Friday, December 31, 2010

2011 Here We Come!!!

It's new year's eve. My sister's birthday (happy birthday Migz!!!) And the year that was 2010 is now drawing ever so closer to an end. By the time this post appears, I will be taking my family to the zoo and enjoying the weather (it may be cloudy and possibly rainy, but it will be in the low 50' JANUARY!!!)

Anyway, the point of this post is basically to review the past year's triumphs and failures and what the direction of this blog is going to be.

The Topps Card Randomizer crashed in mid-October (realistically, it crashed in August and didn't quite recover). The good news is that it is now back up and running, and will now include cards from 2010 Topps and Topps Update Series (Yay!!!). The first RotC post will appear on the first of January, at 1:00 p.m. CST.

As we are now in 2011, we will also bring back the feature that I was hoping to put into full swing in 2010, but just never got around to it. It is the return of the 2011 Topps Archives project. For those of you who don't know what that is, I invite you to read the first post explaining what the 2011 Topps Archives project was all about. The checklist of the first eighteen subjects are on the sidebar. I originally wanted to have 200 players and a ton of extras, making a 450 card set. So I only need 182 players to go. I do have some future archives players and the managers in mind. Those will come up later in the year.

It is my hope to finish adding the last of the Update Series cards into a binder this weekend. I am so darn behind. I will also update the official card count and my want list on the side bar soon. And because I missed out on sets that I wanted to acquire in 2010 (National Chicle, Allen & Ginter, Topps 206 from both 2009 and 2010), if I do ever find them, I will share my excitement with the blog. Hopefully, the prices remain steady if drastically decrease on the Bay.

Also, this humble little blog will continue the All-Star simulations with the 2010 All-Star teams that were created in October. As you can see on the sidebar, I have simulated 21 seasons worth of All-Star games featuring rosters that were created by yours truly, and will have the results of the 2010 All-Star series before pitchers and catchers report for spring training (don't you just love those four words..."pitchers and catchers report").

And finally, if Topps ever remembers to get around to it, they still have to announce the other 59 cards from their "Vote Topps" thing from October. If you haven't seen or heard, I went ahead and created a site that would allow the Hobby Internet Community to vote on the Topps 100 cards of all time, along with the Top cards of every year in Topps' 60 year history. Go to the Topps 300 (and then some...) to find out more. During the year, you the readers will be allowed to add to the ballot and by the 2011 All-Star Break, we will put to a vote the best cards of every year and the Topps 100 cards of All-Time.

I did not get to buy as much Topps product this year as I would have liked. Money was tight this year and more of it seemed to be earmarked for other, more important things (like bills, kid's education, etc). So while I did succeed in acquiring full master sets of this year's flagship product, I didn't really get to buy the usual hobby box of each. I am hoping that if all goes well, 2011 will be a different story. I also wasn't active enough in searching for or trading for the short prints that came out with this year's set. I plan on becoming more active on that front in 2011.

I would have liked to have done a year end review of the Hobby in 2010. There certainly was a lot to write about. From the Pie in the Face, Abraham Lincoln, and other super short printed variations, to one of the deepest class of rookies MLB has seen in years, there was so much going on in Topps first year as the MLB exclusive trading card licensee. However, I think you all would be better off reading what the gentleman at Grand Cards had to say in his Year-In-Review post. Very good stuff here. Many of the points I totally agree with (if not all the points). So check out what he had to say about 2010...AFTER you're done with what I have to say.

I must say that it's been an interesting year in the Hobby Blogging Community, as well as the Hobby in general. The companies (specifically the Topps Company), have finally come around and are now taking a more proactive approach in their appearances by being more involved in social media. Topps always had a twitter account (@toppscards) but since Mike Mader joined the team earlier this year, the 140-character post site has seen a lot of communication. And even better, they finally joined Facebook!!! The round-table discussion was a hit earlier this year, and I hope that the communication between the company and their customers continues in 2011.

