Friday, May 30, 2008

Card Spotlight 5-30-08

This is one of the few key Sammy Sosa rookie cards that didn't make him look like a puppet reject from Sesame Street. It shows him playing his game and doing what he did best back then.

Sammy was all about the bunt hit. If he could place a decent bunt, then his speed would get him to first. This part of Sammy's game got away from him as he "discovered" his home run swing with the Cubs.

His strikeout ratio would climb ever higher because of that. Sammy always had a high strikeout ratio, but it was being worked on when he was with the White Sox. It's something that, I would presume, was stopped from being worked on when he went over to the North Side of town.

That's a real shame. Sammy was positioning himself to be an all around five tool player, but instead chose a one dimensional path to glory, then exile. Sammy could have been a great player, not a great joke in the scheme of things. This card reminds me of what could have been.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

#68 - Doug Lindsey

Number 68 belongs to Doug Lindsey. You may ask why. Well, the simple fact is that Doug is the only player to wear number 68. There isn't even a card featuring Doug in a White Sox uniform.

In fact, Doug was only in two games for the White Sox, which happened to be his last two games in the majors. On September 21, 1993, he made his debut with the Sox as a late inning replacement for Ron Karkovice in a game that the Sox would lose to the Angels, in Anaheim, 8-0.

On October 2, 1993, Doug would actually get one at-bat in a game, replacing Ozzie Guillen in the batting order, but replacing Karkovice again defensively. Karkovice was replaced by Craig Grebeck one batter earlier, so the move made sense.

The Sox had already won their division, so they were giving their starters a little break. Since Doug is the only player to appear wearing number 68, he is the best.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Random Card #24

Sluggers Vs. Pitchers.

What exactly was the point of this release? I think it was to flood the market with Fleer baseball product in 1987. The design is amatuerish and reeks of a child who could only find the primary colored fingerpaints. With crazy cut out action words and comic book shading techniques, this looks like it belongs on the Adam West Batman series.

I can see the words POW! or ZONK! fit comfortably on top of the picture of Ivan swinging away. Maybe even KABLOOEY!

That being said, this is a nice shot of Ivan in action. It looks like the photo was snapped on a deep fly. I can't tell whether or not it was to the warning track or over the yellow railing, but it was taken at old Comiskey Park.

5-28-08: Sox 6 - Indians 5

May 28, 2008 - Cleveland, Ohio

Hanging on for the rebound.

Alexei Ramirez showed everyone exactly what he was made of today. He tempted fate by tagging at third and coming home. He avoided the tag by Victor Martinez, but didn't miss his leg. The next time Ramirez scored, he pulled up lame rounding third base. He did score on the play, but not before looking like he would leisurely walk there holding his right thigh. To Alexei's credit, he finished the game with no problems.

Joe Crede provided plenty of spectacular defense. Gavin Floyd gave up just enough for the win. Orlando Cabrera definitely needs to work on his bunting skills. In two attempts, it looked like a spectator stood in for him at the plate. But Jermaine Dye continued being locked in with another home run. It's a good thing too, because Bobby Jenks makes my heart stop when he puts two on with nobody out.

The good:
Alexei's heads up dash for the plate.

The bullpen did a wonderful job of holding the Indians right where Gavin left them.

The bad:
Bobby Jenks is skating on thin ice, but manages to come out smelling like a rose.

DeWayne Wise was 0 for 4.

The ugly:
Gavin Floyd's throwing error.

Orlando Cabrera's bunting skills.

The Sox took the rubber match, but not without causing a few headaches for the fans watching. It seems like a carefully placed penny on the railroad tracks may cause this train to derail. Let's hope not. The Rays are in first place and playing the Sox next.

Mailbox Joys: Three Cards From My Birthyear

I won an auction on eBay for three 1976 Topps White Sox cards. I was the only bidder, so I won the auction for 99 cents. Not that there's a huge run on 1976 common White Sox players, but it's nice to get them anyway.

The first card is #131, Bill Stein. In 1976, Bill lived in Cocoa, Florida. Sounds delicious. I wonder if that has a small subdivision named marshmallow? The smaller, more colorful ones, are so much better in Cocoa. Bill saw action in 76 games in 1975 and played a whopping 117 games in 1976. He played until 1985.

The second card is #333, Bob Coluccio. Bob was originally drafted by the Pilots! He played for the Sox in the last half of 1975 and in 1977. He never played major league baseball in 1976. Bob has a lovely .220 career batting average and was out of major league baseball after 1978.

The last card is probably the best one in the lot. Card #656, the Chicago White Sox team card. Chuck Tanner looks a little like E.T. poking out of his diamond enclosure. There's a blurb on the back where you can get all 24 team checklist cards for 50 cents plus 1 baseball wrapper sent to a PO box in Westbury, NY. It urges you to print clearly and to include your zip code. Too bad the offer expired on December 31, 1976.

5-27-08: Sox 2 - Indians 8

May 27, 2008 - Cleveland, Ohio

The revenge of the Indians.

It shouldn't have been this way. The Sox kept giving the Indians 4, 5 and sometimes 6 outs in an inning. When that happens, the Sox are almost certain to lose.

There was life from Pablo Ozuna, Orlando Cabrera and Toby Hall at the plate, but not too much from anyone else. The Sox wasted multiple opportunities to get these men home. They also turned easy outs into run scoring opportunities for the Indians. This is no way to run a ballgame.

There seemed to be more excitement off the field than on the field. Pranks and phone calls galore littered the atmosphere, outshining any effort on the field. Maybe the Sox were handcuffed from these distractions? This is not how a first place team should look.

The good:
Pablo Ozuna had a productive day at the plate.

Ehren Wassermann held the Indians to just one earned run in 3 innings.

The bad:
Buehrle gave up a grand slam.

Paul Konerko's dropped ball.

The ugly:
A successful pickoff move was ruined by a poorly timed throw to home. Everyone was safe and the run scored.

9 men left on base, but 21 opportunities wasted.

Paul Konerko's hand must still be hurting him. He usually gets balls like that one that he dropped. That should've been the third out, but extended a nightmare instead. I'm still wondering if there is something going on with Buehrle. This is not like him to have so many bad outings. At least Alexei Ramirez successfully stole a base. That's something positive.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Trading With fakehorsemuffins

I received an interesting trade offer on May 15th. A Wax Heaven reader who goes by the name fakehorsemuffins, e-mailed me about a certain card that he pulled. He is a Marlins fan, who has no use for White Sox cards. So, he figured that he'd offer it to me and I'd jump at the chance.

Well, he was right. I jumped. It seems that fakehorsemuffins pulled a 2007 Bowman Chrome Orange refractor of Josh Fields numbered 25/25. Hmmm, let's see here.... a card of rookie phenom Josh Fields, who is primed to take over third base when Joe Crede leaves via trade or free agency. Plus, it's numbered to only 25? Yeah, I would love to have it.

We agreed on a loose trade and I found the card sitting in my mailbox today. The orange refractor is a thing of beauty and the scanner does not even come close to capturing the essence of the card. The scanner makes the card look flat, like an orange parallel of the regular Bowman set. The card in person, is a shiny, almost citrusy example of beauty.

When the trade was agreed upon, I searched eBay for a game used Uggla card and found one. It should be currently en route to my house. In turn, I will take that card and a few assorted others to fakehorsemuffins as a thank you to complete the trade. It may take a little longer than I want, but there will be cards sent in return. I'm just waiting on an eBay seller.

Random Card #23

I'm not sure what Floyd Bannister did in 1986 to get consideration for Fleer's exclusive Limited Edition set in 1987, but here he is at card number one.

