Because *Someone* Will Be Interested: Customs Created For My B&W Laser Printer

I sometimes like to print out customs even though I don’t have a color printer. It stems from getting tired of certain players in my “Current Rosters” binders being constantly represented by a hand-written placeholder… Backup catchers, utility guys, relief pitchers, all the guys who get a rookie card and then fall off of Topps’ radar… or don’t even get a rookie card to start with.

I’ve been doing these customs for a couple of years, and I call them “Cheap Seats”, which is kinda sorta a play on “Upper Deck”

Because toner ain’t cheap and because these customs are never going to look great no matter what I do, I try to minimize the amount of black and greyscale used. That means removing the background from the photo used and not “coloring between the lines” on the design. This also means that I shy away from designs which would ideally have large color areas (like 1975 Topps).

This year I decided to use the 1968 Topps / 2017 Heritage design with some adaptations for my purposes.

Obviously, I removed the color, the “burlap” and the filled-in circle.  Because the players I do these for are usually a bit more… shall we say ‘nomadic’… than average, I swapped the text in the circle to emphasize the position over the team.

So with card design template in hand (so to speak), here’s how I proceed from there.  First off, I look for photos a) where you can see the players face, b) which can be cropped fairly tightly, c) which features a home uniform (or at least not a dark one) and c) has relatively little background.  “Photo Day” images work very well in this respect.

Next, I take the image, get rid of the background and crank up the brightness and contrast.  Then — and if you don’t have Paint Shop Pro like I do, you’d have to find your own equivalent — I use a macro which comes with the software, one called “Black And White Pencil”.  That converts the image to something like you see here.

“Black And White Pencil” leaves a lot of light gray in the background, so I clean that up with the eraser set to a hardness of 50% or so, which allows me to clean up while maintaining the halo effect around the image.

When I’m ready to print, I take the individual images and paste them on a “printing sheet” document which has dotted lines drawn on it in standard size, so I can easily cut them out with scissors.  Here’s an example with the neighboring dotted lines and customs included.

Side note:  I have no idea why the Giants didn’t give Hwang more of a chance rather than bring back the washed-up Kung Fu Panda.  It’s not like the Giants have anything to play for, other than a top draft pick.  (or is that why they brought back the Panda?)

Late one night I had an idea that if I looked at the pitchers who fall into the Top 10 in appearances in 2017, at least one of them would have no cardboard to speak of… And I was right!  …at that time, anyway.  Ladies and Gentleman, the pitcher who, when I originally researched this, had the 8th most appearances in the Major Leagues and yet has no Major League cardboard at all… The Milwaukee Brewers’ Jacob Barnes!  (Insert a Kermit The Frog “Yaaaaaaaaay!” here).

Barnes’ 67 appearances is currently good for 11th in the Majors, BTW.

As I mentioned, I  make these for my “current roster” binders.  The real test is in how these look in a 9-pocket page….

Not too shabby… about as good as anything is going to look when printed by an ordinary printer on copy paper, anyway.




More 1975 Customs: Mets Scattered On The Four Winds

Once again, I’m doing some 1975 customs as a “proof of concept” for a project I’ve got going on this winter. This time around, I’m featuring players who started the season with the Mets but are now elsewhere.

Before we get into the customs, here’s a bit of trivia I picked up watching a nationally-televised Mets game (FS1, I think… maybe ESPN):
How many players from this year’s opening day starting lineup are currently on the Mets active roster?

While you think about that, here are the customs along with the transactions in chronological order:

July 27th; Lucas Duda to the Tampa Bay Rays for Drew Smith.

July 31st; Addison Reed to the Boston Red Sox for Jamie Callahan (who just got called up) and two minor leaguers

August 9th; Jay Bruce to the Cleveland Indians for a minor leaguer

August 12th; Neil Walker to the Milwaukee Brewers for a player to be named later

August 19th; Curtis Granderson to the Los Angeles Dodgers for a PTBNL (which a day later became Jacob Rhame, also a September call-up)

August 19th; Rene Rivera claimed on waivers by the Chicago Cubs

Answer to the trivia: Two of the nine Mets from the opening day starting lineup are currently active and with the Mets: Asdrubal Cabrera and Jose Reyes.

Yoenis Cespedes and Noah Syndergaard are on the DL and the other five players are shown above (with the exception of reliever Addison Reed, of course).

Hank Aaron Heritage Weekend ==> 1975 Customs

Last weekend the Atlanta Braves observed “Hank Aaron Heritage Weekend” and wore throwbacks to 1974, the year when Aaron set the record for career homers.  As it so happened, I’ve been messing with a 1975 Topps template for an upcoming project which you’ll likely see this Winter (hint, hint).

And so, with almost no text save for the last one, here are the resulting customs…

This custom is for Fuji (and because Kurt Suzuki was kind enough to hit a 2-run homer, which meant that I was able to find images of him hitting said homer).

I actually made this custom twice; the first one had a blue & green border, but then I ran across the 1975 Topps card for Mike Lum who, like Suzuki, hails from Hawaii. At that point, I knew I had to make the Suzuki custom using the same colors as the original Mike Lum.

I’ve got another batch of these customs coming… not involving throwback uniforms or the Braves, but I just wanted to take my messing around with the 1975 design to the next phase.  You’ll probably see those before too long.

Fauxbacks And Throwbacks: Rays And Indians On 1978 Customs

This past weekend, the Tampa Bay Rays and Cleveland Indians had a game which threw back to some unspecified year in the 1970’s. Of course, the Rays only go back to 1998, but God bless them, that doesn’t stop them from throwing back to the 1970’s.

