Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Another International Box Break (BBM Dragons Dash)

I alluded to a trade between my friend Anco and I a while ago. In this trade we decided to send each other sealed boxes again. I sent him a sealed hobby box of 2016 Topps Archives, and I got a sealed box of 2016 BBM Dragons Dash.

Er, pardon me, Dragons Dash Autographed Edition.

Dragons Dash is BBM (Baseball Magazine)'s set for the 2016 Chunichi Dragons. This autographed edition seems to be even more special in that it has a guaranteed autograph (at least one per box) in addition to special designs on the base cards where they're covered in a blue tinted facsimile signature.

Much like the Hiroki Kuroda Homecoming set I traded with Anco-san for last time, the entire base set is already inside and the hit is at the very bottom.

Obviously what I'm aiming for with this break is an Shinnosuke Ogasawara autograph. He's the Dragons' number one prospect and (as of this post) this is the only product where you can find his certified autograph.

I was originally going to go through all 27 base cards but I think I'll cut it short this time. Instead I'll just show the key highlights (i.e. my favorite players, the notable Dragons and the hits). The other cards will probably be showcased at later times for different purposes (I didn't scan them all for nothing ;)).

Card number one is the very player I'm after, Shinnosuke Ogasawara. So already I consider this break a success. I have one more card of his than I did yesterday.

Take a moment here to look at the blue tinted design on the card. The design on the right is obviously the scales of a Dragon. I like it. It looks cool.

This is what the backs look like. The very top of the card features a profile picture and personal information about the guy. The space where it says "ROOKIE" is switched with 2015 (& career total) stats or the word "NEWCOMER" (if they're a foreigner who just came to Japan) on other cards. And at the bottom is a brief description of Ogasawara.

This particular bio basically says that Ogasawara is a rookie who was tested in the Koshien (the National High School Baseball Competition over in Japan which is basically their Superbowl in terms of cultural significance). The lower half of his body is very balanced, his precise left arm allows for him to throw a 150 kilometer per hour fastball. And he's got the strong "no fear" mentality.

Card number two is Shinji Tajima.

The rest of these guys are going to test my knowledge of the Dragons. Because, surprise surprise, I don't really follow the big league Dragons. According to the card Tajima led the Dragons pitchers in games pitched as a middle reliever. Based on what I could find out about him he's a power reliever who can throw 146-to-153 kilometer-per-hour split fastball. In addition he also a slurve and a shuuto in his arsenal. He was selected to the All Star Game back in his rookie year of 2012 and has apparently been picked to go again this year. Congrats on the Dragons' version of Dellin Betances.

Let's move from the NPB's Betances to the NPB's Rivera. Hitoki Iwase is the veteran who even casual baseball fans in Japan know. I assume. I'm just basing that off of how I know him and I wasn't much of a baseball buff in Japan.

The 41 year old Iwase has been a professional lefty reliever/closer for the Dragons since being drafted by them in 1998. Now I mentioned that he's like the Mariano Rivera of the NPB. He's spent his entire 18 year career with the Chunichi Dragons and he currently holds the all time NPB saves record with 402 career saves. Iwase missed the 2015 season with a left elbow injury but he decided to give his career as an active player another go for 2016. Iwase's only appeared in six games this season but hopefully he can keep going and become one of the oldest active players in Japan.

Yudai Ohno is the Dragons' ace (or so I've heard). His straight fastball is said to reach 151 kilometers an hour and is also said to throw a 100 kilometer per hour curveball, forkball, slider, and two seamer. Slowly but surely he's becoming one of the Dragons' dependable starters as he led the league in innings pitched last year. He's currently sidelined with an injury this year but he could make a return soon (based on what I've heard from his hardcore fans). In any case he's a guy who'll have opposing hitters go "Oh no" agin real soon.
BTW, try saying his full name out loud. Oh the vast number of puns he'd generate if he were in the US.

According to a Japanese contact of mine, Takuya Kinoshita here was one of the top five Dragons prospects coming into the 2016 season. According to them Kinoshita is the complete package. A strong and sturdy frame suitable for catching. Offensively he's known for his line drive power which spray the ball all over the outfield (although his line drives apparently go in the gap between center and right field the most). His arm is a cannon and it's been reported that he can throw the ball to second base in 1.8 seconds. With great accuracy too. He'll be a fun one to watch.

