It’s Still Been A While

Exactly 8 months since my last baseball game, the longest drought I’ve experienced since 1998 into 1999, I figured it was a good time to take another look at the last time I saw each of the 30 major league teams. For someone with season tickets to two teams, one in each league, you would think that I would cycle through each team every few years or so.  And, for the most part, that does seem to be the case.  I saw 21 of the 30 teams in 2019, going back to 2018, that number jumps to 23.  That’s nearly 77% of the league in the past 2 seasons.

What about those remaining 7 teams?  The Dodgers, Rays, Braves, and Padres last appeared in 2017, while 2016 takes care of the Reds.  I somehow haven’t seen the Diamondbacks since 2014, despite being inside their home ballpark more recently than that.  That leaves the Marlins, who I have somehow not managed to see in person since 2013.  Anyway, here’s a look at each team and the last time I saw them play.

Team Name Date
Miami Marlins 5/26/2013
Arizona Diamondbacks 5/10/2014
Cincinnati Reds 4/11/2016
San Diego Padres 5/13/2017
Atlanta Braves 9/2/2017
Tampa Bay Rays 9/3/2017
Los Angeles Dodgers 10/19/2017
Houston Astros 4/22/2018
Colorado Rockies 10/2/2018
Seattle Mariners 4/6/2019
Pittsburgh Pirates 4/8/2019
Kansas City Royals 4/15/2019
Boston Red Sox 5/5/2019
St. Louis Cardinals 5/5/2019
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The Opening Day That Wasn’t

Today should have been be my 20th straight Opening Day at Comiskey Park II/US Cellular Field/Guaranteed Rate Field, and my 23rd overall for the White Sox.  The first one was in 1985, a blowout win against the Red Sox at Comiskey Park that introduced rookie shortstop Ozzie Guillen to Chicago.  Other highlights include the 2005 1-0 victory against the Indians, the raising of the championship banner on Sunday Night Baseball in 2006, and Mark Buehrle’s between-the-legs flip in 2010.

The most frequent opponent has been the Tigers, who are also the only team with a winning record on Opening Day in games I’ve attended.  The other AL Central foes have each appeared at least 3 times.

 

White Sox Home Opener Team Records
Team Name Won Loss Winning Pctg
Chicago White Sox 15 7 0.682
Detroit Tigers 4 2 0.667
Cleveland Indians 2 3 0.400
Minnesota Twins 1 2 0.333
Kansas City Royals 0 3 0.000
Boston Red Sox 0 1 0.000
Tampa Bay Rays 0 1 0.000
Texas Rangers 0 1 0.000
Baltimore Orioles 0 1 0.000
Seattle Mariners 0 1 0.000

Ballpark Tour: White Sox

Opening day was supposed to be less than a week away, so it is time to wrap up our tour of all of the baseball stadiums I’ve been to over the years with the one I’ve been to the most: the homes of the Chicago White Sox.  Between the two stadiums that have been located at the corners of 35th and Shields, I’ve seen at least 542 games, all but one of which have involved the White Sox.  So, without further ado, let’s take a deeper look at my history with Comiskey Park and Guaranteed Rate Field.

Stadium Name: Comiskey Park

Years in Service: 1910 – 1990

Visits: 12 (that I’m aware of)

Comiskey Park, the so-called Baseball Palace of the World, was the home of the White Sox from 1910 through the 1990 season.  Built on a former city dump at the corner of 35th Street and Shields Avenue, the stadium opened on July 1, 1910, as the White Sox lost to the St. Louis Browns 2-0.  The final game for the old ballyard occurred on September 30, 1990, a 2-1 victory over the Mariners.

Comiskey Park was the host for 4 World Series, including 3 in a row from 1917-1919.  The White Sox won the World Series in 1917 against the New York Giants.  The Cubs, looking for a larger seating capacity, moved their home games in the 1918 series against the Red Sox to Comiskey Park.  The 1919 World Series, of course, was the Black Sox scandal, where the White Sox threw the series against the Reds.  The White Sox returned to the World Series 40 years later in 1959, but fell to the Dodgers.  The final post-season games to be played in Comiskey Park were games 3 and 4 of the 1983 ALCS, which the White Sox lost to the Baltimore Orioles.

Comiskey Park was also the host to 3 All-Star games.  The first All-Star game, in 1933, was held in conjunction with Century of Progress Exposition being held on Chicago’s lakefront.  The event returned to Chicago’s south side in 1950 and the final All-Star game at Comiskey Park was in 1983, the 50th anniversary of the first game.  Comiskey Park was also the frequent home of the Negro League East-West All-Star Game from 1933 to 1960.

Looking back, I’ve been able to piece together evidence of 12 games that I attended at Comiskey Park, either from pictures, stadium giveaways, or specific memories.  I know there are more, but I have not been able to pinpoint exact games as of yet.  The most memorable game I can remember would be the final night game, on September 29, 1990, where, after the game, the lights were symbolically turned off for the final time.

