Spare Parts: Rick Renteria’s marathon honeymoon

Plus: A deep dive into a never-realized White Sox stadium project, unrealized MLB rule changes and more

Depending on the kind of weather that Minnesota gets this weekend — Friday night through Saturday night is supposed to be a wintry mess — we may have a lot of time to microanalyze two weeks’ worth of data.

That said, I want to clear the decks of a few things I’d meant to share, one way or another, starting with my Monday column for The Athletic, which marvels at the way Rick Renteria sustained his honeymoon period through a 95-loss season, but also wonders whether some of the shine will wear off this season due to factors out of his control.

[The serial-position effect] is the name for the tendency to remember the beginnings and ends of lists while getting foggy about the details in the middle. The White Sox posted a winning record in April and a .500 record in September. The middle was a mess, especially after they turned over a quarter of the roster with deadline trades, but “Ricky’s Boys Don’t Quit” papers over a lot of the memory hole.

Renteria’s team cleared a low bar by plenty, and aside from an excessive amount of bunting, nobody could pin the reasons for the losing record on the manager himself. That’s why Renteria went 67-95 in his first season and still had fans thanking him.

With Renteria now being graded less against Robin Ventura and more against himself, he’ll have expectations creep to contend with, and a worse bullpen to fight it.

Spare Parts

Dayn Perry does a deep dive into the Armour Field project, talking to principal players on both sides of the plan. It’s a little on the long side — in terms of readability, not mere length — but it does a good job of inserting some realities into what has always hovered as a regrettable, unrealized dream.

Grant Brisbee shares a memo that was leaked to him three years ago from a Major League Baseball powerpoint slide. He couldn’t verify it at the time, but it appears to have been legit based on the proposals on it (asterisks denoting plans implemented in minors):

  • Pitch timer*
  • Limitation on pickoffs
  • Starting extra innings with a runner on base*
  • Mercy rule
  • Raise strike zone to top of knee
  • Require relievers to face a minimum number of batters
  • Limit number of relievers on a roster
  • Limit defensive shifts
  • Allow managers to reset the batting order in the 9th inning

Thank goodness a mercy rule has never been seriously floated. Come on.

The White Sox offense isn’t a whole lot of fun to watch right now, but the Indians are hitting .170/.262/.290 as a team. Their pitching is the reason they have a winning record, and Craig Edwards says Corey Kluber has overtaken Clayton Kershaw as baseball’s best starter.

Wednesday’s action featured the first two basebrawls. During the afternoon, Nolan Arenado charged San Diego’s Luis Perdomo after Perdomo threw behind him. At night, the Yankees’ Tyler Austin spiked Brock Holt on a slide into second, then charged the mound when Joe Kelly drilled him.

Brandon McCarthy separated his non-throwing shoulder reaching behind him to catch a flip to first on a grounder to the right side. The trainer popped it back in on the field. Between the fights and this, if somebody just started following baseball on Wednesday, they’d be battling one bizarre set of expectations.

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Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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Patrick Nolan

Whoever suggested that Major League Baseball should treat its fans like bored Little League parents and institute a rule that ends games because the score is lopsided should be tarred and feathered.

Ted Mulvey

That one, in particular, I find incomprehensible that they would even consider it. That it even made it as a suggestion is beyond the pale. Implementing such a rule would make it possible we’d miss out on games like this:


The new ballpark ordeal was just before my time so Armour Field is new to me. But holey cow what a beautiful ballpark. I really dislike these new cookie cutter ballparks. The idiosyncrasies of old parks was/is one of the greatest things about baseball. O what could have been…


I was on the SABR Ballparks committee when Phil Bess was creating the idea of Armour Field. We were struggling with how to get his work disseminated. I stood up at the committee meeting at the national convention and put up $250 toward its publication. Others then followed.

At the time a SABR committee had never done anything on its own without the blessing of the board. It proved to be a real controversy within SABR at the time. We stuck to our guns and with the help of The Minneapolis Review of Baseball, got it published.

The first time I went to the new Comiskey, I was so sad as I walked around the place, thinking of how special it could have been.

