200 Things To Do In Illinois – Skydeck At Willis Tower

Illinois celebrated its bicentennial as a state in December of 2018.  To celebrate, the Chicago Tribune published the Bicentennial Bucket List: 200 Things To Do In Illinois, celebrating the best the state has to offer in history, food, architecture, culture, sports, nature, drink, and oddities. Now that the state is starting to open back up following the corona virus outbreak, I figured this was the second-best time to look through this collection and cover the ones I’ve done/eaten/seen.

We continue things this week with one of the entries from the Architecture category: Skydeck at Willis Tower, from Chicago, IL.

No story about Illinois architecture would be complete without name-dropping Willis Tower, or as many old-schoolers still like to call it, Sears Tower.  When it debuted in 1973, the 110-story icon from Skidmore, Owings & Merrill began its quarter-century reign as the tallest building in the world.  Play tourist, and pose for pictures on the Ledge, a glass balcony jutting out 4.3 feet from the side of the Skydeck on the 103rd floor.

I’ve made the trip up to the Skydeck at Sears Tower (not being one of those people, just haven’t been there since the name change) a handful of times over the years.  Two stick out in my memory: once in high school and my most recent trip back in 2004.

The high school trip was memorable, mostly for what went on outside the Tower than in it.  My friends Scott, Mike, and I made the trip downtown (probably when we weren’t supposed to) and tried to help some poor soul parallel park.  If the goal was to not hit the cars in front or behind her, then we failed.  After that, we managed to get Scott in for the 12 and under price, despite being 16-ish.

The 2004 trip came between games of a crosstown doubleheader, this one featuring the Marlins and Expos playing at US Cellular Field during the day.  With time to kill before the nightcap at Wrigley, Pete and I went up to the Skydeck, since he had never been before.

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
Continue reading →

Marlins All Time Leaders – Through 2019

With baseball shut down because of the corona virus, I thought it would be an interesting time to look back at the all time leaders in both offensive and defensive categories for all 30 teams. We continue today with the Miami Marlins.

The Marlins began life in 1993, joining the National League along with the Rockies.  In 2012, they rebranded as the Miami Marlins in conjunction with the opening of their new, tax payer funded stadium in the city of Miami.  I’ve seen them play 25 times, including 3 victories during their unlikely triumph in the 2003 NLCS against the Cubs and once, as the home team against the Expos, at US Cellular Field in 2004.

Home Runs

Name Total
Miguel Cabrera 4
Cody Ross 3
Dan Uggla 3
Ivan Rodriguez 3

Hits

Name Total
Miguel Cabrera 18
Luis Castillo 17
Juan Pierre 17

Runs

Name Total
Miguel Cabrera 14
Juan Pierre 13
Luis Castillo 10

RBI

Name Total
Miguel Cabrera 13
Ivan Rodriguez 10
Alex Gonzalez 9
Dan Uggla 9

Doubles

Name Total
Alex Gonzalez 6
Derrek Lee 3
9 tied with 2

Triples Continue reading →

Rockies All Time Leaders – Through 2019

rockiesWith baseball shut down because of the corona virus, I thought it would be an interesting time to look back at the all time leaders in both offensive and defensive categories for all 30 teams.  We continue today with the Colorado Rockies.

The Rockies began life in 1993, joining the National League along with the then-Florida Marlins.  I saw them for the first time in 2002, as they came to town to battle the Cubs.  Since then, I’ve seen them 15 additional times, most recently in the 2018 Wild Card game.

Home Runs

Name Total
Preston Wilson 2
13 tied with 1

Hits

Name Total
Matt Holliday 9
Brad Hawpe 8
Willy Taveras 8

Runs

Name Total
Brad Hawpe 4
Garrett Atkins 4
Todd Helton 4

RBI

Name Total
Troy Tulowitzki 4
Preston Wilson 3
Jamey Carroll 3
Jay Payton 3
Luis Gonzalez 3
D.J. LeMahieu 3

Doubles

Name Total
Jamey Carroll 2
Willy Taveras 2
Todd Helton 2
Charlie Blackmon 2
Matt Holliday 2

Triples Continue reading →

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 →

Ballpark Tour: Mets

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 look at Apu’s favorite squadron, the New York Mets. So, without further ado, let’s take a deeper look at my one game history with Shea Stadium.

 

Stadium Name: Shea Stadium

Years in Service: 1964 – 2008

Visits: 1

After a delay caused by labor woes and an exceptionally harsh winter, Shea Stadium, home of the expansion New York Mets, opened on April 17, 1964, with the Pittsburgh Pirates beating the Mets 4–3 before a crowd of 50,312. It continued to be the home of the Mets until September 28, 2008, when the Mets lost to the Florida Marlins. Along the way, the stadium was also the home of the Yankees for 2 seasons while Yankee Stadium was being renovated and, for the 1975 season, it served as the home of both New York MLB teams and both New York NFL teams, the first time a stadium has had that many main major tenants at one time.

