Select The Player Who Should Be Added onto the 2014 All-Star Teams below as the HBC AL Final-Man

Select The Player Who Should Be Added onto the 2014 All-Star Teams below as the HBC NL Final-Man

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

It's Finally Over...Congrats to the Phillies!!!


The City of Brotherly Love can now celebrate their second World Series win. Congratulations to the Phillies.

Now...


Can we get to the business of 2009 Topps Baseball please??!

Sincerely,

JayBee Anama

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Wanted: 2008 Topps U & H Retail Exclusive Insert Cards

2008 Topps Updates and Highlights WalMart Dick Perez Art Johan Santana insert card #WM22. Wow what a mouthful!!! Picture blatantly stolen from the Cardboard Junkie. You'll still send me the card right???

With money being pinched all over the place, I have decided not to buy any blaster boxes that are on the shelves at WalMart, Target, or KMart. Does that mean I don't want the bonus cards anymore???

OF COURSE I STILL WANT THE BONUS CARDS!!!

That said, I am now going to go on my proverbial hands and knees and make the following request:

"If you purchase any blaster boxes or packs of 2008 Topps Updates and Highlights from the above three stores, and do not want the bonus cards (which should be: WalMart Dick Perez cards, Target T205, and KMart Rookie Gold Variations), please send me an e-mail. I would love to take them off your hands."


Just let me know what cards from 2008 Topps U & H you are looking for. If you need singles, I'll get singles. If you want all the players from a certain team, I'll throw in any inserts from those teams. If you want a Sarah Palin card...wait, I want one too...moving on...

So please, if you're willing to trade me those retail exclusive insert cards for something you really want, e-mail me with what you come up with and what you would like in exchange for them (I'll even buy if the price is reasonable).

The boys and girls on the Topps Message Boards are soon going to compile a checklist of the retail exclusive insert cards from U & H. Won't you help by not only telling me what you get, but letting me have them??? Thank you very much in advance.

Sincerely,

JayBee Anama

P.S. If you do happen to get either of the Palin cards and want to give those up as well, let me know. Thanks. jba

Cards That Will Never See the Light of Day...EVER!!! 2002 Topps Future Archives

It's been a while since this I wrote anything for the Light of Day segment and I know it was something that I was going to work on during the off season. So before I completely forget to write anything on this humble little blog this week, it's time to bring up the bonus cards that were featured in 2002 Topps Baseball factory sets. Because there were two separate sets exclusively included into the factory sets, I'll write two separate posts about them. This edition will focus on the 2002 Topps Future Archives set.

Following the wildly successful 2001 Topps Future Archives series, Topps brought this series back for another run in 2002. Topps picked 10 "current" superstars and reprinted their rookie cards (or first Topps cards), adding the 2002 Topps Archives logo onto each card.

But unlike the previous year, where any five cards could be found in any factory set, the cards were specifically included in certain factory sets. Meaning, depending on the kind of set you bought, and more importantly where you bought it, you would get five specific cards.

In every 2002 Topps Hobby Factory set, you received the following five cards (players, and the year of the card reprinted):


  • Alex Rodriguez, 1998
  • Jason Giambi, 1994 (previously discussed in a What??! of the Week post)
  • Pedro Martinez, 1993
  • Ichiro Suzuki, 2001
  • Jeff Bagwell, 1991 Traded

So now some questions remained. Who were the other five cards of? Where could you find them? Beckett had the answer, and I'll list them below, but nobody seemed to know what set they were inserted. I asked everyone on two separate message boards (this was actually my first post on the old Beckett Message Boards) if they knew anything. Alas, nobody did. A call to Topps Customer Service line was fruitless too.

As a last resort, I decided to send an e-mail to four people at Topps. Now before anyone begins to think I have connections, rest assured that I do not, and I was just guessing on names and e-mail addresses. An e-mail was sent to Arthur Shorin, Clay Luraschi, Marty Appel, and Sy Berger which read in part:

"Topps inserted five Future Archive cards in with the factory sets, with the only exception of having only 10 players on this set instead of 20. The cards were announced and placed on the checklist that was on the sales flyer that was given to hobby shops across the country. In purchasing a factory set, I opened the box, and found the first five cards mentioned (see above). On the back of each card, each was numbered 1 of 10, 2 of 10, 3 of 10, etc. That meant that there were five other cards to complete this subset. However, in talking to others who purchased factory sets and opened them, they found the same five cards I found in my set. The names of all 10 players somehow found their way on a checklist printed by a hobby magazine. However, in talking to many other collectors, nobody seemed to either know what I was talking about, nor did they open their factory sets to find them. And when they did, only the first five cards were in the factory set...

"I know I am taking a lot of valuable time away from your duties, but I just have one question, and I thought after asking everyone else, it was recommended that I ask you. Do these last five cards really exist? If they do, is there a way to acquire them directly from Topps? And if not, does that mean that they will come out again with the 2003 Topps factory sets?

"Thank you very much for your time."

Believe it or not, I received a response from Clay Luraschi the following day which stated:

"Yes, they do exist. I believe the 5 you have were found in a complete set that was featured in red box. Well, we made that the same set in a green box that was exclusive to JC Penny (sic) and Sears. And this is where those other 5 cards are.

"Cheers,

"Clay"

You mean that these other five cards could only be found in factory sets sold at these two stores? I didn't even know they sold baseball cards. I spent a day at the mall, visiting these two stores. But neither of them sold baseball cards. After talking to somebody at Sears, the gentleman said that while they don't sell cards at the store, they do offer them online.

A trip to the Sears website proved successful as the factory set that had the five elusive cards was right there. I bought it right away, and when it arrived, I opened the box, grabbed the factory set, opened said set, and included were:

  • Ivan Rodriguez 1991 Traded
  • Mike Piazza 1993 (previously discussed in a What??! of the Week post)
  • Nomar Garciaparra 1995
  • Ken Griffey Jr 1989 Traded
  • Albert Pujols 2001 Traded

After months of frustration, the five cards that I needed to put this set to bed were in my hands and immediately added to my Topps Archives binder. It was a good hunt, practically a year in the making. It was also an indication of how far I would go to get the cards that I want. I was willing to spend for just those five cards.

Next time, I'll talk about the other set included into 2002 Topps factory sets, 2002 Topps Draft Picks. And we'll take a look at where they are now in their careers (if any of them panned out).

Sincerely,

JayBee Anama

P. S.: To my friend the drizz, sorry about not posting scans earlier. It was late at night when I created this post, and I knew I wasn't going to get to scan the cards until this evening. For your viewing pleasure...jba

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Yeah, He Was Right...I Was Wrong.

A while back I created a post noting that the San Francisco Chronicle reported that there would be additional Topps cards of Barack Obama and John McCain which would be similar to the Sarah Palin variations. Then I received a comment from Hand Collated stating that these are actually going to be found in 2008-2009 Topps Basketball.




Once in a while, I'll get something wrong. This is one of those times. They look nice. And considering that Topps cancelled the Election Collection, these will have to do.

Oh and on an unrelated note, I'm almost done sorting through the U & H cards. I think it's a safe bet that I'll have a complete set on my hands. If anyone needs anything from this set, please let me know. I do have a number of inserts that I think should go to more deserving hands (like a Curtis Granderson Topps Year in Review card for example, let's see if somebody notices this...) that I'm going to use for trade bait, especially when the retail blasters come out.

Sincerely,

JayBee Anama

Saturday, October 25, 2008

That Went a Lot Faster Than I Thought

With my daughter (and then my son) helping to rip open packs (making sure she doesn't bang them on the table like they were a deck of playing cards), all 46 packs of Topps U & H are now open.

We are still sorting out the damage, but I can tell you that we did get the guaranteed 2 relics and 1 autograph card in the jumbo box. I'm so glad I'm a Cubs fan because my relic cards were of Ryan Dempster and Alfonso Soriano. The regular box yielded a Chase Utley relic. And for the record, my autograph card was of Steve Holm of the Giants. I even got a Stamp card (Washington and Lee University).

