Custom Card Sunday: Former Oriole Makes His Mark In Japan

The customs are all over the place today… Sometimes that’s the best place to be.

Former Oriole, Brewer and Astro Dennis Sarfate was named the MVP of the Japan Series (the NPB equivalent of the World Series) by picking up two saves and pitching three scoreless innings to get the win in an extra-inning, series-clinching Game 6 for the SoftBank Hawks against the DeNA BayStars.

Sarfate had a season to remember, because he also set an NPB record with 54 saves during the regular season as well as the career saves record for a non-Japanese pitcher.

Meanwhile, back in the States…

A number of managerial press conferences have been held lately, and as a result we’ve got more of my “Hot Stove” customs coming your way, including this one based on 1963 Post Baseball.

For those who might be wondering, the “3-D” customs will be coming once players start moving around, and the design to be used for this offseason’s customs is from 1972 Kellogg’s.

We’ll wrap things up with another sheet of U-KNOW-M stamps… You’ll love ’em because U-KNOW-M!

I’m sure by now most of you have seen the clip of Carlos Correa proposing to his girlfriend Daniella Rodriguez during the World Series post-game show.  It was fun to watch when it happened (I’d fallen asleep on the couch, woke up for the last out and watched some of the post-game), but I was not prepared for the coverage it got the next morning.  Good thing she said “Yes”.

Although I’d never seen him perform, it seemed like Myron Noodleman had been everywhere during any given minor league season… So I was sad to see that he recently passed away from an aggressive form of cancer.  Noodleman was named the “Clown Prince Of Baseball” in 2004 and will be missed.

A certain person who has been in the news lately has indirectly made me think of George Harrison’s cameo in Monty Python’s Life Of Brian. George, who stepped in at the last minute to underwrite the film under his newly-created HandMade Films production company, appears very briefly as “Mr. Papadopoulos”, and his one spoken word, “Hullo”, was actually overdubbed later on by Michael Palin.

When I was a kid I bought a remaindered album called “Dick Clark’s 20 Years Of Rock ‘N’ Roll”. The 20 years in question were from 1953 to 1972, and that two LP set was my introduction to musical acts like Carl Perkins, Brenda Lee, Dion and the Belmonts and Fats Domino.  The song featured on that album was “I’m Walking”, which remains a favvorite of mine, but Fats was also known for “Ain’t That A Shame?”, “Whole Lotta Loving”, and, of course, “Blueberry Hill”.  He was an inaugural member of the Rock Hall Of Fame, and recently passed away at the age of 89.


Topps Done ‘Em Wrong (Chris Taylor Isn’t Alone)

The scandal surrounding NLCS co-MVP Chris Taylor’s absence from any Topps Flagship product has gotten it’s share of attention lately, but Taylor isn’t the only one done dirty by Topps. Not by a long shot.

If you’d missed it, the issue concerns Taylor not being included in 2017 Topps Update, Series 1 or Series 2, despite his becoming a breakout player for the National League champion Dodgers and appearing in 140 games in 2017.

I’d suspected that Taylor is not the only notable omission Topps made.  What I did to confirm my suspicions was to take all of the players listed on the PDF checklists issued by Topps (which had, in between, been loaded into my personal baseball card database) and compare them to a list of players who’d appeared in any games in 2017.

I realize that Topps flagship sets are a commercial product and never really intended to be an exhaustive document of the MLB season… But you’d think that anyone who played enough to qualify for a batting or ERA title would have their own little spot in a combined 1000-card checklist… Right?


So here’s the breakdown… If you take the checklists for Series 1, Series 2 and Update, remove the duplication, the team cards, the combo cards and such, you’ll have 776 different players represented (FYI, this does include the two-player rookie cards from Update as two different players).  On the other side of the equation, there were 1,458 players who appeared in the Majors in 2017, but a pretty decent number of those are “cuppa coffee” guys and September callups.

When I bumped one list against the other, I found that the list of players who did not appear in flagship Topps included five batters with at least 502 plate appearances and 6 pitchers with at least 162 innings pitched.

Some of the players who did appear in flagship include David Ortiz (retired), Angel Pagan (Topps was the only organization which had any interest in him), Derek Holland (who has not pitched 162 innings since 2013) and David Wright (who has not played since 2016 and has not had 502 PA’s since 2014).  Granted, Topps didn’t know that three of these guys wouldn’t make an impact on 2017, but they could’ve held them back for a while.

A little side note… I normally wouldn’t do customs for a during-the-week post, but for a variety of reasons it was easier than scanning, plus some of these guys don’t have a whole lot of cardboard.

