A Deafening Thud

Last year, the Cubs and the White Sox made a lot of noise at the trade deadline, making six deals involving stars like Craig Kimbrel, Javy Baez, Anthony Rizzo, and Kris Bryant.  With the White Sox looking to make a move to overtake the Twins and Guardians in the AL Central and the Cubs looking to further divest themselves of championship pieces like Willson Contreras and Ian Happ, this year’s deadline was sure to be a wild and crazy time.  It wasn’t.

Sure, each time made some small moves, with the Cubs emptying out their bullpen of anyone with a pulse and the White Sox adding a bullpen arm, but those expected big moves didn’t happen.  Willson Contreras, a free agent at year’s end, is still a Cub.  It is safe to say nobody had this on their bingo card.

So where do we go from here?  For the White Sox, Rick Hahn and company have to hope that getting their stars healthy provides enough of a boost to sneak into the postseason for a third consecutive year.  On the north side of town, things are a little stickier.  By not trading Contreras, he will play out the year and will likely be given a qualifying offer heading into free agency, which, at best, will cost him money and, at worst, could leave him sitting at home well into the start of the 2023 season.  Ian Happ is under team control for another year, so, short of an offseason deal, he will go through this same dance next July.

2022 All Star Break Standings

For the first time since 1980, the Midsummer Classic returns to Los Angeles and Dodger Stadium.  As the stars of the baseball world gather in Tinsletown, it’s time to take a look at the team records for the 21 games, featuring exactly half of the teams in the league, that I attended in the first half of the baseball season, a disappointing one, for different reasons, on both sides of town.

2022 Team Records

Team Name Won Loss Winning Pctg
Los Angeles Dodgers 2 0 1.000
Texas Rangers 1 0 1.000
New York Mets 1 0 1.000
Cleveland Guardians 1 0 1.000
Baltimore Orioles 1 0 1.000
New York Yankees 2 1 0.667
Chicago White Sox 10 8 0.556
Minnesota Twins 1 1 0.500
Chicago Cubs 2 5 0.286
Continue reading →

By The Numbers – 3

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 #3.  52 different players have donned #3 while playing in Chicago, 33 for the White Sox and 19 for the Cubs, including one who had it retired for him while he was still an active player.

Harold Baines was the first overall selection in the 1977 draft after White Sox owner Bill Veeck had seen him play little league years before.  He made his major league debut less than 3 years later, on Opening Day 1980 against the Orioles at old Comiskey Park.  Baines started to break out in 1981, but the long player’s strike limited him to only 82 games.  With a full slate of games played in 1982, Baines appeared in all but one of them, with numbers good enough to garner votes for AL MVP.

1983 was a banner year on the south side, as the White Sox captured their first ever division title.  Baines was a key contributor, hitting .280 with 20 home runs and 99 RBIs.  During the ALCS against the Orioles, Baines struggled, like most of his teammates, getting only 2 hits in the 4-game series.  At season’s end, he picked up 49 votes to finish 10th in MVP voting.

Baines continued to excel in 1984, though the rest of the team did not.  On May 8, he ended the longest game in major league history (8 hours and 6 minutes over 25 innings on successive evenings) with a walk-off home run against Chuck Porter of the Brewers.  He finished the year with a .304 average, a career high 29 home runs, and 94 RBIs, while leading the league in slugging at .541.  He once again garnered MVP consideration, finishing the vote tied for 13th place.  1985 was another strong season for Baines.  He earned his first All Star selection, singling off former teammate LaMarr Hoyt in his only at bat at the Metrodome.  He finished the year hitting .309 with 22 home runs and a career high 113 RBIs.  He earned 49 votes in placing 9th in MVP voting.

