The Miami Marlins might be the most tragic team in baseball. They have had more success than most teams in baseball history, despite existing for only around 25 years, capitalized by 2 world series titles. The one issue that has hounded the Marlins has been Ownership. Owner has passed through 4 different owners since its inception, and these owners have often not prioritized the success of the team, instead prioritizing the bottom line. Both times after they won the world series, instead of triny to ensure success, they made moves to save money, like ditching their star pitcher, which they did after both world series.
In 2000, Jeff Lloria bought the Marlins, and quickly gained a reputation as a cheap owner after the 2004 world series. Throughout his tenure, he never saw the team excede mediocre, with exception of the world series year. Instead of putting together a good team, he was instead content with plundering the city of miami millions for a new stadium, at the cost of many taxpayers and citizens.
Despite their owners antics, not too long ago the marlins looked like a young team on the rise. Giancarlo Stanton was the most dangerous home run hitter in the league, outfielders like christian yelich and marcell ozuna were borderline allstars, and their infield had talented players like justin bour and adeiny hechavarria. The gem of this team, however, was Jose Fernandez, the best up and coming pitcher in baseball at the time. He was having an astonishing, CY Young bound season, and looked like if he could stay healthy, he would be a top pitcher for years to come. The Marlins had another all-star, dee gordon, one of the premier second basemen in the league, and a player who I think hit the best home run ever.
Dee Gordon grew up in Florida, and was a decent player with the Dodgers to start his career. When he became a full-time starter, he quickly became an all-star who led the league in steals, which he has since done every year except for 2016, which was cut short for using performance enhancing drugs. After starting for a full year with the dodgers, they traded him to the Marlins, since they were a young team on the rise, and needed a leadoff hitter. The 27 year old Gordon showed up, and in his first year with the Marlins, batted .333, good enough to secure the batting title, as well as an all star appearance and a gold glove. The next year, he was caught using performance enhancing drugs, which he insisted was accidental, but regardless he had a 50 game suspension. Despite having a good all around playing style, he had no power. In 8 playing years, he had a total of 12 home runs, and only 1 in 2016, the year he hit the best homerun.
Dee Gordon's Noodle Arms by the Numbers (As of September 26, 2016)
The Marlins were fighting for a wild card spot in the playoffs, although at 77-78 after September 25th, it would take a miracle for them to get in. They have an off day tomorrow, and after that they are going up against the Mets, who are also fighting for a playoff spot. However, on September 26th, tragedy struck the Marlins, when their best young player, Jose Fernandez, was killed in a boating accident.
Jose Fernandez was not only a fantastic young pitcher who carried the Marlins rotation, he was a fan favorite around the league, and was one of the most lovable players in the game. He was believed to be intoxicated, and was hosting a group of people on his boat, all of which also died. This sent ripples through all of baseball, of the loss of talent that was his death. But most of all, it was the nail in the coffin of the Marlins season. The permanent loss of their best player was all it took to sink the ship that was the Marlins future. Despite this, they were going to not let Jose Fernandez fade away.
The game had started: Mets at the Marlins, in a game that was dedicated to Jose Fernandez. All of the Marlins wore his jersey, and drew his name and number on the pitching mound. It was an incredibly heavy and sentimental moment in the 2016 season, and was one of the most touching moments in recent baseball history.
It didnt stop there. Dee Gordon batted first, and in honor of his fallen team mate, the left handed hitter stepped into the box and took a pitch from the right side, in honor of rightie Jose Fernandez. It was also believed that he was wearing Fernandez’s helmet when he was batting. Afterwards, he switched back to the right side of the box, and gave Jose Fernandez a real sendoff.
The story of wilmer flores with the mets started in 2009, as a 16 year old in Venezuela left everything he knew in venezuela to play with the mets. He grew up in their organization, and by the time he was 21, he was major league player. He became a starter the next year, and even though he wasnt elite, he was a very solid player at a very young age, and showed solid upside.
