Thursday, December 26, 2013

WSC Birth Years: Bryan Anderson

Card #147 - Bryan Anderson

Born: December 16, 1986

The St. Louis Cardinals selected Bryan in the fourth round of the 2005 draft. He made a limited amount of appearances for the red birds in 2010 and 2012, but not much more than a third or fourth option for catcher materialized. His best season was his rookie season of 2010, where Anderson batted .281, drove in four and had nine hits in fifteen games. 2012 saw less games for Bryan, coupled with a slight dip in batting average. He was granted free agency after the 2012 season and signed with the White Sox.

Anderson saw action in ten games for the Pale Hose in 2013, aided by a team going through a ninety-nine loss season. Bryan was competent behind the plate but committed a throwing error, allowing a runner to score, in his last game for the 2013 season. The backstop was granted free agency after the 2013 season.

Friday, December 20, 2013

WSC Birth Years: Erik Johnson

Card #146 - Erik Johnson

Born: December 30, 1989

Erik was chosen in the second round of the 2011 draft by the Chicago White Sox. Johnson spent 2011 and 2012 in class A ball. In 2013, he was considered to be the third ranked prospect in the White Sox organization. Erik started the year in AA, but quickly vaulted through the levels until his MLB debut on September 4, 2013.

Johnson's time with the Pale Hose in 2013 was a quick five games, but he has already racked up a few highlights, including striking out Ichiro Suzuki with the bases loaded. Erik could be a little wild at times, but that could be from the expected jitters of pitching in the big leagues for the first time. Johnson pitched well enough to win in the majority of his starts, but he was a victim of poor defense in a few cases. His MLB sampling could earn him a long hard look during the 2014 season.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

2013 Pinnacle

Welcome back, Pinnacle. How many of us missed you? I can honestly say that I really didn't.

It's not that I didn't like Pinnacle. I sorta did. I remember buying packs and being marginally happy with the product. It never wowed me though. It had a lot of hype, but no bite. After a few years, the original sets sunk themselves into parallel hell and any hopes of resurrecting itself into something viable slowly was crushed by the weight of the wasted trees used in the production of endless mirror cards and shallow gimmicks.

So... what's Pinnacle like after a fifteen year absence? Pretty much as you remember it. The basic black designs from the first sets are imitated nicely, but the card feels dated, and not in a good way. These cards could have been released anywhere between 1992 and 1995 and no one would have batted an eye.

Are there parallels? Yes, Virginia, there are parallels. Even one of the parallels has a parallel. It is parallel heaven, if you're into that sort of scene. I, for the most part, am not, so this does nothing but irritate me, similar to a mosquito buzzing by your ear. It's not the worst thing in the world and it won't ruin my evening, but I'd be happier if it wasn't there.

The White Sox have five cards in the base set.

27 - Paul Konerko
94 - Alex Rios
99 - Dayan Viciedo
108 - Chris Sale
122 - Adam Dunn

What would a nineties revival be without inserts. And there are plenty of them.

Awaiting The Call
8 - Frank Thomas

Clear Vision Hitters
14 - Paul Konerko
31 - Alex Rios
70  - Frank Thomas

Clear Vision Pitchers
16 - Chris Sale

Position Powers
19 - Alex Rios

13 - Adam Dunn

Swinging For The Fences
5 - Adam Dunn

Team Pinnacle
5 - Frank Thomas/Albert Pujols

4 - Chris Sale
21 - Frank Thomas
66 - Paul Konerko

To add to the fun, there are no logos on any player, so theoretically, there is much more to collect for the team collector, if they are game. Bo Jackson, Ken Griffey Jr., Steve Carlton and Tim Raines are the former White Sox players that stuck out during a quick perusal of the list.

Pinnacle is a harmless release. I'm on the fence as to whether I would collect it or not, but if you do, it isn't the worst set that you could pick up. Call me unimpressed but slightly nostalgic.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

WSC Birth Years: Marcus Semien

Card #145 - Marcus Semien

Born: September 17, 1990

Marcus was originally drafted by the White Sox in the 34th round of the 2008 draft. Semien did not sign and opted to go to the University of California, Berkeley instead. Chicago drafted Marcus again in the 6th round of the 2011 draft. This time Semien signed and started in Class A Kannapolis. Marcus rose through the ranks fairly quickly and eventually made his MLB debut on September 4, 2013, playing third base in New York against the Yankees.