First, let’s start with the position players, ranked by the number of games they appeared in.

Whit Merrifield – Kansas City Royals – 145 games

AB – 587; R – 80; HR – 19; RBI – 78; BA – .288; OBP – .324

Merrifield was the starting second baseman for a team that was expected to be competitive in 2017… Granted, the Royals were not, but Merrifield did lead the AL with 34 stolen bases.

Recent Cardboard:  2017 Topps Heritage High Numbers;  2017 Topps Now

Yolmer (Carlos) Sanchez – Chicago White Sox – 141 games

AB – 484; R – 63; HR – 12; RBI – 59; BA – .267; OBP – .319

Yeah, the White Sox stunk this year, and Sanchez didn’t put up amazing numbers, but he didn’t suck either.

Recent Cardboard:  2017 Topps Now, 2017 Topps White Sox team set (as Carlos Sanchez on those 2015 cards — Yolmer is his first name)

Chris Taylor – Los Angeles Dodgers – 140 games

AB – 514; R – 85; HR – 21; RBI – 72; BA – .288; OBP – .354

The previous two players were on losing teams.  I did mention the whole “breakout” and “co-MVP of the NLCS” before, right?

Recent cardboard:  2017 Topps Heritage High Numbers and a poopload of 2017 Topps Now

Tim Beckham – Tampa Bay Rays and Baltimore Orioles – 137 Games

AB – 533; R – 67; HR – 22; RBI – 62; BA – .278; OBP – .328

I’m willing to give Topps a flyer on this one.  Beckham wasn’t doing much of anything with the Rays in the first four months of the season, but getting traded to the Orioles lit a fire under his butt… Oh, I forgot, Topps Update’s checklist was apparently finalized around the All-Star break.

Recent cardboard:  2015 Topps Heritage

Ben Gamel – Seattle Mariners – 134 Games

AB – 509; R – 68; HR – 11; RBI – 59; BA – .275; OBP – .322

If Ben Gamel put up these numbers with the Yankees, his original organization, he’d be in every freakin’ set that Topps put out.  Tell me I’m wrong.

Recent cardboard:  2017 Topps Heritage High Numbers;  2017 Topps Seattle Mariners team set

…and the fact that he’s in the Mariners team set just pisses me off even more.  The only work Topps had to do to get him in flagship was changing the card number.

Now let’s get to the pitchers, in descending order of innings pitched.

Patrick Corbin – Arizona Diamondbacks – 189.2 Innings Pitched

Games – 33; Record – 14-13; ERA – 4.03; K – 178; WHIP – 1.418

Patrick Corbin had me double-checking my findings… He’s in Heritage, he’s in National Baseball Card Day, he’s in the D-Backs team set, he’s in freakin’ Honus Bonus, for cryin’ out loud… but he’s not in Series 1, 2 or update?  Are ya kidding me???

Recent cardboard:  2017 Heritage;  2017 Topps Arizona Diamondbacks team set;  2017 Honus Bonus Fantasy Baseball;  2017 Topps National Baseball Card Day

Lance Lynn – St. Louis Cardinals – 186.1 Innings Pitched

Games – 33; Record – 11-8; ERA – 3.43; K – 153; WHIP – 1.229

I understand that Lance Lynn missed all of 2016 after Tommy John surgery, but on the other hand he tied for the 2017 National League lead for Games Started.

Recent cardboard:  2017 Heritage High Numbers;  2017 Topps Now

Mike Leake – St. Louis Cardinals and Seattle Mariners – 186.0 Innings Pitched

Games – 31; Record – 10-13; ERA – 3.92; K – 130; WHIP – 1.28

Guys like Beckham and Leake would likely get into Update if Update was an update (and a woodchuck would chuck wood).

Recent cardboard:  2017 Heritage High Numbers, 2017 Topps Now;  2017 Honus Bonus

Dan Straily – Miami Marlins –  181.2 Innings Pitched

Games – 33; Record – 10-9; ERA – 4.26; K – 170; WHIP – 1.299

Dan Straily appeared in Donruss, but not Topps.  Sink your teeth into that.

Recent Cardboard:  2017 Donruss;  2017 Topps Gypsy Queen;  2017 Topps Heritage (with the Reds); 2017 Topps Heritage High Numbers (with the Marlins);  2017 Honus Bonus

Jose Urena – Miami Marlins – 169.1 Innings Pitched

Games – 34; Record – 14-7; ERA – 3.82; K – 113; WHIP – 1.273

A 14-7 record for a 77-85 team?  That’s not too shabby in my book.  Plus nobody in the NL plunked more batters than Urena.