On July 29th that story looked like it was coming to an end. The mets were trying to make a playoff run, and in order to do that, they were trying to get allstar carlos gomez from the brewers. The two teams were working out a deal that would send flores and another player for him. The only issue was that flores was set to start that game, despite the almost surefire trade.
What was caused was one of the most surreal 3 game stretch in mlb history.
The mets and padres are playing, and as the game goes on, rumors circulate about the trade. By the time the 7th inning comes around, its considered to be a done deal. The fans know it too, with twitter, almost everyone at the stadium knew that the trade was about to happen. Well, one person who didn’t know was Terry Collins.
The Mets manager was never told that Flores was essentially a Brewer, so he kept him in the game. It started to become a spectacle when flores came up to bat. He knew he was probably traded. And as a player who was with the mets since he was 16, it began to set in that he might have to start over. His at bat was rather pedestrian, as he grounded out, but the circumstances surrounding it made it anything but.
Flores showed us how human baseball players were. He was just a 23 year old kid, and he was faced with an unknown future, as his career hung in limbo. Its easy to sometimes forget that these baseball players have lives families, and serve as more than entertainment, but for a few days, Flores showed us what baseball players go through.
After the game, Terry Collins and the Mets GM addressed the rumors surrounding Flores. No deal was made yet but it seemed like his fate was still sealed.
Good Morning Wilmer Flores. At 12:13 in the morning reports started to circulate stating that the Mets backed out of the deal. Gomez had a shaky injury past, and his hip record created concern from the mets. It was also revealed that the rumors also circulated from the Brewers, as they were so sure of the deal that they told Gomez’s agent that Carlos was a Met. Regardless of what the Mets say, I refuse to believe the support, and the emotion showed by Flores didn’t factor into the decision.
Its the last day before the trade deadline, and it looks like Wilmer Flores is going to stay with the Mets. In the next few years, he would go on to be a productive MLB player, providing above average offence at the shortstop position. Hes still developing, and at only 26, well see if he can further elevate his level of play.
Regardless of what happens in the future, he needs to focus on the now. The Mets are playing the Nationals, and now that the weight of being traded is off his shoulders, he needs to show the Mets they made the right decision.
At this time, the Nationals and Mets were fighting for the top spot in the NL East. With the season winding down, this would be a crucial game in deciding the future for these two teams. It was a dog fight too. After 9, the game was tied at 1-1, meaning that they had to go to extra innings. Wilmer Flores scored their only run in regular innings, on a RBI single, and was given a standing ovation each time he went to bat.
Anyways, its the bottom of the 12th and Wilmer Flores is making his first at bat in extra innings. After the first 2 pitches, the count is 1-1. The time was a bit after 11 at night, and im sure Wilmer Flores was feeling good about the fact that it was about to be official that he would be a Met for at least another year. And that night, he was about to let the Nationals know how good he felt.
Game Over. That home run went on to play a big role in deciding the NL East. The momentum boost helped them have a fantastic August, losing only 6 games. This month basically secured the NL East, giving the Mets home field advantage through the playoffs. When they got to the playoffs, they were dominant, beating the Dodgers in 5 and sweeping the Cubs to get to the world series. Although they were beat by the Royals in 5, it was still a fantastic year by the Mets, that was made just a little bit greater by Wilmer Flores.
Its May 7th 1995. The Knicks and Pacers are playing game 1 of the 2nd round, the Knicks are up by 6 with around 30 seconds left. Reggie Miller is about to make history. He is going to score 8 consecutive points in only 8 seconds, by making back to back 3s, along with some free throws. It set the tone for one of the best 7 game series in NBA history between the two teams, that would end in a Pacers victory.
As amazing as this comeback is, it only happened because of multiple Knicks mistakes, notably missed free throws. Theoretically, if they played mistake free basketball, or at least made their free throws, it's not possible that a team could come back from that kind of margin… right? Let alone a single player scoring those points, like Reggie Miller did.
Well, it's December 9th 2004. The Rockets are playing the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs are leading 76-68 with 35 seconds left in the game. In 2004, the Spurs are the defending world champions, and one of the best teams of the 21st century, lead by coaching mastermind Greg Popovich, and legendary player Tim Duncan, and were 16-5 going into the game.
