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.

London Calling

One of the casualties of the lockdown following the corona virus pandemic in 2020 was the cancellation of the series in London between the Cubs and the Cardinals.  While MLB returned in full force in 2021 and this year, the series in London did not.  Well, MLB announced yesterday that the series would return in 2023 with the Cubs and the Cardinals finally getting their chance to battle overseas.

MLB played in Europe for the first time in 2019, when the Yankees swept a pair of games from the Red Sox, and looked to further expand the game’s popularity throughout Europe by making it an annual excursion.  I imagine if next year’s tilt goes off without a hitch, the annual rollout will continue as originally planned.

By The Numbers – 1

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 #1.  50 different players have donned #1 while playing in Chicago, 30 for the White Sox and 20 for the Cubs.

Lance Johnson, along with Ricky Horton, was acquired by the White Sox from the Cardinals for Jose DeLeon just before spring training in 1988.  Despite earning Most Valuable Player honors in the American Association the year before, Johnson struggled mightily after being given the starting center fielder job, hitting only .185 in 33 games before being sent back to the minor leagues.  Johnson started at Triple A in 1988, before finally returning to the White Sox, and the major leagues, for good.  In 1990, Johnson hit .285 and managed 36 stolen bases, despite leading the league with 22 caught stealings, and hit his first career home run all while patrolling centerfield for the final season at Comiskey Park.

As the team moved across the street in 1991, Johnson continued his steady presence in the lineup, hitting .274 while stealing 26 bases and hitting 13 triples, leading the American League.  Johnson hit .279 in 1992, with another 12 triples, leading the league again, and 41 stolen bases while setting a new career high with 3 home runs.  1993 saw Johnson and the White Sox finally put everything together.  Johnson raised his average to .311, hitting 14 triples and stealing 35 bases while the White Sox won their first divisional title in a decade.  Unfortunately, Johnson struggled in the ALCS against the Blue Jays, hitting only .217 in the 6 game series, though knocking in 6 runs and hitting his only home run of the season.

The strike-shortened 1994 season cut down what could have been a tremendous season for Johnson.  He again hit 14 triples, but in only 106 games, becoming the first player in Major League history to lead the league for four consecutive seasons.  When baseball resumed in 1995, Johnson turned in his finest season in a White Sox uniform.  He hit .306 and set a career high with a .766 OPS.  He led the league in at bats and hits, though he saw his streak of triples crowns end despite hitting a solid 12.  He set a career high with 10 home runs, 3 more than his previous career total.  On September 23, he became the first White Sox hitter to get 6 hits in a game since Floyd Robinson in 1962.  Following the season, he became a free agent and his White Sox career came to an end.

On the north side of town, Doug Glanville wore #1 when he made his major league debut for the Cubs in 1996, posting a .241 average over 49 games.  He became a full time presence for the Cubs in 1997, primarily in left field, hitting .300 and swiping 19 bases.  He switched from #1 to #8 at the end of August when, ironically, the Cubs acquired Lance Johnson from the Mets.

By The Numbers – 9

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 #9.  58 players have donned #9 while playing in Chicago, one of whom happened to get it retired in their honor.

Minnie Minoso, born in Cuba, came to the United States in 1945 and became Chicago’s first black player on May 1, 1951, getting 2 hits and driving in 2 runs in his White Sox debut.  Minoso spent the next 7 years with the White Sox, earning 4 All Star nods, 1 Gold Glove, and 3 top 10 MVP finishes.  Following the 1957 season, Minoso was traded back to the Indians, bringing Al Smith and Early Wynn, key players for the 1959 pennant winners, to the south side.

After the 1959 season, new owner Bill Veeck brought Minoso back to the White Sox.  While the Sox failed to repeat as AL champions, it was through no fault of Minoso’s, as the left fielder again made the All Star team and finished 4th in MVP voting.  After a sub-standard (for him) season in 1961, Minoso was traded to the Cardinals.  Minoso returned to the White Sox for the third time in 1964.  He appeared in only 30 games, batting .226, and was released in mid-July.  At 38 years old, this appeared to be the end of the line for Minoso.

In 1976, with Bill Veeck once again owning the White Sox, he brought back a now 50 year old Minnie Minoso to allow him to become a four decade player.  Minoso appeared in 3 games, and managed to get a hit in 8 at bats.  The stunt was repeated 4 years later, with Minoso going 0-2 in 2 games and becoming the first person to appear in games during 5 decades.