Baines saw his body start to betray him for the first time in 1986.  He appeared in his second straight All Star game, going hitless in his one at bat.  A late August knee injury caused him to miss time, and a late September collision with Neal Heaton in a loss to the Twins reinjured the knee, leading to arthroscopic surgery following the season.  He finished the season hitting .296, just missing his 3rd consecutive .300 season, with 21 home runs and 88 RBIs.  He returned for opening day in 1987, getting two hits and knocking in the winning runs on the hard artificial turf of Royals Stadium, but was unable to walk the following day.  A second arthroscopic surgery caused him to miss 23 games before he returned, moving from right field to designated hitter.  He still was named to his 3rd straight All Star team, going hitless in the 2-0 loss by the AL.  Come year end, he had hit .293 with 20 home runs and 93 RBIs.

1988 was a down year for Baines, though he managed to appear in 158 games.  His average dropped to .277, his lowest total since 1982, while hitting only 13 home runs, his lowest total since 1981.  He made only 9 appearances in the outfield while becoming accustomed to being a full-time designated hitter.  He bounced back in 1989.  He was named the starting DH in the All Star game, going 1-3 with an RBI in the AL’s victory at Angel Stadium.  On July 29, he was traded to the Rangers, along with Fred Manrique, for Wilson Alvarez, Scott Fletcher, and Sammy Sosa.  “It’s an unpopular decision as far as the fans are concerned, but sometimes unpopular means exactly that-unpopular,” GM Larry Himes said at the time.  “It doesn`t mean that it isn`t a good decision.  This is a decision we made as far as direction of the Chicago White Sox for today and for our future.”  Baines was hitting .321 with 13 home runs and 56 RBIs at the time of the trade.  Less than a month later, as the Rangers visited Chicago for the first time on August 20, the White Sox retired Baines’ #3, a somewhat awkward attempt to placate the enraged fanbase.

Baines returned to the White Sox as a free agent in 1996.  Appearing in 143 games, Baines hit .311 with 22 home runs and 95 RBIs.  He returned in 1997 and was putting together another fine season, putting up a .305 average with 12 home runs and 52 RBIs in 93 games when, on July 29 again, he was traded to the Orioles for a player to be named later.

Three years later, once again on July 29, the White Sox re-acquired Baines, along with Charles Johnson, from the Orioles for Miguel Felix, Juan Figueroa, Jason Lakman, and Brook Fordyce.  Appearing in 24 games down the stretch, Baines hit .213 with a single home run and 9 RBIs as the White Sox took the Central Division crown.  Baines went 1-4 in the ALDS as the White Sox were swept by the Mariners.  He returned to the White Sox in 2001 at the age of 42, getting extra playing time once Frank Thomas went down with an injury.  In 32 games, he hit .131, failing to homer and driving in only 6.

On July 20, 2008, the White Sox unveiled a bronze statue of Baines at U.S. Cellular Field prior to their game against the Royals.  On December 9, 2018, Baines was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2019 via the Today’s Game Era ballot.

David Ross donned #3 when he joined the Cubs in 2015 on a two-year deal.  Ross announced his plans to retire following the 2016 season, after playing 15 seasons in the major leagues.  During Game 7 of the World Series, Ross hit a home run in his final at-bat, making him the oldest player to homer in World Series history.

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 →

By The Numbers – 12

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 #12.  91 different players have donned #12 while playing in Chicago, 44 for the White Sox and 47 for the Cubs.

A.J. Pierzynski signed with the White Sox on January 6, 2005 and rewarded the organization with eight seasons of stability behind the plate that included one All-Star selection, two playoff appearances, and, of course, the 2005 World Series championship.  Over those 8 seasons, Pierzynski was involved in many key moments while wearing #12 that endeared him to the White Sox faithful, including:

