Highlighting Old Trafford

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Manchester United’s home ground, Old Trafford, dubbed the “Theatre of Dreams,” was built in 1909. The club played their first game against Liverpool FC on February 19, 1910. Old Trafford has a long and interesting history of nearly being destroyed during World War II as well as granting the Red Devils a nice home field win percentage.

We took a deeper look inside this historic stadium to highlight not only the benefits Manchester United reaps from playing this field but also to get a clear understanding of Trafford’s history and how it came to be.

Stackin’ Wins at Home

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With an at-home win percentage of 61.77%, the football club looks forward to taking on anyone who opposes them on their home field. The Premier League has seen the largest blowout in history here with Manchester United defeating Ipswich Town 9-0 in March of 1995. Team captain Wayne Rooney keeps this percentage high by having the second-most-scored goals in the Premier League (193) – 67 behind the top scorer, Alan Shearer (260).

Aside from stacking wins on their home field, Manchester United has accomplished several great feats at Old Trafford that have made them one of the most universally known football clubs.

GOAL! Scoring 1,000 Goals at Old Trafford

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The Red Devils take pride in playing at Old Trafford and have achieved great feats that no other football club has before.

During the 2016 season, Anthony Martial scored the club’s 1,000th goal with a deflected shot against Everton. Manchester United have become the first Premier League team to score 1,000 goals on their own turf. Make no mistake, this accomplishment has been in the works since 1992. At that time, the club was initiated into the Premier League and had their first goal scored by Irish defender, Denis Irwin.

Over the next two years, Manchester worked their legs off to score their 100th goal at home – scored by Eric Cantona against Nottingham Forest in 1994. The club made huge strides throughout the next two decades, scoring a total of 400 goals. Ryan Giggs marked scoring the 500th goal at Old Trafford against Nottingham in 2004.

Old Trafford also serves as home to some of the Premier League’s top scorers, Wayne Rooney and Paul Scholes. After transferring from Everton in 2004, Rooney has settled quite nicely at the lofty stadium, scoring 99 goals on Trafford grounds. A long-time Red Devil, Scholes treads behind Rooney with 59 goals, making him the second highest Premier League scorer at the Theatre of Dreams.

All About Old Trafford

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Old Trafford acquired its name due to its location in Trafford, a metropolitan district in Manchester. Archibald Leitch was the appointed architect who led the main design and construction of the stadium. Its projected capacity was approximately 80,000. Old Trafford was officially opened on February 19, 1910 with a match between Liverpool and Manchester.

One unique feature about Old Trafford was that it was built with large tribunes on each side of the playing field and connected by closing tiers to create one ring. This set the stadium apart from others in England because, at the time, all English stadiums had separated tiers (with all angles open).

Old Trafford saw its highest attendance record of 76,962 fans in 1939 during a semifinal match between Grimsby Town and Wolves.

Unfortunately, Old Trafford was nearly demolished during the German air raids of World War II due to its proximity to Trafford Park Industrial Estate – a prompt target of the airstrikes. Once the war was over, rebuilding began. Few changes were made to the original design. In 1965, a second level of tiers was added to the North Stand – this was the first time a stadium had several balconies on its premises.

Lights, Cameras, Trafford

There’s no other way you can look at it, Manchester truly enjoys the home field advantage that Old Trafford provides for them. The stadium also offers various ways for red fans to enhance and celebrate their game day experience: from upgraded food choices at the Red Cafe to different seating options (balcony included). There are no further renovations planned as of yet, but it has been rumored that stadium capacity will be increased to 95,000 in the near future.

Before you make your way over to Old Trafford, make sure you’re well-equipped. Look no further than Fanatics or Kitbag US (or Kitbag UK for outside of the US) for all of your Manchester United gear, and see why #WeAreUnited!

Methodology

Using PremierLeague.com and Mufcinfo.com, we pulled the win-loss history of Manchester United FC and removed any records of games played at another venue.

The home-win percentage is determined by dividing total wins at home by the sum of wins, losses, and draws at home.

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The Evolution of the Chicago White Sox Uniform

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The Chicago White Sox, established in 1901, are one of Major League Baseball’s oldest teams; they’re also one of the American League’s eight original franchises.

Originally known as the Sioux City Cornhuskers, the team would move to Chicago under the direction of manager Charles Comiskey. The team immediately adopted the “White Stockings” name after it was rejected by Chicago’s current National League team – the Cubs. The Chicago Tribune shortened the last part of the team’s name to “Sox” for headlines. This change saw a majority favor the nickname, resulting in a permanent name swap.

The Sox have a total of three World Series championships – winning the first in 1906 against their crosstown rivals, followed by two subsequent victories in 1917 and 2005. The White Sox are responsible for many uniform innovations: They were the first team in sports to have players’ last names on uniforms in 1960.

Read on to see how White Sox branding has changed throughout history.

Logo History

1901–1902: Chicago uses a red block-letter “C” for its first logo.

