READ ALAN’S BLOG AND BIO BELOW!
All Good Things About Mark Buehrle
By Alan A. Guevarra-
As a born-and-bred Cubs fan, I don’t often shower praise upon the White Sox organization, their fans, or their players.
But as a fan whose team is long gone from playoff contention (quite the understatement), the White Sox seem just a tad bit more compelling (still an understatement, I know).
And as a man whose Mama raised him under Thumper’s old adage, “If you can’t say somethin’ nice, don’t say nothin’ at all,” I could take the easy route and say nothin’ at all.
But as a man who wants you to read all the way to the end of this blog, I’ll do everything I can to say all Good things.
Allow me to set the scene: With the MLB trade deadline fast-approaching and teams flip-flopping between being buyers & sellers on a day-to-day basis (Sox included), the South Siders are about to embark on a 13-game stretch where they’ll play the Tigers, Red Sox, Yankees, and Twins. And through these stretches, especially when a team can’t score to save their lives (I don’t know what’s worse, the fact that only one Sox player has hit a homer since the All-Star Break or that the number of homers is three), you need an ace or two (Verlander, Sabathia, or Beckett & Lester).
So the Sox will turn to their ace, my favorite “Good guy”: Mark Buehrle.
He’s just So Good. Or is he just Good?
I’ll even do you one better and start with the Very Good.
If you’ve gotten this far, you probably already know the resume: World Series Champion, four-time All-Star, two-time Gold Glover, and 10 consecutive seasons with at least 200 innings pitched. One Good no-hitter. One very Good perfect game.
It’s no wonder the White Sox signed their ace to a four-year extension in the middle of their worst season in the last 15 years (2007), giving him the sixth-highest annual salary among starting pitchers in the majors at the time. He’d been Very Good to the organization, and they rewarded him with a Good amount of money (right around $56 million). (Of course, it did come on the heels of his first no-hitter and amidst constant trade rumors & a progressively-frustrated fan base that season, but I digress…)
More Good from Buehrle – throughout his career, he is 25-19 against the ever-so-hated Minnesota Twins. You want that winning record against your archrival from your ace; you crave that! And in the three and a half seasons since the extension, no Sox starter has faced the Twins more than Buehrle. Pretty Good.
(Though, admittedly, in those 3 three and a half seasons, through 16 starts, he’s 5-9 with a 4.46 ERA. I guess it’s no surprise that the Twins won the AL Central in 2009 & 2010 and took the Sox to the brink in the 163rd game in 2008.)
And while Buehrle is now making great money for himself, his ERA has gone up each of the last 3 seasons, and he hasn’t been more than 3 games over .500 in any season since 2005. Just… Good. (I probably don’t have to go into detail about how much less Good he’s been in the 2nd halves of recent seasons either.)
Thing is… the Sox’s Good ace has only led them to one team playoff win (a game started by John Danks, no less) in only one playoff series since the 2005 World Series. Their Good ace currently makes more money this year than any non-Yankee, non-Red Sox, and non-Peavy/Verlander/King Felix power arm in the AL. (By today’s standards, the Sox actually got Buehrle at a Good price, but that’s only if you’re either constantly winning as a team or have unlimited money to throw around – neither of which describes the Sox.)
So to Mr. Buehrle (I know you’re reading), my challenge to you is this: Step up & earn the rest of that $14M this season. Dominate every start. Eat innings. Give the bullpen an extra day off. Let the offense know that there’s no pressure (even on the Bizarro Manny & Papi of Dunn & Rios). And be the Damned Good ace that everyone says you are. Be the reason the Sox win this abysmal division. Then go into the playoffs and stare right into the double-barreled shotgun that is Beckett & Lester. Everyone knows it isn’t about the best team in October; it’s about who’s hot & who’s playing Good baseball for a month.
This winter, the Good news for Buehrle is that he’ll be the number one starting pitcher on the free agent market (assuming Sabathia plans to stay with the Yankees). The Really Good news for him is that he’ll have at least 2 teams hot on his trail: his hometown Cardinals (who Buehrle has said he wouldn’t mind playing for) and the crosstown Cubs (dead last in the NL in pitching and a team that wouldn’t mind overpaying in order to lure away the Sox ace).
The Good news for the Sox is that they can hope to spend a little less on Buehrle, via hometown discount a la AJ & Paulie. And if another team wants to throw a three-year, $45 million contract at Buehrle, the Sox can easily say that they can’t compete with that offer.
The bottom line is that if Mark Buehrle doesn’t absolutely dominate the next two-three months, his potential departure from the White Sox wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing. But for all the great things Buehrle has done, for all the great moments he has provided over the years, his past few seasons overall have just been… Good.
So there you have it: all Good things.
But as Chaucer once said, “All good things must come to an end.”
(Yeah, I just referenced Thumper AND Chaucer.)
Buehrle either stays Good, disappoints, and makes an end easier to accept.
Or the South Siders are left begging for him to return and repeat. Because the Good thing ended. And they witnessed Great.
Why do you want to work for 670THESCORE.COM and CBSCHICAGO.COM?