  • The walk-off home run, and resulting bat flip (pictured above), against the Dodgers in 2005 while wearing 1959 throwbacks
  • The two home runs in a thrashing of the Red Sox in game one of the 2005 ALDS, the first White Sox home postseason victory since 1959
  • The controversial dropped third strike that led to a White Sox victory in game two of the 2005 ALCS against the Angels
  • The 2006 brawl against the Cubs where Michael Barrett sucker-punched him after Pierzynski enthusiastically scored a run against the crosstown rivals
  • Hanging on to the throw from Ken Griffey Jr. to preserve the shutout in the 2008 tie-breaker game that pushed the White Sox into the playoffs over the Twins
  • Being behind the plate for Mark Buehrle’s no-hitter in 2007 and Philip Humber’s perfect game in 2012

On the north side of town, a dynamic shortstop, the first player chosen in the 1982 draft, wore #12 when he made his major league debut in 1985.  Shawon Dunston quickly became a fan favorite.  In 1989, he entered the national consciousness thanks to the Shawon-O-Meter, a fan made sign that tracked Dunston’s batting average during each game.  The sign was seen in the Wrigley Field bleachers for a number of years and even made its way to San Francisco’s Candlestick Park for the 1989 NLCS.  Following the 1995 season, he left as a free agent before resigning with the team for the 1997 campaign.  He was traded to the Pirates at the end of August, ending his Cubs career for good.

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 →

By The Numbers – 17

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 #17.  79 different players have donned #17 while playing in Chicago, 42 for the White Sox and 37 for the Cubs.

Mark Grace moved to his iconic #17 during his rookie campaign in 1988.  He finished second in Rookie of the Year voting while hitting .296 with 7 home runs and 57 RBIs.  In 1989, he garnered some MVP consideration as the Cubs took home a surprising NL East title.  Grace hit .314 with 13 home runs and 79 RBIs during the regular season, before hitting .647 with a 1.799 OPS during the 5 game NLCS against the Giants.

In 1990, Grace began a decade of excellence, collecting the most hits, 1,754, and doubles, 364, of any player during the decade.  He won 4 Gold Glove awards, was named to 3 All Star teams, earned down-ballot MVP support in 3 different seasons.  Following the 2000 season, he left the Cubs, finishing that portion of his career with 2201 hits, 456 doubles, 148 home runs, 1004 RBIs, and a .308 average.

As the White Sox made their run towards the World Series title in 2005, general manager Kenny Williams attempted to acquire Ken Griffey Jr. from the Reds, but was rebuked when Reds ownership decided to veto the deal.  3 years later, with the White Sox again looking to make a run at a division title, he was finally able to acquire the aging superstar at the trade deadline in exchange for pitcher Nick Masset and second baseman Danny Richar.  At the time of the trade, the White Sox held a tenuous 1.5 game lead over the Twins.  Wearing #17, Griffey, who had spent most of the previous few seasons in right field to lessen the strain on his body, moved back to center field for the White Sox, displacing the disappointing Nick Swisher.  Griffey appeared in 41 games for the White Sox, hitting a decent .260 with only 3 home runs and 18 RBI.  His most important contribution came defensively, during the tie-breaking game 163 between the White Sox and the Twins, when he gunned down Michael Cuddyer, who was trying to score on a fly out to center, preserving the shutout and helping the White Sox win the division and advance the playoffs.  In the ALDS, Griffey appeared in 3 games against the Rays, garnering only 2 hits as the White Sox fell 3 games to 1.  Following the season, the White Sox declined Griffey’s $16 million option for 2009, making him a free agent.

Special bonus shout out to outfielder Carlos May, who played with the White Sox from 1968-1976.  May, who wore #17 for his entire White Sox career, is the only player in baseball history to wear his birthday, May 17th, on his jersey.

A Disastrous Outcome

For the first time since 1995, a work stoppage will wipe the scheduled Opening Day off the schedule for Major League Baseball.  Weeks after saying that missed regular season games would be “a disastrous outcome.” Commissioner Rob Manfred, with a telling smile on his face, announced he was cancelling the first two series of the regular season after the MLBPA (rightfully) turned down the so-called final offer from the owners yesterday afternoon.  With talks breaking down, the earliest the two sides will get back together is tomorrow.

