Saturday, August 30, 2008

On Behalf of My Family...

I would like to say thank you to those in the Hobby blogosphere who left comments in the post about my Grandmother. I don't know any of you personally, but I will the more involved I am here. But your words and prayers were truly appreciated by me and my family. My mom was even touched by the outpouring of support left by you. So again, thank you very much.

Gloria Y. Nichols passed away on Monday, August 25, at 5:05 pm CST. She left knowing that we loved her very much, and that we will always remember the kindness and generosity she displayed, and for the lessons that she taught.

She was also an avid diarist. She was known to write down in journals (each with the year emblazoned on the front) everything that she did on a particular day. She wrote in detail where she went, who she was with, what she spent (on the top right corner of every page, if she spent any money, she wrote it there), and her thoughts about the people in her lives.

After reading a few entries from two of her books (1985 and 2003 for contrast), I realized that I had asked about the possibility of transcribing her diaries to preserve her memories, possibly in a blog format. My mom said that it would be a great idea to do that. It's going to be a lot of work, only because there are so many diaries (there must be at least 70 or more of these books), and that the handwriting at times could be hard to read. So even if one was to type a week's worth of entries in a day, we're looking at more than 520 days of work (a year plus). The good news is that the entries were only a page long, and some may have been one sentence long (one entry in 2003 just had the words, "Nothing sensational." written on the page. So it can be done.

With my mother's permission, and the blessing that names of individuals could be mentioned, the task of entering my grandmothers journals will begin soon (after I get all of her books).

My collection and I will be back after this weekend. And I vow to post with more reckless abandon than before. There is a lot of my collection that I have not shared here yet, so come back soon for that. Thanks again.


JayBee Anama

Monday, August 25, 2008

It's So Hard to Say Goodbye...

Gloria Y. Nichols. My "Lola" (grandmother).

I know that this is a baseball card blog, and so far, I've done a good job keeping my personal life separated from my Hobby life on this blog. And while I have not been posting much recently about my collection, something has come up the last couple of days that it's hard to even think about baseball cards and baseball in general.

You see, back on Mother's Day, I created a post honoring my grandmother, Gloria Y. Nichols. She was the lady that introduced me to the game of baseball, and even took me to see my first baseball game in 1989. She also took me to see the movie Bull Durham at the movie theater when it came out, but that's another story. She was also a big boxing fan. She was there when Muhammad Ali came to town for the "Thrilla in Manila," and presented him with a necklace of sampaguita flowers (similar to the leis that Hawaiians give welcoming travelers).

Outside of all that, she led a very full life. As owner of one of the most famous bakeries in the Philippines, her cakes and pastries were very well known throughout the islands. She made wedding cakes for presidents, and even Dwight D. Eisenhower sent her a letter of thanks when he came to Manila for a cake she made for him (we have that letter framed somewhere). She also was head of the HRAP (Hotel and Restaurant Association of the Philippines), and was instrumental in creating the Chefs on Parade. She held the largest New Year's Day parties for the kids in the neighborhood for many years, and continued that tradition even after her children and grandchildren settled in the United States.

Fast forward to 2008, her health has been failing, her memories fading, and has been living in a nursing home since her sister, my great aunt Portia, left for Manila back in September (or October, can't remember when own fault for not remembering dates). Her health had progressively worsened and this past Saturday, she was rushed to the local hospital because she came down with pneumonia, which in elderly people (she's 91), apparently is a really bad thing to have.

My family and I spent the whole day on Saturday, and a few hours on Sunday, at the hospital, to be there with my parents, and siblings, and nephews and nieces, to help comfort my "Lola" (that's Tagalog/Filipino for grandmother) as she lays at the hospital. Her x-rays showed that her lungs are failing, and on Sunday, as it was my turn to sit with her, she began speaking in Pampangan (which is a dialect spoken in the Philippines), which I could not understand, (I have trouble understanding Tagalog/Filipino anyway so that's not surprising), but when she did speak in English, she mentioned seeing her mother and later her sister. This scared me a lot because it meant that she was preparing herself to go...

Selfishly, I did not want to be the last person to see her alive. I don't think I could handle that for the rest of my life. My heart started racing faster than hers did (and she was at 106 beats per minute). I was later told that I should look at it as an honor, but I don't think I am deserving of that. All I could do is hold her hand, start praying really loud so she could hear me, and just be her to calm herself down. Just hold on a bit longer until my mom could come in. I started recalling out loud to her some of the memories I had of her. Going backwards, from her birthday party last year, to the day my daughter was born. From that baseball game in 1989, to bringing me and my sisters to the US. From the time her house flooded in Manila, and we were just trying to gather our things so that they didn't get wet (there's a picture of that somewhere, I have to find it...), to the time that my school let out early because of a potential storm, and she couldn't find me (and I went to a school very far from home...she and her driver drove back and forth about four times until they found me late in the evening). From stopping my brother and I from fighting by asking if we wanted boxing gloves or knives, to watching her play mah johng with her friends. From going to the bakery she owned, to the memories of living in her home. Anything, just to try and jog her memory (and to try and calm me down).

I was just told no more than an hour ago from my mom, that they have decided to pull the plug, and let her go, and requested that we (my siblings, my family) go and say our "final goodbyes." To me, and I'm sure to many people who've gone through this, to "let somebody go" is the hardest decision to make. I'm sure it has taken a toll on both my mom and my aunt (her sister) to make this decision. It's a decision I hope and pray I never have to make. When the time comes, I'll be taking a bit of leave from work. I'll be taking a bit of leave from the blog. I'll be taking a bit of leave from everything until all arrangements have been finalized.

