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.

A Flurry Of Activity

The Cubs have seemingly turned Wrigley Field upside down, shook real hard, and let the pieces fall where they may.  With less than an hour until the trade deadline, they’ve made two huge deals, sending closer Craig Kimbrel to the White Sox for second baseman Nick Madrigal and reliever Codi Heuer and, in a separate deal, sending Javier Baez and Trevor Williams to the Mets in exchange for Pete Crow-Armstrong.

The first move, along with yesterday’s acquisition of Ryan Tepera, fortifies the White Sox bullpen as they look towards October baseball, giving them two All Star closers to choose from as Tony LaRussa sees fit.  Madrigal, the fourth overall selection in the 2018 draft, should hold down second base on the north side for years to come, assuming he can stay healthy.  He’s been out since early June with a hamstring tear and is expected to be ready for spring training.  Heuer has been a workhorse, and is the pitcher I’ve seen in the most games this year, but has gotten knocked around a bit more than the White Sox expected.

Baez, the ninth overall pick in the 2011 draft and the runner in the 2018 MVP race, has been a centerpiece of the Cubs run these last 7 years, debuting in 2014 and cementing himself in the lineup in 2016.  He is reunited with his friend and Team Puerto Rico teammate Francisco Lindor with the Mets.  Crow-Armstrong was the first round selection of the Mets in the 2020 draft and is currently their 5th ranked prospect, according to MLB.com.

With all of this, the one guy everyone expected the Cubs to move, Kris Bryant, is the last man standing.  Will something happen in these last couple of minutes?  Time will tell.

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
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By The Numbers – 51

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 #51.  44 different players have donned #51 while playing in Chicago, 20 for the White Sox and 24 for the Cubs.

Juan Cruz, wearing #51, made his big league debut for the Cubs on August 21, 2001, against the Brewers.  He went 3–1 with a 3.22 ERA in his first 8 starts, and recorded his first two major league hits on October 2.  Cruz went 3–11 with a 3.98 ERA in 45 games in 2002, picking up his first career save.  He got off to a good start in 2003, striking out 6 consecutive Mets on Opening Day, becoming only the second Cubs reliever to achieve the feat.  Things went a bit downhill from there, finishing the year 2–7 with a 6.05 ERA while making 6 starts, despite being sent back down to Iowa in June.  He threw one scoreless inning during the NLDS against the Braves.  That would end up being his final Cub appearance, as he was traded to those same Braves the following March.

Dane Dunning was acquired by the White Sox as part of the return for Adam Eaton in 2016.  He made his major league debut in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, going 2-0 in 7 starts with a 3.97 ERA.  He started Game 3 of the Wild Card series against the A’s, getting pulled after 2/3rds of an inning as the White Sox were eliminated.  That was his final White Sox appearance, as he was traded to the Rangers in exchange for Lance Lynn this past December.

By The Numbers – 56

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 #56.  19 different players have donned #56 while playing in Chicago, and, spoiler alert, it has been retired on one side of town.

Mark Buehrle joined the White Sox organization in 1998, drafted in the 38th round.  Despite his lowly draft status, he rose quickly through the system, first coming up during the 2000 season, working out of the bullpen for the eventual division champions.  He moved into the rotation the following season, and stayed there for the next 11 seasons.  During that time, there were numerous memorable appearances, many of which I was privileged to see in person.

  • The 2007 no-hitter against the Rangers
  • The 2009 perfect game against the Rays
  • Winning Game 2 of the 2005 ALCS against the Angels, thanks to AJ’s heads-up baserunning, and starting the streak of 4 straight complete games
  • The 1 hour 36 minute game against the Mariners in 2005
  • The no look, through his legs flip to Paul Konerko on Opening Day 2010 against the Indians
  • And, of course, his performance in the 2005 World Series, starting Game 2, getting a no decision, and coming in to pitch the 14th inning and earning the save in Game 3

In White Sox annals, Buehrle is currently fifth all-time in strikeouts, sixth in games started, and eighth in wins and innings pitched.  Number 56 was retired in his honor in 2017.

Slim pickings for #56 on the north side of town, but centerfielder Brian McRae, who spent parts of 3 seasons with the Cubs, gets the nod.  McRae was acquired from the Royals in April of 1995, following the early season lockout that continued from the strike the year before.  He was sent to the Mets, along with Mel Rojas and Turk Wendell, in August of 1997.

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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By The Numbers – 68

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 #68.  5 players have donned #71 while playing in Chicago, 6 for the White Sox and 1 for the Cubs.

Jorge Soler was originally signed by the Cubs as an amateur free agent in 2012.  Part of the so-called Core Four, the prospects meant to finally lead the Cubs to post-season glory, Soler made his major league debut on August 27, 2014, going 2 for 4 with a home run and 2 RBIs against the Reds.  He became the primary right fielder in 2015, starting 95 games and putting up a .723 OPS as the Cubs made a surprising run to the NLCS before falling to the Mets.  With Jason Heyward on board in 2016, Soler saw most of his playing time in left field, filling in for the injured Kyle Schwarber.  While he struggled during the regular season, he made the most of his World Series opportunity, hitting .400 against the Indians in his 2 appearances.  After achieving that initial goal of a World Series title, Soler was sent to the Royals for closer Wade Davis.

The pickings are slim on the south side of town for players wearing #68.  Dylan Covey wore it the most, going 6-29 over his 3 seasons with the White Sox after being acquired as a Rule 5 draft choice out of the A’s organization.  He was thankfully let go following the 2019 season.

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

2020 Predictions Revisited

The shortened 60 game 2020 baseball season wraps up today.  2 months ago, I made my annual predictions as to who would win what, not really knowing what a shortened season during a global pandemic would entail.  Now that the 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.  The Yankees looked to be on cruise control, until a plague of injuries knocked them off course.  The Rays, meanwhile, took home their first division crown since 2010.

Central: Twins

The Twins take their second consecutive division title, thanks in part to the White Sox crapping down their pants leg over the last week of the season.

West: Astros

The A’s came through in a big way, dethroning the Astros after their 3 year reign atop the division.

Wild Cards: White Sox, Rays

Well, these predictions were made before the current playoff structure was put in place.  The three second place teams are guaranteed a post-season slot, with the next two best records earning a wild card spot.

AL Champion: Yankees

While they didn’t win the division, the Yankees do seem primed to make a strong run.

Cy Young: Blake Snell

Indians ace Shane Bieber pretty much has this wrapped up.

MVP: Yoan Moncada

Moncada has struggled after contracting COVID-19 back during summer camp, but I think I was in the right ballpark.  Jose Abreu looks to be the clubhouse leader for this award.

National League

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