Sunday, December 30, 2007

#29 - Jack McDowell

Black Jack McDowell rightfully deserves to be number 29. Other notable players to wear 29 include John Kruk, Keith Foulke and Greg Walker. All of those players were great in their own right, but Jack beats them all.

A little thing called Cy Young trumps anything these guys ever brought in a White Sox uniform. Jack won the Cy Young in 1993. Like most Sox pitchers in the early nineties, Jack couldn't get his ERA under 3.00, but the potent offense that the Sox had at the time made Jack a 20 game winner in 1992. They also made him a 22 game winner in 1993.

Besides becoming the ace of the staff and wowing fans with strikeouts and eaten innings, Jack also rocked out at a side job. He played in two different alternative bands while on the White Sox. The first was called V.I.E.W. and opened up for the Smithereens before they disbanded in 1992. He formed Stickfigure shortly after and is still doing that. For rocking on the mound and on stage, 29 will always be Jack's.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Rodney McCray: The Wall Crasher

The White Sox did have a player that crashed through a wall. No, not Aaron Rowand, but that's a good guess. It was Rodney McCray. He didn't crash through the wall in the majors. It was a park in Portland and contrary to popular belief, he did not catch the ball.

I certainly remember seeing that video on every news station in Chicago in 1991. When he came out unhurt, I thought he'd be a dynamo in the majors. I thought it was even better than Bo Jackson doing his best imitation of Spider-Man, the year before.

So, when he was called back up to the Sox in 1991, I paid special attention. Well, I might as well have been watching paint dry. Rodney only was used as a pinch runner or a backup outfielder, but usually as a pinch runner.

When he made his major league debut in 1990, he only had 6 at-bats with a .000 average. In 1991, he had a grand total of 7 at-bats, but with a much healthier .286 average. That's 2 for 7, for all you non-mathematicians. Both hits were singles.

He did decently on the base paths. In 1990, he stole 6 bases and scored 8 runs. In 1991, he came down to Earth a bit. He only stole one base and was caught stealing once. He only scored 2 runs. The White Sox had no room on the roster for Rodney, so he was granted free agency at the end of 1991.

The Mets decided to take a chance on him and signed him for the 1992 season. Rodney only had one at-bat for the Mets, but he made it count. He delivered a game-winning single that scored his first (and last) major league RBI. The Mets let him go exactly one month later. He retired and occasionally coached in the minors.

Recently, on August 12, 2006, Rodney was honored in Portland with the "Rodney McCray Bobblefence Night", celebrating his memorable crash through the wall. He threw out the first pitch, and right-center field of PGE Park was renamed "McCray Alley" in his honor.

Here's the video of the crash.

#28 - Wilbur Wood

There is no question that number 28 has to go to Wilbur Wood. From 1967 until 1978, Wilbur pitched for the White Sox. He was a machine. If it weren't for a freak injury, he may still be pitching today.

He led the AL in appearances in 1968, 1969 and 1970. He went to the All-Star game in 1971, 1973 and 1974. He led the AL with 24 wins, not once but twice, in 1972 and 1973. He was even runner up for the AL Cy Young in 1972.

Joey Cora doesn't hold a candle to Wilbur Wood. Neither does Cory Snyder, or wall crasher Rodney McCray. There is only one player that deserves to be here, that is Wilbur Wood.

#27 - Greg Hibbard

Greg Hibbard's ERA was always high. It had something to do with giving up a lot of home runs. He found a way to win though and that's why his name is here.

Greg pitched on the White Sox from 1989 until 1992. He just missed the glory years of the mid 90's Sox teams. I fact, he viewed the White Sox making the playoffs in 1993 from the North Side of Chicago, where he led the Cubs in wins.

He wasn't overpowering, but he had guts. The announcers used to call him the "Little Bulldog". Everyone always seemed to be pulling for him to work out of a jam and he usually came through.

He is the best player at number 27, so far. If Josh Fields sticks with the Sox and progresses, he'll probably take this spot from Greg. A word of warning to Josh, the Little Bulldog doesn't give up without a fight.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Card Spotlight 12-28-07

My Christmas present to myself this year was to finally get a card older than my 1952 Red Man of Eddie Robinson. Well, I saw my opportunity on eBay and went for it. I am now the proud owner of a 1933 World Wide Gum card of Ralph "Red" Kress.

"But doesn't that look like a 1933 Goudey card?" Why, yes it does. World Wide Gum was the Canadian version of Goudey. It's the same principle as Topps and O-Pee-Chee used to be or Donruss and Leaf used to be.

See, and you thought Canadian versions of cards were only a recent trend. Silly collector. Canadians have invaded before the great US/Canadian war of 1999 happened and they will invade again. Everytime Canada invades, something good comes of it. Except for Celine Dion. I still think the theme song made Jack Dawson let go of the door and into an icy grave.

The card only has some soft corners, nothing major. No creases and no paper loss on either side, except for a slight loss on the lower right side on the front. It's a beautiful card!

I've always said I was going to own one of these cards in a decent condition one day and that day has come. Sometime in the future I hope to obtain a T205 and a T206 of a White Sox player in a condition like this. I may get there one day. If I do, you know I'll post it.

#26 - Earl Battey

Earl didn't do much in a White Sox uniform. He was one of the first black players that signed as a rookie with the Sox. Most of the other Sox players came from other organizations. Yes, even "Mr. White Sox" himself, Minnie Minoso, started out on the Cleveland Indians.

26 seems to be the number of success, just not with the White Sox. Earl found his success with the Twins in the sixties. Bobby Bonilla also wore 26. He found his success with the Pirates.

Earl represents number 26 in an unusual way. This represents all the missed opportunities that the White Sox were a part of throughout the years. Even Ellis Burks had better years with other teams and he wore number 26 with the White Sox. Andy Gonzalez wore 26 for the Sox in 2007. He just agreed to tryout for the Indians in 2008 Spring Training. Will Andy break out and become a star? Only time will tell.

2007 Donruss Elite Extra

Donruss is back in baseball! Is this a good thing or a bad thing? I can't quite tell yet. It looks like the same endless crap that was pouring out of Donruss since 2001. If that sounds bad, it isn't meant to be.

