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