Saturday, July 25, 2009

Late Summer - Sports Finally Get Interesting Again

Dateline. July 25th. I noticed today that ESPN is finally starting to cover football in full. Training camp previews are up, and summaries of the upcoming CFB Headlines ("Tebow! Tebow! Tebow!) are starting to sneak onto the airwaves once again.

Meanwhile, baseball has almost reached the 100-game mark, and the pennant races are shaping up into something interesting, with the AL Central a Tiger chase, the AL East a 3-way mess (for the record, I think Tampa is donezo), and the NL Central pretty much an up-for-grabs potluck. Both Chicago teams are still live and kicking, although the Cubs lost their de facto ace, Ted Lilly, to surgery and the DL.

So all of you Bears out there need to wake up from your early-summer Sports Hibernation and get ready for ESPN to get watchable again.

My top storylines, in no particular order.

White Sox Scrap for the Playoffs... again.
Hanging in a few games over .500, the Sox are looking just good enough to contend in the AL Central. They have to win it outright, because the loser of the AL East Sweepstakes is goanna get the Wild Card. But after getting that PERFECT GAME from Numero 56, hopes are high. Can the Sox do it? Can Buehrle stay on his tear and contend for (Dare I say it?) the Cy Young?

Bears Training Camp
The obvious story here revolves around Jay Cutler and his corps of questionable receiving talent. Can Devin Hester and Greg Olsen make The Leap? If they can, this will be a really potent offense. The other interesting stories for me are in the secondary, where it seems like nobody really has a position locked down with the possible exceptions of The Interceptor and Tillman, and at Hunter Hillenmeyer's former post, where FA pickup Pino Tinoasamoa and Northwestern alum Nick Roach will battle up and comer Jamar Williams for the right to join the Bears' Pro Bowl Tandem at 'backer.

Big Ten College Football
Will anyone other than Ohio State make headlines? I'm looking at Northwestern to emerge under wunderkind Pat Fitzgerald and start out the season on a tear. Wisconsin's Brett Bielma is on the hot seat at Camp Randall. And I sure hope that Bill Lynch is sitting on something similarly warm. Another bad season for Indiana, just as the great new horseshoe opens up, would be a disaster for a scuffling athletic program. Can Michigan make any noise? And so on. Enough Tebow - I want to know what's up around the Midwest.

Bulls Hot Stove
I'm praying Hinrich sticks around. And a free agent pickup sure would be nice. It looks like James Johnson will contribute after a nice Summer League showing, but no one else on the team is a rotation lock. Illinois alum James Augustine performed well, and DeMarcus Nelson was the best of a lousy group of guards. Taj Gibson collected a ton of fouls. My pick to click, Taurean Green, shot under 30% but passed well. I'm guessing the Bulls do the same, and pass on Green, leaving Chicago perilously thin at guard with only Rose, Hinrich, and Salmons as sure things.

What stories are you looking forward to? What's on your mind, Armchair Superstar nation? Let me know. I need some new story ideas!

Friday, July 24, 2009

27 Up 27 Down

So here at we had this attempt to list our top ten moments in our sporting life. I guess it’s a good thing we never finished cause I have a new number 1 moment of my sports life. Yes Mark Buehrle’s Perfect Game is my new favorite sports moment. It only tops the 2005 World Series because I was there live. It has taken over my top baseball game spot over Game 3 of last season’s ALDS against the same Tampa Bay Rays. Everything about the day was awesome.

So every year, the Company I work for (No armchairsuperstar does not pay the bills) has an outing to Sox Park. We get a big group of tickets and also get tickets to the patio. This is the area underneath the right field outfield right next to the bull pen bar. The Patio is all you can eat and all you can drink. So we arrived about an hour before first pitch and took advantage of the situation. After indulging in beverages and food we grabbed some drinks and headed outside to the right field fence to watch the players warm up. We saw Kazimer starting his long toss routine, while Mr Pods and Gordon “The Savior” Beckham were doing some running drills. Then the man of the day, Buehrle, came out and we watched him do his long toss routine. Little did I know what was about to transpire.

So we left the Patio area and made our way up to the concourse, we did some shopping and eventually found our seats, we were about 7 rows behind the visiting bullpen. By the time we reached our seats Mark Buehrle was already done with his part of the inning. So we sat down to enjoy the game. Ended sitting next to a few Tampa fans who were fairly friendly. Obviously with the work function going on there would be plenty of distractions going on. In the third inning with two outs left I heard the PA announce the 9th Ray coming up to bat, and looked at the scoreboard and noticed a big 0 under hits. After he got the batter out, I was like excellent; he’s got a no hitter going through 3. As the 4th and 5th innings flew by, I continued to notice the big 0 under the Rays hits column.