Floyd went 10-14 in 1986 with 6 complete games, 162 hits allowed in 165 1/3 innings with 92 strikeouts. Those numbers don't exactly set the world on fire. So, what was Floyd doing here? Maybe Fleer was tired of putting Harold Baines and Carlton Fisk on everything.

Like I've mentioned several times before, I love oddball White Sox cards. This may not be the definition of an oddball card, but it comes close enough. If I never laid eyes on it as a kid in 1987, it was an oddball to me.

Having Floyd Bannister on this card instead of the usual suspects is just icing on the cake. It gets boring when every release has the same three or four players in the set. There are over 20 more guys, at any given time, on the team. I love sets that use that knowledge.

5-26-08: Sox 6 - Indians 3

May 26, 2008 - Cleveland, Ohio

A memorable Memorial Day.

It took twelve innings, but the White Sox finally broke through with enough to win the game. The go ahead run was scored by pinch runner DeWayne Wise, who was running for Nick Swisher. Then the runs poured like water.

It almost seemed like a light switch was flipped. The Sox appeared to struggle with scoring until the twelfth inning, then it was like the runs couldn't stop from coming.

Javier Vazquez did a decent job through six innings and the bullpen was magnificent for the next six. Bobby Jenks struggled slightly for the save but induced the double play to ease the congestion on base.

The good:
DeWayne Wise scoring the winning run in the twelfth inning.

Orlando Cabrera going 4 for 6 after a talking to about his behavior by Ozzie Guillen

The bad:
Bobby Jenks piled the runners on, but came out smelling like a rose for his 100th career save.

Joe Crede was caught stealing

The ugly:
Paul Konerko went 0 for 6.

9 players left on base.

In a game where Brian Anderson stole his first base of the year, you know it was going to be long and odd. The game didn't disappoint. Jim Thome continued his homer happy ways against his former team. Bobby Jenks held on to get his 100th career save. Pierzynski and Dye were both intentionally walked to set up the loss for the Indians. A strange and weird game with an outcome victorious for the Sox.

Great Minds Think Alike

At the start of Spring Training, Carlos Quentin reminded me of someone. I couldn't put my finger on it, but it always bugged me a little. Then, around the beginning of May, it finally dawned on me. Carlos Quentin reminds me of a young Jose Canseco.

I kept this revelation to myself. Jose doesn't exactly elicit joyful comparisons to active baseball players. There is so much bad mojo orbiting around Jose Canseco these days, that even a compliment can be misconstrued. That's a real shame. Jose was an elite player, in his prime. So were many others accused or confirmed to have used steroids.

While making my daily rounds of baseball related blogs, I came across this article at Wax Heaven. If even one of the best Jose Canseco fans can see this as a healthy comparison, then maybe I'm not so nuts after all. The only question that remains is why I see Carlos as a Jose Canseco type of player.

That part I haven't quite figured out yet. It's not just the home runs, but that is part of it. I'm sure that one day it will slap me in the face and be so obvious that I'll wonder why I didn't think of it before. But until that eureka moment arrives, I'll have to settle for not being the only one who sees that similarity.

Chicago is abuzz about Carlos Quentin. It's not hard to see why. The Chicago papers are calling Carlos Quentin the steal of the off season. I just hope it stays that way. Sometimes the questionable moves by a team turn out to be the best acquisitions.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Everybody's Working For The Weekend

There are two schools of thought when it comes to working on the weekends. One is that it sucks and time with your friends and family are utterly destroyed. The other is that you have time during the week to get things done when it is typically less crowded. I tend to side with the latter more often than the former.

Whenever I was actually off during the weekends, no one wanted to do anything anyway. So, I figured why not get paid for it. Besides, the weekend has less people to deal with at work and the weekdays has less people to deal with on errands. It's a win-win situation for avoiding those annoying people who roam the aisles of Wal-Mart aimlessly, getting in your way. It means less things to get angry at and less chances to run into a complete waste of space.

Before my work week started, I was told of a mythical picture of my paternal grandparents with Tony LaRussa. It seems that one of my aunts is in possession of this picture, but my dad hasn't figured out which one yet. We rarely see my dad's side of the family. Unless someone gets married or dies, we don't see them. It's just the way it's always been.

At some point when my grandparents were living in California, they befriended Tony LaRussa and would go drinking together. They were huge baseball fans and went to every game that they could after my grandfather retired. This was slightly before my time, so I don't have the clearest picture of the timeline. Most stories about my grandparents involve drinking of some sort and people on the cusp of fame. There's a famous one (around our household at least) of Peter Cetera stealing my grandmother's Tavern Pale off the back porch. Peter grew up a few blocks from my dad.

I will find that picture one day. When I do, I am sending two copies to Tony LaRussa. One to be signed and one for him to keep. Then I will post it on this blog.

After that excitement, it was off to work for the week. I knew the time would drag because I had big plans for Sunday night. It was a rare date night for me and Tracey. Where did we go? Of all places, a drive in. The only one, that I know of, left around Chicago. Tracey had never been to one before, so we thought we'd make an evening of it. It was $8.50 for each of us and we got to see a double feature of first run movies. Not bad at all.

The atmosphere was great! There were people tossing squishy baseballs around and other people grilling. I even saw an impromptu volleyball game break out. All of this was going on while commercial free oldies music was pumped through the speakers. If it weren't for the modern cars, I would've thought that I had slipped back in time to the sixties.

The double feature was great. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was the first feature. This was preceded by old fashioned refreshment reels and two trailers. The film was fantastic! It's everything I would expect from an Indy film. I'm sure I'll be seeing the refrigerator scene on Mythbusters in the future. If you've seen the movie, then you'll know what I'm talking about. If you haven't, then I am not even close to spoiling anything. Although, it needs to be said that John Hurt got a wonderful free check out of this role. I don't claim to be anything close to an actor, but I could have done that on screen. The role does fit though, it just doesn't look like very much work.

The second movie was Iron Man. I had my doubts about this one, but it exceeded my expectations. Robert Downey Jr. has found a wonderful vehicle and a possible franchise. He adds so much weight and depth to the character of Tony Stark that I was constantly amazed. It was a great story and a wonderful superhero movie. I'm glad the drive in was packed. If I would've left before the Samuel L. Jackson cameo after the credits, I would've been upset at myself.

The constant lightning show behind the screen actually enhanced the experience. It had been threatening thunderstorms all night, but all that there was to show for it was streaks of lightning across the sky all night long. Then, as if on cue, as the end credits to Iron Man started so did the downpour. It took us 45 minutes to get there from Tracey's house and almost two hours to get back. The movies didn't start until 9, a full half hour after the listed time. We didn't get back home until after 3 AM. By the time I went to sleep, I had been up over 24 hours. But I had fun and wouldn't change a second of it.

Of course, since I was at the drive in, I missed the White Sox game. I was pleasantly surprised to see that they had won that evening. All was right in the world again. It's not always about baseball, but life always finds its way back to baseball.

5-25-08: Angels 2 - Sox 3

May 25, 2008 - Chicago, Illinois

Everybody loves homers.

Carlos Quentin seemed to redeem himself for the two errors in yesterday's game by providing all the offense for the White Sox. All three runs were provided off of his bat by way of the homer.

Jose Contreras provided another spectacular outing to hold the Angels to two runs, but didn't factor in the decision, despite going eight innings. Scott Linebrink got his second win of the season in relief.

The good:
Carlos Quentin's 2 home runs.

Jose Contreras' great outing.

The bad:
The other eight batters didn't provide much offense.

Carlos Quentin was hit by another pitch.

The ugly:
Dye and Pierzynski grounded into double plays.

Only six hits and 1 walk.

Despite the anemic offense, the Sox pulled off another nail biter. This reminds me of the 1990 squad which was dubbed the cardiac kids. That team always seemed to pull it off in the ninth inning. This team is starting to remind me a lot of that team.

