Monday, April 4, 2016

It's MLB's Opening Day (or Was that Yesterday)!!!

Work keeps me busy and away from this humble, little blog. I do have drafts of articles I want to post on here, but then a project comes up, so reality comes first and the blog goes back to the back burner.

But that's last month. Spring Training is now over. Yesterday, six teams started their 162-game quest to reach the postseason. Today, eighteen teams do the same (two games have already been postponed thanks to the snowstorms in the east coast).

Hobby wise, I've been keeping track of the comings and goings. I joined Topps Bunt this year and have a decent amount of cards so far. I'm having fun with it and as crazy as it sounds, I'm going to try for a complete "virtual" set of 2016 cards. I've also joined the contests...okay one anyway. Thanks to my 9-card lineup, I have a grand total of 840 on the scoreboard (heavy on Cardinals...they lost, right?). Should have picked Liriano as one of my cards instead of Wainwright. Trying again today, so wish me luck.

Regarding MLB Debuts in 2016, on Opening Day, two players took the field for the first time in a MLB uniform:

Jeremy Hazelbaker, an outfielder who joined the Cardinals after a seven-season career in the minor leagues (with Boston, Los Angeles, and St. Louis). He was added to the Cardinals' roster after Ruben Tejeda was placed on the DL. He appeared in the seventh inning, leading off as a pinch hitter for Adam Wainwright, striking out in five pitches against the Pirates' star reliever Tony Watson.

With Wainwright now out of the game, the Cardinals sent Seung-hwan Oh, an eleven-year veteran of the Korean and Japanese baseball leagues, to pitch the bottom of the seventh. He faced five batters, walking Matt Joyce, inducing John Jaso to ground out 4-3, walked Andrew McCutchen, and struck out David Freese (looking) and Starling Marte (swinging).

Hazelbaker does not have any Topps produced MiLB cards. His only cardboard appearances were back in 2009, with autographed cards in the 2009 Donruss Elite Extra Edition set. He also appears in the 2009 TRISTAR Prospects Plus set.

Oh signed with the Cardinals as a free agent in January. He already had a storied career in both Korea (seven-time All-Star, Rookie of the Year 2005, five-time KBO Relief Man Award) and Japan (All-Star 2015, CLCS MVP 2014), In eleven seasons in both leagues, he has recorded 357 saves, a 1.81 ERA, and 10.7 strikeouts per nine innings in 646.1 IP. He was also on the 2006 Korean Team for the World Baseball Classic. He has no baseball cards in the US.

It's going to be a great year for baseball in Chicago. There are extremely high expectations on both sides of town. Should be a lot of fun.

Are you ready?


JayBee Anama

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Éirinn go brách! Celebrating at Home...Again.

For those wondering what happened to me, I'm still here. Work has been extremely busy, and that's a good thing.

Some quick Hobby Notes:

I have completed my 2016 Topps Master set. With all of the Heritage hub bub lately, I take comfort knowing that the Gypsy Queen (the 2016 edition anyway) will set sail soon.

There is a big card show this weekend down the street from my house. Do I plan on buying stuff? Maybe. I'm hoping to get a lot of free stuff. But more importantly, I'm there to feel the environment. I love these big card shows. I love watching the people. I might not go for the autographs, but to see fathers (and mothers) with their sons (and daughters) sharing the Hobby we all love, makes me appreciate all that is good about it.

But I digress.

Today is St. Patrick's Day. It is the day that honors St. Patrick, who is the patron saint of Ireland. It also commemorates the arrival of Christianity to the Emerald Isle. In fact, it is said (thanks Wikipedia) that he used shamrocks to explain the Holy Trinity.

My family will be enjoying boiled corned beef brisket with all the veggies (potatoes, carrots, cabbage) tonight. I would like to apologize to my sister...AGAIN...because we will not be able to join her and the rest of the family for dinner (it's a school night, there are still dance classes happening). Meanwhile, I've been playing Irish music on the computer all afternoon, just to get into the mood.

If anybody says, "Top of the morning to you," to you today, make sure to respond in kind, "And the rest of the day to yourself."

