Fitbit IX – Week 18

A pretty steady week, as I managed to extend my streak of days over 4000 steps to thirteen while crossing the 30,000-step plateau for the second consecutive week.  Things got off to a decent start on Sunday, a trip to Guaranteed Rate Field left me needing just 32 additional steps to get to 5500.  A decrease on Monday pushed me down to 4200 steps.  A smaller drop on Tuesday put me at 4100 steps.  Wednesday saw a nice bounce back up to 6200 steps thanks to a post-work trip to Wrigley Field.  Micahel’s high school graduation on Thursday pushed me up over 4600 steps.  The start of the long holiday weekend on Friday left me just 18 steps shy of 4100.  Saturday ended the week with 4100 steps.

Total steps: 32,884

Daily average: 4697.7

Fitbit IX – Week 10

Another disappointing week, despite the unofficial start of summer.  Things got off to a poor start on Sunday, as I finished with 2200 steps.  Monday saw a nice improvement, jumping up to 4000 steps.  Tuesday was slightly worse, just barely managing to pass 3300 steps.  Wednesday fell back down again, going down to 2300 steps.  Thanks to Opening Day festivities at Wrigley Field, Thursday was easily the best day of the week, finishing with 6600 steps.  Friday was back to the new normal, as I fell to 3300 steps.  A miniscule increase on Saturday pushed me back up to 3400 steps.

Total steps: 25,253

Daily average: 3607.6

Yet Another Mix Tape Monday – Volume 10

33 years ago, during my sophomore year of high school, I put together the first of what would eventually become a nearly 20 volume collection of mix tapes, containing my favorite songs that I had gathered either from the radio, a cassette tape, or (eventually) CD.  Today, we revisit those mix tapes for the fourth time and see how, or if, the soundtrack of my youth still resonates in today’s digital world and how much has changed over the past four years.

It was one of, if not the most ubiquitous song of the summer of 1993.  You heard it blaring out of car windows.  Stacey King and Scott Williams chanted the chorus during the Bulls’ championship rally in Grant Park.  It reached #1 on the Billboard Hot R&B chart and #2 on the Billboard Hot 100.  Whoomp! (There It Is) by Tag Team was everywhere.

While Tag Team never had another hit, this one has been a consistent money maker for the group over the past thirty years.  It has appeared in movies such as Elf, Addams Family Values, and D2: The Mighty Ducks.  It has been a constant at sporting events.  To this day, it plays at Wrigley Field when a Cub hits a home run.  Not that it needed it, but the song got a resurgence in December of 2020 when the members of Tag Team appeared in a Geico add spoofing their song, changing the lyrics to be about ice cream.

I’ve heard the song live twice.  In 2015, Tag Team showed up to 90s Night at the United Center and performed the song at halftime.  They made a similar performance in 2021 before a White Sox game at Guaranteed Rate Field, where they played not just the original, but also the ice cream themed spoof.  Thirty years in, the song shows no signs of slowing down.

Volume 10 covers the spring and summer of 1993, following my freshman year of college, and features the top rap and alternative hits of the summer, along with some pop and the last remnants of hair metal.

Side A

Pearl Jam – Black
iTunes stats: 14 plays, most recently on 11/23/2022

Hitting #3 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Tracks chart despite the band’s refusal to release it as an official single, the song was only listened to three times in the past four years.

Def Leppard – Two Steps Behind
iTunes stats: 21 plays, most recently on 7/8/2021

The big hit from Arnold Schwarzenegger’s bomb Last Action Hero, originally recorded from The Blaze during a nightly song battle, garnered just four additional listens over these last four years.

UB40 – Can’t Help Falling In Love
iTunes stats: 27 plays, most recently on 7/30/2022

After going unheard for three years, the track, featured on the Sliver soundtrack, picked up 19 plays since 2015.

Aerosmith – Cryin’
iTunes stats: 21 plays, most recently on 11/1/2022

The first installment of Alicia Silverstone’s video trilogy, which finished as the 60th biggest single of 1993, picked up five new plays over the past four years.

TLC – Get It Up
iTunes stats: 8 plays, most recently on 6/16/2021

This cover of a hit by The Time created for the Poetic Justice soundtrack doubled its listens over the past four years.

4 Non Blondes – What’s Up?
iTunes stats: 27 plays, most recently on 6/1/2022

The 50th biggest single of 1993 picked up eight listens for the ubiquitous debut from 4 Non Blondes.

whoompTag Team – Whoomp! (There It Is)
iTunes stats: 62 plays, most recently on 12/8/2022

The unofficial theme to the Bulls third straight NBA championship in 1993, Tag Team, who showed up for 90s night at the UC for a game I attended in February of 2015, added 19 new listens over the past four years, thanks to its use by the Cubs when someone hits a home run.

