Ballpark Tour: Rangers

With the offseason underway, we continue our tour of all of the different baseball stadiums I’ve been to over the years. This week, we look at the Texas Rangers, a team you would think I would have visited more often due to it’s proximity to my father. So, without further ado, let’s take a deeper look at my history with the originally-named Ballpark In Arlington, the now former home of the Rangers.

Stadium Name: The Ballpark In Arlington/Ameriquest Field/Rangers Ballpark In Arlington/Globe Life Park

Years in Service: 1994 – 2019

Visits: 7

After spending their entire history at nearby Arlington Stadium, the Texas Rangers broke ground on their new stadium on April 2, 1992 and held their first game there nearly two years later, on April 11, 1994 against the Brewers.  The stadium was known by the somewhat clunky moniker of The Ballpark in Arlington until May of 2004, when Ameriquest bought the naming rights.  That deal ended in March of 2007, and the stadium was renamed again, this time to Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.  Corporate money came calling again in 2014, when Globe Life and Accident Insurance Company purchased the naming rights.  The stadium also features a Rangers Hall of Fame, which includes historical artifacts from the team along with visiting collections from Cooperstown.

I made my first trip to the Ballpark on May 22, 1998, to see the Rangers defeat the Royals during a visit to the Dallas area to see my dad.  I returned in 2001 for two games, against the Tigers and 2 days later against the White Sox.  In 2005, on my last trip to the area to date, I took in the entire 4 game series between the Rangers and the eventual World Series champion White Sox.

Having never been to Arlington Stadium, I can’t compare the two, but I would assume that the Ballpark is a vast improvement over its predecessor.  The only downside I noticed in the games I attended was a day game under the hot Texas sun.  The Rangers are addressing that, opening a new stadium next season with a retractable roof.

Games Per Stadium By Year

With the 2019 season in the rear view mirror, let’s take a look at the number of games I’ve attended per year at one of the 25 different stadiums I’ve visited over the years.

 

Year Stadium Name Total Games
2008 US Cellular Field 46
2003 Wrigley Field 46
Surprise playoff runs for the White Sox in 2008 and the Cubs in 2003 led to my highest single season totals ever, boosted by post-season play.
2007 Wrigley Field 43
2004 Wrigley Field 41
My highest non-playoff total saw me attending over half of the home games for the Cubs in 2004.
2011 US Cellular Field 40
2009 US Cellular Field 40
2010 US Cellular Field 36
2005 Wrigley Field 34
2008 Wrigley Field 34
2017 Guaranteed Rate Field 33
2006 US Cellular Field 32
Post World Series championship started an attendance jump.
2016 US Cellular Field 32
2012 US Cellular Field 31
2015 US Cellular Field 31
2007 US Cellular Field 29
2014 US Cellular Field 28
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#2 – Mark Buehrle

Name: Mark Buehrle

Rank: 2

Position: P

Years With White Sox: 2000-2011

Mark Buehrle joined the White Sox organization in 1998, drafted in the 38th round.  Despite his lowly draft status, he rose quickly through the system, first coming up during the 2000 season, working out of the bullpen for the eventual division champions.  He moved into the rotation the following season, and stayed there for the next 11 seasons.  During that time, there were numerous memorable appearances, many of which I was privileged to see in person.

The 2007 no-hitter against the Rangers.

The 2009 perfect game against the Rays.

Winning Game 2 of the 2005 ALCS against the Angels, thanks to AJ’s heads-up baserunning, and starting the streak of 4 straight complete games.

The 1 hour 36 minute game against the Mariners in 2005.

The no look, through his legs flip to Paul Konerko on Opening Day 2010 against the Indians.

And, of course, his performance in the 2005 World Series, starting Game 2, getting a no decision, and coming in to pitch the 14th inning and earning the save in Game 3.

In White Sox annals, Buehrle is currently fifth all-time in strikeouts, sixth in games started, and eighth in wins and innings pitched.

