Tag Archives: 2003

“Man Of Steal”- Rickey Henderson And His Career Stolen Bases Record

On this day in 1991, Oakland Athletics outfielder Rickey Henderson broke Lou Brock’s career stolen bases record.  This historic event happened in a day game against the St Louis Cardinals in Henderson’s home stadium in Oakland, CA.  Henderson stole his 939th career base breaking Brock’s previous record of 938.  Immediately the game was stopped and a ceremony was performed to commemorate the record breaking moment.  Henderson was given the base he stole just moments before and an address to the fans in attendance were he proclaimed “I am the greatest of all time”.

henderson

Rickey Henderson was drafted by the A’s in the 4th round of the 1976 MLB Draft.  He would make his Major League debut for the A’s after about 3 years in the Minor Leagues.  During his debut against the Texas Rangers on June 24th 1979 Henderson stole his very first base in the Majors.  It was just a preview of what would become and incredible career.

Rickey Henderson played from 1979-2003.   During his 4th season he stole a record 130 bases, it became the new record for a single season that still stands today.  Henderson stole the most bases in Major League baseball 12 different seasons. He was on two World Series Championship teams the first in 1989 (Oakland A’s) and the second in 1993 (Toronto Blue Jays).  One of his most outstanding achievements other than breaking career stolen bases record would have to be being named the American League MVP in 1990 while playing for the A’s.

Rickey Henderson’s amazing career came to an end on September 19th, 2003.  When he hung up those blazing cleats he had stolen 1,406 bases during his career.  Henderson will go down in history as the most amazing base stealer ever.  His career stolen bases record is one that will be very hard to break.

Otto Graham: The Greatest Quarterback Ever

Many modern football fans have never even heard the name Otto Graham.  Decades before Bernie Kosar was taking the Browns through many playoff runs.  Otto Graham was the best quarterback not only in Cleveland but in the NFL.  Years before Jim Brown dominated teams, Otto Graham was dominating the league.  Graham will go down as one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game.  He was the 1st and possibly the biggest Cleveland sports star ever.

Otto Graham goes for a pass in Cleveland's Municipal Stadium. (Getty Images)

Otto Graham goes for a pass in Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium. (Getty Images)

Otto Graham started his professional career in Cleveland during the 1946 season.  At the time the Browns played in the All American Football Conference (AAFC).  In that season Graham lead the Browns to their 1st Championship and the team finished with a 12-2 record.  The winning did not stop there.  The Browns went on to win the 1947, 1948 and 1949 AAFC Championship prior to entering the NFL in 1950.  During his first 4 seasons he played in 54 games and had 86 TD’s and 10,085 yards passing in total.  Many people considered the AAFC to be the minor leagues so to speak.  The Browns were not expected to be as dominant in the NFL.

The critics were completely wrong with their assumption.  Graham had almost the same numbers in the NFL as he did in the AAFC.  Graham would play in 72 games in the NFL and have 88 TD’s and 13,499 yards passing.  Graham and the Browns made the Championship game from 1950 to 1955.  In total Graham led the Browns to 10 straight championship games with them winning 7 of them.  The only years during this period where they did not win a championship was 1951, 1952 and 1953.  Their playoff record was 9-3 during those 10 seasons.

Otto Graham retired after the 1955 season.  He retired with 174 TD’s and 23,584 yards passing.  In his career Graham was a 5 time Pro Bowler and was a 7 time First Team All Pro.  He was one of the first inductees into the Hall Of Fame in 1965.

Otto Graham's Plaque (Getty Images)

Otto Graham’s Plaque (Getty Images)

Otto Graham was able to accomplish something that will never happen again by leading his team to 10 straight championship games.  The only other player to come close was Jim Kelly with the Buffalo Bills.  The Bills made it to the Super Bowl from 1990-1994 but never won any of those games.

