Everything Old Is New Again

About 2 1/2 weeks ago, Rick Hahn described the ideal candidate to become the next manager of the White Sox: recent post-season experience with a championship organization.  Depending on your definition of recent, the White Sox found their man today, announcing that Tony LaRussa, who retired from the dugout after leading the Cardinals to a championship in 2011, would once again take the reins on the south side of Chicago.

LaRussa, who is third all-time with 2,728 wins, first became manager of the White Sox in 1979, under owner Bill Veeck.  After leading the team to the AL Western Division title in 1983, LaRussa was fired in June of 1986 by Ken Harrelson.  This has long been cited as the biggest sports-related regret for owner Jerry Reinsdorf.

 

LaRussa caught on with the A’s less than a month after leaving the White Sox, staying there for 10 years, winning 3 AL pennants and one World Series championship.  He then spent 16 years on the bench for the Cardinals, winning 3 NL pennants and 2 World Series championships, retiring after the final one in 2011.  Since then, he has spent time working for MLB and in the front office for the Diamondbacks, Red Sox, and Angels.

LaRussa, who will be 76 on opening day 2021, becomes the oldest manager in the major leagues and the oldest to take over a team since Jack McKeon in 2011.

The two biggest concerns, to my mind, are 1) has the move toward analytics changed the game enough in the last 9 years that he’s been left behind and 2) will the exuberant players on the White Sox roster, namely Tim Anderson, Luis Robert, and Eloy Jimenez, chafe under an older school manager who may not appreciate the bat flips and political outspokenness.  This will either end very well, with post-season success, or will bomb spectacularly.  There really will not be a middle ground.

Playoff Batting Leaders

Game 1 of the AL Wild Card Series is in the books and the White Sox look to close out the A’s this afternoon.  The NL Wild Card Series kicks off this afternoon, with the Cubs doing battle against the Marlins.  With that in mind, it’s time to take an updated look at the offensive leaders from the now 30 post-season games I have attended since 2000.  So, without further ado, we start off with:

Home Runs

Name Total
Kris Bryant 4
Javier Baez 3
Paul Konerko 3
B.J. Upton 3
Dexter Fowler 3
Enrique Hernandez 3

Hits

Name Total
Kris Bryant 11
Javier Baez 11
Dexter Fowler 10
Anthony Rizzo 10
Moises Alou 9
Jason Heyward 9

Runs

Name Total
Dexter Fowler 7
Paul Konerko 6
Daniel Murphy 6
A.J. Pierzynski 5
Kris Bryant 5
Javier Baez 5
Continue reading →

All Time Playoff Team Records

For the first time since 2008, both the White Sox and the Cubs are in the post-season following this abbreviated 2020 season.  The expanded run to the World Series will start with the White Sox facing A’s in Oakland for a best of 3 series starting tonight, while the Cubs welcome the Marlins to Wrigley starting tomorrow.  Winners will advance to the LDS and enter a playoff bubble, with the AL moving to California and the NL to Texas.

With the AL Wild Card Series set to kick off today, it’s time to take an updated look at the team records for the now 30 playoff contests I have attended. These contests come from the 2018 Wild Card game, the ALDS in 2000, 2005, and 2008, the NLDS in 2003, 2007, 2008, 2015, 2016, and 2017, the NLCS in 2003, 2015, 2016, and 2017, the ALCS in 2005, and, of course, the 2005 and 2016 World Series.  Sadly, I won’t be adding any games to this list this year.  Thanks, corona virus.

Post-Season Team Records
Team Name Won Loss Winning Pctg
Florida Marlins 3 0 1.000
Seattle Mariners 2 0 1.000
New York Mets 2 0 1.000
Colorado Rockies 1 0 1.000
Arizona Diamondbacks 1 0 1.000
Chicago White Sox 5 4 0.556
Los Angeles Dodgers 3 3 0.500
Atlanta Braves 1 1 0.500
Cleveland Indians 1 1 0.500
Los Angeles Angels 1 1 0.500
Washington Nationals 1 1 0.500
Tampa Bay Rays 1 1 0.500
Chicago Cubs 9 13 0.409
San Francisco Giants 0 2 0.000
St. Louis Cardinals 0 1 0.000
Boston Red Sox 0 2 0.000
Houston Astros 0 1 0.000

2020 Predictions Revisited

The shortened 60 game 2020 baseball season wraps up today.  2 months ago, I made my annual predictions as to who would win what, not really knowing what a shortened season during a global pandemic would entail.  Now that the season has come to an end, it is time revisit those predictions and see what, if anything, I got right.

