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

Sunday, June 7, 2015

WSC Birth Years: Matt Albers

Card #177 - Matt Albers

Born: January 20, 1983

Matt graduated from a high school near Houston, Texas in 2001. The Astros took him in the 23rd round of the 2001 draft. Albers made his way through the Houston farm system until he made his MLB debut with the Astros on July 25, 2006. He switched back and forth between the bullpen and the starting rotation for his two years with the Astros and his first year with the Orioles in 2008. Matt spent three seasons with Baltimore, before spending time with the Red Sox, the Diamondbacks, the Indians and the Astros for a second time.

Albers signed a minor league contract with the White Sox on February 13, 2015. He features a sinkerball thrown in the mid-90s and offsets that with a hard slider and a curveball. Matt appeared in four games with the Pale Hose before suffering a broken finger in a brawl with the Kansas City Royals on April 22, 2015.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

2015 Diamond Kings

Diamond Kings really class the place up. They are usually more artful than the average card. Mostly on since 1982, Diamond Kings have separated Donruss from the competitors. Even the worst Donruss releases benefited greatly from the inclusion of Diamond Kings.

It is nice to see Panini revive this storied franchise. The only mark against this release is the same reason that killed Donruss in the first place, all the parallels. There are less parallels than in the mid-aughts, but they are there nonetheless and it is a little sad to see.

The most exciting thing about this release is the varied checklist. There is a healthy mix of current and former players, including a couple Black Sox, an under-appreciated player from the twenties, a few standby Hall of Fame options, and a rookie who is two teams removed from his MLB debut with the White Sox just nine months ago.

The White Sox have nine cards in the set.

8 - Alexei Ramirez
29 - Chris Sale
73 - Joe Jackson
77 - Jose Abreu
89 - Lefty Williams
93 - Luke Appling
108 - Nellie Fox
143 - Willie Kamm
151 - Andy Wilkins

This is a welcome addition to any White Sox collection. The mix of players is fantastic and comes with surprises. This is definitely not your cookie cutter release.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Draft Years: 1967

 With the thirteenth pick in the 1967 amateur draft, the Chicago White Sox chose third baseman Bill Haynes, out of Headland High School in East Point, Georgia. Bill had an eight year career between the White Sox and the Kansas City Royals. Despite a .303 career batting average, Haynes never made it past AAA ball. He only spent two seasons in the White Sox farm system before moving to the Royals farm system.

Vida Blue, Dave Kingman and Jerry Reuss all were drafted after Bill Haynes and before the second pick for the Sox at number thirty-three, a shortstop names Stuart Singleton, who also never made it to the majors. At this point, the White Sox had two opportunities to choose my pick and failed to get the job done, instead wasting their picks on minor league filler.

The better choice would have been the thirty-ninth pick...

Don Baylor.


Don enjoyed a nineteen year career, appeared in an All-Star game, won an MVP and won three Silver Sluggers. This is the first pick that the White Sox truly wasted. Out of fifty picks in the entire 1967 draft, the White Sox picked three that barely made it to the majors. Chris Ward, Dennis O'Toole and Jim Norris. Basically the White Sox batted .060 for the '67 draft and all three "hits" were bunts that fooled the third baseman by straddling the line and never going foul. Don Baylor would have been a much more solid hit.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

WSC Birth Years: Emilio Bonifacio

Card #176 - Emilio Bonifacio

Born: April 23, 1985

Emilio originally signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2001, making his MLB debut for them on September 2, 2007. Since his debut with the D'backs, Bonifacio has appeared in games for the Nationals, the Marlins, the Blue Jays, the Royals, the Cubs and the Braves before signing with the White Sox for the 2015 season.

Emilio signed on as a super-sub and he has really lived up to that billing. In the first two months of the 2015 season, Bonifacio has played at second base, third base and center field, as well as pinch hit and pinch run.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Meet The 2015 Candidates

It's time to vote again for the WSC Hall of Fame.

Some names may look familiar, others may not. The voting encompasses the White Sox from 1894 through five seasons ago. I try to keep a healthy mix of players from all throughout White Sox history. Here's a little about each candidate.

Oscar Gamble (1977, 1985)
Oscar was originally part of the '77 South Side Hitmen, endearing himself to the south side faithful with his outlandish hair, unusual batting stance and machismo. He hit .297 with 31 homers for the 1977 team. He returned to the Sox in 1985 for a good chunk of the season to wrap up his MLB career.

