Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Two Thousand Nine Hundred Seventy-Four

It's almost an afterthought.

I say almost because for many, the memories are still fresh in their minds. They're haunting. And I can only imagine that some still do not look forward to this day on the calendar.

It's Tuesday. The same day it happened seventeen years ago. Most seniors in high school now weren't even born when it happened. For most of us, life has definitely moved on. We knew where we were when it happened. I was on my way to work, my wife and daughter were getting ready for another day at home...maybe going shopping. We had the news on as we normally did before switching to PBS kids when images of the first plane hitting the World Trade Center first appeared...then the second. Let's just say not much work was going to be done that day...and we were preparing for a food show.

But I think about today. My daughter, just over a year old when it happened, starts college next week. I am typing this up while on break from orientation now. My son, now a junior in high school, wasn't even born.

In school, they learn about the events of September 11, 2001. It's a history lesson for them. They learn about what happened based on what is written on a page, what they see on a video, what they read online. It is sad yes. The chain of events, the heightened awareness, security at the airport, the news, all of it, is normal to them.

But prior to what happened seventeen years ago, it wasn't.

We weren't always at war. We didn't need to take our shoes off at the airports. We didn't have to worry about our safety to that extreme.

I wrote the words below in 2011. For that article, and when I re-ran the story since, I used the total number of people I had heard to have died due to the events of that day, not including those who heinously perpetrated the attacks. That number was 2,974. Depending on where you read it, it could have been 2,977. Tallies since then have brought the number up to 2,980. But regardless of the number, that's too many lives lost.

Every year, I try to come back and honor the memories of the people for whom this country still mourns, and think how the events on that fateful day changed the course of American history, seventeen years since. By the time this posts goes live, it is nightfall...seventeen years after that the final plane crashed in a field somewhere in Pennsylvania.



Two thousand nine hundred seventy-four.

2,974.

That's the number of people who lost their lives when everything was finally taken into account. Countless lives were affected by this national tragedy. Even if you didn't know anybody on those planes, at the World Trade Center, or the Pentagon, you grieved along with those who did. You stood there in shock, in a daze, just glued to the television or radio.

Our lives have not been the same since. My daughter, now eleven, asks what we (her parents) were doing that morning. "We were just going about our lives," was my reply. "We watched the morning news, getting ready for work, and couldn't believe what we were seeing on the screen." She was just over a year old. She couldn't have understood what was going on then. But she will learn that what she sees as "normal" now, really wasn't before that Tuesday morning.

Two thousand nine hundred seventy-four. It is the number of reasons why we never forget what happened seventeen years ago today.

On this day, the seventeenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks, my family and I send our prayers to those who lost loved ones that Tuesday morning. We pray, and will continue to pray for:

the children who lost their parents that day.

the children who would never meet their fathers because of the events of that day.

the firefighters and policemen and women who risk their lives doing their jobs, running into the face of dangers as many are running in the opposite direction.

those servicemen and women fighting for our freedoms away from home, whether or not we agree with the conflicts they battle.

for our leaders, regardless of their affiliation, that they make the right choices to keep the citizens of our country, and others, safe.

And finally, we pray for peace. Peace amongst ourselves as family, as a community, as a nation.

Sincerely,

JayBee Anama

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Ladies and Gentlemen, Introducing 2019 Topps Baseball

Coinciding to my return to semi-active card blogging, allow me to enjoy today's big news.

It's the middle of August. That means the preview of next year's Topps baseball cards should be coming out just...about...NOW!!!

The announcement just came out on Twitter. And as I'm listening to the big Chicago Bears football news, the Topps Company introduced its newest design for the eponymous set, the one that starts off the 2019 Baseball Card Season.

Are you ready?

Are you excited?

I know I am.

So what are we waiting for?

Ladies and Gentlemen, here is the design for 2019 Topps Baseball:


Yes, it's another Yankee (remember, last year's mock-up was of Clint Frazier). But take a look at the design elements. Another borderless card, but there is some semblance of a border with what's underneath the "retro" curved, team-colored stripes (think 1982). Don't know if the last name is going to be in foil lettering compared to the first name within the stripe.

And look, for the first time in a while, we get two images, this one of Mookie Betts, showing what horizontally-oriented cards are going to look like.


On the Topps website, the article says, "Parallel colors will be noted on the outside areas, behind the border and in the white areas on the edge of the card. Somehow I get the feeling that these will look similar to the 1990 dot elements used for the borders. But hey, we can speculate.

