Friday, April 22, 2011

Card Spotlight: 4-22-11

1993 Topps Gold #790 - George Bell

I've been battling a nasty sinus infection this week, so I've been doing the absolute minimum on the blog. Let's call it "keeping up appearances, while doing the least amount of work possible". When I think of that statement, I think of George Bell.

I'm not saying that he wasn't a great hitter, but he only showed it occasionally after 1987. He made a career and a reputation out of one fluke year where he went homer crazy and rode those coattails until it forced his last team to bench him during the playoffs.

I'm not trying to be negative about George Bell. If anything, his ascent, peak and decline proves that he was a clean player, and that is OK in my book. By the time Bell came to the White Sox, he was a shell of his former self. He was still good for a thrill or two, but any sort of consistency was long gone. A knee injury helped quicken his exit.

His 1992 season, his first with the Sox, was decent, but why anyone voted for George for MVP is beyond my reasoning. His productivity was slightly better than his one year with the Cubs. By 1993, his numbers weren't holding up. It was the worst year for Bell in over a decade and his worst since he became a full time player. His natural decline and injury in 1993, sadly helped define the 1993 team. It was good, but not nearly good enough. Both Bell and the White Sox retooled for the 1994 season. George retired and the Sox crafted themselves into one of the best teams of 1994, before the strike.

Again, I'm not trying to be negative, but I'm not feeling great, so I think I have a tendency to skew more towards the negative. I was very excited when George Bell was traded to the White Sox. I was happy to see Sammy Sosa leave the White Sox, at the time, and I was sad to see Ken Patterson go. Sosa was a free swinger who struck out a lot and seemed to struggle to get to double digits in home runs. His stolen bases and triples were drastically down from 1990. It seemed that he was on the downswing of his career. Someone must have really given Sammy a great pep talk between the 1992 and 1993 Cubs seasons because the light bulb finally went off in his head. Somebody must have brought in Tony Robbins or Les Brown to talk to Sammy after the 1997 season because something really seemed to click after that.

But I digress. This is supposed to be about George Bell. You really can't talk about George Bell's time on the White Sox without touching a little bit on Sosa. It's a rule or something. George Bell was a good guy, a great teammate and a pretty good practical joker. Like a lot of star players that come to the White Sox, he unfortunately came to Chicago's South Side at the twilight of his career. It's happened plenty of times before and I'm sure it will happen again. Look at Rob Dibble, John Kruk, Ken Griffey Jr., the Alomar brothers, etc... I would even lump Omar Vizquel in there, despite his age defying play.

What started out as a short and sweet spotlight turned into a rambling of sorts. If I lost you... sorry about that. Blame it on the sinuses.

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