Sunday, April 24, 2016

WSC Birth Years: Rob Brantly

Card #192 - Rob Brantly

Born: July 14, 1989

Rob was selected in the 46th round of the 2008 amateur draft by the Washington Nationals, but chose not to sign. He was selected in the third round of the 2010 draft (100th overall) by the Detroit Tigers. Once with the Tigers, Brantly rose to the level of AAA, before being traded to the Miami Marlins on July 23, 2012. Fortune would smile on Rob, as he made his MLB debut with the Marlins less than a month later on August 14, 2012. He went 0 for 3 in his debut, but two days later, in his second game, Rob would hit a double or his first MLB hit.

The Chicago White Sox selected Brantly off of waiver wires on December 8, 2014. Rob would make his White Sox debut on September 2, 2015, striking out while pinch hitting in Minnesota. While he hit a paltry .121 in fourteen games with the Pale Hose, he had a perfect fielding percentage. On March 12, 2016, Brantly was claimed by the Seattle Mariners off waivers, where he would unsuccessfully battle Steve Clevenger for the backup catcher position. He started the 2016 season playing for the AAA Tacoma Rainiers.

Friday, April 22, 2016

2016 Topps Wal-Mart Marketside Pizza

I was surprised and delighted to see this set. It's been a long time since I can recall a licensed (or even unlicensed) baseball card food release. I stumbled upon this set accidentally while browsing through eBay for oddball baseball cards.

The cards can be found in specially marked Marketside pizza boxes, cheese bread and garlic bread boxes, exclusively at Wal-Mart. I hate to sound like a commercial for Wal-Mart, but that will be the only place to find them unless you hit the secondary market. From what I've heard, the pizzas aren't bad, but that is irrelevant. The important part is that there are new food issue baseball cards to be had! The promotion runs through the end of June 2016.

The set itself features fifty cards and a healthy mix of stars, rookies and even mascots. It's a bit strange, but definitely a sight for sore eyes.

The White Sox have two cards in this set.

17 - Chris Sale
39 - Jose Abreu

Tim Horton's ran a very successful hockey card promotion a few months back, so I will take this as a very good sign that things are headed in the right direction for further food issue sets. That is never a bad thing. It may never get back to the heyday of food issue sets, but I like the fact that the proverbial toe is being dipped in the water again. Or the nibble of a slice, as the case is for this food tie-in.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Lifetime Topps Project Trade

I will freely admit that my job takes too much of my time away from this blog. My family is also a culprit in my time away from the blog too. Both things I absolutely love and will not apologize one iota for occupying my time more frequently.

That being said, I miss the time that I would spend day in and day out on this blog, uncovering long buried hobby secrets, reminiscing about cup of coffee players from decades ago and being on the pulse of the hobby through my feverish pace of trades and daily monitoring of other card blogs.

I keep up when I can, but I know I'm not as in the loop as I was a few years ago. That's OK though. I keep up enough to where I can still hold up my end of a conversation about baseball cards. I still put my stored up knowledge to good use talking shop. I still keep up on new releases and what's going on in the hobby world. The information just doesn't arrive to me instantaneously anymore. It's more after work and between time with my wife and daughter.

I still love a good trade and when I can make it work, I am all over it. When The Lifetime Topps Project e-mailed me about a possible trade, I was excited. It had been awhile since I've traded and I was hoping to make it work. First, I would have to find time to rummage through my boxes to find some trade bait. It took some time, but I managed to find a few cards that were on the want list.

Full disclosure, the trade is lopsided. I feel bad about it, but sometimes a few cards that can get someone close to a completion goal is better than hitting a whole bunch of cards that make a small ripple in an ocean.

Here's what Charlie sent over.

