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

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Hallbound...2018!!!

The votes are in...


  • Chipper Jones 410 (97.2%);
  • Vladimir Guerrero 392 (92.9%);
  • Jim Thome 379 (89.8%);
  • Trevor Hoffman 337 (79.9%);
  • Edgar Martinez 297 (70.4%);
  • Mike Mussina 268 (63.5%);
  • Roger Clemens 242 (57.3%);
  • Barry Bonds 238 (56.4%);
  • Curt Schilling 216 (51.2%);
  • Omar Vizquel 156 (37.0%);
  • Larry Walker 144 (34.1%);
  • Fred McGriff 98 (23.2%);
  • Manny Ramirez 93 (22.0%);
  • Jeff Kent 61 (14.5%);
  • Gary Sheffield 47 (11.1%);
  • Billy Wagner 47 (11.1%);
  • Scott Rolen 43 (10.2%);
  • Sammy Sosa 33 (7.8%);
  • Andruw Jones 31 (7.3%);
  • Jamie Moyer 10 (2.4%);
  • Johan Santana 10 (2.4%);
  • Johnny Damon 8 (1.9%);
  • Hideki Matsui 4 (0.9%);
  • Chris Carpenter 2 (0.5%);
  • Kerry Wood 2 (0.5%);
  • Livan Hernandez 1 (0.2%);
  • Carlos Lee 1 (0.2%);
  • Orlando Hudson 0;
  • Aubrey Huff 0;
  • Jason Isringhausen 0;
  • Brad Lidge 0;
  • Kevin Millwood 0;
  • Carlos Zambrano 0;
Congratulations to Vladimir Guerrero, Trevor Hoffman, Chipper Jones, and Jim Thome for being elected into the Hall of Fame. On this year's ballot, a player needed to receive 317 votes to reach or exceed the 75% needed for induction.

The players whose names are italicized will appear on next year's ballot, having surpassed the five percent rule to stay on (22 votes). Edgar Martinez and Fred McGriff will be on their tenth and final ballot going into 2019.

Chipper Jones is also the 24th member of Topps' All-Star Rookie Team to be inducted into the Hall of Fame as a player (2 are in as managers).

According to the Baseball Hall of Fame website, of the 422 ballots that were cast, one of them was blank.

Sincerely,

JayBee Anama

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

One (or More) of These Players Could Be Voted into Baseball's Hall of Fame

When the announcement is made at 05:00 PM CST on Wednesday, January 24, 2018, to let the world know who has been inducted into Baseball's Hall of Fame, I will be at home, getting ready to transition from one job to the next. But I'll still have the MLB Network on to watch the results live.

With any luck, more than one person on this list of 33 players will be rewarded with the ultimate honor...enshrinement into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. For the final time, here is the list of players (with years on ballot and % of ballots in the 2017 election) being considered:


When this post comes out, it will be 24 hours before the big announcement. At this time, only the Baseball Hall of Fame, and the accounting firm that tabulated the votes knows who will join Jack Morris and Alan Trammell in Cooperstown on Sunday, July 29, 2018.

Good luck to everyone.

Sincerely,

JayBee Anama

Hallbound 2018. And the Motor City Rejoices!!!

1985 Topps #610 Jack Morris and #690 Alan Trammell
On Sunday, July 29, 2018, the National Baseball Hall of Fame will be welcoming what should be a large and unique class of new inductees. Players who should be making their speeches after the big announcement on Wednesday, January 24, 2018, will be up there on stage, talking about their playing days, and thanking all of those who helped them become better ball players, and certainly, better human beings.

But before we get to talking about the 33 players who are on the BBWAA ballot, let's talk about two players who stayed on the ballots for 15 years and were not able to get the necessary 75% of the votes to be inducted during the regular voting cycles. Thanks to the revamped Veteran's Committees, these two men, teammates for many years, will be enshrined as Hall of Famers, and join whoever makes it in from the writer's vote, as part of the HOF Class of 2018.

On Sunday, December 10, 2018, it was announced that pitcher Jack Morris and shortstop Alan Trammell, part of a 10-person Modern Baseball Era ballot (contributions from 1970-1987), earned over 75% of the votes from a panel of 15 Hall of Fame players, managers, executives, writers, and historians that was taken on the last day of Baseball's Winter Meetings. Teammates from 1977 through 1990, both men were part of the dominant 1984 World Series Champion Detroit Tigers.

Jack Morris played in the Majors from 1977 through 1994 with the Tigers, Twins (1991), Blue Jays (1992-93) and Indians (1994). He pitched in 549 regular season games, 527 of them as a starting pitcher, posting a record of 254-186 with a 3.90 ERA, striking out 2478 batters in 3824 innings of work. He led the AL in wins in both 1981 (14) and 1992 (21), and was part of 4 World Series winning teams (1984 Tigers, 1991 Twins, and 1992-3 Blue Jays) being named the WS MVP in 1991. He was a 5-time All-Star, 7-time Cy Young candidate, and 5-time MVP candidate. He set the record for most consecutive opening day starts by a pitcher with 14 starting nods.

