the 1943 season because of World War II. The Miami Sun Sox of the Florida International League fielded a club in 1946 and then again from 1949-1954. The Sun Sox appeared in three straight league finals (1950-1952) winning two (1950, 1952) until they too folded 25 games into the 1954 season. In between (1947-1948) the Sun Sox became the Miami Tourists and the Miami Beach Flamingos were around for one season (1954) after the Sun Sox until the Florida International League folded in July 1954. All of these teams played at Miami Field near the old Orange Bowl Stadium.

In 1982 the Miami franchise became the Marlins again until 1988 and five years later Florida’s first major league team ,the Florida Marlins, began play at what was then Joe Robbie Stadium. The Marlins won the World Series title in their fifth year (1997) under Manager Jim Leyland and won it again 6 years later in 2003 under Jack McKeon who took over in the middle of the year. The other 17 seasons have produced only 4 other winning seasons (2004, 2005, 2008, 2009) and no other postseason appearances.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

20th Century Baseball: 2

By Keith Antigiovanni
The pennant winners from the Texas League, American Association, Southern Association and Pacific Coast Leagues in the early 1900's:

Texas League Pennant Winners:
1905: Fort Worth Panthers
1906: Fort Worth Panthers
1907: Austin Senators
1908: San Antonio Bronchos
1909: Houston Buffaloes

American Association Pennant Winners:
1905: Columbus Senators
1906: Columbus Senators
1907: Columbus Senators
1908:   Indianapolis Indians
1909: Louisville Colonels

Southern Association Pennant Winners:
1905: New Orleans Pelicans
1906: Birmingham Barons
1907: Atlanta Crackers
1908: Nashville Vols
1909: Birmingham Barons

Pacific Coast League Pennant Winners:
1905: Los Angeles Angels
1906: Portland Beavers
1907: Los Angeles Angels
1908: Los Angeles Angels
1909: San Francisco Seals

Monday, April 2, 2012

Final Four/Wrap Up

By Keith Antigiovanni

NCAA Tournament:
The 2012 NCAA Final will be the Big-12 champion Kansas Jayhawks and the SEC champion Kentucky Wildcats tonight in New Orleans. Its surprisingly these two great programs have never met in an NCAA Final before.

The Wildcats are in the Finals for the 11th time (1948, 1949, 1951, 1958, 1966, 1975, 1978, 1996, 1997 and 1998) and has previously won the NCAA title 7 times (1948, 1949, 1951, 1958, 1978, 1996 and 1998).

The Jayhawks are making their 9th Finals appearance (1940, 1952, 1953, 1957, 1988, 1991, 2003, 2008) and won the championship in 1952, 1988 and 2008.

Ironically, Kentucky Coach John Calipari lost to Kansas only four years ago when he was coaching the Memphis Tigers. Since Calipari left for Lexington after the 2008 championship game he has returned the Wildcat program to prominence the past 4 yrs when he lead them to the their first Final Four last year since the 1998 championship season and tonight has a chance to win the programs' first title in 14 years.

Meanwhile in Lawrence the Jayhawks are making their third Finals' appearance in the past 10 years (2003, 2008, 2012). Current Coach Bill Self replaced Roy Williams when Williams left for UNC just after the 2003 championship game. Self has kept the Jayhawk program on top the past 9 years by winnning 8 straight regular season Big-12 titles and 5 Conference Tournament championships.

Self's Jayhawks defeated Calipari's Tigers 75-68 in overtime to win the 2008 NCAA title.

Ryan Newman won at Martinsville yesterday in the 6th race of the NASCAR season. The win helped Newman jump from 10th in the overall standings to 8th place.

Biffle is still in first place while Stewart, Kenseth and Harvick are tied for third. Bowyer and Johnson moved down to 9th and 10th respectively.

