Custom Sunday: Ichiro And Other Bits Of Catching Up

I’ve been spending much of my hobby time working on the organization of my collection lately.  I haven’t been as active in the custom cards as I normally am, but I still have plenty to catch up on, plus a couple of new things to share.

About a month ago I made this Hot Stove card after the Mariners obtained Mallex Smith from the Rays.

…But had I known the extent of wheeling and dealing that Mariner’s GM Jerry Dipoto was going to be doing, I would’ve put a moratorium on making customs of any Mariners until Spring Training starts.  So far the only “flipping” that’s happened was obtaining Carlos Santana from the Phillies and then later trading him to the Indians, but it’s become clear that the Mariners are willing to trade anybody in the right deal, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see Mallex Smith and other new acquisitions (i.e. Edwin Encarnacion, Jay Bruce and J.P. Crawford) wearing someone else’s uniform by the time Spring Training rolls around.

…or not.  Who knows?  I don’t know whether Dipoto knows.

You know who will be with the Mariners in some capacity, if not on the playing field? Ichiro.

This is a “bonus card” for my tribute to the 1964 Topps Giant-Sized All-Stars set.

Last weekend was the second leg of the Curling World Cup, which is a new event that takes place over four different events in four cities across the globe. The second leg recently took place in Omaha, and congratulations go out to Team Shuster; they beat Sweden to earn the USA a Gold Medal in the second leg plus a spot in the Finals.

From the start of my interest in Curling, I’ve been rooting on the USA and, to a lesser extent, our neighbors in Canada. However, the more I watch other teams, I’ve found myself rooting for teams which fall outside of my ‘natural’ rooting interests. Japan’s Team Fujisawa is one of those teams I enjoy watching.

They’re fun to watch from a strictly curling standpoint, winning Silver in the 2016 World Women’s Championship and Bronze in the 2018 Olympic games… But they’re also fun to watch because they always come across as enjoying themselves and happy to be there, and they get very excited when they win. I just can’t help but root for them.

If you’ve been following along at home, you’ll know that this 2019 TSR Fauxback design comes with puzzle backs… but in the last post I didn’t feature any puzzle backs because I hadn’t decided who was going to be on “Puzzle B”. Now that I’ve got a new puzzle in place, here’s the back to that Fujisawa card:

Hmmm, who can that be?

Oh, one last thing… I realized earlier today that I’d never shared the full image of “Puzzle A”, which featured ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic posing with his new Star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame.

You know, you can see all the stars as you walk down Hollywood Boulevard… Some that you recognize, some that you’ve hardly even heard of…


Custom Sunday: Hooray for Captain Spalding (No, Not Groucho)

Lately, I’ve been focusing many of my customs posts on my tribute to the 1964 Topps “Giants” set – indeed, there’s another one at the end of this post – but I have been making other customs and will spend much of this post catching up on the backlog. I’m also floating the idea of a new custom project… as if I really *need* a new project. Actually, I’ve got one other custom project in my head, but I’m intentionally holding off on that until Spring Training.

Earlier this week I saw singer/songwriter Rufus Wainwright being interviewed on a late night talk show… I think of Rufus as the son of singer/songwriter/actor Loudon Wainwright III;  I’m not exactly a fan of LW3, but I have a couple of his albums.  For whatever reason, that made me think of how I first became aware of LW3 as “Captain Spalding”, a character in three episodes of the third season of M*A*S*H.  That, in turn, got me thinking about a project long in the mental noodling stage but never executed – a custom set devoted to the M*A*S*H TV series.

If there were a way of telling how many lifetime hours I’ve spent watching different TV shows, M*A*S*H would be up there at the top with Monty Python’s Flying Circus and Star Trek.  I watched much of the original run on CBS, and when it hit syndication I would come home from school and watch the reruns.  At my peak I knew pretty much everything there was to be known about the show, from “Ah, Bach!” to Zelmo Zale.

Normally this kind of obsessive behavior would cross over into my obsessive collecting behavior, but there’s been just one card set devoted to M*A*S*H, a disappointing 66-card Donruss set from 1982.  I bought a couple of packs at the time and never went further. This is one of the better cards from that set in my collection.

