Friday, July 8, 2016

The Top 5 College Football Towns

It’s just a matter of weeks before college football sweeps the nation once again. Most of us will be catching the must-see matchups from the comfort of our living rooms, but if you’re one of the lucky few to go see a game in person, you’ll get to enjoy all the pomp and circumstance that comes with game day in a college town. Here are a few of the top college football cities to visit for the best game day experience.

1.    Ann Arbor, MI – The city the Wolverines call home has long been a mecca of college football. Not only is the stadium gigantic and always garners a raucous, passionate crowd, but the city has a great selection of local eateries and breweries that can accommodate crowds after a big win. The landscape is also ridiculously picturesque in autumn which has given Ann Arbor its “Tree Town” nickname.

2.    Baton Rouge, LA – LSU owns the night on home games. With a nearly unblemished record playing in front of their home crowd under the lights, the Tigers and their eardrum-ringing crowd are a force to be reckoned with. Soak up those early beers with the inevitable spread of Cajun food you’re going to find in a sea of tailgates, many of which have been there for years and have their own specialized tailgating gear, group name and history.

3.    Austin, TX – Home of the Longhorns, Texas’ capital is a must-see spot for college football. While the on-field product has experienced some growing pains over the past few years, the stadium atmosphere is always top notch and the surrounding area is as well. Great barbeque within walking distance, a huge selection of bars, relaxing down near Town Lake and catching some live music are just a few of the things you can do before and after the big game.

4.    Eugene, OR – Since the Ducks became a mainstay in the college football elite, their hometown has football fans flocking. A pristine, state-of-the-art stadium draws huge sellout crowds for every game, the city is nestled in a valley of over 40 breweries and great outdoor activities are just a short drive away in any direction.

5.    Blacksburg, VA – Much like Longhorn fans, those who support the maroon-and-orange-clad Hokies have had a rough go of it for the last few years when it comes to wins and losses. None of that takes away from the beautiful scenery on the Virginia Tech campus and the great football traditions. Wander through the beautiful fall colors on your way to a tailgate loaded down with hearty football grub, watch the team and cheerleaders parade into the stadium, jump up and down with 60,000+ fans to “Enter Sandman” when the Hokies enter the field and grab yourself a skull-sized turkey leg to munch on during the game. There’s nothing quite like a football game in Blacksburg on a cool, crisp night.

Whether it’s the tailgating, the stadium atmosphere or the city getting involved, these spots have proven to be some of the best college football towns in America. Got one you think should be on this list? Let us know in the comments below!
Tuesday, July 5, 2016

5 Great Injury Comeback Stories

An injury to an athlete can be as minor as a cut on the arm and as serious as reconstructive surgery. For people who devote their entire lives and livelihood to staying healthy and fit, the threat of injury is always a concern. We’ve all heard about the unfortunate career-ending injuries past and present, but we’re probably even more familiar with the athletes who came back from seemingly rock bottom to produce stellar performances. You may know of one that hits closer to home, but here are some of what we thought are the biggest injury comebacks in sports.

Kerri Strug vaulted the U.S. Women’s Olympic gymnastics team to new heights when she landed probably the gutsiest vault anyone has seen in Olympic history. Strug badly injured her ankle on her first vault, leaving many to believe there was no way she could land a perfect second vault to give the Americans the gold medal. Despite excruciating pain, Strug ran down the mat, executed a perfect vault and landed on one foot to seal the deal for the American team and cement her place in sports history.

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Bethany Hamilton loved surfing from the moment she could stand up on a board. A shark attack when she was just 13 years old left her without her left arm. In a show of courage and confidence, Hamilton was back on her board and competing just three weeks later. She’s gone on to carve herself a very successful career in professional surfing.

Drew Brees tore his labrum and partially tore his rotator cuff in his throwing arm while playing for the San Diego Chargers in 2005. After intense rehabilitation and a lot of hard work, Brees found his way to New Orleans and led the Saints to their first ever championship. He’s gone on to become one of the most successful quarterbacks in NFL history across the statistical board.

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Byron Leftwich broke his left tibia during a game against Akron University. After receiving an X-ray, Leftwich came back into the game and tried to spark a rally for the trailing Marshall Thundering Herd. While they ended up losing the game, his guts became a thing of sports lore. Many spectators remember him hobbling on one leg to make amazing throws and his lineman carrying him down the field between plays to reach the line of scrimmage.

