Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Terry Collins resigns

More catching up with old news...

Terry Collins resigned last week as manager of the Orix Buffaloes. There's some interesting discussion about this over here at The consensus appears to be that Orix is run by idiots and it's no surprise that Collins quit.

Here's Collins' card from this years BBM 1st Version set (#397):

Ohishi Daijiro has been named his replacement. I'd post a card of him, but I can find no indication that he's ever played professional baseball, let alone had a card.


In somewhat old news now, former Yomiuri Giants pitcher Geremi "GG" Gonzalez was tragically killed by being struck by lightning last Sunday. I'm not sure, but I think this is his only Japanese card, from last year's BBM 2nd Version set (#726):

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Card Of The Week May 25

For no reason other than I like the card, here's the 2002 BBM 2nd Version card (#767) of Takashi Kita of the Marines:

Kita was the Marines' first pick in the 2002 draft. According to his player page at, he only played 50 or so games for the big league club in 2002 and 2003, then apparently played for the ni-gun Marines until 2006. Don't know what happened to him, but he certainly looks happy in this picture.

2008 Calbee Series 2

Calbee's web site now has the checklist up for the 2008 Series 2 set. There doesn't appear to be a release date associated with it but I would guess it would be out soon.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Seibu Lions 30th Anniversary set

BBM's website is now announcing a new set commemorating the 30th anniversary of the Seibu corporation acquiring the Lions. It's a pack-based set (as opposed to a box set) with cards for both current and former Lions players. The website shows a Kazuo Matsui autographed insert card. I don't know if that means that he or other former Lions now playing in the US (like Daisuke Matsuzaka) are in the set or not. I've always been a sucker for these sets (sometimes more sucker than I'd like), so I'll have to see if I can at least get a couple packs, if not the entire set.

I think this clears up the mystery (well, for me anyway) of the Lions box set I mentioned a few months back. When I originally looked at the babel-fish translation, I'd noticed it said something about the "Hakata Lions". What I didn't know then was that Hakata was a ward in Fukuoka where (I expect but can't confirm) Heiwadai Stadium used to be. Heiwadai Stadium was the home of the Lions before Seibu bought them and moved them to their current home ("the Seibu Dump") in Tokorozawa. So this box set commemorates it being 30 years since they moved. (OK, so maybe I'm displaying a keen grasp of the obvious, but I'm happy I figured it out, even if it took me a couple months...)

Here's a card showing Heiwada Stadium from the 1992 BBM set. After the Lions left, the stadium didn't have a permament resident until the Hawks moved from Osaka to Fukuoka after the 1988 season (when Daiei bought them from Nankai). It was home to the Hawks until the Fukuoka Dome opened in 1993. I'm not sure if it's still standing or not.

Update: I forgot to mention a couple things. The first is that the set should be out in late May, according to the web site. The other thing is that this is actually the second BBM set that commemorates Seibu buying the Lions. The first was a box set that came out in 1999 to celebrate the 20th Anniversary.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

70th Anniversary set

I've been sitting on this rant for a couple years now but I've never had a place to vent it until now, so for anyone who thinks I can only say nice things about BBM...

In 2004, Nippon Professional Baseball celebrated it's 70th Anniversary. To commemorate this, BBM put out a 48 card box set. Since I love historic sets, I picked it up, expecting it to be fun. It absolutely sucked.

I noticed the first problem with the set the moment I opened up the box. The card design was very similar to the design of the 2002 BBM All Time Heroes set. As I looked through the cards I realized that not only was the design similar, it was the same photos for almost every card! The only two cards that were different were those for Hiromitsu Ochiai and Tsuyoshi Shinjyo.

Obviously, the card on the left is from the All Time Heroes set, the one on the right is from the 70th Anniversary set. The backs only differ by copyright line and card number.

The second problem became quickly apparent when I organized the set and got a good look at who was in it. The set contained four cards for each of the 12 teams - two current players and two retired (OB) players. If the current manager of the team had played for the team, he would be one of the OB players. This means that Tsuneo Horiuchi (Giants), Akinobu Okada (Tigers) and Daisuke Yamashita (Baystars) got cards at the expense of other, more deserving players (although I can't knock the inclusion of Koji Yamamoto for the Carp, Tsutomu Wakamatsu for the Swallows or Ochiai for the Dragons). (This is actually why Ochiai has a "new" card - his All Time Heroes card was with the Orions.) No active player who switched teams since 2002 was included other than Shinjyo - so the Tigers get represented by Norihiro Akahoshi and Akihiro Yano, but not Tomoaki Kanemoto.

So the next issue isn't who's in the set, but who's not. Masaichi Kaneda, winningest pitcher in NPB history, is not in the set. Tetsuharu Kawakami is not in the set. Eiji Sawamura is not in the set (in fact, I don't think anyone who played before the '50's is in the set. But there's one omission that just trumps all the rest. Remember that Tsuneo Horiuchi had to be one of the Giants OB cards because he was their manager in 2004. It should be no surprise that Shigeo Nagashima is the other OB Giant. So who does that leave out?


There's no Sadaharu Oh card in the set.

I will repeat that.

There's no Sadaharu Oh card in the set.

In a set that celebrates 70 years of professional baseball in Japan, BBM could not find room for the guy who hit the most home runs in the world. The guy who is arguably the most famous Japanese player in history (OK, at least outside of Japan, where it's Nagashima).

Now, BBM has done some designs that I haven't liked, and their card decollation has almost always sucked, but this is the first time where I felt that they were actively trying to rip me off.