The set was pretty much what you’d expect from Donruss in the early 1980’s, put together without a whole lot of apparent effort.  Some of the images used were kind of odd outside of the context of the episode they were from, and there was nothing to explain, for example, why B.J. is wearing a white tuxedo in the O.R.  (it was from an episode that explored the dreams/nightmares of the characters).

As with many things of this sort, my reaction was “Pffft, I could do better than this!”  I’d long pondered making a custom set in a late 1970’s / early 1980’s non-sport style, floated a bunch of ideas, but never actually went about creating the first custom.

…Until I was very indirectly inspired by Rufus Wainwright on a late night talk show.

I present to you the first promo card for a M*A*S*H custom set, featuring LW3’s character Captain Calvin Spalding, the “Singing Surgeon”.

I’m given to believe that it’s not a coincidence that Captain Spalding shares a name (if not the exact spelling) with the Groucho Marx character in “Animal Crackers”.

Now I honestly don’t know how far I would go with a custom set like this, but I wanted to float it out there to see what the reaction would be.  If I went further with this, I’d be just as likely to dip into the recurring characters (Sidney Friedman, Colonel Flagg, Nurse Kellye) as much as the stars of the show.

Any input?

Moving on…

When I was a kid, there were three George Blanda cards in 1975 Topps Football;  one for his breaking the career points-scoring record (he’d end up with 2002), and two other cards because they needed two card backs to fit all of his career highlights and stats.  HOFer Blanda played 26(!) seasons in the NFL and was 48 years old during his final season.

So, it caught my attention when, in September, Adam Vinatieri broke Morten Andersen’s record for career field goals (he as 576 as of this morning), and then in October he set the career points record (2570 as of this morning).  “This deserves a custom!” I said…. back in October.  Sorry for the delay, Vinatieri fans, here it is.

In case you’re curious, George Blanda currently ranks 7th on the list of career scoring leaders.

The Diamondbacks made an interesting free agent signing this week; they signed pitcher Merrill Kelly to a two-year MLB contract.

You’re probably like me in saying “Who?”. Kelly was in the Tampa Bay Rays system, but spent the last 4 years pitching for the SK Wyverns in the Korea Baseball Organization and is coming back to the US as a 30-year-old rookie. Kelly’s numbers weren’t outstanding by US standards, but within the very offense-friendly KBO they gave MLB organizations thoughts of the next Miles Mikolas.

Here are two more “Hot Stove” customs… I think you probably know about these transactions already. If you follow me on Twitter (@Shlabotnik_Rpt) then you’ve already seen these.

I’ve also got more customs from my “Fauxback” set.

Baseball America named former Met Jordany Valdespin their 2018 Independent League Player Of The Year.

I’m happy for Valdespin and for the Ducks.  I grew up on Long Island and didn’t see my first minor league game until I was a legal adult.  The Ducks came along a couple of years after I left Long Island in one of those “Don’t that just figure” moments.  I’d love to go to a Ducks game, but on the rare occasion when I go back to Long Island, my time is filled with visiting people (all of whom say I need to come up there more often).

Say what you want about social media, one thing I’ve discovered is that you don’t have to wait until Spring Training to see pictures of big name players in their new uniforms.

It’s funny where going down the rabbit hole can lead… I was making comments on Twitter about how I wasn’t sure about how well Portland, OR would work out as a host city for an MLB expansion team. While I was researching to make sure I wasn’t mis-remembering my main point – that at one point the AAA Portland Beavers were evicted to make room for a Major League Soccer team – I found out that Giovanni Savarese, one of the top players on my all-time favorite soccer team, the mid-1990’s Long Island Rough Riders, is the coach of the Portland Timbers, who were in last night’s MLS Cup game.

So I started out researching Portland as an MLB expansion candidate and ended up with a mild rooting interest in the MLS Cup. Too bad the Timbers lost to Atlanta FC.

Wrapping things up with a “Bonus Card” for my 2018 TSR “Giants” set. Kyle Freeland had a great season with the Rockies, going 17-7 with a 2.85 ERA. I left him out of the “regular” set because most of his success came in the second half of the sason, which under the rules I was playing by would’ve been after the checklist was finalized and the set went into imaginary production.

But that doesn’t mean that I couldn’t create a card anyway…

Well, that’s more than enough customs for one week.