Niki Lauda is a household name in Formula One racing, and he regularly spoke out for driver safety during his time in the sport. In 1976, the German Grand Prix was scheduled to be raced, and Lauda tried to garner support for boycotting the race due to poor safety standards on the track. Without the support, Lauda decided to drive and was involved in an accident that caused his car to burst into flames. Badly burned and having fallen into a coma, Lauda miraculously raced just six weeks later and finished fourth in the Italian Grand Prix.
Saturday, June 11, 2016

Ten Strange & Obscure Sports Facts

We’ve all memorized the iconic moments of our favorite teams. We remember where we were when they won big games, lost bigger games, became hometown heroes and more. But how’s your random sports trivia knowledge? The world of sports is rife with obscure, lesser-known facts and stats that seem impossible. Here are just a few of them that stuck out to us.

  1. Tug of War isn’t just a game made up for summer camps. From 1900–1920, it was featured in the Summer Olympics!
  2. Shaquille O’Neal missed more than a few free throws over his career. He missed 5,317, to be exact.
  3. From 1990–1998, when Michael Jordan was on the Chicago Bulls, the team never experienced a three-game losing streak.
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  4. Prairie View A&M’s football team had a rough patch for a while. From 1989–1998, the football team lost 80 straight gameswhich stands as the longest consecutive losing streak in sports history.
  5. Former home-run king Roger Maris was never intentionally walked the year he hit 61 home runs. 
  6. Michael Phelps’ medal count at the Olympics puts him ahead of nearly 100 nations on the all-time list.
  7. On average, less than 18 minutes of a baseball game is actual action. That’s a lot of standing around!
  8. The 60+ home run mark has only been eclipsed eight times in the history of baseball. Sammy Sosa accounts for three of those eight times.
  9. Wilt “The Stilt” Chamberlain never fouled out of a game in his storied basketball career. Not once.
  10. Michael Jordan was nicknamed “Magic” in high school after Lakers great Magic Johnson. That would’ve created plenty of confusion had the nickname stuck in the pros!

Sports will always be full of big moments and exciting games, and plenty more head-scratching stats are bound to come with them. What are some of your favorite random sports facts? Let us know in the comments below!

Friday, June 10, 2016

The Best Winning Percentages in Baseball History

As of a few days ago, the Chicago Cubs became the fastest team to 40 wins in 15 years, with the last team to do it being the single-season win-record-tying Seattle Mariners of 2001. That got us wondering what some of the best winning percentages have been in baseball over the course of the league’s history.

chicago cubs 1906
Chicago in 1906
Photo credit: wikipedia
1. The 1906 Chicago Cubs – Fewer games were played back then, which inflates the winning percentage by today’s standards, but the ‘06 Cubbies finished with 116 wins and a .763 win percentage. They lost that year’s World Series.

2. The 1902 Pittsburgh Pirates – Four years earlier (when the season was even shorter) the Pittsburgh Pirates finished with 103 wins and a .741 win percentage. The World Series hadn’t become the means of crowning a champion yet, as the National and American Leagues hadn’t merged, but the ‘02 Pirates won the National League title that year.

3. The 1886 Chicago White Stockings – The boys in white finished with a .726 winning percentage and beat the St. Louis Browns to win that year’s World Series, which was a more disorganized version of the revamped tournament that came to be in 1903.

4. The 1909 Pittsburgh Pirates – The Bucs garnered a .724 winning percentage and won that year’s World Series against the Detroit Tigers.

Cleveland in 1954
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5. The 1954 Cleveland Indians – Winning 111 games, the Indians amassed a .721 winning percentage but fell short of glory, losing that year’s World Series to Willie Mays and the New York Giants.

There are several more high-win percentage teams in the record books, but only the 2001 Mariners and the 1998 New York Yankees have left their mark over the last 20 or so years of baseball. Parity and long, grueling seasons with games played upwards of five days per week can take its toll on players. Can the Cubs stay on pace and surpass their 1906 record-setting total of 116 games? It would definitely be a moment to remember.

What do you think will happen with the Cubs this season after such a hot start? Let us know in the comments below!

