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 1990s

Last week, we took a trip in the wayback machine to see all of the games that I attended during the 1980s.  This week, we turn our attention to the 1990s to see what my view of the baseball world looked like.

I’ve been able to identify 32 games I attended during the 90s, starting with a late April outing during the final season at Comiskey Park in 1990 through a September 2000 game at Wrigley Field, including my first visits to stadiums outside of Chicago starting with a July 1993 visit to County Stadium in Milwaukee.  All told, I saw games at eight different ballparks throughout the decade.

1990s Team Records
Team Name Won Loss Winning Pctg
Houston Astros 1 0 1.000
California Angels 1 0 1.000
Cincinnati Reds 1 0 1.000
Arizona Diamondbacks 1 0 1.000
Florida Marlins 1 0 1.000
New York Yankees 1 0 1.000
San Francisco Giants 1 0 1.000
Detroit Tigers 3 1 0.750
Oakland Athletics 2 1 0.667
Chicago White Sox 12 10 0.545
Chicago Cubs 6 5 0.545
Kansas City Royals Continue reading →

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.

Mornings With The Peacock

On the heels of last month’s announcement of an exclusive streaming deal with Apple TV+, MLB announced another streaming deal, this time with Peacock, owned by NBC.  Worth an estimated $30 million to the poor MLB owners, the deal gives Peacock an exclusive window on Sunday mornings through 12:30 PM CT.  Games will begin at 10:30 CT through June 12, then move to an 11 AM start time for the remainder of the season.  In addition, Peacock will be the exclusive home of the Futures Game during All Star festivities and will also feature classic MLB games, award-winning documentaries from the MLB Film & Video Archive, and highlight packages available on-demand in a new MLB hub.

The Peacock slate kicks off on May 8 with the White Sox visiting the Red Sox and will be simulcast on NBC.  The south siders make an additional appearance in August while visiting the Guardians.  The Cubs, meanwhile, make their sole appearance while visiting the Phillies in July.  It is a shame that all three of these games are on the road.  It would be interesting to attend a game with an 11:00 (or earlier) start.

As I said last month, I see MLB expanding its reach into the streaming world to be a good thing.  Some will say that with these new exclusive deals, MLB is spreading their product around a little too much and they do have a point.  In order to watch every White Sox game this season as it happens, one would have to have access to NBC Sports Chicago, FOX, FS1, ESPN, Apple TV+. and Peacock.  That’s a lot of different services.  But how many fans actually try to watch every single game?  For the casual fan, MLB having a wide footprint can only be a good thing as they try to build the next generation of hard-core fans.

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 →

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 – 19

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 #19.  83 different players have donned #19 while playing in Chicago, 32 for the White Sox, one of whom had it retired in his honor, and 51 for the Cubs.

With a new ownership group in place and looking to make a quick splash, the White Sox purchased Greg Luzinski from the Phillies on March 30, 1981.  Coming off a disappointing season, the Chicago-area native, wearing his familiar #19, responded well to the change, hitting .265 with 21 home runs in the strike-shortened season.  He earned Comeback Player of the Year honors, beating out teammate Bill Almon by 5 votes, and finished 23rd in MVP voting.  Luzinski had another strong year in 1982, raising his average to .292, his highest total since 1977, while hitting 18 home runs and driving in 102 runs.

In 1983, Luzinski was a powerful cog in leading the White Sox to their first division title.  He launched the 8th, 9th, and 10th rooftop home runs in Comiskey Park history between June 26 and August 28.  While his average dropped to .255, he hit 32 home runs and drove in 95, good enough to finish 17th in MVP voting.  Like the rest of his teammates, he struggled during the ALCS against the Orioles, hitting only .133 in the 4-game series.  Unfortunately, those struggles carried over in to 1984.  His average dropped again, down to .238, and his power output fell as well, finishing the year with only 13 home runs, his lowest total since 1974, and 58 RBIs.  He did manage to hit his fourth rooftop blast on July 3 against the Tigers.  He became a free agent following the year and decided to retire.