After the 6th, I got up to talk to some of my work people on the concourse, and after the 7th inning I looked up at the scoreboard and was like, I’m going to go back to my seat now, cause I want to watch something amazing happen, they both looked at my in a quizzical manner, and I was like, “well it’s after the 7th so I’m not going to jinks anything, Mark B is throwing a no hitter.” Their faces lit up as the checked the scoreboard while on our way to the seats. Once in our seats, I go, “I know I missed some things, but I am pretty sure he is throwing, well…….” I played with the luck gods once, I wasn’t going to jinks this one too. Dave check his phone and confirmed.

The last 6 outs were a blur. There was the incredibly close foul ball in the 8th; I am pretty sure my heart stopped at that point until the ump emphatically waved his hands foul! Mark wasn’t worried as two pitches later he produced a routine line out to Beckam.

Then came the 9th. Everyone was on their feet, everyone knew the stakes. First batter up, CRACK!!!!! I think the entire stadium let out a groan, (watching on the replays you can hear it) my heart sank, he came so close and now it’s going to be ruined by a Home Run. Wise was digging hard, jumps up, I’m still thinking he’s not going to catch it, reaches up over the wall, I know from my view he was up and over the wall to grab it, and pulled it back! After he rolled on his back and put the ball up so emphatically, we knew, he would have run through that wall to catch it. I was so happy, I was jumping up and down, hugging everyone around me. That was one of the greatest live plays I have ever seen, I can’t decide between that and IU’s Field Goal to beat Purdue to go to our first bowl game in 18 years.

The next batter was up, and Mark got three balls on him. I was trying to complain about the calls from my way better vantage point in left field compared to directly behind the plate, but every time I was ready to complain, Mark was halfway through his wind up for the next pitch. After going 3-1 Mark settle down and took care of history striking out batter 26.

26 up 26 down, 1 last batter, 2-1 pitch, a speedy 2 hopper grounder on it’s way to Alexei. I know he is a solid fielder, but he has been prone to errors, I was terrified, that grounder took roughly 40 minutes in my mind to get there and when Alexei came up throwing, I was worried he wouldn’t get there in time and when he released it, I swear he air mailed it to China. None of my fears came true as the ball came resting easily in Field’s glove! PERFECT GAME! The entire stadium was going crazy, yes it’s on the southside and a day game so attendance wasn’t super high, but all 28,000 were going nuts! Nobody wanted to leave even after the players were done mobbing him, even after he had hugged his wife and kissed his baby, not even after he came out for his curtain call doused in who knows what. Everyone just wanted to stay and cheer. The scoreboard kept showing “27 Batters Faced.” I hung around and watched Mark B on the big screen and Ozzie come on afterward. I never wanted to leave, nobody did. I found armchairsuperstar Sr Hockey writer Colin as liquored up as could be, and started pushing and shoving each other in awe of what just happened. We were asked to leave by security some 45 – 60 minutes after the game had ended.

We made our way to the “EL” to go home, on the way home I was trying to think who was in the field the last time Buehrle through his no hitter. It was only 2 years ago, so you’d think there would be some right?

Well looking at yesterday’s starting lineup, maybe not.

C: Castro: Joined team this year, AJ caught last one
1B: Fields: was in AAA, Konerko was playing 1st during last one
2B: Nix: Rookie this year
SS: Ramierz: Rookie last season
3B: Beckam: Rookie this year, Crede made all those amazing plays in the last one
LF: Carlos: Joined team last year
CF/LF: Pods: Was let go and playing in Colorado
CF: Wise: Joined team last year

I find this real hard to believe that.

While walking home Jamie and I were talking about the historicalness of this event. I told her “Think of it this way, there have been 18 perfect games ever, let’s just say 30,000 attended each game (Again only 28,000 yesterday and something tells me there wasn’t 30,000 to watch Cy Young do it) so that mean 540,000 people have ever seen a perfect game live in the history of the world. That is pretty awesome.” (Crack armchairsuperstar intern Dave Weir found this site that shows the total attendance for every perfect game is 444,375 not included the two games where attendance was not recorded)

As soon as I was through my house doors, I turned on Sportscenter and watched it over and over again, I think I watched it 20 times, I watched baseball tonight, recorded Mike and Mike in the morning to hear their thoughts, heck I’ve been listening to the radio the entire time while writing this. Just watching it over and over and over again has been amazing, seeing how close that ball was to landing fair in the 8th. Seeing the fact that Dewayne dropped the ball and caught it again, I didn’t see that part live. Hearing Hawk’s call of the game over and over on Sportscenter (I know everyone hates him, but he’s our homer so I and my fellow Sox fans love him!). I just can’t get enough of this. The breakdown has been spectacular and the stats I’m hearing are amazing. Buster Onley doing the entire at bat of Buehrle vs Longaria (reigning R.O.Y. and MVP candidate) in 34 seconds, he threw 4 pitches to strike him out in 34 seconds! Longoria even stepped out of the box to adjust his batting gloves during that at bat. That’s insane.

Other insane time stats include:

18 of the 27 outs were got in 1 minute or less.

For the entire 2:03 minute game, he was only on the mound for 32 minutes

The average length it took him to retire a batter was 54 seconds.