There is so much more to look forward to in 2011. Most important of all of this is the cards. THE CARDS!!! The cards of 2011 Topps look great and I can't wait to add them to my collection. Stay tuned for information on SP's, interesting variations, the ever "dreaded" gimmicks, and all things Topps as they celebrate their 60th Anniversary (the Diamond Anniversary). With that said, in what has been tradition on this blog:

Goodbye 2010!!!

Hello 2011!!!

Goodbye 2010 Topps Design!!!

Hello 2011 Topps Design!!!

May all your collections grow to new heights. Let's hope Topps makes it a bit easier on us insane set collectors. Thank you for letting me into your computers this past year. I hope to be able to share more of my collection with you in 2011!!!


JayBee Anama

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Last Update for the Sports Card Blogroll before 2011. A Year in Review.

What a year it has been for the Sports Card Blogroll. An overhaul of the site in January made the site easier to access and much easier to find your favorite blogs. As of Tuesday, December 28, 2010, there were 153 new blogs about the Hobby of Sports Card Collecting added to the big Roll since the first of the year, putting the roster at 322 blogs.

But this also means that we've lost many of our favorite blogs to inactivity (6 months is the cutoff). Looking back at the past year, and before we say goodbye to posts this month, I removed 97 blogs off the active roster due to six months of inactivity. A few found there way back (after telling me that they were up and running again) onto the roll. And if there is any indication as to what is coming in the world of our Hobby blogging in 2011 based on what has transpired these last couple of months, there should be a bit of concern.

Let's go ahead and list the blogs making their departure from the main roster and will be moved to the "Blogs Being Removed from the Blogroll" section on the sidebar:

There were 314 blogs as of last month's update. We reached 322 before this month's post. With these eight removed, we are now down to 314 blogs (no gain from last month). Overall that means a total of 105 blogs were removed from the Sports Card Blogroll in 2010 (you can see all the blogs removed for posterity on the site by clicking on the Sports Card Blogroll Label on this post or on the sidebar). Last year at this time, there were 262 blogs linked onto the site, which means that we had a net gain of 52 blogs from last year.

Last year at this time, we only had one basketball card blog. This year, we now have six. The number of blogs in football and hockey remained consistent. In the ever important baseball category, where last year there were 119 sites, as of now there are 136 blogs about baseball cards (total does not include blogs found in the more specific team, set, or player sections, or even the multi-sport section of the blogroll).

We lost a few of our more "influential" voices this year, but many others have picked up the slack. And I hope that the number of blogs about our Hobby continues to grow. The more voices, the better off we all will be. Keep up the good work everyone. And let's hope that 2011 will mean better things for the Hobby, and the Hobby Blogging Community.


JayBee Anama

Sunday, December 26, 2010

'Twas the Day After Christmas

and all through the house, the Lego sets have been built and the Scrabble Flash letters spell MOUSE.

These past few years, I made a conscious effort on getting more presents for my family and not expecting anything in exchange. So it was a nice surprise when my kids gave me a present to open: a long sleeved blue and yellow striped (thin stripes thank goodness) shirt that I can wear for work.

I try not to tell people to get me baseball cards for Christmas because many times they get me packs of stuff I don't collect (the one year I had to smile publicly while being handed two blasters of Upper Deck cards was one of the toughest things I had to do). So usually, if I get cash or gift cards, I'll get my Topps cards myself.

So along with the Dilbert wall calendar (for my cubicle), I did get four jumbo packs of Update Series from Meijer. I did get three MCG code cards and one Strasburg 661 (the regular one...not the PITF). So it was worth it.

I also so a post on another blog about a 2010 Tony Gwynn SP card up for trade. Now I need to find some Brewers cards so I can get it. No problem.

I plan on spending the day sledding with the kids (must have gotten at least 4 - 6" of snow) and promised to take them if the snow wasn't hard. That, and I will do my monthly Sports Card Blogroll maintenance when I get home.

Finally, Joe McAnally is getting the Topps Heritage sets added to the Baseball Card Cyber Museum. He asked if there were any retro sets that would be worth adding to the museum. I thought really long and hard about this one. I would have suggested the Allen & Ginter series, but because of all the "non-baseball subjects," it might not be...what's the word...relevant to the subject matter at hand.

