Mark Buehrle won his 2nd Gold Glove for 2010. Baseball's managers and coaches got this one right. This standard was set on the first day of the season with his nearly impossible " between-his-legs- in -foul --territory toss "to who else, Paul Konerko. If you ever watched ESPN's "Plays of the Day", they showed their "Buehrle-meter," on the bottom of the screen, comparing the best defensive play each day to Mark's. What a guy, what a winner, what a leader.
Mark raised the level of play for every teammate around him. Each time he took the mound, we had the pleasure of watching a guy's work ethic, Chicago style. Every player on the field knew there was no delay, no shaking off A.J.'s or Castro's signs. They "put it," and he just "brought it." No time for a glance in the stands, no walking around the mound, no hesitation, just be ready.
Mark, you and Jamie do us proud, period. Put that 2nd Glove Glove in a
new trophy case. Break out another wall in your house. Share it with
family members. You got it, deserved it, and your teammates know you
done them right.
How Joe West and Co. could not appreciate Buehrle's play is beyond me. The umps would be "outta there" in 2 hrs., unlike the usual 4 hr. games between the Red Sox and Yankees. During a recent Yankees' playoff games, one of the commentators for that game (John Smoltz or Ron Darling) even said that Andy Petite could have been called for "110 balks this season," by West. Mr. Country Joe, go fishing. Your publicist can tell the world which hole to find you in.
It reminds me of another guy who expected his teammates to match his intensity. One night in the old Chicago stadium, the Bulls were playing the Bucks, down by 7 with 56 seconds left. Our youngest son couldn't handle this imminent loss,stomping his feet in disgust, & running up the stairs to get out of there. I pulled him back and said "just watch the game, it ain't over!" The rest is history, as we watched Jordan work his magic with Pippen, Grant, Cartwright, and Paxson. The rafters were shaking and the noise deafening - as usual, as expected.
How did we know? What was it, that Phil and Co. could exude such confidence for everyone around them? What qualities do leaders have, that can rub off on the team, the players, the fans, & the media, in the face of possible gloom and doom?
Which brings us to this week's match up between QB's: Favre v. Cutler. Which one elevates the play around them? Which one exudes confidence in the huddle, on the final drive to win? Which man can throw the silver bullet to his own man, between 3 defensive backs? Which one can communicate confidence for every back, every lineman, every receiver, to do their job right?
Well, if there's no leadership at the top, if Chilly and Lovie, or Zigy and Angelo, are duds, instead of dudes, what makes a team want to play with intensity, attitude, and confidence? Great leadership starts at the top, period. And we Bear fans have no one, as we did 25 years ago.
This South Side Sports Chick already has her TIVO set for the game, of course, and will watch the only leaders the Bears have left this season: Brian, Charles, Julius, Lance and Co. They'll keep us in the game, and score the points we need so badly, against our perennial nemesis. My mind already wraps around a few years ago, on a freezing, cold Soldier Field where Brian handed Brett one of his worst losses in his career. Great memories can carry us so far.
So far back, that when the Vikes beat the Bears by 7 this Sunday, I'll beg the football Gods to pencil in Cowher or Gruden, to lead us back to our glory days in 2011, to ooze or percolate that ol' Bear confidence. Well have to compete with Jerry Jones for them, as he drafts Cam before the season ends.
I'm with the Kapman on this one (even if he is a Cubs fan). Bears may get to 6 - 8 with our current captains. But Lord, hear me out. St. Peter, hear me out. I'll go so far as the Pearly Gates if we get some new leadership. The city will elevate, along with the rest of our players, to join me. God, I'm already doing kadish for our 2010 Bears, as they die a slow death. We'll take Mike Singletary or Jeff Fisher - someone with the intensity, passion, and grit, that brought us Michael, Phil, Jonathan, Coach Q, Ozzie, Mark & Paulie: all permeating with what Chicago Sports expects: Leaders and winners to bring us another parade down State Street - before I'm like Zozzy, at Westlawn. Before this chick has to hang it up.