Monday, June 30, 2008

Inside The Clubhouse: Commanding Presence

A few days ago, I received another story from Scott Thigpen among my many e-mails. As Scott even says, it's more entertaining in person than in print, but it still shows a revealing glimpse behind the scenes.

This time, the story is about Carlton Fisk. His accomplishments deserve respect and he apparently got respect from playing the game right. I'll let Scott take over.

I'd like to share a story about Carlton Fisk. When my Dad and I went down to Sarasota, Fisk was in his last year (I believe, it's been a while). Anyway, he was one of the players I wanted to meet since he was a legend. I didn't get to meet him, but that was ok, I wasn't going to bother anyone, I was happy to be in the clubhouse :)

My Dad and I went to the practice the day after we got there and got to watch BP and it was cool. Remember, this was my first experience at a major league club, spring training or otherwise, so it was all pretty cool. My Dad and I sat in the bleachers and named players on the field and just enjoyed being there.

If I remember correctly, the clubhouse was out beyond right field. We saw a pretty big guy step out of the clubhouse and walk slowly to the batters box, where a couple of younger players were taking bp. As the player got closer, we saw that it was Fisk. As he got to third, everyone in the cage, packed up their stuff and headed out. There were three or four players in line and taking turns batting. They all cleared out when Fisk got there. It was cool, seeing the old warrior stride up and all the young guns clear out.

We had been watching BP for a while and it was funny to see how he walked up, took his swings and walked back to the clubhouse.

Anyway, that's one of my favorite stories from that weekend. In print, it's not quite as entertaining but I thought you'd like to hear it.

I loved hearing about that, Scott! That certainly paints a picture of how much even the rookies respected Fisk. I'm sure all the Fisk fans who read this blog will appreciate that story!

Thanks, Scott! I really appreciate that you take the time to share these stories with me and you allow them to be passed on to my readers.

Trading Appreciation

I feel like I'm stuck in some Disney cartoon lately. I'm late! I'm late! I seem to be running late everyday now. Priorities come up and things slip by more and more. They are not forgotten, just put on the back burner more often.

A few weeks ago, I got a package in the mail from Beginners Wax. There were some "loved" and some new White Sox cards. They were wrapped in a personal note explaining about the condition. They looked fine, by the way.

1989 Topps Big #148 - Ozzie Guillen
2008 Topps #144 - Jerry Owens
2008 Topps #181 - AL Saves Leaders (Jenks)
2008 Topps #240 - Jim Thome
2008 Topps #284 - Lance Broadway
2008 Topps #296 - Paul Konerko
2008 Topps #248 - Jose Contreras
2008 Topps Gold Foil #248 - Jose Contreras
2008 UD #281 - Mark Buehrle
2008 UD #285 - Ryan Bukvich
2008 UD #286 - Juan Uribe
2008 UD #289 - Jerry Owens
2008 UD #325 - Donny Lucy
2008 UD #338 - Heath Phillips
2008 UD #379 - Jim Thome (CL)
2008 UD #395 - Mark Buehrle (HL)
1991 Topps #559 - Adam Peterson
1988 Topps #184 - Ivan Calderon
1988 Topps #232 - Bob James (2)
1988 Topps #788 - Ray Searage
1988 Topps #657 - Gary Redus

Now, normally this would be enough to put a smile on my face and spout off to family and friends about how cool this package was. I noticed another note in the package. This one was from Tulo Trader. It turns out that the proprietors of these great blogs know each other. So, Tulo Trader wanted in on sending White Sox cards to me.

1993 Topps Gold #286 - Ron Karkovice
1993 Topps #344 - Jack McDowell (with Fisk in the photo!)
1992 Ultra #38 - Lance Johnson
1992 O-Pee-Chee Premier #122 - Wilson Alvarez
1998 Topps #331 - Albert Belle
1990 Topps #420 - Carlton Fisk
1998 Score #107 - Doug Drabek
2001 UD #360 - Chris Singleton
1998 Topps #235 - Doug Drabek
1998 US Special FX #269 - Mario Valdez
2001 UD #359 - Jim Parque
1991 Donruss #259 - Lance Johnson
1991 Donruss #BC-6 - Carlton Fisk
1992 Donruss #495 - Wilson Alvarez
1990 Score #290 - Carlton Fisk
1992 Score #398 - Warren Newson
1992 Topps #290 - Bo Jackson
1992 Topps #94 - Sammy Sosa
1992 Topps #784 - Ken Patterson
1992 Topps #648 - Scott Fletcher
1992 Topps #736 - Lance Johnson
1992 Topps #630 - Carlton Fisk
1992 Topps #273 - Craig Grebeck
1992 Topps #255 - Robin Ventura
1992 Topps #755 - Alex Fernandez
1992 Topps #210 - Ozzie Guillen
1992 Topps #302 - Joey Cora
1992 Topps #477 - Greg Hibbard
1992 Topps #426 - Rock Raines
1992 Topps #11 - Jack McDowell
1992 Topps #452 - Wilson Alvarez
1992 Topps #505 - Bobby Thigpen

Thanks a lot guys! Those are awesome cards! I know that there will be a few that will find a permanent home with me. Most of them will probably stay with me. Who am I trying to kid?

