1988 Topps-style World Baseball Classic customs, Part 3

This seems like last week’s news, and it is, but I wanted to do one last post to wrap up my World Baseball Classic custom set.  (Previous posts:  Part 1 and Part 2)

I intended to do a series of highlights, but it ended up being a bit hit or miss. There was no clear-cut 1988 Topps design I could use for highlights, so I created my own using elements of the 1988 design.

During the round-robin phase, Puerto Rican pitchers threw a perfect game against Israel in a game cut short short by the 10-run mercy rule… the phrase “Perfect Mercy” popped in my head and I ran with it.

Japan walked-off against Mexico in one of the semi-finals;  I meant to do a “postseason” card for each of the semis, but I admit I lost interest when I struggled to find images which would work within my design (and I wasn’t making another design)

Finally, of course, there’s the card for Japan winning the whole shebang.

Shohei Ohtani was named the MVP of the tournament. Here are his tournament stats:
.435, 4 2B, 1 HR, 8 RBI, 9 R, 1 SB
2-0, 1.86 ERA, 3 G, 9.2 IP, 2 BB, 11 SO

There was also an All-Tournament Team, which I didn’t know about until the last minute – there has been one for each WBC, I just didn’t realize it. A big part of the reason that this post is happening today instead of a more timely date is because I decided to make sure that everyone on that team should get a custom… so to wrap up this post and the custom set, here is the 2023 World Baseball Classic All-Tournament Team:

C – Salvador Perez, Venezuela
.429, 4 2B, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 5 R

1B – Yu Chang, Chinese Taipei

.500, 2 2B, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 5 R
Chang was on the Red Sox’ opening day roster.

2B – Javier Báez, Puerto Rico
.368, 3 2B, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 4 R

3B – Yoan Moncada, Cuba
.435, 4 2B, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 4 R

SS – Trea Turner, United States
.391, 5 HR, 11 RBI, 6 R
Turner was a unanimous choice

OF – Randy Arozarena, Mexico
.607, 6 2B, 1 HR, 9 RBI, 8 R
Arozarena was a unanimous choice

OF – Mike Trout, United States
.296, 2 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 7 RBI, 4 R

OF – Masataka Yoshida, Japan
.409, 1 2B, 2 HR, 13 RBI, 5 R
Yoshida is a “rookie” with the Red Sox this season.

DH / P – Shohei Ohtani, Japan

P – Miguel Romero, Cuba
2-0, 2.08 ERA, 5 G, 8.2 IP, 1 BB, 13 SO
Romero is currently on the roster of the Oakland A’s Triple-A team in Las Vegas

P – Patrick Sandoval, Mexico
1-0, 1.23 ERA, 2 GS, 7.1 IP, 3 BB, 8 SO

1988 Topps-style World Baseball Classic customs, Part 1

The last time there was a World Baseball Classic I had a lot of fun making customs in the style of 1980 Topps.

I enjoyed it enough that I was planning to do the same for the 2023 Classic, and my original plans were to make a series of customs using an updated version of 1981 Donruss.

You’ll notice the subject line says nothing about Donruss.

I went through a couple of variations on that design and didn’t quite get where I wanted to be… That was about the time that hype was building around 2023 Topps and that sets’ 1988-style inserts. I always enjoy trying to out-Topps Topps, plus I already had a template from some similar customs a few years ago (a template I ended up completely reworking, but that’s another story).

I started out with an image of Yu Darvish from their cherry-blossom-laden training camp, and we were off to the races.

In skimming rosters I found that Cardinals infielder Tommy Edman is on Team Korea – his mother is from South Korea so he qualifies.

Xander Bogaerts suited up for The Netherlands, but… [Spoiler Alert]

[Spoiler Alert continued] …he’ll be returning to Padres spring training because The Kingdom did not advance out of pool play.

Major Leaguers are allowed to play for Cuba for the first time in WBC play, so we get to see Luis Robert take the field for them.

And I’ll wrap up with another Japanese player; Shohei Ohtani is making a showcase of the WBC. I plan on making a second custom which shows him batting.

The time change has got me a little out-of-it today so I don’t have much more to say other than you’ll be seeing more of these customs.

Coming Attractions… A 2023 Shmeritage Project

So as many of you know, 2023 Topps Heritage is using the 1974 Topps design… or we presume it is, Topps has been surprisingly tight-lipped about the product so far.

