Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, July 4, 2013 at 12:10 AM
Happy Birthday, America! Seriously, you don't look a day over 237!
As everyone knows, for many of these Independence Days there's been Major-League Baseball on the holiday docket to go along with the apple pie and fireworks.
Just for fun we'll review some of the greatest baseball games/events right here as we give some folks an opportunity to remember the 4th of July-baseball-style-and we'll remind you that this year's 4th of July baseball schedule is chock full of matinee games with 10 games on the day-time agenda including that 11 a.m. Eastern time start in the nation's capital where the Milwaukee Brewers battle it out with the Washington Nationals.
Here's our little 4th of July baseball history lesson:
July 4, 1908-George "Hooks" Wiltse of the New York Giants pitches a 10-inning no-hitter as the Jints edge the Phillies 1-0. Wiltse misses out on a perfect game when he hits a batter with two outs in the ninth inning.
July 4, 1939-It's "Lou Gehrig Day" at Yankee Stadium before a crowd of more than 61,000 fans. It's the day when Gehrig gives his "luckiest man on the face of the earth" speech and-interestingly enough-it's the first time a Major-League Baseball player has his number retired as the Yankees retire #4. P.S., the Yankees and Washington Senators split a doubleheader with the Sens winning the opener 3-2 and the Yanks grabbing the nightcap 11-1.
July 4, 1977-The Boston Red Sox slug eight home runs and thus tie an MLB record in a 9-6 win against the Toronto Blue Jays. Both Fred Lynn and George "Boomer" Scott belt two dingers apiece while Jim Rice, Carl Yastrzemski, Butch Hobson and Bernie Carbo also "go deep" for the Sawx.
July 4, 1983-New York Yankees LHP Dave Righetti no-hits the Boston Red Sox in a 4-0 win at Yankee Stadium. It's the first Yankees no-hitter since Don Larsen's perfect game in the World Series against Brooklyn back on October 8, 1956 and the franchise's first no-no by a southpaw hurler since 1917 (see George Mogridge).
July 4, 1985-The New York Mets beat the host Atlanta Braves 16-13 in 19 innings in a game that ends at 3:55 a.m. ET the next day. There were two rain delays during the contest that featured a cycle by Mets 1B Keith Hernandez (now a TV analyst for the Mets). Note that the Braves' scheduled post-game fireworks display started at 4:01 a.m. and woke up more than a few folks in Georgia.
July 4, 1999-Jose Canseco hits his 30th home run of the year for the then-Tampa Bay Devil Rays thus becoming the first player in MLB history to whack 30-or-more homers for four different teams (that's Tampa Bay, Oakland, Texas and Toronto).
July 4, 2012-Philadelphia's Cliff Lee-finally-wins his first game of the year with a 9-2 triumph over the New York Mets in a matinee tilt at Citi Field. Lee (than 1-5) had gone 13 starts without a win to begin the 2012 campaign and it matched the longest drought to start a season by a past Cy Young award winner since Greg Maddux went 14 starts without a win with San Diego back in 2008. Note that Los Angeles Dodgers LHP Fernando Valenzuela went 19 starts without a win to start a year in 1998-89.
So, who will make MLB history on this Fourth of July?
NFL NEWS & NOTES-TEAM-BY-TEAM REPORTS
Today we continue with our annual summertime NFL Team-by-Team looks of all 32 clubs. We'll concentrate on two or three teams per Jim Sez column, so there's plenty of football straight ahead. Today we check out the Cleveland Browns, the Minnesota Vikings and the Carolina Panthers: Take note that we list the overall 2012 team records (including post-season play) next to the team names below:
CLEVELAND (5-11)-As long as we're talking history, the "new" Browns have participated in just one playoff game in its time since 1999 (a 36-33 loss in Pittsburgh back in 2002) and the climb towards respectability remains a long one a year after the Brownies scored 20 points or less in 11 of the team's 16 games.