My kids are dividing up the Topps Town cards between the three of us (they each get a gold card), and will be taking over the computer shortly. Got to go.

Sincerely,

JayBee Anama

Spending Some Time with 2008 Topps Updates and Highlights


To those wondering where I will be for the rest of the evening, the above pictures should give you a clue. My daughter had already ripped the plastic off the boxes (darn, can't sell them on eBay now!!!) so she and I are now going to start ripping packs. Hoping for a full set (I better with both a full hobby and jumbo box in front of me), at least one Palin card (two would be a bonus), and if I do get one of the three Rookie Card screw-ups, I will hold my first ever blog contest. Stay tuned.
Sincerely,
JayBee Anama

Friday, October 24, 2008

Trying to Get an Idea of What 2009 Topps Baseball is Going to Look Like

So for the last few days (alright, weeks), until the arrival of 2008 Topps Updates and Highlights (which I will get this weekend…sorry Dave’s Dugout for not getting there sooner), I have been scouring the net, looking for any information pertaining to 2009 Topps. What I have found so far (as of Thursday, October 23) has been almost nothing.

I did find a flyer for a 2009 Topps Hanging display, (see below)...



    but the cards on the display all feature 2008 Topps Manny Ramirez.

    Determined to get something, I kept looking for something, anything. Then I heard that SCD did a podcast on Wednesday with Clary Luraschi and would discuss products coming in 2009, especially in Baseball. Awesome!!! Then I thought, “Wait, this is a podcast, they’re not going to show pictures.” I went ahead and listened to the program.

    They were discussing what effects the economy was going to have on the current market. Will people be buying more or less? How will the companies accommodate? Then, they finally got to talking about the 2009 Topps set. It’s still in production, and it will release in February. But 2009 Topps will feature the players who were acquired in the CMG deal this past summer. That means there will be cards of:

    • Jackie Robinson
    • Walter Johnson
    • Ty Cobb
    • Tris Speaker
    • Honus Wagner
    • Johnny Mize
    • Pee Wee Reese
    • Jimmy Foxx
    • Thurman Munson
    • Rogers Hornsby
    • Lou Gehrig
    • Mel Ott
    • George Sisler
    • Christy Mathewson
    • Cy Young
    • Roy Campanella, and
    • Babe Ruth

    This got me to thinking about themes. Since my old card shop spoiled me with sell sheets, I realized that since 1995, there has always been some kind of theme that coincided with that year’s Topps baseball product. While these themes were almost always presented as insert sets, they were the key selling hook on each year’s sales flyers. To wit:

    • 1995 Cyberstats (what if the 1994 strike never happened)
    • 1996 Mickey Mantle and the retirement of number 7
    • 1997 Willie Mays
    • 1998 Roberto Clemente
    • 1999 Nolan Ryan
    • 2000 Hank Aaron
    • 2001 50th Anniversary of Topps
    • 2002 Hall of Famers (Topps randomly inserted Topps cards of any HOF’s who appeared in their products up to that point)
    • 2003 Record Breakers
    • 2004 100th Anniversary of the World Series
    • 2005 Alex Rodriguez and Barry Bonds
    • 2006 The Return of Mickey Mantle to Topps
    • 2007 Generation Now
    • 2008 Trading Card History and The Presidential Election

    So in 2009, the CMG exclusives will play a big role in Topps 2009 Baseball products, and will probably be key inserts in their flagship brand come February. I’m sure we’ll see relics, cut signatures, limited parallels, maybe a DNA relic (or two, never know).

    Personally, as long as they don’t mix in the seventeen players into the set the way they do with Mantle (as card number 7 since 2006), I will be happy. Be assured that sell sheets for 2009 products will mention at least once the CMG exclusives.

    Now if I could only find that darn design…

    Sincerely,

    JayBee Anama

    Thursday, October 23, 2008

    And Wouldn't You Know It...

    Friend of the blog tdlindgren commented in my previous post, "Interesting how it just happens to be two of the bigger name rookie cards that are errors. Look out for a Longoria!"

    Well sure enough...


    We now return to your regularly scheduled blog viewing.

    Sincerely,

    JayBee Anama

    Wednesday, October 22, 2008

    Okay, So I Was Wrong About The "No Gimmick" Thing...

    Only after I finish my post on 2008 Topps U & H showing up on the Bay do I read UD shill...ahem...the guy at Stale Gum talking about possibly ending his boycott of Topps products as long as there were, and I'm indirectly quoting him here, "no cards of furry creatures, contrived errors, or cards of fictional teenage prospects."

    Guess what he found...




    WHAT??!

    The same eBay case ripper pulled both of these lovely cards out of his boxes. In both auction descriptions, he writes,

    "...possible only card produced, maybe only One Exists?"

    Yeah right. These are 1 of 1's and you, buddy, are the only person on the planet who pulled BOTH OF THEM!!! And to boot, he has BIN's on both of them. Get this. The Bruce has a Buy It Now price of $1,500, and the Fukudome has a BIN of $2,500. Both have opening bids of $0.99, and as of 1:27 AM CST, the same guy is bidding on both. But there are reserves in place on both, so the BIN's are still active. This is too funny.

    If these was an unannounced variation card (like the Jacoby Ellsbury card) or a completely separate card with the same design (ie. Poley Walnuts), then I'd think yeah, I'd go for it. But these are blatant error cards, like the Joba Chamberlain cards of last year (reverse negative, Houston Astros), I'm not going to lose sleep if I don't get them.

    To my friend and eBay rival Craig from Texas, they're all yours!!!

    Sincerely,

    JayBee Anama

    The Answer for This Week's Trivia Question, October 13, 2008

    So I'm late with the answer. Big deal!!! Why???

    Because nobody even answered the question!!!

    Okay, maybe the question was too hard. Maybe I should have worded the question better. Maybe I created my next post too soon and nobody saw it. Whatever the reason, it was missed. Well here is the answer.

    As I said in the post prior, there were 110 cards that made up this unique checklist featuring all 732 cards from 2004 Topps. However, it seems that Topps didn't notice but there were a few errors and some cards were missing. The question was how many cards and of whom?

    Hey, that Kyle Davies guy sure looks like Khalid Ballouli...wait a minute...

    There were two cards missing from the checklist and in both cases, it was because Topps put the image of the previous card in place of the real one. In the above example, Kyle Davies #313 card was missing, and Khalid Ballouli's card appeared twice.

    The second card was the Edwin Jackson/Greg Miller Dodgers Prospects #689 card, which was conspiciously absent on the poster, leaving the Jeremy Guthrie/Grady Sizemore card, which, like the Ballouli card, to appear twice. Now in both cases, the full image of the card missing appeared on one card, not split into two, three, or sometimes four, different cards. So I actually took a scan of the missing cards, shrunk the image down to the size of the cards on the poster (as best as I could), and glued the images onto the checklist.

    Is it wrong? Have I vandalized the cards? Is the sheet no longer in it's pure condition? Give me a break. It's my sheet, I can do what I want with it. Besides, who's going to notice right???

    Sincerely,

    JayBee Anama

    2008 Topps Updates and Highlights are Now on Display on the Bay!!!

    Because my card shop won't be getting his shipment until probably the end of the week, I'm going to take some time and peruse the big online auction site and see what the new cards look like. Give me a minute...

    Okay, I'm back. After looking at the pictures...WOW!!!

    Here are some of the highlights:


    The 2008 Topps Campaign '08 Sarah Palin cards. The one on the right is the regular card. The one on the left...don't even ask.


    The 2008 Topps U & H Kosuke Fukudome #1 card. If this looks different than the one from the factory sets (see below or click here)...

    That's because it IS DIFFERENT!!!


    The 10-card continuing saga of Mickey Mantle features the 1957 Topps design.


    Buyback cards???

    Now here's a card that will make you want to sing...


    Those First Couples cards look really nice.

