Friday, August 30, 2019

Card Spotlight: 8-30-19

2003 Topps #546 - Bartolo Colon

You know what's surprising? Bartolo Colon has not pitched in the majors in 2019. I know he's forty-six, but he's still capable, to my knowledge. How some fledgling team looking for veteran presence hasn't given him a shot, I'll never know.

I could see the Orioles or the Marlins or the Tigers wanting him on their staff, just to eat innings at this point. And of course, to provide some clairvoyance to the rookies coming up.

The White Sox took a chance on Bartolo in 2003 and again in 2009. Colon even won a Cy Young award between his stints with the White Sox. I'm actually a bit surprised that he hasn't popped up on the White Sox in 2019. With all the injuries that the pitching staff has endured this season, and the inability to find a solid fifth starter, Bartolo actually makes a lot of sense.

Maybe at this point of his life, Bartolo is more content with day drinking on boats. That's what I'd probably want to do today instead of working, but I'm not a multi-millionaire and I have to pay the bills. Maybe I'll do some night drinking tonight, celebrating my fifth wedding anniversary, but I doubt it. And if I do, I highly doubt that maritime activities will be involved.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Card Spotlight: 8-23-19

2019 Topps Living Set #219 - Harold Baines

I'll just say that I love the idea of the Topps Living Set. I'm not too crazy about the price per card, but it is what it is. The cards look fantastic and there are no repeats of players (at least until they change teams and I'm OK with that).

My day started early today because of Taylor Swift. I handle the movies, music and books at my store and today was the release of Taylor Swift's new album. I'll just say that it is not my cup of tea, but if she can get grown women to purchase five different variations of the same CD, I am definitely in the wrong business. The covers aren't different, except for the version number. The songs are exactly the same. The only differences are four different excerpts from her personal diary and four different posters. Also some photos, but I'm unsure if they are different with each version or not. That's it. Each CD doesn't have a different version of the same song on it. The two bonus "audio memos" are exactly the same on each of the deluxe versions. Then there's the standard version with no bonus tracks, in a regular jewel case. It really reminded me of all the parallel versions of baseball cards and how some of us are suckered into collecting them all.

I needed to really get away from parallels today. I thought about posting a yellow Walgreens parallel that I have from 2019 Topps, but thought better of it. I decided to get as far away from parallels as I can in today's collecting landsape. That would be Topps Living Set.

This will be the only Harold Baines White Sox card in this set. That is comforting. There is an artist's version of a not overused photograph of the player. It makes the cards have a unique feel among the rest of card releases.

The rest of the day was as unparalleled as I could possibly get. Some of the family and I took a trip to Grand Rapids, a town that I have never visited before, picked up some Pink Zebra product that my wife bought from a retiring seller. Yes, she is selling that, in addition to all the rest of the time consuming and amazing jobs that she does. We went to Arnie's, a restaurant that I've never been to before, and had a great meal that came with a free cupcake. I chose White Chocolate Raspberry. It was delicious.

I received this card in a way that I don't typically get cards... on Twitter. I got a great price from someone who was putting together a bulk order. I got one for the White Sox collection and one for the Baines collection.

It's been an unparalleled day. A wonderful day. I'm just not a huge Taylor Swift fan. And that's OK. If you have a problem with that, you should just shake it off.


At least that has more to do with The Rock lip synching that song on television than being a fan of her music.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

2019 Topps Total Wave Two

I've already waxed poetic about the things wrong with the comeback of Topps Total in the review of Wave One. The price point and distribution is all wrong for the type of card Topps Total is supposed to be. For good or for bad, we are now stuck with this well intentioned monstrosity.

Wave two is similar to wave one. There are another one hundred cards in the set. It is only available in ten card packs for ten dollars on the Topps website. If you miss the window, you are thrown to the wolves of the secondary market.

The print run for wave two is 753, which is considerably lower than wave one. There are the numbered parallels and the random autographs too. All to create the illusion that you might be able to get value out of your purchase. That is truly in the eye of the beholder. I don't put much stock into this release, but I'm sure there are those who do.

The White Sox have four cards in wave two.