Donruss, in the 21st century, is a double edged sword. They put out a good baseball product. It's good quality and it usually looks nice. The trouble is in the repetitiveness of the design. When I recently went through White Sox cards of Donruss Elite to sort, I always had to look 2 or 3 times to make sure I was putting the right card with the right year.

They all tend to look alike. This reminds me of those cards, which I suppose is a good thing. I have seen most of my favorite brands of cards, from when I was younger, either lose their license and disappear or get bought out by a rival company. In Donruss' case, I believe both happened.

Donruss takes shortcuts. There's no way around it. The original owners used thinner card stock and the current owners repeat themselves endlessly. It seems that Topps has picked up on this trend and is currently using it in their Topps 52 product. Just like Donruss, only lazier because Topps didn't bother to make any changes.

This new Donruss release has me excited though. I hope they do get their license back. I kinda miss them being around. Even though the cards look like the same product, the subjects sure aren't. This time around, Donruss focuses on draft picks and college players. The set isn't even exclusively baseball. They throw in celebrities and basketball players too. Burt Reynolds having a college card somehow disturbs me, but I don't know why. But there is a lone White Sox card.
  • 46 - Aaron Poreda

That's it. One card. It should be simple to pick up and complete a set. Or will it? There are 8 different parallels to the base cards. So, essentially there are nine different variations of Aaron Poreda. The black parallel is a 1/1. There is also an autograph parallel /500, a rainbow blue tint parallel /100, a rainbow red tint parallel /50, a gold foil die-cut parallel /25, another blue tint parallel with a signature /100, another red tint parallel with a signature /50, and another gold parallel with a signature /5. Add the base card and that's nine cards all together.

I've already prepared myself to the fact that I'm never going to complete the parallels. A 1/1 that you are wanting is nearly impossible to obtain. Unless you sell your soul, it's not going to happen. I'm not lucky enough to pull it from a pack, so basically I'm screwed with completing the parallels. It's just like the 2007 Topps Moments & Milestones Konerko red cards all over again. They will never be in my collection either.

Donruss has put out a good set this time around. A two year break is probably what collectors needed. This set itself is a great edition to any collector. The cards have potential to skyrocket in value. My only wish is that Donruss is less parallel happy if it does get it's license back. It ruins a good product when it has too many. As parallels go, eight is more than enough, but you can't blame them for wanting to wow everyone.

#25 - Tommy John

There will be people who blast me for not putting Jim Thome here. Especially when I said he's the greatest hitter to ever wear #25. I stand by that, but there was a pitcher on the White Sox that has made better use of his time in Chicago wearing #25. That pitcher would be Tommy John.

I don't take anything away from Jim Thome. He is a great player and a great human being, but his highlight since he has come on the team has been his 500th home run. So, let's see why Tommy got the nod.

Tommy was on the Sox from 1965 until 1971. One of his best years came in 1968. He posted a 1.98 ERA and had a 10-5 record. He made his first All-Star appearance that year, although his only appearance as a White Sox.

His record with the Sox was 82-80, but that doesn't begin to tell the story. He might have been out of baseball a few years after being on the White Sox if it hadn't been for a career saving surgery called ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction. You know it better as Tommy John surgery. He went on to pitch until 1989 and still has hope to make the Hall of Fame.

Sometimes a player is known for what he's done with a particular team, sometimes it's for something that's not on a field. Tommy John was a great pitcher before his surgery. He was a great pitcher after that too. This surgery revolutionized the game of baseball. For that alone Tommy John deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. Tommy was also one heck of a pitcher too. That part usually gets lost in the shuffle.

#24 - Early Wynn

Early Wynn was on the White Sox from 1958 to 1962. He made the All-Star team his first three years with the Sox. Early won the Cy Young in 1959 when the White Sox met the Dodgers in the World Series. 1959 was also the year that he had 22 wins.

Early led the league in strikeouts in 1958. The White Sox had to give up Minnie Minoso to get Early in a trade, but it was worth the risk. Even though he was with the Senators and the Indians, most people remember Early from his time with the White Sox.

Some people may think that Joe Crede deserves this number. He was definitely in the running, but Early defines this number best by pure numbers. Joe does have one thing on Early. Joe Crede has a World Series ring with the Sox and Early does not. As much as a World Series ring is impressive, sometimes it doesn't put you over the top. Sorry Joe, it's Early.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Post Holiday Bliss

Well, my holiday was not entirely baseball free, thank goodness. I saw bits of Mark Buehrle's no-hitter and Jim Thome's 500th homer games on Chicago's local Comcast Sports station. They also replayed a Cubs game that my future mother-in-law was interested in.

No baseball cards unwrapped at Christmas this year, but that's OK. Tracey and I got a lot of gift cards that we will use in 2008. Mostly department stores and restaurants, but one came from a movie theater with style called Hollywood Blvd. It's a place where you can eat a sit down meal and have alcohol in a comfy leather chair and see a first run feature. It's the only place that I'll really go to see a movie.

I was reminded of this fact when Tracey, her sister and I caught a Christmas Day movie at a theater around her. I could barely move in the seat. We saw National Treasure: Book Of Secrets. The first one was slightly better, but that's not saying much. I accept it for what it is, a mindless popcorn movie. I saw a lot of actors slumming it for a paycheck, which is always amusing. The Goofy cartoon that preceded the movie was much better. It was a throwback to the Goofy cartoons from the 50's. It was about how to set up a high definition home theater system. I'm also a movie nut, so it was very funny to me.

When I got a free moment today, I checked the obligatory blogs and sites and ran across this at Wax Heaven. I was intrigued by the headline "White Sox Cards blog saves Christmas". I was very pleased to see that Mario got the cards that I sent over to him. I was hoping that they would arrive on Christmas Eve, but you can't make the U.S. Post Office go any faster, especially around this time of year. I imagine it's a madhouse around there during the holidays.

I hope everyone else had a wonderful holiday and got something that they can brag about. No matter if it was a gift, a gesture, or just being with the ones you love, I hope everyone had something positive this holiday.

