Category Archives: Discount Jerseys

Matt Foster Jersey White Sox

Ahead of a Wednesday deadline to protect players ahead of December’s Rule 5 Draft, the Chicago White Sox purchased the contracts of seven players, including pitcher Dane Dunning and outfielder Blake Rutherford.

The moves by the White Sox leave their 40-man roster at maximum size, and means that the players cannot be selected in the Rule 5 Draft on Dec. 12.

The team opted to protect Dunning, along with pitchers Zack Burdi, Matt Foster and Jimmy Lambert. Hurler Bernardo Flores Jr. was also protected, along with catcher Yermín Mercedes and Rutherford.

According to the White Sox, five of the players are ranked among their Top 30 prospects by MLB Pipeline, including Dunning, Rutherford, and Lambert.

Per MLB rules, any player chosen in the Rule 5 Draft must remain on his new team’s 25-man roster for the entirety of the following season, and the selecting team must pay the player’s original team $50,000.

If a team later wants to send a Rule 5 player back to the minors, they must clear waivers, and the team they were drafted from gets first rights to bring the player back into their organization for a cost of $25,000.

Bernardo Flores Jersey White Sox

The White Sox made some important decisions Wednesday, protecting seven players from selection in next month’s Rule 5 draft by moving them to the 40-man roster.

Dane Dunning, Blake Rutherford, Jimmy Lambert, Zack Burdi, Bernardo Flores, Yermin Mercedes and Matt Foster were moved to the 40-man roster, making them unable to be plucked away by other teams in the Rule 5 draft Dec. 12 during the Winter Meetings.

That’s obviously good news for the White Sox, who will hang onto those prized prospects regardless of what happens next month. But the team opted to leave plenty of other players open to selection, including Alec Hansen, Zach Thompson, Spencer Adams and Kyle Kubat.

The 40-man roster is now full at the maximum 40 players, meaning any offseason additions made from here on out will require a player being removed from the 40-man roster.

Dunning is ranked as the No. 5 prospect in the organization and despite undergoing Tommy John surgery earlier this season still has a bright future as a potential member of the White Sox rotation. In fact, he was moving along so positively in 2018 that general manager Rick Hahn said if not for the injury Dunning could have been part of the team’s Opening Day rotation in 2019. He last pitched in 2018, turning in a stellar 2.71 ERA and striking out 100 batters in 15 starts between Class A Winston-Salem and Double-A Birmingham.

Rutherford remains ranked as the No. 9 prospect in the organization but finds himself one of many outfield prospects who had disappointing 2019 campaigns. He saw significant statistical dips playing at Birmingham from the numbers he put up in 2018 at Winston-Salem. In 2019, he slashed .265/.319/.365 in 118 games. He failed to do much of anything in the Arizona Fall League, either, slashing .179/.281/.385 in 21 games.

Lambert is ranked as the No. 18 prospect in the organization and, like Dunning, underwent Tommy John surgery earlier this year. If not for the injury, he might have factored into the big league starting staff by the end of the 2019 campaign. He followed up a strong 2018 season (3.67 ERA in 18 starts between Winston-Salem and Birmingham) with a 4.55 ERA in 11 starts at Birmingham in 2019.

Burdi is still ranked as the No. 23 prospect in the organization despite an injury-plagued last couple of seasons. A knee injury ended his 2019 season early, this after missing almost the entirety of the 2018 season (just a few appearances in Rookie ball) while recovering from Tommy John surgery. A first-round pick in 2016, Burdi struggled before the knee injury, with a 6.75 ERA in 22.2 innings between Birmingham and Class A Kannapolis.

Flores is ranked as the No. 28 prospect in the organization. He had a mighty promising 2018 season at Winston-Salem and Birmingham, with a 2.65 ERA in 25 starts. Those numbers jumped up in 2019, with Flores finishing with a 3.33 ERA in 15 starts at Birmingham.

Mercedes was one of the bright spots of the White Sox farm system in 2019, slashing .317/.388/.581 with 23 homers splitting time between Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte. Many fans hoped he would have gotten a September call-up. He didn’t, but Hahn mentioned him as a potential part of the catching mix when the team heads to spring training in February.