132 - Yolmer Sanchez
140 - Daniel Palka
142 - Caleb Frare
164 - Yonder Alonso

To say the player selection in wave two is underwhelming would be an understatement. I like Yolmer, but he is not going to set the collecting world on fire. He is a great clubhouse presence, but he is a placeholder player, unless he really elevates his game another few levels. I like Daniel Palka, but he needs to figure out how to adjust quicker or he's going to be the ultimate AAAA player. I like Caleb Frare, but it's a bit too early to say how he's going to ultimately fit in the bullpen. He could surprise us all and be elite one day. Yonder's time with the White Sox resulted in a .178 batting average. That is 72 points below his lowest batting average with any team he has been with. His previous low was .250 with the Cleveland Indians in 2018. Alonso is currently hitting .317 with the Rockies through twenty-five games. Let that sink in. It can't all be explained by playing in Colorado.

The only way this wave gets more depressing is if they added Odrisamer Despaigne, Ervin Santana and A.J. Reed. Don't get me wrong. I like all the players that have been on the White Sox (except for Nick Swisher). There are just some players that are more exciting than others. These four players probably sounded a lot more promising in the planning stages. That happens. We'll see if things get more exciting in wave three.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Draft Years: 1972

 With the twelfth pick in the 1972 amateur draft, the White Sox chose outfielder Mike Ondina out of Rancho Cordova, California.

Mike spent six seasons in the White Sox minor league system, not once getting a call-up. He hit a combined .254 average over eight seasons in the minors, six with the White Sox and two with the Royals, before calling it quits.

Ondina kept getting a little bit worse, the further he climbed the minor league ladder. It's not surprising that even on some of the questionable teams of the seventies, the Sox decided against giving him a shot at the MLB level.

The 1972 draft was not loaded with a lot of exceptional talent, but there were a few standouts. Dennis Eckersley Dick Ruthven, Dave Chalk, Jamie Quirk, Chet Lemon, John Candelaria, Willie Randolph and Rick Honeycutt were all taken after Mike Ondina. Along with a handful of other notable names.

The White Sox should have taken...

Gary Carter.
The man who scouted him for the Expos was known for his shenanigans and secrecy, so it could be understandable why a talent like Carter dropped to the third round and 53rd overall. It would also be a good bet that an injury that Gary suffered also cooled teams off from drafting the three-sport star.

Gary could have really solidified the backstop position for the Pale Hose in the seventies. Can you imagine an early eighties catching tandem of Fisk and Gary Carter? The Sox would have been set for many years.

I'm also going to be greedy and say that instead of outfielder Cleo Kilpatrick, the White Sox should have picked Dennis Eckersley with their second pick.

Both Gary Carter and Dennis Eckersley were available until the third round. Eck was picked second in the third round (50th overall) and Carter was picked a few selections later (53rd overall). An Eckersley/Carter battery has a nice sound to it.

Out of the twenty-four players selected by the White Sox in the 1972 draft, only five made it to the majors. Bruce Robinson, George Enright, Mike Overy, Nyls Nyman and Jim Lentine. Only George Enright (two games, one at-bat) and Nyls Nyman (parts of four seasons) ever made it to the majors with the Chicago White Sox.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Card Spotlight: 8-16-19

2013 Topps #20 - Kevin Youkilis (Out Of Bounds Variation)

Kevin Youkilis on the White Sox is a prime example of how the White Sox used to think. Get a popular player, who is on the wrong side of thirty, with just enough left in the tank for a few thrills, but not enough to match their previous greatness. Either that or sign a superstar that is well past their prime and have ticket sales coast on their name without adding much to the team. Kevin Youkilis was much closer to the former than the latter, but it should be noted that his career did end in June 2013, with his last team, the New York Yankees.

There were certainly great moments with Youkilis on the White Sox and I was very excited to have Kevin on the White Sox. I'm still glad that he was a part of the team. That doesn't necessarily mean that Youkilis was good. He was definitely in the end stages of his career, even at age thirty-three.