In his first at-bat, Semien hit a single to right field against C.C. Sabathia. He would collect two hits that day, the other against David Robertson, resulting in Marcus' first RBI. From mid-September until the end of the 2013 season, Semien played regularly in the infield, mostly at third base. He got his feet wet and made a good impression. Marcus is setting himself up to possibly become the everyday third baseman in 2014.

Friday, December 6, 2013

WSC Birth Years: Andre Rienzo

Card #144 - Andre Rienzo

Born: June 5, 1988

The first Brazilian born pitcher in the major leagues, to start and win a game, made his debut on July 30, 2013 for the Chicago White Sox. Andre went seven innings and gave up six hits, three runs, three walks and six strikeouts in a no decision against the Indians in Cleveland. Rienzo would have to wait nearly a month later until his first MLB win, on August 21st, against the Kansas City Royals.

Andre signed with the Pale Hose as an international free agent in November 2006. He slowly worked his way up the organizational ranks. After toiling in rookie and A ball through the 2011 season, Rienzo was promoted to AA Birmingham in 2012. Andre was added to the 40 man roster following the 2012 season. Rienzo's walk rate will need to improve slightly in order to stay in the rotation beyond 2013, but his enthusiasm and good extension should land himself a place on the team for the 2014 season. At only twenty-five years old, Andre has the potential to be a bright spot with the White Sox.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

WSC Birth Years: Charlie Leesman

Card #143 - Charlie Leesman

Born: March 10, 1987

Charlie was selected in the eleventh round of the 2008 draft by the Chicago White Sox. Taking a slow and steady route through the farm system, Leesman seemed to be on the fringe of being called up for a few years. His 2012 season with the AAA resulted in a 12-10 record with a 2.47 ERA and 103 strikeouts, but what appeared to be an easy callup for 2013 was hampered by an ACL injury Charlie suffered in the 2012 International League playoffs.

Leesman was designated for assignment in April 2013 and picked up on waivers by the Texas Rangers. The Rangers assigned him to the minors, but Charlie became a free agent when he refused the assignment. Leesman signed with the White Sox, nine days after they DFA'd him. Charlie made his MLB debut on August 9, 2013, against the Minnesota Twins in the second game of a double header. Leesman was mostly thrown out of the bullpen in losing situations, where he was expected to stop the bleeding. His 7.04 season ERA mostly came from a game against the Cleveland Indians where he gave up seven runs without a single out. Charlie may be in the mix for the 2014 bullpen if he can build on his taste of the majors.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

WSC Birth Years: Avisail Garcia

Card #142 - Avisail Garcia

Born: June 12, 1991

Avisail started his career in the Detroit Tigers organization in 2011. In 2012, he became the Tigers' minor league player of the year and made his MLB debut with Detroit on August 31, 2012 against the White Sox replacing Brennan Boesch in right field before the eighth inning. Garcia made enough of an impression that he made the 2012 postseason roster for the Tigers, playing in every series.

On July 30, 2013, Avisail was involved in a three-team trade, where the White Sox sent Jake Peavy to the Boston Red Sox and the Detroit Tigers sent Garcia to Chicago. The Tigers also sent Brayan Villarreal to Boston and the Red Sox sent José Iglesias to the Tigers. All three clubs improved their rosters with the trade. Since landing with the Pale Hose, Avisail has thrived with the opportunity to play everyday in right field. Garcia looks to be one of the cornerstones of the next era of winning baseball of the South Side.

Monday, October 7, 2013

WSC Birth Years: Josh Phegley

Card #141 - Josh Phegley

Born: February 12, 1988

Josh was selected in the first round (38th overall) of the 2009 draft by the Chicago White Sox. After an injury setback in 2010, Phegley moved up the ranks in the ChiSox minor league system until his call up in July 2013.

Phegley made his MLB debut on July 5, 2013 in a game against the Tampa Bay Rays, where he collected his first hit, a single, and his first RBI. Two days later, Josh hit his first home run off of the Rays' David Price. Four days after that, Phegley hit his first grand slam off of the Tigers' Anibal Sanchez.

After an initial power surge to kick start his career, Josh's bat cooled off and settled at .206 average. While he had four home runs of the 2013 season, three of those came in his first five games. It is unclear if Phegley will earn a backup position in 2014, but he will need to build on his major league experience for that to happen.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Panic At The Disco Not At The White Sox

The 2013 White Sox season could be summed up in a Panic! at the Disco song title. "The Only Difference Between Martyrdom and Suicide Is Press Coverage". It's overly complicated and how some people think the season went. I could sum up my involvement with another song title from the same group, "I Write Sins Not Tragedies". And it was a sin the way the White Sox essentially wasted the season.

