Most WAR in a player’s debut season, 1901-2016 Best under-26 combos in MLB history Kerry WoodCHC53.13.041.142785 2015Kris Bryant23CHC6.50.06.5 Does not include players who, by rule, retained Rookie of the Year award eligibility into subsequent seasons.Source: Fangraphs 1912PHAEddie Collins36.4Frank Baker26.663.0 With Gooden and Strawberry blossoming into megastars, the Mets seemed poised to build on their ’86 Series victory and form a full-blown dynasty. But the duo’s on-field accomplishments were masking a variety of personal demons — issues that would ultimately derail their careers and dash New York’s hopes of long-term dominance.Gooden and Strawberry were both products of alcoholic fathers; Darryl’s was abusive, Doc’s was relentlessly overbearing. And practically from the start of their pro careers, the two plunged into their own cycles of violence and substance abuse. Both men built an ugly legacy of violence against women. Gooden missed the Mets’ 1986 World Series parade because of drugs and tested positive for cocaine the next spring, the opening entries in a long list of personal problems. Strawberry clashed with teammates and spent multiple stints in rehab for drug and alcohol addiction. Gooden contemplated suicide; Strawberry relapsed into drug use even after recovering from cancer. They became the faces of decadence, wasted talent and the full range of cultural pathologies attached to star athletes in the roaring 1980s.For a time, both players were able to perform well despite the personal turmoil. (Each was able to produce at least 6.5 WAR — the mark of a strong All-Star or borderline MVP — in 1990, even as their off-field lives were crumbling.) But ultimately, neither player’s career lived up to the expectations set in their early careers. Depending on which WAR variant you use,4Aside from 1985, FanGraphs’ version of WAR held Gooden in higher regard than Baseball-Reference’s in 10 of Gooden’s first 11 MLB seasons. Gooden’s career total fell about 10 wins shy of what could have been expected from similar players as a young pitcher. Likewise, Strawberry missed the career WAR totals of his comparables by 22 wins.Just as the emergence of Gooden and Strawberry fueled the Mets’ surprising turnaround after the 1983 season, their twin downfalls contributed to the Mets’ collapse in the early-to-mid 1990s. After the 1990 season, when Doc and Darryl led New York to a 91-71 record in their last year together, the same next-five-years prediction model from above would have expected 87 wins per year from the Mets’ 1991-95 seasons. Instead, the team averaged 73 victories over that span, the 17th-biggest shortfall of the 162-game era.Strawberry bolted to the Dodgers as a free agent in November 1990 and made the All-Star team his first season in LA, but he was never the same again. Gooden stuck around in New York for a few more years before a drug suspension cost him the entire 1995 season and ended his tenure with the club. And the Mets had the worst record in baseball from 1991 to 1996.It was a stunning collapse for all parties involved and a reminder of how fragile a gifted core of young superstars can be. Just as quickly as extraordinary talent can breathe new life into a flagging franchise, it can also pave the way for disappointment, leaving a generation of fans wondering what might have been.Check out our latest MLB predictions. YEARPLAYERAGETEAMBATTINGPITCHINGTOTAL 1957NYYMickey Mantle52.4Bill Skowron11.363.7 1984Dwight Gooden19NYM0.28.38.5 1922STLRogers Hornsby57.5Austin McHenry10.367.8 WAR Masahiro TanakaNYY64.02.390.97873 YEARTEAMPLAYER 1CAREER WARPLAYER 2CAREER WARTOTAL WAR PLAYERTEAMIPERAWHIPBBSO 1913WSHWalter Johnson45.8Clyde Milan21.467.2 2001Albert Pujols21STL7.20.07.2 By most measures, 1983 was yet another miserable summer in New York for what had become the National League’s worst franchise. The Mets finished dead last in the NL, 23 games out of first place, and came in under 70 wins for the seventh consecutive season. Worse yet, ace pitcher Tom Seaver, easily the Mets’ best player to that point in franchise history, was snapped up by the White Sox after the season because general manager Frank Cashen neglected to protect him from inclusion in the free-agent compensation pool.But 1983 also had bright spots. In addition to the midseason acquisition of 1979 NL co-MVP Keith Hernandez, the Mets had in their minor-league system a pair of prospects who would soon dramatically improve the team’s fortunes. Those players — outfielder Darryl Strawberry and pitcher Dwight “Doc” Gooden — are the subject of a 30 for 30 documentary that premieres tonight on ESPN, and their story highlights how quickly superstar phenoms can help remake a franchise in tatters.It also underscores how, just as quickly, everything