billsportsmaps.com

October 28, 2010

2010-11 Conference National (aka Blue Square Bet Premier League) – Stadia map.

Filed under: 2010-11 English Football,Eng. Non-League,Football Stadia — admin @ 5:40 pm

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2010-11 Conference National



The Seasons in 5th Level statistic I have included in each club’s profile box on the map page needs some clarification. There was no automatic promotion into the Football League before 1986-87, and because there was no nationwide Non-League division before 1979-80, it is impossible to determine what was the 5th level of English football prior to the formation of the Alliance Premier League in 1979-80 (so the Seasons in 5th Level statistic is for the 32 seasons from 1979-80 to 2010-11). The Alliance Premier League was given one promotion spot to the old Fourth Division in 1986-87, and at that point the APL changed it’s name to the Conference National (and began inserting a sponsors name into their official name, which is currently the Blue Square Bet Premier League). A second promotion spot was added starting in the 2002-03 season. There is talk these days of adding a third promotion spot, and the argument can be made that this is overdue.

The only way clubs could get into the League before 1986-87 was via election, and there was quite a bit of leeway for continually poor-performing League clubs in the lower reaches of the old Fourth Division. A whole lot of deserving Non-League football clubs never got the shot to play in the League. These days, tiny and unheralded clubs that had no League history prior to 1987 can and do move up the football pyramid…clubs like Dagenham & Redbridge and Yeovil Town in the 3rd Level (ie, League One), and seven clubs in the 4th Level (ie, League Two)… Barnet, Burton Albion, Cheltenham Town, Macclesfield Town, Morecambe, Stevenage, and Wycombe Wanderers. Meanwhile, clubs that were once mainstays of the lower Leagues, such as Darlington, Grimsby Town, Luton Town, Mansfield Town, Wrexham, and York City – well, they are finding it very hard to get back into the League. [Actually, Luton Town has spent more seasons in the top two levels of the League than the lower two levels, so their continuing stay in the wilderness of Non-League football must be especially frustrating to their 6,000-plus regular supporters.] To put it another way, the Conference is on the upswing…in terms of on-field quality, and in terms of fan support.

From Two Hundred Percent.net, from 11th October, 2010, by Ian King, ‘League Two and the Blue Square Premier: The Blurring of the Lines‘.

Usually when I make maps with club profile boxes, I include each club’s national titles and national cup titles. That would just end up being wasted space here (the only club here with a ‘major’ title is Luton Town, who won the League Cup in 1988, but I never list the League Cup anyway). So I decided to use the space for 2 topical categories…each club’s all-time best FA Cup run, and best FA Cup run in the last 20 seasons (with all FA Cup runs which reached the 5th Round or higher listed; and all joint-best runs listed). Which is just in time for the 2010-11 FA Cup First Round Proper, to be played the weekend of November 5th through the 7th. My map on 2010-11 FA Cup First Round Proper will be posted Wednesday evening, 3rd November. 14 of the 24 Conference National clubs are in the FA Cup 1st Round {BBC/FA Cup, here}, as well as 18 other, lower-placed Non-League clubs.

2009-10 average attendances (from league home matches) are shown at the bottom, center of the map page. The following link has current 2010-11 Conference National average attendances…{from www.mikeavery.co.uk/Divisional Attendance – scroll one quarter down the page to find the fifth box of stats which is 2010-11 Conference Premier Average Home Attendance, here}.
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Thanks to the contributors to the pages at en.wikipedia.org, ‘2010-11 Football Conference‘.

Thanks to the Footy Mad.co.uk sites, for each club’s league history and cup history data, http://www.footymad.net/blue-square-premier-news/ . Note: this following set of pages on the Football365 site was also very helpful for data, even if it is 9 years now since it has been updated [set to all-time 4th tier, up to 2001-02], http://stats.football365.com/hist/tier4/attable.html

Thanks to mikeavery.co.uk, for 2009-10 attendance figures and attendance rankings.

Thanks to Bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye view…21 of the football grounds photos on the map page are from this feature. I can’t get images by going to Bing.com, though…I get them by going to each club’s page at en.wikipedia.org, clicking onto the club’s ground, then clicking on the blue-lit numbers of the football ground’s geographical coordinates. There are no Bing.com Bird’s Eye view images for 3 Conference grounds…Barrow’s Holker Road, and Forest Green Rovers’ New Lawn, so for those I had to settle for images via Google Earth satellite view; and Rushden & Diamonds’ Nene Park, so I used an image submitted by jim21 at the en.wikipedia.org page on Nene Park.

October 22, 2010

Major League Baseball: 1908 National League season, with map and NL uniforms; the post-season replay of Chicago Cubs v. New York Giants at the Polo Grounds on October 8, 1908; and an illustrated article on the Dead-ball Era in Major League Baseball (1900-1920).

Filed under: Baseball,Baseball-1908 MLB season,Retro maps — admin @ 4:41 pm

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1908 National League



The 1908 National League season featured a three-way pennant race between the Chicago Cubs, the New York Giants, and the Pittsburgh Pirates. Because of an unusual sequence of events, the 1908 National League season required an unprecedented post-season replay of a game to decide the pennant winner. That is covered in the two articles on the left side of the map page. The final standings for the 1908 National League season are at the top, left. At the bottom, center of the map page are photos and thumbnail profiles of the prominent figures on the two teams that met in the re-played game which was held on October 8, 1908, at the Polo Grounds in upper Manhattan Island, New York City.
I recommend reading the text in the image sequence below, before jumping over to the map page [note: the bulk of the text below is repeated at the text block in the upper left on the map page]…
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1908 World Series – Chicago Cubs (National League) defeat Detroit Tigers (American league) 4 games to 1 game…
After the extremely tight and unusual pennant races in both leagues {American League, 1908 season map, with 1908 attendances of all MLB teams, here}, the 1908 World Series was destined to be anti-climactic. [This was a re-match of the 1907 Fall Classic, which saw the Cubs sweep the Tigers, 4 games to 0.] In the first game of the 1908 series, at Detroit’s Bennett Field, in front of 10,812, the Tigers’ rookie hurler Ed Summers had a 6-5 lead entering the ninth inning, when he proceeded to give up 6 consecutive hits and 5 runs to the Cubs. Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown got the win for the Cubs. In the second game, at Chicago’s West Side Grounds, in front of 17,760, the Cubs broke a scoreless deadlock with 6 runs in the bottom of the 8th inning, including a 2-run homer by Joe Tinker. Orval Overall was the winning pitcher. In game 3, the Tigers’ bats finally came awake, and Detroit beat Chicago 8-3 in front of 14,543 at the West Side Grounds. Game 4 was played back at Bennett Field in Detroit, and in front of 12,907, Cubs’ ace Mordecai Brown came through, and shut out the Tigers 3-0. By this time, the Tigers, and their fans, had given up the ghost, and in front of an embarrassingly small crowd of just 6,210 at Bennett Field, the Cubs again shut out the Tigers 2-0, behind Orval Overall. So the Chicago Cubs were again the champions. The Chicago Cubs have never won another World Series title.

The Chicago Cubs have never won another World Series title since 1908…
People love to talk about curses in baseball, but it is strange that the curse of unsporting behavior has never been popularly ascribed to the 1908 Chicago Cubs. Cubs shortstop Johnny Evers pressed the point that technically Fred Merkle should have been called out for not advancing to second base after the winning run had scored on that fateful game of September 23rd, 1908 (and in some versions, such as the New York Times account, first baseman/manager Frank Chance was described as having “grasped the situation” and directed the ball to be retrieved from the stands and be thrown to second base). Ball players had been doing what Merkle did for over 30 years in major league baseball, because crowds of unruly fans inevitably would storm the field after a winning run was scored, and it was very dangerous to be tarrying in what was essentially a mob scene. The umpire, Hank O’Day, was coerced into contravening the established procedures of the day, and for doing so he was later criticized by many, including the preeminent umpire of that era, Bill Klem. The whole incident was so convulsive that the National League President, Harry Pulliam, who was totally savaged by the media for allowing the Merkle’s Boner ruling to stand, committed suicide a year later.