Foster had a solid 2019 season, finishing with a 3.20 ERA in 43 relief appearances at Birmingham and Charlotte.

As for those who are exposed to selection in the Rule 5 draft, Hansen was once one of the highest ranked pitching prospects in the organization, thanks to a phenomenal 2017 campaign, when he had a 2.80 ERA and 191 strikeouts pitching at three different levels. But a 2018 forearm injury derailed everything. That year, he didn’t even make his first appearance until mid June and finished with a 6.31 ERA and an outrageous 59 walks compared to just 55 strikeouts. In 2019, he didn’t fare much better, with a 4.64 ERA and 44 more walks (compared with 66 strikeouts). He’s still ranked as the organization’s No. 27 prospect.

Thompson was excellent in 2018, with a 1.55 ERA in 43 relief appearances at Winston-Salem and Birmingham. A year later, he was pummeled to the tune of a 5.23 ERA in 45 relief appearances, most coming at Charlotte.

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Leury Garcia Jersey White Sox

Yasisdsdsdsel Puig is a powerful hitter in the league but never shines bright amongst his peers. Here’s how Puig can reach his glory with the White Sox.
Yasiel Puig has always been effective at the plate but continues to fly under the radar. This year, the one-time All-Star has elected free agency and the Chicago White Sox could be a destination for him. The Sox could add Puig to add some power to the lineup and give him the chance to become a star.

The Sox have a nice squad of batters but could use a more prominent fielder to create a big three in the outfield. Eloy Jimenez has held his own at the plate and Leury Garcia has done the same. But this past season, the Chicago White Sox fielded by a committee. Jon Jay was by far the most consistent hitter between himself, Ryan Cordell, and Daniel Palka, but with Jay and Cordell gone the Chicago White Sox are more exposed in the outfield.

Cordell’s performance for 2019 was underwhelming with a .645 OPS. Unfortunately, Palka was even more disappointing as he posted a .372 OPS. The addition of Puig could make up for that poor hitting in the lineup by becoming a sure starter in the outfield while providing a much more dangerous threat at the plate, even though Jay was able to get on-base. However, Jay lacked power and did not record any home runs last season. The 2018 Gold Glove finalist totaled only 9 RBIs in 165 at-bats.

It is worth mentioning young power hitter Luis Robert when bringing up the need for improvement in the outfield. Robert has had an outstanding minor league performance with a .328 batting average, a .376 OBP, and a .624 slugging percentage. He has shown in the past two years that he is ready for the main stage but his future is unclear in the 2020 regular season because the spotlight is on free agency. The Chicago White Sox had a chance to call Robert up last season when Jay hit the 60-day injured but he was not promoted.

Puig experienced two trades in one season, but it did not affect his game. His stats for the 2019 season consisted of a .267 batting average, a .327 OBP, and a .458 slugging percentage. With runners in scoring position, he averaged a .847 OPS, which means that Puig can be that clutch hitter the Chicago White Sox need to increase their chances to win close games.

Having hitters that aren’t productive in the lineup hurt the Chicago White Sox in 2019 and breaking that cycle will pave the way to becoming a winning franchise. Puig would be a great addition to the Chicago White Sox. He’s also a much more realistic addition because fielders with Marcell Ozuna‘s has a much higher value on the market.

Besides batting average, Puig and Ozuna’s statistics last season were close even though it’s rarely mentioned. Puig is just as good as Ozuna and he runs cheaper. FanGraphs predicts a three-year $38.3 million offer for him and a four-year $64 million offer for Ozuna. Puig is capable of filling the void as a star center fielder for the Chicago White Sox and a player fans can be excited about if it were to happen.

Tim Anderson Jersey White Sox

The Chicago White Sox are looking to make drastic improvements this offseason and are reportedly interested in both Zack Wheeler and Joc Pederson.
So much of the Chicago White Sox rebuild reminds me of what the Chicago Cubs were doing at this time five years ago. A young team, loaded with potential, on the cusp of being competitive and entering the offseason ready to make some noise. For the Cubs, the Jon Lester signing was the franchise-changing move that ultimately got the team over the hump, and the White Sox are looking to do the same. But their Jon Lester is Zack Wheeler, according to several reports.

