Chaos and Kanji is the blog where I write about my adventures through Japan!

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Thursday, April 19, 2018

Check-ing Off Some More Calbee

So many Calbees, so little money and time.

If you've forgotten, I'm working on Calbee's 1973, 2000, 2004, 2005, and 2016 sets. I've neglected some of them for a while, but now that I've refocused my efforts on knocking them down I've made some nice progress!

That includes this 2016 Calbee checklist:
 I don't believe current checklists are limited, but some sellers charge premiums as if they are more rare than regular cards. So my want lists are full of stars, Star Cards, and ... checklists. Nineteen cards left to get for this set!

However, I think the checklists were limited in the past. These Ichiro checklists from 2000 usually cost a small fortune each. I only paid an arm and a leg.
But that means this part of the 2000 set is complete! All that's left are some ON (Oh and Nagashima) and Titleholder inserts, and the complete second series.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

2018 BBM 1st Version Team Checklists

If I'm keeping track properly, this is the third year in the row that BBM has used spring training photos for their 1st Version team checklists. I'm not complaining - they're very recent images and often have some unique behind-the-scenes views or at least use photography rarely seen in a BBM set.

As has been customary for me since 2016, I grabbed the full subset at the recent card show.
 Hawks: carrying big, heavy packages. Actually, I bet they're doing some form of strength training exercise.

(Side Note: I just learned that those long, held stretches everyone does might not be so good for sports like baseball; warming up the muscles through movement is better.)
 Lions: infield practice. The hats are the best part of this image, since the yellow grass, plain wall, and drab infield dirt has very little contrast with the players' pullovers. I do think the guy on the left didn't have faith in the fielding ability of the player on the right.

(Side Note: I could probably figure out who some of these players are, but it's not important to me. If you're interested, have at it!)
 Golden Eagles: having cake and eating it too. This is at some kind of event, which could be as simple as a post-game press conference. But bonus points for being the first baseball card I can remember owning with cake on it.

(Side Note: how about a collection of baseball cards with food on them - like, players eating, pie-in-the-face, and so on?)
 Buffaloes: sushi rolls. When I first glanced at this photo, I thought those were microphones, which instantly made me think they were doing some kind of karaoke thing or something. But, no, those are big sushi rolls. But this makes two cards with food on them in this subset alone!

(Side Note: I like sushi, but I'm really not much of a fan of sushi rolls.)
 Fighters: bullpen. Again, my first glance impressions were a bit off. Originally, I just thought this was a lazy shot of multiple players in the bullpen. But either by chance or design, the players create their own sequence of timing from right to left, set to throw. Sadly, you can't tell if this photo was taken in the US or Japan.

(Side Note: How cool would it be to have nine or even twelve pitchers in a row like this, all one little step further through their delivery motions?)
 Marines: flags. Okay, minus 10 points for Gryffindor. The line of flags is interesting, sort of, but I guess there weren't any better images from spring training?

(Side Note: My computer doesn't know how to spell check Gryffindor, but Siri can handle it without any problems.)
 Carp: a shoe. A little quick check confirms that's Seiya Suzuki, outfielder. Again, that's a pretty great photo, but was there nothing better for the Carp?

(Side Note: Suzuki has a career batting average over .300, though is only at .250 after his first nine games this season.)
 Tigers: check the bat. Did you notice the batting tee that almost blends in with Nakatani's leg? How about the water bottle? I think they might be talking more about Nakatani's footwork than the bat.

(Side Note: I never wore my baseball pants low. I always showed off my stirrups.)
 BayStars: batting practice. This isn't a completely unique angle but it appears to be from just outside the home plate circle. Nicer weather would make this better, as everything does look kind of drab, but otherwise this is a great shot.

(Side Note: When attending a game in Japan, you generally can't keep batting practice balls hit into the stands. Game balls are different, but don't plan on going to pre-game gates for a ball.)
 Giants: on the field. While I don't know exactly what's happening, it's a good wide shot that includes the stadium. My guess is they're doing standard running warm-ups in the outfield.

(Side Note: Yomiuri owns a newspaper, a baseball team, and an amusement park. Yomiuriland is located right next to the Giants practice field, which also serves as their ni-gun (minor league) home. You can get a nice view of the park by taking the cable car to or from Yomiuriland. Also, the stands were basically open when there was nothing going on last year, so I could get into the stadium and take some photos. I don't know if that's an "always" thing or I just lucked out. I'll eventually post those photos... I hope.)
 Dragons: stretching. Again, not so much actually happening here, but it's a different image from what you tend to find on cards. I see three players with socks showing.

