Monthly Archives: December 2019

Robbinsville softball heads back to Central Jersey Group II title game after ousting South Plainfield

With an absolutely ridiculous state tournament record of 44-4 over the last nine years, it’s understandable how the Robbinsville High School softball team often seemed to be on cruise control Thursday in its Central Jersey Group III semifinal.

Although it was tied in the fifth inning, there was no sense of panic or urgency. Rather, Robbinsville just seemed to go about its business with the inner confidence somehow things would all work out in the end.

Sure enough, in a game in which it had only eight hits, Robbinsville put six of them together in a row in the fifth ininng and the result ended up being a comfortable 7-1 victory over South Plainfield (20-6).

The two-time defending Group II state champion and a winner of four state titles in eight years, Robbinsville (23-4) will now attempt to win an incredible eighth sectional championship in nine years when it travels to top-seeded Bordentown on Tuesday.

For much of the game the Middlesex County team hung right with the Ravens. On the very first pitch of the game, Cameron Marks blasted a double to center field off freshman Shea Krebs and eventually came home on a sac fly by Gillian Holoboski.

After a rain delay of over an hour in the bottom of the first, Robbinsville tied the game on a single by Olivia Moser after Shea Walsh had singled right before the heavens opened up.

At this point it looked like the teams might be about to slug it out, but there was no more scoring until the bottom of the fifth.

For her part, Krebs really settled and was able to work her way out of any jams. Krebs had only two strikeouts, but she also gave up just five hits and was able to hold the dangerous Holoboski hitless.

“I just try to stay calm,” said Krebs when asked what it’s like getting the ball as a freshman for a program with such high expectations. “I don’t really get that nervous because I know I have a great team behind me.”

Many of Robbinsville’s early bats in this game against Holoboski can best be described as listless, but suddenly all of that changed.

After a ground out, Alexa Klepper got the Ravens going with a double and advanced to third on a single by Ashley Veisz. More known for her defensive work at second than her hitting, No. 9 batter Alyssa Whitman then stroked the game-winning hit with a single.

From there, Chelsea Manto collected her 203rd career hit with a hard RBI single and Walsh picked up career hit 176 with a run-scoring single to right.

Next up was Devon Witt, who after striking out in her first two at bats, laced a two-run double to deep center field to become the latest Robbinsville player to join the 100-hit club.

Just like that a competitive game had been blown wide open thanks to the six straight hits.

“It was a good game, but they got the hits when they needed to and we did not,” said South Plainfield coach Don Panzarella, who became New Jersey’s all-time winningest coach last year when he recorded his 744th career win. “You know when you play a good team like that they are eventually going to score some runs.”

In addition to the pitching of Krebs, another real plus was Robbinsville got two nice catches in right field by Brynn Hopkins, and two hits at the bottom of the order from Veisz and Whitman. Those two combined to produce the final run in the sixth when Veisz doubled to left and Whitman singled her in.

It should all make for an interesting final on Tuesday against a Bordentown team that is just itching to beat one of the most storied programs in New Jersey softball history despite the fact Robbinsville has only been in existence for 11 years.

South Plainfield (20-6) 100 000 0 – 1 3 0

Robbinsville (23-4) 100 051 x – 7 10 2

WP-Krebs. LP-Holoboski. 2B-Marks (SP), Klepper (R), Witt (R), Veisz (R). RBIs: SP-Holoboski. R-Manto, Walsh, Witt 2, Moser, Whitman 2.

The 19 Wisconsin sports athletes who defined 2019 (and 10 villains)

With four MVPs donning Wisconsin sports jerseys, including one new member of the MVP club, it’s a special time in Wisconsin athletics. These are the 19 biggest names in Wisconsin sports in 2019, balancing visibility and scope of achievement — as well as 10 villains we could have done without.
19. Eric Bledsoe

The point guard finished 2018-19 scoring 15.9 points per game, with 4.6 rebounds, 5.5 assists and a spot on the NBA All-Defensive first team. He’s carried that over into the new season, where he averages 15.0 points, 4.9 rebounds and 5.7 assists per game. The Bucks signed Bledsoe to a four-year extension in March.
18. Brook Lopez

