Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Sports Card Magazine #119

Sports Card Magazine #119 was published in Japan yesterday and by way of Amazon Japan and DHL I had my copy today.  Here's the summary:

Color Section:
- Three page overview of the cards available for gymnast Kohei Uchimura
- Ads for Genesis (4 pages), Masterpiece (2 pages), Classic (1 page), the Takahiro Arai/Hiroki Kuroda "200 Wins & 2000 Hits", the Carp Autographed Edition, the Fighters Authentic Edition (Climax) and the Rooke Edition Premium box sets  (1/2 page each), Japan Rugby Top League set (2 pages) and Original Smile (Giants cheerleader/dance squad) box set (1 page)

Monthly "Bests":
Best Card Of This Month:  2016 BBM 2nd Version Louis Okoye & Shun Takayama Undershirt & Jersey card
Best Item Of This Month:  2016 BBM 2nd Version box

Hot Card Lists
1. 2016 BBM 1st Version Shun Takayama (#238)
2. 2016 BBM 1st Version Eigoro Mogi (#158)
3. 1993 BBM Ichiro Suzuki (#239)
4. 2016 BBM 1st Version Shota Imanaga (#318)
5. 2016 BBM 1st Version Louis Okoye (#156)
6. 2016 BBM 1st Version Masataka Yoshida (#126)
7. 2016 BBM 1st Version Taiga Hirosawa (#075)
8. 2016 BBM 1st Version Shinnosuke Shigenobu (#210)
9. 2013 BBM 1st Version Shohei Ohtani (#183)
10. 2016 BBM 1st Version Shinnosuke Ogasawara (#292)

Autograph & Memorabilia:
1. 2016 BBM Go Higher Shohei Ohtani Autograph card
2. 2016 BBM Classic Shohei Ohtani Autograph card
3. 2016 BBM Tigers Fumihito Haraguchi/Shintaro Fujinami Autograph card
4. 2016 BBM Tigers Autographed Edition Shun Takayama Autograph card
5. 2016 BBM 2nd Version Louis Okoye Autograph card
6. 2016 BBM 2nd Version Shinnosuke Ogasawara Autograph card
7. 2016 J-League Sei Muroya Autograph card
8. 2016 BBM 2nd Version Ami Imamura "Ceremonial First Pitch" Autograph card
9. 2016 BBM Classic Keishi Suzuki "Buy Back" Autograph card (2000 BBM 20th Century Best 9)
10. 2016 BBM Sumo Chiyonofuji Mitsugu Autograph card

"Newsprint" Section:
- Baseball players in the "Masterpiece" set (2 pages)
- Athletes from other sports in the "Masterpiece" set (2 pages)
- Photo shoot from "Original Smile" including all 19 of the yukata shots (2 pages)
- Box Break Contest - four collectors each open a box of 2016 BBM 2nd Version and are rated on what they pulled (2 pages)
- Card Shop Navi - Match Up in Nagoya
- New Card List contains checklists for the sets advertised in the color section
- "Vintage" Checklist and Price Guide is for J-League cards along with recent cards for all sports
SCM Original Cards:

Masterpiece promo (or bonus - not quite sure) cards for Shigeo Nagashima, Tomoaki Kanemoto, Tetsuto Yamada, Kazu (Soccer), Toshihiko Seko (Track & Field) and Hidehiko Yoshida (Judo)

SCM #382

SCM #383


- BBM is celebrating their 70th anniversary as a magazine publishing house this year by publishing a multi-sport set called Masterpiece.  I haven't seen anything about it on BBM's website yet but the details are up at Niki (and of course this issue of SCM).  The base set has 128 cards - 36 OB baseball players, 36 active baseball players, 55 athletes from other sports and a checklist.  There's four 18 card insert sets (Glorious 3D, Stay Gold, Super Star and Sparkling Hero) and a wide variety of autograph cards (which of course was the reason for the set).  It'll be out in late October.

- The two page ad for Masterpiece includes a half page of something that could be a related set called "Fusion" but I'm not sure what it is exactly.  There's no checklist for it in the New Card List.  At the moment I'm much more interested in it than in Masterpiece but that's just me...