can evaporate.Strawberry was the first of the Mets’ two whiz kids to reach the majors, early in that otherwise ill-fated 1983 season. When he arrived from AAA Tidewater on May 6, the Mets were 6-15 and 10 games out of the NL lead. Things would get worse before they got better. During his first month in The Show, Strawberry hit just .164 and struck out once every 2.5 at-bats. But five weeks into his career, he finally started to figure out big-league pitching: From June 7 onward, Strawberry posted a .936 OPS (on-base plus slugging) — better than eventual league MVP Dale Murphy. After the season, Strawberry was named the NL’s Rookie of the Year.Gooden didn’t make his debut until the following season, but he quickly proved to be Strawberry’s equal as a prospect. In his first two months of major-league action, Gooden struck out 73 batters, one of the highest totals ever in a pitcher’s first nine career starts:1Sadly, we can’t say exactly where it ranked among a pitcher’s first nine starts because Baseball-Reference.com’s game finder tool can only search within a pitcher’s first nine career appearances, whether as a starter or in relief. In the table below, I limited the search to pitchers for whom all of their first nine appearances were starts. 1913DETTy Cobb63.4Donie Bush21.384.7 1988NYMDwight Gooden33.8Darryl Strawberry24.958.7 Jose DeLeonPIT71.02.030.922780 1977Mitchell Page25OAK6.20.06.2 1934PHAJimmie Foxx55.9Pinky Higgins7.463.3 2001Ichiro Suzuki27SEA6.00.06.0 Only includes pitchers for whom their first nine games were starts.Source: Baseball-Reference.com 1962CINFrank Robinson43.4Vada Pinson20.864.2 1935NYGMel Ott53.6Hal Schumacher10.564.1 1949Don Newcombe23BKN0.35.65.9 1977TEXBert Blyleven53.0Jim Sundberg11.764.7 Those five seasons were the apex for Doc and Straw. Strawberry had the effortless power and discerning eye of a young Reggie Jackson. He could also run, swiping at least 25 bases every season from 1984 to 1988. Among a stellar class of young outfielders in the mid-to-late 1980s that included Barry Bonds, Rickey Henderson, Tim Raines and Tony Gwynn, Strawberry was staking his claim near the top of the list.Gooden, meanwhile, was a monumental talent, at his peak one of the most dominant pitchers this side of Pedro Martinez. In 1984 — at age 19! — Doc’s fielding independent pitching (FIP) was 1.69, still the seventh-lowest (relative to the league) ever in a single season. He followed that up with a 1.53 ERA as a 20-year-old, the 12th-lowest (again, relative to league average) ever recorded in a season.It was one of the most masterful stretches by a pitcher ever, and it helped Gooden produce the 20th-best pair of back-to-back WAR seasons by a pitcher in major league history, all before his 21st birthday. It also included the bulk of a magical 50-start span that stretched from late in the 1984 season into early 1986, during which Gooden allowed an infinitesimal 1.38 ERA, struck out 4.6 batters for each one he walked and led the Mets to a 41-9 record when he took the mound.During that five-year run, the Mets won at least 90 games every year, breaking the mythic 100-win barrier twice. They won the World Series in 1986 and came within a game of going to another in 1988. And Doc and Darryl were the driving forces. They finished 1-2 on the team in WAR over that span and became the 20th-most-productive pair of teammates under age 26 in baseball history. Stephen StrasburgWSH54.12.321.071575 Thanks to another 25-homer, .800-OPS season from Strawberry and a strong performance by Hernandez (who finished second on the team — and 14th among NL hitters — with 5.7 WAR), the 1984 Mets ended the season with 90 victories, a 22-game improvement over the previous year.It was the start of a turnaround unlike just about any in modern baseball history. If you’d taken those ghastly 1983 Mets and built a simple regression model predicting how many games they’d win over the next five seasons — based on things like how many WAR they had on the roster (not many); how young their batters and pitchers were2Weighted by WAR. (not very); and the size of the market in which they played3Based on both long-term franchise payroll trends and metro-area population, divvied up for multiteam cities according to the process my colleague Nate Silver used here. (large, but cramped by the crosstown Yankees’ slice of the New York media pie) — you’d have guessed the Mets would win about 77 games per season from 1984 to 1988. In reality, they averaged 98 wins a season over that span, the second-biggest positive differential between forecast and fact since the NL adopted the 162-game schedule in 1962: 1958NYYMickey Mantle61.2Andy Carey11.272.4 Herb ScoreCLE72.02.881.294582 1941NYYJoe DiMaggio46.0Joe Gordon22.468.4 1921NYYBabe Ruth57.7Bob Meusel8.065.7 