Thursday, December 31, 2015

Pack Break Week 4: 2015 Topps Stadium Club

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In a word...disappointment.

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

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

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

So let's get to it:

Goodbye 2015!!!

Hello 2016!!!

Goodbye 2015 Topps Design!!!

Hello 2016 Topps Design!!!

May all your collections grow to new heights. Let's hope Topps makes it a bit easier on us insane set collectors (they probably won't but it's nice to dream.) Thank you for letting me into your computers this past year. I hope to be able to share more of my collection with you in 2016!!!


JayBee Anama

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Pack Break Week 4: 2015 Topps Series 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

Might as well see what came after Bryant, huh?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


JayBee Anama

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Pack Break Week 4: 2015 Topps Gypsy Queen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


JayBee Anama

Monday, December 28, 2015

Pack Break Week 4: 2015 Topps Series 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


JayBee Anama

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Pack Break Week 4: 2013 Topps Update Series

I love Pack Break Week!

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

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

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

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

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


JayBee Anama

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Christmas...It Was a Good Day

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

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

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

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

He made out like a bandit:

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

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

So what did I get in my Christmas Day packs:

The 2015 Topps Series 2 contained:

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

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

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

Maybe...just maybe...

Why not!!!

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


JayBee Anama

Friday, December 25, 2015

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

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

But for the blog, not so much.

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

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

That's the word. Neglected.

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

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

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

Then I realized something.

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

So what does this mean?

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

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

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

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

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


JayBee Anama

Thursday, November 26, 2015

What I AM Thankful For in 2015.

This is going to be the sixth Thanksgiving post I've written on this humble, little blog, something that I started back in 2008. I may have skipped a couple of years, but it's something I look forward to writing (when it's not about baseball, or baseball cards...which seems to be lacking around here lately, it seems). For inspiration, I looked back at previous Thanksgiving posts. I realized that while most of what was written was pretty much the same, I can see where I was at that point in my life, personally, professionally, spiritually, and where I was when it came to my place in the Hobby. It is hard to believe that I've had this blog for more than seven years. So much has changed, but there is so much that remains the same.

At this moment, I am at the house of my brother-in-law and his family. We've long finished the turkey, the huge amount of side dishes, and even finished dessert. Half of the family is going to journey out into the wilds of Black Friday shopping. The other half (myself included) will be sitting here at the house, watching the Bears-Packers game, or catching up to some work (the food industry never rests). Looking back, I realize I was here in Indiana one year ago, typing about how grateful I was for all of the things that my family and I experienced, one year probably the most challenging times of our lives. One year later, I am happy that we have our health, our home, and continued support from both families (my wife's and mine). There have been struggles, but we've started to make a lot of headway and hopefully by next year, our financial obligations will be a lot less stressful.

By now, those who still read this blog know that I use this opportunity to thank (it's Thanksgiving after all) all of the people who have been a part of my life, who have been there from the beginning watching me grow as a person, to the people who I have connected with (or in many cases, re-connected) as recently as my high school reunion last year. Funny how life experiences make even the worst of enemies the best of friends after a long time apart.

Many of the things I am about to say below, I wrote last year. They still apply now, more than ever.

I am thankful that I have a wonderful family that gives me a reason to be alive. My wife and I have been together for 17 wonderful years, and I look forward to many more with her. My present job allows me to spend a lot more time with her because there is less travelling. And while we've had our ups and downs (and all couples do), being with her now has been just as much fun, if not more so, as it was when we were first dating. We still talk about what we want for ourselves in the future. While we couldn't travel out this year, I am excited for what our futures hold. New opportunities may have given us less time to be together, but what it does for me is cherish the time we are with each other, even if it's for a few minutes. As with many who took this vow of marriage, I promised to be with her for richer or poorer, in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I loved her then, and I love her more so now.

