Ballpark Tour: Padres

Spring training is right around the corner as we continue our tour of all of the baseball stadiums I’ve been to over the years. Today we travel to southern California for the baseball homes of the San Diego Padres. Between the two stadiums that have been located in the paradise that is San Diego, I’ve seen 4 games. So, without further ado, let’s take a deeper look at my history with Qualcomm Stadium and PETCO Park.

Stadium Name: Jack Murphy Stadium/Qualcomm Stadium

Years in Service: 1969 – 2003

Visits: 1

San Diego Stadium opened on August 20, 1967 as the home of the AFL’s Chargers and opened for baseball the following spring for the final season of the minor league San Diego Padres.  The following season, San Diego’s expansion team, also named the Padres, moved in and stayed as the main tenants until the end of the 2003 season.  The stadium was renamed in 1980 for local sportswriter Jack Murphy, who had championed support for the building of the stadium, after he passed away.  That name stuck until 1997, when the naming rights were sold to technology company Qualcomm.

In 2003, I was in San Diego for what, to date, was my 3rd and final Comic Con.  On the afternoon of July 17, I skipped out on the con and took the trolley out to Mission Valley to take in the day’s contest between the Padres and the Diamondbacks.  I don’t remember much about the game, which the Diamondbacks won handidly 9-1, other than Curt Schilling taking the bump for the Dbacks.  The park, one of the last remaining cookie cutter stadiums that popped up in the late 60s and early 70s and designed to house both baseball and football teams while doing service to neither, did not really register one way or the other and hold’s no particular space in my memory.  I do seem to remember a giant outdoor escalator, but that might have been Candlestick.

Stadium Name: PETCO Park

Years in Service: 2004 – Present

Visits: 3

After 35 seasons at the Murph, the Padres moved downtown in 2004 with the opening of PETCO Park.  The new stadium was initially supposed to open for the 2002 season, but legal battles and political tomfoolery delayed the project for two years.  The first event held at PETCO Park was an NCAA invitational tournament hosted by San Diego State University, whose head coach was former Padres great Tony Gwynn.  The Padres themselves christened the stadium on April 8 with a 10 inning victory over the Giants.

With the Cubs, coming off their surprising run towards the NL title in 2003, scheduled for a weekend series at the newly opened PETCO Park in the middle of May in 2004, a trip out to the coast was in order.  The Cubs swept the three game series against the Padres, and a tremendous weekend was had.  The new park was a vast improvement over the old Jack Murphy.  One of these days, I’ll need to take a return trip.

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 →

The Joe Maddon Era Has Ended

After 5 seasons, the Cubs and Joe Maddon have agreed to part ways as his initial contract with the club expires with the end of the 2019 season.  Maddon, who was hired under dubious circumstances following the 2014 season, put together one of the best runs in franchise history, with 3 straight trips to the NLCS and a World Series victory that broke a 108 year curse on the north side.  The last 2 years, though, have ended in disappointment, with September swoons that led to a Wild Card loss in 2018 and missing the playoffs completely this year.

Maddon is likely to land on his feet, with attractive openings in San Diego and, potentially, Philadelphia.  The Angels, Maddon’s one time employer, have hinted they are willing to pull the same move the Cubs did 5 years ago, dumping their manager after one year for a shot at Maddon.  Wherever he ends up, he will try to rebound and re-find his winning touch.

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.

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 →

Manny Machado

The first domino of the frozen free agent class of 2018 has fallen, and the White Sox, one of the reported finalists, are left on the outside looking in.  Manny Machado, the 26 year old superstar who, along with fellow free agent Bryce Harper, was the cream of this class, decided to hitch his wagon to the Padres, signing a 10 year, $300 million contract, with an opt out after the fifth year.  Reports say that the White Sox final offer was $250 million over eight years, with incentives and options that could have driven the value to $350 million.

Senior Vice President Kenny Williams, trying to defend the fiasco, said that the contract total of $300 million “wasn’t feasible to us because we still have to project putting together a total winning roster and keeping the young players that will ultimately earn into greater dollars themselves.”  Which is, of course, ridiculous.  The team projects to have an $80 million payroll this year, low enough to be the 25th-highest total in the majors.  The contract could have easily been front-loaded to pay Machado now, while they have no other major expenditures, while offering relief in the later years when today’s prospects may looking for their own payday.

With Machado off the board, and the White Sox not reportedly still in contention for Harper, 2019 may be another tough year, despite the additions of Machado pals Yonder Alonso and John Jay and the expected arrival of Eloy Jimenez sometime in April.

#10 – Ozzie Guillen

Name: Ozzie Guillen

Rank: 10

Position: SS

Years With White Sox: 1985-1997

Acquired by the White Sox, along with Tim Lollar, Bill Long, and Luis Salazar, on December 6, 1984 from the Padres for Kevin Kristan, Todd Simmons, and LaMarr Hoyt, Ozzie Guillen made his major league debut on Opening Day 1985, leading off against the Brewers and going 1-5 in the 4-2 victory at County Stadium.  Settling in as the everyday shortstop, Guillen finished the year with a .273 average, 21 doubles, and 9 triples.  Those totals were good enough to score Guillen the 1985 AL Rookie of the Year trophy.

Guillen saw a slight drop off in his sophomore season.  His average dropped to .250 and he managed 19 doubles and 4 triples.  Defensively, he led the American League in Defensive WAR.

