Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Last Update of the Sports Card Blogroll in 2012...A Year in Review

I'm going to make this really quick because the new year is upon us and I want to catch this before the stroke of midnight.

What a year for the Sports Card Blogroll. In 2011, the SCBR added 128 new or returning blogs to the active roster. Many did very well in 2011 and I look forward to what they have to say in 2012. But we also said goodbye to a number of very good blogs and writers in 2011. Let's recap from last month's post.

The Blogroll going into December had 340 blogs added to the active roster. Five blogs were added in December, bringing us back to a comfortable 345. Here are the blogs being removed because they have reached six month of inactivity:
Seven blogs being removed brings us down to 338 blogs going into January, for a net loss of -2.

Heading into 2011, the SCBR went in with 314 blogs. As mentioned above, 128 blogs were added during the year. Sadly, we said goodbye to 104 blogs about the Hobby, bringing the total to 338. This means the SCBR had a net gain of +24 for the year.

We lost a few more 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 2012 will mean better things for the Hobby, and the Hobby Blogging Community. To all who used the SCBR in 2011, I thank you. The Hobby Blogging Community thanks you. And in 2012, on behalf of said community, enjoy the journey in 2012. It should be one interesting ride.


JayBee Anama

2012 Here We Come!!!

It's new year's eve. My sister's birthday (happy birthday Migz!!!) And the year that was 2011 is now drawing ever so closer to an end. By the time this post appears, it will be just two hours before midnight in the Central Time Zone.

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.

I will be honest and say that a lot of what I wanted to do this past year on this humble, little blog, were just not done.  I have many excuses, reasons, and explanations, and I explained myself almost every time I started to lax or not post as often as a blog of this nature should.  Projects tossed aside because of time/responsibilities/laziness.  The excuses end, and I would like to apologize because I feel that I had strayed from the very purpose of creating this blog.  I hope that in 2012, that I will have more time to execute the ideas I've had swirling in my head onto this dog and pony show.

The Topps Card Randomizer worked fine in the first couple of weeks in January, but then subsequently fell by the wayside.The good news is that it is now back up and running, and will now include cards from 2011Topps and Topps Update Series (Yay!!!). The first RotC post will appear on the first of January, at 1:00 p.m. CST.

It's 2012, so what happened to the 2011 Topps Archives Project now that there will be an Archives product in 2012? Well, instead of scrapping it, what we could do is continue the series, but instead of 2011, we'll go ahead with 2012, as a "What this set should have been" concept.

But I might change my mind and just continue the project as a "this should have been made in 2011" kind of thing.For those of you who don't know what that is (and who could blame you for not knowing, I only did one post for this project in 2011), I invite you to read the first post explaining what the 2011 Topps Archives project was all about. The checklist of the first nineteen 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 181 players to go. I do have some future archives players and the managers in mind. Those will come up later in the year.

I am still missing some cards to complete my 2011 Topps Master set. Specifically, I'm missing about 16 ToppsTown cards from 2011 Updates. I thought this was a one card per pack set. Why did Topps make this so hard to complete??? Does this mean that ToppsTown will end in 2012? I hope not. I also still need to find the 2011 HTA set (the 25 card set...not the Prime 9 one). I'm hoping that a full set will come my way at a show or on the Bay. 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 2011 (Allen & Ginter, Gypsy Queen, the 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 2011 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 & 2011 All-Star series before pitchers and catchers report for spring training (don't you just love those four words..."pitchers and catchers report").

The Topps 300 (and then some...) while it did get some nominations added to my choices, never really got of the ground otherwise. As much as I tried to get more exposure for the site, it just never quite took off. I will leave the site open for posterity. And who knows? In 2021, maybe I'll do redo it to the Topps 400 (and then some...).

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, 2012 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 2012.

I must say that it's been an interesting year in the Hobby Blogging Community, as well as the Hobby in general. The Sports Card Blogroll reached 350 active blogs for the first time ever. It is my hope that by next year, we'll have 400 plus listed. My only concern is that some of the long time bloggers may have taken a different route regarding where they post their Hobby writings and may have decided to spend less time on their blog. I sure hope that is not the case and that the number of voices in our community continues to grow.

There is so much more to look forward to in 2012. Most important of all of this is the cards. THE CARDS!!! The cards of 2012 Topps, while initially received with disappointment in the design department, are now starting to 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 61st year in the MLB card business. With that said, in what has been tradition on this blog:

Goodbye 2011!!!

Hello 2012!!!

Goodbye 2011 Topps Design!!!

Hello 2012 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 2012!!!