This looks great on screen, and I can't wait to see how these look physically. Again, I wish they would show off the back of the cards too, but that would be wishful thinking. Besides, the company had to leave us in suspense somehow.

But what do you think? Do you like the design? Hate it? Thoughts?

Sincerely,

JayBee Anama

Monday, August 13, 2018

Souvenirs From the National Baseball Card Day Journey

Once again, thank you very much for following my journey on Saturday. I don't have much free time for myself now that I work two jobs and my weekends are spent at the pharmacy. Not complaining. The money is pretty good, just that the hours mean that I don't have much opportunities to do regular weekend things. So I really enjoyed myself, not just because of the trip, but because it allowed me time to see what goes on outside during the course of the day.

So you're probably wondering (if you're wondering), what cards did I get from National Trading Card Day. From each of the three stores that I went to that did the promotion, I received one 5-card pack and the bonus. You already know that I have two Aaron Judge and one Rhys Hoskins bonus card. What was inside each of the packs? Results are below.

Let's start with the pack from Chicagoland Sports in Buffalo Grove:


  • #21 Cody Bellinger, 1B, Dodgers
  • #18 Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Cubs
  • #14 Joey Gallo, 1B, Rangers
  • #7 Salvador Perez, C, Royals
  • #27 Hunter Renfroe, OF, Padres

Thoughts: For a second there, I thought all of the players on the checklist were going to be first basemen. Nothing wrong with that. I have the Cubs card (Rizzo), so I am extremely happy for that (did you see last night's game??!) The backs of each card provide a nice bio for each player.

The next pack was picked up at AU Sports in Niles:


  • #5 Miguel Cabrera, 1B, Tigers
  • #19 Billy Hamilton, OF, Reds
  • #21 Cody Bellinger, 1B, Dodgers
  • #18 Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Cubs
  • #14 Joey Gallo, 1B, Rangers

Thoughts: This pack had even more first basemen in it, and three of the cards I already have. Remember the days you'd open enough packs of cards that you'd be able to determine patterns and based on what cards were in there you knew you were guaranteed a specific card behind it? Yes, as soon as I saw Cody Bellinger in the middle of the pack, I knew Rizzo and Gallo weren't far behind.

Now the final pack, from Bleachers Sports Cards in Winnetka:


  • #26 Josh Harrison, OF, Pirates
  • #10 Didi Gregorius, SS, Yankees
  • #3 Jose Abreu, 1B, White Sox
  • #8 Shohei Ohtani, P/DH, Angels
  • #15 Marcus Stroman, P, Blue Jays

Thoughts: It's Showtime!!! My pack had Shohei Ohtani in it. My day is complete. Okay, so it's not autographed, but I never expect those with my luck. But he's the biggest name in the Hobby for the moment, so I'll call this a win.

Each pack also included a promo card advertising the Silver Pack promotion that will be launched on October 17 when Topps Update Series goes live (or at least around that time). A free pack of Chrome cards will be provided with a purchase of Update. The back of the card has an ad for the 2018 holiday season where on November 16, with a $10.00 purchase, collectors will get a free pack of Holiday cards (possibly with snowflakes?)

So of the 30 cards that comprise the set, I have a grand total of 12. Not a bad haul considering, and I haven't even opened any of the packs that I bought throughout the day.

This site is now in its 10th year of existence. I know that I haven't been as active as I used to be. And I know I keep on promising to be more active, only to find that I'm not writing anything for months. I feel bad. This should have been a celebration, but I'm lucky if I have any readers left after multiple hiatuses. So I won't make any promises that I'll come back on a regular basis. I won't make promises that I have a lot to write about, but just haven't had the time (that's no excuse, I should be MAKING time).

All I know is that this blog is not going to go away. It remains what I've always wanted it to be: a journal about my collection and my journey within the Hobby. If I have something worth writing about, I'll make sure to do so.

Again, thank you for the comments on Twitter about my journey. And if you're still reading this humble, little blog, thank you for sticking around.

Sincerely,

JayBee Anama


Saturday, August 11, 2018

National Baseball Trading Card Day 2018 Is Here!!!

We interrupt the lack of activity on this humble little blog to announce that today is National Baseball Card Day.

I will be traveling to about four to five different card shops in the Chicagoland area, or at least that's the hope today, to get some of the free packs that the shops will be giving out as part of the big promotion between Topps and the Hobby shops. Yes, I will be spending some money, as it would be really unfair to the shop's owners if I and thousands of other collectors show up just for the free stuff.

