Looking Ahead To 2023

With about six weeks remaining in the 2022 season, Major League Baseball released their tentative 2023 schedule on Wednesday.  For the first time in years, MLB is moving to a balanced schedule, playing 52 games against division opponents, 64 games against non-division opponents in the same league, and, for the first time, 46 interleague games, with series against every team in the opposite league.  With the White Sox looking to bounce back after what has been a disappointing 2022 campaign to date and the Cubs looking to take the next step forward in their rebuild, the 2023 season looks to be an exciting time in the city of Chicago.  So, for one day, at least, let’s turn our attention to next summer for both teams.

The White Sox open their season on the road in Houston on March 30 for a four-game series against the Astros before returning home to face the Giants in their home opener on April 3.

Aside from the Giants, the new interleague schedule sees the Phillies, Marlins, Cardinals, Brewers, Diamondbacks, and Padres travelling to Chicago, while the White Sox will go on the road to face the Pirates, Reds, Dodgers, Braves, Mets, Rockies, and Nationals. The rivalry with their north side foes continues with a two-game series at Guaranteed Rate Field in late July followed by a mid-August tilt at Wrigley.

After facing AL Central foes only for the first half of September, the season ends with a six-game homestand against the Diamondbacks and the Padres.

On the north side, the Cubs also open their season on March 30, facing the Brewers at home.  After a 3-game series, they head out on the road.

The interleague schedule pits the Cubs against the Rangers, Mariners, Orioles, Guardians, Red Sox, and Royals at Wrigley, while they go on the road to face the A’s, Twins, Angels, Yankees, Blue Jays, and Tigers.

Of their 28 games in September/October, only nine are against their NL Central rivals, though, with the Cubs not likely to contend, that shouldn’t make much of a difference.  They end the year with a six-game road trip against the Braves and Brewers.

By The Numbers – 3

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 #3.  52 different players have donned #3 while playing in Chicago, 33 for the White Sox and 19 for the Cubs, including one who had it retired for him while he was still an active player.

Harold Baines was the first overall selection in the 1977 draft after White Sox owner Bill Veeck had seen him play little league years before.  He made his major league debut less than 3 years later, on Opening Day 1980 against the Orioles at old Comiskey Park.  Baines started to break out in 1981, but the long player’s strike limited him to only 82 games.  With a full slate of games played in 1982, Baines appeared in all but one of them, with numbers good enough to garner votes for AL MVP.

1983 was a banner year on the south side, as the White Sox captured their first ever division title.  Baines was a key contributor, hitting .280 with 20 home runs and 99 RBIs.  During the ALCS against the Orioles, Baines struggled, like most of his teammates, getting only 2 hits in the 4-game series.  At season’s end, he picked up 49 votes to finish 10th in MVP voting.

Baines continued to excel in 1984, though the rest of the team did not.  On May 8, he ended the longest game in major league history (8 hours and 6 minutes over 25 innings on successive evenings) with a walk-off home run against Chuck Porter of the Brewers.  He finished the year with a .304 average, a career high 29 home runs, and 94 RBIs, while leading the league in slugging at .541.  He once again garnered MVP consideration, finishing the vote tied for 13th place.  1985 was another strong season for Baines.  He earned his first All Star selection, singling off former teammate LaMarr Hoyt in his only at bat at the Metrodome.  He finished the year hitting .309 with 22 home runs and a career high 113 RBIs.  He earned 49 votes in placing 9th in MVP voting.

Baines saw his body start to betray him for the first time in 1986.  He appeared in his second straight All Star game, going hitless in his one at bat.  A late August knee injury caused him to miss time, and a late September collision with Neal Heaton in a loss to the Twins reinjured the knee, leading to arthroscopic surgery following the season.  He finished the season hitting .296, just missing his 3rd consecutive .300 season, with 21 home runs and 88 RBIs.  He returned for opening day in 1987, getting two hits and knocking in the winning runs on the hard artificial turf of Royals Stadium, but was unable to walk the following day.  A second arthroscopic surgery caused him to miss 23 games before he returned, moving from right field to designated hitter.  He still was named to his 3rd straight All Star team, going hitless in the 2-0 loss by the AL.  Come year end, he had hit .293 with 20 home runs and 93 RBIs.

