Thursday, December 27, 2018

2018 Year in Review

I imagine a lot of you will be posting this topic over the next few days so I am excited to read about how your collecting went.  I tend to be pretty focused with my collecting and set realistic goals to accomplish so I have some satisfaction at the end of the year.  This year was no different and I feel like I did pretty well.  Thanks for stopping by and keeping me motivated to continue this blog!
Here are the 10 goals that I set out for myself at the beginning of the year:

1. Discover and Catalog at least 5 "new" vintage sumo sets (pre-1997) - Grade A+
- Just when I think that there are no new vintage sets to collect, something always pops up.  I've discovered numerous fun sets this year including this tiny little 1940 pre-war beauty that I reported back on in November.

2. Add 2 more 1973 Calbee Sumo Cards to my collection - Grade A+
- This set is one that I am really going to have to get a going on with some gusto or I am going to "invest" upwards of $5000 on it before it is all said and done.  Why singles cards go for an average of $100 is beyond me.  I picked up 3 more this year, but I am still over 25 cards short of a complete set.  Here is a summary I did of this set back in 2016.

3.  Conduct some interviews of fellow collectors - A+
- I am glad I got this interview series off the ground with three interviews of Billy @ Cardboard History, Fuji @ The Chronicles of Fuji, and Tony from the Facebook Group "BBM Sumo Card Collectors."  I haven't done one in a while since I frankly ran out of people to interview. interested?  Give me a holler if anyone is up for it!

4.  Add at least 1 more Murai card to my collection - A+
- This set has proven to be hard as people warned me.  I picked up only 4 more from this T483 Murai World's Smokers set earlier this year as posted here and am up to 9 total in this set.  My goal is to complete this set in raw condition someday.

5. Continue to expand my German Card Collection - A+
- Living in Germany has been fun with respect to collecting German Cards.  I've walked away from many flea markets with some good stuff including these 1933 Salem Gold Film Stars detailed here.

6.  Add two more card catalog books to my library - C
- I thought this one would be one of the easier ones from me to complete.  I didn't pick up any physical books, but did get Engel's 2nd Vintage Edition of the Japanese Baseball Card Checklist & Price Guide in electronic form.

 7. Add to my Brandon Laird and Yuta Tabuse Collection - A+
- I've been whittling away at my two player collections all year long and Fuji has helped immensely along the way with this awesome Laird stash & sweet Tabuse haul.

8. Expand the B.League Basketball Sets - A+
- I love the BBM B.League Basketball Sets and will continue to collect them.  I picked up both the 1st and 2nd Half boxes this year, although I don't officially have complete sets in singles form...yet.

9. Update the BB-Series of Sumo Menko and Bromides - B+
- One of my most ambitious goals this year was to "fix" and update the BB-series of sumo cards and bromides in my book.  There were so many produced during the 1930s-1950s that is was daunting to just get to the spot where I am now....I reorganized all the sets and assigned catalogue numbers to them.  Now all I need to do is get them in electronic form in my book.  I see the goal line in sight, but unfortunately will not cross it this year, but the majority of the battle is over with.

10. Finish the 1974 Yamakatsu's Mini Card Bruce Lee Enter the Dragon (Series 1) Set and add to The Way of the Dragon (Series 2) and Green Hornet (Series 3) Sets - B-
- Gah, I'm still two short on the Series 1 set, about 10 short on the Series 2 set and about 35 short on Series 3.  I did have a nice haul reported back in June.  This set is getting harder as the years go by and maybe in 2019 I'll finally finish Series 1!

With no failing classes and some solid effort and help from friends, I am giving myself an:

2018 Overall Grade = A-
(for reference) 2017 Overall Grade = B
I'm looking forward to 2019 and I really appreciate all the support you have given this blog over the past year!  Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Fuji's Christmas Present!

Wow, Fuji strikes again with a great Christmas care package from the Left Coast of the U.S.!  Much thanks to Fuji and great stuff for my collection!

First up is two blaster boxes of 2015 Topps Road to WrestleMania.  The one year where my son and I really go into wrestling was in 2015 so amazing memories here.  Two blasters = 20 packs = 140 cards of pure joy.  I ended up with about half of the base set and 3/4 of all the subsets minus the Bizarre WrestleMania matches, which bizarrely, I only got 3.


