Thursday, December 12, 2013
It's not that I didn't like Pinnacle. I sorta did. I remember buying packs and being marginally happy with the product. It never wowed me though. It had a lot of hype, but no bite. After a few years, the original sets sunk themselves into parallel hell and any hopes of resurrecting itself into something viable slowly was crushed by the weight of the wasted trees used in the production of endless mirror cards and shallow gimmicks.
So... what's Pinnacle like after a fifteen year absence? Pretty much as you remember it. The basic black designs from the first sets are imitated nicely, but the card feels dated, and not in a good way. These cards could have been released anywhere between 1992 and 1995 and no one would have batted an eye.
Are there parallels? Yes, Virginia, there are parallels. Even one of the parallels has a parallel. It is parallel heaven, if you're into that sort of scene. I, for the most part, am not, so this does nothing but irritate me, similar to a mosquito buzzing by your ear. It's not the worst thing in the world and it won't ruin my evening, but I'd be happier if it wasn't there.
The White Sox have five cards in the base set.
27 - Paul Konerko
94 - Alex Rios
99 - Dayan Viciedo
108 - Chris Sale
122 - Adam Dunn
What would a nineties revival be without inserts. And there are plenty of them.
Awaiting The Call
8 - Frank Thomas
Clear Vision Hitters
14 - Paul Konerko
31 - Alex Rios
70 - Frank Thomas
Clear Vision Pitchers
16 - Chris Sale
19 - Alex Rios
13 - Adam Dunn
Swinging For The Fences
5 - Adam Dunn
5 - Frank Thomas/Albert Pujols
4 - Chris Sale
21 - Frank Thomas
66 - Paul Konerko
To add to the fun, there are no logos on any player, so theoretically, there is much more to collect for the team collector, if they are game. Bo Jackson, Ken Griffey Jr., Steve Carlton and Tim Raines are the former White Sox players that stuck out during a quick perusal of the list.
Pinnacle is a harmless release. I'm on the fence as to whether I would collect it or not, but if you do, it isn't the worst set that you could pick up. Call me unimpressed but slightly nostalgic.
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Born: September 17, 1990
Marcus was originally drafted by the White Sox in the 34th round of the 2008 draft. Semien did not sign and opted to go to the University of California, Berkeley instead. Chicago drafted Marcus again in the 6th round of the 2011 draft. This time Semien signed and started in Class A Kannapolis. Marcus rose through the ranks fairly quickly and eventually made his MLB debut on September 4, 2013, playing third base in New York against the Yankees.
In his first at-bat, Semien hit a single to right field against C.C. Sabathia. He would collect two hits that day, the other against David Robertson, resulting in Marcus' first RBI. From mid-September until the end of the 2013 season, Semien played regularly in the infield, mostly at third base. He got his feet wet and made a good impression. Marcus is setting himself up to possibly become the everyday third baseman in 2014.
Friday, December 6, 2013
Born: June 5, 1988
The first Brazilian born pitcher in the major leagues, to start and win a game, made his debut on July 30, 2013 for the Chicago White Sox. Andre went seven innings and gave up six hits, three runs, three walks and six strikeouts in a no decision against the Indians in Cleveland. Rienzo would have to wait nearly a month later until his first MLB win, on August 21st, against the Kansas City Royals.
Andre signed with the Pale Hose as an international free agent in November 2006. He slowly worked his way up the organizational ranks. After toiling in rookie and A ball through the 2011 season, Rienzo was promoted to AA Birmingham in 2012. Andre was added to the 40 man roster following the 2012 season. Rienzo's walk rate will need to improve slightly in order to stay in the rotation beyond 2013, but his enthusiasm and good extension should land himself a place on the team for the 2014 season. At only twenty-five years old, Andre has the potential to be a bright spot with the White Sox.
Sunday, November 24, 2013
Born: March 10, 1987
Charlie was selected in the eleventh round of the 2008 draft by the Chicago White Sox. Taking a slow and steady route through the farm system, Leesman seemed to be on the fringe of being called up for a few years. His 2012 season with the AAA resulted in a 12-10 record with a 2.47 ERA and 103 strikeouts, but what appeared to be an easy callup for 2013 was hampered by an ACL injury Charlie suffered in the 2012 International League playoffs.
Leesman was designated for assignment in April 2013 and picked up on waivers by the Texas Rangers. The Rangers assigned him to the minors, but Charlie became a free agent when he refused the assignment. Leesman signed with the White Sox, nine days after they DFA'd him. Charlie made his MLB debut on August 9, 2013, against the Minnesota Twins in the second game of a double header. Leesman was mostly thrown out of the bullpen in losing situations, where he was expected to stop the bleeding. His 7.04 season ERA mostly came from a game against the Cleveland Indians where he gave up seven runs without a single out. Charlie may be in the mix for the 2014 bullpen if he can build on his taste of the majors.
