Travelling The 50 States – Wisconsin

Over my 48 years, I’ve done my fair share of travelling across these United States.  I thought it would be an interesting experiment go look back at those trips to each of the 31 states I have visited (62% isn’t bad, is it?) and see if, and when, I may be returning.  Working in alphabetical order, we wrap things up today with the 30th state to be added to the Union: Wisconsin.

State: Wisconsin
Joined the Union: 1848
Visits: 15

Over the years, I’ve made fifteen trips to the Badger State, first in 1993 and most recently in 2019, the majority revolving around sports.

I made my first trip to Wisconsin, and my only visit to County Stadium, with Scott and Joe for a White Sox/Brewers tilt on July 18, 1993.  Back in the days before cell phones and GPS, we were left to our own devices as far as directions.  I remember one of the signs for the highway saying it would take us to Madison, and, not wanting to go to Madison, Scott decided to get off the highway.  Which put is somewhere in Milwaukee with no idea of how to get to the ballpark.  Eventually we made it in time to see the White Sox pull off the victory thanks to a 2-run single by Bo Jackson in the 9th inning.

At some unknown point, I made a trip up to the woods of Wisconsin with my friend Mike, his father and brother, and Scott to clean up an old family cabin.  I have no idea where we were or how long we were there, but it was certainly an experience.

My next trip came in April of 1995.  When Michael Jordan returns to the NBA and every game in Chicago is a sellout, the next best thing is to take the long drive 90 miles to the north to see the Bulls battle the Bucks at the Bradley Center.  Despite 33 points from Michael Jordan, Glenn Robinson led the Bucks to a 104-100 victory, scoring 36.

With the opening of their new ballpark in 2001, the Brewers drew me back to Milwaukee in May.  In a pitching battle, the Cubs outlasted the Brewers 7-6 as closer Tom Gordon picked up his first save with the team.

I returned to Milwaukee in April of 2022, when Tina and I drove north to see The Kids In The Hall reunion show at the Riverside Theater.

My next three trips to Miller Park came in May of 2003 and July of 2004.  On May 12, I saw the Cubs, behind home runs from Damian Miller, Moises Alou, and Troy O’Leary, beat the Brewers 11-5.  The next July 5, Ben Sheets outdueled Matt Clement as the Brewers topped the Cubs 1-0.  Three weeks later, the Brewers topped the Cubs once again, winning 6-3.

After nearly a decade away, I returned to Wisconsin in October of 2013 for Keith Longwell’s bachelor party.  I travelled to the faraway land of Kewaunee, where the festivities included nights of video games and cards, nine holes of golf, where I mostly sat in the cart, and a trip out to some local bars, until we were asked to leave due to some drunken tomfoolery.

In July of 2014, Danny, Michael, and I stopped in Madison on our way to Minneapolis to do some miniature golfing at Vitense Golfland.  The highlights of the stop include Michael falling into one of the water hazards and plenty of picture opportunities, like with the Bucky Badger figure above. Continue reading →

All Time Team Records

After a long winter, the 2023 baseball season gets underway today.  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 2012 for my 16th highest game total of all time, a big drop-off from the year before, and managed to see 20 out of the 30 teams, so there should be some nice changes.

The White Sox look to bounce back after a disappointing 2022, with a new manager hoping to regain the AL Central crown and move past the ALDS in the post-season, while the Cubs are finally hoping to be back in the conversation when it comes to the NL playoff picture.  The 2023 season should be an interesting one on both sides of town.

All-Time Team Records

Team Name Won Loss Winning Pctg
California Angels 2 0 1.000
Arizona Diamondbacks 15 2 0.882
Cleveland Guardians 2 1 0.667
Florida Marlins 15 8 0.652
New York Yankees 19 12 0.613
Colorado Rockies 11 7 0.611
Boston Red Sox 19 13 0.594
Los Angeles Angels 20 15 0.571
Toronto Blue Jays 15 12 0.556
Philadelphia Phillies 11 9 0.550
Washington Nationals 7 6 0.538
Cleveland Indians 31 27 0.534
Chicago White Sox 351 321 0.522
Chicago Cubs 226 211 0.517
Houston Astros Continue reading →

Yet Another Mix Tape Monday – Volume 10

33 years ago, during my sophomore year of high school, I put together the first of what would eventually become a nearly 20 volume collection of mix tapes, containing my favorite songs that I had gathered either from the radio, a cassette tape, or (eventually) CD.  Today, we revisit those mix tapes for the fourth time and see how, or if, the soundtrack of my youth still resonates in today’s digital world and how much has changed over the past four years.

