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

The Time Of Your Life

After a disastrous 2021 that saw his reunion with the Cubs end with his August release followed by an even worse stint with the Padres, Jake Arrieta called it a career earlier this week.  Arrieta, 36, debuted with the Orioles in 2010.  He was acquired by the Cubs in July of 2013, in what turned out to be one of the best trades in team history, in a trade for Scott Feldman and Steve Clevenger.  He left the Cubs as a free agent after the 2017 season and signed with the Phillies on a 4-year deal.

After being acquired by the Cubs, Arrieta was sent to Triple A, where he made seven starts for Iowa before being recalled to the rebuilding big league club, showing vast improvement over the pitcher he was with the Orioles.  He turned into an ace for the Cubs in 2015, winning the NL Cy Young Award, and was a key contributor to their World Series championship in 2016.  He threw two no-hitters for the team, one in 2015 against the Dodgers and the second in 2016 against the Reds.  Injuries after the 2017 season left him a shell of his former self, but the Cubs rolled the dice for 2021, hoping for a miracle.  Instead, they got a rude awakening, as Arrieta set the team record for highest ERA for a pitcher in a season with at least 20 starts.  He followed up his last game, where he gave up 8 hits and 7 runs in the first inning, with a post-game tirade where he berated a reporter for wearing a mask, which he was required to do by city regulation, during a Zoom press conference.

For a brief period of time during the 2015 and 2016 seasons, Jake Arrieta was the best pitcher in baseball.  He was a key contributor to the 2016 World Series championship, earning him a place in Cubs lore for years to come.  His horrid performance in 2021, both on the field and as a functioning member of society, did little to hurt that standing.  I’m sure later this year or next year, there will be a Jake Arrieta Day at Wrigley Field, where he will rightly be feted as he throws out a first pitch and sings during the 7th inning stretch.

By The Numbers – 13

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 #13.  25 different players have donned #13 while playing in Chicago, 13 for the White Sox and 12 for the Cubs.

Acquired by the White Sox on December 6, 1984, from the Padres, Ozzie Guillen made his major league debut wearing #13 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, as his average dropped to .250 and he managed 19 doubles and 4 triples.  1987 was a nice bounce back for Guillen, as 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 and, by season’s end, 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.  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 in a full season 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.  However, 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.

On the north side of town, Neifi Pérez donned #13 over parts of three seasons with the Cubs.  He signed a minor league deal after being released by the Giants in 2004.  After only ten games in Triple A, Pérez joined the big-league club and became a spark plug in the lineup, going 6 for 6 in his first 6 at-bats and providing a needed backup to the ailing Nomar Garciaparra.  Dusty Baker named Pérez the starting shortstop in 2005 to replace Garciaparra, mainly on the strength of his defensive skills.  For the 2006 season Pérez lost the starting job at shortstop to Ronny Cedeño.  As his batting average sagged to .254 and his on-base percentage, never high, had fallen to .266, the Cubs traded him to the Tigers.

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 – 20

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 #20.  85 different players have donned #20 while playing in Chicago, 30 for the White Sox and 55 for the Cubs.

Carlos Quentin was acquired by the White Sox in a December 2007 trade with the Diamondbacks for Chris Carter, earning the nickname “The Carlos Quentin” after general manager Kenny Williams was quoted saying that the team’s goals for the winter meetings were to “acquire Carlos Quentin, and not a guy like him but actually Carlos Quentin.”  Quentin played immediate dividends, breaking through in a big way for the 2008 White Sox.  He was leading the American League in home runs and was third in slugging percentage, OPS, and RBIs when he broke his wrist slamming his bat following a strikeout against Cliff Lee, causing him to miss the last 6 weeks of the season.  The injury likely cost him the MVP award, and certainly impacted the White Sox, as their battle with the Twins for the AL Central title came down to 163rd game and left the starting rotation is disarray before playing, and eventually losing to, the Rays in the ALDS.

Quentin continued to struggle with injuries for the remainder of his White Sox career, never appearing in more than 131 games.  A shoulder injury ended his 2011 season, and his White Sox career, at the end of August.  That December, just over 4 years since he was acquired, Quentin was shipped to the Padres, for Simon Castro and Pedro Hernandez.

On the north side of town, Corey Patterson switched to #20 when he was recalled to the Cubs in 2001, appearing in 51 games and hitting only .221.  He became a full time player in 2002, hitting .253 in 153 games and slugging 14 home runs while driving in 54.  He was breaking out in 2003, becoming the threat the Cubs had hoped he would be, with a .839 OPS, a .298 average, and 13 and 55 for the power numbers when a torn ACL ended his season on July 6.  He returned in 2004, playing 157 games and hitting .266, but was never quite the same player as before the injury.  2005 was not a good season for Patterson, as he saw himself demoted in July following an 8-game losing streak.  Following the season, he was traded to the Orioles.

By The Numbers – 23

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 #23, one of the most famous and successful numbers in city history across all sports.  67 different players have donned #23 while playing in Chicago, 35 for the White Sox and 31 for the Cubs, including a familiar face for both sides of town.

