Tuesday, Apr. 6, 2010
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:
1. MARK BUEHRLE = LEGEND
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.
2. FRANK AND KENNY: LET THE HEALING BEGIN
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.
3. PRESIDENT OBAMA REPRESENTS!
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.
4. THEY DON'T PLAY BASEBALL IN CANADA.
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?
5. CARLOS QUENTIN IS ON PACE TO GET HIT BY 236 PITCHES IN 2010
The White Sox better have a lot of ice in the trainers room. And their fingers crossed.
6. FRANK THOMAS A.K.A. "ROOKIE"
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.
7. ALEX RIOS, HELLO AGAIN...HELLO
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.
8. I NEED A HAIRCUT
Hows that for baseball analysis!
9. JERMAINE DYE: MISSING IN ACTION
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.