If you could pick a past-his-prime White Sox who never was, who would it be?
I was having a baseball discussion the other day about what former player in my lifetime would I have liked to have seen with the White Sox. Even if it was at the end of that player's career. And he was a shell of his former self.
I thought about it for a few minutes until I found my answer. Out of all of the players I've seen in my lifetime, the one guy that I wish was at any time a member of the White Sox was Rickey Henderson.
It was a tough call. Reggie Jackson? Cecil Fielder? Doc Gooden? Darryl Strawberry? Barry Bonds? All would be wonderful choices. I picked Rickey, though. Imagine if he appeared at a SoxFest! What a great seminar he would put on. He bounced around a whole bunch at the end of his career, but never found his way to the South Side. It would have been amazing if he did.
The White Sox have signed a bunch of former All-Star players in my time. Here are some of my favorites:
Aug. 12, 1986: The White Sox signed 41-year-old Steve Carlton, who was released by the Giants earlier in the week. "Lefty," who was one of the best pitchers of all time, actually performed pretty well for the White Sox, going 4-3 with a 3.69 ERA in his 10 starts. Carlton would pitch two more seasons, but we got to see the last of the bullets he had left in his arm.
Aug. 15, 1986: The White Sox signed George Foster, who was released by the Mets a week earlier. Foster, who led the National League in homers in 1977 and 1978 and was the National League MVP in '77, was now 37 years old. He went on to hit .216/.259/.353 in 54 plate appearances before the Sox released him on Sept. 7. Foster never played in the majors again.
Jan. 22, 1996: The White Sox sent Charles Poe and Andrew Lorraine to the Oakland Athletics for outfielder Danny Tartabull. Tartabull had some big seasons for the Kansas City Royals and New York Yankees in the late '80s and early '90s. He even earned himself an appearance on "Seinfeld." In 1995, though, he struggled. Tartabull was injured and spent the season between the Yankees and A's where he combined to hit .236/.335/.379. The White Sox, who were looking to get back in the thick of things after a rough 1995, traded for the veteran. Tartabull went on to have his final season in the sun, giving the Sox a .254/.340/.487 line with 27 home runs. He moved on to the Phillies after the White Sox signed Albert Belle for 1997, and only appeared in three games, going 0-for-7. He never played again.
Jan. 9, 1998: The White Sox signed Ruben Sierra. There was a time when Sierra was one of the best players in the game in the late '80s and early '90s. The four-time All-Star was bouncing around the league in the mid 1990s and found his way to the South Side in 1998. He hit .216/.247/.459 in 77 plate appearances for the Sox. The coolest part about it, though, was that he appeared at SoxFest that year and I snagged his autograph. Sierra eventually found a bit of his former success, as he hit .291/.322/.561 for Texas in 2001. His last season came in 2006 at the age of 40 as a member of the Minnesota Twins.
June 21, 2001: The White Sox purchased Jose Canseco from Newark of the International League. With Frank Thomas out for the season, the defending AL Central champs were hoping the Bash Brother would help fill the hole left by Thomas. Canseco did pretty well as he hit .258/.366/.477 with 16 home runs in 306 plate appearances. The Sox ultimately fell out of the race and Canseco's at-bats were unfortunately given to Jeff Liefer, but it was cool to see Jose blast a few moonshots in a White Sox jersey. On a side note, this signing caused me to break up with a girlfriend. We had plans to go to a Sox game, but when I picked her up she didn't want to go and instead wanted to go to eat and watch a movie. I remember watching "Planet of the Apes" while being highly irked that I missed the Sox game. When we got out to the car, I heard that Canseco hit two homers that night. That was the final straw. She was history.
July 31, 2008: The White Sox traded Danny Richar and Nick Masset to the Reds for Ken Griffey Jr. I know he wasn't the same when he was with the Sox ... but holy hell was it cool to see him in a Sox jersey. The fact that one of the highlights of the season was Griffey throwing out Michael Cuddyer at home plate to preserve the lead in the Blackout Game, made it even cooler. I still rock my No. 17 Griffey jersey.
Aug. 30, 2010: The White Sox claimed Manny Ramirez off of waivers. Trying to make a push for the postseason, the Sox claimed Manny. He hit .261/.420/.319 with only one homer in 88 at-bats.
Some of these moves worked out better than others, but in each case it was neat seeing those players in a White Sox jersey.
I know some people may think it is either a publicity stunt or trying to catch lightning in a bottle five years too late, but I always enjoyed when the White Sox acquired a former star, even if it is at the tail end of their career. It saddens me that Frank Thomas had to hold out hope that a team would offer him a deal before he officially retired a year later. I think Jermaine Dye can still go, yet has been retired for a few years now. I was happy when Miguel Tejada got one final shot this winter when the Royals gave him a minor-league deal. I wish Vladimir Guerrero can get that shot. Jim Thome is still trying to catch on. I'm not suggesting the White Sox go after him, but it saddens me he can't score a deal somewhere. He was passable last year.
So let me hear it. Who is a now retired player that you saw in your lifetime that you wish would have worn a Sox jersey at one point in his career? How about a current player that you hope may one day play for the Sox?