Friday, September 13, 2019

Card Spotlight: 9-13-19

1950 Bowman #38 - Bill Wight

Just a quick one today, as I've got a mini movie marathon to scare one of my daughters and my wife with. If you see the date, you can guess the movie series.

Sometimes I just look at all the cards that have received the spotlight treatment on this blog and I'll see a year or a series that's not represented much or at all and I'll explore options to fit those criteria. This would be one of these posts.

Bill Wight certainly wasn't a rookie when he got this rookie card, but cards were scarce in the forties and a lot of players didn't get cardboard love until much later. Some never got it at all.

Bill spent three seasons with the White Sox and twelve in the MLB. 1950 would be the last with the White Sox.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Card Spotlight: 9-6-19

2019 Donruss #113 - Yoan Moncada

I am sitting here at the computer digesting the latest offering from Tool called Fear Inoculum. While it's pleasing to the senses, it will take many more listens to fully appreciate the intricacies and skill that went into making the first album in thirteen years by one of my favorite bands in the metal vein. They have come a long way from Opiate and Undertow. Undertow and Ænema are two of my favorite albums from Tool, but all their output has been pretty stellar. This latest release is no exception.

Filled with ten minute songs, it's a treat for the senses. There is meaning behind each note and far removed from the typical pop fluff that finds its way on the charts.

What does any of this have to do with baseball, the White Sox, Donruss or Yoan Moncada? Like Tool, Moncada just keeps getting better with age. Not only is he is living up to his potential and he's breaking perceived ceilings to escalate his performance to new heights.

His average is way up. His home runs are up. His strikeouts are down. His play in the field has drastically improved. Yoan has really come into his own this year.

The only thing that is wrong with Moncada is this card, filled with a field of dreams of many a softball team. That logo-less uniform just looks horrible and ruins a perfectly good Leaf 2000s throwback design with a bit of 2000s Donruss thrown in for good measure. I will be a very happy consumer when Topps no longer has a monopoly on team logos. It's just better for everyone. Competition is healthy in business. Variety is wonderful and one company should not be able to have full access and free reign to do whatever they please.

Someday, these card companies not named Topps will be elevated to the greatness that they deserve. I won't have to do college level research to find out if Chicago means the White Sox or the Cubs on these unlicensed cards. Not really on the MLB players, but the prospects. If they choose a fringe prospect, it turns into a chore when I have to constantly look up what organization said prospect is in.

This is supposed to be an enjoyable hobby. Monopolies do not make me happy. Monopoly is the worst game that always leads to arguments. That's the feeling I get when I think about Topps stranglehold on the logos and team names.

It takes things like Tool's new album and Moncada's newly found successful stats to soothe me. Panini makes a lot of decent cards. They don't deserve softball status. Let them have logos!

Friday, August 30, 2019

Card Spotlight: 8-30-19

2003 Topps #546 - Bartolo Colon

You know what's surprising? Bartolo Colon has not pitched in the majors in 2019. I know he's forty-six, but he's still capable, to my knowledge. How some fledgling team looking for veteran presence hasn't given him a shot, I'll never know.

I could see the Orioles or the Marlins or the Tigers wanting him on their staff, just to eat innings at this point. And of course, to provide some clairvoyance to the rookies coming up.

The White Sox took a chance on Bartolo in 2003 and again in 2009. Colon even won a Cy Young award between his stints with the White Sox. I'm actually a bit surprised that he hasn't popped up on the White Sox in 2019. With all the injuries that the pitching staff has endured this season, and the inability to find a solid fifth starter, Bartolo actually makes a lot of sense.

Maybe at this point of his life, Bartolo is more content with day drinking on boats. That's what I'd probably want to do today instead of working, but I'm not a multi-millionaire and I have to pay the bills. Maybe I'll do some night drinking tonight, celebrating my fifth wedding anniversary, but I doubt it. And if I do, I highly doubt that maritime activities will be involved.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Card Spotlight: 8-23-19

2019 Topps Living Set #219 - Harold Baines

I'll just say that I love the idea of the Topps Living Set. I'm not too crazy about the price per card, but it is what it is. The cards look fantastic and there are no repeats of players (at least until they change teams and I'm OK with that).

