Friday, July 28, 2023

When Teams Are Sellers

As I write this, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Lance Lynn, Joe Kelly and Kendall Graveman have all been traded away. Others, like Tim Anderson, have been rumored to have many inquiries and may go at any time. Or everyone may stay. It's really hard to tell what potential trades work and which fall apart until they get to that stage.

While this sell off signals the failure of the rebuild, it's also a time of hope and wonderment. One could drive themselves crazy analyzing everything that didn't work out the way it expected to. Whether it was injuries, laziness, sleeping managers or pod people, the end result was two years of soft playoff appearances and a huge cliff dive.

Ultimately, it comes down to the ineffectiveness of the Cerberus that is Jerry Reinsdorf, Kenny Williams and Rick Hahn. The talent was there, but there seems to be a missing ingredient that left the White Sox more comparable to a yeast-less dinner roll rather than a robust fluffy pillow of bread that compliments a cinnamon butter spread perfectly.

There seems to be major flaws in scouting. This hits all facets of scouting. Drafting is especially heinous. How else can so many high draft picks flame out? Assessing proper value on trades is spotty at best. Even in the actual games that all of this is building towards, the White Sox can't seem to capitalize on mistakes and weaknesses. When they actually do, everyone seems so distracted that things went well, that they give those runs right back with interest.

Does blame fall on upper management, the coaching staff, or the players themselves? In a word... yes. There are a lot of decisions that have to happen right above the players for them to be in the best position to win. That includes assessment of talent, training regimens, preparation of games, proper motivation and in the moment game decisions. That does not let the players off the hook. Chemistry is very important, but when the chemistry leads everywhere except the win column, it is not charging towards the task at hand. Friendships are awesome, but this is also a job. Individual accomplishments are great motivators, but it should not be the only one. Championships do not rely on team chemistry, but it goes a long way in helping.

At the end of the day, the players are responsible for what happens on the field. They have the immediate impact on the team's success. When players lazily run out ground balls, don't have good reads on balls in play or completely waste at-bats, it makes winning that much harder. Carlton Fisk would drop dead from an arrhythmia if he were coaching this team. Deion Sanders may actually have his back on this one.

There are no easy fixes for this. I love the fact that Jerry Reinsdorf prefers to keep most people in the fold. It's great to see the ambassadors and former players as coaches and in other positions within the organization. I love it, but it's just not working that effectively anymore. Neither is the maddening random decisions on when to open the pocketbooks and when not to. Let's throw $12 million at a problem pitcher who may not be effective (and was in danger of not pitching due to those problems), but be stingy at a proven player in his prime because he wants a few more million per year. It's also at this point that I realize that I will never sniff the kind of money even the most fringe athlete gets and even Seby Zavala will be at a financial level I will never get close to.

Now let's get to the upside, because there is an upside to all of this. The last time the White Sox did a major overhaul, they got back some really nice pieces that had a really great chance at gelling and making the team a force to be reckoned with for years to come. That didn't exactly pan out, but the move was bold and exciting. I was genuinely interested in the future of the team. I was invested. Refresh and renewal is an admittance of failure, but it is also a time of eternal optimism. 

No team wants to go back to square one. I don't believe the White Sox will ultimately have to. They will have to have a long look at their organization and make some very hard decisions. If they can do that without rose tinted glasses, things will start improving fast. A mix of good rookies and solid veterans can be a glorious experience. 2023 is a lost season. So much potential wasted. It's not entirely their fault, but they definitely have not maximized the tools that they had.

Since this is essentially a baseball card blog, I'll end this with something card related. If the Sox play their cards right, I should have some new and exciting cards to collect in 2024.

Monday, February 27, 2023

The First White Sox Card Of 2023 Is...


Well... it's that time of year again.

Topps Series One is officially out, marking the first genuine 2023 cards on the market. One aspect of this release that I really enjoy is seeing what White Sox card will be the first to appear in a pack that I open.

Sometimes it tells me what kind of a year I'll have collecting. Sometimes it doesn't. Either way, it's pure fun and has become a tradition.