Why have I been comparing the 2013 White Sox to a baroque pop outfit? Maybe because they're both a little baroque?


Can't be fixed?

I'll show myself out.

I could tell you that I am happy with the 2013 White Sox... and I wouldn't be lying.

Don't get me wrong, this season was awful, but it was only frustrating  because I knew that this team was better than this and they were trying. A White Sox team from my childhood seemed to abandon all hope, yet that team had a better record. That team lost me before the season ended. The 2013 team had me watching all throughout the season, albeit from afar, in Michigan.

2013 was worse than 1989, as far as White Sox seasons go, yet I didn't feel abandoned by this team, as I did by the 1989 squad. While things were slowly improving behind the scenes in 1989, the team on the field was superbly lackluster, as they slipped further down than the previous year. The turnaround in 1990, seemed to come out of nowhere.

This past season slipped lower, but unlike twenty-four years ago, I can see a quick recovery. I'm not saying that the White Sox will be World Champions in 2014, but I think they can contend. Here's why.

2013 was a year of freak injuries. Danks was coming back from one, Floyd went down for the season, Beckham was injured at a key part of the season and shut down momentum, Crain went down early, Keppinger was playing hurt, and Flowers probably was too.

This team had a lot of career low years that happened concurrently. Every team goes through their share of slumps every year, but generally there are a few who carry the team through these periods. Most everybody slumped at the same time. It's rare that everyone slumps at the same time.

Great pitching was given by most on the pitching staff, but isn't noticed because of fundamental errors behind them in the field. Someone clicked the off switch on the defense and it cost the Sox a lot of games. The spotty defense taxed the pitching staff, giving the opponent four or five outs in an inning. Those add up quick. Shoring up the defense should be the number one goal of the offseason. A good chunk of that poor defense was from players playing hurt. The rest was just from down years.

The third worst winning percentage in the majors has a few advantages. The Sox were able to trade hefty contracts for prospects and some of these prospects have shown sparks in the latter half of the season. Injured players were able to shut down early, so they can be ready in 2014 at full strength. Low records equal high draft picks and with the scouting improved in the last few years, this should help greatly.

There are a lot of things to be optimistic about regarding the White Sox in 2014. If nothing pans out next season, at least there should be more White Sox baseball cards being made with all the players that have been/will be traded and/or promoted in the second half of 2013 and the first half of the 2014 season.

See? There's always a silver lining.

Friday, September 20, 2013

WSC Birth Years: Jeff Keppinger

Card #140 - Jeff Keppinger

Born: April 21, 1980

Jeff is a pure contact hitter. A player who rarely strikes out and can play anywhere around the horn. Keppinger started that journey being selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2001 draft. Before he could reach the majors, Jeff was traded to the New York Mets, where he made his MLB debut on August 20, 2004. He spent time with the Kansas City Royals, Cincinnati Reds, Houston Astros, San Francisco Giants and Tampa Bay Rays.

Keppinger signed a three year deal with the Chicago White Sox on December 10, 2012. His numbers have been slightly below average in 2013, but near enough to his career average that there isn't concern. Jeff has stepped into the revolving door at third base and stabilized the position for nearly one fourth of the 2013 season. Second base is where he logs the most time for the Pale Hose, but he had also seen time at first base and designated hitter.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

WSC Birth Years: David Purcey In Action

Card #139 - David Purcey

Born: April 22, 1982

A bonus card from the 1982 set.

WSC Birth Years: David Purcey

Card #138 - David Purcey

Born: April 22, 1982

David was born roughly an hour from U.S. Cellular Field in St. Charles, Illinois. He was first selected by the Seattle Mariners in the twentieth round of the 2001 draft, but did not sign. Purcey was selected by the New York Yankees in the seventeenth round of the 2003 draft, but did not sign. Persistence paid off, when in the 2004 draft, the Toronto Blue Jays selected David as the sixteenth pick overall in the first round. He made his MLB debut in 2008 with the Jays.