1974 Topps was my first-ever set, so I have ideas of what 2023 Heritage should be – but I know most of my concepts won’t make it to shelves (on the most basic level, a return of managers to baseball cards).  My goal for the season is to make a series of customs to fill in those gaps

…But first I need my own version of spring training games to work out the kinks.  I started off with my version of 1974 Traded, and that helped me sort out some issues which are too mundane to write about.

This time around I’ve got what’s essentially an insert (?) set based on differences we can expect to see in baseball in 2023.

First off, the rule that everybody is talking about, the pitch clock.  This is not without controversy, and a number of fans hate the idea of bringing any sort of clock into baseball.

Thing is, I believe that there used to be a sort of “unwritten rule” clock in baseball that’s been lost over the years. You didn’t screw around too much because if you did then someone would take it out on you, even if it’s by sending a message with a few inside fastballs. Players no longer live by those rules, no longer enforce those rules, so an external explicit rule is needed. I’ve seen the pitch clock enough in minor league games that I am an advocate for it. If everybody stopped futzing around then we wouldn’t need a clock.

By the way, one of the reasons I’m making these rule change customs is because I figure that a few years down the road when I’m looking back on these customs, it’ll be fun to know that “Oh, that’s right, these rules started in 2023”

The next new rule is a number of limits on defensive shifts. Again, in an ideal world the limits on defensive shifts would be a batter’s ability to hit against the shift, but I’m told that’s easier said than done given the velocity of most inbound pitches.

Who knows, maybe the pitch clock will allow pitchers less time to recover, take a little something off of their fastball and batters will learn to hit against the shift again. Or maybe I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about, which is always a factor.

The third major new rule is larger bases… This is supposed to encourage stolen bases and reduce the injuries which come from two large men trying to get their feet on the same base. I don’t have much insight into this one.

Another type of “coming attraction” at this time of year is our first looks at players and managers in new uniforms. I love when teams gather at the beginning of spring training and pose for their official team pictures, and I usually try to make a number of customs out of those photos.

The idea of Jacob deGrom pitching for the Texas Rangers gets a long sigh out of this Mets fan. I’m not angry at him, he got to pick where he wanted to play and I can’t take  issue with that given that I hightailed it out of the metro New York area 25+ years ago. I’ll miss the guy who was the best pitcher in the game, but I won’t miss the guy who was on the injured list a significant amount of time.

The Rangers are one of several teams I’ve mentally labeled as “Hey, they could be interesting”. I’d temporarily forgotten until yesterday that Bruce Bochy is now the manager of the Rangers, which is another reason for them being potentially interesting.

For what it’s worth, “interesting” is not necessarily the same as “competitive”. I think the Cubs and Marlins will be interesting in 2023, but I have no idea if they’ll be any good.

One of the biggest free agent signings of the winter was Trea Turner going from Los Angeles to Philadelphia. This one is going to take some time to sink in, and I’m sure a number of Nationals fans aren’t happy about a member of their World Champion 2019 team playing for a divisional rival.

This signing was so impactful that it shook the foundations of time and space resulting in Turner having his photo taken in Shea Stadium during the 1973 World Series. Funny how that works… wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey…

I’ve never liked teams that just throw an inordinate amount of money at players the way the Padres do. Yes, I am a Mets fan and I do recognize the glass houses involved in that statement… but you can’t tell me I’m not conflicted about the spending of “Uncle Steve” Cohen.

I like Justin Verlander, so I’m OK with his being brought in, even while I have concerns about the age of Verlander and Scherzer on top of the rotation. Still, something had to be done to fill the gap left by deGrom.

As I mentioned above, the Cubs will be interesting this year, but I don’t know what that means on the field. Dansby Swanson is one of those players that falls into the category of “I kinda like him but have no idea why I kinda like him”.

I’ll wrap up with José Abreu signing with the Astros and looking particularly sad about it. Did he hope to finish his career on the south side of Chicago, or was it simply that whatever he ate for lunch did not agree with him? We may never know the true story.

More “Saturday Morning”, My Silly Faux CCG

I got enough positive feedback from my original post about “Saturday Morning”, a bunch of collectible card game customs which are not from a game and aren’t really playable but are meant to look like they would be.  The general idea is to feature characters from animated TV shows and movies that I’ve watched too much of during my time on this Earth.

I’ll give you advance warning: All of the characters in this post are from the 1960s, but some have had more recent revivals.