It can be full of intrigue and mystery, just like Ozzie Smith stuck at the Springfield Mystery Spot. The vendor at work was amazing at getting these out relatively on time. Compared to the last few years, one day after release was stupendous.

I picked a blaster box at random, checked out and took it home. There awaited surprises in each sealed pack. There's nothing quite like the feeling of opening a fresh pack ahead of a brand new season.

The first White Sox card of 2023 is...



















Davis Martin

I'm not sure who I was expecting, but this was the last name that came to mind. I didn't catch as many games as I would have liked to last season, so it was a familiar name, but I couldn't place a performance that I saw. As a rookie, there's tons of room to grow and I'm hoping that in 2023, Davis will take his 2022 experience and push to even greater heights.

That's the great thing about rookies. There's always potential. Each outing can be potential greatness. To be called up to the show, there has to be a need that is to be filled. There has to be a talent there. Why promote one guy over another? I will be looking forward to watching Davis in 2023. I have an extra incentive to hope he succeeds now, being the first card pulled.

A few cards later in the same pack, this pitcher loomed large.

Those were the only White Sox players that came out of that box. There will be many more that will make it into my collection, but these are the first. They will set the tone for the whole collecting year.

Here's to many more White Sox cards pulled this year and I wish that all of you pull the cards you collect. Happy hunting!

Monday, January 9, 2023

Cancer Sucks


I will start off by saying that I wish Liam a very speedy recovery. Any type of cancer is never a walk in the park. There will be rough times ahead. There will be ups and downs. If any player on the White Sox has the mentality and right attitude to head this face on, it is Liam Hendriks. The way he approaches every game and life itself, I have no doubt he will be fighting every step of the way.

In the past decade, cancer seems to have taken a lot of people from us. From family members to celebrities, there has been no shortage of people battling some form of this disease. Some succeed. Some unfortunately don't. 

I have been pretty lucky. I grew up with only a few members of my family passing away. As I've gotten older, that number has gone up considerably. As you age, the odds go up that someone you know will come down with a serious illness or even die. I don't mean to be such a downer, but disease is rarely a topic that's not serious.

My dad passed away from stage four cancer in October 2021. Every time I read about someone getting any form of that disease, I think of my dad. It wasn't something that was totally unexpected. Fifty plus years of heavy smoking really increases the chances of that happening. He was in pretty decent health for most of his life. Except for a horrible bout with pneumonia in the army reserves, he was only in the hospital once. That required intravenous medicine to be administered at home for a couple weeks after his discharge. The cancer diagnosis still came out of left field.

I don't get back to the Chicago area often enough. A family and work keep me pretty busy in Michigan. I try to visit a few times a year. In the summer of 2021, I tried to visit every other weekend. I was able to keep that schedule for the most part.

I cherish the extra time I got to spend with my dad. At this time, the minuscule filter he had was completely gone. I heard family stories from a perspective I had never heard before. I heard stories about him growing up and stories about me growing up. He swore up and down that I met a White Sox player in the eighties and got his autograph, but I was petrified at meeting one of my heroes. From the description, it may have been Daryl Boston, but I don't think I'll ever know for sure. I have absolutely no recognition of the event.

Every Sunday game we would go to, my dad would encourage me to get in the line and get an autograph and shake a player's hand. I always got in line and I always chickened out before I arrived at the players. I have no idea what I thought was going to happen. Maybe I was afraid I would be a rambling incoherent mess, like I was when I met Weird Al. I should probably mention that I met Weird Al at an after concert meet and greet that I had won through his website. I was twenty-two. I can only imagine what a single digit aged me would have done.

I skipped one weekend of visiting my parents in 2021. My dad was doing pretty good and I had a long work week. I decided to put off the trip until the following weekend. I did go out the next weekend, but it was to help my mom figure out what all she needed to do in the aftermath of his passing.

I kicked myself for a little bit for skipping that last weekend. I soon realized that an extra weekend didn't matter so much. I had got to spend a whole lot of time with him leading up to that. Time that I wouldn't have gotten had I not made the time.