HOK went on to co-opt a lot of Phil’s language without actually using the ideas behind his words. Admittedly ballparks of the last 27 years are better than the multi-purpose spaceships of the ’60’s and ’70’s, but they could be so much more…

Reindeer Games

Camden Yards and PNC were both built after I was born and they’re two of the best stadiums in baseball.

karkovice squad

And yet neither really has a neighborhood around it. They’re still mostly amusement parks that happen to be located in a city.

As Cirensica

Speaking of microanalyzing 2 weeks worth of data:

Heading into Wednesday’s action, teams were hitting .348 with a .620 slugging while ahead in the count

Thus far, the worst pitcher in that regards (The one that is constantly behind the count or giving the batter a favorable count) is LUCAS GIOLITO


Trooper Galactus

That article hits on one of my biggest laments with the current Sox ballpark in that it is a world apart from the community around it instead of meshing seamlessly with it. It’s always amusing to hear the White Sox passive-aggressively fan-shame when they have historically gone out of their way to remove themselves from the population. Doesn’t help that there’s no sense of community with the team outside of results on the field, which is really bad when you rarely make the playoffs.


Reinsdorf wanted to monetize the Sox . The only way he thought he could to that was eliminate out beer sales.That meant getting rid of two taverns McCutty’s and Sports Corner. McCutty’s was a great sports bar that preexisted any thing in the city. Remember the stories about Babe Ruth running across 35 to grab a beer and hot dogs in the middle of game. All baseball owners would like to do what the Ricketts, have done .Buy a team in a gentrified area. Use your millions to buy local bars and real estate Then build hotels stores and exclusive clubs. All based on a stadium built by a team in a defunct baseball league. When it comes to making money all owners want any dime their team originates. At least Reinsdorf does not gouge Sox fans on ticket prices unlike all the other sports owners in the city


I have family that have lived in the Fenway since the 1960’s. They prefer going to Comiskey because they like the fact that the L is close by and they don’t feel like they are invading someone’s neighborhood even if they stop at Cork & Kerry. I think it reminds them of what Fenway used to be.


That’s one of those damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don’t things.

The complaint about Comiskey Park in the 70’s (and Wrigley and Fenway for that matter) – from the customers’ perspective – was the neighborhood.

Now the complaints around Wrigley and Fenway – from the residents – are about the gentrification and that the team is a lousy neighbor.

Having seen both sides I have to say I like that Sox Park is cut off a bit from the neighborhood. Most of the permanent residents around Fenway and Wrigley HATE what’s going on around the park – even the ones who like baseball are sick of how the parks are used for concerts. But most of the residents of those neighborhoods are renters who come and go – you don’t have as transient a population around Comiskey and those permanent residents WANTED a sea of parking lots around the park.

Trooper Galactus

I can see that from a perspective of established locals, but it seems like they sell the whole public funding for the park as a mutually beneficial thing, but the reality is the team reaps the vast majority of the benefits and the neighborhood sees little to none of it with the direction they chose to go in.


As a long time Sox fan (first game 1960) I am very grateful for the the inculsion of the article on the Armour field project. I remember my first outing to the blue abomination that was the original NCP . I was sickened. Having sat in the upper deck of the old park you were close to the action… even in the outfield. Between the height of the new upper deck and the baby color of the seats I was stunned when i attended my first game at NCP . I rememeber one time going ot the last row in the upper deck and looking at the old park. The first row of the new upper deck was even with the last row of the upper deck in the the old park. The old park though not perfect had its charms . As it was being tore down during the that first summer of the new stadum I liken it to an old friend dying of a dread terminal disease. Less and less of it and then no more. Melodramatic statement yes but for all its flaws I had some great memories there.
In fairness to Reinsdorf the revisions in 2003 in lopping off 8 rows in the upper deck , relocating the bullpens and removing the smurf blue seats made the park respectable but still short of what it should have been. Reading this article I long for the purposed Armour field.


I find it more amazing the honeymoon period that Hahn has had. This is his 6th year as the GM. He hasn’t produced one winning season in all these years. He would have been fired by now if he was a GM elsewhere.