    First impressions, I'm thrilled. The insert cards are well designed. And the unannounced box toppers are a nice touch (the buybacks). There will be chrome cards, silk cards, the usual parallel (gold, black, platinum) cards as well. But here is what I'm going to go after:

    • the 330 card base set
    • the TMOTTB card
    • the 25 card WBC set
    • the 11 card Ring of Honor set
    • the 10 card Mets Ring of Honor set
    • the 58 card Year in Review set conclusion
    • the 10 card Mantle set continuation
    • both Sarah Palin cards???
    • the 41 card First Couples set
    • the Walmart Exclusives (guessing 10, could be completely different set)
    • the Target Exclusives (guessing 15, could be completely different set)
    • the KMart Exclusives (guessing 15, could be completely different set)

    That means I'm going after 488 cards + whatever the three chain stores has to offer, and I'm done. Money is tight, prices are going to be lower. Will I take advantage? Of course I will!!! As long as there are no extra unannounced gimmicks (and after going through 25 + pages of eBay, I have not seen one yet), I'll be quite busy until 2009 Topps comes out in February.

    Let the games begin!!!

    Sincerely,

    JayBee Anama

    Sunday, October 19, 2008

    The First to Four Wins Becomes...

    If you told me right now that in March of 2008 you said that it would be the Phillies and the Rays in the World Series...well...you were right...

    AND YOU'RE LYING!!!

    The Rays have finally taken down the defending World Champion Red Sox and will host the Phillies in Game 1 of the 2008 World Series.

    History dictates that the Rays will win it (unless Sports Illustrated puts them on their cover previewing the World Series, then you might as well hand the trophy to Philadelphia). Why?

    Think about this...

    When the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim changed renamed themselves the Anaheim Ducks in time for the 2006-2007 NHL season, they won Lord Stanley's cup.

    So there you have it. Phillies at Rays on Wednesday night on FOX. I bet they're crying their eyes right now and hoping for a short series. May the best team win.

    Sincerely

    JayBee Anama

    Saturday, October 18, 2008

    Comments. We've Got Comments. We Have Stacks and Stacks of Comments.

    It's that time of the month where I go through Reader's Comments and respond to some of them.

    Starting with Dave at Fielder's Choice, for his comment regarding the Rays President Matt Silverman stating that nobody did anything worthy of the honor of throwing the ceremonial first pitch in the Ray's first playoff game ever (which eventually was bestowed upon Ray Higgins, senior Vice President, who joined the team as it's first ever employee). It wasn't the Chicago media who reported this, it was the Washington Post who had the story. The Chicago Tribune picked it up because of the Rays-Sox series. By the way, thanks for giving the White Sox an early holiday. Heck, if the Cubs weren't going to go, then neither should the White Sox.

    Dave also questioned my choice of Angels pitcher Scot Shields over Rays pitcher Grant Balfour as the AL middle reliever for my End of the Year All-Star Team. Yeah, Balfour had better stats, but my initial criteria for this position were those who were among the league leaders in holds. Balfour was so far down the list, I didn't even see his numbers. But after seeing what he did against the Pale Hose in game one, I was beginning to have second thoughts.

    Another Dave (no relation) commented that he is looking forward to my previous End of the Year MLB All-Star teams. I do too as it will bring up lots of memories about what my mindset was during those years when it would look like I was just basing my picks on whoever made the all-star team that year. It only goes as far as back as 1987 though. Not necessarily historical, but 20 plus years worth of teams is a start.

    To the gentleman over at Hand Collated who commented about the extra Obama and McCain cards being part of the Topps basketball set instead of the U & H set. I thought they'd be part of the baseball set. I could be wrong.

    To Jason Fry, who was the inspiration in the first place to list "Cards that will Never See the Light of Day...EVER!!! Thank you. I have enough material that should keep me busy for at least one off season.

    To Mario...I think we all know how I feel about it. Still, good luck. And on an unrelated note, I can jest about asking Topps to give me free stuff because I know that it won't happen any time soon (unless they've reconsidered of course).

    Friend of the blog tdlindgren commented a couple times regarding the Topps Mantle reprint sets. You know, I too have the Bazooka card you're talking about, and it also is in my collection along with the other 36 cards. Good to see that I'm not the only person who has all these cards together. I would have liked to have seen Topps also continue reprinting a player's entire Topps card library. I even had compiled such a list somewhere, I'll have to find to find it one day. I had players on there like Bonds, Ripken, Schmidt, Brett, Molitor, et. al.

    The girls at Dinged Corners mentioned that it seems that we collectors have been "bombarded with Mantle cards in modern collecting." I agree. It was great that Topps was able to sign Mantle's estate. And while I was against them bringing back the #7 card back to their eponymous sets, it was nice to have a full album again, instead of seeing a blank where card #7 should be. But enough is enough. Creating a card for Mantle every year takes away a slot for someone who could be more deserving of a card.

    Ryan Cracknell of Trader Crack extolled the positives about Razor inclusion into the baseball card market with a caveat that I agree with. I personally can't call these cards "rookie cards" but other people will, and that's fine. But like he said, Razor's products will be considered Minor League. And there isn't a minor league set that ever becomes a must have.

    Back to Dave at Fielder's Choice about picking my brain regarding why players like ARod, Matsui, Varitek, and Kevin McReynolds didn't have Topps cards during their first few years. I remember reading somewhere that young Alex Rodriguez was upset that he was not included in the 1993 Topps Traded set as part of Team USA that he didn't sign the Topps contract his first few years in the majors. I guess Topps just could not get Matsui signed to a contract his first few years either. Must be something to that as players like Ichiro, and even Fukudome, signed on with Topps later in their US "rookie" campaigns. An ESPN column mentioned something about Varitek not signing a contract with Topps by choice, stemming from his 1992 Topps Team USA card (fifteen years is a long time to hold a grudge, don't you think???) As for Kevin McReynolds, I'll have to get back to you on that. I have to find the Topps Magazine article on it. When I do, I'll post it here.

    So that's it for now. Please keep those comments coming. Thanks to those who've said something, whether they agreed with me, disagreed with me, or just wanted to add something more to the post. As long as you're not that adolfo loser from India who just copies stuff to make it look like he's trying to say something, and then spams his crappy website in the comments. You, buddy, are not welcome unless you have something more meaningful to say.

    Sincerely,

    JayBee Anama

    The Evil Empire Has Claimed Another...NOOOOOO!!!

    The reach of the Empire knows no bounds.

    While I don't like it, I respect his decision. He gave his decision a lot of thought, even asking his readers what they think before making his choice. He was even surprised by the results (yes, even I commented a "why not?") He could keep his finger up all day long for all I care, it doesn't matter to me. He's been around for a long time, and he too deserves a chance to prove himself...NOW THAT HE TOO IS BEING SPONSORED BY UPPER DECK!!!

    Congratulations to Chris Harris of Stale Gum. I don't fault your reasons. Heck, as long as it saves money, even I'd do it (and I made that comment too, except not for UD). I have no doubts that you will still keep your standards high like always only because you've been in the game for a long time, and have done enough of these to tell it like it is.

    Obviously, there will be those that will now question your objectivity, (there always will be...darn catch-22), but as with the other guy already in on this deal, I'm willing to give it a wait and see before making my decision. And after reading your work for a few years now, I'm not worried about it (all fingers aside). Good luck.

    Sincerely,

    JayBee Anama

    P.S. Topps, if you need a willing volunteer...jba

    Something I Learned Late Last Night Watching "What's My Line"

    2001 Topps Archives Robin Roberts #235. Ladies and Gentlemen, it's time to play...WHAT'S MY LINE???

    I couldn't sleep last night. I wasn't thinking about the past controversies that happened in the blogosphere these last few days. I wasn't even thinking about baseball the last few days (that's what happens when both Chicago teams get eliminated from the playoffs before the weekend...sigh).

    Anyway, the Game Show Network shows old time game show programs after 2:00 CST. If you've never seen these shows, they're a real treat, and what contrast to game shows you see now. If you've never heard of What's My Line, the concept is you have four spectacularly dressed people on a panel (celebrities of the time) and their goal is to guess the line of work a person does by asking him or her yes or no questions about what their job is. If the panel is stumped, if the panel gets ten "no" answers, or if the panel fails to guess the person's job, then the subject wins something (based on the scorecard used, $50.00 was the biggest prize a person could win). Now if the person is a well known celebrity, or at least somebody that the panel knows personally, the panel is blindfolded. In this particular episode, the blindfolds were used because the subjects in question were the personal secretaries of three of the panelists.