Side B

Continue reading →

Once Upon A Time There Was A 10,000 Step Club

My world was very different three years ago, as I was finishing up my fifth year using a Fitbit.  I had just added 45 new 10,000 step days, my third best year to date, and, with upcoming trips to Boston and California already on the docket, things were looking good to add a good number more and add some new tales to this list of my Top 25 step days.  Then, the corona virus happened, the world basically shut down for the next year or so, and I stopped needing to leave the house.  I’ve worked from home since March of 2020, which theoretically gives me plenty of free time to go out for walks, but, in practice, leaves me homebound more often than not.  All told, I managed only thirteen 10,000 step days for the just completed eighth year of Fitbit usage, which, granted, is better than the prior two years combined, and gives me a total of 283 since I started keeping track back in 2011.  With that in mind, here’s the list of my Top 25 step days, which has now stayed static for three years.

1: 4/14/2018 – 27,470 steps

My best single day total is from my April 2017 trip to New York to see Angelina.  The day’s excursions included trips to the 9/11 Memorial & Museum, the Museum of the City of New York, Central Park, the Guggenheim Museum, and the Empire State Building.

2: 7/21/2018 – 27,278 steps

My July 2017 trip to Virginia, to hike up Catawba Mountain to McAfee Knob with Jeff and Val, fell just short of the top spot.

3: 6/6/2013 – 24,988 steps

2013’s trip to Disney World, which spent 5 years as my single day best, included excursions to both Epcot Center and the Magic Kingdom, and yes, falling 12 steps short of 25,000 still irks me.

4: 6/3/2019 – 24,665 steps

The first full day of 2019’s summer trip to Washington DC spent most of the day at the Smithsonian Zoo.

5: 8/8/2019 – 23,866 steps

Late in the summer of 2019, I spent two weeks in San Francisco for a work trip.   On my last full day, I went out after work, walking to Pier 39 and then back the other direction to Oracle Park to see the Giants take on the Phillies.  My totals would have been even higher, but I was dead tired and took an Uber back to the hotel after the game.

6: 3/18/2018 – 23,780 steps

My first day in Las Vegas for the 2017 IBM Think conference, the day’s totals include gallivanting around town, including a late night trip up to Caesar’s Palace from the MGM Grand to see Absinthe.

7: 10/24/2018 – 23,362 steps

My October 2018 trip to Boston to see Angelina for our birthday gives us our next entry.  While she was in class, I took tours of Fenway Park and Harvard, before meeting up with her for a late lunch and then heading to the airport for the trip home.

8: 3/22/2016 – 22,493 steps

My one-time second highest day took place during the ill-fated trip to Disney World in March of 2016.  The day’s excursion started at Hollywood Studios before heading over to Epcot Center with Jeff and Val.

9: 7/27/2013 – 20,592 steps

Still my highest total at home in the state of Illinois, the next entry comes thanks to the 2013 BTN 5K and a, for lack of a better word, misunderstanding about where I should be picked up after the race.

10: 12/29/2018 – 20,374 steps

We wrap up the top 10 with 2018’s trip to California and the trip to Disneyland to see Danny perform with the Lincoln-Way Marching Band.

11: 8/5/2017 – 20,218 steps

The next entry came in August of 2017 on the first day of my trip to Boston with Danny and Michael.  After landing in town, we traipsed to the Science Museum, a breakfast joint, our hotel, and, finally, Fenway Park.

12: 7/14/2017 – 20,208 steps

Down to #12 is my 2017 trip to Disney World, a one day journey with Angelina to celebrate her high school graduation. Continue reading →

Travelling The 50 States – Illinois

Over my 47 years, I’ve done my fair share of travelling across these United States.  I thought it would be an interesting experiment go look back at those trips to each of the 31 states I have visited (62% isn’t bad, is it?) and see if, and when, I may be returning.  Working in alphabetical order, we continue today with the 21st state to be added to the Union: Illinois.

State: Illinois
Joined the Union: 1818
Visits: 16,000+

How do you track how often you’ve been in the state you’ve lived in your entire life, save for your time away at college?  My first “visit” came nearly 48 years ago on the day I was born at Mercy Hospital on the south side of Chicago.

