Sunday, July 21, 2013

Card Of The Week July 21

If you watched the Home Run Derby before Friday's All Star game in Hokkaido Dome, you were probably a bit underwhelmed by the results.  The total number of home runs hit by the contestants was five, three by the Derby winner Tony Blanco.  What I found interesting about the Derby was that Blanco's pitcher was Akihito Fujii, a catcher with the Tigers who was also on the All Star roster.  I have no idea why Blanco had Fujii pitch to him or what the connection between the two of them is, but obviously it worked.  To make a comparison, imagine if Buster Posey had been pitching to Yoenis Cespedes last Monday in New York.  Yeah, it's really that weird.

Fujii's been kicking around for a while (he was drafted by the then Kintetsu Buffaloes back in the fall of 1998) but I think this is the first time he's made an All Star team.  Here's his rookie card from the 1999 BBM set (#490):


If you want to see a home run that was much more impressive than what was hit Friday in the Derby, check out what Craig Brazell did last Wednesday.

8 comments:

Derek McKim said...

5 HRs in entire derby? geez! Is there much less talent in Japan now that alot of players are now playing USA? I have started thinking that talent level in Japan is comparable to old Negro Leagues post-integration. NPB will be around longer than Negro leagues because its only real pro ball in Japan vs Negro leagues in 1950s here. thoughts? btw. do you collect MLB cards of Japanese players?

Fuji said...

Wow... that Brazell HR was crazy!

NPB Card Guy said...

@Derek McKim - I think you're reading a little much into this. The ball doesn't carry well in Hokkaido Dome and the format of the derby is very different than in the US. There were 23 home runs hit at Jingu in the Derby on Saturday and 11 hit today at Iwaki Green Stadium. And there aren't "a lot" of players playing in the US, at least not position players. There's currently only five former NBP position players playing in the US and none of them really were consistent power hitters in Japan.

I really don't think your comparison of NPB to the post-integration Negro leagues is apt either - while there are a handful of star players who have come to the US in the last 10 years or so, there are still plenty more who are happy staying in Japan. There are others who can speak to this better than me, but while NPB has it's issues, I don't think the talent drain to the majors is their largest problem. At least not yet. Now, if the major leagues start luring amateur talent away from NPB, then I would start to really worry about NPB's future.

NPB Card Guy said...

@Fuji - In this week's Japan Baseball Weekly podcast, John Gibson and Jim Allen mentioned that Brazell almost became the second player to ever hit a ball completely out of Chiba Marine Stadium. Which makes me wonder who is the only guy to ever do it?

NPB Card Guy said...

@Derek McKim - Almost forgot - no, I don't really collect MLB cards of Japanese players. I've been known to pick up the oddball minor league set with a Japanese player in it however.

Derek McKim said...

Ok. I know very little about NPB, mainly know of the players who have played in USA and Sadaharu Oh, of course. It was just a thought from afar. I do hope NBP does very well and not wanting any demise of. I was mostly curious in your card collecting. I am lifelong collector and started looking at Japanese cards. I own one: 1991 BBM Hideo Nomo rc

NPB Card Guy said...

Sorry if my response sounded a little defensive - I seem to spend a lot of time explaining Japanese baseball to people and clearing up misconceptions. Not so much on the blog but in "real life". As I said, NPB has issues - mostly due to a lack of understanding of marketing by most teams and the domination by the Giants in all things - but I personally think the talent drain to the US is not one of their bigger ones.

NPB Card Guy said...

I asked John Gibson and Jim Allen about this and they addressed it on the latest edition of the Japan Baseball Weekly podcast. They said pretty much the same thing I did (but articulated it much better) - there's plenty of stars who've stayed in Japan and as long as MLB isn't poaching the amateur talent, there isn't much of a problem.