1988 was a down year for Baines, though he managed to appear in 158 games.  His average dropped to .277, his lowest total since 1982, while hitting only 13 home runs, his lowest total since 1981.  He made only 9 appearances in the outfield while becoming accustomed to being a full-time designated hitter.  He bounced back in 1989.  He was named the starting DH in the All Star game, going 1-3 with an RBI in the AL’s victory at Angel Stadium.  On July 29, he was traded to the Rangers, along with Fred Manrique, for Wilson Alvarez, Scott Fletcher, and Sammy Sosa.  “It’s an unpopular decision as far as the fans are concerned, but sometimes unpopular means exactly that-unpopular,” GM Larry Himes said at the time.  “It doesn`t mean that it isn`t a good decision.  This is a decision we made as far as direction of the Chicago White Sox for today and for our future.”  Baines was hitting .321 with 13 home runs and 56 RBIs at the time of the trade.  Less than a month later, as the Rangers visited Chicago for the first time on August 20, the White Sox retired Baines’ #3, a somewhat awkward attempt to placate the enraged fanbase.

Baines returned to the White Sox as a free agent in 1996.  Appearing in 143 games, Baines hit .311 with 22 home runs and 95 RBIs.  He returned in 1997 and was putting together another fine season, putting up a .305 average with 12 home runs and 52 RBIs in 93 games when, on July 29 again, he was traded to the Orioles for a player to be named later.

Three years later, once again on July 29, the White Sox re-acquired Baines, along with Charles Johnson, from the Orioles for Miguel Felix, Juan Figueroa, Jason Lakman, and Brook Fordyce.  Appearing in 24 games down the stretch, Baines hit .213 with a single home run and 9 RBIs as the White Sox took the Central Division crown.  Baines went 1-4 in the ALDS as the White Sox were swept by the Mariners.  He returned to the White Sox in 2001 at the age of 42, getting extra playing time once Frank Thomas went down with an injury.  In 32 games, he hit .131, failing to homer and driving in only 6.

On July 20, 2008, the White Sox unveiled a bronze statue of Baines at U.S. Cellular Field prior to their game against the Royals.  On December 9, 2018, Baines was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2019 via the Today’s Game Era ballot.

David Ross donned #3 when he joined the Cubs in 2015 on a two-year deal.  Ross announced his plans to retire following the 2016 season, after playing 15 seasons in the major leagues.  During Game 7 of the World Series, Ross hit a home run in his final at-bat, making him the oldest player to homer in World Series history.

By The Numbers – 5

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 #5.  75 different players have donned #5 while playing in Chicago, 42 for the White Sox and 33 for the Cubs.

Selected in the fifth round of the 1990 draft, Ray Durham broke camp with the White Sox in 1995 and, wearing #5, made his major league debut on Opening Day, leading off and going 1-4 in the 12-3 loss to the Brewers at County Stadium.  Durham stuck in the leadoff spot and finished the year with a .257 average, 7 home runs, and 51 RBI, good enough for a 6th place finish in Rookie of the Year voting.  He saw improvement in 1996, raising his average to .275 and his OBP to .350.  His home run and RBI totals also jumped, going to 10 and 65 respectively.  1997 was another good year for Durham, as he hit .271 with 11 home runs.

In 1998, Durham earned his first All Star nod and finished the year setting career highs with a .285 average, 19 home runs, 67 RBIs, and 36 stolen bases.  Durham improved his average again in 1999, raising it to .296, his career best.  It was also his second of seven straight years with an OPS over .800.  Durham nabbed his second All Star selection in 2000.  When the season came to an end, Durham had a .280 average with 17 home runs and 75 RBIs and the White Sox were atop the AL Central for the first time.  Like the rest of his teammates, Durham struggled during the ALDS, hitting .200 in the three game sweep against the Mariners.

2001 saw Durham’s average drop to .267, his lowest total since his rookie year.  He did manage to set a new career high with 20 home runs as the White Sox failed to repeat.  Durham was hitting .299 with 9 home runs at the trade deadline in 2002 when, facing free agency, he was shipped to the A’s for Jon Adkins.  At the time of the trade, Durham was the club’s all-time leader in leadoff home runs, while placing in the top 10 in franchise history in steals (5th), doubles (7th), extra base hits (7th), and runs (8th).

Michael Barrett wore #5 for the Cubs when he was acquired for the 2004 season.  Barrett gave up his cherished # 5 in early August, handing it over to the newly acquired shortstop Nomar Garciaparra, while switching to #8, in tribute to former Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra.

