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.

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Against The Rangers All Time Leaders – Through 2021

rangersIn 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 Texas Rangers.

The Rangers began life in 1961, joining the American League as the second incarnation of the Washington Senators after the original franchise moved to Minnesota to become the Twins.  Following the 1971 season, the team moved to Arlington, Texas and became the Rangers.  I’ve seen them play 38 times against 5 different foes, across 2 states and 4 different stadiums.

Home Runs

Name Total
Paul Konerko 3
Jose Abreu 3
Jermaine Dye 3

Hits

Name Total
Paul Konerko 20
Jose Abreu 14
A.J. Pierzynski 12
Alexei Ramirez 12

Runs

Name Total
Paul Konerko 8
Jose Abreu 8
Jermaine Dye 8

RBI

Name Total
Paul Konerko 11
Jose Abreu 9
Jermaine Dye 8

Doubles

Name Total
Alex Rios 4
Alexei Ramirez 4
Jose Abreu 3
Scott Podsednik 3
Carlos Quentin 3

Triples Continue reading →

2021 Final Standings

The 2021 season, at least the portion which would see me attending games, has come to an end after the White Sox lost to the Astros in the ALDS 3-1.  After a year without in-person baseball thanks to the corona virus, I ended up attending the most games I’ve seen since 2009 and my 5th highest total of all time.  I also managed to travel to four different stadiums, bringing my total up to 27.  All told, I managed to see 25 of the 30 teams a year after seeing none.

2021 Team Records
Team Name Won Loss Winning Pctg
Tampa Bay Rays 3 0 1.000
New York Yankees 2 0 1.000
Arizona Diamondbacks 1 0 1.000
Washington Nationals 1 0 1.000
Philadelphia Phillies 1 0 1.000
Los Angeles Angels 1 0 1.000
San Francisco Giants 1 0 1.000
Boston Red Sox 1 0 1.000
Seattle Mariners 2 1 0.667
Chicago White Sox 29 20 0.592
Cleveland Indians 3 3 0.500
Kansas City Royals Continue reading →

Whittling It Down To 4

After a disappointing loss last night, the White Sox rebounded this afternoon, defeating the Rangers 7-2 to take the series and lower their magic number to 4.  Cleveland, on the other hand, brought it to the Yankees, chasing Gerrit Cole early en route to an 11-1 victory over the Yankees, which, to be honest, I’m ok with.

The White Sox head to Detroit to start a 3 game series against the Tigers tomorrow night, while Cleveland battles the Royals in a double header, meaning it is possible for the White Sox to clinch as early as Tuesday.

Lighting It Up

A high scoring affair on the south side last night as the White Sox battled their crosstown rivals led me to think: what was the highest scoring game I’ve ever attended?  Some quick calculations have produced these top 9 scoring games that I have seen in person, starting with last night’s tilt.

30 runs

8/27/2021

After putting up 6 runs in the top half of the first, the Cubs, for the second time this season, coughed up the lead.  Yasmani Grandal, in his first game action since a knee injury on July 5th, hit two home runs and drove in 8 runs as the White Sox won 17-13.  The 17 runs are the 4th largest output I’ve seen in person, while the 13 runs put up by the Cubs was the largest I’ve seen in a losing effort.

26 runs

7/2/2006

Another high scoring crosstown tilt, as Michael Barrett and Carlos Zambrano both homered off of Mark Buehrle in a 7 run first inning.  Despite home runs from Juan Uribe, Jim Thome, Joe Crede, and Tadahito Iguchi, the Cubs held on to win 15-11 while avoiding a three game sweep.

9/2/2017

Powered by backup catcher Rene Rivera’s first career grand slam, the Cubs built an 11-4 lead heading to the 7th inning against the Braves.  The Cubs bullpen then managed to give up 8 runs over the final three innings, which would have given the Braves the victory, but they also managed to tack on 3 insurance runs, giving the Cubs a 14-12 win.

24 runs

4/30/2008

Two three-run homers from Geovany Soto led the Cubs to a 19-5 victory over the Brewers, their highest single game output since 2001.

23 runs

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By The Numbers – 42

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 #42.  41 different players donned #42 while playing in Chicago, 18 for the White Sox and 23 for the Cubs, prior to its league-wide retirement for Jackie Robinson in 1997.

Ron Kittle made his major league debut for the White Sox, with #42 on his back, on September 2, 1982, pinch hitting for Aurelio Rodriguez and striking out in the White Sox 6-5 victory over the Rangers at Comiskey Park.  Kittle got sporadic playing time over the final month of the season, earning just 29 at bats in 20 games while hitting .241 with a single home run.  He broke out in a big way in 1983, earning an All Star nod and finishing the year with a team rookie record of 35 home runs while hitting .254 and driving in 100 as the White Sox notched their first division title.  Kittle was knocked out of the ALCS against the Orioles after getting hit by a pitch in Game 3, finishing the series with just 2 hits in 7 at bats, but still easily earned Rookie of the Year honors.

1984 was a bit of a letdown for Kittle, as he failed to perform up to the expectations set the previous year, falling to a .215 average.  His power numbers remained, as he clubbed 32 home runs, but his OPS was down by 70 points.  There was a slight improvement in 1985, with his average improving to .230, but he hit only 26 home runs and drove in just 58 runs in 116 games.  In 1986, Kittle was hitting .213 with 17 home runs at the trade deadline when he, along with Joel Skinner and Wayne Tolleson, were sent to the Yankees for Ron Hassey, Carlos Martinez, and a player to be named later.  He re-signed with  the White Sox prior to the 1989 season, but injuries limited Kittle to just 51 games and, in 169 at bats, he hit .302 with 11 home runs and 37 RBI.  He returned in 1990, seeing his average drop to .245 with 16 home runs in 83 games when, again at the trade deadline, he was sent to the Orioles in exchange for Phil Bradley.  Kittle returned for one final hurrah with the White Sox in 1991, signing as a free agent on June 19 before being released on August 15.  In between, he appeared in 17 games and hit only .191 with 2 home runs.