This fills a few holes in my collection. Plus, the cards are mostly from a period with fond childhood memories attached. You guys rock! Thanks again!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Card Spotlight: 6-27-08

2007 Sweet Spot Classic Signatures - Legendary Autograph #SPS-HB - Harold Baines 140/175

Well, this was originally scheduled to post on Friday. I prepped everything Friday morning, so all I had to do was write something about this card when I got home from work. I wasn't around the computer very much since then, so it had to wait.

I can't say enough positive things about this card. I'm a bit opposed to cutting up baseballs with signatures on them, but only if they are autographs of deceased players. My theory is that there are only so many of these things lying around. To cut one up would be a travesty. A living player, on the other hand, could potentially sign more.

I was surprised at how thick the actual card is. It's a good size chunk. I suppose that would make sense, since the piece of ball isn't flat housed inside the card. I'm just amazed that a product like this could turn out so well.

I knew about these cards, but was never motivated to get one until Cliff from Capewood's Collections sent me an e-mail about one. I ended up not being at the computer the day that the auction ended, so I didn't win the card that he told me about. On the bright side, I found another one that was similar and did end up winning that.

I love the integration of the old Comiskey Park photos on the front of the card. It's important to get the details right. I took Tracey out to Ruby Tuesday's last night. We were seated under a corner with Cubs memorabilia. There was a nice framed piece of a baseball diamond with a Cubs logo. In the center was a picture of Harry Caray from his days as a Cardinals broadcaster. This was surrounded by obvious reprints of older baseball cards.

One, in particular struck me as odd. It was a 1914 Cracker Jack card of Ping Bodie. Bodie never played for the Cubs. He did, however, play for the White Sox during this time. The words Chicago American were even printed on the card. Whoever put this piece of memorabilia had their heart in the right place, but knew nothing of baseball. That's a real shame, because it was a nice piece that was ruined by historical inaccuracies. I tend to notice little things like that.

I did get a little chuckle out of that. Plus, I got a big smile from this Harold Baines card that I got in the mail. Sometimes life is good.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Wax Heaven Trades Shiny And Numbered Things

I never accused work of being fun. There's a reason it's called work and not "super happy fun time". This is the completion of a trade that I had long forgotten about. You see, when I trade with someone enough times, I get to trust them more. When I can build trading trust, I just send out whatever I can when I get it. If I get something in return, fine. If I don't, whatever. Chances are, I'll get something down the line that will balance things out.

I couldn't tell you what I sent out, but about two weeks ago, I received a package directly from Wax Heaven headquarters. There were only seven cards in the package, but these seven cards were truly awesome!

I normally don't collect non-White Sox cards unless they are of Harold Baines or Carlton Fisk, but I do make exceptions every now and again. There are three Carlos Quentin cards with him on the Diamondbacks. The rest are of a certain White Sox player who just hit his 500th home run last year. No, not Frank Thomas, but the other designated hitter/occasional first baseman, Jim Thome.

2007 Finest - Finest Moments Green Refractor #RFM-CQ - Carlos Quentin 098/199
2007 Topps Chrome #93 - Carlos Quentin
2007 Topps Chrome White Refractor #93 - Carlos Quentin 566/660
2008 Moments & Milestones #85 - Jim Thome 051/150
2008 Topps #240 - Jim Thome
2008 Upper Deck #287 - Jim Thome
2008 Upper Deck #391 - Jim Thome

The Thome cards have been mostly avoiding me in 2008. I'm not exactly sure why, but they are. So, it was nice to see a lot of them here. I never would've thought to pick up the Quentin cards, since it doesn't fit into my normal collecting patterns. I will cherish the Quentin cards, knowing that they were specifically set aside for me. That's pretty special to me.

Thank you for the awesome cards! They might be a small amount, but they pack a powerful punch!

June 20 - 22, 2008: White Sox @ Cubs

June 20 - 22, 2008 - Chicago, Illinois

June 20: White Sox 3 - Cubs 4

June 21: White Sox 7 - Cubs 11

June 22: White Sox 1 - Cubs 7

The unkindest sweep of all.

The Cubs and White Sox squaring off in interleague play is always big, especially in Chicago. It's gotten a little smaller since the White Sox won the World Series in 2005, but it's still big. It's usually city bragging rights.

I have personally witnessed big things from players such as Carlos Lee, Jose Valentin and A.J. Pierzynski, to name a few. The fans really get into the games and the players usually step up and deliver spectacular plays and stunning comebacks. This series was no different. It's just that most of the spectacular plays and comebacks came from the North side.

The good:
John Danks pitched good enough to win in game one.

Home runs by Dye and Wise in game two.

The bad:
Javier Vazquez pitched to lose in game three.

The Sox left 20 on base in game three!

The ugly:
The bullpen gave up three solo home runs to lose in game one.

Jose Contreras gave up nine runs in 3.1 innings in game two.

The Sox had their opportunities in every game and blew it. What's the sense in having two long relievers in the bullpen, which is a luxury, if the Sox aren't going to use them? One of them could have (should have) been brought in to stop the bleeding in game two when Contreras got into trouble in the fourth inning. A pitching change would've been nice before a nine run inning was on the horizon.