Alan Trammell was a lifelong Tiger, playing 20 seasons in the Motor City from 1977 through 1996. In 2293 regular season games, Trammell hit for a .285 average, with 185 home runs, 1003 runs driven in, stole 236 bases, and had a slash line of .352/.415/.767.  He was a six-time All-Star, four0-time Gold Glove winner, a 3-time Silver Slugger, and a 7-time MVP candidate. He was also named the MVP of the 1984 World Series, hitting .450 with 2 home runs and 6 runs driven in. For 19 seasons, Trammell shared the middle infield duties with second baseman Lou Whitaker, a man who many feel was slighted from the HOF voting and dropped from the writer's ballot after only a couple of years. Alan and Lou were so synonymous with Tigers baseball that not only did the pair set the record for most games played as an infield combo, but they made an appearance on Magnum PI. It is hoped that with Morris and Trammell both getting the call that "Sweet Lou" gets another look. Who knows, maybe one day he will join his teammates and manager (Sparky Anderson was inducted in 2000) in Cooperstown.

So who'll be joining the long-time teammates in July? The Hall of Fame announcement will take place on Wednesday, January 24, at 5:00 pm CST.

Post about the 33 candidates forthcoming.

Sincerely,

JayBee Anama

Monday, January 22, 2018

Thoughts on 2018 Topps Before the Product Goes Live


So the 2018 Baseball Card Season begins at the end of this month with Series 1 of the eponymous product arriving some time on or around January 31. It's a great time to be a baseball fan because it only means that pitchers and catchers will be reporting to their spring training homes (at least those with teams anyway) not long afterwards.

This past month (in between learning what is involved in both a food brokerage and a pharmacy...yes, I work for the food AND drug industries), The Topps Company has been previewing what we are to expect in series 1:






  • checklists (the base set does not have numbers because they haven't announced the player who will grace Card #1 yet)
There has even been news about Series 2 and the 32 retail sets that will be coming soon to Hobby shops and big box stores near you.

But for the longest time, the only thing Topps never really showed during the hype build-up of their soon-to-be classic cards was the card backs. And for many years (or at least ever since I started blogging and sparingly being involved in the online Sports/Baseball Card Community) I've always asked to see what the card backs look like before the product goes live. Well last week, Sports Card News, who was able to attend Topps' big Transcendent part in Las Vegas, posted on Twitter (what the back of the 2018 Topps cards are going to look like.

2018 Topps Harrison Bader RC. Picture by @SportsCardNewshttps://twitter.com/SportsCardNews
And, I was awestruck...by how much open space there was on the back of the cards.

Before the interwebs, baseball cards were THE resource when it came to learning about your favorite players. Not only were there (in most cases) complete stat lines, but a simple (or long...depending on how long a player's career was) biography on the back about the player on the front of the card. There might be some random factoids about other players, or a "this date in baseball history" segment. There might even be a cartoon on the back. Lots of information could be packed on the back of a baseball card (if you were a big-time stat junkie, later years of Score baseball were for you...)

Last year, Topps limited the number of stat lines to five plus career totals. So for the first time in a very long time, no complete player stats for those who had played for more than five seasons. In it's place, Topps added a player's social media accounts (Twitter and Instagram if a player had them), or Topps' accounts if he was not a presence on social media. I get it, we're in a new age, what better way to follow your favorite player than on the social sites. Leave it to Topps for being forward thinking.

But this year's card back has a lot of issues for me. Now, I know that the only image shown was of a player with the rookie card logo, meaning that we're only going to see that person's minor league totals. I get that. That's been the deal since 2006. But there was just so much space, especially on the right side of the card. There is just so much blank space there. I'm wondering why? Couldn't Topps find something to fill that space? Maybe extend the text box?

At my new job, one of the things I'm learning is how to create sell sheets using PowerPoint. Yes, I've been in the food business for 19 years, but this is my first time at making these. I'm learning really fast that blank space is okay, as long as there is less of it. Too much space means a missed opportunity for content. And that's what I'm seeing here.

Now, I'm hoping that this is just the exception, and not the norm. People on Twitter began to wax poetic about how times have changed, and that they wanted full career stats. Maybe put in a QR code where that blank space was to make the cards more interactive. (Speaking of, have you seen those wines that have labels that when you put your smartphone to it - and have an app - the graphics come live??? That would be cool if Topps could do that with baseball cards...not that they haven't tried before...)

Again, I'm just going what I'm seeing in front of a computer screen. I haven't seen any of these cards live (yet). So I'm going to wait until I see these cards in person before making any decisions as to whether I'm going to like the design, front and back, or not.

