Ballpark Tour: Tigers

Spring training is right around the corner as we continue our tour of all of the baseball stadiums I’ve been to over the years. Today we travel north to Michigan for the baseball homes of the Detroit Tigers. Between the two stadiums that have been located in Motown, I’ve seen 3 games. So, without further ado, let’s take a deeper look at my history with Tiger Stadium and Comerica Park.

Stadium Name: Tiger Stadium

Years in Service: 1912 – 1999

Visits: 1

Tiger Stadium opened as Navin Field on April 20, 1912, the same date as Boston’s Fenway Park.  It would serve as the home of the Tigers until the final game on September 27, 1999, an 8-2 Tiger victory over the Royals.

My one and only trip to Tiger Stadium was during its final season, on August 2, 1999, when rookie Kip Wells made his major league debut for the White Sox, picking up the win in the victory against the Tigers.  The stadium reminded me of the old Comiskey Park, with the dark ramps and tunnels leading out to the glorious green of the field.

Stadium Name: Comerica Park

Years in Service: 2000 – Present

Visits: 2

After 87 seasons at Tiger Stadium, the Tigers opened their new stadium in 2000 on a snowy afternoon against the Mariners.  In contrast to Tiger Stadium, which had been considered one of the most hitter-friendly parks in baseball, Comerica Park is considered to be extremely friendly to pitchers.  After years of irrelevance, the new stadium was one step leading the Tigers back to contention, which they achieved in 2006, making the World Series and being in the hunt more often than not ever since.

The White Sox were 3.5 games behind the Twins for the AL Central lead heading into a Labor Day holiday series against the Tigers in 2010.  After they split the first 2 games of the series, I decided to head up to Detroit to take in the final two games, my first trip to Comerica Park.  I had booked a room at the Caesars hotel and casino in Windsor, so I drove up to Canada and checked in prior to the night’s game back in Detroit.  I booked a round trip on a bus back to the US which dropped me off near the park, where I took in the Tigers 5-1 victory.  The next afternoon, I drove back to Detroit and stopped for the afternoon’s series finale, which the Tigers once again won.

The stadium itself was a vast improvement over Tiger Stadium.  For the first game, I sat in the upper deck behind home plate and had a good view of the entire field.  For the second game, I was right behind the White Sox dugout, which, while a bit pricey, did provide another nice view.  The only disappointment, besides the play of the south siders, was the food.  Since the Tigers owner also owns Little Caesars pizza, that is the food that is available.  I remember making it through a few bites before leaving the pizza underneath my seat for whoever wanted it.

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
Continue reading →

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
Continue reading →

Hall Of Fame Batting Leaders


Today, former White Sox designated hitter Harold Baines joins long time Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, Orioles and Yankees ace Mike Mussina, Mariners star Edgar Martinez, Blue Jays and Phillies ace Roy Halladay, and well-traveled closer Lee Smith in taking their place in Cooperstown.  With a single new hitter joining the list of Hall of Famers I’ve seen play live, let’s check back in with the new leaders on the offensive side of the ball amongst Hall of Famers for all of the games I’ve attended between 1984 and 2019.

Home Runs

Name Total
Jim Thome 35
Frank Thomas 15
Vladimir Guerrero 6
Ivan Rodriguez 4
Chipper Jones 3

Hits

Name Total
Jim Thome 110
Frank Thomas 54
Ken Griffey Jr 32
Continue reading →

2019 All Star Break Standings

As the baseball world turns its sights to Cleveland for Tuesday night’s All Star Game, it’s time to take a look at the team records for the 23 games I attended in the first half of the baseball season, with the rebuild on the south side finally showing progress and the window of contention on the north side looking like it may be ending sooner rather than later.

Continue reading →

#1 – Harold Baines

Name: Harold Baines

Rank: 1

Position: RF/DH

Years With White Sox: 1980-1989, 1996-1997, 2000-2001

Harold Baines was the first overall selection in the 1977 draft after White Sox owner Bill Veeck had seen him play little league years before.  He made his major league debut less than 3 years later, on Opening Day 1980, going 0-4 against the Orioles at old Comiskey Park.  He appeared in 141 games and finished the year hitting .255 with 13 home runs and 49 RBIs.

Baines started to break out in 1981, where the long player’s strike led him to only appearing in 82 games.  He boosted his average to .286 and hit 10 home runs with 41 RBIs in only 280 at bats.