Turkey Red came to mind too. He already has the reprint set inducted. It could work, although some of the pictures might be too dark for scanning (especially the cards from '06). Maybe that is what I'd recommend. Jury is still out on Cracker Jacks (a nice product that had a good two-year run, but not in my top 10 retro sets), but the early Topps 206 & 205 sets would be good too use. But if those are to be used, I think the mini cards would look better.

That's all for now. Hope your holiday has treated you well.


JayBee Anama

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Time Is Here...All is Calm...All is Bright...

It is now 11:07 p.m. CST, Friday, December 24, 2010. The kids are settling in to bed (finally). The presents are wrapped and are under the tree. And here I am thinking about what to write. I look back on what I wrote last year at this time, and many of the things I wrote then still ring true today:

"This has been a very rough year financially, emotionally, mentally for a lot of people. In fact, I know that many people are cutting back on the usual extravagances, opting for simple get-togethers with family and friends. Many adults have agreed to skip the exchange of Christmas presents, opting to focus their gift giving towards their children, who, regardless of the state of the world right now, deserve a good holiday."

So back to the point. It is Christmas. It is a time to reflect, a time to celebrate. A time to remember what it is all about. What it really is all about. Again, from last year:

"I think I'm trying to say that as our priorities shift, I think it's more important that we think about what Christmas is all about. Yes, we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. And that is why my family and I celebrate. But there is so much more to it than that. This is the time of year that we show our friends and family how much they mean to us. How much they matter to us. How much we care about them and believe that the feelings are mutual. This is the time that we put any hostilities we have aside and celebrate life. It's the time of year that we think about those who are less fortunate, and find ways to help, no matter how much or how little, and count our blessings."

Another year is soon coming to an end. In the world that we call our Hobby, it has seen the results of the dramatic changes that were announced over a year ago. Whether the Topps Company successfully took advantage of their "Exclusive License" or not gets a different answer depending on who you ask. For me, there were a lot more hits than misses. Not saying that all of their products were great (or the execution therein), but there can only be improvements. Remember, this is the first time since 1980 that they had the market all to themselves. It will take a while before they get the hang of it. Based on what I've seen so far, the future only looks bright.

Regardless of where you find yourselves these next few days, on behalf of my family, I wish you and yours a happy, a safe, a joyous, and most importantly, a very Merry Christmas. May packs of Topps cards fill your stocking on Christmas morning.


JayBee Anama

P.S. In past years posts, I included a few Christmas videos of songs I enjoy hearing during the holidays. This year, my daughter introduced me to what I think will rank up there in my favorite Christmas/Holiday carols of all time. From Straight No Chaser, it's the Christmas Can-Can. jba

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

2011 Topps Gypsy Queen Sell Sheets are Now Live!!!

As promised in my first post about the newest retro product Topps will be debuting in 2011, the sell sheets for the Gypsy Queen set are now live!

Some notes:

There will be a group of insert cards featuring Gypsy Queens. Really? They will come in regular, autos, and jewel-encrusted cards (20 each). The sample on the sell sheet is intriguing. Can't wait to see what the other 19 will look like.

For regular insert collectors (like me), who insist that these cards would be part of the master set, the three insert sets look fantastic. "The Great Ones" (in brown) feature 30 legendary players. "The Home Run Heroes" (in green) showcases 25 past and present sluggers. "Future Stars" (in blue) self explanatory with 20 young stars who should carry MLB into the coming decade.

Regular sized parallel cards include "framed paper" (which if I were to guess was how the original cards were created), and gold (100 cards only will get the gold foil and newfangled technology treatment). Mini parallels will include leather (simulated...relax PETA), sepia tone (to acknowledge how the original cards actually looked), Gypsy Queen-backed cards (with the original GQ logo), and black borders.

And did I mention that each card gets its own parallel stamp card (#'d to 10)?

The checklist (in .pdf form) can be found here. And as always, it is subject to change. With the recent news that Topps has signed contracts with both Sandy Koufax and Hank Aaron (just today), they may be added as well. Emphasis on may be.


JayBee Anama

Monday, December 20, 2010

Topps 60 Best Cards...#60!