Something tells me that, as always, I'm going to like them.

Bring on 2018!!!

Sincerely,

JayBee Anama

Monday, January 1, 2018

Pack Break Week: 2017 Topps Archives


How about we start 2018 off on the right foot by presenting "The Return of The Return of Pack Break Week." For those who have joined us for the first time (welcome, first of all to this humble, little blog), the concept is simple: opening packs of cards after the baseball card season ended. In this case, the packs I had bought for Pack Break Week were from the three Hobby stores I visited during National Baseball Card Day.

Now a month ago, I opened and showed off what was inside packs of 2017 Topps Series 1 and 2017 Stadium Club. Today, we'll open up a pack of 2017 Topps Archives, also known nowadays as "Topps Heritage Lite." Let me explain.

Archives as a product used to be about reprints. Reprints of cards of legendary players cards from Topps' library. The first instance of this was 1983 when Topps created a set reprinting the legendary 1952 Topps set. Sets later from the 80's and 90's honored the 1953 Topps set, the 1954 Topps set (with some help from Upper Deck), and the 1952-55 Brooklyn Dodgers. In 2001, Topps brought back the Archives product in honor of the company's 50th anniversary to their first baseball card product. The set consisted of two series, featuring the first and final cards of 200 hall-of-fame and fan favorite players. Other than the hard-to-read card numbers, it was a big hit. In 2002, Archives returned, featuring reprint cards of 200 players from his "best year." It was a good set, with easy to read numbers, but some players' best years were with a different team than what he was depicted (Andre Dawson's 1987 reprint was his Expos card, not his Cubs Topps Traded card). Topps also added the stats of that best year on the card backs. Unusual, yes. But hey, there was a point behind it.

The following three years, Topps mixed things up a bit, creating a run of cards called Topps All-Time Fan Favorites, combining Topps library of designs with never-before-seen pictures. Most of the cards made sense aesthetically, but then you had an old Tommy Lasorda on his 1954 Topps card, or a young Kirk Gibson on an 1995 Topps card. It was hit or miss on the images matching the card designs.

In 2011, now 60 years into the baseball card business, Topps introduced Topps Lineage. A unique set that featured a basic base set design that had not been used in Topps catalog. But the hook on this set were the inserts that honored Topps unique inserts: 1968 Topps 3-D, 1964 Topps Stand-Ups, 1975 Topps Minis for example. Cloth stickers, 80's designed Rookie sets, and card backs written in Spanish, honoring the 50's and 60's Topps Venezuelan sets, were also included in packs of Lineage. The product was a hit, thanks to the nostalgia factor Topps was pushing. The following year, the concept returned, but instead of Lineage, it was called...

Topps Archives.

But thanks to the MLB Properties rules, Topps could no longer create a set featuring retired players. There had to be current players as well. So instead of reprints, Topps picked 4 classic designs (in this case 1954, 1971, 1980, and 1984) and matched 50 players with each design. The insert sets once again came from Topps library of products (1977 Cloth Stickers, 1967 Stickers, 1968 3D, 1969 Deckle Edge, 1982 In-Action, and 1958 Classic Combos. There was an insert set of reprint cards that used the Archives logo. Since then, Topps has continued the Archives line, featuring 4 classic designs with their classic insert sets.

The problem:

Didn't some of these guys have Heritage cards using some of these same designs? I haven't done a study, but I'm sure if it hasn't happened yet, it will happen soon. Heritage is a product that has a strong following (not me, but I know people). To me, it just doesn't seem right.

But anyway. I do own the first two sets of this new incarnation. But for some reason, I had no interest getting the last four sets.

That was until the Derek Jeter reprint retrospective that was added to the 2017 set. Well, I did get the Jeter set, but I still have no plans to go after "Topps Heritage Lite."

On to the point (if I haven't bored you to death already...)


So what's inside this pack of 2017 Topps Archives?

Opening pack now...

Here are the eight cards that were in the pack above:
  • #60 Catfish Hunter, P, Athletics, 1960
  • #74 Corey Kluber, P, Indians, 1960
  • #206 John Lackey, P, Cubs, 1992
  • #252 Evan Gattis, C, Astros, 1992
  • #236 Braden Shipley, P, Diamondbacks, 1992
  • #45 Javier Baez, 2B, Cubs, 1960
  • #122 Willie Stargell, OF, Pirates, 1982
  • #193 Tony Clark, MLBPA Executive Director, 1982


Thoughts: Two Cubs cards. That makes up for the first two packs. No inserts, no short prints, no Jeter anything. Ehhh. You can call the Stargell card an ATFF because he does have an 1982 Topps card (could be a future "What Card is This?" subject). But still...TWO CUBS CARDS.

Tomorrow's pack will be from 2017 Topps Series 2. Want to know what's inside? Stay tuned.