On that day at the old Polo Grounds, the Cubs got a baseball from the crowd (it was probably not even the game ball, {see this}), and completed a play for an out when the field was already overrun by boisterous fans. The Cubs got their way that day, overstepping three decades worth of established procedure in baseball games. So the Cubs got their National League pennant in a sneaky way, then the Cubs won their second (and second-consecutive) World Series title…but the Cubs have never won another World Series title since. Hey Cubs fans, forget about that Curse of the Billy Goat malarky {see this}…The Curse of Merkle’s Boner is the real reason your ball club has never won another championship. The Chicago Cubs beat the New York Giants in 1908 with unsporting behavior, and it has been nothing but a century of failure for the Chicago Cubs since then. [The Cubs have failed to win a world championship in 13 post season appearances since 1908, including being 0 for 7 in World Series appearances (their last being in 1945, when they lost to Detroit in 7 games), and 0 for 6 in playoff-era post season appearances (their last in 2008, when they were swept by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS; their previous appearance being in 2003, when they fell to the Florida Marlins in the NLCS, a series made notorious by the Steve Bartman incident {see this}).
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1908 National League map and 1908 NL uniforms...

The main feature of the map page {see it here} is a railways and population map of the United States, from 1900. To this map I have added the jersey or cap crests of the 8 National League ball clubs. The large crests shown at the top of the map are arranged to reflect the western-to-eastern distribution of the 8 NL ballclubs, while the very small club crests serve to locate the ball clubs' home cities on the map. On the far right of the map page I have shown the 1908 uniforms of the 8 NL ball clubs, as well as the 2010 home ball caps of the modern version of each of these 8 NL franchises, 5 of which still play in the same city over a century later. Those 5 ball clubs are the Chicago Cubs, the Cincinnati Reds, the Philadelphia Phillies, the Pittsburgh Pirates, and the St. Louis Cardinals. 3 franchises have moved since 1908. The Boston Doves, originally known as the Boston Red Stockings, then the Boston Beaneaters, later became the Boston Braves (in 1911), before moving to Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1953, becoming the Milwaukee Braves, but then moved again to Atlanta, Georgia, becoming the Atlanta Braves, in 1966. The Brooklyn Superbas (aka Trolley Dodgers) became officially known as the Brooklyn Robins from 1914 to 1933 (after their manager Wilbert Robinson) but all the while were more popularly known as the Brooklyn Dodgers (this name became official in 1934 {see this, a chart of Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers' uniforms and logos, from a post I made a year ago}). The Brooklyn Dodgers moved to California in 1958, becoming the Los Angeles Dodgers. The New York Giants also moved to California in 1958, becoming the San Francisco Giants.
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    The Dead-ball Era, 1900-1920


The Dead-ball era in Major League Baseball is usually defined as the time period from 1900 to 1920, although some baseball people place the starting date of the Dead-ball era all the way back to the beginning of organized baseball, which is circa 1845 [the National League was founded in 1876; and the American League was established as the second major league in 1901]. For the purposes of this article, the Dead-ball era will be framed as the 21 National League seasons and the 20 American League seasons from 1900 to 1920. In 1920, Babe Ruth, newly arrived from the Boston Red Sox, (where he hit 24 HRs in 1919 as a pitcher and a utility outfielder), hit a then-inconceivable 54 home runs as a regularly starting New York Yankee outfielder. Also in 1920, changes were made to the ball (a different yarn and a different wrapping procedure was used), which, while Major League Baseball has always insisted had no effect on the ‘liveliness’ of the ball (citing a US Bureau of Standards test), was nevertheeless labelled “the jackrabbit ball” by players and pundits alike. Also, one year later in 1921, a rule was put in place which demanded that baseballs be replaced when dirty. This aided the batter both by putting less “dead” balls in play as well as putting more visible balls into play. Diminished size of the outfields in ballparks also contributed to the surge in home runs in the 1920s. And the effect that Babe Ruth himself had on the end of the Dead-ball era cannot be discounted, as the conventional wisdom of “small ball” was swept away, bringing in an era (that remains to this day) where hitters were encouraged to, and often expected to, swing for the fences.

The Dead-ball era was a time when pitchers dominated the game, and records like Cy Young’s 512 wins or Ed Walsh’s 1.82 lifetime ERA will almost certainly never be broken. The Dead-ball era saw very few out-of-the-park home runs, and saw the lowest-ever slugging percentages {see this chart}. The Dead-ball era was characterized by a base-to-base style of play with the emphasis on advancing runners through stolen bases, sacrifice hits and bunts, hit-and-run-plays, and hitting techniques such as the “Baltimore chop‘ . Because of the vast outfields in many of the ballparks, there were a lot more triples in the Dead-ball era, and inside-the-park home runs were way more common than they are today. During the 1900-1917 time period there were 15 instances between the two Major Leagues when the home run leader hit less than 10 HRs (!)…this happened in the American League in 1905, 1907, 1908, 1909, 1914, and 1916; and this happened in the National League in 1902, 1903, 1904, 1905, and 1909. {From Baseball Almanac.com, Year by Year Leaders for Home Runs}. To give you an idea of how rare home runs were in the first two decades of the 20th century, the Philadelphia Athletics’ third baseman Frank ‘Home Run’ Baker got his nickname by hitting 2 home runs in the 1911 World Series, after he led the AL that season with 11 round trippers. Eleven home runs is a good month for sluggers these days. Baker finished his 13-season career with 96 HR, very good for his day, but the stuff of three good seasons post-1920. If you think all this made for boring baseball, there is perhaps one saving grace about the style of play during the Dead-ball era…the profusion of triples.

All-Time Triples Leaders…
The list of all-time triples leaders is skewed heavily towards the early days of baseball and particularly the Dead-ball era of 1900-1920. And only 2 of the top 20 in the all-time triples leaders list had careers which came after the end of the Dead-ball era…#10 on the list, Paul ‘Big Poison’ Waner, and #19 (tied) on the list, Stan ‘The Man’ Musial. {‘List of Major League Baseball players with 100 triples‘, from en.wikipedia.org}.
All-time triples leaders. Below: The top 8 All-time Triples Leaders, all of whom had at least 200 triples, lifetime. Each player is shown in a photograph or an illustration, with his ball clubs and seasons listed, along with his high for triples in a season…[Note: all these players are in the Baseball Hall of Fame.]
1. ‘Wahoo’ Sam Crawford. 309 triples. {Hall of Fame bio}.
2. Ty Cobb, ‘the Georgia Peach’. 295 triples. {official web site of Ty Cobb}.
3. Honus Wagner, ‘the Flying Dutchman’ [he was German; "Dutch" being a mutilation of Deutsch]. 252 triples. {official site of Honus Wagner}.
4. Jake ‘Eagle Eye’ Beckley. 244 triples. {Jake Beckley bio at SABR.org, by David Fleitz}.
5. Roger Connor [6 foot 3 inches tall and the man who gave the New York Giants their nickname]. 233 triples. {‘Roger Connor: The 19th Century HR King‘, by Mike Attiyeh at The Baseball Guru.com}.
6. Tris Speaker, ‘the Grey Eagle’. 222 triples. {Tris Spaeker bio at Baseball Reference.com}.
7. Fred Clarke. [Player/manager of 4 of Pittsburgh's 9 NL Pennants]. 220 triples. {Hall of Fame bio}.
8. Dan Brouthers. [First great slugger in MLB history]. 205 triples. {Hall of Fame bio}.

All MLB players with 200 Triples, lifetime
[Note: click on image below, for an enlarged version.]
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The ball during the Dead-ball era, and the effect of widespread use of the then-legal spitball…
The name dead-ball is pretty straightforward, because back in the early days of professional baseball, the ball was not at all lively when struck by the batter, and the ball usually did not travel too far. Furthermore, as a cost-cutting measure (since balls were expensive back then), balls were very rarely replaced during the game, like in modern baseball games. In the Dead-ball era, balls were routinely used for up to 100 pitches. In the modern Major League Baseball game, a ball lasts, on average, 6 pitches, and 5 or 6 dozen balls are used in the average 9 inning game. {NumberOf.net/ Number of baseballs used in a MLB game}.
Plus, before and during the Dead-ball Era, the moment a new ball was thrown into the field, a pitcher’s first job was to dirty up that ball. So if the baseballs started out soft and not very visble, you can imagine what they were like 3 or 4 innings into the game, after being tossed around, whacked by baseball bats, rolled in the dirt, grass, and mud, and spat upon and scuffed up by the pitchers. In other words, 100 years ago in Major League Baseball, baseballs were not very lively by design, and literally dead by overuse. And because of the inevitable dirtying up of the ball, it stopped being even close to a white orb and started looking like a misshapen brown blur to the batters. The batters had a real hard time seeing the ball.
The spitball was another major reason offensive production was so low in the Dead-ball era. Spitball was the catch-all term for putting something on the ball, it didn’t have to be spit…mud worked fine, and petroleum jelly was (and still is) a popular choice. With a spitball, the ball behaves erratically in flight due to the extra weight on one part of the ball’s surface.

