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
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Rays All Time Leaders – Through 2019

414_tampa_bay-rays-miscellaneous-2012With 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 things today with the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Rays began life in 1998 as the Devil Rays, dropping the Devil portion of their name in 2008.  I’ve seen them play 24 times, 5 as the Devil Rays and 19 as the Rays, including the 2008 ALDS, where they defeated the White Sox.

Home Runs

Name Total
B.J. Upton 5
Matthew Joyce 3
Ben Zobrist 2

Hits

Name Total
B.J. Upton 18
Ben Zobrist 16
Carlos Pena 9
Evan Longoria 9

Runs

Name Total
Ben Zobrist 11
B.J. Upton 9
Matthew Joyce 7

RBI

Name Total
B.J. Upton 11
Carlos Pena 8
Ben Zobrist 7
Evan Longoria 7

Doubles

Name Total
Ben Zobrist 3
Evan Longoria 3
Jason Bartlett 3

Triples Continue reading →

The Opening Day That Wasn’t

Today should have been be my 20th straight Opening Day at Comiskey Park II/US Cellular Field/Guaranteed Rate Field, and my 23rd overall for the White Sox.  The first one was in 1985, a blowout win against the Red Sox at Comiskey Park that introduced rookie shortstop Ozzie Guillen to Chicago.  Other highlights include the 2005 1-0 victory against the Indians, the raising of the championship banner on Sunday Night Baseball in 2006, and Mark Buehrle’s between-the-legs flip in 2010.

The most frequent opponent has been the Tigers, who are also the only team with a winning record on Opening Day in games I’ve attended.  The other AL Central foes have each appeared at least 3 times.

 

White Sox Home Opener Team Records
Team Name Won Loss Winning Pctg
Chicago White Sox 15 7 0.682
Detroit Tigers 4 2 0.667
Cleveland Indians 2 3 0.400
Minnesota Twins 1 2 0.333
Kansas City Royals 0 3 0.000
Boston Red Sox 0 1 0.000
Tampa Bay Rays 0 1 0.000
Texas Rangers 0 1 0.000
Baltimore Orioles 0 1 0.000
Seattle Mariners 0 1 0.000

Ballpark Tour: White Sox

Opening day was supposed to be less than a week away, so it is time to wrap up our tour of all of the baseball stadiums I’ve been to over the years with the one I’ve been to the most: the homes of the Chicago White Sox.  Between the two stadiums that have been located at the corners of 35th and Shields, I’ve seen at least 542 games, all but one of which have involved the White Sox.  So, without further ado, let’s take a deeper look at my history with Comiskey Park and Guaranteed Rate Field.

Stadium Name: Comiskey Park

Years in Service: 1910 – 1990

Visits: 12 (that I’m aware of)

Comiskey Park, the so-called Baseball Palace of the World, was the home of the White Sox from 1910 through the 1990 season.  Built on a former city dump at the corner of 35th Street and Shields Avenue, the stadium opened on July 1, 1910, as the White Sox lost to the St. Louis Browns 2-0.  The final game for the old ballyard occurred on September 30, 1990, a 2-1 victory over the Mariners.

Comiskey Park was the host for 4 World Series, including 3 in a row from 1917-1919.  The White Sox won the World Series in 1917 against the New York Giants.  The Cubs, looking for a larger seating capacity, moved their home games in the 1918 series against the Red Sox to Comiskey Park.  The 1919 World Series, of course, was the Black Sox scandal, where the White Sox threw the series against the Reds.  The White Sox returned to the World Series 40 years later in 1959, but fell to the Dodgers.  The final post-season games to be played in Comiskey Park were games 3 and 4 of the 1983 ALCS, which the White Sox lost to the Baltimore Orioles.

Comiskey Park was also the host to 3 All-Star games.  The first All-Star game, in 1933, was held in conjunction with Century of Progress Exposition being held on Chicago’s lakefront.  The event returned to Chicago’s south side in 1950 and the final All-Star game at Comiskey Park was in 1983, the 50th anniversary of the first game.  Comiskey Park was also the frequent home of the Negro League East-West All-Star Game from 1933 to 1960.

