Monday, April 28, 2014

WSC Birth Years: Scott Downs

Card #154 - Scott Downs

Born: March 17, 1976

After a disastrous 2013, the White Sox spent the off-season retooling their bullpen with a mix of veterans, projects and rookies. Scott was originally drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the 1997 draft. He made his debut with the Cubs in 2000, but was traded to the Montreal Expos before the end of the season for Rondell White. While with Montreal's AAA affiliate, Downs threw a no-hitter against the Las Vegas 51s in 2004, but was released after the season when struggles returned. Scott then signed with the Toronto Blue Jays, where he spent the bulk of his career. Before he signed with the White Sox in 2014, Downs spent time with the Angels and the Braves.

Scott mainly throws a sinker and a curve ball. In his thirteen year career, he has started, closed and relieved. His primary role with the White Sox has been late inning reliever and after a rocky start, has settled in nicely. The White Sox have found some offense in 2014 and Downs may be a key reason in 2014 that the Sox keep their leads late in the game.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

WSC All-Stars: Rip Radcliff 1936

Card #8 - Rip Radcliff

Rip started in left field for the American League All-Stars in 1936. Radcliff first stepped up to the plate in the top of the second inning with two out, but the Yankees first baseman Lou Gehrig was picked off at first base and the inning ended. Rip then led of the top of the third inning, where he grounded out to St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Dizzy Dean.

Radcliff appeared in the top of the fifth, again with two outs. This time, he ripped a single to center off of New York Giants pitcher Carl Hubbell, which was the only hit for the AL team that inning. Goose Goslin, representing the Detroit Tigers,  replaced Radcliff in left field in the bottom of the sixth inning.

Monday, April 21, 2014

2014 Gypsy Queen

This product is flying off of shelves, but I'm not entirely sure why. It plays like a poor man's Allen and Ginter. The quality is there, but it doesn't have the same vintage spark as Allen and Ginter. It does provide a good appetizer until that better set is released later in the year.

I have no general complaints about Gypsy Queen. It is a solid set, but they always are. If you've picked up some Gypsy Queen in the past, you know exactly what to expect. If you haven't liked Gypsy Queen in the past, nothing about the 2014 set will change your mind. With vintage sets, Topps seems to favor the old adage, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."

The White Sox have twelve cards in the set.

78 - Marcus Semien
118 - Jose Quintana
181 - Paul Konerko
188 - Adam Eaton
216 - Andre Rienzo
221 - Matt Davidson
251 - Erik Johnson
254 - Avisail Garcia
273 - Alejandro De Aza
287 - Adam Dunn
305 - Chris Sale
320 - Jose Abreu

There are two short prints in the set, Chris Sale and Jose Abreu. It shouldn't be too difficult a task to complete a team set. The cards aren't ugly, but competently consistent.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

WSC All-Stars: Vern Kennedy 1936

Card #7 - Vern Kennedy

While Vern was elected to the 1936 All-Star game at Braves Field in Boston, he did not enter the game. This was Kennedy's first of two selections to the All-Star game, his only with the Chicago White Sox.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

WSC Birth Years: Adrian Nieto

Card #153 - Adrian Nieto

Born: November 12, 1989

Originally drafted by the Washington Nationals in the fifth round of the 2008 draft, Adrian was the third pick in the Rule 5 draft after the 2013 season, selected by the Chicago White Sox. While Nieto seemed a longshot at best to make the club out of spring training, he vaulted over Josh Phegley, Hector Giminez and Miguel Gonzalez to secure the backup catcher spot on the roster.

Adrian made his MLB debut with the White Sox on April 2, 2014, pinch running for Paul Konerko in the bottom of the ninth, scoring the first run in a rally that would send the game into extra innings and end up an eventual White Sox winner. Nieto has been used sparingly, mostly as a pinch runner and late inning replacement, but if he can translate and expand on his .240 spring average into the majors, I don't think anyone will complain about that in his backup capacity.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Twenty Years Ago Today

Twenty years ago today, Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play the White Sox played their home opener against the Boston Red Sox. They ended up losing eight to six, saddling Paul Assenmacher with his first loss as a member of the Chicago White Sox. The ChiSox were one and four after that home opener. It wasn't a preview of things to come, as the Sox would climb to the top of the AL Central before the work stoppage in August.

I was a senior in high school, at the age of seventeen. This was a year of change. My ability in creating artwork took a huge leap forward this year. My ability as a writer (and amateur lyricist) started to mature and expand. I ditched my aviator glasses that I had since the eighties and modeled my new pair after the glasses John Lennon wore in the late sixties. I grew my hair out. I discovered Tori Amos' Under The Pink album and I was planning on attending my first Lollapalooza concert that summer.

My interest in baseball cards started to wane with the expansion of pack prices and the sheer amount of releases, parallels, inserts and chase cards. I was wavering on collecting. I decided music would be a better pool of my funds and tracked down every song from my favorite artists that I could get my hands on. I got the concert bug and saw Pink Floyd and the Rolling Stones that year. I was all over the map, but it made complete sense to me. I was finding myself and breaking out of the mold that the Chicago suburban public school system had shaped me in.

