Sunday, August 23, 2015

WSC Birth Years: Adam LaRoche

Card #184 - Adam LaRoche

Born: November 6, 1979

Adam was drafted by the Florida Marlins in 1998, but did not sign. He was also drafted by the Florida Marlins in 1999, but did not sign. LaRoche was then drafted by the Atlanta Braves in 2000, where he chose to sign. He made his MLB debut for the Braves on April 7, 2004. Adam stayed with the Braves for three seasons until he was traded to the Pirates prior to the 2007 season. Two and a half seasons later, LaRoche was traded to the Boston Red Sox on July 22, 2009. His career as a Red Sox player was short lived, as Adam was traded to the Atlanta Braves on July 31, 2009, after playing six games with Boston. After the 2009 season, LaRoche was granted free agency, where he signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks. He would stay a season in Phoenix, then he would sign with the Washington Nationals in 2011, who lost Adam Dunn to the White Sox in free agency. LaRoche would come into his own during his stay in D.C., eventually signing with the White Sox through free agency before the 2015 season, effectively following the wake of Adam Dunn again, who left the White Sox during the 2014 season and retired after a stint with the Oakland Athletics.

LaRoche was brought in to fill the designated hitter role and to rest Jose Abreu at first base occasionally. Adam was signed mainly for his bat, but his hitting in the 2015 season has him flirting with career season lows across the board, not including his 2011 season, which lasted only forty-three games due to season ending labrum surgery on his left shoulder. After a rocky start in Chicago, his numbers are staying steady. If LaRoche can finish strong in 2015, he could be setting himself up for a monster 2016 season.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Saturday's White Sox - Cubs Game

I absolutely love going to the ballpark. The smell of the fresh air. The roar of the crowd. The action on the field.

The picture above was taken from my seat at Saturday night's White Sox/Cubs game. This was my first anniversary present from my wife. She got tickets for us, the kid and my mom. It was a nice family outing.

I spent the fifth inning tracking down the one cotton candy vendor, because the kid had her heart set on the sugary treat. The Sox didn't win, but we had a great time and there was a really decent fireworks show afterward. I even got a chuckle when Bobby Thigpen's brother started messaging me to bother his brother in the middle of a bullpen meltdown.

There was only one aspect of the game that kept the evening from being perfect. No, it wasn't the score of the game. It was one family, two rows in front of my family.

I was at a Crosstown series, so I expect there to be ribbing and some playful taunting. That just adds to the atmosphere. When it crosses the line, ruining the enjoyment of those around you, is when it needs to stop.

There was a family of three males and two females. The two females were mostly quiet. Around the seventh inning, one of the females even looked like she wanted to shrink down until she disappeared. I'm not sure of the dynamic of the family, so I'll just speculate here. The grandfather was a Cubs fan. The father was a Sox fan. The son was a Cubs fan. Every one of them seemed to be deaf, because the volume coming out of their mouths could drown out tornado sirens.

It seemed to be a two pronged attack against the "father" and the father had no problem dishing out insults and blowhard bravado right back at them. In the picture, he's the one in the Konerko jersey. Every time anything on the field happened, all I saw was that Konerko jersey blocking everything but the outfield. The "grandfather" would block the outfield portion of my viewing area. To be fair, right before the game started, the "father" did apologize and mentioned he would be standing up every time something happened. I swear, he was telling the complete and utter truth, not that prefacing this behavior with his non-apology excused this behavior. It did not. By the time I returned with cotton candy for the kid, I was done being my mild mannered self and started to loudly proclaim grand wishes of being able to actually watch the game that we paid for and the some inconsiderate people suck the enjoyment out of sporting events.

The males of the family continued to ignore my thinly veiled statements, but the females started to notice and that's about the time one of them wanted to be invisible. The other fans around me in my section felt the same way my family did, but chose not to be as loud about it. Oh, did I mention that alcohol was involved? It was, but my family was the one that only had water and Pepsi.

I did get to see the two Saladino plays, mostly because they both happened too fast for the jumping bean scream family to react. I had no idea that Robin Ventura was ejected from the game until I got back to my parents' house. That was how much this inconsiderate family blocked my view and distracted me during my anniversary present.

An obnoxious family like this is what gives team's fans a bad name. While the majority of fans are there to enjoy the game and have a good time, a slim few are there to knowingly ruin the good time of those around them. Well, loud family, you didn't ruin my good time, even though you tried like hell to do so. All your family did was show the fans sitting in section 117, what foul-mouthed, inconsiderate, loud jerks that you can be. Aren't you proud? You've succeeded. Maybe you'll get some kind of rusty award that will result in lockjaw.

