Monday, March 20, 2017

My First NPBL Cards

I have been thinking about buying some NPBL (Japanese Baseball League) cards for a while and I finally ordered some last week. I don't really know a lot about Japanese baseball, but I do watch games from time to time on TV and the internet. Anyway, I feel like you learn a lot about the game and players through card collecting so I thought it would be cool to start collecting Japanese cards and following the NPBL players a bit.

For my first purchase, I bought a box of 2015 BBM 25th Anniversary and a box of 2012 BBM Suntory Dream Match 2012 (Team Set). My first impression of BBM cards is that they are a nice quality card. I also like the fact that they include foreign players, unlike the current KBO cards.

The BBM 25th Anniversary cards are a mix of old and players and on the backs of the cards there is a picture of their BBM rookie card and some stats. The cards are very nice looking and I like the design without borders. It makes the photos seem a little bit more like a nice piece of art.

In terms of the box break, there are 20 packs per box with 6 cards per pack for a total of 120 cards per box. The complete set consists of 213 cards (Base + Great Records and Highlights + Old-time Stars + Stars Shining Overseas + Legendary Stars + Rising Stars). There are also auto and jersey cards that are not included in the 213.

Here are some of the cards that I got from the BBM 25th Anniversary break.

Box Front & Back

Tuffy Rhodes 

Alex Ramirez 

Daisuke Matsuzaka 

Matt Murton 

Wladimir Balentien 

Lee Dae-ho 

Shohei Ohtani 

 Great Records & Highlights

Hideki Matsui (Old-Time Stars) 

Norichika Aoki (Stars Shining Overseas) 

Shinnosuke Abe (Legendary Stars)

 Takanori Suzuki (Auto)

Shinya Miyamoto (Jersey)

The BBM 2012 Suntory Dream Match box provided a team set of the players that participated in the game. The sets were limited to 3,000 and the set that I got was numbered 2939/3000. The 2 teams in the set are the Tohoku Japan Heroes and The Premium Malts. The game ended with a score of 7-6 in favor of the Premium Malts. In the set you get 49 player/manager cards (24 from the Premium Malts and 25 from the Japan Heroes). There are also some other inserts that you can get in the sets and this is actually where I ended up with my favorite Japanese card so far. It is an auto of Isao Harimoto, an ethnic Korean that has lived his whole life in Japan, was born in Hiroshima in 1940, survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima (the only survivor to ever play in the NPBL), and he is the all time record holder for hits in the NPBL.

Here is a look at the box and a few of the cards.

Box Front & Back

Isao Harimoto 

Eji Bando

Isao Harimoto (auto)

Monday, March 13, 2017

The Jokbal Edition: Kim Tae-kyun

Kim Tae-kyun (2016-17 Super Star Baseball Cards Black Edition)

This week Kim Tae-kyun of the Hanhwa Eagles gets the nod in the jokbal edition. Kim, coming off of a rocky 2017 WBC after going 1-8 through 3 games, isn't the heftiest player in the KBO but he still enters the mix at 185cm tall and a weight of 110kg. I would love to share a plate of jokbal with him.

Kim began his KBO career in 2001 after being drafted by the Hanhwa Eagles in the 1st round as a 1st baseman. He got his first start in April of that year and went on to play in 88 games while posting a 0.335 average with 20 HRs and 54 RBIs. He also earned rookie of the year honors at the end of the 2001 season.

Throughout his career in professional baseball, Kim has spent 14 seasons in the KBO (all with Hanhwa) and 1 season in the NPBL playing for the Chiba Lotte Marines. In his time in the KBO he has managed to earn many top 10 finishes in stats (48 times through 2015) and he is coming off of a 2016 season where he finished 2nd in average at 0.365 and 2nd in RBI at 136. As for career stats, Kim has established himself as a hitter that is going to get a hit about 1/3rd of the time with a 0.324 average and his bat isn't absent of some pop as he has averaged close to 20 homers per season (276 HR).

Kim's Only Hit During the 2017 WBC

New Additions to the Blog

In an attempt to expand the blog a bit and showcase some of the inserts from my collection, I have added a few more pages over the last few days. I added pages for autos, jersey cards, #'d super star cards.

You can check them out in the sidebar on the right or click the links below.

Jerseys Cards:
Super Stars:

Sunday, March 12, 2017

2017 WBC - My Time at the Gocheok Sky Dome

There were big expectations for Team Korea entering into the 2017 WBC even though they possibly had the weakest line-up that they have ever taken to the WBC. Key MLB and KBO talent was absent from Team Korea after injuries, surgeries, MLB spring training commitments, and off field incidents. After strong finishes in 2006, 2009, and a first round exit in 2013, this was supposed to be the year that they redeemed themselves but that wasn't quite the case. The 2017 WBC saw Team Korea exit in the first round once again.

In the opening game for Team Korea, a 2-1 loss, bats pretty much didn't exist as they only posted 7 hits with 6 of them coming from 3 players. Min Byung-hun, Son Ah-seop, and Seo Geon-chang seemed to be the only players that were swinging with any confidence that day. The pitching wasn't much better with Jang Won-jun walking in the first of the 2 runs scored by Israel. The final and game winning run was given up by Lim Chang-yong. The only bright spot on the mound that night was Oh Seung-hwan, the lone MLB pitcher, as he threw 20 pitches over 1.1 innings and struck out 3 of the 5 batters he faced.

