Monday, June 12, 2017

Five Most Dominant Softball Teams

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The Oklahoma Sooners just beat the Florida Gators for the softball national championship in the Women’s College World Series, including a 17-inning thriller in Game 1. If you haven’t paid close attention to the WCWS over the last few years, you might think we’ve been watching reruns of the games each year. That’s because either Oklahoma or Florida has been in the softball championship round for eight of the last nine years. That sort of dominance is almost unheard of, and it got us thinking about college softball teams that have mopped the floor with their opponents over the years. In no particular order, here are five of them.
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1. UCLA – From WCWS inception to now, the UCLA Bruins have mauled team after team on their way to a staggering 12 national titles on 19 tries. Another ridiculous statistic: the Bruins only lost double-digit games one time over any of those championship seasons. Get used to the baby blue and yellow on your T.V. screens for years to come.

2. Arizona – 13 times in the championship series, the Wildcats have walked away with eight titles to their name, with the most recent one coming in 2007 and their last appearance in 2010. While the team didn’t make it into the national title picture this year, they hit .341 as a team, barraging defenses with their timely hitting. As a show of the stiff competition in Division I, that average was only good for fourth best in the country.

3. Florida – The Gators from Gainesville are no strangers to the national championship stage, making five appearances since 2009 and winning twice. They know their way around a softball bat, but it’s their defense that’s gotten the attention. This year, Kelly Barnhill led all of DI college softball with an unbelievable earned run average of 0.51. Just over half a run allowed per game. As a team, the Gators lead the nation with an ERA of 0.81. Teams might as well have conceded defeat after the first batter of each game.

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4. Oklahoma – The other fixture in recent championships, the Sooners are 4-for-5 in national title series and are quickly looking like the next major softball dynasty. They were a top ten team in earned run average this year, batted over .310 as a team, hit a ridiculous 66 home runs and 99 doubles, and struck out only 91 times on the season.

5. Minnesota – The Gophers are new to the national spotlight in college softball, but we don’t see them having a short stay. This year, the Golden Gophers batted .342, batted in 406 runs over 61 games, pitched a 1.19 team ERA and struck out 462 batters to just 240 hits. They’ve got tough competition in some of our other entries on the list but look for Minnesota to hang around the WCWS title picture for quite a while with their mostly-underclass squad. Five straight trips to the post-season shows they mean business.

Who do you think is going to dominate softball headlines next season? Are we in for more of the same or will someone dethrone the Gators and Sooners? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

When is the Color Black a Bad Uniform Color?

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A day before the start of the NBA Finals, the Cleveland Cavaliers revealed a new set of logos and wordmarks for the 2017-18 season. Aside from a few font and logo changes, the Cavs will be introducing black as an official part of their color scheme. Black is a pretty divisive color in sports uniforms. Some think it adds an element of intimidation and sleek styling to a team’s identity, while others find it shoehorned into an otherwise perfectly fine color combination. It works for some teams (the Raiders, White Sox and Giants) and not so much for others (the Clippers and Mets). Regardless of your stance on black in sports uniforms, here are five instances where teams went too far with the look.

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1. New York Mets (1998 – 2012)
The Metropolitans were one of the bigger teams to jump on the black bandwagon back in the late ‘90s, almost relegating their crisp orange and blue colors to window dressing. They had a dizzying number of alternate looks, all featuring black to varying degrees and styles. In 2013, they finally went back to their roots of orange and blue, and the baseball-watching world is all the better for it.

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2. San Francisco 49ers (1996 – 2008)
This one can’t definitively label 2008 as the ending year, since the Niners still parade themselves in an all-black snoozer of a uniform from time to time. Still, ’08 was the year they dropped the egregious use of black drop shadow on their uniforms and went back to the clean, crisp red and gold of their glory days. You’ll still see some thick black on their logo, but the regular uniforms remain black-free. The football gods are pleased.

3. Kansas City Royals (2002 – 2006)
It only took four seasons of ugly uniforms to sour fans of this once-proud franchise. The Royals began dabbling in black drop shadow, jerseys and caps before the 2002 season, relegating the clean blue to a secondary color. They saw the light in 2006, however, and reverted to blue, eventually adding a 1970s- and 80s-inspired light blue jersey in 2008.

4. Buffalo Sabres (1996 – 2006)
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Classic blue and yellow is an underused, underappreciated color scheme in pro sports. After nearly 30 years of beautiful uniforms, the Sabres traded it all in for a busy logo with a black and red color combo. They even dropped swords from their primary logo entirely, making them look like a team called the Buffalo Buffalos. After a brief attempt at a new logo with blue and yellow in the late ‘00s, the team reverted to their classic logo of a buffalo with crossed sabres. You don’t mess with perfection!

5. Houston Astros (2000 – 2012)
We mentioned this one in a previous blog post about drastic color scheme changes, but it deserves double the exposure. Houston had spent a few years in navy and gold before this change, but 2000 saw a full team identity overhaul. Granted, they limited the amount of time black was front and center on their uniforms, but its presence was there in some capacity for an agonizing 12 years. They shifted back to navy and orange in 2013 and now they’re the best team in baseball. Coincidence?

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We certainly didn’t cover all the instances of black creeping its way into uniforms (looking at you, Cincinnati Reds), but these are a few that we just couldn’t forget to mention. What do you think of the Cavs wearing black regularly next season? What do you think of black being included in sports uniforms? Share with us in the comments below!