Buehrle’s numbers in a White Sox uniform, both for games I attended and overall, were:

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#3 – Paul Konerko

PaulKonerkoRedName: Paul Konerko

Rank: 3

Position: 1B

Years With White Sox: 1999-2014

After brief appearances with the Dodgers and the Reds in 1997 and 1998, Paul Konerko was traded to the White Sox on November 11, 1998 for center fielder Mike Cameron.  He started at DH on opening day in 1999, an 8-2 victory over the Mariners, going 1-4 with a home run and 2 RBI.

2000 saw Konerko get off to a quick start with an inside the park home run on April 11 against the Devil Rays, the first by a White Sox player since 1990.  In his second full season, he helped lead the surprising White Sox to their first Central Division title.  He, along with the rest of the White Sox offense, struggled during the Division Series against the Mariners, going 0-9 in the three game sweep.

After steadily improving in 2001 and 2002, Konerko ran into trouble in 2003, with his average under .200 for the first half of the season.  He found himself coming off the bench as manager Jerry Manuel seemingly lost confidence in him.  He bounced back in the second half and re-established himself as the starting first baseman.

Konerko bounced back in a big way in 2004, hitting 41 home runs and knocking in over 100 RBIs en route to the Comeback Player of the Year award.  2005 saw him put up a second consecutive 40 HR, 100 RBI season as the White Sox found themselves back in the playoffs for the second time in his career.  This time, things would go much differently for both Konerko and the White Sox.

Konerko homered twice and drove in 4 runs during the three game sweep against the Red Sox, catching the final out that sent the White Sox to the ALCS for the first time since 1993.  Konerko hit another 2 home runs and drove in 7 against the Angels during the 5 game series.  Once again, Konerko caught the final putout that sent the White Sox to their first World Series since 1959.  Following the victory in game 5, Konerko was named ALCS MVP.

Konerko cooled down during the World Series, hitting only one home run against the Astros, but what a home run it was.  With the White Sox trailing in the 7th inning, Konerko came up to face new pitcher Chad Qualls with the bases loaded.  Konerko made contact on the first pitch, sending it into the left field seats for a grand slam and the lead.  Like the previous 2 series, Konerko caught the final putout at first base in Game 4, giving the White Sox their first World Series title since 1917.

With the afterglow of winning the World Series starting to subside, Konerko became a free agent.  Despite rumors of him getting more lucrative offers from both the Dodgers and the Orioles, Konerko finally resigned with the White Sox, inking a 5-year, $60 million contract that would keep him on the south side through 2010.

Konerko battled through injuries in 2008, leading to his worst season since 2003, but he did manage to help the White Sox reach the post-season for the third time during his career.  He hit 2 solo home runs in the 4 game series against the Rays, in what would be his final playoff appearance.

Konerko had two more chances at free agency, signing a 3 year deal with the White Sox prior to 2011 and, finally, re-upping for one last season in 2014.  He finishes his career as the White Sox all time leader in total bases and second all time in home runs, RBIs, and games played.  In addition, he was a 6-time All Star and had served as team captain since 2006.  He also is the only White Sox player to appear in the post season 3 different times.

Konerko’s numbers in a White Sox uniform, both for games I attended and overall, were:

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#7 – A.J. Pierzynski

Name: A.J. Pierzynski

Rank: 7

Position: C

Years With White Sox: 2005-2012

A.J. Pierzynski signed with the White Sox on January 6, 2005 following a year with the Giants that called his professionalism into question.  He rewarded the White Sox organization with 8 seasons of stability behind the plate the included 1 All-Star selection, 2 playoff appearances, and, of course, the 2005 World Series championship.  Over those 8 seasons, Pierzynski was involved in many key moments that endeared him to the White Sox faithful, including:

The walk-off home run, and resulting bat flip pictured to the left, against the Dodgers in 2005.

The two home runs in a thrashing of the Red Sox in game one of the 2005 ALDS, the first White Sox home postseason victory since 1959.

The controversial dropped third strike that led to a White Sox victory in game two of the 2005 ALCS against the Angels.

The 2006 brawl against the Cubs where Michael Barrett sucker-punched him after Pierzynski enthusiastically scored a run against the crosstown rivals.

Hanging on to the throw from Ken Griffey Jr. to preserve the shutout in the 2008 tie-breaker game that pushed the White Sox into the playoffs over the Twins.

Being behind the plate for Mark Buehrle’s no-hitter in 2007 and Philip Humber’s perfect game in 2012.

