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

Saturday, March 17, 2018

A Review of the Chicago Spring Spectacular. Éirinn go brách! Celebrating on the Road This Time!

After three years of spending St. Patrick's Day at home, enjoying corned beef with all of the fixings, and a nice glass of Irish Cream (or two...or more...), we're hitting the road, celebrating with family. But first, it's off to work I go, slinging prescriptions at the pharmacy.

Speaking of...

Yesterday, I went to the Chicago Sports Spectacular (that's what they're calling what used to be the Chicago Sun-Times Spring Sports Card Show). It's the first time ever that I would go on a Friday. If you followed me on Twitter (and if you aren't, feel free to do so, I am @bdj610), you may have read some of my experiences at the show.

If you haven't, here is the summary:

Fridays are a bit quieter, it seems. The place was not extremely crowded, but there were a lot of people (and kids...KIDS...for those who don't believe KIDS don't collect anymore). Most of the vendors were there, greeting customers and each other. For some, this is the first time they've seen each other since the National (or at least the Fall Chicago Sports Spectacular...or whatever it was called).

Lots of vintage, as always, at this show. The big names were there selling modern stuff. And, of course, the same guy that sold me a Gypsy Queen set a couple of years back had what I was mainly looking for, a 2018 Topps Series 1 Master Set. After asking to see if he could knock the price down on the set (which he did), I bought the main set plus 5 Hobby inserts. I offered one of the four 2017 Hank Aaron Award Winner cards I had in my possession to thank him for the discount, and he picked one (Mike Trout...I still have the Harper, Bryant, and Cabrera cards).



I also bought myself a box of plastic sheets (need to put the cards in a binder somehow).

But the highlight of the night, and what got most people's attention on Twitter was this:

A 1989 Topps Hobby Box. 36 packs of cards and gum.

They were offering $5.00 for this box...or were they offering to give me $5.00 for the box...I don't know exactly what the guy said. And after mulling it over (I had to sit down to think about it), I decided to pass. As much as I would have loved to do it (and many people on Twitter said I should buy it), I couldn't think of a single thing to do with the cards once I opened them. I might regret this decision later, but you know what? I'm okay with it, and maybe at another show I'll bite.

After paying for my ticket, the seller handed me an envelope, containing a ticket for a free autograph from one of the signers at this evening's show. Based on the schedule, choices included Tom Browning (he of the perfect game in 1988), Ron Jaworski (QB from the Eagles/ESPN analyst), or someone else who had nothing to do on a Friday night. Now, I'm not an autograph guy, but I thought, why not? My ticket was for:


My first thought was, "Who's this guy??!



So Stan Bahnsen was a pitcher, played in the majors from 1966 through 1982, played for six teams, including the White Sox for four seasons, and was named to the Topps All-Star Rookie Team in 1968. Now, I had nothing for him to sign, so I thought, "Should I buy a baseball or look for a card? Maybe I should just have him sign the ticket."

But I never heard his name called the entire night I was at the show. I wondered why?


Oh, that's why. He rescheduled. But the policy was no returns, no exchanges. So now I have a dead ticket. So I have one request

Mr. Bahnsen (or someone who can pass this along to him), I'm sorry you couldn't make it out last night to the show. Have a great time today. I'll be at the Walgreens up the road from where you're going to be this today. After you're done signing, would you be able to make the trip north to my store? I'd like to meet you, and possibly redeem that autograph ticket.

On to other topics:


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.


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.



Finally, 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 the Maury Show always be on your television (sorry, saw that this morning).
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.
If you catch my drift.

Sláinte!

Sincerely,

JayBee Anama

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Updating the Sports Card Blogroll, Just In Time for 2018, and Other Things.

Between working with a food broker and a pharmacy (yes, they let me work with drugs), there really hasn't been much time to relax. Not complaining, but I haven't had a day off since January 1. That's a good thing as it means a steady paycheck and I am able to pay bills and support my family.

More importantly, it means I have disposable income to pay for my habit (that pesky thing called baseball cards). I am going to ask if I can hang out on Friday night at the convention center as the spring card show is this weekend. And, as it was my birthday yesterday, maybe I celebrate by buying a few cards (or something).

In the meantime, I wanted to do a bit of catch up since I didn't post anything since I bought my first few packs of 2018 Topps Series 1.

So I decided to take two Topps packs each from Target and Walmart and put them in a box. The first pack I picked was from Walmart. So the first card from that pack, the official Topps first card for 2018 (for me) is:


Nick Pivetta, pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies. Card #241.

The first card from the Target card was of:


Jose Abreu, the White Sox' first baseman, card #280.

(On an unrelated note, I'm going to miss my HP scanner, but I'm starting to get the hang of this scanner/printer...loving it).

On the insert front, I did get one SP, Dexter Fowler of the Cardinals. But after opening 10 regular packs, 4 jumbos and two blaster boxes, the best card came from the fourth pack that I opened for the year. From the second Target pack that I opened, I found this:


A Corey Seager Major League Material Bat Card!!!

This only means one of two things:
  • I beat the pack searchers or they had not arrived yet.
  • They searched but missed a pack.
Either way, I'm happy with the pull as I rarely, if ever, get a card like this.

Now, onto the other reason for posting tonight. It's time, once again, to update the Sports Card Blogroll.