Every single game was winnable for the Sox in this series. In game three, the Sox had two more hits than the Cubs and six less runs. This is the same game that the Sox left TWENTY men on base. That's not bad luck, that's dumb luck. If the yo-yo effect is still in play, then the Dodgers are toast.

Suffice to say, the Sox are playing like pyewp!

June 17 - 19, 2008: Pirates @ White Sox

June 17 - 19, 2008 - Chicago, Illinois

June 17: Pirates 5 - White Sox 16

June 18: Pirates 2 - White Sox 8

June 19: Pirates 8 - White Sox 13

What the...??!!

Where did all this offense come from? Where was it during the series with the Rockies? Why did it show up during the series with the Pirates? Will it stay or will it disappear again? I wish I knew an answer to all these questions because it has really been bothering me.

If the White Sox are capable of this kind of offensive explosion, what is preventing them from unleashing it on a regular basis? I sure hope that can be answered soon, as well. It's great writing about the Sox when they have a high scoring series like this, but very frustrating when they don't. It's a yo-yo effect.

The good:
Four home runs and sixteen runs in game one.

Mark Buehrle went eight innings in game two.

The bad:
Nick Masset's throwing error in game one.

Pablo Ozuna was caught stealing in game three.

The ugly:
Alexei Ramirez went 0 for 4 in game two.

Pablo Ozuna's throwing error in game three.

The Sox can beat up on Pittsburgh. Can they beat up on the Cubs at Wrigley? This is certainly good enough momentum going into the crosstown series. Let's hope they don't revert back to the yo-yo effect.

Monday, June 23, 2008

June 13 - 15, 2008: Rockies @ White Sox

June 13 - 15, 2008 - Chicago, Illinois

June 13: Rockies 4 - White Sox 5

June 14: Rockies 2 - White Sox 0

June 15: Rockies 5 - White Sox 3

Sinking into the depths.

There was some life in the Sox for this series, but only for one game. Can this season be salvaged in time? Even though the Sox are still in first place, it seems that they are playing like a last place team. The Sox need some decent consistency if they want to keep first place. This means playing to win against the good teams and taking the bad teams seriously.

The good:
Juan Uribe put the Sox on top in game one.

Jermaine Dye's hitting in game three.

The bad:
Paul Konerko's error leading to the Rockies first run in the second game.

Jermaine Dye's caught stealing in game three.

The ugly:
Two errors in the first game by the Sox.

The collision in game two between Juan Uribe and Nick Swisher. Uribe still held onto the ball though.

The Sox really need to improve on their offense. They seem to be getting the hits, just not at the right time. Timing is everything and the Sox are way off on that.

RIP George Carlin

One of my earliest memories involving baseball was this classic routine. Unfortunately, I couldn't find the SNL version, which was my first memory of this bit.

Baseball is different from any other sport, very different. For instance, in most sports you score points or goals; in baseball you score runs. In most sports the ball, or object, is put in play by the offensive team; in baseball the defensive team puts the ball in play, and only the defense is allowed to touch the ball. In fact, in baseball if an offensive player touches the ball intentionally, he's out; sometimes unintentionally, he's out.

Also: in football,basketball, soccer, volleyball, and all sports played with a ball, you score with the ball and in baseball the ball prevents you from scoring.

In most sports the team is run by a coach; in baseball the team is run by a manager. And only in baseball does the manager or coach wear the same clothing the players do. If you'd ever seen John Madden in his Oakland Raiders uniform, you'd know the reason for this custom.

Now, I've mentioned football. Baseball & football are the two most popular spectator sports in this country. And as such, it seems they ought to be able to tell us something about ourselves and our values.

I enjoy comparing baseball and football:

Baseball is a nineteenth-century pastoral game.

Football is a twentieth-century technological struggle.

Baseball is played on a diamond, in a park.The baseball park!

Football is played on a gridiron, in a stadium, sometimes called Soldier Field or War Memorial Stadium.

Baseball begins in the spring, the season of new life.

Football begins in the fall, when everything's dying.

In football you wear a helmet.

In baseball you wear a cap.

Football is concerned with downs - what down is it?

Baseball is concerned with ups - who's up?

In football you receive a penalty.

In baseball you make an error.

In football the specialist comes in to kick.

In baseball the specialist comes in to relieve somebody.

Football has hitting, clipping, spearing, piling on, personal fouls, late hitting and unnecessary roughness.

Baseball has the sacrifice.

Football is played in any kind of weather: rain, snow, sleet, hail, fog...

In baseball, if it rains, we don't go out to play.

Baseball has the seventh inning stretch.

Football has the two minute warning.

Baseball has no time limit: we don't know when it's gonna end - might have extra innings.

Football is rigidly timed, and it will end even if we've got to go to sudden death.

In baseball, during the game, in the stands, there's kind of a picnic feeling; emotions may run high or low, but there's not too much unpleasantness.

In football, during the game in the stands, you can be sure that at least twenty-seven times you're capable of taking the life of a fellow human being.

And finally, the objectives of the two games are completely different:

In football the object is for the quarterback, also known as the field general, to be on target with his aerial assault, riddling the defense by hitting his receivers with deadly accuracy in spite of the blitz, even if he has to use shotgun. With short bullet passes and long bombs, he marches his troops into enemy territory, balancing this aerial assault with a sustained ground attack that punches holes in the forward wall of the enemy's defensive line.