American League

East: Yankees

Well, that’s one down.  The Yankees looked to be on cruise control, until a plague of injuries knocked them off course.  The Rays, meanwhile, took home their first division crown since 2010.

Central: Twins

The Twins take their second consecutive division title, thanks in part to the White Sox crapping down their pants leg over the last week of the season.

West: Astros

The A’s came through in a big way, dethroning the Astros after their 3 year reign atop the division.

Wild Cards: White Sox, Rays

Well, these predictions were made before the current playoff structure was put in place.  The three second place teams are guaranteed a post-season slot, with the next two best records earning a wild card spot.

AL Champion: Yankees

While they didn’t win the division, the Yankees do seem primed to make a strong run.

Cy Young: Blake Snell

Indians ace Shane Bieber pretty much has this wrapped up.

MVP: Yoan Moncada

Moncada has struggled after contracting COVID-19 back during summer camp, but I think I was in the right ballpark.  Jose Abreu looks to be the clubhouse leader for this award.

National League

Continue reading →

All Time Team Records

What was planned to be the earliest non-international start in Major League Baseball history turned into the latest, thanks to a combination of the corona virus pandemic and pointless bickering between the MLBPA and team owners.  With the 2020 baseball season finally set to get underway today, although with no fans in the stands, it is time once again to look at the all-time team records for games that I have identified as having attended dating back to 1984.  Thanks to some eBaying of pocket schedules from the 80s, I was able to identify one additional game that I attended in 1988, a California Angels victory at Comiskey Park against the White Sox.

The Cubs look to bounce back from last year’s September collapse that kept them out of the postseason for the first time since 2014, while the White Sox hope their offseason additions push them towards contention as their young talent starts to blossom.  With only 60 games to make their mark, the 2020 season should be an interesting one on both sides of town.

All-Time Team Records
Team Name Won Loss Winning Pctg
California Angels 2 0 1.000
Arizona Diamondbacks 13 2 0.867
Florida Marlins 15 8 0.652
Colorado Rockies 10 6 0.625
Boston Red Sox 18 13 0.581
Toronto Blue Jays 15 11 0.577
New York Yankees 15 11 0.577
Los Angeles Angels 19 14 0.576
Cleveland Indians 28 24 0.538
Chicago Cubs 219 197 0.526
Philadelphia Phillies 10 9 0.526
Houston Astros 22 20 0.524
Chicago White Sox 306 287 0.516
Continue reading →

Royals All Time Leaders – Through 2019

royalsWith baseball now officially on its way back after the corona virus, I thought it would be an interesting time to look back at the all time leaders in both offensive and defensive categories for all 30 teams. We continue today with the Kansas City Royals.

The Royals began life in 1969, joining the American League following the abandonment of the Kansas City market by the A’s following the 1967 season.  I’ve seen them play 55 times, first in 1985 at old Comiskey Park where Willie Wilson took a throw to second base off the noggin, to last April, where I saw them in an early season series at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Home Runs

Name Total
Alex Gordon 6
Eric Hosmer 5
Salvador Perez 5

Hits

Name Total
Eric Hosmer 31
Billy Butler 30
Alcides Escobar 30

Runs

Name Total
Alex Gordon 17
Alcides Escobar 15
Billy Butler 13

RBI

Name Total
Whit Merrifield 17
Billy Butler 16
Salvador Perez 15

Doubles

Name Total
Alcides Escobar 10
Billy Butler 6
Alex Gordon 6

Triples Continue reading →

It’s Still Been A While

Exactly 8 months since my last baseball game, the longest drought I’ve experienced since 1998 into 1999, I figured it was a good time to take another look at the last time I saw each of the 30 major league teams. For someone with season tickets to two teams, one in each league, you would think that I would cycle through each team every few years or so.  And, for the most part, that does seem to be the case.  I saw 21 of the 30 teams in 2019, going back to 2018, that number jumps to 23.  That’s nearly 77% of the league in the past 2 seasons.

