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 →

All Time Division Series Team Records

We’ve gotten through 162 games and the post-season is set.  The White Sox travel to Houston to take on the Astros in the ALDS.  I seem to remember something good happening the last time these two teams met up in the post-season.

Normally, I would take a renewed view of the team records for the 30 playoff contests I have attended.  Thanks to the corona virus pandemic that kept fans home last season, however, nothing has changed since I looked at those records last year.  Instead, I figured it was worth our while to focus on the Division Series for the first time and see how teams have performed in the 16 games I’ve attended in that first playoff round from 2000, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2015, 2016, and 2017.

Division Series Team Records
Team Name Won Loss Winning Pctg
Seattle Mariners 2 0 1.000
Los Angeles Dodgers 2 0 1.000
Arizona Diamondbacks 1 0 1.000
Washington Nationals 1 1 0.500
Tampa Bay Rays 1 1 0.500
Chicago White Sox 3 3 0.500
Chicago Cubs 5 5 0.500
Atlanta Braves 1 1 0.500
St. Louis Cardinals 0 1 0.000
San Francisco Giants 0 2 0.000
Boston Red Sox 0 2 0.000

2021 Predictions Revisited

What a difference six months makes.  Back in March, at the dawn of the 2021 baseball season, I made my annual predictions as to who would win what with little idea if the season would go off as planned.  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, that’s one down.  Despite losing two starting pitchers from last year’s staff, the Rays managed to repeat as champs of the AL East.

Central: Twins

I was all set to go with the White Sox here, until a late injury to Eloy Jimenez in spring training left me feeling bad.  The Twins fell off the face of the Earth, while the White Sox overcame injuries all season to cruise to their first division title since 2008.

West: Astros

Hey, here’s one I got right.  The Astros return to the top of the division after a one year break.

Wild Cards: White Sox, Blue Jays

Talk about coming down to the wire.  With a potential 4-way tie for the two Wild Card spots heading in to the final day of the season, the Yankees and the Red Sox both took control of their destinies with victories on Sunday, leaving the Blue Jays and the Mariners on the outside looking in.

AL Champion: Yankees

The Rays do seem to be the class of the league.

Cy Young: Lucas Giolito

That seems very unlikely.  Blue Jays ace Robbie Ray seems like a popular choice.

MVP: Aaron Judge

A fine choice, but who could have seen Shohei Ohtani coming?  The two-way Angels star will run away and hide with this award.

National League

Continue reading →

Hall Of Fame Batting Leaders

Thanks to the corona virus, the Hall of Fame Class of 2020, former Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, Expos and Rockies legend Larry Walker, former Cardinal and Brewer backstop Ted Simmons, and union boss Marvin Miller, finally get their day in the sun in Cooperstown alongside, well, the empty class of 2021.  With two new hitters joining the list of Hall of Famers I’ve seen play live and an additional historical game identified, let’s check back in with the leaders on the offensive side of the ball amongst Hall of Famers for all of the games I’ve attended between 1984 and 2020.

Home Runs

Name Total
Jim Thome 35
Frank Thomas 15
Vladimir Guerrero 6
Ivan Rodriguez 4
Chipper Jones 3
Harold Baines 3
Carlton Fisk 3


Name Total
Jim Thome 110
Frank Thomas 54
Ken Griffey Jr 32
Continue reading →

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.

Keeping Our Eyes On Next Year’s Prize

With a little more than 8 weeks remaining in the 2020 season, Major League Baseball released their tentative 2021 schedule yesterday.  For the first time in quite a while, the White Sox will be looking to compete for a title while the Cubs will be “retooling” after trading off all of their stars last week.  Assuming, of course, that the 2022 season goes off as planned and the end of the collective bargaining agreement doesn’t lead to a long work stoppage.  So, for one day, at least, let’s turn our attention to next summer for both teams.

The White Sox open their season at home against the Twins on March 31 for a three game tilt before heading on the road.  Nothing like a potential snowstorm to get the season off to a good start.  They face the Guardians for the first time on April 18 in Cleveland.

The interleague schedule pits the White Sox against the NL West, with trips to San Francisco, Colorado, and San Diego and home series against the Dodgers, Diamondbacks, and Rockies. The rivalry with their north side foes continues with a 2-game series at Wrigley at the beginning of May and a follow-up at Guaranteed Rate Field Memorial Day weekend.

The season ends with a 6 game road trip to Minnesota and San Diego.