In baseball the object is to go home! And to be safe! - I hope I'll be safe at home!

Rest in peace, George. You have brought humor into this world and for that, we are grateful. Even if you did make it sound like baseball is a little weak, I forgive you.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Card Spotlight: 6-20-08

2005 Leaf Century Collection (Dual Jersey & Stamp) #S-52 - Harold Baines 57/92

I've been swamped at work and have been devouring the third season DVD set of SNL (next up, the second season of Barney Miller), so I haven't been by the computer a lot and when I am it's just to check mail and to respond to things.

But this card came at the perfect time. I hadn't been home since Thursday morning around 5 AM, so I'm not sure if this beauty came in Thursday's mail or today's, but it sure got me smiling. Any jersey of Harold Baines is OK in my book, but this features a beautiful stamp of a play at the plate.

I was never really in to stamp collecting. I took a stab at it for about a month when regular U.S. postage stamps were only 22 cents. So, that should give you a nice timeline. Somewhere in the mid to late eighties. I've always appreciated them, but never felt compelled to collect them. This card might've kept me in stamp collecting, if it had been around then.

I promise to get the game recaps updated by next week. Plus, there have been a few overdue mailbox joys of the trade variety to post. If I get to some this weekend, it will be a miracle. Now, I can only hope that the Sox can take the next two games at Wrigley.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

June 10-12, 2008: White Sox @ Tigers

June 10-12, 2008 - Detroit, Michigan

Not so sweet sweep.

June 10, 2008
White Sox 4 - Tigers 6

June 11, 2008
White Sox 1 - Tigers 5

June 12, 2008
White Sox 1 - Tigers 2

At least the White Sox didn't get shut out. The offense that showed up for the Twins series, vanished at the sight of the visiting Tigers. The games could've gone either way, but the Tigers seemed to get most of the breaks and the Sox offense returned to its anemic state.

The pitching, for the most part, kept the Sox in the games. In order for the Sox to salvage any of these games, the Sox staff would have had to pitch three perfect games. The Sox didn't capitalize on base running opportunities and the Tigers made the most out of their rare chances.

The good:
Jim Thome seems to be back on track with three hits during the first game.

Mark Buehrle pitched a gem of a game in the third and final contest.

The bad:
Javier Vazquez had a rare miss in the second game, suffering the loss.

The Sox made the mistake of trying to run on Ivan Rodriguez.

The ugly:
Octavio Dotel gave up a walk off home run to Miguel Cabrera in the third game.

Jose Contreras' outing was a bit brutal.

If the White Sox are going to be this streaky, then they may have already lost the season. Hopefully, they will rebound against a Colorado team that is down this season.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Card Spotlight: 6-13-08 (Late)

Only the second time that the Card Spotlight has been late. That's not a bad track record. In my defense, I was busier than usual on Friday. I attended a Joliet Jackhammers game. It was fun but you could definitely tell it was minor league baseball. The Jackhammers committed four errors, the manager was thrown out and the fans were debating about the "slaughter rule" until the home team managed seven runs in an inning.

The Jackhammers are managed by Wally Backman, the former Met, Phillie, Pirate and Mariner. His son is on the team. At least I hope it would be his son with a name like Wally Backman Jr. That would be dedication if someone legally changed their name to that. Floyd Youmans turned out to be the pitching coach and that answered a question of mine, which would be where he ended up.

It was Halloween night at the ballpark, because of the Friday the 13th thing. A lot of people were in costume. I think the best one was a fortune teller, complete with fortune teller stand from head to waist. He was part of the Jackhammers staff. I didn't catch any foul balls, but I did catch a package of french rolls. Don't ask. It was something they were throwing into the stands.

Of course I couldn't stop thinking about cards. Doc Brooks is on the team and I could only think of his 2007 Bowman card. Pretty pathetic, I know. Although I don't remember Juan "Big Pappa" Diaz, he played with the Red Sox in four games in 2002.

The night was filled with semi-recognizable names. Freddie Thon is the nephew of Dickie. Joey Gomes, is Jonny's brother.

But what does this card have to do with all this. Well, not that much. The year I kept thinking about was 1986, mostly because of Wally Backman and Floyd Youmans. This Harold Baines card was one of my favorites in 1986.

It made me believe that Harold had an angel on his shoulder telling him the right pitch to hit. The devil on the opposite shoulder must've got stuck in traffic.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Trading With Lonestarr WP

Let's get this out of the way first. Rob Mackowiak looks so much cooler in this photo than he ever did at Oak Lawn Community High School. Back then, he was just another kid in my class talking about the White Sox. For a short time, he got to play on the team that he would talk about in gym class. I've forgotten most of the names from back then, but I still remember the faces and a few stand out. Rob stood out in my mind mostly because he was a White Sox fan.

This Mackowiak card was an awesome surprise in a stack of cards from Lonestarr. We had agreed to a trade of 6 White Sox cards for a few 2008 National Trading Card Day cards. Of course I'll throw more in, but that's part of the surprise.

Here's what came in the package.