Saturday, November 2, 2013
Born: June 12, 1991
Avisail started his career in the Detroit Tigers organization in 2011. In 2012, he became the Tigers' minor league player of the year and made his MLB debut with Detroit on August 31, 2012 against the White Sox replacing Brennan Boesch in right field before the eighth inning. Garcia made enough of an impression that he made the 2012 postseason roster for the Tigers, playing in every series.
On July 30, 2013, Avisail was involved in a three-team trade, where the White Sox sent Jake Peavy to the Boston Red Sox and the Detroit Tigers sent Garcia to Chicago. The Tigers also sent Brayan Villarreal to Boston and the Red Sox sent José Iglesias to the Tigers. All three clubs improved their rosters with the trade. Since landing with the Pale Hose, Avisail has thrived with the opportunity to play everyday in right field. Garcia looks to be one of the cornerstones of the next era of winning baseball of the South Side.
Monday, October 7, 2013
Born: February 12, 1988
Josh was selected in the first round (38th overall) of the 2009 draft by the Chicago White Sox. After an injury setback in 2010, Phegley moved up the ranks in the ChiSox minor league system until his call up in July 2013.
Phegley made his MLB debut on July 5, 2013 in a game against the Tampa Bay Rays, where he collected his first hit, a single, and his first RBI. Two days later, Josh hit his first home run off of the Rays' David Price. Four days after that, Phegley hit his first grand slam off of the Tigers' Anibal Sanchez.
After an initial power surge to kick start his career, Josh's bat cooled off and settled at .206 average. While he had four home runs of the 2013 season, three of those came in his first five games. It is unclear if Phegley will earn a backup position in 2014, but he will need to build on his major league experience for that to happen.
Thursday, October 3, 2013
Why have I been comparing the 2013 White Sox to a baroque pop outfit? Maybe because they're both a little baroque?
Can't be fixed?
I'll show myself out.
I could tell you that I am happy with the 2013 White Sox... and I wouldn't be lying.
Don't get me wrong, this season was awful, but it was only frustrating because I knew that this team was better than this and they were trying. A White Sox team from my childhood seemed to abandon all hope, yet that team had a better record. That team lost me before the season ended. The 2013 team had me watching all throughout the season, albeit from afar, in Michigan.
2013 was worse than 1989, as far as White Sox seasons go, yet I didn't feel abandoned by this team, as I did by the 1989 squad. While things were slowly improving behind the scenes in 1989, the team on the field was superbly lackluster, as they slipped further down than the previous year. The turnaround in 1990, seemed to come out of nowhere.
This past season slipped lower, but unlike twenty-four years ago, I can see a quick recovery. I'm not saying that the White Sox will be World Champions in 2014, but I think they can contend. Here's why.
2013 was a year of freak injuries. Danks was coming back from one, Floyd went down for the season, Beckham was injured at a key part of the season and shut down momentum, Crain went down early, Keppinger was playing hurt, and Flowers probably was too.
This team had a lot of career low years that happened concurrently. Every team goes through their share of slumps every year, but generally there are a few who carry the team through these periods. Most everybody slumped at the same time. It's rare that everyone slumps at the same time.
Great pitching was given by most on the pitching staff, but isn't noticed because of fundamental errors behind them in the field. Someone clicked the off switch on the defense and it cost the Sox a lot of games. The spotty defense taxed the pitching staff, giving the opponent four or five outs in an inning. Those add up quick. Shoring up the defense should be the number one goal of the offseason. A good chunk of that poor defense was from players playing hurt. The rest was just from down years.
The third worst winning percentage in the majors has a few advantages. The Sox were able to trade hefty contracts for prospects and some of these prospects have shown sparks in the latter half of the season. Injured players were able to shut down early, so they can be ready in 2014 at full strength. Low records equal high draft picks and with the scouting improved in the last few years, this should help greatly.
There are a lot of things to be optimistic about regarding the White Sox in 2014. If nothing pans out next season, at least there should be more White Sox baseball cards being made with all the players that have been/will be traded and/or promoted in the second half of 2013 and the first half of the 2014 season.
See? There's always a silver lining.
Friday, September 20, 2013
Born: April 21, 1980
Jeff is a pure contact hitter. A player who rarely strikes out and can play anywhere around the horn. Keppinger started that journey being selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2001 draft. Before he could reach the majors, Jeff was traded to the New York Mets, where he made his MLB debut on August 20, 2004. He spent time with the Kansas City Royals, Cincinnati Reds, Houston Astros, San Francisco Giants and Tampa Bay Rays.
Keppinger signed a three year deal with the Chicago White Sox on December 10, 2012. His numbers have been slightly below average in 2013, but near enough to his career average that there isn't concern. Jeff has stepped into the revolving door at third base and stabilized the position for nearly one fourth of the 2013 season. Second base is where he logs the most time for the Pale Hose, but he had also seen time at first base and designated hitter.
