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
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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.

Book 1 (of 52) – Hawk

Hawk: I Did It My Way – Ken Harrelson with Jeff Snook

As his broadcast career was winding down, Ken Harrelson decided to move his stories to a different medium, looking back at his life and career in Hawk: I Did It My Way.  He chronicles his life, from being born in South Carolina and raised in Savannah, Georgia, to the minor leagues, the big leagues, the PGA tour, and, eventually, the broadcast booth.  Harrelson has crossed paths with everybody who was anybody, from his former A’s boss Charlie O. Finley to Arnold Palmer to Frank Sinatra to, as you may not have known, Carl Yastrzemski.

While Harrelson’s exploits during his playing days and his attempt to make it as a professional golfer offer interesting stories, its his time as a broadcaster that was most appealing to this White Sox fan.  Originally hired in 1982, along with Don Drysdale, to replace fan favorite Harry Caray, Harrelson spent 32 years broadcasting for the White Sox, with a break after his ill-fated tenure as the team’s general manager in 1986.

If anything, I would have liked to hear more about that season.  Harrelson did go over some of the moves that he made, including firing Tony LaRussa and trading Rule 5 draft pick (and future star) Bobby Bonilla back to the Pirates, but there were other controversies that went untouched, like moving Carlton Fisk to left field.  In fact, given how often the two must have crossed paths between Boston and Chicago, there is only one mention of Fisk at all, a throwaway tale from spring training in the late 60s where Hawk and Yaz quipped that he’d never make the big leagues.

This is a must read for any White Sox fan, regardless of your thoughts on Harrelson.  He was the voice of the team for a generation and his stories offer a unique insight in to one of the most successful eras in White Sox history.

Ballpark Tour: A’s

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 return to the Bay Area to look at the Oakland A’s. So, without further ado, let’s take a deeper look at my history with the originally-named Oakland Coliseum.

Stadium Name: McAfee/Network Associates Coliseum

Years in Service: 1968 – Present

Visits: 2

The Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum opened in 1966 as the home of the Oakland Raiders.  Two years later, Charlie Finley moved his A’s from Kansas City to Oakland and became the baseball tenant of the stadium.  In 1998, the stadium became known as Network Associates Coliseum.  In mid-2004, Network Associates was renamed McAfee and the stadium was renamed McAfee Coliseum accordingly.  Following the 2008 season, the name reverted back to Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum until April 27, 2011, when it was renamed Overstock.com Coliseum. Just over a month later, the Coliseum was renamed O.co Coliseum, after Overstock.com’s marketing name.  The A’s have officially been looking for a new home since 2005, with Major League Baseball sitting on a feasibility study for over 4 years on the team’s potential future in the East Bay.

Both times I’ve traveled to the Bay area, I’ve taken in both Giants and A’s games.  My first trip to what at the time was called Network Associates Coliseum was on September 6, 1999 while I was out west visiting my friend Scott.  The Tigers triumphed over the A’s that day, and my one memory of the stadium is that the seats were not necessarily positioned in such a way as to face the field for baseball purposes.

My second trip to the Bay area, for the JavaOne conference in 2008, actually started out with a BART trip out to Oakland for a 2-1 A’s victory over the Orioles on May 5th.  The A’s had opnened up three sections of the third deck as designated All-You-Can-Eat seats, where, for the price of the ticket, free ballpark fare was included.  While I enjoyed the novelty of the free foodstuffs, the seats, while directly behind home plate, were horrible.  Leaving early in order to catch the train back to San Francisco led to the problem of trying to get out of the stadium, since none of the gates were open.

The A’s have spent over a decade trying to find a new home, and with good reason.  The Coliseum was mainly configured for the Raiders, who will be leaving town soon, and the A’s have been second class citizens in their own home for decades.  Until a new stadium is built, or the team moves to another city, the A’s will continue to be behind the 8-ball.

The Decade In Baseball – Team Records

The 2010s have drawn to a close and its time to take a look back at the previous decade.  Today, we are starting with baseball, specifically the performance of all 30 MLB teams in games I attended between 2010 and 2019.  Locally, things were good on the north side of town, as the Cubs finished their rebuild with 3 straight NLCS appearances in the middle of the decade, including a World Series championship in 2016.  It was much bleaker on the south side, as the White Sox failed to compete after a late collapse in 2012, finishing the decade on a string of 7 consecutive losing seasons.

I managed to take in 385 games over the past 10 years at 12 different stadiums from coast (Dodger Stadium) to coast (Fenway Park).  2010 was my high water mark, with 52 games, while 2013 and 2018 tied for the lowest total of the decade with only 29 games.