Public Service Announcement (as my wife just said that she found the Bailey's): As you celebrate St. Patrick's Day, please remember to celebrate responsibly.

Now for the baseball portion of the program. If you're wondering, while there are many baseball players of Irish descent, 47 native-born Irish men made at least one appearance in the majors.
The last native born Irish player was Joe Cleary. Born in County Cork, Cleary only appeared in one game (08/04/1945) in 0.1 inning of work for the Washington Senators. But in that eventful inning, he struck out one batter (the good news), but allowed five hits, three walks, and seven earned runs to score. Saving time for the math, but seven runs in 1/3 innings equals an ERA of 189.

So now, a quick toast to everyone, Irish or just-for-the-day:

May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind be at your back.
May your cards collections grow to unmeasurable heights in both volume and value.
May the quest for new cards be swift.
May the journey of life treat you well today and always.
And may a certain North Side baseball team win it all this year (just have a decent season...please).
If you catch my drift.



JayBee Anama

Thursday, February 11, 2016

The Philippines in the World Baseball Classic...2016 Edition!!!

In 2012, the Philippines, that hotbed of baseball in Asia, was invited to participate in a four-team qualifying round where the country that wins this six-game round-robin schedule, would go on to the 16-team World Baseball Classic tournament.

Okay, so hotbed isn't really the word. But listen, after the Americans introduced the Filipinos to the game during the Spanish-American War, the Philippines won the first Asian Baseball Championships in 1954. The game, however, faded in popularity, with basketball the number one team sport on the islands. But baseball is making a comeback, thanks in part to Filpino teams winning gold medals in the 2005 and 2011 Southeast Asian Games.

The WBC Philippines team shocked the world by beating Johnny Damon (yes, THAT Johnny Damon) and team Thailand in their first game (proudly recalled in this post back after it happened). And although they did eventually lose to squads from Chinese Taipei and New Zealand, a third place showing did in fact give the powers that be to give the Philippines another shot at getting to the games.

This week, the Philippines, along with Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, are competing amongst themselves for one spot in the tournament that takes place in 2017. Team Aussie will be their first opponents, which should be a challenge for the Filipino team. Australia has participated in EVERY WBC since 2006 and doesn't plan on taking next year off.

So who is on Team Philippines? Any major leaguers with ties to "The Pearl of the Orient?" The YES!!!

Tim Hulett, a MLB player from 1983-1995 and has been a minor league manager (presently with the Rangers Short-A team in Spokane) after his playing days, was tabbed to manage Team Philippines.

Clay Rapada, a journeyman left-hander who last appeared in the majors in 2013, leads a pitching staff of 13. In seven seasons, Rapada has a cumulative record of 8-0, with a 4.06 ERA, 82 strikeouts, and a WHIP of 1.366 in seven MLB seasons.

Chris Aguila, one of six outfielders on the team, played for both the Marlins and the Mets in parts of four seasons. He hit 4 home runs, drove in 16 rbi's, to go with a .230 batting average and slash statistics (OBP/SLG/OPS) of .280/.343/.624.

Eric Fariss, who was in the majors from 2011-2012 and was recently in the minor league system of the Twins, is on the team as well.

There are presently two players on the team with MLB affiliations, one is Marlins farmhand Brad Haynal, a catcher, and the other is outfielder Angelo Songco, who has a Pro Debut card from 2010.

By the time this post comes out, the game would be long over (they lost 11-1 by the way).

Good luck to Team Philippines the rest of the way.



JayBee Anama

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

It's Opening Day!!! Really!!! 2016 Topps is Live!!!

It's Opening Day ladies and gentlemen.

No, pitchers and catchers don't report to their spring training sites until later this month. But that doesn't mean that baseball season is not upon us.

The official street date for 2016 Topps Baseball cards is today. And guess what my big box store had on their shelves this morning?

That's right, a five pack of Harpers!!!

Series 1's cover boy is Bryce Harper (golf clap). And the store near me had 12 packs, 36 packs, 72 card boxes, etc. They also had 2015 Topps Team sets of the White Sox and Dodgers (Dodgers...really??!), so there's that.