Yes, blogging seems to be a dying form of communicating. We've lost a number of bloggers to other social media platforms like Twitter (you can still follow me as I hang out there from time to time @bdj610). But perusing the site at 280 characters, I'm discovering new voices, and have decided not only to give them a follow, but to add their sites to the big blogroll. And of course, new blogs tend to find other new blogs, and so on, and so on...

But first, time to remove the blogs that have not had any activity in the past six months. The following blogs have been removed from the main blogroll:
But as some blogs leave us, I am adding a few new blogs onto the site, including:
So there will be at least 206 blogs on the main blogroll when I'm done with the updating tonight. Would you like to add your blog to the site that has been keeping tabs of the Hobby Blogging Community for almost a decade (I can't believe it's almost 10 years)? Send me an email at bdj610@hotmail.com, DM me on Twitter (@bdj610), or just leave me comments.

Sincerely,

JayBee Anama

Monday, March 12, 2018

42!


On April 15, 1997, MLB announced that it was going to retire the uniform #42 for all 28 teams in MLB in honor of Jackie Robinson. This meant that the Arizona Diamondbacks and Tampa Bay Devil Rays, the new expansion teams that would begin their inaugural seasons the following year, would not be able to use the #42 when they assign uniform numbers for any of their players, and they hadn't even started yet. Teams in the minors would not use the number either.

There were, at the time, 13 active players who were assigned the number 42 at the time it was retired league wide, Some names, you know: Mariano Rivera, Mo Vaughn, Butch Huskey. Others, like Marc Sagmoen, was a rookie who was called up to the Rangers squad that day and didn't know that the number was going to be retired THAT NIGHT. He had already had an at bat when he was told to take his uniform off because, as he found out later, that his jersey was going to be shipped to Cooperstown. He only has 21 MLB games under his belt, with 1997 being his lone season in the big leagues. Although Sagmoen is now a policeman in the Seattle area, he has a link to history that not many can claim.

Jackie Robinson is a legendary player who changed the course of baseball history by not only being the first African-American player to play in the majors, but by being a man who played the game with dignity and opened the doors for many players, not only here in the US, but around the world.

But that's not why I'm writing this post.

Today, I turn 42 years old. And as I work on the 2018 Topps set, I reflect on what I've done in my life so far. I have experienced both good times and times that were not so good. Some of the things I was able to do when I was younger, I have a hard time doing now. The quantities of food that I used to eat during my college days I can't stomach anymore (maybe that's a good thing). There are things that I've always wanted to do that I accept I will probably never do. And I'm okay with that.

But through it all, I am happy.

I am happy to have a family who I love dearly, a wonderful wife who supports me and I make sure to do the same no matter what, and two children who I couldn't be more proud of as they become young adults. I am happy that we are all in good health, a roof over our heads, and jobs (thankfully) to support us.

I am happy that I can see my parents and siblings during our (almost) weekly dinners.

I am happy to have that escape that is called The Hobby that I can go to when I can. It's fun to look back and reminisce about what I have done these past 42 years. But I look forward to the next part of my journey.

Thank you for being a part of it.

Finally, Happy 42nd Birthday Bryan Hebson!!!

Sincerely,

JayBee Anama

Sunday, February 4, 2018

So Which 2018 Topps Series 1 Packs Should I Open First??!

January 31 was the start of the 2018 Baseball Card Season, and after two days of searching, (realistically, waiting for my paycheck) and watching all of the hits, sets, and cards that I am just dying to get my hands on myself, I finally had my opportunity to dive into the pool and buy some product of my very own. And I couldn't be happier.

But now I have a bit of a quandary on my hands.

You see, on Friday night, I went to Target and saw that they had 2018 Topps Series 1 packs on display by the registers.


So for $32.31, I bought the following:
  • Five 12-card retail packs
  • Two 36-card jumbo packs
  • One 72-card hanger pack



And then I went to the Walmart across the street, just for kicks, and saw that they also had 2018 Topps Series 1 by the self-checkout.


And so, for $32.82, I bought:
  • Five 12-card retail packs
  • Two 36-card jumbo packs
  • One 72-card hanger pack


First off, if anything, I'm really surprised. Target charged a penny more for the packs compared to Walmart ($1.99 vs. $1.98 for 12-pack, $4.99 vs. $4.98 for the 36, and $9.99 vs. $9.98 for the hanger). However, because the Target was in Lake County, and the Walmart was in Cook County (yes they were across the street, but the street is the border between two counties), I spent $0.49 less at Target.

Anyway, I haven't opened any packs yet. I'll probably do a live pack break during the big game tomorrow. This will be the first time I get to watch the Super Bowl on Sunday night in about three years. I have no skin in the game, I don't really care who wins. So I'll probably focus more on a pack break for the blog.

But which packs should I open first?

Do I open the Walmart packs first? I mean, they're the only place to find those exclusive Kris Bryant Highlight cards.

Or should I open the Target packs first? I did go to Target first of course.

So I'm going to get some sleep. I'll be working in the pharmacy tomorrow. Hopefully it'll be quiet (it's snowing right now...maybe traffic will be light).

Send me comments and let me know which packs I should open first. Maybe I'll post a Twitter poll or something (follow me on Twitter @bdj610 if you want to take part in it).

I'm just looking forward to baseball season. And what better way to enjoy it then by celebrating with a few packs of baseball cards??!

Sincerely,

JayBee Anama