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.

2022 All Star Break Standings

For the first time since 1980, the Midsummer Classic returns to Los Angeles and Dodger Stadium.  As the stars of the baseball world gather in Tinsletown, it’s time to take a look at the team records for the 21 games, featuring exactly half of the teams in the league, that I attended in the first half of the baseball season, a disappointing one, for different reasons, on both sides of town.

2022 Team Records

Team Name Won Loss Winning Pctg
Los Angeles Dodgers 2 0 1.000
Texas Rangers 1 0 1.000
New York Mets 1 0 1.000
Cleveland Guardians 1 0 1.000
Baltimore Orioles 1 0 1.000
New York Yankees 2 1 0.667
Chicago White Sox 10 8 0.556
Minnesota Twins 1 1 0.500
Chicago Cubs 2 5 0.286
Continue reading →

By The Numbers – 1

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 #1.  50 different players have donned #1 while playing in Chicago, 30 for the White Sox and 20 for the Cubs.

Lance Johnson, along with Ricky Horton, was acquired by the White Sox from the Cardinals for Jose DeLeon just before spring training in 1988.  Despite earning Most Valuable Player honors in the American Association the year before, Johnson struggled mightily after being given the starting center fielder job, hitting only .185 in 33 games before being sent back to the minor leagues.  Johnson started at Triple A in 1988, before finally returning to the White Sox, and the major leagues, for good.  In 1990, Johnson hit .285 and managed 36 stolen bases, despite leading the league with 22 caught stealings, and hit his first career home run all while patrolling centerfield for the final season at Comiskey Park.

As the team moved across the street in 1991, Johnson continued his steady presence in the lineup, hitting .274 while stealing 26 bases and hitting 13 triples, leading the American League.  Johnson hit .279 in 1992, with another 12 triples, leading the league again, and 41 stolen bases while setting a new career high with 3 home runs.  1993 saw Johnson and the White Sox finally put everything together.  Johnson raised his average to .311, hitting 14 triples and stealing 35 bases while the White Sox won their first divisional title in a decade.  Unfortunately, Johnson struggled in the ALCS against the Blue Jays, hitting only .217 in the 6 game series, though knocking in 6 runs and hitting his only home run of the season.

The strike-shortened 1994 season cut down what could have been a tremendous season for Johnson.  He again hit 14 triples, but in only 106 games, becoming the first player in Major League history to lead the league for four consecutive seasons.  When baseball resumed in 1995, Johnson turned in his finest season in a White Sox uniform.  He hit .306 and set a career high with a .766 OPS.  He led the league in at bats and hits, though he saw his streak of triples crowns end despite hitting a solid 12.  He set a career high with 10 home runs, 3 more than his previous career total.  On September 23, he became the first White Sox hitter to get 6 hits in a game since Floyd Robinson in 1962.  Following the season, he became a free agent and his White Sox career came to an end.

On the north side of town, Doug Glanville wore #1 when he made his major league debut for the Cubs in 1996, posting a .241 average over 49 games.  He became a full time presence for the Cubs in 1997, primarily in left field, hitting .300 and swiping 19 bases.  He switched from #1 to #8 at the end of August when, ironically, the Cubs acquired Lance Johnson from the Mets.

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 1980s

With the 2022 season well underway, I thought it would be interesting to take a trip in the wayback machine and see what my view of the baseball world looked like in the long-ago period known as the 1980’s.

I’ve been able to identify 14 games I attended during the 80’s, starting with Luis Aparicio’s number retirement in 1984 through a September 1988 game at Wrigley Field, which turned out to be the second official night game.  There are more games that I remember something about attending, voting for the new White Sox uniform designs in 1981, Carlton Fisk bat day some point in the early 80s, getting a Cubs calendar in 1986,  and winning tickets from WGN radio for a game, but I haven’t been able to track down specifics about them as of yet.

