Michael Jordan

6 eye-popping White Sox cards in honor of Topps' release day

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Kamka

6 eye-popping White Sox cards in honor of Topps' release day

I have been collecting cards as long as I can remember.

Some of my fondest childhood memories include the day the first baseball card packs of the season were available. At the time, I survived on allowance, so getting a few packs at a time was a treat; I couldn’t just go out and buy an entire box of packs like I can now.

Anyway, those brightly colored packs of mid-1980s Topps were everything to me. In fact, I stumbled upon a card shop a few years back that still sold packs of the cards from my childhood, so I bought some. I already own all the complete sets, but I bought them anyway just to have the unopened packs. Just looking at them makes me happy.

To celebrate Topps releasing its 2018 Series 1 product on Wednesday, I present six of my favorite White Sox cards:

1993 Topps Finest Refractors #102 – Frank Thomas.

The peak years of my collecting career and the peak player of the time. And the introduction of a super-premium card. It was glossy. It looks as if Frank was popping off the card. And when you hold it under the light there was a prismatic effect. OK, truth be told, I never got my hands on it until years later. But still, it brings me back to a time where the greatest hitter I’ve ever seen was on my favorite team. 

1967 Topps Venezuelan #187 – Minnie Miñoso.

One of the oldest mementos of my childhood is a picture of me which was autographed by Minnie Miñoso on the back:

“4/30/1981  Best Wishes, Minnie Miñoso”

Every generation of White Sox fans has stories about Minnie Miñoso. It’s a travesty he’s not in the Hall of Fame. I even started a Twitter account (@Minoso9HOF) hoping to spread awareness to get him into the Hall one day. I started accumulating Miñoso collectibles. When I discovered this card I had to have it. Bold blue background. RETIRADO (retired in Spanish) in bold lettering. One of the beauties in collecting individual players is coming across rare cards you had no idea existed. 

1909-11 t206 Ed Walsh

Perhaps the most famous card set ever, because of the legendary Honus Wagner card which Wagner had pulled because he didn’t want his image associated with tobacco products (more accurately: he didn’t want his image associated with anything without getting paid for it). It isn’t Wagner, but it is the finest White Sox player of the day. MLB record 1.82 career ERA thanks in most part to a devastating spitball. The card is small - 1 7⁄16 by 2 5⁄8 inchesThe coolest part of owning this card is thinking to yourself that it’s over 100 years old.

1974 Topps Deckle Edge Bill Melton

Bill Melton is a gregarious, insightful and generous man who I am honored to work alongside. Oh yeah, he was the first player in White Sox history to lead the American League in home runs. Black & White photograph, rounded cuts along the edges. Blue facsimile signature. Unique card for a unique man.

1983 Topps Carlton Fisk #20

My favorite all-time player in my favorite all-time set. The first set from which I had a lot of cards. Plain and simple. Color scheme matching that of the team, small headshot in the corner. Iconic ’83 uniforms. Pudge in command decked out in his catcher’s gear. Classic cardboard back of card. Lines upon lines of statistics. It gets no better than this. 

Bonus: 1995 Upper Deck Michael Jordan #200

Michael in White Sox uniform being interviewed. By Harry Caray. Two separate things which I love about cards:

First, it’s a glimpse of a player in a uniform other than the one In which you remember him best. It’s like being delivered into an alternate universe. It’s Pete Rose with the Expos. It’s Ken Griffey Jr. with the White Sox. You ask yourself in disbelief, “That really happened??” 

Second, the cameo appearance. It’s Harry Caray! Two Chicago icons in one. Another Michael Jordan cameo example is the Sam Vincent basketball card in which they caught Jordan wearing #12 in the foreground – the only game he ever wore it (because his jersey was stolen that day)!

I collected cards before I reached Kindergarten. I sorted them by age. I sorted them by height. I sorted them by country of birth. I bought a price guide and sorted them by value. 

As I got older, I stopped playing stock market and discovered the true love for collecting. Today, I buy what I like. I take a three-ring binder and fill up the 9-pocket pages. The pages tell a story. People I loved watching. People I have met. People I worked with. I’m still excited to rip open that first pack of the season. Happy collecting!

The Bulls will always be linked to the Warriors — symbolically, practically and through history

The Bulls will always be linked to the Warriors — symbolically, practically and through history

Whenever the Bulls and Warriors meet for the foreseeable future, it’ll be a reminder of how the two franchises are inextricably linked symbolically and practically — even if no one would consider the two franchises mirror images in any way that truly counts.

Starting on the sidelines, as Warriors coach Steve Kerr will forever be etched in Bulls lore with a championship-sealing jumper in Game 6 of the 1997 Finals off a pass from Michael Jordan, the second title of their second three-peat.

Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg was rumored to be in the running for the Warriors job after the Warriors fired Mark Jackson in 2014, when Hoiberg was still at Iowa State and Kerr was in the broadcast booth.

Reportedly, Hoiberg was a backup plan if Kerr wound up taking the New York Knicks job being offered to him by…former Bulls coach Phil Jackson.

Kerr has spoken highly of Hoiberg before games, even going as far as saying he’s stolen some of Hoiberg’s offensive plays — and it’s easy to see the similarities in philosophy, with both placing an extreme emphasis on ball movement and 3-point shooting.

With the Bulls crushing their own 3-point records — hitting fewer than 10-pointers six times in the last 21 games, they’re doing their best to copy the blueprint the Warriors have unleashed on the basketball world.

“I don’t know if we’ve revolutionized the game,” Kerr said at morning shootaround. “We just picked up on where the game was been heading over the last ten years with the added spacing and turning small forwards into power forwards and power forwards into centers. Really spacing the floor. It was happening before we did it. We have the personnel to shoot a ton of 3’s. It’s effective for us. Teams have to find whatever’s most efficient for them. We just try to play according to our talent.”