    The next person to sign in (they literally have to sign their name on the Helene Curtis blackboard...even then there was corporate sponsorship) was none other than superstar pitcher Robin Roberts of the Philadelphia Phillies. Now the panel knew he was a baseball player, as I would assume most of the people living east of the Mississippi River (remember, no teams west of St. Louis back then) but apparently that's not why he was there. The host asked the producers to show on the screen what his line of work was...(PRESIDENT FOR A FROZEN SHRIMP COMPANY). And I thought, "Wow. He and Forrest Gump have something in common."

    In all reality, Robin Roberts, when he wasn't mowing the opposition down during the baseball season, was also President of the Gold King Seafood Company, which specialized in frozen shrimp. The panel failed to guess what his line was, but they came pretty close at the end.

    Somehow I fell asleep after that and woke up to an infomercial about a Magic Bullet. Must...get...one.

    Sincerely,

    JayBee Anama

    Wednesday, October 15, 2008

    Does Razor Entertainment Really Think Topps is Going to Lose Sleep Over This???

    Not that I care about the Razor Entertainment Company, because other than that one Razor card that I got for free at the National, their products will never appear in my home. But I have to do a WHAT??! (as in What are You Thinking??!) on them.

    On a message board that he promises never to post in again unless it is for announcements and what not, Brian Gray, the head guy at Razor, says that the speculated subject of card #154 in their first product will be none other than Matt Wieters, the Baltimore Orioles first round draft pick in 2007. Other than that he is another in the line of potential up-and-coming future stars, what does it matter to me if they locked him up to an exclusive deal. I don't deal with prospects. I don't care.

    Wait, that's not the clincher.

    On the same post, let me quote what the gentleman has to say:

    "Razor has signed Matt Wieters to a contract that extends from now until 365 days after he makes the 25-man roster of an MLB team. This is an EXCLUSIVE for images and autographs of Matt.

    What this means:

    1> For Razor: we get to use his image/autographs in all products for this term.
    (My comment: Might as well, you paid the money for him.)

    2> For all draft pick companies: Any contracts in effect now are still valid until expiration, at which point they are not renewable. (Huh? I thought that TriStar was the only company allowed to do Minor League cards...oh I guess they're talking about Donruss!!!)

    3> For upper deck: when Matt makes the 25-man, they can use his picture on a card per their deal with mlbpa. If they want his autograph, they have to come to Razor to get it.... we all know companies will need autographed rookie cards!!!!!!!
    (Yawn! Of course I'm yawning. It's Upper Deck.)

    4> For topps: Topps will have NO RIGHTS AT ALL to make Matt Wieter's rookie cards (as they dont (sic) have the licensing for such). THE ONLY way they will have a rookie card of Matt is by coming to Razor to get the rights. The same goes for autographs. TO CLARIFY, NO BOWMAN ROOKIES of ANY kind unless Topps licenses from us."

    WHAT??! Is he serious? You mean Topps can't get this guy unless they talk to Razor first???

    Does this guy think that this is the first time that the Topps Company is going to miss out on getting a potential major leaguer into their products? Does this guy think that the Topps Company is shaking in their boots because they now can't get this one guy??? Does he think that Topps will be so impatient that they won't be willing to wait another year or two before they can get him into their products and would want to even talk to Razor??? Apparently Brian Gray does.

    I don't think the people at Topps will be losing sleep over not getting Wieters onto their products (their Topps branded products anyway). Because even if they have to wait a full year AFTER he earns a spot on the Baltimore Orioles, it would not be the first time that they've "missed out" on getting star players onto their sets until much later. Case in point, here are some players and they years they did not appear on Topps cards:
    • Alex Rodriguez 1994-1997,
    • Hideki Matsui 2003-2005,
    • Maury Wills 1960-1966,
    • Kevin McReynolds 1983-1987,
    • Jason Varitek 1997-2006

    Okay, small, yet recent group of players, but you get the idea. And as much as I would have liked to include players from the "We're saving them for the Traded set" of the mid-80's, the list would have been longer. You get the point though.

    If I was a prospector (and there is nothing wrong with that kind of collecting), this news is huge, and considering the amount of responses on the board where this information was found, it's pretty much the focus of about 80% of the "active" posters on this board. No Bowman Wieters??? How could they??? This is awesome!!!

    I've never heard of many of the guys these prospectors are drooling over. And it's funny how people say they collect this player, and he doesn't have that many cards out to begin with. And what cards he does have, I could care less about. But I have to admit, since hanging out with this crowd of collectors, the names become more and more familiar. Does it mean that I'll be joining them? Of course not. I'm a set collector, and it would be really hard for me to have cards of one guy, knowing that there are other cards from that same set (darn card numbers).

    But back to the point. Topps has been in the game long enough. They may have gambled many times on players who may never make it to the majors. They may have missed out on getting the first cards of eventual superstars and Hall of Famers. But that doesn't mean that they are completely inept at this or that they're going to lose sleep because they can't get Wieters into their products, Topps or Bowman, right away. After the 365 day period ends, it's anything goes. Razor does not have a MLBPA license (nor do I think they deserve one) and after that year ends, Topps can negotiate at their leisure.

    And when Wieter's 2011, 2012, or whatever year Topps is able to put him on a set, I won't be actively searching for his cards unless I need any of his cards to complete my sets.

    I will give the company credit, they are certainly feeding the right kind of market with this information. The question is...will the rest of the Hobby buy into this??? Somehow, I doubt it.

    Sincerely,

    JayBee Anama

    UPDATE: Wednesday, October 15, 2008.

    The Beckett Blog (nice to see Chris Olds back on his feet), has a post out regarding this. One thing struck me as peculiar:

    "The move means that Baseball America’s 2008 Minor League Player of the Year will not have cards in future Bowman products as Topps signs players to individual contracts to appear on its cards.

    And after Wieters makes his big-league debut, Topps and Upper Deck will be able to produce standard cards, but no autographed or memorabilia cards — unless they negotiate for his rights, which would be lucrative, through Razor."

    Wait...in the above message board post, Brian Gray proudly states:

    "Topps will have NO RIGHTS AT ALL to make Matt Wieter's rookie cards (as they dont (sic) have the licensing for such). THE ONLY way they will have a rookie card of Matt is by coming to Razor to get the rights. The same goes for autographs. TO CLARIFY, NO BOWMAN ROOKIES of ANY kind unless Topps licenses from us."

    WHAT??!

    Who do we believe? What should we believe? If this is true, I don't think Topps is really going to be concerned about this. jba

    Monday, October 13, 2008

    Card That Makes You Go...What??! of the Week: 1996 Bowman Mickey Mantle Reprint #20

    1996 Bowman Mickey Mantle Reprint Card #20. If I had not told you that this card could only be found in 1996 Bowman, would you have thought that it was from 1997 Topps???

    This week's What??! concerns the fact that Topps threw off many collectors when they ran their Mickey Mantle reprints as inserts in 1997 Topps.

    As we all know, 1996 Topps included 19 reprinted insert cards of Mickey Mantle, from his 1951 rookie card to his 1969 final card. As we also know, his 1952 Topps card is not his rookie card. The label of rookie card belongs to Topps' chief rival at the time, Bowman. The 1951 Bowman has a painted picture of a youthful Mantle staring at the heavens, with his name floating within a black bar. Each year he had a card in his playing career was included in this set. His 1951 RC, 1952 Topps, 1953 Topps, 1954 Bowman, 1955 Bowman, 1956-1969 Topps. The two years that Topps didn't have a card of him was because Bowman signed him to an exclusive deal which kept him from appearing on Topps cards. As we finally know, Topps bought out Bowman in 1956, thus returning his rights to the Topps Company. Cards numbered 1-19 were found in 1996 Topps baseball.