- Normally if the SCM card is a promo card it has the number from the set it's a promo for on its back. None of these do which makes me wonder if they're some sort of bonus card instead.  I do know that all three baseball players are in the set (Nagashima is card #022, Kanemoto is #027 and Yamada is #057).

- I was surprised that a sumo card from early in the year made the "Autograph & Memorabilia" Hot Card list but I then discovered that Chiyonofuji Mitsugu had passed away at the end of July

Monday, September 26, 2016

Card Of The Week September 25

The Yokohama DeNA Baystars clinched a playoff spot last week,  This is the first time that the Baystars have made the Climax Series since the Central League adopted the playoff format in 2007.  The last time the Baystars played beyond the end of the regular season was 1998 when they defeated the Seibu Lions in the Nippon Series.  This was only the second time that the franchise had appeared in the Series - the only other time was 1960 when they were known as the Taiyo Whales and defeated the Daimai Orions.

Here's a couple cards commemorating the 1998 Championship:

1998 BBM Nippon Series #S62

1999 BBM #36

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Recent Box Sets

I mentioned the other day that I had gotten a package from Ryan the other day.  Among the goodies were four recent box sets - well, I say "recent' but most of them were actually from late 2015 - early 2016.  I thought I'd talk briefly about all four of them.

2015 Epoch Swallows Victory Memorial #09

2015 Epoch Swallows Victory Memorial #20
First up is the 2015 Epoch "Swallows Victory Memorial" set from last fall.  This set commemorates the Swallows 2015 Central League pennant.  The base set has 30 cards - 28 cards of the Swallows players such as Tetsuto Yamada, Wladimir Balentien, Tony Barnette, Shingo Kawabata, Kazuhiro Hatakeyama and Yasuhiro Ogawa, 1 card for manager Mitsuru Manaka and 1 card showing the team's celebration after clinching on October 2 last year.  I don't think much of the card design - it's a little busier than I like - but I thought the actual photos Epoch used were quite good.  You can see all the cards at Jambalaya.

2016 BBM Spirit Of Legends #36

2016 BBM Spirit Of Legends #01
In December BBM put out a box set called something like "Spirit Of Legends" that exclusively featured pitchers who had won the Sawamura award.  This sounds like a good idea (and is the kind of theme that Epoch has featured in several of the box sets they've done with the OB Club) but I'm not real impressed with the execution of it.  As is pretty much typical of a BBM OB set, most of the 36 players featured in the set played in the 1970's or later.  Actually pretty much every Sawamura Award winner since 1970 is in the set - the only ones missing are Kazumi Takahashi, Shigeru Kobayashi and Hideo Nomo.  But there's only a handful of the earlier ones - Shigeru Sugshita, Masaaki Koyama, Gene Bacque and Hiroshi Gondoh, leaving out guys like Yutaka Enatsu and Masaichi Kaneda.  Most of the OB players in the set have appeared in other recent BBM sets.  A number of the players included are currently playing in the US - Yu Darvish, Hisashi Iwakuma, Kenta Maeda, Masahiro Tanaka and Koji Uehara.  I guess I just feel the set's a bit uninspired - the design is kind of blah and many of the photos are grainy.  You can judge them yourself by taking a look at the cards over at Jambalaya.

2016 BBM Farewell #08

2016 BBM Farewell #02
BBM issued their annual set for retiring ballplayers in January.  I call this set "Farewell" but the translation of the official title is something along the lines of "Regret at Parting Ball Players".  This year's edition has 38 cards featuring 38 different players (as opposed to previous years which featured multiple cards for certain players).  Everyone you'd expect to be in the set is there - Masahiro Yamamoto, Yoshinobu Takahashi, Motonobu Tanishige, Michihiro Ogasawara, Kazuhiro Wada, Fumiya Nishiguchi, Satoshi Nakajima, Hirokazu Ibata.  There's not really a lot to say about this set - the photos all seem to be from last year.  Many of them are from the retirement ceremonies for the players.  Notably missing is Nobuhiko Matsunaka because he didn't officially announce his retirement until February - a month after this set was released.  I assume he will be in this winter's version of the set.  Jambalaya (as usual) has all the cards from the set on-line.

