Tag Archives: august

Wrigley Field – “Turn On The Lights!”

wrigley

On this day in 1988 Wrigley Field finally joined the 20th Century.  The great American ballpark that is Wrigley finally hosted a night game under the lights.  Wrigley Field was opened on April 23, 1914 under the name of Weeghman Park.  The ballpark underwent many changes through the years but the most important was installing lights.  A total of 5,687 consecutive day games where played there before they held a night game.

The Philadelphia Phillies were the Cubs opponents on this night.  The game had a scheduled start time of 7:05pm.  A pregame ceremony took place prior to the game in which a long time Cubs fan was able to hit a button to turn on the lights.  The interesting not about this game it was never an official game.  The game was halted in the fourth inning because of rain at 8:14pm.  The game was officially called off at 10:25pm.

The first full game under the light would take place the following night on August 9, 1988.  The Cubs defeated the New York Mets in that contest by a score of 6-4.  Wrigley had a deal with the city of Chicago for many years following to only play around 20 night games a season.  The reason for this was with the ballpark being located in a residential area of the city the lights would affect the local residents from sleeping at night.

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The 1994 MLB Players Strike: The 20th Anniversary

On August 11, 1994 the final game of the 1994 MLB Season was played between the Montreal Expos and the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Pirates were victorious on that day winning by a score of 4-0. Twenty years ago today the history of baseball changed forever. There have been strikes in the game of baseball before but none of them were as damaging to the game as this one.

Here is the short story of what transpired prior to August 11, 1994. The MLB Players Association had been going back and forth with the MLB Oweners for almost one year over a proposed salary cap. The Owners claimed it was necessary to have a salary cap in place for small market teams to survive the current state of MLB.  The salary cap combined with local television revenues would sustain the smaller market teams and thus benefit all of MLB. The players were not willing to agree to the terms the owners had set and after numerous negotiations decided as a group to sit out the rest of the season. On top of all of the problems between the two sides there had not been an official commissioner presiding over baseball since 1992.  Baseball needed a commissioner that could moderate between the two sides.

The lock gate of a MLB stadium during the 1994 Players Strike. (Getty Images)

The locked gate of a MLB stadium during the 1994 Players Strike. (Getty Images)

On August 12, 1994 The strike officially began and America would not see Major League Baseball action until the strike ended on April 2, 1995. Judge Sonia Sotomayor of the United States District Court for the Southern District, New York, issued an injunction that ended the strike. Judge Sotomayor ruled that the players and owners were bound by the expired collective bargaining agreement until a new deal could be reached. The strike lasted a total of 232 days and reduced the 1995 season to 144 games from the traditional 162 games.

The sight that awaited the players when they returned to the diamond following the 1994 Players Strike. (Getty Images)

The sight that awaited the players when they returned to the diamond following the 1994 Players Strike. (Getty Images)

Throughout the 1995 MLB Season the fans showed their displeasure with the strike that had tainted the game that they love.  Many fans saw it as two greedy side fighting for more money.  Fans all over the country showed their disdain for the players in their own ways.  Many fans decided not to go to games or buy any MLB merchandise, while other fans decided to show up and let the players know how they felt by throwing objects at them and taunting them.  Baseball did not see much gain in popularity until the steroid driven home run fest of the late 1990’s.  The “Steroid Era” further damaged the game of baseball when it was made public in the mid 2000’s.

Because of the 1994 MLB Players Strike there was no World Series played that year, it was the first season without a World Series since 1904. There were many casualties of the strike of the 1994 Strike. The most notable were the Montreal Expos who were having their best season in team history and lead baseball with a 74-70 record when the strike ended. The Expos would have likely reached the MLB Playoffs and possibly even the World Series but instead faded into obscurity. The franchise would not reach the post season until the team became the Washington Nationals more than a decade later.

There are many lessons that have been learned from the 1994 Players Strike. The most important of those lessons is that no League can disregard the fans and still profit greatly from them. Many felt the financial impact that the strike had on the game due to raising the fans ire. Baseball was considered America’s most popular sport prior to the strike. It fell behind the NFL in popularity a few years after the strike and has never grabbed its old position back from football since. The game of baseball is a beautiful game but in 1994 it was tainted by greed and the fans were the biggest victims of the dispute between the owners and the players.

On This Day In 1993: Nolan Ryan Put Robin Ventura In A Headlock

Nolan Ryan was 46 years of age when the 1993 MLB season began.  He announced that he would retire at the end of the season.  Nolan Ryan had pitched magic through four decades and was ready to call it a career.  The last big moment in his pitching career came not from his pitches but from his fists.

On August 4th, 1993 the visiting Chicago White Sox were in Arlington to take on the Texas Rangers.  Nolan Ryan was on the mound for the Rangers.  After giving up 2-runs to the White Sox in the first inning he was facing young third baseman Robin Ventura.  Ventura had hit for an RBI single off of Ryan in the first inning.  On his first pitch Ryan beaned Ventura in the elbow.