(Side Note: I've discovered a lot of Dragons fans lately, despite currently working in Kanagawa Prefecture, home of the Yokohama BayStars. The connection with the Dragons is usually because they are from Nagoya, or their family is.)
Swallows: follow through. This would be a great Calbee image. But it's BBM. Go figure.

(Side Note: The Swallows might actually be more popular in Tokyo than the Giants. Overall, the Giants are probably the most popular when taking into account more casual fans, for reasons similar to the Yankees. But for actual baseball fans in the Tokyo area, I hear Swallows more than Giants.)

Overall, there are some good shots here, and I'm happy with the subset. I do hope BBM steps up their game just a little next year.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Night Owl and I are Both Collecting 1973

I think my cards look better than his cards.

Night Owl picked up a bunch of 1973s from a card show last weekend, as did I. But while his cards may be more popular than mine, I would argue that my cards are more attractive.

The 1973 Calbee "Crossed Bats" set is probably the first Calbee set ever released. A parallel set with different backs would be issued from 1973 to 1974, but based on the Homerun Card expiration dates, I believe the Crossed Bats set came first.

It's a gorgeous set, too. Despite being issued in 1973, the images are bright and sharp. There are winners and losers in the image department, but when people talk about the beauty of Calbee, they're referring to this set.

I started with just a few cards, but a couple weeks ago I wiped out a large portion of the set. And at last weekend's card show, a couple more dents were added: 
 Cards #1-6 are all of Shigeo Nagashima, and while this isn't the iconic #1, it is semi-iconic #2. I believe card #1 can be had for less than 5000 yen in lower condition.
 Cards #7-12 are all Sadaharu Oh, and that makes this Oh's first Calbee card! So Oh is no more.
 Another Giants player, Isao Shibata, is card #20. He's a semi-star, but it's nice to take him off the list.
 And the last 1973 I picked up is #43, Kazumi Takahashi, a common player who also has #44.

That leaves me needing:

  • 1: Shigeo Nagashima, the key card in the set
  • 31: Katsuya Sugawara, a common card
  • 51: Tabuchi/Enatsu, a highly valuable card for some reason
  • 52: Kenichi Yazawa, a semi-star
  • 57: Masaji Hiramatsu, a semi-star
  • 64-91
I wasn't really sure of the existence of #64-91 until recently, when I studied past Yahoo Japan Auctions listings. I don't even see any current Crossed Bats cards from these numbers actively listed, but nothing indicates that they are short-printed, so I might have just been unlucky thus far. Card #75 (Katsuya Nomura) will probably be the only really expensive card in the remaining lot. I have 58 of 91 cards, or almost 2/3 of the set now! Will I finish is this year? I doubt it, but who knows what I'll find at card shops over the rest of the year.

There is one more card to add to my collection in this post:

This is my second 1979 Home Run Card in my collection. The back shows details for redemption: Two cards and 300 yen will get you an autographed ball (I'm pretty sure it's a facsimile signature), while one home run card gives you a choice of a card album or a signed mascot bat. Again, I'm guessing it's a facsimile signature... but anyone could probably sign for a mascot. The last line indicates that you should request a signature but there are no choices given, so could you choose any player from the Calbee set? Oddly enough, they didn't include an expiration date on the card, so I wonder if they'd still honor a redemption today.

Until next time...

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

If You Don't Know You Want It, Do You Still Want It?

The thrill of the chase is really step two.

How do you figure out what cards you want? There are definitions to any collection. Maybe you only collect Topps cards with three-digit prime numbers whose subjects were born outsde of the continental United States. Maybe you chase acetate inserts, or collect every card issued under the Donruss name. Maybe you have a type collection or player collection. Or maybe you want everything. 

But I'm not talking about definitions. I mean discovery. I want all of Buck Farmer's trading cards. It's no easy task, but at least most of his cards show up on eBay pretty quickly, and I'm thus quickly alerted to its existence. And the Trading Card Database and Beckett's database both have decent records for mainstream stuff.

