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 →

By The Numbers – 36

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 #36.  83 different players have donned #36 while playing in Chicago, 54 for the White Sox and 29 for the Cubs.

Acquired by the Cubs, along with Bob Dernier and Porfi Altamirano, from the Phillies for Bill Campbell and Mike Diaz near the end of spring training in 1984, Gary “Sarge” Matthews, wearing #36, became a spark plug that helped lead the Cubs to their first ever division title.  Leading the league in walks and OBP, Matthews set a career high with 101 runs scored and finished 5th in MVP voting, behind teammates Ryne Sandberg and Rick Sutcliffe.  He saw a big drop-off in 1985, appearing in only 97 games and hitting a career low .235.  He bounced back a bit in 1986, appearing in 123 games and hitting 21 home runs, his highest total since 1979.  Reduced to a bench player in 1987, Matthews had 42 ABs in 44 games when he was traded to the Mariners on July 11 for a minor league player to be named later.

On the south side of town, Jerry Koosman donned #36 when he joined the White Sox on August 30, 1981 after coming to the White Sox via trade from the Twins.  Koosman appeared in 8 games down the stretch, starting 3, as the White Sox finished 6th in the second half of the crazy strike season.  He returned in 1982, working mostly out of the bullpen but still starting 19 games as the White Sox squandered a quick start to finish in 3rd place.  The veteran lefty spent most of the 1983 season in the starting rotation, but saw his ERA inflate to a career high 4.77.  However, after a shaky start, the White Sox caught fire and Koosman was the starting pitcher on September 17, when the White Sox clinched their first division title.  Koosman made one relief appearance during the ALCS against the Orioles, throwing 1/3 of a disastrous inning in the Game 3 blowout, giving up 1 hit, 2 walks, and 3 runs (2 earned).  He re-upped with the White Sox following the season, but was sent to the Phillies the following spring to complete the trade for Ron Reed.

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 – 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 – 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 →

Jake 2.0

The Cubs are bringing Jake Arrieta back for the 2021 season, signing the right-hander to a one year, $6 million deal.  Arrieta, who will turn 35 next month, 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.  But, after leaving following the 2017 season for the Phillies, he has not been the same pitcher, suffering injuries each of the past 3 years.

Hopefully Cub fans have realistic expectations for Arrieta in 2021.  If they expect Arrieta to be a leader in the team’s attempts to repeat as division champions, they are likely to be disappointed and that disappointment may tarnish their memories of Arrieta and what he accomplished from 2014-2017.  If they see this as the nostalgia-based move it likely is, and accept the neither Arrieta nor the team will see the same success that they’ve become accustomed to, then it could be a nice distraction to take away from what looks to be a rebuilding (or reloading, at best) year.