It was one of, if not the most ubiquitous song of the summer of 1993.  You heard it blaring out of car windows.  Stacey King and Scott Williams chanted the chorus during the Bulls’ championship rally in Grant Park.  It reached #1 on the Billboard Hot R&B chart and #2 on the Billboard Hot 100.  Whoomp! (There It Is) by Tag Team was everywhere.

While Tag Team never had another hit, this one has been a consistent money maker for the group over the past thirty years.  It has appeared in movies such as Elf, Addams Family Values, and D2: The Mighty Ducks.  It has been a constant at sporting events.  To this day, it plays at Wrigley Field when a Cub hits a home run.  Not that it needed it, but the song got a resurgence in December of 2020 when the members of Tag Team appeared in a Geico add spoofing their song, changing the lyrics to be about ice cream.

I’ve heard the song live twice.  In 2015, Tag Team showed up to 90s Night at the United Center and performed the song at halftime.  They made a similar performance in 2021 before a White Sox game at Guaranteed Rate Field, where they played not just the original, but also the ice cream themed spoof.  Thirty years in, the song shows no signs of slowing down.

Volume 10 covers the spring and summer of 1993, following my freshman year of college, and features the top rap and alternative hits of the summer, along with some pop and the last remnants of hair metal.

Side A

Pearl Jam – Black
iTunes stats: 14 plays, most recently on 11/23/2022

Hitting #3 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Tracks chart despite the band’s refusal to release it as an official single, the song was only listened to three times in the past four years.

Def Leppard – Two Steps Behind
iTunes stats: 21 plays, most recently on 7/8/2021

The big hit from Arnold Schwarzenegger’s bomb Last Action Hero, originally recorded from The Blaze during a nightly song battle, garnered just four additional listens over these last four years.

UB40 – Can’t Help Falling In Love
iTunes stats: 27 plays, most recently on 7/30/2022

After going unheard for three years, the track, featured on the Sliver soundtrack, picked up 19 plays since 2015.

Aerosmith – Cryin’
iTunes stats: 21 plays, most recently on 11/1/2022

The first installment of Alicia Silverstone’s video trilogy, which finished as the 60th biggest single of 1993, picked up five new plays over the past four years.

TLC – Get It Up
iTunes stats: 8 plays, most recently on 6/16/2021

This cover of a hit by The Time created for the Poetic Justice soundtrack doubled its listens over the past four years.

4 Non Blondes – What’s Up?
iTunes stats: 27 plays, most recently on 6/1/2022

The 50th biggest single of 1993 picked up eight listens for the ubiquitous debut from 4 Non Blondes.

whoompTag Team – Whoomp! (There It Is)
iTunes stats: 62 plays, most recently on 12/8/2022

The unofficial theme to the Bulls third straight NBA championship in 1993, Tag Team, who showed up for 90s night at the UC for a game I attended in February of 2015, added 19 new listens over the past four years, thanks to its use by the Cubs when someone hits a home run.

Side B

Continue reading →

Travelling The 50 States – Pennsylvania

Over my 48 years, I’ve done my fair share of travelling across these United States.  I thought it would be an interesting experiment go look back at those trips to each of the 31 states I have visited (62% isn’t bad, is it?) and see if, and when, I may be returning.  Working in alphabetical order, we continue today with the 2nd state to be added to the Union: Pennsylvania.

State: Pennsylvania
Joined the Union: 1787
Visits: 2

I’ve made two visits to the Keystone State, first in 2003 on my way to New York and then again in 2005 to take in some afternoon baseball.

My first trip to, or rather through, Pennsylvania came on the last Saturday in March of 2003.  While heading east on I-80 on a road trip to New York. we stopped somewhere in Pennsylvania for lunch at an Arby’s.  This particular Arby’s happened to have a breakfast buffet, which was not something I had seen before or seen since.  The customers of this Arby’s seemed like they would have been more at home in the hills of Appalachia then in Pennsylvania.  One in particular was wearing overalls with no shirt underneath (at least that’s how I remember it) and was waiting patiently for a new batch of bacon to be brought out to the buffet.  Once it was, this hill person got up, emptied the whole tray onto his plate, and returned to his seat to chow down.  Watching in awe, we finished our processed meat sandwiches and headed back out on the road.

I returned to Pennsylvania in May of 2005 to see the Cubs defeat the Pirates 3-2 at Pittsburgh’s PNC Park.  Southwest Airlines was introducing service from Chicago to Pittsburgh and was offering fares for $30 each way, so, with a businessman’s special on the schedule for an early Thursday afternoon, plans were made for a quick daytrip out to Pittsburgh.  We arrived in town and took a bus from the airport to the stadium, where we ate a pregame meal of ribs at the in-stadium Outback Steakhouse.  Yeah, you read that right.  There was an Outback Steakhouse in the stadium.  After the game, there was another bus trip back to the airport for the flight back to Chicago, which seemed to be made up strictly of people who were at the game, as a rousing rendition of Take Me Out To The Ballgame broke out mid-flight.