    In 1997, Topps decided to continue the Mantle series by inserting reprint cards from the Bowman series, along with some Topps All-Star cards, combo cards, and World Series highlights. There was only one problem. The second series of reprints were numbered 21-36.

    Wait, so if the 1996 series ended with 19, and the 1997 began with 21...

    Where was Card #20??? What was Card #20???

    For those of us who didn't collect Bowman cards (and you'll be surprised that there are those kinds of people out there), we would have never known that card #20 (the 1952 Bowman reprint) was inserted into packs of Bowman at a rate of 1:48 packs. For those who collected Bowman only (and you'll be surprised that there are those kinds of people out there), it was a neat insert card. Because it was only one card, and no other cards to speak of it in packs of Bowman, this one card insert set was a nice supplement to those collectors of 1996 Bowman.

    But what about those who were tearing their hair out in 1997 when they couldn't figure out where #20 could be? Remember, this was all happening around the time that the Internet was starting to appear in people's homes. Many would not have known to look for sites like eBay, or Beckett...heck, the word "blog" had not even existed yet. Not to many people would have thought to look in other sets to see if this card existed. So most set collectors would have given up and just considered a complete series 2 set as #21-#36. Even Beckett lists the set as complete at 16 cards.

    For those that found out that the elusive #20 was in Bowman, it was only a matter of time before they found their prize at a card show or online. Once acquired, it was just a matter of trying to find a place to put it...with their 1996 Topps sets or their 1997 Topps sets. For me, I decided that 1997 was the Willie Mays year, so even though the second set of Mantle cards were found in 1997 Topps, I added them to my 1996 Topps binder. And that's where the above copy of my 1996 Bowman (the only official Bowman card in my collection) will stay.

    There may be people still out there, more than 12 years later, who have long given up on their search for this elusive card. It is my hope that they eventually find what they are looking for and lock up this card for their sets. And throughout all their searching and hair pulling, they could probably be asking themselves...

    Topps, what were you thinking??!

    Sincerely,

    JayBee Anama

    Topps Trivia Question of the Week, October 13, 2008

    Last week I asked a simple question to kick off our newest segment...Topps Trivia Question of the Week. I also promised prizes if I found a question that I thought would be challenging. I think I have one here, and there will be a prize awarded to the first person to get this question right.

    This week's category is...2004 Topps Traded and Rookies Checklists.

    Here's a little background on this undervalued, yet innovative set. (Wait...he's calling a bunch of cheap checklists...INNOVATIVE??!)

    When packs of 2004 Topps Traded and Rookies were introduced to the mass market, each pack included one checklist. Each checklist card was as thick as a regular relic card, meaning that these were used to deter packsearching. Clever concept which was carried over from the year before (2003 Topps Traded and Rookies). However the checklist was one sided and inclued roughly 25-30 cards per checklist. Which means you needed 10 of these cards to have a complete checklist. Why??? Here was the quote printed on every checklist:

    Pictured on the front of this checklist are images of all 732 regular base cards from 2004 Topps Series 1 and 2 Baseball. This card is ## of 110 cards needed to complete the front images.

    That meant that each checklist was part of an 10 x 11 card puzzle (or 21.5 inch by 38.5 inch) checklist poster of all the cards from 2004 Topps Baseball. So now what to do? Most people throw out their checklists, but this time, they're actually collectible (to make it even more of a challenge, the hobby packs had red colored banners on the top of the cards and the retail ones had blue ones). And you'd get a cool puzzle to boot. But who would have the time and how would it be possible to get all 110 checklists without breaking an entire case of product?
    Well, it was possible to acquire all 110 cards (thanks to those on the Topps Message Board), and I think I am one of the few (yet insane) people that have all 110 cards (big deal) and have it framed (okay...nut job).

    The completed puzzle needed a really large frame to have it displayed. I went to a craft store, and found the biggest possible frame (and luckily the poster fit). To attach to the frame, and to make sure that the cards don't just shuffle around after hanging it, I used double sided, yet not permanent, tape so that it would be easy to move the cards around to fit for the puzzle. With all checklists being glossy on the back side, I didn't have to worry about tape residue either way because the tape was removable. The finished project is really cool, but unfortunately, I can't get a good shot of it without getting any glare from the lights or the camera. You'll just have to do with this three-card scan as an illustration.


    It's not the clearest in the world, but you get the idea. Okay, so on to this week's trivia question.

    Due to what I could only call poor editing on everybody's part at Topps, not everyone's card appeared on the puzzle/poster/sheet. The question:

    How many cards were erroneously excluded from the poster, and who were the player or players missing?

    Now the only reason why I'm also asking who's missing is because it's easy to guess a number, but to make it challenging, to get the question right, you also need to tell me who's cards they were. The prize will be a 2008 Topps Series II Ichiro Suzuki relic card.

    The first person to get both answers right will get the Ichiro card. As always, please leave the answers in the comments section. One answer per person, you are not allowed to edit your responses, and yes, you can obviously use the same number as another person, provided that you include the names of the players involved. So good luck.

    Sincerely,

    JayBee Anama

    Saturday, October 11, 2008

    So Has the Evil Empire Claimed One of Our Fellow Bloggers???

    In one of the most bizzare incidents in the Hobby blogosphere today, word has spread like wildfire that the guy who runs Wax Heaven, the "number 1 card blog," will now be sponsored by...gasp...Upper Deck.

    (cue Darth Vader/Empire...not the Carpet company...entrance theme music)

    Congratulations to Mario, Tatiana, and the rest of the Alejandro family on this news. With the economic crisis finally hitting home, something like this can only help their cause. Although he did say what he was going to do with the free stuff he will be getting from UD, there was no mention (maybe because it is an insignificant matter) of any financial details with their sponsorship (and if there were, it is totally none of our business).

    And again, with any kind of change in the Hobby, there are those now saying that the sky is falling and that he and his site will never be the same again. Mario was this, and now with UD sponsoring him, can we trust him? Will UD change him? Do we know the REAL Mario Alejandro?

    People, this is not the election. If you've read his work (and apparently more than 400,000 people have), then you know what you're going to get with him. Will it all change now that he is on the UD take? Give it time will ya? He hasn't even gotten the first package from them yet. I never care what people say about UD and their products anyway. I never buy the stuff, so it doesn't matter to me what he says or will say about them. But for those of you that think he's going to stop being objective and be all "everything is happy and rainbows with UD," please wait until the first thing comes out of this website before casting the first negative comment or "I'm leaving.".

    So congratulations Mario. It is well deserved. Although I do hate to see that you will be joining the dark side of the Hobby (notice the name of MY blog???), I have no doubts that it will be business as usual over there in that little patch of Heaven. Good luck.

    Sincerely,

    JayBee Anama

    P.S. (Grabbing pen) Dear Topps... jba

    If This is His Topps Card, Then What Card is This?: Dan Haren

    Either I have to find some better cards to use for this segment, or this has become way too easy. Hopefully this will be a bit more challenging.

    This week's subject on our What Card is This segment is Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Dan Haren. In 2007, he started the All Star Game for the American League team. And why not. With the Oakland Athletics, he was 10-3 with an ERA of 2.30 in 19 starts before the July midsummer classic. He eventually settled with a 15-9 record and an ERA of 3.07. Still good numbers on a team who somehow finds ways to win with young players.

    Sadly, the Athletics went through another offseason binge that saw Haren traded to the Diamondbacks along with fellow SP Connor Robertson for SPs Brett Anderson, Dana Eveland, and Greg Smith, infielder Chris Carter, and outfielders Aaron Cunningham and Carlos Gonzalez.

    When 2008 came along, the Diamondbacks pitching staff looked a lot stronger with Haren behind Cy Young Winner Brandon Webb in the starting rotation. On paper, that was a one-two tandem that not too many teams wanted to face. Haren wound up going to the All-Star game again in 2008 with an 8-5 record, 112 K's, and 2.72 ERA. And as with his second half last year, he eventually settled with 16-8 record, 206 strikeouts and 3.33 ERA. Even with Webb and Haren manning the rotation, the DBacks were not able to win the NL West Division, eventually conceding the title to the surging Dodgers. But all the same, the boys will be back next year, and will look to compete again in a weak NL West division.