There are many names that are discussed when talking about who was the greatest quarterback ever.  Names like Dan Marino, John Elway, Johnny Unitas and Tom Brady but none of those players achieved the success that Graham was able to do.  The only argument that any one might have against Graham would be that the playoffs were shorter with less games when he played.  The fact of the matter is he still won those titles and in both leagues.  The only reason that most people do not consider him the best is because they don’t know anything about him or what he did during his career.

As long as the stats and film are around no one can deny his greatness.  For such a short career by today’s standards he really made an impact.  Otto Graham passed away in 2003.  He left a legacy that will never be forgotten, he will live forever in the Hall Of Fame.

Cleveland Sports “The Heartbreaking History”

My friend George, who is the biggest Browns fan I know came to me with an idea for an article.  The idea was to cover the negative history of sports teams in Cleveland.  I took that Idea and turned it into what you are about to read.  George, this is for you brother!

Cleveland has a history of bad luck and heartbreaking defeats when it comes to its sports franchises.  From the “Fumble” to Lebron’s “Decision”.  There have also been some incredible times for Cleveland’s sports franchises, however the bad far out way the good.  Cleveland is a city that loves it’s sports, unfortunately sports gods do not care for Cleveland very much.  I am going to take you on a trip through the history of Cleveland sports.  So sit back, relax and revel in Cleveland’s sorrows.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Michael Jordan celebrating the “Shot”
(Getty Images)

The Cleveland Cavs have had many Horrible season.  The team has held the franchise record for most loses in a season with 67, twice.  The first came in their inaugural season of 1970-71 and the second  during the 1981-82 season.   The team made a strong run in 1989 only to fall hard to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls.  The game became known for the “Shot”, it was the final game in round one of the Eastern Conference playoffs.  The moment was considered one of the greatest clutch moments in the history of Michael Jordan’s career.  It was one of the worst moments in history of the Cavileers.  The Cavs have never won an NBA Title, not even with the great Lebron James.  The team has only made one trip to the NBA Finals, in 2007 the Cavs were swept by the San Antonio Spurs in 4 games.  The City has Lebron James to blame for one of their many horrible moments.  In 2010 Lebron had an ESPN special live from a Boys and Girls Club in his home town of Akron, Oh.  Many thought because of the location he would be announcing that he would be staying in Cleveland.  He instead announced he would be taking his talents to South Beach and play for the Miami Heat.  That infamous broadcast is known as the “Decision” The City was in an uproar and Lebron jerseys were quickly being thrown away and even burned in the streets of the City who’s heart he broke.  The team followed up the “Decision” with one of the worst seasons in the history of the NBA.  The team lost a record tying 26 games in a row in the 2010-11 season.  The Cavs are 2 years removed from that fateful night and have never been able to get over it.  The team may be destined to dwell in the sadness that is Cleveland sports forever.

Cleveland Indians

The Indians lose to the Marlins in Game 7 of the 1997 World Series
(Getty Images)

The Indians are one of the teams that have been successful at times but have had more bad seasons than good ones.  The team has two World Series Championships.  The first came in 1920 and the most recent was back in 1948.  The Indians have added to the cities history of heartbreak over the years.   From 1960-1993 the team never made the playoffs and spent most of their seasons in last place.  In 1995 the Indians were one of the best teams in the MLB, until they made it to the World Series and lost to the Braves in 6 games.  The team made another trip to the World Series in 1997.  The tribe lost the series to the Florida Marlins in a devastating late inning Game 7 affair in Miami.  The team has been through countless rebuilding periods, all with no success.  The team was even featured as lovable losers and misfits in the major motion picture “Major League”.  The Indians are only second to one other team in the city of heart break, The Cleveland Browns.

