Sunday, October 14, 2018

Card Of The Week October 14

I'm leaving on a week long business trip to Texas this afternoon so I knew I needed to take care of "Card Of The Week" early.  I had kicked around a couple topics - new manager for the Dragons, old manager for the Giants, Koji Uehara becoming the oldest player to ever win a playoff game, etc - but I hadn't really decided on anything.  I figured I'd wait and see how the Climax Series games went today to decide.  I got up late this morning and checked the scores on-line and discovered that a clear choice had revealed itself.

Tomoyuki Sugano of the Yomiuri Giants has had a pretty amazing season this year so far.  He went 15-8 with a 2.14 ERA and 200 strikeouts (in 202 innings) this year.  He led the Central League in wins, ERA and strikeouts so he won the pitching triple crown.  He had an amazing eight shutouts and is considered a lock for the Sawamura Award (if he hasn't already won it - sometimes I miss that announcement). 

And then he went and threw a no-hitter against the Swallows in Game Two of the First Stage of the Climax Series today.  He only walked one batter - Tetsuto Yamada - so he was nearly perfect.  It was the first no-hitter in Climax Series history and I believe only the second in NPB post-season history - the first being the Daisuke Yamai-Hitoki Iwase combined perfect game in Game Five of the 2007 Nippon Series.  With the win the Giants move on to the Final Stage of the Climax Series against the Carp starting on Wednesday.

One more good thing for Sugano - it looks like his uncle is set to return as Giants manager now that Yoshinobu Takahashi has resigned.

Here's Sugano's first Calbee card - from the 2013 "Exciting Rookie" subset featuring all the 2012 first round draft picks (#D-01):

Saturday, October 13, 2018

2018 Calbee Series Three

Calbee's Series Three set got released a few weeks back.  This is basically the third part of Calbee's flagship set for the year - the first two parts were Series One which came out March and Series Two which came out in June.  As I've mentioned before, last season Calbee was unable to produce a Series Three set due to a potato shortage so this is the first Series Three set since 2016.

Like its two predecessors this year, Series Three has a base set of 88 cards.  There's 72 player cards (split evenly between the 12 teams so there's six cards per team), 12 "Exciting Scene" subset cards and four checklist cards.  The player cards are numbered in continuation of the other two sets - Series Two ended with card #144 so Series Three is numbered 145 to 216.

I can't say that there's a great selection of players in the set.  The biggest names are Seiya Suzuki, Ryosuke Kikuchi, Nobuhiro Matsuda, Takeya Nakamura, Yusei Kikuchi, Koji Uehara, Wladimir Balentien, Masataka Yoshida and Sho Nakata.  There's about 24 players in the set (a third of the players) who appeared in Series One or Two including almost everyone I listed just now - only Yusei Kikuchi and Koji Uehara from that group are unique to this set.  There are three players in the set who didn't make it into BBM's flagship sets - Kazuki Tanaka of the Eagles, Toru Murata of the Fighters and Kazuki Mishima of the Baystars.  One of the gripes I've had about Calbee's sets lately (as well as BBM's) has been the monotony of the poses on the photos - lots of batters batting and pitchers pitching.  This set has a little better selection - there's some runners running and catcher catching - but it's still kind of monotonous.  I was also a little disappointed that there were no horizontally formatted cards.  Here's some examples:

#161 (Kazuki Tanaka)

#190 (Ryutaro Umeno)

#185 (Seiya Suzuki)

#208 (Zolio Almonte)

#146 (Nobuhiro Matsuda)

#180 (Mike Bolsinger)
The 12 card "Exciting Scene" subset features an "exciting scene" for each of the 12 NPB teams.  This includes Chihiro Kaneko of the Buffaloes getting his 1500th strikeout, Takehiro Norimoto of the Eagles getting his 1000th strikeout (which was also highlighted on his player card in the Series Two set) and Yoshitomo Tsutsugoh of the Baystars getting his 150th home run.  Other players in the set include Yuki Yanagita and Takahiro Arai.  For several of the players in the subset this is there only Calbee card this year - Tomoyuki Sugano, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Norichika Aoki are probably the biggest names in this group.  Here's the Kaneko card:

The four checklist cards feature highlights from the middle part of the season - Hiroki Nishikawa of the Fighters getting his 200th career stolen base on June 1st, Daisuke Yamai's win over the Baystars on May 22nd. Kazuya Fukuura setting the record for most games played for Lotte (2162) on April 10th and the Swallows clinching the "interleague championship" on June 17th.  Here's the Swallows card:

You can see all the cards (including the "Star" insert cards and the "RBI Leader" box set that is available as a "Lucky Card" redemption) over at Jambalaya.

