Two Days, two No-Hitters?


Two Days, two No-Hitters?

95 years ago today (and 108 years after Cy Young tossed the American League's first perfect game), the White Sox began a six-game series in St. Louis against the Browns. Saturday's game pitted Eddie Cicotte (on his way to a 28-win season for the Sox) against Ernie Koob (in the midst of a 23-win career). This is called ironic foreshadowing. At the end of the day, Koob had a 1-0 no-hitter; the unearned run coming on an error by Swede Risberg (Cicotte and Risberg weren't throwing games quite yet).

Sunday's doubleheader offered a chance for the Sox to reverse their fortunes. Unfortunately in Game 1, the Browns had their way with starter Reb Russell. Bob Groom pitched two no-hit innings in relief of spitballer Allan Sothoron to mop up an 8-4 St. Louis win, and he was only getting started. The 6'2" native of Belleville, Ill., went back to the mound to start Game 2 and delivered a 3-0 complete game no-hitter against "Butcher Boy" Joe Benz (who tossed a no-no of his own in 1914) and Pants Rowland's Southsiders.

It was a sweet weekend for Browns manager Fielder Jones, with three impressive wins against his former team (Jones played with the Sox 1901-08; managed from 1904-08). Unfortunately for the Brownies, at 11-8, three games over .500 would be their high water mark of the season, and they finished 57-97. Koob (6-14) and Groom (8-19) finished a combined 14-33.

As for the White Sox, their record stood at a mediocre 11-10. But they left St. Louis with a split after winning the next three. They didn't look back; they won 19 of their next 21, finished 100-54, and beat the Giants in the World Series.

As Joaquin Andujar said when asked for one word that describes baseball: "You never know."

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Bulls physicality a new wrinkle from last season

Bulls physicality a new wrinkle from last season

College teammates Jimmy Butler and Jae Crowder made plans to go to dinner after Thursday’s game in Chicago but for a few short moments they weren’t just competitors but unexpected combatants, getting tangled up in the second quarter.

There looked to be some harsh words exchanged after Butler took a charge on an unsuspecting Crowder near three-quarter court, with Crowder putting the basketball in Butler’s chest while Butler was still on the floor, causing players on both teams to convene for some tense moments.

Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas got involved and then before Butler could blink, Bulls guard Rajon Rondo joined the proceedings, as pushing and shoving ensued before technical fouls were assessed to both teams after an officials’ review.

If one wondered whether these Bulls—a team that touts itself as young with so many players having three years or less professional experience—could play with some bark and bite, perhaps the season opener provided a bit of a positive preview for the next 81 games.

Nearby, an unbothered Dwyane Wade took a practice 3-point shot, much to the delight of the United Center crowd, as observers witnessed the first sign of tangible proof the Bulls have intentions on regaining a bit of an edge on the floor.

Wade joked and took it as a sign of respect between the two teams.

“It looked like it, right? Yeah. It was a little something out there,” said Wade when asked if there was some chippy play. “Every time we play them it’s gonna be like that. Two teams finding their way in the Eastern Conference. We know we gotta see each other a lot. They never give up. They can be down 30 with 15 seconds left and they’re still gonna fight.”

The Bulls have externally preached toughness from the start of camp. Although Wade didn’t participate in that meeting of the minds, he isn’t exactly running away from such matters.
And Rajon Rondo is competitively ornery enough to have his voice hard no matter the setting.

[SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]

“It’s been a big theme of practice,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “We want to play with physicality and toughness. I think it was evident on the glass tonight.”

Yes, the Bulls outrebounded the Celtics by 19, but that could’ve been a by-product of the Bulls’ crashing the offensive glass on a porous shooting night. And yes, the slightly tense moment between Butler and Crowder probably won’t be an expected occurrence.

But when’s the last time one had multiple examples to dissect to discern this team’s level of toughness—or lack thereof.

“That’s something to show that the guys are out there fighting for each other,” Hoiberg said. “That they were playing with an edge. It happens with this game. You have to be competitive.”

Competition boiled over slightly, but considering the NBA isn’t exactly UFC, one doesn’t have to do much to display a little physical resolve.

“The fact that nothing escalated was good,” Hoiberg said. “The fact that those guys are out there and playing for each other and have each other’s back, that’s a huge thing right now.”

Too many times last season, it seemed the Bulls would submit in situations like those. Not that they were particularly soft, but it didn’t appear they had the collective will to fight for one another if an altercation arose.

Half the time, they looked like they could barely stand to be in the room with each other.

“It’s people’s will to win. Not saying a bad thing about anybody from last year,” Butler said. “To tell you the truth, I study the game and put in a lot of work but Rondo studies the game a lot. Every time I’m in the gym, he’s in the gym. That lets me know, these (dudes) are going to war with you. Every day. When I hit that deck, Rondo was right there. I wanna play with guys that’s gonna play hard, that’s gonna fight.”

And it didn’t take long for Butler to realize he has at least a couple teammates willing to jump in the foxhole with him.