The Rockets were a good team in their own right, expected to be a 50 win team. Despite this, they were on 9-11 on the year, which left many fans concerned for the future of the team. They were led by Tracy Mcgrady and Yao Ming, the 7’6 wonder. Now, Yao Ming is a much more popular player. His influence in China, and his size make him a very popular player. However, if you ask me, more people should know about Tracy Mcgrady.
Now, Tracy Mcgrady is a Hall of Famer, and is far from unknown in the realm of basketball. That being said, during his 7 year prime, he was seen by many as an equal to Kobe Bryant, as the two had many great battles, which they fought to prove who the better shooting guard was. Obviously, Kobe is now seen as a top 10 player ever, because he was able to stay healthy, and in his prime for longer then Mcgrady. However, it should be known, that as easily as Kobe was a top 10 player ever, it could have been Mcgrady under the right circumstances.
Back to December 9th, the game was relatively uneventful through the first three quarters. The score going into the final quarter was 58-56, which was pretty low. The game was defined more by good defense, than offensive spectacles. Then, the Spurs went on a run, scoring 18 points in 10 mins, to which the Rockets only scored 8. The rockets brought the score back to 74-68 with 35 seconds left in the game. Fans were getting a head start on traffic, and very few people were in the building. However, Tracy Mcgrady decided to step up for his team and have the performance of a lifetime.
He started by sprinting up the court and pulling up at the three point line. Its a high difficulty shot, but not anything too hard for Mcgrady, and he sinks it, 76-71.
The Rockets immediately intentionally foul, putting the Spurs on the free throw line. Unlike the Knicks, the Spurs make their free throws.
The Rockets have the ball, and they give it to McGrady again. They set him a pick, putting him on Tim Duncan. He fakes the shot, gets Duncan in the air to draw contact. He heaves the ball towards the rim in a desperate attempt.
Nothing but net. Mcgrady hits the free throw, and he completes the 4 point play. According to Tracy, this is the point where he felt unstoppable, that anything he shot would go in.
After a Spurs timeout, the score was 78-75 and the Rockets intentionally foul again, putting Tim Duncan at the line. Again, he makes his free throws, as the Spurs continue to play mistake free basketball, as Popovich furiously tries to stop Mcgrady with a score of 80-75.
The Rockets have the ball again, giving the ball straight to Mcgrady to take down the court. He gets to the three point line and pulls up, the ball goes in for three again, making the game 80-78.
The Spurs now have the ball and are trying to hold on to the lead for the last 11 seconds of the game. However, Devin Brown, the Spurs point guard, has the ball stolen by Mcgrady with 8 seconds left after being trapped in the corner.
Down by 2 and with enough time to take whatever shot he wants, and playing the best basketball of his life, he goes for the win. He gets to the three point line for the final heavily contested pull up three pointer, and lets it go.
The Rockets win 81-80. The Spurs never made any major errors, and perfect aside from getting trapped in the corner. However, Tracy Mcgrady was on a level that has been seldom seen in basketball history. That was his career defining moment, and it happened on a random game, in the middle of the season.
Sadly, it only went down from there. The Rockets got 50 wins, but were eliminated in round 1 by the Mavericks. The Spurs would go on to be back to back champions, further cementing the legacy of Gregg Popovich and Tim Duncan.
Kobe Bryant and Tracy McGrady would take very different career trajectories from this time. Kobe kept his pace, and continued to win and dominate until he retired at 40, one of the 10 best basketball players ever. Tracy Mcgrady wasn't able to win as easily as Kobe, playing only 50 career playoff games and never making it past the 1st round. He never had a Shaq or a Pau Gasol, except for those few short years in with Yao Ming in Houston. Much like Yao, injuries kept limiting Mcgradys court time, and after a poor season in Houston cut short by injury, Mcgrady was traded to the Knicks, and finished his career as a journeyman, spending the last 3 years on 4 different teams. Tracy Mcgrady would then retire at only 32, a promising career derailed by a few injuries.
