All Time Team Records

In a shocking development, the 2021 baseball season got underway last night without issue or delay.  With hopefully a full 162 game schedule on the docket, 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.  Thanks to some eBaying of pocket schedules from the 80s, I was able to identify one additional game that I attended in 1988, a California Angels victory at Comiskey Park against the White Sox.

The Cubs look to contend in a weak NL Central with one final year of having the core of their World Series Championship team under contract, while the White Sox hope their offseason additions put them over the top and make them true World Series contenders.  The 2021 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 13 2 0.867
Florida Marlins 15 8 0.652
Colorado Rockies 10 6 0.625
Boston Red Sox 18 13 0.581
Toronto Blue Jays 15 11 0.577
New York Yankees 15 11 0.577
Los Angeles Angels 19 14 0.576
Cleveland Indians 28 24 0.538
Chicago Cubs 219 197 0.526
Philadelphia Phillies 10 9 0.526
Houston Astros 22 20 0.524
Chicago White Sox 306 287 0.516
Continue reading →

2021 Predictions

After a year of pandemic-related shut downs and a truncated 60-game schedule last year, the 2021 baseball season is scheduled to kick off on Thursday with a full slate of games and some percentage of fans back in the stands.  For the eleventh consecutive year, I’ve looked into the crystal ball to make my picks for the upcoming season.

American League

East: Yankees

Central: Twins

West: Astros

Wild Cards: White Sox, Blue Jays

AL Champion: Yankees

Cy Young: Lucas Giolito

MVP: Aaron Judge

National League

Continue reading →

By The Numbers – 61

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 #61.  18 players have donned #61 while playing in Chicago, 12 for the White Sox and 6 for the Cubs.

Joel McKeon was the White Sox first round pick in the 1982 draft and made his debut in 1986, where he appeared in 30 games out of the bullpen and had a rather successful 2.45 ERA.  His 1987 season, however, was much less successful, with his ERA jumping to 9.43 and, the following February, McKeon was shipped off to the Padres to complete an earlier trade.  While McKeon, the first #61 in White Sox history, did little to make himself memorable on a real baseball diamond, his 1986 appearance with Buffalo, the then Triple A affiliate of the White Sox, made him a superstar of our Micro League Baseball league, where he dominated as a stalwart of the team belonging to my friend Dave.

Backup catcher Babe Phelps, the first player to don #61 for the Cubs, hit .286 in his 2 seasons with the Cubs.  And no, I don’t mean his average across those 2 seasons was .286.  I mean he finished both seasons, 1933 and 1934, with a .286 average.  He would go on to more success with the Dodgers later in the decade, earning MVP votes in 1936 and earning three straight All Star nods from 1938-1940.

Book 8 (of 52) – Stealing Home

Stealing Home: Los Angeles, the Dodgers, and the Lives Caught in Between – Eric Nusbaum

The story, as I had heard it, was that Walter O’Malley, owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers, was looking to replace Ebbets Field and, after running into resistance from city officials on acquiring the land he needed, he turned his sights west, landing in Chavez Ravine and displacing Mexican immigrants who had called that area home.  In Stealing Home, Eric Nusbaum tells the story which is somewhat more nuanced than that.

Nusbaum weaves three tales, one of the Aréchigas family, one of Frank Wilkinson, and one of the Dodgers, which coalesce in the hills of what is now referred to as Chavez Ravine, but at the time was the neighborhoods of Palo Verde, La Loma and Bishop.  The Aréchigas put down roots in Palo Verde after emigrating from Mexico by way of Arizona, raising multiple generations in their humble abode.  Frank Wilkinson, meanwhile, had a vision for public housing that needed a place to build, and the neighborhoods of  Palo Verde, La Loma and Bishop were the unlucky winners.  As eminent domain notices went out to the affected families, including the Aréchigas, plans for the housing project hit a snag when Wilkinson was outed as a communist.  You would think this would have put a stop to the evictions, but no.

Following protracted negotiations, the city council convinced Walter O’Malley to uproot the Dodgers and move to Los Angeles and they purchased the Chavez Ravine property back from the Federal Housing Authority, with the stipulation that the land be used for a public purpose.  In June of 1958, 2 months after the Dodgers began their first season in LA, voters approved a “Taxpayers Committee for Yes on Baseball” referendum, which enabled O’Malley to acquire 352 acres of Chavez Ravine from the city in exchange for Wrigley Field (the Los Angeles version). After additional legal challenges, including the eventual removal of the Aréchigas, ground was broken on Dodger Stadium in September of 1959, and it opened for business on April 10, 1962.   The abandoned Palo Verde elementary school, which taught multiple generations of Aréchigas children, was simply buried and sits beneath the parking lot northwest of third base.

