Two years into retirement and it has been another enjoyable summer.
Not so pleasant has been the play of Chicago’s baseball teams, both headed for 90-loss seasons.
That hasn’t happened since 1986 when the White Sox were 72-90 and Cubs 70-90, both finishing fifth in their respective divisions.
Tony LaRussa was fired that summer as Sox manager and replaced by Jim Fregosi. Harold Baines, Carlton Fisk and Ozzie Guillen were top players with Joe Cowley, Floyd Bannister and Rich Dodson leaders on the mound.
The Cubs of 27 years ago, managed by Jim Frey and Gene Michael, had sluggers like Ryne Sandberg, Ron Cey and Leon Durham. But, the winningest pitchers were Lee Smith and Scott Sanderson with nine apiece.
Not since 1948 have both the Cubs and White Sox been last-place teams.
The North Siders were 64-90 that year under the managing of Charlie Grimm while the South Siders were 51-101 under Ted Lyons.
Andy Pafko, Bill Nicholson, Johnny Schmitz and Russ Meyer were among Cubs 65 years ago while the Sox featured Luke Appling, Pat Seerey, Joe Haynes and Bill Wight.
Both Chicago teams are eerily similar in 2013 — good starting pitching, inconsistent bullpens, mediocre defenses and downright abysmal hitting with runners in scoring position.
The White Sox were at the .500 mark in mid-May, but three straight losses to the Cubs sent them into a tailspin they haven’t recovered from.
The Cubs actually have a winning record outside the N.L. Central, but can’t compete with division powers St. Louis, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh.
The Sox still lead the regular season interleague “City Series,” 49-45, and have outscored their crosstown rivals, 435-425.
But after the Sox won 16 of 24 from 2009-12, the Cubs won four straight this summer for their first series sweep since 1998.
The White Sox have won the season series nine times, the Cubs four and they have broken even four times.
A disturbing trend this season has been all the empty seats at both Wrigley Field and U.S. Cellular Field.
While the Cubs have enjoyed amazing attendance numbers over the last three decades, it is not true that they have always filled Wrigley Field.
The Cubs drew under one millions fans each season from 1952-68 while the Sox were topping a million 16 times in 17 years. Of course, it helped that the Sox enjoyed 17 straight winning seasons from 1951-67.
As late as 1982, the Cubs were averaging just 15,500 spectators per game.
The surge seemed to start in 1984 when Sandberg became the Cubs star player and the team won a division title. Harry Caray in the booth was a big hit and a few years later Sammy Sosa began hitting a lot of home runs.
In 2006, Chicago baseball attendance topped the six million mark with the Cubs drawing 3,123,215 and the White Sox 2,957, 414.
The Sox were attendance leaders in the late 1980s and early 1990s, but it has been a Cubs domination ever since.
But with today’s youth seemingly not too interested in the national pastime, could baseball be headed for an attendance crisis?
Happy belated birthday to my fellow Third of July Club members.
We were organized by the late Jim “Tack” Naile in the early 1970s and certainly miss those early-morning breakfasts on July 3.
This White Sox fan even figured out that our favorite team has posted a 23-37 record on July 3s dating back to 1949.
Pitching shutout wins for the Sox on July 3 were Jim Wilson against Detroit in 1956, Tommy John against Kansas City in 1971 and John Danks against Kansas City in 2009.
Luke Appling was 4-for-4 on my actual birthdate of July 3, 1949 with the Sox winning 8-4 at Detroit.
Eddie Robinson homered twice in a 12-3 rout of the St. Louis Browns in 1952; Tom Seaver earned the win and Ron Reed a save in a 9-5 win over Detroit in 1984; Steve Lyons was 4-for-4 in a 14-9 conquest of Cleveland in 1987; Kevin Youkilis, Adam Dunn, Alex Rios and A.J. Pierzynski homered in a 19-2 blitz of Texas in 2012.
Here’s hoping for a safe and successful Elkhart County 4-H Fair and that everyone enjoys the remaining days of a summer which is flying by.
Hard to believe — just 26 days until Goshen students report to school.
Two years into retirement and it has been another enjoyable summer.
- 4-H Fair: 3-on-3 tourney brings out former standouts, good competition GOSHEN — “July Madness” or as it is also known the annual 3-on-3 basketball tournament at the Elkhart County 4-H Fair is well under way.
- 4-H Fair: Dad, son bond through horseshoes GOSHEN – For the past 11 years, Greg Jones has qualified to pitch in the horseshoe competition at the Elkhart County 4-H Fair, and his first call has always been to his dad to tell him when to come watch him pitch.
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- NASCAR: Tony Stewart riding high from sprint car victory CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Tony Stewart heads into the busiest week of his year riding high from a win in his return to sprint car racing.
- NFL: Bears set sights on playoffs after busy offseason CHICAGO — It was far from a quiet offseason for the Chicago Bears, and now they really hope to make some noise.
- Colts looking to take next step in 2014 INDIANAPOLIS — Andrew Luck has taken Indianapolis to the playoffs twice, won a division title and orchestrated the second-greatest postseason comeback in league history.That’s no longer good enough anymore for the Colts. They’re after a championship.
- Pyrenees please Nibali, Rogers in Tour Stage 16 BAGNERES-DE-LUCHON, France — The Pyrenees on Tuesday lived up to their reputation for causing ups and downs at the Tour de France: A French rider climbed in the standings, an American went down, and an Australian rebounding from an ordeal of doping suspicions won Stage 16 in a downhill breakaway. Riding in his 10th Tour, three-time world champion Michael Rogers of Australia won his first Tour stage behind savvy racing, well-paced riding and the absence of his Tinkoff-Saxo Bank leader Alberto Contador. The Spaniard crashed out in Stage 10, inadvertently freeing up Rogers to go after the stage win.
- New ACCNew ACC settles into era of stability settles into era of stability GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) â?? Welcome to the new Atlantic Coast Conference. It's where a founding member is out, a fast-rising program is in, Notre Dame is there, too â?? sort of â?? and nobody else is leaving. Where a one-time punchline of a conference now boasts the Heisman Trophy winner, the reigning national champion and a handful of other individual award winners. And where stability finally has arrived â?? with its status as a power conference secure entering the College Football Playoff era â?? leaving its members optimistic about its future.|GREENSBORO, N.C. - Welcome to the new Atlantic Coast Conference. It's where a founding member is out, a fast-rising program is in, Notre Dame is there, too â sort of â and nobody else is leaving. Where a one-time punchline of a conference now boasts
- Eash, Cross local harness winners at 4-H fair GOSHEN — Carl Putnam Jr. came away as the big winner in harness racing action on Tuesday at the Elkhart County 4-H Fair, taking the top spot in the featured race of the day — the Maple City Trot.
Tour de France heads to Pyrenees in Stage 16
CARCASSONNE, France — Vincenzo Nibali is in the yellow jersey as the Tour de France peloton set off on the longest stage, into the Pyrenees.
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