Things around our local sports world are really pissing me off lately.  So this edition of Touch ‘Em All may have me in a, “vendetta kind of mood,” feel to it, but I really just want to set some facts straight for everybody.  Oh, I will send a $10 Starbucks gift card to the first person who can tell me what movie, where that small quote came from.

Maddoning 

Lets start will Cubs manager Joe Maddon and the Anthony Rizzo slide.  I have always liked Joe Maddon, in spite of his cool grandpa vibe and the fact that he coaches … the Cubbies.  He is a baseball lifer and one of the most knowledgeable coaches I’ve seen.  I personally loved it when he used up Aroldis Chapman for 3 innings to sew up the World Series.  He was often criticized by fans and beat writers for the way he used his bullpen, but I respected how he got the job done.  He did get it done people!

I was incredulous, when I heard post game host David Kaplan suggest he wouldn’t be surprised if Maddon was let go, for his goofy moves, and managing with his gut lineups, if the Cubs failed to make the playoffs.  Ridiculous!  Maddon can coach as long as he wants and then open a steakhouse across from Wrigley, that I will gladly dine at.  He’s is a Chicago treasure now!  But that doesn’t mean I won’t vociferously disagree with him from time to time.

He was right to defend Rizzo’s slide, that’s his player, and at the time, he didn’t have the benefit of seeing the replay.  Where Joe was wrong, was in defending himself against skeptics and the league office the next day, saying the review insults his experience and baseball sensibilities.  That’s just good hard baseball he said, and anyone who questions that, doesn’t know what they are talking about. “Half a brain” is what he said in regards to one commentator.

Wrong!  Anyone who watches that replay of Rizzo diverting his approach to the plate and targeting the ankle of Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Elias Diaz know’s deep down, it was the wrong thing to do.  Fortunately Diaz was not seriously hurt, otherwise Pittsburgh would’ve retaliated in every way possible against Rizzo and the Cubs.

It used to be that catchers were fair play to get knocked around, until San Francisco Giants catcher, and World Series hero, Buster Posey was annihilated by the Florida Marlins Scott Cousins early in the 2012 season.  Posey broke his fibula and tore 3 ligaments in his ankle during the collision.  He has since come back to win the league MVP award, a batting title and another 2 World Series.

The collision led to major league baseball and the players union to agree to changes in the rule to eliminate home plate collisions.  The catcher cannot block the path of the runner and must take one step out of the way to apply a tag.

After Diaz stepped on home plate, he took a step out of the way, and was starting to throw the ball to first base for the double play.  Rizzo deviates his path to the plate and targets Diaz’ ankle to successfully break up the play.  Diaz writhes around in pain for a few minutes, the managers came out to argue their sides, and the umpires mistakenly ruled in favor of the Cubs and Maddon.  Postgame, even some Pirates players conceded it was a good hard play by Rizzo, and that they may have done the same thing.  Not anymore.

The league reviewed the play and insisted that the umpires were wrong, much to the dismay of Maddon’s bullshit sensibilities.  The league got it right the next day and I’m sorry, but anyone who has seen that play, would know that it was an illegal play.  The NFL and NHL are full contact sports that have rules against targeting defenseless players.  Those leagues and those rules even stipulate ejecting the offending player and are usually followed with suspensions.  It doesn’t get much harsher than that.  You cannot target a defenseless player–PERIOD!  Stick that in your sensibility Joe!

General manager Jed Hoyer emphasized the next day that the Cubs will teach players to adhere to MLB’s slide rules as written, regardless of Joe Maddon’s beliefs on the matter.

King James Ha!

After the Cleveland Cavaliers advanced to a 4th straight appearance in the NBA Finals and LeBron James 8th appearance overall, many so-called basketball experts have started to call Mr. James, the Greatest of all Time (GOAT).  They could not be more wrong!

First of all, LeBron has lost more championships than he has won.  Michael Jordan never lost in the Finals.

Second, in order for LeBron to get his titles, teams had to create a super team around him.  All Michael had was Scottie Pippen as a secondary scoring option.  Pippen was a defensive player first.  So was Dennis Rodman.

Third, LeBron is a bigger player who plays in an era where hand checking is outlawed, the defensive rules have been changed completely since Jordan played.

Fourth, As a result of these rule changes, if Jordan played today, he would average 40 points, 12 assists, and 15 rebounds a game.

Fifth, I know teams, players and coaches used to complain to the officials constantly to keep an eye on Michael.  LeBron James gets more calls than anyone in history and travels almost constantly.  LeBron wouldn’t have been able to handle the more physical defensive era that Jordan played in.

Sixth, Jordan played during the Golden Age of basketball.  His contemporaries are the greatest who ever played the game, in an era where defense mattered and the rules were different.  I realize people’s memories are short but there is no comparison between the era’s or the player’s.  When Michael won, basketball was like watching a mugging.  ‘The Jordan rules” was what they called it in Detroit.  During Jordan’s last championship against Karl Malone and the Utah Jazz, the scores were in the mid-eighties to low 90’s.  Nowadays teams score that in a little over a half.

He ruled like no other before him, or after.  Once he tasted championships he wouldn’t be denied by anyone.  He should’ve won 10 championships in a row, he could’ve.  Jordan won every Finals he played in.  LeBron has lost 5.  Debate over!

When Golden State sweep’s Cleveland, I hope it shut’s down the LeBron GOAT talk forever.

MLB Draft

I was hoping to have finished this article before the Major League Baseball Draft got underway, when in research, I learned through various mock drafts the White Sox were targeting Nick Madrigal, the 5 foot 7 inch 2nd baseman from Oregon State.  I understand that he’s currently hitting over .400, is in the college world series, and has only struck out 5 times this season where he missed time with a wrist injury.

But he’s 5’7″!  And of course the White Sox just took him!  Why couldn’t there be a Kris Bryant or Kyle Schwarber available this year with the Sox picking 4th overall?

I will only be happy about this if the Sox at least select Bren Spillane, the Fighting Illini masher, who led the Big Ten in home runs and slugging.  Hits for average, high on base guy, basically a Bryant/Schwarber hybrid. 

The Stanley Cup

No one should be surprised that the Las Vegas Golden Knights are in the Stanley Cup Finals.  With 2 time champion Marc-Andre Fleury as goaltender, the Knights have had a better than fighting chance all year.  The Pittsburgh Penguins move to make Fleury available in the expansion draft was a cost cutting move only, same with most of his teammates.  That is how the Knights took the NHL by force this year.  They were like a talented version of the Indians team from the movie “Major League”.  The Knight’s were motivated to show the league and their former teams that they were all wrong to release them.  Pride is a powerful thing!

I hope it goes to a seventh game against a similar Washington team in Vegas.  That will be something to watch!

You can check out more of my writing and opinions on twitter @jaytakeda.  If there are any topics you want to hear about, or if you have any questions, I would love to hear from you!  Thank you so much for reading!

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