White Sox

Sox Drawer: Buehrle, Obama & The Big Reunion


Sox Drawer: Buehrle, Obama & The Big Reunion

Tuesday, Apr. 6, 2010
11:04 AM

By Chuck Garfien

Mark Buehrle may not have thrown another perfect game, but it was certainly a perfect day Monday for the White Sox. So with the first game of 2010 in the books, here are 9 innings of observations from their 6-0 victory over the Indians:


I joked with Mark before the game that he was making another ho-hum Opening Day start. Do something original for once! I said.

What do you want me to do? he replied. Skip it?

No, thats something Carlos Zambrano should have done.

Mark? He just went out and threw another Buehrle classic. Sure, he held the Indians to three measly singles over seven innings. But thats become ordinary for 56. Hes done it before. Oh, like the last time he won on Opening Day. It was also at home. Also against the Indians. Also a shutout. The year was 2005.


So what does a pitcher do when hes already got a no-hitter, a perfect game, a major league home run, and a World Series ring?

You make a play that defies the laws of physics and causes Hawk Harrelson to pierce the eardrums of every CSN viewer from Alsip to Alabama.


Buehrles no-look scoop through his legs into the barehand of Paul Konerko will go down as one of the best plays ever made by a pitcher.

Maybe the best.

You see the play happening, you run over there saying, Do I slide and spin, or do I grab the ball and throw it? Buehrle said. I think every thought went through my head. It just happened the way it did.

Yes, it did.


Driving to the ballpark on Monday, I was a little nervous about having Frank Thomas and Kenny Williams sit side-by-side one another on our pregame show. In 2006, they both had an explosive falling out that fractured their relationship to the point where I thought they would never speak again.

But in a matter of hours, the two were going to be about an inch away from each other, live on television, and I was either going to be the host of this reunion or the referee.

What did I get myself into?

Fortunately, no whistle was needed. Or bandages.

As it turned out, they both wanted to put the whole thing behind them.

I began the segment by asking, Are you guys good?

Were fine, Thomas said.

Kenny went a little further.

We had our say. We certainly werent shy about expressing something at a given time. But prior to that we had a great relationship. We had that bump in the road, and are going on to the next phase in life.

And with that, Thomas sucker-punched Williams right in the kidney.

I kid.


After the Sox First Fan was roundly booed last summer for wearing a White Sox jacket at the All-Star Game in St. Louis, youd think that he would learn his lesson.


There was Obama on Monday at the Washington Nationals home opener, taking the mound in a shiny new Nationals jacket, only to rub it in all of their faces by donning his scrubby old Sox cap for all eyes to see (including several White Sox players who watched with glee on TV before the game in the clubhouse).

Our President has some guts. No arm. But guts.


Speaking of bad arms, we bring you the Chicago Blackhawk Olympians.


Who taught them how to throw a baseball? Charlie Brown?

Canadian Duncan Keith might be one of the best defensemen in the NHL, but theres no defense for his throw to John Danks which was about 10 feet short and another 8 feet wide.

Brent Seabrooks self-described fastball went straight into the dirt, but he did deliver a great line to Blackhawks TV afterwards:

Its hard throwing with a gold medal around your neck.

The third Canadian was Jonathan Toews, who like the captain that he is, threw the best pitch, which was still about 4 feet above the strike zone, but it at least hit Danks glove.

The one American, Patrick Kane, did the same, but he almost threw the ball to the backstop.

These are professional athletes, right?


The White Sox better have a lot of ice in the trainers room. And their fingers crossed.


Monday was the Big Hurts debut on White Sox Pre and Post-Game Live. Frank will join Bill Melton and I for all Sox home games on Comcast SportsNet this season. Thomas obviously has a ton of baseball knowledge, which hell bring to the set. But Im just as interested in bringing out his sense of humor, and the off-camera daggers he and Melton can throw at each other.

It was on full display in the green room while they watched the game together. Its only a matter of time before it unfolds on the set.

Plus, Frank is letting me call him rookie. That is until he sits on me.


Not to take anything away from Buehrles gem, but what Alex Rios did on Opening Day may turn out to matter most for the Sox in the long run.

After his disastrous Sox debut last season (batting .199 in 41 games), Rios came to spring training with a clear mind and corrected swing.

If there was one guy on the Sox team who really needed a big game, it was him. And he delivered with that massive solo homer to center in the 8th, and that game-ending diving catch in the 9th.