I am thankful for being the father of two beautiful children who I love with all my heart. I am truly grateful to have them in my life. Both are growing up to be fine individuals. As the dad of two teenagers, I know that as they continue to find their independence, I know that both still rely on their mother and me to guide them. All we can do is show them how to be good people (as best we can). Their activities have kept them busy for the most part, but I'd like to think that they still love us in their own special way. Of course, they will always be my little babies. It's hard not to look at them and see them when they were five years younger, or even ten years. They both are growing up so fast, and it won't be long before they begin their individual journeys without parent involvement. Both their mom and I know that being their parents, and the responsibilities that come with it, will never end, no matter how old they are. We still have a lot of work to do raising them, but it is something that I would never exchange.

I am thankful to have a family to lean on when times are hard. My parents, who have been my support when I have nobody to turn to when I'm having troubles and give me good advice whether I ask or not. My siblings, who keep me grounded as a person (based on whatever they're doing in their lives). When we're all together, there is just that warmth that comes with remembering who we were, the people we've become, and just enjoying each other's company. The sibling rivalries, fights, teasing, and all that comes with it still are there. But it makes for good conversation. The laughter that comes with it at times is much louder as the stories of our lives become wilder (or at least for my younger sibs). But we still have our moments, and when we get together, it is always fun.

I am thankful for my wife's family. They help keep my wife and me in check and make sure that she's doing well. Although we don't get to spend as much time with her side of the family as we'd like (everyone is busy it seems), it makes the times when all can get together much more special. When we're with them, I tend to stay back a bit. I'm more there to see my wife and children have fun. It may feel like I'm just there for the ride, but I know where I stand, and am more than happy to be a part of this family too.

I am thankful for the opportunities I've been given to broaden my horizons professionally. I am back in the field I had spent most of my adult life in (specialty foods), doing a job that I absolutely love and am so blessed to have the opportunity to work from home. I do make my way to the office regularly, don't get me wrong. But being able to work from home has allowed me to focus my energies in a way that I feel that I am more productive and that I'm contributing positively to the growth of the company I know work for. I work with an incredible team of professionals, some I knew from the other place, so there is that sense of familiarity. I still miss the people I've worked with over the years and continue to think about them.

I am thankful for having a roof over my family's head. I tell my children that we wanted to have a sense of stability, and being able to live in this house, in this town, and be a part of the community has contributed to it. Both my wife and I have worked so hard to keep this house, and though it's still a struggle, we have made it work. Those sleepless nights will continue, but through it all, I am grateful that my family still has a place to call home.

I am thankful that we have food on our table. This year was one of culinary discovery. I learned this year, how to make restaurant quality meals, some of which have been seen on the television. Although I've been in the specialty foods industry for most of my adult life, and I'm surrounded by family members that can cook rings around executive chefs, I am in no way extremely talented in the kitchen. So when my family finds something that works, it's in our weeknight rotation. We've had to cut back on many luxury items (seafood, steaks), but we still try to have a sense of normalcy when it comes to cooking at home, whether it's my wife cooking or me taking a turn. I'm not saying that we've had to totally give up on good food (I've tried my hand at cooking a wide variety of foods since being home more. Some were hits...others, not so much), but as long as we have the basics (milk, bread, eggs), and we're never out of pasta, I'm happy.

The final thing I am for which I am thankful, for all intents and purposes, is the reason I am able to keep sane through all the things going on in my life. It is something that many understand, but few will admit relating to it. Many people, no matter what their situation, have at least one. And often times, use it for the same reasons I do. For the goals this one thing accomplishes is not just to give joy to my life, but to give it an escape. An outlet if you will, to a time where I didn't have stress, or have much to worry. This one thing is the reason why I write this humble little blog. I give thanks to the Hobby. Because with everything going on in the world today, second to my family, it is the one thing that gives me comfort. Yes, I know that if Sitemeter is to believed, my readership is down. But I never wrote for others. I wrote it more for me. The idea of writing this blog was more for me to learn and appreciate the Hobby, and learn more about the game. While 2015 was a great year in baseball, the Hobby, and this blog, took a larger backseat as I adjusted to all the changes around me. I do realize that while the game remains the same, the names have changed. Almost all of my childhood heroes are out of the game, and there are so few now who are older than me. It won't be long before everyone in the game is younger than I am, and kids my children's ages will be making their first appearances on pieces of cardboard. I have seriously given a lot of thought about scaling back, more so than last year. But I find that even when I focus on my work, the Hobby is never far away from my mind. It's a quiet distraction, even if I can only spend time in that world for a few minutes.

