The Decade In Baseball – Team Records

The 2010s have drawn to a close and its time to take a look back at the previous decade.  Today, we are starting with baseball, specifically the performance of all 30 MLB teams in games I attended between 2010 and 2019.  Locally, things were good on the north side of town, as the Cubs finished their rebuild with 3 straight NLCS appearances in the middle of the decade, including a World Series championship in 2016.  It was much bleaker on the south side, as the White Sox failed to compete after a late collapse in 2012, finishing the decade on a string of 7 consecutive losing seasons.

I managed to take in 385 games over the past 10 years at 12 different stadiums from coast (Dodger Stadium) to coast (Fenway Park).  2010 was my high water mark, with 52 games, while 2013 and 2018 tied for the lowest total of the decade with only 29 games.

Games Per Year
Year Total Games
2010 52
2011 43
2012 33
2013 29
2014 35
2015 39
2016 39
2017 49
2018 29
2019 37

Two franchises went through the decade undefeated in games I attended, while another 2 teams went winless.  Both local teams finished just a shade under .500.  The White Sox are far and away the team I saw most often, while the Diamondbacks bring up the rear with only 2 appearances over the past 10 years.

2019 Team Records
Team Name Won Loss Winning Pctg
Colorado Rockies 4 0 1.000
New York Mets 3 0 1.000
Boston Red Sox 9 3 0.750
New York Yankees 9 4 0.692
Washington Nationals 6 3 0.667
Houston Astros 6 3 0.667
Florida Marlins 2 1 0.667
Los Angeles Angels 9 5 0.643
Detroit Tigers 22 13 0.629
Pittsburgh Pirates 5 3 0.625
Kansas City Royals 21 17 0.553
Cleveland Indians 17 14 0.548
Toronto Blue Jays 8 7 0.533
Minnesota Twins 19 17 0.528
Oakland Athletics 7 7 0.500
St. Louis Cardinals 2 2 0.500
San Diego Padres 2 2 0.500
Arizona Diamondbacks 1 1 0.500
Chicago White Sox 159 164 0.492
Chicago Cubs 40 43 0.482
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Ballpark Tour: Dodgers

With the offseason underway, we continue our tour of all of the different baseball stadiums I’ve been to over the years. This week, we head to Chavez Ravine to take a look at the Los Angeles Dodgers, owners of the third oldest ballpark in the major leagues. So, without further ado, let’s take a deeper look at my one game history with Dodger Stadium.

 

 

Stadium Name: Dodger Stadium

Years in Service: 1962 – Present

Visits: 1

Following the 1957 season, the Dodgers fled Brooklyn and headed west to California, landing in Los Angeles. The team played in the LA Coliseum while they built a new stadium at Chavez Ravine. In 1962, 3 years after breaking ground, Dodger Stadium opened as the Reds topped the Dodgers in the season opener.

The following year, the Dodgers won their first World Series in their new home. Between 1962 and 1965, Sandy Koufax threw three no hitters at the stadium, including a perfect game against the Cubs. Four home runs have been hit out of Dodger Stadium, two of which were hit by Pirate great Willie Stargell.

Dodger Stadium is currently the third oldest park still in use, behind Fenway Park and Wrigley Field. I made my first visit to the stadium to see the second home game of the 2014 slate, with the Dodgers taking on their long time rival Giants. Thanks to traffic, I didn’t get to my seat until the 4th inning, by which point the Giants had secured a substantial lead. I sprung for decent seats, which put me down on the lower level. One odd thing about those lower sections were the aisles, which are so narrow that people could only go in one direction at a time. I did also manage to score a fabled Dodger Dog, or at least the all beef version of it. I hope to make it back some day for a repeat performance.

2019 Predictions Revisited

Six months ago, at the dawn of the 2019 baseball season, I made my annual predictions as to who would win what.  Now that the regular 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, one for one so far.  This one wasn’t particularly close, as the Yankees won 103 games and won the division by 7 games.