Nolan Ryan fighting at age 46.  (Getty Images)

Nolan Ryan fighting at age 46. (Getty Images)

Robin Ventura appeared to be walking to first base when he suddenly threw his helmet down and charged at the mound.  Ryan calmly side stepped Ventura and put him in a headlock with is left arm.  Ryan proceeded to punch the 26 year old Ventura in the face approximately 6 times before his catcher Ivan Rodriguez could pull him away.  The teams quickly cleared the bench and a wild brawl ensued.  When the field was cleared 5 minutes later, Ventura and his manager Gene Lamont were ejected from the game by the Umpire.  Ryan would not be ejected due to the fact he never left the mound until Ventura reached him.

Nolan Ryan would leave the game in the seventh inning with his team leading 5-2.  The score would not change and Ryan received the win.  It was his third win of the season.

Nolan Ryan would only pitch for a few more times before his arm was finally thrown out in late September.  This is not only one of the many memorable Nolan Ryan moments but it was the most memorable baseball fight of the 1990s.  The fight was played numerous times on television newscasts the next day.  Everyone was happy to see a 46 year old Ryan school Robin Ventura who was 20 years his junior.  It showed how tough Ryan really was and baseball fans nation wide loved it.  This was an incredible moment for Ryan to end his final season on.

Why You Should Watch UFC 148: Silva VS Sonnen II

One of the biggest MMA fights of the year is taking place July 7th on the UFC 148 card in Las Vegas.  One of the longest running championship reigns in the UFC is being challenged.  Also the most charismatic figure in MMA  is in this fight.  UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva will defend his title against Chael Sonnen in their second battle.  Their first fight took place on August 7th, 2010.  It was an incredible fight and one of the best fights in 2010.  Anderson Silva was losing the fight going into the 5th and final round when he was able to submit Sonnen with less than 2 minutes remaining in the fight.  It was a fight that caused many to demand a rematch.

Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen at a press conference.
(Getty Images)

It has been almost 2 years since their first battle.  Many things have happened in the last couple of years to make it difficult for this fight to take place.  In 2011 Chael Sonnen was dealing with a legal battle involving fraudulent use of his real estate license from 2006.  That issue resulted in Sonnen losing his real estate license.  Almost immediately after that problem was over Sonnen had controversy with the California State Athletic Commission for using PED’s.  It was shown through urinalysis that Sonnen had elevated levels of testosterone during the fight on the 7th of August, 2010.  He was suspended and the rematch was put on hold.  He was recently cleared by the commission and the fight was finally scheduled.

Originally the fight was to take place in Brazil, in Silva’s home country.  The President of the UFC Dana White wanted to have the event held in a big soccer stadium in the country.  It would have made for great visuals and would have made the event very memorable.  Unfortunately the United Nations will be holding a convention in Brazil in July as well.  It was not in Brazil’s or the UFC’s favor to have both events there at the same time.  The UFC 148 show was moved to Las Vegas a couple of months ago to solve the scheduling conflict.

Chael Sonnen holds a record of 27 wins and 11 loses and has a good all around fight game.  Sonnen is not only an incredible fighter but also has the talking ability the world of MMA has never seen before.  He has cut some of the best promos seen in the UFC.  Sonnen has a very pro wrestling style of talking up the fights and that is what the sport needs more of.  It makes the fights feel like big events and is a very entertaining way of promotion for the events.  He is a one of a kind talent that could do very well as a champion for the UFC  and draw big PPV numbers.

Anderson Silva is a completely different man.  Silva is quiet and too himself, the language barrier does not help him being marketable in the US either.  Silva hold s a record of 35 wins and 4 loses.  He has been a UFC Champion since October of 2006 when he defeated Rich Franklin for the middle wieght title.   Silva is a great stand up fighter with good submission skills.  He has dominated most of his fights in the last 6 years.  There have been times however when matched up against lesser fighters where he has settled into a groove during the fight and not been very aggressive.  Sonnen showed in the first fight that he can get Silva out of that groove and make him fight.

Chael Sonnen pushing Anderson Silva to the limit during their 1st fight on August 7th,2010.
(Getty Images)

This fight will probably be the best selling fight of the year for the UFC on PPV.  Some are predicting more than 1 million PPV buys.  I expect it to be a great fight, maybe even better than their first contest.  I predict that Sonnen will win the fight via decision in 5 rounds.  No matter who wins we will have great stories coming out of this fight.  Either we will see Silva further cement his place as the best fighter in the UFC or we see their most charismatic champion ever.  I think Sonnen winning would be a better outcome for the UFC.  Sonnen has the potential to be one of their biggest PPV drawing buys since George St. Pierre and Brock Lesnar.  The time to find out who takes this rematch is almost here and the fans and the MMA world can wait for it any longer.