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 – 8

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 #8.  82 different players have donned #8 while playing in Chicago, 40 for the White Sox and 42 for the Cubs.

Vincent Edward “Bo” Jackson joined the White Sox as a free agent on April 3, 1991 after being released by the Royals following a catastrophic hip injury suffered in January during the NFL playoffs as a member of the Raiders.  “In making the business decision,” owner Jerry Reinsdorf said at the time, “I assume he will not play this year. If he does, it will be a big bonus.”  Jackson did spend most of 1991 on the disabled list, rehabbing the injury, but did eventually manage to make his way back to the field.  He appeared in 23 games, hitting only .225 with 3 home runs.

Diagnosed with avascular necrosis of the hip joint and having lost all of the cartilage supporting his hip, Jackson decided to undergo a hip replacement surgery, keeping him on the shelf for the entire 1992 season.  While rehabbing, Jackson promised his mother he would return to the major leagues and hit a home run for her.  Unfortunately, Jackson’s mother died before he could return, but, in his first at bat of the 1993 season, and his first with an artificial hip, he hit a home run to right field against the Yankees at Comiskey Park.  On September 27, Jackson belted a three-run home run off of the Mariners to help the White Sox clinch their first AL West Division title in a decade.  Jackson ended up appearing in 85 games for the White Sox, hitting .232 and hitting 16 home runs while driving in 45.  He appeared in 3 of the 6 ALCS games against the Blue Jays, going hitless in 10 at bats.  Following the season, he became a free agent, ending his White Sox playing career.  In 2014, he returned to the organization as an ambassador, a role he continues to play today.

A free agent following the 1986 season, Andre Dawson was looking for a new home with natural grass that would be easier on his injured knees.  With MLB owners colluding against the players by agreeing not to sign free agents, Dawson found himself without takers.  When the Cubs opened their spring training camp that spring, Dawson and his agent, Dick Moss, arrived with a signed blank contract in an attempt to get a job.  GM Dallas Green derided the stunt as a “dog and pony show,” but, after reviewing the contract, Green and Moss reached an agreement on a lowball salary of $500,000, the second-lowest salary amongst the team’s starters.  The Cubs easily got their money’s worth, as Dawson became the Cubs’ starting right fielder, and hit a major league leading 49 home runs and was named NL MVP, despite the Cubs finishing in last place.

Dawson played five more seasons with the Cubs and was one of the franchise’s most popular players during that time.  His worst individual season came in 1989, when the Cubs won the NL East title.  During the NLCS, Dawson slumped terribly, hitting .105 as the Giants beat the Cubs 4 games to 1.  Dawson’s .507 career slugging percentage with the Cubs is fourth highest in team history.

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 →

By The Numbers – 17

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 #17.  79 different players have donned #17 while playing in Chicago, 42 for the White Sox and 37 for the Cubs.

Mark Grace moved to his iconic #17 during his rookie campaign in 1988.  He finished second in Rookie of the Year voting while hitting .296 with 7 home runs and 57 RBIs.  In 1989, he garnered some MVP consideration as the Cubs took home a surprising NL East title.  Grace hit .314 with 13 home runs and 79 RBIs during the regular season, before hitting .647 with a 1.799 OPS during the 5 game NLCS against the Giants.

In 1990, Grace began a decade of excellence, collecting the most hits, 1,754, and doubles, 364, of any player during the decade.  He won 4 Gold Glove awards, was named to 3 All Star teams, earned down-ballot MVP support in 3 different seasons.  Following the 2000 season, he left the Cubs, finishing that portion of his career with 2201 hits, 456 doubles, 148 home runs, 1004 RBIs, and a .308 average.

