Minneapolis Red Sox has my quick take on the arrival of Ken Griffey Jr. to the White Sox organization here, although I seem to be in the minority of fans of seeing this as a generally positive move. I’m planning an expanded special take on Griffey and the White Sox over the next week, but until then, here are some links to tide you over for the weekend:

(1) Junior Mint (Slate.com) – If there’s one thing that people my age (yes, I turned 30 earlier this year) will remember about Ken Griffey Jr., it’s that 1989 Upper Deck No. 1 is the iconic baseball card of our generation. This great piece from Darren Rovell is a couple of months old (I’ve been meaning to comment on it for awhile and this Griffey trade provided a perfect opening), but it brings up some interesting questions of how a baseball card that could very well be the most widely held of all-time can still command $275 in the open market. The arrival of Upper Deck was a seismic change in the sports memorabilia market, where “premium” cards became all the rage. Of course, so many of these premium cards flooded the market (and fewer mothers, who heard the horror stories from their husbands of housecleanings from yesteryear where 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle cards were thrown in the trash, got rid of them) that the boxes of baseball cards that I have stored in my basement have lost value in non-inflation-adjusted dollars over the past 15 years (much less looking at real dollars taking into account inflation). (Mental Floss recently had a nice quiz about what some prominent baseball and basketball cards are now worth according to Beckett – it turns out I would have been better off sinking everything that I had into Enron stock.) Nonetheless, buying up Upper Deck packs in the hopes of finding the Griffey rookie card back in 1989 was my childhood version of playing craps way too long at the Bellagio – I probably spent every extra penny I had on baseball cards at the time, yet I never found Upper Deck No. 1. However, if you’re interested in a stack of Todd Van Poppel rookie cards, feel free to give me a call.

(2) Illinois’ Jamar Smith Violates Probation By Drinking Again (NCAA Basketball FanHouse) – The horrific saga of Jamar Smith and the Illini has come to the end. Bruce Weber did what he had to do in kicking Smith off of the team – the fact that Smith even had a chance to come back to the team in the first place after the Brian Carlwell incident was considered to be suspect. Unfortunately, this guarantees that there’s going to be some more ugly on-the-court play for Illini basketball until Alex Legion is able to come into the mix in January. More and more, we look like an NIT-bubble team as opposed to even having a reasonable shot at the NCAA Tournament this season.

(3) Breaking Down the Preseason Top 25 (USA Today) – We are a little less than a month away from the start of college football season, but the first impression roses are already being handed out by the coaches. Illinois starts out at #19, which seems about right considering that our running game is probably going to take a step back with the loss of Zook kryptonite Rashard Mendenhall to the NFL but the defense brining back a more seasoned Martez Wilson (there’s a flash of him mowing down Chase Daniel in the EA Sports NCAA Football ’09 commercial). The Big Ten is getting the “Ohio State and everybody else” treatment again, with the Buckeyes at #3 and the next conference members being Wisconsin at #12, us at #19, Penn State at #22 and Michigan at #24. My initial feeling is that Ohio State is going to make the national title game once again with so many starters coming back again (Georgia is going down at some point), but I’ll put together a more in-depth preview in a couple of weeks.

And finally…

(4) All Favre, All The Time (Windy City Gridiron) – Normally, I’d be all over the news coming out of Bears training camp at this time of year, but I’ve been avoiding it because of stories such as this. That being said, someone did bring up this comparison to the Brett Favre situation that hit some items for me personally: what if the Bulls had told Michael Jordan that they didn’t want him back in 1995 because they were committed to Steve Kerr as their long-term solution at shooting guard? Could you have imagined the hysteria in Chicago if the Bulls organization had used that logic? Granted, I find a number of flaws in this analogy, since MJ had a lot more productive years ahead of him at that time (as shown by three more championship rings) than Favre does now and, most importantly, MJ retired the first time around in the aftermath of his father being murdered as opposed to being a d-bag for five years straight of holding an organization hostage every offseason about his retirement plans. However, the point is well-taken with respect to any reactions that might come from Packers fans (as misguided as they might be in general).

Have a great weekend and go Sox!

(Image from Mental Floss)

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