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.

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