1903: The logo changes to blue and receives a modification to its appearance.

1904–1911: Various modifications are made to the block-letter “C.”

1912–1916: For the first time, the Sox make a significant change; they move away from the “C” logo and feature the word “Sox.” The “S” serves as the focal point with the “O” and “X” entangled within.

1917: The font becomes thinner and minor detailing on the letter “S” is changed.

1918–1931: In celebration of a world championship, the Sox go for an intricate logo. A white sock appears over a blue and gold globe with an eagle on top and two bats crossing underneath. The words “world champions” appear over top, and the image is placed over a red, white, and blue badge.

1932–1935: The intricate logo is ditched for the word “Sox,” which now appears in a new red format in a diagonal layout. A baseball is inside the letter “O” and a yellow bat appears in the background.

1936–1938: The Sox return to a previous resemblance of the mainstay “S” with the “O” and “X” entangled within.

1939–1948: The club switches to a cartoon baseball player with a bat, which bears the team name. In the background is a large red outline of a baseball.

1949–1959: A new cartoon of a winged-sock appears in white with a blue shading around it and the city name in red.

1960–1975: The club switches to a more simplistic logo of a sock outline with a baseball player on it.

1976–1981: The club sticks to red and blue coloring. A new logo of a cartoon baseball player is depicted over the city and team name.

1982–1990: The shade of blue changes slightly.

1991–Present: They revert to a classic look with the team name displayed in a simple black, diagonal layout.

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Chicago White Sox WinCraft 1901 27″ x 37″ Vertical Banner

Notable Uniform Changes

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1906: One of Chicago’s earliest uniforms was a simple black and white design with the city name displayed in the front.

1910: The Sox unveil a new design for the home uniform with the team name spelled in a vertical layout along the buttons. The uniforms keep the black and white color scheme.

1912: The team debuts the “S-O-X” logo that would become iconic in sports.

1914: The Sox add pinstripes to the home uniform and cap.

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Chicago White Sox New Era MLB Team Classic Alternate 39THIRTY Flex Hat – White

1917: The team modifies the uniform to celebrate America’s patriotism during World War I. Stars appear on the “S-O-X” logo, and an American flag is added to the sleeves.

1918: The stars and flags are removed; the uniforms return to a plain look.

1925: The team changes the road uniform from a simple gray to an eye-popping, all-blue display with white pinstripes. These uniforms would last only one year.

1929: The team switches up the “S-O-X” logo on the road uniform to show the full city name.

1932: For one season, the team unveils a third uniform with a new logo that consisted of a “C” engraved into a letter “S” with a baseball and crossing bats. The team also unveils a new primary logo, which is the team name in a block-style, diagonal font with orange-red coloring (instead of the traditional blue/black.)

1940: The team reverts to the classic “S-O-X” logo, but as a change, it appears much bolder and blockier so that the letter “S” stands out.

1942: For a short time, the White Sox change the look to a simple cursive font that displays the team name in red. The blue trim is also thickened, and a patch on the left sleeve is added.

1950: The White Sox debut the logo that mostly resembles the team’s present-day look with the addition of pinstripes.

1957: The team modifies the logo to feature red and dark blue as primary colors. The other design elements remain the same.

1964: The team debuts powder blue road uniforms with the city’s name on the front in block print. The White Sox became the first team in sports to have players’ last names on uniforms in the early 1960s.

1967: Chicago modifies the font on the powder blue road uniform for a fancy cursive look. The team name is also added below the city name in white.

1971: Chicago keeps the previous designs but switches things up to replace the dark blue font with vibrant red.

1976: Chicago ditches the button-down style and opts for a simple white and navy color scheme. The team uses a combination of white and blue to create four different uniforms, with the city name appearing on all of them.

1982: The Sox make another drastic change, opting for a red, white, and blue color scheme. The team name is placed on both the home and road uniform, along with player numbers on the pants. The hats change to combinations of red, white, and blue and horizontal stripe designs are added to the center of the uniform and sleeves.

1987: Chicago scraps the colorful uniforms but keeps the team colors the same. Instead of the vibrant design, the Sox opt for a classic look with a cursive font that displays the team name at home and the city name on the road uniform. The white hats are replaced by simple blue hats with red brims, and player numbers are displayed in navy blue instead of red on the pants.

1990: The Sox lead the league with a famous throwback uniform that inspires other teams to partake in similar traditions of wearing old but modified uniforms. The Sox were the first team to start the trend.

1991: The team goes back to a simple black and white coloring with the previous logo, and player numbers are now placed on the chest of the uniform instead of the pants. These uniforms have seen little to no change since.

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Todd Frazier Chicago White Sox Majestic Cool Base Player Jersey – Black

2013: The team wears retro ’80s throwback uniforms with the vibrant red, white, and blue coloring.

2016: The uniforms closely resemble the style that was introduced in the early 1990s, with the black and white as staple colors.