Friday, October 12, 2018

2018 BBM Genesis set

It's odd how you change the things you're interested in collecting over the years.  For example a couple years back I would never have thought about getting all of BBM's team sets each year but after doing it for a couple years in a row now I would feel my collection for the year was incomplete without them.  I think I'm starting to feel that way towards Genesis, BBM's annual high end set.  I got last year's edition due to the inclusion of a couple late signing players and I discovered to my surprise that I really liked the set.  So when this year's edition came out I decided to try it again.  And once again I really liked it.

Of course the whole attraction of the Genesis set is not the base set but the autograph and memorabilia cards.  Since I was just getting the base set it was relative inexpensive - I picked it up off Yahoo! Japan Auctions for 2000 yen.  With my auction fees from Noppin it was about 3000 yen in all (not including shipping to the US - I had this shipped with the Calbee Series Three set). 

The base set has 108 player cards - 9 per team.  This has been the standard size of the Genesis set since BBM started publishing the set in 2012.  In addition there are 12 team checklist cards which brings the total size of the base set to 120 cards.

The players featured in the set include most of the big stars of NPB - Tetsuto Yamada, Yuki Yanagita, Yoshihiru Maru, Seiya Suzuki, Tomoyuki Sugano, Yusei Kikuchi, Masataka Yoshida, Shogo Akiyama, Takehiro Norimoto and Yoshitomo Tsutsugoh among others.  There don't appear to be any rookies in the set and there's no late signing foreigners in the set this year.  There are two players in hte set who don't appear in either of BBM's flagship sets (1st and 2nd Version) this year - Kazuki Tanaka of the Eagles and Takumi Ohshima of the Giants.

Here's some example cards.  As with last year's set, the cards didn't scan well and look better in person.  The bright gold foil swooshes on the left side of the cards don't look so bright in the scans.






I'll admit that one of the attractions of this year's set was the inclusion of players wearing some of the alternate uniforms this year.  I need to start updating my uniform posts on a regular basis.

Like last year's set the team checklists are extremely boring:

You can see all the cards over at Jambalaya although their scans aren't much better looking than mine. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

2013 Bandai Owners League 02 Box Break

For the third year in a row I've used the Amazon gift cards I got for my birthday to pick an unopened box of Bandai's Owners League cards.  This year I picked up a box of the "02" set from 2013 - my hope was to get a Shohei Ohtani card since this was the only Owners League set that had a card of him in his rookie year.

Bandai issued four Owners League sets a year from 2010 to 2015.  They were labelled "01", "02", "03" and "04".  They were some sort of collectible card game - there's a unique code on the back of each card to be used on-line somehow.   I had picked up boxes of the "04" editions from 2011 and 2013 previously - this was my first box of the "02" edition.

The set has 156 total cards available but the base set is actually only 144 cards.  The additional 12 cards are "Legend" cards which features an OB player from each team.  The base set is split into six separate card types - four of which I believe are short printed.  The four short printed types are "Super Star" (12 total - 1 per team), "Infinity" (12 total - I believe all of these are the 1st round picks from the 2012 draft), "Great" (12 total - 1 per team) and "Star" (24 total - 2 per team).  The remaining cards are split between 36 "Black" (3 per team) and 48 "White" cards (4 per team).  This is very similar to how the other sets I've opened boxes for are organized.

The box contained 20 packs which contained three cards each so there was a total of 60 cards in the box.  As with the other two boxes I opened, the box contained no duplicate cards.  Here's a breakdown by card type of what I got:

Legend - 1
Super Star - 1
Infinity - 2
Great - 2
Star - 5
Black - 21
White - 28

I was disappointed that I did not get the Ohtani card from the Infinity cards but I did get a Tomoyuki Sugano card from the same subset so that's almost as good.  Here's an example card from each subset:

#L001 (Legend)

#133 (Super Star)

#002 (Infinity)

#051 (Great)

#017 (Star)

#091 (Black)

#131 (White)
 One of the attractions for the "04" sets for me has been that since they're issued late in the year they are able to feature players who signed too late to be included in BBM's flagship sets (1st & 2nd Version).  I was surprised to discover that a large percentage of the players in this set were also not in BBM's flagship sets from 2013 - 29 of the 59 non-Legend players in the set did not appear in either the 1st or 2nd Version sets that year.  Probably the most interesting player who's in this set and not BBM's is Wil Ledezma, who appeared in 26 games for the Chiba Lotte Marines that year.  His only other Japanese card that I know about is from BBM's Marines team set from that year.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

More New Stuff

I wanted to quickly mention a couple of sets that got announced in the last week or so...

