Thursday, February 11, 2016

The Philippines in the World Baseball Classic...2016 Edition!!!

In 2012, the Philippines, that hotbed of baseball in Asia, was invited to participate in a four-team qualifying round where the country that wins this six-game round-robin schedule, would go on to the 16-team World Baseball Classic tournament.

Okay, so hotbed isn't really the word. But listen, after the Americans introduced the Filipinos to the game during the Spanish-American War, the Philippines won the first Asian Baseball Championships in 1954. The game, however, faded in popularity, with basketball the number one team sport on the islands. But baseball is making a comeback, thanks in part to Filpino teams winning gold medals in the 2005 and 2011 Southeast Asian Games.

The WBC Philippines team shocked the world by beating Johnny Damon (yes, THAT Johnny Damon) and team Thailand in their first game (proudly recalled in this post back after it happened). And although they did eventually lose to squads from Chinese Taipei and New Zealand, a third place showing did in fact give the powers that be to give the Philippines another shot at getting to the games.

This week, the Philippines, along with Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, are competing amongst themselves for one spot in the tournament that takes place in 2017. Team Aussie will be their first opponents, which should be a challenge for the Filipino team. Australia has participated in EVERY WBC since 2006 and doesn't plan on taking next year off.

So who is on Team Philippines? Any major leaguers with ties to "The Pearl of the Orient?" The YES!!!

Tim Hulett, a MLB player from 1983-1995 and has been a minor league manager (presently with the Rangers Short-A team in Spokane) after his playing days, was tabbed to manage Team Philippines.

Clay Rapada, a journeyman left-hander who last appeared in the majors in 2013, leads a pitching staff of 13. In seven seasons, Rapada has a cumulative record of 8-0, with a 4.06 ERA, 82 strikeouts, and a WHIP of 1.366 in seven MLB seasons.

Chris Aguila, one of six outfielders on the team, played for both the Marlins and the Mets in parts of four seasons. He hit 4 home runs, drove in 16 rbi's, to go with a .230 batting average and slash statistics (OBP/SLG/OPS) of .280/.343/.624.

Eric Fariss, who was in the majors from 2011-2012 and was recently in the minor league system of the Twins, is on the team as well.

There are presently two players on the team with MLB affiliations, one is Marlins farmhand Brad Haynal, a catcher, and the other is outfielder Angelo Songco, who has a Pro Debut card from 2010.

By the time this post comes out, the game would be long over (they lost 11-1 by the way).

Good luck to Team Philippines the rest of the way.



JayBee Anama

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

It's Opening Day!!! Really!!! 2016 Topps is Live!!!

It's Opening Day ladies and gentlemen.

No, pitchers and catchers don't report to their spring training sites until later this month. But that doesn't mean that baseball season is not upon us.

The official street date for 2016 Topps Baseball cards is today. And guess what my big box store had on their shelves this morning?

That's right, a five pack of Harpers!!!

Series 1's cover boy is Bryce Harper (golf clap). And the store near me had 12 packs, 36 packs, 72 card boxes, etc. They also had 2015 Topps Team sets of the White Sox and Dodgers (Dodgers...really??!), so there's that.

But that doesn't matter. The new stuff is out now, and the Bay has already been inundated with auctions and BIN's for every card imaginable. I'm going to wait until next week to see if any master sets are around to avoid temptation of hitting the "Buy it Now" button.

For now, though, I'm going to start ripping a couple of packs of this stuff, and save a pack or two for my nephew, who, if you haven't heard by now, had asked me about collecting baseball cards. To answer a couple of questions:

Jeff, his dad is a White Sox fan (eh, what do you expect from in-laws). He seems to be pulling for them, although his mom, my sister, has been trying to get him to the light side of the force (the Cubs). I plan on getting him some packs of 2016 and a few packs of 2015 that I can find. He's a pretty bright kid, but I don't want to overwhelm him with everything about the Hobby. I figure start with the basics, teaching him the joys of reading card backs and how to calculate statistics (that's how I learned). And then go from there. I also have a couple of Kris Bryant and Carlos Correa cards for him, you know, for investment...(ha).

So, what is my first card of the 2016 campaign going to be???

Drumroll please...

My first card from 2016...Nick Ahmed #211

Okay, that was a bit anti-climactic.

The borderless look is something I'm going to have to get used to. The only sense of a border could be the "smoke" filter on the corners of the card. Upon first glance, it looks like smudges on a picture. You can make out certain shapes in the smoke (a rectangle, a letter A). It's like a "find-it" page in the Highlights for Kids magazines (first time I've used that reference...EVER). While the "smoke" effect is a bit distracting, taking away focus on the really crisp pictures, it does give the pictures a bit of a painted look as well. It's like an unfinished Bob Ross painting, just needing to put a few more crisscross strokes of pthalo green to complete the lower half of the picture. Like other designs that I wasn't to fond of in the beginning, this is going to grow on me, and I'll come around. While it's a groundbreaking design for Topps, here's hoping that they go back to borders in 2017.

For those who want to know what the back of the card looks like, here you go:

It looks very similar to last year's card back, down to the Series One line on top of the card number. So, while that's not necessarily unprecedented, because other than a change in font above and below the stat box, it was pretty much the same thing in the late 80's - early 90's, it's kind of a downer.

So what else did I get in this first official pack of 2016?
  • #18 Francisco Rodriguez, Brewers
  • #99 Taijuan Walker, Mariners
  • #108 Ben Paulsen, Rockies
  • #332 Toronto Blue Jays team card
  • #P-21 Perspectives Cal Ripken Jr
  • #B2B-13 Back 2 Back Ted Williams / Bobby Doerr
  • #20 Andrew McCutchen, Pirates
  • #73 Ketel Marte, Mariners
  • #296 Yordano Ventura, Royals
  • #258 Devon Travis, Blue Jays Future Star
  • #145 Jon Niese, Mets

No Cubs cards, darn. But this McCutchen card looks pretty nice:

I will get to the official 2016 Topps Series 1 post in the next few days, complete with sell sheets that I didn't have time to post last year.

So get out there. Buy those cards (just no pack some for the rest of us). Show off those pictures. Get your want lists going. It's Baseball Card Season...and it's going to be a great year.


JayBee Anama

Monday, February 1, 2016

Are You Ready??! I SAID...


The 66th edition of Topps Baseball (okay, 65th if you're not counting 1951 Topps Red and Blue Backs), is officially due to arrive on Wednesday, February 3. But it looks like some lucky markets (I will check my local box stores tomorrow) got theirs early (lucky).

Regardless, it's coming, I can't wait to open some packs to see this design up close.

Sorry pack break week seemed to have ended earlier than I'd like. But hey, work calls. But I still have the packs unopened, so I'll get to it soon.

Also, let me apologize to everyone who's sent me emails asking me to add their sites to the Sports Card Blogroll. I have not forgotten you, and I still have your emails, links, twitter DM's, etc. Your site will be added as soon as I can get a moment to catch my breath.

Okay. Got to run. Have to get back at it and get some sleep. Here's hoping 2016 Topps will be on the shelves tomorrow, and here's hoping I get to them faster than the pack searchers.

And maybe, if I'm lucky, I'll find something to get my nephew started on his collecting journey.


JayBee Anama