Matchup of Elites I: Johnson vs. Tillman

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Matchup of Elites I: Johnson vs. Tillman

Every so often a game brings together not just elite players but elite players for two teams in exactly opposing positions, with the prospect of going against each other virtually every snap.
 
Such will the case be on Sunday when the Bears and Houston Texans line up against each other (assuming that one is not called away to be with his wife in childbirth):
 
Texans WR Andre Johnson vs. Bears CB Charles Tillman.
 
Bears WR Brandon Marshall vs. Texans CB Johnathan Joseph.
 
All four have been Pro Bowl selections. Both cornerbacks were chosen last year. Marshall has represented the AFC three times (MVP once), Johnson five times. Johnson is 6-3, the opponents' big receiver against whom 6-2 Tillman has been matched ever since his rookie year.
 
Johnson has an NFL record 60-plus receptions in each of his first eight seasons, 42 this year, tied for 18th in the NFL. Tillman, who endured Johnsons 10 catches, 148 yards and two touchdowns in Houstons 2008 game-16 win that cost the Bears the playoffs, has shut down Calvin Johnson this year to go with his two interceptions, both returned for touchdowns.
 
I knew that about Tillman last time we played him, Johnson said. Whenever you get the ball, you just have to make sure youve got it tucked away well and make sure youve got it protected.
 
Lovie Smith saw Johnson in 2004, Smiths first as Bears coach, Johnsons second with the Texans (drafted third overall in 2003, the year Tillman was drafted in the secod round). He saw Johnson again in 2008. Four more years have not dimmed the luster of an elite at his position.
 
He was a great player back then. We see the same thing now, Smith said. The last couple of years he had some injuries thats hurt him a little bit. When hes healthy, hes as good as there is. We played some good receivers this year, and hes as good as there is out there.

Tim Anderson's birthday present from home plate umpire was first major-league ejection

Tim Anderson's birthday present from home plate umpire was first major-league ejection

On his 24th birthday, Tim Anderson’s present from home plate umpire Jim Wolf was his first major-league ejection.

In the fifth inning of the White Sox 3-0 loss to the Oakland Athletics, Anderson fouled off a pitch that landed in the opposing batter’s box. But A’s catcher Bruce Maxwell picked it up in what was ruled to be fair territory and threw the ball to first for the out.

Anderson pleaded his case saying the ball went foul. Wolf agreed, according to Anderson, which only further confused the White Sox shortstop.

“I told him that was BS,” Anderson said. “And he tossed me.”

Anderson said that he was surprised to be ejected so fast. So was manager Rick Renteria, who was thrown out moments after Anderson.

“I don’t want to get in trouble,” Renteria said. “The players having emotion, they are battling. I just think we need to grow a little thicker skin.”

Anderson said that he was appreciative of his manager coming to his defense.

“He kinda had a point and let me know he had my back,” Anderson said of Renteria. “Speaks a lot of him.”

A day after scoring nine runs on 18 hits, the White Sox failed to generate any offense on Friday. The team’s best chance came in the ninth inning.

But with runners at the corners and two outs, Matt Davidson put a good rip on the ball to center field, only to fly out at the warning track.

Anderson and Renteria were watching the game together in the clubhouse, and both believed the White Sox had tied the ballgame.

“We all jumped up and were excited but it kind of fell short,” Anderson said.

White Sox Talk Podcast: Exclusive interview with Mark Buehrle

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Exclusive interview with Mark Buehrle

On the latest edition of the White Sox Talk Podcast, Chuck Garfien goes 1-on-1 with the star of the weekend, Mark Buehrle.

Buehrle tells an absolutely amazing bachelor party story and discloses why he wore No. 56.

Take a trip down memory lane and listen to the White Sox Talk Podcast here