1980s Team Records
Team Name Won Loss Winning Pctg
Toronto Blue Jays 1 0 1.000
San Diego Padres 1 0 1.000
Cleveland Indians 1 0 1.000
California Angels 1 0 1.000
Texas Rangers 1 1 0.500
Seattle Mariners 1 1 0.500
New York Mets 1 1 0.500
Baltimore Orioles 1 1 0.500
Chicago White Sox 5 6 0.455
Chicago Cubs 1 2 0.333
Kansas City Royals 0 1 0.000
Boston Red Sox 0 1 0.000

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 →

What’s New For 2022

With a new collective bargaining agreement in place and a shortened spring training due to the 99-day lockout, there are plenty of changes coming to MLB for this season and beyond.  It’s time to take a deeper dive into the new CBA and see what those changes are and what impact they may have on the game, intended or unintended.

The most expected outcome of the new CBA is the expansion of the designated hitter to the National League.  In addition to this, a new rule was added that if a team wants to have the same player (*cough*Ohtani*cough*) both pitch and hit, he may be his own DH and removing him as the pitcher will not impact him continuing on as the DH.

The postseason will be expanded to twelve teams, six from each league.  The two division winners with the best records will automatically advance to the Division Series.  The remaining division champion and the three wild card teams will face off in a three-game series.  There will not be any reseeding between the rounds.

Due to Canadian law, unvaccinated players will not be allowed to cross the border and, under the terms of the new CBA, they will not be paid or receive service time for the games missed.

The lowest level of the Competitive Balance Tax (CBT) Threshold, which most teams use as a hard salary cap, will jump to $230M for 2022.  After that, there are three additional surcharge levels, which, at this point, should impact only the Dodgers, Mets, and Padres.

The minimum salary for players has increased to $700K for 2022 and will increase over each year of the CBA.  In addition, there is a new pre-arbitration bonus pool of $50M has been established to reward successful seasons by younger players under team control.  MVP and Cy Young winners would $2.5M while 2nd, 3rd, and 4/5th place finishers would receive $1.75M, $1.5M, and $1M respectively.  Rookie of the Year winners get $750K and 2nd place finishers would take home $500K.  Players named first team All-MLB get $1M while second team gets $500K.  The remaining pool of bonus money will be distributed based on WAR.  A single player can only receive one bonus per season.

Umpires will start using a microphone to announce replay review decisions to the crowd, helping fans better understand the outcomes of those reviews and why.

Double headers will move back to being nine-inning affairs.  The ghost runner starting on second base for extra-inning games was initially eliminated, but was re-instated for 2022 due to the shortened spring training and worries about the impacts of long games to pitching staffs.

Rosters will expand to 28 players for the month of April due to the shortened spring training.  Also, a limit of five has been placed on the number of times a player can be optioned to the minor leagues during a season.  After that, the player must be put on waivers in order to send him down additional times.  Players optioned prior to May 1st will not have that option count against the limit due to the expanded roster.  This new limit does not impact the number of option years a player has.

Players now have expanded rights to engage in promotional and endorsement activities with sports betting companies.  I’m sure nothing bad will come of that.  Also, the MLBPA has agreed to drop their grievance from 2020 about the owners bargaining in good faith about the pandemic-shortened season as part of the new CBA.  An older grievance, concerning how the Pirates, A’s, Marlins, and Rays spend their revenue-sharing dollars, is still ongoing.

Other rules changes that were part of the negotiations, like a pitch clock, shift restrictions, larger bases, and automated balls and strikes, will not be implemented until the 2023 season at the earliest.

Starting in 2023, a lottery will be implemented to determine who gets the first six picks of the draft.  The 18 teams who did not make the previous postseason will be eligible with the three teams with the worst records getting a 16.5% chance at the pick and the six teams with the best records getting a less than 1% chance.  Teams that receive revenue-sharing payouts will not be eligible to receive a lottery pick for more than two years in a row and those that don’t can’t get a top-six choice in consecutive drafts.  Any team that is ineligible for the lottery will not be allowed to select higher than 10th overall.  The draft itself will remain 20 rounds.  A decision on the International Draft, and the corresponding removal of draft pick compensation, will be decided by July 25th.