Lopez was a revelation for the Bucks as a free-agent signing for the 2018-19 season, and his magnum opus came March 29 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Raptors, where he had 29 points and 11 rebounds. Lopez has gotten off to a slow start offensively in 2019-20, though he remains a force contesting shots and was essential to Milwaukee’s blueprint last season, putting the Bucks on the doorstep of the finals.
17. Ethan Happ

The Badgers big man finished his senior season with an average of 17.3 points and 10.1 rebounds per game and earned second-team All American honors for a team that finished 23-11 overall and 14-6 in the Big Ten. He started all 139 games of his career, ranking second in Big Ten history, and he became the first Big Ten player since 1981 to finish with 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds. He finished with 2,130 points, third in Badgers scoring history. Specifically in 2019, he had 26 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists in a win over previously unbeaten Michigan on Jan. 19.
16. Beata Nelson

The Verona native and University of Wisconsin swimmer set an NCAA record with her time of 1:47.24 to win the national title in the 200-yard backstroke, her third national title of the weekend. She won the individual medley with the second-fastest time in event history (1:50.79) and won the backstroke with the fastest mark in NCAA finals history (49.18). She became the first Badgers swimmer to win two national titles, let alone three.
15. Brandon Woodruff

It was a breakout year for the Brewers ace, who finished with an 11-3 record and 3.62 ERA in 121 innings, with a 1.142 WHIP and 143 strikeouts. He earned his first all-star berth, but we’ll have to wonder what could have happened if Woodruff hadn’t sustained a strained oblique midway through the year. He was still a force when he worked four innings in the NL wild-card game against Washington.
14. Dana Rettke

The Big Ten women’s volleyball player of the year led the Badgers to a conference title and a trip to the national championship game. The Illinois native also led the nation in hitting percentage (.423). Already a two-time All-American, the 6-foot-8 junior guided the Badgers to the Final Four as Wisconsin won all four of its first postseason matches in three sets to advance into the national semifinal. That was followed by a stunning four-set win over the No. 1-ranked Baylor Bears to reach the title match against Stanford. Rettke was huge against the Bears, with 19 kills, three aces and eight blocks.
13. Annie Pankowski

The California native was one of three finalists for the Patty Kazmaier Award recognizing the best women’s hockey player in the country, and she was at the forefront as Wisconsin’s women’s hockey team won the 2019 national title. The WCHA player of the year had 17 goals and 30 assists on the season to lead the Badgers to the gold.
12. Khris Middleton

Middleton made his first all-star team in February and has been the steady second option for the championship-caliber Milwaukee Bucks. He signed a contract in the off-season to stick around, and he’s averaging 18 points in the 2019 portion of the current season, shooting 48% from the field and 40% from three-point range.
11. Aaron Jones

Stats don’t tell the whole story for Jones. Through 15 games, he has 16 touchdowns and 984 rushing yards (4.7 per carry) and 431 receiving yards on 47 catches, plus three more scores. Those are fine numbers, but Jones has been invaluable overall, providing a threat in the running game that some stats regard as one of the best in the NFL.
10. Yasmani Grandal

The Brewers signed Grandal to a one-year deal, and he delivered, with an excellent .848 OPS and career-best 28 homers and 77 RBI, anchored by a tremendous final month of the season. The 2019 all-star also hit a two-run homer in the NL wild-card game that for a while looked like might provide the winning tallies, and he finished with a superb .380 on-base percentage. His departure in free agency for the White Sox gave him a well-deserved contract, but it leaves a gaping hole in Milwaukee’s 2020 roster.
8 and 9. Preston Smith and Za’Darius Smith

How do we separate these guys? They’ve got the same name, were signed in free agency by the Green Bay Packers on the same day and conduct postgame press conferences side by side. And they’ve also introduced an edge we haven’t seen in Green Bay’s recent defenses. Having already secured double-digit sacks apiece with two games to play, they are two huge reasons why the Packers started out 12-3. Za’Darius had the performance of his season against the Vikings on Dec. 23, registering 3.5 sacks.
7. Josh Hader