Locally, both teams would lose two series against Central division foes.  The White Sox would miss out on the opening series against the Twins at Guaranteed Rate Field and a trip to Kansas City to face the Royals.  The Cubs would avoid opening the season at Great American Ballpark against the Reds and their home opening series versus the Cardinals at Wrigley Field.  Of course, there has been no mention yet of refunds for fans who bought tickets to those cancelled games.

Who knows what will happen at this point.  The owners won’t see any real financial pressure to start the season until late April, when they will have to start returning money to their television partners for missed games.  As we saw in 2020, when the pandemic shut down the sport for months on end, there are plenty of owners who would prefer to play the fewest number of games they can get away with and still make all of their money.  Of course, they could just lift the lockout and continue negotiating while the season played out, but that is only something mature adults might do.

Against The Twins All Time Leaders – Through 2021

Minnesota-TwinsIn 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 things today with the Minnesota Twins.

The Twins originated in 1901 as the Washington Senators, one of the charter members of the American League.  When Minneapolis was given an expansion team to begin play in 1961, owner Calvin Griffith requested to move the Senators to Minnesota, becoming the Twins, and to have the expansion franchise take over the Senators name in Washington.  I’ve seen them play 64 times at 3 different stadiums, including the division-title deciding game 163 in 2008 at US Cellular Field.

Home Runs

Name Total
Joe Crede 8
Alexei Ramirez 7
Paul Konerko 7

Hits

Name Total
Alexei Ramirez 40
Paul Konerko 39
Jose Abreu 29

Runs

Name Total
Alexei Ramirez 19
Paul Konerko 19
Jose Abreu 18

RBI

Name Total
Alexei Ramirez 21
Joe Crede 21
Paul Konerko 20

Doubles

Name Total
Alexei Ramirez 6
A.J. Pierzynski 6
Paul Konerko 5
Adam Eaton 5

Triples Continue reading →

By The Numbers – 20

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 #20.  85 different players have donned #20 while playing in Chicago, 30 for the White Sox and 55 for the Cubs.

Carlos Quentin was acquired by the White Sox in a December 2007 trade with the Diamondbacks for Chris Carter, earning the nickname “The Carlos Quentin” after general manager Kenny Williams was quoted saying that the team’s goals for the winter meetings were to “acquire Carlos Quentin, and not a guy like him but actually Carlos Quentin.”  Quentin played immediate dividends, breaking through in a big way for the 2008 White Sox.  He was leading the American League in home runs and was third in slugging percentage, OPS, and RBIs when he broke his wrist slamming his bat following a strikeout against Cliff Lee, causing him to miss the last 6 weeks of the season.  The injury likely cost him the MVP award, and certainly impacted the White Sox, as their battle with the Twins for the AL Central title came down to 163rd game and left the starting rotation is disarray before playing, and eventually losing to, the Rays in the ALDS.

Quentin continued to struggle with injuries for the remainder of his White Sox career, never appearing in more than 131 games.  A shoulder injury ended his 2011 season, and his White Sox career, at the end of August.  That December, just over 4 years since he was acquired, Quentin was shipped to the Padres, for Simon Castro and Pedro Hernandez.

On the north side of town, Corey Patterson switched to #20 when he was recalled to the Cubs in 2001, appearing in 51 games and hitting only .221.  He became a full time player in 2002, hitting .253 in 153 games and slugging 14 home runs while driving in 54.  He was breaking out in 2003, becoming the threat the Cubs had hoped he would be, with a .839 OPS, a .298 average, and 13 and 55 for the power numbers when a torn ACL ended his season on July 6.  He returned in 2004, playing 157 games and hitting .266, but was never quite the same player as before the injury.  2005 was not a good season for Patterson, as he saw himself demoted in July following an 8-game losing streak.  Following the season, he was traded to the Orioles.