Will I return?  I certainly hope so, as I still need to add Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park to my collection.

Travelling The 50 States – Ohio

Over my 48 years, I’ve done my fair share of travelling across these United States.  I thought it would be an interesting experiment go look back at those trips to each of the 31 states I have visited (62% isn’t bad, is it?) and see if, and when, I may be returning.  Working in alphabetical order, we continue today with the 17th state to be added to the Union: Ohio.

State: Ohio
Joined the Union: 1803
Visits: 1112 (I think)

Over the years, I’ve made at least eleven trips to the Buckeye State, first in 1996 and most recently in 2019.

My first trip would have been in early May of 1996.  At the end of finals week, a group of us headed out from West Lafayette for a day trip to King’s Island amusement park.  Things I remember from this trip: stopping at or near the campus of Miami of Ohio for food, I’m assuming on the way there and a group of Ferengi characters chasing after the ladies in our group and asking them to stroke their ears.  I don’t remember any particular rides, though I’m sure we partook.

I would return to Ohio on Friday, April 7, 2000 to see the Cubs battle the Reds and their newest acquisition, Ken Griffey Jr.  An eclectic group started the morning way too early with Krispy Kreme donuts at the house before heading towards Cincinnati.  Along the way, there was a brief stop in West Lafayette, because why not, and further along in Indiana for the trifecta of a KFC/Taco Bell/Pizza Hut 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, which the Cubs won 10-6.  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 returned to Ohio, and the Cincinnati area, in at the end of April in 2003.  My friend Scott had moved to Ohio at some point, and I went for a weekend visit.  Aside from a trip to the local comic shops, the highlight was visiting the brand new Great American Ball Park.  The Padres were in town to battle Reds and we got to check out what the new stadium had to offer.

The next season, the Cubs opened their season in Cincinnati against the Reds, so another trip was in order.  My friend Pete and I headed out early in the morning, meeting up with Scott and walking across the bridge from Kentucky back to Ohio to get to the ballpark.  Vice President Dick Cheney was on hand to throw out the first pitch, and the Cubs pulled out the victory.

I returned to the Cincinnati area in August of 2005, where I attended the Reds game against the Diamondbacks, kicking off a string of three stadiums in three states in nine 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 to 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. Continue reading →

Travelling The 50 States – New York

Over my 48 years, I’ve done my fair share of travelling across these United States.  I thought it would be an interesting experiment go look back at those trips to each of the 31 states I have visited (62% isn’t bad, is it?) and see if, and when, I may be returning.  Working in alphabetical order, we continue today with the 11th state to be added to the Union: New York.

State: New York
Joined the Union: 1788
Visits: 3

I’ve made three visits to the Empire State, two to New York City and one upstate.

My first visit to New York came in March of 2003, when the Cubs were scheduled to open their season in Queens against the Mets.  After arriving at our Newark hotel, we took the train into Manhattan, meeting up with a friend of my traveling companion and grabbing a late dinner at the Tick Tock Diner across the street from Madison Square Garden.  During the meal, plans were made to meet up again the following day for a tour of the city.

After a morning in Jersey, it was back to Manhattan, where we ditched the rental car at a church and headed out on foot for a tour of the city.  Our first stop was Ground Zero, where we saw what remained of the World Trade Center a year and a half after 9/11.  From there, we headed to Chinatown, where we hooked up with our friend from the night before, who scored box seats for Monday’s opening day tilt from the nuns that lived in her building, a welcome upgrade from the upper-level tix we had scored on eBay prior to leaving home.  The rest of the day was spent walking around and seeing the sites, including a trip to St. Mark’s Comics.  Eventually, we found our way back to the car and headed back to the hotel.

Monday morning was the big day and meant traveling from New Jersey across Manhattan, and then onto Long Island and into Queens to get to Shea Stadium.  We listened to Howard Stern on his flagship station while working through traffic.  Eventually, we arrived at Shea Stadium, where the newly acquired Tom Glavine, a future Hall of Famer, was on the mound for the Mets.  He made it through 2 pitches before the crowd turned on him.  Things quickly turned south for the Mets as the Cubs scored 4 runs in the top of the first on their way to a 15-2 victory, behind two home runs from Corey Patterson.

Following the game, it was time for the long drive home.  Unfortunately, we were stuck in Queens and had to work our way west again with the afternoon’s traffic at its peak.  We passed through the Bronx and Yankee Stadium as the hosts on sports radio WFAN were discussing the new YES network and the attempts to get picked up by cable networks in New York before the Yankees opened their season the next day.  Eventually, we made it out of New York and were on our way back to Illinois.