It's hard for me to think right now. All I know is that I wanted to air my thoughts here. So to the ten or so readers that come here to read about Topps cards and what I think of them, I apologize for going off topic.

I leave here with the videos of two songs that have just been rattling in my head since the phone call.

Boyz II Men's "It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday"

How do I say goodbye to what we had?
The good times that made us laugh
Outweigh the bad.
I thought we'd get to see forever
But forever's gone away
It's so hard to say goodbye to yesterday.

I don't know where this road
Is going to lead

All I know is where we've been
And what we've been through.
If we get to see tomorrow
I hope it's worth all the wait
It's so hard to say goodbye to yesterday.

And I'll take with me the memories
To be my sunshine after the rain
It's so hard to say goodbye to yesterday.

And I'll take with me the memories
To be my sunshine after the rain
It's so hard to say goodbye to yesterday.

And Eric Clapton's "Tears in Heaven"

Would you know my name
If I saw you in heaven?
Would it be the same
If I saw you in heaven?
I must be strong
And carry on,
'Cause I know I don't belong
Here in heaven.

Would you hold my hand
If I saw you in heaven?
Would you help me stand
If I saw you in heaven?
I'll find my way
Through night and day,
'Cause I know I just can't stay
Here in heaven.

Time can bring you down,
Time can bend your knees.
Time can break your heart,
Have you begging please, begging please.

Beyond the door,
There's peace I'm sure,
And I know there'll be no more
Tears in heaven.

Would you know my name
If I saw you in heaven?
Would it be the same
If I saw you in heaven?
I must be strong
And carry on,
'Cause I know I don't belong
Here in heaven.

Goodbye Lola. God Bless You. I Love You. And I Always Will. On behalf of Zebeda, Lynn, and Taylor, Thank You for Everything. Say hello to Mr. Nichols for us. You have a lot of catching up to do.


JayBee Anama

Friday, August 22, 2008

Did a Bit of Recalculating...41,589 is the Updated Number

It's been awhile since I updated my eBay About Me page. Quite frankly, I'm a little disturbed by the recent events regarding eBay's fees and policies. While I do quite a bit of buying, and a bit of selling, to tell me that I can't accept paper payments (check, money order) after a certain date is ridiculous. I don't have Paypal, and I don't plan on signing up for it, even though there are many out there who sing the praises about Paypal louder than Metallica when they played heavy metal.

When I buy my cards and sets on eBay, I prefer checks and money orders. Because I don't have any credit cards that would allow me the benefit to spend my money immediately. And I don't mind waiting. Besides, in my seven years of buying online, I've only had one person stiff me, and sadly, she's still on eBay selling her wares.

When I sell, I ask for checks, money orders, etc. I use the mail system to help me organize who sent what and when. It also allows me a schedule of when to mail cards. But to hear that I need to have an average of 4.3 stars (which I have not even gotten yet, it's been that long since I sold regularly on the Bay), it's beginning to look like that I won't be able to after a certain point. And frankly, that's not right either. I am hoping that they do a grandfather clause for those of us who've been around a long time and will let us continue selling even if we haven't done so on a regular basis. But somehow, I worry that it will come to that.

Anyway, back to the point (eBay rants over).

Because I have not updated my About Me page on the Bay, I have been lazy and have not kept up to the number of cards I have in my collection. I am proud to say that I have finally done that, and the final, up-to-the minute number of cards I have in my official collection is: 41,589 cards!!!

This total includes every card from 1976 Topps to 2008 Topps Series II, with a lot of sets and insert sets and cards included. While I have 41,589 cards in sheets and binders, I must have an estimated 18,000 cards laying around in boxes. These are the ones I need to get rid off so I can buy more stuff.

Quite frankly, that's a lot of cards. What should I do with them? Add more. And share with the rest of the blogosphere. After all, that's why I started this humble little blog in the first place...right???


JayBee Anama

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Irish are Not too Happy with the Topps Company Right Now...

You mean that the person above is NOT Bertie Ahern??? Who knew???

Replacing the wildly popular Flags of All Nations insert set that graced the 2007 Topps Allen & Ginter set is another 50 card insert set called 2008 Topps Allen & Ginter World Leaders. The concept is simple. Pick fifty Presidents, Kings, Prime Ministers, Popes, etc., and put their image on a card with a map of the country they govern. Simple concept. And for government buffs, political science majors, and so on, this is a set worth completing. I may eventually try for a complete set if the price is right, but I'll wait until later when prices settle down even more.

Count me in as ignorant. I may be a closet geographer, but I don't know that much about, nor have I taken the time to study, each country's political structure. So I don't know who is the leader of each country. Apparently, neither does Topps.

Please take a look at the card above. It is of Bertie Ahern, who is the Taoiseach (or Prime Minister) of the Republic of Ireland (Éire). Now for most of us, at first glance there is nothing wrong with the card. Tell that to the Irish.

It seems that Ahern is no longer is the Taoiseach, having resigned four months ago (Brian Cowen, previously Ireland's finance minister is now the case you're wondering). That's not necessarily the problem here as the card was designed and printed long before he resigned his position. But it seems that the picture enclosed is not even of Ahern, but of a gentleman by the name of Hans-Gert Pöttering, who is the President of the European Parliament.

The real Bertie Ahern is on the left. On the right is Hans-Gert Pöttering

Topps, which has a presence in Ireland in County Cork, has apologized for the error and is looking into how this got past the editors.

For more information, please click here. This will lead you to the Irish Independent News website where this story written by Senan Molony, the paper's Deputy Political Editor.


JayBee Anama

The Ginter Code Has Been Cracked!!!

I'm not going to have a card in next year's Allen & Ginter set. Not that I didn't try, but I figured from the start that my chances of cracking the Ginter Code and winning were slim and none.

