Custom Draft Picks And Scoops

So I don’t have a lot of time for the writing part of the whole blogging thing, but I made a bunch of customs for a number of 1st round MLB draft picks, and I made a bunch of TSR “Scoops” customs, and I need to spend my Sunday doing some of the things I should’ve done when I was making custom cards during the week.

OK, so here are the first 4 picks in the draft;  I did the Rutschman custom because I’m an Orioles fan, but I also found images of the #2 – 4 guys because it wasn’t out of the question that the O’s would draft them.  Since I already had images, I went ahead and made customs for those players & their drafting teams.

#1 – Adley Rutschman, Oregon State University

#2 – Bobby Witt, Jr. – Colleyville Heritage HS (TX)
For those who didn’t know, Bobby Witt Sr. pitched 16 seasons in the Majors, mostly for the Texas Rangers.

#3 – Andrew Vaughn – University of California

#4 – J.J. Bleday – Vanderbilt University
I really hate these black-with-gold-pinstripes Vandy uniforms, but perhaps that just labels me as an old man.

I also did a few other draft picks for various reasons…

#10 – Hunter Bishop – Arizona State University

#11 – Alek Manoah – West Virginia University

#12 – Brett Baty – Lake Travis HS (TX)

That wraps up the draft picks… for now, anyway. If you ask nicely (and if I can find usable images, sometimes a very tall order), I’ll make a custom for your team’s #1 pick.

Moving on to the latest “Scoops” customs…

A lot of Mets fans… or at least a lot of the more vocal Mets fans… were calling for the team to ditch Jason Vargas and go after Dallas Keuchel. I’m OK with Vargas in his role as back of the rotation guy, and the Vargas faithful (relatively speaking) were rewarded this week when he shutout the Giants.

The Orioles remain on a pace to lose well over 100 games, but they’ve shown signs of being a team that might – MIGHT – suck less in the remaining games.

Pedro Severino, acquired on waivers from the Nationals towards the end of spring training, hit three homers against the Rangers and made a heads-up play to end the game by chasing down a wild pitch 3rd strike and throwing the batter out at first.

Yesterday the O’s were in Houston and Anthony Santander, playing in just his third game of 2019, made a impressive catch to rob Yuli Gurriel of a home run, and then doubled Michael Brantley off of first.

If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s worth seeking out (and isn’t hard to find).

OK, I’ve got to get back to my to-do list. Enjoy the rest of your weekend, everybody.


Custom Wax Pack for June 2nd, 2019

I went into this with the intended first line of “This is going to be a light week”. As always, I got in my own way and made more customs than I really meant to. My loss (of time) is your gain.

Justin Verlander is the unofficial Shlabotnik Report Pitcher Of The Month for May.  He may be the A.L. Pitcher Of The Month as well, those awards haven’t been announced as of my writing this.

During May, Verlander went 4-1 in 5 games, with a 2.29 ERA, a 0.594 WHIP, 42 K’s and 6 BB’s in 35.1 IP.

Josh Bell had more total bases in May (94) than any Pirate had ever had (Ralph Kiner had the previous record of 92 in June, 1947).  Bell had more total bases in May than anyone since Willie Mays in 1958.  Pretty damn impressive.

In May, Bell batted .390 with a .442 OBP, 26 runs, 31 RBI, 12 doubles and 12 homers.

This next custom is an idea I got out of the blue (and have already shared on Twitter – @Shlabotnik_Rpt )…  It’s a custom in the style of the late 1970’s Renata Galasso Glossy Greats sets, and it’s of Renato Nunez, so…

It’s a “Renata” of Renato!

Yeah, fine, both the original Galasso’s and my custom are just using the 1960 Leaf design.  Since it’s not a portrait with a “halo” behind the player, I’m calling it a Galasso.

Renato had a pretty good month of May… by Orioles standards, anyway.  While he batted just .217, he had 8 homers and 16 RBI.  For 2019 as a whole he’s already set career highs for runs (30), RBI (34) and homers (14).

With this next custom of Michael Conforto, I’m going to let you in on a little “custom maker’s secret”… The angled tops and bottoms of my designs sometimes makes it hard to fit photos in there without cropping out stuff I don’t want to crop out – like the baseball below.  To compensate, I sometimes cheat my way through it.

You see that blue outfield wall padding in the upper right corner?  That’s not there in the original photo.  I copied the upright padding from the right hand part of the photo, rotated it 90 degrees and pasted it up there.

…And now you know the REST of the story.