There is a great chance that Liam will come out of this just fine. I'm sure he will. A scare like this forces one to stop everything, breathe and live in the moment. I don't always get to live in the moment. Most of the time I am buried in the past or looking to the future. When I focus and appreciate the moment, I never regret it. It's not somewhere I always find myself, but I'd like to get there more often.

Liam. You've got this. Live in the moment and come back better than ever.

Saturday, July 2, 2022

2022 Topps Spotlight 70 II


Cards are getting interesting lately. I appreciate all the different ways that cards are being created. Artists and celebrities create or dictate what a set should look like and who should be in it and suddenly it's for sale on a website. 

It could be the most beautiful piece of artwork in the galaxy or a huge steaming pile of crap sent through the mail for a fee. It's all in the eye of the beholder. I would never intentionally try to yuck someone else's yum, but some of these cards are catered to my tastes, while most of them are not. Some look like a lot of thought and effort was put into the design and each brushstroke was a dazzling liquid diamond pouring out onto a mystical canvas until Leonardo Da Vinci wept salty tears of happiness at the pure ethereal joy birthed into the world. Others look like a second grader drew a spite portrait of the MLB player that crushed their hamster. In other words, it can be a bit of a mixed bag.

This offering by Andy Friedman, at first glance looks a bit off. It wasn't until I saw that the chosen medium was ink and watercolor, that I started to really look at the cards. I have painted some great portraits in my time as an artist, but watercolor is one of the most difficult to work with. Throw in ink to the mix and there will be some massive color bleeds in the journey to the final product.

The combination is not without its charms, but it will clearly not be everyone's favorite.

The White Sox have three cards in this release. Two cards in the regular set and one in a rookie insert subset.

29 - Harold Baines

33 - Jerry Manuel

R-8 - Gavin Sheets

Pablo Picasso, Mark Rothko, Georgia O'Keeffe, Vincent Van Gogh, Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollock and June Leaf each have distinct styles and some have widely ranging techniques. Some people love them. Some people loathe them. It's all a matter of taste.

I think it's absolutely wonderful that a variety of modern artists are getting their chance to explore and imprint their creative minds onto cardboard. Mixing baseball and artwork is a long standing tradition that goes back to the hobby's roots as advertisements for department stores and tobacco. It's a practice that fell out of fashion with the rise of the camera and occasionally has a resurgence.

I think that the most impressive feat in these types of cards are the risks that the artists are willing to take. It also takes great commitment on Topps part to keep these ventures going. All the efforts may not please all the consumers out there, but I don't think it was ever meant to.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

2022 Topps Cesar Hernandez Rainbow

 2022 Topps #28 Cesar Hernandez

Gold Foil


Rainbow Foil

Royal Blue

Gold (/2022)

Green Foilboard (/499)

Advanced Stats (/300)

Orange Foilboard (/299)

Red Foilboard (/199)

Vintage Stock (/99)

Independence Day (/76)

Black (/71)

Father's Day Blue (/50)

Mother's Day Pink (/50)

Memorial Day Camo (/25)

1st Edition

1st Edition Gold

1st Edition Green (/150)

1st Edition Orange (/75)

1st Edition Red (/50)

1st Edition Black (/25)

5x7 (/49)

5x7 Gold (/10)

By my calculations, I only seem to be missing a few.

- Topps Premiere Party

- Topps Rip Party

- Platinum (/1)

- Printing Plate Black (/1)

- Printing Plate Cyan (/1)

- Printing Plate Magenta (/1)

- Printing Plate Yellow (/1)

- 1st Edition Hot Pink (/10)

- 1st Edition Light Blue (/5)

- 1st Edition Platinum Stars (/1)


I was surprised to see the 5x7, as I don't recall seeing it listed anywhere. I'm going to assume that I'm not going to find anything on this list that is numbered at five or one. I'm OK with that. The odds would definitely have to be in my favor to obtain six cards numbered to one.