1911: The cork-centered ball pushes up offensive numbers (temporarily)…
Another reason for low scoring and meager offensive numbers in the very early years of organized baseball was that, prior to 1911, the baseball had no cork center. The cork-centered ball was invented by Ben Shibe (who was then co-owner of the American League’s Philadelphia Athletics) and first marketed by the Reach Company, who were then the American League’s official baseball suppliers, in 1909, and were in use throughout Major League Baseball (ie, both the American League and the National League) starting in 1911, causing a spike in offensive statistics, but only temporarily. A telling statistic of the cork-centered ball’s initial impact is that the only two plus-.400 batting averages between 1902 and 1919 were attained in the first two seasons after the cork-centered balls began being used in 1911. Ty Cobb (of the American League’s Detroit Tigers) hit .420 in 1911. This was Cobb’s highest-ever season average. The next year, 1912, Cobb hit.410. Meanwhile, ‘Shoeless’ Joe Jackson (of the AL’s Chicago White Sox) batted .408 in 1911. And in the National League, the highest home run total by a player went from 10 HR in 1910 to 21 HR in 1911 (by Pittsburgh’s Frank Schulte); also in 1911 the new cork-centered ball allowed the Philadelphia Phillies’ home run total to jump from 21 in 1910 to 62 in 1911 (more on the Phillies and their home-run-friendly and odd-shaped ballpark later). {League by League Totals for Batting Averages , from Baseball Almanac.com}

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Circa 1913: the scuff-ball gives the pitchers the upper hand again…
But a pitching innovation (more like a rule-infraction) that made it’s way to major league baseball circa 1912-13 countered the cork ball’s effectiveness…the invention of the scuffed ball, or emery pitch, in 1908, by then-minor league pitcher Russ Ford {Russ Ford bio at Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame site}. The scuffed ball is achieved by rubbing the ball against anything rough or sharp, such as a concrete wall, an emery board, or a sharpened belt buckle. The damage to the ball’s surface causes the ball to take an irregular flight path that with practice a pitcher can control (the scuff marks cause wind drag on one part of the ball’s surface). The scuff-ball was declared illegal in 1914, but that didn’t stop it’s use by any means. It just made it go “underground”. The scuff-ball still exists to this day…in the 1950s, Yankee legend Whitey Ford had his wedding ring sharpened to surreptitiously scuff the ball; in the 1980s Texas Ranger relief pitcher Rick Honeycutt was caught using an upside-down thumbtack held to a finger on his glove hand by a band-aid; plus the scuff ball was pretty much the basis of the entire career of Joe Niekro, who favored the good old emery board. How to throw a scuff ball?..{see this}. So between the still-legal spitball, and the illegal but soon prevalent scuff-ball, offensive production in baseball significantly dropped circa 1913 to 1919.

The role that ballparks with vast outfields played during the Dead-ball era…
West Side Park (II), Chicago, Illinois -1893 to 1915, home of the Chicago Colts (1893-1897) / Chicago Orphans (ca. 1898-1901) / Chicago Cubs (1902-1915)
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Dressed to the Nines – A history of the Baseball uniform.

Exposition Park – 1891 to June, 1909, home of the Pittsburgh Pirates -
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Another factor in low offensive production in the first two decades of 20th century baseball was the fact that most ballparks back then had gigantic outfield dimensions, with many ballparks having parts of their outfield fences well over 500 feet away from home plate (see Chicago Cubs ballpark, above, and Boston [AL] ballpark below), and/or having the foul poles around 400 feet from home plate (see Pittsburgh ballpark, above). But as the 20th century moved out of it’s first decade, things were about to change and the ballparks being built would start featuring smaller outfield dimensions. This did not happen over night, and some of the new ballparks still had vast outfield dimensions (like Shibe Park in Philadelphia, and the original Comiskey Park in Chicago, and especially Braves Field in Boston), but the trend was towards smaller outfields, or in the case of ballparks like two famous New York City ballparks, the Polo Grounds and the original Yankee Stadium (1923-2008), a mix of short outfield fences on either side of a vast centerfield area. After the 1911 renovation and expansion, the Polo Grounds was basically a very long U-shaped structure with an outfield that resembled half of a rectangle with rounded corners {see this, Polo Grounds [1911-1957] schematic at Clem’s Baseball Blog }. Yankee Stadium (I) had right and left field foul poles less than 300 feet from home plate. The famous Short Porch of right field, which was designed to give maximum benefit to the compact, pull-the-ball swing of left-handed hitter Babe Ruth, was originally just 295 feet from home plate, and pretty much stayed that way until renovations in 1976 put it at 320 feet. {see this, Yankee Stadium, 1923 schematic at Clem’s Baseball Blog}. {Dimensions of Yankee Stadium (I), etc. from Ballparkls.com}. But the original Yankee Stadium had a maximum outfield distance of 500 feet in left-centerfield. So you might say this is the best of both worlds…vast areas in the central outfield to encourage the excitement of a three base hit or even an inside-the-park home run; and short fences near the foul poles to encourage the long-ball, bash ‘em in style of offense that the public began to (and still does) embrace.

In the 1909-1923 time period (15 years), 11 Major League ballparks were built, and, 10 of them were asymmetrical…
Examples of ball clubs that built ballparks circa 1909 to 1923 that were pretty much uniformly smaller than their preceding ballparks were in Cincinnati, with the Cincinnati Reds NL ball club; and in Boston, with the Boston Red Sox AL ball club. In Cincinnati, the vast outfield of the Palace of the Fans ballpark was replaced by the much smaller confines of the new Crosley Field, which opened in 1912. The Palace of the Fans had dimensions of 390 feet in left field / 510 feet in center field / 450 feet in right field. That is huge. Crosley Field had the considerably smaller outfield dimensions of LF: 360 ft./ CF: 420 ft. / RF: 360 ft. The diminished outfield space in Cincinnati after 1911 [this is not mathematically precise, but it will still give you an idea] LF: minus-30 ft. / CF: minus-90 ft. / RF: minus-90 ft.

In Boston, the absolutely gigantic outfield of the Huntington Avenue Grounds was replaced in 1912 by Fenway Park (which is still the home of the Boston Red Sox to this day, and is the oldest currently operating MLB ballpark). Huntington Avenue Grounds was only an MLB ballpark for 11 seasons (1901-1911), and its outfield dimensions were significantly expanded for just it’s last three seasons (1908-11), but that coincides with the Dead-ball era’s lowest slugging percentage and lowest pitcher’s ERA. In 1908 to 1911, Huntington Avenue Grounds’ outfield dimensions were LF: 350 ft. / CF: 635 ft. / RF: 320 ft. 635 feet in center field is pretty darn far away from home plate. Fenway Park’s outfield dimensions when it opened in 1912 were 324 ft. LF / 488 ft. CF / 380 ft. right-CF / 314 ft. RF. The diminished outfield space in Boston (AL) after 1911…LF: minus-16 ft. / CF: minus-150 ft. / RF: minus-6 ft.
Huntinton Avenue Grounds, Boston, Massachusetts – 1901-1911, home of the Boston American League ball club (1901-1907) / Boston Red Sox (1908-1911)
More ballpark illustrations, etc, at Jeff Suntala Illustration – Suntala.com .

