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

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Saturday, May 31, 2014

Billy Bean on BBM and Other MLBers in Japan

I decided earlier this year to start a collection with one card for every foreign player in Japan. I know not every foreigner has a card here, and some of them might have only one or two expensive or rare cards (wouldn't it be both?). But I'm going to try to get as close as possible. I've started with the BBM Foreigners sets and some of the most recent anniversary and team sets, but while looking around one store I thought enough to check their stock of early-90s BBM for out-of-towners. I found some interesting names.
 I think I remember Jack Howell. Then again, maybe I don't.
 Come on, Guy! You get to play in Japan!
 ...with Don Schulze! And he's happy!
 I don't know anything about these guys. I wonder if Martinez is trying to understand Japanese bunt signals.

 Are you Johnny Ray? Who wants to know! I know him more in relation to Barry Bonds than anything else.
 Johnny Ray Young. Hmm.
 Tunnell vision...
 I did mention Billy Bean in my title. When I first made a list of foreign players in Japan, I obviously noticed Billy Bean. But I never checked if he had any cards, and I was surprised to find it!
Wally Yonamine is one of the few old-time foreign players who are recognized for their contributions to the sport in Japan. And now that I think of it, I'm somewhat surprised Babe Ruth isn't in the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame for his involvement in the Japan tours which ultimately led to the creation of professional baseball here. Yes, he didn't plan them, just participated. But I think everybody knows Babe Ruth, even in Japan.

Friday, May 30, 2014

I Own Owners League (cards)

I don't understand why games like this never really took off in America. Have they tried them? Most games like this are simulation games that require managerial strategy and a little bit of hand-eye coordination, but have very little pitch-by-pitch game play. I think that makes them great for on-the-go cell phone gamers looking to pit themselves against other players in a simulation, or to play a game or season by collecting cards and building a team.

The cards themselves aren't ugly, though I'm not a big fan of the designs. Photos are good and there are the usual statistics and such on the back in addition to some gameplay information.

Here are some Owners League cards from 2013 and 2014. Note that while the cards are marketed by year and series-in-the-year, the cards are numbered by series from inception. Also, I've blurred out the QR code and card code at the bottom of each image.
 Owners League 2013 Series 2 is really Series 14.
 Series 3 is really Series 15.
And the fourth series from 2013 is really Series 16. I've opened some of these before, and they feature the green Tohoku jerseys and Japan Series Champions logos for the Rakuten Golden Eagles cards. I wouldn't mind having one of those green jerseys if I can get it cheap enough.
This is a "Star" card from 2014 Series 1, AKA Series 17. Star cards are short prints, using foil on the front, but are still numbered as part of the regular set. I wish I had a regular 2014 card here to show you! One thing I plan on doing in the near future is checking my inventory of Owners League cards and ensuring I have cards from all the series. There's a Baseball Game Magazine that I might thumb through to get some details, if it has any.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

A couple packs of Owners League Masters

I should mention that I'm very tired right now so I'm going to post this as simply and quickly as possible. I might have some errors in there. I probably have errors in there.

I should know better, I really should. But I saw these packs in a convenience store and dropped about $5 more than I should have.  Each one was about 300 yen for 3 cards!
 The first is the Owners League Masters from 2013.
 This is a retired player set, but it's played just like the regular Owners League game. But I don't really know how to do that.
 Each card has a special code number and a QR code on the back (which I've blocked out) because it's a computer game.
 The pack had an insert that gave details on how to play, and an additional code. I don't know what that would provide.
 The second pack is the 2014 version of Owners League Masters. This has been an annual series since 2012 at least - I don't think there are 2011 Masters cards but I haven't really done any research at this point.
 The design is a bit different but the information is essentially the same. The borders are white instead of full-bleed.
 Again the backs have codes to play online.
The insert I got this time had a checklist on one side, though it shows the Dragons in the checklist the player I pulled isn't on it. This is also a great time to show the tiers of cards: Master cards are the most common, followed by Star Master, Great Master, and Premium Master. These "subsets" serve as SPs at best, because they are numbered as part of the regular set.

So why were these packs such a waste of money? I paid $1 per card when the local store has singles from 60 yen each - and I only needed one from each year. Yes, the premium, great, and star cards come at a higher price, but I'm not putting together a team! ... yet.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Newish Acquisitions and a bunch of BBM Checklists

I don't have much to say about the cards in this collection other than they're more cards for my Japanese Type Collection, which is moving along pretty nicely right now. A few of these are ones I didn't have listed, and I'll try to note those below.
 The first one is an uncatalogued card from what I think is a four-card set. I know that there is a left-side card for this with another Fighters player and the rest of their pink mascot of the time. I also saw a single Giants card in similar fashion, implying that another card would match. They commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Tokyo Dome, and the backs are essentially identical. Given the other text they either promote or were given away at a sports card show in late 1998, and carry a BBM copyright. I think the big text in black, in the center of the card, says "Pro Baseball Dream Market in Tokyo Dome".
 Promos just keep popping up all over the place. This is from the 2010 cross-brand set Cross Stream.
 Rookie Edition set inserts.
 Here's another "Special Promotion Card" from 2010, with a fancy radial-holographic foil background that you can see in the scan.
 2010 had a lot of promo cards, but I think this year there might be more. All the sets seem to have nine-card promo sets so far, and First Edition had a few different 12-card promo sets.
 Giants set inserts. I discovered a binder that had some team set inserts, which I was glad for because I thought I would be out of luck with the older team inserts.
 Parallels. The 2001 Tigers card really has a purple signature. The other two are silver signatures from 2010.
 Horiuchi comes from another insert set, but Martinez comes from a Yomiuri set that I wasn't sure I'd find!
I found two years of Yomiuri cards plus a few Uehara puzzle cards. I only need one, so I only bought one.

So that's last week's card store purchases, though I have a new batch next to me waiting to be scanned, and at least three new sets get released this week. But I mentioned checklists. Identifying BBM parallels is really tough, and the website isn't much help, but I was looking at some of this year's checklists that get included with unopened boxes. There are details on parallels, and it seems to be complete for each set.
 You can click and enlarge the checklists if you want, of course. The written numbers is the price charged for those players; the rest are 40 yen each now at this store. You can see that every rookie carries a premium, as do many of the foreigners. The "rookie" foreigners are most likely to be more expensive.

[Assume for this paragraph I'm reading my Japanese accurately.] Odds are listed as 1:10 for the Great Hit Makers insert, 1:20 for Wonder Rookies, and the Lightning set is serial numbered to 50 copies. The regular cards with * following their name have three foil signed parallels at 100/50/25 copies, and seem to come 1:7 packs. Rookie cards have a parallel limited to 100 copies. All subsets (except team checklists) have serial-numbered parallels, though the sheet doesn't list quantities.
 The Carp set indicates that some players have a parallel to 100 copies, and the Soul of Carp insert has a parallel to 100 copies.
 The Swallows set has just the base cards and an insert, though the insert has a /100 parallel as well.
 The Eagles 10th Anniversary checklist lists no parallels.
 The Buffaloes 25th Anniversary team set has no regular parallels, but the Strongest Nine Players insert has a parallel to 100 cards. This card lists the odds for the insert set at 1:7.
 The Hawks checklist has no parallels at all. I might have a full type collection for this set; I think I got the memorabilia and autograph a couple weeks ago.
Finally, the Buffaloes regular team set is quite colorful, but there are no parallels mentioned. I know there is a parallel of the insert set because I just bought it.

Given the sporadic availability of information, I hope BBM sticks with the more-detailed checklists in future products. Or at least posts this information on the website!