This is the closest I have come to collecting a true rainbow. The hunt was just as fun as opening the cards. I chose Cesar Hernandez because he is already on another team. He isn't a superstar, so the prices wouldn't be astronomically priced. I could get the bulk of the rainbow under the radar.

As much as I would have loved chasing a rainbow for Luis Robert or Tim Anderson, I think this was the correct decision. If I happen to complete Robert or Anderson or any other White Sox card, I'm certainly not going to complain.

Saturday, June 4, 2022

The Frustrations Of 1971 Topps


1971 Topps has got to be one of the most frustrating sets to collect. I can't even begin to imagine what patience it must take to collect the entire set. I'm getting frustrated just collecting the set for one team.

Finding an entire team set with near mint or better qualities is easy, if you feel like skipping your bills for a month. High quality condition cards can cost you a pretty penny. That's not even counting the high numbers, which can be astronomical to acquire. Most high numbers in fair condition will cost you an arm and a leg.

Not only are older cards harder to find in mint condition, the black that was used on the border is extremely prone to chipping. Even the best looking card may be foiled by the black color flaking away. Dinged and soft corners are another problem with this set. The black border really makes this stand out.

I am three cards away from completing the White Sox master team set from 1971 Topps. All three missing cards are high number cards. All three cards I have watched on auctions climb way out of my price range. I understand that the nature of these cards increases the price, but I find it hard to pay inflated prices for cardboard collectibles produced in the same decade I was born. Call it a principle, if you will.

I have this issue with a lot of vintage Topps products. I complete most of the cards in the team set, but struggle to get the high numbers. There are enough listings of these cards out there that I should be able to squeeze a bargain or two. Yes, the high numbers are rare, but not that rare.

I could settle for filler cards, but I don't want to. I shouldn't have to settle for filler cards for cards issued past 1950. Do I want the card just to have the card or do I want a decent example in my collection. If it's post WWII, chances are the answer is going to be best example out there. There just is a fine balance between financially affordable and high grade. It's an issue that I struggle with constantly. It also depends on the day, which I will prioritize.

It's always a good feeling when you hit that sweet spot. There are millions of online listings out there for cards. Not every card is going to sell for insane amounts of money. There will be some that slip through the cracks.

The last two years have been incredibly trying for the hobby, as thousands of people stuck home, found themselves with a lot of time on their hands. They tried to make money at card investing. This created a rabid marketplace, where people would try to swoop in and buy all the cards, so they can sell them online at a drastic markup. I'm all about free enterprise, but there are things that are frowned upon. Pack searching and secondary retail markup are some of the most rampant.

It wouldn't be so bad if the sellers would open the product and sell cards individually, but most of them would sell the unopened box for triple the cost or more. The sad fact is that most of them would get those prices because they had cleared out most stores of product. I work in retail and saw greedy adults swoop in and make children cry. I'm thankful that most of those extreme practices have subsided.

Vintage card collecting isn't nearly that cutthroat, but it can be close. I've had auctioned usurped last second. I've had auctions climb sky high in the last few minutes. I've seen inflated prices and questionable grading. Trust your instincts and your eyes. If it's too good to be true, it usually is.

Eventually, I will obtain the last three cards to complete the set. If I have enough luck and patience, I might just do it.

Friday, March 25, 2022

What Happened to 2010 Upper Deck Wave 2?


2010 Upper Deck was a gigantic middle finger to MLB and as a result, to the fans as well. Upper Deck responded to losing the MLB license similar to a vengeful toddler stealing cookies after being told they couldn't have any. The release became the pettiest excuse of a set, trying to push the envelope of what they could "accidentally" get away with. There were more logo slips than a Janet Jackson/Justin Timberlake Super Bowl routine. Logos were in your face, taunting MLB, implying that Upper Deck was above the law.