Now somebody has gone out and shared the secrets on how he "Cracked the Code." He doesn't know if he won, but he was willing to share his answers to the message board that showed the most interest. I know that before the conversion that the boys and girls on the Beckett Message Boards were trying to solve it as a group, but some of their theories were so far fetched that it became hard to watch the hysterics. I will credit them though for at least getting to the point on how to determine the order of the cards and what, if any, role the Team Orange cards could play.

I am not going to post how this individual, who mailed their answers and received confirmation that Topps got it, solved the mystery. I figure I'd let you click here to find out for yourselves. Thanks to Hand Collated for the tip.

The only thing I will say though is that I wish I bought those darn Team Orange cards at the National when I had the chance!!!

I'm going to lie down now.


JayBee Anama

And the 2008 Topps Red Hot Rookie # 12 Card Goes To...

Those holding those Red Hot Rookie Redemption cards better get them logged in to Topps quickly as it has just been announced that card #12 is of Daniel Murphy of the New York Mets.

Since his Major League Debut on August 2 against the Astros, the Mets outfielder has a .429 batting average, two home runs, and nine runs batted in (as of August 14, 2008).

It is not an autographed card. Mets fans will want to add this card to their collections. So for those of you with Redemption card #12, START REDEEMING!!!

The updated checklist now includes:


JayBee Anama

P.S. We're getting closer to card #19...that's what I'm holding. jba

And the 2008 Topps Red Hot Rookie #'s 10 and 11 Cards Go To...

Those holding those Red Hot Rookie Redemption cards better get them logged in to Topps quickly as it has just been announced that card #10 is of Gio Gonzalez of the Oakland Athletics and #11 is of Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Gonzalez made his Major League Debut on August 6 against the Blue Jays, and currently sports a 1-2 record in three games, an ERA of 7.53 in 14.1 innings of work.

Since his Major League Debut on May 25 against the Cardinals, Kershaw has a 2-3 record in fourteen games, with an ERA of 3.59 in 72.2 innings pitched (as of August 19, 2008).

Neither card is autographed. For both fans of the Athletics and Dodgers, you will certainly want to add either of these cards to your collections. So for those of you with Redemption card #'s 10 & 11, START REDEEMING!!!

The updated checklist now includes:


JayBee Anama

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Revisiting the Idea of Topps Helping Kids Get Ready to Go Back to School...

2008 Topps Back To School Set found exclusively at Target. Just what our kids need before they head back to school!!!

Some time last month, I discovered these cards found at the local Target near all the Back to School items and reported it here. I mentioned that there were two bonus cards in each package and based on the numbers I could see, I thought that it would be at least a ten card set.

Let's just say that I am hoping that I was wrong here and that there were really only eight cards total in this insert set. Why???

I went to three Target stores today, and found the following cards:

TB1-Miguel Cabrera
TB2-Albert Pujols
TB7-Alex Rodriguez

All other cards were the same five that I had found previously, and in many instances, the same combination (Griffey/Sizemore, Wright/Ichiro, Pujols/Jones, Sizemore/Jones).

So I am going to hope that there were only eight cards in this set and consider it completed. The rest of the players on the list (for those keeping track):

TB3-Grady Sizemore
TB4-Ken Griffey, Jr
TB5-David Wright (with Mr. Met)
TB6-Ichiro Suzuki (with the Mariners Moose)
TB8-Chipper Jones

Now if somebody does find other cards that go with this set, please drop me a line, ask for my address, and send me what you found. Thank you very much.


JayBee Anama

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Finally...Introducing the Infamous Series II Six...All Together!!!

Before we begin, I'd like to make a quick response to a comment left by friend of the blog Big Daddy, who asked if there were any variation cards found in the 2008 Topps Factory Sets. He has good reason to ask.

In 2006, Topps had what collectors thought would be an uncorrected error for Pete Mackinin's 2006 Topps card. As you may or may not know, the previous manager, Lloyd McClendon, was relieved of his duties, and Mackinin took over the team on an interim basis. However, when the 2006 Toops set came out, there was Mackinin's name on the banner, but Lloyd McClendon's picture behind it. Uncorrected error right? The answer would be an emphatic no as every 2006 Topps factory set included a corrected card, with Mackinin proudly smiling with his name below. They also corrected pitcher John Koronka's card. He was traded from the Cubs to the Rangers, and while every Koronka card in packs had him with the Cubs (he was wearing their uniform), every card in the factory set had him as a Ranger (now wearing a Rangers uniform).

In 2007, as described in another What??! of the Week post, we had the Rabelo/Butler, Barrett/Buck card switches, along with the Derek Jeter card without the President in the stands and the ghost of Mickey Mantle in the dugout.

After going through every single card, I think I can say with confidence, that there are no variation cards, no gimmick cards, no uncorrected error cards, to be found in the factory sets (at least in the one that I opened. That means that Erik Bedard still has the wrong guy on the card, that there are no cards of Jerry Manuel, Cito Gaston, and Jim Riggleman replacing fired managers Willie Randolph, John Gibbons, nor John McLaren. Each set will come with the regular Red Sox World Series card without Guliani celebrating. Of course, this research was done with one Hobby factory set. (Does anyone want it???). You never know what could show up in later sets.

Okay...back to the point.

As promised after capturing the final card in my search for the Infamous Series II Six, I am proud to introduce to you, for the first time ANYWHERE (because I've never seen a picture of all six together on the internet), ALL SIX SHORT PRINTED CARDS FOUND IN PACKS OF 2008 TOPPS SERIES II BASEBALL!!!

Starting from the top row, it's card #661 Johan Santana, 2008 Presidential Candidate Al Gore, and 2012? Arnold Schwarzanegger (I will never forget how to spell the man's name from now on).

