Vintage Teams: Milwaukee Braves

Milwaukee-Braves-Headers_HeaderVintage Teams: Milwaukee Braves

While you may know the Milwaukee Brewers, you may not be aware of a team that pre-dated their existence: the Milwaukee Braves. Almost lost to the annals of history, this team played 13 seasons in “Brew City” in between an initial stint as the Boston Braves and their eventual move to Atlanta to become the franchise we know today.

How successful was this team? Were any significant players on their roster? What did their logo look like? We review the lost history of one of the sport’s vintage teams, the Milwaukee Braves, to learn more.

Where Did They Come From? Where Did They Go?

The Boston Braves followed the call of the West to Wisconsin. The team would eventually leave at the end of 1965 for Atlanta, Georgia – irreparably breaking the hearts of many Wisconsinites. Finally, Bud Selig, former commissioner of baseball and native son of Milwaukee, would bring baseball back to the city through bankruptcy court. This gave broken-hearted souls a chance to love America’s pastime once again.

The team’s name was intended to mock the “aristocratic Bostonians” according to sports writers of the era. Their previous name, the Doves, was changed to the Braves after James Gaffney became the president of the franchise in 1911. His inspiration for the name came from an affiliation with an organization loosely named after Delaware Valley Indian chief Tammamend, Tammany Hall.

Team Logo

Who Were Their Stars?

Hank Aaron may have been the biggest star to suit up for the Milwaukee Braves, playing during 12 of their 13 seasons in the city. He also moved with the team to Atlanta to play another nine seasons. (He’d eventually spend his last two years playing for the Milwaukee Brewers!) In 1957, the Braves would win the World Series, and Hank Aaron would play a major role. During this season, he batted in 132 runs and sent 44 balls the distance. He won the league’s MVP award with over 70 percent of the first-place vote.

Oh, and he’s still capable of throwing a perfect first, which he did at the Atlanta Braves’ inaugural game at their new stadium, SunTrust Park.

Aaron is one of five Braves players who ended up in the Hall of Fame. The other players were: Eddie Matthews, Phil Niekro, Red Schoendienst, and Warren Spahn.

Not Just a Name

While they belong to another city now, the Milwaukee Braves brought the joy of baseball to Atlanta, but not before turning many Midwesterners into lifelong fans of the game. These are the same fans thanking Bud Selig for bringing baseball back to “Brew City”. Whether you’re rooting the Atlanta Braves or the Brewers, get the best officially licensed merchandise and apparel at Fanatics.

Sources

Seattle Mariners Home Run Hot Spots: Safeco Field

HR-Hot-Spots-Safeco-Field-Header

Seattle’s Smash Hits

Major League Baseball landed back in the Pacific Northwest after awarding an expansion team to Seattle in 1977. The Emerald City was originally home to the Seattle Pilots, but after a disastrous first season and ownership swap, the pilots jetted for Milwaukee and left Seattle without an MLB team for eight years.

Life as a Seattleite baseball fan is not easy. The “M’s” haven’t seen playoff action since 2001, and have yet to win a World Series title. And while their superstar roster boasted exceptional players like Ichiro Suzuki and Edgar Martinez, the team fell short in the ALCS to the New York Yankees.

The Seattle-based team is now burdened with the lengthiest playoff drought (15 seasons) in the league. The Seattle Mariners now look to break the curse this season with flamethrower Felix Hernandez and heavy hitter Robinson Cano leading the ranks.

A big week for big plays. Mike Zunino's walk-off leads the way in our #DidYouSeaThat👀 Plays of the Week.

A post shared by Seattle Mariners (@mariners) on

Beyond the city’s rainy reputation, Seattle is home to grunge music, the iconic Space Needle, and arguably one of the best stadiums to watch America’s pastime, of course. Safeco Field is situated in the SoDo neighborhood and is ultimately a part of the Industrial District – providing Seattleites with an extraordinary panoramic view of the downtown skyline and breathtaking sunsets.

Staying up to speed with the ’90s trend of new ballparks being constructed throughout major league baseball, the Emerald City bid farewell to the outdated Kingdome and welcomed a new state-of-the-art facility to town: Safeco Field. The Mariners christened their new home to a capacity crowd of 47,000 in the summer of 1999 during a faceoff against the San Diego Padres.

The Seattle-based stadium taps a traditional architectural style, yet boasts modern amenities such as a brick facade, natural grass fields, and the most important ballpark quirk of all … a retractable roof.

Never looked better. #ILoveSafecoField

A post shared by Safeco Field (@safecofield) on

Seattle’s rainy reputation is well-deserved and is the catalyst behind the modification of the stadium’s roof structure. Sometimes referred to as a “retractable umbrella,” Safeco’s roof offers a unique feature to the ballpark experience (it is currently one of only six MLB stadiums to have a retractable roof). Serving as a haven from the torrential rainfall, the retractable roof covers the entire stadium but does not fully enclose it – generating an open-air atmosphere.

