Archives for : NPB

BBM Cards of the Week: Yomiuri Giants Baseball Card Set – 2015 Giant Step


With every start of the season, BBM releases baseball card sets showcasing a team.

While in Japan, for the first game of the season, I saw the release of the “BBM Yomiuri Giants Baseball Card Set 2015 – GIANT STEP” which costs about Y2,500 and only 3,000 sets created.

The baseball card set features a total of 27 cards + 1 special card (there are a total of 9 special cards) and created in collaboration with Baseball Magazine Sha and to my satisfaction, the card that I received was one of my favorite players in the NPB, shortstop Sakamoto Hayato (#299 of #333).

The cards themselves are cool.  Infield backgrounds removed and visual effect in the background.  Fortunately, the backgrounds were removed with care, so no chopped out uniforms or anything problematic.

The rear end of the card features the players statistics and information on each player.

It’s important to remember that this was a late March 2015 release, so you are not going to find Mikolas or Donoue cards.

But these BBM sets are for the fans, one can expect a more expansive set to come out this month with the more expensive BBM 2015 Yomiuri Giants Baseball Set.

NPB CARD OF THE WEEK: Clarence Jones – BBM Hawks 75th Anniversary


While looking at my collection of BBM cards for the Hawks 75th Anniversary, I saw a card for infielder Clarence Jones.

While you do see foreign players show up on other sets, you don’t see that many African American players from the past showing up on Japanese anniversary sets, unless they were special players.

As I did my research for Clarence Jones, I read about how he was a right fielder and first baseman for the Chicago Cubs (1966-1968).

By 1970, he left to Japan to play for the Nankai Hawks.

But it’s his 1974 year with the Kintetsu Buffaloes in which he made his name known as he hit 38 home runs and won the home run title in the NPB, repeated that feat. in 1975 with 39 home runs and led the Pacific League again in 1976 with 36 home runs.

And by the end of his career in Japan, he amassed 250 home runs in eight seasons.  Helped a Mexican League team win a pennant and also became a booking agent for the late comedian, Redd Foxx.  While Jones didn’t stay in the entertainment industry too long, his son Richard would eventually pursue a career as an actor.

But where Clarence Jones’ name shows up is his relationship with former MLB player David Justice.  Clarence Jones became a roving batting instructor thanks to Hank Aaron, who was the head of the Braves farm team at the time.  By 1985, he was promoted to the big leagues by Braves manager Eddie Haas.

While Clarence Jones may not have had a long career in the MLB, he gave it his all in Japan and became one of the most successful foreign players in the NPB.

Did Lauren Mikolas sign with Inagawa Motoko Office?


As Yomiuri Giants Miles Mikolas continues bring the team wins, his wife Lauren (27) has become popular in Japan for her support for her husband and people can’t get enough of seeing her support her husband during games.

Quite often, you don’t see many NPB players wives, especially foreign wives receive so much press, but Lauren is receiving a lot of media hype because of her fashion, but also showing her support for her husband (with a few kisses – which you don’t see in Japan all that much).


It was announced on Japanese media that Lauren Mikolas had signed an exclusive contract with Inagawa Motoko office and will make an appearance in an NTV program.

Lauren has since tweeted the following:

Screen Shot 2015-08-21 at 11.30.18 PM

[NOTE: Yomiuri Giants Pitcher and Lauren’s husband Miles Mikolas was recently interviewed and said that Lauren is working freelance and are accepting offers and not locked into any agency].

Special shinkansen promotion brings 1,300 fans from Tokyo to Mazda Stadium in Hiroshima


On May 16th, a special promotion was setup for a Y5,000 one way ticket to Hiroshima via Shinkansen for Hiroshima Carp fans.

The Hiroshima Carp has one of the largest fanbase and one of the most profitable teams (when it comes to ticket sales) and sure enough, many fans took advantage of the special deal leaving Yokohama DeNA Baystars fans with only so many seats.

Here is a news report of the many (many of them are women) who took advantage of the special promotion:

Still a tight race in the Central and Pacific League

Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 6.42.46 AMImage courtesy of Yakyu Baka

While the Giants won their last two, so has the Yokohama DeNA Baystars, who still have a 2 game lead. Still, the Central League is close in standings….while in the Pacific…the dominant Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters have dropped to third, Seibu still holds the lead but Softbank is now at second. But similar to the Central, Pacific League is also a tight race.

2015 NPB Season Standings – April 28, 2015


While it’s still to early in the season to make any bold predictions, we do know that so far, it’s a tight race in the Central League.

Currently, as of April 28th, the Yomiuri Giants and the Yakult Swallows are tied in first place (both are 15-11).