On April 18, 2011, Toronto traded Purcey to the Oakland Athletics three years to the day of his MLB debut. He was traded a little over a month later to the Detroit Tigers.  David spent 2012 with the LeHigh Valley IronPigs, a AAA affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies. On November 15, 2012, Purcey signed with the White Sox. He made his ChiSox debut on July 5, 2013, against the Tampa Bay Rays, subbing for an injured Jesse Crain. After an atrociously high ERA in July, topping out at 9.00, David settled down in August and has lowered it under 1.50. Purcey has settled in nicely with Chicago.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

WSC Vintage: Tom Gulley

Card #48 - Tom Gulley

Tom made his MLB Debut with the Cleveland Indians on August 24, 1923, made two plate appearances, hit a double for his first hit and scored a run. He would make two more appearances for the Indians that year. Gulley would play in two games for them in April 1924, one in May and five in September. Tom did not play in the majors in 1925.

Gulley made his White Sox debut on April 13, 1926 against the St. Louis Browns. His Sox debut played out much like his MLB debut, resulting in a double and a run scored. His average apexed at .33 on April 18th, but sputtered down to .229 by his last MLB game on May 22, 1926. While with the Pale Hose, Tom would spell Bill Barrett in right field, but was quickly replaced by Spence Harris as Barrett's backup. After Gulley's final game, Barrett and Harris would share duty in right field until September 1926, when Pid Purdy played nine games at the position. Tom Gulley's bat may have been his ultimate demise, but his fielding with the Sox was an impeccable 100%.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Cards That Never Were #60

1985 Topps - Tom O'Malley

The White Sox traded with the San Francisco Giants to acquire Tom O'Malley for players to be named later, which turned out to be Mike Trujillo and minor league first baseman Pat Adams, on August 31, 1984. Tom played twelve games with the White Sox in September 1984. While he hit a paltry .125, he did hit two singles with the Pale Hose, one on September 7th, off of California Angels pitcher Doug Corbett and the other on September 29th, off of Seattle Mariners pitcher Salome Barojas.

O'Malley wasn't released by the White Sox until April 1, 1985. It is entirely feasible that Tom could have been included in the 1985 Topps set as a White Sox player, given that he made it all the way through spring before being released. I don't think O'Malley was any threat to unseat Tim Hulett at third base, but Tim didn't exactly thrill the world with his previous season's efforts either. The mid to late eighties were a strange time for the White Sox and some of the players could not make it anywhere else but in Chicago with the south side team. Aside from a few names and splashy players, most of the others were just filling in or passing through. Roy Smalley had a card with the White Sox in the 1985 Topps set, and he was traded away in February 1985.

Friday, August 30, 2013

WSC Birth Years: Conor Gillaspie

Card #137 - Conor Gillaspie

Born: July 18, 1987

Conor started his career in the San Francisco Giants organization, playing on the major league level with them first in 2008, then in 2011 and 2012. Over all three years, Gillaspie only managed to appear in twenty-nine games for the former New York team. He had hit a combined .205 for his time with the Giants.

The Giants traded Conor to the Chicago White Sox on February 22, 2013 for minor league pitcher Jeff Soptic. Gillaspie immediately made an impact in Chicago, becoming the versatile utility player the Sox desperately needed. Conor has played in the infield and outfield for the Pale Hose and had appeared in over one hundred games in 2013. That is over triple the MLB time than his three years with San Francisco combined. Conor has already won games for the Sox. On August 22nd, Gillaspie hit a home run against Kansas City in the top of the twelfth inning that proved to be the game winner.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Beginnings: Third Wave

More cards from the Beginnings set. Some pictures aren't the best quality, but they are the best quality available, presently.
8 - Carl Yastrzemski 

23 - Ryne Sandberg 

72 - Carlton Fisk 

81 - Lou Brock 

92 - Tadahito Iguchi 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Cards That Never Were #59

1977 Topps - Rich Gossage

Topps likes to pretend that all teams except for the Yankees, Dodgers and Cubs don't exist sometimes. Case in point: Rich "Goose" Gossage. If you look at the history of Gossage only through the flagship Topps series, Rich went from the White Sox in 1977 to the Yankees in 1978. The problem? Goose was last on the White Sox in 1976 and didn't get to the Yankees until 1978, yet he played in 1977. Gossage likely would have gotten a Pirates card in 1978 from Topps, if he went to almost any other team but the Yankees.

I'll give credit where credit is due and let Topps keep the 1978 Yankees card, but I'll throw in a 1977 Pirates card to make up for skipping a team that Gossage was with for an entire season.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

2013 Panini Diamond Kings National Convention

There were lots of goodies at the 2013 National Convention, but I wasn't able to attend this year. That doesn't stop me from checking out the free stuff though!