There are many people out there who are struggling and somehow surviving on less than what we have. To them I pray that things will get better. It will take some work, but it will get better.

If there is one thing I have forgotten to do above, it's to say thank you to those who have read my blog, left comments, accepted me into this crazy community, and have added to my card collection since I started this blog. Thank you for adding me to your blogrolls and welcoming me into your online lives. I will do my best to fill this blog with information about the Hobby and the cards that we all enjoy. After all, 2016 Topps Series I won't be out until February, and I don't plan on leaving this site hanging until then.

On behalf of my family, may you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Please stay safe if you are travelling this year.


JayBee Anama

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Introducing Your 2015 MLB Cy Young Award Winners - Three Horse Race in NL, David vs. Dallas in the AL

In recent years, Topps has reserved six cards within Series 1 for the AL and NL award winners that are being announced this week. While no preliminary checklist for next year's eponymous set has been released as of Thursday, November 19, last night, we learned who was named the winners of the Cy Young Award in both the National and American Leagues.

Congratulations to both Jake Arrieta of the Chicago Cubs and Dallas Keuchel of the Houston Astros for winning the National League and American League Cy Young Awards. If the teams these aces play for sound familiar, it's because the other day, their teammates were named the NL and AL Rookies of the year.

Any of three dominating pitchers could have easily won the award in the NL. But Jake Arrieta's dominant second half (which included a no-hitter) convinced 17 voters to put him on the top of the list over two Dodger pitchers. With a record of 22-6 record, an ERA of 1.77, 236 strikeouts, and a WHIP of 0.87 in 229 innngs of work, 17 of the 30 voters picked Jake as their first place choice (for a grand total of 169 points). The Dodger duo of Zack Greinke (147 points, 10 first place votes) and defending Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw (101, 3) finished second and third. Pirates ace Gerrit Cole finished fourth (40 points) followed by Max Scherzer of the Nationals (32), Madison Bumgarner of the Giants (8), last year's NL Rookie of the Year Jacob deGrom of the Mets (7), Pirates closer Mark Melancon (5), and the Cardinals John Lackey (1).

Dallas Keuchel's career year propelled the Astros to their first playoff appearance in more than 10 seasons, their first as a member of the American League. He finished the 2015 campaign with a 20-8 record, a 2.48 ERA, 216 strikeouts and a 1.02 WHIP in 232 innings pitched. No team could beat him at Minute Maid Park, as he won all 15 of his decisions at home. He was on the top of 22 of the 30 voters' ballots, earning a high 186 points. David Price of the Blue Jays finished second in the balloting taking the other 8 first place votes (143 points) while Sonny Gray of the Athletics landed in third place (82 points). The rest of the field included a bevy of All-Star quality pitchers: Chris Sale of the White Sox (30), Chris Archer of the Rays (29) Wade Davis of the Royals (10), Felix Hernandez of the Mariners (9), Collin McHugh of the Astros (5), last year's AL Cy Young winner Corey Kluber of the Indians (4), Marco Estrada of the Blue Jays (3), Yankees closer Andrew Miller (3), Shawn Tolleson of the Rangers (3), Carlos Carrasco of the Indians (2), and Dellin Betances of the Yankees (1).

This is the fifth time a Cubs player won the Cy Young Award (last was Greg Maddux in 1992) and while it's the third time an Astros player has taken home the trophy (Roger Clemens, 2004), it's the first time an Astro has won it in the American League (again, they spent their first 50 years in the NL).

The fun concludes on Thursday when the Most Valuable Players in both leagues are announced. Let the debates continue. Did your guy win???