Wheeler, 29, struggled to stay healthy from 2015 to 2017 but lived up to his potential in both the 2018 and 2019 campaigns that saw him post a 3.31 and 3.96 ERA, respectively. The former sixth-overall pick of the 2009 MLB Draft made 60 starts over the previous two seasons and is reportedly receiving offers from teams in the nine-figure range. While it seems like a risky price to pay for a pitcher who missed the better half of two seasons, he’s shown both the durability and dominance that a team like the White Sox would love to have in their rotation.

“Wheeler, 29, has received at least one $100 million offer and will land a five-year deal in excess of that amount, according to major-league sources.

The White Sox, Twins, Reds, Rangers and Blue Jays are among the clubs pursuing Wheeler, who is the leading free-agent alternative to fellow right-handers Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg even though his career ERA+ (ERA adjusted to park and league) is exactly league average.” – The Athletic

The White Sox are arguably one starter away from fielding a competitive team, after already adding Yasmani Grandal in free agency last week. The offense, on paper, looks legit with the highly-anticipated arrival of Luis Robert next season to go along with Jose Abreu, Yoan Moncada, Eloy Jimenez, and Tim Anderson. But it appears that White Sox GM, Rick Hahn, isn’t banking on all of his prospects to flourish as the team is reportedly interested in trading for Dodgers outfielder, Joc Pederson, as well.

The 27-year-old was a highly-touted prospect coming up through the Dodgers organization and posted his best season in 2019. Pederson slashed an impressive .249/.339/.538 with 36 home runs and 74 RBI (127 OPS+) and is projected to make $8.5 million in arbitration this offseason. He’s under contract through next season, so any trade would likely include a contract extension to keep him in on the south side for years to come.

And while the White Sox could certainly entertain the idea of signing both Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg, I believe it’s a smart strategy to aim a bit lower while still allowing the financial flexibility to keep improving the roster. Keep in mind that the White Sox will eventually need to re-sign their key free agents, with several of them set to become unrestricted free agents after the 2022 and 2023 seasons.

The American League Central division appears to run through Minnesota for the time being. Still, many executives around the league believe that the Cleveland Indians could potentially part ways with both Francisco Lindor and Corey Kluber this offseason. Combined with the rebuilding Kansas City Royals and Detroit Tigers, the arrow appears to be trending up for the White Sox, and they could take advantage quicker than most anticipate.

Signing Wheeler and trading for Pederson could accelerate the process, and the Chicago White Sox would officially put the league on notice.

Seby Zavala Jersey White Sox

The Chicago White Sox acquisition of Yasmani Grandal is a big deal for the franchise. The move does leave James McCann‘s future with the team in question, though.

Currently, the team has five catchers on the 40-man roster. Aside from McCann and Grandal, the team also has Zack Collins, Yermin Mercedes, and Seby Zavala.

McCann, 29, had the best offensive season of his career in 2019 in which he hit .273/.328/.460 with 18 home runs and 60 RBI to give himself a 109 OPS+. He also made his first career All-Star game.

The White Sox have been very active this offseason and with more moves to be made, it remains to be seen what the acquisition of Yasmani Grandal will actually mean for McCann and his future with the team.

As of now, McCann has one more year of team control before he would become a free agent after the 2020 season.

This will be his last season of arbitration, although, he will hit the open market for the second time in his career.

After the 2018 season, the Detroit Tigers non-tender McCann which resulted in the White Sox signing him to a one-year. $2.5 million contract to start at catcher for them in 2019.

I believe that the White Sox have three legitimate options to consider when it comes to McCann going forward this offseason.

Evan Marshall Jersey White Sox

It’s non-tender deadline day, perhaps more often greeted by the casual observer with a question mark as opposed to an exclamation point, but an important day on baseball’s offseason calendar, nonetheless.

The White Sox, along with their 29 major league compatriots, have until Monday night to tender contract offers to their arbitration-eligible players or to decide not to, sending them to free agency. The White Sox have decisions to make on six players: Alex Colome, James McCann, Leury Garcia, Carlos Rodon, Yolmer Sanchez and Evan Marshall.

Here’s what to expect.