When April 8, 1994 started, I was nowhere near Chicago. I was in Dallas, Texas visiting my grandparents with my mom. We would be hopping a plane back to Midway airport in the late morning. I picked up a magazine in the Dallas/Fort Worth airport to read on the plane. I read an article on Kurt Cobain's overdose in Rome. There was a striking black and white photo of him accompanying the picture and I decided that would be my next art project. It would be a thirty inch by forty inch ebony pencil drawing of that close up of his head. I would start it on April 11th, when I got back to school from spring break.

I had just finished up a four foot by four foot painting of John Candy, inspired by the photo on the cover of People magazine right after his death. I had gotten a lot of positive feedback from fellow students and faculty alike. My dean even wanted me to produce a copy of the John Candy photo for him, which I happily did. My work had caught his eye before. An ebony pencil portrait of John Lennon (circa Strawberry Fields Forever), a portrait of Jimi Hendrix with watercolor chalk brushed with turpentine and countless others.

We arrived back home in the early afternoon. My dad had to work, so we took a cab back from the airport. The gentleman blasted his rap music and drove like he was running from the devil at the crossroads, but we were still in one piece. We I was bored and decided to go to the CD Exchange, which was a used CD store one town over. Sadly, today, it is a nail place. I spent about a half hour in the store and purchased Pretty Hate Machine by Nine Inch Nails. It was a nice sunny day with a slight chill in the air and I spent my time indoors devouring my newly purchased album.

I was refreshed by the time dinner was ready at 5:30. I came down and ate with my mom in front of the television, which was something we always did. For whatever reason, the sitcoms we usually watched weren't on. The Cubs may have been on WGN. We watched the national news instead, which we never did. As I sat and ate my dinner, I heard about Kurt Cobain's body being found that morning. I sat in stunned silence and ate the rest of my dinner, processing this new information.

I had been through two busy airports, ridden in a cab and spent a good chunk of time in a music store ad this was the absolute first time I was hearing this news. After the initial shock wore off, my first thought was of a classmate. We had a running joke where we "argued" about which band was better. I always defended Queen and he always defended Nirvana. Truthfully, I always liked both. I still do. My classmate was not the most pleasant person to be around right after, but he survived. Today, he is one of the most positive people in my Facebook feed, always with a great attitude and ready to bring a smile to any face.

I've always thought of the "grunge" movement as a rocket. There was a lot of testing and preparation but it blasted off and started to get noticed when the genre caught national attention after Nirvana's second album came out in 1991. It peaked with a shotgun blast in April 1994 and the ashes that fell littered the landscape in the years that followed, thinning out with each passing day until the final flake came down in 2002, when Layne Staley's body was found that April. The wind has blown since then, picking up tiny pieces here and there and scattering them, but they are just shadows of the original.

Twenty years later, I can still remember most of what I did that day. It's funny the things that you recall. I can barely remember what I had for breakfast some days, but that day, twenty years ago, is still full of vivid detail.

That year was a lot of change. I met so many people. Some I still call friends to this day. Baseball cards and eventually baseball abandoned me that year, but I have forgiven them. April 8, 1994 was also the last day I saw my grandparents together. My grandpa died two and a half years later. It was probably the best year of my youth and I'll always have the memories, good and bad. Mostly good.

While today is a day of reflection, it is also a day to look forward. There's nothing wrong with reliving the past once in awhile, but remember that time keeps moving forward and good things are still to come.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

WSC All-Stars: Luke Appling 1936

Card #6 - Luke Appling

Luke led off the 1936 All-Star game with a walk off St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Dizzy Dean. Appling proceeded to go one for four the rest of the game. His lone hit, a single to right field, came in the top of the seventh inning, off of Chicago Cubs pitcher Curt Davis, scoring Detroit Tigers outfielder Goose Goslin and Boston Red Sox third baseman Jimmie Foxx.

Appling had a chance to get start a rally in the ninth off of Chicago Cubs pitcher Lon Warneke, but ended up grounding out to Cubs second baseman Billy Herman.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Panini Has Announced Three Additional Donruss Rated Rookies

As part of a wrapper redemption program, three additional Rated Rookie cards were announced on Opening Day. This three card set is available by sending twenty-four wrappers to Panini.

The three cards are...

201 - Masahiro Tanaka
202 - Jose Abreu
203 - Yordano Ventura

Another White Sox card to collect is always a good thing.

WSC Birth Years: Jose Abreu

Card #152 - Jose Abreu

Born: January 29, 1987

In October 2013, the White Sox took a risk and signed Cuban defector Abreu to a six year, $68 million dollar contract. Jose will be hitting his prime years while in a White Sox uniform. After hitting monster numbers in Cuba, Abreu will test out MLB pitching in 2014, to see if his talent will translate well in the big leagues.

Jose went two for four in his MLB debut on March 31, 2014, against the Minnesota Twins, in Chicago. He also scored a run and collected his first RBI. He has left a strong impression on teammates and opponents, in the first few months. Abreu will be looking to build on that and continue the tradition of excellent first basemen on the South Side.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...