I definitely agree that logo-less uniforms seem amateurish and very beer softball league. In fact, I commented on that in a card spotlight (that evolved into a now deleted Baseball Digest post), turning Ron Karkovice's 1989 Upper Deck card into a logo-less softball card, removing logos from his jersey and hat, plus removing the logo from the edge of the card too. Karkovice looks like an electrician who is on a bar's sponsored softball pickup team. Not exactly a card someone would feel inclined to collect. The only difference is the lack of logos, but sometimes that makes all the difference. It's between a fully licensed card and one you cut out of the back of a box of macaroni and cheese.

That being said, being only licensed with the MLBPA does not mean your product is doomed to languish at the bottom of the bargain bin with most late 80's/early 90s junk wax. Panini does a wonderful job with their limitations and they truly seem to respect the game and their small part of it. I can't recall seeing a logo on a Panini product, but I certainly remember them on 2010 Upper Deck. All over the place. On the card pictured on this post, there are four instances of logos. One on each photo with the hat, one on the sleeve, one on the front of the jersey. A case could be argued for each photo of the hat. The X is only visible on the head shot. That's not too bad. The left side of the logo is visible on the main photo. Not horrible, but lazy. The alternate logo on the sleeve is in full view and there is no mistaking the top of the S on the jersey. Each logo slip is distinctive enough to realize what the logo is. All four together creates a terrible circumventing of the rules. It's fine if Upper Deck wants to be anti-establishment, but it should not have been surprised at the swift reaction and ban it got.

Under an agreement, Upper Deck was allowed to sell through it's existing inventory of product that was already released. This meant that the public was bombarded with 2010 Upper Deck Series One product for the rest of 2010. That brings me to Wave 2.

Wave 2 was supposed to be a fifty card extension released on or around May 4, 2010. It would be an extension that would be one card per fat pack or two cards per rack pack, to my understanding. There is not a checklist of what was supposed to be in this extension, that I could find. I would be very interested in knowing what was on that checklist.

Here's what makes Wave 2 intriguing to me. The lawsuit that ceased baseball operations for Upper Deck was finalized in March 2010. That was roughly two months before Wave 2 was supposed to drop. With that short window, I would believe that some cards were actually printed. At the time, I was actually expecting them to randomly show up in packs of remaining inventory. I thought that I had heard of a few cards doing exactly that, but I can find no evidence of that actually happening.

At this point, twelve years later, I would like a few things to happen. I would like to see a checklist of those cards. I would love to see pictures of each card that was in the set. The cards were definitely finalized by this point, so there should be at least a finalized mock up of each card. If any cards were printed, and they featured White Sox players, I would love to have them in my collection.

I understand that is a pretty tall order, but for someone who is still trying to complete White Sox related mirror card sets from 2008 (not to mention a complete set of Heritage from that year), I figured this would probably happen before I get those sets completed. One can always dream.

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

The First White Sox Card Of 2022 Is...


Liam Hendriks!!

I feel pumped for the 2022 season, that is if it will ever start. Millionaires fighting about money always seems to turn me away from a sport. Unfortunately, in the end it's all about both sides getting richer and the fan getting poorer. Yes, the players and the owners should be able to get their money. There is a balance, but the only ones that should be crying poor are the rookie minor league players. I guess, minor league players in general.

I realize there are other things on the table, but the major sticking point is money. An insane amount of money. If a compromise can be reached, these two entities should work together to strengthen the sport. The longer they squabble, the less interested the average fan becomes and the more money both parties lose.

I can remember being in elementary school and getting free tickets for good grades. I can also remember my dad getting free tickets through his work. They were almost always for the upper deck and we would sometimes exchange them for upgraded seats and we would cover the difference. That's part of what hooked me into the sport. I remember going to a lot of games growing up. Even if the majority of those were horrible teams, I still had a wonderful time. I got to see my heroes on the field. I have great memories of comebacks, the crowds, the plays, the near wins, the blowouts and the search for great ballpark food.

Baseball cards only helped enhance that experience. I could flip through my cards and the memories would come flooding back, even to this day. With my dad passing last year, these memories become even more important. Sure, those times of yesteryear will never be repeated, but the chance to make new experiences with my dad have seen their last game. Fortunately, I have the chance to do that with my own family. That is, if the owners and players association can come to a new agreement.

