Ballpark Tour: Rangers

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 the Texas Rangers, a team you would think I would have visited more often due to it’s proximity to my father. So, without further ado, let’s take a deeper look at my history with the originally-named Ballpark In Arlington, the now former home of the Rangers.

Stadium Name: The Ballpark In Arlington/Ameriquest Field/Rangers Ballpark In Arlington/Globe Life Park

Years in Service: 1994 – 2019

Visits: 7

After spending their entire history at nearby Arlington Stadium, the Texas Rangers broke ground on their new stadium on April 2, 1992 and held their first game there nearly two years later, on April 11, 1994 against the Brewers.  The stadium was known by the somewhat clunky moniker of The Ballpark in Arlington until May of 2004, when Ameriquest bought the naming rights.  That deal ended in March of 2007, and the stadium was renamed again, this time to Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.  Corporate money came calling again in 2014, when Globe Life and Accident Insurance Company purchased the naming rights.  The stadium also features a Rangers Hall of Fame, which includes historical artifacts from the team along with visiting collections from Cooperstown.

I made my first trip to the Ballpark on May 22, 1998, to see the Rangers defeat the Royals during a visit to the Dallas area to see my dad.  I returned in 2001 for two games, against the Tigers and 2 days later against the White Sox.  In 2005, on my last trip to the area to date, I took in the entire 4 game series between the Rangers and the eventual World Series champion White Sox.

Having never been to Arlington Stadium, I can’t compare the two, but I would assume that the Ballpark is a vast improvement over its predecessor.  The only downside I noticed in the games I attended was a day game under the hot Texas sun.  The Rangers are addressing that, opening a new stadium next season with a retractable roof.

The Decade In Travel

The 2010s have drawn to a close and its time to take a look back at the previous decade.  Today, we are continuing with travel, specifically the 53 out of state trips that I took between 2010 and 2019.  The first trip of the decade came in September of 2010, as I traveled north to Detroit and Windsor, staying in Canada when I wasn’t watching the White Sox battle the Tigers.  The final trip of the decade, and a fitting bookend to the decade, came in December, when the family traveled to Ann Arbor, Michigan to see Angelina skate in a competition.  2018 was my best year, with 13 different trips/destinations, while 2012 was my worst year, with only a single trip.

My most popular place to travel was, unsurprisingly, West Lafayette, with 7 different trips.  Next came a 3-way tie, with Milwaukee, Boston, and Los Angeles each finding themselves under my feet 4 times.  The only other place I went to more than twice was Disney World, with 3 trips.

If we break down those 53 trips, we get the following:

  • 32 locations
  • 6 countries
    • United States
    • Canada
    • Italy
    • Ireland
    • Scotland
    • Northern Ireland
  • 19 states
    • Illinois
    • Indiana
    • Michigan
    • Wisconsin
    • Minnesota
    • Iowa
    • Massachusetts
    • New York
    • California
    • Nevada
    • Arizona
    • Mississippi
    • Tennessee
    • Arkansas
    • Ohio
    • Maryland
    • Virginia
    • South Carolina
    • Hawaii

 

 

 

Ballpark Tour: Tigers

Spring training is right around the corner as we continue our tour of all of the baseball stadiums I’ve been to over the years. Today we travel north to Michigan for the baseball homes of the Detroit Tigers. Between the two stadiums that have been located in Motown, I’ve seen 3 games. So, without further ado, let’s take a deeper look at my history with Tiger Stadium and Comerica Park.

Stadium Name: Tiger Stadium

Years in Service: 1912 – 1999

Visits: 1

Tiger Stadium opened as Navin Field on April 20, 1912, the same date as Boston’s Fenway Park.  It would serve as the home of the Tigers until the final game on September 27, 1999, an 8-2 Tiger victory over the Royals.

