2020 Final Standings

In the summer of 1984, I was 9 years old and that is the earliest summer that I’ve been able to identify a specific baseball game that I attended.  For the next 36 years, I’ve been to a least one game and, in more recent times, it has become one of the defining activities of my summer.  Until this year, when the corona virus shut down the season for nearly 4 months and the remaining 2 went off without fans.  Of course, it also was the first season both Chicago teams made the post-season since 2008.

Now that both teams have been eliminated, it is fair to say that they are moving in opposite directions.  After 7 straight losing seasons, the White Sox rebuild finally started to show the promise that had been promised, finishing in second place and posting their highest winning percentage since 2005.  There is still some room for improvement, especially in the starting rotation, and the way the last week of the season went down is a valid cause for concern, but the future does look a whole lot brighter on the south side than it has in quite some time.

On the north side of town, you get the feeling that the contention window is closing rapidly.  After missing the playoffs last year, Theo Epstein said that major changes would be in play heading in to 2020.  For various reasons, the only big change was in the manager’s office and the team that ultimately took the field in 2020 was nearly identical to the 2019 version.  As this shortened season went on, the results didn’t look all that different either.  Thanks to early season success and a COVID outbreak for the Cardinals, they were able to coast to the division title, which again masked some of the team’s hitting problems.  Those problems came to the forefront in the quick 2 game series against the Marlins.  With big pieces of the core heading towards free agency in the next 1-2 years, and coming off a season with crashed revenues and even lower offensive production, it may be difficult to make any substantial moves while getting reasonable value back in return.

Playoff Pitching Leaders

Well, the White Sox have been pushed off the post-season stage and, thanks to yesterday’s rainout, the Cubs still need to take 2 from the Marlins to avoid the same fate.  It’s time to take our updated look at the pitching leaders from the now 30 post-season games I’ve attended since the White Sox won the AL Central in 2000.

Wins

Name Total
Mark Buehrle 2
Jon Lester 2
Jake Arrieta 2
25 tied with 1

Losses

Name Total
Matt Clement 2
29 tied with 1

ERA (> 6 IP)

Name Total
Aroldis Chapman 0.00
Stephen Strasburg 0.00
Kyle Freeland 0.00
Johnny Cueto 1.13
Chad Billingsley 1.35

Strikeouts

Name Total
Jon Lester 25
Jake Arrieta 22
Mark Buehrle 13
Continue reading →

Playoff Batting Leaders

Game 1 of the AL Wild Card Series is in the books and the White Sox look to close out the A’s this afternoon.  The NL Wild Card Series kicks off this afternoon, with the Cubs doing battle against the Marlins.  With that in mind, it’s time to take an updated look at the offensive leaders from the now 30 post-season games I have attended since 2000.  So, without further ado, we start off with:

Home Runs

Name Total
Kris Bryant 4
Javier Baez 3
Paul Konerko 3
B.J. Upton 3
Dexter Fowler 3
Enrique Hernandez 3

Hits

Name Total
Kris Bryant 11
Javier Baez 11
Dexter Fowler 10
Anthony Rizzo 10
Moises Alou 9
Jason Heyward 9

Runs

Name Total
Dexter Fowler 7
Paul Konerko 6
Daniel Murphy 6
A.J. Pierzynski 5
Kris Bryant 5
Javier Baez 5
Continue reading →

All Time Playoff Team Records

For the first time since 2008, both the White Sox and the Cubs are in the post-season following this abbreviated 2020 season.  The expanded run to the World Series will start with the White Sox facing A’s in Oakland for a best of 3 series starting tonight, while the Cubs welcome the Marlins to Wrigley starting tomorrow.  Winners will advance to the LDS and enter a playoff bubble, with the AL moving to California and the NL to Texas.

With the AL Wild Card Series set to kick off today, it’s time to take an updated look at the team records for the now 30 playoff contests I have attended. These contests come from the 2018 Wild Card game, the ALDS in 2000, 2005, and 2008, the NLDS in 2003, 2007, 2008, 2015, 2016, and 2017, the NLCS in 2003, 2015, 2016, and 2017, the ALCS in 2005, and, of course, the 2005 and 2016 World Series.  Sadly, I won’t be adding any games to this list this year.  Thanks, corona virus.