    So onto the cares. For his 2008 Topps Series I card (#245), Haren is pictured as a member of the Athletics. Even though he was involved in his trade only nine days after the bombshell Cabrera-Willis to the Tigers trade (and they were pictured as Tigers in series I), the Topps company missed photoshopping a DBacks jersey onto Haren. At least they didn't make the mistake of listing him as a DBack while still in his A's jersey:


    That's card one. Here is card #2:


    Hey, he's in a Diamondbacks jersey. And as of today (October 11, 2008), the Updates and Highlights cards have not arrived (in the event that any of you thought that I was somehow able to get them earlier than the rest of the world). So the question now becomes...

    What Card is This???

    I'll give it some time. Please leave your guesses in the comments section. The answer will come tomorrow (with acknowledgements to the people who are able to guess correctly). Good luck.

    Sincerely,

    JayBee Anama

    UPDATE: Sunday, October 12,2008.

    The results are in. First, to the anonymous poster, who thought I made the card. I'm not that good with the photoshop skills, and as I said in the first post that I made for What Card is This, all cards I use are real.

    Tasteslikedirt answered that this card was from series 2. Unfortunately, that's not the case either. Dan Haren only had one card in 2008 Topps eponymous set, and that was #245 (the first card of the two).

    This week's winner is the Cardboard Junkie, who correctly answered that this card was from the 2008 Topps Diamondbacks team set.

    I love these 14-card team sets. Not only does are these sets a little more updated than the base set, but it could possibly feature cards of players who did not make either series (I or II). Now, these sets are normally found in your local retailer (Target or WalMart), but if you're lucky, you'll only find your local team. I've been fortunate to find websites that sell all 30 team sets, and because I try buying them all at one time, I've also received free shipping.

    So there you have it. Thank you for playing What Card is This? jba

    Wednesday, October 8, 2008

    Cards That Will Never See the Light of Day...EVER!!! 2001 Topps Future Archives

    Last week, I received an e-mail from Jason Fry. Said he loved the blog (thanks), and he had a question:

    Question: Do you know of, or have you somewhere compiled, a list of all the Topps "extra" cards from their full sets -- the holiday sets, "bonus" packs in sets, team-specific bonus players in sets, etc.?

    The immediate answer to this question was, "Absolutely, I can give you a list of all the bonus cards that came with the factory sets (I'm guessing you want to know what was included in sets since 2001).

    My answer (because I had the checklists, and in many instances the actual cards) wound up taking two e-mails with not only the cards included in each set, but also which factory sets these cards could be found. By the time I was done, Jason e-mailed to thank me for the list. He also said:

    This is awesome -- much appreciated! You might link this list off your great blog somewhere -- I'm sure there are other seekers like me.

    You know what, that sounds like a great idea. And what better way to kill time this off season than to post Cards That Will Never See the Light of Day...EVER!!!

    I've already written about a a few of these in previous posts (2008 Topps Hobby Factory Set, Retail Factory Set), but I don't think I ever explained what I mean by "Light of Day." As many collectors know, complete factory sealed sets are rarely, if ever, opened. Since the Topps company began selling their cards in factory set form, many people, collectors and non-collectors alike, have been purchasing these sets and in many instances, just put them away. They treat them like investments, hoping that the value of these sets will grow over time. And it seems that the values of these sets are higher if they are in their original sealed state.

    Now there are numbers of reasons why people, even those who don't collect during the baseball season, buy these factory sets. Often they include:

    1. Investment potential.
    2. As a surprise to their child or children when they reach a certain age (most parents will start buying Topps factory sets the year their child was born, and I've actually met some moms who do this...been rejected many times when I asked if they could adopt me...that's another story)
    3. Habit. Many people will still buy a set, even long after their child stopped being interested.
    4. Quick way to get a complete set without having to break open boxes of cards.
    5. Etc. Etc. Etc.

    All are good reasons. And if you bought packs and boxes of these cards to build your collection, and already have all the cards anyway, keeping a sealed set was a good idea. Until 1992. That was the year that the factory set game changed. This was the first year that Topps included extra cards in the factory sets that you wouldn't normally find in the base set. They were insert cards. In the case of 1992 Topps, Topps Gold cards (and a few Topps BlackGold cards). Okay, not too bad. But they also included preview cards for 1993 Topps. And unless you had Topps Magazine, the only way to see these cards was to...gasp...open the factory set.

    Now the debate...whether we as collectors should open these sets so we can add these cards in the collection or leave them in the sealed box. Some people dared open them, and did get to see what these bonus cards looked like. Many others however, left the cards in the box. Sealed, never opened, these bonus cards would never see the light of day...EVER!!! Hence the name.

    While there have been full insert sets included in factory sets prior to 2000 (see 1995 Topps Opening Day, and the seven-card Cyberstats End of Year set), it was not until 2001 that collecting factory sets took on a whole new meaning, not just in the number of different sets, but what was to be included in them.

    Topps used the year 2001 to celebrate their 50th year in the baseball card business. Their base set brought back a number of special cards that had not been seen in a long time. Manager cards and team cards returned to the base set for the first time in a number of years. There was a number of insert sets honoring baseball players from the past 50 years included in the Topps set. Topps also brought back the Archives name in 2001. Topps Archives prior to 2001 were created to honor the company's first few baseball card sets. The famous 1952 set was reprinted in 1983, and the 1953, 1954, and Brooklyn Dodgers sets were introduced the following decade. The 2001 effort brought back the reprint concept, but instead of reprinting a full set of cards, the company reprinted the first and last Topps cards of more than 200 players and managers.

    If you haven't already clicked onto another person's link on my blog roll and given up reading, you're probably wondering why I'm explaining all this. Well it's because when the 2001 Topps factory sets appeared in hobby shops and retail stores, each set contained a five card pack of "Future Archives" cards. In every factory set was a five card pack of cards that had the 2001 Topps Archives logo, and the cards were reprints of the players' first Topps cards. But these reprints were of "current" players, not retired ones. The packs included superstars with names like Bonds, and Thomas, and Sosa, and Henderson, and Sheffield. And it did not seem to matter which factory set you bought, any one of these cards could have been in them.

    The 20 card checklist included (players and the year of the card reprinted):

    1. Barry Bonds, 1987
    2. Chipper Jones, 1991
    3. Cal Ripken Jr, 1982 (without Bonner and Schneider)
    4. Shawn Green, 1992
    5. Frank Thomas, 1990

    1. Derek Jeter, 1993
    2. Geoff Jenkins, 1996
    3. Jim Edmonds, 1993
    4. Bernie Williams, 1990
    5. Sammy Sosa, 1990

    1. Rickey Henderson, 1980
    2. Tony Gwynn, 1983
    3. Randy Johnson, 1989
    4. Juan Gonzalez, 1990
    5. Gary Sheffield, 1989

    1. Manny Ramirez, 1992
    2. Calvin "Pokey" Reese, 1992
    3. Preston Wilson, 1993
    4. Jay Payton, 1995
    5. Rafael Palmeiro, 1987

    Again, while it didn't matter which set you bought (Hobby or retail sets), you got a five pack of any of the above 20 cards. However, if you bought a 2001 Topps factory set in a gold box, you may receive these cards in gold foil lettering and borders. I say may because I've never seen an example of a gold-foiled reprint.

    Friend of the blog the drizz commented "...I'm assuming these cards are extremely rare to find outside of a factory sealed set..." and he's right. I was extremely lucky to be able to acquire all 20 of these cards. I got cards 16-20 by buying a factory set as a present for my brother-in-law, and then bought the five off him, and then found the rest on eBay where one buyer was selling off about ten of them (the Ripken was won in a frantic bidding war). I don't remember how the other five were acquired. All I know is that you never see these cards on the market anymore. And as the years go on, it will be harder and harder to do so.

    If you thought explaining the 2001 light of day cards was easy, wait until we discuss 2002.

