10 Good News/Bad News Moments in Sports

Matt Haupert@@matthaupFeatured ColumnistJuly 7, 2014

10 Good News/Bad News Moments in Sports

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    Natacha Pisarenko/Associated Press

    Winning the Most Valuable Player award is good news. Finishing 20 games under .500 and in last place in your division is bad news.

    Saving 16 goals in a soccer match is good news. Losing 2-1 in extra time is bad news.

    So, how are you supposed to feel when the good news and the bad news come at the same time? What emotion prevails when you throw the first no-hitter of your career but don't even win the game? Is there any joy in winning the NBA Finals MVP when your team loses the Finals?

    Watching sports is no doubt an emotional endeavor. We celebrate the good news, while we weep over the bad. And when we experience the great sports paradox of the good news and bad news presenting themselves to us in one neat package, we're left utterly clueless as to what we're supposed to do next.

USMNT Advances After Losing

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    After a bitterly disappointing draw against Portugal in its previous game, in which the U.S. squandered the lead with mere seconds remaining in stoppage time, fans of the United States men's national team knew that a win or draw against Germany would guarantee the squad a place in the knockout rounds. 

    What was apparently less clear was how the U.S. could advance even with a loss.

    After getting thoroughly outplayed and suffering a 1-0 defeat that could have been a lot worse, fans weren't sure what to think. The team lost, and it didn't look that good in the process. Portugal beat Ghana, but only by a goal, meaning the U.S. still held the goal-differential tiebreaker.

    The United States loses a close match: Disappointment.

    Portugal beats Ghana 2-1: Confusion.

    Confirmation that the U.S. will advance out of the "Group of Death": Joy.

    This was the very definition of "backing in" to the postseason and was certainly a bittersweet method of advancing.

    When the U.S. lost a tough match to Belgium in the round of 16, however, there wasn't much doubt over how everyone in America was supposed to feel.

Jeff Samardzija's All-Star Selection

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Jeff Samardzija has been one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball this season, and he has virtually nothing to show for it. An ERA of 2.83 was only good enough for a 2-7 record on the inept Chicago Cubs, and before notching his first win May 26, he had four losses and a major league-leading 1.46 ERA.

    Last week, Samardzija finally got shipped off to a team with a legitimate shot at winning the World Series: the Oakland Athletics. Good news.

    Samardzija was then selected as a pitcher for the National League All-Star team for the very first time. More good news.

    But then, in a stroke of bad luck consistent with his young career, Samardzija was ruled ineligible to pitch for the NL because he had been traded to an AL team.

    Couldn't the Cubs have cut the poor guy a break and just sent him west after the All-Star break?

    Beggars can't be choosers, I suppose, and if you gave me the choice of pitching in the All-Star Game or taking the mound for Game 7 of the World Series, I wouldn't need much time to think about it.

Brazil Advances, Neymar Injured

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    Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

    In 2013, Louisville basketball player Kevin Ware suffered one of the most gruesome injuries in the history of sports, but his team went on to secure a bittersweet victory against Duke to advance to the Final Four and eventually won the national championship.

    This is probably the most common formula for the "good news, bad news" occurrence in sports: the team wins, but its star player goes down.

    Is it right to celebrate? Is it right to mourn?

    The most recent incident of this came in Brazil's World Cup victory against Colombia. A thrilling win sent Brazil to the World Cup semifinals, but the squad's star player, Neymar, suffered an injury that will keep him out of the remainder of the tournament.

    Time will tell if Neymar's injury will cost Brazil the tournament, but needless to say, the team's victory came with a lot less joy and a lot more worry than fans would have ever expected.

Jerry West Wins Finals MVP in Losing Effort

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    Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

    The MVP for a championship game typically goes to the individual who made the most profound impact on his team and served as the primary force that led it to victory.

    In the NBA, this has been the case every single season that the Finals have been played—with the exception of 1969.

    Jerry West and the Los Angeles Lakers faced Bill Russell and the Boston Celtics, and the series went to seven games. In the seventh game, West scored 42 points and added 13 rebounds and 12 assists. Over the course of the full seven game series, he averaged 37.9 points per game.

    The Lakers lost, but West won the Finals MVP, which no player before or since has done in a losing effort.

    I expect West was the unhappiest recipient in the history of the award, as the trophy might as well have been engraved with the message: "Sorry, Jerry. You're the best, but it's still not good enough."

A-Rod Wins MVP for Last-Place Rangers

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    CHRIS CARLSON/Associated Press

    One of the big knocks against Mike Trout in his campaign for the 2012 MLB MVP award was that his team didn't make the playoffs.

    "If Trout was the most valuable player, he would have carried his team to the postseason," people said.

    The 2012 Los Angeles Angels finished 89-73, four games out of the Wild Card, and with a better record than the Detroit Tigers, who won the AL Central and for whom MVP Miguel Cabrera played.

    Flash back to 2003. The Texas Rangers finished 71-91 and in dead last in the American League West. That year's MVP? Alex Rodriguez, shortstop for the Rangers. A bittersweet bit of recognition, to say the least.