The Score is the voice of Chicago sports fans. It’s as local, knowledgeable, and passionate as it gets. I want to be able to write for the station’s listeners, get into debates (even arguments), and do it on a platform where The Score & CBS Chicago can still grow – digitally.
In regards to Chicago sports, what do you have the most knowledge and interest in?
I’m definitely a die-hard NBA fan. While the Bulls aren’t my #1 team (it’s okay Bulls fans, your team beat mine in the ’91 Finals), I watch every game and know the entire organization inside & out from 20 years of watching. I have NBA League Pass, follow every free agent signing no matter how small (*cough* Jannero Pargo), and NBA.com is my homepage. I followed the Bulls through the Jordan years, the Brent Barry years, the Brand/Artest years, the Teen Towers experiment, the Gordon/Hinrich/Duhon backcourt, and now the D-Rose era. And to think, they aren’t even my favorite NBA team!
What is your favorite sports memory of all time?
Any Chicago fan who wasn’t around for the ’85 Bears Super Bowl win (I was a month old) shares & knows exactly where they were for my favorite sports memory – The Final Shot. My memory doesn’t just start with Jordan’s crossover & (mini)-push-off of Bryon Russell. It starts with the phantom 3 that the Bulls were given and the Eisley 3 that the Jazz had taken away. My memory continues on with Jordan getting the easiest layup of his career off an inbound pass to cut the lead to 1 with 37 seconds left. It ends with Rodman guarding Malone, Bulls down 1, and Jordan coming from the weak side to steal the ball, then going coast-to-coast for The Final Shot. My voice was SO gone by that point that I screamed vicariously through the dozens of people in the room with me. And I also remember how terrified I was when Stockton put up that last 3. Admit it, even YOU thought it was going in. Yup, Game 6 of the ’98 Finals was my favorite sports memory of all time.
If you could share one thing about yourself to score listeners, what would it be?
I like to think that there’s a huge overlap between Chicago sports fans and Chicago WWE fans. I fall into that overlap. I have loved the WWE since the early ‘90s. (Bret Hart was my favorite growing up. Then The Rock. Now, Mr. Fruity Pebbles himself – John Cena.) I treat the WWE like a favorite sports team: I won’t always agree with their moves, but I always want to see them succeed. While you might be there live to watch your home team lose a playoff game by 21 (my, do I hate those ’09 Celtics), a WWE live event has never left me unsatisfied. If I were to blog for The Score, I’d write about the WWE as often as I was allowed. I think people want to read about & voice their opinion on that just as much as any local sports team. The 14000+ who packed the Allstate Arena last Sunday, July 17th, will all agree!
Which 670 The Score on-air personality do you admire most? Why?
I’m a huge fan of Laurence Holmes. Not only did he pay his dues to get to where he is today, he’s a fantastic host who always responds to, and respects the opinions of, his listeners/callers. He also talks about more than just sports on his show, a nice departure from the 24-hour sports news cycle you might be drowned in elsewhere.
Why would listeners want to read your blogs?
My blogs are humorous, controversial, and yet still rooted in deep analysis. When I write about sports, I go with what I see on the field/court, not just with what I see in the box score. I know that Ben Gordon used to lead the Bulls in scoring, but I also knew that he was garbage when everyone else was buying his jersey. Listeners will want to read my blogs to see what “crazy,” yet fully developed, thought they’ll want to disagree with next. They’ll see the other side of the issues, maybe shake their heads at the thoughts, but nod when they realize that 100% of the time I back up what I say, and I won’t ever back down. I like to stir up controversy, and listeners/readers will want to respond. I live & write for that.
If you could meet one sports figure, who would it be and why?
Growing up a huge Lakers fan, this one’s a toss-up between Kobe & Magic. In the end, Kobe scares me too much from a seriousness standpoint. And Magic got along (and still gets along) with everyone he’s ever come in contact with. I’d love to hear his stories, and I know he’d be able to tell me more about the Association & Michael Jordan than just about anyone outside of Pippen & Barkley. I know he’d never stop smiling while we met and neither would I.
What is your favorite sports team?
It’s easy to say that the most successful team in my lifetime in my favorite league would be my favorite. The Lakers are awesome to follow, but cheering for them is like being attracted to Kim Kardashian – it’s too easy and everyone else does the same (though by no means am I a bandwagoner. Shocking, I know!). No, I think that sticking with that one girl who drives you insane through years of ups & downs EVERY SINGLE DAY (in the summer) is the sign of true love. Through thick & thin, the CUBS will always be my number one team.
How would your life change if you were chosen as the 2011 Score Search winner?
If I was chosen to win the 2011 Score Search, I’d feel like my writing wasn’t for naught. I’d feel fulfilled and creatively stimulated. I’d be motivated to write every single day, and I’d love it more every time. For now, the feedback I get is minimal, and the sports banter I get to participate in is relegated to my work at a sports merchandise store. Blogging for The Score would allow me to speak to an entire city and, at times, speak on behalf of an entire city. My love for sports & writing would grow if I won this competition.