The DeNA Yokohama Baystars have climbed their way to third, one game behind at (14-12), while Chunichi has dropped from first to fourth place and are at (14-14).  Meanwhile, Hanshin are fifth and surprisingly, the Hiroshima Carp are at 8-15 in last place.

In the Pacific League, the Nippon Ham Fighters have a small lead at first place and have the best standing in the NPB for 205 with a 16-8 record.  Seibu Lions are not far behind at 12-10, Softbank at 12-11 and Rakuten Eagles at 11-11, the Chiba Lotte Marines at 24-11 and in last place are the Orix Buffaloes at 26-8.

Standings are ever changing these past few weeks as we have seen Chunichi who had a comfortable lead weeks ago, now down to fourth, while the Ham Fighters have remained strong.

Again, it’s early in the season but it will be interesting to see how these standings change by next week.

Photo: Sugano Tomoyuki of the Yomiuri Giants  – Photo by Dennis A. Amith, J!-ENT

Dennis A. Amith reviews Nakahata Bay Star Zu 3 Nenkan No Kiseki Yokohama DeNA Bay Star Zu Koshiki Documentary Dugout No Muko (DVD Review)


I love the fact that Yokohama DeNA Baystars allowed the cameras to have access in areas where coaches and players usually never let them venture into. And I’m not sure if they or any team will ever allow it again. But this “Nakahata Bay Star Zu 3 Nenkan No Kiseki Yokohama DeNA Bay Star Zu Koshiki Documentary Dugout No Muko” mook/DVD release is a rarity and if you are a Yokohama DeNA Baystars fan or fan of Japanese baseball, then I easily recommend checking it out, especially now that you can purchase it for under $15.

TITLE: Nakahata Bay Star Zu 3 Nenkan No Kiseki Yokohama DeNA Bay Star Zu Koshiki Documentary Dugout No Muko

DURATION: 1:17:50 (not including special features)

DVD INFORMATION: Color, Dolby Digital, 16:9 LB

COMPANY: Kodansha

RELEASED DATE: November 28, 2014


『プロ野球の新たな魅力が凝縮されたドキュメンタリー「ダグアウトの向こう」で振り返る、中畑ベイスターズ3年間の軌跡』知 られざる野球の一面や魅力を伝えるために、横浜DeNAベイスターズが制作したドキュメンタリー『ダグアウトの向こう』。これまでメディアが足を踏み入れ ることのできなかった“禁断の地”ロッカー内や試合中のベンチ裏、移動バスの中などにカメラが密着したレアな映像から紡ぎだされた本作品は、選手たちが見 せるグラウンドでの華やかに活躍する姿とともに、その裏に隠されたダグアウトの向こう側にある喜びや苦しみのすべてを映し出した珠玉のドキュメンタリーで す。
本書は、『ダグアウトの向こう2014-今を生きるということ。』の完成記念として、『ダグアウトの向こう』を特別編集した映像とともに、中 畑ベイスターズの3年間の軌跡を振り返る、DVD付きマガジンです。DVDには、2012年、2013年に製作された2年分の「ダグアウトの向こう」特別 編集版に加え、中畑監督に2014年シーズンを語っていただいた独占インタビュー、さらにはそのインタビューに合わせた試合映像と密着映像で2014中畑 ベイスターズを振り返ります。その他、セルDVD未収録の映像も特典映像としてDVDに収録。

For Japanese baseball fans, Nakahata Kiyoshi will be remembered for his time as a player for the Yomiuri Giants (1976-1989).

He was also visible as a sports commentator and even dabbled in politics.

But Nakahata would return to baseball to help kick off the new chapter of the Yokohama Baystars as the company was purchased by the mobile portal site DeNA Co., Ltd.

Now called Yokohama DeNA Baystars, sporting a new logo, new mascots and new energy, would Nakahata’s Baystars do well in the Central League rankings?

To help usher in the new era of the Yokohama DeNA Baystars, an unprecedented documentary was created to showcase Nakahata’s team from 2012 through 2014.  Cameras were allowed into the locker room and dug out and fans will get to see what transpired behind-the-scenes with each win or loss.

And now the documentary is released in a mook/DVD titled “Nakahata Bay Star Zu 3 Nenkan No Kiseki Yokohama DeNA Bay Star Zu Koshiki Documentary Dugout No Muko” and you can see what happens beyond the dugout.

The mook comes with a case with twelve pages of content which includes an interview and shining moments from the three years with the Baystars.  But the majority of the content can be seen on the near 80-minute DVD.