At the end of the day, multiple sources converged to remove the Mexican families from their homes in order to ultimately build a baseball stadium.  While the Dodgers have taken the majority of the blame over the years, had the original housing project either gone through to completion or never started in the first place, the land would not have been available for them to swoop in and overtake.  Had Walter O’Malley thrown a little extra money at the problem, it may have soothed a lot of hurt feelings.  This was an important story that I’m glad was finally told, filling in many of the holes of the popular myth.

Jake 2.0

The Cubs are bringing Jake Arrieta back for the 2021 season, signing the right-hander to a one year, $6 million deal.  Arrieta, who will turn 35 next month, was originally acquired by the Cubs in July of 2013, coming over from the Orioles, along with Pedro Strop, in a trade for Scott Feldman and Steve Clevenger.  After 7 starts for Iowa, Arrieta joined the rebuilding Cubs and showed vast improvement over the pitcher he was with the Orioles.  He turned into an ace for the Cubs in 2015, winning the NL Cy Young Award, and was a key contributor to their World Series championship in 2016.  He threw two no-hitters for the team, one in 2015 against the Dodgers and the second in 2016 against the Reds.  But, after leaving following the 2017 season for the Phillies, he has not been the same pitcher, suffering injuries each of the past 3 years.

Hopefully Cub fans have realistic expectations for Arrieta in 2021.  If they expect Arrieta to be a leader in the team’s attempts to repeat as division champions, they are likely to be disappointed and that disappointment may tarnish their memories of Arrieta and what he accomplished from 2014-2017.  If they see this as the nostalgia-based move it likely is, and accept the neither Arrieta nor the team will see the same success that they’ve become accustomed to, then it could be a nice distraction to take away from what looks to be a rebuilding (or reloading, at best) year.

2020: The Year In Movies Part 2

Movie_Reel_22272 different people starred in the 154 movies I saw last year (starring in being the first two named stars, a tradition dating back to the old Chicago Tribune TV guide which populated the early days of my database), and 28 of them starred in more than 1 film. Those 28 thespians are:

Films Per Actor Per Year
Actor Name Films
Charles Bronson 4
Harrison Ford 4
Katie Holmes 3
Keanu Reeves 3
Bruce Willis 3
Renee Zellwegger 3
Chadwick Boseman 2
Alison Brie 2
Jessica Chastain 2
Adam Driver 2
Jesse Eisenberg 2
Karen Gillan 2
Carla Gugino 2
Tom Hanks 2
Anna Hutchison 2
Samuel L. Jackson 2
Gillian Jacobs 2
Felicity Jones 2
Ewan McGregor 2
Kumail Nanjiani 2
Al Pacino 2
Brad Pitt 2
Issa Rae 2
Arnold Schwarzenegger 2
Will Smith 2
Kristen Stewart 2
Charlize Theron 2
Jessie T. Usher 2

Now let’s take a look at the next batch of movies that I saw in 2020, following up on last Wednesday’s post.

The Prodigy (2019)
The soul of a serial killer takes over a young boy’s body, much to his mother’s chagrin.

Alex & The List (2017)
A dog trainer is given a list of things to change about himself by his fiancé before she’ll marry him.

Hide (2011)
A Boston detective investigates the mummified remains of six women.

Pretty Little Stalker (2018)
A writer takes in a troubled girl and sees her family disintegrate.

Road To Perdition (2002)
Tom Hanks and Paul Newman star in this adaptation of the graphic novel by Max Allan Collins and Richard Piers Rayner.

Jumanji: The Next Level (2019)
The kids head back into the game, this time dragging along Dannys DeVito and Glover.

Are You In The House Alone? (1978)
A supposed horror movie that turned out to be a made-for-tv movie.

My Soul To Take (2010)
A serial killer returns to his hometown to stalk the seven children born on the day he was allegedly put to rest.

Bridget Jones: The Edge Of Reason (2004)
The second installment in the series starring Renee Zellwegger.

Good People (2014)
A couple finds themselves in a pickle after discovering, and keeping, cash in their dead tenants apartment. Continue reading →

By The Numbers – 99

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 begin our look at those players, picking our favorite, if not the best, player to wear each uniform number for both Chicago teams, starting with #99.  A grand total of 3 players have donned #99 while playing in Chicago, 1 for the White Sox and 2 for the Cubs.