On the north side of town, Matt Murton donned #19 when he made his major league debut for the Cubs on July 8, 2005.  He appeared in 51 games for the Cubs, hitting .321 with a .908 OPS.  That helped earn him the starting nod in left field for 2006, where he managed to post a .297 batting average with 13 home runs and 62 RBIs.  Despite his success, Murton saw his playing time diminish in 2007 after the Cubs signed Cliff Floyd, even getting sent back to Triple A in June.  He returned in late July, and finished the year with a .281 average and a .791 OPS in only 94 games.  His playing time was diminished ever further in 2008, appearing in only 19 games before being traded, 4 years to the day of his major league debut, to the A’s, as part of the haul for Rich Harden.

Remember When There Was A 10,000 Step Club?

Things were a lot different two years ago, as I was finishing up my fifth year using a Fitbit.  I had just added 45 new 10,000 step days, my 3rd best year to date, and, with upcoming trips to Boston and California already on the docket, things were looking good to add a good number more and add some new tales to this list of my top 25 step days.  Then, the corona virus happened, and the world basically shut down for the next two years.  I’ve worked from home since March of 2020, which gives me a lot more free time, but also significantly cut down on my natural daily step totals.  All told, I managed only 5 10,000 step days for the just completed seventh year of Fitbit usage, which, granted, is better than last year and gives me a total of 270 since I started keeping track back in 2011.  With that in mind, here’s the list of my top 25 step days, which has stayed static for two years now.

1: 4/14/2018 – 27,470 steps

My best single day total is from my April 2017 trip to New York to see Angelina.  The day’s excursions included trips to the 9/11 Memorial & Museum, the Museum of the City of New York, Central Park, the Guggenheim museum, and the Empire State Building.

2: 7/21/2018 – 27,278 steps

My July 2017 trip to Virginia, to hike up Catawba Mountain to McAfee Knob with Jeff and Val, fell just short of the top spot.

3: 6/6/2013 – 24,988 steps

2013’s trip to Disney World, which spent 5 years as my single day best, included excursions to both Epcot Center and the Magic Kingdom, and yes, falling 12 steps short of 25,000 still irks me.

4: 6/3/2019 – 24,665 steps

The first full day of 2019’s summer trip to Washington DC spent most of the day at the Smithsonian Zoo.

5: 8/8/2019 – 23,866 steps

Late in the summer of 2019, I spent two weeks in San Francisco for a work trip.   On my last full day, I went out after work, walking to Pier 39 and then back the other direction to Oracle Park to see the Giants take on the Phillies.  My totals would have been even higher, but I was dead tired and took an Uber back to the hotel after the game.

6: 3/18/2018 – 23,780 steps

My first day in Las Vegas for the 2017 IBM Think conference, the day’s totals include gallivanting around town, including a late night trip up to Caesar’s Palace from the MGM Grand to see Absinthe.

7: 10/24/2018 – 23,362 steps

My October 2018 trip to Boston to see Angelina for our birthday gives us our next entry.  While she was in class, I took tours of Fenway Park and Harvard, before meeting up with her for a late lunch and then heading to the airport for the trip home.

8: 3/22/2016 – 22,493 steps

My one-time second highest day took place during the ill-fated trip to Disney World in March of 2016.  The day’s excursion started at Hollywood Studios before heading over to Epcot Center with Jeff and Val.

9: 7/27/2013 – 20,592 steps

Still my highest total at home in the state of Illinois, the next entry comes thanks to the 2013 BTN 5K and a, for lack of a better word, misunderstanding about where I should be picked up after the race.

10: 12/29/2018 – 20,374 steps

We wrap up the top 10 with 2018’s trip to California and the trip to Disneyland to see Danny perform with the Lincoln-Way Marching Band.

11: 8/5/2017 – 20,218 steps

The next entry came in August of 2017 on the first day of my trip to Boston with Danny and Michael.  After landing in town, we traipsed to the Science Museum, a breakfast joint, our hotel, and, finally, Fenway Park.

12: 7/14/2017 – 20,208 steps

Down to #12 is my 2017 trip to Disney World, a one day journey with Angelina to celebrate her high school graduation. Continue reading →

Against The Phillies All Time Leaders – Through 2021

Philadelphia_PhilliesIn 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 Philadelphia Phillies.

