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!

Friday, August 30, 2019

Card Spotlight: 8-30-19

2003 Topps #546 - Bartolo Colon

You know what's surprising? Bartolo Colon has not pitched in the majors in 2019. I know he's forty-six, but he's still capable, to my knowledge. How some fledgling team looking for veteran presence hasn't given him a shot, I'll never know.

I could see the Orioles or the Marlins or the Tigers wanting him on their staff, just to eat innings at this point. And of course, to provide some clairvoyance to the rookies coming up.

The White Sox took a chance on Bartolo in 2003 and again in 2009. Colon even won a Cy Young award between his stints with the White Sox. I'm actually a bit surprised that he hasn't popped up on the White Sox in 2019. With all the injuries that the pitching staff has endured this season, and the inability to find a solid fifth starter, Bartolo actually makes a lot of sense.

Maybe at this point of his life, Bartolo is more content with day drinking on boats. That's what I'd probably want to do today instead of working, but I'm not a multi-millionaire and I have to pay the bills. Maybe I'll do some night drinking tonight, celebrating my fifth wedding anniversary, but I doubt it. And if I do, I highly doubt that maritime activities will be involved.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Card Spotlight: 8-23-19

2019 Topps Living Set #219 - Harold Baines

I'll just say that I love the idea of the Topps Living Set. I'm not too crazy about the price per card, but it is what it is. The cards look fantastic and there are no repeats of players (at least until they change teams and I'm OK with that).

My day started early today because of Taylor Swift. I handle the movies, music and books at my store and today was the release of Taylor Swift's new album. I'll just say that it is not my cup of tea, but if she can get grown women to purchase five different variations of the same CD, I am definitely in the wrong business. The covers aren't different, except for the version number. The songs are exactly the same. The only differences are four different excerpts from her personal diary and four different posters. Also some photos, but I'm unsure if they are different with each version or not. That's it. Each CD doesn't have a different version of the same song on it. The two bonus "audio memos" are exactly the same on each of the deluxe versions. Then there's the standard version with no bonus tracks, in a regular jewel case. It really reminded me of all the parallel versions of baseball cards and how some of us are suckered into collecting them all.

I needed to really get away from parallels today. I thought about posting a yellow Walgreens parallel that I have from 2019 Topps, but thought better of it. I decided to get as far away from parallels as I can in today's collecting landsape. That would be Topps Living Set.

This will be the only Harold Baines White Sox card in this set. That is comforting. There is an artist's version of a not overused photograph of the player. It makes the cards have a unique feel among the rest of card releases.

The rest of the day was as unparalleled as I could possibly get. Some of the family and I took a trip to Grand Rapids, a town that I have never visited before, picked up some Pink Zebra product that my wife bought from a retiring seller. Yes, she is selling that, in addition to all the rest of the time consuming and amazing jobs that she does. We went to Arnie's, a restaurant that I've never been to before, and had a great meal that came with a free cupcake. I chose White Chocolate Raspberry. It was delicious.

I received this card in a way that I don't typically get cards... on Twitter. I got a great price from someone who was putting together a bulk order. I got one for the White Sox collection and one for the Baines collection.

It's been an unparalleled day. A wonderful day. I'm just not a huge Taylor Swift fan. And that's OK. If you have a problem with that, you should just shake it off.


At least that has more to do with The Rock lip synching that song on television than being a fan of her music.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

2019 Topps Total Wave Two

I've already waxed poetic about the things wrong with the comeback of Topps Total in the review of Wave One. The price point and distribution is all wrong for the type of card Topps Total is supposed to be. For good or for bad, we are now stuck with this well intentioned monstrosity.

Wave two is similar to wave one. There are another one hundred cards in the set. It is only available in ten card packs for ten dollars on the Topps website. If you miss the window, you are thrown to the wolves of the secondary market.

The print run for wave two is 753, which is considerably lower than wave one. There are the numbered parallels and the random autographs too. All to create the illusion that you might be able to get value out of your purchase. That is truly in the eye of the beholder. I don't put much stock into this release, but I'm sure there are those who do.

The White Sox have four cards in wave two.

132 - Yolmer Sanchez
140 - Daniel Palka
142 - Caleb Frare
164 - Yonder Alonso

To say the player selection in wave two is underwhelming would be an understatement. I like Yolmer, but he is not going to set the collecting world on fire. He is a great clubhouse presence, but he is a placeholder player, unless he really elevates his game another few levels. I like Daniel Palka, but he needs to figure out how to adjust quicker or he's going to be the ultimate AAAA player. I like Caleb Frare, but it's a bit too early to say how he's going to ultimately fit in the bullpen. He could surprise us all and be elite one day. Yonder's time with the White Sox resulted in a .178 batting average. That is 72 points below his lowest batting average with any team he has been with. His previous low was .250 with the Cleveland Indians in 2018. Alonso is currently hitting .317 with the Rockies through twenty-five games. Let that sink in. It can't all be explained by playing in Colorado.

The only way this wave gets more depressing is if they added Odrisamer Despaigne, Ervin Santana and A.J. Reed. Don't get me wrong. I like all the players that have been on the White Sox (except for Nick Swisher). There are just some players that are more exciting than others. These four players probably sounded a lot more promising in the planning stages. That happens. We'll see if things get more exciting in wave three.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Draft Years: 1972

 With the twelfth pick in the 1972 amateur draft, the White Sox chose outfielder Mike Ondina out of Rancho Cordova, California.

Mike spent six seasons in the White Sox minor league system, not once getting a call-up. He hit a combined .254 average over eight seasons in the minors, six with the White Sox and two with the Royals, before calling it quits.