Thomas played with Rios in Toronto in 2007, and was blown away by his five-tool talent. Before the game he said that Rios was his Comeback Player of the Year.

He could be right.


Hows that for baseball analysis!


Yeah, his game took a sharp nosedive in the second half of last season, but are you serious? Jermaine Dye sitting on the couch on Opening Day??

Teams have expressed interest. The Cubs, Brewers, and Nationals to name a few. But Dye has a lot of pride (as well as a ton of money in the bank), and hes not going to play for what he perceives is under his market value.

Hell probably stay in shape for the first couple months in case somebody gets hurt somewhere. But the longer that goes on without a phone call, the tougher it is to keep up training by yourself.

Big Frank learned this while sitting on the sidelines last season. By June, he knew he was done.

My prediction: if Dye doesnt sign somewhere soon, hell miss the 2010 season entirely. Then come the fall, hell realize how much he misses the game, hell swallow his pride, and sign a minor league contract with someone for next season.

In the end, Jermaine is a baseball player. Its what he does. Its what he knows. To just walk away cold turkey? Dont see it happening.

Chuck Garfien hosts White Sox Pregame and Postgame Live on Comcast SportsNet with former Sox slugger Bill Melton. Follow Chuck @ChuckGarfien on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox news and views.

White Sox opposition research: What's there to know about the Houston Astros?


White Sox opposition research: What's there to know about the Houston Astros?

What’s there to know about the Houston Astros?

They’re the best, that’s what there is to know.

The Astros are the defending world champions for a multitude of reasons, and it’s all those and more that will have them as a favorite to repeat in 2018. Yes, the Cubs and New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers and Cleveland Indians will all have something to say about that. But right now, no team is better on paper than the team the just won the big enchilada not five months ago.

The best 1-2 starting-pitching in combo in baseball? It belongs to the Astros. Justin Verlander was sensational for them after coming over in a late-summer trade with the Detroit Tigers. All he did was post a 1.06 ERA in five regular-season starts and a 2.21 ERA in six postseason outings. Justin Verlander. Again. And then there’s his running mate Dallas Keuchel — who doesn’t like the Cubs very much, apparently — has been just as good. He had a 2.90 ERA last year and won the American League Cy Young in 2015 with a 2.48 ERA and 20 wins.

Get past those guys and you’ll have to face the new guy. Gerrit Cole is now an Astro, as well, the reigning champs bolstering their already excellent rotation by importing one of the National League’s best pitchers. Cole saw his numbers jump last year (4.26 ERA) but still almost had 200 strikeouts and now has a much better roster around him than the one he left in Pittsburgh.

Charlie Morton? He threw four one-run innings in Game 7 of the World Series. Lance McCullers? He had 2.1 shutout innings in Game 7 of the World Series. This rotation is a force that could mow down the AL. There are questions, sure, but this five is entering 2018 as the best collection of arms in the Junior Circuit.

And we haven’t even gotten to the hitting. Oh, the hitting! The Astros scored 34 runs in seven World Series games. They banged out 56 hits. They hit 15 home runs. This after they were baseball’s best offense during the regular season.

The names are obvious to anyone who watched the postseason. Jose Altuve, surely tired of all the short jokes, is arguably the best player in baseball, and he won the AL MVP last season with a ridiculous .346/.410/.547 slash line. Carlos Correa, perhaps baseball’s best young shortstop, had a .315/.391/.550 slash line. George Springer, your World Series MVP, hit 34 regular-season home runs and got on base at a .367 clip before hitting five homers and slashing .379/.471/.1.000 in the Fall Classic.

Then there’s Alex Bregman and Josh Reddick and Marwin Gonzalez, who were all very good to great in 2017. They shouldn’t all be expected to do what they did last season — you need look no further than the Cubs to see what a deep World Series run can do to a team, especially early. But is there a better lineup than this in the AL? Anyone? Bueller?

It’s hard to repeat, and “hard” is becoming one heck of an understatement considering no one’s repeated in almost two decades. The Yankees last did it when they beat the broken-bat-throwing Mike Piazza and the New York Mets in the 2000 World Series. Since then, no one’s done it twice in a row.

Last year, most of us looked at the Cubs and said, “They have the best team, they are favorites to do it again.” And then they were not even in first place in the NL Central at the All-Star break. A similar fate could await the Astros. But right now, they look like the best team the AL has to offer.