Yolmer Sanchez

Sanchez has been the most discussed of this group, and indeed his time with the White Sox already appears to be over. The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported last week that the team placed its Gold Glove second baseman on outright waivers and that Sanchez cleared those waivers and will head to free agency. Sanchez, who had repeatedly said he wanted to stay with the only organization he’s ever known, followed with a social-media post or two indicating he was going to try to make the best of a less-than-ideal situation. The team, aside from a comment from manager Rick Renteria, has not officially announced anything involving Sanchez’s status.

Certainly the White Sox moving on from Sanchez wasn’t difficult to foresee. Nick Madrigal, the team’s first-round pick in the 2018 draft, is on the doorstep of the major leagues and is expected to be the starting second baseman on the South Side for the bulk of the 2020 campaign. While Sanchez plays some exceptional defense, he can’t match what Madrigal – a top-40 prospect in baseball who has also been touted as an elite defender – can do with the bat. Sanchez slashed just .252/.318/.321 in 2019, while Madrigal tore up the minors to the tune of .311/.377/.414 and struck out only 16 times in 120 games. In the end, Sanchez would have been an expensive reserve infielder, projected to make $6.2 million in arbitration.

Alex Colome

There are certain corners of the White Sox internet that look at Colome’s second-half splits and lack of strikeouts and see doom coming around the bend. Indeed, Colome did fare much worse after the All-Star break than he did before it, with a 3.91 ERA and a frightening .265/.347/.422 slash line against in the second half after posting a 2.02 ERA and holding hitters to a .127/.194/.288 line in the first half. Is that worth a projected $10.3 million? That’s the decision the White Sox face.

But Colome has been one of the more productive ninth-inning men in baseball in recent seasons, even if the second half of 2019 didn’t look so good. Since the start of the 2016 season, he’s posted a 2.78 ERA and saved 126 games, a total that would be significantly higher if not for his playing setup man for the majority of 2018.

In a 2019 season featuring plenty of problems from the rotation and lineup, the bullpen was a reliable unit for the White Sox, with a 4.31 ERA that ranked seventh in the American League, behind only the five playoff teams and the Cleveland Indians, who narrowly missed the postseason. Stability at the back end with Colome and Aaron Bummer is a good thing to head into 2020 with, especially with so many other holes that need filling on the roster. The White Sox likely don’t want to add potentially expensive bullpen help to their offseason to-do list.

James McCann

The White Sox tendering McCann a contract is a no-brainer, but he’s been talked about an awful lot since the team inked free-agent catcher Yasmani Grandal to the richest contract it’s ever given out a couple weeks ago. McCann doesn’t figure to go anywhere, even with another All-Star backstop now ahead of him on the depth chart. McCann was a heck of a find by Rick Hahn last offseason, and having two good catchers is better than having one, especially considering the lineup permutations Rick Renteria might be forced to come up with if the White Sox front office opts for a DH rotation of Grandal, McCann, Jose Abreu and Zack Collins.

But McCann will be talked about on a variety of levels as the offseason goes on, too. If the White Sox could sell high on a guy who made the All-Star team last season – but who also batted just .226/.281/.413 in the second half – would they take that opportunity? Or will McCann stay on and serve as a personal catcher of sorts for Lucas Giolito after the duo had such incredible success in 2019? The White Sox have options, but no matter which path they end up traveling down with McCann, they’ll almost surely do so after tendering him a contract Monday.

Yolmer Sanchez Jersey White Sox

The Chicago White Sox declined to tender a 2020 contract to Gold Glove-winning second baseman Yolmer Sánchez, making him an unrestricted free agent.

Sánchez, who beat out New York’s DJ LeMahieu and Houston’s José Altuve for the prize in November, could still re-sign with the White Sox, but the team has opted not to give him a significant pay bump from his 2019 salary and has paved the way for him to potentially seek opportunities elsewhere.

The White Sox also announced that they declined to tender contracts to Ryan Burr and Caleb Frare, making them free agents. Right-handed pitcher Thyago Vieira was also released by the team to pursue playing opportunities in Japan, according to the team.

The White Sox said that all remaining players who were eligible for contracts were tendered offers, including reliever Alex Colomé, pitchers Carlos Rodon and Evan Marshall, and utilityman Leury García.

The roster moves leave the White Sox 40-man roster at 36 players.