A.J. Pierzynski’s White Sox career officially came to an following the 2012 season, when the free agent catcher signed a contract with the Texas Rangers, leaving Paul Konerko as the last remaining member of the 2005 World Series champions to play for the South Siders.

Pierzynski’s numbers in a White Sox uniform, both for games I attended and overall, were:

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#8 – Jermaine Dye

Name: Jermaine Dye

Rank: 8

Position: RF

Years With White Sox: 2005-2009

Jermaine Dye signed with the White Sox as a free agent on December 9, 2004, as a replacement for the departing Magglio Ordonez.  He appeared in 145 games, his highest total since breaking his leg in the 2001 ALDS as a member of the A’s.  He ended the regular season hitting .274 with 31 home runs, 86 RBIs, and an .846 OPS as the White Sox won their first Central Division title since 2000.  In the ALDS, Dye scored 2 hits in the 3 game sweep of the Red Sox.  He picked things up in the ALCS, hitting .263 against the Angels as the White Sox won their first AL pennant since 1959.

Dye ratcheted things up again in the World Series against the Astros.  He hit a home run in game 1, had a phantom hit-by-pitch in game 2 setting up Paul Konerko’s grand slam, and drove in the only run in the clinching game 4, hitting .438 for the series and earning World Series MVP honors as the White Sox took home their first world championship in 88 years.

2006 proved to be Dye’s best offensive season.  He was named to his second All Star game, going hitless in his only at bat.  He finished the year second in the league with 44 home runs, third in slugging at .622, fifth in RBIs with 120, while hitting .315.  Those numbers were good enough for fifth place in AL Most Valuable Player voting and earned him his first, and only, Silver Slugger award.

2007 turned out to be more of a down year, for both Dye and the White Sox.  He struggled in the first half, including a cold June in which he batted just .203 with one home run.  He was able to turn things around in the second half, batting .298 and knocking out 20 doubles and 16 home runs.  He finished the year with a .254 average, 28 home runs, and 78 RBIs.  To reward his turnaround, he was given a two-year contract extension in August.

Dye continued his bounce back in 2008, and helped the White Sox rebound as well.  He finished the year with a .292 average, 34 home runs, and 96 RBIs, while finishing second in the American League with 77 extra-base hits, as the White Sox won the division title for the second time in his tenure.  Dye hit .375 with a home run in the ALDS, a four game loss against the Rays.  He earned 15th place in MVP voting.

Dye looked to slow down again in 2009, as his OPS fell to its lowest total since 2004.  He did, along with teammate Paul Konerko, make history on April 13, as they went back-to-back against the Tigers to each notch their 300th career home run.  According to Elias Sports Bureau, it was the first time teammates hit century milestone home runs of at least 300 in the same game, let alone back-to-back.  He ended the year hitting .250, with 27 home runs and 81 RBIs.  He became a free agent after the season when his option for 2010 was bought out.

Dye’s numbers in a White Sox uniform, both for games I attended and overall, were:

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#10 – Ozzie Guillen

Name: Ozzie Guillen

Rank: 10

Position: SS

Years With White Sox: 1985-1997

Acquired by the White Sox, along with Tim Lollar, Bill Long, and Luis Salazar, on December 6, 1984 from the Padres for Kevin Kristan, Todd Simmons, and LaMarr Hoyt, Ozzie Guillen made his major league debut on Opening Day 1985, leading off against the Brewers and going 1-5 in the 4-2 victory at County Stadium.  Settling in as the everyday shortstop, Guillen finished the year with a .273 average, 21 doubles, and 9 triples.  Those totals were good enough to score Guillen the 1985 AL Rookie of the Year trophy.

Guillen saw a slight drop off in his sophomore season.  His average dropped to .250 and he managed 19 doubles and 4 triples.  Defensively, he led the American League in Defensive WAR.

1987 was a nice bounce back for Guillen.  He raised his average back up to .279 with a .656 OPS.  For the second straight year, he led the AL, and all of baseball, in Defensive WAR.

Guillen earned his first All Star nod in 1988, though he didn’t get in to the game.  By the end of the season, he once again led all of baseball in Defensive WAR, while seeing his average drop to .261 with 7 triples, the fifth highest total in the AL.