Games Per Year
Year Total Games
2010 52
2011 43
2012 33
2013 29
2014 35
2015 39
2016 39
2017 49
2018 29
2019 37

Two franchises went through the decade undefeated in games I attended, while another 2 teams went winless.  Both local teams finished just a shade under .500.  The White Sox are far and away the team I saw most often, while the Diamondbacks bring up the rear with only 2 appearances over the past 10 years.

2019 Team Records
Team Name Won Loss Winning Pctg
Colorado Rockies 4 0 1.000
New York Mets 3 0 1.000
Boston Red Sox 9 3 0.750
New York Yankees 9 4 0.692
Washington Nationals 6 3 0.667
Houston Astros 6 3 0.667
Florida Marlins 2 1 0.667
Los Angeles Angels 9 5 0.643
Detroit Tigers 22 13 0.629
Pittsburgh Pirates 5 3 0.625
Kansas City Royals 21 17 0.553
Cleveland Indians 17 14 0.548
Toronto Blue Jays 8 7 0.533
Minnesota Twins 19 17 0.528
Oakland Athletics 7 7 0.500
St. Louis Cardinals 2 2 0.500
San Diego Padres 2 2 0.500
Arizona Diamondbacks 1 1 0.500
Chicago White Sox 159 164 0.492
Chicago Cubs 40 43 0.482
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Fortifying The Staff

After missing out on Zack Wheeler earlier in the offseason, the White Sox looked idly by as the remaining big names vanished off the free agent board: Gerrit Cole, Stephen Strasburg, Madison Bumgarner.  Last week, however, the struck on their plan B, signing Gio Gonzalez to a one year deal on Friday and coming to terms with Dallas Keuchel on a reported 3 year deal on Saturday.

Keuchel, a 31 year old left hander, sat out the first half of last season, signing after the draft (and the expiration of the draft pick compensation attached to him) and helping the Braves to the NL East title.  He won the AL Cy Young Award in 2015, and should help stabilize the White Sox rotation, both on the mound and as a mentor on the bench.

Gonzalez, 34, enters his third stint in the White Sox organization.  Originally signed as the team’s first round draft pick in 2004, he was part of the deal that brought Jim Thome from the Phillies following the 2005 season.  He was reacquired from the Phillies a year later, along with Gavin Floyd for Freddy Garcia.  He was traded again in 2008 as part of the ill-fated Nick Swisher deal with the A’s.  He will now bolster the back end of the White Sox rotation.

These moves give the White Sox plenty of pitching depth as they go into spring training, allowing Michael Kopech and Carlos Rodon to return from injury on their own timetable and keeping the likes of Dylan Covey and Ross Detwiler far from the pitching mound at Guaranteed Rate Field.

2019 Final Standings

For the second straight year, the Cubs faltered down the stretch and, for the first time since 2014, they failed to make the postseason, thus bringing my game-attending portion of the 2019 season to an end.  I made it to 37 games this season, my highest total since 2016.  I did manage to attend games at 7 different stadiums, my highest single season total and bringing my total up to 25.  Here are the final standings for those games and the 21 different teams I saw in person.

2019 Team Records
Team Name Won Loss Winning Pctg
San Francisco Giants 2 0 1.000
Washington Nationals 2 0 1.000
New York Mets 1 0 1.000
Texas Rangers 1 0 1.000
Boston Red Sox 1 0 1.000
Toronto Blue Jays 2 1 0.667
Cleveland Indians 2 1 0.667
Los Angeles Angels 2 1 0.667
Chicago Cubs 6 5 0.545
New York Yankees 1 1 0.500
Oakland Athletics 1 1 0.500
Seattle Mariners 1 1 0.500
Minnesota Twins 1 1 0.500
Chicago White Sox 13 15 0.464
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2019 Predictions Revisited

Six months ago, at the dawn of the 2019 baseball season, I made my annual predictions as to who would win what.  Now that the regular 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, one for one so far.  This one wasn’t particularly close, as the Yankees won 103 games and won the division by 7 games.

Central: Indians

So much for going perfect.  The Indians saw their run of 3 consecutive division titles come to an end at the hands of the upstart Twins.

West: Astros

The Astros put up the best record in baseball, so this one was pretty much a gimme.

Wild Cards: Red Sox, Angels

No and No.  Right divisions, but the Rays and the A’s took home the Wild Cards.

AL Champion: Astros

This one is looking pretty good.

Cy Young: Justin Verlander

As is this one.  It will likely come down to him or teammate Gerrit Cole.

MVP: George Springer

I think I picked the wrong Astro.

National League

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