My one trip to Shea Stadium was for opening day in 2003 to see the Chicago Cub take on the Mets. The last day of March was Tom Glavine’s first appearance with the Mets after coming over from the Braves via free agency. His grace period with the Mets faithful did not last long, as he was booed after throwing a ball on the second pitch. The baseball gods were not on the Mets side that day, as the Cubs, behind 2 Corey Patterson home runs, routed the Mets 15-2. I remember the stadium itself being pretty decent, though we did have some of the best seats in the house, which may have tainted my impression somewhat.

Ballpark Tour: Marlins

As we prepare to enter the long offseason, and having trekked to a few new stadiums this season, it is time to take another tour of all of the baseball stadiums I’ve been to over the years.  We start with an odd occurrence: the Miami Marlins.  While I have never been to Miami, I have managed to see one of their home games, thanks to Hurricane Ivan.  So, without further ado, let’s take a deeper look at my history with the Marlins at, of all places, US Cellular Field in Chicago.

Stadium Name: US Cellular Field

Years in Service: 2004

Visits: 1 (as the home team)

In September of 2004, Hurricane Ivan bore down on Florida, just weeks after Hurricane Frances made landfall.  The Marlins, having already cancelled a full series against the Cubs, decided to move 2 games of their series against the Montreal Expos to Chicago.  So, on September 14, 2014, I went to US Cellular Field, home of the White Sox, to see the Marlins battle the Expos.

With general admission ticket prices set at $15, $5 of which went to a fund for victims of the hurricane, I headed down to the second of the two games the teams played in town.  The Marlins, playing the part of the home team, brought their own public address announcer, their own mascot, and their own graphics to be used on the center field scoreboard.  Southpaw, the mascot of the White Sox, palled around with Billy Marlin.

The games marked the first time that a National League game was played in an American League stadium since 1946, when the Braves had to play the Phillies at Fenway Park due to painted seats that hadn’t yet dried.  It was also the first time that the defending World Series champions played a home game in Chicago since 1918.

For the Expos, it was just another strange trip in a season full of them.  This was their last season in existence, when they played a portion of their home schedule in Puerto Rico.  The travel for this series should have been nothing, since the team was already in town to play the Cubs the weekend before.  However, a previously booked convention kicked them out of their hotel downtown, forcing them to move out to Arlington Heights, which is not an exactly convenient locale when playing on the South Side.

The Marlins managed to win both games of the series before they were able to head back to Florida and continue the season as planned.  The Expos played out the last 20 or so games of their existence before moving to Washington and becoming the Nationals.

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 →

2018 BBWAA Award Predictions

The Baseball Writers of America have announced the finalists for their awards for the just completed baseball season, which will be announced next week.  It is a good bet that few of my original predictions for the winners will be accurate.  Hopefully, these new predictions will be slightly better, especially since I’ll have a 33% chance of being right.

American League

Most Valuable Player: Mookie Betts, Jose Ramirez, Mike Trout

Giancarlo Stanton was was my pre-season selection to win the award this year and, while he was productive, he didn’t pull away from the pack as he did last year for the Marlins.  Mookie Betts should run away and hide with this award.

Cy Young Award: Corey Kluber, Blake Snell, Justin Verlander

A late season injury kept my pre-season pick of Chris Sale from competing for his first Cy Young award.  My guess is that Blake Snell takes home the prize.

Manager of the Year: Alex Cora, Kevin Cash, Bob Melvin

Once again, I didn’t make any predictions for this award prior to the season.  Alex Cora should be a shoo-in for the award, given the Red Sox performance in his rookie campaign as skipper.

Rookie of the Year: Miguel Andujar, Shohei Ohtani, Gleyber Torres

Another award I didn’t predict prior to the season.  Despite losing time due to injury, Ohtani seems to be the odds-on favorite.

National League

Continue reading →

Looking Ahead To 2019

Major League Baseball released their tentative 2019 schedule last week.  While the local squads have differing goals in mind as 2018 winds down, with the Cubs looking for their 4th straight trip to post-season and the White Sox playing out the string in year two of their rebuild, it’s time to turn our attention to next summer for both teams.

For the second year in a row, the White Sox open their season on the road in Kansas City against the Royals.  The home opener comes a week later, on April 4, against the Mariners.

The interleague schedule pits the White Sox against the NL East, with trips to Washington, Philadelphia, and Atlanta and home series against the Nationals, Marlins, and the Mets.  The rivalry with their north side foes continues with a 2 game series at Wrigley Field in June and then moving back to the south side in July.

The season ends with a 6 game homestand against the Indians and the Tigers.  Hopefully by this time, the White Sox losing ways will be well behind them.

On the north side, the Cubs open their season in interleague play, facing the Rangers in Texas on March 28.  They kick off the home portion of their schedule on April 8, against the Pirates.

The interleague schedule pits the Cubs against the AL West, with trips to Texas, Seattle, and Houston and home series against the Angels, A’s, and the Mariners.

The Cubs end the year with a 16 game stretch 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.