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The great debate

By Brittany Feagans [brit.feagans@gmail.com]

Even when they’re not playing each other, the Cubs and the White Sox continue to compete against each other. Yesterday’s White Sox pitching performance was no exception.

With Mark Buehrle pitching the ultimate gem, a perfect game, the question arises: which historical Chicago pitching performance was superior—Kerry Wood’s 20 strikeouts or Buehrle’s perfect game?

There is no doubt about one thing: Buehrle pitched one hell of a game. There have only been 18 perfect games in the history of Major League Baseball for a reason—it’s extremely difficult to retire 27 straight hitters without any errors, hits or walks.

On the other hand, there have only been three pitchers EVER who have thrown 20 strikeouts in an appearance: Wood, Roger Clemens, and Randy Johnson. However, Johnson’s 20 strikeouts were part of an 11-run game.

When Wood punched out 20 Astros on May 6, 1998, he was a rookie making only his fifth Major League appearance. That outing was undoubtedly the best pitching performance by a Chicago pitcher… that is up until yesterday challenged that designation.

Here’s my thinking. A perfect game, although it highlights the pitcher, is more of a team effort. In Buehrle’s case, if Dewayne Wise had not snagged that would-be-homerun in the ninth inning, the perfection would have been sabotaged. Buehrle only punched out six men; if a team member had made an error, the perfect game would have been demoted to a no-hitter.

Kerry Wood’s performance was, essentially, all him. Those 20 strikeouts were his doing. Besides the catcher, no one else contributed to that piece of history. And while Wise luckily bailed out Buehrle on what would have been a devastating hit, Wood was one-hit away from a no-hitter in his historical game.

Also, don’t forget that save for a walk and an error, Carlos Zambrano would have upgraded his no-no to a perfect game last September.

In my opinion, both a no-hitter and a perfect game should be considered a team effort. Defense is needed to make a both of these rarities possible.

While I am incredibly proud of Buehrle for throwing a perfect game, in my eyes the award for Best Chicago Pitching Performance goes to Kerry Wood.

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