    Sincerely,

    JayBee Anama

    Tuesday, October 7, 2008

    The Answer for This Week's Trivia Question, October 6, 2008

    Okay, so I don't have the 1968 Topps cards of each guy. Will reprints do???

    I knew this question would be way too easy for you guys. As soon as I posted it, both Ryan Cracknell (Trader Crack's Card Blog) and the Night Owl (Night Owl Cards) both left the correct answer within minutes of each other.

    Now, I think that you all understood what I meant when I asked the question, but maybe I should have been more specific (my fault, I'm sorry). When I asked "what year or years did all five players appear in the same set at the same time," I meant as "active" players. Of course there are many sets that would have all five players together, but most are from long after their playing days were over. Case in point, a thank you goes out to Don for pointing out that all five would have appeared in the 1975 set, only because Mantle, Mays, and Clemente were part of the MVP subset while Ryan and Aaron were still active players.

    So as active players, all five (Mantle, Mays, Clemente, Ryan, and Aaron) appeared together in both the 1968 and 1969 Topps sets.

    And the 1969 Topps Reprints. Gee, Hank hasn't changed a bit between 1968 and 1969. Why is that?

    Mickey Mantle's final two Topps cards as an active player, as pointed out by Night Owl, were the '68 and '69 Topps cards. At the same time, those two years introduced the world to a young Nolan Ryan.

    So there you have it. With the question being too easy, and with the answers coming so quickly, I had not yet determined a prize for this week. I'm sure if I can come up with a harder question, I'll add a prize for the first correct answer. Thanks for playing.

    Sincerely,

    JayBee Anama

    P.S. Friend of the blog tlindgren commented "...You could even say 1970 if you include Mickey Mantle's Topps Wal-Mart card from 2006." I always wondered what would have happened if Mantle was able to play in 1969, thus getting a card included in 1970 Topps? Hmmmmm...


    What do you think???

    jba

    Monday, October 6, 2008

    Cards That Make You Go...What??! of the Week: 1998 Topps #3 Billy Wagner and #184 Jeff Montgomery

    Okay, it's been a while since I last did one of these. It may sound like I'm griping over nothing. It may sound like I'm nitpicking. It may sound like I need some sleep. But hey, if it was a one time occurrence within a certain set, it's one thing. When you see it twice in the same set, you question the sanity of the people involved in the making of sports cards.

    This week's What??! of the Week features cards that maybe the ladies at Dinged Corners would love, if for no other reason than the players are holding props that normally would not appear in a game situation.

    In this age of specialized pitching staffs, nobody is more important to a team than it's closing pitcher, or closer. They are the guys who's sole purpose on the team is to, ahem, close out ballgames. Sometimes, they are called in to put out the "fires" that are left by the pitchers ahead of them, (men on base in a close ball game) to help preserve a win for the team. So these relievers are also called "firemen."

    Two such relievers who found tremendous success in the later part of the 1990's were the Astros Billy Wagner and Royals closer Jeff Montgomery. In fact, between the two men, they saved 66 games in 1998 (Montgomery with 36, Wagner with 30). This only goes to show that they both were very good in their respective roles with their teams.

    So in 1997, the Topps company decided to have a little fun with both men in preparing for their 1998 Topps baseball cards. What better way to show that you are among the best "firemen" in the league by having each pitcher hold something that firefighters would use for their cards?

    Without further ado, here are the cards that make me go What??!:

    1998 Topps #3 Billy Wagner and #184 Jeff Montgomery. I guess if they needed to find work after their baseball careers end, they could enlist in the Fire Academy.

    Now, I personally like action photography in my baseball cards. A pitcher going through his windup, a batter swinging for the fences, or an outfielder making a spectacular catch. Anything that makes it look like the picture was taken on a field of play. At least Wagner is wearing a fireman's helmet. Montgomery looks like he's posing for a future Firefighter Hunks calendar. And check out the extinguishers. Young Billy there looks like he's ready to oust a kitchen fire with that thing. On the other hand, Jeff's ready to tackle a small building with that tank.

    Again, it would not have been so bad if they used one picture or the other, but both??? I'm sure plenty of parents looked at these cards as a reason to teach their children about fire safety and how to use the fire extinguisher in case of an emergency.

    These cards were not even given away to kids by the local fire department as part of some fire safety program. If they were, then it makes all the sense in the world, and I look like I'm just nitpicking just to find something to write about. Otherwise, here are more cards that make me wonder...

    What Were You Thinking??!

    Sincerely,

    JayBee Anama

    Topps Trivia Question of the Week, October 6, 2008

    Time to try another new segment for the blog. This time, I'll pose a question regarding some cards that are in my collection or some interesting bit of trivia about the card company we know and love, and we'll see if anyone can get it right. Will I be giving anything away? Maybe. I'm sure I can dig up something worth while to give away.

    Today's question is:

    In 1996, Topps inserted 19 reprinted cards of Mickey Mantle. In 1997, they reprinted all 27 Topps Willie Mays cards. In 1998, Roberto Clemente earned the honor with 19 reprinted cards. Nolan Ryan and his 27 cards were reprinted and inserted into packs of 1999 Topps. And in 2000, Hank Aaron was given the honor with 23 cards reprinted.

    In Topps history, what year or years did all five appear in the same set at the same time???

    You can leave your answers in the comments section. This may be a bit too easy, but hey, this segment has to start somewhere right??? The answer, and possibly a winner, will be announced soon. Good luck to all.

    Sincerely,

    JayBee Anama

    Saturday, October 4, 2008

    If This is His Topps Card, Then What Card is This?: Todd Helton

    Okay, so last week's edition of What Card is This? was too easy. I hope our next subject will help make what is becoming my favorite posts of the blog a little bit more challenging.

    This week's subject is has been the face of the Colorado Rockies for the last ten seasons. Even though he played in a little more than half of the Rockies games this year, he still is their franchise player, and since being drafted by the team in 1995, he has been the Rockies...well, Rock. The steady hand at first base. And while being out for half the year could be one of the reasons why the Rockies fell from NL champion to a third place finish in 2008, hope springs eternal for a better 2009 campaign. I'm talking about none other than Todd Helton.

    From 2000-2004, Todd Helton was an NL All-Star, and an MVP candidate. In 2000, arguably his best season, he led the National League with a batting average of .372, 147 RBI's, 216 hits, 59 doubles, a slugging percentage of .692, on base percentage of .463, which also means he lead in OPS with 1.162, and on and on and on.

    This week, I am including two cards with the now famous 2005 Topps design. Here is his regular card, #385:


    Probably not one of the best pictures to use. He looks like he just woke up here, and underneath that cap and pair of sunglasses is a squished mullet, waiting to pop out. So now that every 2005 Topps card of Helton looks like the one above, here is card number two:

    Now this actually looks a lot better. It's an action shot, and he's swinging and watching as a ball sails out of whatever ball park he's in (if this card was taken in Denver, then the ball maybe outside the stadium.

    So now fellow readers, I leave you to ponder,

    What Card Is This?

    Answer to be given tomorrow night. Make your guesses now. I'm going to turn in early.

    Sincerely,

    JayBee Anama

    UPDATE: Monday, October 6, 2008.

    As Night Owl correctly answered, the second card does come from the 2006 Topps WalMart set. I do agree with him when he says that the second card does look better than the one in the eponymous set. Thanks for playing. This was apparently too easy.

    jba

    More Cards to Look Forward to When 2008 Topps U & H Arrives

    According to the San Francisco Chronicle, there will be more second version cards of our Presidential candidates.

    Along with the Palin "beauty queen card," there will also be a second Barack Obama card with him playing basketball, and another John McCain card with the Republican hopeful watching a ball game in the stands.

    Makes one wonder...what happened to Joe Biden??? Does he get one too??? Will there also be an additional card to the 2008 Topps Presidential Match Ups with an Obama/McCain card???

    To think, we'll have to wait until 2012 for this Presidential madness to return to the Hobby.