On the bottom row are the three cards that comprise of an unannounced insert set for the World Baseball Classic, featuring Kosuke Fukudome (JPN), Alexei Ramirez (CUB), and Yasuhiko Yabuta (JPN).



JayBee Anama

Cards That Will Never See the Light of Day...EVER!!! 2008 Topps Hobby Factory Set Edition.

I introduced the "Cards That Will Never See the Light of Day...EVER!!!" on a message board when Topps came out with their team-specific factory sets in 2004. The concept was simple. Topps created team-specific factory sets for the Red Sox, Cubs, Yankees, and Astros. I bought the factory sets and opened them (you mean...HE OPENED A FACTORY SET??!) just so I could get my hands on the bonus cards and scan them so those who don't open their factory sets could see what they look like. It's been a habit for me since they came out with those 2001 Topps Archives Future Rookie cards. I wanted those cards for my collection, it never mattered if I already completed the base set already. I was willing to spend just for the bonus cards. And from 2002-2005, I did just that. I bought every factory set imaginable just so I could get my hands on these bonus cards.

Okay, back to the point. This year, Topps announced that in all their 2008 Topps Hobby Exclusive Factory sets that these 10 players were going to be included as Rookie Variation cards:
  • Jayson Nix
  • Brian Barton
  • Callix Crabbe
  • Nick Blackburn
  • Jeff Niemann
  • Gregor Blanco
  • Matt Tolbert
  • Randor Bierd
  • John Bowker
  • Evan Longoria

So imagine my surprise (again), when I opened my set, and out came these cards:

Instead of the ten players prior, I have:

  • Chin-Lung Hu
  • Justin Ruggiano
  • Luke Hochevar
  • J. R. Towles
  • Nyjer Morgan
  • Hiroki Kuroda
  • Matt Tolbert
  • Brian Barton
  • Masahide Kobayashi
  • Blake DeWitt

Of the ten players from the sell sheet, only Barton made it into production. Where's Crabbe? Where's Bowker? Heck...where's Longoria???

This is why, again, you never trust a checklist that comes out BEFORE the product does. It is always subject to change. Well, into the collection you go (hauls out really large binder...)


JayBee Anama

P.S. If anyone needs an complete set (cards are unsearched) of 2008 Topps cards, please let me know. Thanks. jba

Introducing the Kosuke Fukudome Topps Card Found in Factory Sets...Stale Gum Might Want to Sit Down!!!

The 2008 Topps Kosuke Fukudome card that appears in 2008 Topps Factory sets everywhere!!!

Okay, with all the hubbub about Kosuke Fukudome not making it into Topps Series II, (why I never trust checklists posted on, and the recent news that he has finally signed with the company, Topps announced that his cards will be coming in all late season products, and would be included in Topps Factory Sets (thank you Chris Olds).

In fact, according to the checklist, even with all the TBD's, Fukudome is slated to be card #UH1 in the upcoming Updates and Highlights set.

So imagine my surprise when I opened my Hobby Factory set (wait...he did WHAT??!) to take a look at the newest part of my collection...

Ladies and gentlemen, please take a look at the number on the top right corner of the back of this card. That's right. Instead of being an un-numbered card, or even card #662 (or should it be #661 just to irritate set collectors everywhere). It's not even a rookie variation card (see next post...another reason why I never trust checklists until the product comes out). It's card #UH1!!!

This would mean that this is supposed to be part of the future Updates and Highlights set. and with the ton of factory sets coming out, every one will have a Fukudome #UH1 card. Let's hope this is a variation. Otherwise the card that will eventually show up in the real U & H set will be really overprinted.

And somewhere in the blogosphere, Stale Gum is seething...


JayBee Anama

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Topps Is Doing What With Topps Updates & Highlights??!

I never really got into the Topps Heritage line. When they first came out in 2001, I didn't think I'd want a set of current players in past Topps designs. Besides, they had the Archives set too, and I'd rather have the reprint cards of players who actually were in the set.

With that said, because of the 17-product limit imposed by MLB Properties (this year and next year), Topps had to cut a few brands from the previous year. Gone is Turkey Red (apparently), Bowman Heritage (unless you wanted to see a Heritage line with 1992 designs and going forward), and the dreaded Topps 52 Rookies set. I don't know if this is going to count towards that 17 products line, but Topps will be coming out with a Topps Heritage High Numbers set, which in effect is a traded set because it features 220 players who didn't make the cut on the 2008 Topps Heritage set.

The checklist will include 45 rookie card logo players. That's fine and dandy. Then I saw the actual sell sheets...

In every pack of 2008 Topps Heritage High Numbers, they are including 2 cards from the 2008 Topps Updates and Highlights set.


Okay, after the hyperventilating went away, I realized that this might not necessarily be a bad thing (wait, I said MIGHT)...

The official name of this set is "2008 Topps Updates and Highlights Presents 2008 Topps Heritage High Number Series." Topps is combining two different products in one package. This is akin to the Topps/Topps Chrome Traded packs from earlier in the decade (2001-2004), and most recently, Topps has included 2 Bowman Chrome cards in every pack of Bowman, so it's not that unusual. My only concern is that Topps would include different pictures of the players in this set than they would for the cards packaged in the regular Update and Highlights packages.

That would lead to shortprints...that would lead to possible gimmick cards...that would lead to riots in the hobby community...and that would lead to bloggers raising their displeasure...AGAIN!!! (okay, JayBee, breathe...)

On an unrelated note, there is a full checklist of the actual 2008 Topps Updates and Highlights set here (just scroll to the right). Again, although there are no TBD's, the checklist is always subject to change.

