13 June 2012

The Buffaloes Bombers

Fresh off a sold-out engagement in Japan...
 the Dynamic Duo...
the Masters of the Long Ball...

For one night only!

Norihiro Nakamura and Tuffy Rhodes!

      Around two months ago, I snagged this pair off Yahoo Japan (via KuboTEN) for a mere ¥100 + loads of shipping, mainly due to the lack of an original box, and also because of Nakamura's missing bat.  Flaws aside, though, I'm very pleased with it, and it completes my set of Tuffy Rhodes bobble heads.  The other two were both from the Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes period, one exactly like the above, only alone, and the other in the black shirt sans helmet (I'll get photos posted eventually.  I'm surprised there was never another Tuffy bobble head issued after he re-joined the Orix Buffaloes following his one year "retirement" in 2006.

     While I've posted a lot about Tuffy, I really haven't said much about Nakamura, who was effectively Tuffy's fellow Bash Brother on the Buffaloes for several years.  In 2001, these two were like Mantle & Maris or [insert any other successful home run duo].  That season, Tuffy tied the NPB single season record for home runs wiht 51, and Nakamura was right behind him with 46.

      I love Tuffy's batting stance and the way Nakamura ejects his bat after he hits the ball.  While Tuffy was effectively forced into retirement after the 2009 season, despite still being very productive, Nakamura is still playing, though a shell of his former self.  He started to break down in 2003, missed a good chunk of the next three seasons, and hasn't topped 20 home runs since 2008.  All that said, he's still got a spot on the Yokohama DeNA BayStars roster this season.  So far, in 52 games, he's managed four home runs, though he is batting .271, so he's not exactly a liability at the plate.

    During the mass influx of Japanese stars into the Major Leagues in the early 2000s, Nakamura was signed by the Mets, but due to some poor communications issues between Nakamura, the Mets (or MLB) and his former team, he ended up backing out on the deal and staying in Japan for another two seasons.  In 2005, he was signed to a minor league deal with the Dodgers and given a shot to win the starting 3rd base spot for the team, but despite having a good spring, he was unable to produce, hitting only .128 in 17 games, and spent the rest of his time at the Dodgers' AAA affiliate in Las Vegas where he managed 22 HR while batting .249 over the remaining 101 games of the season.  Dissatisfied with his experiences in the U.S., he returned to Japan in 2006 and resigned with the now Orix Buffaloes.

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