Thursday, December 31, 2015

Pack Break Week 4: 2015 Topps Stadium Club

Just realized that I had this ready to go and for some reason it did not publish. I apologize for the delay.

Before we run out to celebrate my sister's birthday (she was born on New Year's Eve), I better get this post for Pack Break Week going. I'm kind of excited by this.

Stadium Club is a product that focuses primarily on photography. It was Topps' first real attempt at unbordered cards, which meant other than a little spot on the card for a design element, you were getting full bleed photographs on little pieces of cardboard. The pictures were sharp, really bringing you close to the action of the ballgame.

After a long run, Topps ended the series, much to the dismay of many collectors who loved the product. Topps did bring it back, but the way it was presented and distributed was a disappointment. After a year hiatus, it came back, and needless to say, it looks like it's here to stay. For how long? Who knows.

This year's edition of Stadium Club not only features the usual sharp photography, but a number of shots that feature some of the lighter side of baseball. To wit, there is a card of HOF pitcher Dennis Eckersley with his racing mascot with the Oakland A's. Also in a tribute to Hobby bloggers everywhere, Bip Roberts was added to the set, wearing a sombrero. I am actually hoping right now that I get either one of these cards in this pack. Of course, getting a SP Kris Bryant card would be great as well.

So what did come out of this pack of 2015 Topps Stadium Club? Here goes:

  • #49 Kurt Suzuki, C, Twins
  • #244 Daniel Norris, P, Blue Jays
  • #214 Brandon Crawford, 2B, Giants
  • #98 Jim Rice, OF, Red Sox
  • #80 Andrew Heaney, P, Angels

In a word...disappointment.

So much for a good pack. Don't get me wrong, the pictures are nice. Love the shot of Crawford in mid-air. But no Cubs, no Bip? Not the greatest pack in the world. Too bad they only put 5 cards in this pack. There should have been more cards. A 5 card pack in today's world should only be sold at a dollar store. I think this pack should have been sold at a dollar store...for less than a penny.

Maybe tomorrow's pack, the 2015 Topps Allen & Ginter's, will be better.

To everyone who is still here reading this humble, little blog, I wish you a very Happy New Year.

So let's get to it:

Goodbye 2015!!!

Hello 2016!!!

Goodbye 2015 Topps Design!!!

Hello 2016 Topps Design!!!

May all your collections grow to new heights. Let's hope Topps makes it a bit easier on us insane set collectors (they probably won't but it's nice to dream.) 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 2016!!!


JayBee Anama

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Pack Break Week 4: 2015 Topps Series 2

It's almost the end of the year, and I've written more posts on this humble little blog in the last few days than I have for some months. How's that for new-found commitment to writing? But remember, it's not about the quantity of posts, it's the quality. And I am hoping for more of the quality...even if it means sacrificing on the quantity.

So what are we waiting for? Let's get to today's pack break!!!

As it's Wednesday, why not have a two-for-one pack break. Not only am I opening a pack of 2015 Topps Series 2, but I'll also open a pack from my son's haul from the Dollar Tree, a 5-card pack of 2013 Topps Series 2.

If the 2015 Topps Series 2 set is going to be known for one's going to be card #616 Kris Bryant. Did you know that the Cubs wunderkind, and 2015 NL Rookie of the Year, wasn't even supposed to be in this set? It's true. Take a look at the checklist:

So who's Curt Casali? He's a catcher for the Tampa Bay Rays who has appeared in 68 games in a two season MLB career. In 2014, he appeared in 30 games, and as he made his MLB debut on July 18, 2014, was more than eligible to be in Topps' eponymous set.

But as 2015 Spring Training came along, and Bryant was just crushing it, there was rampant speculation that the Cubs would have him in the majors some time that season. Of course, Topps couldn't include him in their MLB products until he did make his debut, (which is why he didn't appear in the Gypsy Queen product and other early releases). And unless you wanted another #661 debacle - or would it be #662 - (see Stephen Strasburg in 2010 and Bryce Harper in 2012), he HAD to be in the main set somewhere. So when Bryant did finally arrive, making him "Rookie Card" eligible (complete with the Rookie Card logo), guess who got bumped?

For the record, Casali does have some baseball cards. He is among the subjects in the 2014 Bowman Platinum Prospect Autograph set, and all of the corresponding parallels and printing plates. But short of a 2014 Durham Bulls Minor League team set, that's it for the cardboard love. Here's hoping that he gets that card in 2016 Topps.

