Wednesday, March 26, 2014

2014 BBM Eagles 10th Year Memorial

The Tohoku Rakuten Eagles came into existence in 2005 as a replacement for the Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes, who had "merged" with the Orix Blue Wave to become the Orix Buffaloes (they were not really merged - Orix assimilated the Buffaloes into their collective).  That means that 2014 is the tenth season for the Eagles and BBM has produced another anniversary set for the occasion.

As you might expect, the Eagles are the last NPB team to get an Anniversary set from BBM - this is probably the first anniversary worth noting for them.  I'm a little amused that they got a 90 card, pack based set when Orix only got a 55 card box set for their 20th Anniversary in 2009 (BBM has released a larger set for their 25th Anniversary).

The first 74 cards in the set are devoted to OB Eagles.  As usual, "OB" in this case means both retired players as well as former players still active in either NPB or somewhere else.  Some of the players included are Takeshi Yamasaki, Akinori Iwamura, Hisashi Iwakuma, Norihiro Nakamura, Jose Fernanadez, Kazuo Fukumori and Fernando Seguignol.  One notable inclusion is Keiichi Yabu, who briefly played for the Eagles in 2010 (basically 11 games between August 10 and September 4) after playing in North America for five years after leaving Hanshin following the 2004 season.  This appears to be the only BBM card depicting Yabu with the Eagles (the only other Japanese card showing him with the Eagles was a 2010 Owners League card).  Off hand there's no one obvious missing although there are some questionable inclusions - Hironori Fujisaki for one, who never appeared in a BBM flagship set after his rookie year of 1999 (with Kintetsu) and only made 26 appearances with the ichi-gun Eagles over a three year stretch with an ERA of 6.14.  Katsunori Nomura, the poster boy for nepotism in NPB (he is Katsuya Nomura's step-son) is another questionable inclusion.

Here's a couple of the OB player cards:



The next three cards in the set are devoted to the three mascots of the Eagles - Clutch, Clutchena and Mr Carrasco:

There is a four card subset containing the four managers the team has had - Yasushi Tao, Katsuya Nomura, Marty Brown and Senichi Hoshino.  I find it interesting that after not appearing in any OB sets for years, Nomura has now appeared in three sets in the past year.  I wonder why he's doing them now.

The final subset is devoted to the 2013 team.  It's a "Best 9" so there's only nine cards - Ginji (Akaminai), Kazuya Fujita, Ryo Hijirisawa, Andruw Jones, Kazuo Matsui, Casey McGehee, Takero Okajima, Motohiro Shima and Masahiro Tanaka.  This is probably the biggest quibble I have with the set - it's short shrifting the 2013 team by leaving off Takeshi Saito, Takehiro Norimoto, Manabu Mima, Darrell Rasner, Kenny Ray and any number of other key players from last year's championship team.

Which leads to my other bone to pick with this set - there's no historic highlights.  I get the feeling that BBM had already laid this set out before the team won the Series last year as there doesn't appear to be any mention of it (although since I still can't read Japanese, I don't know for sure the backs don't say something about it).  Seriously if BBM could come up with "highlights" for the last 20 years of the Baystars, they could have come up with some for the Eagles (2013 championship, 2009 playoff run).  As I've said before, I feel like BBM is really trying to ignore the fact that the Eagles won the Nippon Series last year - no Nippon Series set, not "Championship" Leader card in 1st Version and no mention in the 10th Anniversary set.  Perhaps they had a lot of money riding on the Giants?

As usual, Ryan beat me to posting about the set and you can see all the cards at Jambalaya.

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