So as a public service, I'm including scans of the two "new" cards so if you already have the All Time Heroes set (which is a great set), you can skip this one.

Actually, even if you don't have the All Time Greats set, skip this one. It has to be the biggest waste of money I've ever spent on Japanese cards.

Card Of The Week May 18

Sadaharu Oh turns 68 this Tuesday. Here's his 1961 Marusan "Tobacco-style" Menko card:

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Yu Darvish

There has been much buzz recently about the possibility of Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters pitcher Yu Darvish being posted at some point in the near future. This past week, there was an article about Darvish written by Jim Caple on along with something on the "Outside The Lines" TV show. I don't really know how likely it is that the Fighters would post him - under the current system, he wouldn't become a free agent for another 5-6 years and it's not like the Fighters aren't contenders. On the other hand, the Fighters would make a boatload of money. Of course, Darvish ultimately is the one to make the decision - the Fighters can't post him unless he wants to go.

There's been some discussion about this by people who have much more insight than I do in a couple threads over at - here and more recently here. While I would tend to defer to their arguments, I also remember at least one member of that community pooh-poohing a report in Baseball America in 2003 that Kenji Johjima was considering leaving Japan as a free agent following the 2005 season in this thread.

So who knows? Since I've been seeing cards show up on Ebay, I thought as a public service I'd make an attempt at listing some of Darvish's more prominent cards. Luckily, since he wasn't drafted until the fall of 2004 (when he was 18 - I'm not trying to suggest he was drafted late), there's not a lot of cards to talk about. His BBM rookie card is #116 in the 2005 BBM 1st Version set - I assume he has a card in the 2005 BBM Rookie Edition set but I don't have it. He's in both the 1st Version and 2nd Version sets in 2006 and 2007 as well as the 2008 1st Version set (well, we can assume he'll be in the 2008 2nd Version set when it comes out). He also has cards in the 2006 and 2007 BBM Nippon Series sets as well as the 2007 BBM All Stars set. I think his first Calbee card is in the 2006 set. (This is not a definitive list, but just some of the highlights.)

Here's some cards:

From top to bottom, that's 2005 BBM 1st Version #116, 2006 BBM Nippon Series #S02, 2007 BBM All Stars #A07, 2007 BBM 2nd Version #503 and 2008 BBM 1st Version #461.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Card Of The Week May 11

Bobby Valentine turns 58 on Tuesday.

2006 BBM All Stars #A01

Monday, May 5, 2008

Card Of The Week May 4

Julio Franco announced his retirement the other day. Franco played two years in Japan for the Chiba Lotte Marines - in 1995 for Bobby Valentine's first stint as manager of the Marines and again in 1998. He had cards in the 1995 BBM set (numbers 469 and 628), the 1998 BBM set (# 498), the 1998 Diamond Heroes set (# 229), the 1998 Calbee regular (# 109), Starcards (# S-26), CD card (# CD-18) and East Special (# E-16) sets as well as the 1998 Takara Marines set (he does not appear in either the 1995 Calbee or Takara Marines sets). He also appears in both the 1995 and 1998 BBM All Star sets. Here's his 1998 BBM All Star card (#A38):

Thursday, May 1, 2008

2008 BBM 1st Version

I got my 2008 BBM 1st Version set in the mail the other day and it's beautiful. For the second straight year, BBM has produced a set of cards with gorgeous full bleed photos and a very subdued design. The set contains 535 regular cards that breaks down the following way:

There are 36 "regular" cards for each team, including the manager. Here's some examples (Hiromitsu Ochiai (#37), Toshimasa Konta (#242), Hiroyasu Tanaka (#201) and Kazumi Saitoh (#304)):

There are 12 team checklist cards. BBM's team checklist cards have had some entertaining pictures on them in recent years and this years are no exception. Here's someone from the Fighters (Suguru Ichikawa maybe?) playing umpire (#530) and a couple of Eagles (Satoshi Nagai and Jose Fernandez) doing...something. Perhaps they're attempting to soar like Eagles? Anyway, it's card #533:

There are 31 cards for statistical leaders, including a card for the Chunichi Dragons, winner's of last years Japan Series. Several players have multiple cards: Yu Darvish, for example, has cards for winning both the MVP and Sawamura awards and for leading the Pacific League in ERA. Here's Alex Ramirez's card for leading the Central League in hits (#445):

There are 24 "2007 Impressive Record" cards. These commemorate significant milestones achieved by players in 2007, although since each team is has two cards in the subset, some of the records and milestones are more impressive than others. I'm not sure what some of these cards commemorate, but I know that there's one for Tuffy Rhodes hitting his 400th home run as well as this one for Yukio Tanaka's 2000th hit (#476):

There's a 24 card subset called "2008 Rookie Of The Year Candidate" (with a little subtitle saying "I compete with rivals for 2008 Rookie Of The Year"). Like the Impressive Record subset, there are two players for each team in the subset, which is a bit silly since some teams don't really have one serious candidate, let alone two. Sho Nakata seemed like a good candidate until he got sent to ni-gun (minor leagues). Here's his card (#501):

Finally, there's a 12 card "Good-bye, Heroes!" subset that commemorates retiring players. (And the 12 cards doesn't mean there's one for each team - there are multiple Swallows, Marines and Eagles represented but no Baystars, Giants or Tigers.) Here's Shinji Sasaoka of the Carp's card (#513):

The hand collated set that I bought doesn't contain any insert cards. It looks like the insert cards feature the Best 9 and Golden Glove winners, which is pretty much standard operating procedure for BBM.