Absolutely, you should have fun at the ballpark, but not at the expense of others around you. Be courteous to the fans around you.

One last thing... if you are aware of your behavior enough to pre-apologize for it, you are aware of it enough to change it.

Enjoy the game.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

After Seven Years There Are Cards For Sale

I have searched high and wide for an alternative to eBay. I used to have an eBay store called Mercury's Space and it did well enough for me to feed my hobby addiction and pay for itself. I was happy. I was content. It was a perfect symbiotic relationship. What cards I didn't want to keep or couldn't involve in a trade, I sold.

Then in 2008, eBay changed its pricing policies. The sole reason that my store thrived was the commons I offered. Buyers would come in for a higher priced item and fill up on commons. It got rid of my low demand inventory and made people happy. Then eBay screwed with my comfortable existence and no longer offered store items for under a dollar. There went most of my inventory. Every card was $1.00 or more, regardless of worth. I kept my under a dollar listings as long as I could. I even got nasty e-mails from eBay, stating that I would suffer penalties if I did not remove the merchandise. Eventually, all of my under a dollar merchandise was gone and my sales tanked. I had to close Mercury's Space and I have been on the hunt for an eBay alternative ever since.

Seven years later, I think I may have found the perfect online storefront. There are no listing or selling fees, so I can keep reasonable prices. It uses PayPal for payment, so there's no shady shenanigans, waiting for money to pop up. It took much longer than expected, but I think the wait was worth it.

Check out the new Mercury's Space. As of this writing, there are over 500 cards up for sale, with more being added daily. Explore the store. You might see something you like.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

WSC Birth Years: Jeff Samardzija

Card #183 - Jeff Samardzija

Born: January 23, 1985

Jeff was chosen by the Chicago Cubs in the fifth round of the 2006 amateur draft. He was also one of the country's top college wide receivers. Samardzija declined to enter the NFL draft, in order to sign a contract with the Cubs. Jeff made his MLB debut in 2008 and transformed himself into a premier pitcher, albeit one with the worst of luck. Despite having one of the best ERAs, paired with lights out stuff, Jeff only had two winning seasons in his six and a half years on the North side of Chicago.

On July 5, 2014, Samardzija was traded to the Oakland Athletics, after he rejected a five year deal from the Cubs. On December 9, 2015, Jeff was traded to the Chicago White Sox. After a slightly rocky start to 2015, Samardzija pitched well enough for the ChiSox to help change Chicago from a seller to a buyer at the trading deadline.

Monday, August 3, 2015

WSC Birth Years: J.B. Shuck

Card #182 - J.B. Shuck

Born: June 18, 1987

J.B. was drafted by the Houston Astros in 2008. Shuck made his MLB debut on August 5, 2011, against the Brewers, in the fifth inning, replacing pitcher J.A. Happ in the lineup and sliding into right field in place of Brian Bogusevic, who was replaced by pitcher Aneury Rodriguez. J.B. went one for two with a stolen base in his debut game.

After the 2011 season, he next popped up with the Angels in 2013, where he placed fifth in Rookie of the Year voting. Shuck was then purchased by the Cleveland Indians in September 2014, before he was picked up on waivers by the Chicago White Sox after the 2014 season.

J.B. has been one of the key components to the White Sox surge during the summer of 2015. He gives his all in the outfield and carries one of the higher batting averages on the team.

Monday, July 20, 2015

WSC Birth Years: David Robertson

Card #181 - David Robertson

Born: April 9, 1985

David was drafted by the New York Yankees in the seventeenth round of the 2006 amateur draft. He made his MLB debut with the Bronx Bombers on June 29, 2008 against the Mets. While settling into the relief core, Robertson was selected to the 2011 All-Star Game and faced the minimum in the bottom of the second, giving up one hit and getting one strikeout. David then moved up in responsibility to become Mariano Rivera's eighth inning setup specialist. When Rivera retired Robertson took over the closer role.

On December 10, 2014, David signed a four year deal with the White Sox and took over the closer role in the bullpen. Through the 2015 All-Star break, Robertson had nineteen saves and a 2.45 ERA under his belt.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Hours Left To Vote For The White Sox Cards Hall Of Fame

If you are the type of person that waits until the last minute, today is your lucky day! Voting for the White Sox Cards Hall of Fame ends tonight at 11:59 PM CST.

75% of the vote gets a player in and we have had quite the interesting battle this year. Everyone has gotten at least two votes, but it's mostly been a battle between Hoyt Wilhelm and Robin Ventura for top spot.

