Tag: World Football

People in Sports Who Had the Best and Worst Year Ever

In life, and in sports, nearly everyone experiences prolonged periods of both success and failure. Of course, the 2014 sports year was far from different, as fans were treated to some truly memorable performances, of both the good and bad sort.

Madison Bumgarner, for example, had a downright iconic year, establishing himself as one of baseball’s all-time greats with the type of postseason pitching we’d never seen before.

In a similar vein, Russell Wilson led his Seahawks to the mountaintop and, in so doing, catapulted himself into the upper echelon of NFL quarterbacks.

In contrast, however, Tiger Woods battled injury all year long and lost his spot atop golf’s world rankings, while Robert Griffin did the same and lost his stranglehold on the starting quarterback spot in Washington.

So, with these guys and others in mind, we’ve done our best to highlight 10 People/Teams in Sports who had the best/worst year ever.

We should note, we’ve dodged the heavier side of sports in 2014, excluding from our list major violators like Donald Sterling, Jameis Winston, Adrian Peterson, Ray Rice and Roger Goodell.

Instead, then, we’ve explored those who struggled for non-legal reasons, and exalted the athletes who had a dream 2014.

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Jorge Vazquez Could Provide Bench Depth from Within

Where would the Yankees bullpen have been last season without Alfredo Aceves? Probably right about where they are right now without him. And LHP Manny Banuelos is one of the top pitching prospects in the organization.

What do these two players have in common? The Yankees signed both of them out of Mexico.

They actually have a third player they signed out of Mexico, and he could do for the bench what Aceves did to the bullpen.

Jorge Vazquez, 28, was signed by the Yankees on December 7, 2008 and has been in the minor leagues ever since. However, that could change soon.

He started out with Double-A Trenton last season where he played in 57 games hitting .329 with a .935 OPS. This year he missed a lot of time thanks to an appendectomy in spring training, but he’s back and playing for Triple-A Scranton. In 22 games there so far this year he has a .307 average and a .913 OPS.

Statistically speaking, there isn’t much of a reason to keep him in the minors any longer. A call-up could come any day now. The Yankees could really use him too. He plays both first and third, so he could spell Alex Rodriguez at third every once and a while. He could also serve as a part-time DH until Nick Johnson comes back.

With all of the trade talk surrounding Ty Wigginton, Vazquez might be able to duplicate his numbers on the field. He doesn’t provide quite as much versatility, but with Marcus Thames back from the DL, the Yankees don’t have as much a need for an outfielder. Wigginton doesn’t play shortstop, and Robinson Cano never really needs a day off.

Calling up Vazquez could be the best thing for the Yankees to improve their bench and keep the prospects necessary to land Wigginton, who probably won’t keep up his first half numbers anyways.

Vazquez’s numbers are certainly no lock to carry over to the major leagues, but with the success they had with Aceves last season, the Yankees should at least give him a shot. If they did it now, they would have a few weeks to evaluate him before deciding whether or not to make a trade for further bench help.

One thing I know is that his numbers are too good to ignore. I think he has a real shot at getting called up any day now. It’s likely only a matter of time.

Here are his career numbers:

2000 Mexico City Tigers 41 66 9 16 2 2 9 3 20 .242 .296 .364 .659
2001 Mexico City Tigers 91 232 35 66 11 5 24 14 55 .284 .340 .397 .736
2002 Mexico City Tigers 67 189 29 52 10 10 35 4 50 .275 .298 .487 .785
2003 Mexico City Tigers 80 247 35 69 11 14 60 19 65 .279 .327 .502 .829
2005 Angelopolis 71 285 61 108 20 33 96 14 55 .379 .413 .796 1.210
2006 Angelopolis 75 284 61 102 15 31 98 25 46 .359 .419 .739 1.158
2007 Quintana Roo 58 223 45 72 12 17 49 18 60 .323 .383 .605 .988
2008 Quintana Roo 56 224 30 76 7 18 59 20 45 .339 .398 .612 1.010
2009 Trenton 57 225 30 74 15 13 56 8 45 .329 .357 .578 .935
2010 2 Teams 32 129 22 43 11 6 25 3 34 .333 .348 .558 .906
2010 Trenton 10 41 4 16 4 0 6 1 8 .390 .405 .488 .893
2010 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 22 88 18 27 7 6 19 2 26 .307 .323 .591 .913
10 Seasons 628 2104 357 678 114 149 511 128 475 .322 .367 .591 .958
AAA (9 seasons) 561 1838 323 588 95 136 449 119 422 .320 .368 .595 .963
AA (2 seasons) 67 266 34 90 19 13 62 9 53 .338 .364 .564 .928
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com : View Original Table
Generated 7/7/2010.