I had fun doing this last year, and fortunately for me today, I have more time, a bit more money, and I am not working at the pharmacy today. I just finished looking at the list of stores in my area doing the promotion, there aren't that many doing it this year. I hope that it was just the store is missing the deadline to announce there taking part in this, and that they're not participating in it this time around.

The first store I'll be going to opens at 10 AM. I have my Gatorades, my phone, my tablet, enough chargers, and I am ready to go.

So join me as I go on my quest to visit as many card shops that I can throughout the day. Or, maybe go out and find some shops you haven't been to in a while, and take part in this Hobby holiday. Follow me on Twitter @bdj610 for pictures of what I find at each location.

Otherwise, have a great Baseball Card Day.

Sincerely,

JayBee Anama

UPDATE : 5:41 PM CST.

I've been home for a couple of hours now. Enjoying the air conditioning (it was in the mid-high 80's and when I was updating the blog, I was in the car most of the time...not the smartest move on my part), and just reflecting on the day.

I've been watching the feeds on Twitter and just happy to see many collectors out there frequenting the Hobby shops. Even better? Seeing pictures of kids in the stores. They're the future of this Hobby. And this was the point of National Baseball Card Day. Get out there, open a couple of packs of cards, and create interest. It may not be like it was in the past (the heyday of the junk wax era), but the future is looking bright.

So my final haul got me (total spent: $93.48, including the Beanie Baby):



  • Ten packs of cards from eight different products
  • Three packs of free cards from the Baseball Card Day giveaway
  • Both of the bonus Judge (2) and Hoskins cards
  • One Ernie Banks SP card
  • One box of sheets (really need them)
  • One Cubs World Series Beanie Baby
This was a great day. I now have content for pack break week, and probably some trade bait. 

I don't have as much free time as I used to because of work and family obligations. So being able to go off for the day doing something I enjoy is rare. This was fun for me. I thank you for following me on my Hobby journey today. At least I know that people still read this humble, little blog. It is the hope that today brings a bit more inspiration for me to continue the blog, on what is now it's tenth year being up and running. 

jba


UPDATE: 2:26 PM CST.

I decided to head north to Winnetka instead of into the city for my fourth stop of the tour. I have not been in this area for more than 10 years when we owned the bakery at the edge of the business district. Before we left Winnetka for good, the bakery, after a couple of moves, found its way next door to Bleachers Sports, a card shop that also doubled as a sports memorabilia framing shop. They've moved across the road 7 years ago, and are now going into their 25th year of operation.

They were busy today. They even ran out of Judge cards. So this is what I got from them:


I have a jumbo of Series 1 (to go with the series 2 pack from earlier), Topps Opening Day, and Big League Baseball. Pack Break Week should be fun.

No, I didn't get the Beanie Baby from them. I did buy it, but I will explain in a minute.

Because the store ran out of Judge cards, I was offered the Rhys Hoskins as a substitute. Now, the Hoskins card is supposed to be the giveaway for the next promotion that takes place 2 weeks from today. But what can you do when you run out of Judge cards? Worth the trip for $19.62.

After visiting the old place and taking pictures from the outside, I stopped the Village Toy Store that is up the street from the card shop. I heard they were closed. So imagine my surprise to find out that not only are they still open, but they've been around for 70 years. When my kids were little, and we would visit the bakery, we visited this place frequently. The Beanie Baby has the 2016 World Series logo. I had to buy it. At $6.50? Why not.

I think I am going to call it a day. I am tempted to go further north, or maybe head into one of the two shops in Chicago on the list. But I've seen the traffic on the highway on both sides and am thinking that I don't want to sit for that long. So I am homeward bound.

Results of the entire journey to come when I get home.

jba

UPDATE : 12:59 PM CST.

Just headed east to Morton Grove. Home of AU Sports. Love the place. One of the longest running shops in the Chicagoland area, they were not on the list of stores celebrating NBCD, but they do have the cards and are all out promoting. They said that they were having a steady stream of customers throughout the day, so they were happy. The guys in the shop were trying to stump each other with baseball trivia.

The question :

So Albert Pujols recently became the third player in MLB history to record 1000 hits in both the NL and AL for one team. Name the other 2? Not a hint, but the other two are in the HOF. Answer to come later, but I was able to come up with one of the player's names.


I did buy a jumbo pack of 2018 Topps Series 2 for $13.00 to get my free pack of cards and Judge bonus. Thinking should I head south into Chicago, or go north to Winnetka next. Decisions, decisions. I guess we will find out together.

jba

UPDATE: 11:59 AM CST.

