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.

Fitbit VII – Week 18

A downturn this week, despite multiple baseball related outings.  Things got off to a decent enough start on Sunday, as I finished 21 steps shy of 5500.  Monday was a little bit better, coming in with 4700 steps.  Tuesday’s trip to Guaranteed Rate Field to see the Cardinals and the White Sox left me over goal with nearly 7900 steps.  The return trip on Wednesday afternoon put me at only 4200 steps.  Thursday fell all the way back down to 3150 steps.  Friday, with rains in the forecast all day, was even worse, finishing with only 2900 steps.  Saturday’s return trip to the south side for a double header put me at 5300 steps.

Total steps: 34,834

Daily average: 4976.3

Opening Back Up

With approval from city and state officials, the White Sox and the Cubs both announced yesterday that they would be increasing capacity to 60% later this month, with the White Sox starting on May 24 against the Cardinals and the Cubs on May 28 against the Reds.  For this weekend’s games against the Royals, the White Sox will feature two vaccinated-only sections without social distancing for fans showing proof of vaccination.  The Cubs will do the same for their series against the Nationals next week.  Fans will still be required to wear masks, although very few actually do.

The expectation is that both teams will be back to full capacity by the end of June, which may jumble up plans on how to sell tickets for the early part of next month.  Other than the additional capacity added to games already on sale, neither team has announced future sales plans as of this morning.

End Of The Road?

With only four months remaining on the 10-year, $240 million contract signed following to the 2011 season, the Angels decided to cut ties with Albert Pujols, designating the future Hall of Fame baseball person for assignment yesterday.  “It’s more about opportunity,” GM Perry Minasian said of Pujols, to date, had posted an OPS 80 points below the league average in his age-41 season.  “Albert is not a bench player. We felt like, for him, with respect to him, keeping him on the bench, him not getting any playing time, would not do him any good or the team any good.”

Pujols is reportedly steadfast in his desire to continue playing, but it’s hard to see a good fit for him, especially with no DH in the National League.  Some speculation mentioned the White Sox as a potential landing spot, given the relationship between Pujols and Tony La Russa, but, unless Pujols is suddenly able to play the outfield, you would think the presence of Jose Abreu and Yermin Mercedes would preclude any such reunion.  If I had to guess, I would say this is the end of Pujols’ long and distinguished career.

Thanks to the profitable nature of the Cubs/Cardinals rivalry, I didn’t see Pujols play in person as often as I could have during his prime, but he’s still in the top 5 of games played for non-Chicago players in my history.  His numbers, both for games I attended and overall, were:

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All Time Team Records

In a shocking development, the 2021 baseball season got underway last night without issue or delay.  With hopefully a full 162 game schedule on the docket, 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.  Thanks to some eBaying of pocket schedules from the 80s, I was able to identify one additional game that I attended in 1988, a California Angels victory at Comiskey Park against the White Sox.

The Cubs look to contend in a weak NL Central with one final year of having the core of their World Series Championship team under contract, while the White Sox hope their offseason additions put them over the top and make them true World Series contenders.  The 2021 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 13 2 0.867
Florida Marlins 15 8 0.652
Colorado Rockies 10 6 0.625
Boston Red Sox 18 13 0.581
Toronto Blue Jays 15 11 0.577
New York Yankees 15 11 0.577
Los Angeles Angels 19 14 0.576
Cleveland Indians 28 24 0.538
Chicago Cubs 219 197 0.526
Philadelphia Phillies 10 9 0.526
Houston Astros 22 20 0.524
Chicago White Sox 306 287 0.516
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2021 Predictions

After a year of pandemic-related shut downs and a truncated 60-game schedule last year, the 2021 baseball season is scheduled to kick off on Thursday with a full slate of games and some percentage of fans back in the stands.  For the eleventh consecutive year, I’ve looked into the crystal ball to make my picks for the upcoming season.

American League

East: Yankees

Central: Twins

West: Astros

Wild Cards: White Sox, Blue Jays

AL Champion: Yankees

Cy Young: Lucas Giolito

MVP: Aaron Judge

National League

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2020 BBWAA Award Predictions

The Baseball Writers of America have announced the finalists for their awards for the just completed shortened baseball season, which will be announced next week.  It is a good bet that few of my original predictions for the winners will be accurate.  Hopefully, these new predictions will be slightly better, especially since I’ll have a 33% chance of being right.