So short of a miracle (it would be nice to say that I opened a pack with a Kris Bryant card in it. I opened so many without one), and while the Bulls are playing the Pacers, let's see what I did get in my pack of 2015 Topps Series II?

  • #497 Hunter Strickland, P, Giants
  • #484 Melvin Mercedes, P, Tigers
  • #640 Matt Clark, 1B, Brewers
  • #701 Milwaukee Brewers Team Card
  • #669 Tampa Bay Rays Team Card
  • #616 Kris Bryant, 3B, Cubs



You mean I actually pulled the Bryant card??! Forget the rest. This pack was a clear winner!!!

That's it. Calling it a night now. Thanks for watching...

Might as well see what came after Bryant, huh?

  • #362 Jason Bourgeois, OF, Reds
  • #H-39 Bobby Doerr, 2B, Red Sox Highlight of the Year 1944
  • #412 Hector Rondon, P, Cubs
  • #430 Jarred Cosart, P, Marlins
  • #369 Aaron Loup, P, Blue Jays
  • #463 Justin Verlander, P, Tigers

Did I mention Kris Bryant??! Okay, calming myself down here.

How about that? Two Cubs cards, and Verlander, another superstar, to finish the pack? Other than the fact that I got four Rookie Card eligible players in the first six cards, this pack was worth it.

At this point, anything that I get from this 2013 pack is just extra. Probably the best pack I've opened so far.

Here's what was in that pack of 2013 Topps Series 2:

  • #614 B. J. Upton, OF, Braves
  • #343 Alex Avila, C, Tigers
  • #384 Jake McGee, P, Rays
  • #425 Josh Donaldson, 3B, Athletics
  • #438 Yasmani Grandal, C, Padres

Not a bad five-card pack. Bossman Jr (or does he go by Melvin now?) and the Bringer of Rain before he became an MVP? Works for me.

That will do it for tonight. It's New Year's Eve tomorrow. Other than the usual month-end stuff at work, I have to focus on year-end stuff as well. Hope you enjoyed this evening's edition of Pack Break Week. Tomorrow, I'll open a pack of cards from a product I didn't think I'd ever open, 2015 Topps Stadium Club. What will be in it? Wait and see.


JayBee Anama

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Pack Break Week 4: 2015 Topps Gypsy Queen

Before it becomes "Taco Night" at home, it was just another ordinary day. The kids are still home on break, playing on their computers or whatever they do while I'm at work. My wife is baking cookies (made these really good peanut butter cookies last night and trying something different today). I'm just keeping up with the work before the end-of-the-year.

And I have all of these packs of cards at my desk waiting to be opened. Tempted as I have been, I've held off. Not because it's busy as usual, but I want to see what I get just before I write my post for pack break week.

Today's pack break features the 2015 Topps Gypsy Queen. Now in it's fifth incarnation, this year's design of the Gypsy Queen is truly a Topps original as I can't seem to find anything that remotely comes close to this in similarity. But that's not a bad thing. The concept is still the same. A mix of current and retired players with a unique cardboard stock and pictures filtered to look like paintings than actual photos. The dark borders in this year's set are prone can be prone to chipping, but they hold well based on the thickness of the cardboard. What makes it even more interesting is that the players by their last names first (Rizzo, A., Cubs for example) on the front and there are no statistics on the back, just a quick bio. Now, if you're not familiar with the name of the player based on the lack of info on the front, his full name is on the back.

So, what came out of this pack of 2015 Topps Gypsy Queen?

  • #40 Jorge Soler, Cubs
  • #200 Mike Napoli, Red sox
  • #196 Travis d'Arnaud, Mets
  • #82 Evan Gattis, Braves
  • #105 Billy Hamilton, Reds

  • #165 Michael Brantley, Indians
  • #GWO-21 Kolton Wong, Cardinals, Walk-Off Winners
  • #BBMR-7 Tag Up, Basics of Baseball Mini Card
  • #263 Mark Buehrle, Blue Jays
  • #260 Babe Ruth, Yankees

Some positives include a Cubs card (Soler) and my second Evan Gattis card in two days (also got one in my S1 pack yesterday). A rare mini insert card (1:24 packs) now makes me curious as to how much it would cost to get the whole set. Be right back...Okay. So while there are no full sets online, single cards go anywhere from $2.50 to $4.00. I might take a stab at it as it does look interesting. Or I just might throw it on the Bay.

