Ballpark Tour: Brewers

Spring training is in full swing and opening day is about a month away, as we continue our tour of all of the baseball stadiums I’ve been to over the years. The closest city, outside of Chicago, for baseball, contains the homes of the Milwaukee Brewers. Between the two stadiums that have been located in the heart of cheeseland, I’ve seen 8 games. So, without further ado, let’s take a deeper look at my history with County Stadium and Miller Park.

Stadium Name: County Stadium

Years in Service: 1953 – 2000

Visits: 1

Milwaukee County Stadium was built with the intention of drawing a major league baseball team to Milwaukee, and it worked quicker than anybody would have expected, as the Braves announced they would be moving from Boston 3 weeks before the stadium, and the 1953 season, opened.  The Braves would call Milwaukee home for the next 13 seasons before leaving for Atlanta for the 1966 season.

During the 1968 and 1969 seasons, the struggling Chicago White Sox wound up playing 20 home games at County Stadium in an effort to keep the baseball fandom alive in Milwaukee.  In 1970, local businessman Bud Selig purchased the expansion Seattle Pilots out of bankruptcy court and moved them to Milwaukee and rechristened them the Brewers.  The Brewers would call County Stadium home until 2000, when they would move next door in to the newly built Miller Park.

I made one trip up to County Stadium for a White Sox/Brewers tilt on July 18, 1993.  The White Sox were victorious thank to a 2-run single by Bo Jackson in the 9th inning. I remember sitting out in the bleachers, but, beyond that, have no particular memory of the stadium or what amenities, if any, it offered.

Stadium Name: Miller Park

Years in Service: 2003 – Present

Visits: 7

The Brewers broke ground on a new stadium on November 9, 1996, in a parking lot behind County Stadium, with plans to open the park for the 2000 season.  Construction was delayed in 1999 after a crane collapsed while lifting a 400-ton roof section, killing three workers.  This caused the opening to be delayed for a year, and the new Miller Park did not open until April 6, 2001.  In 2007, the stadium hosted an Indians series against the Angels after snow storms in Cleveland forced the cancellation of the previous series against the Mariners.  The Astros called Miller Park home for two games in 2008 when Hurricane Ike stormed through Houston.

I made the first of my seven visits to Miller Park during the inaugural season of 2001.  That May 7th contest had the Cubs squeaking out a 7-6 victory against the hosting Brewers.  My most recent trip up north was this past summer, to once again see the Cubs battle (or destroy) the Brewers.  Miller Park was a vastly superior replacement over County Stadium, and I’ve enjoyed each of my subsequent trips up to Milwaukee to see the local ballclubs.

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
Continue reading →

2020 Hall Of Fame Ballot – The Holdovers


baseballhof
The BBWAA recently released their ballot for the Hall of Fame class of 2020. The results of the vote are due to be revealed on January 21st, with induction taking place July 26th.  After Mariano Rivera, Mike Mussina, Edgar Martinez, and Roy Halladay were elected in last year’s voting, the new ballot contains 14 holdovers along with 18 newcomers, which may potentially 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.

Let’s take a look at the returning candidates today before moving on to the newcomers.

Barry Bonds
Years on ballot: 7
2019 Percentage: 59.1

The all time home run champion saw his vote percentage rise for the fifth straight time last year, so the PED bias holding him back may be slightly subsiding.  But, with only 3 more shots with the writers, it remains to be seen if he has enough time to get up to 75%.

Roger Clemens
Years on ballot: 7
2019 Percentage: 59.5

Roger Clemens, he of the 354 career victories and 7 Cy Young awards, also found himself with a fourth consecutive rise after his seventh run through the voting process.  For some odd reason, perhaps by having played for more teams, Clemens continues to get marginally more support than his fellow PED poster child Barry Bonds.

Todd Helton
Years on ballot: 1
2019 Percentage: 16.5

A fine first showing for Helton, but it looks like he’s going to suffer from the same Colorado bias as Larry Walker.

Andruw Jones
Years on ballot: 2
2019 Percentage: 7.5

If voters were to stick to his first 11 seasons, Jones looks like a shoe-in for the Hall.  His last 7 seasons, though, were so bad that it makes it hard to consider him.  Based on his initial vote total, those final seasons seem to be holding sway.