For many years… decades, really… I thought the name of Underdog’s sweetheart was “Sweet Polly Pure Bread” without really knowing what that meant, or even thinking about it.  Whatever Pure Bread is, it does sound wholesome, which kind of fit the character.  At some point in the very recent past it occurred to me — It’s not “Pure Bread”, it’s “Purebred” because like Underdog she’s… well… a dog.

It seems that few people remember The Mighty Heroes, which is partly about how old the originals are (Wikipedia says they aired in the 1966/67 season) but also a factor of how long anyone’s local TV stations might’ve continued showing the cartoons.  Cuckoo Man was always good for some comic relief, but my favorite was always Diaper Man, who spoke in a rough, deep voice despite being a baby.

There have been an attempt or two to revive Mr. Peabody and Sherman, but none that I saw involved the silliness or bad wordplay of the originals.

Speaking up updates…  Speed Racer was one of my absolute favorites as a kid and while I was bored out of my mind by the 2008 movie – visually impressive but like watching someone else play a video game – there was a run of comic books published by Now Comics in the late 1980s and they were pretty good.  Those comics also made a good attempt to explain away some of the inconsistencies of the original which were made for Japanese audiences and then (arguably badly) translated for American audiences.

The only specific I can remember from the comics is that “Speed” was his nickname, his real name was Greg and that’s why he has a “G” on his shirt.  In the Japanese original the G was a monogram for his name, Goh Mifune.  Not only did his name Goh sound like the English word “Go!”, but it also sounds like the Japanese word for 5… and what number was on the side of his car?  That’s right!  You get to clean the virtual erasers after class.

Batfink was another mid-1960s cartoon and one you won’t see anymore because his Asian sidekick Karate is a bit problematic.  Otherwise the show was another campy super hero send-up of the day.  “My wings are like shields of steel!”

Commander McBragg was a know-it-all who liked to tell long and historically inaccurate stories that always had himself at the center.  This was part of the Underdog show.  I don’t remember any specifics, but I would guess that a few of his adventures were also culturally problematic.

A different kind of know-it-all was Phineas J. Whoopee, who was always trying to help Tennessee Tuxedo and Chumley in their latest harebrained scheme.  Whoopee often pulled out his three-dimensional blackboard (3DBB) to illustrate his ideas.

Simon Says… Leave a comment and tell us about your favorite cartoon characters!

Customs I Forgot To Post

I was cleaning out my blog’s drafts folder and found an unfinished post from this past fall that I’d completely forgotten about.  I figured “Waste not, want not” and finished the post… which is what you’ll see here.

It may not be a traditional “Season Highlight”, but I felt that Drew Rasmussen’s perfection through 8 innings against the Orioles deserved recognition

The Jets Sauce Gardner is a candidate for Defensive Rookie of the Year… and c’mon, Sauce is such a great nickname.

Jeff McNeil edged out Freddy Freeman for the NL batting title and became just the second Met to win a batting title (José Reyes was the first in 2011).

Buck Showalter won his 4th Manager of the Year award, the only manager to win it four time with four teams (Yankees – 1994, Rangers – 2004, Orioles – 2014, Mets – 2022). This is the first time he’s won it in the National League and the first time he’s won it in a year that didn’t end in ‘4’… although it does seem like he *should* win it in 2024, regardless of how the Mets do.

Last year I made a custom for Keith Yandle breaking the NHL’s ironman record. Phil Kessel broke Yandle’s record earlier this season, so it seemed like another custom was in order.

These throwback uniforms are far better than the Minnesota Wild’s actual uniforms… but I’m far from objective about that.

This image got tweeted but never made it to the blog.  I had fun with creating a custom of the Red Sox new Japanese outfielder Masataka Yoshida;  First off, I took a shot of Yoshida in his Orix Buffaloes uniform, added red to the collar and changed the Buffalo’s “B” on the cap to be something approximating the Red Sox “B”.  Finally, the background is from Shea Stadium during the 1973 World Series.

Next week we’ll return you to your regularly scheduled custom card posts.

Saturday Morning: A Pointless, Fake Custom “Collectible Card Game”

It wasn’t even called “Saturday Morning” in my head, not at first.

Somewhere along the line I got the silly idea of creating custom cards from a fake “Collectible Card Game”, only instead of featuring Pokemon or pro athletes it would feature cartoon characters I’ve enjoyed in my 50+ years of watching too much TV… and while it would look playable, the various elements would be nonsensical.

