Cubs’ interest in Cole Hamels makes his no-hitter even more intriguing
Subscribe for unlimited digital access.
Try one month for $1!
Subscribe for unlimited digital access. Try one month for $1!
Let’s start with this. A no-hitter is worth a win. One win.
No more, no less.
The Cubs got no-hit Saturday at Wrigley Field by Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels, and in many ways that just means an ‘‘L’’ flying for a day instead of a ‘‘W.’’ The Cubs have had a number of home ‘‘L’s’’ in this 51-45 season; 22 to be exact.
But there are elements to this no-hitter that sort of change the picture.
First off, the Cubs haven’t been no-hit since before the Beatles’ ‘‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’’ was an album. (That’s how I keep track of time, btw: Cole Porter, the Beatles, the Cowsills, Weezer, the War on Drugs, Taylor Swift, Slipknot . . .) Not since 1965, 50 years ago, when the Dodgers’ Sandy Koufax threw a perfect game against the Cubs have they been victims like they were against Hamels.
The Cubs had gone almost 8,000 games before getting their bats clipped in a no-hitter.
There were some long fly balls here and there. But Hamels, 31, struck out 13 and walked only two in the Phillies’ 5-0 victory, while pitching his first complete game of the year, throwing 129 pitches.
Here’s where it gets interesting.
Hamels’ record is only 6-7, and the Phillies have the worst record in baseball, 36-63. They’re going nowhere, and just a month ago, they displayed major dysfunction when manager Ryne Sandberg quit and general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. proved himself to be pretty much a fool regarding team-building.
Thus, the Phillies are in a selling mode, and Hamels is at the top of the list, being dangled in front of contending teams. Who’s interested in Hamels, the MVP of the 2008 World Series? Why, none other than your Cubs.
If they were to get Hamels for a run at the wild card, they would be getting a fairly rare commodity, a pitcher who threw a no-hitter and was traded in the same season.
According to Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, only two pitchers have been traded since 1900 after no-hitters: the Pirates’ Cliff Chambers in 1951 and — cover your eyes here, Cubs fans — the Diamondbacks’ Edwin Jackson in 2010.
We will not discuss Jackson’s pitiful run with the Cubs, who acquired him after he’d gone to the White Sox, Cardinals and Nationals after that odd no-hitter. We’ll only say he’s gone now, and Godspeed to wherever.
Why was Jackson’s no-hitter odd? Because he threw 149 pitches, most ever for a nine-inning no-hitter in recorded history, and only 79 for strikes. He walked seven batters in the first three innings, loading the bases with no outs in the third. He walked eight players total and also hit a batter, and it was only stout defense that bailed him out for a 1-0 win.
So think about that when you ponder the splendor of a no-hitter.
If the Cubs were to get Hamels before Friday’s deadline, they might be getting a clod whose value has been artificially exploded by pitching a game that might have been a fluke.
One game, remember.
Of course, Hamels came into the game with a 2.20 ERA in eight starts at Wrigley. And he left after his ninth game with an ERA of 0.00 for the day. It was hot at Wrigley, and the ball was carrying, it seemed — Ryan Howard had a three-run homer in the third — so this wasn’t a crazy weather-related deal.
Throwing 129 pitches is not recommended, of course. And you have to wonder if Jackson’s 149 pitches in his no-hitter did some permanent damage to his arm. We don’t know. And we don’t know about Hamels.
But if he were to come to Chicago and join the team he no-hit, I’m guessing he could tell batters such as Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro and Kris Bryant why he got them out all day. That could help.
Plus, the 50-year streak would start all over, with the bad guy in the house.
Follow me on Twitter