JayBee Anama

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Introducing Your 2015 MLB Rookies of the Year - Unanimous in NL, Tighter Race in AL

In recent years, Topps has reserved six cards within Series 1 for the AL and NL award winners that are being announced this week. While no preliminary checklist for next year's eponymous set has been released as of Tuesday, November 17, last night, we learned who was named the Rookies of the Year in both the National and American Leagues.

Congratulations to both Kris Bryant of the Chicago Cubs and Carlos Correa of the Houston Astros for winning the National League and American League Rookies of the Year Awards. As was done last year, MLB decided to announce the top three finalists for each of the awards. While there certainly more players in the running, announcing the top three made for interesting debate.

Kris Bryant, who's name was on the lips of EVERY baseball writer, fan, and card collector, not only showed that he was the real deal, but was truly deserving of the words "Future Star." He led all MLB rookies in home runs (26, tied for first), rbi's (99), doubles (31), runs (87), while hitting .275 with an OBP/SLG/OPS line of .369/.488/.857. He was also named to the NL All-Star Team in 2015. On a team of young stars, it is hoped that Bryant will help lead the Cubs to the promised land. He received all 30 first place votes in the NL ROY balloting, thus earning the maximum 150 points possible. The rest of the field included Giants third baseman Matt Duffy (70 points, 22 second place votes), Pirates shortstop Jung Ho Kang (28, 4), Noah Syndergaard of the Mets (16, 3), Justin Bour of the Marlins (4, 1), Joc Pederson of the Dodgers (1), and Stephen Piscotty of the Cardinals (1).

Like Bryant, Carlos Correa of the Astros did not make the Opening Day roster. But once he made his MLB debut on June 8, not only did he become the youngest position player in the majors in 2015, but he also added to what was already a renaissance year for the Astros. Just like the Cubs, the Astros were building for their future. But the future was now for the 'Stros, leading the AL West division for most of the year before managing to earn the second wild card spot in the playoffs. In 99 games, Correa hit 22 home runs, drove in 68 rbi's, stole 14 bases, and hit for a .279 average with a slash line of .345/.512/.857. It was a close race on the AL side though, with Correa taking 17 of the 30 1st place votes (124 total points). Francisco Lindor of the Indians finished in second place in the voting (109 points, 13 first place votes), followed by Miguel Sano of the Twins (20), Roberto Osuna of the Blue Jays 9 (8, 2), Billy Burns of the Athletics (6, 1), Eddie Rosario of the Twins (2), and Delino DeShields of the Rangers - feel old people, he's the son of the Expos All-Star from the 90's - (1).

Bryant becomes the first Cubs player to win the Rookie of the Year award in unanimous fashion, and the sixth Cubs player to do so overall (last to do so was Geovany Soto in 2008). Correa is the first Astro player to win the AL Rookie of the Year award (remember, the Astros spent their first 50 years in the NL), and the second Astro player to win the award (last was Jeff Bagwell in 1991).

So begins a wild week were debates will come fast and furious. Did your guy win???


JayBee Anama

Monday, November 2, 2015

As Today is November 2, 2015

November 2 is traditionally All Souls Day. It is the day where we celebrate the lives of family and friends who have passed away. Many will go to cemeteries and pray, some may even picnic on the grounds. It is not really a day of mourning, but a day of reflection. Remembering those who we strongly miss.

Personally, I would like to honor my grandparents, Felix Anama, Leonor Filoteo Anama, Gloria Y. Nichols, Ruben S. Menguito, Sgt. Clinton H. Nichols. As well as countless great aunts and uncles too numerous to list.

Today I want to remember the seven souls who died on January 8, 1993, at the Brown's Chicken in Palatine, Illinois: Michael C. Castro, Rico Solis, Thomas Mennes, Marcus Nellsen, Guadalupe Maldonado, Richard Ehlenfeldt, and Lynn Ehlenfeldt.