Looking Back to Look Forward

Throughout history, the White Sox have worked their way up to the World Series a total of five times – emerging as the champions for three of them (1906, 1917, and 2005). For a team that’s been around for over century, they have been quite particular about the uniform numbers they retire. It appears that they give credit where it’s truly due.

Since their inception into the league, the White Sox have only retired 11 uniform numbers:

No. 2 – Nellie Fox

No. 3 – Harold Baines

No. 4 – Luke Appling

No. 9 – Minnie Miñoso

No. 11 – Luis Aparicio

No. 14 – Paul Konerko

No. 16 – Ted Lyons

No. 19 – Billy Pierce

No. 35 – Frank Thomas

No. 42 – Jackie Robinson

No. 72 – Carlton Fisk

Be a part of #WhiteSoxNation today by keeping up with the team’s latest apparel and fan gear. Look no further than Fanatics.com – the one stop shop for all White Sox essentials!

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Los Angeles Dodgers Walk-Up Songs

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Overlooking downtown Los Angeles and nestled in the hillside of the Chavez Ravine, Dodger Stadium ranks as the third-oldest continually used park in Major League Baseball. Home to a team that – much like America’s earliest settlers – moved West, the Los Angeles Dodgers command the adoration and respect of their fans. Even though they haven’t won a World Series in almost 30 years (1988), their roster contains some of the biggest names in the sport.

Clayton Kershaw, Chase Utley, Adrian Gonzalez, and many others make up the Dodgers lineup, and they are just the type of MLB stars you’d want to see from the team closest to Hollywood. Not only do these players see their names in lights as they walk up to the plate, but they also hear songs that speak directly to the person under the cap. Here’s the music that brings the Dodgers out to play.

Fa-La-La-Land Tunes

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Unlike a pennant chase, this musical competition wasn’t even close. Of the listed walk-up songs for 18 Dodgers players, the hip-hop/rap genre tops the charts. In fact, there are three players who have four-song rotations during each game. Catcher Yasmani Grandal loves hip-hop and rap, and also happens to be one of those four-song rotation players. You might not know which song he’ll be walking up to, but all of them are of the hip-hop/rap genre. From Bobby Shmurda’s “Hot Boy” to “Trap Queen” by Fetty Wap, Grandal’s walk-up songs account for more than 20 percent of this genre.

With one of the most diverse musical lineups, three-time Cy Young award-winning pitcher Clayton Kershaw chooses electronic, rock, and hip-hop tunes to accompany him to the plate. Using Blackstreet’s “No Diggity,” Technotronic’s “Pump Up the Jam,” and “We Are Young” by Fun., the Los Angeles Dodgers ace shows off an appreciation for a wide range of musical tastes.

Los Angeles is home to more than 9 percent of the United States’ Hispanic population, but Latin music ties with rock in the Dodgers’ selections for walk-up music. In fact, there are only four Latin tracks in the rotation, and two of them come from Adrian Gonzalez’s list. The first baseman walks out to “El Mariachi Loco” by Mariachi Vargas and “Vamonos de Fiesta” by Banda El Recodo.

More Music

Kid Cudi, Pitbull, 2Pac … and Johnny Cash? The Dodgers love rap and hip-hop, but there are a few outliers in their walk-up music. In a “whatever works” scenario, it’s less about which particular songs are picked and more about whether a song helps to get a player in the zone before an at-bat.

You can get in the zone to cheer on your favorite MLB team and score a homerun with officially licensed merchandise and apparel from Fanatics.com.

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The Beginners Guide to College Basketball – Become a Fanatic Overnight

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Guide to Becoming a College Basketball Fanatic

Every March, some co-worker swings by your desk with a piece of paper outlining a bunch of college names and lines, asking if you “want in the pool.” They’re definitely not talking about a pool party but rather March Madness and college basketball. Stop dodging their texts and avoiding the break room for an entire month; it’s time for an education on college basketball. Our Guide to Becoming a College Basketball Fanatic will give you back March for good!

B-Ball Basics

Over 300 college basketball programs make up the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA) Division I. There are 32 different conferences to better organize and ease scheduling of games, including the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), the Big 12, the Big Ten, and the Pac-12.

Each team plays a regular season, matched mostly with in-conference rivals, with the hopes of being one of the 64 teams that makes it into the playoffs (commonly referred to as March Madness). This tournament is comprised of single-elimination games, reducing down to 32, 16, eight, and four schools with the ultimate goal of producing the two best teams and the championship title game.

Information Layup

College basketball games are shorter than those played by professionals in the NBA. Instead of taking place over four 12-minute quarters, college basketball takes place over two 20-minute halves. Teams transition quickly between offense and defense. Possession changes after a team scores or when the team on offense fails to score or is dispossessed by the team playing defense. This encourages teams to play quickly, moving the ball up and down the court, to take advantage of player mismatches.

