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.

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Ballpark Tour: A’s

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 return to the Bay Area to look at the Oakland A’s. So, without further ado, let’s take a deeper look at my history with the originally-named Oakland Coliseum.

Stadium Name: McAfee/Network Associates Coliseum

Years in Service: 1968 – Present

Visits: 2

The Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum opened in 1966 as the home of the Oakland Raiders.  Two years later, Charlie Finley moved his A’s from Kansas City to Oakland and became the baseball tenant of the stadium.  In 1998, the stadium became known as Network Associates Coliseum.  In mid-2004, Network Associates was renamed McAfee and the stadium was renamed McAfee Coliseum accordingly.  Following the 2008 season, the name reverted back to Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum until April 27, 2011, when it was renamed Overstock.com Coliseum. Just over a month later, the Coliseum was renamed O.co Coliseum, after Overstock.com’s marketing name.  The A’s have officially been looking for a new home since 2005, with Major League Baseball sitting on a feasibility study for over 4 years on the team’s potential future in the East Bay.

Both times I’ve traveled to the Bay area, I’ve taken in both Giants and A’s games.  My first trip to what at the time was called Network Associates Coliseum was on September 6, 1999 while I was out west visiting my friend Scott.  The Tigers triumphed over the A’s that day, and my one memory of the stadium is that the seats were not necessarily positioned in such a way as to face the field for baseball purposes.

My second trip to the Bay area, for the JavaOne conference in 2008, actually started out with a BART trip out to Oakland for a 2-1 A’s victory over the Orioles on May 5th.  The A’s had opnened up three sections of the third deck as designated All-You-Can-Eat seats, where, for the price of the ticket, free ballpark fare was included.  While I enjoyed the novelty of the free foodstuffs, the seats, while directly behind home plate, were horrible.  Leaving early in order to catch the train back to San Francisco led to the problem of trying to get out of the stadium, since none of the gates were open.

The A’s have spent over a decade trying to find a new home, and with good reason.  The Coliseum was mainly configured for the Raiders, who will be leaving town soon, and the A’s have been second class citizens in their own home for decades.  Until a new stadium is built, or the team moves to another city, the A’s will continue to be behind the 8-ball.

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
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Ballpark Tour: Orioles

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 head east for a look at the Baltimore Orioles, who I visited for the first time this summer. So, without further ado, let’s take a deeper look at my one game history with Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

 

 

Stadium Name: Oriole Park at Camden Yards

Years in Service: 1992 – Present

Visits: 1

After 38 seasons at Memorial Stadium following their move from St. Louis, the Orioles opened Oriole Park at Camden Yards in 1992.  It was the first of a wave of “retro” parks that would sprout up over the following 2 decades, changing the architecture of baseball.  The Orioles took the initial contest at the park, defeating the Indians 2-0 behind a Rick Sutcliffe shutout.

The stadium hosted its first All-Star Game in 1993.  On September 6, 1995, the park witnessed Cal Ripken surpass Lou Gehrig for consecutive games played and, on the same day in 1996, saw Eddie Murray smash his 500th career home run.  On April 29, 2015, the park hosted the first game in MLB history to be closed to fans, due to riots in Baltimore.

I made my first visit to the stadium this past summer, with the Orioles taking on their long time rival San Francisco Giants.  The game was kind of non-descript, as both teams were on a downward spiral, but I hope to make it back some day for a repeat performance.

Ballpark Tour: Blue Jays

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 the Toronto Blue Jays, the lone team currently existing outside of the United States. So, without further ado, let’s take a deeper look at my one game history with Rogers Centre.

Stadium Name: Skydome/Rogers Centre

Years in Service: 1989 – Present

Visits: 1

Following the Grey Cup game in 1982 at Exhibition Stadium, dubbed the Rain Bowl due to a torrential rainstorm, tens of thousands of people attended a rally at Toronto’s city hall chanting “We want a dome”.  After years of studies, they got their wish on June 3, 1989 when Skydome opened as the new home of the Blue Jays, featuring the first functional retractable roof in North America.

While the stadium quickly became an albatross for the province of Ontario, due to cost overruns and a recession, the Blue Jays became a force to be reckoned with.  The Jays won the AL East crown in 1989 and 1991, losing to the eventual World Series champions both years.  In 1992, they again won their division and became the first Canadian team to capture a World Series title.  They repeated as champions in 1993, becoming the first team to win back-to-back Series since the Yankees in 1977 and 1978.

Since then, things have been relatively quiet for the Blue Jays.  In 2005, the stadium was renamed Rogers Centre, after the new owners of both the stadium and the team.  After years of failed expectations, the Blue Jays finally have something to be excited about, thanks to Vlad Guerrero Jr, one of the most exciting young players in the game.

I attended my first (and, so far, only) game at the Rogers Centre in September of 2015 when I was visiting Toronto with my friend Hayley.  In addition to adding a new stadium to my resume, former White Sox ace Mark Buehrle was scheduled to start, so I was really looking forward to the game.  Sadly, Buehrle was bumped a few days due to a sore shoulder, so I ended up having to see David Price take on the Orioles.  He handled them with ease, picking up his 100th career victory.  I didn’t have the best seats in the house, sitting out in left field, but was in the shade, which was in short supply during a hot afternoon with the roof open.  I certainly hope to return one day.

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
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Looking Ahead To 2020

Major League Baseball released their tentative 2020 schedule earlier this week.  While the local squads have differing goals in mind as 2019 winds down, with the Cubs struggling for their 8th straight trip to post-season and the White Sox playing out the string in year three of their rebuild, it’s time to turn our attention to next summer for both teams.

For the third year in a row, the White Sox open their season against the Royals, but will be at home for the first time.  They follow that with a trip to Cleveland and Boston.

The interleague schedule pits the White Sox against the NL West, with trips to Colorado, San Francisco, and San Diego and home series against the Rockies, Diamondbacks, and the Dodgers.  The rivalry with their north side foes continues with a 2 game series at home and a 2 game series at Wrigley Field, both in July in the weeks surrounding the All Star Break.

In August, they will travel to Iowa to battle the Yankees in the first Field of Dreams game, hosted where the film of the same name was filmed in 1989 and played in an 8000 seat stadium that will be inspired by the original Comiskey Park.

The season ends with 10 games against their Central Division rivals, which hopefully will be important.

On the north side, the Cubs open their season up north in Milwaukee, before returning home the following Monday to kick off the home portion of their schedule against the Pirates.

The interleague schedule pits the Cubs against the AL East, with trips to Baltimore, New York, and Toronto and home series against the Orioles, Red Sox, and the Rays.

In June, they will head to London for a two-game tilt against the Cardinals

The Cubs end the year with a 16 of their final 22 games 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.

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
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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.

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#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:

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