With labor problems behind them, a full slate of games was played in 1982, with Baines appearing in all but one of them.  Hitting .271, Baines smacked 25 home runs with 105 RBIs, while setting a career high with 10 stolen bases.  His numbers were good enough to garner 9 votes for AL MVP.

1983 was a banner year on the south side, as the White Sox captured their first ever division title.  Baines was a key contributor, hitting .280 with 20 home runs and 99 RBIs.  During the ALCS against the Orioles, Baines struggled, like most of his teammates, getting only 2 hits in the 4 game series.  At season’s end, he picked up 49 votes to finish 10th in MVP voting.

Baines continued to excel in 1984, though the rest of the team did not.  On May 8, he ended the longest game in major league history (8 hours and 6 minutes over 25 innings on successive evenings) with a walk-off home run against Chuck Porter of the Brewers.  He finished the year with a .304 average, a career high 29 home runs, and 94 RBIs, while leading the league in slugging at .541.  He once again garnered MVP consideration, finishing the vote tied for 13th place.

1985 was another strong season for Baines.  He earned his first All Star selection, singling off former teammate LaMarr Hoyt in his only at bat at the Metrodome.  He finished the year hitting .309 with 22 home runs and a career high 113 RBIs.  He earned 49 votes in placing 9th in MVP voting.

Baines saw his body start to betray him for the first time in 1986.  He appeared in his second straight All Star game, going hitless in his one at bat.  A late August knee injury caused him to miss time, and a late September collision with Neal Heaton in a loss to the Twins reinjured the knee, leading to arthroscopic surgery following the season.  He finished the season hitting .296, just missing his 3rd consecutive .300 season, with 21 home runs and 88 RBIs.

Baines returned for opening day in 1987, getting two hits and knocking in the winning runs on the hard artificial turf of Royals Stadium, but was unable to walk the following day.  A second arthroscopic surgery caused him to miss 23 games before he returned, moving from right field to designated hitter.  He still was named to his 3rd straight All Star team, going hitless in the 2-0 loss by the AL.  Come year end, he had hit .293 with 20 home runs and 93 RBIs.

1988 was a down year for Baines, though he managed to appear in 158 games.  His average dropped to .277, his lowest total since 1982, while hitting only 13 home runs, his lowest total since 1981.  He made only 9 appearances in the outfield while becoming accustomed to being a full time designated hitter.

Baines bounced back in 1989.  He was named the starting DH in the All Star game, going 1-3 with an RBI in the AL’s victory at Angel Stadium.  On July 29, he was traded to the Rangers, along with Fred Manrique, for Wilson Alvarez, Scott Fletcher, and Sammy Sosa.  “It’s an unpopular decision as far as the fans are concerned, but sometimes unpopular means exactly that-unpopular,” GM Larry Himes said at the time.  “It doesn`t mean that it isn`t a good decision.  This is a decision we made as far as direction of the Chicago White Sox for today and for our future.”  Baines was hitting .321 with 13 home runs and 56 RBIs at the time of the trade.  Less than a month later, as the Rangers visited Chicago for the first time on August 20, the White Sox retired Baines’ #3, a somewhat awkward attempt to placate the enraged fanbase.

Baines returned to the White Sox as a free agent in 1996.  Appearing in 143 games, Baines hit .311 with 22 home runs and 95 RBIs.  He returned in 1997 and was putting together another fine season, putting up a .305 average with 12 home runs and 52 RBIs in 93 games when, on July 29 again, he was traded to the Orioles for a player to be named later.

Three years later, once again on July 29, the White Sox re-acquired Baines, along with Charles Johnson, from the Orioles for Miguel Felix, Juan Figueroa, Jason Lakman, and Brook Fordyce.  Appearing in 24 games down the stretch, Baines hit .213 with a single home run and 9 RBIs as the White Sox took the Central Division crown.  Baines went 1-4 in the ALDS as the White Sox were swept by the Mariners.

Baines returned to the White Sox in 2001 at the age of 42, getting extra playing time once Frank Thomas went down with an injury.  In 32 games, he hit .131, failing to homer and driving in only 6.

Baines returned to the White Sox dugout in 2004, when new manager Ozzie Guillen named him bench coach.  He would remain on staff until 2015, when he became an ambassador for the team.  On July 20, 2008, the White Sox unveiled a bronze statue of Baines at U.S. Cellular Field prior to their game against the Royals.  On December 9, 2018, Baines was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2019 via the Today’s Game Era ballot.