My Tribute to 1964 Topps “Giants: The Final Dedicated Post

As with the other posts in this series, I’m simulating the checklist from the 1964 Topps Giant-Sized All-Stars set (commonly known as “1964 Giants”) by selecting three representative players from each team.

Today’s post is going to wrap up the remaining team checklist… however, I’m going to include some additional customs in future “Customs Sunday” posts.  More about this at the end.

Before I go ahead and wrap this series of posts up…

1) Because I’ve been doing these posts since May and I want to keep the selection process relatively uniform, my checklists reflects each team’s roster as of June or thereabouts.  This is important to understand for two reasons…. If someone was traded at or near the deadline, they were considered to be on the team he started the season with.  Also, players who had breakout (Miles Mikolas) or comeback (Nick Markakis) seasons might not be included because they hadn’t done enough at that point to warrant inclusion.
2) The players are not listed in “1st to 3rd” order, and I didn’t always make a custom for who I regarded to be the best player. In a lot of cases, it was more about who I wanted to make a custom for, or which player’s photos made for a better custom.

OK, so let’s move on to the final teams:


…I’ll remind you about the “Checklist picked in June” rule, because that very much applies to the O’s, who traded away anybody who had value (except for Adam Jones, who invoked his no-trade clause).

Kevin Gausman
Best ERA and WHIP among starters and, for what it’s worth, he had much better numbers with the Braves

The other two unmade customs on this checklist:

  • Manny Machado – Starting Shortstop in All-Star Game, might possibly had lead the team in pretty much every offensive category had he been with the team the full year.
  • Adam Jones – Statistically speaking, Adam might not deserve to be included (although he did lead the team with 35 doubles), but I regarded him to be the face of the team for a number of years, and so I’m including him.

Also considered: Trey Mancini (The O’s Runs and Triples leader, tied with Manny for HR’s), Michael Givens, Dylan Bundy, Jonathan Schoop

Decidedly NOT considered: Chris Davis (Mr. Lowest-Batting-Average-In-MLB-History)

Because the Tigers were stripped down to the bare walls going into the season, there’s not a lot of players who would be considered deserving based on performance in 2017 or 2018.  For the most part I let the “big names” dictate the checklist.

Nicholas Castellanos – Lead the team in every significant offensive category except for Triples;  JaCoby Jones had 6 while Nicholas had 5.

The other two unmade customs on this checklist, and both were chosen strictly for being well-known players:

  • Miguel Caberera
  • Victor Martinez

Also considered:  Joe Jimenez (All-Star), Mike Fiers (good enough to get traded)

In another season I would’ve gone with Michael Fulmer or Jordan Zimmerman, but both had a 2018 to forget.


Whit Merrifield
He lead the Majors in Hits (192) and Stolen Bases (45) this year, and wasn’t too shabby last year. He was an easy choice.

The other two unmade customs on this checklist:

  • Salvador Perez – Not a whole lot of mental calisthenics when selecting Perez. He Starting Catcher in the All-Star Game, has been an All-Star six years straight, has five Gold Gloves and two Silver Slugger awards.
  • Mike Moustakas – Was good enough to get traded to Milwaukee.

Also considered:  Jakob Junis, Brad Keller (Don’t know much about him, but he managed a 9-6 record on a 100-loss team and that counts for something)


Blake Snell
One could argue that I let 2018 factor in too much when selecting Blake Snell for a checklist that was, in theory, finalized in June… but many of the best Rays of 2017 weren’t back in 2018 and Snell has been a highly-anticipated pitching prospect. In 2018 he was an All Star, was named the AL Pitcher of the Month for August and September, lead the Majors with 21 wins and lead the AL with a 1.89 ERA

The other two unmade customs on this checklist:

  • Chris Archer – Had been the Rays best pitcher; got traded to Pirates; Rays got better, Archer got worse
  • Wilson Ramos – All-Star who got traded at deadline to Phillies

Others cosidered: Jose Alverado, Carlos Gomez, Kevin Kiermaier, Daniel Robertson, Sergio Romo, Mallex Smith, Joey Wendle, Ryan Yarbrough


Shin-Soo Choo
An All-Star who lead the team in Runs, Hits and On-Base Percentage.