Panini had a wrapper redemption set that had thirteen cards, based on Diamond Kings from Donruss.

The pictures on the front are reminiscent of the old Donruss sets. The design is slightly too, but it reminds me of old Panini sticker designs as well. The cards look simple and sharp with understated golden borders and uncomplicated lettering. The real gem is the painting in the middle of the card. It draws the eye and is clearly the main focus, where it should be. The central circle gives you a peek into a beautiful world of baseball action, swirled paint and no team affiliation.

The White Sox have four cards in this set.

1 - Ken Griffey Jr. 

2 - Carlton Fisk 

3 - Courtney Hawkins 

4 - Chris Sale 

 Some debate the inclusion of Ken Griffey Jr. in this set, since there are no team logos. To those naysayers, I say the proof is in the numbers. Griffey only wore number seventeen as a member of the Chicago White Sox. The number on Griffey's back is number seventeen. Case closed.

I like the mix of Hall of Fame players, young stars and pre-rookies. Chris Sale is a player to build the future on, Courtney Hawkins is part of that future, Fisk and Griffey are parts of successful years where the Sox made it into the postseason and fan favorites to boot.

Not bad, Panini. Not bad.

Monday, August 26, 2013

WSC Birth Years: Tyler Greene

Card #136 - Tyler Greene

Born: August 17, 1983

Drafted originally by the St. Lois Cardinals in the first round of the 2005 draft, Tyler made it to the majors in 2009. He stayed with the Cards until 2012, when he was traded to the Houston Astros in August. The White Sox signed him on April 1, 2013.

Greene made his White Sox debut on April 15, 2013. He was called up to replace Gordon Beckham at second base, after Gordon was placed on the disabled list for a broken bone in his wrist. While playing nineteen games at second, Tyler made two errors and batted .222 in fifty-seven plate appearances. Green was sent back down when Beckham returned in June. Tyler was released by the White Sox in mid-August 2013 and signed by the Atlanta Braves a few days later.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

WSC Vintage: Moxie Manuel

Card #47 - Moxie Manuel

Moxie started his career in 1903 pitching for the Vicksburg Hill Billies, a level D team in the Cotton States League. While he did bounce around the minor leagues until 1913, he caught on with the Washington Senators in 1905. Manuel pitched in three games for the Senators, including a complete game during the second game of a double header to end the 1905 season on October 7, 1905 between the Senators and the Philadelphia Athletics, when the game was agreed upon to end in a tie after five innings.

In August 1907, Moxie was purchased by the White Sox from the New Orleans Pelicans of the Southern Association. Manuel pitched sixty and a third innings in eighteen games during the 1908 season for the Pale Hose. His final game was on September 14, 1908, at age twenty-six. The second place Sox lost the game at home to the third place Cleveland Naps, 10-4. The 1908 White Sox finished the season in third place, a game behind second place Cleveland and one and a half games behind the AL Champion Detroit Tigers.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Cards That Never Were #58

1978 Topps - Puchy Delgado

Luis "Puchy" Delgado started out in the Red Sox organization, starting out in Winter Haven's A ball team in 1973. Puchy had a big year in 1976, when he jumped from A ball to AAA in one year. Delgado perhaps would have been in a Red Sox uniform in 1977, if not for the expansion Seattle Mariners picking him fifty-sixth overall in the 1976 expansion draft. Puchy was one of eleven cut in the last days of the Mariners' 1977 spring training.

Delgado did well enough to earn a September call up and Puchy made his major league debut with the Mariners on September 6, 1977 against the red hot Kansas City Royals. Delgado didn't get his first hit until September 9th, against Gaylord Perry and the Texas Rangers. It was a single to center that scored third baseman Juan Bernhardt. Puchy would get four hits, four runs scored and two RBI in thirteen games that season.

Puchy spent all of 1978 in the Mariners system, but never made it back to the show. He was traded to the Cubs in 1979 and the Cubs traded him to the Royals later that year. 1979 was Delgado's last year playing in organized baseball.

Friday, August 23, 2013

WSC Birth Years: Simon Castro

Card #135 - Simon Castro

Born: April 9, 1988

Simon was signed by the San Diego Padres in the 2006 draft. The Friars thought enough of him to protect him in the rule 5 draft in 2010. Castro and Pedro Hernandez were traded to the White Sox on December 31, 2011 for outfielder Carlos Quentin.

