You can compete effectively with him, and Kuroda proves that. You can’t really separate character balance from the players that use the characters, especially in 3S, where the existence of parry helps smooth over matchup issues between characters - and so showing a player that can destroy extremely skilled Yun, Ken and Chun players with Q is definitive proof that he is competitive. Same goes for all the pro Uriens, Yangs, etc.
You really have to think of balance as not only a linear description of tiers but a matrix of the tiers at various skill levels. At the lowest and intermediate skill levels, 3S is very well balanced. At the pro-but-not-godlike skill level Yun, Ken, and Chun really pull ahead of everyone else, and when you get to the level of Kuroda, Momochi, RX, Tokido, etc. etc. it’s much wider, with many more characters effectively competing. An example:
In the semi’s you have 4 chuns, 2 yuns, an urien, a yang, a Q, and a Makoto. At Evo you had 3 vipers and 2 yuns in the top 8 for SSF4AE. I don’t think 3S stands out as more or less balanced than any other fighting game when you reach the highest levels of play.
As far as Sirlin’s article, I don’t really even feel like it’s worthy of consideration. His core point is obvious - it’s worth it to rebalance an unbalanced game. The argument he fails to make is that 3S is an example of such a game. He just cites common knowledge about balance, and common knowledge in this case is just wrong. Also when he basically says “I don’t care about Japanese play with respect to balance” it’s like saying “I don’t care about Korean play with respect to balance” in Starcraft. It’s just silly. Tacking on a sales pitch for his games at the end was extra classy