By The Numbers – 39

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 #39.  77 different players have donned #39 while playing in Chicago, 31 for the White Sox and 46 for the Cubs.

First acquired in 1989, Roberto Hernandez, donning #39, made his major league debut on September 2, 1991, getting the start and going 7 innings for the victory in the White Sox win over the Royals.  He appeared in 9 games in the final month of the season, making the only 3 starts of his career, and finished the year with a 7.80 ERA.  In 1992, Hernandez split the year between Triple A and Chicago, eventually supplanting Bobby Thigpen as the team’s primary closer.  He finished the year with 12 saves and a sparkling 1.65 ERA.  Hernandez had another great year in 1993, saving 38 games in 70 appearances with a 2.29 ERA as the White Sox won their final AL West title.  During the ALCS against the Blue Jays, Hernandez threw 4 scoreless innings in 4 appearances, earning 1 save.

In the strike-shortened 1994 season, Hernandez struggled.  His ERA jumped to 4.91 and he saved only 14 games before the season ended on August 12, despite leading the league in games finished.  When baseball returned in 1995, Hernandez bounced back somewhat, once again leading the league in games finished and lowering his ERA by nearly a full run to 3.92.  1996 was a true return to form for Hernandez.  He led the league in games finished for the third straight year and lowered his ERA by 2 full runs to 1.91.  He earned his first All Star selection and, with 38 saves, finished 6th in Cy Young Award voting.  Hernandez was well on his way to another strong season in 1997, with 27 saves and a 2.44 ERA, when he was included in the infamous White Flag trade on July 31, joining Wilson Alzarez and Danny Darwin in going to the Giants for the collection of Brian Manning, Lorenzo Barcelo, Mike Caruso, Keith Foulke, Bob Howry, and Ken Vining.

On the other side of town, Andrew Chafin wore #39 for the 11 months he was a member of the Cubs.  Acquired on August 31, the trade deadline of the shortened 2020 season, Chafin pitched in 4 games over the final month, posting a 3.00 ERA and retired the only batter he faced in the Wild Card series against the Marlins.  In February, Chafin re-upped with the Cubs and became sort of a cult hero.  On June 24, he was part of a combined no-hitter against the Dodgers.  In 43 appearances for the Cubs in 2021, Chafin recorded a 2.06 ERA with 37 strikeouts in 39.1 innings of work before being traded to the A’s on July 27th.

Fitbit VII – Week 32

A disappointing, if misleading, week, thanks to some unforeseen circumstances.  The week got off to a strong enough start on Sunday, as the White Sox and Cubs wrapped up their crosstown series at Guaranteed Rate Field and I finished 11 steps shy of 5500.  Monday, I brought my car in for service (this will become important later) and ended the day with 3900 steps.  Tuesday was a bit worse, as I came in with 2500 steps.  Wednesday, with my Fitbit charger still in my car from vacation, my battery died overnight, leaving me with only 86 steps.  I got my car back on Thursday, letting me recharge and capturing 2200 steps once that was complete.  Friday continued the disappointment, finishing 9 steps shy of 3800 while Saturday was a near duplicate, with 13 steps over 3800.

Total steps: 21,952

Daily average: 3136

Prolific Authors – 2 Books

Way back in December of 2011 (and again every other December since), we’ve taken a look at the authors I have read the most, dating back to high school.  This year, since I’ve far surpassed my reading output of any year on record, I thought it would be nice to take a deeper dive into those books I’ve read through August. Since our last check-in, I’ve read an additional 60 books from 54 different authors. There shouldn’t be much movement over the past 2 years, but it’s time to take another look and see if my “favorite” authors have changed much in that time span.  Today, we start things off with the 35 authors I’ve read twice.

Max Barry

An Australian author, I’ve enjoyed the two novels of his I’ve read, Jennifer Government and Company.

Laura Caldwell

I have no idea how I came across the work of this local author, but I must have enjoyed it enough to go back for seconds.  Unfortunately, she passed away last year.

The Amazing Adventures Of Kavalier & Clay – Michael Chabon

Michael Chabon

Winner of the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, the most recent of  the two works of his I’ve read.  I have another, Wonder Boys, waiting in the to read pile, so he rise up some day.

Matthew V. Clemens

The co-author, with Max Allan Collins, of the final two chapters of the Reeder and Rogers trilogy.

Felicia Day

The first author here that I’ve happened to meet in person.

Cameron Dokey

She makes the list based on two entries in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series.

Diane Duane

Living in Ireland, she is responsible for a Star Trek: The Next Generation book and a Spider-Man novel, of all things.

Warren Ellis

The comic writer, currently in exile after being called out for abusing women, makes the list thanks to two prose novels.

David Fisher Continue reading →

By The Numbers – 40

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 #40.  55 different players have donned #40 while playing in Chicago, 25 for the White Sox and 30 for the Cubs.