Bo Jackson Jersey White Sox

I’m going to take a one-week sabbatical from the five greatest Royals at each position to write a piece on baseball cards. Specifically, Royals baseball cards. I’d read something in one of the comment sections about how a reader missed the old days of baseball cards. If you’re over the age of 45 you can relate.

Back in the day, you’d go to your local Five and Dime or grocery store and buy a pack (or three) for a piddly amount of change. When I started collecting, way back in 1968, as I recall a pack would set me back a nickel. Plus, you’d get a stick of pink gum, usually covered in some sort of white gum dust, which often would stain the first card of every pack. You’d get ten cards in each pack and if you wanted to complete a set, you had to buy a lot of packs.

For me, that meant I would have to mow a lot of yards and shovel snow off a lot of driveways before school in order to accumulate the cash necessary to complete a set. In 1975, I found an ad in the back of a baseball magazine advertising complete sets for sale. Eureka! For $12 I could order a complete set and not have to worry about getting 15 cards of Bill Gogolewski. You couldn’t get rid of Bill Gogolweski cards and there always seemed to be one in every pack I’d buy. Topps said they distributed all cards equally, but players like Gogolewski appeared far more often than the Mantles, Mays and Aaron’s of the world. You’d sit down with your friends to trade cards, trying to package together the best deal, but no one would take those Gogolewski cards.

So, I had my parents write a check for $12 (in exchange for my hard-earned cash) to a lady named Renata Galasso, somewhere in New Jersey or New York, and off it went in the mail. I can remember my dad saying, “You’ll never see that $12 again.” But lo and behold, about three weeks later, a UPS truck pulled up to the house and delivered my 1975 set. Wow! What a deal! I’d put on the Beach Boys album “Surfer girl”, the summer of 1975 being my Beach Boys phase, and play simulated baseball games of my own making with my newly acquired set. Plus, the 1975 set had the rookie card of George Brett. That was a great summer.

I collected hard from about 1969 to that glorious summer of 1975, then my collecting got sidetracked by the fumes. Car fumes and perfume, specifically. Soon college came, then real life: a job, marriage, kids, a mortgage, car payments. You know the drill. My cards sat idle for many years, in a box in my parents’ basement. Thankfully my mom did not throw them out, which was a fate that met many a man’s childhood card collection. I eventually picked up my boxes of cards, much to the delight of my parents, who were happy to have freed up the extra storage space.

In 1987, my wife and I attended a Royals game, and the team gave out these cool little books, sponsored by Surf laundry detergent, that had pictures and a description of every year of Royals cards up to that point. I’ve kept this book over the years and just recently found it, again, after unpacking some boxes of stuff. I loved it when it came out and I love it now. In addition to the card descriptions, the book also had a page on the team batting and pitching leaders, a page of the pitching and batting numbers of every player to play for the Royals, a couple of pages describing the highlights of each Topps set going back to 1951 and a page with the cards of the members of the Royals Hall of Fame. All five of them. Howser, Busby, Otis, Splittorff and Rojas. Here are the year by year highlights of those sets:

1969 – The expansion Royals got 27 cards in this set. About half of the players in the set are either wearing a hat from another team, that has been blacked out, or no hat at all. Roger Nelson is clearly wearing a Chicago White Sox uniform. The Royals star that year, Lou Piniella, was featured on the Seattle Pilots 1969 Rookie Stars card, his acquisition coming so late that Topps was unable to show him as a Royal. There was also a card of a pitcher named Dennis Ribant. Never heard of him before or since.

1970 – This set featured 29 Royal cards, including their first team card. Most of the players are in Royal uniform, with the exception of Piniella, Bill Butler, Pat Kelly, manager Charlie Metro and the newly acquired Amos Otis.

1971 – The 1971 set featured 35 Royals including the Rookie card of Paul Splittorff and the first Royal card of Cookie Rojas. This was the first set to feature the players autograph on the front of the card and several of the cards had pictures of the player taken “in action”. Most of these early years featured a player who would invariably play very little for the team, if at all, now hereby known as Mr. Irrelevant. In 1971, there were three of them, a first baseman named John Matias, an outfielder named George Spriggs and an infielder named Rich Severson. The Topps photographer and staff would try to guess which players might make the roster and make cards of them. If they guessed wrong, you ended up with a card of some guy playing in Omaha.