The top 10 in points this week are:

Greg Biffle                      226
Junior                              220
Tony Stewart                  214     2 wins
Matt Kenseth                  214     1 win
Kevin Harvick                214
Martin Truex Jr.             214
Denny Hamlin                210     1 win
Ryan Newman                202     1 win
Clint Bowyer                  192
Jimmie Johnson              189

Sunday, April 1, 2012

20th Century Minor League (baseball)

By Keith Antigiovanni
Today's post looks at the winners of these "minor" leagues in the first five years of the 20th century
An important note is that these leagues were independent and professional yet still considered "minor" in the early 1900's.
There will be regular posts of Minor League champions of the:
1) Texas League
2) American Association
3) Southern Association
4) Pacific Coast League

Texas League pennant winners
1902: Corsicana
1903: Dallas                       Dallas over Waco to win playoff title
1904: Fort Worth

American Association pennant winners
1902:  Indianapolis
1903:  St. Paul
1904:  St. Paul

Southern Association pennant winners
1901:  Tennessee
1902:  Tennessee
1903:  Memphis                 Little Rock over Memphis to win playoff title
1904:  Memphis

Pacific Coast League pennant winners
1903:   Los Angeles Angels
1904:   Tacoma Tigers

Sunday, March 25, 2012

NASCAR/NCAA Final Four Wrap Up

By Keith Antigiovanni

The participants for the 2012 NCAA Basketball Final Four in New Orleans will be the Kansas Jayhawks, Kentucky Wildcats, Louisville Cardinals and Ohio State Buckeyes.

Kansas last made the Final Four in 2008 when they won the National Title over Memphis and will be in its' 14th Final Four overall. Kentucky clinched its' 15th Final Four appearance and has now made it in back to back years under Coach John Calipari. Kentucky last won the National title in 1998.

The Wildcats in-state rival Louisville Cardinals are in their first Final Four since 2005 and are trying to win their first National Title since 1986. Ohio State is also returning to the Final Four for the first time since 2007 and are looking for their first championship since 1960.

Next saturday the matchups will be Kentucky vs Louisville and Kansas vs Ohio State.

Defending NASCAR champion Tony Stewart won his second race of the season at Fontana to help continue his climb in the point standings. Stewart won a rain-shortened race (129 out of 200 laps) and is now fourth overall.

Overall Point Standings Thru 5 Weeks (Top 10)
1. Greg Biffle                 195
2. Kevin Harvick           188
3. Junior                         178
4. Stewart                       177   2 wins
5. Martin Truex Jr.         175
6. Matt Kenseth              173   1 win
7. Denny Hamlin            171   1 win
8. Clint Bowyer              157
9. Jimmie Johnson          156
10. Ryan Newman          155

Jimmie Johnson won his appeal this past week which gave him back the 25 points that was taken away after the opening race in February. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Rocky Mountain Sports Opera Ends

By Keith Antigiovanni

This week marks the end of the offseason sports opera known as the Denver Broncos when NFL great and future Hall of Famer quarterback Peyton Manning signed a five-year contract to play for the Broncos after the Indianapolis Colts released him two weeks ago and the end of  "Tebow Time" in Denver with the trade of Tebow to the AFC rival New York Jets for a 4th and 6th round draft picks.

 After pulling out numerous late game comebacks as Broncos' quarterback throughout the 1980's and 1990's current Broncos' Vice President of Football Operations John Elway may have pulled off his best comeback yet for the franchise in 2011 by winning the AFC West championship.

Elway's decision-making since he was hired by owner Pat Bowlen last February was to fix the mess that Bowlen made when he hired Josh McDaniels to be his Head Coach in 2009. McDaniels alienated his starting quarterback Jay Cutler a few months into his tenure and then traded him to Chicago for Kyle Orton. McDaniels began 2009 at 6-0 but only finished at 8-8 then was fired after a 3-10 start in 2010 and allegations of cheating surfaced.

Going into 2010, McDaniels drafted Tim Tebow to be his future quarterback but with Orton's struggles in late 2009, 2010 and early 2011 along with mounting pressure from the fans Elway and first year Head Coach John Fox were forced him to bench him and insert second-year player Tim Tebow.

Tebow's stats were awful in 2011 but he led his team to a 7-5 record, AFC West title and a playoff win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first round of the playoffs until it all fell apart the following week in Foxboro against the New England Patriots. It was obvious to Elway and Bronco Nation that in order for the Broncos to become a serious contender in the AFC that Tebow would need to make incredible strides in the offseason or they would need a new signal-caller.