The documentary kicks off with an interview with manager Nakahata Kiyoshi as he discusses challenges especially during a game against the Yomiuri Giants (note: the documentary shifts from the interview, to footage from the game and the players going into the dugout or to the locker room).

From Hirata Shingo giving up 10 runs in the eighth inning against the Yomiuri Giants when they had a five point lead, discussing the importance of pitching and the success of Yamaguchi Shun and Mikami Tomoya.  How Miura Daisuke would win the MVP and his playing ethic.

After discussing the importance of pitching, Hirata goes into the importance of batting and getting runs.  He discusses the signing of infielder Yulieski Gurriel and the power of Tsutsugo Yoshitomo.  But also discusses the future of the Baystars with bringing in people from the farm team after the team has suffered key injuries.

The second part of the documentary features the team dynamics and preparing big games against Hiroshima Carp’s Maeda Kenta and key games against the Hanshin Tigers and Yakult Swallows.  But also how the team had to deal with key injuries, especially team captain Ishikawa Takehiro.  But also discussing the challenges the team has faced and not being successful (as the Baystars would be in sixth place in 2012, fifth place in 2013 and 2014 in the Central League).

The third part of the documentary would focus on improvements that had to be made within the organization and feature the team going against the Yomiuri Giants and Hanshin Tigers and finding success with their pitcher Ota Atori and how the team was starting to do well in the standings for a short while.  And how they would fine solid batting with Sekine Taiki and would end with the retirement of Koike Masaaki and his wonderful final-at-bat moment.

And despite the many ups and downs, the result remained the same and to show how the Baystars would once again end their 2014 year in 5th place.

With the release of “Nakahata Bay Star Zu 3 Nenkan No Kiseki Yokohama DeNA Bay Star Zu Koshiki Documentary Dugout No Muko”, there is no doubt that the documentary tries to capture the behind-the-scenes situations of a baseball club, what happens in the dugout and the locker room.

While in the United States, watching this type of footage for various sports is common, in Japan, it’s quite rare.

So, I was drawn to watching this documentary because of its unprecedented access but most of all, knowing that the Baystars has struggled since 2002 (with the exception of better standings in 2005 and 2007).

What I found interesting is how upbeat manager Nakahata Kiyoshi was at the beginning of the “Beyond the Dugout” experiment.  So much footage was on him, interviews was with him but you start to realize how much of that footage started to decrease and the focus became more on the players, what goes behind-the-scenes with key injuries, celebration of wins, agony of multiple loss and not being in sync.

Of course, having three difficult years to cover, to show positive sides of the team, we get to see more of the good than the bad, which is good.  You get to see players when they were hot, making home runs, catching difficult hits outfield and also seeing the older members shining, especially Miura becoming MVP and Koike’s retirement and final home run.

But for some unknown reason, the documentary is cut off at the end.  No closing footage but to show that the Baystars had another fifth place standing in 2014.  The narrator was cutoff and was surprised that it ended abruptly (I suspect they wanted to save more of the footage for the official “Dugout no Mukou” Blu-ray and DVD release).

Fortunately, you do get three special features showcasing extended sequences for the 2012, 2013 and 2014 season.  But also an eight-minute special feature about Shirasaki Hiroyuki and the player behind-the-scenes.

DVD quality for the most part picture quality is good (as one can expect on DVD), dialogue is clear via Dolby Digital with no major hissing.  But with that being said, on December 13th, a Blu-ray version of the documentary featuring longer scenes was released and can be purchased through the Yokohama DeNA Bay Stars official store at the stadium or on their website.


Overall, aside from the abrupt end of the documentary and the fact that you had more talk towards the beginning of the documentary and more action and behind-the-scenes for the rest of the documentary, the fact is you are watching something that fans never get to see and that is what goes on behind-the-scenes for a Nippon Professional Baseball team.

The access the cameras were given was unprecedented but you realize that despite the Yokohama DeNA Baystars having struggles in those three years in the standing, it was challenging, frustrating but they tried to do the best with the players that they had, key injuries and more.

But I love the fact that Yokohama DeNA Baystars allowed the cameras to have access in areas where coaches and players usually never let them venture into.  And I’m not sure if they or any team will ever allow it again.

It’s important to emphasize that this is the Y1,700 Mook/DVD version that I am reviewing.  The Blu-ray release which costs around Y15,600 includes players audio commentary and even more footage.

But this “Nakahata Bay Star Zu 3 Nenkan No Kiseki Yokohama DeNA Bay Star Zu Koshiki Documentary Dugout No Muko” mook/DVD release is a rarity and if you are a Yokohama DeNA Baystars fan or fan of Japanese baseball, then I easily recommend checking it out, especially now that you can purchase it for under $15.