5-24-08: Angels 2 - Sox 0

May 24, 2008 - Chicago, Illinois

Extended streak.

Unfortunately, it the losing kind. Two games is a streak, three games is a trend and four games usually means a sweep. This was a close game that was winnable on both ends. The Angels just held on to what John Danks gave them.

With only three hits by three different players, it's hard to choose someone to represent the game, but Nick Masset's successful pickoff was probably the highlight for the White Sox in this game, so with his Rangers cards in abundance, here is a 2005 Upper Deck Pro Sigs card.

The good:
Nick Masset's pickoff.

Brian Anderson's double.

The bad:
Only 2 walks for the Sox.

Only 3 hits.

The ugly:
2 throwing errors by Carlos Quentin.

The first four Sox batters wer 0 for 15!

Brian Anderson ending up at second base would be the farthest a Sox batter would get on the bases. That is a tragedy. The anemic White Sox offense has shown back up. I wish that would stay away. The big, fat offense needs a little more exercise.

5-23-08: Angels 3 - Sox 1

May 23, 2008 - Chicago, Illinois


Sometimes a win streak has to end. It's inevitable. Eventually, everything will end. Win streaks will come and go, but this one didn't have to end so prematurely. One bad inning led to the loss. That's just the way it goes sometimes.

Gavin Floyd pitched a complete game loss. Orlando Cabrera continued to beat up on his former team. The only real mistake was the home run to Torii Hunter. Unfortunately, Jermaine Dye was only able to muster out 1 RBI in the ninth inning. The effort was there, but it just wasn't enough today.

The good:
Stolen bases by A.J. and Cabrera!

Gavin Floyd pitched a great game, except for one inning.

The bad:
The home run to Torii Hunter.

The bottom of the lineup went 0 for 8.

The ugly:
Jim Thome and Joe Crede both went 0 for 4.

5 men left on base.

This was a winnable game, but the winning streak had to end sometime. It was good to see the top of the lineup be so productive. The rest of the lineup has to catch up or it means nothing.

5-22-08: Indians 1 - Sox 3

May 22, 2008 - Chicago, Illinois

Sweep on Carlton Fisk night!

Eight games in a row. That impresses me. That means that for over a week, the Sox have been winning games. They have won them in all sorts of ways. Typically, the pitching has kept them in the game long enough for the batters to unleash their offense.

Scott Linebrink got his first win of the season, as Mark Buehrle didn't factor in the decision again. Toby Hall had a wonderful day, going 3 for 3. Carlos Quentin continued his hot hitting by going 2 for 4. Not bad for an offense that can be anemic at times.

The good:
Scott Linebrink's first White Sox win.

Toby Hall going 3 for 3.

The bad:
5 men left on base.

Orlando Cabrera ground into a double play.

The ugly:
Jim Thome was 0 for 4.

Mark Buehrle pitched effectively, but still got a no decision.

Would it be too much to ask to win nine in a row? Anything seems possible at this point. With the Angels coming to town, it will be a tough task. Since the Sox won in the presence of The Commander, nine in a row is a little closer to becoming a reality.

5-21-08: Indians 2 - Sox 7

May 21, 2008 - Chicago, Illinois

Jermaine is on fire!

A five run sixth inning is all the offense that the Sox needed today. Jermaine Dye added two home runs to the mix. Javier Vazquez pitched another solid effort as the Sox won seven in a row. Take a moment for that to sink in. Seven in a row.

Every member seemed to contribute to this win. Even Alexei Ramirez had an RBI, despite the lack of hits. The bullpen provided solid relief and no major problems to speak of. Everyone was doing their part.

The good:
Jermaine Dye was 2 for 2 with 2 homers, a walk and a hit by pitch.

Javier Vazquez pitched solid enough for the win.

The bad:
Six men left on base.

2 hits given up by Matt Thornton.

The ugly:
Alexei Ramirez went 0 for 3.

Joe Crede left two runners in scoring position with two out.

Another day, another win. At least that's what it's starting to look like. I know it can't last, but it's nice to see. The team is playing as a whole and not as a bunch of individuals.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Card Spotlight 5-23-08

1981 O-Pee-Chee #116 - Carlton Fisk

With the appearance of Carlton Fisk at U.S. Cellular Field on Thursday night, it only seems fitting that the card spotlight would be a card of his. O-Pee-Chee cards always seem slightly better than Topps. They have a foreign look to them, but they are oh so familiar.

The backs are usually a little brighter. The teams are updated with text to reflect signings and trades. Thursdays tribute concluded with Carlton's first home run at Comiskey Park as a White Sox, in his home debut.

So, I was reminded of this card and I think it fits. It captured the best of both Fisks. The Red Sox legend and the White Sox hero. Plus, the image could almost be mistaken for a White Sox uniform at first glance. Until you look very closely and see the "B" on the helmet.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Random Card #22

It seems that the Fleer photographers have Kitty backed up against a wall. Sadly, this would turn out to be the perfect metaphor for the rest of Kittle's career. Ron was always good for an occasional thrill, but he never really matched his Rookie of the Year output.

He had the fans pulling for him though. There's something about a local blue collar boy making good that makes fans really stand behind someone. The Hoosier native made good. He amazed people with his rooftop home run shots.

Ron was a player that you could get behind. He felt like he could be your neighbor or your college roommate. I even had a similar pair of glasses when I first needed them in my youth.

Those feelings would last, but the talent started to erode somewhat. The skill was there, but it wasn't utilized as much and the league was figuring ways around Kitty. He is still loved in Chicago and still lives in Indiana. The big difference now is that he looks more distinguished with age and ditched the aviator glasses. He's away from the wall and making his own path.

5-20-08: Indians 1 - Sox 4

May 20, 2008 - Chicago, Illinois

Joe was forced to go.

The last time that Joe Crede was ejected from a game, C.C. Sabathia was on the mound against Jose Contreras. Talk about deja vu. Joe didn't like a call way inside on his first at-bat. He took it in stride, but by his second at-bat, he was called out on a pitch way outside. Joe threw the bat in disgust and started complaining. Crede was quickly ejected, but not before giving home plate umpire Wally Bell a piece of his mind.

Normally, I don't even question balls and strikes. The umpires discretion is the final word. As long as he keep the same strike zone for everyone, I don't have a problem with it. This, however, seemed blatant and singled out. No one else, on either team, had a strike zone like Joe Crede's. He had a right to complain.

Jim Thome and Carlos Quentin provided all the offense that the Sox would need against C.C. with a home run each. Jose Contreras pitched another solid game. He even was hit around the shin and stayed in the game, pitching effectively.

The good:
Home runs by Quentin and Thome.

A solid performance by Contreras.

The bad:
An error by Alexei Ramirez

Alexei Ramirez being hit in his bony back by a pitch. There's nothing to cushion the blow, so that had to hurt.

The ugly:
Joe Crede getting tossed for arguing balls and strikes.

Orlando Cabrera was 0 for 5.

The Sox are back to their winning ways. This time, they gave C.C. Sabathia his first loss at U.S. Cellular Field. Things are looking up for the Sox. This makes three home runs for Thome off of Sabathia this year. Not too shabby.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Mailbox Joys: A Hodgepodge Of Cards

I sent off a what I had from the 1986 Topps set to fill in the missing cards from Operation Topps over at Bad Wax. Today, I received a package from Mike with a few White Sox cards and then a few puzzling surprises.

First the card I needed for my 1986 Topps team set. Number 103, Luis Salazar. Then there were two 2008 Topps cards. Number 248, Jose Contreras and number 274, Jermaine Dye. I already had these cards, but I always welcome White Sox cards. These will be my backups in case the originals fail to uphold their duties.