Here’s the first one I did, and at the time I figured it would be a one-and-done proposition.  Get it out of my system and move on.  BTW, If you don’t remember Magilla Gorilla, ask your parents… or their parents. :-/

Bits and pieces of the design and fake gameplay came from sports games like MLB Showdown and the various Topps Attax sets, as well as Pokemon and Magic The Gathering cards I found images of.  There are also ideas that came from Japanese menko – I’d originally intended to work a rock-paper-scissors icon into it, but I couldn’t pull it off to my satisfaction.

It might look like a game card, but the information in its various forms is largely randomly-generated.  It’s not completely clear from this one custom, but the bottom left corner contains a playing card value (7 of clubs, of course) and one side of a 6-sided die.

Something that probably factored into my doing more than one of these is that I’ve been creating new game cards for my vintage Statis Pro Baseball game, something to “keep me off of the streets” during lockdown.

Statis Pro Baseball came with basic instructions on how to create your own cards, plus there are additional ideas out on the web.  When I started these I had plenty of time, a bunch of coding skills that get unused in my current IT job, and a general need to have a semi-constructive way to keep myself busy during scattered moments of my day.

…So basically I had game cards on my mind, and the cartoon CCG idea didn’t go away.  I continued with the cartoons I watched as a kid, getting most of the images from screen-grabs of cartoons I found online.

I did get into more current cartoons…

…well, maybe “less vintage” is a better way of putting it since Dexter’s Laboratory goes back 20+ years.

I did everybody from “Scooby Doo” except for… um…  Scooby Doo…

A few bad guys also got created (note the smiley face is replaced by a frowny face… advanced gameplay at it’s finest!)

I also made an attempt to branch out from animated subjects while staying within the Saturday Morning theme, and I created this featuring a bad guy from “Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp”, a popular show of the early 1970s.  That show was created by dubbing dialogue over film of trained chimpanzees with props and costomes.  One downside of this is that chimpanzees, even trained ones, are in near-constant motion so getting a screen shot without blurring is a challenge.

By the way, if Baron von Butcher sounds a lot like Siegfried from “Get Smart”, that’s because they’re both played by Bernie Kopell… Yes, Doc from “The Love Boat”

I’d originally intended to include animated characters which weren’t from Saturday Morning TV shows, and because of the Saturday Morning groove I found myself in I started thinking of these as my “Saturday Morning” set before too long (the individual image files are all labeled as “2022 Cartoon CCG”).

I haven’t created a new one of these in a few months, but I’m sure “Series 2” will come along before too long… as well as my sharing more from “Series 1” if there’s any interest.

More 1974-Themed Customs

So if you’ve been reading here regularly for the past month or two you’ll know that I have plans to celebrate the 1974 Topps baseball design, which will be used for this year’s Topps Heritage set.  My ultimate plan is to fill in the gaps left by Heritage (i.e. managers, middle relievers, etc.) but to also go in directions Topps wouldn’t be going.

Along with making customs of current players, I also have ideas I’m calling “1974 Multiverse”, a sort of “What if…?” for baseball as a whole back in 1974.  I’ve done a handful of similar customs over the years, but I’ve got a bunch of ideas brewing.

My first attempt at an official 1974 Multiverse custom comes in the form of “What if Reggie Cleveland had been traded to Cleveland?”  In this universe Reggie Cleveland’s regular 1974 card shows him with the Cardinals, and his Traded card shows him in an airbrushed Red Sox cap.

“Cleveland pitching for Cleveland” is something I thought should’ve been the case since I was kid, although back then I didn’t know about Johnny Podres pitching for the Padres or Dave Philley playing for the Phillies.

I’ve got a bunch of scribbled notes on other 1974 Multiverse ideas, some involve players and some involve teams… like this “1974 Milwaukee Braves” custom I’d made a number of years ago:

Mostly what I’ve done so far is “1974 Traded” customs reflecting present day transactions. The general idea is to make them look something like if Topps today has the same technology in play that they had in the 1970s. This also works out well with my not wanting to spend a ton of time on these.

