Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Air Jordan Masterpiece

Michael Jordan. Wrigley Field. Chicago White Sox.

What do these things have in common? They all happened to collide on April 7, 1994. Although Michael Jordan never would play an actual major league game, he played a game in an actual ballpark.

Enter the "Windy City Classic". It was an annual good will event between the White Sox and Cubs for bragging rights. Most years, neither team would make the playoffs, so this was it. Whatever team won this, usually had the fair weather fans in the palm of their hands. And any year that one team went to the playoffs and the other won this non-game, there was a viable argument for team supremacy.

Michael did very well in this game. He went 2-5 with two RBI. His double in the sixth inning caused the game to end in a 4-4 tie. The Cubs and Sox both started the season the next day, but the White Sox had a plane to catch, so they couldn't finish the game in extra innings. Michael would hit just .202 in the minors but was one of only 6 AA players in 1994 to have at least 50 RBI's and at least 30 steals. Michael retired in March of 1995 and returned to basketball with the Bulls. I always wondered what would've happened if he had stuck with it through the 1995 season.

The official reason given for this oddity was James Jordan's desire for Michael to play baseball. James was murdered returning from a friend's funeral and Michael wanted to honor him. I thought that was great. I've heard rumblings later that it was a secret suspension from basketball for Michael's gambling problems. How would it look if the best player of all time was suspended for suspicious illegal activity. It would be bad for the league. Which makes sense to some degree.

I'm not sure I believe it. It seems too convenient. Can't a son play to honor his father and for the love of the game or just to challenge himself? At least the Birmingham Barons got a brand new, state of the art bus to travel to games courtesy of Michael.

Upper Deck honors this memory of what could've been with a card of Jordan in a White Sox uniform. Upper Deck Masterpieces is a wonderful set. Although, I only count two White Sox cards in the set, Michael Jordan and Luis Aparicio.

***UPDATE: I found a Frank Thomas White Sox card in the set too. It looked like a Blue Jay uniform from the back at first glance so I dismissed it until I saw the Sox logo on the back.***

The cards feel like canvas and remind me of sports paintings that I would find in Wonderburgers, which is a southside Chicago burger joint that has been around since 1954. The quality of the food went slightly downhill after Bill Grant (the owner) died in 1991 (I think), but it's still a great place to eat.

Anyway, enough about burger joints. On to cards. Upper Deck Masterpieces is one of my favorite releases this year. It's unique. It looks classy. It feels different. It is different... to a point. There are enough parallels to make Ozzie Guillen choke himself. There aren't pictures of most of the parallels on the Upper Deck website, so I have no idea about the Luis Aparicio that I found in a pack. It could be "Green Linen" or "Windsor Green". I have no idea. The website is no help and eBay just lists "Green Border", which is kind of stating the obvious. That is the only black mark on the release. I would urge any of you to pick up a pack. You won't regret it.


Anonymous said...

Wow good blog :), I'm also very interested to have new designed jordan shoes. I want to buy new jordans pair on this Christmas. So i went through for online shopping. Now i need some more suggestions. Please help.

Steve Gierman said...

Didn't even know they still made Jordans. I don't know too much about shoes, but you can always try eBay.

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