Preps Talk

Mark Buehrle wonders what happened to Wrigley Field


Mark Buehrle wonders what happened to Wrigley Field

Mark Buehrle sensed something was off on Tuesday night at Wrigley Field, and it wasnt because he was wearing a different uniform or staying at the team hotel in Chicago.

The Miami Marlins might move the needle on reality television, and they were stars at the winter meetings during that wild shopping spree, but the place just didnt have the same juice. This wasnt Cubs-Sox.

I felt like I was in a backyard beer league softball game with how quiet it was here, Buehrle said Wednesday, in the middle of the cramped visiting clubhouse. It had an odd feeling to it, because Ive never seen this park like that.

Ozzie Guillen getting booed during a pitching change certainly felt normal, and Buehrle might have to put his glove over his face to hide the smirk on Thursday afternoon against the Cubs. His manager wont mind the attention.

I own this town, bro, Guillen said. I dont care what they say. They love me here, believe it or not. It was fun when they booed me (because) I know theyre still alive. It was kind of quiet for a little while.

Thats Chicago, man, what do you expect? They know Im a White Sox. Theres no in between. Youre in or youre not, and I love it.

Guillen called Buehrle Mr. White Sox, right up there with or ahead of Harold Baines, Frank Thomas and Paul Konerko.

Buehrles left arm gave the White Sox almost 2,500 innings, and helped them lift that 2005 World Series trophy. Hes said before that the loyalty there is so strong that theres no way he could ever pitch for the Cubs.

At the age of 33, Buehrle is 30 wins away from 200 for his career, which is amazing for a 38th-round pick drafted and developed by the White Sox. Hes 9-8 with a 3.13 ERA in the first season of a four-year, 58 million contract.

By the end of a media session that lasted more than 20 minutes on Tuesday, Guillen wondered why the entire focus was on him and Carlos Zambrano.

Wait a minute, Guillen said. (Bleeping) media. Thats why people talk bad about Chicagohow about (bleeping) Mark Buehrle? Hes a nice guy nobody says nothing about him, huh? All right, Mark Buehrle left Chicago in mourning, but you dont say anything about him. That (bleep) dont sell.

Buehrle, a guy from small-town Missouri, joked that The Franchise could make an entire episode of him avoiding the cameras for the Showtime reality show.

I dont pay attention to it, Buehrle said. The guys are professional and go about their business and kind of stay out of everybodys way. But it doesnt effect me, because wherever the cameras are, I go the opposite way.

I dont pay attention to all that stuff. I kind of go out of my way to get out of their way, just so Im not on there.

Ive had people ask me: Hey, dude, I watched the episodes. I havent seen you (except) for like two seconds. Im like: Well, get used to it.

All Buehrle wants to do is pitch, and Thursdays assignment happens to be the Cubs. It doesnt matter if he gets booed or Wrigley Field is silent again. He will work fast.

There has been a lot of airtime and column inches spent on the autopsy of the 2011 White Sox. Why are they in first place now?

Its Ozzies fault, Buehrle said, in a perfect deadpan delivery. Ask him.

Playoff drama highlights a busy week on High School Lites

Playoff drama highlights a busy week on High School Lites

High School Lites had a busy show as it was the final week of the regular season for IHSA boys basketball Class 3A and 4A. The Class 1A and 2A playoffs also tipped in boys basketball as the show has some thrilling regional titles that were decided in the final minute. And finally, the girls basketball Class 1A and 2A state semifinals were played on Friday as the state's top teams played in Bloomington.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter @NBCSPreps for the latest news and scores for IHSA basketball.

Wintrust Athlete of the Week: Richards wrestler Mia Palumbo

Saint Xavier Team of the Week: Simeon boys basketball


Marshall shocks Leo in Class 2A regional final

Aurora Christian runs past Harvert Christian for 1A regional title

Buzzer-beater lifts Monticello over Gibson City for regional title

Jacobs goes unbeaten in Fox Valley with win over Dundee-Crown

West Aurora gets by rival East Aurora

Yorkville completes season sweep of DeKalb

Lemont escapes past T.F. North

Marshall needs OT to get past Teutopolis in girls 2A semifinals

Harlan takes down Eureka in 2A semifinals

Stockton runs by Okaw Valley in 1A

Schlarman races by Lebanon

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks hit road to face Blue Jackets

NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks hit road to face Blue Jackets

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. One big reunion.

The Blackhawks will square off with the Blue Jackets for the first time since Oct. 7, which was the second game of the season. In that game, they won 5-1 led by Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Brandon Saad, each of whom scored a goal and added an assist.

Of course, that was the first game since the offseason trade that sent Artemi Panarin to Columbus and Saad back to Chicago, along with Anton Forsberg. Artem Anisimov, of course, was part of the original deal that sent Saad to Columbus in 2015, so there are a lot of emotional ties between the two teams.

Forsberg didn't get a chance to face the Blue Jackets in the first meeting, but there's a chance he will this time with it being the second of a back-to-back and Jean-Francois Berube getting the start in Friday's 3-1 win over San Jose.

2. Panarin and Kane bromance.

The emotions of a difficult break-up have probably died down by now, but Panarin and Kane gave us this moment at center ice during pregame warmups in their first game against each other and it hit Chicago right in the feels:

Panarin has spent enough time apart from Kane for people to realize how big of a star he is in his own right, leading the Blue Jackets in all three scoring categories: goals (17), assists (32) and points (49).

He hasn't gone more than three games this season without recording a point, and is looking to extend his point streak to four games, which would tie a season high.

3. Struggling Blue Jackets special teams.

The Blue Jackets got off to a great start but are barely clinging onto a wild card spot going into Saturday's game, and a big reason for that slide is their lack of success on special teams. Usually one can pick up the slack for the other, but they've been brutal in both departments.

The Blue Jackets are 0-for-9 on the power play in their past five games and are ranked 31st overall, converting on only 14.1 percent of their opportunities. They also have own the 27th-ranked penalty kill with a 76.3 percent success rate.

So if there's an area the Blackhawks can exploit, it's that. But, you know, still be mindful of that Russian winger's one-timer from the faceoff circle.