My first example of this kind of ‘cheat’ is this J.D. Martinez, who signed a contract with the Dodgers (and initially prompted thoughts of “Why do the Dodgers want him?  Can he do anything but DH?  …Oh, wait, there *is* a DH in the NL now…”).  I took a photo of Martinez in the Red Sox’ blue and yellow City Connect alternate uniforms, obscured the UCLA Bruins ‘B’ on the helmet, changed the yellow jersey to grey, cropped out the “BOSTON” on the jersey and Bob’s your uncle.

This next custom took a fair amount of time to get a rushed look. The Padres brown is easy enough, I made a layer in Paintshop Pro (my digital playground of choice) that has just the cap and the jersey and used the “Sepia” tool to make them the appropriate color. The cap logo was done by hand, and I’m still not happy with the results but I suppose it has that airbrushed-by-hand look. In any case, I reached a “Good enough, move on” point with this.

I feel obligated to point out that the Padres didn’t have a card in the 1974 Topps Traded set, so I had to fake my way through the border as well.

One last easy peasy one… Andrew Benintendi went from the Yankees (navy pinstripes) to the White Sox (black pinstripes) and the sheer simplicity of just needing to mess with the cap logo got him moved up on the custom card priority list (but it does look pretty good for the minimal effort I put in)

For all of “Uncle Steve” Cohen’s money, the Mets haven’t signed everybody they’d wanted to. I’m going to miss deGrom, and the sight of him in a Texas Rangers uniform is going to take some getting used to.

I had some fun putting a sort of Easter Egg into a number of customs, and it took a while for anyone to notice (or at least for anyone to tell me they’d noticed). In those cases where I used a photo that wasn’t taken out on a playing field or in the dugout, I removed the existing background and substituted one from 1973 or 1974. In this case, I put Kenley Jansen into the original Yankee Stadium. Jansen lead the NL with 41 saves and is going to the American League for the first time.

Dominic Smith has been stuck behind Pete Alonso in the Mets’ depth chart the past couple of years, and good for him, he signed a 1-year contract with the Nats. I’m sorry it didn’t work out of him in New York and I hope he bounces back in 2023… then signs with someone other than the Nats for 2024. Like Jansen, Dominic has been placed in Yankee Stadium from the early 1970s.

The Athletics recently picked up Japanese pitcher Shintaro Fujinami, who somehow finds himself in Oakland Coliseum before it was closed in to keep the Raiders from moving (and that worked TREMENDOUSLY WELL in the long term, don’t you think so Los Angeles and Las Vegas?). The background came from the 1974 card of the Twins Ray Corbin… There was a fair amount of digital tomfoolery involved in getting this background to the point where you didn’t see Cobin’s elbow or torso peeking out from behind Fujinami.

By the way, the image of Fujinami in an A’s uniform was ‘borrowed’ from the team’s Twitter account.

So all of these players I’ve featured so far had changed teams through free agency, but I wanted to do a couple to reflect other player movement going on.

This “2023 Rookie Pitchers” custom features four pitchers who were selected in December’s Rule V draft. The Mets drafted Zach Green from the Yankees, the Orioles drafted Andrew Politi from the Red Sox, the Brewers drafted Gus Varland from the Dodgers and the White Sox drafted Nick Avila from the Giants. Rule V players have to stay on their new team’s active roster all season or else be offered back to their original teams.

By the way, all four of these involved thumbnail photos borrowed from various sources, and all four have backgrounds from the 1970s (although it’s less obvious on some than others).

In the past few days we saw a good ol’ fashioned trade that sent batting champ Luis Arraez from the Twins to the Marlins in exchange for pitcher Pablo López and two prospects.

I spent 15 minutes colorizing the sleeves and drawstrings on Lopez’ hoodie before I realized that they would get cropped out anyway. (*sigh*).  I almost mistakenly used last year’s Twins cap logo, although I suppose that wouldn’t have been the end of the world.

And that’s more than enough for now. Lately I’m always working on these and will probably be transitioning from “Traded” to base cards sometime in February when Spring Training images start to roll in.

Custom Cards: Out With The Old, In With The New

I haven’t shared many custom cards here on the blog even though I’ve been making them steadily, and have some custom projects lined up for 2023.  I dug myself a hole with this backlog – do I catch up on stuff I didn’t post, do I introduce the new stuff I’ve been doing?  I decided just to do a little of everything to try to break my mental logjam.

I’ll start with a few final customs from my original-design 2023 TSR project.