The base cards feature images from different events throughout the year leading up to WrestleMania.  Here are a few of my favorite things....

It's all about that base.......

The Hall of Fame subset features Hall of Famers.  You have to love Superfly....Deck the Halls!

Who knew Fuji was getting me a sumo card as well with the Bizarre WrestleMania Matches Subset.  This one highlights the match between Big Show and Akebono in a sumo match....well after Akebono retired from the real sumo ring.

The Rocking WrestleMania Subset is pure awesomeness.  I'll leave it here.

Boo, I hate the Triple H character, but respect his work in and out of the ring.

Randy Orton is built and defeated CM Punk in this now Classic WrestleMania Match.

Here are all the parallels I got.  On average for what my pack odds were.  A silver parallel along with 11 Blue parallels.  Also I managed to pick up a few of the Hulk Hogan Tribute cards as well!

But wait, there is more.  Bonus packs (I kept one unopened and opened the other one.)!

An Authentic Shirt Relic from Cesaro...pictured without his shirt.  They must have taken this photo AFTER he removed his shirt for this set.

Awesome.  Thanks for these packs Fuji!

Next up are some sweet (and much needed) Yuta Tabuse Cards for my collection!

An Fuji send a complete 1983 Oakland A's Granny Goose set with the scratch off tabs still intact and the silver unharmed.  Even Rickey is daring me to scratch them.  Fuji did a great write up of this set here which peaked my interest.  As much as I want to scratch these off, I am going to keep them complete.  Thanks a million for all the wonderful gifts Fuji!!!!

Have a Merry Christmas everyone!

Friday, December 21, 2018

2018-2019 BBM Japanese Basketball B.League Cards Arrive - 29 January!

I have to admit that this year's 1st half B.League Cards look a bit chucky although the subsets are where the true pizzazz comes in to play.  This 2018-2019 B.League 1st Half set will contain 90 base cards, and BBM's plan again this year is to get 180 players represented from both the B1 and B2 divisions across both the 1st and 2nd Half sets so it will be interesting to see how it gets divided out.  New to this year, however, are three new subsets titled: The Contenders, Black Label, and Franchise with one player per B1 Division team (I'm assuming) representing each of these subsets for a total of 144 cards.  In the previous years there was only 1 subset, but BBM really stepped it up this year.  Here are some scans courtesy of BBM's website.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

When Sumo Wrestling took over a Baseball Stadium

     Sumo Wrestling and Japanese baseball have been linked throughout the sports' histories.  Athletes from both sports have shared special friendships throughout the years, Japanese baseball turns to sumo wrestlers to throw out the first pitches of the season on a regular basis, and in the 1940s at the height of World War 2, the Nihon Sumo Kyokai "took over" the Korakuen Stadium to hold two of its tournaments since the Japanese Army commandeered the Sumo Kokukigan Stadium to make bombs.  Intrigued?  Read on for a few more minutes.

      Most of us have heard about the destruction that Tokyo endured during World War 2.  Sumo was not immune to it.  Sumo wrestlers were called to duty to fight in the war, sumo stables were destroyed during the fire bombing, and the military took over the Kokugikan to make bombs in 1944.  By 1944, Japan was all but defeated in the war and the preparations to repel a land invasion by the Allies was a top priority.  Consequently, this left sumo without a home to hold its tournaments.  Likewise, Japanese baseball was severely affected by the war and by 1944 could only muster a 35-game season in leaving its Korakuen Stadium open to the Nihon Sumo Kyokai which borrowed it for their May and November 1944 tournaments.  I've heard of this event happening, but I have never before seen pictures of it until a recent eBay auction that I won had me doing more research.  I picked up this circa 1946 Photographic Views of Japan: SUMO booklet that was printed for the Occupation Forces to teach them about Japanese culture.  It is part of a 10-booklet series on various subjects and written in English. 

What photos lie within?

And the Korakuen Photos:

Close-up photo of the scoreboard

Some further research let me to this picture which shows the sumo dohyo (ring) situated on none other than the 3rd-base line!

