This past Wednesday was a sad day for Chicago White Sox fans everywhere as it marked the end of an era.
In case you haven't heard by now—and if you haven't, I'm not quite sure where you've been—Mark Buehrle decided to follow NBA star LeBron James and take his talents to South Beach.
However, the difference in Buehrle's departure versus LeBron's was that it was much more dignified and the fans of the team that Buehrle is leaving are actually going to miss him.
Buehrle will join former Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen as part of the Miami Marlins' 2012 reclamation project as he signed a four year, 58 million dollar contract on Wednesday, making his much speculated departure from the south side of Chicago official.
Much has already been written about Buehrle's accomplishments and how badly he is going to be missed on the field, but the fact of the matter is, he was a lot more than just another good pitcher.
In a time where many athletes don't really see the big picture and tend to be very self-absorbed, Mark Buehrle stands out as one athlete who doesn't fit that description at all.
For lack of a better explanation, Buehrle just gets it.
He understands that baseball is just a game.
He understands that being a good teammate is just as important as being a good player.
He understands that the way to gain respect in this game is to do your job and keep your mouth shut.
In other words, this is a guy that parents everywhere should want their sons to emulate.
The way he carries himself on and off the field is the way we wish every athlete would.
He is just a very humble guy and with his accomplishments on the field, he really has every right not to be.
However, that's not what Buehrle is all about, and it never has been.
He is about going out every fifth day and giving his team a chance to win—often in record time I might add—and even more than that, he is about having fun.
I don't think I've ever seen a guy smile more or have as much fun playing the game as Buehrle. Baseball needs more guys like that.
He is the guy that will play jokes on his teammates or slide head first on the wet tarp during a rain delay. He is also the guy that praises his teammates every chance he gets, while never throwing them under the bus when things aren't going well.
Those types of things are just vintage Buehrle.
And these are all reasons why his teammates love to play with him. Ask any of them and that's what they'll tell you: They will tell you how great of a guy he is.
On top of that, he is about as dependable of a pitcher as you will find and because of that he has earned well-deserved respect around the league.
Pitching over 200 innings for 11 straight years will tend to do that.
Over the years Buerhle has even managed to earn the respect of the fans from the team on the north side of town, and that's tough to do.
In Chicago, if you can earn the respect of the fans from the other side of town, you've done something right.
White Sox fans are definitely going to miss this guy and they should, because he is one of a kind.
It would have been great to see him stay with the White Sox and finish his career in Chicago, but it's a business and that's the bottom line.
He deserved the contract he got, which isn't something you can say for most athletes today. You can't help but be happy for him and his family.
I think it's fair to say that most White Sox fans will continue to root for Buehrle in Miami and wherever else his career may take him because he has earned it. I know I will.