1972 – This set, with an attractive psychedelic font, featured 33 Royals. The 1972 set was massive, 787 cards total, and in those days the cards were issued in series, with the first series issued in the spring while the last series or two would be issued in the late summer. This created a problem with collectors as many stores would stop carrying baseball cards in August and move on to football cards. Consequently, the later series, the high number cards, would be hard to find and are now more valuable due to that scarcity and the 1972 set was one of those sets. The 1972 Royals set featured the debut card of John Mayberry. In a strange twist, there was also a Royals card for Jim York and Lance Clemons, the two players traded for Mayberry.

1973 – Topps went back to their standard 660 card set in 1973 and the Royals had 26 cards in the set. The design of the set was mostly uninspiring, except for an awesome card of “Freddie” (not “Fred”) Patek turning a double play. This was the first year that Topps’ graphic artist tried their hand at painting a KC on the cap of newly acquired Royals. Wayne Simpson got a card, but Hal McRae, acquired in the same trade, did not. This years Mr. Irrelevant was an infielder named Jose Arcia.

1974 – the 1974 set, also 660 cards, featured 28 Royals including the first-year card of Steve Busby. The set also featured the last card of original Royal Lou Piniella. Eight of the Royals were sporting mod mustaches, including Paul Splittorff and one of my favorite Royals, Dirty Kurt Bevacqua. Mr. Irrelevant was another infielder acquired in the off-season, Fernando Gonzalez.

1975 – Another 660-card set, but only featured 24 Royals. This was a good-looking set with bright colors. Topps went back to the autograph after a three-year hiatus. The 1975 set featured the rookie cards of Al Cowens, Frank White and George Brett, which became the most valuable card in the set. Amos Otis was featured in the first card which had a picture taken in Royals Stadium. Previously, most of the pictures used in the cards were taken in spring training or at other ballparks, usually Yankee Stadium. Topps was also getting better at managing the roster, as there was no Mr. Irrelevant in 1975.

1976 – Sticking with the 660-card set, Topps cut the Royals down to 23 cards in 1976. This set featured the first-year card of Dennis Leonard and a comical repainting of off-season acquisition Dave Nelson’s hat. With only 22 players featured (plus one team card) there was no Mr. Irrelevant for the second year in a row.

1977 – The 1977 set featured 25 Royals out of the 660-card set and included the first-year card of John Wathan. George Brett got two cards in this set. Mr. Irrelevant came back in the body of a pitcher named Ken Sanders. The set also featured the only Royal card of one of the all-time great hitters, Tommy Davis and the first Royal card of Larry Gura.

1978 – Topps expanded the 1978 set from 660 to 726, but only gave the 102-win Royals 27 cards. The set itself is kind of utilitarian and bland but did feature the first Royal card of Darrell Porter. There was no Mr. Irrelevant, as everyone in the set played a role on the 1978 team. The set also featured the last Royal card of John Mayberry.

1979 – Topps stayed with the 726-card set and once again gave Kansas City 27 entries. This was an attractive, somewhat undervalued set by design, and it featured several first-year cards such as Al Hrabosky and the rookie cards of Clint Hurdle, Rich Gale, Willie Wilson and U.L. Washington. Unfortunately, U.L. was not chewing on his toothpick when his picture was taken. No Mr. Irrelevant for the second year in a row.

1980 – This set featured 28 Royals (out of another 726-card set) and was a nice clean design as Topps brought back the autograph. The set featured the rookie card of Dan Quisenberry and the last Royal card of Steve Busby. Mr. Irrelevant returned as a pitcher named Eduardo Rodriguez.

1981 – The Royals got 28 cards once again in 1981 including a Brett brothers combo, George and Ken. Willie Wilson got two cards in this set and U.L. got one with a toothpick. Topps unfortunately went back to trying to paint the KC on hats with once again comical results. It’s amazing to see how graphics have advanced since the 1970’s and ‘80’s. No Mr. Irrelevant in 1981. Topps lost their monopoly on baseball cards in 1981 when Donruss and Fleer put out their first sets.