I’ve managed to do 18 of the Bicentennial Bucket List: 200 Things To Do In Illinois, published by the Chicago Tribune in 2018 to celebrate the best the state has to offer in history, food, architecture, culture, sports, nature, drink, and oddities.  Among the places I visited were Water Tower, Morton Arboretum, Route 66, United Center, Skydeck at Willis Tower, the former Arlington International Racecourse, Rialto Square Theatre, Lake Michigan, The Second City, Chicago Sports Museum, and the Superman statue in downstate Metropolis.

I’ve seen baseball games at Wrigley Field, Comiskey Park, and Guaranteed Rate Field.  I’ve seen football games at Soldier Field, Memorial Stadium, Ryan Field, and Wrigley Field.  I’ve seen basketball games at the United Center, Welsh-Ryan Arena, State Farm Center, and Allstate Arena.  I’ve seen hockey games at the United Center.  I’ve seen both the White Sox and the Cubs win the World Series.  I’ve seen the Bears win a Super Bowl.  I’ve seen the Bulls win 6 NBA Championships.  I’ve even seen the Blackhawks win a Stanley Cup or two.

I’ve seen concerts at Wrigley Field, City Winery, Ravinia, the Riviera Theatre, Abbey Pub, Metro, the Chicago Theatre, United Center, Charter One Pavilion, Allstate Arena, The Vic Theatre, House of Blues, World Music Theatre, Soldier Field, and Mabel’s,

Fallen Hero

Former Cub Dwight Smith, who, as a rookie, was a key member of the 1989 NL Easy champions, died yesterday at the age of 58.  The Braves, with whom Smith played for after leaving the Cubs and earned a World Series ring in 1995, said he died of congestive heart and lung failure,

As a rookie, Smith hit .324 with an OPS of .875 in 109 games in 1989, finishing second in Rookie of the Year voting to teammate Jerome Walton.  He also sang the national anthem at Wrigley Field on July 21.  In his five seasons with the Cubs, he hit .285 with 32 home runs and 159 RBIs.  After the 1993 season, Smith was non-tendered by the Cubs and, following a nomadic 1994 season, he ended his career with the Braves from 1995-1996.  His son, Dwight Smith Jr., played parts of the 2017 through 2020 seasons with the Blue Jays and Orioles and is currently playing in the Mexican League.

FB8 – Week 25

A very bad week, saved only somewhat by an outlier day on Saturday.  Things got off to an ok start on Sunday, as I finished with 4100 steps.  A week of all day vendor sessions started on Monday, where I struggled to get 3500 steps.  Things got worse on Tuesday, which saw a big drop-off as I fell down to 2300 steps, by far the worst day of the week.  Wednesday saw a slight improvement, but still came in at a pathetic 2600 steps.  Thursday improved again, but still only managed to come within 35 steps of 2900.  Friday managed to climb back over the 3100-step plateau.  A trip to Wrigley Field on Saturday helped to end the week on a high note, as I broke my daily goal for the first time in nearly a month, finishing just over 7500 steps.

Total steps: 26,129

Daily average: 3732.7

Trouble At Wrigley Field

Last August, the Cubs threw themselves a party to celebrate the end of the 1060 Project and the completion of the remodeling of Wrigley Field and the build out of the surrounding area.  The event also included the premiere of a new documentary about the renovations titled Saving Wrigley Field and the unveiling of two new plaques outside of the main gate: one to commemorate Wrigley Field’s official designation as a National Historic Landmark and the second to, and I quote, “commemorate the Ricketts family’s commitment to preserving Wrigley Field.”

Today, the honeymoon period came to an end as the U.S. attorney’s office in Chicago filed a lawsuit against the Cubs, claiming the renovations violated federal law by failing to make the park “appropriately accessible” to fans with disabilities.  The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court, comes nearly three years after federal authorities had launched an investigation into whether the Cubs’ $1 billion, five-year renovation of Wrigley Field met the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act.  The suit claims that the renovations of the bleachers and the lower grandstand did not provide wheelchair users with adequate sightlines when compared to standing patrons.

Per the suit, In the grandstand, “a wheelchair user can barely see any of the infield when spectators stand up—often during the most exciting parts of the game.”  The wheelchair areas in the lower bowl are usually directly behind the last row of a section, with no riser to put them higher than the standing fans in front of them.  In the bleachers, wheelchair seating is similarly clustered in the last row of seating sections, according to the suit.

The lawsuit also claims that the design failed to remove architectural barriers to access in unaltered portions of the ballpark and that premium and group seating areas, such as the Catalina Club in the upper deck and the Budweiser Patio in the right field bleachers, do not support wheelchair seating.

