Thursday, January 31, 2019

1979's King Above Heaven

 In addition to Charlie Manuel, my recently acquired 1979 Calbee lot also contained this gem.

This card is awesome on many levels.  The player, whose name I'll get to shortly, has the perfect 70s tinted cop glasses/moustache combo I have ever seen on a card.  He kind of reminds me of Father Guido Sarducci, just with slightly shorter hair and in a baseball uniform.

The best part of this card though is the player's name. In 1979 Calbee didn't put any writing on the front of a lot of cards, making them look very similar to the 1978 Yamakatsu set.  On the back though you can find out the name of the player and this guy is:

王 天上, outfielder.


This took me aback a bit.  The guy looks like a foreigner.  And 王 天上 isn't really a Japanese name either, but it is written in kanji.  It means "King above heaven".  The 王 character is the same as Sadaharu Oh's last name, which is not commonly used in names in Japan.

Looking at the fine print lower down on the card clears up the mystery though.  This is Frank Ortenzio of course!  (Incidentally, the perfect name for a guy with the perfect 70s cop glasses/moustache combo too).

His kanji name 王 天上 is actually a play on his last name - it is read Ou Ten Jo, which if you say it fast sounds like "Ortenzio". He is probably the only foreign ballplayer to use a kanji name rather than having his regular name spelled out in katakana like everyone else.  According to his wikipedia entry this is also how he was referred to on scoreboards, and the team used it as his offical name.  

It also made its way onto at least one baseball card of him! Probably the only one showing a foreign player's name rendered in kanji (except of course for those from China or other countries where kanji are used).  

Ortenzio, who had breifly played in the majors for Kansas City, only played two years with the Nankai Hawks, 1979 and 1980. 1979 was his best season, hitting 23 home runs.

The card notes that he had another nickname, "Moose", which was the same as Katsuya Nomura (then playing with the Lions).  

There is an interesting recent interview with Ortenzio here, most of it is about his minor league career but about 1 hour into it he talks about his time in Japan.  Some interesting tidbits:

1. The team gave him his odd nickname and he went with it (also, he definitely doesn't speak Japanese, he calls katakana "katakani" which is kind of endearing)

2. He likes the movie Mr. Baseball a lot and thinks everything in it is accurate except the idea of dating the manager's daughter.

3. He felt awkward playing in Japan due to the conflicting expectations placed on foreigners to both help the team win but at the same time not play so well that you show up the Japanese players (which seems to be a common complaint).

4. One frustrating incident happened in a game in which he saved the team's 1 run lead in a game by throwing out a runner at home plate (from the outfield).  After the game he was called into the manager's office expecting to be complimented for saving the game, but was instead chewed out for throwing home instead of to the cutoff man.  This was one of the experiences that made him feel like he didn't want to play in Japan anymore.

5. His wife was injured in an accident and moved back to the US to get treatment with their young daughter, which was a big factor in him deciding to retire mid way through the 1980 season.

6. His interpreter cried when he announced his decision to leave Japan.

7. He appeared on the cover of a Japanese sports magazine eating sushi.  He doesn't like sushi.

8. He had converted to Christianity before going to Japan and became a minister after going back to the US.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

My Favorite Comeback in Baseball History on one Card

 Charlie Manuel's legendary stint as Philadephia's manager is nowhere near to being his most impressive achievement.

If you haven't read Robert Whiting's You Gotta Have Wa, then get your hands on a copy, its the best book on Japanese baseball told mostly from the perspective of foreign players out there, even if it is almost 30 years old.  Manuel's story features prominently in it and always struck me as the most memorable.

After barely making a dent in a brief stint in MLB, he exploded with 42 home runs in his first season with the Yakult Swallows in 1977 and then one upped himself the next year by bashing another 39 and leading the team to a Nippon Series Championship victory.

The Swallows management, idiots, got rid of him after that season and he went to play for the Kintetsu Buffaloes in the 1979 season, where he got off to another monstrous start.