1989 was a tough year for Guillen.  He posted his worst offensive numbers since 1986 and, on the base paths, he fell victim to the hidden ball trick.  Twice. On June 23, against the Brewers, first baseman Greg Brock held the ball after a pickoff attempt and when Guillen took his hand off the base to stand up, Brock tagged him out.  Less than 2 months later, on August 5 against the Tigers, Dave Bergman made the same play.  He finished the year with .253 average and, despite his adventures on pick off attempts, a career high 36 stolen bases.

As the surprising White Sox challenged for the AL West title while saying goodbye to Comiskey Park, Guillen put in one of the finest seasons of his career.  He was named to his second All Star team, going 0-2, finished in 17th place in MVP voting, and earned his first, and only, Gold Glove.  He raised his average back up to .279 and knocked in a career high 58 RBIs.

Expectations were high for the White Sox as they moved across the street to the new Comiskey Park in 1991.  Guillen earned his third, and final, All Star nod, getting a sacrifice in his only plate appearance.  He ended the year with a .273 average and set a career high with 3 home runs.

Guillen’s 1992 season came to an early end when, on April 21 during a loss against the Yankees, a collision with outfielder Tim Raines ended in a severe knee injury.  Appearing in only 20 games, he hit a career low .200 in only 40 at bats.

Guillen recovered in 1993, though he appeared in only 134 games, his lowest total to date.  However, it was his most productive season offensively, posting a .280 batting average, and career highs with 4 home runs and a .666 OPS, as the White Sox won their first division title in a decade.  He hit .273 and scored 4 runs in a losing effort, as the White Sox were defeated in 6 games by the Blue Jays in the ALCS.

1994 looked to be the year that the White Sox finally broke through.  Guillen was up to the challenge, hitting a career high .288 with a .659 OPS.  Unfortunately, the year ended early when players went on strike on August 12 with the White Sox in first place in the newly created AL Central.

The 1995 season got off to a late start and had an abbreviated schedule due to the long work stoppage.  The success of the White Sox, and for Guillen himself, didn’t survive the long layoff.  Guillen saw his average drop to .248, his lowest over a “full” season in his career to this point.  His OPS dropped to its lowest total, excepting 1992, since 1989.

1996 saw a slight improvement for Guillen.  He appeared in 150 games, his highest total since his knee injury in 1992.  He raised his average back to .263 and tied his career high with 4 home runs.

1997 was easily the worst season of Guillen’s White Sox career.  He had the lowest average of his career, coming in at .245, though he did once again tie his career high with 4 home runs.  Following the season, Guillen became a free agent and his playing career with the White Sox came to an end.

Guillen returned to the White Sox organization for the 2004 season as manager.  In 2005, he led the team to their first American League pennant since 1959 and their first World Series title in 88 years.  Ongoing personal difficulties with General Manager Kenny Williams led to his leaving with 2 games left in the 2011 season as the third winningest manager in franchise history.

Guillen’s numbers in a White Sox uniform, both for games I attended and overall, were:

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#13 – Aaron Rowand

Name: Aaron Rowand

Rank: 13

Position: CF

Years With White Sox: 2001-2005

Aaron Rowand joined the White Sox organization in 1998, selected in the first round of the draft.  He earned his first call up to the show on June 15, 2001 and made his major league debut the following day, pinch hitting and lining out to end an 8-2 loss to the Cardinals.  He ended the season hitting .293, fourth amongst rookies in the American League.

An off-season dirt bike accident looked to derail Rowand’s 2002 season, but he recovered enough to appear in 126 games, hitting .258 with 7 home runs and taking over as the starting center fielder following the mid-season trade of Kenny Lofton.  Rowand earned a return trip to Triple A in 2003 after hitting .133 in his first 60 games, but after a little more than a month, he returned to the big leagues, hitting .387 the rest of the way and ending the season with a .287 average.

2004 was a breakout year for Rowand.  A full time starter for the first time, Rowand appeared in 140 games, setting career highs with a .310 average and .905 OPS.  He also managed 24 home runs and 24 doubles.  He finished the year with 5.7 WAR, the seventh highest total in the American League.

