By Rob Ficiur
Zero playoff games have been won by the Winnipeg Jets (Atlanta Thrashers) franchise in fifteen NHL years. By year five the Buffalo Sabres were in the Stanley Cup final. In season eight the New York Islanders won their first of four in a row. Even with zero playoff games won Winnipeg (and all fans) were thrilled to see playoff hockey return to a small market that once lost its team. Yes they lost but there will be smiles all summer in Winnipeg looking forward to taking the next step.
Zero playoff games won by the BEST ever Toronto Raptors team. After the Raptors claimed their second consecutive Atlantic Division title and set a franchise record for most wins, the Raptors won zero games in a series sweep to the Washington Bullets. While Winnipeg Jets fans might /should /will feel proud of their team’s post season appearance; Raptors fans are not amused. This team was dominant in the first half of the season. Did they get over confident? Their success came from hard work and team defense. While Jets fans will start next year with a cheer when the new season starts in November, Raptors fans will have their arms folded saying “Show me that you can do better than zero this year.
Zero – Number of games Jose Bautista played in right field the week after he hurt his arm. Injuries happen and teams must adapt. However this injury was Bautista’s fault. The Baltimore Orioles have a habit of taunting Bautista by throwing behind him. Last week after one such bad pitch, Jose hit the next ball into the stands; he showed them. When he was in right field the next inning, Jose thought he would show the Orioles up again by rifling an outfield single into first base. The result was a pulled muscle in his throwing arm. Jose admitted he made a mistake. It was zero help to his team.
Zero chance is what the hockey experts gave the Calgary Flames no chance to make the NHL playoffs. Even when the team was in a playoff position at the All Star break the “experts knew” the Flames would flicker. Realists sadly “knew” that when team captain Mark Giordano went down with a season ending injury the team had zero chance to make the playoffs. In spite of zero predictions, the Flames made the playoffs and won their first playoff series since 2004.
Zero – For the last eleven years that Calgary Flames have won zero games in Anaheim the site for round two of the playoffs. The Flames are 0-15-5 in Anaheim since they last won a game January 19, 2004. Back in January 2004 those Sutter – Iginla Flames had no idea the amazing run they would go on that spring. That team that did not know they were underdogs came within a goal of winning the 2004 Stanley Cup. Can the 2015 Flames continue their amazing streak and win another or two? Zero people (outside of Flames fans) think they can do it.
Zero – Baltimore Orioles played their home game on Wednesday in front of a Major League record low zero fans. Street riots that plagued the city caused MLB to postpone two games earlier in the week. Before the Orioles move to Tampa Bay to play their home games this weekend, the team played in front of an empty stadium to go along with the city curfew. As I watched highlights of the game, an empty stadium seemed odd. Players did their best to pretend there were fans. At the end of an inning the first basemen threw the ball to the (no) fans in the stands. The drama of a home run is not the same without the crowd.
Sports are an escape from real life but even sports could not escape the reality of the Baltimore riots. Hopefully those directly and indirectly involved in the riot issues can put their energy and effort into find real solutions to what caused the riots. If not, a few weeks from now the thing that most people will remember is the record setting attendance at the ball game.
Forgetting the riots (and the root causes) would be the worst zero of this week.