1991 Ultra #76 - Lance Johnson
2005 Diamond Kings #447 - Tadahito Iguchi
2005 Donruss Champions #394 - Tadaito Iguchi
2005 Donruss Champions Impressions #394 - Tadahito Iguchi
2005 SPx # 93 - Tadahito Iguchi
2005 UD Trilogy #90 - Tadahito Iguchi
2007 Topps 52 #14 - Jerry Owens
2008 Topps #144 - Jerry Owens
2006 Topps Update #UH185 - Frank Thomas
2006 Upper Deck Special FX #730 - Frank Thomas
2008 Topps #284 - Lance Broadway
2008 Upper Deck #338 - Heath Phillips
2005 Donruss Team Heroes Showdown Red #271 - A.J. Pierzynski
2005 Zenith #217 - Tadahito Iguchi
2003 Donruss #16 - Magglio Ordonez (DK)
2005 Bowman Chrome #301 - Tadahito Iguchi
1986 Donruss #13 - Harold Baines (DK)
1988 Pacific Eight Men Out #103 - Swede Risberg
1988 Pacific Eight Men Out #96 - Red Faber
2006 Upper Deck Special FX #PH-18 - Jermaine Dye
2006 Upper Deck Special FX #PH-17 - Paul Konerko
2006 Topps Opening Day #133 - Nick Swisher
2005 Sweet Spot #17 - Tadahito Iguchi
2005 Sweet Spot #167 - Tadahito Iguchi
2006 Upper Deck Special FX #558 - Rob Mackowiak 90/99
1989 Donruss #455 - Daryl Boston

WOW! That's a lot of Gooch! Plus a lot of other great cards! I am in the middle of getting your cards together and they should be sent out shortly. Thanks so much for the cards!

Of Elotes And Hot Dogs

The Cell's food just got dissed in a New York paper. But go figure, they were looking for such ballpark staples as sushi.

Endless Simmer just released their alternative list, which features the Cell highly on their culinary delights.

The only thing stopping me from trying the elotes corn is the mayonnaise used in the recipe. Other than that, it sounds very tasty. There are three things I can't stand to eat. Seafood, mushrooms and mayonnaise. I don't mind when other people eat those, but don't expect me to join in.

I've never even heard of elotes at U.S. Cellular Field, but I also stick to more traditional fare. Give me a hot dog smothered with mustard and a Pepsi at a White Sox game and I'll be a happy man. Maybe I'll steal some of Tracey's nachos for a treat. If I went to the park more often, I'd probably be more adventurous with my food selection.

The Ligue Manifesto

Last night I was contacted by the creators of Oral Sox. Get your minds out of the gutter! It's not a "dirty" Sox website, it's a site with podcasts. Hence the name oral.

Adam and Jeff run a great site. It's full of podcasts that feature comedy with a White Sox twist. Some of it is ironic, some of it is downright hilarious, but all of it is good. They are die hard Sox fans, who have been doing this all season long. How this has escaped me before this, I'll never know.

Enjoy the Ligue Manifesto from youtube.

In no way am I condoning the actions of the Ligue family or anyone else who has a lamebrain idea like that. Enough time has passed to where it can be funny to start the healing.

6-9-08: Twins 5 - Sox 7

June 9, 2008 - Chicago, Illinois

You swish it to the left, swish it to the right.

It looked like it wasn't going to happen a few times. Thanks to Nick Swisher and Paul Konerko it happened. For the first time since 1977, the Sox have swept the Twins in a four game series. For the first time since 1983, the Sox have swept a seven game homestand. For the first time since Thursday, the Sox didn't reach double digits in runs. Oh well, as Meatloaf sang, two of of three ain't bad.

John Danks was a little bit off, but he was also getting a slightly tighter strike zone by the home plate umpire. It's not an excuse, it's just a fact. A good team can overcome that and the Sox did. The Sox were down, but never out and they prevailed in the end.

The good:
Nick Swisher homered from both sides of the plate.

John Danks picked off a runner.

The bad:
Carlos Quentin was 0 for 4.

Jenks looked shaky, but recovered without a run.

The ugly:
Carlos Quentin's throwing error.

Nine men left on base.

The fun had to stop sometime, but that doesn't mean the winning has to stop. Sure the Sox didn't score in the double digits in this game, but they also didn't need to. They fought hard for this win and they deserve every part of it.

6-8-08: Twins 2 - Sox 12

June 8, 2008 - Chicago, Illinois

The kids are alright.

Gavin Floyd becomes ingrained in Sox lore more and more with each start. He didn't look like he had the greatest stuff today, but only gave up two runs. He could have given up nine more runs and the Sox would've still won. The real test in a pitcher is not the close games, it's the blowouts.

Home runs still happened but not as many as you might suspect. Only Swisher and Ramirez went deep. Each came from an unlikely source. The biggest surprise may have been when Jermaine Dye decided to steal a base.

The good:
Gavin Floyd and the bullpen did superbly.

Nick Swisher is back in the swing of things with a home run.

The bad:
Jim Thome went 0 for 2.

Carlos Quentin ground into a double play.

The ugly:
The Sox did all of their scoring by the end of the fifth inning.

Kubel's home run.