Japanese cards are another question, though. TCDB is far from complete when it comes to MLB issues, and even farther behind for NPB sets. Even Japanese collecting experts are still figuring out many checklists; modern releases might be easier, but until last year, BBM didn't post reliable information about parallels in its sets.

And then there are promo cards. I would gather that NPB Card Guy's SCM list is the most comprehensive in existence, but gaps still remain. And for all the work he's put in, I still am not sure if my want list for that set is complete.

I found this card last weekend:
This is headed for my Women In Sports collection, namely the big stack of cards from the SCM releases which feature women in sports.

There could be more cards on that checklist that I want which I don't have on my lists. I don't know. Which makes me wonder: should I keep searching SCM stacks if/when I do finally find the last few cards I know I want?

So how do you know what you want? How do you create those lists? I might expand on this myself in a future post.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

New Wrestling Autographs

No Hulk Hogan here, so don't get your hopes up.

What you will find, instead, are some of the new Japanese autographs I picked up at last weekend's card show. Because all I ever seem to get these days are Japanese cards... maybe that's because I live in Japan.

It makes sense, after all.

While I was primarily looking for 2018 autographs, I did get two cards from 2013's set for my mini-collection.
 First is Nagisa Nozaki, who essentially scribbled some circles for her autograph. I'm not really sure what she was going with in that signature. Nagisa has been in and out of wrestling since 2006, now with "Pro Wrestling Wave" promotional group.
 Next is Moeka Haruhi. She's been all over entertainment, also serving as a gravure idol, voice actress, and general celebrity. She too is with Pro Wrestling Wave, at least through last March.
 Moving on to the 2018 autographs, this is Azusa Christie. Or Christie Azusa, as she signed her name. Or Azusa Takigawa. Her Japanese Wikipedia page mentions that she was a cheerleader for the Chiba Lotte Marines, so there's a baseball connection here. Given her age, she probably doesn't have any baseball cards, but now she has wrestling cards, so it's all good.
 Here we have Mitsuru Konno. Despite her all-business expression here, it seems like she's more friendly most of the time. I doubt I'd like to get on her bad side, regardless. Apparently she has other things going on so she doesn't compete very often.
Let's end with Kaho Kobayashi, who hails from Kasukabe. That doesn't sound important, but it's very close to where I used to work and live, so she's a "hometown" girl. Like Larisa Oleynik (Santa Clara County) and Nick Markakis (Woodstock, GA).

Kobayashi's Wikipedia page is quite comprehensive, as I believe it lists every single event she has ever participated in. Seriously, that thing is detailed, at least through February 9 of this year. It looks like she is or was in Guadalajara, Mexico. Her entrance song is Johnny B. Goode; how cool is that?

Until next time...

Monday, April 9, 2018

It's a Baseball Autograph, I Swear!

As football gained popularity in the US, friends would often bring up the question: Why aren't there cheerleaders in baseball? The Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders got their own trading card sets in the 1980s, and there was at least one cheerleaders-based set issued in the 1990s.

Baseball has become less pastime and more entertainment since the 1980s. The 1980s had mascots, between-innings trivia on the scoreboard, and the seventh-inning stretch. Today's ballparks have fun zones for the kids, and noise is played almost constantly with walk-up songs, sound effects, and between-innings advertisements.

And Major League Baseball has played around a bit with cheerleaders. I count at least ten teams with pretty girls in skimpy clothes who dance around on the field. I remember the Atlanta Braves' Tomahawk Team from when I lived in Georgia.

The problem with cheerleaders in baseball is the lack of a pause in action. Yes, some "big" football play happens every down - everybody rushes and moves and there's a lots of excitement - but then there's a long break as everybody resets on the line. The basketball's always bouncing, but there's about 20 seconds between each shot, and assuming the ball is going back and forth, that's about 40 seconds between shots on any one team's basket. 

Baseball cheerleaders come out when there is a pause in the action: between innings or perhaps during a pitching change. Which means they might make an appearance about 15 times per game. Don't forget all the "lost" times due to contests.

Japanese baseball does have cheerleaders. I'm pretty sure I've talked about them here. Each fan section has a real leader of cheers - a pure cheer leader by definition - to announce and orchestrate the mass chanting and clapping by fans.

As a side note, Japanese spectators are more-involved in concerts, too, and fan groups will create chants to sing back to performers during shows:

(Skip to 1:00 to see it.)