JayBee Anama

Friday, December 30, 2011

Images for 2012 Topps Series 2 are Live!!!

Even though 2012 Topps Series 1 isn't going to be out until February, the Topps Company is teasing images for cards that should make their appearance in 2012 Topps Series 2 today.

Love the action shots. Really puts you in the middle of the action. Let's see that other company try and do this with their MLBPA license.

Still think that they should have gone with the wood borders...jeez, doesn't that Cliff Lee card look good???

Looks like a new insert. No idea if it's a die-cut or not.

The diamond parallels look to be making a comeback in series 2. Does this mean we'll see series 1 parallel cards in series 2???

Great. A Mantle mini.

A sell sheet won't be out until next week (if the answer to @brentandbecca's question to @toppscards is correct), so get ready for more information as it develops.


JayBee Anama

Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Quick Note This Holiday Season

On behalf of my family to yours, Have a Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah (sorry for not saying it sooner), a Happy Kwanzaa as well.

May you find the cards you need in your stockings and may we all add to our ever growing collections in the coming new year.


JayBee Anama

Friday, December 23, 2011

One Card Preview: 2012 Topps Allen & Ginter

I know I haven't been able to buy the 2010 and 2011 Topps Allen & Ginter Set (so here's hoping for a better 2012).

Speaking of 2012, the Topps Company's twitter feed (@toppscards) teased that they would post an image of 2012 Topps Allen & Ginter.  And what you see above is it.

More to come as soon as anything develops.


JayBee Anama

Monday, December 19, 2011

2012 Topps Archives Sell Sheets are Live!!!

I was wondering how Baseball Cardpedia was able to get their hands on a preliminary checklist for the highly discussed 2012 Topps Archives product (that is now the official name of the set), when I remembered that Mr. Stale Gum himself, Chris Harris, now works with Sports Collector's Daily as a writer. If you haven't noticed, he had been spending less time on his blog and (because I'm guessing he is being paid) is now writing for the hobby website. Hey, have to make a living somehow, right???

Anyway, while both of the usual sites that I view sell sheet information did not yet have them posted, SCD did, and Chris was kind enough to include links to both sell sheet .pdf and the prelim checklist. Below are the sell sheets for 2012 Topps Archives.

The details on the products have been previously discussed. And it looks like the Fan Favorites "set" will contain 40 cards while the autograph checklist contains 75 cards. If all 40 base players have auto card parallels, that means that there will be 35 autograph exclusive players that, if I had the funds, I would have to collect (if I was just as crazy as I was in 2003). Well, here's hoping that these autos will be actual fan favorites (stars on the lower end of the Hobby spectrum) than of legends that warrant heavy prices on the secondary market.

The first page of the sell sheet looks like the images were placed on a fruit roll-up. And you have to like the wild colors used onthe rest of the sheets.



JayBee Anama

Blog Bat Around - Best of the Year...Isn't It Obvious??!

If it wasn't for the Sports Card Blogroll, I would have missed the opportunity to join in on the latest Blog Bat Around.  This would be my ninth BBA post out of the ten that I've been aware of (there might have been others, but I'm only aware of ten).  To review the first nine:
The Blog Bat Around was started by Gellman as a way to unite the Hobby Bloggers into writing about a common topic. It proved wildly successful. So successful in fact that he also hosted the second one. The baton was passed to Dave of Fielder's Choice for Fiesta #3, Patricia of Dinged Corners batted cleanup with #4, and dayf the Cardboard Junkie grabbed the reins for #5. The sixth one was hosted by Gellman, the seventh bat around was hosted by Thorzul. Gellman brought it home once again, meaning he hosted four of the first eight. And earlier this year, Mr. Stale Gum hosted the ninth party.

So here we are, the tenth Blog Bat Around.  The invitation to this Hobby mixer was sent out by Ryan G of This Card Is Cool - My Life In Baseball Cards.  The topic:

The 2011 baseball card collecting season is finally over - other than Bowman Sterling. What set or release stands out as your favorite from the year? What set or release brings your lunch back up to your throat.

Well let me just say that 2011 was a great year to be a Topps Baseball Card collector.  Many of the sets focused on set collectors were huge hits for the company this year.  From the new Gypsy Queen, the established Allen & Ginter, and even the now one-year wonder Topps Lineage are now sets I want to collect/acquire (among other sets from the last two to three years that I haven't done yet).  Topps even figured out a way to make playing Topps Attax more than a glorified Pack Wars, that was cool too.  And I haven't even touched upon Heritage, which always has its supporters.  But I don't collect Heritage, so I can't speak for it.

But is it really that big a surprise for all of you out there that the one product I'm going to pick as my favorite set of the year is 2011 Topps???