Other must-see areas around the ballpark include the Bullpen Market (behind left field), Lookout Landing (the upper decks of the left field line), the Outside Corner Picnic Patio (just above home plate), and the Children’s Hospital Playfield (the main entrance in center field).

In 2013, the outfield fences were moved closer to home plate to make the ballpark more “hitter-friendly.” The efforts appeared to pay off as a total of 234 long balls were sliced into the stand during the 2016 season, with the farthest homer smacking off the bat of Nelson Cruz and traveling a true distance of 457 feet.

Safeco Field, Seattle Mariners, Seattle, Washington

HR-Hot-Spots-Safeco-Field-Asset

Heading over to Safeco Field? Before strapping on your rain boots, check out our home run heat map above to boost your chances of catching that souvenir home run ball from the convenience of your selected seat.

While there is no surefire section to guarantee a high flier will land your way, the odds increase if you’re situated along the outfield fencing – specifically sections 106, 107, 108, and 109. If those seats are sold out, try settling down near the bullpens.

Whether you’re looking to escape Seattle’s rainy weather or heighten the chances of bringing that home run ball home for yourself, be sure to check out Fanatics.com to arm your wardrobe with the latest Mariners fan gear and apparel this season!

Sources

Men’s Tennis Pros By The Numbers

Tennis-Pros-by-the-Numbers_header

Ivo Karlović of Croatia – a physically powerful and competitively dominant athlete – is among the best in the world.

Ivo Karlović plays competitive men’s tennis at the professional level, as he’s done for the past 17 years, amassing wins, cups, and trophies as one of the sport’s highest winning athletes. Karlović and his near 7-foot frame are coming off a strong 2016, with two tournament titles (Los Cabos and Newport). Now, he and the top-tier of tennis pros are preparing as the year’s first major tournament draws closer: the French Open. Does Ivo have a shot at winning? Let’s see how the rest of the men’s tennis elite will stack up this year at Roland-Garros.

The French Open is played on the iconic red clay courts of Roland-Garros Stadium. Here, tennis’ most tactical will slide their way to victory on one of the more unique playing surfaces on the ATP World Tour. To the victor: La Coupe des Mousquetaires (“The Musketeers’ Cup”), which honors four legendary French tennis pioneers.

If Rafael Nadal had been born French, the ATP may have approached Roland-Garros brass about a stadium name change. Rafa has won a record nine French Open titles. He won every single French Open tournament from 2005-14, save for 2009 when the great Roger Federer muddied his streak. Nadal has almost as many victories at Roland-Garros as French legends Borotra, Cochet, Brugnon, and Lacoste – combined. If the stadium keeps its name, Rafa should at least be etched in as the fifth “Mousquetaire”! While Nadal will always be in heavy contention to lift the cup on the clay courts, there are a pack of favored players waiting in the wings.

Bringing the Heat

Tennis-Pros-by-the-Numbers_asset2

As the red clay courts provide a competitive challenge to the pros, points won on service are invaluable. The aforementioned altitudinous Ivo Karlović sits tops the statistical list with 93% of service games won and 64.8% of first serve points won. Nipping at his gigantic heels is American pro John Isner at 92.4% and 69.6%, respectively. Speaking of skyscraping silhouettes, Isner at proper posture is 6 feet and 10 inches tall. Good golly.

A living legend and one of the greatest male athletes to ever intentionally swing a tennis racquet, ladies and gentleman: Roger Federer. With a brain-blistering 90 singles career tournament titles, including a 2009 Roland-Garros victory, Federer heads to Paris with the past year’s fourth best service statistics. His 90.3% of service games won and 62.7% of first serve points won will be the 35-year-old’s dearest friends this May.

Alternatively, a point won on a return is just as efficient on the soft, red, Parisian clay. Can you guess some of the heavyweights who historically dominate the fuzzy green ball in the return game?

Getting the Break

Tennis-Pros-by-the-Numbers_asset3

The top three returners over the past year? French Open legend Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray (world No. 1), and reigning Open champion Novak Djokovic.

What more can we say about Rafa Nadal? Well, over the past year, he has held the highest percentage of return games won (38.7%) and the highest percentage of first serve return points won (34.8%). Murray is less than a percentage point behind him (37.4% and 34.5%, respectively), and the soaring Serbian Djokovic sits in third in the return department.

The GOATS

Tennis-Pros-by-the-Numbers_asset1

The 2017 season is certainly heating up! With names like Raonic, Djokovic, Federer, and Nadal making repeated runs to tournament finals, today’s players are making a good argument for being one of the best generations in tennis history.