1942Johnny Pesky22BOS6.10.06.1 Hideo NomoLAD57.02.841.263475 Ages as of July 1 of the season in question.Source: Fangraphs 1939Ted Williams20BOS7.10.07.1 1914WSHWalter Johnson53.8Chick Gandil10.464.2 Dwight GoodenNYM51.13.681.252573 And he was just getting started. Those strikeout-happy first two months actually were the worst stretch of Gooden’s rookie year; he would post a 2.27 ERA from June onward and finish the season second in the voting for NL Cy Young and first in the Rookie of the Year race. Gooden’s rookie campaign was so dominant that, according to FanGraphs’ wins above replacement, it was the most valuable debut season by any player — pitcher or otherwise — since 1901: 1913PHAEddie Collins45.4Jack Barry17.062.4 1929NYYLou Gehrig40.2Tony Lazzeri20.961.1 1943Lou Klein24STL6.10.06.1 1958MILEddie Mathews45.2Hank Aaron28.473.6 1932NYGMel Ott33.2Freddie Lindstrom25.558.7 1985NYYRickey Henderson41.8Dave Righetti17.259.0 1914BOSTris Speaker48.0Joe Wood25.073.0 1911Pete Alexander24PHI-0.47.26.8
For all the buzz about what Michael Phelps had not done, it is equally buzzing about what he accomplished on Tuesday in London. After a disappointing silver-medal placement in the 200-meter butterfly earlier Tuesday, Phelps returned to the water to anchor the history-making 200-freestyle relay team to the gold medal. The final 10 meters of the race were like the leaders of the Masters walking up the 18th fairway toward the green. It was a coronation.Phelps held onto a significant lead and delivered the United States another gold medal – the 15th of his career and the 19th time he has stood on an Olympic podiumHe’s now alone in the overall medal count, having broken a tie with Russian gymnast Larissa Latynina as the most-decorated athlete in the history of the Games.Phelps entered the night with 17 medals, wining silver in the 200-meter butterfly and then gold in the 4×200, swimming the two races a little over one hour apart.Shortly before Tuesday night’s swim meet, Latynina told Yahoo! Sports that the medals she also won as a coach still separate her from Phelps.“Do I think I am still the greatest Olympian?” she said in an interview translated by a Russian gymnastics federation official. “Why yes, but that is my opinion.“Why do I think this? Well, I did not only compete in three Olympic Games and won many medals, but the Soviet Union team had very great success when I was the coach.”Latynina won nine golds and 18 total medals in her career that spanned three Olympics, from 1956-64. The Soviet Union also claimed another 10 golds when she was coach during the 1970s. She also said Phelps has her respect.“It is special what he has done,” Latynina said.In a tribute to Phelps and recognizing the speed he showed in the 4×100 relay earlier in the games, U.S. coaches shuffled their 4×200 order, placing Phelps in the closing leg. It unfolded as dramatically as you would expect, with Ryan Lochte, Conor Dwyer and Ricky Berens giving Phelps a sizable lead going into the final 200-meters. Phelps went into the pool and was never challenged, stretching the lead in the first 150 meters and then going into the wall nearly 10-meters ahead of the French.
(SportsNetwork.com) – It’s too early to panic for the Miami Heat, as they try to stop a two-game slide and even their season record in Sunday’s home matchup with the Washington Wizards at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami.The two-time champion Heat opened defense of their title with a win against the Chicago Bulls, then headed to Philadelphia the following night, only to suffer a 114-110 loss. The Heat trailed 19-0 from the jump before rallying to take the lead against the Sixers, but were outscored 15-3 at the end of the game.Miami then faced one of the East’s top teams in Brooklyn on Friday and suffered a 101-100 loss to Paul Pierce and company. Pierce and Joe Johnson scored 19 points apiece and Kevin Garnett had six points and seven rebounds in less than 26 minutes.LeBron James led the Heat with a game-high 26 points, while Dwyane Wade returned to the lineup after resting in Philly to post 21 points. Chris Bosh scored 17 points and Miami shot 47.8 percent for the game, including 7-of-14 from 3-point territory.The Nets, who had an early 11-3 lead, used an 18-2 run to grab a 71-55 cushion with 4:16 remaining in the third quarter. Miami made a valiant effort with a 33-23 advantage in the fourth stanza.