Manny Ramirez spent a little more than a month with the White Sox, acquired off waivers from the Dodgers at the end of August in 2010.  The White Sox were hoping there was still some life in the 38-year old slugger as they hoped to make up a 4 game deficit and overtake the Twins for the AL Central title, but he managed just a single home run and only 2 RBI.  Following the season, he became a free agent.

On the north side of town, of the two instances of a player wearing #99, the nod has to go to So Taguchi.  Appearing in 6 games in 2009, Taguchi hit .273 as he wound down his career.

All Time Playoff Team Records

For the first time since 2008, both the White Sox and the Cubs are in the post-season following this abbreviated 2020 season.  The expanded run to the World Series will start with the White Sox facing A’s in Oakland for a best of 3 series starting tonight, while the Cubs welcome the Marlins to Wrigley starting tomorrow.  Winners will advance to the LDS and enter a playoff bubble, with the AL moving to California and the NL to Texas.

With the AL Wild Card Series set to kick off today, it’s time to take an updated look at the team records for the now 30 playoff contests I have attended. These contests come from the 2018 Wild Card game, the ALDS in 2000, 2005, and 2008, the NLDS in 2003, 2007, 2008, 2015, 2016, and 2017, the NLCS in 2003, 2015, 2016, and 2017, the ALCS in 2005, and, of course, the 2005 and 2016 World Series.  Sadly, I won’t be adding any games to this list this year.  Thanks, corona virus.

Post-Season Team Records
Team Name Won Loss Winning Pctg
Florida Marlins 3 0 1.000
Seattle Mariners 2 0 1.000
New York Mets 2 0 1.000
Colorado Rockies 1 0 1.000
Arizona Diamondbacks 1 0 1.000
Chicago White Sox 5 4 0.556
Los Angeles Dodgers 3 3 0.500
Atlanta Braves 1 1 0.500
Cleveland Indians 1 1 0.500
Los Angeles Angels 1 1 0.500
Washington Nationals 1 1 0.500
Tampa Bay Rays 1 1 0.500
Chicago Cubs 9 13 0.409
San Francisco Giants 0 2 0.000
St. Louis Cardinals 0 1 0.000
Boston Red Sox 0 2 0.000
Houston Astros 0 1 0.000

2020 Predictions Revisited

The shortened 60 game 2020 baseball season wraps up today.  2 months ago, I made my annual predictions as to who would win what, not really knowing what a shortened season during a global pandemic would entail.  Now that the 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, that’s one down.  The Yankees looked to be on cruise control, until a plague of injuries knocked them off course.  The Rays, meanwhile, took home their first division crown since 2010.

Central: Twins

The Twins take their second consecutive division title, thanks in part to the White Sox crapping down their pants leg over the last week of the season.

West: Astros

The A’s came through in a big way, dethroning the Astros after their 3 year reign atop the division.

Wild Cards: White Sox, Rays

Well, these predictions were made before the current playoff structure was put in place.  The three second place teams are guaranteed a post-season slot, with the next two best records earning a wild card spot.

AL Champion: Yankees

While they didn’t win the division, the Yankees do seem primed to make a strong run.

Cy Young: Blake Snell

Indians ace Shane Bieber pretty much has this wrapped up.

MVP: Yoan Moncada

Moncada has struggled after contracting COVID-19 back during summer camp, but I think I was in the right ballpark.  Jose Abreu looks to be the clubhouse leader for this award.

National League

Continue reading →

Homer History

The White Sox have been on a historic home run streak over the past few days.  Sunday, versus the Cardinals, they notched the 10th occurrence in MLB history of 4 consecutive home runs when Yoan Moncada, Yasmani Grandal, Jose Abreu, and Eloy Jimenez went deep back to back to back to back in the 5th inning.  The first three home runs also became the first time a team had 3 Cuban-born players go back to back to back.

This was the second time the White Sox have accomplished this rare feat, joining the Nationals as the only franchise to do it more than once.  Jim Thome, Paul Konerko, Alexei Ramírez, and Juan Uribe did the same on August 14, 2008 against the Royals.

The White Sox followed up on that with a little more history on Monday night.  Last week, in Detroit, Tim Anderson and Eloy Jimenez led off the game against starter Matthew Boyd with back to back home runs.  Boyd was back on the bump against the White Sox Monday night in Chicago, and again served up two home run balls to start the game, to Anderson again and Yoan Moncada.  This made the White Sox the first team to ever lead off a game with back to back home runs against the same pitcher twice.  They also halved the previous record of time between games with back to back home runs to start a game, down to 5.  The Dodgers held the previous record, at 10 games.