As of this post, Wilhelm has gotten 67% of the vote, but he has been over 75% for the majority of the time. Robin Ventura is right behind him with 65% of the vote, but he too has spent some time over 75%. Al Lopez, while only having 55% of the vote, is still only a few votes behind.

There are also a few players that are in danger of being dropped from the ballot, if they dip below 5%. It a balance between seeing deserving players getting another shot or going away to give others a chance. That's always a tough call to make with your vote.

Only 43 people have voted so far, so a few well placed votes can really make the difference!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

WSC Birth Years: Melky Cabrera

Card #180 - Melky Cabrera

Born: August 11, 1984

Melky signed as an amateur free agent in 2001 with the New York Yankees and made his MLB debut with them on July 7, 2005. Cabrera only saw action in six games during his first season, but saw regular playing time in every season since then. He spent 2005 through 2009 with the Yankees, then was traded to the Atlanta Braves for the 2010 season. The Braves released Melky after the 2010 season, over concerns of his ballooning weight. Cabrera signed with the Kansas City Royals for the 2011 season. He was then traded to the San Francisco Giants for the 2012 campaign, where he became an All-Star, but was subjected to a fifty game suspension. Melky signed as a free agent with the Toronto Blue Jays for the 2013 and 2014 seasons.

Cabrera signed with the White Sox on December 16, 2015 and was part of an off-season splash made by the Pale Hose with the signings of well known commodities to upgrade their lackluster areas. Melky has heated up since mid-June and could lead to a resurgence of the White Sox as a playoff contender in an up for grabs American League Central.

Friday, June 26, 2015

2015 Stadium Club

After some misguided starts in the past decade, it looks like Stadium Club might finally be back on track. Here's the thing... the sets almost always look fantastic, but little things like set identity confusion and sky high price points made the last few sets not sell well. Thankfully, there are no gimmicks like short-printing and serial numbering every third card and the price is more reasonable this year.

Are there parallels? There sure are. Inserts? You betcha! Sadly, this has been the norm for quite some time now and I do not see it going away. Some people chase parallels like chasing the dragon. It's fun and exhilarating, but you will never catch the dragon and you will never chase them all down. There are choices in life and I choose sanity.

Luckily, there is more to this set than just rainbows of color to collect and trashy gimmicks. There is the photography to marvel at. There is the player selection to awe at. There is the simplicity of design to ponder. There is a Hall of Fame cameo on a Hall of Famer card. This is truly a grand spectacle of modest proportions.

The White Sox have nine cards in the set.

69 - Chris Sale
112 - Paul Konerko
121 - Luis Aparicio
129 - Adam Eaton
152 - Jose Abreu
164 - Carlton Fisk (with Tom Seaver cameo!)
180 - Adam LaRoche
229 - Dayan Viciedo
256 - David Robertson

The only puzzling part of this is the inclusion of Dayan Viciedo. He is with his second club since leaving the White Sox. Melky Cabrera or Jeff Samardzija weren't better options here? Despite that little speed bump, this is a set that is a must have. There is a healthy mix of current and classic players and no crazy gimmicks designed to set it apart from other releases. This set stands on its own merits.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

WSC Birth Years: Dan Jennings

Card #179 - Dan Jennings

Born: April 17, 1987

Dan made his MLB debut with the Miami Marlins on April 30, 2012, after being selected in the ninth round of the 2009 amateur draft. Jennings crafted a reputation as a solid middle reliever with the Marlins. On August 7, 2014, while pitching for Miami in relief, Dan was struck by a line drive in the head in Pittsburgh, suffering a concussion, but returning to the mound less than a month later.

Jennings was traded to the White Sox on December 11, 2014, in exchange for Brazilian pitching sensation Andre Rienzo. Dan has had his share of success with Chicago, but he has also been plagued by a few bad outings, including a horrific 40.50 ERA in his ChiSox debut.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

WSC Birth Years: Micah Johnson

Card #178 - Micah Johnson

Born: December 18, 1990

Micah was drafted by the White Sox in the ninth round of the 2012 amateur draft. Johnson has steadily climbed the ranks in the minor leagues until he broke camp with Chicago in 2015.

Making his MLB debut on April 6, 2015, Opening Day, Micah went one for three. Johnson appeared in twenty-seven games before being sent down to AAA in mid-May. During that time, Micah batted .270 and stole three bases. Johnson's downfall was his defense. In the last seven games before being sent down, Micah committed three errors. A little more seasoning in the minors may build on this taste of the majors.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

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