Chicago Sun-Times
with sports reporters Daryl Van Schouwen and Chris De Luca

Buehrle and 'The Jinx'

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g072309buehrleperfect2_cst_feed_20090723_16_01_27_9374_h=400&w=317.jpgDETROIT - Hours before his date with destiny, Mark Buehrle looked down at his cup-holder in his drive to the ballpark, saw it was empty and could only say two words - "Oh [crap].''
So much for being "Mr. I'm Not Superstitious.''
The fact is, the White Sox left-hander is indeed superstitious. One of his superstitions just happens to be talking and goofing around during his no-hitters, basically spitting in the face of the baseball gods that have long believed that pitchers in the middle of such an act are not to be approached or spoken to.
"People act like these guys have communicable diseases when a no-hitter is going on,'' pitching coach Don Cooper said.
The game of baseball has as many superstitions in it as it has players. From certain guys that won't step on the chalk lines to others that eat the exact same meal before every game, the idea of teammates keeping their distance from pitchers that are working on a no-hitter has been around as long as anyone associated with the Sox could remember.
In throwing his perfect game on Thursday, just the 18th in big-league history, Buehrle was seen joking and talking with teammates between innings, almost mocking that tradition. Not so fast. While Buehrle was the profile of calm, he was sort of a mess a few hours before the game started.
"That's the weird thing,'' Buehrle said. "I do have 'routines.' I usually stop at this one gas station on the way to the ballpark before I pitch, stop and get an energy drink that I drink on the way. That day I forgot. I passed the gas station, got more than halfway to the field, looked down at my empty cup-holder and said, 'Are you [crapping] me?'
"Then everyone kept talking about how I was 14-1 at home since last year's All-Star Break and all that stuff, so when I told my wife she said, 'Now that everyone is mentioning it you're for sure losing.' On top of that I forgot my energy drink, so I texted her on the way, and told her, 'I'm definitely losing now - one, they're talking about my home record and also I forgot my energy drink.' ''
He did far from lose, however.
He had the performance of his career, despite teammates like Gordon Beckham even refusing to look at him in the dugout between innings as it was going on, afraid to jinx him somehow.
"It's one of those superstitious things that I don't go by just because you hear announcers bring it up when they have to tell the audience what's going on, guys in the other dugout are saying it,'' Buehrle said. "In this instance, facing Tampa Bay, fans at home or in the bars are saying it, trying to jinx me, so I don't believe in it.''
Not only was that jinx idea being tested in the dugout on Thursday, but in the broadcast booth. Radio announcers Ed Farmer and Darrin Jackson never came out and said that Buehrle was in the middle of a perfect game at any point in the broadcast.
"I said, 'Zeroes across,' I said, 'He's perfect through six, perfect through seven.' I said, 'Come back for the ninth, this could be something special,' '' Farmer recalled. "I'm not superstitious but there are some fans, for some reason that feel like it effects what's going on down on the field. It's not a group of fans, it's a select few that quiz you at SoxFest and say, 'You know you said this ... ' Well, it's my job to say this. I try to appease everyone.''
Especially one person, who signs the checks and goes by the nickname "The Chairman.''
"I said, 'He's retired everybody he's seen.' '' Jackson said. "I never came out and said he had a perfect game going because there are people in power here that I know very well that frown on you bringing that stuff up.''
That person? Board chairman Jerry Reinsdorf.
"Jerry is very superstitious,'' Jackson said. "I don't want Jerry to come to me and say, 'It was your fault ... ' Because he has told me it's been my fault in the past.''
So Buehrle's dirty secret is now out: He's as superstitious and bizarre as the next major-leaguer. But now he's in a quandary. He pitched a perfect game without the security of his energy drink for the drive in.
"I don't know what I'll do now,'' Buehrle admitted. "I'll probably put it in my mind that I have to do it and then drive by the gas station and forget from now on. That's a tough one.''

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Ok I think I'm done with the perfect game for now...can we please stop losing?...hmmm at least we get to go to the metrodome after this..and then the yankees...ruh roh...

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This page contains a single entry by Joe Cowley published on July 25, 2009 4:10 PM.

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