Central: Indians

So much for going perfect.  The Indians saw their run of 3 consecutive division titles come to an end at the hands of the upstart Twins.

West: Astros

The Astros put up the best record in baseball, so this one was pretty much a gimme.

Wild Cards: Red Sox, Angels

No and No.  Right divisions, but the Rays and the A’s took home the Wild Cards.

AL Champion: Astros

This one is looking pretty good.

Cy Young: Justin Verlander

As is this one.  It will likely come down to him or teammate Gerrit Cole.

MVP: George Springer

I think I picked the wrong Astro.

National League

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Looking Ahead To 2020

Major League Baseball released their tentative 2020 schedule earlier this week.  While the local squads have differing goals in mind as 2019 winds down, with the Cubs struggling for their 8th straight trip to post-season and the White Sox playing out the string in year three of their rebuild, it’s time to turn our attention to next summer for both teams.

For the third year in a row, the White Sox open their season against the Royals, but will be at home for the first time.  They follow that with a trip to Cleveland and Boston.

The interleague schedule pits the White Sox against the NL West, with trips to Colorado, San Francisco, and San Diego and home series against the Rockies, Diamondbacks, and the Dodgers.  The rivalry with their north side foes continues with a 2 game series at home and a 2 game series at Wrigley Field, both in July in the weeks surrounding the All Star Break.

In August, they will travel to Iowa to battle the Yankees in the first Field of Dreams game, hosted where the film of the same name was filmed in 1989 and played in an 8000 seat stadium that will be inspired by the original Comiskey Park.

The season ends with 10 games against their Central Division rivals, which hopefully will be important.

On the north side, the Cubs open their season up north in Milwaukee, before returning home the following Monday to kick off the home portion of their schedule against the Pirates.

The interleague schedule pits the Cubs against the AL East, with trips to Baltimore, New York, and Toronto and home series against the Orioles, Red Sox, and the Rays.

In June, they will head to London for a two-game tilt against the Cardinals

The Cubs end the year with a 16 of their final 22 games against the NL Central, with 13 of those coming against the Pirates and the Cardinals, who are likely to challenge them for the NL Central crown.

All Time Team Records

The 2019 baseball season got underway yesterday, with the now early start brought about due to the last collective bargaining agreement.  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. The Cubs look to avenge last year’s loss in the Wild Card and hope to make it back to the World Series, while the rebuilding White Sox hope to finally start seeing some of their young talent blossom.  The 2019 season should be an exciting one on both sides of town.

All-Time Team Records
Team Name Won Loss Winning Pctg
California Angels 1 0 1.000
Arizona Diamondbacks 13 2 0.867
Florida Marlins 15 8 0.652
Colorado Rockies 10 6 0.625
Philadelphia Phillies 10 7 0.588
New York Yankees 14 10 0.583
Boston Red Sox 17 13 0.567
Los Angeles Angels 17 13 0.567
Toronto Blue Jays 13 10 0.565
Cleveland Indians 26 23 0.531
Detroit Tigers 27 24 0.529
Chicago Cubs 213 192 0.526
Houston Astros 22 20 0.524
Chicago White Sox 293 271 0.520
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2019 Predictions

The 2019 baseball season is scheduled to kick off tomorrow, at least the North American portion, with a full slate of games featuring all 30 teams.  For the ninth consecutive year, I’ve looked into the crystal ball to make my picks for the upcoming season.

American League

East: Yankees

Central: Indians

West: Astros

Wild Cards: Red Sox, Angels

AL Champion: Astros

Cy Young: Justin Verlander

MVP: George Springer

National League

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#3 – Paul Konerko

PaulKonerkoRedName: Paul Konerko

Rank: 3

Position: 1B

Years With White Sox: 1999-2014

After brief appearances with the Dodgers and the Reds in 1997 and 1998, Paul Konerko was traded to the White Sox on November 11, 1998 for center fielder Mike Cameron.  He started at DH on opening day in 1999, an 8-2 victory over the Mariners, going 1-4 with a home run and 2 RBI.