Here is one of the two foreigners in this set, Anderson Hernandez.
Hernandez was originally signed out of the D.R. back in 2001 by the Tigers. The biggest asset to his game was speed. But unfortunately he wasn't exactly the type who could steal first. Hernandez went to the Mets in early 2005 and later made his debut after doing fairly well in the minors. The middle infielder then went on to be a journeyman playing for the Nationals, Mets (again), Cleveland, Astros and Pirates. He's been with the Dragons since 2014 and he's doing quite poorly this year. At least he's got a fun jersey number though with the double-zero.

Here's another notable player for the Dragons franchise, Masahiro Araki.
The 38 year old Araki has been with the Chunichi Dragons since being drafted by them as a first rounder back in 1995 out of high school. In the early going Araki was more of a pinch runner type but after he learned how to switch hit he found himself playing a lot more. Especially after he found his power stroke he found his playing time increased nearly tenfold at second. Although he's never hit more than five home runs in a single season, he's amassed over 360 steals and has constantly been a threat at the top of the Dragons order. He's a five time all star.

Here we have the silver parallel (one per box), of Shuhei Takahashi.

These appear to be hand numbered to 60 (limited!) and the fact that I got this means that I need the base version (grr!).

Shuhei Takahashi is a 22 year old shortstop/third baseman for the Dragons. He's been with the Dragons since being drafted by them as a first rounder back in 2011. He's more of a utility guy who hasn't really hit much in the opportunities he's gotten. But he does have raw line drive power, if he can turn that into in-game power that'd be a huge help. Some tweaks and preparations for breaking pitches should help.

Here's the probably last notable name for the Dragons, Masahiko Morino.
Morino was drafted by the Chunichi Dragons in the second round of the 1996 NPB Player Draft. Early on his career he was the infielder who played everywhere (mostly shortstop) but as the years have gone on he's found less playing time at demanding positions like third and short and more time at second and first. At this point Morino is a full-time first baseman and he missed a big chunk of 2015 due to a thumb injury, but he's still got the power. At the very least he's above average offensively this year (despite some contact issues) but considering how he's a 37 year old coming back from an injury, it's interesting to see how much longer his career can last (hopefully a lot longer, he needs to keep driving Araki home).

The last card in the set is former big leaguer Dayan Viciedo.
Viciedo's having a great year in Nagoya this year as the Dragons' everyday cleanup hitter. He leads the team with a 0.229 ISOP (that's a boatload of power), stat courtesy of ProYakyu NullData OkiBaSho. One of the more notable moments (IMO) involving Viciedo is how he forgot his uniform one time and he had to wear the jersey number 103 during a game. Love it.

Alright, now we've reached the end. What's our guaranteed autograph? Is it Ogasawara?

No, it's Tetsuya Tani.

It's numbered 14/30 (super limited!). Tani has been basically a utility guy used all around the infield, although his primary position is at second base.

Well it's not Ogasawara but I think it's rather cool nonetheless. This is the very first BBM autograph I've ever acquired and I find it grand. I'll just have to look for Ogasawara autographs the next time I go to Japan.

Anyway big thanks to Anco-san for this fun break.

Big thanks to ProYakyu NullData OkiBaSho (プロ野球ヌルデータ置き場) for supplying me the latest sabermetrics for the NPB guys too. Seriously, check it out, it's great! Although the site is in Japanese so it might take a good second to navigate it.

I'll close out this post with these two cool rookie cards that Anco-san threw in with the box for me. My Ogasawara PC went up three-fold in one package!

No wait, I'll close my post out with this traditional foldable Japanese hand fan (called a "sensu") Anco-san sent me. Very classy. I tried to return the favor with a picture of a girl in a bikini and a squishy monster pen (not so classy).

Anyway this was my latest box break and international trade.


As always thank you for stopping by and take care :).


  1. This looks like a cool product! I like the base design a lot.

  2. Fun break! Thanks for sharing.
    Off topic: I've always liked the little dragon logo that you can see on the last Ogasawara card you posted. Fierce, yet cuddly looking!

  3. Those auto cards are sharp looking! Very cool.

    1. Well there was only one autograph but yeah, these cards look pretty good.