“We’ve dealt with this before. This story line continues,” Wade said of the team’s struggles. “At the end of the day, we want to play better. We would love to play better, obviously the start, the first and the third, but we had a chance to win the game. We have to find a way to pull it out.”Brooklyn edged the Heat in rebounds, 40-30. The last time the Heat lost three in a row was Jan. 10-13, 2011. After consecutive road games, Miami is slated to play five of six in south Florida.Much like the Heat, the Wizards fell victim to the Sixers in Friday’s 109-102 setback at the Verizon Center. The 76ers erased a 12-point deficit in the third quarter and Sixers rookie Michael Carter-Williams hit a 3-pointer with 6:28 to play to give his team its first lead, which they would never relinquish, and spoil Washington’s home opener.Wizards star John Wall scored 23 points in the first half, but was limited to three over the last 24 minutes.“They scored 65 points in the second half, so we didn’t do a great job of finishing,” said Wall. “It’s embarrassing to lose your home opener when you had a great chance of doing it.”Martell Webster had 13 points off the bench and his 3-pointer with 1:15 to play cut the Sixers lead to just three. Trevor Ariza and Marcin Gortat had 12 points apiece in defeat. No. 3 draft pick Otto Porter remained out for the Wizards because of a right hip flexor injury and is questionable Sunday. Center Nene missed Friday’s game with a strained left calf and could return against the Southeast Division-rival Heat.Philadelphia owned the paint and scored 74 points inside.The Wizards are 0-2 for a fourth straight season and were 0-12 to kick off the 2012-13 campaign. They lost three of four matchups with Miami a year ago and have dropped 15 of the last 19 matchups between the teams.Washington has lost 15 of 19 and 17 of its last 22 at Miami.
2008Justin Morneau512 2015Joc Pederson39 Only includes players with a minimum of 2500 career at-bats.Source: FanGraphs.com 2002Jason Giambi488 2016Todd Frazier42 9Mike Schmidt.260.128+.132 2016Giancarlo Stanton497 15Harmon Killebrew.253.131+.121 2009Prince Fielder503 2013Yoenis Cespedes32✓ 2011Robinson Cano32✓ Most years the Home Run Derby is a good deal more exciting in our memories — where a young Ken Griffey Jr. is still mashing taters in a backwards cap — than it is in reality. But this year Giancarlo Stanton wrote in a few dozen new memories of his own: 2012Prince Fielder476 6Ted Williams.289.130+.159 5Barry Bonds.309.150+.159 But Stanton didn’t gently deposit those 61 balls into the stands at Petco Park, either — he crushed them. His 497-foot blast in the first round tied for the fifth-longest among contest winners’ top home runs since 1996.1Excluding contests where neither MLB.com nor Baseball-Almanac.com listed longest-home run data. Only includes winners’ distances because some years MLB lists only the winner’s longest HR. 1996Barry Bonds451 10Joe DiMaggio.254.125+.129 For years where data is available.Source: MLB.com, Baseball Almanac 7Jimmie Foxx.284.125+.159 YEARPLAYERHOME RUNSWON DERBY? 2005Bobby Abreu41✓ But first Stanton will have to turn his 2016 season around. Bizarre as it sounds given his outrageous batted-ball numbers, Stanton has suffered through a down first half, hitting around .220 and flirting with the replacement level before embarking on a scorching start to July. Even after that turnaround, his 116 wRC+ would be the fourth-lowest ever by a Derby winner during their victorious season.Luckily for Stanton, though, there is no Home Run Derby curse. (Seriously, stop suggesting that’s a thing. Stop it.) And more to the point, nobody hits the ball that hard for long with so few hits to show for it. Stanton’s Statcast numbers — and more conventional metrics such as contact rate and line-drive rate — might be down a bit from their lofty 2015 heights, but Stanton still figures to be one of baseball’s better hitters in the second half of the season. That’s good news for the surprising Marlins, and for lovers of hard-hit baseballs everywhere.Check out our latest MLB predictions. YEARWINNERLONGEST HR Best power hitters, relative to league average, 1901-2016 13Mickey Mantle.259.136+.123 2011Adrian Gonzalez31 Winners’ longest home runs 2015Todd Frazier39✓ 14Willie Stargell.247.125+.122 2015Todd Frazier455 1Babe Ruth.356.116+.239 11Giancarlo Stanton.276.149+.126 3Hank Greenberg.292.123+.169 2005Bobby Abreu517ft 2004Miguel Tejada497 Most home runs in a HR Derby 2010David Ortiz32✓ 2Mark McGwire.325.146+.179 12Johnny Mize.250.125+.125 All told, Stanton slugged 61 home runs, which was by far the most ever hit in a single contest, though this is of course affected by some drastic changes in Derby formats over the years. (In fact, runner-up Todd Frazier’s 42 was the second-most ever hit in a derby.) On the night, Stanton hit all 10 of the longest homers belted by anybody. He also hit 18 of the 19 longest, with five carrying at least 490 feet and 31 traveling at least 450. It might well have been the greatest single exhibition of raw home run-hitting power in baseball history.Of course, such herculean feats are nothing new for