Friday, March 1, 2019

Card Spotlight: 3-1-19

2017 Topps Heritage #429 - Jose Abreu

This week we've looked at four different Topps Heritage sets, so we'll cap off an originally unplanned "Heritage Week" with the spotlight on a card from the 2017 set, which mimicked the 1968 set.

Sometimes these spotlights are completely random. Sometimes they tie in with something going on recently. Other times, I look through my collection and something just jumps out at me. This card happens to tie in to a lot that has been happening recently.

2019 Topps Heritage dropped this week with the usual fanfare. It made me excited about the Heritage sets in general. Especially the two sets that I'm trying to complete. I'm also undertaking a massive inventory and organization of my cards. It's something that I haven't been able to properly do since I moved to Michigan in 2013. Job demands, family life and moving again in 2016 put a halt on those activities. I never stopped collecting, but I stopped organizing. There lies the problem. Something that I thought was going to be pretty straightforward and simple, turned out to be a thorough and extensive undertaking. I'm trying to make a trade with someone and I can't apologize for the delays enough. Answers are slowly revealing themselves.

That explains the choice of Heritage for this week's spotlight. What about Jose Abreu. Well, that likely has to do with contracts. You see, Jose has the largest contract that the White Sox ever gave out at $68 million. That would have been eclipsed by a Manny Machado contract that was worth $350 million, if he reached incentives in the years nine and ten. It was only guaranteed at $250 million for eight years though, with no opt out clause. Manny passed for more guaranteed money and a warmer climate. While the fan base has been lynching (Ed Lynching, HA! Cubs joke there. I know, not funny) White Sox upper management with claims of being cheap and out of touch. The truth lies somewhere in the middle.

The Sox offered one of the largest contracts in the history of the sport and it was turned down. A cheap owner would not allow that contract to be offered. On the other hand, it did not include options that Machado was looking for. In the end, it was a decision for the player to make and he made that choice. Every team that put in an offer or was part of the bidding made their best pitch, but only one team can win this thing. That is completely in the hands of the player and not any team. All the fan noise is just a reaction of the player not choosing their team. Fans can sometimes take it personally and spin it in a way that satisfies the injustice of a player "shunning" their team. If a player wasn't interested, no meetings would have ever taken place.

Bryce Harper did ink the largest guaranteed money contract in the sport. He signed a thirteen year contract for $330 million. He will be getting less money per season than Machado, but more overall money over the length of the contract. When the Sox lost out on Machado, the fans attention turned to Harper. When Sox management issued a statement saying they were out of the race, the "fans" cried foul again. It might not be easy to hear, but teams have scenarios mapped out ahead of time. Dozens of "if this happens, we'll do this" situations.

There was a short lived reality show called "The Club". The premise was that each season, a different club would be followed around and you would get to see behind the scenes. The White Sox were the focus of the inaugural season. In that series, I got a peek behind the scenes at the draft. While I'm sure some of it was staged for the cameras, as with all "reality" shows, it did show the methodology of the White Sox approach to the draft. That scene always stuck with me. While I haven't seen the show since it first aired, I believe the prospect they were drafting was Chris Sale. They had their guys picked out and what to do if their guys were taken.

Jose Abreu does have the largest contract in White Sox history... for now. I'm sure that will be eclipsed someday. Just like for a time, Albert Belle was the largest contract in White Sox history. That contract had an out clause though. It allowed him to go back into Free Agency. He signed with the Baltimore Orioles and then developed hip trouble that forced him out of the game. I just mention that because if the Sox are reluctant to offer large contracts over a large span of time, player opt out clauses might be something to consider. The player usually feels more in control.

In the end, a player can only choose one team. The player has to do what he thinks is best for him. Sometimes that will be with your team. Sometimes not. Either way "fans" will always find something to complain about. It's in the nature of the fanatic. Sometimes it's justified. Sometimes not. It just helps to look at all sides objectively and then come to a conclusion. Then again, human nature will usually come around to the "I'm right and everybody else is wrong" mentality. It's all part of the game.

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