Digging deeper in the package, I pulled out two 1987 Topps cards. Number 454, Luis Salazar and number 491, Ron Karkovice. I have them both, but like I said, White Sox cards are always welcome in this home.

Then I started to get a look like Luis Salazar has on his 1986 Topps card. I pulled a 2008 Topps Own The Game, Vladimir Guerrero and a 2008 Topps Opening Day, Luke Hochevar. Hmmm. Not White Sox, but pretty cool. I know a few people that will appreciate these cards. What is our trading community if it is not sharing the love of cards. My rule generally is to keep what I collect and pass the rest on to people who really need them for their collection.

Then, it got stranger. I started pulling a bunch of random 1986 Topps cards. The Twins' Ron Davis looks like he's straining himself in mid-pitch. The Dodgers' Enos Cabell is pictured in a classic pose. They came one after the other. Kirk McCaskill, Dave Van Gorder, Dave Concepcion, Warren Brusstar, Dean of the Mariners - Dave Henderson, Frank Williams.

Still more came out of the package. Greg Gagne looks like he's about to cross someone in a dark alley. Bust shots of Pascual Perez and Earnie Riles. Dean of the Dodgers - Bill Russell, Bill Doran, Dick Williams, Glenn Brummer and Steve Garvey.

Let's just say that I'm surprised. I'm very appreciative of the varying array of cards. There are some beautiful cards in there. There is more to baseball than just the White Sox and these cards represent that in wonderful fashion. Thanks, Mike! Your package is greatly appreciated! I can't wait to help you with Operation Topps 1987.

Random Card #21

I've always thought that this card was absurd. If anyone deserved to be represented on a Grand Slammer card in a White Sox uniform, it would've been Robin Ventura. He had 18 career grand slams. Robin Ventura didn't even play in this game. Craig Greback played third base.

Then again, this is depicting the magical, just short of the playoffs because of the stacked Oakland team, 1990 season. Ron Karkovice, who maybe would crack a .300 average if he went 1 for 3 on Opening Day, did the improbable. It's not the fact that he hit a grand slam. It's that a backup catcher hit an inside the park grand slam.

Many Sox fans were scratching their heads on August 30, 1990. A single to Phil Bradley, a double to Ivan Calderon and a walk to Frank Thomas set up one of the most unlikely scenarios.

Karko hit a line drive off of the Twins Dave West, just over the glove of Greg Gagne. The ball rolled to the wall in left-center, a comedy revival ensued. Center fielder John Moses flipped the ball to left fielder Dan Gladden, who had his back to the play for some unknown reason. This allowed the lead-footed Karkovice to round the bases to give the Sox a 4-2 lead. The Sox held on to win 4-3 in Minnesota.

The Sox had three of their four hits on the day in that fourth inning. Looking through the box score, some interesting things happened. The most surprising move would be the rookie Frank Thomas being pinch hit for by Dan Pasqua, who got the fourth and final hit of the day for the Sox. Jack McDowell won his eleventh game and Bobby Thigpen saved his 44th game in a year where he would set the single season save record.

A sign of things to come would be a young Frank Thomas playing DH, while Carlos Martinez played first base. Instead of switching Frank over to first base late in the game, manager Jeff Torborg plugged Steve Lyons at first. Hindsight is 20/20. It seems like a questionable move now, but back then Frank Thomas was still an unproven commodity.

Ron Karkovice's amazing feat always reminds me that anything can happen in baseball. Catchers can hit inside the park home runs, future Hall of Famers can be benched early, and a veteran can be set up completely in the wrong position for an improbable piece of history to happen. This is why I never count any team out until that final out is made. You never know who may step up and create a bit of history.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Mailbox Joys: A Box From Stats On The Back

One of the things that I dislike about my new work schedule is that it makes me late in other areas of my life. I have to play catch up on Mondays and Tuesdays. Just when I have time to think again on Wednesdays, I have to start all over again on Thursday.

I switch between two residences on the weekends. My house and Tracey's house. So if I get something in the mail during my four day work week, chances are I won't be able to fully appreciate it until Monday or Tuesday.

On Friday, I received a cube of White Sox cards from Mark at Stats On The Back. I got a whole bunch of Harold Baines and a good chunk of White Sox cards to sort through. My want list will be updated shortly to reflect these cards in my collection.

Instead of tempting Carpal Tunnel Syndrome to occur, I will be continuing the random card selections to include these cards from Mark. The previous random cards came from Rich at Out Of The Mill.

Thank you for this cube of White Sox and Harold Baines cards. I will enjoy sorting through them and picking out my favorites. There was also a pack of 1989 Donruss thrown in for good measure. It looks like I'll be playing Sox Or No Sox on A Pack A Day soon.

5-18-08: Sox 13 - Giants 8

May 18, 2008 - San Francisco, California

This is a team effort.

The Sox lived together and died together on the field. This was a group effort in every sense of the word. Every player seemed to contribute something, whether it was good or bad. The important thing was that no one ever gave up.

It looked like yet another weak offensive day, then it happened. The Sox started scoring. Then they wouldn't stop scoring. They got the lucky breaks and they got the lucky hits. Everything seemed to fall. It was like karma was catching up with them.

The good:
Cabrera had two home runs.

Only five left on base.

The bad:
Matt Thornton blew a save.

John Danks' wild pitch.

The ugly:
Joe Crede's ninth error.

Octavio Dotel could not throw a strike.

It was obvious that the bullpen has been overused as of late. I have never seen Dotel miss the strike zone that badly. Nick Masset was the only pitcher who was fresh out of the bullpen and he got the job done. The offense poured it on in the end and ensured a sweep of the Giants.

5-17-08: Sox 3 - Giants 1

May 17, 2008 - San Francisco, California

Buehrle's a hit!

This is the type of game Mark Buehrle needed to get back on track. He put in a decent pitching performance and ripped a nice hit on top of that.

Tony Hall and Jermaine Dye went 3 for 5 in the game. The Sox manages 12 hits, but only crossed the plate 3 times. They need to get those missing key hits that will break the game wide open.

The good:
Mark Buehrle gets a nice hit.

Toby Hall is on fire at the plate.

The bad:
Nick Swisher went 0 for 3.

Jermaine Dye left 5 runners on base.

The ugly:
14 left on base!

Barry Zito drops to 0-8.

The Sox are getting slightly better. Hopefully, this winning is not just a San Francisco thing and the Sox can translate this to other teams. One thing that I'm left pondering after this game... what happened to Barry Zito?

5-16-08: Sox 2 - Giants 0

May 16, 2008 - San Francisco, California

I don't know how they predicted it. I never would have guessed it in a million years, even though I was hoping for it. How did Hawk and DJ predict Alexei Ramirez' first major league home run? That's something usually reserved for people like Steve Stone.

To hear Hawk and DJ talk about Alexei's home run was to think that they knew something about the future. They spoke with such conviction about this before it happened that they may have willed the home run to happen. The funny thing is that they only mentioned this during the seventh inning at-bat. The plate appearance in which Alexei's first major league home run took place.

The good:
Alexei Ramirez's first MLB home run.

Gavin Floyd pitched well enough for the win.

The bad:
Aaron Rowand was hit twice by Gavin Floyd pitches.

Orlando Cabrera went 0 for 4 again.

The ugly:
Brian Anderson was caught stealing.

A.J.'s throwing error.

Alexei's home run was all the scoring that the Sox needed. It was a battle of anemic offenses and the Sox lost the anemia battle. The pitching was good enough to win and bad enough to lose against a better team. The Sox need to consider themselves lucky in this one.