When we look at all-time game-winning efficiency, it’s clear that today’s greats stand among the top players in history. Roger Federer, a living legend, has played an incredible 16,434 games in his career. And he won just about 89 percent of them! That means he’s dominated 14,547 games – an unbelievable 4,753 more games than second-place game winner Nadal.

Rolling to Roland-Garros

As the nostalgia and drama of this year’s French Open unfold, tennis fans around the globe are excitedly awaiting their favorite matchups. Will we see a dominant serve versus a dominant return? Is the stage set for a showdown between Ivo Karlović’s huge serve and Rafael Nadal’s renowned return? Are we in store for a mythic encounter of Isner’s towering service shots battering the blustering backhand of return specialist Andy Murray? Breath bated, we wait.

Sources

 

Women’s Tennis Pros By The Numbers

Tennis-Pros-Womens-Header

The evolution of tennis has bred a new generation of players and style of gameplay. The fast-paced play of modern tennis has transformed the sport entirely, including footwork, techniques, and training methods.

Professional tennis players in both the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) and Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) have enhanced their skill sets to stay on par with top-level talent. A new year brings a new season and with it comes intense nail-biting moments and rapid clapping fans immersed in the constant action unraveling before their eyes.

The tennis freaks at Fanatics decided to break down the stats for the ongoing 2017 WTA season to see which women are striking the meanest serves and setting the high-water mark a few levels higher. Keep reading to learn more.

Serving Is a Habit

Tennis-Pros-Womens-Asset1A

If you know tennis, then you know winning a service game is easier by nature. By starting the point, servers have the upper hand in setting the pace of the match. In turn, this enables the player to secure command of the point, which ultimately increases their chances of winning.

Johanna Konta (GBR) appears to be quite the fan of service games as she dominates all others in the league, with 84% of service games won throughout the 2017 season. Much of Konta’s success is credited to her accuracy and placement when striking aces – serving 105 aces during her career in the WTA.

Thank you @miamiopen for being the stage I got to experience this moment on. @wta

A post shared by Johanna Konta (@jokonta91) on

In the U.S., Serena Williams is regarded as one of the greatest players of all time. A reasonable claim considering the American-born star just secured her 23rd Grand Slam title after defeating her sister, Venus Williams. Momma Smash is known for exerting great force, which is the primary factor behind her winning 82.4% of service games this season.

Break Point Power

Tennis-Pros-Womens-Asset2A

Players on the opposite side of a serve tend to be at a slight disadvantage. When taking the court in a return set, it’s crucial to start the game off on the defensive. The goal of a receiving player is to neutralize the point to gain control. Once this is achieved, capitalizing on the break point is a surefire way to victory.

Elise Mertens (BEL) leads the women’s return winners ranks, claiming victory to 51.4% of return games this season. Since her induction into the WTA in 2013, the Belgian superstar has played in 74 return games with a 69.1% break point conversion (year to date).

Hailing from Latvia, Jelena Ostapenko joined the WTA in 2012. Ostapenko has come a long way since then and has been dominating the majority of her return games this season, winning 50.3% in her 14 matches. Seasoned swinger Shuai Peng rounds out the top three with 49.7% of her return games won.

Open Era Domination

Tennis-Pros-Womens-Asset3B

Tennis was forever changed in 1968 when the sport ushered in new gameplay and rules known as the Open Era. For those of you unacquainted, the beginning of the Open Era is considered one of the greatest moments in tennis history. This period shed new light on the racket sport by allowing amateur athletes to enter world-class tournaments and compete alongside professional players for prize money.

For years, athletes were disgruntled they could not afford their lifestyle by playing tennis alone. To ensure financial stability, players began competing in matches held by private parties that dished out prize money. Once the governing bodies of tennis acknowledged the individual events, the game was forever changed.

The WTA has come a long way since ’68. Martina Navratilova, a retired Czech tennis superstar, dominates the new age with a combined 1,442 Open Era singles matches won. Navratilova retired with many accolades under her belt, including 18 Grand Slam titles, 21 WTA Championship appearances, and the longest winning streak of Open Era singles.

Chris Evert (USA) trails behind Navratilova with 1,304 Open Era WTA matches won, making her the only other professional female player to break the 1,000 high-water mark. Steffi Graf (Germany) rounds out the top three with a total of 900 matches won in the Open Era.

Hustle, Hit, and Never Quit

The WTA has reached new heights in the modern era with records being broken every season. Keep up with all the hype revolving around the sports world by heading over to Fantics.com. There you can find the latest fan gear, collectibles, and sports merchandise to hit the streets!

Sources

The Big3: Professional 3 on 3 Basketball

The Big3 Basketball League

A stocky veteran point guard moves the ball up the court. His jersey ripples across the arena as the fans roar his name. This all-star has had an acclaimed career. He’s a mentor and a captain.

He’s a legend … but his knees can’t take it anymore. He retires. He loves the game, and he swears he’s still got something in the tank. What does he do?