OK, I'm done. Back to baseball cards and White Sox related stuff.

A Case For Josh Fields

For a long time, I seemed to be the only fan that was supporting Josh Fields. Since his name has appeared in many trade rumors this off-season, more supporters have come out of the woodwork. It's about time.

Josh Fields has the tools to become a great player. The White Sox would be gambling away their future by giving up a player of this caliber for short term gains that are not guaranteed. Granted, nothing is guaranteed, but Josh has shown more than just promise in his stint with the White Sox in 2007.

In 100 games, he has improved defensively at third base, while trying to also learn left field. He hit 23 home runs and had 67 RBI. Not bad for a rookie who was learning a new position of the fly. The only real problems were the .244 average and the high strikeout ratio. If the strikeouts are lessened, the average should come up.

I'm also encouraged by the White Sox decision to keep him at third base. Whatever happens with Joe Crede, Josh will be ready to take over should Joe leave by trade or free agency. Over Christmas, I stumbled upon this video of highlights from Josh's 2007 season. It should open some people's eyes about Josh.

#23 - Robin Ventura

There's was almost a three way tie for this number. Three players have excelled at this number in a White Sox uniform. Jermaine Dye, Gary Peters and Robin Ventura. All deserve to be here, but there can only be one.

After years of mediocre third basemen (remember Tim Hulett? anyone? anyone?) Robin Ventura exploded onto the scene as one of the premier third basemen in the nineties. He was a perfect compliment to Frank Thomas in the lineup and he played stellar defense.

He hit in the high .200's most of his career, knew how to draw a walk, had around 100 RBI most seasons and could also hurt you with the long ball. This was a very difficult thing to accomplish batting fifth after Frank Thomas and whoever was DHing that game. Yes, there was a time when Frank Thomas played first base. There was also a reason why the posters said "Batman and Robin". Batman was Frank, but Robin was no slouch either.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Happy Holidays

Off to relative's houses! Just wanted to write a quick post to wish everyone happy holidays! Whether you celebrate Christmas, Chanukah, Solstice, Kwanzaa, Ramadan and Eid, Festivus, Futurama-style X-Mas, or any of the other holiday celebrations at this time of the year, I hope they are festive and full of friends, family and fun.

Whatever you celebrate and whatever team is "your team", I hope your holidays are filled with baseball and baseball cards, in addition to family, friends and fun.

I leave you with Five Christmas Wishes by Steve Martin.

High Winds And Harold

Weather happens at the strangest times. Last night my area got hit with high winds. Those winds resulted in a tree falling and taking out a power line. Power was restored a short while ago.

I was able to check mail and such at a friend's house earlier today. You never know how much of your life revolves around the computer until it's taken away.

With the holiday essentially here, I won't be home very often the next few days. Needless to say there won't be many posts until December 26th, more than likely. Relatives are plentiful this time of year and nothing says tacky like, "Excuse me, can I interrupt this meaningful family time to update my White Sox baseball card blog?"

If I did that, I truly would be remembered every holiday. Just not in a good way. In the meantime, I found this article about Harold Baines and another plea for Hall of Fame votes from everyone except Harold. Very good reading and informative too! It gives a slightly different perspective on Harold's career, including a remorseful owner.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

#22 - Ivan Calderon

Let's explore number 22. Who wore it during their White Sox career? Buddy Bradford, Ivan Calderon, Dick Donovan, Ed Farmer, Donn Pall, Jose Valentin, Richie Zisk and many others. I'm going to have to give it to "Ivan The Terrible". Yes, Ivan Calderon.

Ivan's best consistent years as a player came in a White Sox uniform. His best year came in Montreal, but that was technically part of the White Sox mojo. That happened right after his trade from the White Sox. It's kind of a residual effect.

This gold chain wearing gamer played his heart out for the White Sox. He was great in the outfield and decent at the plate with a little pop every once in awhile. Richie Zisk had one year, Donn Pall was an effective reliever and local, but didn't have the same presence as Ivan. Ed Farmer is known better as a White Sox broadcaster than a White Sox player. Jose Valentin had the pop, but for every run he produced, he gave two away by committing an error.

Ivan rises to the top, over sentimental favorites and local heroes. While he pretty much embarrassed himself when he returned in 1993, he is known for his actions from 1986 to 1990. I can't think of a better person to occupy number 22.

#21 - George Bell

Number 21 could have gone to one of many players. Among them are George Bell, Joey Cora, Cal Eldred, Ray Herbert, Bart Johnson and Robin Ventura. Yes, Robin wore #21 very briefly when he first came up. My choice for #21 is George Bell.

George was only on the team for two years. His last two years in baseball actually. He made a big splash when he came to the White Sox. The Cubs traded George to the White Sox for Sammy Sosa and Ken Patterson.

At the time, it seemed like the White Sox got the better deal. They did in the short term, but the Cubs had the last laugh in this trade, although at what price is still yet to be determined. George was the stud on the Toronto Blue Jays in the 80's.

When he got to the Sox, he still had pop and was still an RBI machine. That was it though. His average suffered and he struck out. A lot. In 1993, his strikeouts were down, but so was his average. All the way down to a career low .217. But 1993 was the year the White Sox went into the playoffs, so nobody really noticed.

George still got key hits when absolutely needed, but that was pretty much it. While the Sox fans were gearing up for 1994, the Sox club took notice of George's pitiful average and declining skills. 1993 was George's last year in the major leagues.

Sometimes being the best at a number is more about timing than anything else. If there was a true superstar at this position, George would be left out in the cold. George benefits here from a lack of star power at this number and always having the knack for the big hit. Sometimes that's all you really need.

#20 - Joe Horlen

Number 20 came between two players when it all came down to it. Ron Karkovice and Joe Horlen. There have been a good number of players to wear #20. Among them are Jerry Dybzinski, John Jeter and John Romano.

Looking at the numbers between Karkovice and Horlen, Joe comes out ahead, even though he was 113-113 in his career for the White Sox. From 1963 to 1969, Joe was lights out for the Sox. His career with the Sox spanned 1961 until 1971.

