Buehrle wins 200th, takes shower

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Mark Buehrle

* LHP Mark Buehrle won his 200th game by beating the Baltimore Orioles and then upon reaching the clubhouse was given a special reception by manager John Gibbons and his teammates … and a beer shower in a laundry tub. …. 

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By Bob Elliott

BALTIMORE _ “That,” said Mark Buehrle, “was one of the coolest moment of my career?”

What was that?

Buehrle began to explain how he walked into the visiting clubhouse following an on-field, post-game interview with Sportsnet’s Barry Davis …

Hold on a second, your interview with Barry Davis was one of the highlights of your career?

“No,” said Buehrle, “walking into the room and seeing all of my teammates standing there holding a beer to toast me.”

He’s won a World Series ring with the 2005 Chicago White Sox, pitched a no hitter against the Texas Rangers in 2007, was phoned by President Obama to congratulate him after his perfect game against the Tampa Bay Rays in 2009.

Working six innings against the Baltimore Orioles in the fourth game of the season Saturday afternoon qualifies near the top of coolest moment scale?

Yup.

The win was the 200th of Buehrle’s career. Not bad for a 38th round draft choice in his 15th season.

While Buehrle was hamming it up on TV (for him any TV appearance is like a root canal without the freezing, manager John Gibbons was assembling the troops from the trainer’s room, the lunch room and all the other nooks and crannies of the clubhouse.

“Congratulations to Mark Buehrle on his 200th win,” is what Gibbons said he said when Buehrle entered.

It was likely more expansive than that.

Then, Buehrle climbed into a blue laundry tub and players poured beer on him.

It’s sort of an Animal House celebration but a lot more fun than the slow clap the Jays used to do when someone entered the clubhouse at the Rogers Centre after an outstanding pitching performance.

“I was in the bottom of that tub right there … soaked,” said Buehrle, who becomes the fourth active pitcher with 200 wins. Tim Hudson is 214-124. CC Sabathia (208-120 and Bartolo Colon (205-141) are the others. Buehrle is 200-152.

Gibbons is seldom eloquent, but the straight from the hip Texican was when discussing his lefty.

“That’s a huge milestone in this business,” Gibbons told reporters, “and it couldn’t happen to a better guy. He’s the epitome of a professional ball player. He lays it out there every night, never an excuse, never been on the DL, 200 innings, year after year. What more could you want?

“This is my third year with him and he’s one of those guys I’ll never forget.”

The next day Hall of Famer Jim Palmer jokingly asked Gibbons is he was practising for his AL Manager of the Year award … using words like “epitome.”

Gibbons admires Buehrle so much he was going to give him relief appearance the final day last year if Buehrle didn’t maintain his string of 200 consecutive innings a season. (He made it in his final start: 14 consecutive seasons tying Greg Maddux, Phil Niekro and Christy Mathewson.

Buehrle was selected 1,139th over all in 1998 by the White Sox, one pick after the Pittsburgh Pirates took Shaun Skrehot (who made triple-A in 2005) from the University of Houston and one choice before the Colorado Rockies took righty T.J. Bird (class-A in 2002) from Cloverdale, Calif. high.

Dalton Pompey didn’t know what the commotion was about.

“I knew they wouldn’t be making this big a fuss over his first win of the season,” said Pompey, who had two doubles and knocked in a pair as the Jays spoiled the Baltimore Orioles home opener with a 12-5 victory.

Down the line of lockers rookie second baseman Devon Travis didn’t have a clue either. He did know Buehrle had pitched a long time.

And after gathering the team, manager John Gibbons made a speech and congratulated the lefty on his 200th win.

Buehrle then hopped into a blue laundry hamper and was drenched in cold beer.

Just as Travis had been soaked following the Jays 6-1 win over the Yankees on Monday when he hit his first homer.

“They poured beer all over me … cold beer,” said Travis.

And just as the Jays soaked the reliever Miguel Castro on Thursday night at Yankee Stadium after he picked up his first major-league save.

We’re only four games into the season and the Jays could be 4-0. We do know that they have had at least three beer soakings of teammates.

They’ve hit (eight doubles Friday) and made all kinds of defensive plays they were not making a year ago whether it be in the outfield (left fielder Kevin Pillar crashed into the fence to steal extra bases from Steve Pearce in the third) or at second.

Travis had one ball take a sharp bounce on him in short right, but has made all the plays, hanging in at second to turn three double plays.

“He’s a great player,” Pillar said of Travis, who had never played above triple-A until opening day. “He’s heads up. He does all the small things the right way. He’s fearless over there.

“He turns (the double play) as quick as anyone I’ve seen and not afraid of contact. He kind of has that football mentality. Not afraid to stand in, gets hit by pitches and doesn’t complain. He’s impressive.”

Jose Reyes described the post-game celebrations as cool … “but just beer, not champagne,” like the day at Wrigley Field when teammate Tom Glavine won his 300th with the New York Mets.

Glavine gave everyone on the Mets a new glove, so will Buehrle buy 2/3s of a glove for everyone.