I would like to remember the people I've met over the years who left us too soon: Lynn Swoboda, Shannon McNamara, Linda Beyer, Gail Leff, Lois Winesburgh, Mary Jo Scanlan, Nancy Huber, Joseph Nasca, Antoinette Nasca, Dan Doles, Chris Stufflestreet, Thomas Scanlon, Darrin Steffey, Erin (Ryals) Semerad

On behalf of my wife, I would like to honor her grandparents, uncles, and especially, her mother (since I have not asked for my wife's permission to do so, I am not adding their names here).

Finally, I would like to take a moment to remember the families, the loved ones who were left behind.

Now that the personal side of the blog has been taken care of, I would also like to take time to remember 73 more people. Between 10/31/2014 and 11/01/2015, 73 people who can lay claim to playing major league baseball, 2 of whom had the honor of being a manager of a major league franchise (even for one game), passed away. Many lived long productive lives, even after their careers ended. Others, tragically, either passed away before their potential could be fully reached or before they could enjoy the fruits of their retirement.

Today, I take time out of my humble little baseball card blog to remember:

Brad Halsey
Jean-Pierre Roy
Allen Ripley
Kelvin Moore
Alvin Dark
Whammy Douglas
Ray Sadecki
Art Quirk
Don Grate
Buddy Hicks
Russ Kemmerer
Herb Plews
Bob Usher
Stu Miller
Chuck Locke
Don Bryant
Ernie Banks
Nick Koback
Bill Monbouquette
Al Severinsen
Charlie Williams
Rocky Bridges
Dave Bergman
Don Johnson
Ray Hathaway
Gary Woods
Jim King
Alex Johnson
Minnie Minoso
Jeff McKnight
Steve Shea
Bob Anderson
Al Rosen
Harley Hisner
Bill Slayback
Dick Mills
Riccardo Ingram
Jose Capellan
Bobby Moore
Ollie Brown
Jim Fanning
Earl Averill
Fred Gladding
Alan Koch
Skeeter Kell
Lennie Merullo
Larry Eschen
Andres Mora
Len Matarazzo
Darryl Hamilton
Kal Segrist
Buddy Lively
Rugger Ardizoia
Billy Pierce
Hank Izquierdo
Jack Spring
Doc Daugherty
Bud Thomas
Barney Schultz
Joaquin Andujar
Alex Monchak
Randy Wiles
Bobby Etheridge
Walter Young
Yogi Berra
Ed Sukla
Tom Kelley
Cal Neeman
Hal Schacker
Garry Hancock
Dean Chance
Neill Sheridan
John Tsitouris


JayBee Anama

Saturday, October 31, 2015

A Surprise Halloween Mailday

I'm taking a bit of a work break (I also have my articles lined up for my end-of-the-year All-Star teams, but it's too busy workwise to post, but I'll get there) because I received something in the mail directly from the Topps Company.

Allow me to explain.

As you know, my last post on this humble, little blog, was a call to get as many Dummy Hoy and Curtis Pride cards from 2015 Topps Update Series Pride and Perseverance set. As soon as it was announced that Hoy and Pride were going to be added to this set, I sent word to a couple of people who I thought would be interested in this.

Among them is Steven Sandy, a researcher who has been one of the main proponents in getting William Hoy enshrined into Baseball's Hall of Fame. Sandy said that he had tried to get Topps to do a set of cards on Deaf players and was surprised that they would include Hoy in the Update Series. After expressing his opinion that Topps should have added more Deaf players into the set, I explained to him that he's only there as part of an insert set, and not the base set (did I forget to mention that Mr. Sandy is Deaf?) I did suggest he come up with a series of cards featuring Deaf players, something he's wanted to do for some time. Maybe get together with Gallaudet University? Who knows. Can't wait to see what he comes up with.

Anyway, my tweets reached every Hobby blogger's favorite Topps employee, Susan Lulgjuraj, aka Sooz, former Becket sports editor, also a SCBR Hobby Blog Hall of Famer (A Cardboard Problem for those who weren't aware that she wrote a blog before joining Team Topps). After asking me to DM my address to her, she said she'd send something my way.