A star name closes out the pack for the third day straight (Ruth). So overall, a good pack.

Tomorrow's pack break features Series 2 of the eponymous set. And a bonus 5-card pack of 2013 Topps Series 2. Should be a good one. Want to know what's in here? Come back tomorrow.


JayBee Anama

Monday, December 28, 2015

Pack Break Week 4: 2015 Topps Series 1

It's a cold night here as winter has "finally" arrived. But instead of light snowflakes slowly reaching the ground, it's ice. Coming down real fast. It's surprisingly deep out now, but it's so heavy, it would be ridiculous to try and shovel. Snow blowing isn't going to do much either.

So after winding down with a non-alcoholic version of linguine with clam sauce (long story...but the last time I made this at home, it involved way too much white wine in the sauce), now is the perfect opportunity to begin what I hope is a pretty good Pack Break Week.

This Christmas, I received a lot of packs of different products. For tonight's pack break(it would have been a "today's pack break," but you, why not open the product that started the 2015 baseball card season, Topps Series 1. Seeing all of the images on the screen were nice and all, but it was until I got to see the cards up close that I really started to like the design elements of this set. The colored borders, very light use of foil (only on their logo and the words "Future Star" on those cards that needed it), pictures were great. What was not to love?

Okay, on to the cards. What came out of this pack of 2015 Topps Series 1?

  • #63 Chris Owings, SS, Diamondbacks, Future Stars
  • #350 Yasiel Puig, OF, Dodgers
  • #43 Starlin Castro, SS, Cubs
  • #298 Rymer Liriano, OF, Padres
  • #106 Pedro Alvarez, 3B, Pirates
  • #314 Jackie Bradley Jr., OF, Red Sox

  • #318 George Springer, OF, Astros, Topps Gold #0636/2015
  • #A-23 Willie Mays, OF, Giants, Archetypes
  • #327 Xander Bogaerts, SS, Red Sox
  • #273 Brandon Hicks, 2B, Giants
  • #58 Evan Gattis, C, Braves, Future Star
  • #207 Bryce Harper, OF, Nationals

Decent pack for S1. Four Future Stars, two players from 2014's Topps ASRT, and a Topps Gold card!!! You can see the details of the border a lot more on the gold and black parallel cards than you can with the base. Then you have the fact that there's a Cubs card (Castro), and Hobby darlings Yasiel Puig and Bryce Harper? It's a win.

I'm going to miss Starlin. He was the face of the franchise during the really hard years (and yes, there were really hard years). He debuted like nobody else, and I wish him well in NY.

So Pack Break week went off without a hitch. Here's to hoping I can get the rest of these out earlier. I guess better late then never, right? Tomorrow, I'll open the pack of 2015 Topps Gypsy Queen. What's waiting for me inside the pack? Stay tuned and we'll find out together.


JayBee Anama

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Pack Break Week 4: 2013 Topps Update Series

I love Pack Break Week!

It's one of the only times of the year that I get to open a ton of packs from different products and post them on the blog. In past years, I would go to the local big box store and buy a pack of random products (okay, products that I actually like). This year, they're from Christmas presents. So no money was spent, but lots of excitement ahead.

Now I'd call this a preview of what to expect when I open the big stuff during the week. Here now, is one of the penny packs that my son was able to purchase from the Dollar Tree:

This is what came out of the 2013 Topps Update Series pack:

  • #US293 Robinson Cano, 2B, Yankees, Home Run Derby
  • #US177 David Ortiz, DH, Red Sox, Season Highlights (Checklist)
  • #US249 Madison Bumgarner, P, Giants, NL All-Star
  • #US142 Yadier Molina, C, Cardinals, NL All-Star
  • #US59 Hisashi Iwakuma, P, Mariners, AL All-Star

No base cards, all subsets. Three All-Stars, a Home Run Derby card, and Big Papi? Not a bad pack to start what should be a very interesting week to close out what has been a somewhat "Blah" year on the blog. I'm looking forward to see what comes next. I hope you (whoever left of you is still here reading this) are too.


