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.

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

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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.

Fitbit VII – Week 29

Another disappointing week, that took a strong start and pissed it away.  Things got off to a good start on Sunday, as I used the final crosstown game at Wrigley Field to pass 7500 steps for the fourth consecutive day.  As I went back to work on Monday, i reverted back to my usual poor habits, so I fell back down to 2800 steps.   Tuesday was a little better, as I managed an increase up to 4400 steps.  Wednesday fell back down again, coming in 17 steps away from 3200.  Things took a turn for the better on Thursday, as I went back up to 4500 steps.  Friday was the exact opposite, falling pretty steadily down to 2600 steps.  A return to the ballpark on Saturday put me back up over 5700 steps, to end the week on a high-ish note.

Total steps: 31,011

Daily average: 4430.1

iTunes Top 200 Artists: #2

6 years ago, we first counted down the then Top 100 artists in my iTunes library.  Since that time, I’ve successfully managed to migrate my music collection to a new PC with the stats intact and expanded the count down to the Top 200.  It’s been 3 years, so I figured it was time to take yet another look at my Top 200 artists, based on the number of plays from late 2007 through January 1, 2021.

Today, we have our penultimate entry with the artist I’ve listened to the second most over the last 13-ish years.  Formed in Liverpool, England in 1960, I present to you the Fab Four, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr.  Collectively known as The Beatles.

 

#2: The Beatles
iTunes stats: 1736 plays
Previous ranking: #2

Arriving on US shores in early 1964, The Beatles put together what is today considered a catalog of 13 studio albums and 1 compilation.  Those releases are the core of the 99 tracks that make up their 1736 plays, for an average of 17.5 listens per track.  Their counts would be even higher, but their totals were reset in 2009 when I replaced the original CD releases from the 1980s with a remastered box set.

While the band broke up 4 years before I was born following the release of 1970’s Let It Be, I have managed to see Paul McCartney in concert twice, first at Wrigley Field in 2011 and then again at the Hollywood Casino Amphitheater in 2017.  His touring band puts on quite a show and I’m sure I’d be interested if and when he comes back through town again.

Fitbit VII – Week 28

An up-and-down week, as I started off slow, but finished strong with 3 straight days over goal for the first time since March.  Things got off to a slow start on Sunday, as I came 18 steps shy of 2200.  Monday was better, as I jumped all the way up to nearly 4100 steps.   Tuesday was even better, with over 5000 steps.  Wednesday fell back down again, coming in 5 steps away from 2600.  Things took a turn for the better starting on Thursday, thanks to a trip to the Museum of Science & Industry, which put me at 7600 steps.  Friday was pretty steady, finishing one step past 7600, thanks to the start of crosstown battles at Wrigley Field.  A haircut and game 2 of hostilities between the White Sox and the Cubs put me over 7500 steps on Saturday.

Total steps: 36,719

Daily average: 5245.6

Opening A New Book

The Cubs received approval this week from the Commission on Chicago Landmarks to build a two-story sportsbook at the corner of Sheffield and Addison. The 22,350-square-foot structure, which would be home to a DraftKings Sportsbook at Wrigley Field as part of a sponsorship deal the team struck with  DraftKings last year and looks to make gambling an integral part of the game day experience at the Friendly Confines. Though the new building would be connected to the ballpark, the addition would be open to anyone, as Major League Baseball rules prohibit a sportsbook operating where a game ticket is required for entry.

Yesterday’s approval is only the first step in what is sure to be a long process to get this extension put in place.  Approval is still needed from the City Council, both for the development itself but also on allowing sports betting inside the city’s stadiums. The National Park Service, which designated the restored ballpark as a National Historic Landmark, would also need to approve the plans for the new building.

While the timing is likely coincidental, it is somewhat amusing that the hearing on this came up a week after the Cubs traded off all of their star players because they couldn’t “afford” to offer them market-value extensions.  Also, it is amusing in a sad way that you must have a ticket to sit in the lovely park the Cubs built on the other side of the stadium in Gallagher Way, but you will be able to enter this new facility without one.  Like it or not, baseball, and the Cubs, have hitched their wagon to legal gambling and they will try to wring every dollar they can out of the arrangement.

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.

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.

By The Numbers – 45 Bonus!

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.

Sunday, we continued our look at those players, picking our favorite, if not the best, player to wear each uniform number for both Chicago teams with #45.  Today, we take a special bonus look at someone who wore #45 during a Windy City Classic exhibition game in 1994.

After winning his third NBA championship in the summer of 1993, Michael Jordan retired from basketball.  He signed a contract with the White Sox in February of 1994, “I chose to try to play baseball just to see if I could,” Jordan said when he signed the contract.  “I’m not doing it as a distraction and I’m not doing it as a media hog or looking for the media exposure from it. It’s one of the wishes my father had and I had as a kid.”  Jordan’s father had been murdered the previous July and Jordan’s memories of his father played a large role in his deciding what he should do next.

Jordan, who hadn’t played baseball since high school, had a difficult spring training, hitting .152 in 46 at bats, and he was assigned to Double-A Birmingham.  First, though, was the annual exhibition game between the two Chicago teams on April 7 at Wrigley Field.  Jordan was penciled in to the starting lineup, batting sixth.  In the sixth inning, Jordan hit an RBI single off veteran Dave Otto, and in the seventh, he bounced a Chuck Crim pitch down the third-base line for a game-tying double.  The crowd, White Sox and Cubs fans alike, rose to their feet and roared, as Jordan smiled, stuck out his tongue, and tipped his helmet at second base.

Jordan finished the day 2 for 5, with 2 RBIs, an error, and base running gaffe.  “Who would ever think I would be out there playing in Wrigley Field?” Jordan said.  “It was a great feeling just to come out there and do well.”  Jordan reported to Birmingham the following day and, after the labor strife that ended the 1994 season early spread in to 1995, Jordan left baseball, returned to the Bulls, and won another three NBA championships.