As the White Sox made their run towards the World Series title in 2005, general manager Kenny Williams attempted to acquire Ken Griffey Jr. from the Reds, but was rebuked when Reds ownership decided to veto the deal.  3 years later, with the White Sox again looking to make a run at a division title, he was finally able to acquire the aging superstar at the trade deadline in exchange for pitcher Nick Masset and second baseman Danny Richar.  At the time of the trade, the White Sox held a tenuous 1.5 game lead over the Twins.  Wearing #17, Griffey, who had spent most of the previous few seasons in right field to lessen the strain on his body, moved back to center field for the White Sox, displacing the disappointing Nick Swisher.  Griffey appeared in 41 games for the White Sox, hitting a decent .260 with only 3 home runs and 18 RBI.  His most important contribution came defensively, during the tie-breaking game 163 between the White Sox and the Twins, when he gunned down Michael Cuddyer, who was trying to score on a fly out to center, preserving the shutout and helping the White Sox win the division and advance the playoffs.  In the ALDS, Griffey appeared in 3 games against the Rays, garnering only 2 hits as the White Sox fell 3 games to 1.  Following the season, the White Sox declined Griffey’s $16 million option for 2009, making him a free agent.

Special bonus shout out to outfielder Carlos May, who played with the White Sox from 1968-1976.  May, who wore #17 for his entire White Sox career, is the only player in baseball history to wear his birthday, May 17th, on his jersey.

By The Numbers – 18

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 #18.  78 different players have donned #18 while playing in Chicago, 41 for the White Sox and 37 for the Cubs.

Bill Madlock essentially replaced two of the Cubs biggest stars of the 1960s when he joined the team for his rookie season in 1974.  Acquired for future Hall of Famer Ferguson Jenkins, Madlock took the spot of Hall of Famer Ron Santo at the hot corner.  If he felt any pressure, he didn’t show it, hitting .313 with 9 home runs, good enough for a third place finish in Rookie of the Year voting.  In 1975, he broke out in a big way, earning his first All Star nod on his way to a batting title.  In 1976, Madlock repeated as batting champion, hitting .339 and beating out Ken Griffey Sr. on the final day of the season.  With the dawn of free agency on the horizon, Madlock asked the Cubs for a multi-year contract with a salary of $200,000, more than double what he had earned in 1976.  Team owner Phillip K. Wrigley had other ideas, announcing that Madlock would be traded “to anyone foolish enough to want him.”  In February of 1977, that so-called foolish team turned out to be the Giants, who sent Bobby Murcer and Steve Ontiveros, among others, to the Cubs.  In July of 2016, this would be ranked as one of the five worst trades in Cub history.

Acquired by the White Sox, along with Tyler Flowers and 2 minor leaguers, from the Braves in exchange for Javier Vazquez and Boone Logan, Brent Lillibridge donned #18 while hitting an anemic .158 in 95 at bats spread across 46 games for the 2009 White Sox.  Lillibridge stuck with the big league team in 2010, improving his average to .224 in only 64 games.  2011 was his best season, setting career highs in home runs, RBIs, batting average, and OPS.  On April 11, he hit the 10,000th home run in White Sox history off Dallas Braden and the A’s.  Lillibridge struggled again in 2012, with his average dropping down to .175 before the June 24th trade that sent him, along with Zach Stewart, to the Red Sox for Kevin Youkilis.

Against The Mets All Time Leaders – Through 2021

21st-CENTURY-METS_01In 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 New York Mets.

The Mets began life in 1962, joining the National League following the abandonment of the New York market by both the Dodgers and Giants in 1957.  I’ve seen them play 16 times, all against the Cubs and including Tom Glavine’s 300th career victory, their pennant clinching victory in the 2015 NLCS, and, most recently, on my first post-pandemic visit to Wrigley Field on April 22, 2021.