MLB and MLBPA agreed to stage international games or tours over the next five years.  Regular-season games will be held in Mexico City each May from 2023-26, in London in June 2023, 2024, and 2026 and in Paris in June 2025, and in San Juan, Puerto Rico, in September 2025 and 2026.  A season-opening series is planned for somewhere in Asia for 2024 and Tokyo for 2025.  Postseason tours are planned for South Korea and Taiwan this year and for Latin America in 2023.  Spring training games are being envisioned for Puerto Rico and/or the Dominican Republic in 2024, and the World Baseball Classic returns in 2023 and 2026.

Starting in 2023, teams will play at least one series against every opponent in each league.  Because of the expanded wild card, the new schedule will feature fewer divisional games, and every team will play at least one series against every other opponent, including alternating home and away series every other year against teams in the other league.

Finally, teams will be adding ad patches on their jerseys and stickers on their batting helmets starting in 2023.  Unconfirmed reports say that the jersey patches will go on the sleeve and may be on different sleeves depending on which would give it more exposure.  No word yet on how that would work with teams that already have one (or two) sleeve patches.  The jersey sponsorships are being sold at the team level and can’t go to alcohol, gambling, or media brands.  Helmet sponsorships are expected to be handled by MLB.

2022 Predictions

After 99-day lockout and a truncated spring training schedule, the 2022 baseball season is finally scheduled to kick off tomorrow with a slate of games.  For the twelfth consecutive year, I’ve looked into the crystal ball to make my picks for the upcoming season, including an additional Wild Card pick for each league.

American League

East: Blue Jays

Central: White Sox

West: Astros

Wild Cards: Yankees, Angels, Red Sox

AL Champion: Yankees

Cy Young: Lucas Giolito

MVP: Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

National League

Continue reading →

By The Numbers – 16

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 #16.  65 different players have donned #16 while playing in Chicago, 24 for the White Sox, who retired the number in 1987, and 41 for the Cubs.

Aramis Ramirez switched to his familiar #16 shortly after being acquired by the Cubs from the Pirates.  Ramírez finished the 2003 season strong, appearing in 63 games down the stretch and hitting 15 home runs while helping the Cubs capture their first division title since 1989.  He managed 11 hits during the post-season, including 4 home runs and 10 RBIs and hitting the first playoff grand slam in Cubs’ history during Game 4 of the NLCS.  The following year, Ramirez became the 14th player in baseball history to hit 3 home runs in 2 different games in the same season.  While his offense remained strong, posting a .951 OPS, his defense was a bit of a liability, as he posted the lowest range factor among all third basemen.

Ramirez was elected to his first All-Star Game in 2005.  He finished the season with 31 home runs and 92 RBIs despite missing the last month of the year with a strained quadriceps femoral muscle.  While his defense continued to suffer in 2006, with his third straight season with the lowest range factor, his offense continued to carry the load.  He collected his 1000th hit in July against the Mets and ended up with 38 home runs, 119 RBIs, and an OPS of .912.  A free agent at the end of the season, he re-signed with the Cubs, scoring a 5-year, $73 million contract.

In April of ’07, Ramirez launched his 200th career home run.  His continued offensive presence helped lead the Cubs back to the post-season in 2007 and 2008, winning division titles both seasons.  Unfortunately, Ramirez, like his teammates, went cold in both series as the Cubs were swept in the NLDS each season.  In 2009, Ramirez christened the season with his 250th career home run on Opening Day against Roy Oswalt.  He followed that with #300 in July of 2011 against the White Sox.  Following that season, he declined his portion of a mutual option and became a free agent.

Julio Cruz wore #16 on the southside following his June 1983 acquisition from the Mariners, when he gave the White Sox the spark they were looking for, helping the team go on a 72-31 run to finish the season and go from 6 1/2 games back to 20 games ahead.  Cruz scored the winning run on a Harold Baines sacrifice fly against, of all teams, the Mariners on September 17, clinching the first division title in White Sox history.  Cruz hit .333 during the ALCS against the Orioles, swiping 2 bases in the 4-game series.  Heading in to the 1984 season, Cruz re-signed with the White Sox with a 6-year deal, thought to be worth between $3.6 to $4.8 million.  Unfortunately, time, and injuries, were starting to take their toll.  1984 was the best year of the deal, and Cruz saw his average drop to .222 and he stole only 14 bases, a career low to date.  Following that season, Cruz changed his number from #16 to #12.

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 →