1982 – Topps went crazy this year and expanded the set to 792 cards. The Royals got 34 of those, including two more of the Brett brothers and a trio later known as the cocaine cowboys: Willie Aikens, Vida Blue and Jerry Martin. Pitcher Mike Jones was featured on a rookie card for the second year in a row and Mr. Irrelevant returned with pitcher Dave Frost.

1983 – The year of “The Pine Tar Game.” Topps stayed with their monster 792 card sets and Kansas City got 33 cards. It was a strange card design with two pictures of the player on the front of the card. Several Royals got two cards: Brett, Gura, Quisenberry, Wathan and Lee May. Dave Frost got a card, and Mr. Irrelevant for the second year in a row, as he didn’t play a single inning for the 1983 team.

1984 – This is the first year I noticed that Topps was getting cheap on the cards. The cardboard was a little thinner and not as glossy as past years. In the 792-card set, Kansas City got a new high of 37 cards, including the rookie card for Bret Saberhagen. It also had the first Royal card of Steve “Bye-Bye” Balboni and the last Royal card of Paul Splittorff. Topps stayed with the two pictures on the front design. No Mr. Irrelevant in 1984.

1985 – A must have set for Royal fans, if only because of the first World Series title. Topps issued 792 cards again and Kansas City got 30 of them. The cards design was basic. Dan Quisenberry got two cards and it appears that Topps used the same photo for both cards. The set featured the rookie card of Mark Gubicza. There was no Mr. Irrelevant, though I thought Butch Davis might take the mantle. Turns out Mr. Davis had an eight-year career with five teams.

1986 – The Royals came in with 32 cards in the 1986 set of 792. This was a boring card set. I can’t even think of anything to say about the set. There were no rookies to speak of and Mr. Irrelevant would fall to Mike LaCoss, who pitched in 21 games that summer.

1987 – Finally the last year in the book. The Royals got 32 of the 792 cards in the set. The design was very different, with a wood grain border. There were several significant cards in this set: The last card for Dick Howser and the last card of Hal McRae as a player. The set also included the rookie cards of Kevin Seitzer and Bo Jackson. I was going to award our final Mr. Irrelevant to Argenis Salazar. Then I checked his baseball reference page and realized he went by the name of Angel Salazar and played 233 games for the Royals.

So, there it is, the first 19 years of Royals baseball cards all packed into one small book. If you have any special baseball card memories, share them with us.hist

Ray Schalk Jersey White Sox

As the White Sox celebrate Spirit Day at the ballpark today, it’s also been noted that today is the 126th birthday of Sox Hall of Fame catcher Ray Schalk.
Schalk is not well known to most White Sox fans. He died in 1970. His number is not retired by the team. With a .253 batting average, he has the lowest career average of any position player who currently sits in the Hall of Fame (Schalk was elected in 1955).

Yet in one of the darkest moments for not only the White Sox franchise but baseball in general, Schalk stood tall.

In 1919, the Chicago White Sox were heavy favorites to defeat the Cincinnati Reds in the World Series. However, the events surrounding that World Series have made it one of the most infamous in baseball history.

Several of the White Sox players conspired with gamblers to lose the World Series. While the reasons for this have long been debated – ranging from players feeling underappreciated and underpaid to simply being greedy – there is no doubt that the events occurred. In the falling out, then commissioner Kennesaw Mountain Landis banned eight White Sox players for life.

In 1963, Eliot Asinof wrote a book about the scandal entitled, Eight Men Out: The Black Sox and the 1919 World Series. 25 years later, Hollywood called and decided to make a movie about the subject. Thus, Eight Men Out was released on Sept. 2, 1988.

During the film’s exposition, we as viewers are introduced to two of the characters responsible for helping to set up the fix among White Sox players – “Sleepy” Bill Burns and Billy Maharg. As the two men talk about which players would be most likely to go along with the scheme, various players are named along with an explanation of why they would or wouldn’t be willing to go along with it. However, when Maharg brings up Ray Schalk’s name, all “Sleepy” Bill Burns has to say is, “Not a prayer”.

By all historical accounts, Schalk played to win the 1919 World Series. Some might argue that it played a role in him getting into the Hall of Fame, as voters may have felt that he deserved extra credit for staying true to being a team player while many around him sought to do otherwise.