Meanwhile in Indianapolis, the Colts decided to rebuild after the 2-14 season and then decided to release their great quarterback Peyton Manning two weeks ago because of the huge bonus owed to him if he stayed. That coupled with the Colts intention of drafting Andrew Luck as the first pick made it clear that a change would be coming. Elway saw an opportunity and swooped in immediately to get him as half a dozen teams lined up to have a chance to get Manning's services.

Elway's perspective on Manning's situation is clear since both men are NFL legends and Elway was still trying to prove himself at this stage of his career after failing to win a Super Bowl. Although Peyton has won a Super Bowl title he wants to win more and be considered the greatest quarterback ever. His statistics show that but his postseason record has not been impressive at 9-10.

Peyton's regular season success is almost unparalled with a 141-67 record as a starter and never missed a game between 1998 and 2011 but it has become more obvious that Manning's greatness along made Indianapolis into an NFL power in the 2000's. That is something John Elway can identify with as he led his undermanned Broncos to 3 Super Bowls in the 1980's but his greatness alone was not enough until he had a championship team around during the Broncos 1997/1998 Super Bowl title runs. Peyton was the key player in Indy's 2 Super Bowl appearances (2006, 2009) and 1 championship (2006).

When Elway was asked what is his Plan B if Peyton cannot overcome his previous injury he responded with "We dont have Plan B, We're Going with Plan A!" Its Peyton or bust for the Broncos but if he can return to his previous form the Broncos will be a serious Super Bowl contender over the next few years which is a far cry from the McDaniels years of 2009-2010.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Duke's Early Exit/ NASCAR

By Keith Antigiovanni

What happen to Duke in the NCAA Tournament on friday? We all know they lost to Lehigh 75-70 in the second round of the Tournament and for the second time in three years have failed to win a game in the Tournament.

Any other coach would be on the hotseat after an embarassing defeat but not the coach from Durham. Coach K's 32 years as Duke's skipper have produced an NCAA record 79 tournament wins, 25 ACC titles (13 Tournament, 12 regular season), 11 final fours, 8 finals and 4 National titles (1991, 1992, 2001, 2010).

While college basketball in North Carolina is still king, NASCAR is a close second and over the weekend Brad Keselowski won at Bristol, TN, the fourth NASCAR race of the season. The first four races of the years have produced four different winners:

Matt Kenseth               Daytona 500
Denny Hamlin             Phoenix
Tony Stewart               Las Vegas
Brad Keselowski         Bristol

Greg Biffle is the current leaders in points at 157, Kevin Harvick is second with 148, Matt Kenseth in third (145), Martin Truex Jr (139) and Denny Hamlin (137) round out the top five.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Arena Football League: Week 2

By Keith Antigiovanni

After today (3/18) all 17 Arena Football teams will have played after the New Orleans Voodoo/Philadelphia Soul game today.

The friday night game on the NFL Network featured a South matchup as the Tampa Bay Storm beat the Georgia Force 50-47 to even their record at 1-1. The Storm, a charter AFL franchise, earned their 200th regular season win. They entered this season at 199-115 all-time and originated in Pittsburgh before they moved to Florida before the 1991 season and have won the most Arena Bowls (5): 1991, 1993, 1995, 1996, 2003. Three under of championships were under Tim Marcum, the AFL's alltime leader in coaching wins. Georgia also evened their record at 1-1.

Jacksonville,another Florida team, earned their first win of the season over Kansas City in a 52-28 rout to begin the year at 1-0. Jackonsville is the defending AFL champions and are hoping to become the first team to repeat since the 1995-1996 Tampa Bay Storm.

The AFL champions from two years, the Spokane Shock also won this weekend to even their record at 1-1 and are only half game back in the West. Division rival Utah is also 1-1 after they defeated the Iowa Barnstormers 69-49.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Arena Football League Opens 25th Campaign

By Keith Antigiovanni

12 of the 17 AFL teams began their season this past weekend (March 9-12).

The Pittsburgh Power defeated the Orlando Predators 40-26 after both teams fielded replacement players after both teams' dismissed their regular players.

The San Antonio Talons beat the Utah Blaze 54-48. The Talons moved to San Antonio from Tulsa in the offseason.

The defending Central champion Chicago Rush won convincingly 70-48 over the Tampa Bay Storm meanwhile out west the San Jose Sabercats squeaked out a win by one point over the defending National Conference champion Arizona Rattlers 71-70.

