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.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

WSC All-Stars: Rudy York 1947

Card #28 - Rudy York

Rudy was selected to his seventh and final All-Star game in 1947, as a reserve first baseman. The game was played at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois.

Although Rudy was selected, he did not appear in the game. York's last MLB game would be in September 1948, as a member of the Philadelphia Athletics.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Card Spotlight: 7-12-19

1990 Topps #569 - Ivan Calderon

Somewhere after 1987, I didn't purchase baseball cards too much. I think that was the phase where comic books took over more and music became more of a priority in my life.

I still went to games. I still was a die hard White Sox fan, but I just didn't seek out cards, for whatever reason. One day, in 1990, I went into my local drugstore and decided to see what the new Topps cards looked like. I bought a pack and opened them in the parking lot, on my bike. Ivan Calderon was in that pack.

I thought the gradient and the dots were an exciting design choice. This one pack and this one card rekindled my passion for collecting cards. I don't know what would have happened if there wasn't a White Sox card in that pack. There was also a Nolan Ryan 5,000 card in there too that piqued my interest. The Nolan Ryan card was cool, but if there wasn't a White Sox card in there, it may not have held my interest long enough to consider purchasing another pack.

It just goes to show that any card can spark something that inspires you to collect. I was only in it to collect the White Sox team set, but got sucked into collecting everything again. I fizzled out around the strike and got back in again thirteen years later. You never can tell where inspiration is going to strike or what is going to create that initial spark.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

2019 Topps Total Wave 1

Topps Total made a comeback in 2019 as an online exclusive. Many remember Topps Total as a behemoth set that came out for a few years in the mid-2000s. It was a no-frills release with a lot of players. For a few fringe bench players, this would be their only card during their playing career.

Topps has resurrected Topps Total as an online exclusive on demand limited window print. There must be another catch too, right? Yes. It is only sold in packs of ten cards for $10. Each wave is one hundred cards. There are three parallels of each card, numbered to ten, five and one. Plus, there are scattered autographs that might pop up, but not of every player.

Response to purchasing directly from Topps has been lukewarm, at best. This only means that the value will be potentially more with a limited print run. That being said, with no upgrades to the basic set from the mid-2000s, I'm not sure collectors will pay top dollar for this set.

The White Sox have three cards in wave one.

58 - James McCann
75 - Alex Colome
86 - Adam Engel

I liked the idea of Topps Total in the mid-2000s. The reappearance of the brand sparked joy in my heart, but like most decent sets, when they are relaunched, the company tinkers with the integrity just enough to where it looks the same, but it feels quite different. Ten cards for $10 is pretty steep for this re-imagined brand. I understand that you have a chance at an autograph or a card that is numbered to ten or lower. You know what? You have that same chance with most packs today and those can be had for $3 or lower. When you factor in the lower print run, you can probably, at best, tack on another dollar or two to the price of a pack.

The idea is sound, but like most other card sets that are rebranded, the execution leaves something to be desired. The print run for wave one is 5,837. That isn't as limited as most numbered parallels. Time will tell if these hold their value, but I wouldn't hold my breath.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Card Spotlight: 7-5-19

1965 Topps #208 - Tommy John

On January 20, 1965, Tommy John was traded from the Indians to the White Sox in a three team trade also involving the Kansas City Athletics. The trade came early enough for Topps to include Tommy as being on the White Sox, but late enough that Topps had to use a Cleveland Indians photo. Still, this would mark the first White Sox card for Tommy John.

Tommy would spend seven seasons with the White Sox before being traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Dick Allen. Tommy would pitch until the 1989 season, at age forty-six.

Post career, Tommy had a son who died by suicide in 2010. He has since become involved with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. My uncle committed suicide in 2007 and I have participated in the AFSP Out of the Darkness walks in the Chicagoland area. Tommy has been a special guest speaker for several years, usually giving a speech before the walk begins.

It's nice to see Tommy towards the beginning of his career here. He spent parts of two seasons with Cleveland before coming to the White Sox. Tommy is now mostly identified by the surgery that bears his name, being a pioneer patient for that specialty. It's sometimes easy to forget that Tommy had twenty-six year career in the majors. Sometimes we just need to be reminded.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Happy Fourth Of July

If you're celebrating today, make sure you're responsible and play it safe and fun!
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