Until that is sorted out, I will continue to hope for the best. I'll keep opening packs and smiling at the wonders that I've uncovered. The search for my team and my favorite players is never ending. Along the way, I cherish the memories of yesterday and await the unknown experiences that lie ahead.

Open a pack and find your adventure.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Congratulations Giolito!


101 pitches + 13 strikeouts + 1 walk = the first no-hitter of the 2020 season and the 19th in White Sox history.

Congrats, Lucas! You are truly an ace!

Saturday, August 15, 2020

My Own Stab At Project 2020


I've been looking at Topps Project 2020 with a raised eyebrow, a hopeful outlook and a skeptical view. As someone with a heavy art background, I applaud this move. Even if some of the results have been less than spectacular or downright gaudy, it's a great idea and I love the execution. Art is always subjective and even what I think is amateurish can be considered great art. My taste does not usually include massive amounts of flashy bling, but there are cards in this series that cater to those tastes.

I've decided to throw my hat in the ring. I played around with color, paint and blending techniques. The result falls in line with most of the actual cards. I included text from a Sports Illustrated article that came early in Thomas' career. One of the things that impressed me about Frank from the moment he was called up was the motto he lived by, "Don't Believe The Hype". Boiled down, it means to keep a level head and don't let your ego run out of control by what others are telling you.

Here in the background, behind Frank, it adds a connection to Thomas that most people might miss. If you grew up watching him play and devoured every interview and article, this motto came up frequently, especially in the first few years of his career.

Let me know what you think of my plunge into this interesting idea of a set from Topps. Also, let me know what you think of the actual cards. Have there been any that you really like? Have there been any that you really disliked? Please share your thoughts. I'm interested.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Did Someone Say Baseball Is Back?

I have slowly and quietly been collecting in 2020. I have by no means completed much, but I have opened a fair share of product, which has been mostly retail based. Probably the most exciting White Sox find would be the Medallion card of Luis Robert. I picked out one blaster box and that was the blaster exclusive card inside.

I was really looking forward to the 2020 season. Now, I'm not so sure anymore. I love our national pastime. There are so many intricacies to the game that one could not possibly see every scenario play out in their own lifetime. It's fresh and exciting without tweaking the rules for the crowd of short attention span phone dwellers or the people that show up just to say they've been there.

Playing to empty stadiums with cardboard cutouts and video game crowd noise seems like a desperate tactic designed to fool toddlers. To most adults, it seems creepy and weird. Almost like grown men playing a pickup game in the backyard, fantasizing that tennis ball that was hit over the roof just blasted out of a MLB stadium. It doesn't feel authentic. It feels artificial, but it retains a shell of its former self. Enough to be recognized at a glance, but when you look deep into its eyes, you realize the lights are on but nobody bought tickets.

The worst fears have started to come true. A player that played on Opening Day tested positive for Covid-19. Is there a plan in place to keep other players safe that came in contact with that player? Do the teams that played in that game shut down for two weeks, until all personnel involved come back with two negative tests? What exactly is the protocol for this breach? I guess we'll find out in the coming days.

Even though it's extremely weird, I'm happy baseball is back. I still have reservations, but I enjoy the hell out of the sport. This season has already cranked out some disappointments. I was looking forward to seeing Michael Kopech pitch again. I will have to wait until 2021 to see that. Giolito got rocked a bit on Opening Day. I haven't decided if it was jitters, the bizarre circumstances of this season or just a bad day. The Yankees/Nationals game was blacked out on MLB.TV. Soooooo... what is the point of paying for that if games are still blacked out? I know there are other ways to watch the game. That's not the point. Let's abolish blacked out games once and for all. It benefits no fan. MLB would gain more fans, if they had access to every game. I know. That's such a radical idea. It must be killed with fire.