The Georgia Force won by two points over the Cleveland Gladiators and the Iowa Barnstormers won in overtime 69-63 over the Spokane Shock, AFL champions from two years ago.

Five teams had bye weeks including Jacksonville, the defending Arena Bowl champion.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

2012: Third NASCAR Race

By Keith Antigiovanni

Going into the third race of the 2012 season in Las Vegas the NASCAR Spring Cup standings are:

Denny Hamlin 89 points, Greg Biffle 83 points, Kevin Harvick 81 points, Matt Kenseth 79 points, Jr 72 points, Martin Truex 71 points, Mark Martin 71 points, Joey Logano 70 points, Kyle Busch 66 points, Carl Edwards 63 points.

Hamlin won the second race at Phoenix with two top 10 and two top 5 finishes. Kenseth won the Daytona 500 to open the season with one top 10 and one top 5 finish.The 2011 champion Tony Stewart has 53 points with one top 10 finish while five-time champ Jimmie Johnson is off to a slow start with 18 points despite two top 10 finishes and one top 5 finish. The other 31 drivers trail the top 10 but have a long way to go.

In NASCAR winning races are not always the mark of winning the racing title but it sure helps in terms of point standings. Stewart won only five races last year but had 23 top 10 finishes and 15 top 5's and the highest number of races Johnson won five straight titles between 2006 and 2010 and in 2007 when he won 10 but he was able to consistenly finish in the top 10 or top 5 and only 2 wins in 2010.

Johnson's stats:
             Top 10     Top 5   wins
2006:     24            13         5
2007:     24            20        10
2008:     22            15         7
2009:     24            16         6
2010:     23            17         2

The next race will be March 18 at Bristol, Tennessee.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Almost 30 Years Since the USFL

By Keith Antigiovanni

When I looked at the calendar this morning I noticed it was March 6 and something about that date stuck in my mind but I couldnt figure out what it was until late morning. March 6, 1983 was opening week of the first regular season for the mid-1980's professional United States Football League (USFL).

I still remember watching opening day when Donald Trump's New Jersey Generals traveled to the Los Angeles Coliseum to face the Los Angeles Express on a sunday afternoon televised by ABC. I recall how odd it was for football to played only about 6 weeks after the Super Bowl but was pleased because as a kid I always enjoyed watching the sport as much as possible. The idea of a new football league was also interesting and at that time I had no knowledge of previous professional football leagues other than the NFL.

I remember the Express hanging on to a 20-15 win over the Generals and a New Jersey wide receiver getting knocked out off bounds near LA's goal-line to end the game.

There were 12 teams in the USFL that first year most of which played in cities or markets that already had an NFL team. The teams were :

Arizona Wranglers, Birmingham Stallions, Boston Breakers,  Chicago Blitz, Denver Gold, Los Angeles Express, Michigan Panthers, New Jersey Generals, Orlando Renegades, Philadelphia Stars, Tampa Bay Bandits and Washington Generals. There were also many former and future NFL coaches and players including Red Miller, Brian Sipe, George Allen, Jim Mora and Herschel Walker.

The league was broken up into three divisions: Pacific, Central, Eastern and each team played an 18-game regular season schedule which stretched it well into summer. The Michigan Panthers defeated Jim Mora's Stars 24-22 in the championship game played at Denver's Mile High Stadium in the summer. If you've ever been to Denver in the summer then you know it is not only hard to breathe because of the altitude and is also very hot. If you dont believe me then search for "1983 USFL Championship Game" on youtube. It was broadcast on ABC and the announcers were the legendary Keith Jackson and a recently retired Lynn Swann.

The USFL would add 6 teams for the following season and exist the next two seasons before they foolishly tried to compete with the NFL instead of developing their own niche as Spring/Summer football but it was entertaining while it lasted especially for the football fans who experience withdrawals every offseason.

Friday, March 2, 2012


By Keith Antigiovanni

It seems as if every year the Duke Blue Devils and North Carolina Tar Heels final regular season game decides the ACC regular season title and If it seems that way to you then the reason is because it is true. Over the years the Duke/UNC rivalry has eclipsed the Mayberry/Mount Pilot rivalry as the biggest in the state of North Carolina.

