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.

Hoiberg, Bulls already facing touch decisions on Opening Night

Hoiberg, Bulls already facing touch decisions on Opening Night

The Bulls’ starting point guard missing the team’s season opener is less than ideal, but that is the dilemma Fred Hoiberg and company are faced with.
Hoiberg made the announcement during shoot around that Kris Dunn would miss the first game of his third NBA season for personal reasons, but noted that his absence is “excused.” 
The Bulls will turn to Cameron Payne as they get set to play the Sixers in Philadelphia Thursday night. The 24-year-old guard out of Murray State will be tasked with running the offense against one of the better defensive teams in the league.
Because of injuries and the numbers game at guard, Payne hasn’t had a chance to show Bulls fans much since he came over from Oklahoma City in a trade that sent Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott to the Thunder.
“I feel like I can be way better,” Payne said when asked about the opportunity to show what he can do. “I know I didn’t make a lot of shots but it’s really not about that. It’s about getting my team involved and make sure everyone gets the ball in their spots to contribute.”
Payne showed flashes over the last 22 games of the 2017-18 season (14 starts), shooting 42 percent from three and averaging 4.6 assists per game in that stretch. The shooting stroke didn’t show up early in the preseason for Payne. 
He was better in the team’s final exhibition against Denver and has shown enough to Hoiberg to earn the starting nod. He’ll have his work cut out for him tonight.
“Obviously we’ve been working on different coverages based on having a full roster, but things like this happen,” Hoiberg said when asked what this does to his game prep. “It’s going to be electric in here. They’re going to come out and play extremely hard and extremely physical. That’s who they are and we have to be ready for that. It’s a little bit of shock and awe with (the Sixers). You have to weather that first storm and hopefully give ourselves a chance with great effort.”
After Payne, the Bulls will have Ryan Arcidiacono as the first point guard off the bench. They’ll also have the services of newcomer Tyler Ulis, who will be in uniform tonight. Hoiberg mentioned that he feels comfortable with Zach Lavine bringing the ball up as well. He also mentioned that Jabari Parker will have his hands on the ball an awful lot with the team’s second unit.
The season hasn’t even started yet and the Bulls are already missing several key players. After an impressive rookie season, Lauri Markkanen will start the season on the shelf with a high grade lateral elbow sprain. Denzel Valentine will also miss tonight’s game with an ankle injury. The team may have Cristiano Felicio, also dealing with an ankle injury, depending on his pregame workout goes.
“It’s not ideal but it is what it is,” Hoiberg said. “It happens at this level. You just have to go out and do the best job you can. It’s an opportunity for our guys to step up with two of our better players out of the lineup – really three with Denzel as a guy that can make plays in that second unit.”   

Blackhawks make it official: Corey Crawford is back

Blackhawks make it official: Corey Crawford is back

He’s back.

Corey Crawford will start in goal for the first time since Dec. 23, 2017 when the Blackhawks host the Arizona Coyotes, coach Joel Quenneville confirmed after morning skate on Thursday morning.

"It’s exciting," Quenneville said. "I’m sure he’s looking forward to it and we’re all excited about it as well. It’ll be a fun situation for the guys, seeing him back in the net as well. So we’re looking for everyone to be excited about tonight’s game."

The two-time Stanley Cup champion was medically cleared to practice from his concussion on Oct. 1, but the Blackhawks wanted to give Crawford as much time as he needed to get his conditioning and puck-tracking skills up to game speed before putting him into game action.

"It feels good to be back to myself," Crawford said on Wednesday. "I'm feeling good, I'm feeling clear. It was a pretty long process. ... Practices have been great, been getting timing a little bit more and getting up to speed and reading shots and all that, so it'll be nice to finally get in one."

To make room for Crawford on the 23-man roster, the Blackhawks will assign forward Luke Johnson to the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League. Brandon Saad, who wore a white healthy scratch jersey all week at practice, will take his spot in the lineup.

For now, the Blackhawks will hang on to Anton Forsberg and carry three goaltenders as insurance as they get ready to start a seven-games-in-11-days stretch.

Crawford was 16-9-2 with a 2.27 goals against average, .929 save percentage and two shutouts in 28 games last season. The Blackhawks were 17-30-8 without him and finished last in the Central Division.