If the game is tied at the end of regulation (two halves), an overtime period begins. Like the NBA, the teams play five-minute overtime periods until there is a winner.

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Five on Five

Each team has five players on the court, with no minimums or maximums for the number of each position on the court. It becomes important for coaches to think about match-ups when placing the best team on the court to win the game (do they need tall shot-stoppers or speedy playmakers at that moment?). These positions are also associated with numbers, which you might hear the announcers reference:

  • Point Guard (PG): 1
  • Shooting Guard (SG): 2
  • Small Forward (SF): 3
  • Power Forward (PF): 4
  • Center (C): 5

Here are a few student athletes that were lighting it up on the court for their respective college basketball programs during the 2015-2016 season:

  • Point Guard: Xavier Rathan-Mayes, Florida State; Bronson Koeing, Wisconsin
  • Shooting Guard: E.C. Matthews, Rhode Island; Malik Newman, Mississippi State
  • Small Forward: Svi Mykhailiuk, Kansas; Steve Vasturia, Notre Dame
  • Power Forward: James Webb III, Boise State; Troy Williams, Indiana
  • Center: Tyler Davis, Texas A&M; Damian Jones, Vanderbilt

Basket Weaving 101

When making a basket, a team can receive one, two, or three points depending on where the shot originates from:

  • 1 point: Shot from the free-throw line, and awarded when a player is fouled in the attempt to make a shot
  • 2 points: Any shot made from the field within the 3-point line
  • 3 points: Distance shots made anywhere beyond the 3-point line. In college, this distance is 20.9 feet (22 feet in the NBA)

Must-See Teams & Players

So you’re ready to hop on the court and start making threes, but hold on – you need to choose a team with exciting players to follow. We have a couple of recommendations:

  • Duke Blue Devils: Led by “Coach K,” Duke competes every single year. They’re a perennial favorite loved by fans and hated by everyone else (which tends to happen when you’re really, really good).
  • Kentucky Wildcats: The Wildcats, champions in 2012 and runners-up in 2014, stockpile plenty of talent but haven’t been able to come away with the title recently. What will Coach Calipari do to bring another title back to the Bluegrass State?
  • North Carolina Tar Heels: Coach Roy Williams has delivered two National Championships since he took over the program in 2003, with the last awarded in 2009. Does he have the squad to make a deep run in the tournament this year?

Final Buzzer

Culminating with March Madness and the NCAA Tournament, college basketball inspires passionate fans (and co-workers for the office bracket pool) across the nation. Show off your team spirit and score a slam dunk by getting the best official licensed merchandise and apparel from Fanatics.com.

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The Evolution of the Miami Marlins Uniform

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Founded in 1993, after being granted an expansion team the Florida Marlins, now Miami Marlins, are one of the youngest franchises in the MLB. Paying homage to previous Minor League teams that played in the Sunshine State in the ’50s, ’60s, and ’80s the organization stuck to a familiar name. The team was originally dubbed the “Florida” Marlins with the intention of attracting new fans all throughout Florida.

Although youthful, The Fish captured two World Series championships within the team’s first 10 years of existence. The Marlins are one of just two franchises that have never won a division title, despite the championships.

The team took the league by storm after officially rebranding to the Miami Marlins in 2012 with a new ballpark, logo, and uniform. Due to a struggle with home game attendance, these fresh Fish decided to create a lasting relationship between the organization and citizens of Miami.

We decided to dive into the deep sea to see how this youthful team has transformed their uniforms over their Major League career. Continue reading to see the team’s major rebrand as well as the impact it had on their success.

Logo History

1993–2011: The Marlins use a single primary logo for all of the franchise’s existence, which features a Marlin jumping through a hoop enclosing a baseball. The logo displays the team name within the hoop and uses the organization’s colors: black, teal, silver, and white.

2011–Present: The team officially rebrands as the Miami Marlins with a simple logo that embodies the colorful culture of Miami. The letter “M” represents both the city and team name; an outline of the fish descends from the letter. The logo pays homage to the original Miami Marlins, who were a minor league team that existed in the 1950s.

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Miami Marlins WinCraft 12″ x 30″ Premium Pennant

Notable Uniform Changes

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1993: Florida’s first uniforms follow a simple design with team colors of teal, black, silver, and white. The home uniform features pinstripes and the team name in teal script with a black outline. The player numbers are displayed on the front and the back. The away uniform is solid gray with the state name “Florida” in a block font, which is different from the home font. The fish logo wraps around the letter “F” in the front. The Marlins also use teal sleeves as an alternate uniform look and feature another alternate uniform that is solid teal.

1999: The team wears special “turn-ahead-the-clock” uniforms as a tribute to what the future of the league could look like. These uniforms go big and bold with a massive team logo and minimal sleeves to show off a teal undershirt.