Name Total
Corey Patterson 4
Aramis Ramirez 2
12 tied with 1

Hits

Name Total
Corey Patterson 10
Aramis Ramirez 10
Moises Alou 8
Mark Gruzielanek 8

Runs

Name Total
Aramis Ramirez 5
Derrek Lee 5
Corey Patterson 4
Moises Alou 4
Michael Barrett 4
Sammy Sosa 4

RBI

Name Total
Corey Patterson 10
Aramis Ramirez 7
Michael Barrett 6

Doubles

Name Total
Aramis Ramirez 4
Michael Barrett 3
Moises Alou 2
Jorge Soler 2
Derrek Lee 2
Mark Grudzielanek 2
Neifi Perez 2

Triples Continue reading →

Remember When There Was A 10,000 Step Club?

Things were a lot different two years ago, as I was finishing up my fifth year using a Fitbit.  I had just added 45 new 10,000 step days, my 3rd best year to date, and, with upcoming trips to Boston and California already on the docket, things were looking good to add a good number more and add some new tales to this list of my top 25 step days.  Then, the corona virus happened, and the world basically shut down for the next two years.  I’ve worked from home since March of 2020, which gives me a lot more free time, but also significantly cut down on my natural daily step totals.  All told, I managed only 5 10,000 step days for the just completed seventh year of Fitbit usage, which, granted, is better than last year and gives me a total of 270 since I started keeping track back in 2011.  With that in mind, here’s the list of my top 25 step days, which has stayed static for two years now.

1: 4/14/2018 – 27,470 steps

My best single day total is from my April 2017 trip to New York to see Angelina.  The day’s excursions included trips to the 9/11 Memorial & Museum, the Museum of the City of New York, Central Park, the Guggenheim museum, and the Empire State Building.

2: 7/21/2018 – 27,278 steps

My July 2017 trip to Virginia, to hike up Catawba Mountain to McAfee Knob with Jeff and Val, fell just short of the top spot.

3: 6/6/2013 – 24,988 steps

2013’s trip to Disney World, which spent 5 years as my single day best, included excursions to both Epcot Center and the Magic Kingdom, and yes, falling 12 steps short of 25,000 still irks me.

4: 6/3/2019 – 24,665 steps

The first full day of 2019’s summer trip to Washington DC spent most of the day at the Smithsonian Zoo.

5: 8/8/2019 – 23,866 steps

Late in the summer of 2019, I spent two weeks in San Francisco for a work trip.   On my last full day, I went out after work, walking to Pier 39 and then back the other direction to Oracle Park to see the Giants take on the Phillies.  My totals would have been even higher, but I was dead tired and took an Uber back to the hotel after the game.

6: 3/18/2018 – 23,780 steps

My first day in Las Vegas for the 2017 IBM Think conference, the day’s totals include gallivanting around town, including a late night trip up to Caesar’s Palace from the MGM Grand to see Absinthe.

7: 10/24/2018 – 23,362 steps

My October 2018 trip to Boston to see Angelina for our birthday gives us our next entry.  While she was in class, I took tours of Fenway Park and Harvard, before meeting up with her for a late lunch and then heading to the airport for the trip home.

8: 3/22/2016 – 22,493 steps

My one-time second highest day took place during the ill-fated trip to Disney World in March of 2016.  The day’s excursion started at Hollywood Studios before heading over to Epcot Center with Jeff and Val.

9: 7/27/2013 – 20,592 steps

Still my highest total at home in the state of Illinois, the next entry comes thanks to the 2013 BTN 5K and a, for lack of a better word, misunderstanding about where I should be picked up after the race.

10: 12/29/2018 – 20,374 steps

We wrap up the top 10 with 2018’s trip to California and the trip to Disneyland to see Danny perform with the Lincoln-Way Marching Band.

11: 8/5/2017 – 20,218 steps

The next entry came in August of 2017 on the first day of my trip to Boston with Danny and Michael.  After landing in town, we traipsed to the Science Museum, a breakfast joint, our hotel, and, finally, Fenway Park.

12: 7/14/2017 – 20,208 steps

Down to #12 is my 2017 trip to Disney World, a one day journey with Angelina to celebrate her high school graduation. Continue reading →