Well, it's Halloween. And it looks like I got a treat:

Let's see what's inside, shall we?

It's a complete set of Pride and Perseverance!!!

Whoa!!! This is an awesome surprise.

This set has been getting a lot of positive press from sources outside the Hobby media since Update Series came out a couple of weeks ago. Very interesting story on how this set was conceptualized. You can check here or here, but it looks like in 2014, "the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society (PBATS) proposed a special card series, featuring players with disabilities, within Topps' 2015 set." And Topps did well with this set.

A brief summary of what obstacle (disease, disability, Deafness) each person overcame to achieve their dreams of reaching the Major Leagues is included on the back of each card. How cool would it be for a kid, or the parent of a child, with similar circumstances to open a pack of cards and see that even baseball players had their own adversities as well?

Sooz, thank you so much for the cards. This definitely was one of the best things I've received in the mail in quite some time.


JayBee Anama

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

WANTED: 2015 Topps Update Series Pride and Perserverance #PP11 Dummy Hoy

This is a call to anyone who still reads this humble, little blog, and are planning on buying packs, boxes, or lots of 2015 Topps Update Series:


I will take as many copies of this card as I can get! Tell me what it would take for me to get one if you find it in amongst your packs. Would prefer to trade than buy, but will buy if the price is reasonable enough.

William Ellsworth "Dummy" Hoy was a Deaf baseball player in the late 19th Century - early 20th Century. It is said that he was the main reason why umpires signal balls and strikes today. He may not have been the first Deaf player in the major leagues, but he was the most influential back in his day. During my first forays on the Internet ( anyone???) I met a gentleman online named Steven Sandy. His mission was to get Hoy into Baseball's Hall of Fame. He certainly has the numbers (1888-1902) for it. But it would take serious consideration from the Veteran's Committee to get him in there. It's long been Mr. Sandy's dream to see him in the Hall one day. It certainly is nice to see Topps add him to this list. Now fans in the 21st century will get to know the story (haven't seen the back of the card yet...hope Topps did him justice) of Dummy Hoy.

If you can get me the Curtis Pride card (see below):

That would be great as well.

Yes, I plan on getting these cards as part of my collection as well as a complete master set. I thought it would be great to pass these on to those in the Deaf Community in Chicago as well.

Please email me at or send me a direct message on Twitter @bdj610.

Thank you very much in advance.


JayBee Anama

Comparing the Major League Debut Classes of 1995 and 2015.

In 1990, Topps created a set honoring the players who made their MLB debut during the 1989 campaign. It was a relatively successful set, with future HOF's like Ken Griffey, Jr., and Deion Sanders (okay, he's in the Football HOF) and others. In 2009, I created a post comparing the MLB Debut classes of 1989 and 2009 in honor of that set. To coincide with the MLB Debut 1990 and 1991 boxed sets, I also wrote a post comparing the MLB Debut classes of 1990 and 2010 and again for the MLB Debut classes of 1991 and 2011.

Sadly, they stopped creating this set. I wish they would bring it back, if only so that every player who makes it to the majors has at least one Topps card to call his own. But even though Topps stopped the MLB debut sets (and they don't plan on making them any time soon), I continued comparing the MLB Debut classes of 1992 and 2012, 1993 and 2013, & 1994 and 2014. As the 2015 MLB season ended a few weeks back, and it looks like we know who's going to the World Series (maybe next year guys), now would be a good time to review this year's 2015 MLB debutantes and compare them to the class of 1995. These have been fun posts for me to write, and it's nice to look back to see how the future stars of my youth (I was 19 in 1995), performed over the years.

According to Baseball Reference, 18,662 athletes have entered their names into the annals of Major League Baseball record-keeping. In fact, 254 of them made their MLB Debuts in 2015. That's 254 more players that have etched their names into history books, baseball encyclopedias, and baseball websites. Two hundred fifty-four more players who finally reached the pinnacle of their professional careers, no matter how long or how brief their stay was. They can honestly say that they have arrived.