Trooper Galactus

Most GMs who inherit a gutted farm system, an old roster, and limited payroll have pretty tempered expectations to begin with. Given the uncharted territory the team has finally committed to, I’m willing to let him see this through. But if prospects start busting at an unacceptable rate and crap free agents keep getting eight figures a year to suck, yeah, he won’t get any sympathy from me when he’s shown the door.


Jim Margalus; When you were with Southside Sox they had a number of articles how the City of Chicago offered to build a stadium for the White Sox in the South Loop at Roosevelt and Clark. JR stupidly rejected the offer. JR said the White Sox fans were in DuPage county and he wanted the stadium in Addison. He didn’t tell anybody that he owned the land where the stadium was going to be. The State of Illinois would have owned and built the stadium and JR would have had the tax benefits because he owned the land. If they would have built a decent stadium in the South Loop it would have been a gold mine.


My recollection of the Roosevelt & Clark site was that it had to be a shared stadium between the White Sox and the Bears. The stands were to be reconfigurable via air bearings for either a baseball or football.

As I recall, the White Sox really had no issue with it. The Bears and Michael McCaskey were not on board at all stating “The Bears have natural ties to the Chicago Cubs and not the White Sox”.

So, the Roosevelt & Clark deal fell through.

The Amour Square site would have been tied up in court by Friends of the Parks similar to what happened with the George Lucas Star Wars museum.

If you think 1988 was a rough time to build a stadium in Chicago and Illinois, just wait until 2027 when Illinois is still in debt and the Chicago Public school system is still underfunded. 

Over-all the current Guaranteed Rate Field isn’t all that bad of a baseball field. It’s currently way better than how it initially started in 1991.


The Armour Field article makes a lot of good points about how things could have been, more particularly, how it might not have necessarily been great, with the Sox turning into some pure tourist sports experience like the Cubs and the Red Sox. But the main problem for me is the parks dimensions. I don’t care how nice it looked, not even 300 feet down the line to both foul poles is ridiculous.

Also, choosing to build a stadium that has potential liabilities in its dimensions in an era when public assistance for clearing land is almost assured, just to ape the design sensibilities of former stadiums built without such benefit, is no less artificial than the current crop of “program driven” retro ball parks that Bess accuses of simply slapping “retro” design elements onto modern designs.


I remember seeing a book that was out in the middle 90s about Armour Field. Had the same concept drawings that were shown in the CBS article.

Armour Field never got off the ground because it was not politically feasible. Taking a public park and turning it into a stadium for private use and profit is not good public policy. Building a stadium with public tax payer money is also not good public policy. The current stadium was funded with a Hotel/Motel tax with the position that local tax payers would not pay but out town visitors would. That’s what made it politically viable at best.

Bridgeport and North Armour Square are not Lakeview/Wrigleyville. Liquor licenses are granted sparely, old ones revoked for violating city ordinances. When 30 to 40 thousand people converge on a neighborhood with little additional parking, restroom facilities etc., its a nightmare dealing with big crowds for the neighborhood.

People will generally park where they want and relive themselves where ever they want which is even a problem for the current Guaranteed Rate Field. Having Armour Field right on top of the existing houses / buildings would have never gotten approval from 11 Ward politicians of the time due to neighborhood concerns.


I don’t get the fascination with Armour Park. A park proposal that has foul lines less than 300′ is not a serious proposal.

I do understand the lamenting of New Comiskey Park. If Jerry could fleece the state for enough cash to build a new stadium, he could have fleeced the state for enough to fix our old one. It makes me upset that I never got to see old Comiskey.


People seem to forget or ignore the fact that JR changed the design of the New Comiskey Park. He rejected the original design. He had it changed because he wanted the second level of suites. By adding the second level of suites he mad the upper deck too high. The upper deck has ruined the park


There’s a new book out that is called a Decade by Decade History of the White Sox. The book was published by the Chicago Tribune. The book is definitely for hard core White Sox fans. One of the interesting features of the book is it tells how Edward DeBartolo tried to buy the White Sox from Bill Veeck. He was willing to put in writing that he would not move the team out of state AND was willing to build his own stadium for the team with his own money. The AL owners rejected him and wound up approving JR as the new owner. The AL owners were afraid DeBartolo was going to move the team. Then a few years later JR wanted to move the team to Florida.