From the time the sell sheets came out in 2010, I had a feeling that this set was going to be awesome.  The design for the base set was great as it was minimal (with an arched name banner along the bottom of the card), the team logo prominently displayed, and the pictures seemed to bring us closer to the action. clean.  The insert sets were actually interesting, even if Topps really had to stretch to get some of their preferred subjects into the Topps 60 set.  I loved that Topps tried to incorporate a bit of their history by highlighting a card from their past 59 years on the back of the card.  One of these days, I will get around to putting the chosen cards online.

Yes, there were some things that could have been avoided, like having a regular AND an original back version of the 60 Years of Topps set, which of course was SHORTPRINTED!!!  I didn't like it in 2010, and I really didn't like it now, if only because it meant that there were more cards to find.  Going back to the base set, I didn't see the point of having two cards for each of the All-Star Rookie Team players (one with, and one without the Rookie Cup) short of glorifying Topps' golden boy Stephen Strasburg.  But it was a nice touch that Topps made a second set of cards for each of the other ten players on the team too.  Only drawback here was that meant 11 players were left out of the set.  But then again, Topps has been leaving out many players since 2006 when they felt that 330 card series were the way to go.

But Topps eponymous set and the insert sets contained within had its good qualities too.  The History of Topps was a clear winner as it allowed us the collectors the chance to learn a bit about the Company's past.  Obviously, a lot has been written about Topps, and there are many different books that wax poetic about them, but these cards at least make a good starting point before delving into the details.  Kimball's Champions was a nice set for the annual Tribute set (akin to the Turkey Reds in years past) even though they were mini cards and the cards were hard to squeeze into the fifteen pocket pages.  The Toppstown cards seem to be more collectible than ever, I'm still having a hard time finishing my Update Series set because it turns out that they did not come one per pack like in previous years.  But hey, it's something to work on before 2012 Topps arrives in February.

Is there a set that is so stomach churning that it "brings my lunch back up?"  Not really.  I mean, even though Panini (which will now also be known here as that other company) has a license, they still can't make cards with team logos or the like.  And while there really isn't a precedent regarding how they will now do their cards (heck, even Topps featured players in high school uniforms, college uniforms, and what could only be described as yearbook pictures in past cards), it remains to be seen how it will all work out in the end.  I still feel that the other company will do fine as people will find ways to buy their stuff, but I don't think Topps is going to lose a lot of sleep over this new development.

Overall, it was a good year for the Company, and I can't wait for 2012 to get here.  The design is starting to grow on me, and maybe when the cards come out, it will all make sense.  As for my collection goals, as long as I can get full master sets of the flagship brand and the update series, and all 30 team sets, I'll be happy.


JayBee Anama

Saturday, December 17, 2011

As More Details Emerge...

Based on the news that appeared on Topps' Facebook account and the number one source in the Hobby, I find myself a bit let down.  Yes, Charlie, I knew that MLB Properties would not allow Topps to do an all retired player set.  But I had hoped that this restriction would be lifted for a product like Archives/Fan Favorites.

Alas, I was wrong.

2012 Topps Archives will contain a 200 card set of retired (yay) AND current MLB players (ugh).  Nothing against today's ball players, but I was hoping for a full-fledged retired set that would either be reprints of players cards (like 2001 or 2002 Topps Archives) or previously unused photos (ala 2003-2005 Topps ATFF).  And while the autographs had given me hope, I don't really collect autos.  I was hoping for a base set that would have been similar to the autographs. 

And again, I became disappointed.

It turns out that what is being called Archives will consist of just four designs:  1954, 1971, 1980, and 1984. 

That's it.  I'm going to go on a hunch that there will be 50 cards per design.  I can only hope that for the 1954 design that Topps uses players that did not appear in 2003 Topps Heritage, otherwise, it becomes repetitive. 

And looking at the Pujols preview card on Facebook (do you know how to download videos to Facebook???), it looks like a mockup of what 2020 Topps Heritage is going to look like, and that is exactly what I wrote in the comments for that photo.

In what appears to be the replacement for Topps Lineage, the inserts that will be included in this set feature tributes to past insert concepts, like 1967 Topps Stickers, 1968 Topps 3D, 1969 Topps Deckle Edge and the 1977 Topps Cloth sets.