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 →

Throwback Thursday – Team Records Of The 1990s

Last week, we took a trip in the wayback machine to see all of the games that I attended during the 1980s.  This week, we turn our attention to the 1990s to see what my view of the baseball world looked like.

I’ve been able to identify 32 games I attended during the 90s, starting with a late April outing during the final season at Comiskey Park in 1990 through a September 2000 game at Wrigley Field, including my first visits to stadiums outside of Chicago starting with a July 1993 visit to County Stadium in Milwaukee.  All told, I saw games at eight different ballparks throughout the decade.

1990s Team Records
Team Name Won Loss Winning Pctg
Houston Astros 1 0 1.000
California Angels 1 0 1.000
Cincinnati Reds 1 0 1.000
Arizona Diamondbacks 1 0 1.000
Florida Marlins 1 0 1.000
New York Yankees 1 0 1.000
San Francisco Giants 1 0 1.000
Detroit Tigers 3 1 0.750
Oakland Athletics 2 1 0.667
Chicago White Sox 12 10 0.545
Chicago Cubs 6 5 0.545
Kansas City Royals Continue reading →

By The Numbers – 13

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 #13.  25 different players have donned #13 while playing in Chicago, 13 for the White Sox and 12 for the Cubs.

Acquired by the White Sox on December 6, 1984, from the Padres, Ozzie Guillen made his major league debut wearing #13 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, as his average dropped to .250 and he managed 19 doubles and 4 triples.  1987 was a nice bounce back for Guillen, as 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 and, by season’s end, 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.  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 in a full season 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.  However, 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.

On the north side of town, Neifi Pérez donned #13 over parts of three seasons with the Cubs.  He signed a minor league deal after being released by the Giants in 2004.  After only ten games in Triple A, Pérez joined the big-league club and became a spark plug in the lineup, going 6 for 6 in his first 6 at-bats and providing a needed backup to the ailing Nomar Garciaparra.  Dusty Baker named Pérez the starting shortstop in 2005 to replace Garciaparra, mainly on the strength of his defensive skills.  For the 2006 season Pérez lost the starting job at shortstop to Ronny Cedeño.  As his batting average sagged to .254 and his on-base percentage, never high, had fallen to .266, the Cubs traded him to the Tigers.

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 →

Against The Brewers All Time Leaders – Through 2021

In the past, we’ve looked at the all time leaders in both offensive and defensive categories for all 30 teams. This offseason, we will take our first ever look at those leaders against all 30 clubs. We continue today with the Milwaukee Brewers.

The Brewers began life in 1969, joining the American League as the Seattle Pilots.  After one year, they moved to Milwaukee and were re-christened the Brewers.  In 1998, the Brewers became the first team to switch leagues when they moved to the National League as the expansion Tampa Bay Devil Rays joined the American League.  I’ve seen them play 41 times, first in 1993 battling the White Sox at their old home of Milwaukee County Stadium and most recently in July of 2019, battling the Cubs at Miller Park.

Home Runs

Name Total
Derrek Lee 6
Sammy Sosa 5
Aramis Ramirez 5

Hits

Name Total
Derrek Lee 27
Aramis Ramirez 21
Corey Patterson 16

Runs

Name Total
Derrek Lee 18
Moises Alou 11
Ryan Theriot 11

RBI

Name Total
Derrek Lee 23
Aramis Ramirez 18
Moises Alou 12

Doubles

Name Total
Derrek Lee 5
Aramis Ramirez 5
Sammy Sosa 4

Triples Continue reading →

Another Disastrous Outcome

A week after Commissioner Rob Manfred, with a telling smile on his face, announced he was cancelling the first two series of the regular season due to the ongoing lockout, the two sides are still without an agreement on a new CBA and MLB released a statement cancelling another two series.  In total, the first two weeks of the regular season have now been wiped out.

Locally, the White Sox will miss a road trip to Detroit to battle the Tigers and a home series against the Mariners at Guaranteed Rate Field.  If nothing else gets canceled, their new Opening Day would be on Friday, April 15 against the Rays.  The Cubs would lose a four-game series at Wrigley Field against the Brewers and a quick tilt against the Pirates in Pittsburgh.

So where do things go from here?  Who knows?  The owners declined to counter to the MLBPA’s last, seemingly reasonable offer about an international draft.  How soon negotiations will start again is unknown at this point.  The longer this goes on, the longer I feel it will go on.