What about those remaining 7 teams?  The Dodgers, Rays, Braves, and Padres last appeared in 2017, while 2016 takes care of the Reds.  I somehow haven’t seen the Diamondbacks since 2014, despite being inside their home ballpark more recently than that.  That leaves the Marlins, who I have somehow not managed to see in person since 2013.  Anyway, here’s a look at each team and the last time I saw them play.

Team Name Date
Miami Marlins 5/26/2013
Arizona Diamondbacks 5/10/2014
Cincinnati Reds 4/11/2016
San Diego Padres 5/13/2017
Atlanta Braves 9/2/2017
Tampa Bay Rays 9/3/2017
Los Angeles Dodgers 10/19/2017
Houston Astros 4/22/2018
Colorado Rockies 10/2/2018
Seattle Mariners 4/6/2019
Pittsburgh Pirates 4/8/2019
Kansas City Royals 4/15/2019
Boston Red Sox 5/5/2019
St. Louis Cardinals 5/5/2019
Continue reading →

A’s All Time Leaders – Through 2019

oakland-athleticsWith baseball shut down because of the corona virus, I thought it would be an interesting time to look at the all time leaders in both offensive and defensive categories for all 30 teams.  We continue today with the Oakland Athletics.

The A’s began life in Philadelphia in 1901, as one of the 8 charter franchises of the American League, before moving to Kansas City in 1955 and, finally, to Oakland in 1968.  I’ve seen them play at least 27 times, including twice in their home stadium.

Home Runs

Name Total
Matt Olson 4
Jason Giambi 3
5 tied with  2

Hits

Name Total
Adam Rosales 8
Rajai Davis 8
4 tied with 7

Runs

Name Total
Coco Crisp 5
Adam Rosales 5
Matt Olson 5

RBI

Name Total
Matt Olson 7
Ramon Hernandez 5
6 tied with 4

Doubles

Name Total
Coco Crisp 3
9 tied with 2

Triples Continue reading →

Ballpark Tour: Reds

Spring training is in full swing and opening day is coming up in a little less than 3 weeks, as we continue our tour of all of the baseball stadiums I’ve been to over the years.  My most visited city, outside of Chicago, for baseball contains the homes of the Cincinnati Reds.  Between the two stadiums that have been located on the riverfront of the Ohio River, I’ve seen 8 games.  So, without further ado, let’s take a deeper look at my history with Cinergy Field and Great American Ball Park.

Stadium Name: Riverfront Stadium/Cinergy Field

Years in Service: 1970 – 2002

Visits: 1

Riverfront Stadium, Cincinnati’s version of the cookie cutter stadium that popped up in the late 60s and early 70s, opened on June 30, 1970 as the Reds hosted the Atlanta Braves.  In 1996, the stadium was renamed Cinergy Field thanks to a sponsorship deal with the local energy company.  Prior to the 2001 season, after the Bengals moved to their new home down the street, the stadium was reconfigured for baseball-only use, and portions of the outfield stands were removed to make room for the construction of the Reds’ new home, the future Great American Ball Park.  The 2002 season was the final one for the stadium, with the final game played on September 22 and the stadium was imploded on December 29.

In 2000, Ken Griffey Jr. joined the Cincinnati Reds, which put two of the most feared sluggers in the game in the NL Central.  When Sammy Sosa and the Chicago Cubs were scheduled to make an opening week visit to Cincinnati in 2000 to face Griffey for the first time, the idea a roadtrip was hatched.  Friday, April 7, 2000 started with Krispy Kreme donuts at the house before heading towards Cincinnati.  Along the way, there was a brief stop at Purdue. because why not, and the trifecta of a KFC/Taco Bell/Pizza Hut seemed like a good place to stop for lunch.  We arrived in Cincinnati well before the stadium opened, so some time was spent walking around the bustling metropolis that was, and continues to be, Cincinnati.

Our tickets were in the upper deck and, to be honest, I have little to no recollection of the game itself.  My one and only memory of the game is losing my balance and tumbling down 5-10 rows, landing on a group of fans below.  Certainly not my proudest moment.  I do recall some of the drive home after the game, which included listening to the White Sox/A’s game where Jose Valentin committed a number of errors for the eventual AL Central champs.