The article on Beckett goes on to say that while the base set is 200 cards in number, "There will be 40 short-printed (unsigned) Fan Favorites cards capping the set found one in every four packs."  This may be what I had in mind.  And if this is what I'm hoping it is, then I might consider just buying a full set of just these 40 cards on the Bay.  But then what if the Autographed FF cards feature more than just the 40 cards from the base set?  Should I dare go for it like I did in 2003 (I have 19 autographed cards, of just the players who had auto cards that did not appear in the base set...Tug McGraw would have been 20, but I doubt he signed his cards...something about failing health at the time...)?

So it turns out that I might not necessarily be on the hunt for this set after all.  What I had hoped for when the first images showed up as a dream set turned out to be just that...a dream. 


JayBee Anama

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Topps Archives/All-Time Fan Favorites is Back!!!

The number one source in the Hobby reports today that the above images appeared on @toppscards twitter feed this morning. If these are what they look to be, that means that Topps All-Time Fan Favorites is back. But perusing the article a bit further, there might be more to it. To wit:

"Fan Favorites, which first arrived in 2003, was a set comprised of past favorites in new photos on varying card designs from past Topps sets. The real draw? Certified autographs — signed on-card — along with the old looks with new (cleaner) printing technology. Oh, and there were Chrome cards — and Refractors, too. This time, though, they will be found as an insert set in an also-revived and not-yet-unveiled Topps Archives product.

"Yes, Fan Favorites is coming back as autograph insert in new Topps Archives in 2012," said a company official via Twitter. "Awesome product, I think will be a really fun break."

Questions abound though:

  • Okay, so while I can definitely figure out the design for the Griffey, Clark, and Kingman cards above, what design is the Mattingly card supposed to represent? The Glossy Send Ins from the mid-late 80's?
  • And does this mean that Topps is finally allowed to sell a product featuring retired players only? Or will there be current players mixed in too?
Regardless, this is just great news is you're a fan of Topps Baseball Cards. And this is one set that I'm looking forward to reading more details about when they come.


JayBee Anama

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Yes, There Will Be 2012 Topps Team Sets

Just digging online, and found images for 28 of the 30 Topps team sets coming in April, 2012, to retail stores, stadiums, and everywhere in between. If you're wondering, there was no information regarding the Yankees team set and while the site that I did pull the images for the pictures above have a Blue Jays set for sale, there was no image (probably so that they can come up with an updated mockup with the new Blue Jays' logo).

If anything, this should give collectors an idea about what some of the other cards will look like (the pictures look really good...that design is starting to grow on me). Remember though that images are subject to change, and there may be changes as to whose card gets to be displayed (notice how Yadier Molina is the lead card for the Cardinals...). And yes, there is a Miami Marlins set, with new logo.  It remains to be seen if the cards will include players with the new jerseys added in later.

Can't wait for 2012. Bring it on!!!


JayBee Anama

Monday, December 5, 2011

Ron Santo...Hall of Famer!!!

It has just been announced today, literally twenty six minutes ago, that Ron Santo was inducted into Baseball's Hall of Fame by the Golden Era Veteran's Committee. He is the 256th player inducted into the hallowed halls of Cooperstown. He is also the 18th player to be named to Topps' All-Star Rookie Team (1960) and a Hall of Famer.

One year and two days after he died!!!

As much as I am happy to hear that he is FINALLY in, I am deeply disappointed that it took this long for him to get there, especially after he had already passed and will not get his chance to speak at the induction ceremony in 2012. I am sure that whoever will do the honors of speaking for Mr. Santo's behalf will do well in honoring the now HOF 3rd baseman and legendary announcer.

I just wish he was here to see it. It is bittersweet accomplishment.

Congrats Ronnie.


JayBee Anama

Friday, December 2, 2011

Hey Topps!!! These Guys Want a Word With You!!!

Three Left Handed Starting Pitchers. Snubbed by Topps???
It's been a couple of days now, and the hysteria regarding the announcement of Topps 2011 All-Star Rookie Team has died down for the most part.  But for me, something still isn't quite right.  You see, all these years, I thought that the MLB managers were the ones voting on who makes this team.  I know it's been verified in the past, and it probably still is the case today.  But is it wholly possible that the Topps Company has a hand in manipulating the ballot?  

Up until 2009, there were always two spots for pitchers on the ASRT:  one for a right-handed pitcher, the other for a left-handed pitcher.  And that was it.  It didn't matter if the pitcher was a starter or reliever.  But there would always be one RHP and one LHP.  Now of course, there have been exceptions when there was a tie involved, and that was the case in 1985 when Brian Fisher and Roger McDowell shared the position for RHP.  In 2010, it all changed.