Some crazy similarities between his two no hitters

Home Plate Ump: Eric Cooper

Number of Batters Face: 27

Time of Game: 2 hours and 3 minutes.

Grand Slam hit in each game

Speaking of his last no hitter, I was always kind of bummed about his no hitter being so close to a perfect game with that walk, and two pitches later picking Sosa off, so I’m glad he’s got a legit one. And another fun stat about that, here’s a list of players who have faced only 27 batters in 2+ no hitters

Cy Young
Mark Buehrle

THAT’S THE LIST!!!! Mr. 611, has the pitch award named after him, that’s pretty good company.

Also heard that this was the third time for Mark Buehrle to face the minimum number of batters; obviously the perfect game, the no hitter just discussed, and a 2 hit performance against Cleveland where each guy who reached base was part of a double play the next batter.

6 guys have thrown a no hitter and a perfect game. All of them all HOF expect Randy Johnson who will be there in 5-6 years whenever he retires.

I also heard that this is the best team to be a victim of a new hitter. They are ranked 3rd in the league in offense. They are the fastest team to reach 100 HR and 100 Steals and had multiple All-Stars.

Mark Buehrle has been invited to do the Letterman and Conan. He hasn’t decided if he is going to do one or the other or neither or both.

He had to end his press conference early so he could go talk to the President, who is apparently taking credit for the no hitter because of his jacket last week at the All-Star Game where Mark also throw a perfect inning at.

Mark has had some great quotes

“I bought the guys watches, everybody on the team, for the last one,” Buehrle said. “That was an expensive no-hitter. This one is going to be a lot more expensive.”

“Never say never in this game, I never thought I’d throw no hitter, never thought I’d throw a perfect game, I never thought I’d hit a Home Run. Never say never in the game ‘cause crazy stuff happens”

Also apparently him and AJ were talking before the game about AJ not catching him and having to throw to Castro for the first time. AJ told him to throw a no hitter then, and Mark responded by saying, I already did that, so AJ told him to throw a perfect game. Well looked what happened.

The best quote though was this, Ozzie was asked what he was thinking when Kapler hit the ball in the 9th? “I can’t say it here, you’d have to bleep me,” Guillen said. WOW! Is Ozzie getting a filter!

I loved watching Buehrle in the dugout, joking with teammates and talking about his perfect games jinks be damned, I guess I was ok in the top of the 7th!

I know this column is all over the place, but that’s how the game was, indescribable and my thoughts were all over the place as it was this article. I feel so lucky to experience it and love the fact the Mark Buehrle did it. I never thought I’d see a no hitter live let alone a perfect game. I came close on a Zombrano game against the Padres, this game was just amazing. To top it all off, we saw on the out of town scoreboard that Seattle had defeated Detroit and we were in a virtual tie for 1st place.

I’d also like to say Buster Onley was fantastic last night on Sportscenter and Baseball Tonight and today on the radio. I am sure I’m missing tons of other fun stats; I’ll try to update but please send more. Enjoy my pictures and everything else. GO SOX!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

I was there, Yeah Mark Buehrle No Hitter


Buehrle Gets First Perfect Game Since 2004

Read all about it here. The 18th perfect game in MLB history (at least since 1900). Randy Johnson threw the last one.

Noffke was at the game and I'll leave the in-depth coverage to him (you lucky, lucky man).

EDIT: First Fan Barack Obama's reaction.

Myth Buster

If that's what everyone has been getting excited about, the mythical Crawford dunk on King James, I think Nike should get all the credit for keeping Lebron's name in the news during the summer months. I'll give Crawford credit for a nice two handed jam, but the play doesn't really smack in of 'In Your Face!'. Just like anything ESPN broadcasts, too much hype. Opinions?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Rick Reilly: Representing The Rich White People of America

Mr. Reilly is one of two guys who are permanently featured on's front page. The other, of course, is Sports Guy Bill Simmons, with whom I have absolutely no issue, as long as he manages to write more than twice a month.

Last week, Reilly put up his "bucket list" of ten sporting events not to miss in your lifetime. Included were a yacht race, two golf tournaments, Yankees vs. Red Sox at Fenway, Wimbledon, and the Iditarod. Really? Oh, and the Tour De France, too?

I'm going to try and not harp on the socioeconomics of this list. But it did get me thinking...

And then this week, Ol' Rick has this gem, in which he whines and complains about Tiger Woods basically going all Happy Gilmore on Turnberry on TV in front of "an audience of lots of kids." Anyone know any small children that watch golf?

I guess my point is, maybe Rick Reilly has been in his cushy job for so long that he has utterly and completely lost touch with the common fan (see picture above. Yep, that's Rick). Maybe he should try going to a sporting event for any reason other than to use his lavish expense account or write a weepy human interest story.

And maybe I'm just against Cottonelle-soft journalism. Pick it up, Reilly. Nobody wants to read this crap.