Tracy Mcgrady plays at a position which is filled with some of the most dominant scorers ever, like Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and now James Harden. He was often overshadowed by Kobe throughout most of his career, since he played under the bright lights of LA, while McGrady often went from team to team, none of which having the talent necessary to win. Kobe would later come out with a list of the most difficult players he had ever defended in his 20 year career. Even though he went up against guys like Kevin Durant and Allen Iverson, Tracy McGrady was number 1. Kobe knew first hand how great McGrady was supposed to be, and for one night in December, even if for just 33 seconds, the Spurs found out too.
Getting into the NFL is hard. Its harder when you don't go to a division 1 school.
Out of all of the Division 2 players drafted into the NFL in 2009, only one of them is still in the NFL.
Zach Miller was a small town Nebraskan, who played at the University of Nebraska-Omaha, and was drafted late in the 2009 draft. He was a below average tight end with the Jaguars. After an injury, he was released from the Jaguars in 2011. 4 years later he was given a second chance by with the Bears, and proved he was still worthy of a roster spot, quickly becoming the Bears best tight end. He was an offensive staple that had at least a few more years in him.
A few months ago, however, it seemed like his career had come to an end.
A brutal, unfair end.
This kind of brutal, career ending injury ddosen't occur often. However, as soon as Miller's injury was official, Bears fans were only thinking "here we go again".
Because years before, the Bears had a player, who was also drafted from a division 2 team in 2009, who quickly showed that he could be an offensive staple, and maybe even a player you could help build a franchise around. But just like Zach Miller, his career came to an untimely end.
A brutal unfair end.
This is the story of Johnny Knox.
College sports are divided into divisions:
Division 1 is the cream of the crop. This is where all the best teams and the best prospects are. If you aren't here, you are gonna have a really hard time playing sports at the next level.
Division 2 is for smaller schools with smaller talent. If you go here, then you should enjoy your scholarship, because you are not gonna play at a higher level, unless you are the best at what you do in all of the division.
Division 3 is glorified rec sports.
The Division you play in is maybe the largest factor in determining your future in sports. If you want to play in the NFL, you better be in Division 1.
Johnny Knox was not division 1, or division 2, or even division 3. Out of high school, no one cared about Johnny Knox. He didn't receive a scholarship from any NCAA team. Any normal person would see this as a sign that football might not be for you. Johnny Knox didn't care, instead, he took his talents to the bright lights of Tyler Junior College, to play in the NJCAA.
In his first year, he was pedestrian, finishing with 137 recieving yards and 2 touchdowns, hardly worthy of a chance at a 4 year university. Going into year 2, he had one last chance to prove he was an NFL athlete.
And he did.
In his first year, he was the 5th best receiver on his team. In 2007, no one in the NJCAA was better. He was the best wide receiver in nearly every statistical category. Rivals.com had him as the 9th best receiver in Junior college. He proved he had what it takes to play in the NCAA.
Abilene Christian offered him a spot on their team. Although only a division 2 school, he was given a chance to show he was the exception, and could make the NFL despite playing at a division 2 school.
Johnny Knox Played 2 Years at Abeline Christian University:
In those 2 years, Abilene Christian was one of the most entertaining college teams to watch. A high powered offence which averaged about 50 points a game over the 2 seasons. Along with Johnny Knox, running back Bernard Scott averaged 180 yards a game, and ran for over two thousand yards. He and Johnny Knox both were drafted from division 2, which made Abilene Christian the only division 2 team with multiple people drafted from the same team that year.
Although he was one of the best statistical players, there were plenty of players with better statistics, and to be 1 of 5 drafted from division 2, you need to have something that sets you apart. For Johnny Knox, it was his speed.
He was one of the most explosive deep threats in all of college, burning defenders with his speed and quickness. At the draft combine, he ran a 4.3 second 40 yard dash, which was 3rd in his class, putting his name in the category of some of the most sought after prospects in football.