Since Coach K arrived in Durham, NC way back in 1980 the two programs have combined to win 26 of the past 31 regular season titles (UNC 14, Duke 12) and 22 of the past 31 ACC Tournament titles (Duke 13, UNC 9).

The success of both teams goes back even before Coach K but the rivalry and success of both teams is not only continuing but getting even stronger which is not good news to their fellow ACC rivals. Since the 2000-2001 season alone UNC and Duke have combined for 9 of the 12 regular season titles and all but one ACC Tournament title.

What can the other teams like North Carolina State, Maryland, Florida State, Miami, etc do about this? Obviously they need to win but there is no doubt that playing with these two college basketball behemoths can help their overall RPI ranking every year before the NCAA Tournament begins.

Maybe they can take a lesson from both Duke and UNC and points in their own histories'. Prior to Coach K (pre 1980) Duke was not the great program it is now while at that same time UNC Coach Dean Smith was dominating the ACC in the 1960's and 1970's. Coach K's hiring not only put Duke on par with UNC but became the dominant team in the conference after Smith stepped down in the late 1990's.

In Smith's absence Duke won the regular season titles between 1999 and 2003 and the ACC Tournament five straight years until former Kansas Jayhawks' Coach Roy Williams was lured from the midwest to restore the Tar Heels to their former greatness. Williams noy only brought UNC two NCAA titles but it helped bring back the rivalry with Duke that was missing in the late 1990's and early 2000's.

Today, the rivalry is better than ever as the two teams face each other in their 234rd meeting tomorrow night at Cameron Indoor Arena.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

2012: Daytona 500 Race

By Keith Antigiovanni

The 2012 Daytona 500 Race finally concluded late monday night with Matt Kenseth winning for the second time in four years but it was a struggle for NASCAR to complete the event because of the weather.

The race was originally scheduled for sunday afternoon but was postponed throughout that day and then most of monday until the race began monday evening which amounted to Monday Night NASCAR for TV viewers.

The media bills this event as the "Super Bowl of stockcar racing" which I dont quite understand because it is the first race of every NASCAR season while the Super Bowl is the final game of the professional football season. Maybe NASCAR has it in reverse which is fine as long as they dont start driving their racecars backwards.

According to NASCAR fans a strong finish in this race gives the teams a good start on the season but it doesnt necessarily equal the NASCAR title. For example Jimmie Johnson recently won five straight racing titles (2006-2010) but only once won Daytona (2006) however you can argue that his 2006 win in this race helped jumpstart a "racing dynasty".

It is interesting to see what drivers won the Daytona during Johnson's reign as NASCAR's champion:
2007: Kevin Harvick, 2008: Ryan Newman, 2009: Matt Kenseth, 2010: Jamie McMurray and 2011: Trevor Bayne.

Richard Petty has the record for most Daytona 500 wins with 7 (1964, 1966, 1971, 1973, 1978, 1979, 1981) and Cale Yarborough has the second most with 4 (1968, 1977, 1983, 1984). Out of Petty's 7 NASCAR titles only twice did he win the Daytona 500 in the same year (1964, 1971) and out of Yarborough's 3 NASCAR titles he won Daytona only once (1977) during his 1970's dynasty (1976-1978).A more recent champion Jeff Gordon won 4 NASCAR titles but only once in the same year he won Daytona (1997).

Based on that it is unclear how Daytona 500 can be the "Super Bowl of  stockcar racing". Maybe it is because of the excitement after almost four months off.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Miami Heat: Under the Radar

By Keith Antigiovanni

After the Miami Heat's underachieving performance in the 2011 NBA Finals the team is going under the NBA radar through the first half of the season with a 27-7 record and 8 game winning streak.

Because of the ridiculous media hype before the 2010-2011 season when Lebron James and Chris Bosh signed Miami was already given the NBA title and labeled a "dynasty" but the reality is that the Heat made huge strides last year and have improved every year since 2008 when they went 15-67.

Another factor to consider is that the Dallas Mavericks victory in the Finals last year was no fluke. The Mavericks had been to the playoffs in 11 straight years and missed out on their first NBA title in 2006 when Miami beat them in 6 games.