Acquired in mid-June, along with George Frazier and Ron Hassey, from the Indians in exchange for Mel Hall, Joe Carter, Don Schulze, and Darryl Banks, Rick Sutcliffe, wearing #40, quickly became the ace of the Cubs staff, going 16-1 with a 2.69 ERA in leading the Cubs to their first division title and his first Cy Young Award.  He then homered in and won Game 1 of the NLCS, the first post-season game at Wrigley Field since the 1945 World Series, before dropping the deciding Game 5 in San Diego.  A free agent after the season, Sutcliffe signed a long term deal with the Cubs.

A hamstring injury limited him to 20 starts in 1985, while arm injuries in 1986 led him to a 5-14 record with a 4.64 ERA in 28 appearances.  He bounced back in 1987, leading the league with 18 wins in 34 starts for the last place Cubs, finishing second in the Cy Young Award voting.  He went 13-14 in 1988, but did somehow manage a steal of home plate on July 29th in a victory against the Phillies.  A resurgence in 1989 helped lead the Cubs to their second divisional title, and he made one start against the Giants in the NLCS.  Recurring arm injuries caused Sutcliffe to miss most of the 1990 and 1991 seasons, with only 24 appearances between the two years, and the Cubs let him leave as a free agent following the 1991 season.

On the other side of town, Wilson Alvarez was acquired by the White Sox, along with Scott Fletcher and Sammy Sosa, for Harold Baines and Fred Manrique on July 29, 1989, making his White Sox debut on August 11, 1991 by throwing an unlikely no hitter against the Orioles at Memorial Stadium.  He made 8 additional starts for the White Sox down the stretch, finishing the year with a 3-2 record and a respectable 3.51 ERA.  1992 saw Alvarez work mostly out of the bullpen, getting only 9 starts out of his 34 appearances.  He posted a career high 1.674 WHIP, giving up 65 walks in just over 100 innings.  This led to an unfortunate 5.20 ERA, despite a 5-3 record.  In 1993, Alvarez managed to break in to the rotation full time.  Despite leading the league with 122 walks, he finished second in the AL with an ERA of 2.95 and ended up with a 15-8 record as the White Sox won the AL West title for the first time in a decade.  He was the winning pitcher in Game 3 of the ALCS, holding the Blue Jays to a single run while throwing a complete game.

Alvarez improved in 1994, earning his first (and only) All Star nod and cutting his walk total nearly in half, helped by the player strike that ended the season in August, and he finished the year with a 12-8 record and a 3.45 ERA.  When baseball returned in 1995, Alvarez struggled to regain his groove, finishing with a losing record for the first time and an ERA of 4.32.  1996 saw a nice bounce back for Alvarez.  While his ERA was still an elevated 4.22, he tied his career high with 15 wins and set career highs for innings pitched and strikeouts.  He continued to impress in 1997, putting up a 9-8 record with a 3.03 ERA by the end of July, when, with the White Sox a mere 3 games back in the standings, he, along with Danny Darwin and Roberto Hernandez, was sent to the Giants for Brian Manning, Lorenzo Barceló, Mike Caruso, Keith Foulke, Bob Howry, and Ken Vining in what would become known as the White Flag Trade.

By The Numbers – 41

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 #41.  69 different players have donned #41 while playing in Chicago, 28 for the White Sox and 41 for the Cubs, including two future Hall of Famers.

The White Sox claimed Tom Seaver, and his familiar #41, from the Mets on January 20, 1984 as compensation for Dennis Lamp leaving as a free agent.  Seaver was a steady force in the rotation, going 15-11 with a 3.95 ERA in his first go around through the junior circuit.  The highlight of the year came on May 9, when he pitched the final inning of a suspended, 25 inning contest from the day before and then started the regularly scheduled game against the Brewers, earning the victory in both.  With LaMarr Hoyt traded in the offseason, Seaver was on the mound for his 15th opening day in 1985, breaking Walter Johnson’s record of 14 Opening Day starts.  On August 4, back in New York against the Yankees, Seaver threw a complete game to earn his 300th career victory.  He finished the year with a 16-11 record and a sterling 3.17 ERA.  Seaver again got the opening day nod in 1986, extending his record to 16.  With the White Sox going nowhere, Seaver, now 41 years old, was looking to return to the east coast to be near his family after the death of his mother in May.  When a bum shoulder put him on the disabled list, he informed the White Sox he was thinking of retiring.  When manager Tony LaRussa was fired on June 20, his replacement, Jim Fregosi, said Seaver’s wishes should be honored.  On June 29, after going 2-6 with a 4.38 ERA in 12 starts, Seaver was traded to the Red Sox for Steve Lyons.

A young Billy Williams, in his second cup of coffee with the Cubs in 1960, donned #41 for 12 games.  He hit .277 and knocked out his first two career home runs.  The following year, he would switch to his familiar #26, win the Rookie of the Year award, and kick his Hall of Fame career into high gear.