Then, something horrible was done to him.  Orions pitcher Soroku Yagisawa nailed him in the jaw with a fastball that broke the bone in six places.  According to Whiting, this was intentionally done and Yagisawa smirked while Manuel was carried off the field on a stretcher, vowing to kill Yagisawa. The doctors had to insert three metal plates into his head and remove some nerves.  Teammates reported that since he had no feeling in his jaw when he ate food would just fall out of his mouth and he wouldn't be aware of it, not being able to feel it sliding down.

Then one of the most impressive comebacks in baseball history happened.  Immediately after being discharged from the hospital, Manuel rejoined the team against the advice of doctors and family.  He went on a tear and despite missing several weeks while hospitalized won the PL home run title and led the Buffaloes to the Pacific League championship.  

I'm not really doing the story justice here, you should read Whiting's account because it is definitely one of the best feel-good comeback stories in baseball that I've ever read.  He even got the chance to one-up Yagisawa, who appeared at a pre-game event with him and Manuel snubbed his offer of a handshake.

So anyway, let me get to this card.  It is a 1979 Calbee card that was in a lot of 20 1979 Calbees and was the sole reason I bought the lot (I'm not working on that set right now).  For a few days immediately after his comeback, Manuel wore a special batting helmet with a football style chin guard to protect his injured jaw.  This card actually pictures him wearing that helmet!  I think it is the only one of his cards that does, because he only wore it for a few days, discarding it because he found it was obscuring his vision at the plate.  So the photo on this card would have to have been taken right at the time when he had just gotten back, perhaps even his first game back after the injury.

The back of the card even pays tribute to this, noting that despite suffering a serious injury to his jaw, Manual is striving with all his might to lead Kintetsu to victory this year.

And we now know in hindsight that he did.  And would go on, decades later, to lead the Philadelphia Phillies to a World Series Championship.

Yagisawa, on the other hand, would never pitch another game after that season and the last record of him according to Wikipedia had him working as a coach with a semi-pro team in rural Gunma Prefecture.

I love karma.

This is definitely one of my favorite cards in my collection!

Monday, January 28, 2019

A really nit-picky thing I discovered about 1995 Calbee

This week I picked up a few more cards for my 1995 Calbee/Tokyo Snack set.  I am actually really close to finishing the first series, I have 64 out of 72 so just 8 to go (I have both Ichiros already,  all the ones I need are commons so it should be pretty easy to finish that one!).

The high series (73 to 162) on the other hand I am nowhere near to completing, I only have 19 of them and need the Ichiros, which are among the most expensive of his cards out there. So that project will take a while. They seem to have been issued in much fewer numbers than the low numbers, hence my difficulty in tracking them down!

But in addition to bragging about how close I am to finishing the first series I also want to use this post to highlight a weird thing I have discovered about this set.  I was flipping through them yesterday when I noticed an odd thing: the cards are not all the same shape!

The difference lies in the corners, which seem to have been cut in three different ways.  This isn't really noticeable if you are looking at the cards one by one, but if you hold a stack of them you will notice that the corners on the cards don't line up evenly.

There seem to be three different shaped corners:

The right most card in the above photo (card 8 of Ken Suzuki) has a rounded corner.  The one in the middle (card 37 of Glenn Braggs) has been cut at more of a straight angle.  The left most card (51 of Shintaro Yamasaki) also has a rounded corner but the curve extends for a longer extent (ie its a bigger rounded corner).

Calbee used a similar design for most of its sets between the 1990 high series and 1996, with the same cardstock and rounded corners, I haven't yet checked to see if the cards from other sets have this same weird feature.  I'm not sure what caused it, they must have been using different machines to cut the cards from their sheets or something like that.

Anyway, just another obscure, nit-picky thing I thought I'd throw out into the card blogosphere!

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Collecting in a World Where Nobody Cares About Condition

Should these cards be worth the same amount?