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

Continue reading →

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
Continue reading →

#2 – Mark Buehrle

Name: Mark Buehrle

Rank: 2

Position: P

Years With White Sox: 2000-2011

Mark Buehrle joined the White Sox organization in 1998, drafted in the 38th round.  Despite his lowly draft status, he rose quickly through the system, first coming up during the 2000 season, working out of the bullpen for the eventual division champions.  He moved into the rotation the following season, and stayed there for the next 11 seasons.  During that time, there were numerous memorable appearances, many of which I was privileged to see in person.

The 2007 no-hitter against the Rangers.

The 2009 perfect game against the Rays.

Winning Game 2 of the 2005 ALCS against the Angels, thanks to AJ’s heads-up baserunning, and starting the streak of 4 straight complete games.

The 1 hour 36 minute game against the Mariners in 2005.

The no look, through his legs flip to Paul Konerko on Opening Day 2010 against the Indians.

And, of course, his performance in the 2005 World Series, starting Game 2, getting a no decision, and coming in to pitch the 14th inning and earning the save in Game 3.

In White Sox annals, Buehrle is currently fifth all-time in strikeouts, sixth in games started, and eighth in wins and innings pitched.

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

Continue reading →

#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:

Continue reading →

#5 – Frank Thomas

Name: Frank Thomas

Rank: 5

Position: 1B/DH

Years With White Sox: 1990-2005

Frank Thomas was selected by the White Sox with the seventh pick in the first round of the 1989 draft.  A little more than 1 year later, he made his major league debut on August 2, 1990 against the Brewers at County Stadium, going hitless in 4 at bats with an RBI as the White Sox won 4-3.  The next night, he tripled off of Mark Knudson for his first major league hit.  On August 28, he hit the first home run of his career, off Gary Wayne, in a 12-6 loss against the Twins at the Metrodome.  He finished the year with a .330 average, with 7 home runs and 31 RBIs.

In 1991, as the White Sox moved into the new Comiskey Park, Thomas became one of the most feared hitters in the American League.  On April 22, he hit the first White Sox home run in the new stadium, in an 8-7 victory over the Orioles.  When the season ended, Thomas finished with a .318 average, 32 home runs, and 109 RBIs.  He lead the league in walks, OBP, OPS, and OPS+.  He won his first Silver Slugger award and finished 3rd in MVP voting.

Thomas continued his mastery in 1992.  He ended the year hitting .323, with 24 home runs and 115 RBIs. He led the league in doubles, walks, OBP, and OPS.  Those numbers were good enough for him to place 8th in MVP voting.

In 1993, Thomas helped the White Sox win their first division title since 1983.  He made his first All Star game appearance, getting a hit in his only at bat.  On August 31, he clubbed his 100th career home run against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium.  He finished the year batting .317 and set a club-record with 41 homers.  He added 128 RBI, 106 runs scored, and 112 walks, to join Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx and Ted Williams as the only players in baseball history to eclipse .300 with more than 20 homers and more than 100 RBI, runs, and walks in three straight seasons.  In the ALCS against the Blue Jays, Thomas hit .353 in the 6 game series.  Thanks to his historic season, Thomas collected his second Silver Slugger award and all 28 first place votes for a unanimous AL MVP award, the first by a White Sox player since Dick Allen in 1972.

1994 was on track to be even better, before the strike ended the season in August.  Thomas was elected to start the All Star game and got 2 hits in his 2 at bats.  In only 113 games, Thomas had 38 home runs, 101 RBIs, 106 runs scored, and 109 walks.  He led the league in runs scored, walks, OBP, slugging percentage, OPS, and OPS+.  For the second year in a row, he took home the Silver Slugger and MVP awards, becoming just the second first baseman to earn consecutive MVP awards.

When baseball returned in 1995, Thomas picked up where he had left off.  He started his second straight All Star Game for the American League, hitting a home run off John Smiley.  At the end of the season, Thomas had hit .308 with 40 home runs and 111 RBIs while leading the league in games played, walks, sacrifice flies, and intentional walks.  He dropped to 8th place in MVP voting as the White Sox found themselves out of contention for the first time in his career.

The White Sox bounced back in 1996 and Thomas continued to be an offensive force.  He mashed his 200th career home run on June 9, going deep at Camden Yards against the Orioles.  He was named to his fourth straight All Star team, though he didn’t make it into the game.  He set a career high with a .349 average, while again hitting 40 home runs with 134 RBIs.  For the second straight year, he led the league in intentional walks and finished 8th in MVP voting.