2000 saw Konerko get off to a quick start with an inside the park home run on April 11 against the Devil Rays, the first by a White Sox player since 1990.  In his second full season, he helped lead the surprising White Sox to their first Central Division title.  He, along with the rest of the White Sox offense, struggled during the Division Series against the Mariners, going 0-9 in the three game sweep.

After steadily improving in 2001 and 2002, Konerko ran into trouble in 2003, with his average under .200 for the first half of the season.  He found himself coming off the bench as manager Jerry Manuel seemingly lost confidence in him.  He bounced back in the second half and re-established himself as the starting first baseman.

Konerko bounced back in a big way in 2004, hitting 41 home runs and knocking in over 100 RBIs en route to the Comeback Player of the Year award.  2005 saw him put up a second consecutive 40 HR, 100 RBI season as the White Sox found themselves back in the playoffs for the second time in his career.  This time, things would go much differently for both Konerko and the White Sox.

Konerko homered twice and drove in 4 runs during the three game sweep against the Red Sox, catching the final out that sent the White Sox to the ALCS for the first time since 1993.  Konerko hit another 2 home runs and drove in 7 against the Angels during the 5 game series.  Once again, Konerko caught the final putout that sent the White Sox to their first World Series since 1959.  Following the victory in game 5, Konerko was named ALCS MVP.

Konerko cooled down during the World Series, hitting only one home run against the Astros, but what a home run it was.  With the White Sox trailing in the 7th inning, Konerko came up to face new pitcher Chad Qualls with the bases loaded.  Konerko made contact on the first pitch, sending it into the left field seats for a grand slam and the lead.  Like the previous 2 series, Konerko caught the final putout at first base in Game 4, giving the White Sox their first World Series title since 1917.

With the afterglow of winning the World Series starting to subside, Konerko became a free agent.  Despite rumors of him getting more lucrative offers from both the Dodgers and the Orioles, Konerko finally resigned with the White Sox, inking a 5-year, $60 million contract that would keep him on the south side through 2010.

Konerko battled through injuries in 2008, leading to his worst season since 2003, but he did manage to help the White Sox reach the post-season for the third time during his career.  He hit 2 solo home runs in the 4 game series against the Rays, in what would be his final playoff appearance.

Konerko had two more chances at free agency, signing a 3 year deal with the White Sox prior to 2011 and, finally, re-upping for one last season in 2014.  He finishes his career as the White Sox all time leader in total bases and second all time in home runs, RBIs, and games played.  In addition, he was a 6-time All Star and had served as team captain since 2006.  He also is the only White Sox player to appear in the post season 3 different times.

Konerko’s numbers in a White Sox uniform, both for games I attended and overall, were:

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The Marquee Sports Network

The long awaited announcement of the creation of a new Cubs-owned network finally came 2 weeks ago.  The Marquee Sports Network will launch in 2020, in time to air spring training games.  “We are excited to better serve our fans with expanded and exclusive programming showcasing our remarkable players, beloved ballpark and storied past,” president of business operations Crane Kenney said in a press release, “Our dedicated ‘Cubs-centric’ network will carry all available Cubs games and feature uncompromising, in-depth and behind-the-scenes coverage.”

The Cubs also announced that broadcasters Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies will continue to be involved with the live game broadcasts. The network will also provide extensive pregame and postgame coverage, original Cubs-related content and other live sports programming, per the release.

As rumored, the Cubs partner in the new venture is Sinclair Broadcast Group.  Sinclair has come under fire over the past couple years for its right-wing political slant and forcing its individual TV stations, of which WGN narrowly avoided becoming earlier this year, to air hard-right commentary.  “From our view, the reason Sinclair was such a good partner had to do with their technical capacity,” Kenney said on the Mully & Haugh Show on The Score.  “In terms of the programming on the channel, that will be exclusively our control. So what our fans, what the consumer sees when they turn the channel on will be something the team controls, as it should be, given that we know fan base and the team better than anyone.”  Later, Crane added, “While Sinclair’s TV stations may have a right-leaning bent, you won’t see any of that on our channel.”  This, of course, avoids the fact the Cubs fans who disagree with Sinclair’s politics may not feel good about contributing to their profits, even if their propaganda doesn’t air on the network.