But that doesn't matter. The new stuff is out now, and the Bay has already been inundated with auctions and BIN's for every card imaginable. I'm going to wait until next week to see if any master sets are around to avoid temptation of hitting the "Buy it Now" button.

For now, though, I'm going to start ripping a couple of packs of this stuff, and save a pack or two for my nephew, who, if you haven't heard by now, had asked me about collecting baseball cards. To answer a couple of questions:

Jeff, his dad is a White Sox fan (eh, what do you expect from in-laws). He seems to be pulling for them, although his mom, my sister, has been trying to get him to the light side of the force (the Cubs). I plan on getting him some packs of 2016 and a few packs of 2015 that I can find. He's a pretty bright kid, but I don't want to overwhelm him with everything about the Hobby. I figure start with the basics, teaching him the joys of reading card backs and how to calculate statistics (that's how I learned). And then go from there. I also have a couple of Kris Bryant and Carlos Correa cards for him, you know, for investment...(ha).

So, what is my first card of the 2016 campaign going to be???

Drumroll please...

My first card from 2016...Nick Ahmed #211

Okay, that was a bit anti-climactic.

The borderless look is something I'm going to have to get used to. The only sense of a border could be the "smoke" filter on the corners of the card. Upon first glance, it looks like smudges on a picture. You can make out certain shapes in the smoke (a rectangle, a letter A). It's like a "find-it" page in the Highlights for Kids magazines (first time I've used that reference...EVER). While the "smoke" effect is a bit distracting, taking away focus on the really crisp pictures, it does give the pictures a bit of a painted look as well. It's like an unfinished Bob Ross painting, just needing to put a few more crisscross strokes of pthalo green to complete the lower half of the picture. Like other designs that I wasn't to fond of in the beginning, this is going to grow on me, and I'll come around. While it's a groundbreaking design for Topps, here's hoping that they go back to borders in 2017.

For those who want to know what the back of the card looks like, here you go:

It looks very similar to last year's card back, down to the Series One line on top of the card number. So, while that's not necessarily unprecedented, because other than a change in font above and below the stat box, it was pretty much the same thing in the late 80's - early 90's, it's kind of a downer.

So what else did I get in this first official pack of 2016?
  • #18 Francisco Rodriguez, Brewers
  • #99 Taijuan Walker, Mariners
  • #108 Ben Paulsen, Rockies
  • #332 Toronto Blue Jays team card
  • #P-21 Perspectives Cal Ripken Jr
  • #B2B-13 Back 2 Back Ted Williams / Bobby Doerr
  • #20 Andrew McCutchen, Pirates
  • #73 Ketel Marte, Mariners
  • #296 Yordano Ventura, Royals
  • #258 Devon Travis, Blue Jays Future Star
  • #145 Jon Niese, Mets

No Cubs cards, darn. But this McCutchen card looks pretty nice:

I will get to the official 2016 Topps Series 1 post in the next few days, complete with sell sheets that I didn't have time to post last year.

So get out there. Buy those cards (just no pack some for the rest of us). Show off those pictures. Get your want lists going. It's Baseball Card Season...and it's going to be a great year.


JayBee Anama

Monday, February 1, 2016

Are You Ready??! I SAID...


The 66th edition of Topps Baseball (okay, 65th if you're not counting 1951 Topps Red and Blue Backs), is officially due to arrive on Wednesday, February 3. But it looks like some lucky markets (I will check my local box stores tomorrow) got theirs early (lucky).

Regardless, it's coming, I can't wait to open some packs to see this design up close.

Sorry pack break week seemed to have ended earlier than I'd like. But hey, work calls. But I still have the packs unopened, so I'll get to it soon.

Also, let me apologize to everyone who's sent me emails asking me to add their sites to the Sports Card Blogroll. I have not forgotten you, and I still have your emails, links, twitter DM's, etc. Your site will be added as soon as I can get a moment to catch my breath.

