Friday, August 12, 2011

2011 BBM 1st Version

I'm getting slower and slower in getting around to writing about sets this summer.  BBM's 1st Version set came out in late April and it's taken me four months to get around to writing about it.  (In my defense - I just got my set a couple weeks ago.)  But just in case everyone doesn't already have the set, I'll still do a quick write-up on it.

At 418 cards, this year's set is much smaller than those of the last couple years.  BBM has also changed things up a little by making the standard insert sets for Best 9 and Golden Gloves be subsets in the regular set instead.

The set contains only 27 (as opposed to 36 last year) "regular" cards for the manager and players for each of the 12 teams.  This year's design features a white border on the bottom of the card.  While most of the cards feature the usual high quality photos that BBM uses, I was surprised by a couple of cards that feature "studio" pictures as opposed to action pictures.  The cards both feature rookies, so I wonder if BBM was simply unable to get a picture of them in camp in time for publication because of the earthquake.  Although the earthquake is no excuse for BBM using yet another shot of Jose Ortiz with both hands above his head as he crosses home plate - their cards of him in both the 1st and 2nd Version sets last year used a similar shot.  Here's some sample cards:





BBM didn't cut back on their usual Leader subset.  This year's version features 34 cards for last year's statistical leaders and award winners.  As always, several players have multiple cards in the subset for multiple honors - Kenta Maeda has five in all.  Here's the one that commemorates his "Pitcher Of The Year" award:

As I mentioned before, the two standard BBM insert sets - Best 9 and Golden Glove - are subsets in this year's set.  The Best 9 subset has 19 cards - 1 player at each position in each league plus a DH in the Pacific League.  The Golden Glove subset has 17 cards - again 1 player at each position in each league, but no First Baseman in the Central League.  What's nice about the Golden Glove subset is the card for Masato Akamatsu shows him making that incredible catch last season.  Here's a sample card from each subset:



There's a 12 card subset featuring young players (1 per team) called "Recommended Hope 2011".  Seven of the players in this subset do not have "regular" cards in the set, including Ryoji Nakata:


For the third year in a row, the Team Checklists feature the mascots for each team.  I'm thinking they could change this theme anytime now, although at least they got a shot of Doala in a retro uniform:


I have to say that I'm kind of disappointed with this set.  While I'm happy that the Best 9 and Golden Glove sets are part of the regular set, I'm not happy that they dropped nine players for each team.  I don't have any sort of comprehensive list of who's missing, but I was surprised there was no Yusei Kikuchi card - especially since he was almost as hyped last year as Yu-Chan is this year.  Not that there's really a choice if you want a big Japanese set - Calbee's got fewer cards and the Konami and Owner's League sets are hard to come by.

UPDATE:  I forgot to include a link to the page on Jabalaya's website that shows scans of all the cards (including  some of the inserts and parallel issues).


Jason Presley said...

That Keiichi Hirano card is brilliant! Once again, BBM's photography puts to shame EVERYTHING produced for the North American baseball card market. Maybe the U.S. just needs to import some Japanese photographers and see how they do with MLB, rather than sticking with the oh-so-conventional photos they use now. It seems the only improvement in baseball card photography since the early 80s is that the photos aren't as dark and grainy as they used to be. The action is still exceptionally plain.

NPB Card Guy said...

I think the Hirano and the Akamatsu Golden Glove cards are the best two shots in the whole set.

I like your idea of importing some Japanese photographers to MLB and seeing what kind of shots you get. BBM's always had great photography and I think Calbee's has improved a lot in the last few years (although I saw that 1988 Rick Lancelotti card on your blog and I agree it's a terrible photo).