Many will remember the frustrating eighth inning he had in the NL wild-card game, but he was among the game’s best relievers yet again for the Milwaukee Brewers, with a 2.62 ERA, 37 saves, 138 strikeouts in just 75 innings and a 0.806 WHIP. Video game numbers for the lefty, even though he did surrender a notable 15 home runs. He’s a big reason why the Brewers were able to reach the playoffs for a second straight year.
6. Markus Howard

The Marquette sharpshooter was named Big East player of the year and announced he was coming back for his senior season in 2019-20, when he promptly broke the school’s all-time scoring mark. He finished the 2018-19 season at 25.0 points per game, with 4.0 rebounds and 3.9 assists to boot. He’s shown up on numerous first-team All-American preseason lists, and he’s followed it up with a 40-point and 51-point game on back-to-back nights in Orlando, not to mention his record-setting 53-point performance in January against Creighton.
5. Aaron Rodgers

Statistically, this hasn’t been Aaron Rodgers’ best year. But as he’s said, he’s more invested in wins than stats at this point in his career, and it’s hard to argue the Packers still draw much of what makes them “special” from their future Hall of Fame quarterback. He delivered his first career perfect quarterback rating in a win over the Raiders, still has an uncanny ability to protect the football, and has led Green Bay to a 12-3 start and put them on a course to a playoff return.
4. Jonathan Taylor

As with Rodgers, you could argue this wasn’t Taylor’s best year statistically. But he rushed for more than 200 yards in three straight contests and caught a huge touchdown pass in the Wisconsin Badgers’ win over Minnesota to get them a berth in the Big Ten title game. He followed up with 146 yards rushing in the championship game against Ohio State. He’s got the most rushing yards of any player in NCAA history through his junior year, and he should make an excellent pro running back. In December, he was named the Doak Walker Award winner for a second straight year.
3. Rose Lavelle

Lavelle, a former Wisconsin Badgers soccer star, scored in the FIFA World Cup final as the United States went on to win the title. The 24-year-old, a three-time All American at UW, delivered a breakout performance during the World Cup. She played in every match, with two goals against Thailand, as well. Technically, she’s not a native of Wisconsin, nor is she playing for a Wisconsin-specific team, but it’s our list and we’re counting her.

2. Christian Yelich

It’s a little preposterous that he’s ranked No. 2 on any list. The 2018 MVP somehow outperformed his previous year in 2019, belting 44 homers with a 1.100 OPS (only the second MLB player to reach that mark in the past decade) as he flirted with another MVP and led the Brewers back to the playoffs. His .429 on-base percentage led the league and he won a second straight batting title at .329. A crushing injury in September kept him from being a full-time participant in the team’s heroic 20-7 finish to the year, but Yelich remains a full-fledged superstar.
1. Giannis Antetokounmpo

There’s a new sheriff in the NBA. The 2018-19 NBA MVP was everything to the Milwaukee Bucks, scoring 27.7 points per game with 12.5 rebounds and 5.9 assists per contest. He put the Bucks on the doorstep of their first NBA Finals since 1974 with a trip to the Eastern Conference finals (first time since 2001), and the Bucks won a league-best 60 games in the regular season. He was one of two “captains” for the NBA All-Star Game and threw down a dunk for the ages, one of many spectacular entries on his highlight reel. As fans wait anxiously to see if he will sign the supermax extension to remain in Milwaukee for the majority of his career, he’s back to leading the Bucks in 2019-20, guiding them to a 18-game winning streak and already netting one NBA Eastern Conference player of the month honor (he won four of those last season and two in 2019).

Sophomore Bowler Sammie Malley Is Sievers Equipment Female Athlete Of The Month For Jersey Community High School

Sammie Malley is an all-around great athlete for Jersey Community High School. She is a setter on the girl’s volleyball team and pitcher/outfielder for the softball team. She is off to a solid start this bowling season for the Panthers.

Malley, a sophomore bowler, is the December female Athlete of the Month for Jersey Community High School.

Malley credits her involvement in sports for helping her become the kind of person she is today.

“Without being involved in sports, I wouldn’t be the caring, cheerful, determined person I am today,” Malley said.

Malley, who’s coached in bowling by Chris Skinner, has enjoyed early season success on the lanes, with a 176 average thus far in the season. In a recent tournament at Taylorville, Malley finished 10th in a field of 100 bowlers, rolling a six-game series of 1,206, including a high game of 244.