Post-Season Team Records
Team Name Won Loss Winning Pctg
Florida Marlins 3 0 1.000
Seattle Mariners 2 0 1.000
New York Mets 2 0 1.000
Colorado Rockies 1 0 1.000
Arizona Diamondbacks 1 0 1.000
Chicago White Sox 5 4 0.556
Los Angeles Dodgers 3 3 0.500
Atlanta Braves 1 1 0.500
Cleveland Indians 1 1 0.500
Los Angeles Angels 1 1 0.500
Washington Nationals 1 1 0.500
Tampa Bay Rays 1 1 0.500
Chicago Cubs 9 13 0.409
San Francisco Giants 0 2 0.000
St. Louis Cardinals 0 1 0.000
Boston Red Sox 0 2 0.000
Houston Astros 0 1 0.000

2020 Predictions Revisited

The shortened 60 game 2020 baseball season wraps up today.  2 months ago, I made my annual predictions as to who would win what, not really knowing what a shortened season during a global pandemic would entail.  Now that the 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, that’s one down.  The Yankees looked to be on cruise control, until a plague of injuries knocked them off course.  The Rays, meanwhile, took home their first division crown since 2010.

Central: Twins

The Twins take their second consecutive division title, thanks in part to the White Sox crapping down their pants leg over the last week of the season.

West: Astros

The A’s came through in a big way, dethroning the Astros after their 3 year reign atop the division.

Wild Cards: White Sox, Rays

Well, these predictions were made before the current playoff structure was put in place.  The three second place teams are guaranteed a post-season slot, with the next two best records earning a wild card spot.

AL Champion: Yankees

While they didn’t win the division, the Yankees do seem primed to make a strong run.

Cy Young: Blake Snell

Indians ace Shane Bieber pretty much has this wrapped up.

MVP: Yoan Moncada

Moncada has struggled after contracting COVID-19 back during summer camp, but I think I was in the right ballpark.  Jose Abreu looks to be the clubhouse leader for this award.

National League

Continue reading →

200 Things To Do In Illinois – Crosstown Doubleheader

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 conclude things this week with one of the entries from the Sports category: Crosstown Doubleheader, from Chicago, IL.

Usually, at least once during the baseball season, there’s a Cubs home day game followed buy a Sox home night game – or vice versa.  When these scheduling stars align, hop on the Red Line and hit both games for a crosstown day-night doubleheader.

One of the best things about living in a two-team town is the occasional opportunity to take in two games, one at each park, in the same day.  There have been 7 times I’ve watched both the Cubs and the Sox on the same day at their respective homes: first, in 2003 as the Rockies defeated the Cubs and the Mariners throttled the White Sox, and most recently last season, as the Nationals beat the Cubs and the Rangers shut out the White Sox.

There was an 8th instance, in 2004, where I took in games in both parks on the same day, but it didn’t involve the White Sox.  The afternoon tilt that day at US Cellular Field was between the Expos and the Marlins, relocated to Chicago due to Hurricane Ivan. That night, the Cubs slipped past the Pirates at Wrigley Field.

All Time Team Records

What was planned to be the earliest non-international start in Major League Baseball history turned into the latest, thanks to a combination of the corona virus pandemic and pointless bickering between the MLBPA and team owners.  With the 2020 baseball season finally set to get underway today, although with no fans in the stands, 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.  Thanks to some eBaying of pocket schedules from the 80s, I was able to identify one additional game that I attended in 1988, a California Angels victory at Comiskey Park against the White Sox.

The Cubs look to bounce back from last year’s September collapse that kept them out of the postseason for the first time since 2014, while the White Sox hope their offseason additions push them towards contention as their young talent starts to blossom.  With only 60 games to make their mark, the 2020 season should be an interesting one on both sides of town.

All-Time Team Records
Team Name Won Loss Winning Pctg
California Angels 2 0 1.000
Arizona Diamondbacks 13 2 0.867
Florida Marlins 15 8 0.652
Colorado Rockies 10 6 0.625
Boston Red Sox 18 13 0.581
Toronto Blue Jays 15 11 0.577
New York Yankees 15 11 0.577
Los Angeles Angels 19 14 0.576
Cleveland Indians 28 24 0.538
Chicago Cubs 219 197 0.526
Philadelphia Phillies 10 9 0.526
Houston Astros 22 20 0.524
Chicago White Sox 306 287 0.516
Continue reading →

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 →