What is it with Joe Maddon and No-Hitters (Against Him)?

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Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images

Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images

The Chicago Cubs did not collect a hit against Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels on Saturday. It is the first time the Cubs were no-hit in a game since the Dodgers’ Sandy Koufax threw a perfect game against them in September of 1965. But if you are Cubs manager Joe Maddon, this is an all too familiar sight.

Saturday’s game at Wrigley Field marked the fifth time in Maddon’s managerial career, the first obviously with the Cubs, that his team did not record a hit in an entire game. The first four occurred when he was the manager of the Tampa Bay Rays. Three of those four were perfect games. Some of the gems were accomplished by soon-to-be-hall-of-famers (i.e.: Mark Buehrle, Felix Hernandez) while others were done by one-game wonders (i.e.: Dallas Braden).

There were even some close calls. On August 8, 2010, Brandon Morrow was an out away from giving the Blue Jays its second no-hitter in franchise history. But Evan Longoria managed to hit an opposite-field ground ball that went off the glove of a diving 2nd baseman Aaron Hill, who was playing him to pull, and into right field for the only hit the Rays would get in that game.

As much of a managerial genius people claim Maddon to be, if there is one knock against him is that Maddon seems to have a knack of putting out line ups that an opposing pitcher can shut down. What happened on Saturday may have been the first time in almost 50 years that the Cubs have been no-hit, but I suspect it will not be the last, at least while Maddon remains as manager the team.

Here is a list of pitchers who have thrown no-hitters/perfect games against teams that Maddon has managed:

Mark Buehrle, Chicago White Sox, perfect game vs. Tampa Bay, July 23, 2009
Dallas Braden, Oakland Athletics, perfect game vs. Tampa Bay, May 9, 2010
Edwin Jackson, Arizona Diamondbacks, no-hitter at Tampa Bay, June 25, 2010
Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners, perfect game vs. Tampa Bay, August 15, 2012
Cole Hamels, Philadelphia Phillies, no-hitter at Chicago Cubs, July 25, 2015

Also see:

Disappointments are a Part of Life
Blue Jays Would Get More From Lester
Rare Feats are Exciting Because it’s Rare

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This is the End of the ESPYS

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Really ESPN Caitlyn Jenner

Recently, there has been a lot of criticism towards Rolling Stone magazine about putting Kim Kardashian on the cover of their recent issue. While some believe this is the beginning of the end of the publication, I think the end began weeks earlier when they admitted to botching their investigative story into cases of alleged rape at the University of Virginia.

If the decision to put Mrs. Kanye West on the cover is what’s causing many to start questioning the integrity of Rolling Stone as the leading authority in music and journalism, you can apply that same theory to ESPN when it comes to sports after Caitlyn Jenner was named as this year’s recipient of the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage at last week’s ESPYS awards show. I can’t think for the life of me why they gave the award to Jenner.

This award is given to someone (namely an athlete) who had to overcome obstacles to get ahead in life and offers inspiration for others to do the same. Cancer, a debilitating injury, or being robbed of an opportunity because an act of crime are just some examples. Lifestyle changes like deciding to go from a man to a woman is not a reason to give this kind of award. Ashe, the late tennis great who died in 1993 after contracting AIDS through a blood transfusion, must be rolling in his grave after hearing about this.

Giving Jenner the Arthur Ashe award is insulting to those who have faced real hurdles. Earlier in the award’s ceremony, they featured Lauren Hill, a young woman who had an inoperable brain tumour and wanted to fulfill her dream of playing on a US College basketball team. She passed away earlier this year. That kind of story draws inspiration. A sex change? Not a chance. I would bet the same people who criticize critics like me are the same ones who are just as disgusted at Kardashian on the cover of Rolling Stone. Kind of ironic that I mention these two in this story since the former Olympian Bruce Jenner was once married to Kim’s mom.

But should we really be surprised by all of this? I don’t think ESPN (or any major sports network both in the US and here in Canada) has made an effort to focus on sports in recent years. It has for all intense and purposes become what Rolling Stone magazine is today.