- For the third year in a row the Hiroshima Toyo Carp have won the Central League pennant (remember that the pennant winner is the team that finishes first, not necessarily the team that wins the Climax Series and represents the league in the Nippon Series) and for the third year in a row BBM is issuing a box set to commemorate it.  The set is named "Triple Champion" and each box contains 37 cards - a 36 card base set plus one "special" card that will either be one of 12 3D cards or an autograph card.  My suspicion is that the autograph cards are extremely rare since the MSRP on the set is only 4000 yen.  The set has been getting smaller each year - the 2016 set ("Realization Of A Great Ambition" or something like that) had a base set of 54 cards and last year's base set ("Successful Achievement") had 45 cards (which means next year's set would be 27 cards, right?).  The base set is split between 30 player (and manager) cards and what I suspect are six "highlight" cards.  The set will be out in mid-October.

- Also for the third year in a row BBM is issuing the "Fusion" set.  This is a pack based set that I suspect will have a base set of 144 cards (since the previous two editions did) but I don't know that for sure.  The set appears to have the traditional four-way split with 24 Leader cards featuring the statistical leaders from the 2018 season, 96 player cards (both active and OB) and an unspecified number of "1st Version Update" and "Ceremonial First Pitch" cards.  The previous editions of the set had 102 player cards along with nine "1st Version Update" and nine "Ceremonial First Pitch" cards so I would expect that there will be six extra cards in the two subsets.  There will be three insert sets.  Two of these are what I guess you would call the standard Fusion insert sets - a 24 card "Great Record" set which shows two active players from each team celebrating a milestone and a 12 card "Legendary Player" set which features an OB player from each team.  The new one this year is another installment of the ubiquitous "Phantom" set - this time I think all 12 cards in the set are of OB players (as opposed to the active players featured in the "Phantom" inserts for the team sets).  There will also be various autograph cards available.  The set will be released in late November.

- SCC has apparently released another 2018 set.  Dan is referring to it as KBO Collection 2 Black.  The set has 115 cards - a 105 card base set plus 10 rare (#'d to 200) "Hidden Hologram" insert cards.  Dan has a friend who opened 20 boxes of the set and didn't get even one of the inserts.  One odd thing about the set is that it only features players from half the teams - Doosan, Kia, SK, NC and Hanwha.  Dan speculates that there might be yet another set with the players for the other five teams.

Monday, October 8, 2018

2008 BBM Collegiate National Team Set - Where Are They Now?

Ten years ago this month BBM released their second collegiate set.  This set featured the Japanese collegiate team that played in the World University Baseball Championship held in Brno in the Czech Republic in July of 2008.  This is the only collegiate set of the eleven BBM issued between 2008 and 2013 that is not for the Tokyo Big Six league.

I wrote about this set when it originally came out - it was a 44 card set that featured 2 cards each of the 22 players on the team.  As you might expect from a team that's essentially a collegiate all star team, most of the players featured in the set went on to play in NPB.  Only two of the players did not go on to NPB - Hiroto Nakamura and Takuya Tsukuura, who were both seniors at Toyo University.  I do not know if they went on to play in the corporate or independent leagues - there's no entries for either player in Japanese Wikipedia.  The set is significant as it is the first appearance of Yuki Saitoh in a BBM set - I still maintain it was the popularity of Saitoh following the 2006 Summer Koshien tournament that led BBM to start doing collegiate sets.

Here's a summary of the careers of the other 20 players.  All of them went directly from college to NPB.  Five of the players are still active in NPB.