1987 was a nice bounce back for Guillen.  He raised his average back up to .279 with a .656 OPS.  For the second straight year, he led the AL, and all of baseball, in Defensive WAR.

Guillen earned his first All Star nod in 1988, though he didn’t get in to the game.  By the end of the season, he once again led all of baseball in Defensive WAR, while seeing his average drop to .261 with 7 triples, the fifth highest total in the AL.

1989 was a tough year for Guillen.  He posted his worst offensive numbers since 1986 and, on the base paths, he fell victim to the hidden ball trick.  Twice. On June 23, against the Brewers, first baseman Greg Brock held the ball after a pickoff attempt and when Guillen took his hand off the base to stand up, Brock tagged him out.  Less than 2 months later, on August 5 against the Tigers, Dave Bergman made the same play.  He finished the year with .253 average and, despite his adventures on pick off attempts, a career high 36 stolen bases.

As the surprising White Sox challenged for the AL West title while saying goodbye to Comiskey Park, Guillen put in one of the finest seasons of his career.  He was named to his second All Star team, going 0-2, finished in 17th place in MVP voting, and earned his first, and only, Gold Glove.  He raised his average back up to .279 and knocked in a career high 58 RBIs.

Expectations were high for the White Sox as they moved across the street to the new Comiskey Park in 1991.  Guillen earned his third, and final, All Star nod, getting a sacrifice in his only plate appearance.  He ended the year with a .273 average and set a career high with 3 home runs.

Guillen’s 1992 season came to an early end when, on April 21 during a loss against the Yankees, a collision with outfielder Tim Raines ended in a severe knee injury.  Appearing in only 20 games, he hit a career low .200 in only 40 at bats.

Guillen recovered in 1993, though he appeared in only 134 games, his lowest total to date.  However, it was his most productive season offensively, posting a .280 batting average, and career highs with 4 home runs and a .666 OPS, as the White Sox won their first division title in a decade.  He hit .273 and scored 4 runs in a losing effort, as the White Sox were defeated in 6 games by the Blue Jays in the ALCS.

1994 looked to be the year that the White Sox finally broke through.  Guillen was up to the challenge, hitting a career high .288 with a .659 OPS.  Unfortunately, the year ended early when players went on strike on August 12 with the White Sox in first place in the newly created AL Central.

The 1995 season got off to a late start and had an abbreviated schedule due to the long work stoppage.  The success of the White Sox, and for Guillen himself, didn’t survive the long layoff.  Guillen saw his average drop to .248, his lowest over a “full” season in his career to this point.  His OPS dropped to its lowest total, excepting 1992, since 1989.

1996 saw a slight improvement for Guillen.  He appeared in 150 games, his highest total since his knee injury in 1992.  He raised his average back to .263 and tied his career high with 4 home runs.

1997 was easily the worst season of Guillen’s White Sox career.  He had the lowest average of his career, coming in at .245, though he did once again tie his career high with 4 home runs.  Following the season, Guillen became a free agent and his playing career with the White Sox came to an end.

Guillen returned to the White Sox organization for the 2004 season as manager.  In 2005, he led the team to their first American League pennant since 1959 and their first World Series title in 88 years.  Ongoing personal difficulties with General Manager Kenny Williams led to his leaving with 2 games left in the 2011 season as the third winningest manager in franchise history.

Guillen’s numbers in a White Sox uniform, both for games I attended and overall, were:

Continue reading →

Hall Of Fame Batting Leaders

baseballhof

 

Today, former White Sox designated hitter Jim Thome joins long time Braves third baseman Chipper Jones, Expos and Angels star Vladimir Guerrero, and Padres ace Trevor Hoffman in taking their place in Cooperstown.  With 3 new hitters 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 2018.

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
Continue reading →

All Time Team Records

The 2018 baseball season gets underway today, with an early start brought about due to the last collective bargaining agreement, which added additional off days for each team throughout the year.  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 NLCS loss and make it back to the World Series, while the rebuilding White Sox hope to finally start seeing their young talent blossom.  The 2018 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
Philadelphia Phillies 10 6 0.625
Toronto Blue Jays 13 9 0.591
New York Yankees 14 10 0.583
Colorado Rockies 8 6 0.571
Los Angeles Angels 16 13 0.552
Boston Red Sox 16 13 0.552
Kansas City Royals 27 24 0.529
Chicago White Sox 284 256 0.526
Chicago Cubs 209 189 0.525
Continue reading →

2017 Final Standings

For the third consecutive year, the NL pennant was captured at Wrigley Field.  Unfortunately, this year it was the Dodgers that will be moving on, winning the NLCS 4 games to 1 against the Cubs and bringing the game-attending portion of the 2017 season came to an end.  I made it to 49 games this season, my largest total since 2010.  I did manage to add one new stadium this year, along with trips to 3 others that I had been to before.  Here are the final standings for those games and the 20 different teams I saw in person, through both the regular season and the playoffs.

2017 Team Records
Team Name Won Loss Winning Pctg
Milwaukee Brewers 2 0 1.000
Seattle Mariners 2 0 1.000
Oakland Athletics 2 0 1.000
Colorado Rockies 1 0 1.000
Pittsburgh Pirates 1 0 1.000
Boston Red Sox 2 1 0.667
New York Yankees 2 1 0.667
Kansas City Royals 3 2 0.600
Los Angeles Dodgers 3 2 0.600
Continue reading →