Friday, February 2, 2018

2017 BBM Fusion

I'm finally getting around to writing about this set - it was issued a little over two months ago in late November but I didn't get my set until about a week ago.  There's a bunch of reasons for that - most of which have to do with the new Time Travel set so I'll wait until I do the writeup on that set before I go into the reasons.  Or not - my tribulations getting cards are probably not something anyone else cares about.

Anyway, onto the set.  This is the second year that BBM has issued a set called Fusion and this set is very similar to the one they issued last year.  The set has 144 cards which break down into four distinct groups - a nine card "1st Version Update" subset, a nine card "Ceremonial First Pitch" subset, a 24 card "Leader" subset and 102 "regular" player cards.

The nine "1st Version Update" cards are numbered 601 to 609 so they pick up right where this year's 2nd Version set left off.  Four of the players in the subset are late signing foreign players (Wily Mo Pena, Roel Santos, Chris Marrero and Carlos Rivero), three of the players were traded during the season (Luis Mendoza, Toshiaki Kurobane and Keisuke Tanimoto) and the other two were foreign ikusei players who were promoted to the ichi-gun team during the season (Xavier Batista and Livan Moinelo).


The only difference I can see between these cards and the 1st Version cards (beyond the set name on the front) is that the backs of the cards include the player's stats for the 2017 season.  Here's the back of Chris Marrero's card where you can see that he played in the majors for the San Francisco Giants this season as well as for Orix:

Back of #605
The "Ceremonial First Pitch" cards are numbered FP14 to FP23 which is a continuation of the card numbering for the "Ceremonial First Pitch" cards in the 2nd Version set.  As usual these cards feature Japanese celebrities throwing out the first pitch at a game.  A couple of these celebrities have been on these cards before - Ayame Goriki and Ami Inamura (who's been on about a dozen of these cards now).  The other seven are actress Airi Eino, actress/singer Aya Hirano, gravure idol Ren Ishikawa, actress/singer (and former AKB48 member) Tomomi Itano, Momoiro Clover Z leader Kanako Momota, actor Tatsuya Nakadai, and Super Girls singer Kome Watanabe.


The "Leader" subset features the 2017 statistical leaders for 12 categories for each league - Batting Average, Home Runs, RBIs, Hits, OBP, Stolen Bases, ERA, Winning Percentage, Wins, Saves, Hold Points and Strikeouts.  If a player led the league in multiple categories then he has multiple cards - for example Alfredo Despainge led the Pacific League in both Home Runs and RBIs and therefore has two cards in the subset.  If there's a tie for a category then there's multiple players on one card.  For example, Marcos Mateo and Kentaro Kuwahara of the Tigers tied for the Central League Hold Points title with 46 and therefore share the card.  This subset is numbered as part of the Fusion set itself (#103-126) (which is the same range of numbers that this subset had last year).


I don't know if Despainge is goose-stepping, being a one-man chorus line or warming up for a field goal attempt in that photo.

The remaining 102 cards in the set are the "regular" player cards.  These are split evenly between active and OB players.  Like last year's set, each of the active players (and manager) featured had some achievement that the card is commemorating and then there's a corresponding OB player who had accomplished some sort of related achievement.  For example, on April 7th of last season Takuya Katoh of the Carp nearly pitched a no-hitter in his first start.  This is featured on card #007.  Card #008 features OB player Shinichi Kondoh who threw a no-hitter in his first start in 1987.

#007 & #008
Honestly I'm not sure of the achievements on most of the cards - obviously not being able to read Japanese is a bit of a drawback here (and I'll point out that most of the obvious milestone achievements like 2000 hits were featured on the "Great Records" insert set).  But the cards themselves are attractive (even if the design is very similar to last year's set) and BBM uses a lot more interesting photos in this set then in their other sets.  The active players featured include pretty much all the big names in NPB last season - Shohei Ohtani, Tetsuto Yamada, Tomoyuki Sugano, Yusei Kikuchi, Dennis Sarfate, Yuki Yanagita, Yoshiharu Maru and Seiya Suzuki.  Three of the players in the "1st Version Update" subset also have regular player cards - Pena, Batista and Marrero.  Noticeably absent from the set however are Yoshitomo Tsutsugoh and Shogo Akiyama (who is in the Leader subset however).



The OB players include Shigeo Nagashima, Katsuya Nomura, Isao Harimoto, Keishi Suzuki, Hiromitshi Kadota, Alex Ramirez, Koji Yamamoto, Gene Bacque, Masahiro Yamamoto, Atsuya Furuta and Tsutomu Wakamatsu.  It looks like BBM did a lot of searching for photos that haven't been used a lot of times before on cards.  There's also a couple players who haven't appeared on very many OB sets previously - Shinya Sasaki (only two other cards I know of in the last 15 years) and Takashi Suzuki (no other OB cards that I know of).




Because this is practically a flagship set, BBM did "secret versions" of nine of the regular player cards in the set - four active players and five OB players.  The active players were Shohei Ohtani, Hayato Sakamoto, Randy Messenger and Chris Marrero.  The OB players were Isao Harimoto, Koji Yamamoto, Katsuya Nomura, Keishi Suzuki and Gene Bacque.  The only card I have so far is Ohtani's:

Regular and Secret Versions of #097
I like this set a lot but I think I'd like it a little better with fewer OB cards and a larger "1st Version Update" subset.  You can check out all the cards over at Jambalaya and Ryan did a post on the set back when it came out.

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