2003: The team makes slight changes to the uniform to celebrate its 10th anniversary. The white home uniforms receive a black font instead of teal. The logo on the caps changes too. On the road uniforms, the font for the word “Florida” changes to match the home uniform. They also unveil a black alternate uniform. The Marlins also introduce a new alternate uniform to use at home, replicating the New York Yankees with traditional pinstripes and the Marlins cap logo on the chest.

2007: The Marlins wear another throwback uniform to commemorate the franchise’s first title in 1997. The vest-style uniforms encompass the same design that the players wore during the world series.

2012: The Marlins rebrand and massive changes are made to the team’s identity. Orange comes back into play in addition to yellow, blue, black, and white. The pinstripes are removed from the home uniform, and a new “M” logo is unveiled. The team utilizes four different uniform colors: white, gray, black, and orange.

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Miami Marlins New Era Men’s Home Authentic Collection On-Field 59FIFTY Performance Fitted Hat – Black

2013: The Marlins wear camo uniforms to celebrate Memorial Day. The uniforms keep the traditional design but include camo-style shading.

2014: The Marlins freshen things up with orange caps, which are rarely worn with the team uniform but have made select appearances.

2014: To honor Wrigley Field’s 100th year anniversary, the Marlins and Cubs wear throwback uniforms for a game. The Fish sported 1940s-inspired uniforms that the unaffiliated Miami Sun Sox had previously worn. The uniforms are plain gray with a black block font. The caps are black with a white logo.

2016: The Marlins wear special uniforms on Mother’s Day, which employ the traditional layout with the addition of pink swatches.

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Giancarlo Stanton Miami Marlins Majestic Cool Base Player Jersey – White

Looking Back to Look Forward

More recently, there has been a trend of MLB teams retiring uniform numbers at the end of each season. The Marlins, being one of the youngest organizations in the league, have yet to retire a number (other than the league-wide retirement of Jackie Robinson’s 42) even after passing their 23-year anniversary.

While they have had more than enough time to have legendary players take the field in their name, the Marlins lag behind other teams regarding having these sluggers in their prime. They’ve faced low attendance records and splurged enormous amounts on the team’s rebranding the organization owners seem to be focused on saving money and numbers.

Although we have yet to see the Marlins retire a number, we took it upon ourselves to “retire” those numbers worn by some of the Florida greats:

No. 24 – Miguel Cabrera

No. 1 – Luis Castillo

No. 19 – Mike Lowell

No. 23 – Charles Johnson

No. 19 – Jeff Conine

Considering the team just underwent a major rebrand, the time for retiring uniform numbers is near – fingers crossed for our list being the first among the ranks! The Marlins have a bright future ahead of them, especially with star-pitcher Jose Fernandez, power-hitter Giancarlo Stanton, and record-breaker Ichiro Suzuki on their side.

Heading over to the newly opened Marlins Park? Make sure you’re decked out in the team’s newest gear – visit Fanatics today for all your “Modern Marlins” essentials!

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Strategy Game Changers: Billy Beane

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Getting to Know Billy Beane

Billy Beane was born in 1962. After a childhood full of plenty of sports (including Little League), he studied at the University of California at San Diego before being drafted by the New York Mets at the ripe age of 18. After a few years in the minors, he played six seasons in the Major Leagues for the Mets, the Twins, the Tigers, and the Oakland Athletics.

His professional playing career didn’t produce any standout numbers, but he was part of the 1989 A’s championship roster when they won the World Series.

However, Beane was just getting started in the baseball world by the time his playing days were over. Once he retired as an athlete in 1990, he signed on with the A’s as a baseball scout. After a three-year stint in that role, he was promoted to assistant manager. The organization was so impressed with his work ethic that he was again promoted, this time to general manager (GM) of the A’s. And that’s where his game-changing strategy really bloomed.

Moneyball!

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Looking over the history of the team over the last 10-plus seasons, it’s easy to see that the A’s performed well despite their relatively tiny opening-day payroll. In 2000, for example, they spent about $32 million and racked up a whopping 91 wins. The rest of the league didn’t fare so well.

Most MLB teams had an average opening-day payroll of $81 million and an average win total of 81. And the 2001 A’s did even better with a slightly bumped-up budget of $33 million. That squad finished up with 102 wins (which was second in the West since Seattle also won 116 games that season). League averages that season? About the same as it was in 2000 – $81 million and 81 wins.

So how did the A’s do it?

It’s no secret that MLB’s lack of a true salary cap has led to teams with big bucks snapping up the best and brightest players simply because they have the funds to do so. But Beane, when faced with filling a roster for a team on a smaller budget, came up with a solution. That solution has become his legacy.

Beane is best known for his team-building strategy: “Moneyball.” Soon after he gained the GM position (which he held from 1998 to 2015), he turned to sabermetrics, a type of baseball research that focuses more on player stats; instead of recent success or a player’s star power, it’s all about crunching numbers. And those numbers directly led to more wins for the A’s despite their inability to sign an $80 million contract with a big-name player.