The Phillies began life in 1883, and are the oldest continuous franchise that hasn’t moved cities or changed names.  I’ve seen them play 20 times, including three times in the city of San Francisco.

Home Runs

Name Total
Sammy Sosa 4
Aramis Ramirez 2
Anthony Rizzo 2

Hits

Name Total
Aramis Ramirez 12
Jacque Jones 8
Ryan Theriot 6
Alfonso Soriano 6

Runs

Name Total
Sammy Sosa 6
Derrek Lee 6
Aramis Ramirez 4
Anthony Rizzo 4

RBI

Name Total
Aramis Ramirez 8
Sammy Sosa 6
Jacque Jones 5

Doubles

Name Total
Aramis Ramirez 4
Jacque Jones 3
Mark Grudzielanek 3
Derrek Lee 2
Jeff Kent 2
Kris Bryant 2

Triples Continue reading →

By The Numbers – 22

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 #22.  76 different players have donned #22 while playing in Chicago, 26 for the White Sox and 50 for the Cubs.

Acquired from the Dodgers, along with Ivan DeJesus, in exchange for Rick Monday and Mike Garman, Bill Buckner joined the Cubs, wearing #22, in 1977.  A staph infection in his ankle the previous year caused the Cubs to move the former outfielder to first base, a position he would man for the rest of his career.  Appearing in 122 games, he hit .284 with 11 home runs and 27 doubles.  He improved in 1978, raising his average to .323 and placed 17th in MVP voting.  1979 was another steady year for Buckner.  On May 17th, in the infamous slugfest where the Cubs lost 23-22 to the Phillies, he went 4–for–7 with a grand slam and a career-high seven RBIs.  He finished the year hitting .284 with 14 home runs and 34 doubles, but was also described as “nuts” when manager Herman Franks resigned late in the season.

In 1980, Buckner won a batting title, hitting .324 while striking out only 18 times, earning him a 14th place finish in MVP voting.  In the strike-shortened 1981 season, he was the lone Cub representative for the All Star game and batted .311 while tying Cecil Cooper for the major league lead with 35 doubles.  1982 saw Buckner hit over .300 for the fourth time as a Cub while racking up career highs in hits, with 201, RBIs, with 105, and assists at first base, setting a major league record with 159.

In 1983, Buckner again led the NL with 38 doubles, but saw his batting average drop to .280, his lowest finish as a Cub.  With the acquisition of Gary Matthews in 1984 pushing Leon Durham to first base, Buckner found himself the odd man out.  Appearing mostly as a pinch hitter, Buckner hit a paltry .209 through the end of May, when he was traded to the Red Sox, ending his Cub tenure.

Scott Podsednik was acquired by the White Sox from the Brewers for Carlos Lee on December 13, 2004.  Wearing #22, he moved in to the leadoff spot and, after putting up a .294 average with 44 steals in the first half, he earned his first All Star game nod.  While injuries slowed him in the second half, he was back to full strength when the regular season came to an end and the White Sox embarked on their first post-season appearance in 5 years.  After going the entire regular season without a home run, Podsednik went deep against the Red Sox in Game 1 of the ALDS, helping the White Sox to a 14-2 victory on their way to a 3 game sweep of the defending champions.  Podsednik continued his steady play during the ALCS, hitting .294 with a triple and 3 stolen bases in the 5 game series.  The shining moment of his career came in Game 2 of the World Series, thanks to a walkoff home run against Brad Lidge in the 9th inning, giving the White Sox a 2-0 lead on their way to a sweep and their first world championship in 88 years.  For his efforts, Podsednik finished in 12th place for MVP voting.

As the White Sox looked to repeat in 2006, Podsednik found it difficult to duplicate his efforts from the year before.  His average was down 29 points, to .261, and his stolen base total was off by 19.  Injuries limited Podsednik to 62 games in 2007.  His offensive production continued to be lacking and, after the White Sox fell completely out of contention for the first time in years, the team decided to change their approach and gave Podsednik his release.  He returned to the White Sox organization in 2009, signing a minor league deal.  Injuries to Brian Anderson, Dewayne Wise, and Carlos Quentin gave him plenty of opportunity with the big league club, and he responded by hitting .304, his highest total since 2003.  Following the season, he became a free agent.