5-15-08: Sox 4 - Angels 3

May 15, 2008 - Anaheim, California

A.J. Pierzynski has admirers everywhere. Even in Anaheim, there are people who love to boo him. Little do they know that A.J. thrives on the boos. He fancies himself a bad guy wrestler at times, so A.J. is at his best when people are rooting against him. Cheers or boos, A.J. feeds on both.

The pitching once again kept the Sox in the game. Javier Vazquez gave up nine hits, but only allowed three runs in his 6 and 2/3 innings of work. Even though Matt Thornton is credited with a blown save, the bullpen gave up no hits and one walk. This is a bullpen that will succeed wildly, if they are not taxed throughout the year.

The good:
Octavio Dotel found the right spot to come in for the win.

A.J. Pierzynski went 3 for 5.

The bad:
The Angel fans booing A.J. was in poor taste. He never played for them.

Orlando Cabrera went 0 for 4.

The ugly:
11 men left on base.

Joe Crede's eighth error on the year.

The Sox are pulling together and winning in frustrating and exciting fashion. Let's hope they can build on this for the trip to San Francisco.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Card Spotlight 5-16-08

This card of Wilbur Wood was the last card, or so I thought, to complete my 1968 Topps Set. I turned out that I also needed a leaders card to finish everything off, but this was the last regular card that I picked up.

This is my oldest completed regular Topps team set.Sure, I have older sets that are completed, but those only have a few cards. The 1963 Fleer set only has two White Sox cards in it. This set is a lot more involved than a small Fleer set or an oddball set.

I suppose that if the Sox had won the pennant in 1967, this set would have been harder to complete. Unfortunately for the Sox, but fortunately for me, the Sox just fell short a few times during the sixties. If there was divisional play of any kind, the Sox might have gone to the playoffs in the sixties.

This card reminds me of everything that could have been. When the team's best isn't quite good enough, but it still provides some late season thrills.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

5-14-08: Sox 6 - Angels 1

May 14, 2008 - Anaheim, California


Ozzie decided to drastically change the lineup in this game. When A.J. Pierzynski bats second, there is definitely a change going on. The shake-up seems to have panned out though. The Sox responded with a run in the first and runners constantly on base.

The only starter that failed to reach base was Jim Thome. Quentin and Swisher responded with late inning home runs. It was a wonderful thing to see. The biggest surprise had to be Paul Konerko's stolen base. I didn't get to see the entire game, but I did a double take when I saw that in the box score. Did Speier have a super, super slow ball going last night?

The good:
Paul Konerko's stolen base!

Jose Contreras' pitching performance.

The bad:
5 men left on base.

A.J.'s passed ball.

The ugly:
Jim Thome went 0 for 4 with 2 strikeouts.

2 Angels stole bases.

Maybe the Sox responded to the lineup changes. Maybe they just had a better game plan. Maybe they were just lucky. Either way, it worked. Let's hope this is the beginning of something beautiful. Hey, it happened in 1983, when Carlton Fisk was moved into the second spot. It could have the same effect with A.J. there.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Vance Law Has A Pretty Cool Auto

While I was checking out the White Sox section at 83 Fleer Project, I saw this card of Vance Law. He has a pretty cool autograph. I can actually read the signature and the autograph seems to have a bit of flair.

As much as I would like to have an autographed card of Vance cleaning his glasses, I think I might choose another card for him to sign. I'm not sure why Fleer would pick this photograph to use on a card.

I can just hear Vance talking to himself.

"There's that pesky spot again. I thought I got that. Baseball can be such a dirty game. I sure hope no one is taking a picture of this. What would my dad think?"

Well, the combo of the early eighties and Fleer equals embarrassing photographs. If you like your players standing next to outlets or piping, then early eighties Fleer is the card for you. At least the cool looking autograph more than makes up for the picture.

Alan Brice

Alan Brice was what was known as a one year wonder. He was drafted by the White Sox in 1956, but only saw action in 1961. His record was 0-1 with 4 hits, 3 walks, 3 strikeouts, 2 runs and a 0.00 ERA in 3 1/3 innings.

Alan only appeared in 3 games for the White Sox. I would imagine that he was a September call-up or some equivalent to that. By 1962, he was traded to the Cardinals for Joe Shipley. Joe would only appear in 3 games for the White Sox in 1963 and end up with a 0-1 record.

Alan never played another major league game. There is limited information on minor league statistics in the sixties, so it's not an easy task to track Alan's whole career. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

Brice made his debut on September 22, 1961 at home against the Orioles. He gave up 1 hit, 1 walk and 1 strikeout in 2 innings. Not bad for a relief debut at home.

For his second appearance, Alan would come in in the seventh with two outs, replacing starting pitcher Frank Baumann at Fenway Park. Alan would give up 2 hits and a walk leading to two unearned runs. It's hard to tell if one of Nellie Fox's two errors contributed to those runs being unearned, but I would imagine so. It was just enough for the loss, with the Red Sox winning 7-5.

Alan's third and final appearance would take place the very next day, on September 27, 1961. Still at Fenway Park in Boston, Alan pitched a scoreless inning, fanning two, giving up 1 hit and walking one. The White Sox lost this one to the Red Sox, but the game was lost before Alan got into the game. Alan actually was the first White Sox pitcher not to give up a run that day.

Welcome Back, Carlton

Welcome back, after the record they kicked you out.
Welcome back, to that same old place that you fought about.
Well, the names have all changed since you hung around.
But those dreams have remained and they've turned around.
Who'dve thought they'd lead ya? (Who'dve thought they'd lead ya?).
Back here where we need ya? (Back here where we need ya?).
Yeah, we ask him a lot, cuz he's been in this spot.
Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back.
Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back.
Welcome back. We always could spot a friend.
Welcome back. And I smile when I think how you must've been.

Carlton Fisk has agreed to become a team ambassador for the White Sox. Time has apparently healed the wounds of his premature release. With this position, Carlton will become part of the White Sox Speaker's Bureau.

Carlton will be acknowledged at the May 22nd game vs. the Indians during a "Welcome back, Carlton Fisk" night. This will include a special video and visits from other White Sox players.

"It truly is a special feeling to be back with the White Sox organization," Fisk said in a statement. "I am thrilled about having the opportunity to represent the team and visit with fans who are second to none in baseball. The reunion also will give me the chance to be around so many of my former teammates who are still with the organization."

I am thrilled that Carlton will now be back with the White Sox in some capacity. It's about time.

5-13-08: Sox 0 - Angels 2

May 13, 2008 - Anaheim, California

"Okay, Weaver, listen carefully. You can hold on to your red snapper... or you can go for what's in the box that Hiro-San is bringing down the aisle right now! What's it gonna be?"

If Jered Weaver went for the box, he would have been left with nothing. He held onto the red snapper and the Sox took the box. In fact, the Sox got so much of nothing, that only one player made it to second base. This was a pitching battle and the Angels held on to win it.

Carlos Quentin almost got the nod for his double, but I went with John Danks. He kept the Sox in the game, waiting for the rally that never happened. In the land of the Rally Monkey, the opponent rarely does the rallying.

The good:
John Danks and the bullpen kept the Sox close throughout the game.

Carlos Quentin had a double.

The bad:
4 men left on base.

3 stolen bases off of Danks and Pierzynski.

The ugly:
Only three hits!

Only two walks.

With only four different men reaching base, it's hard to score. The Sox need to rebound from this game and step up the offense once again. It's just one game, so as Ed Farmer would say, get off the ledge.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Random Card #20

I don't really care for the design of 1988 Fleer. I just don't think it was that imaginative. It reminded me of strewn confetti when I was a kid. This was slightly better than the '89 design, which was slightly better than the '90 design, which was slightly better than the YELLOW monstrosity that was '91.

The color scheme works well with Harold's uniform. It's very eye pleasing. This is a standout card from a below average designed set.