On the north side, the Cubs open their season up on the road in Cincinnati, also on March 31.  They come home the following Monday to open their home slate against the Cardinals.

The interleague schedule pits the Cubs against the AL East, with trips to Baltimore, New York, and Toronto and home series against the Rays, Red Sox, and Orioles.

Of their 28 games in September/October, only 7 are against their NL Central rivals, though, with the Cubs not likely to contend, that shouldn’t make much of a difference.  They end the year with a 6 game homestand, facing the Phillies and the Reds.

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
Continue reading →

By The Numbers – 50

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 #50.  63 different players have donned #50 while playing in Chicago, 25 for the White Sox and 38 for the Cubs.

John Danks was acquired by the White Sox from the Rangers for Brandon McCarthy following the 2006 season.  He broke camp with the Sox in 2007, making his major league debut on April 8 against the Twins at US Cellular Field, and finished the year with a 6-13 record and a 5.50 ERA.  2008 was a different story, as he posted quite possibly the best outing of his career in game 163, throwing 8 scoreless innings of 2 hit ball against the Twins to secure the Central Division title.  He finished the year with a career-best 3.32 ERA, a 12-9 record, and the lone White Sox victory in the ALDS against the Rays.

Danks had continued success in both 2009 and 2010, combining for a 28-22 record over the two years, with an ERA in the 3.70s both years.  2011 wasn’t quite as good, as his ERA jumped to 4.33, but the White Sox signaled their faith in Danks, signing him to a 5 year extension worth $65 million.  It turned out to be ill-advised.  Danks struggled through 9 starts in 2012 before hitting the disabled list with a mysterious shoulder injury.  When he finally underwent surgery, doctors found a torn shoulder capsule.  Very few pitchers have undergone this surgery, and even fewer have successfully returned to the same level they were before the injury.

Sadly, Danks’ recovery did not happen as anyone would have wanted, though not for a lack of effort.  He returned in 2013, making 22 starts and going 4-14 with a 4.75 ERA.  2014 was more of the same, as his ERA was 4.74, though his record improved to 11-11.  And 2015, again, saw Danks put up an ERA of 4.71 in 30 starts.  In 2016, Danks, in the final season of his contract and due $14.25 million, went 0-4 with a 7.25 ERA in April.  With the surprising White Sox in first place after 1 month and with Danks accounting for half of the team’s losses, being an innings eater was no longer good enough.  He was designated for assignment on May 3, ending his White Sox career.

On the north side of town, Les Lancaster donned #50 for 5 seasons with the Cubs, making his debut on April 7, 1987 against the Cardinals.  His best season came in 1989, when he went 4-2 with a 1.36 ERA in 42 games as the surprising Cubs took home their second NL East title.  He threw 6 innings in the NLCS against the Giants, winning game 2 and losing game 3.  He was released by the Cubs at the end of spring training in 1992.

Connecting The City Part 2

Last weekend, the White Sox debuted their City Connect uniforms, which, according to Nike, reimagines a teams look and “celebrates the bond between each team and its city.”  The next team up was just up the road, as the Cubs released their version, to be worn for the first time Saturday against the Cardinals, and which they claim “ties together all of Chicago’s neighborhoods.”

The jerseys and pants are mostly a dark navy blue, with Wrigleyville across the front in the shape of the marquee on the front of the stadium.  The hat, navy with a light blue brim, has a six-pointed star, from the city’s flag, in the middle of the traditional C.  The sleeve patch features the municipal device of Chicago, representing the north, south and main branches of the Chicago River.

Much like the White Sox edition, these uniforms could have been much worse.  The initial leaks of the jersey looked like trash, but combining them with pants of the same color makes it work much better.  Including the star from the flag is a little obvious, but it is underplayed and using the municipal device, which, to be honest, I wasn’t aware of before this, was a nice change of pace.  Again, as a one-off, these won’t be so bad, but I’d hate to see them become part of the regular rotation.

Moving On Up

With their victory over the Tigers on Sunday, the White Sox propelled Tony LaRussa in to sole possession of second place on the all-time managerial wins list.  He had been tied with John McGraw, who managed the Giants from 1902 through 1932.  Connie Mack is still safely ensconced at the top of that list, with 3731 victories.

LaRussa earned his first victory in 1979 with the White Sox and, with stops in Oakland and St. Louis in between, he returned this year following a 10 year retirement.