So Topps' countdown of their greatest cards of all-time as voted on by the collecting public is being revealed today.

Card #60 is...

(drumroll please)

1973 Topps #615 Rookie Third Basemen Ron Cey/John Hilton/Mike Schmidt.

Thoughts: Good card to kickoff the countdown. Although it is a combo card, even John Hilton's mother will acknowledge that this card belongs to the gentleman on the far right of the card...Michael Jack Schmidt!!! (This isn't a slight on Ron Cey...he had an astounding career as well...but this card is recognized more for Schmidt's appearance than anything else.)

Beckett has this listed between $75-$150.00.

Card #59 on the countdown will be announced tomorrow.

UPDATE: December 24, 2011: If you haven't noticed yet, Topps has not updated their "Vote Topps" site since the first card was announced. Topps Social Media guy is on vacation until next year so nothing has been mentioned on either facebook or twitter. As of now, we're all in the dark as to the next card on the countdown. When they do, I'll post card #59 then.


JayBee Anama

Friday, December 17, 2010

Quick Reminder Regarding Topps' 60 Best Cards...

If all goes according to plan, Topps will begin to announce, one card at a time, the Topps 60 cards as voted by the public beginning tomorrow, December 18. These 60 cards will make their way into packs of 2011 Topps Series 1 (whether actual cards or reprints remains to be seen).

Here at this humble, little blog, we will celebrate by commenting on each card that makes the cut as soon as the cards are announced. So join us as we count along with Topps the 60 greatest cards of all time.

And if you still don't like the choices, feel free to visit the Topps 300 (and then some...) and comment on which cards you think should be included in each year's post.


JayBee Anama

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Gypsy Queen Scheduled to Sail in 2011.

The latest buzz around the Hobby Internet community was the announcement of the Topps Company's latest retro-baseball card product: 2011 Topps Gypsy Queen.

In what appears to be the replacement for this past year's National Chicle or even Topps 206, Gypsy Queen cards were inserts found in packs of cigarettes back in 1887 (N174 for those of you who follow Mr. Burdick's codes), and the photos used were similar to those used of the more familiar Old Judge cards from that same era (both brands were manufactured by Goodwin and Company). Doing a bit of digging (isn't the Internet a wonderful thing???), the Gypsy Queen set consisted of 183 cards (that are known of anyway), in two sizes (2" x 3½" and 1" x 2½") and because the cigarettes were expensive, only the "upper class" could afford them. Because cards like these weren't really actively collected back then, it is a safe bet that many were just tossed aside, which makes the original cards rarer than other tobacco cards (like the Allen & Ginters, the Old Judges, etc). How rare were these cards? Put it this way, even the book Classic Baseball Cards: The Golden Years 1886-1956 doesn't list or has any pictures from this brand of cards.

Now this isn't the first time Topps is utilizing the design. Remember a few years back (2007 to be exact) when Topps' Walmart Exclusive insert set included a bunch of old baseball card designs? There were a couple of Gypsy Queen cards included (Joe Mauer and Dan Uggla). And although the cards from 2007 stayed true to the set's original sepia colored pictures, the 2011 set will utilize color pictures.

The 2011 Topps Gypsy Queen set will consist of 450 cards, of which 50 will be short-printed variations (there's a big surprise). There are going to be three regular-sized insert sets, and the kicker is that every card (base and inserts) will have their own mini parallel card. The parallel cards will be found one per pack and include hobby-only Leather versions limited to 10, Sepia minis limited to 99, back variants and black-bordered back variants.

There are also the usual relics, autos, and mini framed cards. As well as something called Stamp Relic cards. All 450 cards (#'d to ten) will feature a stamp that incorporates the player's city or country of origin.

And, the number one source in the hobby has pictures (some which are can catch the other ones on their site). The most unique card I've seen among the samples is this embedded Gypsy Queen gem card, complete with a picture of a "gypsy queen." Hey, if they can get Santa Claus, or even the invisible man on a card, you never know.