Jeff Kent
Years on ballot: 6
2019 Percentage: 18.1

Continue reading →

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

Continue reading →

All Time Team Records

The 2019 baseball season got underway yesterday, with the now early start brought about due to the last collective bargaining agreement.  To celebrate, 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. The Cubs look to avenge last year’s loss in the Wild Card and hope to make it back to the World Series, while the rebuilding White Sox hope to finally start seeing some of their young talent blossom.  The 2019 season should be an exciting one on both sides of town.

All-Time Team Records
Team Name Won Loss Winning Pctg
California Angels 1 0 1.000
Arizona Diamondbacks 13 2 0.867
Florida Marlins 15 8 0.652
Colorado Rockies 10 6 0.625
Philadelphia Phillies 10 7 0.588
New York Yankees 14 10 0.583
Boston Red Sox 17 13 0.567
Los Angeles Angels 17 13 0.567
Toronto Blue Jays 13 10 0.565
Cleveland Indians 26 23 0.531
Detroit Tigers 27 24 0.529
Chicago Cubs 213 192 0.526
Houston Astros 22 20 0.524
Chicago White Sox 293 271 0.520
Continue reading →

2019 Predictions

The 2019 baseball season is scheduled to kick off tomorrow, at least the North American portion, with a full slate of games featuring all 30 teams.  For the ninth consecutive year, I’ve looked into the crystal ball to make my picks for the upcoming season.

American League

East: Yankees

Central: Indians

West: Astros

Wild Cards: Red Sox, Angels

AL Champion: Astros

Cy Young: Justin Verlander

MVP: George Springer

National League

Continue reading →

#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:

Continue reading →

#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:

Continue reading →

#9 – Magglio Ordonez

Name: Magglio Ordonez

Rank: 9

Position: RF

Years With White Sox: 1997-2004

Signed by the White Sox as an amateur free agent in 1991.  Starting in 1992, he worked his way up the ladder, making his major league debut on August 29, 1997, going 2-3 in the interleague victory against the Astros at Comiskey Park.  Appearing in 21 games down the stretch, Ordonez hit .319 with 4 home runs and 11 RBIs.

Ordonez made the White Sox roster out of spring training in 1998.  He appeared in 145 games, and finished the year with a .282 average, 14 home runs, and 65 RBIs.  Those totals were good enough for him to finish in 5th place in AL Rookie of the Year voting, behind winner Ben Grieve and teammate Mike Caruso.

1999 was a breakout year for Ordonez.  Earning his first All Star selection, he went 0-1 in the AL’s victory at Fenway Park.  He finished the year hitting .301 with 30 home runs, 117 RBIs, and an OPS of .858.

Ordonez’s hot streak continued in to 2000.  In his second straight All Star game, he doubled and hit a sacrifice fly in his 2 plate appearances, driving in one run.  When the season ended, he had a .315 average with 32 home runs and 126 RBIs.  With the White Sox winning their first division title since 1993, Ordonez hit .182 in the ALDS against the Mariners, joining his teammates in not hitting at all during the 3 game sweep.  After the season, Ordonez won the Silver Slugger award and finished 12th in MVP voting.

While the White Sox failed to replicate their success in 2001, Ordonez kept up his end of the bargain.  He earned his third straight All Star nod, going 2-3 with an RBI and a run scored at Safeco Field.  Missing only 2 games, Ordonez ended up hitting .305 with 31 home runs, 113 RBIs, and a .914 OPS.

Ordonez saw his streak of All Star appearances snapped in 2002, mostly due to his .320 average, career high 38 home runs, 135 RBIs, and a .978 OPS.  Following the season, he came in 8th place for MVP voting and earned his second Silver Slugger award.

2003 was another excellent year for Ordonez.  He was named to his fourth All Star team, going 0-1 in his home stadium of US Cellular Field.  He hit .317 with 29 home runs and 99 RBIs, his lowest totals since his rookie year.  Even with that, he finished 18th in MVP voting.  During the off-season, Ordonez was nearly traded to the Red Sox, contingent on the Red Sox acquiring Alex Rodriguez from the Rangers for outfielder Manny Ramirez.  The Red Sox would then send Nomar Garciaparra to the White Sox for Ordonez.  When the Rodriguez-for-Ramirez trade fell through, the Ordonez deal was off as well, and he remained with the White Sox.

Ordonez’s 2004 season was on track to match his career norms when, during the May 19 game against the Indians, he collided with second baseman Willie Harris on Omar Vizquel’s popup to right field.  Two trips to the disabled list and two surgeries on his left knee later, his season was over after only 52 games.  Following the season, he became a free agent and his White Sox career came to an end.

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

Continue reading →

#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:

Continue reading →