Looking back, I’ve been able to piece together evidence of 12 games that I attended at Comiskey Park, either from pictures, stadium giveaways, or specific memories.  I know there are more, but I have not been able to pinpoint exact games as of yet.  The most memorable game I can remember would be the final night game, on September 29, 1990, where, after the game, the lights were symbolically turned off for the final time.

Stadium Name: Comiskey Park II/US Cellular Field/Guaranteed Rate Field

Years in Service: 1991 – Present

Visits: 530

On the evening of June 30, 1988, with the clock literally stopped, the Illinois legislature passed a bill that provided the financing for a new stadium for the White Sox, stopping them from moving to St. Petersburg, Florida.  2 and a half years later, on April 18, 1991, Comiskey Park II opened, the first new major facility built in Chicago since the erection of the Chicago Stadium in 1929.  Sadly, the White Sox were embarrassed by the Tigers, losing 16-0 in the opening of their new park.

Unfortunately for the White Sox, the new Comiskey Park was the last stadium to be built prior to the wave of retro ballparks that started with the opening of Camden Yards the following year.  Because of this, there have been numerous renovations to the park, starting in 2001 with the addition of nearly 2000 seats and the relocation of the bullpens.  More extensive renovations began in 2003 in preparation for that season’s All Star Game and using the money generated from selling the naming rights to US Cellular, and continued through 2007, when the replacement of the blue seats with green seats was completed.  Less extensive renovations have occurred since, replacing the different video boards and creating premium seating areas.

The post-season came to the new Comiskey Park for the first time in 1993, as the White Sox battled the Blue Jays in the ALCS.  The stadium hosted its first World Series games in 2005, the first to be played in the city of Chicago since 1959, as the White Sox went on to sweep the Houston Astros and win their first World Series since 1917.

I attended my first game at the new Comiskey Park on April 20, 1991, the second game in the stadium’s history.  Since then, I’ve been to 529 other games at the stadium, the majority coming from 2005 on, when I became a season ticket holder.  I went to both games of the 2000 ALDS, which the White Sox lost to the Mariners, both games of the 2005 ALDS, which the White Sox won against the Red Sox, both games of the 2005 ALCS, which the White Sox split against the Angels, and game 2 of the 2005 World Series.  I attended game 163 of the 2008 season to break the tie between the White Sox and the Twins. and then the two ALDS games against the Rays, the first time I saw the White Sox actually end a post-season series, either in victory or defeat.

Notable regular season games I’ve seen at what is now known as Guaranteed Rate Field include the September 18, 2001 game against the Yankees as baseball returned following the attacks of 9/11, the April 16, 2005 game where Mark Buehrle defeated the Mariners in 1 hour and 39 minutes, the April 2, 2006 season opener against the Indians when the World Series championship banner was raised, the April 4, 2006 game where the players received their World Series rings, and the September 16, 2007 game where Jim Thome hit his 500th career home run against the Angels.  Not to mention a streak of 19 consecutive home openers.

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
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2019 Predictions Revisited

Six months ago, at the dawn of the 2019 baseball season, I made my annual predictions as to who would win what.  Now that the regular season has come to an end, it is time revisit those predictions and see what, if anything, I got right.

American League

East: Yankees

Well, one for one so far.  This one wasn’t particularly close, as the Yankees won 103 games and won the division by 7 games.

Central: Indians

So much for going perfect.  The Indians saw their run of 3 consecutive division titles come to an end at the hands of the upstart Twins.

West: Astros

The Astros put up the best record in baseball, so this one was pretty much a gimme.

Wild Cards: Red Sox, Angels

No and No.  Right divisions, but the Rays and the A’s took home the Wild Cards.

AL Champion: Astros

This one is looking pretty good.

Cy Young: Justin Verlander

As is this one.  It will likely come down to him or teammate Gerrit Cole.

MVP: George Springer

I think I picked the wrong Astro.

