Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Two Thousand Nine Hundred Seventy-Four

It's almost an afterthought.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Two thousand nine hundred seventy-four.

2,974.

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

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

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

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

the children who lost their parents that day.

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

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

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

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

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

Sincerely,

JayBee Anama

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Ladies and Gentlemen, Introducing 2019 Topps Baseball

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

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

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

Are you ready?

Are you excited?

I know I am.

So what are we waiting for?

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


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

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


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

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

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

Sincerely,

JayBee Anama

Monday, August 13, 2018

Souvenirs From the National Baseball Card Day Journey

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sincerely,

JayBee Anama


Saturday, August 11, 2018

National Baseball Trading Card Day 2018 Is Here!!!

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

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

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

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

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

Otherwise, have a great Baseball Card Day.

Sincerely,

JayBee Anama

UPDATE : 5:41 PM CST.

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

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

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



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

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

jba


UPDATE: 2:26 PM CST.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

jba

UPDATE : 12:59 PM CST.

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

The question :

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


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

jba

UPDATE: 11:59 AM CST.

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

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


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

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

jba

UPDATE: 10:47 AM CST.

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

So the journey continues.

jba

UPDATE: 10:19 AM CST.

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

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


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

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

jba

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

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Where Are You Now Sensen Lin?

You're not familiar with the name Sensen Lin?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

Also, Happy Easter. He Is Risen!!!

Sincerely,

JayBee Anama

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Let the Games Begin!!! Yesterday...

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


It's Baseball Season!!!


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

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

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

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


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


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

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

Sincerely,

JayBee Anama

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

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


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

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

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

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

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

Remember this?


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


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


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


And the hunt was on.

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

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

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

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

Remember these?


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


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

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

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

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

Sincerely,

JayBee Anama

Saturday, March 17, 2018

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

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

Speaking of...

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

If you haven't, here is the summary:

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

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



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

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

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

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

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


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



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

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


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

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

On to other topics:


Today is St. Patrick's Day. It is the day that honors St. Patrick, who is the patron saint of Ireland. It also commemorates the arrival of Christianity to the Emerald Isle. In fact, it is said (thanks Wikipedia) that he used shamrocks to explain the Holy Trinity.


If anybody says, "Top of the morning to you," to you today, make sure to respond in kind, "And the rest of the day to yourself."

Public Service Announcement (as my wife just said that she found the Bailey's): As you celebrate St. Patrick's Day, please remember to celebrate responsibly.



Finally, a quick toast to everyone, Irish or just-for-the-day:

May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind be at your back.
May the Maury Show always be on your television (sorry, saw that this morning).
May your cards collections grow to unmeasurable heights in both volume and value.
May the quest for new cards be swift.
May the journey of life treat you well today and always.
And may a certain North Side baseball team win it all this year.
If you catch my drift.

Sláinte!

Sincerely,

JayBee Anama

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

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

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

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

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

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


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

The first card from the Target card was of:


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

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

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


A Corey Seager Major League Material Bat Card!!!

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

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

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

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

Sincerely,

JayBee Anama

Monday, March 12, 2018

42!


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

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

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

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

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

But through it all, I am happy.

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

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

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

Thank you for being a part of it.

Finally, Happy 42nd Birthday Bryan Hebson!!!

Sincerely,

JayBee Anama

Sunday, February 4, 2018

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

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

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

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


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



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


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


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

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

But which packs should I open first?

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

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

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

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

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

Sincerely,

JayBee Anama

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Hallbound...2018!!!

The votes are in...


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

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

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

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

Sincerely,

JayBee Anama

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

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

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

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


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

Good luck to everyone.

Sincerely,

JayBee Anama

Hallbound 2018. And the Motor City Rejoices!!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Post about the 33 candidates forthcoming.

Sincerely,

JayBee Anama

Monday, January 22, 2018

Thoughts on 2018 Topps Before the Product Goes Live


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

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






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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bring on 2018!!!

Sincerely,

JayBee Anama

Monday, January 1, 2018

Pack Break Week: 2017 Topps Archives


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

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

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

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

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

Topps Archives.

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

The problem:

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

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

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

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


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

Opening pack now...

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


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

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

Sincerely,

JayBee Anama