1997 was another strong year for Thomas.  He was named to his fifth, and final, All Star team.  He led the league with a .347 average, a .456 OBP, a 1.067 OPS, and an OPS+ of 181, while hitting 35 home runs and knocking in 125.  He finished 3rd in MVP voting, his 7th top 10 finish in his 7 full seasons.

Off the field issues started to show an effect on Thomas’ production in 1998, his first as a full time designated hitter.  Marital problems messed with his head, leading him to think the umpires were screwing him, opposing pitchers were taking advantage of him, and the media were ganging up on him. “I was miserable, and I made everyone around me miserable,” Thomas said early in the 1999 season. “It was an extremely humbling season.”  He hit .265, 65 points lower than his career average entering the season, and finished with only 29 home runs, his lowest total in six years.  He started referring to himself as Five O’clock Frank, a batting-practice terror who at game time sank under the weight of self-pity and tired excuses.

Thomas, and the White Sox, hoped that he would bounce back in 1999.  “I think he had a lot on his mind, personal things that were weighing on him,” hitting coach Von Joshua said early in the season. “He didn’t talk about it, but you could just see it in his eyes. He’s a lot more settled this year.”  Unfortunately, things didn’t go well, though he did hit his 300th career home run on August 7 against the A’s.  While his average did rebound, back up to .305, he hit only 15 home runs and drove in just 77 while setting a career low with a .471 slugging percentage.  Bone spurs on his ankle limited him to just 135 games.

2000 got off to an explosive start, and not the good kind.  Thomas and manager Jerry Manuel went toe to toe in spring training over Thomas’ ability to participate in drills, following his surgery the previous September.  Once the regular season began, though, it looked like the old Thomas was back.  As the surprising White Sox ran off and won their first division title since 1993, Thomas, missing only 3 games all year, hit .328 and set career highs with 43 home runs and 143 RBIs.  Unfortunately, Thomas, like the rest of his teammates, struggled in the post-season, going hitless in the ALDS as the Mariners completed a 3 game sweep.  He won his fourth, and final, Silver Slugger award and finished 2nd in MVP voting, behind a juiced Jason Giambi.

2001 was a tough year for Thomas, both personally and professionally.  On April 27, he hurt his triceps diving for a ball while playing first base.  After spending 5 days back in Georgia due to the death of his father, Thomas returned to Chicago for tests, which revealed a muscle tear that would require surgery and end his season.  “This is the worst week of my life”, he said during a press conference. “First I lose my father, then come back and find out I’m lost for the season.”  In only 20 games, Thomas hit .221 with 4 home runs and 10 RBIs.

Thomas returned in 2002, but was obviously no longer the same player he was before the injury.  He struggled in the first half, before picking things up in the final month of the season, hitting .359 with 6 home runs in September.  He finished the season with a .252 average, 25 home runs and 92 RBIs.

2003 was a better year for Thomas, though still below his career norms.  On June 26th, he became the 36th player in history to reach the 400 career home run mark with a 5th inning shot against the Devil Rays at US Cellular Field.  At the end of the year, he had posted a .267 average with 42 home runs and 105 RBIs.

Injuries robbed Thomas of most of 2004.  He was placed on the disabled list on July 7th, with a .271 average, 18 home runs and 49 RBIs.  He underwent surgery in early October to remove debris from the ankle, perform a bone graft, and insert two screws.

Thomas began the 2005 season on the disabled list as he recovered from his ankle surgery.  He was activated on May 30, with the White Sox in first place in the AL Central.  On July 18, he clubbed his 448th and final home run with the White Sox against the Tigers at US Cellular Field.  He hit .219 with 12 home runs and 26 RBIs in 34 games before breaking his foot on July 21, causing him to miss the rest of the season and the post-season.  Thomas threw out the first pitch prior to game one of the ALDS against the Red Sox.

Thomas is the White Sox all time leader in home runs, runs scored, doubles, RBIs, walks, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and OPS.  He is the only player in major league history to have seven consecutive seasons (1991-1997) with a .300 average and at least 100 walks, 100 runs, 100 runs batted in, and 20 home runs.  His number 35 was retired by the White Sox on August 29, 2010 and he was part of the 2014 Hall of Fame class, elected on the first ballot with 83.7% of the vote.

Thomas’s numbers in a White Sox uniform, both for games I attended and overall, were: Continue reading →