One can tell a lot about Harold from this card. He's focused (even when posing), he's quiet and reserved, killing baseballs is his business... and business is good. Plus, he's still playing the outfield. This means that his knees haven't given out yet.

You can see the batter's eye in this photo, but you can also see the sweetness that surrounds Harold's nature. It's the combination of both of these qualities that made Harold a player in demand when pennant runs were abound.

5-12-08: Sox 7 - Angels 10

May 12, 2008 - Anaheim, California

How the mighty Buehrle has fallen.

10 hits and 8 runs (6 earned) is not a typical outing from Mark Buehrle. The hits may be typical, but the runners don't usually score that much. One of three things may be happening. He is getting bad defense behind him, the ball magically finds the holes or he's hiding an injury. I hope it's one of the first two. Those are more easily fixed than the latter.

Sox Machine has broken down Mark Buehrle's numbers this season and it appears to be the defense that's failing him most often. The only statistic that's worse this year is walks. Everything else is slightly better. Go figure.

The offense is still here, but in this game, it's just not enough. The Sox seemed to get production from everyone except Konerko and Quentin. Jim Thome didn't hit, but managed two walks. Jermaine Dye was a hitting machine, going 4 for 5. The Sox managed a late innings comeback, but it just wasn't enough to tie or win.

The good:
Jermaine Dye went 4 for 5.

Dotel and Thornton both pitched perfect innings.

The bad:
Carlos Quentin went 0 for 4.

Joe Crede had a throwing error.

The ugly:
Mark Buehrle gave up 8 runs.

Paul Konerko went o for 5.

The Sox need to shake this game off and come back playing strong. They showed a lot of life in the late innings and almost came back from an improbable score. Keep these things going and the Sox will be on a tear on the West Coast.

Card Spotlight 5-9-08 (Late)

Another casualty last week, because of my new work schedule and the adjustment period, was the Card Spotlight. So, better late than never, here it is.

Don't you just love the smile that Mike has? I have no memory of Mike Diaz, but I have what seems like a million cards of his 1989 Topps card. This 1989 Upper Deck card? Not so much.

Why do I have so many of his 1989 Topps card? It's probably due to several factors. One being card overproduction. Another being that Mike did not play in the majors past 1988. Mabe it's that combined average of .235 between the Pirates and the White Sox in 1988. But it could be that his Topps card is ugly.

His 1989 Upper Deck card is quite different. There is a nice smiling photo of Mike. It's like he knows that he's basically stealing money from the Sox and now he's laughing his way to the bank. He could be smiling because he's back in Chicago. He started his career with the Cubs in 1983.

I will always remember the news reports of Upper Deck destroying the masters of the cards on camera so the cards would never be printed again. That and the hologram on the back were a huge deal when this set came out. Maybe that is why I don't come across too many 1989 Upper Deck cards, unless I specifically buy them.

I'll be honest with you. Nothing has jogged my recollection of Mike being on the White Sox. I know he was there, but I can't remember him on the Sox, or on the Pirates or on the Cubs. You'd think that with a nickname like Rambo, Mike would stick out a little more. Oh well, he can join the growing legion of players that I don't recall playing for the Sox in 1988. Yeah, I'm looking at you Kelly Paris. At least Upper Deck proved that Mike can take a nice picture.

Monday, May 12, 2008

5-11-08: Sox 3 - Mariners 6

May 11, 2008 - Seattle, Washington

Pink is not a hot color for the White Sox.

It's Mother's Day and that means one thing... pink bats. It is now a tradition, but it's still selective. The bats cooled a little bit and Gavin Floyd had his worst start of the season.

Only lasting 3 and 2/3 innings, Gavin Floyd did not seem to be the same pitcher that flirted with two no-hitters already this season. He seemed human. It was bound to happen sooner or later. The bullpen did a decent job after Floyd's departure, only giving up one additional run.

The bats were a little cold, but the Sox still managed to get hits. They just weren't strung together as much as the Sox would have liked them to be.

The good:
Orlando Cabrera went 4 for 5.

Nick Masset did a wonderful job stopping the bleeding after Gavin Floyd departed.

The bad:
Swisher and Brian Anderson went hitless.

Nick Swisher made a fielding error.

The ugly:
Gavin Floyd's start.

13 runners left on base.

The Sox are back to wasting opportunities while batting. I realize this is a game of ups and downs, but this one keeps reappearing like a bad penny. Hopefully, Gavin Floyd can shake off this bad start and continue his recent success. This game was another winnable game, but 13 runners left on base with 25 opportunities to get them in will not win ballgames.

5-10-08: Sox 8 - Mariners 4

May 10, 2008 - Seattle, Washington

The Sox lit up Washburn for seven runs. I might be jinxing it, but it looks like the offense in back. Seven runs on eleven hits and four walks is not too shabby. Javier Vazquez didn't have a great outing, but it was effective enough.

If Brian Anderson ever gets traded, I'll bet it will be to Seattle. He hit his first home runs of the season tonight in Seattle with two on. Out of all eleven career homers that Brian has, seven came at U.S. Cellular Field and the rest came at Safeco Field in Seattle. That's a very strange statistic.

The good:
Quentin, Swisher and Crede all had multi-hit games tonight.

Brian Anderson's first home run for 2008.

The bad:
Another stolen base by Ichiro.

Everyone but Nick Swisher scored.

The ugly:
Joe Crede getting thrown out trying to extend a single into a double.

Jim Thome getting a forced day off.

Are the Sox back with the bats? It sure looks that way. I hope this trend lasts awhile. It was getting ridiculous watching the Sox bat themselves out of innings. There can always be improvement, but this is a great start.

5-9-08: Sox 4 - Mariners 2

May 9, 2008 - Seattle, Washington

The West Coast has seen its fair share of problems for the White Sox. Most of those problems have resulted in loses, no matter how the team was doing. Maybe it was a state of mind or just bad luck. The Sox seem to be slowly exorcising those demons.

Everyone except Joe Crede had a hit in this game. The hitters saw Silva well enough for four runs. The Sox pitching was anchored by a good outing for Jose Contreras, who only gave up one run.

The problems looked like they were starting to resurface in the ninth inning when Bobby Jenks gave up a solo home run. Luckily, Jenks settled down to finish out the game without letting another run cross the plate.

The good:
Jose Contreras' pitching.

A nice insurance homer by Thome.

The bad:
Orlando Cabrera was caught stealing.

A.J.'s throwing error.

The ugly:
Bobby Jenks giving up the home run.

Ichiro and Beltre stole bases.

A better game for the Sox and a good way to start out a road trip. The Sox might start to do well on the West Coast. If that turns out to be the case, then maybe another playoff run isn't out of the question.

5-8-08: Twins 2 - Sox 6

May 8, 2008 - Chicago, Illinois

The bounce back.

Up game followed by a down game followed by an up game. Baseball can be funny like that sometimes. The pitching showed up and the bats came out. It's simply amazing what a day can do to a struggling team.

Jermaine Dye had a 2 for 3 day, with a solo homer. Uribe topped home run and had one of his own with a runner on base! When was the last time that something like that happened? It's been too long.

The good:
Homers by Dye and Uribe.

The starting pitching was decent.

The bad:
Paul Konerko went 0 for 4.

It looked like a repeat when the Twins scored first.

The ugly:
8 runners left on base.

Toby Hall was 1 for 3 in catching base runners stealing.

All in all, a good game for the Sox. It shows that they don't let embarrassing losses linger for long. They don't forget about them either. Maybe when the Twins scored two, the Sox felt they had to score right away and often, so they wouldn't get beaten again.

5-7-08: Twins 13 - Sox 1

May 7, 2008 - Chicago, Illinois

From one hit to many in the span of 24 hours.