Joe's best season was 1967. He was 19-7 with a 2.06 ERA. He was runner up in AL Cy Young voting and fourth in MVP voting. Joe was also selected to the All-Star game that year.

A new rule issued in 1969 lowered the pitching mound 5 inches and his effectiveness went with it. Before that change, he threw a no-hitter in the first game of a double header on September 10, 1967, his magical year.

Joe was always a quiet person who preferred to let his work on the field speak for itself. That work just landed Joe this spot as the greatest player to wear #20 in a White Sox uniform.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Sox Sign Ramirez

No, not Manny. The White Sox sign Alexei Ramirez, the Cuban defector, to a four year deal. Does this solve the center field issue? Only time will tell. Alexei is also a second baseman by trade.

From the little info I can find about him, he's a switch hitter. Hopefully with Jose Contreras still in a Sox uniform, that will help Alexei's transfer to the major leagues less stressful.

He played for Cuba in the World Baseball Classic in 2006. His team won the gold in Athens at the 2004 Olympics.

Could he be the lead off guy the Sox are looking for? Hopefully. We shall see what Kenny and Ozzie do with him in 2008. Maybe this is the beginning of another round of tradings/signings for the White Sox.

Whatever it signals, welcome to Chicago, Alexei. You'll love it here.

Trading With Stale Gum

This trading thing is bringing me back to my childhood. I just completed a trade with Stale Gum's Chris Harris. It made me feel really good to get a surprise in the package. A 1/1 autograph of Chris Harris on a 1993 Ultra Steve Sax card. Thanks Chris, that made my day!

So what did Chris get out of the deal?

  • 2007 Topps Update #57 - Carlos Marmol
  • 2007 Topps Update #74 - Luis Castillo
  • 2007 Topps Update #86 - Kevin Thompson
  • 2007 Topps Update #135 - Jose Molina
  • 2007 Topps Update #309 - John Wasdin
  • 2007 Topps Update #315 - Edward Mujica

What did I get?

  • 2007 Ultra Retail #39 - Tadahito Iguchi
  • 2007 UD Goudey Red #31 - Darin Erstad
  • 2007 UD Goudey Red #156 - Scott Podsednik
  • 1995 Sportflix Double Take #1 - Frank Thomas/Craig Biggio
  • 1993 Ultra #179 - Steve Sax (with 1/1 Chris Harris auto)

So, basically Chris got 6 cards knocked off his want list and I got 4 cards that I needed and an autograph that I didn't expect, but am thrilled to have. Everybody wins! Those are the trades I like the most.

You Can Borrow My Jersey

I've gotten a lot of positive feedback on my White Sox Greatest Uniform Numbers posts. I've also gotten almost as many requests to borrow the idea.

Yes, go ahead, borrow the idea. I'm very interested in seeing what are the best players at a uniform number on other teams. Take the idea and run with it!

My only request would be to give me a little credit when you first start it. Other than that, run buck wild and have fun.

If I don't have you in my links already and you take on this project, drop me a line to let me know about it. I'll put your link up and watch the progress. There is a link to my e-mail in the "About Me" section of this blog or my "Want List" page at the top of the links. I hate getting spam, so I try not to post it directly on the posts.

Enjoy and have fun! I don't have the card pictured, but would gladly accept it in a trade or donation. Hey, it was worth a shot.

Separated At Birth? Sosa And Dan-Jumbo

Separated at birth? David over at Indians Baseball Cards. Always. certainly thinks so. So what do Andrew Dan-Jumbo and Sammy Sosa have in common? Not much except goofy faces. Although, Andrew sounds like he'd be a lot more fun to hang around with.

Great catch David!

I'm Not The Only One, Harold

Apparently, there are more people supporting Harold Baines than I thought. Check this article out. I stumbled upon the link while reading the White Sox Pride blog.

It expands on some points in my Hall of Fame post from November. The article compares Harold's numbers to a couple of Hall of Famer's numbers. It's an interesting read with good stats on Harold and a great argument for being in the Hall of Fame.

The tide is turning. Help get Harold Baines elected to the Hall of Fame. He is most identified as a White Sox, but he was also a Ranger, an Athletic, an Indian and an Oriole.

Let's get people talking about Harold. Let's get his name out there. Don't waste a write-in vote, vote for Harold Baines instead. Don't waste a vote on a steroid user, give it to Harold.

Harold has always been soft-spoken, so let's speak up for him. Plead his case to any potential voter you can. If everyone gets his name out there, we can get this accomplished. The fans owe it to Harold.

Har-old! Har-old! Har-old!

Card Spotlight 12-21-07

While looking through cards on eBay, I ran across this card of Sammy Sosa. All I have to say is, what the hell is going on with the hair? It seems to be escaping off the top of his head. To be fair, if I was Sammy's hair and had to live with him every day, I'd want to escape too.

I guess Sammy was trying to be stylish for his Sears portrait. The fade and the poofy hair were laughable back then. Now, it just looks like he was smoking something he found on the side of the road. Maybe that explains that goofy grin he's displaying. I guess this was before any steroids. Sorry, alleged steroids. He looks thin, scraggly and goofy.

I can still remember the joke he was when he was patrolling right field at Comiskey Park II. The bored fans around me would spell out his name and shout wake up to him. To his credit, he didn't respond and kept his eye on the game. When you have White Sox fans turn on you, you know you're in real trouble if you are on the White Sox at the time.

Shortly after this, Sammy would be traded to the North Side for George Bell. Sammy went on to world-wide fame a few years later and would forget how to speak English when in a jam and George Bell would be pumping gas in the Dominican Republic a few years later. That trade was truly a crossroads. A career not yet started and a career in the limelight, soon to fall.

I always thought the Studio cards were cool and different. They were usually something you didn't see in other card releases at the time. This card just reminds me of how much Sammy really sucked when he was on the White Sox. Sure, he had his moments, but for the most part his time would be forgettable on the South Side.

#19 - Billy Pierce

Billy Pierce is another automatic inclusion since his number is retired by the White Sox. There's a reason for that, his best years are with the Sox. He spent 13 years pitching for the White Sox. He went to the All-Star game 7 times, all as a member of the Sox.

