There's absolutely no way to top last year's post on the #SoxLove campaign, but we're still going to try to have some fun with it. This delightful gimmick involves the White Sox creating a series of Valentine's Day cards for fans to share with loved ones. I like this promotion a great deal because I'm a sucker for a good pun and it's fun to see players do some goofy, lighthearted stuff, particularly during a time when there's no baseball activities going on.
The cards generally feature a picture of a White Sox player and a Valentine's-themed pun based off of that player. There's a few real clunkers in there, which is understandable for an exercise such as this, but some of them are also really great, so kudos to the marketing team for their efforts.
In all, 20 cards were created this year and in the spirit of Valentine's Day, we're going to rank them.
Getting "obviously" out of "Avi-osly" is not that bad at all, but let's consider the real problems here. Garcia is gazing listlessly into the distance in no direction in particular. There's no sense of love, happiness, or even baseball-player toughness in his face, he just looks flat-out bored. Add in that he's been the whipping boy of the White Sox offseason and the spelling error of leaving the 'u' out of "osly" and yeah, this card is the Jose Paniagua of #SoxLove.
They thought they fooled us good with this one. "Let's get a picture of Alex Avila in his chest protector so we don't have to find a way to get a White Sox jersey on him." Look closely just above the belt. See those two little vertical lines? They look an awful lot like the ones seen here. Yup. This is a Tigers jersey. A Tigers jersey in a White Sox marketing campaign. Disgraceful.
Either the pun works, or it doesn't. That parenthetical is simply gross and indicative that they're really trying to jam a square peg into a round hole here, and it's not too tough to come up with an easier pun on Cabrera's name, position, or baseball player attributes. Plus, nothing says "I love you" like someone shielding his eyes. The sunglasses could belie a genuinely affectionate countenance, but there's a distinct possibility that what appears to be a nice smile could actually be coming from a crazy-eyed maniac plotting to steal everything you own.
This one is less interesting than the ones that feature an actual person. It just seems like another chance to promote the new scoreboard.
Pitchers take signs from catchers. This card could have gone with any pitcher, and it's frankly insulting to Lt. Dan that they couldn't come up with something unique to him. It's as if he were fungible or something.
If this weren't part of a Valentine's Day card, it'd be tough to tell whether Hawk is smiling or scowling mightily because someone just suggested that your bullpen's only as good as your offense. The more I look at this photo, the more I am convinced that Ken Harrelson thinks I am the scum of the earth.
Let's set aside the fact that he's painfully squinting and doesn't seem too confident in the message he's delivering here. They chose what they did for Melky only to use the "out of left field" line on the extremely pun-able J.B. Shuck? Shuck only played 35 innings in left last season, fewest out of the three outfield positions. This isn't so much a bad card as it is extremely questionable fit and strategy.
Perfect for the wannabe tough guys who are completely non-threatening but want everyone to know that they're violent and territorial. You know, the type of guy who probably couldn't beat you up and steal your money (his punches would probably miss the target by a half-foot), but you'd rather not provoke him anyway because that would just turn into a whole thing, and it's not like you have anything to prove to him.
The pun could have used "tangled" or "entangled", but it's decent. Webb has a tough mound presence, but they managed to snap a photo of him looking like a brooding emo teenager who shed his Hot Topic clothes for a baseball uniform. The cold, empty stare hints that within him there's an unrelenting sadness buried deeper than Webb's name on the reliever depth chart.
Jose Abreu: "A 79 out of 10? Hmmm...that's good. A little too good, if you ask me. Color me entirely suspicious of your scale-shattering person score."
John Danks is staring into your soul and now knows you better than you know yourself. As it turns out, you think he's a perfectly consistent, fine fifth starter and that it'd be crazy to waste gobs of precious internet space complaining about him filling that role. Psychic Danks approves of your deepest thoughts and expresses appreciation for your kind, responsible feelings towards his pitching.
The designers had their work cut out for them with Quintana, so I can forgive the manufactured wording. Mostly this one is awesome because it's great to see the typically straight-faced Quintana smiling. It brings happy thoughts to the imagination, like him throwing a complete game shutout in game two of the World Series, or, less likely, his offense giving him enough firepower to get that elusive tenth win in the regular season.
Frazier's a laid-back guy and this card perfectly fits everything we know about him. Yeah, he's got himself a collared shirt, but he's not uptight enough for collar buttons. He's got what appears to be sunglasses just hanging around in there for the photo and the lighting is such that it almost looks like two different shirts photoshopped together. He doesn't look like he was ready for a picture at all and the quip even involves him pretending not to know what to say. Yet, the Toddfather pulls it off.
Robertson brings his confident, 70-grade stare and plus-plus demeanor to this one. The photo fits the message, which is all business and is adamant that it lacks any wordplay whatsoever. This card should provide great relief for those whose Valentine's Day gift search is throwing them a curveball; it should surely help them close the deal.
They did a great job getting Lawrie's name worked into the wordplay, and we get to see a softer side of the typically brash Canadian. The face Lawrie puts on here hints at some hidden acting chops, though I suppose it's possible he's daydreaming about hitting a grand slam off of Kelvin Herrera or pondering an appropriate eye black budget for the upcoming season. In any case, a successful White Sox marketing debut for the new second-sacker.
Though there is something distinctly creepy about the thought of someone being caught in an infinite "be my Valentine" loop, who wouldn't want to be reminded of Chris Sale's White Sox record of 274 strikeouts in a season and how much they are loved simultaneously? It's a double-whammy of happy feels. Next year, they better bake "Condor" into this someplace.
Sure, there's the minor grammatical "written"/"wrote" issue, but major points for creativity. This is the only valentine in which the card is superimposed over some of the player's body, so it actually looks like Rodon is holding up a giant Valentine's Day card while looking over his shoulder at the recipient with a sly, knowing glance. You couldn't reject someone who gave you this if you tried.
Eaton is the White Sox' most marketable player, so there was little question he was going to rank pretty high. Look at the confident posture and the level of interest and focus in that gaze. It's like he's greedily eyeing the cavernous gaps at Kauffman Stadium and Jeremy Guthrie's on the mound. Eaton looks like he'd run through a wall for whomever he's staring at; the White Sox should probably tell him not to.
Yes, the phrasing is a bit of a retread (they used "Don't stop short of loving me" for Alexei Ramirez last year) because c'mon, look at Saladino. The guy's bubbly-happy with his head in the clouds. If this photo doesn't capture the spirit of Valentine's Day, I'm not sure what does. Part of that happiness may have to do with the White Sox' general aversion to adding a shortstop, but I'll give Tyler plenty of credit for giving this his all and getting into the spirit of the promotion. He's a real team player and it's obvious what Robin Ventura sees in him.
The marketing team really nailed it with this one. The pun is excellent, and then there's Navarro looking positively teddybearish with a jolly disposition. Dioner's got the friendly appearance of the stocky, visually-impaired everyman. He's even wearing jeans! This could be a catcher for the White Sox, or the guy standing in front of me in the line at Gate 3 complaining about the catcher for the White Sox. Navarro's card is perfect enough to be framed. I wouldn't ask him to do it, though.
Happy Valentine's Day from South Side Sox!