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A League of Her Own: Belated Obituary for Dottie Kamenshek

Dorothy “Dottie” Kamenshek was the Babe Ruth, so to speak, of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, the only women’s professional baseball league in baseball history. 

She passed away on May 17, 2010 at age 84.  The Gina Davis character in A League of Their Own was named after Dottie and loosely based on her.

The AAGPBL lasted 12 seasons from 1943 through 1954.  At its inception, the “girls” played a game that was closer to fast-pitch softball than what we think of as baseball. 

However, as the league matured, the rules changed until by the end of the 1954, the lady ballplayers were essentially playing baseball.

Here’s the All-American Girls Professional Baseball Association’s webpage describing the evolution of the AAGPBL’s rules.

Dottie played for the Rockford Peaches throughout her 10-year career (1943-1951, 1953).  She started as an outfielder but quickly moved to first base. 

According to this wikipedia article , She won the AAGPBL’s batting title in 1946 with a .316 average and again in 1947 at .306.

Dottie was the league’s all-time batting leader with a career .292 mark, and she was elected to seven All-Star teams (1943, 1946-1951). 

Dottie would have likely played all 12 years the AAGPBL was in existence, but her career was prematurely ended by back problems; how many slugging first basemen have had their careers cut short by back problems?  More than few.

Here’s a photo of the 1948 All-Star Team .  Dottie is the brunette (although they almost all look brunette in the black and white photo) at the bottom left.  She has the intense look of ballplayer determined to be the best.

As its 12-year history suggests, the league had some success. It was originally created with the idea that it would fill a gap created by the contraction of the minor leagues during World War II, when most healthy young men were in the service. 

The majors and the high minor leagues (what would now be considered AAA and AA) all continued play throughout the war, mainly by promoting players from the lower minors and calling players out of retirement to fill their depleted ranks.

Phil Wrigley, the owner of the Chicago Cubs, provided financial support for the new league, and Dodgers President Branch Rickey was also on the league’s initial board of directors.

Wrigley originally proposed that the women’s league play in major league parks when the men’s teams were on the road.  The other major league owners, showing their usual level of interest in creative new ideas that might increase revenue, nixed the idea.

The league ended up starting play in 1943 in only four small cities: Racine and Kenosha, Wisc.; Rockford, Ill.; and South Bend, Ind.  The league had a successful first season and added teams in Minneapolis and Milwaukee for the 1944 season.

Ironically, while league attendance increased, the two big city teams didn’t do well and moved to Grand Rapids, Mich., and Ft. Wayne, Ind., for the 1945 season.  League attendance topped 450,000 that year.

The league eventually added two more teams in Peoria, Ill., and Muskegon, Mich., and even conducted Spring Training in Florida, Mississippi and Cuba. 

As mentioned above, as the league matured, the game played became more like men’s baseball; and the early emphasis on the players’ sex appeal gave way to athletic performance on the field.

In the first three years after WWII, the league routinely drew between 2.000 and 3,000 fans a game, not much different from what many teams in the Independent A Northern League and American Association draw today.  Attendance peaked in 1948, when a 10-team league drew over 900,000 fans.

However, 1948 was also the year that television really got underway (including the televising of major league games), and league attendance declined after that. 

Also, as the game the AAGPBL played became more like men’s baseball, it became harder to find young women who could enter the league without training beforehand, since most of the talent base had only played women’s softball.

Here’s an article on the history of the AAGPBL if you want more information.

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