My one and only trip to Tiger Stadium was during its final season, on August 2, 1999, when rookie Kip Wells made his major league debut for the White Sox, picking up the win in the victory against the Tigers.  The stadium reminded me of the old Comiskey Park, with the dark ramps and tunnels leading out to the glorious green of the field.

Stadium Name: Comerica Park

Years in Service: 2000 – Present

Visits: 2

After 87 seasons at Tiger Stadium, the Tigers opened their new stadium in 2000 on a snowy afternoon against the Mariners.  In contrast to Tiger Stadium, which had been considered one of the most hitter-friendly parks in baseball, Comerica Park is considered to be extremely friendly to pitchers.  After years of irrelevance, the new stadium was one step leading the Tigers back to contention, which they achieved in 2006, making the World Series and being in the hunt more often than not ever since.

The White Sox were 3.5 games behind the Twins for the AL Central lead heading into a Labor Day holiday series against the Tigers in 2010.  After they split the first 2 games of the series, I decided to head up to Detroit to take in the final two games, my first trip to Comerica Park.  I had booked a room at the Caesars hotel and casino in Windsor, so I drove up to Canada and checked in prior to the night’s game back in Detroit.  I booked a round trip on a bus back to the US which dropped me off near the park, where I took in the Tigers 5-1 victory.  The next afternoon, I drove back to Detroit and stopped for the afternoon’s series finale, which the Tigers once again won.

The stadium itself was a vast improvement over Tiger Stadium.  For the first game, I sat in the upper deck behind home plate and had a good view of the entire field.  For the second game, I was right behind the White Sox dugout, which, while a bit pricey, did provide another nice view.  The only disappointment, besides the play of the south siders, was the food.  Since the Tigers owner also owns Little Caesars pizza, that is the food that is available.  I remember making it through a few bites before leaving the pizza underneath my seat for whoever wanted it.

Ballpark Tour: A’s

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 return to the Bay Area to look at the Oakland A’s. So, without further ado, let’s take a deeper look at my history with the originally-named Oakland Coliseum.

Stadium Name: McAfee/Network Associates Coliseum

Years in Service: 1968 – Present

Visits: 2

The Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum opened in 1966 as the home of the Oakland Raiders.  Two years later, Charlie Finley moved his A’s from Kansas City to Oakland and became the baseball tenant of the stadium.  In 1998, the stadium became known as Network Associates Coliseum.  In mid-2004, Network Associates was renamed McAfee and the stadium was renamed McAfee Coliseum accordingly.  Following the 2008 season, the name reverted back to Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum until April 27, 2011, when it was renamed Overstock.com Coliseum. Just over a month later, the Coliseum was renamed O.co Coliseum, after Overstock.com’s marketing name.  The A’s have officially been looking for a new home since 2005, with Major League Baseball sitting on a feasibility study for over 4 years on the team’s potential future in the East Bay.

Both times I’ve traveled to the Bay area, I’ve taken in both Giants and A’s games.  My first trip to what at the time was called Network Associates Coliseum was on September 6, 1999 while I was out west visiting my friend Scott.  The Tigers triumphed over the A’s that day, and my one memory of the stadium is that the seats were not necessarily positioned in such a way as to face the field for baseball purposes.

My second trip to the Bay area, for the JavaOne conference in 2008, actually started out with a BART trip out to Oakland for a 2-1 A’s victory over the Orioles on May 5th.  The A’s had opnened up three sections of the third deck as designated All-You-Can-Eat seats, where, for the price of the ticket, free ballpark fare was included.  While I enjoyed the novelty of the free foodstuffs, the seats, while directly behind home plate, were horrible.  Leaving early in order to catch the train back to San Francisco led to the problem of trying to get out of the stadium, since none of the gates were open.

The A’s have spent over a decade trying to find a new home, and with good reason.  The Coliseum was mainly configured for the Raiders, who will be leaving town soon, and the A’s have been second class citizens in their own home for decades.  Until a new stadium is built, or the team moves to another city, the A’s will continue to be behind the 8-ball.

