Sully Baseball Salutes… Mark Buehrle and Paul Konerko

Tomorrow, the White Sox will continue to try and turn their season around and limp back into contention.

And the starting pitcher will be Mark Buehrle. Chances are Paul Konerko will be in the lineup, either at first base or as the designated hitter.

They have been a tandem for so long that it is truly worth a long salute here.

People talk about the great combination of teammates that Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera made for all of those seasons in New York.

And Buehrle and Konerko have not been together for as long as they have been nor have the success. But for a franchise best remembered over the decades for throwing a World Series instead of winning them, Buehrle and Konerko have seen a lot of winning. They contributed big time to the only World Series appearance in Chicago in more than half a century and the only Chicago title in 94 years.

Konerko was a product of the Dodgers organization and was later dealt to Cincinnati. He came over to the White Sox in a deal for Mike Cameron before the 1999 season. That was his third year in the big leagues and his third big league team. It is safe to say he found stability on the South Side of Chicago.

He cracked 24 homers his first year with the White Sox and posted an .862 OPS.

In 2000 he remained a solid hitter (.298 AVG, .844 OPS) was worth 21 homers, 97 RBI and a 111 OPS+. And the White Sox were back in the post season.

And in no small point for this post, he was joined that year by Buehrle. While Konerko was a first round pick and coveted prospect, Buehrle was picked 38th.

Not 38th overall. In the 38th round. He was the 1,139th pick overall. Right before him, the Pirates picked Shaun Skrehot. The infielder played 9 seasons and made it to AA Nashville and Indianapolis.

The pick after him has thrown 12 seasons in the majors.

The 2000 White Sox had the best record in the American League but were swept out of the playoffs by Alex Rodriguez and the Seattle Mariners.

It has been a while since A-Rod has been a Mariner. But that whole time, these two players have represented the White Sox with clutch play and class.

While Konerko played behind the massive shadow of Frank Thomas, he put up solid if not spectacular numbers. In many ways, his career resembled his one time teammate and current coach Harold Baines. His stats may not have been elite but they were good enough to make 5 All Star teams and twice be a top ten finisher in the MVP vote. And play nearly every season injury free. He is on pace to play 150+ games again this year, which would be the 8th time he would pass that mark in 13 seasons.

And of course he came up big time for the 2005 White Sox, unquestionably the greatest Chicago baseball team since the First World War.

His home run off of Tim Wakefield helped sink the Red Sox hopes to repeat as World Series champions. His 2 homers, 7 RBI and .937 OPS crushed the Angels in the ALCS and earned him MVP honors as the White Sox won the pennant.

And finally his mammoth grand slam in Game 2 of the World Series turned the game around and helped set up the White Sox win.

The starter of that game? That would be Mark Buehrle.

Since 2000, Buehrly became one of the most reliable and durable starting pitchers in all of baseball. He recorded 200+ innings every year from 2001 to 2010 (and is on pace to do so again this year.) He had made 2 All Star teams by 2005 and finished 5th in the Cy Young vote that year.

In the 2005 playoffs, he won Game 2 of the Division Series against Boston and threw a complete game to win Game 2 of the ALCS.

He started Game 3 of the World Series and got a no decision. But when Game 3 went to the 14th and manager Ozzie Guillen had burned through his bullpen, he turned to Buehrle to protect a 7-5 lead. He earned the save, to date his only one in the majors. He joined Grover Cleveland Alexander as the only person to start and then save consecutive World Series games.

The next day the White Sox won the World Series for the first time since 1917.

After the title, Konerko was offered more money to go to the Angels or the Orioles but stayed in Chicago. He responded with three more All Star selections, a fifth place finish in the 2010 MVP vote and 2 homers in the 2008 Division Series against Tampa Bay.

He represented the White Sox in the 2010 and 2011 All Star Game.

Buehrle continued to be a steady and sometimes dominant starter. He was named to two more All Star teams and won the last two Golden Glove awards.

In 2007, he threw a no hitter against the Rangers. In 2009 he did that one better by throwing a perfect game against the Rays. He would retire a record 49 consecutive batters that year, breaking the record held by his teammate Bobby Jenks.

And there was something kind of bad ass about Buehrle, an avid animal lover, wishing ill to Michael Vick.

Not saying I condone wishing harm on others, but it is cool how he never gave a damn what anyone thought.

The two are still solid players and performers after 12 seasons as teammates. They won’t be going to the Hall of Fame. Yet if anyone deserves to have a lifetime of standing ovations and love from White Sox fans, it would this duo of classy solid and champion players.

They don’t get the press that players on the Yankees, Red Sox or even the Cubs would get. But when you put more than a decade into the same team, bring a championship, multiple playoff berths and class to a franchise that needed turning around, then you have earned our salute.

Now take it easy on the Red Sox.

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Did you see what happened in Arizona tonight?

Daniel Hudson was pitching for the Diamondbacks tonight against his old team, the White Sox.

He’s a 24 year old pitcher going up against Edwin Jackson, the guy he was traded for.

He was throwing a shutout into the 7th, but a Paul Konerko homer made it a game and he let base runners on in the 8th and 9th.

Do you know what Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson did?
He let him pitch through it. He didn’t baby him.

And now he got a complete game win and has the experience of working through his own jams.
Hudson is now 8-5 with a good 3.56 ERA and is averaging 6 2/3 innings a start.

The Diamondbacks now have a good young pitcher who they can count on to go deep into games. And they got that because THEY LET HIM PITCH!