Malley thanked her parents and her Panther teammates for their support and guidance in everything she’s accomplished so far.

“I want to thank my parents and teammates for always believing in me, and supporting me with everything I do,” Malley said.

Malley joined the Jersey bowling team last season, her freshman year, and has fallen in love with bowling and appreciates how much her teammates support her on the lanes.

“I started my freshman year not knowing how much I would love it,” Malley said. “I love the environment and the pressure, along with all the rapport with my team.”

It appears Washington’s new Adidas-produced uniforms have leaked

The Internet, as they say, is undefeated.

Washington officially joined the Adidas family on Monday, a 10-year, $120 million agreement that was first announced last April. As part of the deal, Washington will get a department-wide makeover as Team Three Stripes works to wipe the Swoosh off the Huskies’ uniforms.

The Huskies won’t publicly debut their new football uniforms until July 10, but the uniforms themselves are already done. The media will get a look tonight, but only on an embargoed basis.

However, it appears someone got a look at the new duds on Monday night, and that person shared them with Reddit’s U-Dub board, who shared them with the world.

We have no official confirmation that these are Washington’s new uniforms yet and won’t for another week or so, but it’s hard to imagine Chris Petersen posing for pictures alongside a uniform set that wasn’t the official kit at this point in the game.

As for the uniform itself, it’s pretty good. From the glimpse we get above, it looks like Washington’s classic helmet remains untouched, with the gold lid’s unwanted purple cousin along for the ride as well. The shoulder patch has been exchanged for diagonal stripes, and the number font looks like an improvement from the font Nike outfitted the Huskies with.

Again, we don’t know for sure if the image above is or is not indicative of Washington’s new uniforms…. but, let’s be honest, it probably is.

Are the Cowboys tempting fate by wearing blue jerseys 8 times this season, including at home Sunday?

If the Cowboys stumble Sunday evening at AT&T Stadium, if quarterback Kirk Cousins ends his 0-9-1 drought for Minnesota on the road against teams with a winning record, the reason will be obvious.

Those damn blue jerseys.

Any Cowboys fan worth his or her silver-and-blue face paint is aware of the misery that goes with this color choice.

OK, maybe this should be amended to fans of a particular age. The trend, after all, began to emerge in the late 1960s.

But that simply cements its place in franchise lore. Which leads to the question:

What in the world was Charlotte Jones Anderson thinking with her decision to put the team in blue jerseys for an unprecedented eight games this season? Was the club’s executive vice president and chief brand officer thinking at all?

Why would she put the Cowboys in this sort of competitive bind?

“After our feline experience in New Jersey last week, just a few days removed from Halloween, we really don’t put much stock in curses around here,” Jones Anderson said. “Our only concern with jerseys is that all 46 guys have one and that they all fit well.”

This only supports the point. It took a black cat crossing the New York Giants’ path — one of the most powerful superstitions going — to cancel out the blue jersey hex.

Jason Garrett isn’t a superstitious person. The Cowboys head coach will wear the same clothes or stick to a certain routine during a winning streak, but hey, he’ll tell you that’s just about forming a habit.

That’s discipline.

“Whatever color jersey they ask us to wear, we’ll go out and wear,” Garrett said. “Wherever the game is, whatever day it is and whatever time it is, we’re going to go and try to play our best football.

“I’m sure there is probably an analytical breakdown of the blue jersey through the history. You guys [media] are probably more at the forefront than I am.”

Since you mentioned it…

The jinx reared its ugly head in 1968. Dallas went 12-2 that season but lost to Cleveland in the championship game. They were wearing blue uniforms.

Dallas was in blue two seasons later when losing Super Bowl V to Baltimore. The Cowboys did go on to win five titles after that crippling defeat.

They were in white uniforms each time.

“I’m old enough to remember that, but most of the guys in here, they’re not old enough so it doesn’t really matter,” said ancient tight end Jason Witten, now 37 years old. “I think guys like wearing the blue. It looks good, changes it up.

“It’s not an issue.”

Most of the players in the Dallas locker room were born 20 years after this curse was in full force. That doesn’t mean it’s not real.