Yet even if you were to dismiss the 1919 World Series, Schalk’s production was arguably good enough to warrant a spot in Cooperstown.

Based on an article written by Brian Stevens of the renowned Society for American Baseball Research, Schalk’s Wikipedia page summarizes that, “He revolutionized the way the catching position was played by using his speed and agility to expand the previously accepted defensive capabilities for his position.” Notably, “In 1916 [sic] Schalk established the single-season stolen-base record for catchers with 30, a mark not broken until 1982, when John Wathan swiped 36 bags”.

Though playing in the Dead Ball Era probably contributed some to his success stealing bases, holding a record for 66 years is generally a sign of some pretty unique talent – especially since catchers are generally thought to not be very quick.

Today, you won’t hear much about Ray Schalk. He lived a relatively quiet life after retirement, never seeking special attention. He’s buried in the suburbs of Chicago – but unlike several legends – fans don’t flock to his gravestone, even when the Sox are playing well. However, in a moment where it can be said many betrayed the sport of baseball, Ray Schalk stood tall. On his 126th birthday, he deserves a little extra recognition for that.

C. J. Chatham Jersey Red Sox

Okay first off, did you see what I did there? Chatting with C.J. CHATham? That’s A-Grade comedy right there and I bet no one’s ever thought of that hilarious pun before. Definitely not.

Anyways, C.J. Chatham is one of the best prospects in the Boston Red Sox system and one of the most underrated in the league. The shortstop is an extremely consistent hitter (.298 in his career) and has had his best two years in 2018 and 2019.

I had a quick chat with him just to help fans get a little more acquainted with someone who could play a big role in the future of the Red Sox. For your reading pleasure, I’ll skip the small talk and just get to the questions.
Fast forward a little bit, you’re making your Fenway debut, what are you using as your walkup song?

“Love Scars x Lil Uzi *laughs* it’s a Soundcloud one.”

(Not going to lie, not an Uzi fan but I listened to it and it’s pretty solid. Personally, my walkup song would be Hip Hop x Joell Ortiz, Many Men x 50 Cent, Skool Daze x Wale or G Code x Geto Boys).
Who were your baseball heroes growing up?

“Derek Jeter”

Did you imitate his game?

“Not really, he didn’t really do anything too flashy. More of just he did everything right and was a leader.”

(For me it was Nomar Garciaparra. I rocked the number and did the whole batting routine. Then I’d strikeout).
Favorite baseball moment so far?

“(Juan) Centeno’s walk-off grand slam in extras this year. That was really cool to be a part of, and it was right before he got called up (to the Majors). Other than that, for me personally, probably just a few games at FAU.”

What’s it like being a shortstop prospect on a team with Xander Bogaerts? You played a little second base this year. Do you think you could step into that role if needed?

“Don’t look at that much. Whatever happens, happens. Can’t control anything like that. I’ll play anywhere honestly. This is more than I ever wanted. I’m working on second in the Fall League. Hoping to get that down, master it more.”

(He’s definitely looked strong at second base. Something the Red Sox should monitor as they’ll need an answer there starting next year).
Injuries in 2016 and 2017 forced you to fall down the prospect list. Do you feel you’ve had to reprove and reestablish yourself over the last two years? Do you think you have reestablished yourself?

“Definitely feel like I did have to prove myself and I have. I’ve been working on power and stuff and stuff like that. I had more extra-base hits this year than ever before. So I’m making progress, getting better in a lot of areas of my game.”

(Chatham hit a career-high 31 doubles this year and tied a high with five homers).
You hit .337 with runners in scoring position this season. Do you change your approach at all?

“Not really. It’s just focus. I like playing in front of people, you know. I like the height of the situation.”

Scouting Chatham and what his future holds

Chatham had his best year in the minors in 2019. He hit .298 between Double-A and Triple-A with 31 doubles, one triple, and five home runs. The 24-year-old drove in 46 runs and scored 50 more, stealing seven bases in eight attempts.

He puts the bat on the ball and keeps strikeouts to a minimum. Meanwhile, the glove is real and should actually play very nicely at second base. Personally, I would love to see him get a serious look there in the Majors next season.