Getting back to the Orioles, they had a “highlight” the other day that was good enough to get a “Scoops” custom.  The O’s and Giants were having a black ‘n orange faceoff in Baltimore, and the Giants scored five runs off of starter Andrew Cashner in the top of the first.  Amazingly enough, that did not signal the end to the O’s that night.

The O’s scored 6 runs in the bottom of the first, thanks in part to Dwight Smith Jr.’s first career Grand Salami, and they went on to win 9-6.  Of course, the Giants kicked the Orioles butts the following night, but we won’t get into that…

I’m going to wrap up with a new “insert”.

The Dodgers recently called up a rookie catcher named Will Smith, and given that there’s already a veteran Giants reliever named Will Smith, it seemed the right time to make a new Pointless Pairings custom. For 2019, these Pointless Pairings will be in the form of a stamp sheet insert.

Catcher Will Smith hit his first career homer last night. Pitcher Will Smith has better stats than I’d expected a 2019 Giants pitcher to have; he’s got a 2.49 ERA, a 0.738 WHIP and 13 saves. He’s in a walk year, so expect him to be playing elsewhere by August.

Custom Cards: The Next Generation

It seems like every time you turn around lately, there’s another 2nd or 3rd generation baseball player making his Major League debut… This year it started with Fernando Tatis, Jr. and went on to Vladimir Guerrero Jr… Now the kids are coming fast and furious, and I felt like I should kick up the Next Generation customs into gear.

Craig Biggio is the latest HOFer to have a son in the Majors… and the latest second-generation player on the Blue Jays.  Welcome to The Show, Cavan Biggio!

Update: Young Biggio just got his first MLB hit

Yesterday, Carl Yastrzemski’s grandson Mike made his debut with the Giants, who are on a pace to have 41 different players roam the outfield this season (and that’s not hyperbole).

Mike was in the Orioles organization for a number of years so I’m happy to see him get a shot.

Last night, Cal Quantrill, son of reliever Paul Quantrill, got his first MLB win, beating the Blue Jays and Edwin Jackson.

Fun stuff:  Edwin Jackson and Paul Quantrill were teammates with the Dodgers in 2003.  Jackson was a 19-year-old September call-up and they both pitched in the same games twice:  September 17 and September 27.

I’ve got plans to do something fun with all of the family connections in the Majors, I’m still working to get what I have in mind to work out the way I want it to in pixels.

This past week I felt like making a new custom template, and I decided to do something to help me remember the Steelers’ first round draft pick come the Fall… Because I don’t really pay attention to football until after baseball is over for me, and by then I might be saying “Who’s this ‘Bush’ guy? Where did he come from?”

I’ve always liked the 1973 Topps football design, so I decided to go ahead with that; I added a “1st Round” graphic to the design, and here we are:

I was pleased enough with that custom that I decided to do a second one. Not knowing who else to feature, I went with the Overall #1 pick, Kyler Murray.

One thing that’s nice about this design is that it’s sport-agnostic… I could just as easily feature a player from the recent Badminton something-or-other cup that I saw on the Olympic Channel recently, and I wouldn’t have to change the design. Honestly, the only thing that kept me from doing that very thing was my not finding a good photo after 5 minutes of searching.

By the way, Badminton played at a high level is mesmerizing.

…But to be fair, it was 6:30 in the morning when I was watching it.

I’ll wrap things up with my obligatory Scoops, Mets and Orioles customs…

Carlos Gomez came up through the Mets system as a kid, but was traded to the Twins in the Carlos Santana deal. The Mets nearly acquired him from the Brewers four years ago in a failed deal that reportedly would’ve sent Zach Wheeler and Wilmer Flores to Milwaukee. Now he’s finally a Met again, and his presence seems to be helping the team’s general enthusiasm, something that was needed.

Keon Broxton was a depth piece acquired by the Mets over the winter, but he never got it going, and never really got a chance to get it going. The Orioles acquired him, and wouldn’t you know it, Broxton hit the first pitch he saw into the seats.

For those of you who didn’t see this story, the Mets also called up MLB veteran Rajai Davis, who had already taken BP with the Syracuse Mets for their AAA game against Lehigh Valley. Davis needed to get to CitiField for that night’s game, so he got an Uber to take him from Pennsylvania to Queens. He got there in the middle of the game and ended up hitting a 3-run pinch-hit homer.

…And that’s it for this week’s pack. Enjoy your weekend, everybody!

Custom “Wax Pack”: Taking Things Lying Down

If I didn’t have so many different tasks to occupy my “hobby time”, I would have been putting more work into my custom tasks…

…and it wouldn’t have taken me until the middle of May to finish up the horizontal version of this year’s custom design!