National League

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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
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#2 – Mark Buehrle

Name: Mark Buehrle

Rank: 2

Position: P

Years With White Sox: 2000-2011

Mark Buehrle joined the White Sox organization in 1998, drafted in the 38th round.  Despite his lowly draft status, he rose quickly through the system, first coming up during the 2000 season, working out of the bullpen for the eventual division champions.  He moved into the rotation the following season, and stayed there for the next 11 seasons.  During that time, there were numerous memorable appearances, many of which I was privileged to see in person.

The 2007 no-hitter against the Rangers.

The 2009 perfect game against the Rays.

Winning Game 2 of the 2005 ALCS against the Angels, thanks to AJ’s heads-up baserunning, and starting the streak of 4 straight complete games.

The 1 hour 36 minute game against the Mariners in 2005.

The no look, through his legs flip to Paul Konerko on Opening Day 2010 against the Indians.

And, of course, his performance in the 2005 World Series, starting Game 2, getting a no decision, and coming in to pitch the 14th inning and earning the save in Game 3.

In White Sox annals, Buehrle is currently fifth all-time in strikeouts, sixth in games started, and eighth in wins and innings pitched.

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

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#3 – Paul Konerko

PaulKonerkoRedName: Paul Konerko

Rank: 3

Position: 1B

Years With White Sox: 1999-2014

After brief appearances with the Dodgers and the Reds in 1997 and 1998, Paul Konerko was traded to the White Sox on November 11, 1998 for center fielder Mike Cameron.  He started at DH on opening day in 1999, an 8-2 victory over the Mariners, going 1-4 with a home run and 2 RBI.

2000 saw Konerko get off to a quick start with an inside the park home run on April 11 against the Devil Rays, the first by a White Sox player since 1990.  In his second full season, he helped lead the surprising White Sox to their first Central Division title.  He, along with the rest of the White Sox offense, struggled during the Division Series against the Mariners, going 0-9 in the three game sweep.

After steadily improving in 2001 and 2002, Konerko ran into trouble in 2003, with his average under .200 for the first half of the season.  He found himself coming off the bench as manager Jerry Manuel seemingly lost confidence in him.  He bounced back in the second half and re-established himself as the starting first baseman.

Konerko bounced back in a big way in 2004, hitting 41 home runs and knocking in over 100 RBIs en route to the Comeback Player of the Year award.  2005 saw him put up a second consecutive 40 HR, 100 RBI season as the White Sox found themselves back in the playoffs for the second time in his career.  This time, things would go much differently for both Konerko and the White Sox.

Konerko homered twice and drove in 4 runs during the three game sweep against the Red Sox, catching the final out that sent the White Sox to the ALCS for the first time since 1993.  Konerko hit another 2 home runs and drove in 7 against the Angels during the 5 game series.  Once again, Konerko caught the final putout that sent the White Sox to their first World Series since 1959.  Following the victory in game 5, Konerko was named ALCS MVP.

Konerko cooled down during the World Series, hitting only one home run against the Astros, but what a home run it was.  With the White Sox trailing in the 7th inning, Konerko came up to face new pitcher Chad Qualls with the bases loaded.  Konerko made contact on the first pitch, sending it into the left field seats for a grand slam and the lead.  Like the previous 2 series, Konerko caught the final putout at first base in Game 4, giving the White Sox their first World Series title since 1917.

With the afterglow of winning the World Series starting to subside, Konerko became a free agent.  Despite rumors of him getting more lucrative offers from both the Dodgers and the Orioles, Konerko finally resigned with the White Sox, inking a 5-year, $60 million contract that would keep him on the south side through 2010.

Konerko battled through injuries in 2008, leading to his worst season since 2003, but he did manage to help the White Sox reach the post-season for the third time during his career.  He hit 2 solo home runs in the 4 game series against the Rays, in what would be his final playoff appearance.

Konerko had two more chances at free agency, signing a 3 year deal with the White Sox prior to 2011 and, finally, re-upping for one last season in 2014.  He finishes his career as the White Sox all time leader in total bases and second all time in home runs, RBIs, and games played.  In addition, he was a 6-time All Star and had served as team captain since 2006.  He also is the only White Sox player to appear in the post season 3 different times.

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

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