If he’s got his finger on the pulse, he calls West Coast rap icon and movie star Ice Cube. In early 2017, Ice Cube and his business partners founded BIG3 basketball, a 3-on-3 professional eight-team league comprised of NBA greats.

The Half-Court Story

The inaugural 10-week season kicks off June 25, 2017, at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The BIG3 operates as a touring travel league, playing in arenas across the country. Sundays will be game days, structured as a league wide event with all eight teams competing (four games per day) under the same roof. Game format will be played on a half-court, with three players to a side. The creators of the BIG3 have done away with the tip off and instituted a “do-or-die” half-court shootout to determine initial possession.

So how did the BIG3 come about? Ice Cube dreamed up the idea of getting his favorite retired NBA stars back on the court. The generation of players involved in the BIG3 includes some of the most electric competitors the NBA has ever seen. These are players Ice Cube followed throughout their entire careers, all of whom are still vibrant enough to compete on a national stage. The league will become a reality this June thanks to co-founder Jeff Kwatinetz (media production CEO); president and commissioner Roger Mason Jr. (former first deputy executive director for the National Basketball Players Association); and CEO Amy Trask (former Oakland Raiders CEO).

The Ballers

As the league tours around the country, teams are not designated by a hometown host city. Instead, each five-man team has a moniker and head coach. The founding eight teams, coaches, and star players of the BIG3 are:

With a league packed with former All-Stars and NBA champions, the BIG3 has created a new platform for fans to reconnect with the players they grew up cheering. Some of the league’s human highlight reels include:

Allen Iverson, who played 14 seasons in the NBA, primarily with the Philadelphia 76ers. Iverson, the 1997 NBA Rookie of the Year and 2001 NBA MVP, was a transcendent ballhandler and clutch scorer.

Chauncey Billups is a 17-year NBA veteran and 2004 NBA Finals champion and MVP.

Mike Bibby played a storied 14-year NBA career but failed to win a championship. Bibby’s most memorable moments were played in Sacramento, with a very talented supporting cast.

Kenyon Martin was a member of the 2001 NBA All-Rookie First Team and was selected for the 2004 Eastern Conference All-Star team.

Jermaine O’Neal battled in the paint for 18 years in the NBA, racking up six All-Star team selections.

Jason Williams is known for having the best “handles” of all time. His talent for ballhandling and deception were unparalleled for 12 seasons in the NBA.

It’s also worth noting one of the most mythic performers in NBA history – Dr. J himself – is coaching team Tri-State, led by the aforementioned big man Jermaine O’Neal.

The Rulebook

The BIG3 has a unique set of rules and points system. Some of the more interesting league rules include:

  • Exclusive 4-point shots when a player is touching ANY PART of the “4-Point Circle”
  • The first team to 60 points wins
  • Halftime happens after a team scores 30 points
  • A team must win by four points
  • The ball is cleared when the player with the ball establishes both feet behind the 3-point line

The Schedule

This summer is going to be a nonstop highlight for basketball fans as the BIG3 league rolls across the country. Here’s what the inaugural 2017 schedule looks like

June 25: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY
July 2: Spectrum Center, Charlotte, NC
July 9: BOK Center, Tulsa, OK
July 16: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA
July 30: American Airlines Center, Dallas, TX
August 6: Rupp Arena, Lexington, KY
August 13: Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA
August 20: KeyArena, Seattle, WA (playoff round)
August 26: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, NV (Championship Finals)

With international celebrity Ice Cube at the helm of the BIG3 basketball league, its inaugural season beginning this summer is guaranteed to excite. He’s assembled a rock star roster of players and coaches ranging from NBA legends to former Rookies of the Year to career All-Stars and NBA champions.

Catch the Action

With the BIG3’s first tour making stops in nine major cities, fans around the country have the opportunity to see the action firsthand. Imagine sitting down to Allen Iverson versus Jason Williams again, in a battle of crossovers and pull-up jumpers! Who doesn’t want to see Bibby and Billups battle beyond the arc one more time? Grab your vintage gear at Fanatics.com and be sure to tune in June 2017 to catch all the star-studded 3-on-3 action.

Sources

Arizona Diamondbacks Home Run Hot Spots: Chase Field

HR-Hot-Spots-Chase-Field-Header

Dingers in the Desert

Major League Baseball was introduced to Arizona by Jerry Colangelo, the owner of the city’s NBA team, in March 1995. America’s Southwest was christened with its first professional baseball club: the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The D-Backs are one of the youngest teams in the MLB (along with the Tampa Bay Rays) and have an impressive resume for being the new kids in the league. The Phoenix-based squad has appeared in the playoffs five times, emerging as victors once in the 2001 World Series against the New York Yankees in a nail-biting game seven.