A semi-official count reveals the Cowboys are 69-72-1 when wearing blue jerseys. They are 2-2 this season.

Did we mention Dallas was wearing a blue jersey when it lost to the New York Jets? That remains the only game the Jets have won this season.

Where was the black cat that afternoon at MetLife Stadium?

“They put uniforms in our guys’ lockers and we put them on,” Garrett said. “That’s not really our decision.”

It’s not.

But the team must live with the consequences.

Who was North Jersey’s best softball player of the 2010s?

Who was North Jersey’s best softball player of the 2010s? We picked out some of the best players of the past decade, now you get to choose the best.

Read about the stars who stood out on the softball field and cast your vote in the poll at the bottom of this page.
Amanda Ayala

DePaul catcher/outfielder

Injuries cost her part of two seasons with the Spartans, but she capped her high school career with four Passaic County titles, and batted .583 and eight homers as a senior.

She’s entering her junior season at Tennessee where she was named to the SEC All-Freshman team in 2018.

Ashley DeYoung

Indian Hills pitcher/infielder

DeYoung was an unparalleled slugger with the Braves, and is one of just a handful of players this decade to be named first-team All-Bergen County three times.

She had a monster career at Rowan, where she led the NJAC in homers as a senior and set the school record with 12 in one season.
Devin Durando

Indian Hills pitcher

Durando’s senior season with the Braves was historic, as she led the them to a 34-0 record and the Group 3 state title.

She went 75-6 in her pitching career with 835 strikeouts and an ERA of 0.68. She played four years at Albany.
Reese Guevarra

Immaculate Heart Academy outfielder

Whenever a softball player is congratulated for getting 100 hits, remember Guevarra finished her high school career with 216, most all-time in Bergen County and finished with a .521 career batting average.

She is now a junior playing for Connecticut.

Lexi Knief

Ramsey shortstop

Knief was a superstar at Ramsey batting .598 as a junior and .562 as a senior. She finished with 195 career hits and was the 2012 North Jersey Player of the Year.

She played softball for four years at Penn State.
Sarah Piening

Immaculate Conception pitcher

She is the Queen of Rings in North Jersey. Piening remains the only pitcher in state history to win four state titles in the circle. She won 83 games and had 1,062 strikeouts.

After a year at Rollins College, she transferred to Delaware.
Julie Rodriguez

NV/Old Tappan pitcher/infielder

Rodriguez was the Gatorade Player of the Year in New Jersey in 2017. With the Golden Knights, she set every conceivable hitting and pitching record.

As a senior, she batted .644 and was walked an incredible 28 times intentionally. She’s now a sophomore at UCLA, the reining national champions in softball.
Summer Ramundo

DePaul pitcher

Ramundo was the linchpin for DePaul’s Passaic County softball dynasty this decade, helping them to four county titles in her time there, including an 18 strikeout performance in the county final in 2017.

She was named first-team All-Passaic County three times and is playing at Johnson and Wales.

Victoria Sebastian

Ramsey pitcher

If not for a knee injury as a freshman, Sebastian could have set all-time records in North Jersey. Still, she was part of three sectional championship teams, and a Group 2 state title as a senior.

The left-hander is heading to Villanova.
Steph Thomas

Immaculate Heart Academy pitcher

Thomas is still the gold standard for pitchers in New Jersey. She set the all-time record for victories with 113 and had 68 shutouts.

In her career, she had 951 strikeouts and an 0.54 ERA. She is one of just two pitchers ever to win three Bergen County titles in the circle. She played in college at Lafayette.

All-Star Celebrity Softball game rosters set, uniforms unveiled

Rosters have been announced for the All-Star Celebrity Softball Game this weekend at Progressive Field, along with the uniforms the teams will wear in the game themed “Cleveland vs. the World.”

Also, multi-platinum recording artist Anuel AA and hip-hop performer Quavo have been added to the game. Participants were announced last week for the game, which is Sunday, July 7, but team rosters were revealed today.