Baseball America named Orioles rookie Gunnar Henderson its Minor League Player of the Year. Much to my surprise, I discovered that there’s also a college football player named Gunnar Henderson. Since I created these I found out about another pair of baseball and football players who share a name – well, almost – and they’ll be appearing at some point on a “Pointless Pairings” card.

Had I shared any of my 2022 TSR Football customs here before? I’m not sure that I have. It wasn’t a planned project, just something where I created a template on the spur of the moment – 1974 Topps Football is easy to replicate, it’s all straight lines and basic fonts – and then I said “Well, I suppose I should do something with this.

Touching on a few season highlights… Pete Alonso now holds the Mets single-season RBI record, driving in 131 to pass Mike Piazza (1999, 124) and David Wright (2008, also 124).

The Orioles’ Ramón Urías won his first Gold Glove. His was the first Gold Glove won by an Oriole since 2015, and he’s only the 3rd O’s third baseman to win a Gold Glove, with the others being Brooks Robinson (who won 16 of them) and Manny Machado (who won 2 at the hot corner in Baltimore)

On to some newer projects… The 1981/82 hockey cards from Topps & O-Pee-Chee have long been favorites of mine. I started out by making customs of NHL players who had changed teams during the summer… Andre Burakovsky and Jonathan Huberdeau were offseason additions by 2 Pacific Division rivals

As I’ve mentioned before, 1974 Topps Baseball was the first set I collected – well, other than Wacky Packs – and I’ve got a whole bunch of ideas for ways to pay tribute to this set and also to “extend” whatever Topps puts out as part of 2023 Heritage. Another example of this is this “Traded” custom which illustrates catcher Sean Murphy as the Braves’ new catcher. Murphy had been obtained from the A’s in a 3-team trade also involving the Brewers, and the Braves have since signed Murphy to an extension. I like trades involving catchers. Catchers are easy to ‘photoshop’.

The Dodgers signed former Mets favorite Noah Syndergaard and that gave me an excuse – I mean a *reason* to pay homage to vintage Topps practices by using a 2-year-old photo (so I wouldn’t have to colorize an Angels or Phillies cap) and also leaving in the Mets pinstripes.

Back in 1974 there were a few examples of Topps showing players in pinstripes where their new teams did not have pinstripes… Off the top of my head there’s Ralph Houk with the Tigers as well as Felipe and Matty Alou with their new teams. Felipe was pinstriped with both the Expos (1974 Topps) and Brewers (1974 Topps Traded).

I’ll wrap things up with a “Traded” custom for a player who wasn’t actually traded. José Abreu signed with the Astros after nine years with the White Sox. Unlike in 1974, the majority of players change teams through free agency rather than trades, and I wanted to reflect that on the front of the custom. Maybe I should’ve gone with just “SIGNED” instead of “SIGNED AS FREE AGENT”, but that ship has sailed as far as I’m concerned.

OK, with any luck this will free my brain up from “How do I catch up” paralysis and I can get back to posting these customs on a regular basis.

Kicking Off A Year Of 1974-Related Nonsense

I started collecting cards in 1974 and have always loved the 1974 set because it’s my first.  It shouldn’t come as a surprise that when Topps launched the Heritage line in 2001, I calculated out the date in the (then) far future when they might get to a Heritage version of 1974 Topps.

That far-off date is coming up on us very soon, and I’m cautiously excited.  I’ve already written a post about what I expect and hope for in 2023 Heritage, and two additional posts about the colors that Topps should use for each team’s design (AL and NL)… I got a little crazy with it.

Knowing that Topps would not leave me completely satisfied, I decided to go ahead and take matters into my own hands.  I’ll be doing a number of custom card projects to fill in the gaps that Topps would undoubtedly leave, plus a few posts about the actual cards.

To start off I’ve made a few customs in the style of the 1974 Topps Traded insert set.  I decided to do it as if the technology involved in creating cards hadn’t changed since the 1970s… Any attempts to update an existing photo should look at least a little bit like it was not done with Photoshop (even though it obviously was digitally altered… PaintShop Pro in my case, but anyway).

My first example of this is for Teoscar Hernandez, who was traded from Toronto to Seattle on November 16th.  I ran across this image where he has his hat back on his head so you can’t see the front of it, and I said “I can’t NOT use this!”  There was some minor digital games played as I made the cap and jersey a darker blue.