P.S. Fun fact: The 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings posted a perfect undefeated season by going 67-0. The team stretched out that record into the following year and reached 80-0. Not too shabby!
Friday, June 3, 2016

How Some Baseball Team Names Came to Be

With basketball and hockey winding down their playoff tournaments, we’re just a few weeks away from turning our collective sports-watching attention to baseball. Whether you love or hate baseball, you can’t deny the sport carries with it some imaginative and downright strange mascot names. Ever wondered why a team has the name it does? Here’s a quick history of baseball team names for a few of our favorites.

New York Mets

It may not be a flashy team name, but it’s a clever one. The Metropolitans hold the distinction of being one of Major League Baseball’s first expansion teams, and the team’s inaugural season took place in 1962. The team was created after the Dodgers and Giants left New York City for California, and the nickname was chosen as a play off of “Metropolis,” which is one of several nicknames for New York City. Did you know the Mets’ colors and uniform design are a combination of all the past and present New York City baseball teams? The team borrowed pinstripes from the Yankees, blue from the Dodgers and orange from the Giants!

Houston Astros

Region-specific names are always fun, and the Astros’ name definitely pays tribute to Houston’s involvement with NASA and the space program. The team started out as an expansion team called the Colt .45s in 1962 (same year as the Mets) but changed its name in 1965 to establish roots in its Texan home.
The Montgomery Biscuits
Photo credit: Biscuits' Twitter feed

Montgomery Biscuits

It isn’t a big-league team, but the Biscuits of Montgomery has one of the coolest team names in the game. The team started out as the Orlando Twins, a minor-league affiliate of the big-league Minnesota Twins, in 1973. Once the team moved to Montgomery and decided to change mascot names, the Biscuits became an overwhelming favorite. Its logo is campy and fun (an anthropomorphic biscuit with a butter pad for a tongue), and team members shoot biscuits out of a cannon and into the stands at every home game. Fans can also be heard shouting, “Heyyyyy, butter, butter, butter,” to the opposing batter. Who’s hungry?

Oakland Athletics

The A’s began with a run in Philadelphia and stayed there until 1954 before a brief stay in Kansas City and an eventual landing in the Bay Area, but how did the team get that name? Initially, the organization was an amateur athletic gentlemen’s club in the 1860s known as the Athletic Club of Philadelphia. When the A’s became a professional baseball team in the late 1800s, the name stuck. In North American sports tradition, it’s been shortened into something of a mascot-esque name, but its roots are very similar to European sports clubs that go sans mascot.
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Albuquerque Isotopes

This minor-league affiliate of the Colorado Rockies was initially referred to as the Albuquerque Dukes due to the New Mexican city’s nickname of “Duke City.” Once team ownership decided it was time for a change, they looked to pop culture to find a new name. In an episode of “The Simpsons,” Springfield’s beloved baseball team, the Isotopes, leaves town to relocate to Albuquerque. The Dukes’ ownership decided that was too good a gimmick to pass up, and they changed their team to the Albuquerque Isotopes (“‘topes” for short) in real life!

Akron RubberDucks

Known as the Aeros for the past several years, this Cleveland Indians affiliate changed its name in 2013 to pay tribute to Akron’s rubber industry. The city is the birthplace of famous companies such as Goodyear, Firestone, Goodrich and General Tire. The team’s black and orange color scheme and ferocious-looking duck may try and instill a sense of intimidation, but we can’t help but think of colorful little ducks floating in a bathtub.

The history of baseball team names is vast and varied, and they’re bound to change as the years go on. Which one’s your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!

Monday, May 9, 2016

5 Iconic Color Schemes of the NFL

popular nfl color schemes

A true NFL fan will display his or her team’s colors absolutely anywhere: on clothes, at home, across a bumper sticker and even painted on skin. A fan wears team colors with pride and isn’t afraid to do so in both winning and losing seasons. But why do some teams have the colors that they do? Some teams have more obvious reasons than others, but they all have one thing in common: Their colors tell a passionate story of regional pride and history. Here are a few of those stories.