This offense is flying! I can't believe that the Sox had three games in a row with double digits in runs. That is simply amazing. There was nothing really bad to say about this game. Even Esteban Loaiza had a great scoreless outing.

Monday, June 9, 2008

6-7-08: Twins 2 - Sox 11

June 7, 2008 - Chicago, Illinois

Double digits and a triple.

Eight long years. That is how long it has been since Paul Konerko's last triple. The improbable event even upstaged the second consecutive night that Joe Crede had two home runs. This time it was a pair of three run homers. I have no clue as to where this offense is coming from, but I like it. Greg Walker has been saying that the Sox are ready to break out offensively. I guess he wasn't joking.

Almost lost, due to the offense, was Mark Buehrle's magnificent pitching display. Mark went eight innings and only gave up one run. It appears that the real Mark Beuhrle has decided to show up to games this season. Although, to be fair, he has been much better than his 3-6 record would indicate.

The good:
Every starter had a hit except for Carlos Quentin.

Classic Mark Buehrle showed up to the park.

The bad:
Almost anyone else, except for Thome, may have stretched that Konerko triple into an inside the parker.

Orlando Cabrera grounded into two double plays.

The ugly:
Carlos Quentin was 0 for 5.

The Sox only scored their eleven runs in three innings.

Is this a sign of things to come? I sure hope so. After weeks of an anemic offense, it great to see the Sox break out and have a couple of games like this.

6-6-08: Twins 6 - Sox 10

June 6, 2008 - Chicago, Illinois


The night belonged to Joe Crede and his two home runs. Quentin and Dye also got in on the home run action. The offense exploded for ten runs against a Minnesota team that usually gives the White Sox fits.

Javier Vazquez did all right, but wasn't his usual dominating self. Vazquez gave up four runs in 5 and 1/3 innings. It was far from his best performance, but it did the job. The bullpen held the Twins at bay until the last Sox pitcher of the evening.

Esteban Loaiza made his 2008 White Sox debut and looked a little rusty. I suppose that's what happens when you don't pitch in almost a month. Still, after giving up two runs, Esteban settled down and finished off the Twins.

The good:
Joe Crede's two home runs.

Quentin and Dye hitting home runs as well.

The bad:
Jim Thome was 0 for 3.

A.J. was hit by a pitch.

The ugly:
Jim Thome ground into two double plays.

Joe Crede made a fielding error.

I guess the Royals were a warm-up for this game. The Sox offense really broke out and showed something. Despite the rumors, the offense is not dead. It is alive and well and living in Chicago.

6-5-08: Royals 2 - Sox 6

June 5, 2008 - Chicago, Illinois


Pablo Ozuna missed a catch, but he went 3 for 4 with an RBI and a run scored. The missed catch didn't cost the Sox the game, so I think everyone can forgive the error... this time.

How many times can I write this without being redundant. Jose Contreras was solid as usual. He only gave up one earned run through seven innings. The bullpen back him up once again by only giving up one run itself. It seems like the Sox are back on track!

The good:
Pablo Ozuna went 3 for 4.

Jim Thome hit a home run.

The bad:
Quentin and Konerko went hitless.

Thornton hit a batter.

The ugly:
Pablo's error.

Eight men left on base.

A nice sweep of the Royals will cure what ails you. At least according to Carl Skanberg. Now on to those pesky Twinkies.

6-4-08: Royals 4 - Sox 6

June 4, 2006 - Chicago, Illinois

Paulie to the rescue!

This game shouldn't have gone fifteen innings. Two separate events caused this game to creep into extra innings. Alexei Ramirez is one and Bobby Jenks is the other. If one of these does not happen, the game would've been over in nine innings as a White Sox winner.

Alexei was involved in a play at the plate, where he was safe. The thing is that unbeknownst to Alexei, but knownst to the umpire, Alexei didn't quite touch home plate. The umpire never ruled one way or the other, so after several minutes of Alexei sitting in the dugout, the ball was thrown to home and the catcher stepped on home plate to erase Alexei's run.

Bobby Jenks was shaky in the ninth. This led to two runs, which tied the game up. After that, Bobby settled down and pitched wonderfully. But because these two occurrences happened, this set up Paul Konerko to be the unlikely hero in the fifteenth inning. Unlikely because Paul has not been swinging a hot bat as of late. This may be the thing to get him out of his funk.

The good:
Paul Konerko's fifteenth inning home run.

The Sox bullpen after Jenks.

The bad:
Carlos Quentin was caught stealing.

A.J. was 1 for 7.

The ugly:
Alexei Ramirez needs to make sure that he touched home plate when he scores.

Bobby Jenks blows a save, almost costing the game.

While no team is perfect, the Sox have had a knack of coming back after screwing things up. They are covering their mistakes, which is great to see. Every team will have mistakes. It's just hard trying to correct them game after game. The Sox seem to be doing just that lately.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Look Who's Back

Ehren Wassermann's time has come and gone... for now. In a head-scratcher move by Kenny Williams, Esteban Loaiza was signed by the White Sox. This will be Loaiza's second stint with the Sox. His first go around was filled with success.

How will this second time go? I'm kind of curious about that one myself. His Sox debut this year featured a few hairy moments, but he seemed to rebound.