The second game against the Netherlands, a 5-0 loss, was a total disaster with the bats cold again and the pitchers giving up the long ball. In game 2 Korea only managed 6 hits with Min Byung-hun and Son Ah-seop both going 1-3. If you are wondering why I keep mentioning those two, it's because they were the only 2 that batted with any consistency. Now on to the horrible pitching. The started Woo Kyu-min wasted no time giving up a huge 2 run shot to Jurickson Profar in the bottom of the 1st. He gave up another run in the 2nd inning and Won Jong-hyun pretty much extinguished any hope that Korea may have had after giving up a 2 run shot to Rudolf Oduber in the 6th.

The third game finally brought a win and a look at what Korea could have done in the first 2 games if their bats had warmed up. In that game Korea managed to put bats on the ball (18 hits) and runs on the board in an 11-8 victory over Chinese Taipei. In that game 5 players had multiple hits with Kim Jae-ho leading the way by going 3-4. The pitching was rocky once again with the exception of Oh Seung-hwan who threw 23 pitches over 2 innings and getting the win for Korea.

While it wasn't a great series for Korea, I did enjoy getting to go to the stadium to see Team Korea play a couple of games. The only bright side, other than my green wig, of this WBC was Korea getting 1 win in the first round Korea managing to get another shot at the next WBC title without having to go through qualifiers.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The Jokbal Edition: Oh Jae-il

Oh Jae-il (2016-17 Super Star Baseball Card Black Edition)

Being a hefty guy, I love a nice plate of jokbal (pigs' feet) and a glass of soju. With that being said, during a drunken stupor at a Doosan game last season me and a group of friends began to comment how it looked like there were some players that could take down a platter of jokbal after a game. It all started with Oh Jae-il.

During the player songs, we enjoy having a laugh and changing the words to the songs as a sort of parody. Oh Jae-il's entry song is 봄바람 (Spring Breeze) by 이문세 (Lee Mun-sae). The song starts off saying "Like the spring breeze" (봄바람 처럼) in Korean and we decided to sing "I love that jokbal" one night. From that day forward we loved the idea of imagining groups of KBO players sitting around a big table of jokbal and soju after the games.

Oh Jae-il's Entry Song

Now, for a little bit about Oh Jae-il. Oh, born October 29, 1986, is a big guy at 187cm tall and 95kg. In the field he primarily starts at 1st base, but he does switch out between 1st and DH from time to time with Nick Evans who spent time in the MiLB, MLB, and NPB. Oh was drafted by the Hyundai Unicorns in the 2nd 2005 draft in the 3rd round and was the 24th player selected.

In his early years he spent most of his time bouncing between the KBO and the Futures League (KBO minors) and he had no appearances in the KBO between 2006 and 2009. It wasn't until 2012, when he signed with the Doosan Bears, that he settled into a slightly more stable roll in the KBO. He has still spent time bouncing between the Futures League and KBO with the Bears, but he did start to get a lot more playing time in the KBO after joining the Bears

Last season, 2016, was his standout season in the KBO as he went on to break 0.300 for the first time in his KBO career and set career highs in pretty much category. In 2016, Oh managed a 0.316 AVG, 105 games, 27 HR, 92 RBI, 64 BB, and a 0.411 OBP. To me, one of the most impressive things from last season was his ability to work the counts and draw walks. In any given game, he could easily tack on 15 pitches to the starters pitch count.

So in honor of Oh Jae-il (the original jokbal), my friends, and that night, I have decided to start a series of KBO jokbal baseball card posts.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Card of the Week: Min Byung-hun (Week 12)

Min Byung-hun (민병헌) is an outfielder for the back to back champion Doosan Bears. He typically plays right field, but he also spends some time in center during the season. Min was drafted by Doosan in 2006 in the second round and has spent his entire KBO career with Doosan. He also spent 2 seasons playing with the National Police Team in the Futures League from 2011 until 2013.

After returning from the Futures league in 2013, Min had his first KBO season with an average above 0.300. That season he batted 0.319 with 9 HR, 65 RBIs, and an OBP of 0.387. He has continued his over 0.300 average in every season since then with his career high coming in 2014 at 0.345.

In this past season he finished with an average of 0.325 and career highs in HR (16), RBI (87), and OBP (0.396). He was also named the MVP during the 2016 KBO All-star Game. During that game he went 3 for 3 with one walk and 2 HR. He is best known for his near flawless play in the outfield, having only committed 7 errors in 10 KBO seasons, and his arm strength. He is also known as a player that can hit anywhere in the top half of the order. Right now he is playing with Team Korea in the WBC, which will start on March 6, 2017 at the Gocheok Dome in Seoul.

However, his 2018 season with Doosan will be in question since he has already announced he will enter into free agency.

I hope Doosan comes up with the money to keep him since I am a Doosan fan and he is also my favorite KBO player, but if they don't keep him I will still be a Min Byung-hun fan and a Doosan fan.

2014-15 Super Star Baseball Blue Edition - Super Auto (#'d 05/10)

Min Byung-hun Cheer Song (ABBA - Honey Honey)