Recent Cardboard:  2015 Topps Update; 2015 Topps Heritage High Numbers

Luis Perdomo – San Diego Padres – 163.2 Innings Pitched

Games – 29; Record – 8-11; ERA – 4.67; K – 118; WHIP – 1.509

In the past 10 years, there have been two pitchers named Luis Perdomo, and both pitched for the Padres.  The first Luis Perdomo pitched in San Diego in 2009 and 2010, for the Twins in 2012, and in independent baseball as recently as 2016.  Tell me that didn’t cause confusion somewhere at some time.

Recent Cardboard:  2017 Topps Stadium Club;  2017 Gypsy Queen;  2017 Honus Bonus

Just to salvage some of the research I did… I originally went looking for players who appeared in 100+ games but didn’t get represented in Topps Flagship.  There are TWENTY-THREE of them all together.  Here are the guys who appeared in 100+ games but didn’t have the necessary plate appearances for this post (in decending order of games):  Greg Garcia, Albert Almora, Ezequiel Carrera, Darwin Barney, Gorkys Hernandez, Wilmer Difo (Are we not men?), Andrew Romine, Guillermo Heredia, Delino DeShields, Matt Davidson, Joey Rickard (Another Oriole left out of flagship?  What a shock), Erick Aybar, Manny Pina, Alen Hanson, Chris Herrmann, Tyler Moore, Austin Barnes (another NL champion Dodger).


Custom Card Sunday: And The Offseason Begins!

To use a British slang word I like, I’m chuffed about how this first custom turned out. (Chuffed: Very pleased, delighted)

It came out of the convergence of several ideas, it’s the official kickoff of the 2017-18 TSR “Hot Stove” set, and it’s my first custom of new Mets manager Mickey Callaway!

For those who aren’t familiar with the design or can’t put a finger on the particular year, this is based on 1963 Post Baseball, and will be my particular vehicle for new managers and other customs based on press conference photos.

…And just to allay any fears you might have, these will not replace the faux Kellogg’s cards and cereal boxes of the past couple of winters… Those are coming later.

I’d planned on spacing these out, but what the heck, here’s another Hot Stove custom, this time featuring new Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire, who remains a favorite of mine from his time as an infielder with the Mets in the early 1980’s

Gardenhire takes over for the fired Brad Ausmus and has a long road ahead of him managing the newly-rebuilding Tigers.

Guess what!  These cards come with another sheet of U-KNOW-M stamps!  You love ’em because U-KNOW-M!

Sonequa Martin-Green is currently the lead for the behind-a-pay-wall Star Trek:  Discovery TV series, and before that she was Sasha on The Walking Dead.  I’ve been a Trekker since I was a pre-teen, but I’ve only seen the pilot of this new series.  Can anybody give us a quickie review of the series (so far)?

My inner 7-year-old, who can’t help but snicker over the name of Brazilian soccer star Kaká, was disappointed to find that Kaká had announced that he won’t be back with the MLS’s Orlando City SC next year.  Now who am I going to search for in packs of 2018 MLS cards?

Today (October 29th) is the birthday of Dan Castallaneta, who is best known as the voice of Homer Simpson.  Happy birthday, Dan!

Finally, Halloween is coming this week and I have to admit that I like the Saturday Night Live character David S. Pumpkins (played by Tom Hanks) even though I really can’t explain why.  “Any questions?”

Hey, Kids! Collect U-KNOW-M Stamps — Now In TSR Fun Packs!

That’s right, you get four fun stamps in every pack…

…Featuring your favorite athletes, musicians, actors, historical figures, Nobel Prize-winning economists, game show hosts, cartoon characters, authors, theoretical physicists, sportscasters, members of Congress, mascots and celebrities who are famous for being famous!

You know you’ll like ‘em… because U-KNOW-M!

Here’s your first sheet… Make sure you go to your local VIRT-U-L-MART to pick up the official stamp album!

I fell asleep watching Game 1 of the ALCS on Friday night, woke up for the 9th inning, and ended up watching a fair amount of what followed on  FS1, the Pearl Jam concert film “Let’s Play Two”. I have to admit that even though I’m largely indifferent to Pearl Jam (their music just doesn’t speak to me) it was an interesting film. At the beginning there were shots of the band hanging backstage and I wondered “Who’s this guy hanging with the band, the one with short-cropped hair and glasses looking like Bob Saget’s younger brother?” As it turns out, Saget The Younger turned out to be Stone Gossard, rhythm guitarist for Pearl Jam. This amused me enough that I created a stamp for him.