And if you've followed this blog enough, you'll know there are cheerleaders that are basically dance teams, too, in Japan. Similar to MLB "cheerleaders", they show up between innings and do events before and after the game. You can also sometimes find them wandering around the stadium during the game. 

BBM has issued cheerleader card sets for the past seven years, and I've picked up autographs here and there for my type collection, but I have also added a few additional ones for my personal collection.
Rino Ohta is one of two Fighters Girls that I have autographs for. Despite not being very expensive, it took me quite a while to actually get this card; that might be because I only just kept it on my watch list in YJA and never bothered checking in stores.
Not my photo.
I like her because she seems pretty sweet in person. I managed to make it to a Fighters game last year and she stood out as special - I get the impression that she's actually having fun out there. It doesn't hurt that she's cute, too, I guess.

Anyway, until next time...

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Two New Autographs: The Battle Is On

I found these two autographs while looking for baseball cards, oddly enough - there were a ton of autographs and relics from the same set at pretty good prices at a card shop in Tokyo. My guess is someone busted a case of Battlestar Galactica and kept the big-money hits (whatever those may be).
Keegan Connor Tracy was in Final Destination 2 and a bunch of other films I saw back when I was in college. She was also the Blue Fairy in Once Upon a Time, a TV show I still haven't finished watching.

Leela Savasta hasn't been as successful, but has had some recurring roles on TV shows I like. And she's been in some horror movies I'd like to see.

Until next time!

Friday, April 6, 2018

A New Old 1/1

2011 Playoff Contenders is a messy release. One thing Panini does do wrong is excessive parallels. Topps makes a bunch of these, too, but Panini kept an awful tradition from the 2000s-era Donruss/Playoff sets by making way too many parallels. And Contenders is really confusing; I need a spreadsheet or organizational chart or something to figure this out.

What I do know, though, is this Prospect Championship Ticket is a legit 1/1. Probably one of ten 1/1 versions of this card (shades of 2005 Diamond Kings!) but it is a 1/1.

And I love the Chargers uniform. I want to start a collection (maybe someday) of different teams' uniforms - minor leagues, colleges and universities, high schools, semi-pro, you name it. Maybe someday.... maybe someday.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

These Cards are Real. They Aren't Real, Though.

I remember the 1990s. That was an amazing time to be a baseball card collector. Early in the decade, everybody made unauthorized promos, creating a bevy of oddball options. And through the decade, the real, licensed manufacturers issued promo cards for shops to hype upcoming products.

Topps and the other manufacturers don't really make promo cards anymore. Who cares about base cards, anyway? All that matters are the super-rare mega-hits. Sell sheets and Twitter posts give all the visuals at nearly zero cost. Sure, events like The National see special versions of sets, but those function more as event-issued parallels than promotional sets.

But even promos are still fairly big here. SCM is gone, but Weekly Baseball is still making cards, I think. And I do see Bookstore, Stadium and Event Promotion cards for BBM and Epoch sets.
 Here's a 2007 "Sample" print autograph card. It's a print print autograph? A facsimile facsimile signature? The answer to that is - yes. There are foil print autographs, and this sample is just a black signature.
 Another facsimile autograph, but this is basically part of the regular set. I love vintage uniforms, though there isn't much visible here.
I'm still many cards away from finishing the base set, but I got this sample from the 2000 BBM Century's Best Nine set. Maybe I can actually finish the base set this year! There are many great things on this card: the leaning old-school windup, the old-timey glove and striped socks, the dirt infield, and the simple bleacher stands that I believe are down the third base line. What exactly is happening at what I assume is home plate?

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Behind the Plate Plate

 I'm a bit surprised I got this card at such a low price. Sure, Gerald Dempsey "Buster" Posey isn't super-hot, but he's a Rookie of the Year and MVP, and a five-time All-Star, four time Silver Slugger, and one-time Gold Glove. In his first nine seasons, only seven of those being full seasons.
Of course, I'm not talking about some regular (variation) base card. I'm talking about a 1/1 printing plate. This card is headed for my type collection, but who knows? In 10 years, it might be really valuable. Or not. Time will tell!

I gotta say, though, for all the complaining people do about Panini and Donruss, I generally enjoy a few of their products each year, just like I do with Topps. That's a good picture, team colors are represented even though Panini can't tell you the team, and the design is decent. It's a little busy, but this isn't Stadium Club, so that's okay. I always look forward to Donruss, even with all of its faults.