Castro made his MLB debut with the White Sox on July 5, 2013 against the Tampa Bay Rays. Simon pitched three scoreless innings, giving up two hits and two walks, while striking out four. In his first three outings, Castro entered a blowout game. With the pressure off, he excelled. In his fourth game, on July 13th, the second game of a double header with the Philadelphia Phillies, Simon suffered his first loss, giving up a single to Michael Young that scored Humberto Quintero in the bottom of the thirteenth inning.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Cards That Never Were #57

1976 Topps - Bill Greif

Bill was traded from the San Diego Padres to the St. Louis Cardinals early in the 1976 season. Once the opening day starter for the Friars, Greif was regulated to bullpen duty at this point in his career. While only appearing in five games with the Padres in 1976, Bill would pitch in forty-seven with the Cards. Greif didn't have his best year in St. Louis but he was one of his better years.

Greif appeared in the 1976 Topps set as a Padre. After the 1976 season, on November 6th, Bill was traded to the new expansion team, the Montreal Expos. Greif never pitched for Montreal, having been released on March 30, 1977, but he has a card with the team in the 1977 Topps set. Bill sat out the '77 season and tried again in 1978, but only pitched in a handful of games with a Mets minor league affiliate before retiring.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

2013 Allen & Ginter

Hey, kids! What time is it? That's right! It's Allen & Ginter time!

Yes, it's that time of year again, where everyone goes crazy for this release, and why not? It's one of the most gorgeous vintage mocking sets out there today. It manages to change drastically without changing much at all.

An intricate lined frame and a "painted" picture on thin, sturdy card stock. I'm not sure why, but this set always strikes the right balance with me. Vintage looking sets that ape actual vintage sets have been the rage for over a decade now, but Allen & Ginter keeps chugging along producing a quality product that is both fun to collect and admire. There are so many distinct bells and whistles exclusive to this set that it always manages to surprise and please.

There are the usual array of mini parallels and some short prints. There are also the relics and the autos. There are the subsets that range from the sublime to the weird and everything in between. The yearly code contest and the extras may draw collectors in initially, but the quality of the product keeps them coming back.

The White Sox have seven cards in the base set.

47 - Robin Ventura 

69 - Jake Peavy 

214 - Alexei Ramirez

237 - Chris Sale 

251 - Frank Thomas 

264 - Adam Dunn 

308 - Alex Rios (short print

A manager, a retired franchise player and two players with huge contracts that were traded away this summer. Not too shabby. That leaves one player that won't last past 2014, if not sooner, one player who is likely trade bait and a pitcher that the White Sox want to build around. I have a feeling that the selection for the 2014 Allen & Ginter White Sox team will be drastically different.
ATY-CS - Chris Sale 

ATY-FT - Frank Thomas 

New to Allen & Ginter this year is the subset Across The Years. It mentions events and other celebrities and athletes who were born on the subjects birthday.

Another solid Allen & Ginter set from Topps. This is definitely one set I look forward to all year.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

WSC Birth Years: Casper Wells

Card #134 - Casper Wells

Born: November 23, 1984

Casper was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the 2005 draft, 420th overall. He made his MLB debut on May 15, 2010 against the Boston Red Sox and went 0 for 4. On July 30, 2011, Wells was part of a trade to the Seattle Mariners that sent Doug Fister to the Tigers. Casper started to come into his own with Seattle. On August 13th, he started a streak of four games in which he homered. That streak was halted on August 17th by Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Brandon Morrow, when a pitch hit Wells in the nose in the bottom of the sixth inning. Casper never continued on his hot streak and was eventually selected off of waivers by the Toronto Blue Jays on April 10, 2013.

2013 would be a well traveled year for Wells. On April 22, 2013, without appearing in a game with the Jays, Casper was sold to the Oakland Athletics. He played three games with the A's when on April 29th, Wells was sold to the Chicago White Sox. Casper appeared in thirty-eight games for the White Sox, batting a measly .167 during that stretch. Wells was mostly used in a late inning defensive role with the Pale Hose. On August 8, 2013, the Philadelphia Philles selected Casper off of waivers, becoming his fifth team in the 2013 season.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Cards That Never Were #56

1984 Topps - Jim Kaat

The history of baseball cards is littered with players who appear on cards with teams which they never played for in a major league game. Some of these phantom players only appeared in spring training games. Some sat for a brief time on the bench, but never made it into a game. Some were traded away before they ever appeared in a game. There are thousands of stories for thousands of players.