My day started early today because of Taylor Swift. I handle the movies, music and books at my store and today was the release of Taylor Swift's new album. I'll just say that it is not my cup of tea, but if she can get grown women to purchase five different variations of the same CD, I am definitely in the wrong business. The covers aren't different, except for the version number. The songs are exactly the same. The only differences are four different excerpts from her personal diary and four different posters. Also some photos, but I'm unsure if they are different with each version or not. That's it. Each CD doesn't have a different version of the same song on it. The two bonus "audio memos" are exactly the same on each of the deluxe versions. Then there's the standard version with no bonus tracks, in a regular jewel case. It really reminded me of all the parallel versions of baseball cards and how some of us are suckered into collecting them all.

I needed to really get away from parallels today. I thought about posting a yellow Walgreens parallel that I have from 2019 Topps, but thought better of it. I decided to get as far away from parallels as I can in today's collecting landsape. That would be Topps Living Set.

This will be the only Harold Baines White Sox card in this set. That is comforting. There is an artist's version of a not overused photograph of the player. It makes the cards have a unique feel among the rest of card releases.

The rest of the day was as unparalleled as I could possibly get. Some of the family and I took a trip to Grand Rapids, a town that I have never visited before, picked up some Pink Zebra product that my wife bought from a retiring seller. Yes, she is selling that, in addition to all the rest of the time consuming and amazing jobs that she does. We went to Arnie's, a restaurant that I've never been to before, and had a great meal that came with a free cupcake. I chose White Chocolate Raspberry. It was delicious.

I received this card in a way that I don't typically get cards... on Twitter. I got a great price from someone who was putting together a bulk order. I got one for the White Sox collection and one for the Baines collection.

It's been an unparalleled day. A wonderful day. I'm just not a huge Taylor Swift fan. And that's OK. If you have a problem with that, you should just shake it off.

Damn.

At least that has more to do with The Rock lip synching that song on television than being a fan of her music.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

2019 Topps Total Wave Two

I've already waxed poetic about the things wrong with the comeback of Topps Total in the review of Wave One. The price point and distribution is all wrong for the type of card Topps Total is supposed to be. For good or for bad, we are now stuck with this well intentioned monstrosity.

Wave two is similar to wave one. There are another one hundred cards in the set. It is only available in ten card packs for ten dollars on the Topps website. If you miss the window, you are thrown to the wolves of the secondary market.

The print run for wave two is 753, which is considerably lower than wave one. There are the numbered parallels and the random autographs too. All to create the illusion that you might be able to get value out of your purchase. That is truly in the eye of the beholder. I don't put much stock into this release, but I'm sure there are those who do.

The White Sox have four cards in wave two.

132 - Yolmer Sanchez
140 - Daniel Palka
142 - Caleb Frare
164 - Yonder Alonso

To say the player selection in wave two is underwhelming would be an understatement. I like Yolmer, but he is not going to set the collecting world on fire. He is a great clubhouse presence, but he is a placeholder player, unless he really elevates his game another few levels. I like Daniel Palka, but he needs to figure out how to adjust quicker or he's going to be the ultimate AAAA player. I like Caleb Frare, but it's a bit too early to say how he's going to ultimately fit in the bullpen. He could surprise us all and be elite one day. Yonder's time with the White Sox resulted in a .178 batting average. That is 72 points below his lowest batting average with any team he has been with. His previous low was .250 with the Cleveland Indians in 2018. Alonso is currently hitting .317 with the Rockies through twenty-five games. Let that sink in. It can't all be explained by playing in Colorado.

