In 1957, ten years after the Brooklyn Dodgers helped Jackie Robinson break the color barrier in the Major Leagues, they had their 67th and final season in New York. The Dodgers, just two years removed from their first World Series Championship, were seeking another title. Meanwhile, their team President, Walter O’Malley, was seeking a new stadium in the same borough the team had occupied since the last part of the 19th Century.
Ebbets Filed in Brooklyn, NY (Getty Images)
The once great Ebbets Field, which the team had called home since 1913, was not a suitable ballpark anymore. The stadium did not have enough seating to produce the amount of revenue a Major League team needed. There was also little to no vehicle parking around the stadium. This frustrated O’Malley, who was seeking a new privately funded stadium in the Atlantic Yards section of Brooklyn. This plan was shot down by New York City Building Commissioner Robert Moses. Instead, Moses proposed a new stadium in Flushing Meadows, which is in the borough of Queens. That site would later be home to Shea Stadium and currently, Citi Field. O’Malley refused the offer from Moses and sought another location for his team.
Former Dodgers President Walter O’Malley. (Getty Images)
While O’Malley was battling Moses over stadium plans, the season continued. The Dodgers finished their final season with a respectable record of 84 wins and 70 losses. The team finished in third place in the National League and missed the playoffs by three games. Centerfielder Duke Snider was the bright spot for the Dodgers in the 1957 season. Snider batted .274 with 40 home runs and 92 RBIs. He also hit his 300th career home run on July 20th.
While the city of New York was not willing to accommodate the Dodgers, the city of Los Angeles was more than willing to be their new home. Los Angeles was offering O’Malley everything he wanted, a new Stadium with ample seating and more parking space than the Dodgers would ever need. The most important part of the offer was a city with leaders who were willing to work with the franchise to make them happy. Before the season was complete, it was official; the Dodgers were moving to California.
The Dodgers won their final game at Ebbets Field on September 24th. The Dodgers had many seasons where they did not enter the postseason. This season was different, and the fans could no longer look forward to next season. It was over and the city’s beloved team in blue was history. The loss of the Dodgers crushed Brooklyn’s heart when they left for Los Angeles and the city has never been the same since.
Brooklyn baseball fans vilified O’Malley for moving the team. Many of those fans did not know the politics of the move. Many years later, it became more clear that the city of New York did not help O’Malley keep the team in Brooklyn. O’Malley tried his hardest but it just was not enough, and he had to do what was best for the franchise. It has been 65 years since the Dodgers called Brooklyn home, but all of the old fans that grew up with them still consider the Dodgers their home team.
This past off season Major League baseball did something they had not done since 1994. It changed it’s playoff structure by adding a new element.
Prior to 1995 there were just four teams involved in the post season. There was an Eastern and Western Champion in Both leagues who would play each other for the League Championship. Those two winners would go into the World Series and face off against the opposing leagues Champion. This had been the case since 1969.
The new system was enacted in 1994 but due to the strike shortened season it debuted in 1995. The system worked with each league having three divisions. Each division winner would go to the playoffs and the team with the best record that did not win a division would also go to the post season. There have been five wild card teams that have won a World Series since MLB instituted the wild card.
In November the commissioner of MLB, Bud Selig announced that their would be a second wild card team for each league. The two wild card teams would play each other in a one game playoff. The winner will advance to the divisional round of the playoffs and face one of the divisional champions. All that was added was basically one more game to each leagues playoff. We will see the first wild card playoff game in less than two weeks from now.
The new system obviously adds something to the final month of the season. More teams will be in the hunt for the post season with the additional wild card. Those teams games will also be more exciting down the stretch when MLB can be boring at times. It will also create a new buzz in the playoffs. However there is a draw back.
The two wild card teams might actually be pretty far apart records wise. The second wild card team will be given an opportunity for the playoffs they may not deserve. As of right now you have two teams at the top of the National League wild card race. The Atlanta Braves and the St. Louis Cardinals. The braves lead the Cardinals by 6 games. If the playoffs were to start today the Cardinals would get a one game playoff opportunity with the Braves they should not have.
This new system seems nice right now but over time it will dilute the MLB post season. One wild card team per league is just enough. If you have too many non playoff worthy teams getting a shot in the playoffs it will spell disaster for MLB. This is just another scheme by Selig to make more money off of the last month of the season and add more money to the post season television deals. MLB should go back to the four team per league system before the post season become watered down. As the old adage goes if it is not broke don’t fix it.
Dwight Howard is not playing nice with the Magic.
(Jonathan Daniel/Getty images)
A few weeks ago it looked like the drama that is Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic was coming to an end, but here we are with Howard still on a team he no longer wants to be on. The Magic want Howard to give the new management a chance but he wants a trade and wants one now. There is one problem though, there are no teams that for one want to have Howard for one season only to see him leave or a team with assets worthy of him.
The Houston Rockets were pushing hard for Howard going into the draft. Howard’s management even warned the team that if he were traded to Houston he would leave as a free agent next summer. Still the Rockets pursued Howard feeling that their legacy and how they would perform as a team with him would sway his decision to leave in 2013. The Magic were not offered a package of players that fit what they wanted.
Then came along the Brooklyn Nets, the team which Howard wants to ultimately end up with. The Magic were offered a deal that would involve the Nets and 2 other teams that would send the Magic Center Brook Lopez and a handful of other players. That deal was never accepted by the Magic and the Nets spent big money on Daron Williams and Lopez signed a contract extension with the team. The extension makes Lopez untradable until January. So the Magic will have to wait if they do in fact want Lopez. Lopez would be the only star player the Nets could include in a trade that would be a good deal for the Magic.
The Lakers are the latest team to be in talks with the Magic for Howard. The Lakers already traded away 2 future 1st round draft picks so that is off the table in a possible deal. The star player that could be involved in a deal between the Magic and Lakers would be Andrew Bynum. The problem with that scenario is two fold. The first problem is that Bynum is a free agent in 2013 and would have to sign if the Magic would acquire him and he has shown strong interest in being a free agent next year. The second issue is the Magic also want to unload a lot of their team and clean out some cap space. The Lakers cannot help them there. So the Magic stand with a player that is not looking to be going anywhere soon.
The Magic have been getting the rough end of this Howard situation. They are not finding any great deals but at the same time can’t afford for him to leave as a free agent and get nothing for him. Howard is really being tough with the team. The team has new management and is wanting to work something out with Howard. Howard does need to go but for the right price. The Magic should wait this out a little longer until they get a deal they can live with. The team will be set back many years if they don’t get players of value for Howard. This is a bad situation and a bad summer for the team and things don’t look to be getting better anytime soon.