Stanton — he’s widely known around baseball as the hardest-hitting player in the game, a man seemingly put on this earth to murder baseballs. And it’s a reputation only enhanced by the presence of Statcast, MLB’s (relatively) new radar-based tracking system, which has turned the physics of hard-hit balls into something approaching fetishization.Stanton is the poster child for the Statcast era. Where other players once made RBIs or steals into calling cards, Stanton has fashioned the exit-velo leaderboard — in other words, the “hitting the ball real hard” leaderboard — into his own personal jurisdiction, and fans revel in the arcana. (Did you know one of his home runs last night departed the bat at 120.4 miles per hour? That’s nuts!) In an era where we can quantify the speed and angle of every ball off the bat, Stanton is the right hitter at exactly the right historical moment.So, does that make him the greatest power hitter ever? He might be on his way. If we look at his career isolated power — essentially his total bases per at-bat, but tossing out those wimpy singles — relative to the MLB average for nonpitchers, Stanton ranks 11th since 1901, trailing Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds and eight Hall of Famers. Stanton is also still just 26, so he’ll have a handful more prime years to move up the list before tailing off in late-career decline. 2016Giancarlo Stanton61✓ 2008Josh Hamilton35 8Ralph Kiner.269.130+.139 PLAYERCAREER ISOMLB AVERAGEISO VS. AVERAGE 4Lou Gehrig.293.125+.168 2007Vladimir Guerrero503 Regardless of format; first event was in 1985.Source: MLB.com
Ohio State sophomore forward Abdi Mohamed passes the ball upfield against Rutgers on Sept. 18, 2016. Credit: Gene Ross | For The LanternWith four of the next five games at home, the Ohio State men’s soccer team knew if they were going to turn their season around, now would have to be the time to do it.Against Big Ten opponent Rutgers, they got off on the right foot.The Buckeyes dominated this Sunday, taking down the Scarlet Knights 3-1 at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium, their second win in the last three games.“Especially with it being a Big Ten game, we took this very serious,” said Ohio State sophomore midfielder Abdi Mohamed. “We came out hard, we had a few chances. It was very important for us to come out strong and get this win.”OSU received a rude awakening in their last match against Penn State, leading to a 4-0 deficit in the first half. This time, the Buckeyes were ready right out of the gate.In just the 5th minute, Ohio State junior forward Nate Kohl received a through ball from senior forward Danny Jensen that Kohl buried inside the near post. It was his second goal of the season, which gave the Buckeyes an early 1-0 lead. Later in the first period, senior defender Austin Bergstrom received a penalty kick. Bergstrom was able to beat Rutgers senior goalkeeper David Greczek on the left side of the net to extend the lead to 2-0, which they would take into halftime.“The guys were very sharp in the first half. In the first twenty minutes we could have had several goals,” said coach John Bluem. “I thought our attacking play was very good. It was the positive start we wanted in the game.”Ohio State began the second half a bit sluggish.Just two minutes into the second period, Rutgers junior forward Ryan Peterson launched a corner kick to junior defender Niel Guzman, who was able to get his head on the ball and tuck it inside the far post to cut the Buckeyes lead to 2-1. It was Guzman’s first goal of the season.Just when it seemed as though momentum was shifting the way of the Scarlet Knights, Mohamed was given a free kick from 20 yards out in front of the net. Mohamed was able to arc it high into the top left corner of the net, beating the goalkeeper and putting the Buckeyes up 3-1.“They got a little bit of a reason to believe when we let them have a goal there early on. That is exactly what we didn’t want to do, of course,” Bluem said. “But another wonderful strike by Abdi. He can keep doing that all year long if he wants to. He is very good at those.”It was the first time this season Ohio State was able to score more than two goals in a game. For Mohamed, it was his second goal of the season, both coming on free kicks.The Buckeyes outshot Rutgers 16-7 in the game, holding an 11-2 advantage in shots in the first period. The team advanced to 2-1 in the Big Ten so far this season.“We are more confident right now,” Mohamed said. “We know we have to win and get on a stride. We trust each other. We believe in each other and we work hard for each other.”OSU will look to continue their winning ways this Wednesday, as they take on Valparaiso at 7 p.m. at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.