A confluence of events led to most of these ballparks-with-gigantic-outfields to vanish before the 1920s. Basically, ballparks would burn down to the ground with terrifying regularity all through the early days of organized baseball, and this didn’t stop until ballparks stopped being constructed primarily of wood, but rather of steel and concrete, which occurred in the 1909 to 1920 time period (the first ballpark made primarily of concrete and steel was the Philadelphia Athletics’ Shibe Park, which opened in 1909). 9 of the 16 MLB ball clubs built new ballparks between 1909 to 1923 {list of MLB stadiums [current and former] here}. Shibe Park did have vast outfield dimensions, but all of the 8 other subsequent ballparks built between 1909 and 1923 had at least part of the outfield walls a shorter distance to home plate than the previous ballpark. And these new MLB ballparks being built in the time period of 1909 to 1923 were going up right when urban areas all across the United States became more crowded… in other words, in the last stages of the Dead-ball era, the ball clubs could no longer build new ballparks with giant outfields because urban real estate was at a premium. The newly built ballparks would have to conform to the smaller, irregular-shaped lots that were available. This, in retrospect, has made baseball such a fascinating and appealing spectator sport…because most every ballpark that was built in the 1909 to 1923 time period was built on an asymmetrical plot of land. There are exceptions, of course, two of which can be seen in the two Chicago ballparks built in this time period. In 1910, the White Sox built the first Comiskey Park, which was virtually symmetrical (it is said that the White sox organization consulted with their ace pitcher, [all-time lowest ERA holder] Ed Walsh, when laying out the dimensions for the original Comiskey Park). And Weegham Park, which came to be known as Wrigley Field [in 1926], was built in 1914 in the then-mostly-undeveloped North Side of Chicago. Weegham Park was built for the Federal League team the Chicago Whales [the Federal League lasted only one season], and the Cubs took over the ballpark in 1916. The area soon did become developed, though, and when the Cubs renovated in 1938, they couldn’t expand, and instead built outfield stands in areas that once were part of the field, specifically the power alleys. So in a roundabout way Weegham Park/Wriglry Field conforms to the smaller-ballparks-built-in-established-urban-areas thesis.

The Asymmetrical Ballpark…
The proliferation of asymmetrical ballparks with smaller outfield dimensions wasn’t really planned, but it sure made baseball more interesting. Of course, circa 1960 to 1988 or so, the people running ball clubs and the smug urban planners running metropolitan areas totally ignored this fact, and forced ugly, astro-turf laden cookie-cutter, multi-purpose concrete stadiums on the public. The whole idea was “we can put our baseball team and our NFL football team in the same stadium, and who cares if the dimensions of the two sports fields are totally incompatible”. The multi-purpose stadium era pretty much set baseball back a quarter-century, but I digress.

Perhaps the best example of the marvelous effect that an asymmetrical ballpark can have on the game of baseball can be seen in Fenway Park in Boston, which opened in 1912, and operates to this day. Fenway is simply baseball heaven, and it is all because of the fact that the Boston Red Sox were forced to build a ball park on a plot of land that looks like a rectangle drawn by a blind man with a shaky hand {see this, Fenway Park schematic at Clem’s Baseball Blog}. The key to what makes the asymmetrical ballpark so visually appealing is an outfield wall the defies any sort of uniform sweep or curve, and which also varies in height, and in fact features the much-coveted “nooks and crannies” in the wall’s facade, where batted balls ricochet in unpredictable ways. Fenway Park has a brilliant nook in deep right-center field, called The Triangle {see this}, plus it features a unique shallow right field foul pole, the “Pesky Pole” (after Sox legend Jimmy Pesky) {see the photo here}, in the farthest right field, which is around 60 feet shallower than right field just 50 feet more towards right-center, where the bullpens are, and where the outfield fence is only 3 feet high. Fenway, of course, also features the famous Green Monster {see this}, which is a 37-foot wall, built to prevent easy home runs because the outfield wall there in left field is only 310 to 315 feet from home plate. These days you can watch the game from seats on top of the Green Monster, which is a brilliant concept that should be emulated elsewhere.

Assymmetrical Ballparks Built to Last: the 9 MLB ball parks built between 1909 and 1923 [with illustrations from Clem's Baseball Blog { http://www.andrewclem.com/Baseball/Dimensions.html }. Click on image below for chart...
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Philadelphia's Shibe Park ushered in an era of steel and concrete ballparks. Major League ballparks would no longer be built of wood, and thus no longer were the fire hazards of previous structures.
So all these ballparks lasted considerably longer than the earlier ones. Several of these ballparks lasted for more than a half-century, and two of these ballparks are still in use today...Fenway Park (1912), and Wrigley Field (1914). It goes without saying that all baseball fans view these two parks as priceless, and the two pretty much give their respective ball clubs, the Boston Red Sox and the Chicago Cubs their identities. What all these ballparks, with the exception of the Boston's Braves Field, had in common was that they had outfield dimensions that were smaller than the ballparks they replaced. Some, like Cincinnati's Crosley Field were extremely smaller (and got smaller with revovations). Many, like Yankee Stadium, had smaller dimenions at the foul poles, and vast outfield areas and deep fences around center field. This provided the opportunity for more home runs, but also still allowed for the chance of triples and inside-the-park home runs. And with the exception of Comiskey Park (I), all these ballparks featured layouts which were asymmetrical. In most cases, and particularly in the case of Griffith Stadium, Fenway Park, Crosley Field, Tiger Stadium, Ebbets Field, and Yankee Stadium, this was because the ball clubs were forced to build ballparks in dense urban areas. They had no choice but to fit the ballparks into the pre-existing urban grid. Because of this, each of the ballparks had it's own unique charm, each with quirks of it's own. Plus, in most instances, a city-view was prominent behind the outfield walls, which, with the slow pace of the game, was a crucial factor in the ambiance of a game at a Major League ballpark. After all, they are called parks, and you go to a park to relax. So premeditated or not, asymmetrical ballparks defined the MLB game until the onset of urban-planner-mentality and the spread of characterless and ugly multi-purpose stadiums circa 1960 to 1990. Thank goodness that era of misguided ballpark design is over.

...
The Baker Bowl- a Dead-ball era ballpark ballpark with smaller outfield dimensions and inflated home run numbers...
To give more credence to the argument that outfield size played a huge factor in the lack of home runs in the Dead-ball era...the modern era [post-1900] record for home runs in a season, prior to the emergence of Babe Ruth as a slugger (ie, from 1920 on), was set by the Philadelphia Phillies’ Gavvy Cravath, when he hit 24 HR in 1915, which was actually a higher total than 12 of the 15 other teams’ entire home runs totals for that season (think about it…one player on one team had more homers than all 25 players on 80% of the other teams in the league that year). Cravath was a powerful hitter who, against the conventional wisdom of the day, consciously tried to hit homers instead of singles or doubles. And he played in the Phillies’ extremely quirky ballpark, the Baker Bowl, which featured a short right-center power alley (300 feet from home plate) and a right field fence that was just 272 to 280 feet from home plate. Baker Bowl could not be built with a larger outfield because the Reading and Pennsylvania Rail Road had a sprawling rail yard bordering its right and center fields. The result was home run numbers at the Baker Bowl were an anomaly for the time period. Even the 40-foot tin-covered brick wall the Philladelphia management erected in right field could not prevent the high percentage of homers being hit there (after 1920, the wall was increased to 60 feet high (!), with the addition of a 20 foot chain link fence above the 40 foot wall).
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The 1906 Chicago White Sox, known as “the Hitless Wonders”…
The low-water mark of the Dead-ball era was around 1907-1908, with a MLB-wide batting average of just .239, an anemic slugging percentage of .306, and a pitchers’ ERA of below 2.40 runs per game. The poster boys for the Dead-ball era would be the 1906 Chicago White Sox, who hit just .230 as a team, with only 7 HR, but still managed to win the AL Pennant, and then go on to upset the Chicago Cubs in the only all-Chicago World Series. The Hitless Wonders featured 4 starters, Frank Owen, Nick Altcock, Ed Walsh, and Doc White who won 77 games between them, and contributed to a team ERA of just 2.13, including Ed Walsh’s 1.52 ERA [Ed Walsh played 13 seasons for the White Sox with a 195-126 record and has the lowest ERA in baseball history, 1.82. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1946.] As anemic as their offense was, with the Pale Hose batting average team leader that year being second baseman Frank Isbell with a .279 BAvg., the team did manage to hit 52 triples, though, but one might say that just shows you how prevalent triples were back then.…

