Thursday, October 22, 2009
In the 13th season....
...of Major League Baseball (1888) there were two leagues - the National League and the American Association. The National League was the "purer" of the two leagues, the AA was the upstart. (Since the American Association was called the "Beer and Whiskey League" what better initials for it than AA?)
The leagues were in direct competition with each other. There were probably too many teams in baseball at the time - there were sixteen - but the AA was still holding on. Each league played each other in what could loosely be called a "World Series" but there was no fixed number of games between the two leagues. Each league was quite happy to poach the other's players when it could.
Already, the AA was instituting cost-cutting measures. There might not have been giveaway tickets, but prices were lowered to 25 cents and visiting teams were denied a percentage of the gate - they simply got a flat $130 for showing up.
There were still franchises in trouble. Oddly enough, the franchise that was in trouble was Detroit of the National League. One reason the AA made the move to limit visiting gate receipts was to kill Detroit - the Wolverines knew the only way they could survive was to sign big stars and hope for a big showing at the gate while on the road. Home attendance wasn't good enough to keep the team alive, and it disbanded after the 1888 season.
Detroit was gone at the end of the year. The National League stole the AA's Cleveland team and the AA replaced that team with one from Columbus.
Oddly enough, not only did the Detroit team disband in the 13th season of Major League Baseball, that Detroit team won the league championship the previous year.
In the 13th season...
...of the National Football League (1932) the fortunes of the NFL were at their lowest ever. In the midst of a Depression, the league had contracted to just eight teams. The previous season, the Frankford Yellow Jackets folded in mid-season. In the off-season, the Providence Steam Rollers and Cleveland Indians called it quits.
Generally, the rule of the previous 12 seasons was that the regular season champion was also the league champion. However, there were a lot of tied football games in those days - the Bears finished 6-1-6 - and the championship was given by winning percentage with ties excluded. Chicago and Portsmouth each finished 6-1 (not counting ties) and rather that split the title the NFL decided to have a playoff game.
Unfortunately, it couldn't be played at Wrigley Field due to severely cold weather. It was moved indoors to Chicago Stadium, which wasn't large enough for a full-sized football field. In spite of that, the idea of a playoff game was very popular.
You could say that the playoffs rejuvinated the sport. The following year, the NFL expanded with two more teams.
In the 13th season....
...of the National Basketball Association (1958-59), the league was actually doing very well. However, there was quite a bit of relocation going on, mostly from small cities to big cities. There were still the Minneapolis Lakers and the Philadelphia Warriors. The Celtics finished the year by winning their second NBA championship. It was only Bill Russell's third year as a Celtic, and Bob Cousy was still with the squad.
Looks good doesn't it? Oh by the way, the size of the NBA in 1958-59? Eight teams.
At the end of the 13th season....
...of the WNBA (2009)...it looks like there will be a 14th season to follow.