Cleveland Browns

The Browns Earnest Byner seconds after the “Fumble”
(Getty Images)

The city’s most devastating stories and moments have come from their football team, the Browns.  The team had early success in the 1950’s and 1960’s.  The Hall Of Fame Quarterback Otto Graham led the team to ten straight championship games with the Browns winning 7 of them.  The team found great success with Hall Of Fame running back Jim Brown.  Brown played with the team in the 60’s and 70’s and established himself as one of the best running backs in the history of the NFL.  The 1980’s brought the team some success. Led by their young quarterback Bernie Kosar, the team made it to the AFC Championship game twice.  Both meetings were against the rival Denver Broncos and their superstar QB John Elway.  The first of those championship meetings came in the 1986 AFC Championship game.  The Browns were leading the Broncos and had them pinned down on their own 2 yard line with 5 minutes and 11 seconds to play.  John Elway was about to show the world that he was one of the best of that era with the “Drive”.  Elway led his team all of the way down the field to score a touchdown and tie the game at 20-20.  The damage had been done and Cleveland lost the game 23-20 in overtime.  The “Drive” took place in Cleveland but that wasn’t the last quotable game to take place at Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium.  In the 1987 AFC Championship Game the Broncos came into town again.  This time the Browns dominated the Broncos for most of the game and looked to be the AFC Champions.  Then the unthinkable happened again, this moment was to be known as the “Fumble”.   With the game tied 30-30 Kosar and the Browns were on the Broncos 8 yard line with 1 minute and 12 seconds left on the clock.  Kosar took the snap and handed the ball off to running back Earnest Byner for what looked like and open touchdown run.  Out of nowhere came the Broncos defensive back Jeremiah Castille who stripped Byner of the ball. The Broncos took the intentional safety and ended up scoring a touchdown with less than a minute to play in the game.  The Broncos defeated the Browns by a score of 38-33.  The city of Cleveland has never fully recovered from the “Drive” or the “Fumble”.  In 1995 The Browns played their final game in Cleveland before owner Art Modell moved the team to Baltimore to become the Ravens.  Modell claimed that he moved the team because he was losing money and could not keep the team the city without a new stadium.  He petitioned for a new stadium for years and saw a new ballpark go up and a new arena be constructed while he was left without tax payer support and a dilapidated stadium.  The Browns would return in 1999 as an expansion team but still had rights to the history of the team unlike other cities who lost their teams and history like Houston.  The “new” Browns have only made it to the playoffs once.  There was hope for the team with new ownership to turn things around in 2012.  The Browns were shut out of the playoffs for another season this year.

All of Cleveland’s major sports teams have gone through hardships. The Browns are by far Cleveland’s most heartbreaking team with a history that will not let the fans of Cleveland rest easy.  Any time something goes well for any of their teams disappointment is sure to follow.  Maybe one day the sports gods will treat the great fans of Cleveland to some success and happiness.

*UPDATE*

The Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Golden State Warriors in game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals to become NBA Champions for the first time in their history.  They also ended the decades long championship drought for the city of Cleveland.  This event was aided by LeBron James returning to Cleveland in 2014.

Dream Match Up: 1997 Marlins VS 2003 Marlins

The Florida Marlins have been one of the most unusual franchises in the history of baseball.  They have only been in existence for 19 years and have had really highs and dramatic lows.  They have captured 2 World Series Championships, the first in 1997 and 2003.  They have also had some of the worst teams in recent memory.  Their 1998 squad was the first team to lose over 100 games after winning the World Series.  The Marlins have been up and down since their last title.  I have decided to use the technology available today with sports simulators like Whatifsports.com to find out what Marlins team was the greatest.  Before that I will give you an idea what we have here in each team, so let’s take a look.

