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South Africa land on best team by chance

first_imgDe Allende was the pick of the South African centres in Super Rugby for the Stormers, and carried that form onto the Test stage.Kriel, meanwhile, impressed at full-back for the Bulls, and slotted in seamlessly at outside centre on the Test stage.While they looked very good together, the return of skipper de Villiers from injury posed a selection headache for Meyer, who first tried his captain and Kriel together against Japan.After one communication error played a key part in Ayumu Goromaru’s second-half try, Meyer paired up de Villiers and de Allende in the second game against Samoa, to great effect.Decisions: Heyneke Meyer is under pressure. Photo: Getty ImagesNow with de Villiers’ tournament over, the young duo will reunite, and could form the Springboks’ most potent midfield.Scotland would appear to be the unlucky victims of South Africa’s best team coming together more by luck than chance.Add in the recall for Willie le Roux, and this Springbok team could yet be the first team to lose a group game and become world champions. New breed: Damian de Allende will join Jessie Kriel in South Africa’s midfield LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Injuries are occurring at a far greater rate than the last World Cup but in the case of South Africa, they might have a silver lining.It was of course a terrible shame to see Jean de Villiers ruled out of the tournament with a broken jaw, calling time on a great international career and a desperately unlucky World Cup record.Returning home: De Villiers’ World Cup is over. Photo: Getty ImagesAnd the Boks have also lost their vice-captain Victor Matfield for Saturday’s crucial game against Scotland in Newcastle.However those absences mean that Heyneke Meyer has been forced to turn to two in-form combinations in the second row and the centres.Lood de Jager was a long shot to even make the World Cup after an injury-disrupted Super Rugby season, but with the Springbok second row options equally hard hit, he got his chance during the Rugby Championship.Arguably the Boks’ standout player during what was admittedly a below-par tournament for them, de Jager did enough to earn a spot as the third lock for the World Cup.On fire: Lood de Jager is in outstanding form. Photo: Getty ImagesWith Eben Etzebeth left on the bench for the opening game of the tournament against Japan, de Jager again shone, with one fantastic individual try and some powerful carrying.It seemed very harsh therefore, when he was dropped for the game against Samoa, even if Matfield and Etzebeth performed admirably.With Matfield now out, de Jager comes back in, and he and Etzebeth have the potential to challenge New Zealand for the best young lock pairing in the world.The Rugby Championship was also where the centre partnership of Damian de Allende and Jesse Kriel got their first shot together.center_img South Africa have picked up some crucial injuries but may have stumbled across their best team as a result Springbok XV: Willie le Roux; JP Pietersen, Jesse Kriel, Damian de Allende, Bryan Habana; Handre Pollard, Fourie du Preez (c); Tendai Mtawarira, Bismarck du Plessis, Jannie du Plessis; Eben Etzebeth, Lood de Jager; Francois Louw, Schalk Burger, Duane Vermeulen Reps: Adriaan Strauss, Trevor Nyakane, Frans Malherbe, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Willem Alberts, Ruan Pienaar, Pat Lambie, Jan Serfonteinlast_img read more

How the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings turned baseball into a national…