It was the contrast of two pitchers that were similar with radically different results. Mark Buehrle had a really poor outing. Poor enough to show anger. It wasn't the first time that Mark has given up seven runs, but hopefully it will be the last.

The Sox only showed signs of life in the ninth inning. That wasn't enough to come back from a thirteen run deficit. A.J. Pierzynski went 3 for 4 against his old team and Nick Swisher did well at the plate. Everyone else was hit and mostly miss.

The good:
A.J.'s 3 for 4 game.

Boone Logan pitched a perfect inning.

The bad:
Nick Swisher's missed catch.

Another solo home run.

The ugly:
9 men left on base.

The score.

Every team has a few games like this during the course of the year. It usually happens after a game like a one hitter. The signs of life are there, they just need to be nudged awake. Especially after almost a two hour rain delay.

Back In Black

I am resting comfortably today after four days of 10 1/2 hour workdays and alternating nights between my fiancee's house and mine. My feet hurt, but not as much as they did Thursday and Friday night. My calves are sore, but they don't feel like lumpy concrete anymore. My back is surprisingly fine.

Things I have learned from this work week.

- West Coast games are really difficult to watch when you have to be up slightly past 4.

- If the Sox are on Comcast Sports Net, the games are replayed in the middle of the night and they are also "On Demand" for two days.

- The readers have been thoughtful and understanding.

- The Sox do just fine when I don't watch.

- Never accidentally bang yourself in the foot with a runaway pallet jack (twice) in the same spot.

- People love The Jerk.

- First they didn't have the bamboo umbrellas for the drinks, and now snails on the plate!

- The job should take less of a toll on me as the weeks go by. So, that should include more time for blogging!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Got It! Lord Loves A Workin' Man, Don't Trust Whitey!

You will notice the post being infrequent on and near the weekends. I have just started a new job today, working in a Home Depot Distribution Warehouse. Basically, I get up at 4:30 AM, out the door by 5, to work at 6, off at 4:30-ish and back home at 6 PM. Thursday through Sunday.

Monday and Tuesday will be catch up days here at White Sox Cards. So, I will try to sporadically update on the weekends, but there's no guarantees. I don't even want to be by the computer today. I'm sure the updates will come fast and furious when I get adjusted to the job.

Anyway, if anyone wonders about the lack of activity, that would be the reason why. I tried to find a clip from The Jerk on youtube of Steve Martin leaving home, but I couldn't find it. So, I stuck it in the title.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Random Card #19

Charlie Hough is about halfway through a windup that he started in a warm up session in 1991. That time frame seems about right for a Charlie Hough pitch. Seventeen years to get to the halfway point of the delivery of a dancing knuckleball.

A battery of Charlie Hough and Carlton Fisk guaranteed a game over three hours. Between Hough's slow delivery and Fisk's sixteen step routine before each pitch, games would stretch, as Hawk Harrelson might put it.

Charlie's knuckleball was effective though. Between the slowness of the pitch and the movement, it was a tough pitch to get a read on. He also had a fastball and a slider that mixed it up and kept the hitter out of sync.

Hough was gone by the time the Sox won their division. He went on to pitch with the Marlins, becoming their first starting pitcher in team history.


Stupid and pointless acts are a part of sports. Things that seem like a good idea, on the spur of the moment, are rarely the gems that the individual thinks they are. Take Batgate for instance.

Before Albert Belle found a home at Comiskey Park, he was involved with the lore of the new park. This time with the newly heated rivals, thanks to realignment, the Cleveland Indians. Rumors were already flying around that Albert Belle was using corked bats and tensions were high.

On a side note, corked bats are actually hurting the hitter's chance at success. So, every player that used corked bats risked their careers and reputations for nothing. Thanks, Mythbusters!

Back in 1994, it was thought that corked bats were an unfair advantage that could make the ball fly farther. In reality, it just helped the psyche of the hitter's mind.

On July 15, 1994, White Sox manager, Gene Lamont, saw something unusual with Albert's bat and decided to challenge the legality of the lumber. Belle's bat was confiscated and locked away in the umpire's room. That's when things got weird.

Enter Jason Grimsley. Jason took it upon himself to climb into a narrow ceiling and break into the umpire's room to replace the bat. All of that was fine and dandy, except for one small detail. The bat that Jason replaced the "corked" bat with was not another one of Belle's bats. It was Paul Sorrento's.

You could see that it was not the same bat from across the room, but when Paul Sorrento's signature was staring the umpires in the face, it was clear that some devious work had gone on. The police were called and the Sox were angry. Belle was eventually suspended.

I could only imagine some hybrid of the Mission: Impossible and Get Smart theme songs were running through Jason Grimsley's mind at the time. The adventure seemed to assure that Belle did have a corked bat. Why else would a teammate go through that much trouble?

In an autobiography by Omar Vizquel, "Omar! My Life On And Off The Field", Omar seems to have an answer as to why an Indians player would go through that much trouble.

"I can be naive at times, but I'm not stupid. Certainly not stupid enough to steal Albert's corked bat and replace it with one that looked completely different -- one that was autographed by Paul Sorrento. That wasn't even a nice try.

"The problem, of course, was that all of Albert's bats were corked."

While there's certainly no evidence that Albert used corked bats with the White Sox or Orioles, there seems to be a multitude of evidence that he did use them early in his career. I certainly can't see a 6-3, 180 pound man climbing through a false ceiling to switch bats. At least not without creating such a commotion that even the luxury box owners know something is going on.

''It's funny now, but it got a little out of hand,'' Grimsley told the Chicago Sun-Times in 2000. ''Looking back, it might not have been the smart thing to do, but it seemed like a good thing at the time. It made for a pretty good story.''

There Must Be Something In The Water

Almost getting lost in the shuffle, was another pitching gem on Tuesday. Aaron Poreda took a no-hitter into the sixth inning before giving up a solo home run, which was the only hit in the game. The Winston-Salem Warthogs won the game 8-1 over the Lynchburg Hillcats in Class A Advanced ball.

What are the odds that two one hitters would be thrown in the same organization on the same day? Probably slightly higher than an organization throwing two no-hitters in the same day.

Aaron said, "I have real high expectations for myself, because the Chicago White Sox have high expectations of me. They're probably going to want me to pitch in the big leagues some day. I think I've surpassed a lot of their expectations. I don't think they saw me developing as fast as I am."

It seems like he has the confidence to be a big league pitcher. I detect a slight humbleness in that statement as well. Let's hope he keeps that attitude as he advances through the White Sox minor league system.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

5-6-08: Twins 1 - Sox 7

May 6, 2008 - Chicago, Illinois

I think it's time we breakout.

At first, the story seemed to be about Jermaine Dye and Carlos Quentin. Then it seemed to be about the aggressiveness of the hitters. But at the end of the game, it could only be one thing... Gavin Floyd.

The last time he flirted with a no-hitter, it was broken up in the eighth inning. Tonight, Gavin was two outs away from a no-hitter, when it was broken up by Joe Mauer on a double that split the outfielders. It was a clean, hard hit, which is easier to live with than the soft hit that broke up his last no-hit attempt.

I'm sure that sometime this season, Gavin will complete a no-hitter. He seems to have the right rhythm to do so. The biggest story from the onset of the game was the offense waking up. Supposedly, there was a long meeting before the game. Whatever was said, really hit home with the hitters. Everyone seemed to be more aggressive and ready to hit.

Carlos Quentin forced a run home for the second run of the game. It was a well played game offensively and on the base paths. The Sox were caught stealing twice, but that's fine. They are beginning to not rely on a station to station gameplan.

The good:
Gavin Floyd was two outs away from a no-hitter.

The offense has woken up.

The bad:
The unearned run by the Twins in the fourth inning.