Sports and Game Cards in Niles took part in National Baseball Card Day last year. This year, is a different story. The young girl behind the counter was friendly, but unenthused about work. (Going on an old-man-rant now). When I was her age, I would have loved it to work at a card store like this, even if it was inside a shopping mall

So even though there were no NBCD packs to be had, I did buy a box of sheet protectors and this:


One pack each of 2018 Topps Series 1, 2, and Pro Debut. I have all of the cards, of course, but these will be saved again for Pack Break Week (which will be held probably in the next couple of weeks...or whenever Update Series comes...still debating). Total spent: $27.90.

Taking a quick lunch break then it is back on the road, heading east to Morton Grove.

jba

UPDATE: 10:47 AM CST.

This explains why the Palatine shop was not on the list...the store is no longer here. That is the sad reality of the Hobby. There are less stores nowadays. There could be a plethora (just watched The Three Amigos movie a while back) of reasons why this store is gone. Wasn't here very long (at least 2-3 years at most).

So the journey continues.

jba

UPDATE: 10:19 AM CST.

I just left Chicagoland Sports Cards and Memorabilia in Buffalo Grove, Illinois. This was my first stop last year too. It was less crowded this time around than it was last year. I hope that this is not an ominous sign of things to come today. Maybe it's too early still and things will be busier here later.

After speaking to the gentleman behind the counter, this is what I bought from the store:


One pack each of Gypsy Queen, Allen & Ginter's, and Stadium Club, as well as a 2018 Topps Ernie Banks SP card. Not a bad haul for $25.30.

Next stop is to my home town of Palatine. The store was not on the list for the promotion, but I will take a shot here anyway to see what they have. Will update soon.

jba

P.S.: The answers to the trivia question are Dave Winfield and Vladimir Guerrero. I came up with Vlady.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Where Are You Now Sensen Lin?

You're not familiar with the name Sensen Lin?

Well, according to LinkedIn, Mr. Lin is the Vice President, Assistant General Council for GIC, an investment management company based in Singapore. He has been with GIC since 2015. Prior to that, he worked as an associate for Ropes & Gray LLC, a global law firm with headquarters all over the world. He was first based in New York, then the Jing'an District in China.

So you can pretty much believe he's done pretty well for himself.

But by now, you have to be asking yourself, why am I talking about Sensen Lin? He's not a baseball player. He's never played in MLB. You won't find baseball cards of Lin anywhere. Or can you??!

Yes, Sensen Lin does have one baseball card, and he's the subject of one of Topps' greatest practical jokes of all time...and it all happened 10 years ago.

Before Mr. Lin climbed the ladder as a lawyer, he was a student at New York University. And a friend of his at the Topps Company had a brilliant idea for a practical joke. As Lin explains:

"They (Topps) put me in all these funky poses. I don’t know that much about baseball so I didn’t exactly know what I was doing. Turns out, the guys at Topps added some things. I wasn’t wearing that necklace and the glove in the picture is different. They also photoshopped in the background."

The results became the focal point of one of greatest "gimmicks" ever inserted into packs of baseball cards:



I do plan on requesting a connection to Mr. Lin on LinkedIn.

So Happy April Fool's Day. Please keep the pranks to a minimum.

Also, Happy Easter. He Is Risen!!!

Sincerely,

JayBee Anama

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Let the Games Begin!!! Yesterday...

After months of waiting...and waiting...and waiting...


It's Baseball Season!!!


Okay, so it happened yesterday. I had planned on writing this in the morning, but life happened.

Twenty-six teams played yesterday (two games were postponed due to weather. I have my master set (including the Bryant and Jeter Tribute sets...nine insert sets total) waiting to go into sheets and a binder (a 3-inch for now...I'm sure I'll have to order a 6 before the end of the year...again!!!)

The Cubs won (okay, it was against the Miami Starlin Castros and 24 other guys calling themselves Marlins...heck if Marlins Man Laurence Leavy has given up on them...) 8-4, with Ian Happ hitting the first pitch...first pitch (okay, so it was some guy whose only eponymous Topps card to date is from 2015...) of the season out of the yard.

Speaking of which, what better way to celebrate Opening Day than to review the insert set from 2018 Topps Series 1 called, appropriately, Opening Day. (Please note that this is not about the set called Opening Day, but the insert set called Opening Day).


I love how this set was designed. Pictures and graphics that look like they were projected onto tiles. Each team is represented here (well almost, Giancarlo Stanton, Andrew McCutchen, and Evan Longoria grace the checklist...and you get the idea). The backs of the cards gives a brief synopsis of what each subject did during a past Opening Day, whether it be in the majors or if the player started in the minors the year prior.