first_img Free webinar for job seekers on best interview answers, hosted by Goodwill June 11 Major League Baseball’s 150th Opening DayBy Robert Wyss, University of ConnecticutThis Major League Baseball season, fans may notice a patch on the players’ uniforms that reads “MLB 150.”The logo commemorates the Cincinnati Red Stockings, who, in 1869, became the first professional baseball team – and went on to win an unprecedented 81 straight games.As the league’s first openly salaried club, the Red Stockings made professionalism – which had been previously frowned upon – acceptable to the American public.But the winning streak was just as pivotal.“This did not just make the city famous,” John Thorn, Major League Baseball’s official historian, said in an interview for this article. “It made baseball famous.”Pay to play?In the years after the Civil War, baseball’s popularity exploded, and thousands of American communities fielded teams. Initially, most players were gentry – lawyers, bankers, and merchants whose wealth allowed them to train and play as a hobby. The National Association of Base Ball Players banned the practice of paying players.At the time, the concept of amateurism was especially popular among fans. Inspired by classical ideas of sportsmanship, its proponents argued that playing a sport for a reason other than for the love of the game was immoral, even corrupt.Nonetheless, some of the major clubs in the East and Midwest began disregarding the rule prohibiting professionalism and secretly hired talented young working-class players to get an edge.After the 1868 season, the national association reversed its position and sanctified the practice of paying players. The move recognized the reality that some players were already getting paid, and that was unlikely to change because professionals clearly helped teams win.Yet the taint of professionalism restrained virtually every club from paying an entire roster of players.The Cincinnati Red Stockings, however, became the exception.The Cincinnati experimentIn the years after the Civil War, Cincinnati was a young, growing, grimy city.The city had experienced an influx of German and Irish immigrants who toiled in the multiplying slaughterhouses. The stench of hog flesh wafted through the streets, while the black fumes of steamboats, locomotives, and factories lingered over the skyline.Nonetheless, money was pouring into the coffers of the city’s gentry. And with prosperity, the city sought respectability; it wanted to be as significant as the big cities that ran along the Atlantic seaboard – New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore.Men slaughter hogs on an assembly line in a Cincinnati meatpacking plant.Library of CongressCincinnati’s main club, the Red Stockings, was run by an ambitious young lawyer named Aaron Champion. Prior to the 1869 season, he budgeted US$10,000 for his payroll and hired Harry Wright to captain and manage the squad. Wright was lauded later in his career as a “baseball Edison” for his ability to find talent. But the best player on the team was his 22-year-old brother, George, who played shortstop. George Wright would end up finishing the 1869 season with a .633 batting average and 49 home runs.Only one player hailed from Cincinnati; the rest had been recruited from other teams around the nation. Wright had hoped to attract the top player in the country for each position. He didn’t quite get the best of the best, but the team was loaded with stars.As the season began, the Red Stockings and their new salaries attracted little press attention.“The benefits of professionalism were not immediately recognized,” Greg Rhodes, a co-author of “Baseball Revolutionaries: How the 1869 Red Stockings Rocked the Country and Made Baseball Famous,” told me. “So the Cincinnati experiment wasn’t seen as all that radical.”The Red Stockings opened the season by winning 45 to 9. They kept winning and winning and winning – huge blowouts.At first only the Cincinnati sports writers had caught on that something special was going on. Then, in June, the team took its first road trip east. Playing in hostile territory against what were considered the best teams in baseball, they were also performing before the most influential sports writers.The pivotal victory was a tight 4-to-2 win against what had been considered by many the best team in baseball, the powerful New York Mutuals, in a game played with Tammany Hall “boss” William Tweed watching from the stands.Now the national press was paying attention. The Red Stockings continued to win, and, by the conclusion of the road trip in Washington, they were puffing stogies at the White House with their host, President Ulysses Grant.The players chugged home in a boozy, satisfied revel and were met by 4,000 joyous fans at Cincinnati’s Union Station.American idolsThe Red Stockings had become a sensation. They were profiled in magazines and serenaded in sheet music. Ticket prices doubled to 50 cents. They drew such huge crowds that during a game played outside of Chicago, an overloaded bleacher collapsed.Aaron Chapman’s squad averaged 42 runs a game in the 1869 season.From the collection of Greg Rhodes, Author providedMost scores were ridiculously lopsided; during the 1869 season the team averaged 42 runs a game. Once they even scored 103. The most controversial contest was in August against the Haymakers of Troy, New York. The game was rife with rumors of $17,000 bets, and bookmakers bribing umpires and players. The game ended suspiciously at 17 to 17, when the Haymakers left the field in the sixth inning, incensed by an umpire’s call. The Red Stockings were declared the winners.The season climaxed with a road trip west on the new transcontinental railroad, which had just opened in May. The players, armed with rifles, shot out windows at bison, antelope and even prairie dogs and slept in wooden Coleman cars lighted with whale oil. More than 2,000 excited baseball fans greeted the team in San Francisco, where admission to games was one dollar in gold.Cincinnati ended its season with an undefeated record: 57 wins, 0 losses. The nation’s most prominent sports writer of the day, Henry Chadwick, declared them “champion club of the United States.”Despite fears that others clubs would outbid Cincinnati for their players, every Red Stockings player demonstrated his loyalty by signing contracts to return for the 1870 season.The demise beginsThe winning streak continued into the next season – up until a June 14, 1870, game against the Brooklyn Atlantics.An error by second baseman Charles Sweasy ended the Red Stockings’ historic streak.From the collection of John Thorn, Author providedAfter nine innings, the teams were tied at 5. Under the era’s rules, the game could have been declared a draw, leaving the streak intact. Instead, Harry Wright opted to continue, and the Red Stockings ended up losing in extra innings after an error by the second baseman, Charlie Sweasy.The 81-game win streak had ended.The Red Stockings did not return in 1871. Ticket sales had fallen after their first loss, and other teams began to outbid the Red Stockings for their star players. Ultimately the cost of retaining all of its players was more than the Cincinnati club could afford.Yet the team had made its mark.“It made baseball from something of a provincial fare to a national game,” Thorn explained.A few years later, in 1876, the National League was founded and still exists today. The Cincinnati Reds were a charter member. And not surprisingly, some of the biggest 150-year celebrations of the first professional baseball team are occurring in the town they once called Porkopolis. TAGSMajor League Baseball Previous articleApopka Police Department Arrest ReportNext articleEverything Coming to Netflix in April Denise Connell RELATED ARTICLESMORE FROM AUTHOR Robert Wyss is a professor of journalism at the University of Connecticut. This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. Support conservation and fish with NEW Florida specialty license plate Please enter your name herecenter_img LEAVE A REPLY Cancel reply You have entered an incorrect email address! Please enter your email address here Please enter your comment! The Anatomy of Fear Share on Facebook Tweet on Twitterlast_img read more