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 →

2019 Final Standings

For the second straight year, the Cubs faltered down the stretch and, for the first time since 2014, they failed to make the postseason, thus bringing my game-attending portion of the 2019 season to an end.  I made it to 37 games this season, my highest total since 2016.  I did manage to attend games at 7 different stadiums, my highest single season total and bringing my total up to 25.  Here are the final standings for those games and the 21 different teams I saw in person.

2019 Team Records
Team Name Won Loss Winning Pctg
San Francisco Giants 2 0 1.000
Washington Nationals 2 0 1.000
New York Mets 1 0 1.000
Texas Rangers 1 0 1.000
Boston Red Sox 1 0 1.000
Toronto Blue Jays 2 1 0.667
Cleveland Indians 2 1 0.667
Los Angeles Angels 2 1 0.667
Chicago Cubs 6 5 0.545
New York Yankees 1 1 0.500
Oakland Athletics 1 1 0.500
Seattle Mariners 1 1 0.500
Minnesota Twins 1 1 0.500
Chicago White Sox 13 15 0.464
Continue reading →

2019 All Star Break Standings

As the baseball world turns its sights to Cleveland for Tuesday night’s All Star Game, it’s time to take a look at the team records for the 23 games I attended in the first half of the baseball season, with the rebuild on the south side finally showing progress and the window of contention on the north side looking like it may be ending sooner rather than later.

Continue reading →

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
Continue reading →

#5 – Frank Thomas

Name: Frank Thomas

Rank: 5

Position: 1B/DH

Years With White Sox: 1990-2005

Frank Thomas was selected by the White Sox with the seventh pick in the first round of the 1989 draft.  A little more than 1 year later, he made his major league debut on August 2, 1990 against the Brewers at County Stadium, going hitless in 4 at bats with an RBI as the White Sox won 4-3.  The next night, he tripled off of Mark Knudson for his first major league hit.  On August 28, he hit the first home run of his career, off Gary Wayne, in a 12-6 loss against the Twins at the Metrodome.  He finished the year with a .330 average, with 7 home runs and 31 RBIs.

In 1991, as the White Sox moved into the new Comiskey Park, Thomas became one of the most feared hitters in the American League.  On April 22, he hit the first White Sox home run in the new stadium, in an 8-7 victory over the Orioles.  When the season ended, Thomas finished with a .318 average, 32 home runs, and 109 RBIs.  He lead the league in walks, OBP, OPS, and OPS+.  He won his first Silver Slugger award and finished 3rd in MVP voting.

Thomas continued his mastery in 1992.  He ended the year hitting .323, with 24 home runs and 115 RBIs. He led the league in doubles, walks, OBP, and OPS.  Those numbers were good enough for him to place 8th in MVP voting.

In 1993, Thomas helped the White Sox win their first division title since 1983.  He made his first All Star game appearance, getting a hit in his only at bat.  On August 31, he clubbed his 100th career home run against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium.  He finished the year batting .317 and set a club-record with 41 homers.  He added 128 RBI, 106 runs scored, and 112 walks, to join Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx and Ted Williams as the only players in baseball history to eclipse .300 with more than 20 homers and more than 100 RBI, runs, and walks in three straight seasons.  In the ALCS against the Blue Jays, Thomas hit .353 in the 6 game series.  Thanks to his historic season, Thomas collected his second Silver Slugger award and all 28 first place votes for a unanimous AL MVP award, the first by a White Sox player since Dick Allen in 1972.

1994 was on track to be even better, before the strike ended the season in August.  Thomas was elected to start the All Star game and got 2 hits in his 2 at bats.  In only 113 games, Thomas had 38 home runs, 101 RBIs, 106 runs scored, and 109 walks.  He led the league in runs scored, walks, OBP, slugging percentage, OPS, and OPS+.  For the second year in a row, he took home the Silver Slugger and MVP awards, becoming just the second first baseman to earn consecutive MVP awards.