Stadium Name: Comiskey Park II/US Cellular Field/Guaranteed Rate Field

Years in Service: 1991 – Present

Visits: 530

On the evening of June 30, 1988, with the clock literally stopped, the Illinois legislature passed a bill that provided the financing for a new stadium for the White Sox, stopping them from moving to St. Petersburg, Florida.  2 and a half years later, on April 18, 1991, Comiskey Park II opened, the first new major facility built in Chicago since the erection of the Chicago Stadium in 1929.  Sadly, the White Sox were embarrassed by the Tigers, losing 16-0 in the opening of their new park.

Unfortunately for the White Sox, the new Comiskey Park was the last stadium to be built prior to the wave of retro ballparks that started with the opening of Camden Yards the following year.  Because of this, there have been numerous renovations to the park, starting in 2001 with the addition of nearly 2000 seats and the relocation of the bullpens.  More extensive renovations began in 2003 in preparation for that season’s All Star Game and using the money generated from selling the naming rights to US Cellular, and continued through 2007, when the replacement of the blue seats with green seats was completed.  Less extensive renovations have occurred since, replacing the different video boards and creating premium seating areas.

The post-season came to the new Comiskey Park for the first time in 1993, as the White Sox battled the Blue Jays in the ALCS.  The stadium hosted its first World Series games in 2005, the first to be played in the city of Chicago since 1959, as the White Sox went on to sweep the Houston Astros and win their first World Series since 1917.

I attended my first game at the new Comiskey Park on April 20, 1991, the second game in the stadium’s history.  Since then, I’ve been to 529 other games at the stadium, the majority coming from 2005 on, when I became a season ticket holder.  I went to both games of the 2000 ALDS, which the White Sox lost to the Mariners, both games of the 2005 ALDS, which the White Sox won against the Red Sox, both games of the 2005 ALCS, which the White Sox split against the Angels, and game 2 of the 2005 World Series.  I attended game 163 of the 2008 season to break the tie between the White Sox and the Twins. and then the two ALDS games against the Rays, the first time I saw the White Sox actually end a post-season series, either in victory or defeat.

Notable regular season games I’ve seen at what is now known as Guaranteed Rate Field include the September 18, 2001 game against the Yankees as baseball returned following the attacks of 9/11, the April 16, 2005 game where Mark Buehrle defeated the Mariners in 1 hour and 39 minutes, the April 2, 2006 season opener against the Indians when the World Series championship banner was raised, the April 4, 2006 game where the players received their World Series rings, and the September 16, 2007 game where Jim Thome hit his 500th career home run against the Angels.  Not to mention a streak of 19 consecutive home openers.

Ballpark Tour: Brewers

Spring training is in full swing and opening day is about a month away, as we continue our tour of all of the baseball stadiums I’ve been to over the years. The closest city, outside of Chicago, for baseball, contains the homes of the Milwaukee Brewers. Between the two stadiums that have been located in the heart of cheeseland, I’ve seen 8 games. So, without further ado, let’s take a deeper look at my history with County Stadium and Miller Park.

Stadium Name: County Stadium

Years in Service: 1953 – 2000

Visits: 1

Milwaukee County Stadium was built with the intention of drawing a major league baseball team to Milwaukee, and it worked quicker than anybody would have expected, as the Braves announced they would be moving from Boston 3 weeks before the stadium, and the 1953 season, opened.  The Braves would call Milwaukee home for the next 13 seasons before leaving for Atlanta for the 1966 season.

During the 1968 and 1969 seasons, the struggling Chicago White Sox wound up playing 20 home games at County Stadium in an effort to keep the baseball fandom alive in Milwaukee.  In 1970, local businessman Bud Selig purchased the expansion Seattle Pilots out of bankruptcy court and moved them to Milwaukee and rechristened them the Brewers.  The Brewers would call County Stadium home until 2000, when they would move next door in to the newly built Miller Park.

I made one trip up to County Stadium for a White Sox/Brewers tilt on July 18, 1993.  The White Sox were victorious thank to a 2-run single by Bo Jackson in the 9th inning. I remember sitting out in the bleachers, but, beyond that, have no particular memory of the stadium or what amenities, if any, it offered.

Stadium Name: Miller Park

Years in Service: 2003 – Present

Visits: 7

The Brewers broke ground on a new stadium on November 9, 1996, in a parking lot behind County Stadium, with plans to open the park for the 2000 season.  Construction was delayed in 1999 after a crane collapsed while lifting a 400-ton roof section, killing three workers.  This caused the opening to be delayed for a year, and the new Miller Park did not open until April 6, 2001.  In 2007, the stadium hosted an Indians series against the Angels after snow storms in Cleveland forced the cancellation of the previous series against the Mariners.  The Astros called Miller Park home for two games in 2008 when Hurricane Ike stormed through Houston.

I made the first of my seven visits to Miller Park during the inaugural season of 2001.  That May 7th contest had the Cubs squeaking out a 7-6 victory against the hosting Brewers.  My most recent trip up north was this past summer, to once again see the Cubs battle (or destroy) the Brewers.  Miller Park was a vastly superior replacement over County Stadium, and I’ve enjoyed each of my subsequent trips up to Milwaukee to see the local ballclubs.

2019: The Year In Travel

Once again, I thought it would be nice to look back at the many trips I took this year.  As you may recall from last year‘s wrap-up, the year began in California.