Esteban is supposed to be the long relief man in the pen and a spot starter. I'm confused. Isn't that Nick Masset's role right now? We'll see exactly how Loaiza will respond this second time around and how he'll be used.

I'm happy that the Sox signed Loaiza. I liked him when he was on the team earlier this decade. Still, it a curious move that I'm waiting to see the end results.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Card Spotlight: 6-6-08

I'm always fascinated by early sixties Fleer baseball products. Not being born until the mid-seventies, my first exposure to Fleer was the early eighties cards.Those are the sets I'm familiar with and those eighties sets are the ones that I know like the back of my hand.

The 1963 set seems like I'm taking a trip to a strange foreign land and I'm finding out that the customs are similar, yet very different. It looks pleasing and familiar, but odd and eerie at the same time.

I'm not sure I could pick Ray Herbert out of a lineup, but I recognize the name. His exploits were before my time, so it's hard to keep track of everything before that period.

Still, he was a big part of the history of my favorite team. He was an All-Star in 1962 for the White Sox and led the AL in shutouts in 1963 for the Sox. I'm sure the All-Star selection is why Ray is featured here. That's OK in my book.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

6-3-08: Royals 5 - Sox 9

June 3, 2008 - Chicago, Illinois

For the love of the homer!

It seems the Sox found their offense against Kansas City, but then again so did KC. It looked hairy for awhile, but the Sox prevailed in the end.

Gavin Floyd pitched a decent game and the Sox found their home run swing. It seemed everyone got into the act. Four different Sox players hit homers. Pierzynski, Swisher, Ramirez and of course Quentin.
The good:
Four home runs by the Sox.
Bobby Jenks a perfect ninth.

The bad:
Paul Konerko was 0 for 3.

DeJesus had a stolen base.

The ugly:
Jim Thome was 0 for 4.

Alexei Ramirez had a fielding error.

The Sox held on to win this one. Every time the Sox wanted to relax a bit, the Royals snuck up on them with a few more runs. It looks like the Royals may be turning back into the team they were at the beginning of the year.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Random Card #25

"The Bull" is one of the few players that fans from two different cities embrace as one of their own. He is loved in Chicago, but not as much as he is loved in Philadelphia.

When I think of Greg Luzinski now, I think of Bull's Barbecue in the new stadium that the Phillies play in. I've heard about Greg promoting it more than I've heard about his past accomplishments.

As beloved as he is in Philadelphia, Luzinski was born in Chicago and attended high school in Niles, Illinois. Bull was a natural fit for the White Sox. A famed slugger with a blue collar feel who grew up in the area. It was a perfect fit.

1984 would be the last year in the majors for Greg Luzinski. He really didn't go out with a bang. His average dropped to .238 and he had his lowest home run total since 1974 with 13 dingers.

This card reminds me of the last days of a slugger. You can see it in the eyes. The Bull is not long for this game, but he's proud of what he has accomplished. He was about to complete a legacy that would make sure he is mentioned in two cities for a long time.

The Alexei Syndrome

Topps and Upper Deck series 2 cards are now out. The dust has started to settle a little and I'm beginning to figure out the checklists. A disturbing trend is starting to emerge with Alexei Ramirez.

I was hoping that one of the many TBD spots on the Topps series 2 checklist would be filled by Alexei Ramirez. Well, it wasn't to my knowledge. What happened to the Alexei Ramirez card in the set? Well, it's there. It's just nothing that you would expect.

Topps decided to release an unmarked card of Alexei. The problem with this is that Alexei is pictured playing for Cuba's team in the World Baseball Classic. That was in 2006 and Alexei has now been on the White Sox 25 man roster since Opening Day. I would think that this fact would shoot Alexei to one of the TBD spots in the checklist, but that would only make sense.

What makes matters worse is that the card in question appears to be extremely short printed. This card on eBay is selling for just under $100. If I were to get this card in my collection, it would be fine, but I'm not going to actively seek it out. Plus, I'm not going to pay a lot for this card. It doesn't fit my general criteria for collecting. Alexei is not in a White Sox uniform and is not identified as being on the White Sox.

Upper Deck has more success with Alexei, although he's not in their base set either. He is in a special rookie set that gets tacked on to the end of series 2. It doesn't appear to be short printed in any way, but I haven't gotten that confirmed. Upper Deck features Alexei in a White Sox uniform and has him listed as being on the White Sox. That's more like it!

Being a team collector is tough. It's unimaginable to believe the amount of homework one needs to do before the collecting can even begin. With the penchant for companies to release cards of players in older uniforms, you can't buy sight unseen anymore. You will get burned and burned often. I can't even assume that Jermaine Dye will be in a White Sox uniform on a 2008 card. There is one of him on the Braves that came out this year.

The time and research are well worth the effort. I have a better understanding of the cards I collect by the research that I have to do. I just wish that things were a lot simpler when it came to collecting by team.

6-1-08: Sox 3 - Rays 4

June 1, 2008 - Tampa Bay, Florida

Extra upset.

Thirteen hits. No walks. No errors. That's the bottom line for the White Sox in the first game of June. Why, oh why, could they only muster up three runs? I'm afraid that I don't have a definitive answer for that. Especially when two players accounted for six of those thirteen hits.

