For those of you who may be relatively new to The Shlabotnik Report… I enjoy designing and creating virtual (or “custom”) baseball cards, and what you’re about to see is my seventh published custom card set. For me it’s a fun outlet for my creative juices, and also kind of therapeutic in an “adult coloring book” sort of way.
As someone who wishes there was an original yet “old school” option among the current cards, I strive to make this set of mine exactly what I’d love to find at my local big box retailer. I often try to pay homage to cards from a particular decade… This time around, the design was largely inspired by sets from the 1960’s… but the inspiration comes from beyond 1960’s Topps baseball.
So I’ve got a virtual wax pack ready to go… I’d like to make a quick disclaimer that I put significantly less effort than usual into the wrapper design this year. I’ll sure you’ll pick up the shattered pieces of your life and move on…
OK, let’s rip this sucker open!
First card… and since I’m calling the shots, it’s naturally of my favorite team the Mets.
Jay Bruce was traded to Cleveland at the deadline last year, but went back to the Mets during the winter. Topps and Topps Heritage both show him with the Indians. It’s a shame he isn’t in the Topps Opening Day checklist, otherwise they could’ve fallen back on a slightly older photo (like I did).
Here’s something which would be a “TSR Exclusive” if these were commercially available – Managers!
I very much miss having cards of managers, so each virtual pack of TSR will include a manager or perhaps a coach… there are a number of current coaches I wouldn’t mind having cards of. By the end of the season I should have featured most, if not all, of the managers.
I was going to say that Dave Roberts hasn’t been on an actual baseball card as a manager yet, but then I discovered two cards which went against this. He had a “Manager Of The Year” card in a 2017 Topps insert set, and was part of a super-short-printed mini “Skippers” insert in 2016 Topps Allen & Ginter; I’m actually pissed off to discover this A&G insert… It’s one thing to have no managers, but to have managers super-short-printed (1:288 odds) just comes across as a sort of insult.
Yesterday I was reading that the Reds signed 3rd baseman Eugenio Suarez to a seven-year contract extension, and that made me feel chagrined because I like to think I know all of the better players in MLB, but if this guy I know little about is being given $66M by the Reds, I’ve obviously missed the boat. I decided that my penance would be to make a custom of him.
Suarez plays third, but he’s a converted shortstop who’s adapted well to the change of position. He’s a triple-threat as a positive clubhouse influence, a good fielder (he lead the NL in fielding percentage) and is improving as a hitter, hitting career highs with 26 home runs and 82 RBI’s in 2017.
Unless you follow uniform changes (like me) or are a Tigers fan (unlike me), you may not know that the Tigers made uniform changes that are controversial in certain circles yet will slip past most fans.
For most people’s lifetimes, the Old English “D” on the Detroit Tigers’ caps was not the same as the Old English “D” on their jerseys. Over the winter the Tigers dropped what had been the “Jersey D”, and what had been the “Cap D” is now the universal “D”. I’m OK with ditching one of the D’s, but I think I would’ve kept the the “Jersey D”.
Oh, and the cap logo is bigger than it has been before; now it’s of a comparable size to other teams’ logos.
Miles Mikolas had some unimpressive stints with the Padres and Rangers earlier this decade, but established himself as a pitcher during three years in Japan. He decided to come back to the States for 2018 and the Cardinals signed him to a two-year contract.
Mikolas got off to a rough start in Spring Training, but has been better of late.
Brad Brach looks to be the Orioles closer this season… at least until Zach Britton is back.
It’s hard to know what to expect from the Orioles this year (although it’s probably not good). I would’ve thought that the way the slow free agent market played out would’ve played right into GM Dan Duquette’s bargain shopping strategy, but that has not been the case. It seems like the Twins got all of the bargains the Orioles should’ve gotten. I wonder if the team should’ve thought “Hey, this player’s unexpectedly in our price range!” but instead went with “Gosh, this player’s really in a bind, we can low-ball him even more than we normally would!”
Finally, we come to this pack’s insert card. Four years ago, I made a throw-away joke on a virtual wrapper of 2014 TSR: “Look for special ‘gum-stained’ parallels!” Well, what had been a throw-away joke became a real-life Heritage parallel and it’s just gotten worse (‘Flip stock’? Really?) so I got to wondering what other sort of dumb-ass parallels and variations could I come up with?
I have one such “Dumb-Ass Variation” here…
Here is a “Missing Player” variation of a well-known Yankees slugger.
There will be more “Dumb-Ass” parallels and variations coming in future packs (although I’m so happy with the way this one turned out that I’m wondering if I should quit while I’m ahead).
So that’s this week’s virtual pack. There will be more subsets and “inserts” introduced as we go along, but I want to pace myself a bit on these. I won’t spell out my plans, but I will say that I was looking through some of my older sets and thinking “Yeah, I need to do that again” as well as “This was great, why didn’t I do this last year?”
If anybody has any requests along the lines of “Can you do these types of cards again?” or “Can you do a better job on the wrapper?” or (to use a random player from the bbref.com homepage) “Can you make a custom of Carlos Ruiz?”… Just leave a comment and I will see what I can do.