Since their inception into the league, the Diamondbacks have had their fair share of exceptional talent fill their rosters. The team is currently led by seasoned slugger Paul Goldschmidt and flamethrower Zack Greinke.

Welcome back. #OurSeason

A post shared by Arizona Diamondbacks (@dbacks) on

Traveling America’s Southwest, you’ll pass national monuments, breathtaking landscapes, and the ultimate baseball sanctuary. That’s right, nestled in the epicenter of downtown Phoenix is the Diamondbacks home ballpark – Chase Field.

The stadium is shaped like a gigantic airport hangar and was the first ballpark to feature a natural green grass field and retractable roof. The roof allows fanatics to celebrate the D-Backs during the intense summertime heat that scorches the region. Another unique feature: A swimming pool and bubbling hot tub behind right field. Yes, you hear that right.

The 8,500-gallon pool allows fans to cool off in the Valley of the Sun while watching America’s pastime. If you’re lucky, a homer may just sink your way. That said Chase Field is no stranger to home runs – producing a total of 221 dingers during the 2016 season.

The stadium is capable of hosting more than 48,000 Diamondbacks fans, and poolside tickets sell out in a blink of an eye.

Taking a dip in the pool may be enticing, but nothing rivals the adrenaline rush one receives from catching a home run ball from the convenience of a seat. Check out our home run heat map below to see which sections will boost your chances of showcasing that souvenir long ball in your trophy room.

Chase Field, Arizona Diamondbacks, Phoenix, Arizona

HR-Hot-Spots-Chase-Field-Asset

There are several home run hot spots along the outfield fence, specifically just beyond right and left field – sections 103, 104W, 105, or 139, 140W, and 141. Taking a dip in the pool also increases the likelihood of a long ball landing your way. If those seats are sold out, then try snagging a spot near the right field bullpen, or sections 105 and 107W. Chances are pretty high if you’re situated in left-center field, which converts to sections 143 and 144 on the seating chart.

Whether you’re going for a quick dip in the pool or are looking to catch a home run ball for yourself, be sure to head over to Fanatics and stock up on the latest Diamondbacks fan gear and apparel!

Sources

Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest

hot-dog-header.png

Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest

Legend has it that the first Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest was conducted at the Nathan’s flagship stand in Coney Island by four immigrants to determine who had the most patriotism flowing through their veins. While some sources have disputed the legitimacy of this claim…

The archives detail that Nathan Handwerker founded the first legendary hot dog stand in 1916 and held the inaugural hot dog eating contest on Independence Day that year – a traditional event that has persisted throughout the past century.

It all began with a small Coney Island hot dog stand in 1916. #TBT

A post shared by Nathan's Famous (@originalnathans) on

Nathan’s Famous has a history of gaining public attention with notorious gangster and New York native Al Capone frequently visiting the stand during his time off from the Windy City. The Coney Island weenies were so delicious that former president Franklin D. Roosevelt even served up a plate to the king and queen of England in 1939.

The first major and recorded Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest took place in 1972 at Coney Island in conjunction with the observance of Independence Day. Joseph Schechter declared independence from his diet after wolfing down 14 hot dogs and buns – capturing the first-ever Mustard Yellow International Belt.

Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest continues to attract thousands of spectators to the corner of Surf and Stillwell avenues each year and even led to the popularization of Major League Eating (MLE) to sanction the competitive feeding frenzy. To satisfy all of your hot dog cravings, we decided to dive into the storied history of the Coney Island contest to explore the world-class eating event. Take a look at the results below, if you have the stomach for it!

Top Dog-Downers

hot-dog-asset1.png

Over the years, Coney Island has had many victors hoist the mustard-colored championship belt over their head. Top eaters utilize different strategies while stuffing their faces, like dunking their hot dogs into beverages to help dissolve the bun.

The Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest began recording official results in 1972, but it wasn’t until the turn of the century that Coney Island witnessed a spike in hot dogs being downed. Kazutoyo Arai managed to scarf down 25 dogs in 2000, but his fame was short-lived as Takeru “Tsunami” Kobayashi inhaled a record-setting 50 hot dogs in 2001. The Japan-based eater would go on to win the contest for six consecutive years until being dethroned by Joey Chestnut in 2007.

After downing the Japanese fan-favorite, Joey “Jaws” Chestnut dominated the hot dog eating contest for the following eight years and was even ranked as the No. 1 professional eater by the MLE. Chestnut handed over the title to Matt “Megatoad” Stonie after losing the contest in a 62-to-60 dog defeat in 2015. 

Since 1984, Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest had men and women compete side-by-side. Birgit Felden, a German tourist, broke the gender barriers in 1984 as the first woman to win at Coney Island after inhaling nine and a half hot dogs and buns. As competitive eating entered the mainstream, more women began participating in the patriotic event – granting them a contest of their own in 2011.
Sonya “The Black Widow” Thomas ascended to the top ranks of competitive eating after wolfing down 40 frankfurters in 2011. In 2014, Miki Sudo upset Thomas, the three-time defending champ, when she devoured 34 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes. To this day, the decorated pink belt remains in Sudo’s possession after three consecutive victories. 