The other two unmade customs on this checklist:

  • Adrian Beltre – Future Hall Of Famer
  • Joey Gallo – lead team in Homers, RBI and Slugging

Others considered: Elvis Andrus, Mike Minor, Rougned Odor, Jurickson Profar


Russell Martin
He may not have been one of the best Blue Jays this year, but you can’t leave the Canadian star out of the Toronto Blue Jays’ checklist, can you?

The other two unmade customs on this checklist:

  • J.A. Happ – An All-Star and currently a sought-after free agent
  • Randall Grichuk – This third slot honestly could’ve gone to Justin Smoak or Kevin Pillar with just as much justification, but I had to pick someone.

Also considered: Kendrys Morales, Seunghwan Oh, Kevin Pillar, Justin Smoak

As part of wrapping this up I wanted to share the “checklists” for the prior teams:
DODGERS – Cody Bellinger, Kenley Jansen, Clayton Kershaw
ASTROS – Jose Altuve, George Springer, Justin Verlander
BRAVES – Ozzie Albies, Freddie Freeman, Ender Inciarte
YANKEES – Aaron Judge, Luis Severino, Giancarlo Stanton
BREWERS – Josh Hader, Travis Shaw, Christian Yelich
WHITE SOX – Jose Abreu, Tim Anderson, Yolmer Sanchez
CARDINALS – Yadier Molina, Marcell Ozuna, Tommy Pham
TWINS – Brian Dozier, Joe Mauer, Ervin Santana
RED SOX – Mookie Betts, J.D. Martinez, Chris Sale
INDIANS – Corey Kluber, Francisco Lindor, Jose Ramirez
CUBS – Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo
ATHLETICS – Matt Chapman, Khris Davis, Blake Treinen
ROCKIES – Nolan Arenado, Charlie Blackmon, Wade Davis
PHILLIES – Jake Arrieta, Rhys Hoskins, Aaron Nola
METS – Michael Conforto, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard
DIAMONDBACKS – Patrick Corbin, Paul Goldschmidt, Zack Greinke
MARLINS – Brian Anderson, Justin Bour, J.T. Realmuto
NATIONALS – Bryce Harper, Max Scherzer. Trea Turner
PADRES – Eric Hosmer, Travis Jankowski, Hunter Renfroe
GIANTS – Madison Bumgarner, Brandon Crawford, Buster Posey
PIRATES – Starling Marte, Gregory Polanco, Jameson Taillon
REDS – Scooter Gennett, Eugenio Suarez, Joey Votto
MARINERS – Nelson Cruz, Edwin Diaz, Mitch Haniger
ANGELS – Shohei Ohtani, Andrelton Simmons, Mike Trout

I’ve been somewhat surprised at how well the 1964 Giants customs have been received, so even though I’m done with posts about the original concept – Which three players would get selected for each team – I’m going to continue to make a few more of these customs and feature them in my Sunday posts, which has been a day I’ve dedicated to posting custom cards.

Here are the players I’m planning to include in future “Custom Sunday” posts: Ichiro, Kyle Freeland, Andrew McCutchen, Trevor Williams, Joey Votto, Mike Trout, Travis Jankowski.

Some of these, like Ichiro and Kyle Freeland, are going to be “Bonus Cards”, given that they didn’t make the 90-card checklist.  Others, like Mike Trout and Joey Votto, were players who made the checklist but I didn’t make a custom the first time around.

If you’d like to see a particular player as either a Bonus Card or as filling out the checklist, leave me a comment and I’ll see what I can do.  The biggest challenge for these is finding a suitable image to use for the custom.

Thank you for following along through many posts (and a prolonged stoppage)!

My Tribute To 1964 Topps “Giants”, November 25th Edition

As with the other posts in this series, I’m simulating the checklist from the 1964 Topps Giant-Sized All-Stars set (commonly known as “1964 Giants”) by selecting three representative players from each team.

Today I’m going to do one “team set” of three customs, but for the rest of the teams I’ll list the three cards on the checklist but share just one.  I’ve got too many projects going on right now to fill out a set of 90 custom cards.


I wasn’t going to do a full set of Giants until someone – I can’t find the comment/tweet –  requested Madison Bumgarner… and then if I’m doing two, I might as well do three.