I love any games which turn the clock back to the 1970’s, plus each team featured a player who spent the first half of the season with the Mets… and it also gives me an excuse to do some further work on my 1978 Topps baseball custom template… I mean, how could I resist?

Since the Rays were the home team driving the WABAC machine, I’ll start off by highlighting their unis, and their first baseman/DH Lucas Duda.

Sure, these unis are a knockoff of the Padres uniform of the late 1970’s, but I still like them.  I also like the fact that they use Fauxback uniforms rather than throwing back to the two older uniforms they could throw back to instead (the original rainbow “Devil Rays” and then the dark green “Rays” unis they wore from 2001 to 2007).

The Indians wore the solid red unis they wore from 1975 to 1977… and here’s our other former Met, Jay Bruce.  G’day, Bruce!

Bruce’s time with the Mets got off to a rough start last year, but I’d warmed up to him this year… just in time for him to be gone.  He could go back to the Mets as a free agent, I suppose.

Not the greatest shot of Francisco Lindor, but it shows off the uni nicely… and I like Lindor.

I probably should’ve made note of who’s foot he’s tagging.

The majority of 1978 Topps cards had the little baseball in the upper right, but it did migrate over to the left when the photo required it… If you don’t believe me, go pull out your 1978 Darrell Porter card.

I like this photo because it seemed sort of “1970’s action shot” ish.

In case anybody was wondering, I made the “Rays” script by taking the “R” from… um… I think it was the Royals… and merging it with the “ays” from “Blue Jays”.  A little squishing, a little nudging, a little stretching… et Voila!

Within the actual 1978 Topps set, the purple-y blue-ish script went with red borders (Orioles, Dodgers, Brewers, Pirates), but I felt justified in creating a new color combination for a team which didn’t exist in 1978.  Besides, it fits the Rays’ colors quite nicely.

As is always the case when I share any 1978 customs, I would like to take the opportunity to taunt challenge the graphics department at Topps.  Let’s get the 1978 design in Archives!  If someone like me, a self-taught amateur using 13-year-old software, can create these, then surely you highly-paid… or maybe not so highly-paid…. OK, fine, you paid professionals can handle it without breaking a sweat.

2017 TSR: A 4th Series Cello Pack To Make Up For Lost Time

My custom card output has been way down since the start of the season. There are a number of reasons for this… time, energy, enthusiasm. I’ll even blame Topps Now to some degree, because it feels a little pointless to make a “2017 Highlights” custom when Topps has already done so and, unlike me, will ship them out.

A recent spate of throwback games got me making throwback customs again, and all of the recent player movement inspired me to make my “flagship” TSR customs again. Normally by this time of year, I’d be working under the pretense of a 4th series coming out… but I couldn’t work up the enthusiasm to do a 4th series wax wrapper…

…so today we’re getting a cello pack. I won’t say I miss cellos, not exactly, but I do miss being able to pick out a pack that has a “need” on top.

So here’s the top card in the pack…

The Cubs have been playing well lately; I don’t know if it coincided with the acquisition of Quintana from the White Sox, but I’m sure it didn’t hurt, if only from a general enthusiasm standpoint.

It wasn’t long ago that the Red Sox acquired a Giants third baseman and it worked out poorly for everyone involved. The Sox cut the Panda loose and to replace him they… get a Giants third baseman. Hmm.

I would say that I hope it works out better this time, but as I’ve got no reason to pull for Nunez or the Sox, I won’t say that.

I almost created a semi-parody of Topps Now for this post, something to feature interesting moments which wouldn’t make it into “Now”. The first “TSR Not Now” card, as it was tentatively called, would’ve featured Todd Frazier hitting into a triple play in his first home at-bat as a Yankee.

With the bases loaded and (of course) no outs, Frazier hit a grounder up the middle. Reds shortstop Jose Peraza stepped on second for one out, threw to first for the second, and Didi Gregorius got caught in a rundown for the third out… However, Matt Holliday did score on the play.

Big Sexy recently made his way to Minnesota, but after two games he’s not pitching appreciably better than he was with the Braves.

I really enjoyed Colon’s time with the Mets and I hope he sorts things out and gets back to pitching like he did when he was 43 (ha!).

In one of the least-surprising trades of the month so far, the Mets traded Lucas Duda.

Duda is in his walk year, and the Mets have the highly anticipated Dominic Smith ready to take over at first in the (hopefully) near future.

Between the two leagues, there have been six “Rookie Of The Month” awards given out so far this season, and those awards went to three different players. The only one not named “Judge” or “Bellinger” is Rockies pitcher Antonio Senzatela, who won the N.L. April award.

I’m a bit surprised I wasn’t aware of this guy until recently. He got off to a hot start in April and May, getting off to a 7-1 record, but then he fell off in June, got sent to the bullpen and then AAA Albuquerque. He’s back in the Rockies rotation now.

Meanwhile, Aaron Judge is hitting just .244 with 6 homers in July, so we’ll see if he gets a 4th consecutive “Rookie Of The Month” award.

Rafael Montero has not pitched well in 2017 (or 2016, for that matter), but he’s been in 21 games with 7 starts, so it seems like he should have some sort of card, even if it’s a virtual one.

He was a well-regarded prospect at one point, and he pitched in the 2013 Futures Game.

Former Met Ruben Tejada has found his way to my Orioles as a fill in while J.J. Hardy is on the DL.

It’s funny how Tejada went from a regular with the Mets to a journeyman in short order. The photo on his page shows him with a team he never actually played for (the Yankees).