One of the things that drives me nuts about the American card market is the insane obsession with condition that has gripped it in recent years.  I've become a bit of a regular on Net54 and it seems about half the posts there are people expressing an opinion related to card condition.  Some hate the obsession with it.  Some are wondering if they should try re-slabbing a card to see if they can get a higher grade.  Some are mad that a card they bought was listed as Ex but is more like Vg-Ex.  Some find the distinction between a PSA 8 and a PSA 9 to be completely arbitrary.  Some can't believe that some people can't see the difference between a PSA 8 and a PSA 9.

And don't get them started about them PSA 10s.

Never in human history has so much (digital) ink been spilled discussing an issue of less import to the world in which we live.

Its not that I don't share a concern about card condition: like any collector I like my cards to look nice.  But at the same time I can't really bring myself to care about it that much.  Are microscopic differences in card centering really worth so much of the collecting world's attention?

In the Japanese hobby, refreshingly, these conversations never happen.  Nobody seems to care much about condition.  I'd like to devote this post to exploring this aspect of the Japanese baseball card hobby in a bit more detail.  I'll do this by first demonstrating this fact empirically by looking at the complete absence of grading services like PSA in the Japanese collecting world.  Then I'd like to further that discussion by looking at the complete absence of any comparable sort of grading standard (outside of grading services) in the hobby in general - the terms "vg", "Ex" or "Mt" are unknown here and have no Japanese equivalent.  Finally I'd like to devote a bit of time to considering both the positive and negative consequences of this difference in the Japanese hobby world: put simply, its not as awesome as you would think.

1. Grading card services are non-existent in the Japanese hobby

To demonstrate how much Japanese collectors don't care about grading services like PSA, I'll do a little experiment on Yahoo Auctions (Japan's Ebay) right now as I type this post.  The baseball card category currently has 180,119 listings.  That is a pretty sizeable amount, and includes everything from commons to cards with BIN prices in the 10s of thousands of dollars.

How many of those cards are graded?  Running a search for "PSA" in that category gives us a whopping:

49 results!

So 0.002% of cards available on the biggest Japanese market for cards have been graded by PSA (a search for PSA's rival SCG gets zero hits).

But even this is an exaggeration in terms of measuring how many Japanese cards are graded.  Out of those 49 cards, 26 of them are actually American (mostly Topps, Bowman, Donruss or UD)!

So we have just 23 Japanese cards graded by PSA out of 180,119?

Yes. But if we are going to narrow this down to how many of these are targeted to Japanese collectors even this is an exaggeration of the relevance of PSA.  Of those 23, 16 of them are cards of Ichiro (mostly his Calbee and Tommy ID rookie cards) which, judging from the listings, are being targeted towards American collectors of Ichiro (given away by the fact that they use English in their listings, which is extremely rare on Yahoo Auctions).

So that leaves us with 7 graded cards for the Japanese collector?

No, 5 of those cards are of Shohei Ohtani or Hideo Nomo, also targeted towards Americans for obvious reasons.

So just 2?

Yes, there is a 1967 Kabaya Leaf card of Yoshinobu Yoda and a 1992 BBM card autographed by Sadaharu Oh which could be of interest to Japanese collectors.

Shigeo Nagashima, the most popular player in Japanese history and the #1 guy with Japanese collectors doesn't have a single graded card for sale at this time.  Oh just has the one.  Most other members of the Japanese hall of fame also have zero (in fact....EVERY other member of the Japanese hall of fame has zero).

2. OK, no grading services, but people can still care about condition, right?

Of course, before grading services entered the US market collectors already had a fairly well developed system of grading cards (which PSA just copied) from poor to mint and assigning differential prices based on grades.  Doesn't the Japanese hobby do something like that?

In a word, no.

This can also  be seen in the way cards are listed on Yahoo Auctions.  Basically everything (except those 49) are "raw" cards, which American sellers on Ebay will almost always tell buyers what condition it is in - VG, EX, Nmt, etc (often with a caveat about them not being pro graders, etc).

These terms basically do not exist in the Japanese hobby, nor is there any Japanese equivalent.