Now personally, I like the retro stuff that Topps, and even that other card company...when they were around, put out in the last ten years. What started with T206, T205, Cracker Jack, Turkey Red, Allen & Ginter, Goodwin Champions, Goudey, Play Ball, and even the National Chicle, the purpose of these cards were not only to put something on the market for set collectors to hunt, but to also expose us to the rich history of the Hobby and the cards that were made before the Shorin brothers came up with their gum. As a student of the Hobby, I really appreciate that. But lately, there's been a bit of ambivalence to these kinds of cards. Why the hostility? Has the craze already played itself out? If it has, why then is Topps still putting these kinds of products out there? Certainly there is a market for it. And there is a wealth of old card products and designs they can use.

Now for those of us who have never seen actual Gypsy Queen cards, one of the best sites I've seen
that has a number of them is here at Baseball Cards Live. A checklist of the 183 known cards can be found here at Vintage Prices. And when sell sheets arrive, I will make sure to scan and post them here on the blog.

Topps Gypsy Queen is the fifth product the company has announced for Major League Baseball (following Series 1, Heritage, Opening Day, and Tribute). More to look forward to in 2011.


JayBee Anama

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Week Away to Recharge

I know my readership takes a hit when I don't post. So I'm thinking my numbers now have taken a nosedive. But I never said I was doing what it is I do for ratings.

While I took my break, I found a card shop at the mall (brand new), and bought a few packs of 2010 Topps Update. No, nothing worthwhile in the insert department, but at least I have a reason to go to the mall again. Best of luck to the folks running Sports and Gaming Cards at Golf Mill Center in Niles, IL.

And when I get home, I plan on updating the wantlists on the sidebar of the blog, the official card count in my always growing collection, and put the master set of '10 Topps Update into sheets.

That and possibly restart the Randomizer and enter codes into Toppstown. Later.


JayBee Anama

Friday, December 3, 2010

RIP Ron Santo 1940-2010

My wife woke me up this morning, just like she does every morning before she leaves for work. It's usually, "Wake up, I'm leaving now. Have a good day. I love you."

This morning, she wakes me up with "Did you know that Ron Santo is dead?"

"What?" I mumbled as I got up in a rush. Sure enough, the usually jovial WGN Morning News team mentioned that last night, Ron Santo had passed away. And I was stunned.

Every article today mentioned his stats, his All-Star appearances, his Gold Gloves, so I'm not going to mention those. Many blogs and news articles about the man talk about how the writer feels that Santo has been unfairly snubbed from being inducted into Baseball's Hall of Fame (and you can count me as one who thinks that he should have been...even if I never saw the man play). Many stories have already been recalled about how generous he was with his time, and how courageous he was to play the game being diabetic at a time when the technology to manage it wasn't around.

All I want to talk about this evening is about how kind enough he was to sign one piece of memorabilia for me. It's not a baseball, nor a card (even though the above card is autographed by Ron himself...from 2001 Topps Archives #73 of 150), not even a bobblehead doll (which I have, not autographed of course, but I still have one in a box somewhere in the house). None of those.

One night, the Friendly Card Finds (shout out to Brian Proulx...wherever you are), the baseball card shop by my work, announced that Mr. Santo was going to sign at the shop. Even though I don't really collect autographs, I thought that it would be really cool to see him in person. But what could I give him to sign?

Then it hit me. "How about my copy of The Complete Picture Collection of Topps Baseball Cards 1951-1990??? Brilliant. It's such a heavy book though...what does that matter. I'm going to meet Ron Santo!!!"

When the evening came, my wife, my two kids, and I drove over to the shop. The place was hopping. People buying cards for Ron to sign. Pictures cost x amount. Cards, a little cheaper. Balls were sold at x price (I don't remember...I didn't buy any of them). But here I was standing in line with this huge book, trying to find a good spot for him to sign his name. I still didn't find a spot until I was at the front of the line.

Brian introduced Ron to me, I shook his hand, told him what an honor it was to meet him...oh and here is what I have for you to sign sir. Here I was with this heavy blue book. The expression on his face was priceless. I don't think he had ever seen the book before. If you have never seen this book, it's basically a picture of every Topps card up to 1990. His eyes lit up as he was flipping through some of the pages. It was like he was looking at an old high school yearbook. He asked where I wanted him to sign, but I was speechless. I didn't even know. He flipped through until he reached the section of 1961 cards. At the bottom of the first page, he found it. A picture of card #35 from the 1961 set. His rookie card. He signed his name in blue sharpie below the picture.