As this unique season plays out, I will sit back and enjoy what I can. I will collect my cards. I will catch some games on the streaming services. I will hope for the best outcomes. Not just in the games. In life too. I hope Matt Davidson recovers from Covid-19 to play again this season. I hope no one else catches that from being around him. Sometimes all you have is hope to get you through. I have hope. I need more baseball cards.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Being Essential Isn't As Great As It Sounds

Retail, in general, is more time consuming than you realize. I haven't posted since September 2019. That was the last time before the madness of the holiday season finally took hold.

Since then, I have worked first, second and third shifts. My spare time activities included watching a toddler and learning way more than I ever needed to know about Superwings and revisiting Scooby Doo. There really isn't a lot of downtime to sit down and write out a thoughtful post.

When the lull usually comes every year, I tend to ramp up my postings. This year the lull turned into overtime at work. My store was deemed essential because it has groceries and a pharmacy. What did everyone come to my store for (besides toilet paper and sanitizer)? Televisions and video game consoles and books. Computers, routers and printers. Beats and Apple Watches and Air Pods. If you can't tell, my usual domain is in electronics and entertainment.

I've dealt with the initial rush of Covid-19, where everyone was ill prepared to work at home. I've dealt with the rush from tax refund checks, where everyone came in looking for high end electronics. I've handled the first round of stimulus checks. You know, the ones that dropped directly into bank accounts. I've handled the second round of stimulus checks. The ones that came printed on paper, found in the mailbox. By the time those rolled around, we were out of pretty much everything I listed in the paragraph above.

I've been both thanked for my service and cussed out for things beyond my control. I don't control what we get in, when we get it or that people bought them before you got there. I also don't control pricing and I will not price match to that sketchy seller on eBay. I've heard complaints about having to wear a mask and I've seen people come in with what could only be described as WWI era gas masks on. I've had more than one person tell me that we were overreacting about this "fake virus". This has happened while I was ringing up their purchases and while I was disinfecting every surface that someone could even fathom touching.

I've seen the beauty in humanity and the ugliness of humanity too. I've had my shift cut short because the store had to shut down early for fear of riots and looting. I've had to clear every single item out of our glass cases, load them into carts and wheel them to a safer place for that same reason.

Why am I telling you all of this? It's not for any particular reason. I'm trying to explain why I've seemingly abandoned this blog for the past nine months. Time slips by and the world is definitely in an uncomfortable place right now. Everyone living in my house was deemed an essential worker in some way and had to keep working through all of this mess, which definitely made things more challenging. The most challenging being the escape artist toddler living in one of the bedrooms.

Baseball will be back soon. I have mixed feelings about that, but I'm happy that it's back. You may be wondering why the 2020 Topps card of Yoan Moncada is up at the top of this post. There's a good reason. It is the first White Sox card I pulled for 2020. Yes. This post has been gestating since Series One dropped.

I will try not to make it another nine months between postings.

Monday, September 16, 2019

2019 Topps X Gary Vee Direct360

I have seen a lot of cards morph into the on demand online exclusive model in the past few years. I have an indifference to them. I like the fact that things that might not sell well in shops can be sold online. I like the fact that there are exciting avenues that can be explored using this method. I like the fact that moments can be emblazoned on cardboard in a speedy way that makes it seem especially relevant.

What I don't like is overpriced garbage that should have been left on the drawing board. I don't like having to research such loose connections that I feel that Al Capone should have a set because he attended White Sox games.

This bring us to my pick for the worst set of the year, so far. Who is Gary Vaynerchuk? And why was he allowed to put together a card set?

Gary in an entrepreneur who got his start in the family's wine business. He was also a wine critic, who started a social media empire. Apparently, he also collects cards.