“The defence I had behind me, pretty impressive,” said Buehrle, referring to the slick, inning-ending double play fielded by Josh Donaldson and turned by Devon Travis in the third with the Jays up 5-2. “I know it’s only a few games, but we’re playing well right now.

“We’re getting a fly ball when we need it, a ground ball when we need to drive in a run and great defence.”

With the New York Yankees Russell Martin caught Mariano Rivera and with the Los Angeles Dodgers he had Maddux.

“You could set up outside and both would hit your mitt almost every time,” said Martin, who watched Buehrle pitch six innings allowing two runs, as Dioner Navarro caught. “Maddux had the two-seamer and the change, plus he’d mix in a curve. Buehrle is like a left-handed Maddux.

“He throws enough two seamers to change the eye level of the hitter, doesn’t punch anyone out. He’s his own animal.”

Some other relevant reviews …

Donaldson: “He pitches to contact, you have to be on your toes, he gets lots of ground balls and he keeps you involved.”

Hitting coach Brook Jacoby compared Buehrle’s variety of offerings (“slow, slower and slowest” as the lefty describes his own repertoire) to Maddux as well saying “he is always adding and subtracting.”

Jose Bautista, who went 0-for-New York and 3-for-3 with two RBIs and four runs scored: “It’s amazing. It doesn’t happen very often and I’m proud to be his teammate. He’s certainly given his team a lot more than 200 chances to win games. I wish whenever he gives us an effort like that that we can give him some more wins.”

General manager Alex Anthopolous approached Buehrle, shook his hand and offered congrats.

And with that the working man tossed his back pack over the shoulder of his blue-plaid shirt and headed out into the Maryland night in blue-collar Baltimore.

The night was cool too.

Baseball America’s 1998: DRAFT AT WAR
How First Round Should Have Unfolded
Based on WAR (Wins Above Replacement)/Baseball Reference
Rank Player Pos. Actual Draft WAR Years/Majors Bonus
1 Mark Buehrle LHP White Sox (38th) 57.8 15 (2000-14) $150,000

2 C.C. Sabathia LHP Indians (1st/20 over-all) 54.7 14 (2001-14) $1,300,000

3 J.D. Drew OF Cardinals (1st/5) 44.9 14 (1998-2011) $3,000,000

4 Matt Holliday 3B-1B Rockies (7th) 43.9 11 (2004-14) $842,500

5 Carlos Pena 1B Rangers (1st/10) 25.0 14 (2001-14) $1,850,000

6 Jack Wilson SS Cardinals (9th) 23.5 12 (2001-12) $40,000

7 Aaron Rowand OF White Sox (1st/ 35) 20.8 11 (2001-11) $575,000

8 Aubrey Huff 3B-1B Devil Rays (5th) 20.2 13 (2000-12) $130,000

9 Mark Mulder LHP Athletics (1st/ 2) 20.0 12 (2000-11) $3,200,000

10 Brandon Inge SS-RHP Tigers (2nd) 19.1 13 (2001-13) $450,000

11 Pat Burrell 3B-1B Phillies (1 / 1) 18.8 12 (2000-11) $3,150,000

12 Adam Dunn OF Reds (2) 16.7 14 (2001-14) $772,000

13 Juan Pierre OF Rockies (13) 16.6 14 (2000-13) $20,000

14 Jeff Weaver RHP Tigers (1 / 14) 15.5 11 (1999-2010) $1,750,000

15 Nick Punto SS Phillies (21) 15.0 14 (2001-14) $20,000

16 Morgan Ensberg 3B Astros (9) 13.8 8 (2000-08) $25,000

17 Matt Thornton LHP Mariners (1 / 22) 13.0 11 (2004-14) $925,000

18 Austin Kearns OF Reds (1 / 7) 12.9 12 (2002-13) $1,950,000

19 Adam Everett SS Red Sox (1 / 12) 12.6 11 (2001-11) $1,725,000

20 B.J. Ryan LHP Reds (17) 11.8 11 (1999-2009) $2,000

21 Brad Wilkerson OF Expos (1 / 33) 11.0 8 (2001-08) $1,000,000

22 Eric Byrnes OF Athletics (8) 10.5 11 (2000-10) $15,000

23 Corey Patterson OF Cubs (1 / 3) 9.6 12 (2000-11) $3,700,000

24. Bill Hall SS Brewers (6) 9.6 11 (2002-12) $90,000

25 Erubiel Durazo 1B Diamondbacks (NDFA) 9.1 7 (1999-2005)

26 Ryan Madsen RHP Phillies (9) 9.0 9 (2003-11) $325,000

27 David Ross C Dodgers (7) 8.5 13 (2002-14) $72,500

28 Kip Wells RHP White Sox (1 / 16) 8.3 12 (1999-2012) $1,495,000

29 Brad Lidge RHP Astros (1 / 17) 8.2 11 (2002-12) $1,070,000

30. Eric Hinske 3B Cubs (17) 8.2 12 (2002-13) $40,000

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