The Greatest Eater in History

hot-dog-asset2.png

Joey “Jaws” Chestnut ousted defending champ Matt Stonie in 2016 after guzzling down a record-setting 70 hot dogs and buns at the event’s 100th anniversary. Chestnut regained the Mustard Yellow Championship Belt by gobbling down 17 more footlongs than the Megatoad. Let’s break the results down by the minute.

Within the first 30 seconds, the hot dog devourer inhaled a total of seven hot dogs. By the 5-minute mark, Chestnut had 44 hot dogs and buns down his esophagus and ready for digestion. All in all, the Coney Island legend scarfed down 70 hot dogs – breaking his 2013 record of 69. In total, Jaws was recorded gulping eight and a half hot dogs per minute and gained close to six pounds after consuming 20,790 calories by the end of regulation.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Start Your Enzymes!

Whether you’re heading down to Coney Island to partake in this food frenzy or simply just spectating from the sidelines, be sure to attend sporting the best licensed apparel in the game. While your appetites are still intact, head over to Fanatics for the latest fan gear and memorabilia.

Sources

Golden State vs. Cleveland Rivalry

The Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers made NBA history with their third subsequent appearances in the Finals, a feat that had yet to occur in the league. The highly anticipated series had fans rallied on both sides of the court, and shaped one of the greatest rivalries the NBA has ever seen – especially this season, with Golden State’s addition of Kevin Durant.

Recent memory evokes a Golden State Game 5 victory against a group of hopeful Cavs. Considering the California-based squad intentionally crafted a superteam specifically to contain LeBron James in hopes of dethroning the defending champs, it wasn’t much of a surprise that the series did not make it to a Game 7 finale.

Golden State’s ascension, along with a supercharged roster, sets them light-years ahead of other teams. That being said, Cleveland is faced with making some difficult roster decisions in the offseason to prevent a potential Golden State dynasty.

Read on to see how this fierce rivalry all began and what events led to each team’s claim of national basketball supremacy.

NBA Finals Three-Peat

2015 NBA Finals: During the summer of 2014, King James abandoned the surf and sand offered by Miami’s beaches and returned to Cleveland for a heartfelt homecoming. The Ohio ballers were anticipated to be a dominant force in the league, but the Warriors shattered all expectations.

The Dubs took the league by storm with newly hired Steve Kerr at the helm of the team. The Cali-based squad was led by the NBA’s most valuable player, Steph Curry, as well as breakout baller Draymond Green. Needless to say, each “superteam” cruised their way into the Finals.

As history tells, karma doomed King James and his beloved Cavs. The first blow was delivered when Kyrie Irving incurred a broken knee during Game 1. James attempted to carry the undermanned team and even secured two victories for the Cavs, but it wasn’t enough. Chef Curry and the Warriors powered through to down the once-feared Cavaliers in Game 6 to end the franchise’s 40-year championship drought. Andre Iguodala was crowned as the 2015 Finals MVP.

2016 NBA Finals: Revenge was the Cavs’ theme this season and fueled them into another Finals appearance. The Ohio-based squad endured a rough regular season, but a new coach, Tyronn Lue, ignited a new flame at the core the franchise. Curry became a dominant force in the league and launched the Warriors to another level by posting a 73-9 record – a first in the NBA.

The outmatched Cavs were on the verge of defeat for the second year in a row, as the end of Game 4 marked a 3-1 Warriors lead. But one Game 4 incident between Draymond Green and LeBron James changed the trajectory of the entire series.

Green was suspended for Game 5, and the Cavs pounced on this “golden” opportunity. Dominant performances by James, Irving, and Kevin Love ultimately led to the Cleveland players hoisting the Larry O’Brien Trophy over their heads. And of course, King James was rightfully named the 2016 Finals MVP.

2017 NBA Finals: The Warriors and Cavs meet for a third clash in the 2017 NBA Finals. The first two games of the series resulted in unexpected blowouts, with Golden State crushing the Cavs at home and again at Quicken Loans Arena.

It wasn’t until Game 4 that the Cavs secured their first victory against the NorCal superteam – giving Cleveland fans hope for another 3-1 comeback. Unfortunately, the Cavs fell short. Between KD’s unstoppable form and Chef Curry’s impressive performance, the Curry-Durant tandem came full circle.

The Cleveland Cavaliers were poised with a challenging Game 5 at Oracle Arena. Between the hostile environment and the Dubs energized lineup, the Cavs fell short – handing the Warriors another championship title. Kevin Durant emerged as the Finals MVP and made a point to heap glory on his new partner in crime, Steph Curry.