I'm all for people designing their own cards. I do that very thing on my blog. I like some of the cards in this set, but there are just some that are so over the top ridiculous that it makes me question my life. The two subsets that are the worst offenders are the "Card Collectors" and the Wine Pairings" subsets. The "Card Collectors" set is like a bastard child of the 1990 Topps design paired with early Donruss. It does not look good. The "Wine Pairings" just offends my sensibilities as a collector. There is a generic cartoonish wine bottle with a wine recommendation based upon the player. I'm not enough of a wine connoisseur to know if these are joke titles to tie in with the player or these are actually the poorest named wines ever. A quick google search confirms that these are indeed real wines.
I'll have to admit that the comparison of wines and athletes together is unique, but the whole concept seems to be stretched thin. It would be different if the design didn't look like it belonged in a cheap early 80s soda tie-in. The top prizes of purchasing these sets include a chance to win a 5 minute video phone call with Gary Vee, dinner with Gary Vee and joining Gary Vee in a NYC baseball suite. Sorry, Gary, you are just not my cup of tea. The extent of my wine interest is a repeat viewing of Sideways. I don't enjoy speaking with famous people to begin with, let alone famous people who I have no clue are famous.

The White Sox have three cards in this set, in addition to three autographs. Let's break it down.

Bowman by Gary Vee
11 - Luis Alexander Basabe

Card Hunting
2 - Frank Thomas

Wine Pairings
4 - Eloy Jimenez

Eloy Jimenez
Frank Thomas
Luis Alexander Basabe

I really wanted to like this set. Gary seems like an OK guy, but I am struggling to see why he was honored with this personal set. I'll still collect the White Sox cards in the set, but I'll hate myself in the morning.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Card Spotlight: 9-13-19

1950 Bowman #38 - Bill Wight

Just a quick one today, as I've got a mini movie marathon to scare one of my daughters and my wife with. If you see the date, you can guess the movie series.

Sometimes I just look at all the cards that have received the spotlight treatment on this blog and I'll see a year or a series that's not represented much or at all and I'll explore options to fit those criteria. This would be one of these posts.

Bill Wight certainly wasn't a rookie when he got this rookie card, but cards were scarce in the forties and a lot of players didn't get cardboard love until much later. Some never got it at all.

Bill spent three seasons with the White Sox and twelve in the MLB. 1950 would be the last with the White Sox.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Card Spotlight: 9-6-19

2019 Donruss #113 - Yoan Moncada

I am sitting here at the computer digesting the latest offering from Tool called Fear Inoculum. While it's pleasing to the senses, it will take many more listens to fully appreciate the intricacies and skill that went into making the first album in thirteen years by one of my favorite bands in the metal vein. They have come a long way from Opiate and Undertow. Undertow and Ænema are two of my favorite albums from Tool, but all their output has been pretty stellar. This latest release is no exception.

Filled with ten minute songs, it's a treat for the senses. There is meaning behind each note and far removed from the typical pop fluff that finds its way on the charts.

What does any of this have to do with baseball, the White Sox, Donruss or Yoan Moncada? Like Tool, Moncada just keeps getting better with age. Not only is he is living up to his potential and he's breaking perceived ceilings to escalate his performance to new heights.

His average is way up. His home runs are up. His strikeouts are down. His play in the field has drastically improved. Yoan has really come into his own this year.

The only thing that is wrong with Moncada is this card, filled with a field of dreams of many a softball team. That logo-less uniform just looks horrible and ruins a perfectly good Leaf 2000s throwback design with a bit of 2000s Donruss thrown in for good measure. I will be a very happy consumer when Topps no longer has a monopoly on team logos. It's just better for everyone. Competition is healthy in business. Variety is wonderful and one company should not be able to have full access and free reign to do whatever they please.

Someday, these card companies not named Topps will be elevated to the greatness that they deserve. I won't have to do college level research to find out if Chicago means the White Sox or the Cubs on these unlicensed cards. Not really on the MLB players, but the prospects. If they choose a fringe prospect, it turns into a chore when I have to constantly look up what organization said prospect is in.

This is supposed to be an enjoyable hobby. Monopolies do not make me happy. Monopoly is the worst game that always leads to arguments. That's the feeling I get when I think about Topps stranglehold on the logos and team names.

It takes things like Tool's new album and Moncada's newly found successful stats to soothe me. Panini makes a lot of decent cards. They don't deserve softball status. Let them have logos!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...