Tuesday, September 3, 2013
Born: April 22, 1982
David was born roughly an hour from U.S. Cellular Field in St. Charles, Illinois. He was first selected by the Seattle Mariners in the twentieth round of the 2001 draft, but did not sign. Purcey was selected by the New York Yankees in the seventeenth round of the 2003 draft, but did not sign. Persistence paid off, when in the 2004 draft, the Toronto Blue Jays selected David as the sixteenth pick overall in the first round. He made his MLB debut in 2008 with the Jays.
On April 18, 2011, Toronto traded Purcey to the Oakland Athletics three years to the day of his MLB debut. He was traded a little over a month later to the Detroit Tigers. David spent 2012 with the LeHigh Valley IronPigs, a AAA affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies. On November 15, 2012, Purcey signed with the White Sox. He made his ChiSox debut on July 5, 2013, against the Tampa Bay Rays, subbing for an injured Jesse Crain. After an atrociously high ERA in July, topping out at 9.00, David settled down in August and has lowered it under 1.50. Purcey has settled in nicely with Chicago.
Sunday, September 1, 2013
Tom made his MLB Debut with the Cleveland Indians on August 24, 1923, made two plate appearances, hit a double for his first hit and scored a run. He would make two more appearances for the Indians that year. Gulley would play in two games for them in April 1924, one in May and five in September. Tom did not play in the majors in 1925.
Gulley made his White Sox debut on April 13, 1926 against the St. Louis Browns. His Sox debut played out much like his MLB debut, resulting in a double and a run scored. His average apexed at .33 on April 18th, but sputtered down to .229 by his last MLB game on May 22, 1926. While with the Pale Hose, Tom would spell Bill Barrett in right field, but was quickly replaced by Spence Harris as Barrett's backup. After Gulley's final game, Barrett and Harris would share duty in right field until September 1926, when Pid Purdy played nine games at the position. Tom Gulley's bat may have been his ultimate demise, but his fielding with the Sox was an impeccable 100%.
Saturday, August 31, 2013
The White Sox traded with the San Francisco Giants to acquire Tom O'Malley for players to be named later, which turned out to be Mike Trujillo and minor league first baseman Pat Adams, on August 31, 1984. Tom played twelve games with the White Sox in September 1984. While he hit a paltry .125, he did hit two singles with the Pale Hose, one on September 7th, off of California Angels pitcher Doug Corbett and the other on September 29th, off of Seattle Mariners pitcher Salome Barojas.
O'Malley wasn't released by the White Sox until April 1, 1985. It is entirely feasible that Tom could have been included in the 1985 Topps set as a White Sox player, given that he made it all the way through spring before being released. I don't think O'Malley was any threat to unseat Tim Hulett at third base, but Tim didn't exactly thrill the world with his previous season's efforts either. The mid to late eighties were a strange time for the White Sox and some of the players could not make it anywhere else but in Chicago with the south side team. Aside from a few names and splashy players, most of the others were just filling in or passing through. Roy Smalley had a card with the White Sox in the 1985 Topps set, and he was traded away in February 1985.
Friday, August 30, 2013
Born: July 18, 1987
Conor started his career in the San Francisco Giants organization, playing on the major league level with them first in 2008, then in 2011 and 2012. Over all three years, Gillaspie only managed to appear in twenty-nine games for the former New York team. He had hit a combined .205 for his time with the Giants.
The Giants traded Conor to the Chicago White Sox on February 22, 2013 for minor league pitcher Jeff Soptic. Gillaspie immediately made an impact in Chicago, becoming the versatile utility player the Sox desperately needed. Conor has played in the infield and outfield for the Pale Hose and had appeared in over one hundred games in 2013. That is over triple the MLB time than his three years with San Francisco combined. Conor has already won games for the Sox. On August 22nd, Gillaspie hit a home run against Kansas City in the top of the twelfth inning that proved to be the game winner.
Thursday, August 29, 2013
More cards from the Beginnings set. Some pictures aren't the best quality, but they are the best quality available, presently.
8 - Carl Yastrzemski
23 - Ryne Sandberg
72 - Carlton Fisk
81 - Lou Brock
92 - Tadahito Iguchi
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Topps likes to pretend that all teams except for the Yankees, Dodgers and Cubs don't exist sometimes. Case in point: Rich "Goose" Gossage. If you look at the history of Gossage only through the flagship Topps series, Rich went from the White Sox in 1977 to the Yankees in 1978. The problem? Goose was last on the White Sox in 1976 and didn't get to the Yankees until 1978, yet he played in 1977. Gossage likely would have gotten a Pirates card in 1978 from Topps, if he went to almost any other team but the Yankees.
I'll give credit where credit is due and let Topps keep the 1978 Yankees card, but I'll throw in a 1977 Pirates card to make up for skipping a team that Gossage was with for an entire season.