Jim Kaat was released by the St. Louis Cardinals on July 6, 1983, almost a week after his last MLB game. Since he didn't catch on with another team during the 1983 season, this effectively ended a brilliant and long twenty-five year career that started back in 1959 with the Washington Senators.

Fast forward to 1984. Jim Kaat gets an invitation to spring training by the Pittsburgh Pirates. Ultimately, Kaat did not make the team out of spring training, but this seems like the kind of story that would eventually lead to a phantom player card. There were photos of Jim from that spring training, but it wasn't until the last year or two that these decent photographs started to leak out. Nearly thirty years in the making... here's what the 1984 Topps Jim Kaat card most likely would have looked like.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

WSC Vintage: Charlie Berry

Card #46 - Charlie Berry

Charlie Francis Berry's father, Charlie Joseph Berry, played one season in the minor leagues (Union Association) in 1884, with the Altoona Mountain City, the Kansas City Cowboys and the Chicago Browns which disbanded and moved to Pittsburgh to become the Stogies, which also disbanded. While he was with the Chicago Browns, Charlie's father played in the first site of South Side Park. By the third site of South Side Park, the residents were the Chicago White Sox, who abandoned the site for the newly built Comiskey Park in 1910. South Side Park lived on as a home site for the Chicago American Giants of the Negro Leagues.

Charlie Francis Berry was the epitome of a two sport athlete. In 1925, he led the NFL in scoring with seventy-four points. That year Berry kicked a thirty yard field goal to upset the best college football team, a group of All-Stars from Notre Dame. The game cemented the NFL as a legitimate alternative to college football, but the game led to the NFL stripping the Pottsville Maroons of their championship title in 1925. That year also saw Charlie's first games in the MLB, as a Philadelphia Athletic.

Berry put his MLB career on hold until his NFL career was over. In 1928, he caught games for the Boston Red Sox. In 1931, Berry would rack up a career high one hundred one hits. He started the 1932 season in a slump and was traded with Jack Rothrock to the White Sox on April 29, 1932. The Pale Hose gave up Smead Jolley, Bennie Tate, Johnny Watwood and $7,500 to Boston.

Charlie spent the rest of 1932 and 1933 with the South Siders, playing in one hundred fifty-eight games and sporting a .278 average to go along with one hundred thirty-eight hits and fifty-nine RBI. Berry did amass nine errors behind the plate with Chicago.

On December 12, 1933, Charlie was traded back where he began his career, to the Philadelphia Athletics, with $20,000 for George Earnshaw and Johnny Pasek. Berry's MLB career would end with his only appearance in a game in 1938, on September 8th.

After his playing career, Charlie managed in the minor leagues and coached college football. His best career took off after that detour though. Berry was an official in the NFL, an umpire in MLB and was an official for college games. In 1958, Charlie became the only man to officiate the World Series, the NFL Championship and the College All-Star Game in the same year. Charlie was also elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1980.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

WSC Birth Years: Ramon Troncoso

Card #133 - Ramon Troncoso

Born: February 16, 1983

Ramon was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers on June 20, 2002, where he was quickly placed on the Dodgers' Dominican Summer League team. He spent three seasons there before being transferred to the Pioneer League rookie class Ogden Raptors in 2005. He led that team with thirteen saves. Troncoso made his MLB debut with the Dodgers replacing Joe Beimel in the seventh inning against the San Francisco Giants. Ramon got Rich Aurilia to ground into a double play to end the top of the inning.

Troncoso spent four seasons with the Dodgers before being granted free agency in 2012. On November 12, 2012, Ramon signed with the White Sox. He made his ChiSox debut on June 7, 2013 against the Oakland Athletics, relieving Matt Lindstrom in the top of the ninth inning. Troncoso struck out two and gave up a line drive single to Josh Reddick before getting catcher Derek Norris to ground out to second baseman Gordon Beckham. Ramon has mostly been used for mop up duty when the Sox are losing.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Cards That Never Were #55

2013 Topps - Ryne Sandberg

The announcement of Ryne Sandberg as the new Phillies (interim) manager was less than an hour ago, and I'm sure that Topps will eventually put one out, but I'll be the one to present it before Topps.

Sandberg started his career with the Phillies, but came to prominence with the Chicago Cubs. He started his coaching career in the Cubs organization, but was shunned away from his dream position as manager of the Chicago Cubs, so he bolted to the Philadelphia minor league system, with the understanding that one day, the top job will be his for the taking. This day has come and I hope it's everything that Ryno expects it to be.