Individual card listings on Yahoo Auctions almost never mention condition at all.  The Japanese hobby doesn't have a universally accepted grading system like in the US.

This isn't to say that condition is 100% absent from listings.  Some sellers use a 3 tier grading system which is as complex as it gets here:

美品 (bihin) = "Beautiful item"
並品 (nami hin) = "Average item"
ジャンク品 (janku hin) = "junk item"

A "beautiful item" could probably fall anywhere Ex and up, an "average Item" would be more like mid-grade, and a "junk item" would probably be in the p/f/g range.  But these categories are extremely subjective and not widely recognized as having a specific meaning, only a few sellers use them.

For the majority, at least with vintage cards, the only mention made of condition is a boilerplate disclaimer that you see everywhere which roughly translates as:

"These cards are old, they may have wear and tear on them.  Buyers expecting the item to be like new please refrain from bidding."  

This applies even to high end items.  Here is a 1987 Calbee complete set for sale right now:
This is an extremely rare and valuable item: its asking price is 145,000 Yen (about 1200 US$), which is a bit on the high side but not outrageous.  

 But look at that listing. You've got 3 grainy pictures in which you can't tell anything about the condition.  And the description of the condition, in its entirety is this:


"Please confirm (the condition) by looking at the pictures.  There are many in nice condition, but two have been written on with magic marker. There are also cards with creases."

This description is so vague for all the buyer knows they could be getting a set that is 90% Nrmt with a few lower grade, or one that is almost entirely mid grade with some in poor condition, or even one that is mostly lower grade with a few that are extremely low grade.

This isn't, I hasten to add, a bad seller - ALL listings on Yahoo Auctions look like this.  Japanese buyers collect cards for the cards and not for the condition. This isn't to say that condition is irrelevant to the hobby,  nobody likes cards that are creased and a new one looks nice, but the insane nit-picking of minor stuff differences in grade that dominates the US hobby is completely non existent in Japan.

3. Great!  Of course this is a good thing, right?  Right?

You'd think so, right?  As I said at the start, I absolutely hate the obsession with condition that dominates the American hobby that I grew up with, so shouldn't I be thrilled that I collect cards in a market where nobody cares about that?

The answer to that is that kind of sort of I am a bit.  And the reasons for that are I guess self evident - one of my pet peeves is not here so I am not annoyed by it.  Which is cool....but not as cool as you'd think, hence the equivocation in my answer.  There is a real disadvantage to this lack of insanity which I have also discovered.

That disadvantage lies in one of the beneficial side effects of the American hobby's obsession with condition.  It has created an affordable niche market for the "mid grade" collector.  Since all the big money in the hobby goes to  high end stuff, there are plenty of bargains around for guys like me who don't care about condition and just want to put sets together.  A card that sells for $1,000 in PSA 9 can probably be had for 10-20$ in an attractive mid grade, which means that putting sets from the 60s and 70s (or even earlier) remains an affordable option.

That steep "mid grade discount" doesn't exist in Japan.  If a card is expensive, then its expensive no matter what condition it is in (unless it is absolutely destroyed).  You can't find bargains on the sought after stuff just based on the fact that it is lower grade like you can with American cards.  For example, I've been trying to find a cheap copy of card #1 from the 1973 Calbee set featuring Shigeo Nagashima for the longest time.  Every copy that goes up on Yahoo Auctions however always gets bid up into the hundreds of dollars.  Even if its got a crease in it, or well rounded corners, people here are bidding on the card rather than the condition (again, except for true beaters) and will pay the same money for a copy that would probably grade around vg as they would for one that would grade exmt.  

So the grass is sort of greener on this side of the fence in some respects, but there are a few brown patches as well!

Monday, January 21, 2019

Taking a Chance on a Big Vintage Calbee Lot

 I'm not a gambling man.  I went to a casino once in my early 20s, lost 30$, failed to see the fun in it and have never set place in one since.  I've also lasted almost 2 decades in Japan without once having partaken in its peculiar and ubiquitous form of legalized gambling: Pachinko.