Buster Posey – Face of the franchise,

Madison Bumgarner – had this truly be a Topps set, he wouldn’t be a consideration because he’s apparently not under contract with Topps

Brandon Crawford

Others considered: Brandon Belt, Andrew McCutchen, Evan Longoria


Starling Marte

The other two unmade customs on this checklist:

  • Gregory Polanco – lead the team in RBI, Home Runs and Slugging.
  • Jameson Taillon – He and Trevor Williams had very similar stats, but I didn’t feel that both of them should be selected.

Others considered:  Trevor Williams (see above), Felipe Vazquez (All-Star closer with 37 saves), Austin Meadows (traded to the Rays), Corey Dickerson (lead team in doubles, triples and batting average), Francisco Cervelli, Josh Harrison (an All-Star last year).


Eugenio Suarez – All-Star, lead team in homers, RBI and Slugging %.

The other two unmade customs on this checklist:

  • Joey Votto – All-Star, plus he lead the NL with a .417 On-Base Percentage.
  • Scooter Gennett – All-Star; NL Player of the month for May, 2018; Lead the team in Runs, batting average

Others considered:  Adam Duvall (since traded to Braves), Jose Peraza (lead the team in Hits, Doubles), Billy Hamilton, Raisel Iglesias (closer), Matt Harvey


Edwin Diaz – MLB Saves leader with 57;  also an All-Star

The other two unmade customs on this checklist:

  • Nelson Cruz – All-Star, team leader in Slugging %, HR & RBI
  • Mitch Haniger – All-Star, lead team in Hits,

Others considered – Jean Segura (All-Star, lead team in Runs and Batting Avg), James Paxton, Dee Gordon, Alex Colome, Felix Hernandez

Bumped from consideration after his PED suspension:  Robinson Cano


Shohei Ohtani – Because you can’t NOT include him.

The other two unmade customs on this checklist:

  • Mike Trout – Considered by many to be the best player in baseball.
  • Andrelton Simmons – four-time Gold Glove winner who lead the team in hits, doubles and triples.

Others considered:  Martin Maldonado, Justin Upton (team RBI leader), Zack Cozart, Albert Pujols

Next week is the last post in this series, so if you would like to see customs of cards I’d listed but didn’t make, or a “bonus card” of someone who didn’t get rank higher than “also considered”, just ask me nicely in the comments and I’ll see what I can do.

Nightmares About 2024 Topps Heritage

It started a few months ago with a joke on Twitter about Night Owl, a well-known lover of 1975 Topps, becoming insolvent trying to collect the different variations of 2024 Topps Heritage (which will be based on 75T).

I did the proverbial LOL…

“Ha ha”, I laughed.

“Ha ha ha ha!”

…But that night, I had a dream that’s been waking me up in a cold sweat ever since.

In my dream it’s 2024 and I’m busting a wax box of that year’s Heritage; What fun! Wheeeeee!!!

Like Night Owl, I also love 1975 Topps… 1975 was my second year of collecting and the year that card collecting became an obsession for me.

Out of the first pack of 2024 Heritage I pulled a card of Francisco Lindor, who is a player I like and semi-collect. Yay!

Out of the second pack I pulled another Lindor, this time in a different color combination. Cool beans, a parallel!

Third pack, another Lindor another color combination…

None of this was surprising, there are 18 different color combinations in 1975 Topps. With the exceptions of All-Stars and certain subsets, the colors were assigned seemingly arbitrarily, a situation which lends itself to multiple levels of parallels.

By the end of the box I had 18 different Lindor cards…

Wow, they really went the distance with that, didn’t they?

That’s when I flipped the cards over to look at the “Product Code” so I could figure out which of the eighteen cards was the base card…


I started thumbing through my other cards… Fourteen different Travis Shaw cards… Eleven different Brandon Crawford cards… Nine different Pat Nesheks…. and no way to determine which was the base and which were the parallel.

That’s when I found out that each of the eighteen color combos were printed in equal amounts, so that EVERY CARD WAS A BASE CARD…. or NONE of them was a base card, depending on how you looked at it.

…and I did the math… 18 versions of 660 cards… A master set of 11,880 cards… and if you count the mini versions of each of the possible cards, that makes the master set total 23,760 cards…

That’s where I always wake up screaming.

