Tuesday, November 7, 2023

2023 Season at an End


The Hanshin Tigers beat the Orix Buffaloes to win the Japan Series over the weekend, marking the official end of baseball games for 2023.  I always feel a little melancholic during the week after the Series ends since its the time of year when you have the longest wait until the next game.  This year I'm feeling it a bit more than usual since this was one of my most enjoyable years as a baseball fan.

This is kind of odd since I'm a Dragons fan and they had the most miserable year imaginable.  They finished with the worst record in NPB and set a number of records of futility (most times getting shut out for example).  But it was a great year nonetheless.

I was reminded of how the year began when I got a complete set of Calbee Series 2 in the mail the other day.  As I mentioned a couple of months ago, bags of Series 2 only briefly appeared in stores in August and then completely disappeared about a week or so after they showed up.  This prevented me from collecting the set bag by bag with my kids like we did with Series 1, so I just paid 1,000 Yen to get the regular set from a case-breaker on Yahoo Auctions.  

The above card is from a pretty decent 12 card subset in Series 2 which features scenes from each team's first victory in the 2023 season.  It shows Shuhei Takahashi in a game on opening day against the Giants.  I remember watching it on TV and it was such an exciting game.  The Dragons were losing 3-2 heading into the 9th, but were able to load the bases for Takahashi who came through by hitting a bases clearing double to put the Dragons ahead.  The picture on the card shows him celebrating that moment.

I had high hopes that this would be a harbinger of things to come, but both the Dragons and Takahashi unfortunately peaked during that exact inning and everything went downhill from there.  The Dragons finished last, and Takahashi only hit .215 with no home runs in limited play throughout the rest of the season (his 3 RBI from that one hit constituted more than 20% of his total over the entire season).  

But the game did accomplish one thing, which was to get me and my kids excited about the baseball season.  I took them to the Dome to see a couple of Dragons games in person, and we watched a lot of games on TV (or more accurately I watched a lot of games on TV and they would sporadically stop playing to have a look for a few minutes with me every now and then).  I took them to the park a lot to play ball too, and my son and I went to the batting centre.  

We also had fun collecting cards.  We had a crack at completing Calbee Series 1 bag by bag which ran into a few snags due to Calbee's distribution problems this year but when they finally sorted that out we did have a lot of fun opening bags together and got most of the regular set done.  When Calbee screwed up Series 2 (as mentioned above) it turned out to be a kind of blessing in disguise as I discovered the absolute joy of  buying unopened boxes of Epoch packs that didn't contain "hits" and were thus cheap as dirt. The kids and I formed a tradition of each opening one pack whenever we watched a game on TV and throwing all the Baystars cards onto the floor in disgust (because the Baystars beat the Dragons on the first game we went to at the Dome this year).  We kept this up throughout the season and in fact opened the last packs I had over the weekend during Game 7 of the Series.  We didn't quite finish the set, and most of the cards have dinged upper right corners from when my daughter dropped the box they were in, and the Baystars cards have additional damage from being thrown about in disgust, but who cares?  The point in collecting cards is not to own cards, but to have fun in getting them and this was a success in that regard.  

So all in all I had a lot of fun cheering for a lousy team and having my normal collecting routine disrupted by Calbee's bizarre incompetence in distributing cards.  Hopefully 2024 will be another nice one.  

PS: I haven't been posting much recently but this is just due to me being insanely busy at work. The blog is still going and I'm still collecting, hopefully things will settle down and I'll be able to get back to the blog a bit more often in the near future.  


  1. It was nice to see a new post from you :)

    1. Thanks, I hope to get back into it soon, sometimes life takes me away from the blog but I always seem to find my way back to it!

  2. Good to see a post from you. As for baseball in 2023, there's still a lot going on. The Australian Baseball League kicks off this Friday and there's the U-24 Asian Baseball Championship starting up on Thursday.