When baseball returned in 1995, Thomas picked up where he had left off.  He started his second straight All Star Game for the American League, hitting a home run off John Smiley.  At the end of the season, Thomas had hit .308 with 40 home runs and 111 RBIs while leading the league in games played, walks, sacrifice flies, and intentional walks.  He dropped to 8th place in MVP voting as the White Sox found themselves out of contention for the first time in his career.

The White Sox bounced back in 1996 and Thomas continued to be an offensive force.  He mashed his 200th career home run on June 9, going deep at Camden Yards against the Orioles.  He was named to his fourth straight All Star team, though he didn’t make it into the game.  He set a career high with a .349 average, while again hitting 40 home runs with 134 RBIs.  For the second straight year, he led the league in intentional walks and finished 8th in MVP voting.

1997 was another strong year for Thomas.  He was named to his fifth, and final, All Star team.  He led the league with a .347 average, a .456 OBP, a 1.067 OPS, and an OPS+ of 181, while hitting 35 home runs and knocking in 125.  He finished 3rd in MVP voting, his 7th top 10 finish in his 7 full seasons.

Off the field issues started to show an effect on Thomas’ production in 1998, his first as a full time designated hitter.  Marital problems messed with his head, leading him to think the umpires were screwing him, opposing pitchers were taking advantage of him, and the media were ganging up on him. “I was miserable, and I made everyone around me miserable,” Thomas said early in the 1999 season. “It was an extremely humbling season.”  He hit .265, 65 points lower than his career average entering the season, and finished with only 29 home runs, his lowest total in six years.  He started referring to himself as Five O’clock Frank, a batting-practice terror who at game time sank under the weight of self-pity and tired excuses.

Thomas, and the White Sox, hoped that he would bounce back in 1999.  “I think he had a lot on his mind, personal things that were weighing on him,” hitting coach Von Joshua said early in the season. “He didn’t talk about it, but you could just see it in his eyes. He’s a lot more settled this year.”  Unfortunately, things didn’t go well, though he did hit his 300th career home run on August 7 against the A’s.  While his average did rebound, back up to .305, he hit only 15 home runs and drove in just 77 while setting a career low with a .471 slugging percentage.  Bone spurs on his ankle limited him to just 135 games.

2000 got off to an explosive start, and not the good kind.  Thomas and manager Jerry Manuel went toe to toe in spring training over Thomas’ ability to participate in drills, following his surgery the previous September.  Once the regular season began, though, it looked like the old Thomas was back.  As the surprising White Sox ran off and won their first division title since 1993, Thomas, missing only 3 games all year, hit .328 and set career highs with 43 home runs and 143 RBIs.  Unfortunately, Thomas, like the rest of his teammates, struggled in the post-season, going hitless in the ALDS as the Mariners completed a 3 game sweep.  He won his fourth, and final, Silver Slugger award and finished 2nd in MVP voting, behind a juiced Jason Giambi.

2001 was a tough year for Thomas, both personally and professionally.  On April 27, he hurt his triceps diving for a ball while playing first base.  After spending 5 days back in Georgia due to the death of his father, Thomas returned to Chicago for tests, which revealed a muscle tear that would require surgery and end his season.  “This is the worst week of my life”, he said during a press conference. “First I lose my father, then come back and find out I’m lost for the season.”  In only 20 games, Thomas hit .221 with 4 home runs and 10 RBIs.

Thomas returned in 2002, but was obviously no longer the same player he was before the injury.  He struggled in the first half, before picking things up in the final month of the season, hitting .359 with 6 home runs in September.  He finished the season with a .252 average, 25 home runs and 92 RBIs.

2003 was a better year for Thomas, though still below his career norms.  On June 26th, he became the 36th player in history to reach the 400 career home run mark with a 5th inning shot against the Devil Rays at US Cellular Field.  At the end of the year, he had posted a .267 average with 42 home runs and 105 RBIs.

