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.

By The Numbers – 44

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 #44.  57 different players have donned #44 while playing in Chicago, 39 for the White Sox and a mere 18 for the Cubs.

Anthony Rizzo was acquired by the Cubs on January 6, 2012, the first piece of the rebuilding puzzle that Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer brought to Chicago after their hiring.  He started the 2012 season in Triple A, but eventually earned the promotion and took over first base,  In 2014, he earned his first All Star nod and his first MVP votes.  In 2015, as the Cubs made a surprising run to the NLCS, Rizzo led the league in games and plate appearances and placed fourth in MVP voting.

In 2016, Rizzo replicated his fourth place MVP finish while also picking up a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger award as he helped lead the Cubs to their first World Series title in 108 years.  On Opening Night in 2017, he walked the Commissioner’s Trophy on to the field (following a long rain delay).  He finished that year with more MVP attention as the Cubs made their third straight NLCS, losing to the Dodgers.  Rizzo added 3 additional Gold Gloves to his collection from 2018 – 2020.  The shine rubbed off of Rizzo a little in June of 2021, as he announced, on the day Chicago opened back up from COVID restrictions, that he had decided not to get vaccinated, leaving the Cubs as one of 8 teams still under restrictions for failing to reach the 85% plateau.  He was then, of course, traded to the Yankees and, just this morning, was placed on the IL with COVID.

On the other side of town, Dan Pasqua donned #44 after being acquired from the Yankees for Richard Dotson following the 1997 season.  His first season with the White Sox ended with a career high 20 home runs despite a disappointing .227 average, but a broken wrist suffered during the first week of the 1989 season limited him to just 73 games and 11 home runs.  Pasqua lost his regular slot in the lineup in 1990, as manager Jeff Torborg decided to start Sammy Sosa every day.  He appeared in 112 games, but had only 325 at bats despite a .274 average.

1991 saw Pasqua appear in a career high 134 games, with a .259 average and 18 home runs, his highest total since 1988.  A hamstring injury reduced Pasqua’s playing time again in 1992 and, with George Bell and Bo Jackson splitting time at DH in 1993, Pasqua again was the odd man out.  Pasqua’s 1994 season was cut short by arthroscopic knee surgery in May, which limited him to just 11 appearances and only 23 at bats, and he decided to retire after the season.

Two Sides Of The Same Town

cws-chiFollowing last week’s trade deadline deals, Ryan Tepera and Craig Kimbrel became the 36th and 37th people I’ve seen play in person for both the Cubs and the White Sox.  With the first round of crosstown kicking off this afternoon at Wrigley, here’s a look at those players, in alphabetical order.

David Aardsma

After posting a decent season with the Cubs in 2006, Aardsma was traded to the White Sox for Neal Cotts.  Aardsma lasted one season with the Sox, where he was unable to duplicate his success from the year before.

Jason Bere

Drafted by the White Sox in the 36th round in 1990, Bere debuted with the big league club in 1993, finishing 2nd in Rookie of the Year voting.  After an All Star selection in 1994, injuries marred the remainder of his tenure on the South Side, which ended in 1998.  He resurfaced with the Cubs in 2001 and had a decent season, but he went 1-10 in 2002 before being let go.

Emilio Bonifacio

Bonifacio spent back-to-back partial seasons in Chicago, first for the Cubs in 2014 after signing as a free agent, where he played decently enough to be flipped at the trade deadline, along with James Russell, to the Braves for a young catching prospect by the name of Victor Caratini.  He returned to Chicago in 2015, signing with the White Sox, where he he did not do well at all, hitting .167 in 47 games before being released in August.

Welington Castillo

Debuting with the Cubs in 2010, Castillo spent time behind the plate for the Cubs until May of 2015, when, having been replaced in the starting lineup by Miguel Montero, he was flipped to the Mariners.  He returned to Chicago in 2018 after signing with the White Sox as a free agent.  On May 24th of that season, he was suspended 80 games for a violation of the PED policy.  The White Sox then cut bait following the 2019 season, shipping him off to the Rangers.

Neal Cotts

Acquired by the White Sox in the Billy Koch trade, he debuted with the team in 2003.  He was a key contributor in the bullpen during the 2005 championship season, and was the only relief pitcher to appear in all 3 rounds of the playoffs that season.  Following the 2006 season, he was traded to the Cubs for David Aardsma, and he spent the next 3 injury filled seasons on the North Side.