One of the leading contenders for the position of RHP for the 2010 Rookie ASRT as the RHP was Stephen Strasburg of the Washington Nationals.  Strasburg pitched in 12 games (all starts), 68 innings of work, had a record of 5-3, an ERA of 2.91, struck out 92 of the 274 batters he faced.  He met the expectations he set for himself as the #1 draft pick in 2009.  Granted, he got injured by the end of the year.  But the overall frame of work made him a worthy candidate.

Another was Texas Rangers' closer Neftali Feliz.  In 2010, Feliz pitched in 70 games, about 69.1 innings of work.  He went 4-3, with an ERA of 2.73, struck out 71 of the 269 batters he faced, a minuscule WHIP of 0.880, and saved 40 games.  He was even named to the 2010 AL All-Star Team and was named the 2010 AL Rookie of the Year.  By and large, he had one heck of a year and was many people's pick to be named the RHP in my contest last year.

Then the announcements came out.

And lo and behold, Stephen Strasburg was named the RHP for the 2010 ASRT.  But wait, Neftali Feliz was named onto the team also.  In what became the flashpoint to the conspiracy theory, Feliz was awarded as the first specific "relief pitcher" to the ASRT.  There were now THREE pitchers among the honorees (the LHP was Jamie Garcia of the Cardinals).  And the collecting public responded with a loud "WHAT??!"

Earlier in the year, Topps had announced an exclusive agreement with Strasburg.  He wound up being the face of the 2010 Topps Update Series lineHe was the big prize added to the Topps Million Cards Giveaway.  He was so important, apparently, that Topps created his first Topps card exclusively for this immediately after his MLB.  He was added to factory sets as card #661, and was added to the Update Series, also as card #661.  But both cards, while having the same blurb on the back of the card, had different pictures on the front.  And the pictures themselves were different than the one used for his MCG.  (To get a better rundown, Baseball Cardpedia has the whole thing covered here).  And the kicker to all of this???  Based on the MLB Properties rule regarding rookie cards, NONE OF THEM QUALIFY AS ROOKIE CARDS!!!

Strasburg was a money making machine for the Topps Company.  While they weren't getting the benefits from the secondary market, the collecting public went on a feeding frenzy for everything Strasburg.  Code cards for the CYMTO giveaway were high priced commodities as soon as it was first announced that his card was being added to the prize list.  His Topps Heritage "exclusive" was a prized chase card at the 2010 National.  They even made a SSP card of him with pie on his face.

So the conspiracy theories started (starting here is a bunch of speculation...I have no idea what is really going on or what the company's motivations are...just humor me, will you?).  As Topps' golden boy, he was added to the 2010 ASRT so that his name would be permanently etched in Topps' history.  Feliz, who in any other year would have rightfully been named the RHP for the team, was relegated with a new "honor":  first RP to the team.  This way, both get in, and Topps ideally would be spared the grief bestowed onto them by the masses.  Want to know why there were TWO cards for each of the eleven players on the '10 team (one with and one WITHOUT the Rookie Cup) in the 2011 Topps eponymous set?  One guess.  His initials are SS.

When the 2011 season ended.  The thought was that, "Okay.  Topps HAS to follow last year's team with three pitchers again:  one right-handed starting pitcher, one left-handed starting pitcher, and one relief pitcher, regardless of what hand he used to throw the ball."  The MLB Rookie Tracker listed a lot of strong candidates for each of these three spots.  Then the announcement was made:
  • Starting Pitcher:  Jeremy Hellickson, Tampa Bay Rays
  • Relief Pitcher: Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta Braves
And that was it. 


Both Hellickson and Kimbrel are right-handed pitchers.  Both were named the AL and NL Rookies of the Year in 2011. Both are good choices.  I congratulate both and have nothing against them being picked.

But what happened to the LHSP??! Where did that go?  Did Topps decide just to put ALL the starting pitchers in one list and ALL the relief pitchers on another list in the Manager's ballot?  Or did Topps just decide not to include the LHP in the announcement?  Not only were Corey Luebke, Zach Britton, and Danny Duffy, the three pitchers listed above, robbed of their chance of Topps immortality (people still remember guys like Paul Gibson, Jeff Musselman, and Ed Vande Berg, all LHP's, because they were name to the ASRT in the 80's), but so were relievers like Aroldis Chapman of the Reds, Chris Sale of the White Sox, Tim Collins of the Royals, and Jake McGee of the Rays (if we were going with the rules from 2009).

Based on my contest, Cory Luebke would have been the LHSP for the team.  What do you think? Should there have been a LHP selected?  If so, who would have gotten your vote?  Luebke?  Britton?  Duffy?  A relief pitcher?  Somebody else?  A poll will be put up shortly asking whatever remaining readership I have left to vote on this issue.


JayBee Anama