All They Do Is Win

While the Finals come jam-packed with buzzer-beating moments and heated courtside exchanges, the regular season primes the pump for the drama to unfold later.

The rivaling Cavs and Warriors compete in different conferences and have only faced off against each other 127 times – easing stress levels of diehard fans. (The Cleveland Cavs contend in the Eastern Conference Central Division, while the Warriors play in the Western Conference Pacific Division).

Golden State leads the rivalry with the most regular season wins – posting 68 victories – and NBA titles. Cleveland trails behind their West Coast rivals with a modest 59 regular season wins and one NBA Championship title.

Cleveland’s storied franchise boasts the longest winning streak between the two squads. The Cav’s downed their coastal rivals during 10 contests over a four-season span from 1992 to 1996. Golden State trails Cleveland’s feat by posting a seven-game winning streak during the 2015 season – sparking a newfound disgust between the franchises.

Steady Scoring

One cursory glance at the Warriors and Cavs match history, and two dates explicitly stand out: March 8, 1990, and Jan. 23, 1989.

Golden State takes the cake regarding the most points scored throughout previous matchups. March 8, 1990, marks the game day in which #DubNation conquered Cleveland by a 40-point margin (145-105). The Warriors exerted dominance over their future rivals, and rallied behind Hall of Famer Mitch Richmond and forward Terry Teagle as the all-star shooters ran the scoreboard up – swooshing 25 and 22 points, respectively.

Conversely, the Cavs stood in the spotlight a year prior after crushing their NorCal contenders at home by a 33-point margin – posting a final score of 142-109 at the end of regulation. Cleveland benefited from the play of three-time All-Star Larry Nance (22 points scored) and the “Ohio Flyer” Ron Harper (netting 21 shots).

The Heat is On

Between winning their second title in three seasons and boasting a youthful yet experienced roster, the Warriors are positioned for long-term dominance. If the Cavs wish to retake the throne, they’ll need to elevate their gameplay and make pressing decisions during offseason to nurture a sustainable roster. One thing is for certain – the budding rivalry is in its prime and more epic showdowns between the legendary teams are still to come.

Whether you support #DubNation or look to #DefendTheLand, be sure to take part in the rivalry yourself. Update your wardrobe by heading over to Fanatics.com, where you can browse a wide selection of replica jerseys and ultimate fan gear!

Sources

 

 

 

 

 

 

Le Tour de France 2017

Tour_Tour-de-France-Header

Biking the Tour de France

The Tour de France is a multi-stage bike race that attracts riders from all over the world. These riders compete over mountainous terrain, primarily in France, and conclude along the Champs-Élysées in Paris.

Le peloton sur les Champs-Élysées / The peloton on the Champs-Élysées #TDF2016 @beardmcbeardy

A post shared by Le Tour de France (@letourdefrance) on

Le Tour de France began over a century ago in 1903, when a journalist named Geo Lefevre dreamed up a massive bike race in order to boost sales of his daily sports newspaper, L’Auto. Along with the paper’s director-editor, Henri Desgrange, they put together a 1,500-mile course consisting of six stages, and the cyclists who participated wore no helmets and could receive no help whatsoever.

From Germany to Belgium to France – 2017 Tour de France route map

Tour_Tour-de-France-Asset-1

The Tour has been held annually since its inception, aside from 11 canceled races during World War I and II. While today’s race bears the same name, the intervening decades have sculpted it into something quite a bit different, while still paying homage to its beginnings. This year’s Tour will feature 21 stages (at a rate of one stage per day, plus rest days), compared to the six of the first race, and will begin in Düsseldorf, Germany. This will be the first time the Tour has started in Germany since 1987 and the fourth time overall a German city has hosted the Grand Départ.

How long is the Tour de France

The route of this year’s Tour de France winds from Düsseldorf, Germany, all the way to Paris, France, with a few stops in other countries as well – totaling 3,521 kilometers (or 2187 miles), over the 21 stages.

Other stages include Verviers, Belgium, to Longwy, France (stage three); Pau to Peyragudes (stage 12); and La Mure, France, to Serre Chevalier, France (stage 17), which takes riders through the French Alps.

Prior Champs of the Tour de France

Tour_Tour-de-France-Asset-2

The most recent winner of the Tour de France was Britain’s Christopher Froome of Team Sky, who also claimed the title in 2015. He remains a heavy favorite to win this year’s Tour, as well. Italy’s Vincenzo Nibali of the Astana Pro Team won in 2014. Chris Froome also captured the win in 2013, preceded by fellow Team Sky member Bradley Williams, who won it all in 2012.

🎉🎉 BONNE ANNÉE / HAPPY NEW YEAR 🎉🎉 #TDF2017

A post shared by Le Tour de France (@letourdefrance) on

In 2011, Australian Cadel Evans of the BMC Racing Team was the winner, preceded by Andy Schleck, who hails from Luxembourg. Spain’s Alberto Contador of the Astana Pro Team won the Tour in 2009. Carlos Sastre, who also calls Spain home, won it all in 2008 as part of Team CSC Saxo Bank, and Contador won the year prior (while with the Discovery Channel Pro Team).