The good times continued in 2005, for both Rowand and the White Sox.  In 157 games, Rowand hit .270 with 13 home runs.  Defensively, he committed only 3 errors in 394 chances, giving him the seventh highest defensive WAR in the American League.  Rowand went 4 for 10 against the Red Sox in the ALDS, driving in 2 runs and scoring 3 more in the 3 game sweep.  In the ALCS against the Angels, Rowand managed only 3 hits in the 5 game series, all doubles.  He bounced back in the World Series, going 5-17 against the Astros as the White Sox won their first title in 88 years.

Less than a month after the final out of the World Series, Rowand was traded, along with Gio Gonzalez and Daniel Haigwood, to the Phillies for Jim Thome.

Rowand’s numbers in a White Sox uniform, both for games I attended and overall, were:

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2019 Hall Of Fame Ballot – The Newcomers


baseballhof

The BBWAA released their ballot for the Hall of Fame class of 2019 on Monday.  The results of the vote are due to be revealed on January 22nd, with induction taking place next July.  After Chipper Jones, Jim Thome, Vladimir Guerrero, and Trevor Hoffman were elected in last year’s voting, the new ballot contains 15 holdovers along with 20 newcomers, which may continue the logjam caused by the current BBWAA rules which limit the number of votes on one ballot to 10 and the ongoing refusal by some writers to vote for players tainted by PEDs, leaving too many qualified candidates fighting for limited spots.  Once again, the BBWAA and the Hall may find themselves with a mess on their hands.

Yesterday, we looked at the returning candidates.  Today, it’s time to look at the newcomers and who may be thankful come January.

Rick Ankiel

Mad props to the man for putting together a viable major league career as an outfielder after imploding as a pitcher, but he has no shot here.

Jason Bay

I can’t imagine a world where Jason Bay earns a Hall of Fame vote.

Lance Berkman

I never really thought I was watching a Hall of Famer during the 31 games I saw Berkman perform in, but I have a feeling he will get some, but not enough, support.

Freddy Garcia
Jon Garland

These two members of the starting rotation for the 2005 World Series Champions will always hold a special place in my heart, but not in Cooperstown.

Travis Hafner

This has been a weak batch of newly eligible players so far, no?

Roy Halladay

I imagine Halladay would have garnered strong support anyway, but his untimely death last year will likely goose his numbers.

Todd Helton

Helton will get in, but he may need to wait a year or two.

Ted Lilly

I guess we’ll see if Bruce Levine gets to vote in these proceedings based on whether the former Cub gets a vote or not.

Derek Lowe

The former Red Sox hurler may get a little support, but not enough to keep him on the ballot for a second go-around.

Darren Oliver

Yeah, no.

Roy Oswalt
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Top 200 Albums – #31 – 40

itunes_imageNearly 4 years ago, we first counted down the Top 200 albums in my iTunes library. Since that time, I’ve successfully managed to migrate my music collection to a new PC with the stats intact. So, I figured it was time to take another look, based on number of plays from late 2007 through January 1, 2018.

We continue with the next batch of 10 albums ranked between #31 and 40, including 3 studio recordings, 3 greatest hits packages, and 1 live performance.

#40: Patton Oswalt – Finest Hour
iTunes stats: 128 plays
Previous Ranking: N/A

The fourth album from the mind of Patton Oswalt makes an impressive debut on the list.

#39: Garfunkel and Oates – Music Songs
iTunes stats: 129 plays
Previous Ranking: 36

8 tracks from the musical comedy duo of Riki Lindhome and Kate Micucci make up this total.

#38: David Cross – Shut Up, You Fucking Baby!
iTunes stats: 130 plays
Previous Ranking: 54

Every track from the first comedy album from David Cross makes up this total.

#37: Garbage – Garbage
iTunes stats: 132 plays
Previous Ranking: 54

The debut album from the Garbagers, whose total would be higher if not for their greatest hits album, makes the list on the backs of 12 tunes.

#36: Motley Crue – Motley Crue Greatest Hits
iTunes stats: 133 plays
Previous Ranking: 29

9 of the glam metal bands biggest hits make up the total for this greatest hits package.

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