The 1997 Florida Marlins (92-70 record, entered the N.L. Playoffs by way of the Wild Card)

The 1997 Florida Marlins
(Getty Images)

The Marlins entered their 5th season with high hopes.  The field was full of great players of that time.  Bobby Bonilla came in as the big free agent acquisition from the previous off season.  The squad also had the hard hitting Gary Sheffield, “Mr. Marlin” Jeff Conine and the best fielding catchers of that season in Charles Johnson to name a few.  This Marlins team was assembled by then owner Wayne Huizenga to turn the tax payers of Miami onto the idea of funding a baseball only stadium.  That did not happen but the team did accomplish the unbelievable.  The Marlins swept the San Fansisco Giants in the N.L. Divisional round and headed into the N.L.C.S. versus a very dominant Atlanta Braves team.  The Marlins won that series in 6 games.  The most memorable game of that series was when the rookie Cuban defector Livan Hernandez throw for 15 strike outs in game 5 and defeated one of the best pitchers of the day in Greg Maddux with a 2-1 victory.  The Marlins charged into the World Series against the Cleveland Indians.  The Marlins won the first game which was played in Miami in the state of Florida’s 1st World Series Game.  The teams kept switching off wins the entire  World Series.  In game 7 of the 1997 World Series the Marlins came out on top when Edgar Renteria batted in the winning run in the bottom of the 11th, which was the mid season acquisition of Craig Counsell.  This team was a great on e and will go down as the state of Florida’s 1st World Series Champions.

The 2003 Florida Marlins (91-71 record, entered the N.L. Playoffs by way of the Wild Card)

The 2003 Florida Marlins
(Getty Images)

This Marlins squad was built a lot in part to the 1998 fire sale.  One of the players received during the sale would end up being the 1st baseman from the 2003 championship team Derek Lee.  Many of the draft picks acquired during that time drafted many of the players on this championship team.  When the season started the team did not have very high expectations but was expected to fair better than they did in the first two months of the season.  The Marlins had a record of 16-22 when manager Jeff Torborg was fired and replaced by 72 year old Jack McKeon in May.  The season was about to turn around in large part to mid season call ups Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabrera.  The team which also acquired veteran Jeff Conine back during the middle of the season made it into the playoffs through a wild card bid.  Like the team did in 1997 this team beat the Giants in the Divisional Playoff Series to advance to the N.L.C.S. to face the Chicago Cubs.  The Marlins won the N.L.C.S. against the Cubs in 7 games.  The team was almost eliminated in game 6 but had a miracle in the late innings of the game and were able to stay alive until game 7.  The World Series had the Marlins in the usual spot as the underdog against the New York Yankees. The Marlins rode the incredible pitching of Josh Beckett to beat the Yanks in 6 games.  This team shocked the world more than the 1997 team.  This squad was also younger and more inexperienced than the 1997 squad but proved themselves to be just a great.

The Simulation via Whatifsports.com – 1997 Marlins VS 2003 Marlins

I decided to go with a one game championship to determine which World Series team was the best.  The 2003 squad got the 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning.  The 1997 team came up with 1 run in the bottom of the first to trail by only 1 run.  The next and only additional runs of the game came in the 5th inning when the 1997 team put 2 runs on the board which would seal the victory. The 1997 team had 10 hits while the 2003 team had just 7 hits total.  Kevin Brown won the game with 8 innings pitched and Rob Nen got the save.  Gary Sheffield had a home run and 2 RBI’s in the winning effort.  The losing pitcher was Carl Pavano and the 2003 team had runs scored by Juan Pierre and Luis Castillo the only RBI came from Derek Lee.  This was a very tight game and had some good pitching from both teams.  The offense of both teams was toned down a bit by both Kevin Brown and Carl Pavano.

Champions: 1997 Florida Marlins

The Ultimate Marlins team the 1997 Florida Marlins
(Getty Images)

My thoughts

This was a dream match up that all Marlins fans would love to see but unfortunately we have only simulation.  I feel that if we could see these two great teams face off this is the likely outcome.  The 1997 team was more experienced and would have handled the game much better than the 2003 team.  The offensive power was greater and the bats were better on the 1997 team.  Both teams were great but on this night the 1997 Florida Marlins proved themselves to be the ultimate champions.