Most indications are that Mark Buehrle has thrown his final pitch on the south side of Chicago. One of the heroes from 2005 who will certainly be remembered as one of the best lefties in Sox history, reports are that a number of teams have expressed a more substantial financial interest in Buehrle than Sox GM Kenny Williams is willing to at this point.
One rumor the has floated around for the last week that Theo Epstein's group of merry men has made contact multiple times with the folks that represent Buehrle in an effort to gauge his interest in pitching for the Chicago Cubs.
Buehrle? On the CUBS?
The first thing to go through my mind was a chuckle surrounded by doubt. But when I saw the photoshop of Buehrle in a Cubs uniform (now CSN Chicago David Kaplan's Twitter profile pic), I scratched my head. Would he really ever sign to pitch on the North Side?
The next thing to go through my head was the image of Chris Chelios, standing on the United Center Ice last season, begging the fans that had praised him for nine years to stop booing him on his Heritage Night.
Chelios was born and raised in Chicago, but began his career in Montreal. He was traded to the Hawks for Denis Savard, and was one of the most loved and respected captains in Blackhawks history for nine fantastic seasons. He was always in line with the fans on many matters, including his concrete desire to never play for the Detroit Red Wings.
And yet, after the idiotic regime that ran the great Hawks teams of the 1990s into the ground had sent most of the good players around him packing and brought in a mediocre roster that disrespected fans and the legacy of players like Chelios finally offered him a way out, he relented. Chelios did what he said he would never do, and at 38 years old he accepted a trade to Detroit. The rest is history, and you can read the feelings of many Hawks fans for Chelios in a great piece by my good friend Jay Zawaski here.
Buehrle was born and raised in Missouri as a Cardinals fan. He has always maintained that his favorite team (that didn't pay his bills) remained the Cardinals, and he still spends a lot of time in Missouri during the offseason.
Of course Cardinals fans don't like the Cubs (no matter how much they should be grateful for gifts like Lou Brock). And many White Sox players, and fans, don't care for (read: hate) the Cubs as well.In every interview he's done in which the idea of pitching for the Cubs came up, Buehrle was true to both of those fan bases. He has always said that the Cubs are the last place he would want to pitch, and he might prefer retirement to Wrigley.
So what would happen if Buehrle "pulled a Chelios" and signed to pitch on the north side? Would the same fans that want to burn Chelios at the stake line up to give back their Buehrle memorabilia? Or would he be magically accepted as just another professional following the dollar signs?