I tried collecting the rainbow, meaning all the parallels, but I think I am still a card or two short. I know I don't have the platinum parallel. I might be missing another parallel. I do have the out of bounds variation. Maybe one day I'll complete the rainbow.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Card Spotlight: 8-9-19

1954 Bowman #54 - Chico Carrasquel

This week's spotlight focuses on Chico Carrasquel. Chico was purchased from the Brooklyn Dodgers by the Chicago Whtie Sox before he reached the majors. Making his debut with the White Sox in 1950, Chico would spend six seasons with the Pale Hose and four All-Star selections, before he was traded to the Cleveland Indians.

Arguably, Carrasquel was one of the greatest players to wear number seventeen for the White Sox. I can certainly think of more accomplished players who wore seventeen, but the majority of their prime successes came with other teams.

Chico and the White Sox tried for a reunion in 1960, but it was never meant to be. Carrasquel signed in January and was released by April. That still does not squash the legacy that he left behind in Chicago, where he came in third for Rookie of the Year and was twice considered for MVP.

Carrasquel started a Chicago White Sox tradition of Venezuelan shortstops and became the first Latin American player to start an All-Star game. He had to fill the shoes of Luke Appling and did so admirably, with great defense. No wonder Chico is still mentioned with the White Sox greats. He embodied what most White Sox fans resonate with... great work ethic and a little spunk.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

2019 Allen & Ginter

It's that time of year again. Allen & Ginter time!!

It's one of the releases that I always get excited about. Everything from the feel of the cards to the look of the cards to the strange and interesting subject matter sprinkled in with the baseball players. It all adds up to be one of the best sets of the year, every year.

This year I decided to go in cold turkey. I actively avoided checklists, so I could be surprised when I opened my first packs. Boy, was I ever surprised with the results. Two of my absolute favorite White Sox players are in the set this year. Along with some of my favorite rookies and another Hall of Fame favorite, this team set shapes up to be one of my favorite of the year.

I will be a little unorthodox with my checklist this year. You'll know exactly where. You can choose to include the card if you want. If not, I completely understand.

The White Sox have ten cards in the set this year, including and optional card and two short prints.

118 - Frank Thomas

This Hall of Fame player is always welcome. I WILL believe the hype!

119 - Michael Kopech

I was so excited for Kopech day. I will be the same level of excited upon his return.

120 - Yoan Moncada

I am impressed with how big a leap Yoan has made this year.

121 - Jose Abreu

I'm hoping Abreu gets to stick around. I like him.

139 - Harold Baines

OMG!!! Total and welcome surprise!!!!

161 - Sister Mary Jo Soieck

This is the optional card. I'm including it because she did the first pitch with the White Sox and it's a great South Side story.

264 - Yonder Alonso

I was hopeful for Yonder when the Sox signed him. I wish him the best in Colorado.

272 - Carlton Fisk

Some Fisk MOJO!!! Both of my childhood idols in one team set? YES, PLEASE!

366 - Daniel Palka

What are you gonna do when Palkamania runs wild over you??? I hope he regains some momentum.

398 - Eloy Jimenez

Adventurous in the outfield, but he's learning and getting better. I'm glad he's getting MLB experience.

This is probably my favorite Allen & Ginter White Sox lineup so far!! Very solid effort.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Card Spotlight: 8-2-19

1996 Stadium Club Megaheroes #1 - Frank Thomas

I really did not collect much past 1994 in the nineties. I will still run across cards that I will actively wonder "what were they thinking" or "who greenlit that?" all the time.

This takes a lovely picture of Frank Thomas in the end stages of his picture perfect swing and puts some unholy concoction of the looming steroid epidemic, Queen's News of the World album and America's love of fast food (seriously is that guy super jacked or super fat?) and rolls it up into some animated background from a Paula Abdul video. What is this mess staring seductively at Frank Thomas?

I can see this animator's nightmare putting on some Sade and whispering sweet nothings into the Big Hurt's ear, like, "You're going to publish a grilling cookbook after you're Hall of Fame career" or "Jay Mariotti wears the skirt, not you", while he attempts to either give Frank some weightlifting advice or prepare to devour him whole, like a snake. A cold hearted snake. See? He really does belong in a Paula Abdul video. And is that an eight-pack that he's sporting or is he about to nurse a farrow of piglets? This card is going to give me nightmares all weekend. I fear for Frank's safety.
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