The Chicago Bears liked the potential of Johnny Knox and had a plan for him: kick returns. They wanted to utilize his speed to establish a good second option to Devin Hester, one of the best kick returners of all time. And so, with the 140th pick in the 5th round of the 2009 Draft, the overlooked, underrated Wide Receiver, who had to go to Junior College, and then to a Division 2 school to make his NFL dream a reality, was selected by the Chicago Bears.
The Chicago Bears were not a good team in 2009. They finished with an unremarkable 7-9 season, and didn't have any real stars on offense. The wide receiver core was unremarkable, even with Johnny Knox, as no receiver had more than 800 yards, with Johnny Knox 527. Devin Hester was the number 1 receiving option, and had to take a smaller role in kick returns, so they turned to the rookie from Abilene Christian.
In his rookie year, Johnny Knox had 927 kick return yards (14th in league), and only had 32 returns (19th in league), which gave him an average of 29 yards per return, .1 yards behind the league leader.
That year, only three rookies played in the Pro Bowl. Brian Orakpo and Clay Matthews both played as linebackers, and are still playing at a pro-bowl level as 2 of the leagues best well into their 30s. Rookie number 3 was Johnny Knox. He would only play 30 more games in his career.
In year 2, Johnny Knox was the number 1 wide receiver for the Bears. This was likely to let Devin Hester add on to his legacy as a kick returner, which he did, leading the league as a punt returner and going to the pro bowl. But even though Johnny Knox was done returning kicks, he wasn't done making an impact.
Johnny Knox led the Bears with 960 receiving yards, which was 21st in all of football. He also had an incredible 18.8 yards per catch, which was 5th in all of football. People were starting to notice Knox's impact also, as the Bears turned their 7-9 effort from the year before into an 11-5 season, which was good enough for first in the NFC North. After winning their Divisional round game against the Seahawks, the Bears would end up losing to the Packers in the conference finals, 1 game away from the Super Bowl, which the Packers went on to win. Although Johnny Knox did not have much of an impact in either playoff game, the Bears felt like they had at least a number 2 receiver on a fantastic receiver core, and likely much more. The future was bright for Johnny Knox, as well as Bears fans everywhere.
December 18, 2011
You all know what comes next.
The Bears were on the verge of playoff contention after losing 3 straight games. It was a rematch against the Seahawks, the team who they knocked out of the playoffs last year. Johnny Knox was having a solid season, on track for slightly worse numbers than the year prior, but still remained as the teams best reciever.
I'm not going to show the injury. Look it up if you want to, but in my opinion, its possibly the most graphic injury in football history.
Jay Cutler throws a regular pass to Johnny Knox. Kam Chancellor, one of the leagues best safeties, strips the ball from Johnny Knox, its now a free ball, and anyone has a chance to come up with it. Johnny Knox sees the ball, and dives on top of it, which is standard in football. What isn't standard, is Anthony Hargrove, the backup Defensive End for the Seahawks, diving for the ball the way he did. He was diving down on the ball at a sharp downward angle, at the same time, Johnny Knox had dived in such a way that his head wasn't fully down when contact was made. This unfortunate set of circumstances (and I mean it literally) caused Johnny Knox's back to fold in half. His back bent backwards to the point where his shoulders were nearly touching his thighs.
Johnny Knox is down. Time is of the essence, he needs to be taken to a hospital immediately. His legs are moving, that's good, but he still needs to be stretchered off the field. He is in severe pain, and once arriving at the hospital, receives an official diagnosis. Johnny had fractured his thoracic-lumbar, which in human speak means he cracked multiple bones in the middle of his back. Its a medical miracle that he was not instantly paralyzed, and that he was a mere millimeter away from paralysis. Regardless, he needed immediate surgery to stabilize his vertebrae. The next day he has Spinal Fusion surgery, which marks the beginning of what will be a long road to recovery, a road that would span 14 months, and one entire season on the PUP list.
Johnny Knox is the ultimate underdog. He fought through so much, from starting in junior college and getting into a division 2 school, to making the leap from a division 2 school to the NFL, and to becoming a Pro-Bowler and a future star in the NFL. It only seems right that after his 14 month rehab, that he was back in the NFL, and picked up right where he left off on his trajectory as a star. Thats one of the amazing things about sports: the outcomes are all real, every underdog, every unbelievable play, it all really happened, and it makes you feel like you can do anything.