Ultimately, to this day, what exactly caused the end of the Dead-ball era is still debated. Here are the popular theories.
1. In 1919, balls began being wound with a higher grade of yarn, and it was machine-wound as opposed to being wound by hand, leading to the the so-called jackrabbit ball. Major League Baseball denied that the ball was any more lively than the previous balls, but many in the game felt the balls from 1919 on were way more lively, and that MLB did this on purpose to spur more offense and thus more fan interest. Think about it, machine-wound instead of hand-wound…logic has it that those machine-wound balls are going to be tighter and springier.
2. More balls used per game. A new rule for replacing baseballs once they got dirty was enacted following the fatal beaning of Cleveland’s Ray Chapman at the Polo Grounds on August 16, 1920. New York Yankee submarine hurler and notorious headhunter relief pitcher Carl Mays threw a spitball which hit Ray Chapman of the Cleveland Indians in the head; Chapman died later that day {NY Times.com/ August 17, 1920}. There is no doubt that the use of more balls during each game was of huge benefit to batters.
3. Outlawing the spitball [see above], first by limiting it to use by only 2 pitchers per team in 1919, and grandfathering out the spitball in 1920 (ie, phased out, but allowing established spitball pitchers to still use it so as to not harm their careers). This definitely aided batters.
4. The rise of Babe Ruth as a power hitter influenced the hitting styles of other batters and encouraged teams to place less emphasis on station-to-sttaion “small ball’, and swing for the fences. This thesis is pretty hard to prove one way or the other. There is no denying the fact that Babe Ruth seized the imagination of the nation. And there is no denying the fact that by the late 1920s, scores of players had home run totals into the 40 or 50 mark per season. But offensive numbers were rising before Ruth’s HR totals skyrocketed in the 1920-21 time period.
5. The disappearance of ballparks with huge outfields. Also hard to prove, because so many ballparks didn’t have accurate measurements.
-> It probably was that the ball really was more lively. Ty Cobb insisted that was the reason in his autobiography. Ty Cobb would be the last person you would want to consult with on ethical behavior (Cobb was a virulent racist who once assaulted a heckling quadapeligic; here is a nice example of how he liked to treat the oppostion). But when it comes to baseball, and specifically hitting a baseball, well, Ty Cobb’s views must be taken very seriously (he is , after all, the all-time leader in batting average).

Thanks to The National Baseball Hall of Fame’s “Dressed to the Nines” baseball uniforms database, featuring uniforms templates drawn by Marc Okkonen, {here}.

Thanks to the brilliant baseball ballpark historian and illustrator Jeff Suntala, who made those mesmerizing watercolors of the old ballparks I used in some of the images sequences on this post. I felt guilty using someone else’s artwork, but because I could not find any better images of these remarkable but now gone-and-sadly-forgotten ballparks, I felt I had to feature some of Mr. Suntala’s work. So please go to his site and ponder some commercial transaction (his old ballparks posters are very reasonably priced). www.suntala.com.

Thanks to the excellent Clem’s Baseball Blog, subtitled Our National Pastime & It’s Green Cathedrals. The asymmetrical ballparks chart utilized some of the ballparks schematics from this site.

Thanks to the comprehensive Ballparks Of Baseball site, for info and ballpark dimensions, ballparksofbaseball.com.

Thanks to the Chicago Daily News negatives collection, at http://memory.loc.gov
Thanks to contributor “oldballparks” at Flickr.com, oldballparks’ photostream @ flickr.com

Thanks to the Sports E-Cyclopdeia site, for info and some of the photos, Sports E-Cyclopedia/MLB.

Thanks to the University of Texas Library’s online map collection, for the 1900 Railways map that I used as a base map on the map page, Perry-Castenada Map Colection/ Historical Maps of the United States.
[Note: this map was made in England, by the Cambridge University Press, http://www.cambridge.org/

Thanks to the contributors to the pages at en.wikipedia.org, ’1908 Major League Baseball season”.

Thanks to The Diamond Angle.com, for the write-up on the October 8, 1908 replay that decided the season…1908 NL.

Thanks to BaseballPilgrimages.com, Boston ballparks poster.
Thanks to Corbis Images.
Thanks to Gordon H. Fleming, for his book on the 1908 National League pennant race, ‘The Unforgettable Season’, published by the University of Nebraska Press in 1981; at Amazon, here. New York Times book review by C. Lehmann-Haupt, March 23, 1981, here.

October 17, 2010

Major League Baseball – 1908, American League, with season highlights, 1908 uniforms and 1908 MLB attendances.

Filed under: Baseball,Baseball-1908 MLB season,Retro maps — admin @ 3:04 pm

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MLB: 1908 American League map


The map page’s main feature is a railways and population map of the United States, from 1900. To this map I have added the jersey or cap crests of the 8 American League ball clubs. The large crests shown at the top of the map are arranged to reflect the western-to-eastern distribution of the 8 American League ballclubs, while the very small club crests serve to locate the ball clubs’ home cities on the map. On the far right of the map page I have shown the 1908 uniforms of the 8 AL ball clubs, as well as the 2010 home ball caps of the modern version of each of these 8 AL franchises, 5 of which still play in the same city, and 3 of which still have the same names. Those 3 ball clubs are the Chicago White Sox, the Detroit Tigers, and the Boston Red Sox. These three were charter members of the American League, which was established in 1901 as the second major league in baseball [the National League, established in 1876, was the first major league in baseball]. The fourth and fifth American league ball clubs from this era that have remained in the same city but later changed their names are the Cleveland and the New York franchises. The Cleveland franchise began as the Cleveland Blues, a charter member of the American League in 1901. The Naps name was the winning result of a newspaper contest for fans to vote on the new name of the Cleveland ball club iin 1905, and was in honor of batting hero and second baseman Napolean Lajoie (who the year later became player/manager of the Naps). The Naps moniker lasted until Napoleon Lajoie retired in 1914, and in 1915, the ball club changed it’s name to the Cleveland Indians. The New York Highlanders began as the second incarnation of the Baltimore Orioles (II), who were an American League charter member in 1901, but after two seasons the Baltimore ball club moved to the northern tip of Manhattan in New York City, and were called the New York Highlanders for a decade before changing their name to the New York Yankees in 1913. The other 3 American League franchises from 1908 are as follows…The St. Louis Browns (II) started out as the Milwaukee Brewers (I), a charter member of the American League in 1901, but moved to St. Louis after just one year. The St. Louis Browns American League team existed from 1902 to 1953, then moved it’s franchise east to Baltimore, to become the present-day Baltimore Orioles (III). The Philadelphia Athletics were a charter member of the American League in 1901, and played 54 seasons in Philadelphia before moving to Kansas City, Missouri in 1955. The Kansas City Athletics lasted 13 seasons before moving west to the Bay Area in California, in 1968, as the Oakland Athletics. The original Washington Senators were a charter member of the American League in 1901, and played in the nation’s capital for 60 years, before moving to the upper midwest in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1961, changing their name to the Minnesota Twins. The confusing thing is that another Washington Senators (II) replaced the Senators-into-Twins franchise, also in 1961…so major league baseball didn’t leave Washington, DC in 1961 (it left in 1971, with the Senators {II) moving to Texas in 1972, becoming the present-day Texas Rangers). [Then in 2005, Washington, DC finally got another chance to have an MLB franchise, when the Montreal Expos of the National League moved to DC and became the present-day Washington Nationals.]

At the bottom, center of the map page are average attendance figures from both the 1908 American League and the 1908 National League. It might surprise some how small these figures are compared to modern-day turnstile numbers, but MLB attendance figures basically did not get into the 20,000 per game numbers until the 1920s, spurred on by the rise of the slugger in major league baseball as personified by baseball’s first superstar, George Herman “Babe” Ruth. Another factor was that, in the early 1900s, attending pro sporting events was not as ingrained in the culture as it is today. Also the population of the country was a fraction of what it is today. And finally, the fact of the matter was that around two-thirds of the games were being played during regular work-day hours, because there was no such thing as night games back then.

