Starting his eighth straight Opening Day and tossing seven innings of three-hit ball in a 6-0 victory just wasn't enough for Mark Buehrle. He had to go and complete a totally improbable between-the-legs, football-snap defensive play, too (Find it at the White Sox website, but MLB.com and other still have it posted as well).
It's not like Buehrle is the best athlete or the best pitcher around. He just works hard and occasionally ends up in the right place at the right time under the right conditions to do something pretty wonderful. After a no-hitter, a perfect game and many other memorable moments, "The Long-Snap," as I'm hoping the play will come to be known, is just another example.
I wonder if Buehrle will be asked to sign a lot of photos of this play in the years to come, and how he'll feel about autographing a photo in which the main feature is his ass.
The news from the other side of town is that there is no such thing as good luck. The Cubs lost 16-5 to the Braves, and--well, luck didn't have much to do with it unless you count a fly ball dropped by Braves centerfielder Nate McLouth that was wrongly called an out and led to a double play. That was pure Cubbie luck, but the call certainly wasn't the difference in this wipeout of a game.
What was the difference: Bad pitching and sub-par defense on a couple key plays. Carlos Zambrano was saying all the right things this spring about being a good boy, but quickly gave up a 3-0 lead given to him off the bat of new Cub Marlon Byrd and ended up giving up eight runs in a dreadful 1.1 innings. He also had a field error, as did Derrek Lee on a rare poor throw.
No, Zambrano didn't lose his cool, at least not in as visible a manner as he has in the past, though he seemed unhinged and hurried as the six-run first inning unfolded, rather than writing it off as a bad start in a long game to come.
Believe it or not, Zambrano didn't put the game out of reach, as the Cubs line-up scored five runs (though on only five hits), the other major blow being a homerun by Aramis Ramirez--nice to see some of his power after a weak spring. But, the bullpen did put the game out of reach, with Jeff Samardzija giving up six runs and walking three in one-third of an inning, and Justin Berg giving up two runs while also walking three. Time is growing short for Samardzija to fulfill any positive promise, and Berg just made the Cubs look foolish for letting him survive the spring demotions.
With one game in the books, the Sox are looking at Opening Day like it was a good omen. the Cubs are just looking the other way.
Cubs Heroes and Goats 1984 Edition: Games 23-29
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