I'm going to get a drink of water. My foot's starting to kill me again.


JayBee Anama

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

As Promised, Pictures from the National

Okay, these may not be the best, but I'll each try and describe each one as best I can.

The above four pictures are from Dmitri Young's PSA Gem Mint 10 Rookie Card collection.

The crowd on Saturday looked a lot larger than this...

The center of the show floor, where Topps, UD, Donruss, Press Pass, and Beckett held court...

View from the lunch line...

The Donruss booth, with an elevated office area.

The Upper Deck booth. Busy with pack breakers. It looks like they stole Topps booth last year (as this is what it looked like in 2005).

The eTopps/Topps Vault Booth. Plenty of ToppsTown cards that they let my daughter (and me) have. And if you're asking for codes, I'm sorry, they're all entered.

This is not closing time, I forgot the flash.

Well that's it. The rest were either too blurry, or were pictures of me (and trust me, those didn't turn out well).


JayBee Anama

More Responses to Comments...Where Did They Go???

For a moment, I had a run of 15 posts in a row where I had at least one comment, then suddenly the last 6 (and possibly this one)...nothing. Have people stopped reading???

Anyway, before I answer some comments, please, if you are going to leave them, don't do it anonymously. I'd love to know who is reading, and if they have a card, or access to a card or cards I may be interested in, I'd like to be able to contact them. I think I'll remove the anonymous option for the comments. Here is why.

To anonymous, who said that he was able to find an Albert Pujols card in one of those back to school packages found at Target, if you could get some more of those cards, and find others that I don't have listed, please let me know. I'd be more than happy to buy them from you. But because you didn't leave me a name, I won't know how to contact you!!!

To jrj, who asked about the National being held in Cleveland in 2009, yes, it is going to be in Cleveland. They kept announcing it over the intercom for vendors to enter the lottery for booth assignments.

To bailorg, who asked about those 55-card team sets that I bought at the National, they started selling these gift sets with 55-card sets last year with the Yankees, Mets, and Red Sox. This year, they added the Tigers, Cubs, and Dodgers along with the aforementioned three teams. They are basically the same design of the basic 2008 set, but they have different pictures of all the players, and it also includes the coaches and other team highlights from the previous year.

To friend of the blog Big Daddy, who reminisced about the last card he needed to complete the 1984 Topps set, when I bought a full set, it turned out I was missing one card. It was a Greg Brock card (I think he was with the Dodgers at the time), and I wound up having to go back to the store, where they fortunately had ONE card of Brock. They wound up giving it to me for free.

That's all for now. Please keep those comments coming. It's an ego booster for me and it shows that people are at least reading.


JayBee Anama

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Agonizing Foot Pain...or Things to Do When You Can't Walk Without Pain

So for the last few days, my right foot has been killing me. Literally. You see when I came back from vacation a couple of weeks ago, the heel of my right foot was hurting. I could walk with a limp, but the pain was bad. I still was able to go to work last week, but there is a lot of walking involved, and needless to say, I really put a lot of stress on the other part of my foot so that it wouldn't hurt so much when I walk.

Now, last Saturday, the pain in my heel went away, but then, out of nowhere, the ball of my foot (if you can call it that) by my right big toe started aching. And it the pain was more intense than what I experienced in my heel. Putting on shoes was a challenge, because the shoe was pressing against the part of my foot that hurt. It got worse on Sunday night. Monday, I went to work, but not without screaming in pain every so often. It got so bad that I did decide to schedule an appointment with the podiatrist up the street from home. I left early (lucky me), drove, (hurts to drive when you use your right foot), and after getting x-rays, it was determined that I do not have a sprain (thank goodness) or a bruise (that hurts too), but inflammation. Basically, it feels like my foot is on fire, but based on the x-rays, nothing else seems to be wrong. The doctor doesn't think it's gout or diabetes (I am not diabetic). So he gave me a prescription to get some medicine to help ease the pain. He did suggest that I not begin to take it until the following morning. Needless to say, I wish I didn't listen.

I woke up at 3:00 CST in excruciating pain. I couldn't get back to sleep, and not even elevating my foot helped. Somehow, I was able to get out of bed, limp to the living room (after struggling to find my crutches in the dark), and lay on the recliner. Still hurt, but I was able to get some semblance of sleep. Needless to say, I called in sick to work this morning, because I still couldn't walk without feeling pain. I did take the medicine and it is starting to do something (it's not a miracle cure, but it is helping a bit).

So what can I do other than lay in pain? Watch the Olympics (Croatia was ahead of Serbia in men's Water Polo), watch all my kids TV shows (again), and read a couple of Mastro Auction catalogs. When I get a moment, I'll try and get my 2008 Allen & Ginter set put into sheets. Maybe I'll open up those factory sets so I can scan the exclusive cards for the blog. Then I'll blog about my foot pain...oh wait, I'm doing that now.



JayBee Anama

And the 2008 Topps Red Hot Rookie #'s 8 and 9 Cards Go To...

Those holding those Red Hot Rookie Redemption cards better get them logged in to Topps quickly as it has just been announced that card #8 is of Jeff Samardzija (got that without about that) of the Chicago Cubs and #9 is of Brad Ziegler of the Oakland Athletics.

Since his Major League Debut on July 25 against the Marlins, Samardzija has a 0-0 record and one save, with an ERA of 1.54 in 11.7 innings pitched (as of August 12, 2008).

Ziegler made his Major League Debut on May 31 against the Rangers, and currently sports a 1-0 record, one save, an ERA of 0.00 in 37.0 innings of work. He just broke the MLB record of consecutive scoreless innings to start a career, one that has stood for more than 100 years (George McQuillan had set it at 25 innings)

Neither card is autographed. For both fans of the Cubs and Athletics, you will certainly want to add either of these cards to your collections. So for those of you with Redemption card #'s 8 & 9, START REDEEMING!!!