The Ohio State Buckeyes kicked off Big Ten play against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights on Oct. 1. The Buckeyes won 58-0. Coach Meyer stands in front of the team before the Buckeyes take the field against Rutgers on Oct. 1. The Buckeyes won 58-0. Credit: Mason Swires | Assistant Photo Editor
The OSU women’s volleyball team celebrates after a win against Michigan State on Oct. 22. The Buckeyes won the match 3-0. Credit: Luke Swartz | For The LanternFrom the first serve of the match on Saturday, the Ohio State women’s volleyball team was in control. The Buckeyes handed the Michigan State Spartans a loss after a show-stopping performance at St. John Arena. No. 19 OSU outplayed the No. 11 Spartans in every category. The team’s dominance led to the Buckeyes dealing Michigan State a 3-0 sweep (25-21, 25-19, 25-19). Just two weeks ago, it was the Buckeyes who were scratching their heads after the Spartans swept them in East Lansing, Michigan. Michigan State was on a two-match winning streak prior to Saturday, which included a impressive upset over No. 3 Minnesota. The win boosts OSU to 14-8 on the season. OSU coach Geoff Carlston said his team was playing with the fire to show everyone what Ohio State volleyball stands for. “They beat us pretty handily at their place, so (I told them) this is really about ‘defending the jersey,” he said. OSU was able to rally back from a handful of small deficits in the first set and went on a five-point run to take the late advantage, 22-19. A monstrous kill from senior middle blocker Taylor Sandbothe on set point sent the Buckeyes to a 1-0 lead. A Michigan State 3-0 lead to start out the second set would be squandered quickly by an OSU 4-0 run. The Buckeyes would fall behind again, but were brought back to life by aggressive attacking from junior outside hitter Luisa Schirmer and company. OSU delivered nine unanswered points to close out the second set, 25-19. With two sets to their advantage, the Buckeyes maintained steady control in the third, holding onto the lead the entire set. A solo block on match point by sophomore setter Taylor Hughes put the lid on the team’s stunning performance.Schirmer led the Buckeyes with 13 kills, followed by Sandbothe with 12. Both junior outside hitter Ashley Wenz and Hughes had attacking percentages over .500. Hughes also chipped in 37 assists. With such a stark contrast in results from the first matchup two weeks ago, Carlston said one of the major differences in his team Saturday was determination to avenge its last loss to the Spartans. “It’s kind of nice to play only a couple weeks later so you can really lock in on, ‘Hey, this was only two weeks ago, you kind of got it (a loss) handed to you,’” he said. “’What are you going to do about it?’”Senior libero Valeria León added that OSU had a steady handle on every aspect of play, which allowed the team to keep its composure. “We had more control of the tempo of the game,” she said. “We wanted to out-dig them and out-block them … trusting in the game plan and trusting in each other, I think that’s what helped us get that ‘W’.”Not only was León a major contributor to the Buckeyes’ victory against the Spartans (14 digs), she also solidified her own place in OSU history. In front of nearly 2,600 fans on her home court, León reached the top spot for most career digs in the program. León said she couldn’t have imagined being in this position four years ago, but felt very honored to make her mark. “When you first sign and you come here, you don’t think about breaking records,” she said. “but it’s really cool to leave my name and leave my legacy.” León has been flirting with the record for a few weeks now. After OSU’s game at Penn State on Wednesday, she stood within one dig of the title. León said people have been joking with her saying she purposely played it out so she could reach the achievement at St. John Arena. “People would think that I planned on doing that, but I didn’t,” she laughed. “It was definitely special breaking that record at St. John, because I’ve been playing in front of those fans since freshman year.”Carlston said León’s four-year journey has been incredible for him to watch and to take part in as her coach.“It’s why you coach in a lot of ways,” he said. “To see her grow from her freshman year to this year and to get that record, that’s a big deal.” With a little less than half of the season left, León has the potential to blow the top off of the career digs record and create a new goal for future players to strive for. The Buckeyes will be back in action on Wednesday when they take on the Maryland Terrapins at 6 p.m. in College Park, Maryland.