After which I get out of bed, start falling, and run through the rest of the opening credits for “Eek The Cat”.

My Tribute To 1964 Topps “Giants”, November 18th Edition

As with the other posts in this series, I’m simulating the checklist from the 1964 Topps Giant-Sized All-Stars set (commonly known as “1964 Giants”) by selecting three representative players from each team.

Unlike the previous posts, I’m going to list 3 cards which I chose for each team’s checklist, but for three of today’s four teams I’m only including one custom per team. Time grows tight for me, and interest wanes for everybody.


I’d forgotten that I’d already done a team set for the Diamondbacks. They were in first place as late as September 1st… and then the wheels came off and they went 9-18 during the month of September and finished well behind the Dodgers and Rockies.

Paul Goldschmidt – All-Star several years running, Silver Slugger, centerpiece of this team.  Don’t even argue that he shouldn’t be here.

Zack Greinke – All-Star four of the past five years, Gold Glove five years straight, 15-11, 3.21, 1.071 WHIP.

Patrick Corbin All-Star Reserve, likely to be traded this winter, All-Star, Cy Young votes, 11-7, 3.15

Also considered:  AJ Pollock (April 2018 Player of the month), Ketel Marte (lead the Majors with 12 Triples), Jake Lamb, Robbie Ray, Archie Bradley

J.T. Realmuto – clearly the best player on this team, which is why there’s all kinds of rumors of his being traded.  I’m thinking this will be the last custom I’ll make featuring the Loria Era uniforms.  They grew on me a little bit over the years, but I won’t really miss them.

The other two unmade customs on this checklist:

  • Brian Anderson – Lead the team in On-base % and doubles, but as I was finalizing this post I realized that Anderson probably shouldn’t be here because of my “June checklist” rule… Maybe Starlin Catro instead?
  • Justin Bour – Reminder – I’m doing these based on the rosters as of June, when the checklist for this imaginary set was imaginarily finalized.  Sure, Bour got traded to Philly… but the flip side is that he was good enough that he got traded to Philly.

Others considered:  Starlin Castro, Jose Urena, Brad Ziegler, Kyle Barraclough, Lewis Brinson


Max Scherzer – gotta have the oversized card to highlight his eyes. This Mets fan won’t begrudge anyone who argues that Scherzer should have won the Cy… I won’t agree, but I respect that argument.  Scherzer lead the Majors with 300 K’s, tied for the NL lead with 18 wins and started the All-Star game.

The other two unmade customs on this checklist:

  • Angry mobs would burn down the fictional Shlabotnik Industries, Inc. factory if Bryce Harper weren’t included, but if you catch me when I’m feeling ornery I would argue that the following two players mentioned deserve it more.  Harper also started the All-Star game, drove in 100 and lead the Majors in walks.
  • Trea Turner – Lead the league with 43 stolen bases;  scored 103 runs, drove in 73 runs.  Until I researched this post I forgot that the Padres sent him to DC in a 2015 three-team trade.

I can’t help but wonder if Trea Turner and Anthony Rendon should’ve gotten preference over His Bryceness… Or Juan Soto if this were an after-the-season checklist rather than a finalized-in-June checklist.  I’m frankly happy that, barring a team owner getting bonked on the head with a bowling ball and changing personality, neither of my two teams is going to be the one regretting a $400 million Bryce Harper contract come 2022.

Of course, I also thought Roger Clemens was washed up in the mid 1990’s (*cough* steroids *cough*).  I really need to work on that series of “Shlabotnik’s Hall Of Disdain” posts…

Also considered:  Sean Doolittle, Daniel Murphy, Ryan Zimmerman


This was a rough bunch to pick because… well, this is not a good team.

Eric Hosmer – The biggest name on the team, lead the team in hits, doubles, runs and RBI.

The other two unmade customs on this checklist:

  • Hunter Renfroe – Lead the team in home runs and slugging %.
  • Travis Jankowski – team leader in batting average, on-base % and stolen bases.  I kinda like Jankowski so I may go back and make a custom for him.

Others considered: Brad Hand (All-Star with a 1.083 WHIP before getting traded to Cleveland), Wil Myers, Freddy Galvis, Kirby Yates, Christian Villanueva, Manuel Margot

As of right now, I’m planning on another two or three posts in this series, just to get through the remaining 11 teams in some form, plus a couple of “bonus cards” that I’ve promised. If you would like to see customs of cards I’d listed but didn’t make, or of someone who didn’t get past the “also considered” phase, just ask me nicely in the comments and I’ll see what I can do.