The only way this wave gets more depressing is if they added Odrisamer Despaigne, Ervin Santana and A.J. Reed. Don't get me wrong. I like all the players that have been on the White Sox (except for Nick Swisher). There are just some players that are more exciting than others. These four players probably sounded a lot more promising in the planning stages. That happens. We'll see if things get more exciting in wave three.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Draft Years: 1972

 With the twelfth pick in the 1972 amateur draft, the White Sox chose outfielder Mike Ondina out of Rancho Cordova, California.

Mike spent six seasons in the White Sox minor league system, not once getting a call-up. He hit a combined .254 average over eight seasons in the minors, six with the White Sox and two with the Royals, before calling it quits.

Ondina kept getting a little bit worse, the further he climbed the minor league ladder. It's not surprising that even on some of the questionable teams of the seventies, the Sox decided against giving him a shot at the MLB level.

The 1972 draft was not loaded with a lot of exceptional talent, but there were a few standouts. Dennis Eckersley Dick Ruthven, Dave Chalk, Jamie Quirk, Chet Lemon, John Candelaria, Willie Randolph and Rick Honeycutt were all taken after Mike Ondina. Along with a handful of other notable names.

The White Sox should have taken...






Gary Carter.
The man who scouted him for the Expos was known for his shenanigans and secrecy, so it could be understandable why a talent like Carter dropped to the third round and 53rd overall. It would also be a good bet that an injury that Gary suffered also cooled teams off from drafting the three-sport star.

Gary could have really solidified the backstop position for the Pale Hose in the seventies. Can you imagine an early eighties catching tandem of Fisk and Gary Carter? The Sox would have been set for many years.

I'm also going to be greedy and say that instead of outfielder Cleo Kilpatrick, the White Sox should have picked Dennis Eckersley with their second pick.

Both Gary Carter and Dennis Eckersley were available until the third round. Eck was picked second in the third round (50th overall) and Carter was picked a few selections later (53rd overall). An Eckersley/Carter battery has a nice sound to it.

Out of the twenty-four players selected by the White Sox in the 1972 draft, only five made it to the majors. Bruce Robinson, George Enright, Mike Overy, Nyls Nyman and Jim Lentine. Only George Enright (two games, one at-bat) and Nyls Nyman (parts of four seasons) ever made it to the majors with the Chicago White Sox.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Card Spotlight: 8-16-19

2013 Topps #20 - Kevin Youkilis (Out Of Bounds Variation)

Kevin Youkilis on the White Sox is a prime example of how the White Sox used to think. Get a popular player, who is on the wrong side of thirty, with just enough left in the tank for a few thrills, but not enough to match their previous greatness. Either that or sign a superstar that is well past their prime and have ticket sales coast on their name without adding much to the team. Kevin Youkilis was much closer to the former than the latter, but it should be noted that his career did end in June 2013, with his last team, the New York Yankees.

There were certainly great moments with Youkilis on the White Sox and I was very excited to have Kevin on the White Sox. I'm still glad that he was a part of the team. That doesn't necessarily mean that Youkilis was good. He was definitely in the end stages of his career, even at age thirty-three.

I tried collecting the rainbow, meaning all the parallels, but I think I am still a card or two short. I know I don't have the platinum parallel. I might be missing another parallel. I do have the out of bounds variation. Maybe one day I'll complete the rainbow.


Friday, August 9, 2019

Card Spotlight: 8-9-19

1954 Bowman #54 - Chico Carrasquel

This week's spotlight focuses on Chico Carrasquel. Chico was purchased from the Brooklyn Dodgers by the Chicago Whtie Sox before he reached the majors. Making his debut with the White Sox in 1950, Chico would spend six seasons with the Pale Hose and four All-Star selections, before he was traded to the Cleveland Indians.

Arguably, Carrasquel was one of the greatest players to wear number seventeen for the White Sox. I can certainly think of more accomplished players who wore seventeen, but the majority of their prime successes came with other teams.

Chico and the White Sox tried for a reunion in 1960, but it was never meant to be. Carrasquel signed in January and was released by April. That still does not squash the legacy that he left behind in Chicago, where he came in third for Rookie of the Year and was twice considered for MVP.