Now you can only find these cards in packs sold at retail stores, not necessarily exclusive to either WalMart or Target.

As I finally finish this post, the Cubs lost to the Marlins in 17 innings (how's that speed-up-the-pace-of-play-thing going for you now @MLB?)

Sincerely,

JayBee Anama

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Thank You Toys "R" Us! I Could Not Have Grown My Collection Without You!


Growing up, there was no place I loved going to more than Toys "R" Us! (No, I can't do the reverse R, so I'm not going to even try). For a kid, it was every theme park, museum, and wonderland rolled into one. I loved seeing toys, action figures, games and just wishing that one day I could buy them for me or any possible children I thought I'd have when I was older.

Fast forward about 14 years. My wife and I had spent hours at a Babies "R" Us! looking for items that we were going to need for our soon-to-arrive-child. We did not know what our baby was going to be (it wound up being a girl), so we asked for bottles, utensils, diapers, all of the fixings.

Fast forward about 5 years later. When I had time, I'd take my kids to the Toys "R" Us! They had their own interests in what kinds of toys they wanted, and when I had the money to do it, I was so happy because I fulfilled the wish I made for myself when I was much younger.

But that did not mean that there wasn't stuff I wanted to buy at TRU. Why? Because TRU sold baseball cards. And I think you know where this is going. But hold on.

The first real baseball card purchase I made at the world's greatest toy store was a wholly new baseball card product that happened to be called Topps Hot Button Baseball.

Remember this?


It was an electronic game, with lights on both sides that would flash in random order on both sides. The cards in this set were transparent, and the idea was that you would put a batter card on one side, and a pitcher card on the other, and depending on where the lights stop (you press the Hot Button to start the lights, and press it again to stop the lights from flashing) determines what the play was going to be in the game between the two "players."


I loved this game. You could play a game with the 20 cards that came with the device.


But it said that there were booster packs with more players.


And the hunt was on.

I eventually wiped out the local Target of booster packs. I went to other TRU's. I wound up with a complete 140 card set and played the game with my then 5-year-old daughter, and a lot on my own, playing both teams. I even created scorecards, and spreadsheets, and even slips of papers that had card numbers so that I could pick random teams. I was insane.

The original website is long gone, but thanks to the Wayback Machine, if you want to go on a nostalgia trip, click here.

For a number of years, player or team collectors seriously looking for colored parallel cards for their player rainbows (yes, it's a thing) had many places and packs to find whatever it is they were looking for. Target sold packs that had red parallel cards. Walmart had packs with blue parallel cards. Collectors could find orange parallel cards in factory sets. Yellow and green parallel cards could be found in retail packs or blister packs (depending on the year). Of course, you could find gold, pink, powder blue, camouflage, and other parallel cards in regular packs sold anywhere. But to get purple-bordered Topps parallel cards for their collections, one could only find them at TRU. That's right, you could only get the color at the end of the rainbow, purple at Toys "R" Us.

Now, I don't collect parallels, but I do collect retail-exclusive inserts. And while TRU was never given exclusive insert sets, blister packs of 2011 Topps included purple Diamond Anniversary cards.

Remember these?


There are ten cards in the Purple Diamond set that could only be found in two-pack blisters that were sold at TRU. I remember taking the kids to TRU one night in 2011. I let them run loose while I sat on the ground near the display, trying to peek through the back of the packs, just to see if I can figure out which card was included. I wound up being able to find all ten cards, buying 20 packs of 2011 Topps Series 1, all just to find these inserts. My then 11-year-old thought I was crazy, until I told her she could buy whatever she and her then 9-year-old brother wanted (within reason, of course). Two video games later, we left happy with our purchases.


Now that the kids are mid-to-late teenagers, we really haven't made many trips back since that night. Sure, when I was unemployed, to make myself feel better, I'd go to the store, just to see what was there. But to be a middle-aged guy by himself at a store like this, I'm sure employees were just watching me to make sure I'm not some kind of stalker/potential kidnapper.

When I heard that TRU was going into bankruptcy, I was sad. Sure, thanks to websites (cough...Amazon...cough) (cough...eBay...cough), brick and mortar stores were losing customers. Even places like Walmart and Target were taking a large bite out of TRU's market. Now, Toys "R" Us will be gone, and all that are left are memories. Memories of when I was younger. Memories of when the kids were little. Memories of the day I discovered Hot Button Baseball.

Thank you very much Toys "R" Us. My family and I will miss you dearly.

At least until KB Toys comes back later this year...

Sincerely,

JayBee Anama