Fallen Hero

Former Cub Dwight Smith, who, as a rookie, was a key member of the 1989 NL Easy champions, died yesterday at the age of 58.  The Braves, with whom Smith played for after leaving the Cubs and earned a World Series ring in 1995, said he died of congestive heart and lung failure,

As a rookie, Smith hit .324 with an OPS of .875 in 109 games in 1989, finishing second in Rookie of the Year voting to teammate Jerome Walton.  He also sang the national anthem at Wrigley Field on July 21.  In his five seasons with the Cubs, he hit .285 with 32 home runs and 159 RBIs.  After the 1993 season, Smith was non-tendered by the Cubs and, following a nomadic 1994 season, he ended his career with the Braves from 1995-1996.  His son, Dwight Smith Jr., played parts of the 2017 through 2020 seasons with the Blue Jays and Orioles and is currently playing in the Mexican League.

2022 All Star Break Standings

For the first time since 1980, the Midsummer Classic returns to Los Angeles and Dodger Stadium.  As the stars of the baseball world gather in Tinsletown, it’s time to take a look at the team records for the 21 games, featuring exactly half of the teams in the league, that I attended in the first half of the baseball season, a disappointing one, for different reasons, on both sides of town.

2022 Team Records

Team Name Won Loss Winning Pctg
Los Angeles Dodgers 2 0 1.000
Texas Rangers 1 0 1.000
New York Mets 1 0 1.000
Cleveland Guardians 1 0 1.000
Baltimore Orioles 1 0 1.000
New York Yankees 2 1 0.667
Chicago White Sox 10 8 0.556
Minnesota Twins 1 1 0.500
Chicago Cubs 2 5 0.286
Continue reading →

Hey Now, You’re An All Star Starter

In the midst of disappointing seasons on both sides of town, both the White Sox and the Cubs managed to get one player each elected to the starting lineup for the upcoming Midsummer Classic set to be played in Los Angeles.  Tim Anderson will start at shortstop for the American League, beating out Toronto’s Bo Bichette in the final round of voting by nabbing 55% of the tally.  Willson Contreras beat out Atlanta’s Travis d’Arnaud to start at catcher for the National League, garnering 65% of the vote.

Anderson, making his second consecutive appearance, is the first starter from the White Sox since Jose Abreu manned first base to start the 2018 and 2019 games and the first shortstop from the White Sox to start since Luis Aparicio in 1970.  He’s only the sixth White Sox shortstop to make an All-Star team, following Alexei Ramirez, Ozzie Guillen, Aparicio, Chico Carrasquel, and Luke Appling.

Contreras, who started for the NL squad in 2018 and 2019, becomes the second catcher in Cubs history to make three or more All-Star Games, following Hall of Famer Gabby Hartnett.  Contreras may get to share the honor with his younger brother William, who lost out to Bryce Harper in the final round of voting for NL DH, but Harper’s broken thumb may open the door for the younger Contreras to step in as a replacement.

FB8 – Week 21

Another solid-ish week, as I found myself staying on the right side of 30,000 steps thanks to some outside activities.  Things got off to a pretty good start on Sunday, finishing 13 steps shy of 5800 thanks to a frustrating trip to Guaranteed Rate Field.  Monday saw very little drop-off, ending with 5700 steps.  Tuesday saw a much bigger fall, dropping down to 4300 steps.  Wednesday fell even more, going down to 4100 steps.  Thursday was the high point of the week, thanks to a last-minute decision to head to the World Hollywood Casino Ampitheatre to see Garbage and Tears for Fears, putting me over 7000 steps.  Friday turned that around and saw the lowest total of the week, with only 3500 steps.  A trip to Wrigley Field to see the Cubs battle the Braves on Saturday was a decent way to end the week, finishing with 6900 steps.

Total steps: 37,414

Daily average: 5344.9

By The Numbers – 6

In 1929, uniform numbers appeared on the back of baseball jerseys for the first time, thanks to the Indians and the Yankees.  By 1937, numbers finally appeared across all uniforms, both home and away, across both major leagues.  Since that time, 81 distinct numbers have been worn by members of the White Sox, while the Cubs boast 76.

Today, we continue our look at those players, picking our favorite, if not the best, player to wear each uniform number for both Chicago teams with #6.  67 different players have donned #6 while playing in Chicago, 27 for the White Sox, who haven’t retired it but have not issued it since 1995, and 42 for the Cubs.