Beane’s Legacy

Beane’s unique strategy and resulting success garnered much attention – and not only on the field. In 2003, a book titled “Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game” was published. It chronicled Beane’s story and how he was able to use numbers and stats to defy the perceived problem of a small budget. In 2011, Brad Pitt took the screen as a Hollywood version of Billy Beane. The film was nominated for a total of six Academy Awards.

While the Athletics haven’t reached the World Series on Beane’s watch, they have still experienced a ton of success. They’ve reached the postseason eight times, most recently in 2014 when they lost in the Wild Card round.

Game Changer

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While Beane no longer occupies the GM role (he was promoted to Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations in 2015), it’s likely he’ll still have a hand in scouting, drafting, trading, and signing of the team’s players.

Ballin’ On a Budget

Billy Beane’s strategy, and his legacy, will certainly live on; he was able to make a whole lot of something out of what other executives had overlooked.

Are you looking for that perfect A’s jersey? No matter if Oakland is your team or not, Fanatics.com has all the MLB gear you’re looking for.

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Pittsburgh Pirates Walk-Up Songs

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As the home of MLB’s Pittsburgh Pirates, PNC Park offers the classic-style ballgame in an urban, downtown setting. And while the stadium invokes a nostalgia associated with the parks of yesteryear, one modern addition is each player’s walk-up song. Each Pirate has a song – or songs – that helps get him centered before the next at-bat. Fans seeing a game don’t just get a seat at a professional sporting event; they also get a tour through the personal music preferences of the players they’re willing to victory.

Whether Latin, rock, electronic, or hip-hop, there’s a wide variety of songs that welcome Pittsburgh’s players up to the plate. Which music genre leads the division, and which players have a broad musical palate? Read on to find out.

Arg-Some Music

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Rock, rock, and more rock – it’s the musical genre that comes out on top among the walk-up song choices of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Out of the 24 songs chosen by players, eight (33 percent) are rock songs. First baseman John Jaso walks out to “Midnight Rambler” by The Rolling Stones, and pitcher Drew Hutchison struts out to Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Saturday Night Special.” Pittsburgh continues rocking thanks to selections by pitcher Gerrit Cole and third baseman David Freese; they come out to “Sleep Now in the Fire” by Rage Against the Machine and Tool’s “Stinkfist,” respectively.

Center fielder Andrew McCutchen offers up a rather eclectic mix of tunes, with choices ranging from pop, hip-hop/rap, and electronic. He enters the batter’s box to the musical interludes of “Send My Love (To Your New Lover)” by Adele, “Atom Bomb” by Benasis, and “Afterhours” by TroyBoi. McCutchen is matched by third baseman Jung Ho Kang, who has a three-song rotation that shows off some global style. Kang rotates through Latin (“En Gorilao” by N-Fasis), hip-hop/rap (“Gimme That” by Chris Brown), and pop (“I Am the Best” by 2NE1). Reaching back further in time to some classic pop, catcher Francisco Cervelli heads to the plate with Dean Martin’s “That’s Amore.”

Left fielder Starling Marte represents 33 percent of the Latin music selected, choosing two songs by Secreto El Famoso Biberon – “No Pue’ Killate” and “Rulay.” Pitcher Neftali Feliz and utility player Sean Rodriguez also support the Latin surge, each picking a song from this genre.

Treasured Tunes

When you’re attending a Pittsburgh Pirates game, your eyes might hone in on the familiar black and yellow color scheme shared by the city’s other professional sports teams, but the walk-up music is a little more diverse than the uniform. There’s plenty of rock, hip-hop/rap, Latin, electronic, and pop music pumping out of the speakers to make the Pirates stand out as they make their way to the plate.

Add some skip to your step by outfitting your home and wardrobe with the best officially licensed merchandise and apparel for the Pittsburgh Pirates and other MLB teams from Fanatics.com.

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The Final Stretch of the 2016 MLS Season

The 2016 MLS season began with promise for so many teams, yet with every team now having played over 2/3 of their games, that promise has vanished for some, and

In the Western conference, FC Dallas, and last year’s worst team in the West, Colorado Rapids, have broken away from the pack, looking to have a lock on the top two places.  While only the Houston Dynamo, who parted ways with their Scottish head coach, Owen Coyle, in May, and the Seattle Sounders, who fired longtime coach Sigi Schmid, look to be out of the playoff hunt.

In the East, the top 5 of New York City FC, Toronto FC, New York Red Bulls, Philadelphia Union, and the Montreal Impact have created a gap between them and 6th place, a position that DC United, Orlando FC (the other MLS team to remove their coach, Adrian Heath, this season), and the New England Revolution are scrapping for.

Over the course of this season we’ve seen fantastic goals, spectacular saves, crunching tackles, magnificent moves, player and coaching suspensions, and season ending injuries.  There was even a sighting of Superman at an NYC FC v New York Red Bulls game (obviously the Red Bulls were carrying kryptonite, as they defeated NYCFC 4-1 that day)

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…and a brief reenactment of Crouching Tiger,  Hidden Dragon at a DC United v Portland Timbers game.