Cleveland

• Allie LaForce, Turner Sports broadcaster

• Carlos Baerga, three-time All-Star

• Dr. Oz, television host

• Drew Carey, comedian

• Jim Thome, Hall of Famer

• Joe Thomas, former Cleveland Browns offensive lineman

• J.R. Smith, Cleveland Cavalier

• Kenny Lofton, six-time All-Star

• Machine Gun Kelly, musician/actor

• Mike “The Miz” Mizanin, WWE superstar

• Quavo, member of Migos, rapper/producer

• Simone Biles, Olympic gold medalist

• Stephanie Beatriz, actress, “Brooklyn 99”

• Stipe Miocic, MMA fighter

• Travis Hafner, former Cleveland Indian

• Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs tight end, Cleveland Heights High graduate

The world

• Anthony Mackie, actor, “Avengers”

• Anuel AA, Reggaeton recording artist

• Colton Underwood, former NFL player and television personality

• Bernie Williams, World Series champion who played 16 years with the New York Yankees

• Daddy Yankee, Reggaeton recording artist

• Dascha Polanco, actress, “Orange is the New Black”

• Jamie Foxx, Academy Award-winning actor

• Jennie Finch, softball Olympian

• Jerry Lorenzo, fashion/sneaker designer

• Johnny Bananas, MTV Challenge

• Max Greenfield, actor, “New Girl”

• Priah Ferguson, actress, “Stranger Things”

• Quincy, actor, “Star”

• Ryan Howard, who played 13 years with the Phillies and won a World Series title

• Scott Rogowsky, comedian and DAZN host

Gates open at 3 p.m. with first pitch scheduled at 5 p.m. at Progressive Field.

Chris Rose and Kevin Millar, co-hosts of MLB Network’s “Intentional Talk,” are emcees.

The softball game precedes the All-Star Futures Game and includes performances by Welshly Arms and Joan Jett & the Blackhearts.

UCLA softball star Rachel Garcia named Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year

There are few collegiate athletes with resumes as long as Rachel Garcia’s, and UCLA’s star pitcher added yet another trophy to her collection Monday night.

At the Collegiate Women Sports Awards Show in Los Angeles, Garcia won the Honda Cup, which the CWSA presents annually to the top female collegiate athlete.

The accolade is one of many she picked up while leading the Bruins to their first Women’s College World Series title since 2010.

The redshirt junior was also named the USA Softball collegiate player of the year for the second time, National Fastpitch Coaches Association pitcher of the year, ESPNW national player of the year and Most Outstanding Player at the WCWS. This is the second year Garcia has been nominated for the Honda Cup after being selected as the Honda Sport Award winner among softball players last season.

“I’m super excited and super humbled and grateful to be a part of this for the second year in a row,” she told USA TODAY Sports. “I also have to thank my coaches, my teammates and my friends and family (for) the unconditional love and support that they give me because without them, I wouldn’t be where I am right now.”

With impressive stats on the mound and at the plate, Garcia became the first player to earn Pac-12 player and pitcher of the year honors in the same season. In 208 innings, she totaled 315 strikeouts and posted a 1.31 ERA. Batters hit just .143 against her.

It was the opposite when Garcia was in batter’s box as she hit for a .339 average and ranked third and fourth, respectively, on the team with 54 RBI and 11 home runs.

Her biggest moment came in a game against Washington at the Women’s College World Series when she threw 179 pitches and struck out 16 batters before hitting a walk-off home run in the 10th inning to send UCLA to the championship series against Oklahoma.

When she isn’t suiting up for the Bruins, Garcia plays for the USA Softball women’s national team. In the semifinals of the 2018 women’s world softball championship, she drove in the winning run that sent the Americans to the championship game. The U.S. went on to win the title and secure a berth to the 2020 Olympics.

As the 2019 Honda Cup winner, Garcia becomes the fifth Bruin to claim the title. Basketball player Ann Meyers, track and field star Jackie Joyner, softball pitcher Lisa Fernandez and shortstop Natasha Watley also received the award for their collegiate accomplishments.

The CWSA presented three more awards to student-athletes across multiple NCAA divisions. Jenna Fessler, a volleyball player at Thomas More University, received the Honda Inspiration Award. Taylor Reiss, a volleyball player from Southwest Minnesota State University was selected as the DII Honda Athlete of the Year, and Madison Temple, a basketball player at More University, was named the DIII Honda Athlete of the Year.

