No-No

In 2018, Lucas Giolito was, statistically, the worst starting pitcher in baseball.  That offseason, he began rebuilding his game from the ground up, leading to an All Star appearance last year and culminating in a no hitter last night.  Giolito held the hapless Pirates hitless, striking out 13 while facing one batter over the minimum of 27.

Giolito’s no hitter was the first of 2020 and the 19th in White Sox history, the first since Phillip Humber’s perfect game against the Mariners in 2012.

 

200 Things To Do In Illinois – Crosstown Doubleheader

Illinois celebrated its bicentennial as a state in December of 2018.  To celebrate, the Chicago Tribune published the Bicentennial Bucket List: 200 Things To Do In Illinois, celebrating the best the state has to offer in history, food, architecture, culture, sports, nature, drink, and oddities.  Now that the state is starting to open back up following the corona virus outbreak, I figured this was the second-best time to look through this collection and cover the ones I’ve done/eaten/seen.

We conclude things this week with one of the entries from the Sports category: Crosstown Doubleheader, from Chicago, IL.

Usually, at least once during the baseball season, there’s a Cubs home day game followed buy a Sox home night game – or vice versa.  When these scheduling stars align, hop on the Red Line and hit both games for a crosstown day-night doubleheader.

One of the best things about living in a two-team town is the occasional opportunity to take in two games, one at each park, in the same day.  There have been 7 times I’ve watched both the Cubs and the Sox on the same day at their respective homes: first, in 2003 as the Rockies defeated the Cubs and the Mariners throttled the White Sox, and most recently last season, as the Nationals beat the Cubs and the Rangers shut out the White Sox.

There was an 8th instance, in 2004, where I took in games in both parks on the same day, but it didn’t involve the White Sox.  The afternoon tilt that day at US Cellular Field was between the Expos and the Marlins, relocated to Chicago due to Hurricane Ivan. That night, the Cubs slipped past the Pirates at Wrigley Field.

All Time Team Records

What was planned to be the earliest non-international start in Major League Baseball history turned into the latest, thanks to a combination of the corona virus pandemic and pointless bickering between the MLBPA and team owners.  With the 2020 baseball season finally set to get underway today, although with no fans in the stands, 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.  Thanks to some eBaying of pocket schedules from the 80s, I was able to identify one additional game that I attended in 1988, a California Angels victory at Comiskey Park against the White Sox.

The Cubs look to bounce back from last year’s September collapse that kept them out of the postseason for the first time since 2014, while the White Sox hope their offseason additions push them towards contention as their young talent starts to blossom.  With only 60 games to make their mark, the 2020 season should be an interesting one on both sides of town.

All-Time Team Records
Team Name Won Loss Winning Pctg
California Angels 2 0 1.000
Arizona Diamondbacks 13 2 0.867
Florida Marlins 15 8 0.652
Colorado Rockies 10 6 0.625
Boston Red Sox 18 13 0.581
Toronto Blue Jays 15 11 0.577
New York Yankees 15 11 0.577
Los Angeles Angels 19 14 0.576
Cleveland Indians 28 24 0.538
Chicago Cubs 219 197 0.526
Philadelphia Phillies 10 9 0.526
Houston Astros 22 20 0.524
Chicago White Sox 306 287 0.516
Continue reading →

Looking Ahead To 2021

For reasons that I don’t entirely understand, Major League Baseball released their tentative 2021 schedule late last week, 3 weeks before the 2020 season begins. The local squads should have common goals in mind for 2021: competing for a title.  Assuming, of course, that the 2020 season goes off as planned and the pandemic winds down enough for 2021 to proceed as planned.  So, for one day, at least, let’s turn our attention to next summer for both teams.

The White Sox open their season against the Angels in (Los Angeles, California, Anaheim), the first time that has happened since 1993.  Which, I guess, is a decent sign if one’s looking for omens towards a division title.  They return home a week later, facing the Royals for the home opener.

The interleague schedule pits the White Sox against the NL Central, with trips to Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, and Milwaukee and home series against the Reds, Cardinals, and the Pirates. The rivalry with their north side foes continues with a series at Wrigley at the beginning of August and a follow-up at Guaranteed Rate Field at the end of the month.

The season ends with a 5 game homestand against the Reds and Tigers.

On the north side, the Cubs open their season up at home against the Pirates, which seems to be a familiar Opening Day foe.

The interleague schedule pits the Cubs against the AL Central, with trips to Cleveland, Detroit, and Minnesota and home series against the Indians, Royals, and the Twins.

The Cubs end the year with a 12 of their final 14 games against the NL Central, with 9 of those coming against the Brewers and the Cardinals, who are likely to challenge them for the NL Central crown.

Pirates All Time Leaders – Through 2019

pirates-primaryWith baseball shut down because of the corona virus, I thought it would be an interesting time to look back at the all time leaders in both offensive and defensive categories for all 30 teams. We continue today with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Pirates began life in 1887 as the Alleghenys, before taking on the Pirates moniker in 1891.  I’ve seen them play 46 times, including a double header sweep in 2003, enabling the Cubs to clinch their first NL Central title and a work outing in 2008 against the White Sox.

Home Runs

Name Total
Brian Giles 3
Jack Wilson 2
Nate McLouth 2
Carlos Garcia 2
Craig Wilson 2
Andrew McCutchen 2

Hits

Name Total
Jack Wilson 27
Jason Kendall 14
Aramis Ramirez 14

Runs

Name Total
Jack Wilson 16
Brian Giles 10
Nate McLouth 9

RBI

Name Total
Jason Kendall 12
Brian Giles 11
Jack Wilson 8

Doubles

Name Total
Freddy Sanchez 5
Aramis Ramirez 4
Abraham Nunez 4

Triples Continue reading →

It’s Still Been A While

Exactly 8 months since my last baseball game, the longest drought I’ve experienced since 1998 into 1999, I figured it was a good time to take another look at the last time I saw each of the 30 major league teams. For someone with season tickets to two teams, one in each league, you would think that I would cycle through each team every few years or so.  And, for the most part, that does seem to be the case.  I saw 21 of the 30 teams in 2019, going back to 2018, that number jumps to 23.  That’s nearly 77% of the league in the past 2 seasons.