    You'd think A-Rod must have put up absolutely absurd numbers to win the award on such a bad team, but in reality, he didn't even finish the year with a .300 batting average, making the selection highly disputed and very controversial.

    Rodriguez became the first player to win the MVP award despite playing for a last-place team since Andre Dawson did it on the Chicago Cubs in 1987. 

Hawkins Throws No-Hitter, Loses 4-0

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    John Swart/Associated Press

    A no-hitter is supposed to end with a standing ovation from the fans, a mob on the mound from teammates and, of course, a victory.

    The New York Yankees' Andy Hawkins got none of that when he threw his only career no-hitter against the Chicago White Sox in 1990, thanks to three eighth-inning errors by his team.

    There have been five times since 1900 that a team has thrown a no-hitter and still lost. Twice, the no-hitter was thrown by a combination of two pitchers. Three times, the no-hitter was done in eight innings and wasn't "official."

    The first no-hitter loss was by Ken Johnson in 1964, when he lost 1-0, thanks in part to his own throwing error.

    But one thing makes Hawkins' no-no stand out above all the rest: The Yankees didn't just lose 1-0, or 2-1 or even 3-2.

    Hawkins threw a no-hitter, and his team lost 4-0. Four runs on not a single hit.

    The defeated pitcher explained his conflicting emotions to Michael Martinez of the New York Times:

    I'm stunned; I really am. This is not even close to the way I envisioned a no-hitter would be. You dream of one, but you never think it's going to be a loss. You think of [Dave] Stewart and Fernando [Valanzuela], coming off the field in jubilation. Not this.

16 Saves Not Enough for Tim Howard

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    Tim Howard put on a show in the United States' World Cup match against Belgium in the tournament's first knockout round.

    Belgium thoroughly outplayed the U.S. from the very beginning, getting a seemingly infinite supply of shots on target.

    Fortunately for the U.S., Howard was there to stop the ball every single time, racking up a jaw-dropping 16 saves and keeping his opponents scoreless until the end of regulation.

    #USA goalkeeper @TimHowardGK's 16 saves against #BEL were the most in a #WorldCup game over the last 50 years.

    — ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 1, 2014

    Unfortunately, 16 saves was somehow not enough. Two goals squeaked through in extra time, with the U.S. managing only one of its own, and Belgium advanced.

    I think it's safe to say that Howard isn't going to get a whole lot of the blame for this one, but he unfortunately won't get to revel in as much glory as he deserves to, either.

A-Rod's 162-Game Suspension

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    DAVID KARP/Associated Press

    Losing your most expensive player, your starting third baseman and your former MVP for an entire season is supposed to be a bad thing.

    In the case of the Yankees, faced with Alex Rodriguez's 162-game suspension—without pay—for violating baseball's policies on performance-enhancing drugs, the team couldn't have been happier.

    A-Rod's historic suspension good news for #Yankees, bad for rest of AL East. Frees up $27.5M and should keep them under luxury tax limit.

    — Pete Abraham (@PeteAbe) January 11, 2014

    The suspension freed up enough money to sign Masahiro Tanaka, who was recently selected to the American League All-Star team in his rookie season. And if the Yankees are lucky, they'll be able to void the rest of his contract and save even more.

    Never has a team been so relieved about a player so famous and once so successful being shut down. While this was bad news for Rodriguez and the future of his tarnished career, it was viewed as a cause for celebration for pretty much everyone else on earth.

Zach LaVine Drafted 13th Overall by Timberwolves

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    The NBA draft is the first day of a new life for 60 of the most promising young basketball players in the country. It's the day that they get to begin achieving their dreams and striving for greatness.

    For UCLA star Zach LaVine, it was the day he learned that he had to move from sunny Los Angeles to the frigid Minneapolis, Minnesota. And at first look, it didn't appear that he was too happy about it.

    Watch LaVine's lips closely in the Vine above. The young man appears to mutter an expletive that isn't usually associated with unbridled joy and excitement, and the look on his face is fitting for a poor soul who has been sentenced to play for a Minnesota Timberwolves team that will likely not even include Kevin Love.

    LaVine did respond to these accusations and explain his reaction, saying he was relieved and emotional, not angry.

    Sounds like a smart PR move to me. We'll see how "relieved" he still is when the temperature dips below zero and his team still can't buy a win, though.

Texans Lose 14 Straight, Clinch Top Pick

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    Patric Schneider/Associated Press

    Losing is terrible. Jadeveon Clowney is awesome.

    This was the emotional conflict that Houston Texans fans found themselves going through during the team's historically embarrassing 14-game losing streak last season that landed it the top pick in the 2014 draft.

    Teams tank all the time, and in the NBA, they oftentimes do it deliberately (See: 76ers, Philadelphia).

    But for a team with annual Super Bowl dreams, getting the No. 1 pick was not in the plan, especially after a promising 2-0 start.

    Clowney won't solve all of Houston's problems. He won't, for example, help the team throw fewer interceptions. But at least he represents a very, very bright silver lining—and after a 14-game losing streak, that's really all you can ask for.

    Think I'm a genius? An idiot? Let me know on Twitter.