Not to mention that I’ve been dying to use this shot of the Pirates’ long-haired shortstop Cole Tucker sliding into a base.  It doesn’t quite translate to a custom card the way I’d hoped, but I am happy with the way the design translates to landscape format.

…Although I’m looking at the horizontal design and I still have thoughts like “Well, what would it look like if…”, so this may not be a final version.

The Mets have lost two straight to the lowly Miami Marlins, have a four game losing streak and a 5-10 record in the month of May.  From the buzz out there now, it seems I’d better get my Mickey Callaway custom done while he’s still the Mets’ manager.

I like Callaway, but this team often seems to be going through the motions and not playing like a team that was thinking postseason at the beginning of the season.  I wonder if anyone is having second thoughts about Terry Collins as a manager.

To put things in perspective, the Orioles have an identical 5-10 record in May, and everybody expected the O’s to be bad.

With the poor play of my two teams, perhaps it’s not a coincidence that I’ve been having fun making “Joe Shlabotnik” customs which feature images which no player would want used on a baseball card.

Similarly, I’ve no real reason for a custom of Josh Reddick other than I liked the action shot and wanted to make sure that the colors I’d picked out for Houston were going to work (and they do).

For those keeping score, this color combo was ‘borrowed’ from the Orioles/Giants colors in 1976 Topps.

Moving on to some “Scoops” customs…  This week, Edwin Jackson pitched his first game for the Blue Jays and by doing so he set a new MLB record by pitching for his 14th team.

In order of his debut, he pitched for the Dodgers, (Devil) Rays, Tigers, Diamondbacks, White Sox, Cardinals, Nationals, Cubs, Braves, Marlins, Padres, Orioles, Athletics and Blue Jays.  For what it’s worth, he had two different stints with the Nationals;  one in 2012 and one in 2017.

I somehow missed a Mets highlight earlier this month;  Noah Syndergaard earned National League Player of the Week honors, and it was based entirely on the game where he hit a homer and shutout the Reds.

One more custom for what was the last enjoyable game the Mets played…

Right now, Noah Syndergaard has the lead with the most “Scoops” so far…  We’ll see how things shake out as we go.

And with that, I need to mow the lawn before it gets too hot out.

Custom “Wax Pack” For May 12, 2019

Another week, another pack of virtual cards.

Travis d’Arnaud got traded twice as a prospect – from the Phillies to the Blue Jays in a trade for Roy Halladay, from the Jays to the Mets in a trade involving R.A. Dickey (which was also the trade which brought Noah Syndergaard to the Mets organization).

Travis is now making the rounds again…

…d’Arnaud was released by the Mets, signed by the Dodgers and made one plate appearance (grounding out to short) before being sold to the Rays. He made his Tampa Bay debut last night, wearing a throwback Rays uniform as the Rays beat the Yankees. There’ll be a follow-up d’Arnaud custom as soon as I find a workable image.

Mets custom of the week: Amed Rosario. Don’t have a lot to say about Rosario right now.

Just one “Scoops” custom this week, to commemorate Mike Fiers no-hitting the Reds.

I know Topps Now has this type of thing covered, but my goal is to commemorate everything I would like to remember this season for… and at any rate, I’m not charging you out the wazoo for it (nor am I offering up countless parallels to get you to pay even more out the wazoo).

Not many of you are likely to know of John Means, unless your a fan of the Orioles or West Virginia University, but he’s been a pleasant surprise on an Orioles team that needs pleasant surprises.

Means has a 4-3 record while pitching for a team with a .333 winning percentage, and he has a 2.48 ERA and a 1.010 WHIP. Baseball Reference has him tops on the O’s with a 1.1 WAR. He’s scheduled to pitch against the Red Sox today (weather permitting) so now that I’m shining a small spotlight on him, he’ll probably get shelled.

The San Francisco Giants have had a rough season as well, and their outfield has been constantly in flux. However, it does seem like every time you turn around Kevin Pillar is robbing a home run from someone.

What I want to know is this… First we had Kevin Millar, then we had Kevin Pillar. Is this progression going to continue in a few years with someone named Kevin Sillar?

One last custom… Most anyone who is familiar with Curling knows about the Norwegian curling team with the outlandish pants. That team is lead by Tomas Ulsrud, and they retired from competitive curling after the just-concluded Curling World Cup.

And just to be clear, this isn’t a Norwegian thing, this is just a Team Ulsrud thing. I’ll miss this team, and not just for the pants.

OK, that’s it from me. Happy Mother’s Day!

Custom “Wax Pack” For May 5th, 2019

Not a lot as worked out for the Orioles this year, but Dylan Bundy made everybody forget that, at least for one night.