Sadly, that isn't always the case. Johnny Knox worked his ass off over those 14 months, but even then he was no where near the form he was in before his injury. After 14 months of continuous inactivity, and showing no realistic signs that he was ever going to be an NFL level talent again, the Bears released Johnny Knox from the roster. Although on the surface it may seem cold, its amazing they held him for as long as they did. It was clear from the start that the hit would spell the end of his career, but the Bears let Johnny have one last chance to beat the odds. Johnny seemed to accept this as well, because once the Bears terminated his contract, Johnny Knox officially announced that he would be retiring from professional football, at the age of 26.
Even though Johnny Knox has moved on, and his named has been all but forgotten by everyone outside of Chicago, his impact can still be felt on the game. In 2012, shortly after Johnny Knox made Abilene Christian University one of the best offenses in Division 2, the college was promoted up to division 1, and has since sent a few more successful players to the NFL, such as Charcandrick West and Taylor Gabriel. The Chicago Bears have not made the playoffs since Johnny Knox's sophomore season in the league. The team seemed to follow the same trajectory of Johnny Knox, and as his body deteriorated, so did the Bears, to the point where they are now one of the worst teams in football.
Finally, I think Johnny Knox's impact can be seen in Zach Miller. At the time of me writing this, Zach Miller is planning on trying to come back to the team by the start of the 2018 season. Knox and Miller are 2 sides of the same coin: although both were low level recruits from division 2 schools who were drafted, Johnny Knox suffered injury early in his career and had to retire, while Zach Miller suffered injury early in his career, and after a few years, was able to join another team better than he was before.
This is why Zach Miller needs to play again. If he can rehab from a second career threatening injury and return to the Bears, it will be some form of justice for Johnny Knox, who lives on in the career of Zach Miller. Like Johnny, the odds are severely stacked against him, as he is now in his 30s, and is coming off an injury of similar severity to that of Knox. I wouldn't root against him though, because when it comes to division 2 athletes in the NFL, the odds were never in their favor.
All-Star games in the 21st century are stupid.
Most of the time, no one involved really cares about it, and it just results in bad television. Like what's the point of watching any sport when neither team gives 100%. It's just boring.
And none of them are worse than the NHL All-Star game
And it looks like most people agree
However, for a year, the NHL All-Star game was the center of attention, all because of a man named John Scott.
In 2016, John Scott was an All Star in the NHL for the first time at age 33. He was not a good player leading up to that year, barely good enough to stay in the NHL. So what changed?
Was it because he had a breakout year?
Did he get a bump in minutes?
How did this happen? Who let this man become an All-Star?
This is the story of John Scott
John Scott's career did not start gloriously. He went undrafted, and after 4 years of college, and 3 years in the minors, at 26, he was given a chance to play with the Minnesota Wild in the NHL. (He was supposed to make his major league debut in Toronto, but he forgot his passport, so he had to wait another month to play his first game.)
He was not a lockdown defender, or a talented scorer, he was something arguably more important:
John Scott was scary
Few people in the NHL (or anywhere) had the strength or size that he did. The main reason the Wild brought him to the majors was to lay down a big hit, or fight to protect his teammates. His average ice time was a little over 7 minutes and that time was usually spent getting put on the ice, picking a fight, going in the penalty box, wash, rince, repeat.
John Scott was not a good skater, or a good shooter.
John Scott vs. Riley Nash
4 Years of College:
352 Penalty Minutes
3 Years in AHL:
402 Penalty Minutes
8 Years in NHL:
544 Penalty Minutes
Entire Professional Career (NHL and AHL):
1,298 Penalty Minutes
Average NHL Player
3 Years of College:
101 penalty minutes
3 Years in AHL:
72 Penalty Minutes
7 Years in NHL:
91 Penalty Minutes
1st Full Year in NHL
29 Penalty Minutes