Eleven other nominees were recognized as Honda Sport Award winners in their respective disciplines, including: Oklahoma’s Maggie Nichols for gymnastics, Stanford’s Kathryn Plummer for volleyball, Maryland’s Megan Taylor for lacrosse, Indiana’s Lilly King for swimming, Colorado’s Dani Jones for cross country, Florida’s Yanis Davis for track and field, Arkansas’s Maria Fassi for golf, Iowa’s Megan Gustafson for basketball, North Carolina’s Ashley Hoffman for field hockey, Florida State’s Natalia Kuikka for soccer and Miami’s Estela Perez-Somarriba for tennis.

New Rainbow, All-Black, and Character Spirit Jerseys Arrive at Walt Disney World

Just in time for snuggle season, there is a new line of Spirit Jerseys available at Walt Disney World. They can be found at the World of Disney Store in Disney Springs. The new Spirit Jerseys feature the classic soft jersey fabric and a colorful array of Mickey and Minnie inspired designs.

The new Spirit Jersey line comes in a few color schemes, so there is something for every fan of the merchandise.

The rainbow colored Spirit Jersey features pastel text on a gray long-sleeved jersey. The text lines the front of the jersey from sleeve to sleeve and is embroidered onto the jersey fabric. It features the Walt Disney World Resort logo adorned with Mickey Ears inside of the “D”.

The black Spirit Jersey features sparkly silver text and the same Mickey logo as the Rainbow Jersey.

There is also a gray Spirit Jersey with the classic Mickey Mouse color scheme of yellow, black, and red. Instead of the Walt Disney World Resort logo, this one features Mickey’s iconic pants and ears. The text is lined with red threading.

And for the Minnie fans out there, there is a red on white option. A sparkly, silver Minnie silhouette decorates it. How cute are the polka dots that carry from Minnies bow to the text across the front of the shirt?

These Spirit Jerseys retail for $54.99 each and so far have been spotted at the World of Disney store at Disney Springs in Walt Disney World.

This weekend, the Phillies are bringing back the burgundy uniforms that were so ugly the players trashed them

Imagine John Middleton waiting in the Phillies clubhouse on a Saturday night after a tough loss and Rhys Hoskins storming through the doors, angrily ripping off his brand-new jersey and telling the team’s owner that he can trade him or release him before he ever wears that uniform again.

That’s precisely what happened on May 19, 1979, after the Phillies debuted their ill-fated “Saturday Night Special” burgundy uniforms. Greg Luzinski told then-Phillies owner Ruly Carpenter in the Veterans Stadium locker room after a loss to the Expos that he would play for a different team before dressing again in burgundy, a uniform his teammates said made “The Bull” look like a “giant grape.”

The rest of the Phillies joined in, threw their uniforms into the center of the clubhouse, and made sure that the team’s most infamous uniform would last just one night.

“Our clubhouse attendant gathered them together and put them into a laundry cart that was pushed into Never Never Land,” said Larry Christenson, that night’s starting pitcher.

Forty years later, the all-burgundy uniforms are being plucked from the trash and pushed back into the clubhouse. The Phillies will wear their infamous uniforms Saturday night for the first time since that day in 1979.

The new ones look just like the ones worn by Christenson, Luzinski, Mike Schmidt, Larry Bowa, and Pete Rose. They even have zippered fronts instead of buttons. The Phillies planned in 1979 to wear the burgundy uniforms every Saturday at the Vet. Instead, they lasted just nine innings.

“I didn’t like them,” Luzinski said. “I didn’t like them. Period. Those were terrible. The pants were grape. It didn’t flatter me.”

 

“They reminded me of a uniform for a Sunday afternoon softball game,” Bowa said. “Like something you see when you drive by a park.”

The Phillies did just about everything they could do in 1970s to draw fans to the Vet. They used Kite Man and Cannon Man. The Great Wallenda walked a tightrope across the stadium between games of a doubleheader, and a “Crazy Night” promotion was highlighted by Benny The Human Bomb blowing himself up.

 

Then they tried getting crazy with their uniforms.

The Phils had changed colors from red to maroon before leaving Connie Mack Stadium and added a powder-blue road uniform in 1972. They tried wearing it once at home, they lost by 12 runs, and the players said never again. They wore pillbox hats in 1976, but those too were met with chagrin. Three years later, they were inspired by their batting-practice jerseys to introduce an all-burgundy uniform.