Last night against the first place Rays, Bundy pitched 7.1 shutout innings while giving up 3 hits and a walk and getting four strikeouts. We can only hope there are more starts like this coming.

Orioles fans are thankful for the Marlins, the one MLB team with a worse record. If anything has gone right for the Marlins this year, it’s pitcher Caleb Smith.  He’s started 6 games, has gone at least 5 innings in each game, has a 3-0 record with a 2.00 ERA and a 0.833 WHIP and 45 K’s.  He’s also 27 years old, so look for him to get traded for prospects in June or July.

The Mets are teasing us like they did last year… When the bats are hot, the pitching struggles. When the pitchers are on, the bats go cold. I’d picked Zack Wheeler for this week’s pack by looking to see which Mets had earned the most points in my Yahoo fantasy league the over the past 7 days. Zack Wheeler was among the top pitchers for whom I’d yet to make a custom… but I forgot to take into account that he pitched twice this past week, both losses. Oh, well.

I’m not exactly a fan of Hunter Pence, but I’m happy to see he’s found some early success with his hometown Texas Rangers.

I’ll wrap up with a couple of Mets-related customs from my “Scoops” set. First off, Rookie Of The Year candidate Pete Alonso has been fun to watch, and was named the N.L. Rookie of the Month for April (which, for what it’s worth, also seems to include March stats)

The Mets recently beat the Reds by a 1-0 score; Noah Syndergaard pitched a shutout and hit a solo homer off of Tyler Mahle for the game’s only run. The last pitcher to hurl a shutout while hitting a solo home run for the game’s only scoring was the Dodgers’ Bob Welch who beat the Reds (HA!) on June 17th, 1983. Welch hit his homer off of Mario Soto.

Funnily enough, Welch pitched another 1-0 shutout that year, blanking the Phillies on June 1st. In that game, Pedro Guerrero drove in Steve Sax for the game’s only run.

Custom “Wax Pack” For April 28th, 2019

I’d gotten several positive comments about the colors I use for these customs, so I thought I’d say a few things about the process I went through – and am still going through, because I haven’t finalized a color combination for every team. This isn’t unusual for me; I sometimes think “I’m going to use these colors for the Astros”, but then when I make my first Astros custom I’ll say “Yeah…. no.”

A number of years ago when I was starting to make customs, I reviewed a number of scans of Topps cards from multiple years and sports and took samples of what I considered to be the “Standard Topps Colors”; I know there’s some sort of printing-related explanation behind how the colors were originally made; I can’t speak knowledgeably about that so I just say “it’s a Standard Topps Color”

For this custom set, I will confess that I used color combinations from 1976 Topps Baseball as a starting point, but I strayed from that on a number of occasions. One example of this is the colors I use for the Indians, which is directly lifted from the red/yellow/grey combination used for the Indians in 1974 Topps.

I made some attempts to go with team colors, especially with my two favorite teams…

If I were making customs for just a couple of teams, then using team colors is not a problem… but I’m making combinations for 30 different MLB teams. There are six teams with red as the primary color, another six with blue as the primary color, SIXTEEN teams which use black or Navy blue as their primary color… You get the idea.

So the Braves might not get Navy and Red, but they get Blue and Magenta (“You’re lucky! He’s lucky! I’m lucky! We’re all lucky!”)

FYI, Acuna has a soccer ball because the Braves were recognizing the Major League Soccer champion Atlanta United before that day’s game.

The D-backs have ugly uniforms so they don’t deserve to get matching colors. (And Adam Jones looks very odd in this uniform).

This color combo – or at least something approaching it – was used for the Padres and Tigers in 1976 Topps… which reminds me to mention that I made a point of not using any 1976 color combos for the same teams that had those colors in 1976.

Every team in my TSR set has a unique color combination, but some teams have the same colors just “flipped”… For example, the Cardinals are yellow and red, the White Sox are red and yellow.

I’m sure there are other things I can say, but I probably won’t remember them until I press “Publish” and go out to mow the lawn.

I haven’t made a lot of my “Baseball Scoops”-inspired customs lately; There hasn’t been a lot happening in baseball that has made me smile or sit up and take notice (thanks to the Mets and Orioles both going 3-7 over the past 10 games), but I do have one, plus I went back and made another for something that should’ve gotten a custom.

Noah Syndergaard hit a home run against the Cardinals, but it shouldn’t have been; the ball went into Dexter Fowler’s glove, came back out and went over the wall. Still counts in the box score.

I also went back and made one for Ichiro’s retirement.

…And that’s our wax pack for the week!