1993 SP
253 - Alex Fernandez
255 - Bo Jackson

1993 Ultra
177 - Scott Radinsky

1994 SP
188 - Wilson Alvarez

1994 Upper Deck
3 - James Baldwin

1994 Upper Deck Electric Diamond
3 - James Baldwin
25 - Tom Fordham
43 - Alex Fernandez
57 - Julio Franco
156 - Ozzie Guillen
231 - Alex Fernandez
371 - Joey Cora

1994 Upper Deck Minors
8 - Brandon Wilson
128 - Eddie Pearson

1995 Pinnacle
226 - Frank Thomas

1995 SP Championship
137 - Jason Bere
138 - Robin Ventura

1995 SP Top Prospects
35 - Harold Williams
37 - Tom Fordham

1995 SportFlix
 157 - Scott Ruffcorn

1995 Stadium Club
33 - Joey Cora
155 - Jack McDowell

1995 Ultra
28 - Alex Fernandez

1995 Upper Deck
197 - Wilson Alvarez
254 - Jimmy Hurst
434 - Alex Fernandez
436 - Roberto Hernandez

1996 Upper Deck
387 - Frank Thomas

1998 SP Authentic
68 - Robin Ventura

1999 SP Authentic
21 - Mike Caruso

2003 SP Authentic
105 - Magglio Ordonez (1615/2500)

2004 SP Authentic
59 - Frank Thomas

2005 SPx
61 - Joe Crede

 2005 UD Origins
218  Brian Anderson

2005 UD Reflections
206 - Brandon McCarthy
275 - Sean Tracey

2007 Upper Deck
89 - Neal Cotts

2009 Upper Deck
588 - Jim Thome

2010 Upper Deck
137 - John Danks

Thanks, Charlie! These cards are awesome. Thank you for your generosity. I will keep my eye out for other cards that are on your list. This was a great trip down memory lane.

Monday, April 11, 2016

2016 Topps Opening Day

Another year, another Topps Opening Day release. This release may be just popular enough to stick around each year, but it's not all bad. A truncated release of the flagship set, it combines a lot of base cards from series one and peppers the set with a few previews of series two players.

Is this release necessary? Yes and no.

The Opening Day base set really just becomes a parallel handpicked set of the flagship release, but the upsides generally outweigh the downsides. The major upside is that, at $1 a pack for seven cards, this is a very affordable option for kids. This is usually a gateway pack to bigger and better sets. I hate to put it like that, but it does give novice collectors a very approachable way to get their hands wet into the world of card collecting. It also has fun and kid-friendly options for inserts.

The White Sox have four cards in the base set and a mascot card.

OD-55 - Carlos Rodon
OD-57 - Chris Sale
OD-170 - Jose Quintana
OD-198 - Avisail Garcia
M-21 - Mascot (Southpaw)

Opening Day is definitely no collectors' definition of a perfect set, but it doesn't need to be either. I commend the set for being very affordable and kid-friendly. It also gives a nice preview of a few players not represented in the flagship series one. Those are really the only reason for this set to exist. For some people, that's enough.

Friday, April 8, 2016

WSC Birth Years: Frankie Montas

Card #191 - Frankie Montas

Born: March 21, 1993

Frankie was originally signed by the Boston Red Sox in 2009. While pitching in rookie and class A ball, Montas was traded to the White Sox on July 30, 2013, in a three team deal that saw Jake Peavy go to the Red Sox and Avisail Garcia come to the White Sox from the Tigers. He was placed in Kannapolis class A, where he finished the season. Frankie would be called up to the majors on July 17, 2015, as the 26th man for a doubleheader, but never got into either game. He was sent back down.

Montas would get another taste of the big leagues on September 1, 2015, when the White Sox called him up when the rosters expanded. Frankie would make his MLB debut on September 2, 2015 against the Twins in Minnesota, striking out Miguel Sano to start his career. He finished the inning by retiring all three batters he faced. Frankie would leave the White Sox in the same manner in which he came to them, by a three team trade on December 16, 2015. Frankie went to the Dodgers, along with Micah Johnson and Trayce Thompson, while the Cincinnati Reds sent the White Sox third baseman Todd Frazier.

Friday, April 1, 2016

WSC Birth Years: Tyler Saladino

Card #190 - Tyler Saladino

Born: July 20, 1989

Tyler was selected in the seventh round of the 2010 draft by the Chicago White Sox. It was a long road to the majors for Saladino, but he did get long looks in most of the spring training games that he attended for the Pale Hose. Tyler finally cracked the big leagues on July 10, 2015, starting at third base, against the Chicago Cubs in Wrigley Field.