Player College Year Drafted Notes
Takahiro Araki Kinki 3 2009 Swallows 3rd Played for Swallows 2010-present
Masanori Fujihara Ritsumeikan 3 2009 Tigers 2nd His cards in the set identify him as "Fujiwara".  Played for Tigers 2010-15
Takeshi Hosoyamada Waseda 4 2008 Baystars 4th Played for Baystars 2009-13, Hawks 2014-15.  Was released by DeNA after 2013 and joined Hawks as ikusei player.  Made the Hawks' 70 man roster at the beginning of the 2015 season.  Played for Toyota after leaving Hawks
Yosuke Inoue Aoyama Gakuin 4 2008 Eagles 4th Played for Eagles 2009-12.  Possibly played for Brownsville of the United Baseball League in 2014.
Masahiro Inui Toyo 2 2010 Fighters 3rd Played for Fighters 2011-16.  Traded to Giants in 2016 in Kenji Yano deal.  Played for Giants 2016-17.  Joined Toyama GRN Thunderbirds of Baseball Challenge League for 2018 season
Takahiro Iwamoto Asia 4 2008 Carp 1st Played for Carp 2009-present
Kyohei Iwasaki Tokai 4 2008 Dragons 3rd Played for Dragons 2009-14.  Traded to Orix for Taiki Mitsumata in 2014.  Played for Orix 2014-17.  Spent 2018 with Hitachi in the corporate leagues
Shinji Iwata Meiji 4 2008 Dragons 5th Played for Dragons 2009-16.  Dragons minor league pitching coach starting in 2018
Keijiro Matsumoto Waseda 4 2008 Baystars 1st Played for Baystars 2009-17.  Joined Nippon Steel Sumikin Kazusa Magic in 2018
Ryoji Nakata Asia 3 2009 Dragons 3rd Played for Dragons 2010-14.  Also played for JR Tokai after being released by Chunichi
Hiroki Nakazawa Kokusai Budo 4 2008 Giants 4th Played for Giants 2009-12.  Traded to Eagles for Suguru Ino in 2012-13 offseason.  Played for Eagles 2013-14.  Made only ichi-gun appearances in 2013
Shota Ohno Toyo 4 2008 Fighters 1st Played for Fighters 2009-17.  Joined Dragons as free agent after 2017.  Member of Samurai Japan for the 2017 WBC. All Star in 2014
Yuki Saitoh Waseda 2 2010 Fighters 1st Played for Fighters 2011-present.  All Star in 2011-12
Kohei Shibata Kokusai Budo 4 2008 Tigers 2nd Played for Tigers 2009-16.  Released after 2016 and signed with Lotte.  Spent 2017 with Marines before retiring
Tsuyoshi Takashima Aoyama Gakuin 4 2008 Buffaloes 4th Played for Buffaloes 2009-11.  Never played for ichi-gun team.  Played 21 games with Lancaster of the Atlantic League in 2013
Hisashi Takeuchi Hosei 3 2009 Carp 3rd Played for Carp 2010-15
Shingo Tatsumi Kinki 4 2008 Hawks 1st Played for Hawks 2009-16
Toshiki Tsuboi Tsukuba 4 2008 Marines 4th Played for Marines 2009-11.  Never played on the ichi-gun team
Hiroki Uemoto Waseda 4 2008 Tigers 3rd Played for Tigers 2009-present
Noriharu Yamazaki Yokohama Shoka 4 2008 Baystars 3rd Played for Baystars 2009-16.  Spent 2018 with Tigers after being released by DeNA after 2017 season

Here's a card of each of these players from the set followed by a card of them with an NPB team.  I've tried to get the most recent card I could of them but in a couple of cases it's not all that recent.  There are three players - Nakazawa, Takashima and Tsuboi - that I don't have any card for other than their 2009 cards from Rookie Edition and 1st Version.  I've also made exceptions for the four players who were also in the 2008 Tokyo Big Six Spring Version set (Hosoyamada, Iwata, Matsumoto and Uemoto) since I've used the most recent card I have for a couple of them.

2008 BBM Collegiate National Team #CN18

2018 BBM 2nd Version #584

2008 BBM Collegiate National Team #CN29

2015 BBM Tigers #T19

2008 BBM Collegiate National Team #CN31

2012 BBM 1st Version #306

2008 BBM Collegiate National Team #CN04

2012 BBM Eagles #E23

2008 BBM Collegiate National Team #CN30

2017 BBM Giants #G26

2008 BBM Collegiate National Team #CN21

2018 BBM Carp "Successful Achievement" #32

2008 BBM Collegiate National Team #CN16

2017 BBM Buffaloes #Bs50

2008 BBM Collegiate National Team #CN23

2016 BBM Dragons #D15

2008 BBM Collegiate National Team #CN42

2014 Front Runner Baystars Rookies & Young Stars #23

2008 BBM Collegiate National Team #CN14

2011 BBM Dragons #D54

2008 BBM Collegiate National Team #CN33

2009 BBM 1st Version #252

2008 BBM Collegiate National Team #CN10

2018 Calbee #136

2008 BBM Collegiate National Team #CN24

2018 Epoch NPB #146

2008 BBM Collegiate National Team #CN19

2018 BBM Farewell #28

2008 BBM Collegiate National Team #CN37

2009 BBM 1st Version #071

2008 BBM Collegiate National Team #CN25

2015 BBM Carp #C25

2008 BBM Collegiate National Team #CN06

2015 BBM Hawks #H11

2008 BBM Collegiate National Team #CN27

2009 BBM 1st Version #142

2008 BBM Collegiate National Team #CN12

2018 BBM 1st Version #202

2008 BBM Collegiate National Team #CN17

2017 BBM Baystars #DB41