In comes brand-new head coach Rob Chudzinski to "fix things" and maybe it all really begins with QB Brandon Weeden and all those "batted balls". You see Weeden had a league-worst 21 passes batted down at the line of scrimmage last year when he started as a 28-year-old rookie and it's a little discouraging to hear him say that you "really can't work on" the batted ball problems.
Maybe new offensive coordinator Norv Turner will disagree and so look for a slew of offensive pass plays to include slight roll-outs or maybe deeper drops in the pocket-nothing quite stalls drives like turnovers, penalties, dropped passes ... and batted balls at the line of scrimmage.
One final note on Weeden: Last year he threw 14 TDs and 17 INTs while getting sacked 28 times and he threw for 3,385 yards for a passing offense that ranked 19th in the NFL.
Spread Notes-The Browns finished up a dead-even but vig-losing 7-7-2 ATS (against the spread) last year but that did include season-ending three-game spread losing skid. Overall, Cleveland registered a 3-2-1 spread mark against fellow AFC North foes and so that means the Browns are a collective 7-4-1 ATS in divisional tilts the past two years ... pretty good.
MINNESOTA (10-7) - Gotta say the Vikings have real reason to gripe about their early-season schedule this year: Note that the NFC North gang starts off the season with back-to-back divisional road games in Detroit and Chicago and then-after a Week 3 home-opening tilt versus Cleveland-the Vikes pack their bags for a "home game" in London against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Toss into the mix the fact that the Vikings never really play back-to-back home games all year long and you could see Leslie Frazier's squad wear down at the end of the year-just like you could see RB Adrian Peterson (2,097 yards rushing last year) wear down if the Minny passing game doesn't offer up a bit more help.
Remember that Minnesota's passing offense ranked 31st in the 32-team NFL a year ago and folks in the Twin Cities are keeping fingers crossed that rookie WR Cordarrelle Patterson (Tennessee) could give this unit a major energy boost ... we'll see.
Spread Notes-Maybe nobody got rich wagering on the 2012 Vikings who finished up 8-8-1 against the Las Vegas prices but note this NFC North crew did cover its final four regular-season games (versus Chicago, St. Louis, Houston and Green Bay) and wound up with a solid 7-4 ATS mark whenever placed in the underdog role and that included the 24-10 NFC Wild Card loss at 11-point favorite Green Bay when Minny played without injured QB Christian Ponder. The Vikes went a rotten 3-6 ATS away last year with the lone road covers at Detroit, at St. Loo and at Houston.
CAROLINA (7-9)-Training camp begins on July 25th for a Panthers team that now hasn't been in the post-season for the past four years in a row and note that Carolina's not won a playoff game since 2005 (remember that 29-21 win at Chicago in NFC Divisional Playoff action?).
If Carolina is going to get back into the post-season anytime soon, than its "Air Raid" offense must jell early and that means QB Cam Newton has to be ready to take on all the challenges of a fast-paced offense.
No doubt the early game plan is for Newton to get it into the hands of veteran WR Steve Smith 90-plus times via the air waves this year but the real X-factor for this Panthers' offense could well be rookie RB Kenjon Barner (Oregon) who figures to see time at running back, as a slot receiver and as a man-in-motion type who could draw single coverage in the flat from enemy linebackers.
If you wish to put an early number on things for this 2013 Carolina team, than getting the ball in the hands of Smith and Barner more than 100 times each in all is critical ... or it could finally cost under-the-gun third-year head coach Ron Rivera his job.
Spread Notes-It sure seemed like a "lost year" for the Panthers but the truth of the matter is this NFC South squad finished 2012 with a 9-7 ATS mark that featured outright upset win against 3-point favorite New Orleans in Week 2, at 3-point fav Washington in Week 9 play and home to 3 ½-point favorite Atlanta in Week 14 action. Note that the Panthers rallied at year's end to cover their final four regular-season games and were considerably better on the NFL road where they went 6-2 vig-wise as opposed to the 3-5 ATS mark in Charlotte.NOTE: More NFL Team-by-Team Notes in the next Jim Sez as we check out the Buffalo Bills, Chicago Bears and Washington Redskins, so don't miss out!