Stadium Name: Great American Ball Park

Years in Service: 2003 – Present

Visits: 7

After 32 1/2 seasons at Riverfront Stadium, the Reds moved next door to the newly built Great American Ball Park for the 2003 season, opening against the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Bronze statues of former stars Joe Nuxhall, Ernie Lombardi, Ted Kluszewski, and Frank Robinson are located in front of the main entrance.

Less than a month into the stadium’s existence, I made my first trip to the GABP with my friend Scott, who had moved to the Cincinnati area, to see the Reds take on the Padres.  The next season, the Cubs opened their season in Cincinnati against the Reds, so another trip was in order, where Vice President Dick Cheney threw out the first pitch..  In August of 2005, I attended the Reds game against the Diamondbacks, kicking off a string of 3 stadiums in 3 states in 9 days.  In 2006, the Cubs once again opened their season on the road against the Reds and again it constituted a road trip down to see, where this time President George W Bush threw out the first pitch.  I made a return trip that summer for interleague play to see the White Sox battle the Reds.  In 2007, when the Cubs were looking the clinch the division, I made the trip down, but missed it by one day.  The next year, I made my final, to date, trip down to Cincinnati and saw the Rockies defeat the Reds.

Of all the newer stadiums that have opened over the past 20 years, Great American Ball Park does not often illicit the praise that the others get.  However, I like it.  It’s a fine place to see a game and has plenty of the modern amenities that are required here in the 21st century.  I wouldn’t hesitate to return, despite the fact that it has been over 11 years since I’ve been there.

Ballpark Tour: Giants

Spring training is a little less than a month away as we continue our tour of all of the baseball stadiums I’ve been to over the years. Today we travel west to the Bay area for the baseball homes of the San Francisco Giants.  Between the two stadiums that have been located in and around San Francisco, I’ve seen 2 games. So, without further ado, let’s take a deeper look at my history with Candlestick Park and AT&T Park.

Stadium Name: 3 Com Park

Years in Service: 1960 – 1999

Visits: 1

When the New York Giants moved west in 1958, the city of San Francisco began constructing a new ballpark for them, and Candlestick Park was born. The stadium opened in 1960 and was the home of the now-San Francisco Giants through the 1999 season. Along the way, the stadium has also played host to the Oakland Raiders, the San Francisco 49ers, dozens of commercials and movies, and, in 1965, the final commercial concert appearance by the Beatles.

In September of 1999, I headed out to the Bay Area to visit an old friend. One of the items on our agenda was to head out to Candlestick, which had been renamed 3Com Park by this point, to see a game before the Giants moved to their new home the following season. With only 13 home games left on the schedule, we set out to see the Giants take on the Phillies on September 2. The Giants, behind starter Joe Nathan, defeated the Phillies 3-2 on a cool autumn afternoon.

Stadium Name: AT&T Park/Oracle Park

Years in Service: 2000 – Present

Visits: 2

After flirting with a move to Tampa Bay, the Giants opened Pacific Bell Park in 2000 after 40 seasons at Candlestick Park. The ballpark was the first stadium built without public funds since the completion of Dodger Stadium in 1962. The stadium was renamed SBC Park in 2003 and then finally AT&T Park in 2006 thanks to the corporate upheaval in the telecommunications world. In April 2010, the stadium became the first MLB ballpark to receive LEED Silver Certification for Existing Buildings, Operations and Maintenance.

In May of 2008, I made my second trip out to Bay Area, this time to attend the Java One conference. The week started with the A’s in town while the Giants returned home for a weekend series, so I adjusted my schedule so that I could attend games at both stadiums. Friday night, after most of the techies had left town, I hopped on the bus down to AT&T Park to see the Giants, once again, take on the Phillies. I dropped some major coin for the best tickets in the house, which got me in a box between home plate and the Phillie dugout and a prime spot on the evening’s telecast. The Phillies, on their way to a World Series championship, defeated the Giants 7-4.

This past August, I mage my third trip to San Francisco, this time for a trip to one of our affiliates for talks about their entry into the broader corporate umbrella.  Wouldn’t you know it, but the Phillies were in town once again.  With Madison Bumgarner on the bump, the Giants shut down the Phillies as I took in the game a mere 3 rows behind the Giants dugout.