Over more than 100 years of competition, the winningest cyclist was Lance Armstrong, who came out on top seven times. His wins were later removed from the record books after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) found him guilty of doping in 2012.

Color-Coded Jerseys

Tour_Tour-de-France-Asset-3

The special jerseys donned by the cyclists aren’t random. The coveted yellow jersey is awarded by the leader of the general classification after each stage, as the yellow jersey is the most easily recognized and considered very prestigious.

The green jersey got its start in 1953 and is awarded to the cyclist with the most points. Currently, points are awarded in the intermediate sprints and at the end of each stage.

The red polka-dot jersey is worn by the leader of the King of the Mountains (KOM) classification. KOM points are awarded at the top of every categorized climb. While a King of the Mountain has been recognized since 1933, the unique jersey didn’t make an appearance until 1975.

The white jersey is awarded to the best young rider (25 or younger) in the overall standings. The jersey made its first appearance in 1975, went away in 1988, and reappeared in 2000.

Tour de France 2017 start & finish dates

When does the Tour de France start in 2017? The Tour de France 2017 will begin on Saturday in Düsseldorf, Germany, July 1st and ends on Sunday, July 23rd on the Champs-Élysées in Paris.

Off to the Races

While the Tour de France is a cycling competition, it’s much more than just a race. It’s enormous, covers miles and miles of gorgeous (and often mountainous) European terrain, and takes place over most of a month. If you’re going to cheer on your favorite riders make sure to stay cool (or warm!) in your favorite sports gear from Fanatics.

Sources

Oakland Athletics Home Run Hot Spots: Oakland Alameda County Coliseum

HR-Hot-Spots-Oakland-Coliseum-Header

The Bright Side of the Bay

The Oakland Athletics have a storied franchise history that began in Philadelphia, relocated to Kansas City in 1955, and ultimately settled in Oakland, California, in 1968. The historic move ushered in a new era of management under Bob Kennedy and marked a new period of Oakland dominance.

The Oakland-based squad has 18 playoff appearances – capturing the World Series championship title and Commissioner’s Trophy  four times. In addition to their World Series success, the A’s have brought 6 league pennants back to the Bump City.

After fifth place finishes in back-to-back seasons, the Athletics look to return to American League prominence. Rajai Davis (center fielder), Sonny Gray (flamethrower), and Khris Davis (seasoned slugger) currently lead the team’s red-hot roster.

A beautiful #UpperDeckMoment 😍

A post shared by Oakland Athletics (@athletics) on

Oakland acquired its moniker from a woodland of grand oak trees that once decorated the region. Oaklanders and foreign visitors alike spend their days immersed in the city’s vibrant art scene, vintage shops, historical sites, and America’s pastime, of course.

The Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, which is often referred to as the Oakland Coliseum, is a multipurpose facility located in Northern California and is home to both the Oakland Athletics and Oakland Raiders. Although the A’s fell to the Baltimore Orioles (4-1) during their stadium debut in 1968, the stadium was jam-packed with an enthusiastic sea of more than 50,000 green and gold fanatics.

To immerse fans with the ultimate game day experience, stadium officials blocked off the seating sections of the upper decks in 2006 – drawing spectators closer to the field and dropping the capacity for major league showdowns to approximately 35,000 people. Along with a playoff run in mind, the A’s reopened the third deck during the 2017 season and raised the capacity crowd to accommodate over 47,000 fans.

After an approved vote initiated by the Oakland Raiders, the Raiders plan to relocate to Las Vegas. The impending departure of the Raiders signifies the last multipurpose stadium to host active MLB and NFL franchises.

While the Coliseum has served as a testament to time, the era of shared playing fields is approaching its demise as the ballpark boom continues to unfold across the league. That said, the A’s are canvassing with Oakland city officials for the construction of a modern-day venue coupled with a new location.

Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, Oakland, California

HR-Hot-Spots-Oakland-Coliseum-Asset

According to our heat map, the outfield fence lines are a designated home run hot spot for fans looking to snag that souvenir home run ball. Increase the odds of a long ball landing your way by cozying up just behind right and left field – or sections 135, 137, 145, 147, and 149 on the seating chart.

During the 2016 season, the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum produced a jaw-dropping 149 home runs. The longest homer smoked off the bat of Danny Valencia – former fielder for the A’s – blasting the ball an impressive 451 feet.

Memories last a lifetime. That’s why it’s important to experience an MLB showdown at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum before it’s too late. Come prepared by heading over to Fanatics.com and gearing up with the latest green and gold merchandise and apparel in the league!

Sources