Billy was The Sporting News' American League Pitcher of the Year in 1956 and 1957. He had the AL's best ERA in 1957 at 1.97. He also hit 20 wins in 1956 and 1957. Billy had the most strikeouts per nine innings in the AL in 1953 and 1954. He also led the AL in complete games in 1956, 1957 and 1958.

Pierce has been considered one of the greatest pitchers in Chicago White Sox history. He threw four one-hitters and pitched 51 consecutive scoreless innings in his time with the Sox. Yes, before you wonder, he has also been honored with a statue at U.S. Cellular Field.

#18 - Rocky Colavito

Rocky only spent a little less than half a season with the White Sox in 1967. He didn't do that well, but he was obtained for a pennant push that ended the White Sox in fourth, only three games behind the first place Boston Red Sox.

Rocky is here mostly for his past glories and for helping the Sox just miss the World Series. If there was someone more deserving at #18, they would be here instead of Rocky.

The coolest fact about Rocky Colavito is that there is a curse named after him in Cleveland. The curse details the misfortunes of the Indians following the trade to get Rocky back in 1965. The Indians gave up Tommy John and Tommie Agee to the White Sox in a three way trade with the Athletics. It's interesting reading that details many things going wrong with the Indians, but hardly a curse.

#17 - Chico Carrasquel

There are a few decent players who wore number 17. Chico Carrasquel, Mike Caruso, Tony Graffanino, Carlos May (the only player to wear his birth date on his uniform) and Chris Sabo. If I had to pick one, and I kinda have to here, I pick Chico Carrasquel.

Chico played with the White Sox from 1950 until 1955. He was a four time All-Star with the White Sox. He was the first in a great line of Latin American shortstops. Chico was also the first Latin American to be selected as a starter in the All-Star game in 1951.

Even though he replaced Luke Appling at shortstop, Chico excelled in the role on the Sox. He was solid defensively and worked the plate while batting. Chico Carrasquel is the best player to wear #17.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

2007 Upper Deck Holiday Inn

OK, the image is from eBay, because I am feeling a little under the weather today. Therefore, I feel too lazy to scan my cards from this set. That being said, let's dig in.

These cards were given away as a promotional item to Priority Club members at Holiday Inn. They were offered from May 31, 2007 through July 30, 2007, when a member would stay at a Holiday Inn. The packs came with a Cal Ripken insert that gave you info on how to sign up for fabulous prizes (prizes are not fabulous) like free hotel stays, autographed merchandise and a possible trip to the 2007 World Series.

The packs came with four cards, 3 regular cards and one of four different Ripken inserts. The basic card set is 60 cards. There are only two White Sox cards in the set.
  • 4 - Paul Konerko
  • 5 - Jermaine Dye

The card design reminds me of a curtain that's being lifted. The color scheme makes me think of Holiday Inn ironically. The cards I have seen from this set have nice clear shots of the player. This is a unique small set that's easily picked up on eBay. I haven't stayed in a Holiday Inn since I was a little kid, but if they are giving away baseball cards next year, maybe I'll stay there and try to finagle a pack or two.

#14 - Paul Konerko

OK, I'm backwards tonight. For some reason I could have sworn I did 14 already. This will be corrected now.

There are many players to choose from at #14. Larry Doby, Julio Franco, Sammy Esposito, Craig Grebeck, Paul Konerko, Bill Melton and Bill Skowron are just some of the many players to share this number.

Ultimately, Paul Konerko won out. Since coming to the White Sox, Paul has grown as a hitter and has become an outstanding force at first base. He's not known for his fielding, but some of the picks that he does boggle the mind. Paul is known more for his bat and he swings it with authority.

He is a 3 time All-Star, 2004's Comeback Player of the Year, and 2005's ALCS MVP. He didn't hold the White Sox hostage when negotiating a new contract. Paul also caught the last out of the 2005 World Series. He handed the ball to the White Sox owners after a victory parade. He is currently a reluctant captain of the team, who leads by example.

#16 - Ted Lyons

His number is retired by the White Sox, so this is another automatic inclusion. Let's see why though. He pitched a total of 21 years, all for the White Sox. He started in 1923 and retired in 1942. Then he came out of retirement sortly in 1946, the same year he took over as manager of the Sox.

He won 260 games in his career on a bunch of lousy White Sox teams. He was an All-Star in 1939 and in the running for MVP a few times. He was such a draw, that late in his career, he only pitched on Sundays.

Other players who shared #16 include Al Smith, Brian Downing, Ken Berry and Julio Cruz. If you thought Mark Buehrle made quick work on the mound, Ted once threw a no-hitter in 1926 that took only 67 minutes.

#15 - Dick Allen

Dick Allen is still talked about in Chicago. He only played for the White Sox from 1972 until 1974, but boy did he ever pack a wallop! The lowest he ever hit in his years with the Sox was .301. He hit 85 home runs in 3 years. One of those years, he only hit 16 home runs. That was impressive back then.

He was the AL MVP in 1972. He went to the All-Star game all 3 years that he was with the Sox. I think he is the rightful winner of this uniform number.

His competition includes Frank Thomas (he started out wearing #15, but I think he's a lock for #35), the multi-tenured Sandy Alomar Jr., Kirk McCaskill and Doug Drabek. Yeah, it's safe to say that Dick owns this number.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Radio Free Stoney

Steve Stone has agreed to join Ed Farmer and Chris Singleton in the radio booth for Friday White Sox home games in 2008. This should inject a little life into the broadcast. No one has yet to fill the large voice of John Rooney after his departure for St. Louis following the 2005 season.

Steve continues his baseball analysis for 670 AM The Score, in addition to these new Friday home game duties. I, for one, welcome Steve Stone as a new addition to these radio broadcasts. Maybe this will be a primer for his eventual takeover in one of the full time broadcasting roles for the Sox.

Steve filled in on the television side in 2007, when Darrin Jackson took some time off to spend with his family after welcoming a new child to the Jackson clan. Steve's insights and commentary were a welcome change to DJ's "reading from a script" style of broadcasting. Hopefully, this is a sign of better changes for the Sox. An eventual team of Hawk Harrelson and Steve Stone on television broadcasts would be a wonderful thing. Let's hope that's where this will be heading.