Jerry Hairston (1973-1977, 1981-1989)
Jerry specialized in pinch hitting, which is why he spent parts of 14 seasons with the Pale Hose. Hairston pinch hit in his last game and fittingly singled.

Dummy Hoy (1900-1901)
William joined the Sox in 1900, during the last season as a minor league team. He was with the team when the Sox became a major league team in 1901. The 39 year old Hoy led off  and played center in 1901 becoming the first MLB batter for the ChiSox. He led the league in walks and hit-by-pitches, while helping the Sox to their first MLB AL pennant.

Frank Isbell (1896-1909)
Frank played first, second and outfield. He led the AL in stolen bases in 1901 with 52. Isbell was a pennant winner in 1901 and a World Champion in 1906. He was first in first base assists in 1901 and 1902. He was first in fielding range at first base in 1909. Frank is linked all the way back to the St. Paul Apostles team in 1896, two years removed from the beginning of the club in Sioux City, Iowa.

Fielder Jones (1901-1908)
Fielder led the league in sacrifice hits in 1904. He was first in fielding percentage in the outfield in 1903 and 1906. Jones also managed the team from 1904 until 1908. He was a pennant winner in 1901 and a World Champion in 1906.

Ron Karkovice (1986-1997)
Ron was the steady backup for Carlton Fisk until he finally became the first string catcher. He was first in caught stealing percentage in 1989, 1990 and 1993. He won the AL West pennant in 1993 and the AL Central pennant in 1994.

Al Lopez (1957-1965, 1968, 1968-1969)
Al managed the Sox to the pennant in 1959 to go along with five second place finishes during his tenure.

Jorge Orta (1972-1979)
Jorge was an All-Star for the Sox in 1975. He was the AL Player of the Week three times and finished second in AL batting average in 1974.

Gary Peters (1959-1969)
Gary was AL Rookie of the Year in 1963. He was an All-Star in 1964 and 1967. He was first in ERA in 1963 and 1966 and second in ERA in 1967. Peters won 20 games for the Sox in 1964.

Bobby Thigpen (1986-1993)
Bobby established a then MLB record 57 saves in a season in 1990. He was an All-Star in 1990. Thigpen was first in finished games in 1988 and 1990. He was first in games pitched in 1990. Bobby was AL Pitcher of the Month for May 1990 and won the AL Rolaids Relief award in 1990.

Robin Ventura (1989-1998)
Robin won five Gold Gloves at third base. He was an All-Star for the Sox in 1992. He was first in Intentional Walks in 1998. Ventura was Player of the Month in July 1991. He was known for solidifying the defense at third base, which was a sore spot for many years before Robin took over.

Buck Weaver (1912-1920)
Buck was a World Champion in 1917 and an AL pennant winner in 1919. He was first in sacrifice hits in 1915 and 1916. Weaver batted .333 in the 1917 World Series and .324 in the 1919 World Series. He was the only third baseman that Ty Cobb would not bunt against.

Hoyt Wilhelm (1963-1968)
Hoyt had an ERA of 1.92 over the six seasons he spent with the White Sox. He racked up 41 wins and 99 saves during his tenure with the Pale Hose, mostly in relief appearances, all while perplexing hitters with his knuckleball.


Sunday, April 19, 2015

WSC Birth Years: Kyle Drabek

Card #175 - Kyle Drabek

Born: December 8, 1987

Kyle was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in the first round of the 2006 amateur draft. While in the Phillies minor league system in 2009, Drabek received the Paul Owens award, which are presented to the top pitcher and top position player in the Phillies farm system. On December 16, 2009, Kyle was part of a deal that sent pitcher Roy Halladay to the Phillies, from the Blue Jays. Drabek made his MLB debut for the Blue Jays on September 15, 2010. Since his debut, Kyle has been plagued with injuries which have limited his potential.

On March 27, 2015, Drabek was claimed off of waivers by the Chicago White Sox. He made his White Sox debut on Opening Day, April 6, 2015. Kyle finished his outing with a horrific 13.50 ERA, helped in part by a three-run homer to former White Sox outfielder Alex Rios, as his first batter. He has gotten a little better in later appearances, but time will tell if he regains any of his former glory.

Monday, April 6, 2015

2015 WSC Hall Of Fame Ballot

Here's a Hall of Fame that anyone can vote for: The White Sox Cards Hall Of Fame.