Sincerely,

JayBee Anama

Sunday, December 31, 2017

It's the End of 2017, and What Have I Done??! Well...

Other than blow off Pack Break Week and then almost forget I have a baseball card blog? Not much.

A few days into the new job, I was asked if I wanted to take home a computer. As long as I can get it working, it was mine, no strings attached. Guess what I was able to do?

So after months of spending time at the local library, I have a new-ish computer. It's from at least 2013, but it is fully loaded. I just had to get rid of a lot of stuff (you know, because it was from the office, and there were things on here that I don't need to see). I had to add a lot of stuff (like Windows Office, because I need my spreadsheets). I bought new stuff, like a printer/scanner (because my scanner, my baby, wasn't compatible with the new Windows suite) and a wi-fi expander (because my modem is in the basement and we've needed one for quite some time). I also am now responsible for making sure I have a working firewall and anti-virus software.

So now, as promised, when I have time (and there is not a lot of it honestly), I will be back posting on this humble little blog.


My 2017 Topps binder is now complete. I did wind up buying a six-inch binder to hold all of the cards within it. It's crammed to the gills with cards from the following sets:
  • 700 cards from Topps Series 1 and 2
  • 300 cards from Topps Update Series
  • 5 micellaneous advertisement cards
  • 5 Topps Rookie Variation cards (from the factory set)
  • 5 Rediscover Topps cards (buybacks)
  • 40 First Pitch cards
  • 29 MLB Network cards
  • 20 Bowman Then and Now cards
  • 50 Five Tool cards
  • 20 Major League Milestones cards
  • 50 Memorable Moments cards
  • 150 1987 Topps tribute cards from all three series
  • 10 ad cards that had reprints of rookie cards on the front
  • 150 Topps Salute cards
  • 30 Topps Salute Jackie Robinson cards
  • 30 Topps Salute Independence Day cards
  • 14 2016 MLB Award Winners cards
  • 18 2016 Silver Slugger Award Winner cards
  • 18 2016 Gold Glove Award Winner cards
  • 21 Home Run Derby Champs cards
  • 25 MLB All-Star Game MVP cards
  • 50 All-Time All-Stars cards
  • 21 2017 Topps Archives Derek Jeter reprint cards (20 from set plus 1 red-back 2007 card)
  • 30 National Baseball Card Day cards
  • 30 Untouchables cards
  • 50 All-Rookie Cup reprint cards
  • 30 MVP Award Winner cards
  • 25 Postseason Celebration cards
  • 25 Storied World Series cards
  • 25 Heroes of Autumn cards


That's a whopping 1,976 cards.

Think about that for a minute.

One thousand, nine hundred, seventy-six cards.

Not counting the Jeter set, the Baseball Card Day, and the Ad and buybacks, that's 915 insert cards that Topps inserted in packs and blasters in 2017.

Boy, that's a lot of cards.

I'll be honest, I'm hoping Topps tones down on the number of insert cards in 2018. When there are almost as many insert cards than base cards in a product, it might be time to re-think what goes into the eponymous set. Don't get me wrong. Some of the insert sets were great. I liked the Bowman card set, the Salute series, and Memorable Moments. I wasn't a big fan of the Five Tool set only because it was too busy of a design trying to incorporate both the Topps Fire concept and five large images of a player onto the front of the card. I like the Retail-exclusive and Walmart/Target-exclusive insert sets as well. But did we really need parallel cards of insert cards? I'm not sure it was necessary as it made it harder to build a set. Now, of course some would say that I could have just kept the parallel cards and just included them with the base set, but my collecting OCD would have had a major problem with that.

But before I get ready for work (yes, I am working New Year's Eve tonight), I'd like to get something out of the way once and for all.

Remember during National Baseball Card Day, not only did I get free packs of the Trading Card day cards, I bought random packs of 2017 Topps products. Among them were a couple of packs of 2017 Topps Allen & Ginter's. Inside the pack that I had opened (saving the other for pack break week which I promise I will continue soon...with some surprises) was this card:


I had asked around, and people said to go ahead and open the card. So, as the calendar changes from 2017 to 2018, let's find out what was in the Noah Syndergaard Rip Card:




Okay, so it wasn't a Judge Auto. But it's a mini parallel of Red Sox legend Ted Williams. Judge what you will about the tone of my voice on the video once I opened the card, but I am happy. First for even getting a Rip Card in a pack, and then pulling a parallel card of a HOF legend.

So I have to get going soon. Let's get to it:

Goodbye 2017!!!


Hello 2018!!!


Goodbye 2017 Topps Design!!!


Hello 2018 Topps Design!!!


May all your collections grow to new heights. Let's hope Topps makes it a bit easier on us insane set collectors. Thank you for letting me into your computers this past year. I hope to be able to share more of my collection with you in 2018!!!

Sincerely,

JayBee Anama