Carrasquel started a Chicago White Sox tradition of Venezuelan shortstops and became the first Latin American player to start an All-Star game. He had to fill the shoes of Luke Appling and did so admirably, with great defense. No wonder Chico is still mentioned with the White Sox greats. He embodied what most White Sox fans resonate with... great work ethic and a little spunk.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

2019 Allen & Ginter

It's that time of year again. Allen & Ginter time!!

It's one of the releases that I always get excited about. Everything from the feel of the cards to the look of the cards to the strange and interesting subject matter sprinkled in with the baseball players. It all adds up to be one of the best sets of the year, every year.

This year I decided to go in cold turkey. I actively avoided checklists, so I could be surprised when I opened my first packs. Boy, was I ever surprised with the results. Two of my absolute favorite White Sox players are in the set this year. Along with some of my favorite rookies and another Hall of Fame favorite, this team set shapes up to be one of my favorite of the year.

I will be a little unorthodox with my checklist this year. You'll know exactly where. You can choose to include the card if you want. If not, I completely understand.

The White Sox have ten cards in the set this year, including and optional card and two short prints.


118 - Frank Thomas

This Hall of Fame player is always welcome. I WILL believe the hype!


119 - Michael Kopech

I was so excited for Kopech day. I will be the same level of excited upon his return.

120 - Yoan Moncada

I am impressed with how big a leap Yoan has made this year.

121 - Jose Abreu

I'm hoping Abreu gets to stick around. I like him.

139 - Harold Baines

OMG!!! Total and welcome surprise!!!!


161 - Sister Mary Jo Soieck

This is the optional card. I'm including it because she did the first pitch with the White Sox and it's a great South Side story.


264 - Yonder Alonso

I was hopeful for Yonder when the Sox signed him. I wish him the best in Colorado.

272 - Carlton Fisk

Some Fisk MOJO!!! Both of my childhood idols in one team set? YES, PLEASE!


366 - Daniel Palka

What are you gonna do when Palkamania runs wild over you??? I hope he regains some momentum.


398 - Eloy Jimenez

Adventurous in the outfield, but he's learning and getting better. I'm glad he's getting MLB experience.

This is probably my favorite Allen & Ginter White Sox lineup so far!! Very solid effort.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Card Spotlight: 8-2-19

1996 Stadium Club Megaheroes #1 - Frank Thomas

I really did not collect much past 1994 in the nineties. I will still run across cards that I will actively wonder "what were they thinking" or "who greenlit that?" all the time.

This takes a lovely picture of Frank Thomas in the end stages of his picture perfect swing and puts some unholy concoction of the looming steroid epidemic, Queen's News of the World album and America's love of fast food (seriously is that guy super jacked or super fat?) and rolls it up into some animated background from a Paula Abdul video. What is this mess staring seductively at Frank Thomas?

I can see this animator's nightmare putting on some Sade and whispering sweet nothings into the Big Hurt's ear, like, "You're going to publish a grilling cookbook after you're Hall of Fame career" or "Jay Mariotti wears the skirt, not you", while he attempts to either give Frank some weightlifting advice or prepare to devour him whole, like a snake. A cold hearted snake. See? He really does belong in a Paula Abdul video. And is that an eight-pack that he's sporting or is he about to nurse a farrow of piglets? This card is going to give me nightmares all weekend. I fear for Frank's safety.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Card Spotlight: 7-26-19

2014 Allen & Ginter #334 - Erik Johnson

I had high hopes for Erik Johnson. It seemed like he had good stuff, but nothing clicked on a consistent basis. I was confident that he would become a reliable fourth or fifth starter, but alas, it never came to fruition.