…Even if you ask for Bryce Harper. (Turns and spits on the floor)

Catching Up On Hot Stove Customs (And Thoughts On The Marlins New Unforms)

Over the past few weeks, the majority of the custom cards I’ve posted here have been my tributes to the 1964 Topps “Giants” set.  There are more of those coming, but I wanted to take some time and share some of the other offseason custom projects I’ve been working on.

I’ve been using a variety of oddball designs in the offseason ever since 2012/13 when this guy had just been hired to manage the Red Sox…

I used these customs to highlight new managers, player movement and other offseason developments.

Back in 2014 I started to play around with faux “3-D” customs

…and yes, the 3-D customs will be back, once some of the bigger names start moving around.

As an attempted side project which never took off as much as I’d intended, in 2015 I started creating custom non-sports cards, the TSR “Fauxback” set.

I really like this design, I wish I’d done more with it at the time…

…but anyway…

A few weeks ago I introduced the first of my TSR Hot Stove customs, based on (but not completely faithful to) the 1962 Post set.  Here’s are two more examples, one featuring new Angels manager Brad Ausmus…

…and the other featuring new Rangers manager Chris Woodward:

As 1962 Post collectors can tell, I’ve gone rogue with the colors used and made them more team-based.  I’ve also ditched the stats and will replace them with other things.

This past week I unveiled my new TSR Fauxback design to highlight new Twins manager Rocco Baldelli (The Twins tweeted out a bigger photo of Rocco than the other managers got, so I figured “why waste it?”)

This design is meant to evoke the non-sport Topps sets of the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, complete with the card number on the front (in the upper right corner) and in what I thought was a fun development for my custom cards, puzzles on the back!  YAAAAY!

I shared these images on Twitter earlier this week, and the response was “crickets”.


I also think that the design might appeal to people more if they see a bunch at the same time, so all y’all can get an idea of what I’m doing here.

And so…

The Miami Marlins unveiled their new uniforms yesterday, I thought the Fauxback design, combined with images published by the Marlins, would work well for expanding on the few thoughts I’d tweeted.

Starting pitcher Trevor Richards highlights the home jersey’s “Miami” script…

My initial reaction to these uniforms was that it was a lateral move from the one’s they’d had since 2012, more of an “Under New Management” sign than any huge improvement.

(here’s the puzzle back for card #6…)

…funny how the full-bleed nature of the backs make them look bigger than the front…

But now that I’ve had some time to digest them, I’m liking them more.  I still think they need a little *something* – maybe a “Miami Blue” bill on that black cap, or a non-black number on the front – but it’s not at all bad.  There’s way too much black, blue and red in Major League baseball, but at least it’s a different blue.

(Puzzle back for card #4…)

My main problem with the black alternate is that there’s way too much black.  As Nigel Tufnel said in This Is Spinal Tap, “How much more black could this be?  And the answer is ‘None… None more black’.”

When I was looking at Marlins unis reactions yesterday on my phone, i noticed that on a small screen the black jersey showed up as illegible, just a few colored marks on a black shirt.  It looks nice enough up close, but it’s going to be difficult to read the numbers from the stands.  If I were made commissioner (of any sport, I may add), one of my first moves would be to require that jersey numbers be completely legible from the upper decks.  Function over form, people…

(Puzzle back for card #5…)

I wanted to share one last custom, because this Fauxback set is intended to be an all-purpose set.  Ever since I heard about the retirement of Caroll Spinney, the puppeteer who performed as Big Bird and Oscar The Grouch, I’ve wanted to make some sort of custom to commemorate this… so this seemed as good an opportunity to make one

(Puzzle back for card #3…)

By this point I think that many of you have figured out who’s on the puzzle backs.  The first person to name the celebrity in the comments will win… a big ol’ thumbs up from me, and the admiration of your peers.  Sorry, I’m not a “prize” kind of guy.

BTW, when I’ve shared all (or at least most of) the puzzle backs, I’ll also share the full puzzle.  I’m not quite there yet.