Fred Manrique: Malaise

Fred Manrique exemplifies everything that was wrong with the late 80's White Sox. He was a pretty decent fielder and a weak bat. Despite being the youngest player when he debuted in 1981 with the Blue Jays, Fred is the quintessential common.

As for the card pictured, it's a little misleading. Fred wasn't exactly a rookie in 1988. He had already seen limited time with 3 different clubs before he joined the White Sox for the 1987 season. The Blue Jays, the Expos and the Cardinals played host to Fred Manrique before the White Sox.

The White Sox were the only team to give Fred a chance at playing full time. Fred was decent, but not the optimal choice. He basically was the only choice. Fred looks like the person the White Sox take their taxes to, instead of a player. I love the fact that Fred, like many players in the 80's, was rockin' the aviator glasses.

Fred never broke .300 in a season when he played a full season. He came close in 1989. He finished with a .299 average between the White Sox and the Rangers. Which leads me to his most important role in White Sox history, trade bait.

Fred was traded along with fan favorite Harold Baines for Scott Fletcher, Sammy Sosa, and Wilson Alvarez. The trade was hates at the time, but worked out well in the long run for the Sox. The Sox got rid of Fred at the perfect time. He had the best year of his career in 1989, so his trade value would be at it's highest.

Fred bounced around for the next couple of years. He played the rest of 1989 with the Rangers. They traded him to the Twins in 1990. By the time his Topps Traded card came out in 1990 showing him on the Twins, he had already been released.

The Angels picked him up in December 1990 and released him in April 1991. The Athletics picked him up after that. He played 9 games for the A's and was released in June. That was the last major league team that Fred was with.

His time with the White Sox is remembered more for how he left, rather than anything he ever did in a White Sox uniform. He came in and did his job to the best of his abilities, but those abilities were sometimes questionable. Maybe if Fred played at shortstop, which was his best position, rather than at second and third, he would have done better. When the Sox have a great shortstop in Ozzie Guillen, it's hard to displace someone like that. You end up playing where you can fit in and you adjust accordingly. Fred is proof that everyday people can make a major league roster if they try hard enough.

1980 Kellogg's

Boy, do I love oddball sets! The odder, the better. I have always run across these little gems, but passed them up for other cards. I had a prejudice against smaller cards when I was younger. There, I said it, I feel better.

There was nothing wrong with these smaller cards, but I was so used to collecting standard sized cards that I really didn't know what to do with them. I guess when it comes down to it, I was afraid they would become damaged because of my inferior storage system for oddball sized cards.

I think I made the right call. Most of my oddball sized cards, that I collected at an early age, look horrific. I think I am finally ready to collect these types of cards after getting the hang of mini card collecting with the recent parallel sets from Bowman and Allen & Ginter.

This set consists of 60 cards. There are two White Sox cards among the 60.
  • 34 - Claudell Washington
  • 46 - Chet Lemon

This design reminds me of a winter circus. It's colorful, there are smiles all around, and from afar there appears to be snowflakes. It's ugly in a lovable way. It still hangs on to some 70's school of design. I suppose it's in 3-D, but I haven't seen a card up close in many moons. I guess I'll have to trust the "3-D Superstars" claim at the bottom of the card.

All in all, this is a neat little set, which can be had very cheaply. There are only two White Sox cards for me to collect, so I think I can keep the cost under a dollar for both of them. Not bad for an oddball card set that's over 25 years old.

The Trouble With Triples

Not that I'm pining for one, but when does a White Sox player get a mindless mirrored insert? I see them for Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers, Rangers, Athletics, Marlins, Brewers, and even Devil Rays.

Do I really care that Russell Martin got 4 triples in 2006? Not really. I care more that Scott Podsednik got 6 in 2006. Why are Russell Martin's 4 triples better than Scott Podsednik's 6? I can't answer that. Kenny Lofton got 12 triples for the Dodgers in 2006 and he didn't get a card for that either.

Will Jim Thome and Frank Thomas get their own "Road To 500" inserts? Doubtful. It would be nice. If Topps is going to flood the market with worthless mirror inserts, shouldn't they do one for more deserving subjects or players that achieve the same lofty goal? It would make sense to me, but I don't work for Topps and probably never will. Although I could probably make sure that the White Sox are treated fairly, along with other perceived less loved teams, if I were working for them. That way, maybe more people would realize that there are teams besides the Cubs between the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.

#13 - Ozzie Guillen

Not many players have worn #13. I guess that most players are superstitious. As much as I'd like to make a case for Antonio Osuna or Harry Chappas, this spot goes to the current manager and resident loudmouth, Ozzie Guillen.

He won AL Rookie of the Year in 1985. He appeared in three All-Star appearances with the White Sox. One in 1988 and the others in 1990 and 1991. In 1990, he was briefly considered for AL MVP and won the Gold Glove at shortstop.

From 1985 until 1997, Ozzie was the face of the team. He was always good for a quote and loved to talk to the media. Some things never change. The thing I will always remember Ozzie for was one of his most embarrassing moments. He was caught off guard by the hidden ball trick not once, but twice in the span of a week.

#12 - Ed Herrmann

There just doesn't seem to be a great crop wearing #12 for the White Sox. Candidates include Ed Herrmann, Steve Lyons, Eric Soderholm, Mike Huff, Jim Morrison, Willie Harris, A.J. Pierzynski, Chris Singleton and Julio Cruz.

This was almost A.J.'s, but from 1969 until 1974, Ed Herrmann was the White Sox starting catcher. Ed was not marred in controversy, he just showed up and played the most demanding position on a baseball diamond. I've played every position in baseball, not professionally though. I can tell you catching is one of the most taxing activities you can do playing baseball. Not only do you need to know your own staff, you need to know everyone else's staff and everyone else's roster. You get run into, bats narrowly miss you and you get to crouch for at least eight half innings.

Ed made the All-Star team in 1974, his final year with the White Sox, but did not play. He never had a fielding percentage lower than .983 with the White Sox. He also hit usually in the mid-.250's, which was fantastic for a catcher in those days.