The updated checklist now includes:


JayBee Anama

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Chicago Has Lost a Star Today, and Heaven Has Just Gotten a Lot Funnier.

Bernie Mac as Stan "Mr. 3000" Ross in the 2004 movie "Mr. 3000."

Just saw the news this afternoon that Bernie Mac passed away from pneumonia at a Chicago hospital earlier this morning. He was 50 years young.

A native Chicagoan, Bernie Mac has been entertaining audiences for the last two decades as an Original King of Comedy, part of the Ocean's gang, and, for the sake of our humble blog, an over-the-hill baseball legend. But outside all of that, he was a family man, making sure that they were provided for. And he was a baseball fan. How happy he must have been for his White Sox when they finally won the big one in 2005.

The card above was obtained at Miller Park in 2004. The back has the stats and story of Stan Ross, aka "Mr. 3000." The statistics show that Ross played his entire career for the Brewers, beginning in 1978 all the way to 1995, amassing 2997 hits (he originally finished with 3000 hits, but three of them were somehow disqualified, hence the updated total). The movie is about Ross trying to get his three hits, even though he's been out of the game for 10 years. Bernie Mac played the role perfectly, mixing humor with the exasperation of being an old man in a younger man's game.

There really is not much more to say.


JayBee Anama

Friday, August 8, 2008

Topps Insert Set of the Week: 2007 Topps Allen & Ginter Flags of All Nations

Don't tell anyone this, but I am a closet geography buff, and an amateur vexillologist (one who dabbles in the study of flags). I love this stuff, and have loved learning about countries and their flags since I was in kindergarten. So when the Insert Set of the Week was included in last year's edition of Topps Allen & Ginter, I had to have it, no matter what the cost. And with today being the Opening Ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, it is only fitting to honor the 2007 Topps Allen & Ginter Flags of All Nations set.

Inserted into packs of 2007 Topps Allen & Ginter (1:12 hobby and retail packs) were cards that comprised a fifty card set called Flags of All Nations. Now Topps A & G honors one of the oldest sets created, all the way back into the 1880's. Tobacco companies included cards depicting all different kinds of subjects in their cigarette packs and cartons back then. Flags, birds, animals, women wearing hats, jewels and gems, athletes, you name it, they had cards for them. Now the original A & G also included flag cards (see Cardboard Junkie for more details on those beautiful cards). Topps, in honor of that set, designed and distributed these beautiful cards with the flag waving proudly in front of a scene that masterfully represents each country.

Each of the fifty cards here (I am not going to list each country, you can clearly see them on the cards) was beautifully done, and the vexillologist in me was pleased when they started appearing on the Bay. My mind started thinking of ways to use these cards, not only as a superb addition to the A & G set that I was going to buy, but as a way to teach my kids about the different countries and better still, what pictures were included with each flag. For example, the Denmark flag has a picture of the Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen, inspired by the fairy tale's author, Hans Christian Andersen. And the China card includes a picture of the Great Wall. The Philippines flag card (so near and dear to my heart) has a picture of the Mount Mayon, the world's most perfect cone shaped volcano, and it still erupts from time to time (not in catastrophic terms, but the smoke coming out of the top kinda gives you an idea of when it could blow).

The day the cards arrived in the mail, my family went on a trip to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. I used these cards as entertainment for my daughter, who wanted to learn all about the countries. I couldn't bring my atlases, or my geography books, or even my flag books. I was able to use these cards as a sort of reference tool, being able to sort them by continent, by name, and as best as I could, tell her what the landmark is on each of the card or what the included picture meant.

I will admit that I don't watch all the Olympic events (I mean, who does). But when the summer games (or the winter games for that matter) come, I make sure to watch the Opening Ceremonies, especially the parade of countries. To see each country represented, the beautiful colors of the costumes, and to compare the number of athletes each country sends to the games makes for good tv watching at our house. I remember the uproar in 1996 when the games were in Atlanta, and NBC decided to go to commercial as soon as the contingent from the Philippines arrived at the stadium. Oh the uproar from the Filipino community. Shouts of boycotts were everywhere. What actually happened was that the group had just arrived at the stadium, and then they were cut off by commercial. Now normally, the networks would recap who arrived while they were on break. They didn't show the athletes from the Philippines once they came back. They skipped them for the next country over. I think since then, NBC has made sure to televise when the athletes arrive. Maybe they've stopped cutting for commercials now for the parade, so as not to leave any country out.

Back to the cards.

You have to agree that they look great. Click on any of the ten pictures to get a closer look at each of the cards.

I was hoping that they'd do a second set this year to feature the flags of countries that they missed in the first set, (would have been cool to see Nepal's, or East Timor's, or Eritrea's, or Andorra's flag in cards like this).

But until then, Topps did something right when they created, designed, and included this set with the Allen & Ginter product. For me, this is, without a doubt, my favorite insert set ever.


JayBee Anama

Thursday, August 7, 2008

All I Am Saying...Is Give Beckett's New Site a Chance!!!

(Roughly sung to the tune of John Lennon's "Give Peace a Chance," not his version, but the 90's version seen below. Get over the real message of the video (I'm not going to even go there...) and the awful 90's hair, and eventually you'll understand where I'm going with this...)

Everybody's talkin' bout...

Beckett's new site oh so bad
All us members have been had
The new site is hard to use
My computer's been abused
Can't figure out where's the board
I am getting oh so bored.....

All I am give it a chance
All I am give it a chance

What we're talkin' bout...