2016 BBM Go Higher #3

2016 BBM Go Higher #5

2016 BBM Go Higher #9

2016 BBM Go Higher #16
The final box set that Ryan picked up for me is the "Go Higher" set that BBM released in June.  This set features Shohei Ohtani of the Fighters and Shintaro Fujinami of the Tigers.  The 18 cards in the set include seven of each player and another four showing both of them.  Each card commemorates various events in the player's careers - their draft in the fall of 2012, each player's debut, first post season appearance, etc.  I really like the card showing Ohtani batting against Fujinami (card # 5 from above) but the whole set is pretty nice.  Once again you can see all the cards in the set at Jambalaya.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Card Of The Week September 18

The Shikoku Island League was the first independent minor league in Japan.  It started up in 2005.  While there's been sets issued for each team over the years (in a similar manner to how US minor league teams issue team sets), BBM has never issued much in the way of cards for the league.  From what I've been able to tell, BBM has only issued three cards for the league - all of which were inserts in Sports Card Magazine.  I just got a package from Ryan yesterday and among the goodies in it were two of these three cards (and I had gotten the other one in a trade last years).

The first two cards were issued in SCM #53 which was published in September of 2005.  The cards are of Masatochi Kakuno of the Tokushima Indigo Socks and Masaki Hiyashi of the Ehime Mandarin Pirates:

SCM #56

SCM #57
I don't know anything about Kakuno but Hayashi led the league in batting that season with a .322 average.  Neither player appears to have ever played in NPB (there was another Masaki Hayashi who played for the Carp from 2001 to 2011).

It's possible that these two cards are promos for a BBM Shikoku Island league set but I've never seen or heard of one.  One the other hand, I had never seen or heard of BBM's cards for the GPBL until Ryan found them last year so maybe there is one.

The other card is from 2009 and features Hideki Irabu.  Irabu has last played professionally with the Hanshin Tigers in 2004.  He appeared in 10 games in 2009 with the Long Beach Armada of the Golden Baseball League before returning to Japan and signing with the Kochi Fighting Dogs and appearing in two games late in the season (I'm not sure when exactly he was with Kochi - Baseball Reference says his last appearance with Long Beach was August 5 and I think Japanese Wikipedia says he pitched with Kochi in September).  This was his final professional appearance.  The card was issued in SCM #77 which I believe was published in late September of 2009 (which is why I'm not convinced that he only pitched for Kochi in September).  The card is in the style of the 2009 BBM 2nd Version set (well, the 1st Version Update subset so it's really the style of the 1st Version set) and has a number of 810 which makes it what I call a "bonus" card for the 2009 BBM sets:

SCM #130

Seung Yeop Lee

Last week Seung Yeop Lee, currently with the Samsung Lions of the KBO and formerly with the Marines, Giants and Buffaloes in NPB, hit his 600th career home run between the two leagues:

Lee joined the Samsung Lions in 1995 and became a regular almost immediately at the age of 18.  He had his breakout season in 1997 where he hit 32 home runs and had 114 RBIS, leading the league in both categories for the first time.  He stayed with Samsung through the 2003 season, leading the league in home runes four more times and RBIs three more times.  He set a KBO (and at the time Asian baseball) record with 56 home runs in 2003.  Following that season, he signed with the Chiba Lotte Marines and headed for Japan.

1999 Teleca #80

1999 Teleca Premium #52

1999 Teleca Premium "Sniper" #S-3

2000 Teleca "Super Game"
Lee spent his first two season in Japan with the Marines.  He had modest numbers his first season but hit 30 home runs with 82 RBIs in his second season while helping Lotte win the Nippon Series.  He hit .545 with 3 home runs and 6 RBIs in the Marines' four game sweep of the Tigers and received one of the three "Outstanding Player" awards for the Series.

2004 BBM 1st Version #113

2005 Konami Baseball Heroes "White Edition" #B05W159

2005 BBM Nippon Series #18
He left the Marines and signed with the Yomiuri Giants for the 2006 season.  His first season with the Giants was his best season in Japan - a .323 batting average with 41 home runs and 108 RBIs.  He followed that up with another 30+ home run season in 2007 but a number of circumstances (injuries, the 2008 Olympics and I think the foreign player limit on the active roster) started taking playing time away from him after that, although he did appear for the Giants in both the 2008 and 2009 Nippon Series.  The Giants released him following the 2010 season.