In only two years after Miami won the title they finished at 15-67 which prompted former Coach Pat Riley to step down and go back to his General Manager job. Riley then hired former assistant Erik Spoelstra. Under Spoelstra they have gone from 15-67 in 2008 to 43-39 in 2009, 47-35 in 2010 and then 58-24 in 2011 with the Southeast and Eastern titles.

This year the expectations were not as high but Spoelstra's team shares the best record in the NBA with the Western Conference leader Oklahoma City Thunder. If Miami keeps winning will the hype from last year return? Will Lebron James wilt under the pressure to win his first NBA title? Only time will tell but what we do know is that Miami is now one of the premier franchises in the NBA.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

NBA: No Respect for the Spurs?

By Keith Antigiovanni

If you have followed the NBA the past two weeks then you know who Jeremy Lin of the New York Knicks is by now while he has help lead the Knicks to their current 7-game win streak. It’s a great story but as usual the so-called “National” media is ignoring the San Antonio Spurs who are on a 9-game winning streak of their own or the perennial last-place Los Angeles Clippers now first place in their division.

The “National” media believes a rookie player who plays in New York is the top story despite that the Knicks are only a .500 (15-15) team at this time while ignoring the “Small-Market” Spurs who are 21-9, 1.5 games behind in the Western Conference, lead their division without one of their top players, Manu Ginobli, for the past six weeks.

You might say so what, the Spurs win every year which is exactly the point of why they should get more coverage and respect but not when you take into account that the “National” sports media is not really national it is regional specifically the tiny northeast part of the country and the Spurs are perceived as a bunch of boring professionals who only go out and win basketball games.

 In other words they are only known for winning, the same way legendary professional sports teams such as the 1950’s Boston Celtics or 1960’s Green Bay Packers are known for. Since the 1990-1991 season San Antonio has posted the best regular season record in the NBA (1127-563 .67%), qualified for the playoffs 21 of the past 22 years and won 4 NBA titles while the Knicks have not won an NBA title since the Watergate Hearings. Instead of the “National” media giving these guys some respect after winning for the past 23 years they are obsessed with the latest “flavor-of-the-week” coming out of NYC.

If you want to ignore the Spurs and look at an underdog story then how about more Los Angeles Clippers coverage. Even with Chris Paul in the lineup it was a stretch to think this team could ever turn their fortunes around after four decades of futility. The Clipper franchise began in Buffalo, NY back in 1970 then moved out west to San Diego between 1978 and north to Los Angeles. In all that time the Clippers have only posted 6 winning seasons and have never won even won a division title. 2012 could be the year that all changes if they can hang on to their lead in the Pacific and hope the Lakers do not make a second-half run. The Clippers are currently 19-9 and have the third seed in the West.

Tonight, Friday February 16, 2012 the Spurs and Clippers will be playing at the Staples Center. The “National” media needs to focus on this game as their top story or it might be time to turn in their press credentials.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

2011-2012 NBA Season Thru 6 Weeks

By Keith Antigiovanni

After 6 weeks the playoff standings are becoming much more clear particulary in the Eastern Conference where only 8 teams are above .500 while the 11 teams in the Western Conference are competing for the 8 postseason tickets in April.

In the Southwest division the San Antonio Spurs (18-9) have won 6 straight and are 2.5 games in the lead, The defending NBA Champion Dallas Mavericks (15-11) are again trailing their arch-rivals. The Houston Rockets (14-11) and Memphis Grizzlies (13-13) are also in the playoff picture.

The Pacific division is a surprise with the Los Angeles Clippers (15-8) 2 games in front of the Los Angeles Lakers (14-11). The Clippers have the 3rd best record in the West behind the Thunder and Spurs.

The Oklahoma City Thunder (20-5) lead the Northwest division and the West meanwhile the rest of the division (Denver, Portland, Utah and Minnesota) are still in the race.

The Southeast is still competitive with defending East champion Miami (19-7) on top followed by Atlanta (17-9) and Orlando (16-10).

The Bulls (22-6) are 3.5 games up on the Indiana Pacers (17-8) and have the best record in the East and entire NBA.

The Philadelphia 76ers (18-8) lead the Atlantic, four games over the Boston Celtics (14-10).