Caption: Freshman goalie Jill Rizzo saves a shot against Vermont Credit: Walt Middleton – Courtesy of OSU AthleticsThe Ohio State women’s lacrosse team is set to embark on a four-game road voyage, beginning with Duquesne at 3 p.m. on Friday. Their previous five games, however, have been the start of a new era for Division I women’s lacrosse, the shot-clock era.The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel implemented a 90-second shot clock for the first time in collegiate women’s lacrosse history beginning this year. This was done in hopes of reducing the impact of clock management and to speed up the pace of play. “You know from two different perspectives, every team is always in it, right? Even if you are down by five or six goals,” OSU coach Alexis Venechanos said. “Maybe in that second half you are going to have an opportunity to get the ball back and continue to execute well and on attack, get back in the game.”Similar to basketball, the men’s lacrosse game adapted a shot clock prior to the women’s game. The possession timer in men’s lacrosse is 60 seconds shorter than the women’s shot clock, but serves the same purpose of forcing play to be initiated quickly.Already this season, the OSU women’s lacrosse team is averaging five more shots per game than they were last year, giving the Buckeyes an increase in goals scored per game, 11.94 last season compared to this year’s 13.20. Senior midfielder Paulina Constant, however, doesn’t feel like the shot clock has changed the team’s strategy.“It speeds the game up a little bit, it’s nothing too dramatic,” Constant said. “In practice we practice with the shot clock … but other than that there is no really game plan with the shot clock, you’re aware of it. When it gets to a certain point we have a play to get into.”The shot clock will count down from 90 and will only be reset once a shot on goal has been attempted. In 2018, the rule will also be instituted at the Division II and III levels.The Buckeyes have seemed to benefit from the new shot clock but much of that benefit has to do with a deep offensive repertoire. OSU has the top two leading scorers in the Big Ten — four-time Big Ten Freshman of the Week, freshman midfielder Liza Hernandez and junior attacker Molly Wood — with 15 and 14 goals, respectively.“All athletes want to compete and get shots up and use their natural athletic ability,” Venechanos said. “If we continue to shoot well those five more possessions will end up with some goals.”The Buckeyes will begin their road stint against the Duquesne Dukes (0-1) who dropped their first game of the year to Penn State. Games against Notre Dame, Holy Cross and Harvard round out what will be a true test of what this year’s team is capable of. “We have different styles we’re going to have to be ready for,” Venechanos said. The No. 8 Notre Dame Fighting Irish are 6-1 on the season and boast wins over Michigan and fellow lacrosse powerhouse, No. 9 Duke. Notre Dame’s leading goal scorer (27) and points getter (35), senior attacker Cortney Fortunato, poses a real threat to the Buckeyes’ defense.The game against Duquesne is set for a 3 p.m. face-off on Friday, while the match-up with Notre Dame will be at 7 p.m. on Tuesday in South Bend, Indiana.
When the 64-team field for the 2011 NCAA women’s soccer tournament was announced Monday, the Ohio State women’s soccer team was included, giving the Buckeyes a chance to follow up last season’s run to the national semifinals. The unseeded Buckeyes (10-8-2, 5-5-1) will take on regional No. 4 seed Tennessee at 2 p.m. Nov. 12 in a first-round matchup hosted by the Volunteers (15-6-0). OSU’s postseason hopes seemed to be in some doubt after the team suffered a first-round loss to Illinois in the Big Ten Tournament on Thursday. Coming in as the No. 7 seed, the Buckeyes lost, 4-2, on penalty kicks after regulation and two overtime periods resulted in a tie, 1-1. The second-seeded Fighting Illini eventually went on to win the tournament. The Buckeyes concluded the regular season 10-8-1, with a 5-5-1 mark within the conference. A couple of program milestones highlighted the season. The team recorded the 200th victory in program history on Sept. 23 with a 2-1 win against Illinois at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. That mark was eclipsed on the team’s alumni weekend. “I’m really happy with where the program is and what we’ve been able to do over the years,” coach Lori Walker, who was at the helm of 164 of the 200 wins to that point, said at the time. “It’s nice to recognize this milestone because it includes everyone who has been a part of it.” The 2011 senior class won its 49th game with a 3-0 triumph against Indiana on Senior Day at Jesse Owens. The victory moved that class into a tie with the 2006 class for the second-most wins for a four-year group in program history. “From top to bottom I think they’re just some of the nicest people I’ve ever worked with,” Walker said. “Anytime you can have nine seniors go from the beginning to the end together, it’s a testament to their strength.” Senior forward Caitlyn Martin, who tallied a goal in the victory, spoke about the close-knit relationships within the team. “We have a great senior group and we’re really close, so it was really special to go out on our last day in the Jesse and get a win and play for each other,” Martin said. “It was a great team effort.” The low point of the season was a stretch from Sept. 29 to Oct. 23, in which the team lost five of seven games, prompting Walker to say the offense was “in the crapper” following an Oct. 16 loss to Nebraska. It was during this slide that the Buckeyes let their postseason hopes almost slip away. In the end, the Buckeyes made the national tournament for the third straight season while several OSU players garnered postseason honors. Senior defender Danielle Scoliere followed up last week’s first-team All-Big Ten honors by being named to the conference’s all-tournament team last Sunday, while sophomore midfielder Danica Wu was named to the second-team All-Big Ten. Senior defender Liz Sullivan was OSU’s Big Ten sportsmanship honoree and also joined senior goalie Katie Baumgardner on the all-district academic third team, announced Monday. The winner between OSU and Tennessee will go on to the second round to play the winner between Illinois State and Milwaukee.