Injuries robbed Thomas of most of 2004.  He was placed on the disabled list on July 7th, with a .271 average, 18 home runs and 49 RBIs.  He underwent surgery in early October to remove debris from the ankle, perform a bone graft, and insert two screws.

Thomas began the 2005 season on the disabled list as he recovered from his ankle surgery.  He was activated on May 30, with the White Sox in first place in the AL Central.  On July 18, he clubbed his 448th and final home run with the White Sox against the Tigers at US Cellular Field.  He hit .219 with 12 home runs and 26 RBIs in 34 games before breaking his foot on July 21, causing him to miss the rest of the season and the post-season.  Thomas threw out the first pitch prior to game one of the ALDS against the Red Sox.

Thomas is the White Sox all time leader in home runs, runs scored, doubles, RBIs, walks, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and OPS.  He is the only player in major league history to have seven consecutive seasons (1991-1997) with a .300 average and at least 100 walks, 100 runs, 100 runs batted in, and 20 home runs.  His number 35 was retired by the White Sox on August 29, 2010 and he was part of the 2014 Hall of Fame class, elected on the first ballot with 83.7% of the vote.

Thomas’s numbers in a White Sox uniform, both for games I attended and overall, were: Continue reading →

#8 – Jermaine Dye

Name: Jermaine Dye

Rank: 8

Position: RF

Years With White Sox: 2005-2009

Jermaine Dye signed with the White Sox as a free agent on December 9, 2004, as a replacement for the departing Magglio Ordonez.  He appeared in 145 games, his highest total since breaking his leg in the 2001 ALDS as a member of the A’s.  He ended the regular season hitting .274 with 31 home runs, 86 RBIs, and an .846 OPS as the White Sox won their first Central Division title since 2000.  In the ALDS, Dye scored 2 hits in the 3 game sweep of the Red Sox.  He picked things up in the ALCS, hitting .263 against the Angels as the White Sox won their first AL pennant since 1959.

Dye ratcheted things up again in the World Series against the Astros.  He hit a home run in game 1, had a phantom hit-by-pitch in game 2 setting up Paul Konerko’s grand slam, and drove in the only run in the clinching game 4, hitting .438 for the series and earning World Series MVP honors as the White Sox took home their first world championship in 88 years.

2006 proved to be Dye’s best offensive season.  He was named to his second All Star game, going hitless in his only at bat.  He finished the year second in the league with 44 home runs, third in slugging at .622, fifth in RBIs with 120, while hitting .315.  Those numbers were good enough for fifth place in AL Most Valuable Player voting and earned him his first, and only, Silver Slugger award.

2007 turned out to be more of a down year, for both Dye and the White Sox.  He struggled in the first half, including a cold June in which he batted just .203 with one home run.  He was able to turn things around in the second half, batting .298 and knocking out 20 doubles and 16 home runs.  He finished the year with a .254 average, 28 home runs, and 78 RBIs.  To reward his turnaround, he was given a two-year contract extension in August.

Dye continued his bounce back in 2008, and helped the White Sox rebound as well.  He finished the year with a .292 average, 34 home runs, and 96 RBIs, while finishing second in the American League with 77 extra-base hits, as the White Sox won the division title for the second time in his tenure.  Dye hit .375 with a home run in the ALDS, a four game loss against the Rays.  He earned 15th place in MVP voting.

Dye looked to slow down again in 2009, as his OPS fell to its lowest total since 2004.  He did, along with teammate Paul Konerko, make history on April 13, as they went back-to-back against the Tigers to each notch their 300th career home run.  According to Elias Sports Bureau, it was the first time teammates hit century milestone home runs of at least 300 in the same game, let alone back-to-back.  He ended the year hitting .250, with 27 home runs and 81 RBIs.  He became a free agent after the season when his option for 2010 was bought out.

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

Continue reading →