Dave at the Japanese Baseball Cards blog did a nice write up last year on the Korakuen Stadium.  Take a look at it here.

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, December 17, 2018

Outliers - What is the best month to be born a sumo wrestler?

What if I could tell you that depending on your birth month, I could "predict" your chances of becoming a successful sumo wrestler?  You would think everyone has an equal shot, but that is not the case.  In sumo wrestling, history has shown that sumo wrestlers born in a certain 6-month period have a ~33% better chance to make the sport's top-two ranks, Ozeki & Yokozuna, than those born in the other 6-month period.  Sound crazy?  I hope you'll keep reading a few more minutes to find out more.

The book Outliers, written by Malcolm Gladwell, is an amazing read.  Chapter 1 relates success in sports to which month you were born in.  And the answer is fairly simple, although not always obvious.  Most countries have cutoff dates for age-class sports.  If you are a certain age, you make the cutoff.  If you are not, you have to wait a whole year in order to reach the mandatory age.  The kids that have birthdays right after the cutoff can be up to 364 days older than kids that have birthdays right before the next cutoff, but are competing in the same age class.  And guess what?  Waiting that whole year during your adolescent years can give you HUGE advantages in terms of size and strength.  This difference means you have more potential to get more practice and playing time, can develop better skills, have a better chance for the coach to play you even more since you are a better player, and can ultimately move on to bigger and better things....success breeds success.  Malcolm examines hockey, soccer, basketball and a variety of sports and comes to the same conclusion that the successful athletes were typically born right after age-cutoff dates in their respective sport.  In one study, 72% of kids on a Czech Junior World Soccer Team were born in January, February, or March ...where the cutoff date was, you guessed it, 1 January!

I applied this same understanding to the top-two ranks in sumo wrestling and "discovered" that ~66% (66% for Yokozuna and 67% for Ozeki) of the 111 Japanese wrestlers that attained these ranks dating back to 1855 were born in the 6 months between November 1 and April 30....meaning only 33% were born between May 1 and October 31.  And only 8% of these 111 wrestlers were born between June 1 and July 31 during this dead period.  Why is this since, statistically, 50% of the birthdays should fall in each of these two 6-month periods?  What makes the time period from November 1 to April 30 a golden period to be born and increase your chances at making the top of the sumo period 33% higher than someone born during the other 6 months?  Well, I unfortunately have to leave you at a cliffhanger, because the answer is, "I don't know".  But have no fear, I will keep at this and provide you my best theory.  Unfortunately, there has been no research in this area, at least none published in English that I could find.  I tried correlating school cutoffs (The Japanese school year starts in April), but couldn't come up with anything reasonable.  I tried looking at when they passed their sumo entrance physicals compared to their age, but couldn't come up with anything obvious.  More research to follow, but I would love to hear your thoughts and if you have any theories.

But, based on this research, I predict the next Ozeki (and maybe Yokozuna) will be Mitakeumi, born right in the middle of this 6-month golden period, 25 December 1992!!!

Thursday, December 13, 2018

2019 BBM Japanese Sumo Wrestling Cards Arrive - 18 January 2019!

Box Art

Here we go!  BBM's first sumo wrestling set of the 2019 arrives in stores on a little over a month on 18 January 2019.  This year's set follows the standard BBM formula for sumo wrestling sets: 90 base cards and 10 autographs.  At some point BBM is going to need to mix this set up with something different like parallels or card-quantity changes.  While good in some aspects, the predictability and lack of innovation with these sets could start to drive people away.  BBM's website has all the details for this 2019 which is translated here:

70 Makuuchi and Juryo Cards
2 First Yusho Winners
4 Promising Newcomers
14 Offshot which are called "Backstage Pass"
~10 autographs likely numbered to ~90 or less

Here are pictures of the new Makuuchi and Juryo cards:

Here is a picture of the First Yusho Winner subset:

Another one of the promising newcomer subset:

Two cards of the fourteen "Backstage Pass" subset.  Note: we haven't seen rounded corners in a while, if at all, on BBM cards before.

And some of the autograph selection:

There you have it.  I'll be ordering a few boxes of these for sure.