Sept. 10, 2015
By Tyler King
Canadian Baseball Network
When Marcus Stroman received the news that he’d be starting on Saturday in New York - his first start of the season - he apparently made a point of thanking veteran teammate Mark Buehrle.
At first glance, Buehrle and Stroman could not be more different, both on the mound and in everyday life.
One is a 36-year-old veteran with 513 big league games to his name. The other is a 24-year-old sophomore(ish) about to make his 21st start in the Show.
One has logged 200 MLB innings 14 years in a row. The other has logged 130 innings ... for his entire career.
One throws hard. The other, um, doesn’t.
One has 87,000 twitter followers, who he engages with daily. I’d be shocked if the other even owns a computer.
One’s season is in question due to concerns about his aging arm. And the other’s season is just beginning (thanks to a freakishly quick recovery from the torn ACL he suffered in Spring Training).
Yet, despite all their obvious differences (one has a sweet man-beard, the other does not have a sweet man-beard), there are a couple of similarities that seem to bond this unlikely pair together ...
Buehrle and Stroman are both trying to help the Jays reach the postseason for the first time in 22 years.
And, oh yea, they’re both really fond of each other.
“[Buehrle] is very, very simple and I’m the complete opposite,” Stroman told reporters back in spring. “You can tell by the way we dress. I wear tapered pants, he’s just normal. I wear flashy shoes, he wears normal shoes. He hunts, I go into the city. It’s completely different.”
The young Jays right-hander was quick to add, “But he’s the man.”
“He’s almost like my dad,” Stroman would later say. “I told him, ‘When you’re done playing, you should just adopt me.’”
The fondness they have for one another is no secret - Stroman’s social media presence makes that perfectly clear. He always seems to be tweeting about the veteran lefty.
Their friendship isn’t restricted to social media either. Others around the Blue Jays clubhouse have taken notice.
Earlier in the season Mike Wilner, voice on Sportsnet’s Fan590 radio, tweeted: “Marcus Stroman is in town for the weekend. Just went into #Bluejays clubhouse and gave Mark Buehrle an enormous bear hug.”
Stroman himself isn’t even afraid to use the “L-Word”. After all, love is a word best reserved for family. And in Stroman’s case, family clearly isn’t restricted to blood.
In April, after Buehrle’s 200th win, Stroman was quick to post, “Congrats to my non-biological father, Papa Buehrle, on his 200th win. You are a legend. Love you pops! #FamilyFirst.”
(To see how far and hilarious he takes this, try typing #PapaBuehrle into twitter.)
The thing about Stroman is, it’s hard to tell when he’s joking ... possibly because it always seems like he’s joking. But when it comes to his relationship with Buehrle, there’s definitely no mistaking a real mutual, genuine affection.
However, as with all families - real and surrogate - sometimes those relationships can get a little complicated. Fathers and sons don’t always see eye-to-eye.
Some people believed that Stroman and Buehrle’s light-hearted, pseudo-familial relationship may have been thrown into turmoil this week with the announcement that Stroman will be taking Buehrle’s start in New York.
If you think that sounds a bit childish and petty, it’s because it is.
It’s also completely false.
That Buehrle would actually resent Stroman for starting on Saturday is bogus for a zillion reasons. First of all, this was never going to be a permanent thing. A healthy Mark Buehrle HAS TO be pitching in the postseason.
Forget what people are saying about velocity, or arm strength, or that he’s lost it. The guy’s a horse. He has been to the playoffs five times, pitching in six games.
He also has World Series experience, winning it in 2005 and becoming the first pitcher in ‘Series history to start and then post a save in consecutive games.
Secondly, if you’ve followed the Blue Jays at all for the past three seasons, or if you follow Stroman on twitter, you’d already know the kind of guy Buehrle is in the clubhouse. He’s the one who has all the rookies’ backs.
But in case you’re still not convinced, Buehrle cleared the whole situation up himself in Boston.
“Somebody said that there were a couple people saying that we [Stroman and I] were fighting and that it’s not good for the clubhouse, because he’s stealing or he’s taking one of my starts or something ...” Buehrle told reporters. “Whoever the idiot is, it’s not true.
“There is no animosity, there’s no fighting on my end or on his end,” Buehrle said laughing.
“Pretty much since we’ve known each other we’ve kept in contact, off season, during the season, even when he’s not here he texts me after every one of my starts. You know, we’re good friends.”
But just because he and Stroman are fine doesn’t mean Buehrle isn’t upset. It’s obvious that he is unhappy about being skipped in the rotation. Although that is directed more towards management.
He was clear in stating that all the additional “rest” was not his call. If he had things his way, he would be out there every fifth day.
Yet his previous start was pushed back by two days. And, after giving up nine hits and five runs in 3.1 innings, he was basically annexed from his next one.
Enter Marcus Stroman.
The stage is now set for the highly-touted pitcher to start his first game in 2015. At Yankees Stadium on Saturday. In the middle of a pennant race.
As if that wasn’t pressure enough -
Because Stroman hails from Long Island there’s a good chance both his real and fake dad will be in attendance.
I wonder if he’ll wave to the dugout or to the crowd ...
Either way, make ‘em proud, kid.
Follow Tyler and #Section108 on twitter: @tylerjoseph108