Members saying that it "sucks"
Wishing people "best of luck"
Leaving the site cause they had enough
But come on people, it's not so rough

All I am give it a chance
All I am give it a chance

Okay, that's enough...

It's been four days since the new Beckett site launched, and I think it's safe to say that tons of people who've used the site for years are not happy. Why???:

  • "The site is unorganized"
  • "I can't get onto the message boards"
  • "I'm number 5000 to get my collections downloaded"
  • "You want us to 'pay to trade'?"
And the responses from said members?:
  • "This sucks" (about a thousand times this has been said, in many cases, in very unflattering ways)
  • "I'm leaving"
  • "Nice knowing you"
  • "Hey, we're all over on this board now, come on over, it's just like OLD TIMES"

Mark Twain (and yes, I'm looked this up) once said, "The only two certainties in life are death and taxes." A third certainty in life is change. Beckett made a change to their web prescence. And while there are certainly faults and bugs in the overall system, it should not have been enough to drive many to say what was said above before making the exodus to other sites (which I am not going to glamourize by linking here).

One of the newest features on the site is that members can write their own articles and have them published on the site (just like guest blogging). One of the best ones I've seen so far is from former Becketteer Pepper Hastings. In his article, he actually predicted that the ensuing mess that occurred once the new website went live. He also said that not too many people, whether within or Hobby or not, embrace change. He's right. It's human nature not to accept change right away, especially if we've been comfortable with what we've had for so long. But it is also human nature to be curious and try new things. We learn so much when we try and do something new.

That's why I'm willing to give the new version of a chance. It's been a few days, and yes, while it still is slow, I'm learning my way around the site. Already, my collections have been downloaded, and I find it will be easier for me to add stuff when I'm at home instead of at work (which I should be doing more of anyway). I can get to the message boards a lot faster now that I know where to go, and eventually, I'll get the hang of navigating the site (with the help of a few videos). I don't trade, so I don't care about the "pay to trade" thing that other people have been crying foul about. I too don't think that it's right, but it's not my website, I don't work for Beckett, and they can do whatever they want with it.

What those who've "left" don't understand is that it was never "OUR WEBSITE." We don't own it. We may have a say in what went into it, and unless we own stock in the company, or work for the company, we didn't have an ownership stake on any part of the site, especially the beloved message boards. In fact, I think many members of the esteemed boards only went onto the site just to use the boards (which isn't a bad thing), but there was more to the site than just speaking your mind and trading on a message board.

Now Beckett is giving their members more of a voice than ever before. I, for one, will be taking advantage of that opportunity when the time comes. And I will certainly stay the course on the site, not planning on leaving any time soon.

I read on the other board that the people who decide to stay no matter what are a bunch of sheep. For those who said that, here is my reply...



JayBee Anama

Monday, August 4, 2008

Cards That Makes You Go...What??! of the Week: 2002 Topps Archives Future Rookie Reprints Jason Giambi #2 and Mike Piazza #7 of 10

Topps began the practice of including bonus cards in their factory sets in 1992, when they included ten Topps Gold, three Topps BlackGold, and possibly a nine card sample card featuring what would become the 1993 Topps design. They then expanded this to include insert sets that could only be exclusively found inside Topps factory sets. The first such set was found in 1995, with the inclusion of the Topps Finest 1995 MLB Award Contenders, and 1995 Topps Opening Day.

In 2001, Topps included a 20 card insert set that was not for the eponymous brand, but instead was to be an addendum to the 2001 Topps Archives set. It featured 20 current players who would not have qualified for the Topps Archives set (Barry Bonds, Cal Ripken, Tony Gwynn, Roger Clemens, et. al) and combined a reprint of their rookie card and the 2001 Topps Archives Logo. They called this set Topps Archives Future Rookie Reprints. And depending on what factory set you bought, you would get five cards of the 20 card set. However, there was no differentiating which cards came with what set, so short of buying and opening four factory sets (which is considered sacrilegious), you still could not be guaranteed getting a full set. Fortunately, thanks to eBay, singles were put on sale by only the most daring of eBayers, and I eventually was able to piece out a complete set from singles.

They repeated the process in 2002. But it now became a ten card set, but Topps never announced what cards could be found in what set. The 2002 Topps Hobby Factory sets had five cards (Alex Rodriguez, Jason Giambi, Pedro Martinez, Ichiro Suzuki, and Jeff Bagwell). The other five cards (announced in a checklist by Beckett as Ivan Rodriguez, Mike Piazza, Nomar Garciaparra, Ken Griffey, Jr, and Albert Pujols) could only be found in factory sets that were sold ONLY from either JC Penney's or Sears' websites. But nobody said anything about where to find the last five cards. Who knew that Penneys and Sears even sold factory sets? Why did Topps distribute these cards this way? What??!...okay wait a minute...let's not get ahead of ourselves.

Now the 2001 Topps Through the Years insert set introduced us to the image of Cal Ripken's 1982 rookie card (without the two other guys on either side). A vertical portrait with an enlarged photo of a youthful future "Iron Man" was used as the example of the 1982 Topps design in that 50-card insert set. They repeated this process in the Topps Archives set. As you know, the set featured the rookie and final cards of baseball's best players from the past 50 years. If a player (like Al Martin, Bob Uecker, Mike Schmidt, Carlton Fisk) shared his rookie card with another person, what Topps did was enlarge the player's picture, and then create that year's design around the enlarged picture.