At the upper left of the map page is a synopsis of the 1908 American league season {which is reprinted in a slightly expanded form a few paragraphs below, for easier reading}, and next to that are the final standings for the AL in 1908. Below that are two sets of images and captions. The upper set pertains to the perfect game thrown by Cleveland Naps pitcher Addie Joss. The lower set of images and captions pertains to the 1908 AL pennant-winners, the Detroit Tigers.
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1908 in the American League…
The 1908 American League pennant race involved four teams, and will always be known as the closest-ever pennant race in Major League Baseball history. As late as September 1st, 1908, the Detroit Tigers, the Cleveland Naps, the Chicago White Sox, and the St. Louis Browns were separated by just 2 and a half games. The Browns soon fell back, but the other 3 teams remained deadlocked all the way to the end of the season.

1908 attendance leaders…
The St. Louis Browns saw a 43 percent attendance increase in 1908, to 7,935 per game, a respectable figure for it’s day. The White Sox had the highest turnstile count, drawing 8,155 per game. The Tigers saw the largest average attendance increase in 1908…a 48 percent increase (from 3,760 per game in 1907, to 5,592 per game in 1908).
Past seasons MLB Attendance figures, by ball club, at Baseball-Reference.com site, here.

1908 AL Stats leaders…
{1908 MLB stats leaders (en.wikipedia.org)}
The Detroit Tigers had the dominant offense of the day, with a league-high .263 Batting Average (which was 18 points higher than the second-best hitting teams – the St. Louis Browns and the Boston Red Sox, who both hit .245 as a team). These low numbers for offense are emblematic of the Dead-ball Era (circa 1900-1920), but were low even by those standards. [The many reasons for low offensive numbers in the first 2 decades of the 20th century in major league baseball will be explored in my next post, the 1908 National League season and the Dead-ball Era.]

The Detroit Tigers outfield circa 1908, called the outfield of the decade by Bill James…
The Detroit Tigers were led by the outfield trio of Matthew “Matty” McIntyre in left field; all-time triples leader Sam “Wahoo Sam” Crawford in center field (309 triples, lifetime); and all-time Batting Average king Ty “the Georgia Peach” Cobb in right field (.366 BAvg., lifetime). {see photos and captions at the lower left of the map page}.

The 1908 AL pennant race…
The Cleveland Naps opened up a half game lead on September 26, 1908, with a come-from-behind rally over the hapless Washington Senators, which made it 10 wins in 12 games for Cleveland…and after the game at League Park in Cleveland, the team, fans and marching bands celebrated like they had already won the pennant. But on the same day, Detroit commenced a 10-game winning streak. Sunday, Sept. 27 saw the Tigers reach a tie for first place with the idle Cleveland, and the Tigers held a slim half-game lead going into October, with Cleveland half a game back, and Chicago 1.5 games back. On October 2nd, at League Park, Cleveland and Chicago squared off for what became one of the greatest, if not the greatest pitchers’ duels in baseball history. The Cleveland Naps’ ace corkscrew right-hander Addie Joss out-dueled the Chicago White Sox spitball artist Ed Walsh 1-0. Walsh struck out 15 batters in 8 innings, but Joss did even better by not allowing a single Chicago batter to reach first base by either a hit or a base-on-balls…a perfect game. And Addie Joss only needed 74 pitches to do it. {see photos and captions at the left-center on the map page}. But Detroit also won that day, and held their slim lead. {from Cleveland.com, by Marc Bona of The Cleveland Plain Dealer, ‘Perfect flashback: On Oct. 2, 1908, ‘Joss’ gem triumphs in Cleveland’s greatest pitching duel’}.

It all came down to the final day of the season, with the Tigers in Chicago, and an arm-depleted White Sox team were forced to pitch Doc White on only 2 days rest (and coming off a complete game). The Pale Hose were demolished 7-0 by the potent Detroit bats, and Tiger righty “Wild Bill” Donovan (18-7. 2.08 ERA that year) recorded his 6th shutout of the season.

The Detroit Tigers thus won the 1908 American league Pennant by a half of a game. Because, by the rules of the day, the Tigers were not required to re-play a rained-out game from earlier in the season, so that 0.5 game lead over the Cleveland Naps stood. What is stunning about this was that a similar thing had occurred in both 1905 and 1907, but this was the last straw, and the rules on rain-outs were changed during the off-season. After 1908, any rained-out games that had a bearing on the final outcome of the season had to be re-played. The rule became known as “the 1908 rule”.
{‘Fantastic Finishes – American League 1908′ [http://members.cox.net/bngolden1/fantasticfinishes1.htm]}.
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Thanks to Baseball-Reference.com, for attendance figures, at Baseball-Reference.com > Teams > Attendance, Team Age and Ballparks.

Thanks to the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s “Dressed to the Nines” uniform database, with baseball uniforms templates drawn by Marc Okkonen {1908, American League, click here. 1908, National League, click here}.

Thanks to Mitchell & Ness (Boston Red Sox 1908 home jersey). The Detroit Tigers crest I fashioned for the map page also came from a Mitchell & Ness jersey, here.

Thanks to Bill James, and his indispensable ‘The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract’, at Amazon.com, here.
Thanks to Chris Creamer’s Sports Logos Page, for a few old logos, www.chriscreamer.com/Baseball Logos.
Thanks to the Chicago Daily News negatives collection, here.
Thanks to the Boston Public Library’s McGreevey photographs collection at Fickr.com, here.

Thanks to the University of Texas Library’s online map collection, for the 1900s Railways and Populations map that I used as a base map on the map page, Perry-Castenada Map Collection/ Historical Maps of the United States

Thanks to the brilliant baseball ballpark historian and illustrator Jeff Suntala, who made the watercolor of Detroit’s Bennett Field that used on the map page (his old ballparks posters are very reasonably priced). www.suntala.com.

October 11, 2010

Italy: Serie A, 2010-11 season – Stadia map.

Filed under: Football Stadia,Italy — admin @ 4:50 pm

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Serie A 2010-11 Stadia map

Serie A, table, fixtures, and results, at Soccerway.com, here.
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Thanks to Eric Gaba (aka Sting), for the base map…Eric Gaba’s page -User: Sting, at Wikimedia Commons.

Thanks to the contributors to the pages at en.wikipedia.org, ‘2010-11Serie A‘ .

Photo credits -
Inter, Stadio Giusseppe Meazza [aka San Siro]: unattrributed at stretfordender.info.
Milan, Stadio Giusseppe Meazza [aka San Siro]: unattributed at zerozerofootbasll.com [incl. 30-photo gallery].

Brescia, Stadio Mario Rigamonti: unattributed at breciaoggo.it [enlarged here, in Fotogallery].

Udinese, Stadio Friuli: Bing.com/maps/bird’s eye satellite view: here.

Juventus, Stadio Olimpico di Torino: unattributed at jcf.fi.
Chievo Verona, Stadio Marc’Antonio Bentegodi: Bing.com/Bird’s Eye satellite view [view to the west], here.

Parma, Stadio Ennio Tardini: bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view, here.

Fiorentina, Stadio Artemio Franchi: Bing.com/Bird’s Eye satellite view, here.

Bologna, Stadio Renato Dal’Ara: Bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye View [view to the west], here.

Cesena, Stadio Dino Manuzzi: Bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view [view to the west], here.

Bari, Stadio Via del Mare: Bing.com/Bird’s Eye view [facing west], here.

Lecce, Stadio Via del Mare: Bing.com/Bird’s Eye satellite view, here.

Genoa, Stadio Luigi Ferraris: camallo65 at Panoramio.com, here.
Sampdoria, Stadio Luigi Ferraris, unattributed at bigsocer.com via xiongdudu.com, here photo I used is halfway down page; on this multiple-page thread at xiongdudu.com there are lots of photos of Stadio Luigi Ferraris [which I feel is one of the few truly great stadiums which hosts top flight football in Italy].

Cagliari, Stadio Sant’ Elia, aerial photo by Cristiano Cani at Flickr.com, here.

Roma, Stadio Olimpico: asromalive.com.
Lazio, Stadio Olimpico: Bing.com/Bird’s Eye satellite view, here.

Napoli, Stadio San Paolo: Bing.com/Bird’s Eye satellite view [view to the west], here.

Palermo, Stadio Renzo Barbera: photo by daniele chiovaro at Panoramio.com, here.

Catania, Stadio Angelo Massimino: footballpictures.net.

October 6, 2010

League Two, 2010-11 season – Attendance map (2009-10 figures).