Pierzynski will pass Ed Herrmann with a few more seasons under his belt with the White Sox. But as of this moment, Ed has the advantage. If I know A.J. though, he will make his move for this spot soon.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Magglio Ordonez: A Resurrection Of A Career

I am a supporter of Magglio Ordonez. I was a much bigger supporter of Maggs when he played for the White Sox. Certain actions on his behalf before his departure left a bad taste in my mouth. I'm happy he has found more success and I don't mind that the success is with the rival Tigers.

Magglio is one of the reasons that I was drawn back to baseball. I remember listening to radio broadcasts of White Sox games around 1998 and 1999. Magglio always stood out as someone who will be very special when he finally breaks through.

Well, it didn't take very long for Maggs to break through. He started hitting consistently and started to make spectacular plays in right field. He seemed to get a little better each year. You could count on Magglio to hit around .300 and drive in around 100 runs and hit somewhere around 30 home runs each year. He was turning himself into one hell of a player.

On May 19, 2004, Magglio's career path took a nasty turn. He was injured in a collision with Willie Harris on a shallow pop up. He rehabbed it, came back briefly and went out again when complications arose. Magglio was to be a free agent at the end of 2004. That's when the real fun began.

Magglio hired Scott Boras to represent him. The Sox rarely see eye to eye with him, but are willing to work with Boras when needed. Then the Sox were refused a look at medical reports about Magglio's health. These reports would determine the type of offer Magglio would receive and his realistic time table for a healthy return. Then a workout that was scheduled was cancelled because Boras didn't want a media circus. The Sox doctors were barred from examining Magglio before the arbitration deadline.

The Sox got tired of being jacked around and withdrew all offers. I don't pretend to know everything that went on, but just know what has leaked out since 2004. The Sox instead picked up Jermaine Dye and retooled a few positions that drew a lot of criticism. The Sox also won the World Series the next year because of those changes.

Don't cry for Magglio though. He went on to bigger and better things. He made a World Series appearance in 2006 with the Tigers and won the AL batting crown in 2007 with a .363 average. That's 43 points higher than he ever hit with the White Sox.

The departure, although sad for the fans, was the best thing for both parties. Magglio was able to let his hair down, so to speak, and the White Sox ended 88 years of watching other teams win the World Series. It took a few years to realize, but it's a win-win situation for everybody in the end.

#11 - Luis Aparicio

The best player at number 11 is Luis Aparicio. No contest. Sorry Rudy Law, it's not you. Not by a long shot. Luis Aparicio's number is retired by the White Sox. He is an automatic inclusion, but even if he wasn't, he still kicks serious butt with his competition.

He was an All-Star 10 times. He won the Gold Glove at shortstop 9 times. Luis was also the 1956 AL Rookie of the Year. He led the league in stolen bases 9 years in a row starting in 1956.

He is so associated with the White Sox, that few realize that he also played with the Baltimore Orioles and the Boston Red Sox. Luis even has a statue at U.S. Cellular Field. No other player can come close to what Luis did in this uniform number on the White Sox. Rudy Law eventually broke his single season White Sox stolen base record, but that's the only person ever to come close to Luis, who was wearing number 11.

#10 - Sherm Lollar

The number 10 is littered with managers and fringe players. Managers are ineligible, so I'm forced to pick from players. Many players have worn number 10, but Sherm Lollar, Dave Stieb, Ron Blomberg, Mike LaValliere and Ron Santo stand out. From that group, Sherm Lollar makes the most sense.

Santo fans are going to flame me, but hear me out. He was a standout for the Cubs, not the White Sox. He played for the White Sox in the final season of his career. Most people don't even remember Santo on the White Sox. He hit .221 for the Sox in 117 games. I rest my case.

Sherm Lollar, on the other hand won the first Gold Glove for the catcher's position in 1957. That year there was only one award per position for all of baseball. He was the best fielding catcher in baseball. When the award was changed the next year to per position per league, he still won it. He also won it in 1959.

Sherm was also a 7 time All-Star, 6 with the White Sox. He retired after the 1963 season with the highest career fielding average for a catcher, 0.992. He trumps any other player at this uniform number for the White Sox.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Mailbox Joys: Wish You Were Here?

OK, I know I missed out on a lot of cards after the 1994 strike. I'm still taken aback by this card that I ran across. A card made up to look like a postcard. That's a new one to me.

I'm all for interesting cards, but this even stretches my limits. It's not even an insert card, It's part of the base set for 1999 Skybox Premium. It smells like a Fleer card from the 90's and gee whiz, it is a Fleer card from the 90's.

I can't imagine too many people getting excited about this card for more than two seconds. Well, maybe kids, but not too many adults. Scratch that. Not too many people over the age of 10. It has an interesting "kid from camp" feel to it. I can just imagine little Frankie writing home from camp.

"Ma, things are so cool here! I'm the biggest kid here and everybody wants to play with me. I'm always the first one picked. I sure miss your home cookin'. Today I hit the ball all the way to the trees! I felt just like Superman! I never want camp to end! Some of the other kids are eatin' Pixie Stix to help give them extra energy. But I remember what you always told me. There are no shortcuts in life and anything worth doin' is worth doin' well by eatin' healthy and practicing. And like Pa always said, just cuz you're doin' well, don't believe the hype. It'll always mean trouble if you believe the hype. I can't wait to come home but I wish I could stay here forever! Send my love to everyone back home. Frankie"

I have no idea if Frank Thomas ever wrote a letter home like that. It's kind of fun to think that he might have though. That's what this card makes me think about. No, I'm not seeing anyone professionally, but the advice is noted.

2007 eTopps Moments And Milestones

Something smells fishy about this release. At least to me anyway. I never really bought into the whole eTopps thing. Pristine cards are offered for sale that lessen in value if you actually want to see them. Isn't the whole point of collecting to actually see and enjoy your collection?