But I do have one area where I like to dabble in risk:  Buying big lots of vintage Calbee cards off of Yahoo Auctions.  When they come up they can be a really great way of getting started on a set or just familiarizing yourself with cards you've never encountered before.

They generally come in two kinds. In one kind the seller puts up pictures of every card in the lot, back and front, so you know exactly what you are bidding on and there are no surprises.  The other kind though are lots in which the bidder just puts up a picture of a pile of cards and tells you how many there are, but you have no idea what most of the cards are. These are the risky ones.

Back in Canada I would never in a million years buy a pile of cards without knowing what I was getting because of the obvious potential for being ripped off.  But in Japan.....I don't wish to perpetuate cultural stereotypes but Japanese people in general have a reputation for honesty for good reason.  When a seller puts up a lot of vintage Calbees without photos of every card in 99% of cases its not because they are trying to sucker you into buying a bunch of crap, its more likely that they are busy and just don't want to bother photographing everything.  These lots are usually worth taking a chance on.

I came across one lot from a seller (this guy) who I had never bought from before. The description just said "60 Calbee cards from the 1980s" and nothing else. It had a photo in which you could see about 7 or 8 random ones, the rest being underneath.  I did the math and put a bid on.  And won.  My winning bid was 2700 Yen, which with shipping came in just under 3000 Yen, or about 50 Yen per card.  That is a pretty good per-card price for 1980s Calbee, but of course that would depend on what the cards were.

They arrived yesterday and I broke open the Smart Letter pack to reveal these babies:
 There were a few things I was concerned about before opening them.  Were there a lot of duplicates?  Were there a lot of beaters?  Were they all commons with no stars?  Were they all 1987 Calbees that I already had?

Happily the answer to all of these questions was negative.  I got a pretty interesting and well rounded lot when I broke it open, with cards from eight different years between 1980 and 1989.  Here they are sorted into piles by year:
 Most of the cards were from the 1983 set (18 cards), 1984 set (9 cards) and 1985 set (16 cards) which was great because those are sets that are a bit harder to find that the ones from the later 80s (except 1989) and ones that I still need most of them (especially the 83 set).  Most of those cards were ones that I needed.  There were only 2 from the 1987 set (both ones I already had) and 1 from the 1988 set (also a double).

The lot also had two cards from the 1980 Calbee set, which were the first cards from that set I have ever gotten.  The 1980 set is kind of interesting in that they are the same size as other cards from the 1980s, but still have the captioning of the series in the set that all cards from the 70s have, which is kind of neat.  One of the cards I got was 15 time all star Masahiro Doi, which was great:
 In the 1985s I found this card of Hall of Famer Hiromitsu Kadota which I found striking, I like that "ABIN 85" sign in the background.
 The 1984s had some pretty good stars among them too:
 Condition wise the lot was pretty good.  About half the cards (basically all the ones post 1985) were about Ex-mint, while the earlier ones were a bit more mixed with some corner fuzz and the occasional ding.  Out of the 60 cards though there was only one true beater, this 1983 card of Mitsuo Tatsukawa which looks like it has been to hell and back:
 Within the lot there were only two duplicates (both in the 1983s) so I got 58 different cards.  Looking through my checklists 34 of those were ones I needed, which was pretty satisfying.
All in all I am pretty happy with this lot.  My gamble paid off!

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Some Holy Grails for my 1975-76 Calbee Set!

My 1975-76 Calbee project took another major step closer to realization last week with the addition of the 9 cards pictured above.  These are all from the rare series running from #145 to 180 under the title "Defending the lead series" which depict players from the Hiroshima Carp in various games down the stretch in the 1975 season (these were issued in 1975 so that is actually impressive as I noted in a previous post on another series from the set).