Mark Buehrle pitched decently and the bullpen was more than adequate. The Sox offense got it done, but not at the right times. Maybe that is why Ozzie is going ballistic lately. It's got to be frustrating to manage a team that gets the opportunities, but wastes them time and time again.

The good:
Alexei Ramirez and A.J. Pierzynski both had three hits.

Buehrle picked off Upton at first base.

The bad:
Joe Crede and Jermaine Dye went a combined 0 for 10.

Paul Konerko left 3 men in scoring position with 2 outs.

The ugly:
Gabe Gross' tenth inning home run.

Ten men left on base.

A lineup change worked before and now it looks like the time is right for another one. I can see why Ozzie lashes out in frustration. It's not fun to watch this team right now. They have the hits, but not the runs. Every mistake by the pitching staff is capitalized on. Maybe a change of scenery will do this team some good.

5-31-08: Sox 0 - Rays 2

May 31, 2008 - Tampa Bay, Florida


Javier Vazquez pulled a wonderful pitching display out of thin air, but it was not enough to compensate for the weak offense. The Sox managed 5 walks and 4 hits. Joe Crede would be the most successful at getting the formula right. Joe got 1 hit and 1 walk. Given that scenario, Joe was the best hitter in the lineup.

Boone Logan, the lone pitcher out of the bullpen, kept the score the same, but could not be responsible for the hitting struggles that the Sox had. Boone did a wonderful job keeping the Rays from scoring again.

The good:
Javier Vazquez put up another great pitching performance.

Joe Crede managed a hit and a walk.

The bad:
Jim Thome couldn't get it done as a pinch hitter.

Brian Anderson went 0 for 4.

The ugly:
Orlando Cabrera's error could not offset his two stolen bases.

Eight men left on base.

You have to blow games like this off. The Sox had their chances and blew it big time. If the Sox can cut down on opportunities squandered, then they will have no problem winning winnable games, like this one.


Could there be a dramatic lineup change on the horizon? With Ozzie Guillen vocally displeased with his lineup, I would say that it seems inevitable.

They could bring Jerry Owens back up to put potential speed at the top of the lineup. At this point, I'm not sure how well that would work. Maybe down the road, but I think the Sox want to keep Owens in AAA for awhile to make sure he's consistent after his injuries.

One intriguing option would be Brad Eldred. He is an RBI machine this year in the minors. The Sox could put Paul Konerko on the disabled list and bring Brad up in his place. This could give Paul's hand injury the proper time to heal.

When the hand is healed, Paul could do a rehab assignment at AAA. If Thome is still around .200, then maybe slide Paul into the DH role if Brad Eldred is hot. If Brad is cold at the plate, he would be sent down. A healed Paul Konerko is potentially a hot hitting Paul Konerko.

At this point, I think the Sox would be willing to try drastic measures to keep afloat on top of the AL Central. Carlos Quentin has been doing an admirable job carrying the team on his shoulders, but that won't work all year. Nick Swisher needs to find a way to relax and let the hits come to him.

Let's face it, the Sox have been staying in most games until the final out, but just falling short a good chunk of the time. If the Sox hitters were able to get those few hits when they meant the most in the game, then the Sox would hold the best record in baseball. They wouldn't be clinging to first place by the skin of their teeth.

Besides, I would love to own a Brad Eldred White Sox card in the near future. There aren't a lot of options in the farm system, but the Sox may get lucky with this one.

Monday, June 2, 2008

5-30-08: Sox 1 - Rays 2

May 30, 2008 - Tampa Bay, Florida

Alexei is on fire!

There were only two decent things about this game from a White Sox perspective. The pitching and the home run. The rest was a non-factor, at least positive-wise. The Dye double was nice, but he was left stranded.

Jose Contreras was awesome through seven innings. Mat Thornton held the Rays exactly where he should. Scott Linebrink made one mistake to Cliff Floyd and the game is lost. I'm sure Scott wants that pitch back.

The good:
Alexei Ramirez hit a home run.

Matt Thornton was outstanding in relief.

The bad:
Konerko and Thome went a combined 0 for 6, but both did walk.

Nick Swisher was 0 for 3.

The ugly:
Cliff Floyd's game winning home run.

8 runners left on base.

You can't win every game and this was a close one. The Rays are good this year. A loss is still a loss, but at least the Sox were still in this until the last pitch of the ballgame.

5-29-08: Sox 5 - Rays 1

May 29, 2008 - Tampa Bay, Florida

In the swing of things.

Joe Crede and Paul Konerko both hit home runs. In order for the Sox to stay hot and stay in first place, these players need to produce. This is a start and that's something. Now if Nick Swisher could only figure things out a little bit more. He needs to stop trying to get ten hits with one swing.

John Danks threw strikes and was very effective in the game. Danks has been one of the consistent surprises this season. Throwing strikes will usually get decent results and tonight was no exception.

The good:
Joe Crede's home run.

John Danks gave a solid performance.

The bad:
7 men left on base.

Alexei Ramirez was 0 for 4

The ugly:
Joe Crede's throwing error.

A.J. was 0 for 5.

Even though the game turned out to be a winner, this is a game where the pitching kept the Sox in it. The offense needs more consistency or there will be a lot of close games on the losing end.
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