Probably the most notable part of his playing career was being part of a trade with the San Diego Padres in 2016. Erik went to San Diego along with a highly touted prospect name Fernando Tatis Jr., for a veteran starter named James Shields. That trade worked out for both teams, in a way. Tatis Jr. is now a force on the Padres MLB roster. Shields became a mentor and a stable presence for a few seasons on the South Side. Erik Johnson made a few appearances with the Padres in 2016 and spnt the rest of his time, through 2018, in the Padres minor league system.

Erik was part of the rebuild process before it was officially called that. He was good enough to make a lasting impression on the Sox for a few seasons, but unfortunately, he was not memorable enough for most fans to easily recall him a few years later. The most common reaction would be, "Oh yeah, I remember him on the team."

That's a shame, because Johnson had great potential. It just never all gelled together the way we all would have liked. Still he was a part of some interesting teams and anyone who can rack up some wins instantly has great stories to tell.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Opening My First 2019 Allen And Ginter Blaster

This year I decided to approach Allen & Ginter a little bit differently. I made a conscious effort not to seek out any information. No checklist. No eBay browsing. Not one thing other than the fact I knew about the Sister Mary Jo Sobieck card.

I saw the release date come and go and there was no sign of the vendor at my store. So, I went searching for the familiar boxes that the trading cards get delivered in. I enlisted the help of a manager today, because I was sick of waiting for the vendor to come and put them out and I was not spotting them in the back.

After about ten minutes he comes out with a blaster box and I was ecstatic. I made my purchase and headed home to explore the wonders of Allen & Ginter.

The first White Sox card I encountered was Yoan Moncada. Nice picture. Solid card.

The next White Sox card knocked me off my feet because I was not expecting it.
BAINES MOJO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

I was really not expecting Harold to be in this set. I LOVE this card!!! It's almost like the card is responding to my surprise reaction of it being in the set by saying, "evidently".

One White Sox Hall of Fame player was followed by another.
It's nice to know that Frank Thomas is a Gemini. My astrologer says I shouldn't believe in such nonsense, but still gladly takes my money. Such is the life of a Libra, which I would say if I believed in that... which I don't.

The next White Sox card is bittersweet. You see, Yonder Alonso is no longer with the White Sox. After a very poor performance, Yonder was designated for assignment and released. He's already played a few games for his new team, the Colorado Rockies. I hope he does better than he did in Chicago. Alonso is a very nice guy, but he had a horrible 2019 with the White Sox.

Out of forty-eight cards, four were White Sox cards. Not too bad. It was a pleasure to open Allen & Ginter, as always. Topps seems to always find a way to keep this set fresh without straying too far from the previous releases.

WSC All-Stars: Joe Haynes

Card #29 - Joe Haynes

Joe was selected to his first and only All-Star game in 1948, as a reserve pitcher. The game was played at Sportsman's Park in St. Louis, Missouri.

Joe did not not appear in the game. The American League won the game 5-2.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Card Spotlight: 7-19-19

1948-49 Leaf #59 - Luke Appling

I'll throw a quick card up today for the spotlight. It's my only day off and I'll be spending it putting together a new office space that will be less cramped.

The forties have been a fascinating time for baseball cards. Since there were rationing of various materials for the war effort, baseball cards were pretty low on the list of priorities. The New York teams and superstar players of the day always found a way to get on cardboard, even in the leanest of times. The White Sox had no household name superstars, like Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams. The best player in those days was Luke Appling, a superstar in his own right, but really only a household name for Chicagoans and baseball fans.

I can envision a scenario where Luke is mentioned and it becomes similar to the introduction of Starlord in Guardians of the Galaxy.

Who?! Oh, that guy. He's pretty good, but he's on the wrong Sox.

Such is life.

Seeing a White Sox player on a 1940s baseball card is such a treat. It might actually be possible to collect every White Sox card from the forties at a reasonable price. From 1942 through 1946, I haven't been able to find evidence of any White Sox player on cardboard. There are a few releases in those years, but none I've found has White Sox players included.

The remaining years of the forties that do have White Sox cards in sets, they are in such minuscule numbers compared to the amount of players on east coast teams, that I think I have found a new collecting angle for myself.
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