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The most curious suspension this season, was that of D.C. United’s Head Coach, Ben Olsen, who was suspended for one game after entering the field of play during a loss to Toronto.  He didn’t enter the field of play in a pique of rage, or to do anything nefarious.  He saw that a second ball was on the pitch, right by his technical area, so he stepped on to get it away from play.  Technically, according to the letter of the law, that was an invalid action, so the league both suspended and fined him for doing so (his later suspension after he was thrown out of the game against the Philadelphia Union, for abusive language towards the referee, was to be expected).

Of course, the primary goal for a team is to score…well… goals, and we’ve seen plenty of them so far this season.  Some where the forwards tapped the ball past the goalkeeper from close range, such as these goals from the New York Red Bulls’ Bradley Wright-Phillips, and from D.C. United‘s Álvaro Saborío.

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…as well as some long distance shots that produced spectacular, but ultimately futile, dives from the goalkeepers

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When the goals are scored, the teams naturally celebrate.  Some, such as D.C. United’s Marcelo raise their head and hands to the heavens.

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Others, such as the New York Red Bulls’ Ronald Zubar, leap and yell with delight.

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While F.C. Dallas‘ Maximilliano Urruti’s celebration appeared to indicate that out of all of the superhero shows on TV at the moment, he prefers “The Arrow”.

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Of course, not all attacks resulted in a goal, sometimes the keepers threw themselves at the feet of the attackers to prevent them from scoring, as demonstrated by Portland’s Jake Gleeson, diving to deny D.C. United’s Patrick Mullins.

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…and sometimes the keepers had to activate their slinky like spines to leap majestically into the air and keep the ball out of the net.

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There have been breakaways…

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Lunges for the ball…

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…aerial karate kicks

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…tugs and pulls

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…fancy feet, jinxing their way past defenders

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…and players using their strength to push their way through the opposition’s defenders.

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As to how the season will end… there’ll undoubtedly be more twists and turns, more spectacular plays, nail-biting finishes, along with joy and despair for supporters and players alike.  With the transfer window closed, all of the teams have to make do with the players they have, for better or for worse.  Only when October 23rd rolls around, and the last ball is kicked, will we absolutely know the 12 teams that have made the playoffs, then the post-season can begin.

 

Simon Heseltine is based in NYC, and does MLS photography for The Huffington Post, as well as digital marketing for Hewlett Packard Enterprise

 

 

The Beginners Guide to College Football – Become a Fanatic Overnight

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As the sun begins to rise on Saturday morning, college campuses begin to buzz. It’s gameday. Students, faculty, parents, alumni, and fans of college football gather at the appointed time to cheer their school’s football team to victory. Whether you’re a freshman who is attending your first game, or a parent looking to learn the rules since your child is going to a “football school,” we’ll help you get ready in time for the big game with our Guide to Becoming a College Football Fanatic.

Introduction to Football 101

There are 128 colleges that participate in the FBS, Football Bowl Subdivision, which is divided into 11 conferences, each comprised of a collection of different schools. Due to broadcasting arrangements, most schools play a slate of games against their conference rivals and only a handful of games against nonconference programs. The most popular and dominant conference is the SEC, Southeastern Conference, which includes the University of Alabama, Auburn University, Louisiana State University, and more perennial favorites. Other popular conferences include the Big 12, Pac-12, and the ACC, Atlantic Coast Conference.

There are also several schools that don’t meet the requirements (enrollment, scholarship allocation, size of football program) for the FBS but that take part in the Football Championship Subdivision.

First in Class

Each school sends their team to play 10 to 13 games over the course of a season, and the top four teams in the country are identified, ranked, and ultimately selected by the College Football Playoff Committee. They use strength of schedule, head-to-head performance against common opponents, championships won, and other factors when selecting the teams who will play for the National Championship. There’s a lot on the line with each and every game, with a single loss jettisoning a school out of contention for a top four spot.

Tick-Tock, Play-Clock

Each college football game takes place over 60 minutes, broken into four 15-minute quarters. After the first two quarters, also known as the first half, the teams break for halftime. This 20-minute break in play gives everyone – fans, coaches, and players alike – a chance to rehydrate before the second half of the game gets underway.

As the clock counts down to zero, it only stops in certain scenarios. Players stop the clock by running out of bounds or throwing an incomplete pass. Officials or referees pause time by initiating a review of a play, penalizing an illegal play, placing the ball after a team earns a first down, or enforcing safety rules. Lastly, coaches can call a timeout to regroup with their team to discuss a play.

Once time expires and if the score between the two sides is equal, a 15-minute overtime kicks into effect. Each team gets the chance to score. The winner is either: the first team to score when the second team doesn’t; the second team to score if they score more points (touchdown or six points versus a field goal or three points). If each team scores, then the next team to score wins. Alternatively, if they’re tied, a second overtime takes place.