Scott Eyre

Joining the White Sox organization in a 1994 trade with the Rangers, he debuted with the big league team in 1997.  He split the next 4 seasons between the rotation and the bullpen, not to mention between Chicago and Charlotte, before being moved to the Blue Jays following the 2000 ALDS loss to the Mariners.  He joined the Cubs as a free agent for the 2006 season and enjoyed 2 seasons of relative success, before falling apart in 2008, when he was traded to the Phillies.

Kosuke Fukudome Continue reading →

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 – 47

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 #47.  73 players have donned #47 while playing in Chicago, 38 for the White Sox and 35 for the Cubs.

The somewhat unfortunately named Rusty Kuntz spent parts of 5 seasons with the White Sox, wearing #47 the entire time.  He was selected by the White Sox in the 11th round of the 1977 draft and made his major league debut 2 years later as a September call-up in 1979, starting in left field and going 0-3 in a 4-3 victory over the Tigers en route to 5 appearances and an anemic .091 average.  Kuntz split time between Triple A Iowa and Chicago in 1980, with slightly better results, before spending the entire strike-shortened 1981 season with the White Sox, appearing in 67 games and batting .255 in a mere 55 at bats.  Both 1982 and 1983 saw Kuntz back splitting time between Triple A and Chicago, until he was finally traded to the Twins for a minor leaguer.

Catcher Miguel Montero wore #47 during his 2 1/2 years on the North side.  He had a few highlights, including his Game One grand slam in the 2016 NLCS against the Dodgers to give the Cubs the win.  His tenure with the Cubs came to an abrupt end the following June when, after the Nationals stole 7 bases in one game to leave him at 0-31 at nabbing would-be base stealers for the season, he placed the blame on the pitching staff.  The next day, he was designated for assignment.

By The Numbers – 49

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 #49.  60 different players have donned #49 while playing in Chicago, 36 for the White Sox and 24 for the Cubs.

Chris Sale, the 13th overall selection by the White Sox in the 2010 draft, pitched 11 games in the minor leagues before making his major league debut on August 6, less than 2 months after being drafted.  Sale worked out of the bullpen for the remainder of the year, earning 4 saves in 21 appearances. Sale returned to the bullpen in 2011, picking up another 8 saves while posting a 2.79 ERA.  In 2012, Sale moved in to the starting rotation full time, where he racked up 5 straight All Star nods and finished between 3rd and 6th in Cy Young award voting each season.  In 2015, Sale set the White Sox franchise record with 274 strike outs and, in 2016, he tied his career high with 17 victories and threw a career high 226 2/3 innings pitched in between spats with the front office over Drake LaRoche and 1970s throwback jerseys.  That December, the rebuilding of the White Sox began when Sale was traded to the Red Sox for, among others, Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech.

Jake Arrieta was originally acquired by the Cubs in July of 2013, coming over from the Orioles, along with Pedro Strop, in a trade for Scott Feldman and Steve Clevenger.  After 7 starts for Iowa, Arrieta joined the rebuilding Cubs and showed vast improvement over the pitcher he was with the Orioles.  He turned into an ace for the Cubs in 2015, winning the NL Cy Young Award, and was a key contributor to their World Series championship in 2016.  He threw two no-hitters for the team, one in 2015 against the Dodgers and the second in 2016 against the Reds.  He became a free agent following the 2017 season, but returned in 2021.

 

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
Continue reading →

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

Continue reading →

By The Numbers – 61

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 #61.  18 players have donned #61 while playing in Chicago, 12 for the White Sox and 6 for the Cubs.

Joel McKeon was the White Sox first round pick in the 1982 draft and made his debut in 1986, where he appeared in 30 games out of the bullpen and had a rather successful 2.45 ERA.  His 1987 season, however, was much less successful, with his ERA jumping to 9.43 and, the following February, McKeon was shipped off to the Padres to complete an earlier trade.  While McKeon, the first #61 in White Sox history, did little to make himself memorable on a real baseball diamond, his 1986 appearance with Buffalo, the then Triple A affiliate of the White Sox, made him a superstar of our Micro League Baseball league, where he dominated as a stalwart of the team belonging to my friend Dave.

Backup catcher Babe Phelps, the first player to don #61 for the Cubs, hit .286 in his 2 seasons with the Cubs.  And no, I don’t mean his average across those 2 seasons was .286.  I mean he finished both seasons, 1933 and 1934, with a .286 average.  He would go on to more success with the Dodgers later in the decade, earning MVP votes in 1936 and earning three straight All Star nods from 1938-1940.