Carolina Panthers
Blue Hex Color: #0088CE; RGB: (0, 136, 206)
Black Hex Color: #000000; RGB: (0, 0, 0)
Silver Hex Color: #A5ACAF; RGB: (165, 172, 175)

The Carolina Panthers joined the NFL on October 26, 1993, making the team one of the newest in the NFL. After much deliberation, it decided to be the rallying team for both North and South Carolina. The team wanted a name and color scheme to represent the power of the region, thus landing on the Panthers and a logo specially crafted to represent the geographic outline of both Carolinas. Inspired by the deep black of panther fur and a beautifully contrasting silver, the team landed on “Process Blue,” just a few shades lighter than Duke’s blue and a few shades darker than North Carolina’s.

Normally, the Panthers wear white jerseys with white pants or black-and-blue jerseys paired with silver pants. There have only been a few exceptions to these combinations, one of which was in 2012 during a game against the Denver Broncos, when the team paired its black jerseys with new black pants. This all-black uniform won the "Greatest Uniform in NFL History," a fan-voted contest run by the NFL, in July 2013. While it is not clear whether the team will wear that uniform again, the Carolina Panther blue will always stand as one of the boldest in the NFL.

Denver Broncos
Broncos Orange Hex Color: #FB4F14; RGB: (251, 79, 20)
Broncos Navy Hex Color: #002244; RGB: (0, 34, 68)

The Denver Broncos were founded on August 1, 1959, and made their debut in the NFL in 1960 with mustard yellow and white jerseys and brown pants. These original uniforms were borrowed and old and didn’t excite the Denver crowds. Eight years later, the team revealed the “Orange Crush” and bright-blue color scheme.

These were much softer colors and were quite unprecedented at the time. They drew large crowds, not only because of the interesting contrast, but also their ability to always be seen. The orange contrasts beautifully with the blue sky at games, making the Broncos’ stadium and crowds some of the most photogenic in the NFL. The colors stand out in rain, snow and fog and can’t be washed out. The Broncos redesigned its logo and helmets with navy blue replacing royal blue and quickly became one of the most popular teams in the NFL. The Orange Crush continues to wear one of the most recognizable color schemes in the NFL today.

Seattle Seahawks
College Navy Hex Color: #002244; RGB: (0, 21, 50)
Action Green Hex Color: #69BE28; RGB: (105, 190, 40)
Wolf Gray Hex Color: #A5ACAF; RGB: (155, 161, 162)

Joining the NFL in 1976, the Seattle Seahawks were the only NFL franchise in the Pacific Northwest region and still are today. As an expansion team, the founders had the opportunity to think about who they wanted to be and what their region stood for. Paying homage to Northwestern tribal art with the Seahawk logo, they created a slightly monochromatic color scheme with royal blue, lime green and a shimmery silver. A few decades later, the team debuted the “Seahawk Blue,” a slightly darker navy, with more metallic gray in the uniforms. No other team has used it previously, as it was custom made for the Seahawks by Nike.

This color scheme is another standout in the NFL. Many teams today have opposite tones as their official colors, but the Seattle Seahawks have found an image for themselves with two colors that blend well together while contrasting drastically. Seahawk fans are immediately recognized in a crowd and have a color scheme that beautifully represents the geographic region. The Seahawk Blue is a true standout in the NFL.

New England Patriots
Nautical Blue Hex Color: #0D254C
Red Hex Color: #C80815
New Century Silver Hex Color: #D6D6D6
White Hex Color: #FFFFFF

After 10 years of poor attendance and countless losses, and after moving home stadiums, the Boston Patriots joined the NFL as the New England Patriots as part of the 1970 NFL-AFL merger. The Patriots adopted the name for its regional historic nature: patriotism. And with the name Patriots, it was a given to have red, white and blue as the color scheme. Originally, the team had bright red uniforms, something no other team in the NFL had at the time. However, these were paired with a tri-corner hat logo that was very hard for fans to make out. Pat the Patriot, a new logo with a patriot hiking a football, replaced the hat, but when the team continued to lose, it needed to be revamped, starting with its image.

The Flying Elvis, the logo the team uses today, was rolled out in 1993 along with dark-blue and white uniforms. This was the beginning of the team’s winning streak and sparked its seven Super Bowl visits and four Super Bowl wins. The colors are classic and American and represent the region with pride.