What about those remaining 7 teams?  The Dodgers, Rays, Braves, and Padres last appeared in 2017, while 2016 takes care of the Reds.  I somehow haven’t seen the Diamondbacks since 2014, despite being inside their home ballpark more recently than that.  That leaves the Marlins, who I have somehow not managed to see in person since 2013.  Anyway, here’s a look at each team and the last time I saw them play.

Team Name Date
Miami Marlins 5/26/2013
Arizona Diamondbacks 5/10/2014
Cincinnati Reds 4/11/2016
San Diego Padres 5/13/2017
Atlanta Braves 9/2/2017
Tampa Bay Rays 9/3/2017
Los Angeles Dodgers 10/19/2017
Houston Astros 4/22/2018
Colorado Rockies 10/2/2018
Seattle Mariners 4/6/2019
Pittsburgh Pirates 4/8/2019
Kansas City Royals 4/15/2019
Boston Red Sox 5/5/2019
St. Louis Cardinals 5/5/2019
Continue reading →

Book 1 (of 52) – Hawk

Hawk: I Did It My Way – Ken Harrelson with Jeff Snook

As his broadcast career was winding down, Ken Harrelson decided to move his stories to a different medium, looking back at his life and career in Hawk: I Did It My Way.  He chronicles his life, from being born in South Carolina and raised in Savannah, Georgia, to the minor leagues, the big leagues, the PGA tour, and, eventually, the broadcast booth.  Harrelson has crossed paths with everybody who was anybody, from his former A’s boss Charlie O. Finley to Arnold Palmer to Frank Sinatra to, as you may not have known, Carl Yastrzemski.

While Harrelson’s exploits during his playing days and his attempt to make it as a professional golfer offer interesting stories, its his time as a broadcaster that was most appealing to this White Sox fan.  Originally hired in 1982, along with Don Drysdale, to replace fan favorite Harry Caray, Harrelson spent 32 years broadcasting for the White Sox, with a break after his ill-fated tenure as the team’s general manager in 1986.

If anything, I would have liked to hear more about that season.  Harrelson did go over some of the moves that he made, including firing Tony LaRussa and trading Rule 5 draft pick (and future star) Bobby Bonilla back to the Pirates, but there were other controversies that went untouched, like moving Carlton Fisk to left field.  In fact, given how often the two must have crossed paths between Boston and Chicago, there is only one mention of Fisk at all, a throwaway tale from spring training in the late 60s where Hawk and Yaz quipped that he’d never make the big leagues.

This is a must read for any White Sox fan, regardless of your thoughts on Harrelson.  He was the voice of the team for a generation and his stories offer a unique insight in to one of the most successful eras in White Sox history.

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: Pirates

With 2020 upon us and spring training about a month away, we continue our tour of all of the different baseball stadiums I’ve been to over the years. This week, we head to the steel city of Pittsburgh for a look at the Pittsburgh Pirates. So, without further ado, let’s take a deeper look at my history with PNC Park.

Stadium Name: PNC Park

Years in Service: 2001 – Present

Visits: 1

After 30 1/2 seasons at Three Rivers Stadium, the Pittsburgh Pirates moved into their new home for the 2001 season, starting with an 8-2 loss against the Reds on April 9th. Since then, the stadium has placed at or near the top of most rankings, with the only drawback being the woeful state of its main occupant.

I made my one trip to PNC Park on May 15, 2005 to see the Cubs defeat the Pirates 3-2. Southwest Airlines was introducing service from Chicago to Pittsburgh and was offering fares for $30 each way, so plans were made for a daytrip out to Pittsburgh. We arrived in town and took a bus from the airport to the stadium, where we ate a pregame meal of ribs at the in-stadium Outback Steakhouse. Yeah, you read that right. There was an Outback Steakhouse in the stadium. After the game, there was another bus trip back to the airport for the flight back to Chicago, which seemed to be made up strictly of people who were at the game, as a rousing rendition of Take Me Out To The Ballgame broke out mid-flight.

Ballpark Tour: Mets

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 Apu’s favorite squadron, the New York Mets. So, without further ado, let’s take a deeper look at my one game history with Shea Stadium.

 

Stadium Name: Shea Stadium

Years in Service: 1964 – 2008

Visits: 1

After a delay caused by labor woes and an exceptionally harsh winter, Shea Stadium, home of the expansion New York Mets, opened on April 17, 1964, with the Pittsburgh Pirates beating the Mets 4–3 before a crowd of 50,312. It continued to be the home of the Mets until September 28, 2008, when the Mets lost to the Florida Marlins. Along the way, the stadium was also the home of the Yankees for 2 seasons while Yankee Stadium was being renovated and, for the 1975 season, it served as the home of both New York MLB teams and both New York NFL teams, the first time a stadium has had that many main major tenants at one time.

My one trip to Shea Stadium was for opening day in 2003 to see the Chicago Cub take on the Mets. The last day of March was Tom Glavine’s first appearance with the Mets after coming over from the Braves via free agency. His grace period with the Mets faithful did not last long, as he was booed after throwing a ball on the second pitch. The baseball gods were not on the Mets side that day, as the Cubs, behind 2 Corey Patterson home runs, routed the Mets 15-2. I remember the stadium itself being pretty decent, though we did have some of the best seats in the house, which may have tainted my impression somewhat.