“The uniforms were hanging in our lockers, and we went, ‘Oh my God.’ These were dark. These were burgundy. These were just a real different color,” Christenson said. “I was the starting pitcher, so I was focused on the game. But I couldn’t help but just laugh about all of it. It was totally different. It looked like something else was going on in that locker room than a baseball game.”

 

Jim Lonborg put his arm around Christenson and laughed. They looked across the clubhouse to where Luzinski, Schmidt, and Bowa were zippering their jerseys. Christenson told Lonborg, one of the team’s starting pitchers, that Luzinski looked like a grape. He then dared Lonborg to let Luzinski know.

“I mean, Luzinski got [ticked]. He was livid,” Christenson said. “It got pretty wild in there before the game.”

 

The Phillies lost that night to the Expos, 10-5. The uniforms were an easy scapegoat. They were ugly and didn’t fit right. That explained why they lost.

“We had a bunch of guys who were really superstitious,” Bowa said. “It was the uniform’s fault.”
But four decades later, Christenson takes the blame. The Phillies were ahead, 4-0, when he beaned Expos catcher Gary Carter. Christenson and Carter played winter ball together in Puerto Rico, but the pitcher didn’t like him.

 

“I had about enough of him. He would run down to first base like Pete Rose,” Christenson said. “I just didn’t like his antics. He also hurt us, and they were a tough team.“

So he brushed him back in the second inning and Carter, the future Hall of Famer, fell to the dirt to avoid a fastball. Christenson worked an 0-2 count in the fourth inning against Carter and decided to throw inside again. This time, Carter failed to get out of the way.

“He then came out running to the mound. I threw my hat down and my glove down,” Christenson said. “He charged the mound, but he only came three-quarters of the way and then ran directly to first base. I was screaming at him, ‘Get your [butt] back here. I want a piece of you.’ ”

The benches cleared, but there were no ejections. Christenson picked up his cap and glove, and the game rolled on.

“I thought it was going to be a brawl in these purple-nurple uniforms. But nothing happened,” Christenson said.

The only thing that happened was the Expos lineup came alive. An inning later, Montreal jumped on Christenson for four runs and forced him from the game. The Expos scored 10 straight runs before the Phillies scored a run in the ninth. The Phillies seemed headed for an easy win in their ugly uniforms before Christenson hit Carter in the head.

“I woke them up,” Christenson said. “Instead of just playing the game, my thing against Gary Carter ended up being where I opened their eyes.”

 

Maybe the players would have never railed against the all-burgundy uniforms had Christenson not given the Expos a reason to rally. Perhaps the Phillies would have worn them every Saturday if they had won that game. Instead, they sold the uniforms — jersey, pants, and cap — through the mail for $200 to raise money for charity.

Instead of celebrating a win, Christenson returned to the clubhouse early as an early-season loss in a disappointing season unraveled. Carpenter, as he always did, soon came down from the owner’s box, turned a locker chair backward, and waited for the players. Christenson iced his arm and was sitting at his locker when Luzinski stormed up the tunnel.

“He looked right at Ruly Carpenter and said, ‘Ruly, I’m never wearing this uniform again. You can release me. You can trade me. I don’t care. I’m never wearing this thing again,’” Christenson said.

The Phillies decided to keep Luzinski and release their burgundy uniforms. Bill Giles, then the team’s vice president, told the press that the uniforms didn’t fit right and that photographers had trouble taking pictures of them because they were so dark. That was enough to never see them again. Until now.

“I was thrilled,” Luzinski said. “Phew. They were horrible. Thank God that it was just one day.”

 

The Phillies now wear their powder blues at home on occasion, they brought back the pillbox hats three years ago for a series, and they will wear the burgundy uniforms Saturday night. What was once old is new. But even stranger, what was once reviled is now enjoyed. If John Middleton needs any immediate feedback, he can wait in the locker room Saturday night just as Ruly Carpenter did.

“It’s unbelievable. It’s coming back,” Bowa said. “This generation, they might like it. The millennials. They like that loud stuff. But when I know everything is messed up is when they go back to bell bottoms.”