Robin Ventura made his major league debut donning #23 in September of 1989, appearing in 16 games down the stretch, hitting only .178 while driving in 7 runs in 45 at bats.  A good spring in 1990 led to Ventura breaking camp with the White Sox, but he struggled both on the field and at the plate, suffering through a horrendous 0-for-41 slump while committing 25 errors over the course of the season.  He finished the year with a .249 average, 5 home runs, and 54 RBIs and placed 7th in Rookie of the Year voting and was named to the Topps All Star Rookie team.

Ventura and the White Sox moved in to the new Comiskey Park in 1991, hoping to improve on the previous year’s growth.  He improved his fielding enough to earn his first Gold Glove award and, at the plate, he set a White Sox team record for RBIs by a third baseman, finishing with an even 100.  He upped his average to .284 and hit 23 home runs.  His work was enough to garner enough MVP votes to finish in 20th place.  1992 was another good year for Ventura.  He earned his first All Star nod, going 2-2 in the AL’s victory at Jack Murphy Stadium.  He finished the year with a .282 average, 16 home runs, and 93 RBIs.  He also snagged his second consecutive Gold Glove award.  Ventura continued his successful ways in 1993, collecting his 500th hit in May and, on August 4, entering the public consciousness with an event that would come to define his entire career.  While batting against the Rangers, Ventura was hit by a pitch thrown by Nolan Ryan and charged the mound.  Ryan, 20 years Ventura’s senior, placed him in a headlock and punched him several times, starting a bench-clearing brawl that was voted the best baseball brawl of all time by SportsCenter.  After the season, he was awarded his third consecutive Gold Glove award.

The strike in 1994 saw Ventura’s streak of 90 RBI seasons and Gold Gloves come to an end.  When baseball stopped in August, Ventura was hitting .282 with 18 home runs and 78 RBIs, while posting a new career high with an .832 OPS.  When play resumed in late April 1995, Ventura struggled out of the gate, committing ten errors in the first ten games.  As the White Sox started to tear down the team that had finished the previous two seasons on top of their division, trade rumors started to follow Ventura, though nothing came to fruition.  On September 4, he became the eighth player in history to hit two grand slams in one game, and the first since Frank Robinson in 1970.  He finished the year setting career highs with a .295 average, an .882 OPS, and 26 home runs while driving in 93 runs.  Ventura had the best year of his career to date in 1996, setting White Sox team records in career home runs by a third baseman, with 142, and grand slams, with 9.  He set new career highs with 34 home runs, 105 RBIs, 2 triples, an OPS of .888, and a .974 fielding percentage at the hot corner.  He hit .287, while earning his fourth Gold Glove award.

1997 turned into a dismal year for both Ventura and the White Sox.  During a spring training game, Ventura caught his foot in the mud while sliding into home plate and suffered a broken and dislocated right ankle.  Expected to miss the entire season, he returned on July 24, collecting the game-winning hit that night, and homered in his first at-bat the next night.  With the White Sox only 3.5 games behind the Indians in the standings, a healthy Ventura might have put them over the top.  A week later, the team threw in the towel in what eventually became to be known as the White Flag Trade, sending 3 pitchers to the Giants for prospects.  “We didn’t realize Aug. 1 was the end of the season,” said an upset Ventura.  He finished the year appearing in 54 games, hitting .262 with 6 home runs and 26 RBIs.  Entering the last year of his contract in 1998, the White Sox made little attempt to sign Ventura to an extension, with owner Jerry Reinsdorf claiming his skills were “deteriorating” after his injury the year before.  With more trade rumors following him throughout the season, he finished the year with a .263 average, 21 home runs, and 91 RBIs while earning his fifth Gold Glove award.  Following the season, he became a free agent, ending his White Sox playing career.

Continue reading →

Against The Padres All Time Leaders – Through 2021

In 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 San Diego Padres.

The Padres began life in 1969, joining the National League along with the Montreal Expos.  I’ve seen them play 21 times (would have been 24 if my trip to San Diego in May of 2020 hadn’t been wiped out by the corona virus) at 5 different ballparks, first in 1985 at Wrigley Field and, most recently, this past June.

Home Runs

Name Total
Corey Patterson 3
Sammy Sosa 3
Patrick Wisdom 3

Hits

Name Total
Alfonso Soriano 10
Moises Alou 9
Corey Patterson 8
Derrek Lee 8
Jose Macias 8
Aramis Ramirez 8

Runs

Name Total
Derrek Lee 6
Moises Alou 5
Corey Patterson 5
Michael Barrett 5
Sammy Sosa 5

RBI

Name Total
Corey Patterson 6
Michael Barrett 6
Aramis Ramirez 6
Alfonso Soriano 6

Doubles

Name Total
Michael Barrett 3
Kosuke Fukudome 3
Aramis Ramirez 2
Alfonso Soriano 2
Jacque Jones 2
Reed Johnson 2
Sergio Alcantara 2

Triples Continue reading →