In a statement, Cubs spokesman Julian Green said the team had been cooperating with the probe and was “disappointed” with the Justice Department’s decision to move forward with the suit.  The Cubs “hope the matter can be resolved amicably, but we will defend Wrigley Field and our position it meets accessibility requirements for fans,” the statement reads.  “The renovation of Wrigley Field greatly increased accessibility of the ballpark and was completed in accordance with applicable law and historic preservation standards consistent with the ballpark’s designation as a National and City of Chicago landmark.”  The team also says that Wrigley Field “is now more accessible than ever in its 108-year history” and “has 11 more elevators than it did prior to the start of the renovation, more accessible restroom facilities, assistive listening technology for fans with hearing impairments, enhanced audio speakers and sound systems throughout the ballpark, and upgraded ticketing and online systems for purchase of seating, including accessible seating.”

So, what’s the likely outcome here?  It could end up going a number of ways, with a best-case scenario of a dismissal following initial legal arguments to a worst-case scenario of a lengthy trial, with settlements of cash or structural fixes in the middle.

FB8 – Week 21

Another solid-ish week, as I found myself staying on the right side of 30,000 steps thanks to some outside activities.  Things got off to a pretty good start on Sunday, finishing 13 steps shy of 5800 thanks to a frustrating trip to Guaranteed Rate Field.  Monday saw very little drop-off, ending with 5700 steps.  Tuesday saw a much bigger fall, dropping down to 4300 steps.  Wednesday fell even more, going down to 4100 steps.  Thursday was the high point of the week, thanks to a last-minute decision to head to the World Hollywood Casino Ampitheatre to see Garbage and Tears for Fears, putting me over 7000 steps.  Friday turned that around and saw the lowest total of the week, with only 3500 steps.  A trip to Wrigley Field to see the Cubs battle the Braves on Saturday was a decent way to end the week, finishing with 6900 steps.

Total steps: 37,414

Daily average: 5344.9

By The Numbers – 6

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 #6.  67 different players have donned #6 while playing in Chicago, 27 for the White Sox, who haven’t retired it but have not issued it since 1995, and 42 for the Cubs.

In his second go-around with the Cubs after being selected off waivers from the Mariners on July 6, 1998, Glenallen Hill, wearing #6. hit .351 with 8 homers and 23 RBIs in 48 games.  He appeared in one game during the NLDS against the Braves, where he was one for three with a run batted in and a stolen base.  Returning in 1999, Hill hit .300 with 20 home runs and 55 runs batted in.  On May 11, 2000, Hill became the first, and thus far only player to hit a home run on the three-story residential building across Waveland Ave. from Wrigley Field in the second inning of the Cubs’ 14–8 loss to the Brewers.  With the Cubs far out of contention, he was traded to the Yankees on July 23.

On the south side of town, Jorge Orta signed with the White Sox out of the Mexican Baseball League in 1972 and made the team out of spring training.  Playing shortstop, Orta batted just .211 through the middle of May before losing his job.  He returned to Chicago when rosters expanded that September.  Orta was shifted to second base for the 1973 season after batting over .500 in spring training.  Playing through injuries for much of the year, he batted .266 and tied for second in the league with eighteen errors among second basemen.

Orta began the 1974 season batting at the bottom of the White Sox line-up but was moved up to the two spot Chuck Tanner’s batting order, hitting .411 with 23 runs scored in the month of June.  For the season, his .316 batting average was second only to Rod Carew.  In 1975, Orta batted .296 with four home runs and 46 RBIs in the first half, good enough to be named to the All-Star team.  He topped that by hitting .314 with seven home runs and 37 RBIs in the second half.

New manager Paul Richards opted to move Orta to third base for the 1976 season, which proved to be a poor decision.  Orta was eventually moved into the outfield and the Sox narrowly avoided a hundred losses while Orta hit .274 with hitting a career-high fourteen home runs and scoring a career high 74 runs.  Orta returned to second base when Bob Lemon took the reins as manager in 1977.  The surprising White Sox, dubbed the South Side Hitmen, won 90 games and Orta, now batting third, finished second on the team with a career high 84 RBIs.  He remained at second in 1978, but new player-manager Don Kessinger deployed Orta as the designated hitter in 1979, a role Orta struggled with, putting up a .212 batting average, three home runs and 21 RBIs through June 27.  Orta returned to second base in the middle of July, and batted .313 with seven home runs and 22 RBIs the rest of the way on his way to free agency.