2006 BBM 1st Version #382

2008 Calbee "Opening Game" #OP-02
He signed with the Orix Buffaloes for the 2011 season, hitting only .201 with 15 home runs and 51 RBIs.  After the season he returned to Samsung and the KBO.

2011 BBM 1st Version #123
Lee has pretty much returned to form in the past five seasons with Samsung.  He's hit over .300 with at least 20 home runs each season except for 2013.  He is the all time KBO home run leader with 441 (as of last Wednesday).

2014 Super Star Baseball Season Two #SBC02-004-AS

2015 Super Star Baseball Season Two Sticker
Lee has played for the Korean national team in two Olympics -2004 and 2008 and also played for them in the 2006 World Baseball Classic.  He hit five home runs in the 2006 WBC but none of them was a big as the two run shot he hit against Japan in the last game of Round 1 in the Tokyo Dome.

2006 Upper Deck WBC Moments #CM-27
For more cards of Lee, check out Dan Skrezyna's page for Lee on his KBO Cards blog.

H/T KBO Reddit for the video.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Card Of The Week September 11

The Carp clinched first place in the Central League yesterday.  This is the first time that the Carp will finish the season in first since 1991.  I thought I'd share a couple cards that show the celebration from that year - one is from the 2008 BBM Hiroshima Memorial set that commemorated the closing of Hiroshima Municipal Stadium and the other is from the 2014 Epoch Carp The First Victory 40th Anniversary set that celebrated the 40th Anniversary of the Carp's first ever pennant in 1975:

2008 BBM Hiroshima Memorial #09

2014 Epoch Carp The First Victory 40th Anniversary #54
That's manager Koji Yamamoto getting tossed in the air on the Epoch card.  If the Carp go to the Nippon Series this season it'll be the first time they've ever done it without Yamamoto in uniform - he was a player when they went to the Series the first five times and the manager the sixth.

I want to point something out about the Carp's 1st place drought but I need to clarify something first.  When the Central League added playoffs in 2007 NPB decided that the pennant winner for each league would be the team that finished first, regardless of whether or not that team won the playoffs.  So if you look at a list of Central League pennant winners, you'll see that the Giants are listed as the pennant winners in 2007 and 2014, despite the fact that the Dragons and Tigers won the playoffs in those two seasons and represented the league in the Nippon Series.  So by virtue of this rule, the Carp are the winners of the 2016 Central League pennant.  Their 25 year pennant drought was the longest current drought in the NPB (the new longest pennant drought is owned by Orix who last won in 1996 - I'm not counting Kintetsu's pennant in 2001 since Orix is not honoring Kintetsu's retired numbers).

There's a key thing to remember in NPB's definition of pennant winner - they started it in 2007 when the Central League adopted playoffs.  But the Pacific League had started doing playoffs three years earlier in 2004.  For those three years, the team that won the playoffs was considered the pennant winner (and just for completeness so were the teams that won the split-season playoffs the Pacific League had from 1973 to 1982).  In 2005 the Hawks finished first but lost to the second place Marines in the playoffs.  Thus the Marines were the 2005 Pacific League pennant winners.  In 2010, the Hawks again finished first and again lost to the Marines in the playoffs.  But because the definition of "pennant winner" had changed in 2007, the Hawks were the 2010 Pacific League pennant winners.

I say all this because I want to point out that while the Carp had the longest current pennant-less streak in NPB until yesterday, they did not have the longest current streak of non-first place finishes.  That streak belongs to the Chiba Lotte Marines, who last finished first in 1974 (when they were the Lotte Orions).  And actually that really shouldn't count - as I mentioned above the Pacific League had a split season from 1973 to 1982 and Lotte only finished first in the second half of the season before defeating Hankyu in the playoffs - although to be fair they did have the best overall record in the league that season.  (They also finished first in the second half of the 1977 season and first halves in 1980 and 1981 but lost in the playoffs all three times.)  The last time Lotte finished first in a full season was 1970.

Quick Report From Lancaster

I tweeted something about this earlier but I wanted to put it up here as well - I was at the Lancaster Barnstormers game this afternoon and I got a card autographed by former Baystars and Eagles pitcher Hitoshi Fujie who is on the Barnstormer's roster.  He was nice enough to pose for a picture as well:

2009 BBM 1st Version #429