Good luck, Ryno!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

WSC Birth Years: Blake Tekotte

Card #132 - Blake Tekotte

Born: May 24, 1987

Blake was originally drafted by the San Diego Padres in the third round of the 2008 draft. He rose through the Friars minor league system and made his MLB debut on May 25, 2011 against the St. Louis Cardinals.His first hit, a double, would come three days later, in Washington D.C., against the Nationals' Jordan Zimmerman.

Tekotte was traded to the White Sox on November 7, 2012 for a minor league pitcher Brandon Kloess. Blake made his White Sox debut on April 20, 2013 against the Minnesota Twins, pinch running for Tyler Flowers in the bottom of the tenth inning. Tekotte would get his first hit with Chicago on July 5th, against the Rays in Tampa Bay, a single to second.

Friday, August 9, 2013

WSC Birth Years: Matt Lindstrom

Card #131 - Matt Lindstrom

Born: February 11, 1980

A few months after Matt's option was declined by the Arizona Diamondbacks, the White Sox signed Lindstrom to a one year deal with an option for 2014. Matt started his big league career with the Florida Marlins in 2007. By 2010, he was with the Houston Astros, where he posted a career high twenty-three saves. Lindstrom spent 2011 with the Colorado Rockies and 2012 was split between the Baltimore Orioles and the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Matt has mostly been out in the late innings, in non-save situations for the White Sox in 2013. He has racked up over forty innings and has not given up a home run in the first fifty-five games. Depending on what way the Sox go in 2014, Lindstrom may be part of the plans to mop up those late innings.

Monday, July 22, 2013

2013 Bowman Inception

 These cards look sharp. Let me get that out of the way first. That will be the redeeming factor involved because this is another release with high risk/ high reward potential, but in all likelihood, you'll be looking at pretty cardboard that is only worth a small fraction of what you paid for the box.

This is an autograph release. There are autographs alone. Autographs with relics. Autographs with patches. Autographs with logos. Autographs with autographs. Let's just say if you find a card without an autograph, it's not from this set.

The White Sox have two cards in this set, but it's a little complicated.

In the Prospect Autographs, the White Sox have one card.

PA-CH - Courtney Hawkins

This card has nine parallels. A gold parallel numbered to 99. A blue parallel numbered to 75.  An orange parallel numbered to 50. A green parallel numbered to 25. A red parallel numbered to 10. A purple parallel numbered to 5. An inception parallel numbered to 1. Framed printing plates, all numbered to 1. An inscription autograph numbered to 10.

So... yeah.
In the Autograph Relic cards, the White Sox have one card.

This card has three parallels. A red parallel numbered to 50. A blue parallel numbered to 25. An inception parallel numbered to 1.

One box has five cards, which consists of four autograph cards and a relic card. All this can be yours for around $125. Essentially, if you are looking to make a profit from this purchase, you are probably not, but that's what makes this type of a release a gamble. If you're looking for nice looking cards, this may be the release for you. As for me, I'll stick to the secondary market for single cards.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

2013 Triple Play

Panini continues to come up with creative and sensible solutions to get around their lack of licensing. Triple Play was a Donruss brand in the early nineties which was geared towards children. Being a kid at heart, I enjoyed those sets for what they were. Cheap cards that taught the fundamentals of baseball, while showing some great action shots and a good smattering of current players.

The kid aspect has stayed true to the heart of the set, but instead of action shots of today's hottest stars and rookies, those players are now made into cartoons. It's not the most inventive release out there, but it's one that I'm glad was brought back. This set has the potential to hook some kids into collecting and that is something that the hobby has needed for quite some time. I appreciate that there isn't shiny distractions on the cards, like on other companies cards. I have been foiled and sparkled to death by other card companies and this is a good palate cleanser.

The White Sox have two cards in the set.

17 - Chris Sale
18 - Alex Rios

While there is a limited amount of players in Triple Play, the selection for the Sox is refreshing. Instead of Jake Peavy and Paul Konerko taking the two slots, a hot, young pitcher and a forgotten star make it into the mix. Sure, these players have their fair share of cards already, but it is a bit unusual seeing them as the only options in a set. Kudos, Panini.

Triple Play may not be the same set I remember collecting back in the nineties, but I do appreciate what it has turned into. There should always be a few cheap, fun options out there for kids and this fits the bill nicely.
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