I shook his hand, thanked him very much for the autograph, he even shook my wife's and kids hands (they're not going to remember any of it...but I'll tell them later that they met a legend), and left for another errand (which I can't remember where we went, but it was heading further west).

A month later, when I visited the shop again, Brian said that the book was probably the most unique thing that Ron Santo had signed that night.

I never saw Ron Santo play baseball. I've only seen pictures, and brief highlights of his home runs, and defensive plays. I only knew him as a broadcaster, who for 21 seasons, what seemed to be almost all the years I followed the Cubs and baseball in general, graced our radios with his voice. First with the team of Thom Brennaman and Bob Brenly (sure Harry was around then too), but eventually, with Pat Hughes. For fifteen seasons, whether the Cubs were winning or losing, it was always great listening to Pat and Ron broadcast the ballgame. Even if I only got a chance to listen to no more than fifteen minutes of the game, I enjoyed listening nonetheless.

I've been to a handful of Cub games at Wrigley. And I've seen many games on the television. But I always enjoyed listening to the game on the radio. Through good times and bad (and certainly there has been a lot of bad), listening to the voices of Pat and Ron made Cubs baseball an enjoyable experience.

And now, his voice has now been silenced. It's cliché to say that there will never be another one like Ron in the booth. One so passionate about the team (okay, that other guy on the south side that drives everyone nuts can be a possible exception), that you don't even need to know the just needed to hear the tone of his voice to tell if the Cubs were winning or not. But it's true. I don't think there is any radio station, any team in professional sports, who would be willing to hire a man in the mold of Ron Santo to be a color analyst. Not in today's game. Maybe that's a good thing. Because there will never be anyone like him. And listening to Cubs games will never be the same.

My condolences go out to the Santo family, the Cubs organization, Major League Baseball, and the fans. Not just Cubs fans, but all baseball fans. We have lost a legend.

(cue ethereal piano music)

But somewhere, maybe in Iowa, a 20-year old kid from Seattle, Washington, is making his way to a baseball diamond built in the middle of a cornfield, taking his place among the spirits of the game for the very first time.

God bless you, Ron Santo. Enjoy playing in your Field of Dreams.


JayBee Anama

Thursday, December 2, 2010

2010 Topps All-Star Rookie Team Contest Winners!!!

Now that the 2010 Topps All-Star Rookie Team has been announced, I have spent the good part of the evening going over all the e-mails I received, seeing who outguessed me in the All-Star Rookie Team contest.

Unfortunately, nobody correctly predicted all ten players who would make the team (or eleven as the case may be). The news that Danny Valencia won the third baseman's position dashed many contestants' shot at a perfect ten (actually, it was Valencia and Gaby Sanchez that did in many perfect scores). And even though Stephen Strasburg is the official RHP for the team, if anybody selected Neftali Feliz (the RP on the this going to be standard going forward???) as their RHP pick, then I marked the selection as correct. But once again unfortunately, nobody wins the 2005 Topps Rookie Cup set grand prize.

But I am happy to say that there were more entries sent to me this year than in last year's contest. And because of that, I am happy to say that there are more winners. Out of all the entries I received, eight people beat my score of seven, with five of them correctly picking nine players onto the team. Congratulatory e-mails have already been sent, so it's okay for me to announce the winners:
Eight players correct: Jason T. Carter, Todd Stark, and Mark Mosley
Nine players correct: Jack Press, Steve Drennen, John Bateman, Don Sherman, and Glenn Savage
Now if Don and Glenn's names are familiar to those who read this humble little blog, it is because they were the winners of last year's contest (they did better this year too). If you recall in my announcement post, I only got seven right. Each of them will receive a Hobby pack of 2010 Topps Updates and Highlights for outguessing me.

Thank you very much to all who participated in the contest. Although nobody got all ten to win the grand prize, I promise to run this contest again next year. Hopefully somebody will win it.
JayBee Anama