His number 9 was retired by the White Sox in 1983.  In his later years, he became an official team ambassador for the White Sox.  As a season ticket holder, I had the opportunity to meet him on a few occasions, and, despite his age, he seemed energized to be interacting with fans.

On the north side of town, another Latino has made #9 his own.  Javy Baez debuted in 2014 and became a full time player in 2016, helping the Cubs end their 108 year championship drought by winning the World Series.  His best season came in 2018, when he led the league in RBI and finished second in MVP voting.

 

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 →

Against The Cardinals All Time Leaders – Through 2021

cardinalsIn 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 St. Louis Cardinals.

The Cardinals began life in 1891, joining the National League the following year after the dissolution of the old American Association.  They took on the Cardinal name starting in 1900.  I’ve seen them play 33 times at 3 different stadiums, including the 2015 NLDS and, most recently, last May at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Home Runs

Name Total
Moises Alou 6
Michael Barrett 4
Sammy Sosa 3
Aramis Ramirez 3

Hits

Name Total
Moises Alou 16
Derrek Lee 15
Michael Barrett 14
Aramis Ramirez 14
Corey Patterson 14

Runs

Name Total
Moises Alou 12
Sammy Sosa 12
Aramis Ramirez 10

RBI

Name Total
Moises Alou 14
Michael Barrett 10
Aramis Ramirez 9
Alex Gonzalez 9

Doubles

Name Total
Derrek Lee 6
Alex Gonzalez 4
Ryan Theriot 4

Triples Continue reading →

A Disastrous Outcome

For the first time since 1995, a work stoppage will wipe the scheduled Opening Day off the schedule for Major League Baseball.  Weeks after saying that missed regular season games would be “a disastrous outcome.” Commissioner Rob Manfred, with a telling smile on his face, announced he was cancelling the first two series of the regular season after the MLBPA (rightfully) turned down the so-called final offer from the owners yesterday afternoon.  With talks breaking down, the earliest the two sides will get back together is tomorrow.

Locally, both teams would lose two series against Central division foes.  The White Sox would miss out on the opening series against the Twins at Guaranteed Rate Field and a trip to Kansas City to face the Royals.  The Cubs would avoid opening the season at Great American Ballpark against the Reds and their home opening series versus the Cardinals at Wrigley Field.  Of course, there has been no mention yet of refunds for fans who bought tickets to those cancelled games.

Who knows what will happen at this point.  The owners won’t see any real financial pressure to start the season until late April, when they will have to start returning money to their television partners for missed games.  As we saw in 2020, when the pandemic shut down the sport for months on end, there are plenty of owners who would prefer to play the fewest number of games they can get away with and still make all of their money.  Of course, they could just lift the lockout and continue negotiating while the season played out, but that is only something mature adults might do.

By The Numbers – 27

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 #27.  103 different players have donned #27 while playing in Chicago, 52 for the White Sox and 51 for the Cubs.

Acquired on December 19, 2016 from the Nationals, Lucas Giolito made his White Sox debut the following summer donning #27.  In 7 starts, he put up a sparkling 2.38 ERA while compiling a 3-3 record.  Things went south In 2018, as Giolito was, statistically, the worst starting pitcher in baseball with a 6.13 ERA, leading the league (the bad way) in WHIP and walks per 9 innings.  That offseason, he began rebuilding his game from the ground up, leading to a 2019 All Star appearance en route to a 14-9 record with a 3.41 ERA.  In the COVID-shortened 2020 season, he held the hapless Pirates hitless on August 25th, striking out 13 while facing one batter over the minimum of 27.  He made his post-season debut in Game 1 of the Wild Card series against the A’s, retiring the first 18 batters in order before giving up 2 hits and a walk in the 7th inning, earning the victory in the White Sox only win during the series.  In 2021, Giolito made 31 starts, finishing with a record of 11-9 and a 3.53 ERA.

During his second go-around with the North Siders, Joe Girardi wore #27 for the 2001 and 2002 seasons.  On June 22, 2002, Girardi addressed a sold-out Wrigley Field to announce the day’s game was cancelled following the death of Cardinal pitcher Darryl Kile.  Following that season, he became a free agent and left the team for the second, and final, time.