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