Cubs

Furious at Joe West, Joe Maddon loses it after Kyle Hendricks loses no-hitter for Cubs

Furious at Joe West, Joe Maddon loses it after Kyle Hendricks loses no-hitter for Cubs

ST. LOUIS — Cubs manager Joe Maddon lost it after Kyle Hendricks lost the no-hitter, feeling like umpire Joe West tried to upstage his pitcher in the ninth inning on Monday night at Busch Stadium.

Maddon didn’t want to become a distraction after getting ejected from a 4-1 win over the St. Louis Cardinals that shrunk his team’s magic number to clinch the National League Central to three — and a spectacular performance that made Hendricks look like a potential Cy Young Award winner.

[RELATED - Kerry Wood lays into Joe West on Twitter]

But on the TV replay it sure sounded like Maddon ended his nose-to-nose argument with West by saying: “F--- you!” And the normally chatty manager didn’t want to hear another follow-up question about whether “Cowboy Joe” should have had a better feel for the moment.

“Come on,” Maddon said during his postgame news conference. “Just write it. Just write it. Just write it. You guys saw it. You know what happened. I don’t need to get into any more trouble. Just write it.”

The Cubs already had closer Aroldis Chapman warming up in the bullpen when Jeremy Hazelbaker drilled an 0-2 changeup over the right-field fence for a leadoff homer that ended Hendricks’ no-hit bid.

“There was a misinterpretation there,” Maddon said. “We needed a little bit more time to get the pitcher ready based on the situation. That’s all. And I needed the catcher to go out to the mound. That’s all. That’s it. We were denied. And I didn’t like that, so I made my stand.

“I truly believe we were proper in that. It’s not about that moment. It’s about Kyle. This was Kyle’s night.”

The apparent issue involved veteran catcher Miguel Montero immediately reacting to the Hazelbaker homer by checking in on Hendricks — and then getting conflicting signals from the home-plate umpire.

[RELATED: Cubs' Joe Maddon explains the origin of his 'Try not to suck' T-shirts]

“After I went to the mound and came back, (West) tapped me on the shoulder and told me to go out (there),” Montero said. “So I’m walking out to the (mound). And then he’s like: ‘Hey, if you go out there, I’m going to count it as a visit.’

“I’m like: ‘OK, what’s going on?’ Is that possible? I don’t even know if that rule exists. It doesn’t matter, because (Kyle’s) coming out of the game already. That’s when (Maddon) came out. And after that, I’m not responsible for what happened out there.”

So Hendricks didn’t get the Hollywood ending, and this isn’t how Maddon would ever script taking the ball from a pitcher who’s becoming a bigger and bigger story for the best team in baseball.

“By that time, I’m a little bit out of breath, and I’m not even supposed to go out there, because I had been kicked out already,” Maddon said. “But that’s not going to stop me from walking out there. It was inappropriate what had happened, so I was not going to be very honorable at that particular moment. It was inappropriate.”

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The unflappable Hendricks (15-7, 2.03 ERA) stayed in character and always understands the method to Maddon’s madness.

“We were joking on the mound,” Hendricks said. “I knew he was trying to get some time to get Chapman up — (that’s just) Joe and his ways. We were laughing a little bit about it on the mound — the only way you can really relieve that situation after the homer.”

The list of Cubs players eligible for the Hall of Fame this year will make you feel so old

The list of Cubs players eligible for the Hall of Fame this year will make you feel so old

This morning, Major League Baseball announced the 2019 Hall of Fame ballot, and that sound you hear is the overwhelming rush of Cubs fans nostalgia:

Juan Pierre! Ted Lilly! Pierre spent three of his 14 seasons in Chicago, spending one season (2006) with the Cubs and two (2010-2011) with the White Sox. Lilly pitched for the Cubs from 2007-2010. The two join Sammy Sosa, Fred McGrith (a stretch) and Manny Ramirez (a STRETCH) as the Cubs' representation on the ballot. 

Speaking of Ted Lilly, former Cubs GM Jim Hendry was recently on the Cubs Talk podcast, where he talked about signing Lily from his hospital bed. It's worth checking out! 

Jim Hendry recounts the time the Cubs nearly signed Jim Thome in free agency

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AP

Jim Hendry recounts the time the Cubs nearly signed Jim Thome in free agency

Could you imagine Jim Thome wearing a Cubs uniform?

What about Raul Ibanez? Pudge Rodriguez?

Former Cubs general manager Jim Hendry stopped by the CubsTalk Podcast recently with David Kaplan and Luke Stuckmeyer and the current New York Yankees executive dropped a couple of big names when asked who he wished he could've signed.

The most notable player was Jim Thome, a Hall of Famer revered by White Sox fans for his time on the South Side.

Thome was a free agent in the winter before the 2003 season and according to Hendry, the Cubs would've signed him if not for Hee Seop Choi.

"Oh yeah," Hendry said. "Well Jim and I were old friends — for how well you could be. I mean, he grew up in Illinois and I had gotten to know him over the years. Love Jim Thome. And Jim Thome, I'm convinced today, if we didn't have [Choi], would've been a Cub. ... I remember having a couple chats with Jim over the years and I know part of him would've really wanted to."

Hindsight is 20-20 so it's funny to look back and think Choi — a failed prospect who was out of the majors before his 27th birthday — was the reason the Cubs couldn't get one of the greatest sluggers of the decade. But at the time, Choi was looked at as a potential star — a 23-year-old ranked by Baseball America as the No. 22 prospect in the game.

And like Hendry said, neither Choi nor Thome could play anywhere else.

Thome ultimately signed with the Philadelphia Phillies and would've made a major difference on the 2003 Cubs (he led the NL with 47 homers and drove in 131 runs with a .958 OPS), but it all worked out pretty OK for the Cubs. The next offseason, Hendry traded Choi to the Marlins for Derrek Lee and the big first baseman wound up having a fantastic career with the Cubs.

"Obviously Derrek played great for us and if it weren't for Albert Pujols, Derrek would've been MVP once or twice," Hendry said. "But yeah, who wouldn't have wanted Jimmy? If it was an American League team, I would feel comfortable saying that could've happened."

Thome played for the Phillies for three years before being traded to the White Sox, where he became an instant fan favorite. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame earlier this year.

Among the other moves that he wished he could've pulled off, Hendry — who served as the Cubs GM from July 2002 until August 2011 (shortly before Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer took over) — threw out a 2008 trade for Raul Ibanez that fell through.

The veteran outfielder/DH was already 36 in 2008, but hit .293 with an .837 OPS, 23 homers and 110 RBI in 162 games for the Mariners. Part of the issue, Hendry said, was the crowded outfield the Cubs already had at the time — including Alfonso Soriano, Jim Edmonds and Kosuke Fukudome.

The Cubs led the league in runs scored that year en route to 97 wins but they failed to win a single postseason game, scoring only 6 runs against the Dodgers in a three-game NLDS sweep. L.A. needed only 7 pitchers in that series - all of whom were right-handed - while the Cubs' top 6 hitters were all right-handed as well, illustrating the major problem in Hendry's eyes.

Hendry also confirmed the Cubs were never close to signing Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez prior to the 2003 season, but did say the Hall of Fame catcher came to Wrigley Field for lunch and a meeting (though the two sides never even exchanged numbers).

Rodriguez ultimately signed with the Florida Marlins...who came within five outs of being eliminated by the Cubs in the NLCS only to rally back to win the series and then claim a championship over the Yankees.

But you knew that already...