New Year’s Day was spent in Pasadena for the Rose Parade, where Danny and the Lincoln-Way Marching Band were performing.  Lucky for them, they were slotted right after the float that caught on fire and eventually mucked up the entire end of the parade.  However, they were able to march around the disabled float and keep things moving for the time being.  The next day we went to the California ScienCenter, where we were able to see artifacts from King Tut’s tomb and the space shuttle Endeavor, and the beach before heading home.

And home is where I stayed for a whole month before heading out to Hawaii in February.  I arrived that first Saturday in February, checking out my surroundings around the resort and down Waikiki Beach after the long flight.  Monday, I took a tour of the island of Oahu, with stops at Hanauma Bay, Nu’uanu Pali lookout, Valley of the Temples Memorial Park, Sunset Beach, Waimea Falls, and the Dole Plantation.  Tuesday, I took in a whale watching cruise, where we were able to see multiple whales surfacing during the excursion.  Thursday, I traveled over to Pearl Harbor and all of the associated attractions and museums.  Come the following Saturday, it was time to head home on an overnight flight that got me in town very early Sunday morning.

Come June, the whole family headed east to celebrate Michael’s graduation.  We flew into Baltimore, where Dennis, the boys, and I went to breakfast before heading to Camden Yards to see the Orioles take on the Giants.  On the way to the stadium, we stopped at the grave site of Edgar Allen Poe and the Babe Ruth Birthplace & Museum.  After the game, we walked to the local bus depot, where we caught a bus to Washington DC for the remainder of the trip.

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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: Indians

As we prepare to close out 2019, we continue our tour of all of the different baseball stadiums I’ve been to over the years. This week, we head east to the so-called Mistake By The Lake for a look at the Cleveland Indians. So, without further ado, let’s take a deeper look at my history with Progressive Field.

 

Stadium Name: Progressive Field

Years in Service: 1994 – Present

Visits: 2

The Indians moved into Jacobs Field for the 1994 season after calling Cleveland Stadium home since 1932.  In 1997, the park became one of the few in MLB history to host both the All Star Game and the World Series in the same season.  2008 saw the naming rights sold to a local insurance company and the stadium was renamed Progressive Field.  Since opening, the park has seen 10 Central Division titles, 5 ALCS appearances, and 3 trips to the World Series.  It hosted its second All Star Game this past summer.

I almost took my first trip to the park in 2016, for Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, but I just couldn’t quite pull the trigger.  A Southwest credit this summer led to me booking a 2-day September trip to Cleveland for $3, so there was no second guessing this time.  I arrived on a Wednesday afternoon, in plenty of time for that evening’s tilt between the White Sox and the Indians.  A tremendous catch on a smash by Eloy Jimenez saved the game for the Tribe.  The matinee performance on Thursday afternoon entailed a nice one-hitter by Reynaldo Lopez, giving the White Sox a quick victory before I had to head back to the airport.

Ballpark Tour: Orioles

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 east for a look at the Baltimore Orioles, who I visited for the first time this summer. So, without further ado, let’s take a deeper look at my one game history with Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

 

 

Stadium Name: Oriole Park at Camden Yards

Years in Service: 1992 – Present

Visits: 1

After 38 seasons at Memorial Stadium following their move from St. Louis, the Orioles opened Oriole Park at Camden Yards in 1992.  It was the first of a wave of “retro” parks that would sprout up over the following 2 decades, changing the architecture of baseball.  The Orioles took the initial contest at the park, defeating the Indians 2-0 behind a Rick Sutcliffe shutout.

The stadium hosted its first All-Star Game in 1993.  On September 6, 1995, the park witnessed Cal Ripken surpass Lou Gehrig for consecutive games played and, on the same day in 1996, saw Eddie Murray smash his 500th career home run.  On April 29, 2015, the park hosted the first game in MLB history to be closed to fans, due to riots in Baltimore.

I made my first visit to the stadium this past summer, with the Orioles taking on their long time rival San Francisco Giants.  The game was kind of non-descript, as both teams were on a downward spiral, but I hope to make it back some day for a repeat performance.

2019 Final Standings

For the second straight year, the Cubs faltered down the stretch and, for the first time since 2014, they failed to make the postseason, thus bringing my game-attending portion of the 2019 season to an end.  I made it to 37 games this season, my highest total since 2016.  I did manage to attend games at 7 different stadiums, my highest single season total and bringing my total up to 25.  Here are the final standings for those games and the 21 different teams I saw in person.

2019 Team Records
Team Name Won Loss Winning Pctg
San Francisco Giants 2 0 1.000
Washington Nationals 2 0 1.000
New York Mets 1 0 1.000
Texas Rangers 1 0 1.000
Boston Red Sox 1 0 1.000
Toronto Blue Jays 2 1 0.667
Cleveland Indians 2 1 0.667
Los Angeles Angels 2 1 0.667
Chicago Cubs 6 5 0.545
New York Yankees 1 1 0.500
Oakland Athletics 1 1 0.500
Seattle Mariners 1 1 0.500
Minnesota Twins 1 1 0.500
Chicago White Sox 13 15 0.464
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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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