JayBee Anama

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Christmas...It Was a Good Day

Last year, my son went to the Dollar Tree. You might remember this story. If you don't plan on clicking the link, let me give you the Cliff Notes version:

He and his classmates went to the local dollar store to buy Christmas gifts for their families. You may have heard that people were finding packs at the store for a penny at the Dollar Tree. These aren't the regular packs you'd see at your big box store or Hobby shop. These were 5-card packs, almost all base cards, with the occasional short print.

Anyway, my son bought a pack of 2013 Topps Series 1. That was it. For a penny. Which was fine, and the cards were all base...but he was supposed to spend a dollar. He could have bought a hundred of these things (if they had enough). But beggars can't be choosers, and it's what I asked for (one pack of Topps cards), so he got what was on the list.

This year, he and his class once again made the trip.

He made out like a bandit:

Not only did he spend his allotted dollar on my present on the 2015 Topps Series 2 pack, but he also got me three other three packs (2013 Series 2, 2013 Update, 2014 Update) for a penny each.

Cue the music!!! Sing along if you want!!!:

So what did I get in my Christmas Day packs:

The 2015 Topps Series 2 contained:

  • #522 Sam Tuivailala, P, Cardinals
  • #434 Carlos Frias, P, Dodgers
  • #661 Grant Balfour, P, Rays
  • #568 Chris Tillman, P, Orioles
  • #600 Albert Pujols, 1B, Angels

Two rookie cards, two All-Stars, one of which is future HOF Pujols? This was a great pick.

Now, the other three I haven't opened yet. I'm curious about them too.

Maybe...just maybe...

Why not!!!

Let's end the year with a Pack Break Week!!! Stay tuned!!!


JayBee Anama

Friday, December 25, 2015

'Twas the Night Before Christmas...and Where I Have Been

The journey that I started when I first wrote on this humble, little blog, brought me to an oasis that I haven't really left yet. Yes, baseball card wise, it was a great year. I have both series of the eponymous product, plus the update set. I set sail aboard the Gypsy Queen for another year and spent some time with Allen and Ginter's. I also have all 32 team sets, so Hobby-wise, 2015 was great.

But for the blog, not so much.

All of the hopes I had for this blog in 2015...most of the things I wanted to write about here in 2015...lost opportunities:
  • The card census...started at 660...never moved higher.
  • The Rookie Review? Where did the time go?
  • The End of the Year All-Star Teams? A flash drive issue put the teams on the back burner.
  • Heck, even my Wallet Card took journeys and they weren't even posted here.

Work and personal time took precedence and the blog was...not ignored nor forgotten, but neglected.

That's the word. Neglected.

I had all of these ideas about what to write about, but then a project would come up that would take up a great portion of my work day. By the time I was done, I would be so spent mentally that I just wasn't ready anymore to write. While this is by no means an excuse, it does explain a lot about how my year has been personally.

Even the Sports Card Blogroll, while still a good source of bringing together the Hobby's best independent voices, was taking a hit. I have a number of people asking for their blogs to be added, but just haven't gotten around to it.

I have even thought about ending my run on this blog because there were times I just thought that I didn't have the time to commit to it anymore.

Then I realized something.

I wasn't writing about the Hobby I love because I wanted to be popular and get my name out there. I wrote this blog for me. If people stumbled onto my blog, liked what I wrote, and then continued to read about my journey, then that's a good thing. I should not allow the pressures of maintaining a blog get to me. This isn't a job. I'm not getting paid. I'm supposed to be doing this for fun.

So what does this mean?

It means, that in 2016, I plan on rectifying this situation. It will no longer be a matter of not having time if I don't do anything around here, it's about making time to write and express myself. In the past, I promised to get back at it (writing here). No more. I can't deal with the empty promises. Not to whatever readers I have left, but to myself.

So hear is the deal. Today is Christmas. A time of celebration. A time to reflect. A time of gift-giving, and time to be with family. My gift for this blog is time. Not full blown hours, but enough to let people know I'm still here. I'm still active in my Hobby, and I'm still willing to write about it. With that, it also means a bit more of a time to enjoy the collection of cards I have now while looking forward to the cards and future of this Hobby.

This past year may not have been the best for the blog. I am going to make sure that it doesn't carry over in 2016.

From my family to yours, have a very Merry Christmas.

May Santa Claus bring whatever you wish for in your stockings on this day. Including baseball cards.


JayBee Anama