Okay. Got to run. Have to get back at it and get some sleep. Here's hoping 2016 Topps will be on the shelves tomorrow, and here's hoping I get to them faster than the pack searchers.

And maybe, if I'm lucky, I'll find something to get my nephew started on his collecting journey.


JayBee Anama

Thursday, January 28, 2016

He's Number 1!!! He's Number 1!!!

After all of the voting, and the weeks of waiting, today, Topps announced the player who will now grace card #1 for the eponymous 2016 Topps Baseball product...

Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

According to the Topps Blog, the image that is used for the above card, "depicts an amazing highlight from the 2015 season. On Sept. 26, he scaled the outfield wall, extended his body over it and robbed Seattle’s Jesus Montero of a home run in a tremendous catch."

Topps Series 1 is coming soon, and I can't wait.

Also heard that my little nephew wants to get into card collecting. I can't wait to get him started. I'll be kind, I promise.


JayBee Anama

Monday, January 11, 2016

This Was the Whole Idea for the Topps 300 (and then some...): Debate!!!

(Before I begin, I'd like to express my condolences to the family and fans of David Bowie, who passed away last night after a long and private battle with cancer. He was one of the most iconic rockers over the last 40 years. I may have missed the formative years (Ziggy Stardust in particular), but was introduced to the man thanks to an album of his narration of Peter and the Wolf. I must have played that record...THAT'S many times. Must try and find that cd on eBay...maybe get the album even though I don't have a record player.)

The response to my last post was pretty good (considering that I haven't been posting on a regular basis for quite some time). I could have used a bit more, so if you could, please visit the original Topps 300 site, check out the original 60 years worth of cards, then come back to see my top 5 from each of the last five years.

Today, Topps posted their full checklist for Series 1 on their site. With the exception of the base set (which they're holding off on giving full details until they announce who's number 1), they have posted every card, retail exclusives too, that should be making their appearance in next month's eponymous product. The checklist for "Berger's Best" this year's reprint retrospective consists of the following subjects:

BB-1 Willie Mays New York Giants
BB-2 Satchel Paige St. Louis Browns
BB-3 Henry Aaron Milwaukee Braves
BB-4 Sandy Koufax Brooklyn Dodgers
BB-5 Jackie Robinson Brooklyn Dodgers
BB-6 Ted Williams Boston Red Sox
BB-7 Roger Maris Cleveland Indians
BB-8 Roberto Clemente Pittsburgh Pirates
BB-9 Willie McCovey San Francisco Giants
BB-10 Bill Mazeroski Pittsburgh Pirates
BB-11 Roger Maris New York Yankees
BB-12 Brooks Robinson Baltimore Orioles
BB-13 Whitey Ford New York Yankees
BB-14 Hank Aaron Milwaukee Braves
BB-15 Jim Palmer Baltimore Orioles
BB-16 Steve Carlton St. Louis Cardinals
BB-17 Rod Carew Minnesota Twins
BB-18 Reggie Jackson Oakland Athletics
BB-19 Johnny Bench Cincinnati Reds
BB-20 Nolan Ryan New York Mets
BB-21 Tom Seaver New York Mets
BB-22 Joe Morgan Cincinnati Reds
BB-23 Dave Winfield San Diego Padres
BB-24 George Brett Kansas City Royals
BB-25 Dennis Eckersley Cleveland Indians
BB-26 Robin Yount Milwaukee Brewers
BB-27 Eddie Murray Baltimore Orioles
BB-28 Ozzie Smith San Diego Padres
BB-29 Rickey Henderson Oakland Athletics
BB-30 Harold Baines Chicago White Sox
BB-31 Cal Ripken Jr. Baltimore Orioles
BB-32 Tony Gwynn San Diego Padres
BB-33 Don Mattingly New York Yankees
BB-34 Dwight Gooden New York Mets
BB-35 Roger Clemens Boston Red Sox
BB-36 Bo Jackson Kansas City Royals
BB-37 Wade Boggs Boston Red Sox
BB-38 Ken Griffey Jr. Seattle Mariners
BB-39 George Brett Kansas City Royals
BB-40 Frank Thomas Chicago White Sox
BB-41 Cal Ripken Jr. Baltimore Orioles
BB-42 Randy Johnson Seattle Mariners
BB-43 Mike Piazza Los Angeles Dodgers
BB-44 Barry Larkin Cincinnati Reds
BB-45 John Smoltz Atlanta Braves
BB-46 Livan Hernandez Florida Marlins
BB-47 Alex Rodriguez Seattle Mariners
BB-48 Josh Hamilton Tampa Bay Devil Rays
BB-49 Miguel Cabrera Florida Marlins
BB-50 Albert Pujols St. Louis Cardinals
BB-51 Joe Mauer Minnesota Twins
BB-52 Robinson Cano New York Yankees
BB-53 Yadier Molina St. Louis Cardinals
BB-54 Justin Verlander Detroit Tigers
BB-55 Hanley Ramirez Florida Marlins
BB-56 Daisuke Matsuzaka Boston Red Sox
BB-57 Clayton Kershaw Los Angeles Dodgers
BB-58 David Price Tampa Bay Rays
BB-59 Stephen Strasburg Washington Nationals
BB-60 Mike Trout Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
BB-61 Bryce Harper Washington Nationals
BB-62 Mike Trout Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
BB-63 Masahiro Tanaka New York Yankees
BB-64 Kris Bryant Chicago Cubs
BB-65 Buster Posey San Francisco Giants