In 1995, 247 players made their big league debuts, up from 114 players the year before. Remember, the strike that started in 1994 carried over into 1995. Spring Training consisted of 27 teams of replacement players (the Orioles did not run a MLB camp, their minor leaguers did get their work in though). When the strike ended all 28 teams had three weeks to get their rosters together. One location was set up for MLB players who were free agents and were looking for a place to play. Among the first of nine players to debut was Todd Hollandsworth (who debuted on April 25, 1995), the last was Gary Bennett (who made his first appearance on September 24, 1995). Thirty players who would debut during the 1995 campaign would go on to become All-Stars at some point in their careers. We'd all get to know their names on a regular basis like Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Billy Wagner, Jason Giambi, Jorge Posada, Mike Sweeney, Troy Percival, Andy Pettitte, Jason Schmidt, Johnny Damon, and the man who is credited for breaking down the door for Japanese players to make their impact in MLB, Hideo Nomo. Players who had high expectations, but eventually faded from the spotlight (Jason Bates, Carlos Perez, Terrell Wade, Vaughn Eshelman) also made their debuts in 1994.

Believe it or not, one player who made his debut in 1995 was still on a MLB roster during the 2015 season (and he announced that 2015 would be his final year in the majors). The debutantes of 1995 (as of the end of the 2015 season) combined for 31 All-Star Game appearances, 5,658 home runs, 26,050 runs batted in, 4,011 stolen bases, and a batting average of about .267. Pitchers who debuted in 1995 have gone on to a combined record of 3344-3417, saved 2,820 games, completed 300 games, faced 263,361 batters, struck out 43,084 of them, gave up 7,265 home runs, and had a cumulative ERA of 4.50.

At any given point during the 2015 season, there were 750 players on active rosters (not counting those on the disabled list). And in amongst the shuffling of talent, 254 baseball players, some who'd toiled in the minors for a very long time (Junior Guerra signed with the Braves in 2001 and spent more than 14 years between the minor and independent leagues), and at least six players who were drafted in the 2015 free agent draft, got to step onto the field of a major league stadium for the very first time and play at least one inning of major league baseball. One hundred four of them were position players, the other 150 stepped onto the pitcher's mound for the very first time. Of the 254, one was born in 1995 (Roberto Osuna), and the oldest player to debut was 32 years old (Angel Castro).

The 2015 debutantes combined for one All-Star Game appearance (Kris Bryant), 360 home runs, 1,396 runs batted in, 206 stolen bases, and a cumulative .249 batting average. Pitchers went 235-280 with an ERA of 4.42, striking out 3,936 batters, and saved 38 games.

Just for fun, let's compare both classes:
Of the players from the debut class of 2015, just like in 1995, there could be some Hall of Fame candidates. Most may go on to All-Star caliber, or very long careers in the bigs. And for some, this may be their only year in the majors. But all of them can say that they achieved their dream of being a Major League Ballplayer.

And nothing can take that away from them.

I've clamored before about wanting to bring back the Major League Debut set. But I know in today's age of exclusive contracts and rookie card restrictions that a set of this type might never see the light of day again. And although I have a feeling that many collectors would not want to get a set that might have stars but plenty of "never will be's" amongst them, a set like this could contain the only card of a player who played in one inning of major league ball.

Who knows what the future will bring for the 254 players who first appeared in 2015. Most might never play in the majors again, disappearing in the obscurity of minor league baseball for the rest of their professional careers. Creating a set called the 2016 MLB Debut 2015 would give them a slim piece of cardboard immortality.

Oh well, I can dream, can't I???


JayBee Anama

P.S. The annual Guess the Topps All-Star Rookie Team contest will be postponed this year because of time restraints. No sense in trying to get contest entries when, one, I haven't had time to write up the annual Rookie Review, and two, the readership of this humble, little blog has nosedived. I will still write my thoughts on who will make the team, but we'll skip the contest for this year. Hopefully, I'll have a bit more time next year to devote to the blog. jba