Saturday, October 1, 2011

2011 BBM All Star Set

BBM released their annual All Star box set about a month ago.  This set contains cards for the players who made the All Star teams this season.  Continuing what they started last year, BBM delayed the set so that they could use pictures from the actual All Star games.  This year's set contains 73 cards - 64 cards for the players, 6 cards for the managers and coaches and three cards for the MVPs of each of the three games (Kazuhiro Hatakeyama, Takeya Nakamura, and Atsunori Ibaba).

In general, I've had mixed feelings towards the All Star sets.  When I was first learning about Japanese baseball, the sets were very useful to me in getting some sense for who the better players were.  But they don't really help me that much anymore (not that I'm not still learning) and (in my opinion) some of the recent sets have featured some of BBM's ugliest card designs.  So I was starting to question whether I wanted to continue to get the set every year.

I have to say that this year's set is pretty nice.  The card design has borderless photos with some reasonable simple decorations containing the player info.  There's also a big "All Star" game logo superimposed on the photo as well.  As they've been doing lately, there's also indicators on the front of the card if the player was elected by the fan vote and/or the player vote and also if the player is making his first All Star roster.  In the case of Nobuhiko Matsuda, all three of these things were true, so he has all three indicators on his card (#A25):

NPB instituted an internet vote (called the "+1 Vote") this season to select the final player for each team's roster.  BBM added an indicator to the cards for the two winners of this vote, Hirokazu Sawamura and Yuki Saitoh (#A35):

I've got the same complaint this year that I had last year - it's nice that the pictures were taken at the All Star games, but there's nothing in them that really makes it obvious that they were.  No shots showing several players in different uniforms or anything like that.  I do like this shot of Hiroyuki Nakajima though (#A27):

NBP held the Hall Of Fame induction ceremony for the 2011 inductees (Hiromitsu Ochiai and Mutsuo Minagawa) before the first All Star game.  Since Ochiai was the Central League manager, he has a card in the set (#A36) and the photo for it was taken at the ceremony:

For the first time in years (since the mid-90's), the set does not contain a card for the top finisher in the fan vote (Norichika Aoki this year).  I don't know if this is somehow related to the fact that there were three games instead of two this year so they needed three cards for the MVPs rather than two (and they were committed to a 73 card set rather than a 74 card set for some reason - in fairness to BBM, with the rosters going to 32 players from 29 last year and 28 the year before, this year's set is the largest All Star set ever).  Anyway, here's the MVP card for Atsunori Inaba (#A73):

As always, you can see all the cards at Jambalaya.

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