Saladino didn't do much in his debut, but he was adequate enough to be slotted for the backup shortstop position for the upcoming 2016 season, behind veteran shortstop Jimmy Rollins. Tyler's best shot in 2016 is to be a super utility man for a revitalized ChiSox infield. He has the talent and tenacity to make this situation work beautifully.

Friday, March 18, 2016

The Strange Retirement Path Of Adam LaRoche

The last few days have been some of the strangest that I can recall in my tenure as a White Sox fan. Past weird memories include a radio disc jockey forfeiting a game with exploding records, the dumping of a legendary catcher, Batgate and a player choosing to retire in the middle of a game without telling anyone. A player choosing to retire because he was asked that his son not be around 100% of the time has to be the strangest yet.

Let's disclose a few things up front before we dive into this. Adam LaRoche is a pretty awesome guy. The White Sox are a very family friendly organization. Adam's son Drake is a pretty stand up individual from what I've heard. The White Sox teammates are a pretty cohesive bunch of guys. I think these points 99.9% of us can agree on.

Let's piece this together. The White Sox did not have the greatest record in 2015. Adam LaRoche had one of his worst seasons in 2015. One could say that the organization and Adam LaRoche were both looking for a better 2016.

I have heard that a few teammates complained to Kenny Williams about Drake being constantly there. Rather than ban Drake outright, Kenny broached the subject with Adam by suggesting he "dial back" Drake's presence around the team. While one might consider this a fair compromise, another may consider that an insult. To me, four or five days of the week rather than seven sounds pretty fair. Drake would still be a presence, but not 100%. Life is about give and take, especially when you are dealing with multiple individuals. Management has the unfortunate task of dealing with complaints. It's not an easy part of the job, but when I'm put in that situation at work, I try to come up with solutions that are fair to everyone involved. This usually involves a sit down talk and some compromises.

Adam's immediate decision to this compromise was to retire. Doesn't that seem a little extreme? In my experience, if someone has a knee jerk reaction like that, they are likely thinking with emotion and not their head. The other possibility of that type of reaction? Adam was looking for an out and took advantage of this opportunity. LaRoche has one of his worse years last season and this season started off with a back injury. His Twitter letter today, even said that 2016 was likely his last year anyway. So, in my opinion, Adam either reacted on emotion and is too proud to back down or he was looking for an exit from baseball life. $13 million is hard to walk away from, but this could have given Adam some justification.

It will be here that I remind you, the reader, that I have no inside information and I am purely speculating. I will also remind you that I think LaRoche's decision to put family first is refreshingly awesome. I have no ill will towards the LaRoches' or the White Sox organization. This is just me trying to figure this out with logic.

I'll point out that Kenny Williams is not the easiest man to get along with and he does rub people the wrong way... a lot. I think in this one instance, he might not be entitled to the anger coming from Chris Sale right now. Chris Sale has been justified in his anger towards Kenny in the past. I just don't think that this is one of them. Chris is no fan of Kenny and he's just fueling the fire here.

There's also the issue of the gentleman's agreement between Adam and the White Sox regarding Drake. For arguments sake, let's say there was an agreement that Drake could be anywhere at any time with the White Sox. When multiple players complain about that unlimited access, do you ignore those complaints from multiple players or do you address the one player that it concerns? Regardless of which way Kenny Williams went with this, multiple people were going to end up unhappy. Clearly there are other issues going on if a team wants to boycott entire spring training games in the name of this.

Let's take a step back. Adam is fine with his decision. The White Sox respect his decision and gave Adam time to reconsider. Let's put the focus back on baseball and use this as a moment of solidarity. Let's move forward and win this whole thing.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

2016 Donruss

I have to say, Donruss is looking awfully Donrussy lately. I mean that in a good way, but also in a not so good way. The big "D" is a dead giveaway, but even without the Donruss logo, Panini has done an excellent job in creating the Donruss design feel. And that is wonderful news.

