White Sox

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!

White Sox free up spot on 40-man roster by outrighting Dylan Covey

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USA TODAY

White Sox free up spot on 40-man roster by outrighting Dylan Covey

The White Sox freed up a spot on their 40-man roster Sunday, outrighting pitcher Dylan Covey to Triple-A Charlotte.

Covey pitched in 18 games last season, making 12 starts for the South Siders. Things did not go well, with Covey turning in an 0-7 record and a 7.71 ERA in 70 innings.

While there was an outside chance that Covey could have provided at least some starting-pitching depth heading into the 2018 season, the team's recent additions of Miguel Gonzalez and Hector Santiago — not to mention Covey's results from last season — wiped out that idea.

At the moment, the White Sox starting rotation figures to look like this by Opening Day: James Shields, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Gonzalez and Carson Fulmer, with Santiago seeming like a good option to provide depth as the long man in the bullpen.

Jose Abreu's got a new beard, but what he really deserves is a contract extension

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USA TODAY

Jose Abreu's got a new beard, but what he really deserves is a contract extension

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Sunday marked the first surprise of White Sox spring training, courtesy of first baseman Jose Abreu.

“This year, I’m going to try to steal more bases,” Abreu said through a translator.

This might have sounded like a joke, but Abreu was completely serious.

On paper, he’s not exactly Rickey Henderson. In 614 career games, Abreu has only six stolen bases. However, the slimmed-down first baseman does have some sneaky speed. His six triples last season ranked third in the American League. So there are some wheels to work with.

“I like the challenge. I think that’s a good challenge for me. I’m ready for it,” Abreu said.

How many steals are we talking about? A reporter asked sarcastically if a 30-30 season is in the offing? Abreu didn’t exactly shoot down the possibility.

“Who knows? When you fill your mind with positive things, maybe you can accomplish them,” Abreu said. “The mind of a human being works in a lot of different ways. If you fill your mind with good things, good things are going to happen.”

The morning began with Abreu walking to the hitting cages with his Cuban compadres Yoan Moncada and Luis Robert, who the White Sox signed last summer. He held his first workout on Sunday. At the White Sox hitters camp last month, Moncada took Robert under his wing, showing him the ropes, even telling Ricky Renteria, “I got him.”

But Sunday, Abreu was in charge, holding court with the three of them in the cage. Abreu watched closely as Robert hit off a tee, giving him pointers about his swing.

“I just like to help people,” Abreu said. “When I started to play at 16 in Cuba, I had a lot people who hounded me to get better. At the same point, I want to give back things that I’ve learned and pass that along to other people. That’s what I’m doing. I’m not expecting anything else. I’m just glad to help them and get them better.”

What kind of advice has he passed along to Robert?

“Since I came to this country, I learned quickly three keys to be a success: Be disciplined, work hard and always be on time. If you apply those three keys, I think you’re going to be good. Those are the three keys I’m trying to teach the new kids, the young guys,” Abreu said.

Abreu lost about 10 pounds during the offseason. He said he hopes to learn more English in 2018. He also arrived at spring training sporting a scruffy beard which he grew while he was in Cuba so he “could be incongnito.”

Abreu likes his new look. Moncada thinks he should shave it off.

“If the organization doesn’t say anything, I’m just going to keep it,” Abreu said.

Well, so much for that.

Moments after Abreu spoke with the media, Renteria told reporters that Abreu will have to “clean it up a bit.”

The two will find a compromise. Come to think of it, maybe Abreu and the White Sox should do the same about a contract extension in the near future.

Yes, he’ll be 33 when his contract expires in two years, but there have been no signs of a decline with his performance. Instead, Abreu is only getting better both offensively and defensively.

Heck, now he wants to steal bases, too.

After Renteria, Abreu is the leader of this team. He commands ultimate respect inside the clubhouse. He’s become another coach to Moncada, Robert and others. He’s a huge brick in the present and too big of an influence and cornerstone to not have around in the future.

“I hope to play my entire career in the majors with the White Sox,” Abreu said Sunday. “But I can’t control that.”

At some point, a decision will have to be made whether to keep Abreu or trade him. In the meantime, ask yourself this question: What will bring more value to the White Sox, getting a high-end prospect or two in return not knowing if they’ll ever succeed in the majors? Or keeping your best player, the heart and soul of your team, allowing him to show your future stars the way while they’re developing in the major leagues?

Seems like an easy decision to me.