The big outstanding question is carriage fees and clearance.  Industry reports say that the carriage fee that the network will request from cable operators could reach $6 per month, easily on the high end of the spectrum.  High carriage fees have led to clearance issues in the past for other teams.  When the Dodgers teamed with Time Warner to create SportsNet LA in 2014, they changed $4.90 per subscriber.  The end result was that Dodger games were, and continue to be, available to only about 30 percent of the Los Angeles market.  By June 2017, SportsNet LA’s ratings for Dodger games had dropped 49% from 2013.

Given the availability of Cubs games on WGN’s superstation for years, the team expects the new network to draw subscribers from much of the Midwest, if not the entire country.  But, convincing cable operators to add the channel on a non-premium tier and passing that $6 per month charge along to all customers, at a time when cord cutting is eroding their subscriber base, may be a tough sell.  Time will tell if this works out as well as the Cubs expect it to, or if they missed the boat on the RSN gravy train that is already showing signs of drying up.

#7 – A.J. Pierzynski

Name: A.J. Pierzynski

Rank: 7

Position: C

Years With White Sox: 2005-2012

A.J. Pierzynski signed with the White Sox on January 6, 2005 following a year with the Giants that called his professionalism into question.  He rewarded the White Sox organization with 8 seasons of stability behind the plate the included 1 All-Star selection, 2 playoff appearances, and, of course, the 2005 World Series championship.  Over those 8 seasons, Pierzynski was involved in many key moments that endeared him to the White Sox faithful, including:

The walk-off home run, and resulting bat flip pictured to the left, against the Dodgers in 2005.

The two home runs in a thrashing of the Red Sox in game one of the 2005 ALDS, the first White Sox home postseason victory since 1959.

The controversial dropped third strike that led to a White Sox victory in game two of the 2005 ALCS against the Angels.

The 2006 brawl against the Cubs where Michael Barrett sucker-punched him after Pierzynski enthusiastically scored a run against the crosstown rivals.

Hanging on to the throw from Ken Griffey Jr. to preserve the shutout in the 2008 tie-breaker game that pushed the White Sox into the playoffs over the Twins.

Being behind the plate for Mark Buehrle’s no-hitter in 2007 and Philip Humber’s perfect game in 2012.

A.J. Pierzynski’s White Sox career officially came to an following the 2012 season, when the free agent catcher signed a contract with the Texas Rangers, leaving Paul Konerko as the last remaining member of the 2005 World Series champions to play for the South Siders.

Pierzynski’s numbers in a White Sox uniform, both for games I attended and overall, were:

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The Waiting Game

Spring training camps are opening up all across Arizona and Florida and the two biggest free agents are still unsigned.  Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, both aged 26, were looking to snare 10 year deals worth in excess of $300 million, but are on the outside looking in as their peers get back to work.  With 2 straight winters of a free agent freeze out, many people are questioning what is going on.  Especially when 2 superstars, each about to enter their prime, are unable to find the deals that they are looking for.

There are many reasons for the lack of movement.  First, many of the teams that you would expect to be outbidding each other are treating the luxury tax thresholds as though it were a salary cap.  This has left the Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs, and Dodgers on the sidelines.  Secondly, the number of teams that aren’t planning on being competitive further limits the list of available suitors.

Of course the remaining reason, depending on your point of view, may be the most troubling.  Either teams are colluding to keep the price of free agents down, as they did in the 80s before to a cost of $280 million in a 1990 settlement, or analytics has gotten to the point where each team values players the same, leaving little variation in offers.  Either way, the last 2 off-seasons are likely to lead to labor unrest, which the sport has largely been able to avoid since the 1994 strike.  And the longer Machado and Harper are out of camp, the worse it will be.