I was caught up in the hype in October, but I also had some common sense left. I wasn't about to pay $7 a card for something that I may never potentially see. I paid $5.75 for the Jim Thome and $6.75 for the Mark Buehrle. Yes, I got caught in a mini bidding war for the Buehrle, but I still didn't pay $7. It's the principle of the thing.

Since I purchased them on eBay, they have gone down in value. Thome is down to $4.75, not too far from what I actually paid. Buehrle is down to $4.23. I like both of these players so I can live with it. For the record I liked Thome when he was on the Indians and the Phillies and I would still like Buehrle if he ever packs up for St. Louis, like he's joked about in the past.
  • Alex Rodriguez - 500 Home Runs
  • Mark Buehrle - No Hitter
  • Tom Glavine - 300 Wins
  • Craig Biggio - 3,000 Hits
  • Sammy Sosa - 600 Home Runs
  • Frank Thomas - 500 Home Runs
  • Jim Thome - 500 Home Runs
  • Justin Verlander - No Hitter
  • Pedro Martinez - 3,000 Strikeouts
  • Curtis Granderson - 20/20/20
  • Prince Fielder - 50 Home Runs

Two White Sox cards, two ex-White Sox cards and one of someone who grew up in Blue Island, which is only a few miles away from my hometown. Not too bad Chicago-wise. The milestones are amazing as well as the player selection. It's hard to remember every major event that happens in a year of baseball. Some get lost in the shuffle and some you don't even realize happened.

There is also a moments card of Barry Bonds that was offered for $11, in addition to the 11 card set. It commemorates his "achievement" of 756 home runs.

This is a great set. It combines the look of Allen & Ginter with the feel of Moments & Milestones. The only thing I don't like about this set is that it's an online entity. It almost feels like you're being ripped off. Collecting is for seeing and touching, not seeing an image that looks like your card and not being able to hold it in your hands right away.

#9 - Minnie Minoso

"Mr. White Sox" comes in at #9. He is one of only two players to play in five different decades in major league baseball. The other being Nick Altrock, who was also on the White Sox for a time, in the early 20th century.

Minnie is the first black player for the White Sox and the oldest, at 57, to ever bat in a major league game. He has stretched his longevity even further by playing in minor league ball on two separate occasions. One in 1993 and one in 2003, to play professional baseball in 7 different decades.

Minnie's number is retired by the White Sox, so this is another automatic inclusion. Even if his number wasn't retired, Minnie would still occupy this spot. He presented the final lineup card at the original Comiskey Park on September 30, 1990, in a pregame ceremony. He also has a statue at U.S. Cellular Field.

#8 - Albert Belle

Eight is the number of destiny. Many great players were destined to wear #8 for the White Sox. Among them are Albert Belle, Ray Boone, Daryl Boston, Ferris Fain, Bo Jackson, Ted Kluszewski, Ron LeFlore, Tony Phillips and Pete Ward. That's just the tip of the iceberg.

Albert gets the nod here because of his 1998 season. He batted .328 with 49 home runs, 48 doubles with a total of 200 hits and 152 RBI. What was this man on? More than likely, nothing illegal. He had numbers like this earlier in his career too.

He had a solid season the previous year with the Sox too. He left because of a clause in his contract, but was out of baseball two years later from a degenerative hip condition. When he was able to play, he was one of the best in the game. He still holds the single season White Sox record for home runs.

#7 - Jim Rivera

Competition for #7 was not too fierce. The only really notable players who wore #7 were Jim Rivera, Steve Sax and Kenny Williams. OK, I was kidding about Kenny Williams, the other two not so much. Sax was a good player, but he was only here for two years and his best days were mostly behind him. Although his oddest cards came when he was on the White Sox.

Jim wins this one hands down. Playing with the White Sox from 1953 until 1961, Jim led the league in stolen bases in 1955. He was runner up six times, mostly behind Minnie Minoso and Luis Aparicio. Besides, how can you not love a player nicknamed "Jungle Jim"?

2007 Upper Deck First Edition

It's a little late for a set review of 2007 Upper Deck First Edition. That came out at the beginning of the year. Well, my blog only came about last month, so you're going to have to deal with it.

I like the idea behind First Edition. It's like Opening Day from Topps, only from Upper Deck. They shuffle the cards up, take a few out, and slap on a different color scheme on the design. Usually, a little snazzier than the regular issue.

Typically, it's a few from the first regular series and a handful of players that will pop up in the second series. Not bad for the beginning of the year. It piques enough interest to make me want to pick up a few packs or a cheap blaster box.

The design is minimal and flawless. A large picture, two very small sides with team and position info. The name is centered towards the bottom with the First Edition banner floating below. The design is good.

The regular set has 300 cards. A nice preview of the two regular series. The White Sox player are as follows.
  • 8 - Josh Fields
  • 9 - Chris Stewart
  • 10 - Jerry Owens
  • 11 - Ryan Sweeney
  • 67 - Jermaine Dye
  • 68 - Jim Thome
  • 69 - Rob Mackowiak
  • 70 - Brian Anderson
  • 71 - A.J. Pierzynski
  • 72 - Alex Cintron
  • 73 - Jose Contreras
  • 74 - Bobby Jenks
  • 75 - Mike MacDougal

There are 13 cards for the White Sox. Or are there? I have found floating around cards of #306 - John Danks and #308 - Gustavo Molina. The best that I can tell, is that these are part of a 10 set rookie redemption program. I was aware of the regular series having this program, but not first edition. The surprises you find out about when you are not looking for them are always the most astounding.

I'm pleased with the output of Upper Deck here. They could have made this another pointless parallel set, but they mixed it up and added a few surprises here and there. This release is usually cheap enough to pick up a lot of when it first comes out. I know I did, when I first saw this earlier in the year.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

#6 - Jorge Orta

Most know Jorge Orta from the 1985 World Series. He helped the Royals gain momentum and win the Series from the Cardinals. But he started with the White Sox in 1972.

He ranked high in triples and average in the American League throughout the 70's. He made his first trip to the All-Star game as a White Sox in 1975. Jorge was a fixture at second base for the Sox. One of the mainstays in the Sox organization until his departure at the end of the 1979 season.

Jorge Orta is arguably the best player to wear #6 for the White Sox.
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