Ondina kept getting a little bit worse, the further he climbed the minor league ladder. It's not surprising that even on some of the questionable teams of the seventies, the Sox decided against giving him a shot at the MLB level.

The 1972 draft was not loaded with a lot of exceptional talent, but there were a few standouts. Dennis Eckersley Dick Ruthven, Dave Chalk, Jamie Quirk, Chet Lemon, John Candelaria, Willie Randolph and Rick Honeycutt were all taken after Mike Ondina. Along with a handful of other notable names.

The White Sox should have taken...

Gary Carter.
The man who scouted him for the Expos was known for his shenanigans and secrecy, so it could be understandable why a talent like Carter dropped to the third round and 53rd overall. It would also be a good bet that an injury that Gary suffered also cooled teams off from drafting the three-sport star.

Gary could have really solidified the backstop position for the Pale Hose in the seventies. Can you imagine an early eighties catching tandem of Fisk and Gary Carter? The Sox would have been set for many years.

I'm also going to be greedy and say that instead of outfielder Cleo Kilpatrick, the White Sox should have picked Dennis Eckersley with their second pick.

Both Gary Carter and Dennis Eckersley were available until the third round. Eck was picked second in the third round (50th overall) and Carter was picked a few selections later (53rd overall). An Eckersley/Carter battery has a nice sound to it.

Out of the twenty-four players selected by the White Sox in the 1972 draft, only five made it to the majors. Bruce Robinson, George Enright, Mike Overy, Nyls Nyman and Jim Lentine. Only George Enright (two games, one at-bat) and Nyls Nyman (parts of four seasons) ever made it to the majors with the Chicago White Sox.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Card Spotlight: 8-16-19

2013 Topps #20 - Kevin Youkilis (Out Of Bounds Variation)

Kevin Youkilis on the White Sox is a prime example of how the White Sox used to think. Get a popular player, who is on the wrong side of thirty, with just enough left in the tank for a few thrills, but not enough to match their previous greatness. Either that or sign a superstar that is well past their prime and have ticket sales coast on their name without adding much to the team. Kevin Youkilis was much closer to the former than the latter, but it should be noted that his career did end in June 2013, with his last team, the New York Yankees.

There were certainly great moments with Youkilis on the White Sox and I was very excited to have Kevin on the White Sox. I'm still glad that he was a part of the team. That doesn't necessarily mean that Youkilis was good. He was definitely in the end stages of his career, even at age thirty-three.

I tried collecting the rainbow, meaning all the parallels, but I think I am still a card or two short. I know I don't have the platinum parallel. I might be missing another parallel. I do have the out of bounds variation. Maybe one day I'll complete the rainbow.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Card Spotlight: 8-9-19

1954 Bowman #54 - Chico Carrasquel

This week's spotlight focuses on Chico Carrasquel. Chico was purchased from the Brooklyn Dodgers by the Chicago Whtie Sox before he reached the majors. Making his debut with the White Sox in 1950, Chico would spend six seasons with the Pale Hose and four All-Star selections, before he was traded to the Cleveland Indians.

Arguably, Carrasquel was one of the greatest players to wear number seventeen for the White Sox. I can certainly think of more accomplished players who wore seventeen, but the majority of their prime successes came with other teams.

Chico and the White Sox tried for a reunion in 1960, but it was never meant to be. Carrasquel signed in January and was released by April. That still does not squash the legacy that he left behind in Chicago, where he came in third for Rookie of the Year and was twice considered for MVP.

Carrasquel started a Chicago White Sox tradition of Venezuelan shortstops and became the first Latin American player to start an All-Star game. He had to fill the shoes of Luke Appling and did so admirably, with great defense. No wonder Chico is still mentioned with the White Sox greats. He embodied what most White Sox fans resonate with... great work ethic and a little spunk.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

2019 Allen & Ginter

It's that time of year again. Allen & Ginter time!!

It's one of the releases that I always get excited about. Everything from the feel of the cards to the look of the cards to the strange and interesting subject matter sprinkled in with the baseball players. It all adds up to be one of the best sets of the year, every year.

This year I decided to go in cold turkey. I actively avoided checklists, so I could be surprised when I opened my first packs. Boy, was I ever surprised with the results. Two of my absolute favorite White Sox players are in the set this year. Along with some of my favorite rookies and another Hall of Fame favorite, this team set shapes up to be one of my favorite of the year.

I will be a little unorthodox with my checklist this year. You'll know exactly where. You can choose to include the card if you want. If not, I completely understand.

The White Sox have ten cards in the set this year, including and optional card and two short prints.

118 - Frank Thomas

This Hall of Fame player is always welcome. I WILL believe the hype!

119 - Michael Kopech

I was so excited for Kopech day. I will be the same level of excited upon his return.

120 - Yoan Moncada

I am impressed with how big a leap Yoan has made this year.

121 - Jose Abreu

I'm hoping Abreu gets to stick around. I like him.

139 - Harold Baines

OMG!!! Total and welcome surprise!!!!

161 - Sister Mary Jo Soieck

This is the optional card. I'm including it because she did the first pitch with the White Sox and it's a great South Side story.

264 - Yonder Alonso

I was hopeful for Yonder when the Sox signed him. I wish him the best in Colorado.

272 - Carlton Fisk

Some Fisk MOJO!!! Both of my childhood idols in one team set? YES, PLEASE!

366 - Daniel Palka

What are you gonna do when Palkamania runs wild over you??? I hope he regains some momentum.

398 - Eloy Jimenez

Adventurous in the outfield, but he's learning and getting better. I'm glad he's getting MLB experience.

This is probably my favorite Allen & Ginter White Sox lineup so far!! Very solid effort.
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