You can vote for as many or as few players as you want. The rules are the same as the MLB Hall of Fame. 75% of the vote will get a player in. At least 5% of the vote will keep a player on the ballot for next year. A player has to be away from the White Sox for a minimum of five years for ballot consideration. If a player cannot get 75% of the vote after 15 tries, he is taken off the ballot.

Last ballot, no one was voted into the WSC Hall Of Fame. Who will make it in this year?

The 2015 ballot includes a player for each positional spot on the field, a designated hitter, a manager, and pitching has been split into spots for starter, middle relief and closer.

Oscar Gamble - DH (5th year) 
Jerry Hairston - OF (3rd year) 
Dummy Hoy  – OF (2nd year)
Frank Isbell – 1st Base (4th year)
Fielder Jones – OF (5th year) 
Ron Karkovice - C (1st year)
Al Lopez – MGR (5th year) 
Jorge Orta  – 2nd Base (2nd year)
Gary Peters - P (5th year)
Bobby Thigpen - P (4th year)
Robin Ventura – 3rd Base (5th year) 
Buck Weaver - SS (3rd year)
Hoyt Wilhelm – P (4th year)

Voting will be through July 14, 2015, with the results announced shortly after. You can vote on the right sidebar. Any position left open due to election or cuts will be filled by another player next year.

The results should prove interesting. Have fun!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

WSC Birth Years: Will Ferrell

Card #174 - Will Ferrell

Born: July 16, 1967

On March 12, 2015, Will was traded to the Chicago White Sox by the Cincinnati Reds. The former Reds third baseman became the new White Sox designated hitter and the Pale Hose became Ferrell's seventh team in one day.

Will made a spectacular entrance via helicopter into center field, where he swaggered to the dugout to receive instruction. Ferrell struck out on five pitches in his only appearance and was quickly traded to the opposing San Francisco Giants to be their new catcher. He changed uniforms in the Giants dugout and was inserted into the game, becoming the first person to be traded and play for both teams in the same half inning of a single game.

Ferrell started off playing shortstop for the Oakland Athletics, who then traded him to the Seattle Mariners. The Mariners played him at second base, but them they traded him to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, who put Will in center field replacing Mike Trout. The Angels traded Ferrell to the Chicago Cubs for a washing machine. The Cubs used Will as a third base coach, then decided he should man first base. He made his first plate appearance and struck out. The Diamondbacks acquired Ferrell for some ballpark food and put him in left field. Will was traded to the Cincinnati Reds, who played him at first base. The Reds traded him to the White Sox, who used him as their DH. The Sox traded Ferrell to the Giants, who played him behind the plate. The Giants traded Will to the Dodgers, who used him as a pitcher. The Dodgers then traded Ferrel to the Padres, who put him in right field.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

WSC Birth Years: Minnie Minoso

Card #173 - Minnie Minoso

Born: November 29, 1925

As the first black Cuban player to appear in the MLB, Minnie paved the way for countless athletes after him. After becoming a star in the Cuban and Negro Leagues, Minoso signed a contract with the Cleveland Indians and made his MLB debut on April 19, 1949. He bounced between the parent club and the minors, mostly due to racial tensions of the time and not lack of talent, until he was traded to the Chicago White Sox on April 30, 1951, in a three team trade also involving the Philadelphia Athletics.

Minnie hit Chicago with a bang, hitting a 415 foot home run on the very first pitch he saw in his first at-bat against the Yankees on May 1, 1951. The Cuban Comet was second only to Mickey Mantle in WAR, runs scored, total bases, extra base hits, most times on base and runs created from 1951 until 1961 in the American League. He was second to Nellie Fox in triples and hits in the AL from 1951 to 1961. Minoso was also second to Luis Aparicio in stolen bases in the same period in the American League. Minnie would stay with the ChiSox from 1951 until 1957 before being traded to the Cleveland Indians for the 1958 and 1959 seasons. He came back to Chicago for the 1960 and 1961 seasons, spent 1962 playing for the St. Louis Cardinals, played for the Washington Senators during the 1963 season, and came back to the White Sox for the 1964, 1976 and 1980 seasons. He made appearances with the Miami Miracle of the Florida State League and the St. Paul Saints in 2003, to become the only player to have played professionally in seven different decades.

Minoso (aka Mr. White Sox) would make public relations appearances with the Chicago White Sox, up until his death on March 1, 2015. No matter where he went in his baseball life, Minnie always came back to the White Sox.
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