This to me is the end of the ESPYS. Or as a hockey fan might say: “The show jumped Joe Thornton”. The ESPYS used to be a way to honour the best athletic performances of the past year. Now it is just like any other award show, a way to make socially-charged speeches and wear symbols to show they care. Neither I or anyone with a like mind can take this award show seriously anymore.

Also see:

Sports is Not a Platform for Activism
Sports Media is Becoming Boring
Everyone’s a Critic

Before the Confederate Flag, There was the Springbok

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Before the Confederate Flag There was the Springbok

Much has been made recently about the confederate flag. I personally don’t see the outrage towards it. I respect the traditions of other cultures. Yes, I just described rednecks as a culture.

While the confederate flag became an unintentional symbol of racism in the United States, South Africa had their own, the Springbok. Black South Africans wanted to rid themselves of the name, colours, and logo of the country’s national rugby team. They say it was a symbol associated with the oppression and apartheid that divided the country. You may find it hard to compare Bambi to the swastika, but many who opposed apartheid saw it that way.

When Nelson Mandela became President of South Africa in 1994, many believed the Springbok would fade into oblivion. But it was Mandela himself who wanted the Springbok to stay. As part of the county hosting the 1995 Men’s Rugby World Cup, he led the way to keep it as a way to unite the country much to the shock and dismay of his supporters. Many resigned to follow Mandela’s lead but as it turned out the citizens of South Africa, both black and white, rallied around the mostly white men’s rugby team during the tournament and wore the Springbok logo and colours with pride. South Africa would win the Rugby World Cup that year.

If you get a chance, go rent the movie Invictus. Morgan Freeman does an excellent job in his role as Mandela. Clint Eastwood shows us why he is a great director. And for the ladies, there’s Matt Damon as the team’s captain Francois Pienaar.

Almost 20 years later, the Springbok continues to live. Barack Obama is one of many political leaders who have admired the work of Mandela. Perhaps Obama could follow Mandela’s lead in uniting what has been a divided country in his two terms in office as US President. But I don’t expect to see Obama rallying around the confederate flag the way Mandela did with the Springbok. That’s too bad. I think it could have produced similar results.

Also see:

Racism Knows No Bounds
Sports is Not a Platform for Activism
The Point Where Haters Become Worse than Those You Hate

Maple Leafs Got a Raw Deal

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070215 Leafs Got a Raw Deal

Kind of funny that my 81st post is about Phil Kessel. He is now a Pittsburgh Penguin. And many in Leafs Nation couldn’t be more happy to see him go.

The trade isn’t the issue here. I understand what Brendan Shanahan and Mike Babcock wants to do and Kessel is one of a few valuable trade commodities the team has. But what I do have a problem with is who and what we got in return for him. With all due respect to Nick Spaling, Kasperi Kappanan, and Scott Harrington, they don’t amount to the value that Kessel brought. Someone who is a consistent 30-goal scorer ought to bring in more than just 3 players and 2 draft picks. And considering what the team gave up to get him six years ago, the Leafs received little in this trade.

A trade like this would piss off any hockey fan. But judging by the reaction on social media, Leafs fans and media are just glad that he is gone. The fact that they are comfortable with the team getting lowballed is outrageous. Makes you want to throw a Leaf jersey on the ice with the moron wearing a paper bag over his head still in it. Again, fake Leafs fans win the day.

As for Kessel, thanks for the six years in Toronto. You are going to do well with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin in Pittsburgh. It was tough seeing you get treated the way you did while you were a Leaf. But this is Toronto, not Glendale, Arizona. You are never going to get away with anything in this town. Perhaps if you had committed a crime, claimed you had mental health issues, and ended up getting beaten up by a cop as a result, people here would have been more sympathetic. But even that would be stretching it.

Also see:

The Leafs Bring Out the Worse in People
Leafs Nation Needs a Housecleaning
Phaneuf is Soft, So Why is Everybody Afraid to Say So?