A fair amount of “updating” in 1974 involved showing players without a cap and maybe with the collar of their jersey airbrushed a bit.  When Kevin Newman was traded from the Pirates to the Reds on November 18th, I decided to go that route…

After Hunter Renfroe was traded from the Brewers to the Angels on November 23rd I decided to up my game a little bit and try for some fake airbrushing, but to  my dismay it looked better than I intended.  I started with an image of an Angels cap “borrowed” from Mike Trout and used my mouse to essentially “trace over” the cap logo… but it ended up too close to the original.  In all, three images were used for this card – Renfroe, Trout’s cap and the background.

If it seems like Hunter Renfroe gets around, it’s because he does.  Assuming that he stays with the Angels he’ll have played for five different teams for five consecutive seasons:  Padres in 2019, Rays in 2020, Red Sox in 2021, Brewers in 2022 and Angels in 2023.

I’ve brought back a custom I made in 2015 to show that I’m not limiting my shenanigans to current players. Back in 1973 HOFer Ron Santo was traded from the Cubs to the White Sox near the end of his career… but the Cubs had originally dealt Santo to the Angels and he vetoed that trade so that Cubs went back to the drawing board and worked out a deal with the White Sox

One last thing before I go, just to give a tiny little insight into the 1974 Topps design… In duplicating it, I thought I would be able to re-create the top half and then just copy and flip the top so I’d have the bottom. However, I discovered that the top banner (i.e. CLEVELAND) is slightly longer than the bottom banner (INDIANS). In nearly 50 years of staring at these cards I had never realized that, I always thought the two banners were identical in size.

OK, so that gives you an idea of the foolishness that’s coming from me in the future. It won’t all be foolish, however – my next post is going to be a look at the original 1974 Traded set.

Way Behind On Customs: 2022 TSR Baseball

I’m sooooooo far behind on posting my custom cards here on the blog…

(I’m tempted to respond with a Match Game-esque “HOW FAR BEHIND ARE YOU?”, but then I couldn’t come up with a witty follow-up)

I’m so far behind that a lot of the reasons for creating these customs seems out-of-date a month or two later, which I guess underlines that I really should have some sort of game plan going into a season, but I didn’t this time around. Much like my collecting of physical cards, I’ve been spending much of the summer taking a step back and asking myself “Just what do I really want to do with these?” In both cases, I’m still navel-gazing and waiting for an answer.

But anyway… At this point I’m thinking the best way of digging my way out of this hole is just to start digging.

I’ll start with some customs for players who were on the move at the trading deadline… at this point you can look at it as an “Update” set

Every time I see reliever Pete Fairbanks mentioned, I think that with a name like that he needs to be hosting a game show… “And now, here’s the host of Tic-Tac-Dough, Pete Fairbanks!”

I just took a look at Fairbanks’ record and he’s 0-0 with 8 saves… and no decisions is what you want from relievers. A win means you gave up the lead and then took it back, and you certainly don’t want a loss. Fairbanks also has a 1.13 ERA and 38 strikeouts in 24 innings.

Zebulon Vermillion is easily my favorite name from this summer’s recent MLB draft. I’d planned on doing more draft pick customs, but I think this is the only one I’ve done (so far).

I also started what was intended to be a series of “First Pitch” insert cards, but it petered out. I may do more of these, I have to see what images I’d saved to my laptop for this series. For those who don’t know Suni Lee, she’s a gymnast who won Gold in the All-Around at the Tokyo Olympics.

Gunnar Henderson is in the Majors now, but over the summer he was in the Futures Game.  Whoever designed the Futures Game uniforms *had to* have grown up collecting in the “junk wax era”, the uniform looks like the border of a Topps Magazine card.

Yankees fans are loving the heck out of Nestor Cortes this year, with good reason given that he was an All-Star and currently has a 12-4 record and is 5th in the AL with a 2.44 ERA. Just don’t tell those fans that Cortes was briefly lost to the Orioles as a Rule V pick in 2018 and then traded to Seattle after the 2019 season (He signed with the Yankees as a free agent going into the 2021 season)

Another “Pointless Pairings” card for my 2022 Shmeritage set.  Mrs. Shlabotnik and I had been binging “The Good Doctor” before the fall premier in order to catch up on seasons we’d missed, and this custom is what came out of it.

I’ll finish with Brett Phillips, who was briefly on the Orioles. He went with 66 as his uniform number so the back of his jersey read “Phillips 66”, which I just love (even though I’ve never been to a Phillips 66 station in my life)