American League

Most Valuable Player: Jose Abreu, D.J. LeMahieu, Jose Ramirez

Well, my pre-season selection to win the award this year, Yoan Moncada, got taken down by the corona virus, but I’m expecting (and hoping) that it stays in the same clubhouse and that Jose Abreu wins.

Cy Young Award: Shane Bieber, Kenta Maeda, Hyun-Jin Ryu

My initial guess was that Blake Snell would take home the prize, but this has Shane Bieber written all over it.

Manager of the Year: Kevin Cash, Charlie Montoyo, Rick Renteria

Once again, I didn’t make any predictions for this award prior to the season.  Kevin Cash is the likely winner, though wouldn’t it be funny to see Renteria bring home this award a month after losing the job he was being recognized for?.

Rookie of the Year: Christian Javier, Kyle Lewis, Luis Robert

Another award I didn’t predict prior to the season.  Had you held the election at the end of August, Robert would have been the odds-on favorite.  However, a month long slump in September probably puts Kyle Lewis in the driver’s seat.

National League

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Everything Old Is New Again

About 2 1/2 weeks ago, Rick Hahn described the ideal candidate to become the next manager of the White Sox: recent post-season experience with a championship organization.  Depending on your definition of recent, the White Sox found their man today, announcing that Tony LaRussa, who retired from the dugout after leading the Cardinals to a championship in 2011, would once again take the reins on the south side of Chicago.

LaRussa, who is third all-time with 2,728 wins, first became manager of the White Sox in 1979, under owner Bill Veeck.  After leading the team to the AL Western Division title in 1983, LaRussa was fired in June of 1986 by Ken Harrelson.  This has long been cited as the biggest sports-related regret for owner Jerry Reinsdorf.

 

LaRussa caught on with the A’s less than a month after leaving the White Sox, staying there for 10 years, winning 3 AL pennants and one World Series championship.  He then spent 16 years on the bench for the Cardinals, winning 3 NL pennants and 2 World Series championships, retiring after the final one in 2011.  Since then, he has spent time working for MLB and in the front office for the Diamondbacks, Red Sox, and Angels.

LaRussa, who will be 76 on opening day 2021, becomes the oldest manager in the major leagues and the oldest to take over a team since Jack McKeon in 2011.

The two biggest concerns, to my mind, are 1) has the move toward analytics changed the game enough in the last 9 years that he’s been left behind and 2) will the exuberant players on the White Sox roster, namely Tim Anderson, Luis Robert, and Eloy Jimenez, chafe under an older school manager who may not appreciate the bat flips and political outspokenness.  This will either end very well, with post-season success, or will bomb spectacularly.  There really will not be a middle ground.

All Time Playoff Team Records

For the first time since 2008, both the White Sox and the Cubs are in the post-season following this abbreviated 2020 season.  The expanded run to the World Series will start with the White Sox facing A’s in Oakland for a best of 3 series starting tonight, while the Cubs welcome the Marlins to Wrigley starting tomorrow.  Winners will advance to the LDS and enter a playoff bubble, with the AL moving to California and the NL to Texas.

With the AL Wild Card Series set to kick off today, it’s time to take an updated look at the team records for the now 30 playoff contests I have attended. These contests come from the 2018 Wild Card game, the ALDS in 2000, 2005, and 2008, the NLDS in 2003, 2007, 2008, 2015, 2016, and 2017, the NLCS in 2003, 2015, 2016, and 2017, the ALCS in 2005, and, of course, the 2005 and 2016 World Series.  Sadly, I won’t be adding any games to this list this year.  Thanks, corona virus.

Post-Season Team Records
Team Name Won Loss Winning Pctg
Florida Marlins 3 0 1.000
Seattle Mariners 2 0 1.000
New York Mets 2 0 1.000
Colorado Rockies 1 0 1.000
Arizona Diamondbacks 1 0 1.000
Chicago White Sox 5 4 0.556
Los Angeles Dodgers 3 3 0.500
Atlanta Braves 1 1 0.500
Cleveland Indians 1 1 0.500
Los Angeles Angels 1 1 0.500
Washington Nationals 1 1 0.500
Tampa Bay Rays 1 1 0.500
Chicago Cubs 9 13 0.409
San Francisco Giants 0 2 0.000
St. Louis Cardinals 0 1 0.000
Boston Red Sox 0 2 0.000
Houston Astros 0 1 0.000