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Student Athletes

If you’re a student who meets the requirements set forth by the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association), you’ll earn the eligibility to play for a college football team. Colleges recruit players by offering scholarships, but players also have the opportunity to “walk on” and try out for a squad. With their recruited players and walk-ons, the coaches assemble a team that’s comprised of offensive, defensive, and special team players.

  • Offensive Position Titles: Quarterback, Running Back, Fullback, Wide Receiver, Tight End, Guard, Tackle, and Center
  • Defensive Position Titles: Tackle, End, Middle or Outside Linebacker, Cornerback, Safety, and Nickle or Dimeback
  • Special Team Position Titles: Kicker, Long Snapper, and Punter

What’s the Score?

Football is a game; there is a winner and loser. The team that has the most points at the end of the game is the winner. You can score points by running or passing a touchdown into the opponent’s end zone, which results in earning six points.

Teams have the choice of electing to kick for one additional point, or try for a two-point conversion. That’s where the offense runs another play from the 2-yard line and must get the ball into the end zone on that play.

If they can’t get close enough to score a touchdown, teams may elect to kick a field goal that is worth three points. While not a touchdown, this tactic does put points on the board.

Defenses get in on the fun and earn points through intercepting a pass or recovering a fumble and running either into the end zone. They can also force a safety, where a quarterback or running back is tackled in the end zone while possessing the ball. Safeties are worth two points.

However the teams score, you just want the other team to have fewer points than yours when time runs out in regulation.

Which Teams Should I Be Watching?

Alabama’s Crimson Tide looks to be a favorite after winning the National Championship last season. Not only do they win championships but their players also win individual awards for performance, such as the Heisman Trophy for best overall football player. Florida State returns 11 offensive starters this year, meaning there will be less of a learning curve for the team in their quest to get back to the College Football Playoffs. Michigan continues to restore glory to their program, finishing 10-3 last season, the first under head coach Jim Harbaugh. There’s also the Ohio State Buckeyes, who deliver winning seasons year in and year out for their fans. If there isn’t a team you like among this list, then you should usually root for the school you attend(ed). Nothing beats school pride!

Two-Minute Drill

When you’re ready to head to the game, don’t forget to bring your degree in College Football Awareness, a voice that’s ready to cheer, and a heart that’s ready to experience any potential outcome – win or lose. You’ll want to make sure you do all of these things in your school’s colors, and you can find the best official apparel and merchandise for your team at Fanatics.com.

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Detroit Tigers Walk-Up Songs

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Nestled in downtown Detroit, and equipped with a working Ferris wheel and massive water feature, Comerica Park serves as the home of the Detroit Tigers, the city’s Major League Baseball team. With 81 regular season games – and hopefully more, if fans have their way during the playoffs – there is ample chance to root, root, root for the home team. During this time, players often develop unique and intimate relationships with home supporters through the selection of their walk-up songs.

The tunes, which hype up the fans and motivate the player, are as diverse as the athletes walking up to the batter’s box. From hip-hop and rap to country and rock, plenty of genres get the chance to usher players out to their one-on-one battle with the opposing team’s pitcher.

Motown Moments

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Known as Motown – featuring the likes of Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, Stevie Wonder, The Contours, and many more – Detroit is a city that loves music. It’s no surprise then that Detroit Tigers players also love a good melody. In fact, they’re so passionate about it that certain players have a hard time just choosing one song. For example, six players currently have a rotation of two walk-up songs, two players rotate through a three-song mix, and one chooses from four different hits. That’s why, when examining the genres of the players’ favorite walk-up songs, there are more songs than players on the roster.

Victor Martinez, Detroit’s designated hitter, brings a four-song mix to the clubhouse. He also counts for the majority – or two-thirds – of Latin music used by Tigers players. More specifically, he plays El Gran Martín Elías twice and Oscar D’León and Héctor Lavoe once each. Local musical celebrity Eminem only makes two appearances on players’ walk-up playlists, with pitcher Justin Verlander playing “Till I Collapse” and pitcher Mark Lowe using “Lose Yourself.”

Although not a local artist, Canadian rapper and hip-hop artist, Drake is the most popular choice as a walk-up song. Center fielder Cameron Maybin, third baseman Nick Castellanos, and left fielders Tyler Collins and Justin Upton each walk up with a song by or featuring one of the most popular artists today. Thankfully, though, none of them use the same song. That could certainly lead to some awkward moments.

Hear Them Roar

While none of the players get hyped up with either Katy Perry or Britney Spears, they all have a roaring desire to win. With the help of a few favorite walk-up songs, the Detroit Tigers are ready to do their part in earning themselves and the home support a “W.”

No matter what songs are on your playlist, you can get ready to cheer on your team as Fanatics – where you’ll find the very best officially licensed MLB apparel and merchandise.

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