    Sincerely,

    JayBee Anama

    Friday, October 3, 2008

    bdj610's End of Year MLB All-Star Teams...The Final Rosters

    After pouring over stats and arguing with myself as to who deserves to be on the team, I have finally finished completing my 36-man teams. I think I can say with confidence that the players who made my "All-Star Teams" were worthy of inclusion, not just because many of them are major superstars, but because the their statistics were high enough above their peers that made them stand out from the rest.

    So, without further ado, here are the players who made my 2008 MLB End of Year All-Star Teams (in alphabetical order by position):

    (Lots of space here when I added the table. Don't know why...)








    American League

    First Basemen

    • Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
    • Justin Morneau, Twins
    • Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox

    Second Basemen

    • Ian Kinsler, Rangers
    • Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox
    • Brian Roberts, Orioles

    Third Basemen

    • Evan Longoria, Rays
    • Melvin Mora, Orioles
    • Alex Rodriguez, Yankees

    Shortstops

    • Derek Jeter, Yankees
    • Jhonny Peralta, Indians
    • Michael Young, Rangers

    Outfielders

    • Jack Cust, Athletics
    • Vladimir Guerrero, Angels
    • Joey Hamilton, Rangers
    • Raul Ibañez, Mariners
    • Nick Markakis, Orioles
    • Magglio Ordoñez, Tigers
    • Carlos Quentin, White Sox
    • Grady Sizemore, Indians
    • Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners

    Catchers

    • Joe Mauer, Twins
    • Dioner Navarro, Rays
    • A. J. Pierzynski, White Sox

    Designated Hitter

    • Jim Thome, White Sox

    Pitchers

    • A. J. Burnett, Blue Jays
    • Gavin Floyd, White Sox
    • Roy Halladay, Blue Jays
    • Cliff Lee, Indians
    • Daisuke Matsuzaka, Red Sox
    • Jonathan Papelbon, Red Sox
    • Mariano Rivera, Yankees
    • Francisco Rodriguez, Angels
    • Joe Saunders, Angels
    • Scot Shields, Angels
    • Joakim Soria, Royals

    National League

    First Basemen

    • Lance Berkman, Astros
    • Adrian Gonzalez, Padres
    • Ryan Howard, Phillies

    Second Basemen

    • Mark DeRosa, Cubs
    • Dan Uggla, Phillies
    • Chase Utley, Phillies

    Third Basemen

    • Chipper Jones, Braves
    • Aramis Ramirez, Cubs
    • David Wright, Mets

    Shortstops

    • Cristian Guzman, Nationals
    • Hanley Ramirez, Marlins
    • Jose Reyes, Mets

    Outfielders

    • Carlos Beltran, Mets
    • Ryan Braun, Brewers
    • Pat Burrell, Phillies
    • Adam Dunn, Diamondbacks
    • Matt Holliday, Rockies
    • Carlos Lee, Astros
    • Ryan Ludwick, Cardinals
    • Nate McLouth, Pirates
    • Alfonso Soriano, Cubs

    Catchers

    • Russell Martin, Dodgers
    • Bengie Molina, Giants
    • Geovany Soto, Cubs

    Designated Hitter

    • Albert Pujols, Cardinals

    Pitchers

    • Chad Billingsley, Dodgers
    • Ryan Dempster, Cubs
    • Brad Lidge, Phillies
    • Tim Lincecum, Giants
    • Carlos Marmol, Cubs
    • Johan Santana, Mets
    • Jose Valverde, Astros
    • Edinson Volquez, Reds
    • Brandon Webb, Diamondbacks
    • Brian Wilson, Giants
    • Kerry Wood, Cubs

    Most of the position players were chosen based on statistics comparing the top eight position players in each league (hits, runs, home runs, rbi's, walks, strikeouts, stolen bases, caught stealing, and batting average). In most cases, the players I had chosen earlier due to the one person per team rule made the top three (with the only exception of the shortstop position in the NL).

    In previous years, I tended to show a little more bias to Chicago players (on both sides) in cases where if I thought I could choose them over another person, I would (hey, I'm from Chicago, what can I say). And when I introduce the teams from previous years, you will see what I mean. But this year, because I am presenting them to the world, I thought I'd try to be as open minded as I can and pick the proper deserving players. And at the end of the choosing, I still wound up with four White Sox and six Cubs players on the teams. One person teams this year included the Athletics (Cust), Royals (Soria), Brewers (Braun), Nationals (Guzman), Padres (AGonzalez), Pirates (McLouth), Volquez (Reds), and Rockies (Holliday). The Cubs lead both teams in representatives with 7, the Angels, Red Sox, White Sox, Mets, and Phillies each have four players on the two teams.

    So ends the presentation for my 2008 End of Year MLB All-Star Teams. Already in previous posts, I have had people already start commenting on my judgement. And that's the idea. Please feel free to comment, debate, tell me that I did a good job, or that I don't know what I'm talking about and should have put in this person for another (the guy from Fielder's Choice blog suggested I should have looked at Grant Balfour's numbers closer before I picked Scot Shields for example).

    Let the debates continue. Again, during the off-season, I'll be looking back at past teams that I made up in my spare time. It'll be an experience for me to look back and see where my mind was at the time. And it will give me something to do before the 2009 Topps cards come out.

    Sincerely,

    JayBee Anama

    Wednesday, October 1, 2008

    At Least They Let Us Know About this Early...

    When I saw this on Trader Crack's blog, I thought it was a joke.


    Then I saw this on the Dave and Adams Card blog, and now I'm not so sure.

    So let me see if I understand this correctly. They are going to add a regular Campaign 2008 GOP card for Governor Palin, and then they're going to add this gimmick card in limited quantities??? And they're going to do this with 2008 Topps Updates and Highlights???

    WHAT??!

    Well, if anything, we have now seen gimmick card #1 for the 2008 Topps U&H season.

    Somewhere, Chris Harris is banging his head against anything solid!!!

    Sincerely,

    JayBee Anama

    UPDATE: October 1, 2008 1:08 p.m.

    Friend of the blog tlindgren made a comment a few minutes ago saying:

    "We knew there had to be some gimmicks in updates and highlights. This seems to be the norm now and if the media gets a hold of it watch out!"

    Guess what just happened??? (Thanks to the Toledo Free Press and their staff writers).

    Liftoff in ten...nine...eight...

    jba

    Who Will Be Named to Topps 2008 All-Star Rookie Team?

    It's finally the end of the MLB season. And before the playoffs (or maybe a game or two after) start, the Topps Company will be sending to the 30 MLB managers a ballot that will determine who will get voted into the 2008 Topps All-Star Rookie Team, and will get that lovely golden trophy added to their 2009 Topps baseball cards.

    So who's going to be named to the ASR team? Here are my predictions, and if you can think of another player who should get the nod, please feel free to say so (at least defend your choice with stats and intangibles):
    • 1B: Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds (.294 batting average, 23 HR, 82 RBI, 2008 stats)
    • 2B: Alexei Ramirez, Chicago White Sox (.290, 21, 4 GS new rookie record, 77)
    • 3B: Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays (.274, 27, 85)
    • SS: Mike Aviles, Kansas City Royals (.323, 10, 51)
    • OF: Jay Bruce, Cincinnati Reds (.256, 21, 52)
    • OF: Jacoby Ellsbury, Boston Red Sox (.280, 9, 47)
    • OF: David Murphy, Texas Rangers (.275, 15, 74)
    • C: Geovany Soto, Chicago Cubs (.285, 23, 86)
    • RHP: Brad Ziegler, Oakland Athletics (3-0, 1.06 ERA, 30 K's, 11 saves, record scoreless streak)
    • LHP: Glen Perkins, Minnesota Twins (12-4, 4.41 ERA, 74 K's)

    I'm very sure that players like Ian Stewart of the Rockies, Blake DeWitt of the Dodgers, Kosuke Fukudome of the Cubs, Denard Span of the Twins, Jair Jurrgens of the Braves, Chris Davis of the Rangers, and others will have their votes (from either the MLB managers, or you the readers).

    Let the debates begin!!!

    Sincerely,

    JayBee Anama