In his second go-around with the Cubs after being selected off waivers from the Mariners on July 6, 1998, Glenallen Hill, wearing #6. hit .351 with 8 homers and 23 RBIs in 48 games.  He appeared in one game during the NLDS against the Braves, where he was one for three with a run batted in and a stolen base.  Returning in 1999, Hill hit .300 with 20 home runs and 55 runs batted in.  On May 11, 2000, Hill became the first, and thus far only player to hit a home run on the three-story residential building across Waveland Ave. from Wrigley Field in the second inning of the Cubs’ 14–8 loss to the Brewers.  With the Cubs far out of contention, he was traded to the Yankees on July 23.

On the south side of town, Jorge Orta signed with the White Sox out of the Mexican Baseball League in 1972 and made the team out of spring training.  Playing shortstop, Orta batted just .211 through the middle of May before losing his job.  He returned to Chicago when rosters expanded that September.  Orta was shifted to second base for the 1973 season after batting over .500 in spring training.  Playing through injuries for much of the year, he batted .266 and tied for second in the league with eighteen errors among second basemen.

Orta began the 1974 season batting at the bottom of the White Sox line-up but was moved up to the two spot Chuck Tanner’s batting order, hitting .411 with 23 runs scored in the month of June.  For the season, his .316 batting average was second only to Rod Carew.  In 1975, Orta batted .296 with four home runs and 46 RBIs in the first half, good enough to be named to the All-Star team.  He topped that by hitting .314 with seven home runs and 37 RBIs in the second half.

New manager Paul Richards opted to move Orta to third base for the 1976 season, which proved to be a poor decision.  Orta was eventually moved into the outfield and the Sox narrowly avoided a hundred losses while Orta hit .274 with hitting a career-high fourteen home runs and scoring a career high 74 runs.  Orta returned to second base when Bob Lemon took the reins as manager in 1977.  The surprising White Sox, dubbed the South Side Hitmen, won 90 games and Orta, now batting third, finished second on the team with a career high 84 RBIs.  He remained at second in 1978, but new player-manager Don Kessinger deployed Orta as the designated hitter in 1979, a role Orta struggled with, putting up a .212 batting average, three home runs and 21 RBIs through June 27.  Orta returned to second base in the middle of July, and batted .313 with seven home runs and 22 RBIs the rest of the way on his way to free agency.

Throwback Thursday – Team Records Of The 2000s

It’s time for another trip in the wayback machine, as this week we move our focus to the start of the 21st century and see what my view of the baseball world looked like in the 2000s.  This was my first decade as a season ticket holder, starting in 2002 for the Cubs and 2005 for the White Sox.

I attended 518 contests during the 2000s, starting with my first trip to Cincinnati in April of 2000 and finishing with Daniel Hudson’s first major league victory in September of 2009.  I attended games at 13 stadiums from coast to coast and saw my first post-season action, with an ALDS in 2000, an NLCS in 2003, and a World Series game in 2005.

2021 Team Records
Team Name Won Loss Winning Pctg
Arizona Diamondbacks 11 1 0.917
Philadelphia Phillies 10 4 0.714
Toronto Blue Jays 6 3 0.667
Florida Marlins 12 7 0.632
Tampa Bay Rays 3 2 0.600
Texas Rangers 8 6 0.571
Los Angeles Dodgers 8 6 0.571
Chicago White Sox 130 107 0.549
Chicago Cubs 172 147 0.539
Baltimore Orioles 9 8 0.529
Cleveland Indians 10 9 0.526
Los Angeles Angels 10 9 0.526
Boston Red Sox 9 9 0.500
Colorado Rockies 6 6 0.500
Seattle Mariners 5 5 0.500
Anaheim Angels 1 1 0.500
Houston Astros Continue reading →

All Time Team Records

After a long lockout and an abbreviated spring training, the 2022 baseball season finally gets underway today, so, 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.  Last year, I tied 2004 for my 5th highest game total of all time and managed to see 25 out of the 30 teams, so there should be some nice changes.  Thanks to a name change, the all-time record of the Cleveland Indians become static moving forward, forever stuck at 4 games over .500.

The White Sox look to once again lead an improving AL Central and move past the ALDS in the post-season, while the Cubs are neither contending nor rebuilding.  The 2022 season should be an interesting one on both sides of town, even more interesting if we are able to see it in person.