There’s the simple fact the Warriors erased the 1996 Bulls from the record book as far as regular season wins with a 73-9 mark in 2016, although they couldn’t finish the job in the Finals by blowing a 3-1 lead to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Warriors have joined the Bulls of that vintage, the Shaquille O’Neal-Kobe Bryant Lakers and James’ Miami Heat as the road shows of modern-day basketball, drawing massive crowds, sparking historical conversations and taking opposing teams’ best shots on the road 41 times a year.

Stephen Curry has earned a new respect for what Jordan’s Bulls had to go through during that eight-year period in which the Bulls dominated to win six NBA titles.

“Until you win a championship you don’t know how hard it is,” Curry said. “Only highlight that even more, all that goes into it, year after year after year, being that team everybody is chasing. I have an appreciation before but going through a couple championship runs, you have an appreciation for the dynasty that they were. It’s always nice to be in the city they did it in.”

Then there’s the petty, as Jordan Bell will get the start in place of Draymond Green, a man who looked like a mummy at shootaround with a sore shoulder but had his elbows and knees wrapped in ice.

Bell, of course, remains a point of contention for Bulls fans as he was traded for $3.5 million on draft night to the Warriors and let everyone know what he thought of it when the two met in late November, making a money reference with his hands when coming out for his first start of the season.

Although his playing time has been spotty, he blocked six shots against the Bulls and grabbed six rebounds as an uber-athletic big man in a 49-point humbling loss in Oakland on Nov. 24.

Whether Bulls fans are in love with Bell and what he represents or merely the notion of trading a second-round pick when starting a rebuild, seeing him is a sore spot.

Kerr, though, hopes Bell has moved past the pettiness with the Bulls, as one would certainly like to think he’s happy where he is as opposed to vying for minutes with the glut of bigs the Bulls already have.

“I would hope that’s a thing of the past,” Kerr said. “Jordan’s been in the league for more than half a season. He had his fun the first time we played the Bulls with his comments and whatever he was doing on the floor. I liked it. I thought he was getting himself motivated. That doesn’t last long, in this league you gotta be motivated every single night. He’s past that now.”

Bell, assuming he develops into more than just a spot starter, represents where the Warriors are currently and where the Bulls are trying to get to: selecting physically unique players whose skill sets essentially make them unicorns on the floor.

The Warriors have that in Kevin Durant and to a lesser degree, Green, because of Green’s versatility on defense and with his playmaking, allows the Warriors to be special.

The Bulls have someone in the mold of a matchup nightmare in rookie Lauri Markkanen, who just broke the rookie record by being the fastest in NBA history to hitting 100 triples.

Markkanen did it in 41 games, breaking the mark held by Portland’s Damian Lillard. Curry, widely regarded as the best shooter in NBA history, accomplished the feat in 58 games in the 2009-10 season.

Curry’s taken note while joking Markkanen should “slow down and stop breaking all those 3-point records for rookies. I’m pretty proud of being in those groups.”

“He’s an amazing talent,” Curry said. “Got an extremely unique skill set at his height and size, being able to put it on the floor, being able to shoot the way he does, scoring a lot of different ways… He’s only gonna continue to get better. Other than that, he’s gonna be a force to reckon with as he goes through his career.”

Kerr is among Markkanen’s fans, although he won’t be one at the United Center when he tries to stop Markkanen from adding to the impressive resume.

“These things are so hard to predict but you knew at minimum he was gonna be a great 3-point shooting big man which is important to have these days,” Kerr said. “I think the question was defensively could he hold his own and could he do more than shoot and I think he’s proving all of that. He’s been good defensively.

“He’s not a one-trick pony on offense. He’s not just standing out shooting. He can put it on the floor, he can post up and he’s so young, all that stuff is gonna get better. I know our coaching staff, preparing for this game, have a ton of respect for what the Bulls are doing and Markkanen in particular in terms of his potential. We think he’s gonna be an All-Star.”

Michael Jordan returns to baseball as he apparently owns part of the Miami Marlins

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AP

Michael Jordan returns to baseball as he apparently owns part of the Miami Marlins

Despite six championships and status as one of the greatest athletes in American history, one of the biggest splashes Michael Jordan made during his career was when he tried to transition from basketball to baseball.

Things didn't go too well for His Airness on the diamond, and — after some help from Bill Murray and Bugs Bunny — he eventually returned to hoops and added three rings to his collection with the Bulls. But that experience in the minors with the White Sox apparently hasn't soured MJ on the sport. According to a story from the Miami Herald, Jordan is one of 18 new owners of the Miami Marlins.

The piece from Barry Jackson looks at the financial commitments and situation of new Marlins CEO Derek Jeter, the face of the club's new ownership group and the guy who's running the team. But mentioned deep down is the fact that Jordan, now famously the owner of the Charlotte Hornets, chipped in $5 million to buy a stake in the team.

The Fish are in a bit of a mess from a baseball standpoint, with Jeter controversially dealing away superstar slugger Giancarlo Stanton this offseason, along with another All-Star player in Marcell Ozuna. And there are plenty of reports that another star, Christian Yelich, could be next. In other words, Jeter is being criticized for blowing up a team with some nice pieces, something the Marlins did relatively often under their previous ownership to many negative reviews.

So hopefully Jeter and Jordan — who it should be noted have a longtime connection through Jordan Brand — get things turned around. And hopefully things go better for Mike than they did in 1994, when he slashed .202/.289/.266 with 114 strikeouts at Double-A Birmingham.