Nick Swisher didn't get the hitting wake up call.

The ugly:
Quentin and Crede were caught stealing.

Carlos Quentin's fielding error.

This is the type of news that the White Sox should be making the papers for, not childish indiscretions. This game is exactly what the Sox needed to lift their spirits after a six game losing streak. Let's hope that the Sox can build on this game.

Random Card #18

In the late eighties and early nineties, it seems like the White Sox carried three catchers quite a bit. The Sox put themselves into a bit of a mess. They had Carlton Fisk, who was one of the best catchers to ever play the game. But Carlton was getting older and no one was sure how long he would play. It was a waiting game each off-season.

Fisk's backup catcher was Ron Karkovice. He had a better fielding percentage than Fisk, but that was about it. Karkovice couldn't hit to save his life. The Sox had always been impressed by Karkovice's ability to throw out runners, so he was already crowned Fisk's replacement. The problem was that Fisk wouldn't go and the Sox needed Carlton's bat.

There were many inventive solutions to this problem. Some of which include playing Fisk in left field or at first base to get his bat in the lineup. Karkovice had paid his dues by being behind Fisk for a number of years, so neither catcher was going anywhere for awhile.

So, what do you do with young catching talent when there are already two people blocking their positions? You stunt the growth of a promising young catcher by splitting his time between catching, first base and designated hitter. As a result of essentially filling a limited utility role, Matt's average suffered and there wasn't a comfort zone for him to develop properly.

He suffered from lower averages than Karkovice. That's really bad considering Karkovice only hit above .247 once in his career. It was a scorching .264 in 1989. It was all downhill for Karkovice's average after that.

I feel bad for players like Matt Merullo or Don Wakamatsu, who get blocked by politics of seniority. They never get a proper chance to prove themselves at the major league level. Matt Merullo was an outstanding hitter in the White Sox minor league system. He always had good defensive numbers too. Sox management were brainwashed on Karkovice and held on to Ron too long.

I guess the thinking was that once Fisk was gone, Karkovice would thrive at the top spot. That gamble never paid off and young catching prospects suffered because of it. The catcher is one of the most difficult positions to play. It never helps to move the catcher around to different positions. It throws his game off too much. A catcher needs to get comfortable with the staff and familiarize themselves with everything that happens in the game. There was no comfort zone for third string catchers on the White Sox during this time.

You've Got To Push

When a team is going through a tough stretch, where they can't seem to win, the players are looking for anything to end the misery. The Sox already tried the shaving route, both facial hair and head hair. What was left?

Blow up dolls and bats.

In Toronto, an unnamed player or players tried their hand(s) at breaking the losing streak. Doing many other things to bats didn't work out so well. The Sox players tried burning bats, kissing bats, talking to bats and just about everything else under the sun to shake out of their slump. It was enough to drive the average player batty. So, they turned to a slump buster of sorts.

Someone brought in two nude blow up dolls, fanned everyone's bats around them and propped up each doll with a bat. I'll leave it to your imagination to think of where. Each had a sign around the chest area. One said "Let's go White Sox" and the other said "You've Got To Push".

Was it infantile? Yeah. Sexist? Probably. Did the Toronto media make too much of it. Probably. Was it any different than the scene in Major League where the players were inspired by tearing a piece of clothing off of a cardboard cutout of their manipulative owner? Not much different.

Baseball players are like any other people. When they are in a funk, they need shaking out of it as much as the next person. The difference with this is that it's not a movie, it's real life. Women's organizations are up in arms. So are many women in the media. Actually, most of the media in general seems to be offended.

My question is why? Why should this act of stupidity be singled out as offensive? If this strange tactic actually worked, the Chicago media may have been more sympathetic. If anything, it made the team's performance worse. We all thought it was cute when Swisher and Ozzie were talking to the bats in the dugout. Everyone I know yawned when the third base coach's head was shaved. This blow up doll fiasco was done inside the clubhouse, away from the public.

When has this game became an all access event? If players want to be sexist and stupid in private, without harming anyone whatsoever, what's the harm? This seems like a harmless college prank at a kegger. It wasn't done in the dugout or in view of the public. That's the key.

This was meant to be a private thing, for players only. It was meant as an act to shake up a slumping team. To give a little life in a downtrodden team. Maybe even squeeze a win out of players who were amused or disgusted by the display of wood and rubber. I see it as a way to get the players' minds off of the losing streak. Sometimes something so outrageous is needed to take center stage in the players' minds. An act like this, while not exactly PC, is designed to relax and/or shock the players enough to take their minds off of over analyzing each at-bat and each play.

The majority of the media just made things worse by adding more pressure to the team. I could see this definitely being sexist towards women, if the same people responsible for this paid two women to do the same thing in the clubhouse. Since they had enough sense to use two fake women, not made of flesh and bone, I can rack it up to stupidity.

*** To take a breath of fresh air from the pollution that sometimes permeates the game, take a look at this poem from Rossey Weeks of the Rockford Peaches, courtesy of Patricia at Dinged Corners. I think it's a nice alternative to all this vulgar muckraking. Thanks, Patricia. As always, you have a unique way of cutting through the negativity to find the true beauty of the game. ***

#67 - John Danks

Even though John Danks now wears number 50, he started out as number 67. When he wore 67, he was a pitcher with a lot of potential and a lot of upside, with a little rawness, nervousness and bad luck mixed in with flashes of brilliance.

In 2008, John has transformed himself into a great pitcher. If he continues on this path, John will become a premier pitcher. That is a wonderful thing to finally see. It's not often that minor league pitchers get traded to the Sox that turn into something special. John definitely has the tools to become something special.

While John lost 13 of his 26 games in 2007, he showed enough promise to be one of the rookies the Sox were counting on big time in 2008. So far, John has put on quite a show. His record may not show it, from lack of run support, but Danks is one of the stoppers on the starting staff. John has stepped up his game, big time.

If Danks can stay healthy, I can see a long, successful career for him. I hope he turns into another Beuhrle and not another Bere.

5-5-08: Sox 0 - Blue Jays 1

May 5, 2008 - Toronto, Ontario

The Sox couldn't even get cinco hits on Cinco de Mayo.

History was made tonight. For the first time in the Blue Jays entire existence as a team, they swept the White Sox in a four game series. Think about that for a second.

The Blue Jays started playing in 1977. Their first game was against the White Sox on a snow covered field. This includes both of the seasons that the Blue Jays won World Championships. In all that time, with all those good teams, this is the first time the Jays have swept a four game series from the Sox. That's simply amazing.

The Sox had golden opportunities to score that were completely wasted. Juan Uribe and Toby Hall started the third with a single and a double. With runners on second and third with no one out, the Sox stranded both runners. Juan Uribe did not help matters by staying at third on a ground ball to Eckstein, who was playing short very deep. It should have been an easy run.

The Sox also wasted three straight walks with one out in the ninth. Pablo Ozuna promptly grounded into a double play to end the game, as if scripted.

The good:
Juan Uribe had two hits.

Javier Vazquez pitched another gem.

The bad:
4 hits.

3 walks, all coming in the ninth.

The ugly:
Two golden opportunities to score with less than two outs wasted.

Vazquez gave up a solo home run, which was the only run scored in the game.

Maybe a homecoming is just the thing to perk the offense up. Alexei Ramirez is returning for the home stand. Could Alexei be the missing ingredient? Probably not, but anything is possible at this point. Hopefully, the Sox will win again soon. If not, maybe Ozzie will start calling the bloggers out by name for playing "manager" at home.

All I know is that Ozzie might actually be half serious when he suggested that Harold Baines and Greg Walker would be in the next game's lineup. That would certainly be something. Hopefully, that wouldn't prove to be better. If the losing continues, we may see Harold and Walker in a game.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...