Lighting It Up

A high scoring affair on the south side last night as the White Sox battled their crosstown rivals led me to think: what was the highest scoring game I’ve ever attended?  Some quick calculations have produced these top 9 scoring games that I have seen in person, starting with last night’s tilt.

30 runs

8/27/2021

After putting up 6 runs in the top half of the first, the Cubs, for the second time this season, coughed up the lead.  Yasmani Grandal, in his first game action since a knee injury on July 5th, hit two home runs and drove in 8 runs as the White Sox won 17-13.  The 17 runs are the 4th largest output I’ve seen in person, while the 13 runs put up by the Cubs was the largest I’ve seen in a losing effort.

26 runs

7/2/2006

Another high scoring crosstown tilt, as Michael Barrett and Carlos Zambrano both homered off of Mark Buehrle in a 7 run first inning.  Despite home runs from Juan Uribe, Jim Thome, Joe Crede, and Tadahito Iguchi, the Cubs held on to win 15-11 while avoiding a three game sweep.

9/2/2017

Powered by backup catcher Rene Rivera’s first career grand slam, the Cubs built an 11-4 lead heading to the 7th inning against the Braves.  The Cubs bullpen then managed to give up 8 runs over the final three innings, which would have given the Braves the victory, but they also managed to tack on 3 insurance runs, giving the Cubs a 14-12 win.

24 runs

4/30/2008

Two three-run homers from Geovany Soto led the Cubs to a 19-5 victory over the Brewers, their highest single game output since 2001.

23 runs

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.

Celebrating Yourself

The Cubs are holding a party tonight 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, open to season ticket holders, includes 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.”

The Cubs are also expected to unveil a new Hall of Fame, which was supposed to happen last year but was delayed due to the pandemic.  The Hall of Fame, which will be located on the left field bleacher concourse, will have its inaugural class of 56 inductees(!) announced at the event and will allow the Cubs to hold subsequent induction events on a yearly basis.  Those 56 inductees represent the 41 individuals previously enshrined in the original Cubs Hall of Fame (1982-86), nine additional individuals enshrined in the Cubs Walk of Fame (1992-98), five Cubs recently recognized by the National Baseball Hall of Fame and a new 2021 inductee, Margaret Donahue, who broke gender barriers as Major League Baseball’s first female officer who was not a team owner.  The plaques will be on display starting Friday.

I will, of course, be missing this whole hullabaloo, as I’m currently driving to Florida for vacation.  One must wonder on the timing of this event, coming on the heels of a late July tradeoff and another long losing streak, especially since it was all intended to roll out last year and was just announced a few weeks back.

If You Build It Twice, Will They Still Come?

Following last week’s inaugural Field of Dreams game in Dyersville, Iowa, where the White Sox defeated the Yankees in thrilling fashion, word leaked that a second go-around would be slotted for the 2022 season, with the Cubs and the Reds on tap.  Neither team has a direct tie to the movie, but both have tangential ties to either the movie or the area: the Reds were the opponents of the 1919 White Sox that were the focus of the film in the thrown World Series and the Cubs have located their Triple A franchise in Iowa since 1981.

Can the second installment reach the heights of the first?  It’s hard to imagine.  While the novelty of playing in a cornfield in Iowa will remain, the grandeur of having Kevin Costner lead the teams out of the cornfields in to the stadium may come of as hokey if it is done a second time.  Given the success of the first game, a second was all but assured, but sometimes it is ok for a thing to just exist and be a hit.

By The Numbers – 43

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 #43.  71 different players have donned #43 while playing in Chicago, 23 for the White Sox and 48 for the Cubs.

Dennis Eckersley donned #43 for the Cubs after being acquired on May 25, 1984 from the Red Sox for Bill Buckner.  He went 10-8 with a 3.03 ERA while helping the Cubs into the postseason for the first time since 1945.  He lost Game 3 of the NLCS, giving up 5 runs in 5 1/3 innings pitched in his playoffs debut.  Along with the rest of the Cubs rotation in 1985, Eckersley spent time on the DL, causing the team to drop from a 4-game division lead on June 11 to finishing in 4th place, 23 1/2 games back.  Eckersley returned to full physical strength in 1986, but struggled, going 6-11 with a 4.57 ERA as he battled alcoholism.  After an offseason spent in rehab, Eckersley was traded to the A’s following spring training in 1987, where, he, of course, moved to the bullpen and became a Hall of Famer.

Known as “The Milkman”, Herbert Perry wore #43 when he joined the White Sox on April 21, 2000 after being selected off waivers from the Devil Rays.  Solid defense and a hot bat led to him getting more and more playing time, eventually becoming the everyday third baseman as the White Sox cruised to their first Central Division title.  He finished the year with a .308 average, 12 home runs, and 61 RBIs and was one of the few regulars who continued to hit in the post-season, putting up a .444 average in the ALDS against the Mariners.  Injuries and the acquisition of Royce Clayton limited Perry to 92 games in 2001, as his average dropped to .256 and his home runs fell to 7.  After the season, he was traded to the Rangers for a player to be named later.