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League Two, 2010-11 season


League Two table, fixtures, and results at Soccerway.com

Port Vale FC toil under the radar and in obscurity in Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire. The Valiants are the rather surprising leaders of League Two after 10 matches. Port Vale have won 4 of their last 5 matches and sit atop League Two with 22 points, 3 points ahead of Chesterfield. [Chesterfield are riding a club resurgence and a swell-in-attendances following the opening of their new ground, B2net Stadium{photos, here; en.wikipedia.org page, here}.

In September, 2009, Port Vale manager Mickey Adams placed the entire squad on the transfer list, after he judged the team to be basically not trying hard enough {here is an article from the Guardian.co.ik, by Louise Taylor, from 29 September, 2009, 'Micky Adams is playing a dangerous game at Port Vale'}. This move had followed a poor 2008-09 season, when Vale finished 18th, and that had followed relegation in 2007-08. So Adams in one stroke called the entire squad out on their professionalism and lit a fire under them. Port Vale then finished eight places higher and with 20 more points than the season before. So it can be judged that Adams' move worked, seeing as how there actually was little in the way of an injection of talent in the squad throughout last season, because Vale are one of the many clubs these days that is operating on a shoestring budget (even if their gates are higher than many of their fellow fourth division clubs...Port Vale averaged 5,080 per game last season, this in a league where the median average attendance in 09/10 was around 3,600).

I hope Port Vale keep up the good form, and decent crowds continue to show at Vale Park, like the 8,443 who attended the 28th September match versus high-flying nearby rivals from 50 km. to the west, Shrewsbury Town (which Vale won 1-0, with a 74th minute goal by the veteran MF Gary Roberts). Because what Port Vale need, apart from consistency, is for more people from the Six Towns that make up the Potteries to start showing up at Vale Park, a ground that holds 18,947 {Vale Park page at port-vale.co.uk, here}`; FootballGroundsGuide.com page, here} and is frankly too large for a club the size of Port Vale. Port Vale are just like Notts County in that they are also the second biggest club in a mid sized English Midlands city, and just like Notts County, Port Vale had a taste of success around 15-20 years back. But of course Vale only made it to the 2nd Level before their recent, decade-long slide, and are in fact the club which has played the longest number of seasons in the second tier without ever having made it to the top flight...Port Vale have played 41 seasons in the second division, yet have never won promotion to the first division. And also just like Notts County, when Port Vale in the past decided it was time to expand their ground, it was an over-expansion. Both significantly enlarged the capacities of their grounds to keep up with the town rivals (Port Vale's being Stoke City...{see this: 'The Potteries Derby', from en.wikipedia.org}; Notts County's being Nottingham Forest). These big expansions were undertaken in spite of the fact that attendance averages were decidedly far smaller than the planned expansion. Unlike Notts County, this occurred with Port Vale in 1949-1950 (while Notts County over-expanded following their last, single season in the top tier in 1991-92). Vale Park opened in 1950 with a 40,000 capacity (!). 40,000 capacity was, back then, and is, now, a ridiculous size for a mid-table, 3rd division football club, even in 1950 , which was during the Post-War era that saw dramatic attendance increases throughout the country [many clubs had their all-time average attendance high in the Post-War years around 1946-47 to 1949-50 or so, including Stoke City, who drew 31,500 per game in 1947-48]. This specter of a club that over-expanded and then languished is still apparent in Burslem, because Port Vale currently play in a ground with one stand uncompleted – the Lorne Street Stand, which was demolished in 1998, and only partially rebuilt, due to lack of funds. The rub is that the club built the posh bits of the Lorne Street Stand, namely, the Executive and Corporate boxes, but left a gaping blank concrete space below, with steps, but no seats.
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At the time, Port Vale were riding high, coming off a plus-60-year best league finish, at 8th place in 1996-97 in the old Second Division, and a pre-popstar-fame Robbie Williams was probably having the time of his life supporting the Valiants. But Port Vale were drawing only around 8,000-9,000 per game back then (with a modern-day turnstile peak of 9,214 per game in 1994-95), in what turned out to be a last, 6-season spell in the second division. One can’t help but think this partially unfinished, yet still half-empty ground sets the tone for new arrivals to Vale Park, be they players or first-time-spectators. Because what does it say about the viability of a club that has left a gaping empty space in their ground for a dozen years? And that for decades has played to crowds that are less than 50% capacity ?
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Thanks to Tims 92 site [English football stadium photos, League and Non-League]…Saturday, 17th January, 2009, Vale Park, Port Vale 1-1 Shrewsbury Town.
Thanks to The Groundhog.WordPress.com/visit to Port Vale (May 26,2007), here.
Thanks to the contributors to the pages at en.wikipedia.org, 2010-11 Football League 2
Thanks to www.mikeavery.co.uk , for attendance figures, 2009-10 Attendance all teams high to low.

October 1, 2010

Primera División de México, 2010 Apertura/2011 Clausura – Stadia map.

Filed under: Football Stadia,Mexico: Fútbol,Zoom Maps — admin @ 8:04 am

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Primera División de México 2010-11 – Stadia map


Mexican Primera 2010 Apertura, Primer, by John Jagou at BigSoccer.com

Both Apertura (August to December) and Clausura (January to May) champions are decided by the 8-team playoffs called the Liguilla {see this}. One club is relegated each season, and that is determined by the lowest 3-season total points ratio (ie, just like Argentina’s cynical system). This basically makes it easy for established clubs to avoid a one-bad-season relegation, and makes it harder for just-promoted clubs to remain in the first division, because newly-promoted clubs usually have to finish closer to the middle of the table to avoid the drop, since their points ratio will be from just 34 games versus other clubs whose ratio will be determined from 68 or 102 games.

There are some changes to the format {which, if you are unfamiliar with the Mexican top flight, you can read about on the map page of my last map of the Primera División de México, here [Feb. 9, 2009]}…Copa Libertadores spots #s 2 and 3 are no longer being decided by the now-scrapped Inter-Liga competition, but by the second best and third best finishes in the Apertura general table (Apertura Classification stage), and as before, the Apertura Classification stage leader gets the #1 Copa Libertadores spot.

So when following the Primera Divisón de México, especially in the autumn months (ie the Apertura), it is wise to keep an eye on not just the three divisions, but also the combined 18-team general table, because coveted Copa Libertadores spots are being fought for there.

Clausura 2010 champions were Deportivo Toluca, who beat Santos Laguna on penalties in the final of the playoffs in May. This is Toluca’s 10th title, making them tied for second-best all-time with América. Chivas de Guadalajara have the most titles, with 11. {List of Mexican professional era champions, here}. That makes it three of the last ten championships won by Toluca…pretty impressive for a club like Toluca, which gets relatively little media attention, plays in a stadium that only holds 27,000, and are from a city that is sixth-largest in the country {List of metropolitan areas in Mexico by area, here}. The fact that some clubs are owned by giant conglomerates, and in the case of Club América, by Televisa (the largest Spanish-speaking television and media organization in the world) doesn’t help provincial clubs like Toluca. Televisa actually owns two teams (which is a cartel, and should be illegal, like most everywhere else): the very popular and successful América, and the very weakly-supported and trophy-less San Luis. There is big money in televising Primera Divisón de México games {see this article, from the Australia.to News site, from 18 May, 2010, by Emilio Godoy, ‘Football Fortunes for Mexican TV‘}. América are known as Millonetas (Millionaires), for all the money the club has at it’s disposal.

Just like in Argentina, two clubs get the lions’ share of the spotlight in Mexico…Club América and Chivas de Guadalajara (Mexico City clubs Cruz Azul and Pumas de UNAM are the only other clubs that have relatively large fan support). But nevertheless, just like in Argentina, other clubs keep on winning the recent tournaments. In Mexico’s case, recent champions were Toluca (Apertura 2005, Apertura 2008, and Clausura 2010 champions), CF Monterrey (Apertura 2009 champions), Pumas de UNAM (Clausura 2009 champions), Santos Laguna (Clausura 2008 champions), and Pachuca (Clausura 2006 and Clausura 2007 champions). América’s last title was in Clausura 2005; Chivas’ last title was in Apertura 2006. [The wide range of recent champions is most likely less a product of an even playing field and is more likely a result of the byzantine league/playoff system and split season structure, where an upset or two has much larger implications here than it would in a long-haul, 10-month season.]