Green Bay Packers
Forest Green Hex Color: #203731; RGB: (32, 55, 49)
Cheese Gold Hex Color: #FFB612; RGB: (255, 182, 18)

On August 11, 1919, the Green Bay Packers were founded, later joining the NFL in 1921 as the third oldest team. Founder Curly Lambeau received funding from his employer, the Acme Packing Company, which is where the name Packers comes from. Lambeau, a graduate of Notre Dame, borrowed the school’s navy-blue and gold as the team’s original colors. It wasn’t until 1950, when the team added green in an effort to separate itself from the university, that it became the recognizable team that it is today.

The team’s current color scheme is a yellowy gold and forest green. Its uniform combination of green, white and gold was adopted right after Vince Lombardi arrived in 1959. The team redesigned its logo to include the iconic oval “G” and put this mark on the side of every helmet. This unique yet simplistic design perfectly represented the loving community-owned team and its fans. Forest green is one of the least-used colors in the NFL but is still packed with Green Bay Packer pride.

What's your favorite color scheme in the NFL? Is it different than what your favorite team wears on game day? Sound off in the comments below!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

5 of the Most Famous Stadiums in Sports

most famous sports stadiums

With baseball in full swing, basketball and hockey in the middle of their respective playoff tournaments, football just coming off the hype of their annual draft, college football gearing up for the fall season and soccer leagues wrapping up their regular season in preparation for European tournaments and the Olympics, sports are clearly in full swing all around the globe. That’s got us thinking about all of the historic and iconic places that are hosting games in the next few months. We can’t possibly touch on all of them, but here are some fun facts about five of the most historic stadiums in all of sports:

Madison Square Garden
1. Madison Square Garden – The Garden has had several different iterations over the years, but the arena as it currently exists opened in 1968 and has hosted plenty of great moments and championships for the New York Rangers. While it has its fair share of design quirks that have required several renovations over the years, the amount of unforgettable sports moments the venue has hosted make it a sports mecca. Did you know the continent’s first artificial ice rink opened at Madison Square Garden in 1879?

2. Fenway Park – The iconic home of the Red Sox opened its doors for games in 1912. Many of its unique design elements, such as the uneven outfield wall dimensions (and the massively tall left field wall known as the Green Monster), have been copied by dozens of more modern baseball venues to one degree or another. Fun fact: The Green Monster wasn’t always green. The park was open for 35 years before the wall was painted and got its famous moniker.

3. Lambeau Field – While it may have undergone some renovations in recent years to bring it up to date, Lambeau Field has long been considered an American football landmark. Initially called City Stadium, it was renamed after former coach Curly Lambeau and is the oldest stadium in the NFL. Did you know it also hosted the coldest NFL game on record? The temperature during the 1967 NFC Championship against the Dallas Cowboys was a balmy, comfortable -25 degrees.

the palestra
The Palestra
4. The Palestra – The home of several of the University of Pennsylvania’s varsity sports teams opened in 1927 and, at the time, was one of the largest basketball arenas in the world with a standing capacity approaching 10,000. Design-wise, it was one of the first in a wave of arenas that were ahead of their time in featuring a suspended roof without any view-obstructing posts. Its arched steel beam design gives every spectator the best seat in the house, and its style has been replicated in arenas across the nation. Dubbed the Cathedral of Basketball, the Palestra was named by Dr. William N. Bates, a Greek professor at Penn. “Palestra” is an ancient Greek term referring to a rectangular enclosure attached to a gymnasium where Greek athletes would compete in front of an audience. The term fits, since the Palestra is attached to Penn’s Hutchinson Gymnasium and hosts basketball, wrestling and volleyball.

5. Wimbledon Centre Court – You’d probably be hard pressed to find any tennis fans decked out in striped overalls at this venue, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s one of the most iconic locations in sports. Built in 1922, Wimbledon has hosted some of the most storied matches in the sport’s history and is still considered the pinnacle of tennis competition. Fun fact: Unlike other tennis tournament locales that have become more relaxed over the years when it comes to attire, any player who sets foot at Wimbledon must be clad almost entirely in white. Not even shoes can feature another color.

There are plenty of places around the world to catch a game, but it’s the historic places that set the standard for all the venues that followed, and the history of those famous stadiums is what fans cling on to. What are some of your favorite moments from your favorite stadiums? Share them with us in the comments below!