I already had a couple of cards of Sachio Kinugasa from this same series so these bring my total to 11.  The cards are rare because they are one of the regional issues that Calbee used to put out in the 70s, these ones being sold exclusively in Hiroshima (which compared to Tokyo or even Osaka is not a particularly big city).  There are three regionally issued series in the 1975-76 Calbee set which is one of the major stumbling blocks to putting a full set together (the others are a Chunichi Dragons set from 37-72 and another Hirohsima set from 609-644): at any given time most of these cards are not available for sale on Yahoo Auctions (or any other online source). Sports Card Magazine lists the commons from this series at 7000 Yen each, and one of the most expensive cards in the set (#157 featuring Hiroshima Municipal Stadium) is in this series.

I think I was very fortunate to find these.  A seller on Yahoo Auctions from Hiroshima put these beauties up for auction with starting bids of 1,000 Yen each.  I put a bid on all of them and they slid under everyone else's radar and I won them without any other bids being put in!  I love it when a plan comes together like that. Condition wise they are all OK for me, light corner wear on most but no creases or major damage, perfect for the mid grade collector!

It was so satisfying sliding these babies into their respective slots on the 9 pocket pages reserved for them.  Those pages had looked so empty, but now they are almost 1/3 full, which is respectable.  I only have a couple of the Chunichi regional issues and none of the other Hiroshima ones, so I'm now going to be on the hunt for those (and more of these)!

On the downside though....I just blew almost $100 on 9 cards which represent less than 1% of the total number of cards in this set.  Ladies and gentlemen, this is getting expensive.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Getting so close on the 1987 Calbees

2019 is off to a strong start in terms of progress on completing my vintage Calbee sets.  I wish I had thought to make that a new years resolution when I had the chance.

I picked up three more cards for my 1987 Calbee set, the first that I have scored since last May.  This leaves me with just 15 cards to go out of 382 in the set.  Tantalizingly close!!
These were pretty decent ones, including Hall of Famers Sachio Kinugasa and Kimiyasu Kudoh.  I particularly like the Kudoh card, that all blue Seibu road uniform looks pretty awesome, I wish teams still did that (my beloved Expos home uniforms did the same in the 80s).

The card on the right (367) is of Kaname Yashiki and commemorates his leading the league in stolen bases (for the second time in a row as the back of the card says).  That card has been in my crosshairs for a long time as it was the last of the gold-bordered cards (which feature league leaders and award winners) that I needed.

So my updated wantlist for the 1987 Calbee set is now:


So close....yet so far.  I've been in the "home stretch" on this set for about 3 years now, as the last few cards are always the hardest to find.  Maybe this year I'll get these?  We'll see!

Thursday, January 10, 2019

1975-76 Calbee Progress: Sadaharu Oh Japan Series Card

Over the past few weeks I've made a bit more progress towards completing my monster 1975 - 1976 Calbee set.  The above card, #1261, arrived in the mail yesterday from a Yahoo Auctions seller.  It was one of four that I bought to fill in checklist needs, but I think it is the highlight.

The card is one from the series that covers the highlights of the 1976 Japan Series. Think about that for a second, a card set featuring highlights of the 1976 Japan series released in....1976!  That is almost real time.  Its another cool thing about Calbee cards from the 70s, Topps World Series cards always featured the previous year's Series.  This sort of both highlights how good Calbee was at churning out cards in a timely manner and how lazy Topps was.

As the text on the back of the card notes, the 76 Series was an unusually exciting one.  The Hankyu Braves won the first three games straight and looked like they were cruising to victory.  But then the Giants fought back and won three straight of their own to tie the series.  They then.....lost game 7 and the Braves took the series.  In keeping with the heavy bias towards the Giants that permeates the Japanese baseball world, the text on this card says nothing congratulatory about the Braves performance and merely assures readers that Nagashima will manage his best to try to win next year.

The photo on the front of the card is what I really like though.  Sadaharu Oh about to swing at a pitch.  The angle from which the picture is taken is interesting, you almost never see baseball card photos taken from behind the umpire like that.  You almost never see dirt infields like that anymore either.