Houston, you are clear for takeoff ... again.

2017 record: 101-61, first place in AL West, World Series champions

Offseason additions: Gerrit Cole, , Joe Smith, Hector Rondon

Offseason departures: Carlos Beltran, Cameron Maybin, Mike Fiers, Tyler Clippard, Luke Gregerson, Francisco Liriano

X-factor: The Astros now count one-time Cubs closer Hector Rondon among their relievers now, but the X-factor pick here is Bregman. After a fine but nothing special first half, he was one of baseball's best after the All-Star break last year, slashing .315/.367/.536 with 11 homers and 44 RBIs in 71 games in the second half.

Projected lineup:

1. George Springer, CF
2. Alex Bregman, 3B
3. Jose Altuve, 2B
4. Carlos Correa, SS
5. Josh Reddick, RF
6. Marwin Gonzalez, 1B
7. Brian McCann, C
8. Evan Gattis, DH
9. Derek Fisher, LF

Projected rotation:

1. Justin Verlander
2. Dallas Keuchel
3. Gerrit Cole
4. Lance McCullers
5. Charlie Morton

Prediction: First place in AL West

Catch up on the AL:

Oakland Athletics
Texas Rangers
Seattle Mariners
Los Angeles Angels
Houston Astros

Catch up on the NL:

San Diego Padres
Colorado Rockies
Arizona Diamondbacks
San Francisco Giants

Eighteen White Sox questions for 2018: How many members of the bullpen are long-term pieces?


Eighteen White Sox questions for 2018: How many members of the bullpen are long-term pieces?

White Sox fans might have their eyes on the future, but the 2018 season has plenty of intrigue all its own. As Opening Day nears, let's take a look at the 18 most pressing questions for the 2018 edition of the South Side baseball team.

White Sox fans playing the 2020 projection game likely aren't spending too much time on the relief corps.

It might be fun to pick out five names for a potentially elite starting rotation. It might be fun to go around the diamond and place the name of a top prospect at each position. It's probably far less enjoyable to predict which pitchers won't make it as starters and which middle relievers might hit the free-agent market after the 2019 season.

But the bullpen will be a valuable part of any contending White Sox team of the future. And just like everywhere else on the roster, its construction starts now.

The question is, though, after selling off most of the bullpen last summer, how many members of the White Sox bullpen in 2018 will be a part of it in 2020?

Rick Hahn's front office could use a similar strategy this season as it did last season, when Anthony Swarzak, Tommy Kahnle, David Robertson and Dan Jennings were all traded away to acquire prospects that might or might not end up helping the team's rebuilding efforts. This offseason has seen a lot of additions to the relief corps. Luis Avilan and Joakim Soria were acquired in a three-team trade, and there were a bunch of veterans signed to minor league deals that could end up on the team. Those older relievers fit the bill of trade bait, potential sign-and-flip guys that could be used to acquire more minor league talent.

But at the same time, there are young guys who will be a part of this 'pen, guys who could show they belong for the foreseeable future. Juan Minaya, just 27, was the White Sox closer at the end of last season and could very well start this season with that job. He picked up nine saves over the season's last month and a half and didn't give up a run in his final eight outings. The 24-year-old Aaron Bummer pitched in 30 games with the White Sox last season and is still ranked as one of the organization's top 20 prospects. Gregory Infante is 30 but put up good numbers in 52 big league games, finishing the year with a 3.13 ERA.

And then there's Nate Jones. He's pitched in parts of six seasons with the White Sox and just turned 32 years old, but the key word there is "parts." Jones hasn't been able to stay healthy, pitching in just 11 games last year and only 21 combined games in 2014 and 2015. But when he has stayed on the field, he's been very good. Look at 2016, when he turned in a 2.29 ERA and struck out 80 batters in 70.2 innings. Jones is under contract through as long as the 2021 season and has the stuff to contend for the closer's job at some point this season.

While Soria and Avilan look like guys who could be moved should they pitch well enough to draw midseason interest — a reason Soria could potentially get a look at closer at some point, that and his wealth of experience in the role — there are a few names that could be pitching for their long-term futures with the team. Outside of Zack Burdi, there isn't a highly touted prospect that currently projects to be a bullpen guy. That leaves opportunity for some of the guys on this year's roster.