Buehrle definitely had a good draw of umps

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You know, if you were the suspicious type, this may cause your eyebrows to raise a bit:

Some umpires can work their entire careers and never find themselves
behind the plate for a no-hitter. Eric Cooper has been the plate umpire
for three of them, including two by White Sox left-hander Mark Buehrle,
who pitched a perfect game Thursday against the Tampa Bay Rays . . .

. . . How’s this for strange? Cooper has been behind the plate for
each of Buehrle’s last three shutouts — the perfect game Thursday, the
no-hitter April 18, 2007, at U.S. Cellular Field against the Texas
Rangers and a 6-0 victory against the Los Angeles Dodgers on June 17,
2005, at the Cell. Cooper, 38, also was behind the plate for Boston Red
Sox right-hander Hideo Nomo’s no-hitter against the Baltimore Orioles
on April 6, 2001.

Sadly, there isn’t any suggestion that Buehrle is paying off Cooper or
anything, because that would be the bestest story ever (at least if you
were a writer). If you’re Ozzie Guillen, though, don’t you mess with
your pitching staff to ensure that Buehrle is on the mound the next
time Cooper is behind the plate when his crew’s in town? If, for no
other reason, than to boost your ace’s confidence?

Report: Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on Sonny Gray

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 06: Sonny Gray #54 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning at the Oakland Coliseum on August 6, 2016 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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The Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on starting pitcher Sonny Gray, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The Astros have added Charlie Morton this offseason, but the club has been trying to add a big-name starting pitcher to put at the top of the rotation behind Dallas Keuchel.

Gray, 27, was limited to 22 starts in the 2016 season due to a forearm issue. His stats left a lot to be desired, as he finished with a 5-11 record, a 5.69 ERA, and a 94/42 K/BB ratio over 117 innings. Considering how Gray pitched in the previous three years, he’s a good bet to bounce back.

Gray is under team control through 2019, which is a big draw for the Astros. Needless to say, the Athletics would want a haul in terms of prospects. Gray will earn $3.575 million in 2017, having avoided arbitration in his first year of eligibility.

President Obama Welcomes the Cubs to the White House

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As we noted last week, The Chicago Cubs took the unusual step of not waiting until the summer after winning the World Series to make their customary White House visit to meet the president. They did it today, seeing President Obama a few short days before he leaves office.

Despite the fact that Obama is a White Sox fan, he met the Cubs with diplomacy and grace. It’s almost as if he’s been in that business for the past eight years. In return, he was given some gifts by the Cubs: Theo Epstein presented Obama with a No. 44 Cubs jersey, a tile from the center field scoreboard at Wrigley Field, and a lifetime pass to Wrigley as well.

Obama is staying in D.C. after he leaves office this week, hanging around so his daughter can finish high school in the same place she started. Even so, he’s likely going to be back to Chicago a good bit over the rest of his life, so he’ll likely be able to put the free pass to work. Assuming it comes with, like, six companion passes for his Secret Service detail.