This means that their reprint retrospective could consist of a card from...wait for it...2016!!! How about that? A reprint card from the same year and same product!!!


So no card from 1951, and did you notice Topps' biggest name is missing? I guess since they couldn't re-sign with the estate, we will be without the presence of Mickey Mantle for the fourth straight year (and that means no #7).

But take a look at the list. Of the 65 cards on the list, 33 (possibly a 34th one) were featured on the Topps 300 (and then some...). Most of the cards above are indeed rookie cards/first year. I also do wish they picked 65 different players for this set. Mike Trout appears here twice. So do Hank Aaron, George Brett, Roger Maris, and Cal Ripken. Maybe Series 2 will have more of my picks. I mean, I now have 325 cards they can choose from...well more like 290 (or 291...depends).

Now back to the point of the title. A comment from Matt Stupienski read,

"I must say that I'm quite partial to the 2015 Andrelton Simmons picture. Then again, I am a Braves fan, so perhaps I'm a bit biased. You must agree that this is a beauty though."

His comment regarding Simmons' card was seconded by none other than Fuji. (If you don't read The Chronicles of Fuji, you're missing out on a really positive voice in the Hobby. Then again, he's got a ton of readers already, so if you're reading this dog-and-pony-show of a blog, you already a fan of his).

"I second Mr. Stupienski's selection of Simmons. That's an awesome action shot."

Now for those of you who haven't seen it, here is the card in question:

Now it's a great action shot. He's literally parallel to the ground. And what better way to represent the two-time Gold Glove winner with this amazing picture. I'm sure Braves' fans were sad to hear that he was traded off to the Angels.

The whole idea of the Topps 300 (and then some...) was to create debate. My choices were mine, they certainly aren't perfect. While many people agreed with my picks, there are obviously people who would disagree and could probably choose cards that I wouldn't have considered. And this is an perfect example.

Now I didn't pick the Simmons card because in recent years, there have been so many similar shots of these kinds of plays that it's no longer unique. Put this picture in the 1991 Topps set, for example, then you have something groundbreaking. But in 2015, there's a shot of Jackie Bradley, Jr (#314), Lorenzo Cain (#516), and closest example, Aaron Hill (#247). Okay, so the first two guys are outfielders, but Hill is a second baseman. Different angle, but same idea.

But that's the point. You disagree with my picks? Show me a better one and talk about it. Why did you pick this card? You a fan of the team (like Mr. Stupienski?) You a fan of the player? You just love the picture? Would you have been able to place yourself at the stadium or at home watching when this picture was taken?

It's just another way to share the Hobby we all have in common.

How about you? What do you think?


JayBee Anama