It sounds so simple. And yet so few teams do that.

But I covered that in the last Sully Baseball video.

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The wrong Sox looked good

The Red Sox climb to the top of the AL East standings was such an amazing turn around that they were bound to run into a wall sooner or later.

And here they were, swept by the White Sox and the awesomely underrated Paul Konerko. I can’t say this is a complete surprise. I mean I PICKED Chicago to win the AL Central.

Granted, they are 8 1/2 games back of Cleveland and still under .500… but they have talent.

So Tim Wakefield won’t inch closer to the all time Red Sox win leader. Another Big Fly from Big Papi is wasted.

And I need to update the tally.


April 8 – 9-6 win against the Yankees. (The Sox end their 6 game losing streak with a slugfest. John Lackey stinks but Phil Hughes stinks even more.)
April 10 – 4-0 win against the Yankees. (Beckett and Sabathia duel in a game that was 1-0 until the late innings.)
April 20 – 5-3 win in Oakland. (Red Sox survive a lead off homer and two bases loaded situations and facing the tying run at the plate to win their first road game.)
April 21 – 4-2 win in Anaheim. (The Red Sox stranded 15 men on base and Josh Beckett’s went 8 strong with no decision. But the Sox rallied in the 11th to win.)
April 22 – 4-3 win in Anaheim. (Peter Bourjos makes a 2 run errors and the Red Sox survive a bizarre passed ball by Jarrod Saltalamacchia that let a run scored from second.)
May 1 – 3-2 win against the Mariners. (Ichiro loses a ball in the sun that turns into a 9th inning triple for Lowrie. Crawford singles him home for the win.)
May 8 – 9-5 win against the Twins. (Dice-K lets up 3 runs in the first but settles down as the Red Sox clobber Carl Pavano.)

May 9 – 2-1 win against the Twins. (A bullpen breakdown cost Beckett the decision but Cark Crawford ended the game with an 11th inning walk off hit.)
May 13 – 5-4 win in the Bronx. (Youkilis homers off of Joba and Bard and Papelbon make it more interesting than it needed to be.)
May 15 – 7-5 win in the Bronx. (Sox fall behind 4-1 but come back as Youk, Papi and Salty all homer.)
May 16 – 8-7 win against the Orioles. (Down 6-0 after 6 innings, the Sox rally and win it with a 2 run walk off double by Adrian Gonzalez)
May 18 – 1-0 win against Detroit. (With 2 outs in the 8th, Salty doubles home Crawford from first for the only run. Papelbon gets himself in and out of 9th inning trouble.)
May 19 – 4-3 win against Detroit. (Bard blows Beckett’s lead but Carl Crawford wins it with a walk off hit.)
May 24 – 4-2 win in Cleveland. (Varitek throws two runners out and homers as the Red Sox win their first game against the Indians.)
May 29 – 4-3 win in Detroit. (The Red Sox blow an early 3-0 lead but David Ortiz wins the game with a pinch 9th inning homer.)


April 1 – 9-5 loss in Texas. (The Sox tie Opening Day in the 8th with an Ortiz homer only to have Bard implode and the Sox let up 4 in the bottom of the 8th.)

April 5 – 3-1 loss in Cleveland. (The Sox drop their 4th straight as the bats are dead in Cleveland.)
April 7 – 1-0 loss in Cleveland. (Sox blow a great Lester performance on a squeeze bunt and Darnell McDonald overrunning the bag to end the game.)
April 12 – 3-2 loss to Tampa Bay. (A solid Lester performance is wasted as Kyle Farnsworth of all people shuts down the Sox.)
April 15 – 7-6 loss to Toronto. (Bobby Jenks implodes with a 4 run seventh inning as the Red Sox waste Pedroia and Youkilis homers and a clutch RBI double by Scuatro.
April 19 – 5-0 loss in Oakland. (Pedroia gets picked off, the Sox bats go dead and waste a solid Lackey start.)
April 26 – 4-1 loss in Baltimore. (Buchholz pitches tentatively and the Sox let Kevin Gregg of all people to close out the 9th.)
April 27 – 5-4 loss in Baltimore. (The Sox tie the game with a 3 run 8th only to have Bard lose it in the bottom of the 8th.)
April 29 – 5-4 loss to Mariners. (Bobby Jenks blows a 7th inning lead, wasting 2 Mike Cameron homers.)
April 30 – 2-0 loss to Mariners. (The Sox strand 11 runners and let Milton Bradley double home the go ahead run.)
May 4 – 5-3 loss to Angels. (7 hours with rain delays and stranded runners. Marco Scutaro was thrown out at the plate in the 12th)
May 10 – 7-6 loss in Toronto. (8th and 9th inning heroics, including a homer by Adrian Gonzalez, are undone by a walk off sacrifice fly by David Cooper.)
May 21 – 9-3 loss to Cubs. (Up 3-1 in the 8th inning, the bullpen and defense implode. The Cubs score 8 runs while both teams wear their 1918 uniforms.)
May 23– 3-2 loss in Cleveland. (The Sox blow a 2-1 8th inning lead when the Indians rally with 2 outs. Crawford ends the game on a double play.)
May 29 – 3-0 loss in Detroit. (Verlander keeps the Sox off base and prevents the sweep.)
June 1 – 7-4 loss to White Sox. (Konerko drives in three, spoiling a game tying Ortiz homer.)

Back to -1.

Call me crazy, and I’ve been called worse… I’m still not worried.
Let’s hope for a Sox reunion in October.

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