I'm a bit curious about the Braves pitcher, who is not mentioned on the card back.  He is obviously a side-arm thrower which makes me think he must be Hisashi Yamada, the Braves ace (and Hall of Famer) who threw side arm and appeared in the Series.  But every picture I've seen of Yamada shows him wearing uniform #17, while the pitcher in this photo is wearing #18.  So I am not sure who that is up there.

Its kind of cool though, a batter with an unusual stance facing a pitcher with an unusual windup, all captured in one photo.

I hope to have a few more posts about cards from this set in the coming weeks, I'm making a concerted effort to plug holes in my want list!

Monday, January 7, 2019

2000 Calbee Gold Signature Parrallels

The 2000 Calbee set seems to be one of the easiest Calbee sets to put together.  I'm not sure why, but Calbee cards from that year seem to have been produced in higher quantities than other years and you can find big piles of them on Yahoo Auctions for pretty cheap.  This was also the last year that Ichiro appeared in a Calbee set, which probably stoked a lot of interest in it as he was rumored to be going to the majors, which might explain why so many were purchased back in the day.

Due to its easy availability this was also one of the first Calbee sets I was able to complete, basically through bulk purchases of lots.  Among my piles I have a few with gold signatures printed on the front, like Tony Fernandez and Shinya Miyamoto in the above picture.

I assumed these were insert cards, but I'm not totally sure as they seem to have also been issued in sets as mail in prizes.  They might have been both?  Sports Card Magazine doesn't mention them in their 2000 Calbee listing, and the usually thorough Calbee Collector also doesn't mention them in his write up about 2000 Calbee.  Looking at Yahoo Auction listings it seems Calbee issued similar parallels for the 1998 and 1999 sets as well.  Google searches just get me a gaggle of ads for irrelevant Calbee stuff.

Anyway, if these were just given out as mail in prizes....that is pretty awesome.  But I also kind of wonder how I came to have several random singles mixed in with the lots I have purchased over the years.....

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Why is Yahoo Auctions Japan so Lazy?

My first post of the new year and I'm using it to complain about a really minor but extremely irritating point!

The above grainy photo of my computer screen says it all.  This is the category list for all Calbee single cards available on Yahoo Auctions Japan.  I hate it so much because for some reason from 2002 to 2013 they divide the listings year by year, which is great.  Looking for a 2007 Calbee single?  No problem, they have a category for that.

Then for some reason in 2014 I guess they found making a new category each year was getting too tedious - I mean, god they must have to push at least 3 or 4 buttons to do that once every 12 months - and so they decided to just put everything after 2014 in the 2014 category.  They don't just do this with the Calbee cards but also with BBM and others.  It drives me nuts.

This is making a mockery of the whole system.  They average about 1,000 listings or so for each year from 2002 to 2013.  But the accumulation of 5 years worth of stuff has driven the 2014 category to 12, 268 listings which is just way too many to conveniently navigate.  It has become a pain in the neck to me since I have to search through that stupid oversized category every few months when a new Calbee series is released and I want to find lots or complete sets but have to wade through 5 times more stuff than I should need to.

My only consolation is that I am not a BBM collector - the 2014 category for them has bloated to 53,657 listings you'd have to manually go through to find anything issued in the last 5 years.

This is definitely a spoiled first world person problem, but it irritates me because the laziness is just left there for everyone to see.  They could have just hidden this decision to no longer list everything by year by creating a decade category.   But instead they left the old individual year categories up almost as if to remind you that they used to put some effort into organizing their listings but no longer deign to do you that favor, peasant card collectors.

Also, looking at the pre-2002 listings is pretty frustratingly inconsistent too.  For the 1970s and 1990s you can browse listings organized by year too, which is lovely.  They even created individual year categories for the 1970, 1971 and 1972 Calbee sets which don't even exist (yet the actually have some listings!!). But for the 1980s you can't, they just have a single 1980-1989 category for those years.  And for 2000 and 2001?  For reasons that I can't understand, they have a single 2000-2001 category for just those two years.

Anyway, happy new year to everyone except those responsible for organizing the baseball card listings on Yahoo Auctions!