Below is a chart that shows the results of a 2010 poll, {found here (Consulta.mx site)}. It shows the most popular fútbol clubs in Mexico, and the percentage changes from 2008 to 2010….
mexico_poll_favorite-futbol-club_b.gif

Chivas de Guadalajara, which is owned by the corporation that runs Omnilife (Omnilife is the main rival of Herbalife), is a club that prides itself on only fielding players born in Mexico. [The policy is similar to the one at Spain's Athletic Bilbao, who only field Basque players, but there is a crucial difference... because the Spanish government suppresses Basque identity at an institutional level.] Chivas de Guadalajara’s policy, in this day and age of open markets, more fluid borders, and more cross-cultural interchange, is racist by definition. It is also foolish, because the policy does not give the club a chance to attract the best players. Chivas would probably have had a better chance of winning the 2010 Copa Libertadores final versus Internacional of Brazil, had they not had their Mexicans-only policy. I mean, Chivas doesn’t even want Mexican-Americans on their squad {see this from The Offside.com, by Daryl, from Feb. 2008, ‘But is He Mexican Enough?‘}. That’s when xenophobia trumps logic, because a California-born Mexican is still Mexican ethnically, and was born in an area that was once part of the nation of Mexico. Anyway, it is something that many Mexicans feel proud of and I am sorry but those people should be re-considering what it means to be a citizen of the planet Earth in 2010…people should be tearing down walls between different societies – legal walls, metaphorical walls, and physical walls. People should not be proud of policies of exclusion that prevent the inclusion of others who are different. And yes, I know in America there are many on the right wing who advocate just the sorts of things my last few sentances decried, like building a wall at the Mexican border, or passing creepy document-check/racial profiling laws like they did in the state of Arizona. But I do not support that political platform, I support an inclusive policy which is the polar opposite. Think of it this way…what would the response be if a German football club had a policy of only playing Germans? You think people would stand for that? OK, let’s try it with a country with a more benign 20th century history…what if a Swedish club had a policy of only playing Swedes? You see…no matter how you frame it, it comes off as racist, because IT IS RACIST. So why does Chivas de Guadalajara get a pass on this? For crying out loud, the Primera División de Mexico has exactly zero African players in it {see this, from The Best Eleven site, ‘Foreign Players in the Primera Divisón de México‘ [Feb., 2009]}. I checked, and as of October, 2010, there still are not any players from Africa in the rosters of any club in the Primera División de México. Granted, there have been a few Afro-Mexican players, including current Cruz Azul DF Melvin “Melvin of the Cocoa Crispies” Brown, and there have been a couple of Afro-Mexicans who have played for the Mexico national team, including Tottenham’s Giovanni dos Santos {see this, from The Culture of Soccer site, ‘Soccer and the Afro-Mexican Population‘ [March 12, 2007]. Also, it should be pointed out that there are a few prominent, dark-skinned Latin American players in the league, such as Tigres de UANL captain and FW Itamar Batista da Silva {profile at e.wikipedia.org, here}. But I did not make up that nickname that has been foisted upon Melvin Brown, and it pretty much proves my point about the damaging effects that the institutional encouragement of racial exclusivity has on a culture. Because it is pretty hard to accept the fact that that sort of nickname is still tolerated in Mexico.

And don’t get me started on Chivas de Guadalajara’s new stadium. Sure Estadio Omnilife {skyscrapercity.com thread, here} looks impressive and unique. It has been described as looking like a flying saucer landing on a volcano. But didn’t management consider the colossal irony of the fact that the exterior of the stadium is clad in actual, real, live grass, but the playing surface is artificial turf ? Real grass on the outside for show, but inside, where it matters, on the field, the players must run and tackle and slide and fall, and risk injury, on a playing surface that is concrete covered with plastic bristles. Duh. Estadio Omnilife is the sort of thing you would expect to see being built by Mr. Burns during an episode of The Simpsons.
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I decided to make this map a Stadia map, even though I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to find good quality photos of some of the stadiums, so sorry for that. I decided to “make up” for that by adding another photo for each stadium, an interior shot. I decided I had to do that when I saw photos of Santos Laguna’s new Estadio Corona… it looks like a nice place to watch a match {photo gallery of Estadio Corona (II) with lots of photos of of the swank new facilities, here (at ‘Disfruta la Galería de Inaguación’, which is below the time-lapse video}. Plus I wanted to better show Deportivo Toluca’s ground, one of the oldest stadiums in Mexico (opened in 1954; hosted games in both World Cups in Mexico in 1970 and 1986), which I think is one of the coolest-looking football stadiums around. Here is an 11-photo gallery of Toluca’s Estadio Nemesio Díez, from deportivotolucafc.com, {click here}.

Thanks to the contributors to the pages at en.wikipedia.org, Primera División de México
Thanks to FootieMap.com/Mexico for location help.
Thanks to Ludwig for his message, which included maps he made of the Mexican first and second divisions, here (in the Comments section at the bottom, comment #4).

Photo credits…
Santos Laguna – exterior shot: at imageshack.us , here
interior: at Territorio Santos Modelo.com.mx .

San Luis – exterior: Google Earth shot via The Mistic.wordpress.com , here.
interior: BigSoccer.com forum (with lots of Mexican stadium photos), here.

Tigres de UANL – exterior: Fermin Tellez Rdz at Flickriver.com , ‘Estadio Universitario, San Nicholás de los Garza, N.L. México‘. Fermin Tellez Rdz’s photostream at Flick.com
interior: unattributed, from nuevaleon.wordpress.com [from Flickr.com files].
Monterrey – exterior: http://www.football-pictures.net
interior [wide photo]: Pato Garza at commons.wikimedia.org.: ‘The Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education’s Tecnológico Stadium in Monterrey, Mexico, during a professional football (soccer) match‘.

Necaxa – exterior: [sitio oficial] necaxafutbol.com/Estadio
interior: {from crisolplural.com/Deportes/Futbol} , Estadio Victoria de Aguascalientes.

Atlas – exterior: lalomg_0326 at flickr.com.
interior: Maximilian Laackmaan at www.asseltours.de, via www.fussballtempel.com.
Estudiantes Tecos – exterior:’Remodelan el estadio Tres de Marzo‘ (www.diacritico.com from 5-22-2009).
interior: Rigoberto H. Esquivel at mediotempo.com, here.
Chivas de Guadalajara – exterior: mexico.cnn.com, 29 de Julioo, 2010, ‘El Estadio Omnilife tendrá una inauguración al estilo europeo‘.
interior: Marco Guzman, Jr. at en.wikipedia.org/Estadio Omnilife, here.

Queretaro – exterior: www.queretaro.travel at flickriver.com.
interior: www.futboldeseleccion.com/Estadios Mexico .

Deportivo Toluca – exterior: Sergiopons at Panoramio.com, ‘Estadio Nemesio Diez desde el aire‘ .
interior: www.deportivotolucafc.com/estadio

Morelia – exterior: pollomar at photobucket.com
interior: ‘Monarchs will play Sundays noon during A10‘ (www.mediotempo.com, 5-26-2010).

Pachuca – exterior: ‘Inicia el cuadrangular Pachuca Cuna del Futbol Mexicano‘.
interior: Hector Jesus Tapia Fernandez at en.wikipedia.org/Estadio Hidalgo

Cruz Azul – exterior: Estadio Azul by vedur77 at flickr.comskyscrapercity.com thread, Estadio Azul (6 photos).
interior:estadio Azul by originalrocker at flickr.com. originalrocker’s photostream at flickr.com.
Pumas – exterior: unattributed/bigsoccer.com/forum.
interior: www.dalepumas.com/Estadio Olimpico Universitario.
América – exterior: unattributed at photobucket, but it says Ricardo Garrido/esmexico.com…no luck finding a link.
interior: Estadio Azteca by Samuel G. Valdes Montemayor at www.mexicofotos.com, here.

Atlante – exterior: www.colchonero.com/Futbol Mexicano thread [note: this link is recommended if you would like to see Mexican top flight jerseys circa 2009].
interior: fricki.net thread, here.

Puebla – exterior: [oficial sitio] www.pueblafutbolclub.com.mx/Estadio.
interior: unattributed at imageshack.us.

Jaguares de Chiapas – exterior: Miguel Abarca at mediotiempo.com
interior: danorebel at photobucket.com

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