On the north side, relief pitcher Bruce Sutter wore #42 during his 5 years with the Cubs from 1976 through 1980.  Over that time, he piled up 4 All Star nods, numerous MVP votes, and a Cy Young Award.  However, a lock down All Star closer is a luxury for a team that never managed to finish over .500 during those 5 years, so Sutter was dealt to the Cardinals in December of 1980, for Leon Durham, Ken Reitz, and Ty Waller.

By The Numbers – 43

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 #43.  71 different players have donned #43 while playing in Chicago, 23 for the White Sox and 48 for the Cubs.

Dennis Eckersley donned #43 for the Cubs after being acquired on May 25, 1984 from the Red Sox for Bill Buckner.  He went 10-8 with a 3.03 ERA while helping the Cubs into the postseason for the first time since 1945.  He lost Game 3 of the NLCS, giving up 5 runs in 5 1/3 innings pitched in his playoffs debut.  Along with the rest of the Cubs rotation in 1985, Eckersley spent time on the DL, causing the team to drop from a 4-game division lead on June 11 to finishing in 4th place, 23 1/2 games back.  Eckersley returned to full physical strength in 1986, but struggled, going 6-11 with a 4.57 ERA as he battled alcoholism.  After an offseason spent in rehab, Eckersley was traded to the A’s following spring training in 1987, where, he, of course, moved to the bullpen and became a Hall of Famer.

Known as “The Milkman”, Herbert Perry wore #43 when he joined the White Sox on April 21, 2000 after being selected off waivers from the Devil Rays.  Solid defense and a hot bat led to him getting more and more playing time, eventually becoming the everyday third baseman as the White Sox cruised to their first Central Division title.  He finished the year with a .308 average, 12 home runs, and 61 RBIs and was one of the few regulars who continued to hit in the post-season, putting up a .444 average in the ALDS against the Mariners.  Injuries and the acquisition of Royce Clayton limited Perry to 92 games in 2001, as his average dropped to .256 and his home runs fell to 7.  After the season, he was traded to the Rangers for a player to be named later.

Two Sides Of The Same Town

cws-chiFollowing last week’s trade deadline deals, Ryan Tepera and Craig Kimbrel became the 36th and 37th people I’ve seen play in person for both the Cubs and the White Sox.  With the first round of crosstown kicking off this afternoon at Wrigley, here’s a look at those players, in alphabetical order.

David Aardsma

After posting a decent season with the Cubs in 2006, Aardsma was traded to the White Sox for Neal Cotts.  Aardsma lasted one season with the Sox, where he was unable to duplicate his success from the year before.

Jason Bere

Drafted by the White Sox in the 36th round in 1990, Bere debuted with the big league club in 1993, finishing 2nd in Rookie of the Year voting.  After an All Star selection in 1994, injuries marred the remainder of his tenure on the South Side, which ended in 1998.  He resurfaced with the Cubs in 2001 and had a decent season, but he went 1-10 in 2002 before being let go.

Emilio Bonifacio

Bonifacio spent back-to-back partial seasons in Chicago, first for the Cubs in 2014 after signing as a free agent, where he played decently enough to be flipped at the trade deadline, along with James Russell, to the Braves for a young catching prospect by the name of Victor Caratini.  He returned to Chicago in 2015, signing with the White Sox, where he he did not do well at all, hitting .167 in 47 games before being released in August.

Welington Castillo

Debuting with the Cubs in 2010, Castillo spent time behind the plate for the Cubs until May of 2015, when, having been replaced in the starting lineup by Miguel Montero, he was flipped to the Mariners.  He returned to Chicago in 2018 after signing with the White Sox as a free agent.  On May 24th of that season, he was suspended 80 games for a violation of the PED policy.  The White Sox then cut bait following the 2019 season, shipping him off to the Rangers.

Neal Cotts

Acquired by the White Sox in the Billy Koch trade, he debuted with the team in 2003.  He was a key contributor in the bullpen during the 2005 championship season, and was the only relief pitcher to appear in all 3 rounds of the playoffs that season.  Following the 2006 season, he was traded to the Cubs for David Aardsma, and he spent the next 3 injury filled seasons on the North Side.

Scott Eyre

Joining the White Sox organization in a 1994 trade with the Rangers, he debuted with the big league team in 1997.  He split the next 4 seasons between the rotation and the bullpen, not to mention between Chicago and Charlotte, before being moved to the Blue Jays following the 2000 ALDS loss to the Mariners.  He joined the Cubs as a free agent for the 2006 season and enjoyed 2 seasons of relative success, before falling apart in 2008, when he was traded to the Phillies.

Kosuke Fukudome Continue reading →

2021 All Star Break Standings

For the first time in two years, the American League takes on the National League in the Midsummer Classic.  As the baseball world turns its sights to AtlantaColorado for tonight’s All Star Game, it’s time to take a look at the team records for the 32 games I attended in the first half of the baseball season, a pretty healthy amount after the pandemic-related strangeness that was 2020.

2021 Team Records
Team Name Won Loss Winning Pctg
Tampa Bay Rays 1 0 1.000
Philadelphia Phillies 1 0 1.000
Washington Nationals 1 0 1.000
Chicago Cubs 4 2 0.667
Seattle Mariners 2 1 0.667
Chicago White Sox 16 10 0.615
Kansas City Royals 3 3 0.500
Cleveland Indians 2 2 0.500
St. Louis Cardinals 1 1 0.500
Detroit Tigers 1 1 0.500
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