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.

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: Nationals

With 2020 nearly upon us and spring training about 2 months away, we continue our tour of all of the different baseball stadiums I’ve been to over the years. This week, we head to our nation’s capital for a look at the defending World Series champion Washington Nationals. So, without further ado, let’s take a deeper look at my history, such as it is, with Nationals Park.

Stadium Name: Nationals Park

Years in Service: 2008 – Present

Visits: 1

After 3 seasons at RFK Stadium following their move from Montreal, the Washington Nationals moved into their new home for the 2008 season, starting with an 3-2 walk-off victory against the Braves on March 30th.  On January 1, 2015, the park hosted its first hockey game, as the Capitals defeated the Blackhawks in the Winter Classic.  The All-Star Game returned to Washington in 2018 for the first time since 1969, and, this past season, the park hosted the first World Series games in Washington since 1933.

I made my one trip to Nationals Park this past June 5, to see the Nationals defeat the White Sox 6-4.  The game was part of an overall trip to DC celebrating Michael’s grammar school graduation.  It was a beautiful afternoon, despite the result thanks to some bad bullpen results.

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.

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 →

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

Continue reading →

Leading The League

As the 2019 season comes to an end, two members of the White Sox achieved some personal milestones.  Tim Anderson led the major leagues in batting average and Jose Abreu led the American League in RBIs.

Anderson finished the year with a .335 average, leading the American League and the major leagues.  The injured Christian Yelich of the Brewers and Ketel Marte of the Diamonbacks tied for the National League lead at .329, while Yankees infielder DJ LeMehieu finished second in the AL with .327 average.  White Sox third baseman Yoan Moncada used a torrid finish to come in 3rd in the AL, making for a fearsome left side of the infield for the South Siders heading into 2020.

Anderson becomes just the third player in White Sox history to win the batting title.  Luke Appling led the league in 1936 and 1943 and Frank Thomas wore the crown in 1997.

On the other side of the diamond,  Jose Abreu took home the RBI championship for the American League.  He finished just 3 behind the Nationals’ Anthony Rendon for the major league lead.  Abreu becomes just the second RBI leader in White Sox history, following Dick Allen in 1972.

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 →

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 →

2019 Predictions

The 2019 baseball season is scheduled to kick off tomorrow, at least the North American portion, with a full slate of games featuring all 30 teams.  For the ninth consecutive year, I’ve looked into the crystal ball to make my picks for the upcoming season.

American League

East: Yankees

Central: Indians

West: Astros

Wild Cards: Red Sox, Angels

AL Champion: Astros

Cy Young: Justin Verlander

MVP: George Springer

National League

Continue reading →