My second trip to the state of New York came in 2015 as part of my vacation to Toronto.  After a morning jaunt along Niagra Falls, my travelling companion and I headed back to the good old US of A, towards Cooperstown, NY, where the Baseball Hall of Fame beckoned.  After heading to the center of town and parking at fabled Doubleday Field, we entered the museum.  There aren’t enough words to describe all that was seen at the Hall of Fame.  All of the baseball history you could shake a stick at, except for the portion covering the 70s through the current day, which had closed down for renovations that very day.  Finally, we entered the Hall of Fame Gallery, housing the plaques honoring each player voted into the Hall.  My first destination, after the centrally located first class, was the previous year’s electees, where I found both Frank Thomas and Greg Maddux. Continue reading →

Team Stats: Games Per Team

Today, we wrap up our look at the all-time rankings for all iterations of the current 30 teams for the 1040 games I’ve identified that I have attended.  Opening Day is just under two months away and spring training camps are getting ready to roll in just a week or two, so let’s finish things off with the total number of games per team.

With the newly unbalanced schedule starting this year, the Central Division in each league will not score as heavily going forward.  In fact, you have to drop down to seventh place in the current rankings to find a team not in the Central Division and to tenth place to find the first team that was never in the Central.  The addition of expanded interleague play should also shake things up a bit moving forward.

Games Per Team

Team Name Total Games
Chicago White Sox 672
Chicago Cubs 437
Minnesota Twins 68
Kansas City Royals 62
Detroit Tigers 59
Cleveland Indians 58
Houston Astros 49
Pittsburgh Pirates 46
Milwaukee Brewers 41
Seattle Mariners 40
Cincinnati Reds 40
Texas Rangers 39
Baltimore Orioles 36
Los Angeles Angels 35
St. Louis Cardinals Continue reading →

Travelling The 50 States – New Jersey

Over my 48 years, I’ve done my fair share of travelling across these United States.  I thought it would be an interesting experiment go look back at those trips to each of the 31 states I have visited (62% isn’t bad, is it?) and see if, and when, I may be returning.  Working in alphabetical order, we continue today with the 3rd state to be added to the Union: New Jersey

State: New Jersey
Joined the Union: 1787
Visits: 1

I made my first, and only, visit to the Garden State back in 2003, as the base of operations for my opening day trip to New York.

A long drive on a Saturday in late March of 2003 dropped us in Newark, at the Howard Johnson near the airport.  After getting settled, we opted for a brief nap and a few episodes of the Chappelle Show, before trying to head into Manhattan for the evening.  Despite an airport shuttle claiming to stop at the hotel every 15-20 minutes, we waited for over an hour before catching a ride to the Newark airport, where we were finally able to take the train into New York City!  After catching the last train back to New Jersey, we made it back to hotel for a good night’s sleep.

Sunday morning started with a trip out to Red Bank, New Jersey for a trip to Jay & Silent Bob’s Secret Stash, the comic book store owned by Kevin Smith.  We were a little early, so we went down the block to the Broadway Diner, where I enjoyed a pretty decent breakfast of strawberry and banana pancakes. Once the Stash opened, we looked around for a bit, made our purchases, and then headed out for another trip into Manhattan.

We checked out the next morning before heading to Queens for exciting Mets (and Cubs) baseball.

Will I return?  Maybe?  Nothing is currently drawing me there, but nothing is keeping me away either.

Team Stats: Home Runs

It will be two months until baseball returns to Chicago, so I thought it would be a good time to revisit, for the first time in six years, the all-time rankings in both offensive and defensive categories for all iterations of the current 30 teams for the 1040 games I’ve identified that I have attended.  We continue today on the offensive side of the ball with home runs.

As you might expect by this point, the White Sox and Cubs, based on the raw numbers, are far and away the leaders in this category, as they are, as always, the teams I’ve seen most often.  When you adjust the numbers per game, the California incarnation of the Angels and the Guardians are the only teams at or above two home runs per game.  The Nationals and the Anaheim version of the Angels are the only teams with less than a home run every other game.

Home Runs

TeamName TotalTriples
Chicago White Sox 811
Chicago Cubs 498
Cleveland Indians 72
Kansas City Royals 68
Detroit Tigers 66
Minnesota Twins 65
Seattle Mariners 58
Texas Rangers 49
Boston Red Sox 49
Houston Astros 48
Milwaukee Brewers 45
New York Yankees 44
St. Louis Cardinals 42
Oakland Athletics 42
Baltimore Orioles Continue reading →