All-Time Team Records
Team Name Won Loss Winning Pctg
California Angels 2 0 1.000
Arizona Diamondbacks 14 2 0.875
Florida Marlins 15 8 0.652
Colorado Rockies 10 6 0.625
New York Yankees 17 11 0.607
Boston Red Sox 19 13 0.594
Los Angeles Angels 20 14 0.588
Toronto Blue Jays 15 11 0.577
Philadelphia Phillies 11 9 0.550
Washington Nationals 7 6 0.538
Cleveland Indians 31 27 0.534
Chicago White Sox 335 307 0.522
Chicago Cubs 224 206 0.521
Houston Astros Continue reading →

2022 Predictions

After 99-day lockout and a truncated spring training schedule, the 2022 baseball season is finally scheduled to kick off tomorrow with a slate of games.  For the twelfth consecutive year, I’ve looked into the crystal ball to make my picks for the upcoming season, including an additional Wild Card pick for each league.

American League

East: Blue Jays

Central: White Sox

West: Astros

Wild Cards: Yankees, Angels, Red Sox

AL Champion: Yankees

Cy Young: Lucas Giolito

MVP: Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

National League

Continue reading →

By The Numbers – 15

In 1929, uniform numbers appeared on the back of baseball jerseys for the first time, thanks to the Indians and the Yankees.  By 1937, numbers finally appeared across all uniforms, both home and away, across both major leagues.  Since that time, 81 distinct numbers have been worn by members of the White Sox, while the Cubs boast 76.

Today, we continue our look at those players, picking our favorite, if not the best, player to wear each uniform number for both Chicago teams with #15.  98 different players have donned #15 while playing in Chicago, 44 for the White Sox and 54 for the Cubs.

Dick Allen was acquired after the 1971 season, when attendance at Comiskey Park had cratered and the team had finished 22½ games out of first place.  The addition of Allen, donning #15, sparked an unforeseen pennant race in 1972, with the Sox in contention for most of the season, finishing 5½ games behind the A’s in the AL West and drawing more than 1.18 million fans, more than double what they drew in 1970.  Allen only spent 3 years in Chicago, making the All Star team each time.  A broken leg cut short his 1973 campaign and, with two weeks to go in the 1974 season, Allen left the team over a feud with teammate Ron Santo.  Not knowing if Allen planned to return to baseball, the Sox sold his contract to the Braves for $5000, at which point Allen temporarily retired.

Acquired by the Cubs for the stretch run in 1984, Davey Lopes switched to his familiar #15 in 1985.  Appearing in 99 games in his age 40 season, Lopes stole 47 bases, his highest total since 1977.  He made his way into 59 games in 1986 before being traded to the Astros for Frank DiPino.

By The Numbers – 18

In 1929, uniform numbers appeared on the back of baseball jerseys for the first time, thanks to the Indians and the Yankees.  By 1937, numbers finally appeared across all uniforms, both home and away, across both major leagues.  Since that time, 81 distinct numbers have been worn by members of the White Sox, while the Cubs boast 76.

Today, we continue our look at those players, picking our favorite, if not the best, player to wear each uniform number for both Chicago teams with #18.  78 different players have donned #18 while playing in Chicago, 41 for the White Sox and 37 for the Cubs.

Bill Madlock essentially replaced two of the Cubs biggest stars of the 1960s when he joined the team for his rookie season in 1974.  Acquired for future Hall of Famer Ferguson Jenkins, Madlock took the spot of Hall of Famer Ron Santo at the hot corner.  If he felt any pressure, he didn’t show it, hitting .313 with 9 home runs, good enough for a third place finish in Rookie of the Year voting.  In 1975, he broke out in a big way, earning his first All Star nod on his way to a batting title.  In 1976, Madlock repeated as batting champion, hitting .339 and beating out Ken Griffey Sr. on the final day of the season.  With the dawn of free agency on the horizon, Madlock asked the Cubs for a multi-year contract with a salary of $200,000, more than double what he had earned in 1976.  Team owner Phillip K. Wrigley had other ideas, announcing that Madlock would be traded “to anyone foolish enough to want him.”  In February of 1977, that so-called foolish team turned out to be the Giants, who sent Bobby Murcer and Steve Ontiveros, among others, to the Cubs.  In July of 2016, this would be ranked as one of the five worst trades in Cub history.

Acquired by the White Sox, along with Tyler Flowers and 2 minor leaguers, from the Braves in exchange for Javier Vazquez and Boone Logan, Brent Lillibridge donned #18 while hitting an anemic .158 in 95 at bats spread across 46 games for the 2009 White Sox.  Lillibridge stuck with the big league team in 2010, improving his average to .224 in only 64 games.  2011 was his best season, setting career highs in home runs, RBIs, batting average, and OPS.  On April 11, he hit the 10,000th home run in White Sox history off Dallas Braden and the A’s.  Lillibridge struggled again in 2012, with his average dropping down to .175 before the June 24th trade that sent him, along with Zach Stewart, to the Red Sox for Kevin Youkilis.