So why is it that for both the 2002 Topps Archives Rookie Reprints Jason Giambi and Mike Piazza cards did Topps not follow this practice??? They reprinted the full cards for both, with Piazza sharing his card with three other players (Brook Fordyce of the Mets AA team, Carlos Delgado of the Blue Jays' A team, and Donnie Leshnock, the 1992 draft pick of the NY Yankees) from the 1993 Topps set. Giambi was the A League representative, and shared the 1994 Topps reprinted card with three players as well (Luis Ortiz of the Red Sox's AAA team, David Bell of the Indians' AA team, and George Arias as the Draft pick).
Giambi's card mates aren't necessarily household names, but I do think that Topps should have been able to find a way to seperate Giambi from the three other players (a large square picture in front of a blue sky and clouds background would have worked here).

However, Mike Piazza shares his card with Carlos Delgado, who is a star in his own right. He may not have the Hobby Love that Piazza does, but he does have a following. Whether with the Jays, the Marlins, or the Mets, Delgado has shined as an All-Star. What was Topps thinking here? The checklist says Piazza, but the card, in the minds of certain people, could have been for Delgado. If Topps really wanted to include Mike Piazza in the Archives set, they should have had no problem removing the three other guys and leaving Piazza and his oval framed picture on the card. But why didn't they do this?

Now you could argue that Piazza was the AAA prospect, so it clearly should be his...but the card listed as Jason Giambi has the clean shaven third base prospect as a single A player. Should Topps have checklisted this as Luis Ortiz's card? Luis Ortiz only played in 60 games during a four year major league career. Not even close to living up to that Top Prospect billing. So this could get a pass, an inexcusable pass, but Topps got away with one here.

Again, Piazza has more of the Hobby love than Delgado. But Delgado was also a recognizable name in 2002, this could have easily been his card too. Because Topps did not fix the card so that only Piazza appears on it, and because it is only Mike Piazza's name on the card, Carlos Delgado player collectors don't even know that this card is out there for them to get. But then again, who would have known that these cards would only be out if you bought a set from Sears or JC Penney?

Topps, what were you thinking??!


JayBee Anama

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Day Two of the National Review...Why You Should Bring the Kids

The Saturday show was a lot busier than Thursday like I thought. More of a crowd, and definitely lots of kids. I brought my daughter along this time, and she had fun as well.

I will skip the explanation as to what was at the show (that was done on Thursday). So I will just note some observations not covered previously:

  • Again, disappointed that Topps did not make an appearance, although they were covered by their eTopps and Topps Vault programs. I do wish that they had a bigger presence.
  • The Benchwarmers booth was noticably close to the "Family Area" (no neither I nor my daughter went to visit it...on both days!!!)
  • Kids are free!!! And they got stuff for free too!!! Can't stop with the exclamation points!!!
  • At the eTopps booth, we did get a TON of Toppstown codes cards (and no, we are dividing them up between ourselves and my son who didn't go, so don't ask me for any).
  • The box wars took place by the Blowout Cards booth. Loud, but not as insane as when Topps had three years ago.
  • Absent because of his boycott was everybody's good friend Alan "Mr. Mint" Rosen.

Both my daughter and I did some spending. What did we get???

My daughter is now the proud owner of the following items:

  • One 55-card 2008 Topps Chicago Cubs gift set
  • One deck of Northside Chicago Heroes playing cards
  • One 2008 Upper Deck (she's gone to the dark side...hope to save her) Kosuke Fukudome Rookie Card (with the rookie card logo)
  • One Topps Finest Shawn Merriman autograph card (from the eTopps promo. Thanks to the guy that let her spin the wheel).
  • One Chicago Cubs Teddy Bear that she has named Marco (don't ask...)

As for me:

  • One 55-card 2008 Topps NY Yankees gift set
  • One 55-card 2008 Topps NY Mets gift set (without the auto, I didn't need it, and they lowered the price if I offered to go ahead and let them keep the card...Davey Johnson MGR card)
  • One 2008 Topps Hobby Factory set with the ten bonus rookie variation cards (and the Kosuke Fukudome Topps card)
  • One 2008 Topps All-Star Game Factory set with the five bonus Yankee cards in it.

It may not look like I got a lot of stuff or that I spent too much on cards that I already have, but I wanted the bonus cards, and will be glad to sell the sets on the Bay at a later time.

Overall, I was very happy with the show. I would have bought more again, had it not been for the fact that I already bought the Allen and Ginter set beforehand. The next show that comes to Rosemont will be the Chicago Sun-Times show that comes in November. Having my daughter there allowed me to share with her my insane Hobby. She asked lots of questions, most of them I was able to answer. She didn't mind running around the aisles with her madman of a father.

The show next year is in Cleveland, and may not come back to Chicago for another three years. But when it does, I'll be making sure to go, and I'll bring my son this time.

Pictures will be coming soon. Took some decent shots of the show and of Dmitri Young's PSA 10 collection of Rookie Cards.


JayBee Anama

Saturday, August 2, 2008

I Love Comments...Keep Them Coming!!!

Time to answer some comments:

To dayf, about that Chipper card, there were three other packs with his card on it. If it's still there, I'll pick one up for you.

To fielderschoice regarding the Congrats post, no I'm not a Padres fan, but when I noticed as I was going through my cards that they were together for a couple of years as Padres, that I thought to highlight that little blip in history. Besides, this is the same Padres team that knocked the Cubs out in 1984, so I have a bit of little boy angst towards that particular team. But hey, it's a good theme.

To jv, fielderschoice, and Big Daddy, regarding my review of the National, I'll take pictures, including the Dmitri Young collection (you have to see it to believe how impressive this is), and I'll be going again on Saturday. If you plan on going to the show, I'll be wearing a Topps baseball cap (I was mistaken for a Topps employee a few times on Thursday), along with carrying a Topps gym bag (can you see why I was mistaken for a Topps employee???) to carry my stuff. Today is shopping day, so I hope to find things that I'd like at the show.

Keep those comments coming. Thanks for reading.


JayBee Anama