Courtesy of MCTThe LGBT rights movement seems to slowly but surely be making progress in the United States. Same-sex marriage is only legalized in nine states and the District of Columbia, but three of those states voted to legalize marriage in the 2012 elections. Meanwhile, the U.S. Supreme Court is currently debating the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8, which both define marriage as only between a man and a woman.While many politicians, entertainment and TV personalities have revealed their homosexuality in recent years and have received widespread support from their peers, the world of sports, and in particular men’s sports, has not progressed as quickly.The civil rights movement toward LGBT acceptance within sports took a big step forward on Monday, when NBA center Jason Collins became the first active player to come out as gay in one of the four major U.S. professional sports leagues (NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL).“I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay,” Collins wrote to open a cover story for Sports Illustrated that was published online Monday.In one sentence, Collins broke a longstanding barrier within men’s professional team sports. While there have been athletes in all four major sports leagues to reveal their homosexuality after retiring from professional sports, none has come out with the intent of continuing their career in professional sports.“I didn’t set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport,” Collins wrote in Sports Illustrated. “But since I am, I’m happy to start the conversation.”Collins is a 12-year NBA veteran who has played for six different teams, has scored more than 2,500 points and grabbed more than 2,500 rebounds in his career, and is known for being a physical player — Collins led the NBA with 322 personal fouls for the 2004-05 season.Being gay didn’t stop him from doing any of that.There is one caveat in Collins’ status as an active professional athlete: he may never play another NBA game. As a member of two different teams (Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards) this season, he scored just 41 points in 38 games, and he will be a free agent this summer.It shouldn’t matter.The fact that Collins is revealing his homosexuality, having played in the NBA and still intending to play in the NBA, is a step forward in itself. Even more importantly, Collins has received support publicly from numerous current and former NBA star players, including Kobe Bryant, Jason Kidd, Shaquille O’Neal and Magic Johnson.“Jason’s sexuality doesn’t change the fact that he is a great friend and was a great teammate,” Kidd, who is currently a New York Knicks point guard and previously played for the New Jersey Nets with Collins, tweeted Monday.Collins’ supporters have ranged far and wide, also including Michelle Obama, former U.S. President Bill Clinton, Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe and former Columbus Crew soccer player Robbie Rogers, who came out as gay in February but also retired simultaneously.Kluwe is the co-author of an amicus brief titled “Athletes’ Brief,” along with NFL linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo (who also tweeted his support for Collins on Monday), that was sent to the Supreme Court in March in petition opposing Proposition 8, and was signed by a number of professional athletes and sports-related figures who support marriage equality.The NFL has not had any active player come out as gay yet, but during an event at OSU on April 8, Kluwe said he thinks the issue will “blow over in a month or two” once one NFL player does come out as gay.“The first guy or guys that come out, yeah, there’s going to be some attention, but after that, no one will care,” Kluwe said. “Then it becomes, how well can you play football, which is the way it should be.”Now that a male professional athlete in a major sport has come out as gay, we get to find out whether the issue will “blow over” quickly.Earlier this month, Brittney Griner acknowledged her own homosexuality in an interview with Sports Illustrated after being the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 WNBA Draft.“I’ve always been open about who I am and my sexuality. So, it wasn’t hard at all. If I can show that I’m out and I’m fine and everything’s OK, then hopefully the younger generation will definitely feel the same way,” Griner told Sports Illustrated.Griner’s acknowledgement did not receive nearly the attention that Collins’ story did on Monday. Women’s sports, however, has had a precedent of star athletes being openly gay, including three-time WNBA MVP Sheryl Swoopes and tennis legends Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova.Regardless of whether Collins plays another NBA game or not, his revelation has set that precedent for male professional athletes.Between Collins, Griner and Rogers all acknowledging their homosexuality within the past three months, the hope is that more professional athletes who are closeted homosexuals will feel comfortable being open about their own sexuality.Furthermore, the support they have received from not only the sports community, but the community at large, should provide an inspiration for LGBT athletes at all levels to embrace who they are, and know that there are many members of the community who will support them for being who they are.If the current trend continues, we may not be too far removed from a nation where being a homosexual athlete is no longer a story, and we will be able to focus simply upon how well an athlete, regardless of their sexuality, can play their sport. That is, like Kluwe said, the way it should be.