The not so good news? This is the third year of the renewed Donruss brand and only if you put a gun to my head, I might be able to tell those three years apart by design. Sure the designs are technically all different, but they are very similar in nature. So similar, in fact, that I had to do a second take when posting cards for sale online. That is a bit nitpicky, but it's a valid observation worth considering. If Panini doesn't step up the game with bolder designs, much like Donruss did in its fourth year, then this venture may come to a premature end, sooner rather than later. That being said, the design is sharp as usual and brings the right balance of nostalgia and newness.

The White Sox have six cards in the set.

6 - Chris Sale DK
88 - Jose Abreu
104 - Adam Eaton
108 - Chris Sale
163 - Carlos Rodon
180 - Frank Thomas

Keep in mind that this is only the base set with any Diamond Kings and Rated Rookies included. This doesn't list the 1982 set, the parallels and insert cards that litter most modern day releases. This is a solid little set, if you leave the extras out of it. Nice job, as usual, Panini.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

WSC Birth Years: Trayce Thompson

Card #189 - Trayce Thompson

Born: March 15, 1991

Trayce was originally selected in the second round of the 2009 amateur draft by the Chicago White Sox. Thompson moved up the ranks until he was called up on August 3, 2015. He made his MLB debut on August 4, 2015, pinch hitting for Adam Eaton in the bottom of the seventh in a blowout loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, striking out to end the inning. Trayce would replace Eaton again in center field on August 7, 2015, where he would later get his first MLB hit against Royals starter Edinson Volquez to start the top of the sixth inning.

Thompson provided a much needed defensive boost to the White Sox outfield in the last two months of the 2015 season. Trayce was about to settle comfortably into a platoon outfielder role for the 2016 season, when he was involved in a three team trade. The Sox sent Thompson, Frankie Montas and Micah Johnson to the Los Angles Dodgers, while the Sox received Todd Frazier from the Cincinnati Reds. Trayce appeared in forty-four games for the White Sox, batting .295, with five home runs and a .986 fielding percentage.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

WSC Birth Years: Zach Duke

Card #188 - Zach Duke

Born: April 19, 1983

Zach was drafter in the twentieth round of the 2001 amateur draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates. He made his MLB debut for Pittsburgh on July 2, 2005, starting in Milwaukee against the Brewers. Duke lasted seven innings, but still got a no-decision. Zach was fifth in Rookie of the Year voting and even made the All-Star team in 2009 as a representative of the Pirates.

2011 saw Duke join the Arizona Diamondbacks. It also saw the last of his regular starts, as he saw more of the bullpen in the middle of July 2011, in long relief. 2012 brought a stint with the Washington Nationals, until he was released in June 2013. Cincinnati picked him up for the remainder of the 2013 season. It was with the Reds that Zach started to revitalize his career. In 2014, he received an invitation to spring training with the Milwaukee Brewers. He made the club as a left handed specialist. The success in Milwaukee led to a three year contract with the White Sox in 2015, where he settled in nicely as part of one of the best bullpens in baseball.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

One Last Thank You Before 2015 Goes

 Best use of a Ron Karkovice card I have ever seen.

Thanks for the awesome artwork, Charley!
And for the extra cards.
Sorry for the late thank you.
Check out his new tumblr site.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas

I hope your holidays are joyous and safe.
Merry Christmas from White Sox Cards!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

WSC Birth Years: Carlos Rodon

Card #187 - Carlos Rodon

Born: December 10, 1992

Carlos was originally drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in 2011, but did not sign. In 2014, the Chicago White Sox selected Rodon in the first round of the amateur draft, third overall. Carlos quickly moved up the ranks in the White Sox farm system and made his MLB debut on April 25, 2015.

Rodon's MLB beginnings were encouraging, but a bit rough. During the last two months of the '15 season, Carlos smoothed out those rough edges and transformed himself into an even better pitcher. The smart money is on Rodon continuing to adjust, retool and focus on improvement, where he could eventually find himself near the top of the heap of MLB starting pitchers.
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