For those who missed the debacle, the USMNT (U.S. Mutant Ninja Turtles Men’s National Team) were eliminated from World Cup qualification, bringing shame and disgrace on our country for generations to come. I haven’t seen the USMNT lately… and apparently won’t for quite a while… but Christian Pulisic sounds like he’s the future of soccer in the United States. Just the fact that he’s a 19-year-old playing in the German Budesliga impresses the hell out of me.  Maybe things would’ve gone better for the USMNT if the Mutant Ninja Turtles had been sent out to play against Trinidad And Tobago… or at least if Splinter had been the head coach.

I was amused by a t-shirt I saw, one which featured Cookie Monster and says “Straight Outta Cookies”. I like the shirt, but given Cookie Monster’s speech patterns, wouldn’t he say “Straight outta cookie”? …or maybe I’m just overthinking this.

Hagar Ben Ari is the bass player in the house band on The Late Late Show With James Corden. She’s often seen in the background and has this cool vibe about her, but I’d never seen her do anything but play bass and react to things on the show. I’ve been intrigued by her for a while, even more so when Googling turned up only her name, the fact that she’s Israeli and…. um….. she plays the bass.

Hopefully you enjoyed these… let’s see what else is in this particular Fun Pack!

While I have no love for the Washington Nationals, they recently did something I whole-heartedly approve of… They installed a full-blown organ for their organist Matthew Van Hoose (who previously had been using a keyboard).

I grew up listening to Jane Jarvis playing the organ at Shea Stadium, so I feel like a good organist should be part of a baseball game.  It’s been a few years since I’ve been to Nationals Park, but when I return to watch the Mets take on the Nats, I’ll make sure to appreciate Dr. Van Hoose.  I have a feeling, however, that he won’t be playing “Meet The Mets”.

When Nathan Walker took the ice recently, he became the first Australian player in the NHL. I thought that was really cool, and it almost made me want to root for the Capitals again. Almost. You know the rules… I won’t have any thoughts of reconciliation with the Capitals until Ovechkin’s gone.

The absolute best thing about this story is that Walker was congratulated by the Australian ambassador to the United States, a gentleman by the name of – and I am completely serious about this – Joe Hockey. My sources tell me that Mr. Hockey does not spend his winter skating on a frozen-over birdbath, thinking things like “Here’s Joe Hockey at the Stanley Cup Finals…”

If you hadn’t heard, the NBA is allowing teams to wear an advertising patch on their uniforms starting this year. What you may not have known is that the Indiana Pacers will be sponsored by 1994 Fleer Baseball.

The Angels’ Parker Bridwell went 10-3, 3.64 with a 1.198 WHIP. He also went at least 6 innings in 13 of his starts. The Orioles really could’ve used a guy like that in their rotation….

What’s that?

The Orioles had Parker Bridwell and DFA’ed him in April?


Custom Sunday: Unsung Players Bound For The Postseason (Plus Other Subjects)

This week I thought I’d focus on a few players who are on Playoffs-bound teams, but don’t get as bright of a spotlight as some of their teammates… and later in the post I’ll feature some other players who are going home tonight.

Earlier this year I was watching the Mets vs. the Dodgers and the announcers were talking about what a great season Chris Taylor was having.  At first I said “Chris Taylor?  Who’s Chris Taylor?”

It took a minute or so for my brain cells to line up in formation, and then I asked the TV “Former Mariner Chris Taylor?  The guy they got for potential first round bust Zach Lee?”

Well, Chris Taylor broke out this year and I had missed it somehow.  Whether it was playing most of his games in the outfield or just a change of scenery, Taylor batted .288 with 85 runs scored, 72 RBI, 34 doubles, 5 triples, 21 homers.  His 4.7 WAR ranks him higher than other Dodgers who have received more hype, including Cody Bellinger, Yasiel Puig and Kenley Jansen.  On top of all that, Taylor also played at 2nd, Short and 3rd.  Seems like a guy to keep an eye on.

Another guy who flies under the radar is Astros starting pitcher Brad Peacock.  I was impressed when I saw Brad Peacock pitch in AA six or seven years ago – he was a Nationals prospect at the time – but it seemed like he might never live up to my expectations.

This year, while all the attention is on Keuchel and Verlander, Peacock has a 13-2 record with a 3.00 ERA, 1.189 WHIP and 11.0 K’s for every 9 innings pitched.  I’ll be rooting for the Astros in the postseason… except perhaps if they go up against Cleveland.  I really wanted Cleveland to win last year, and I’m not sure which of these two teams I’d pull towards.

Speaking of the Indians… I’ve got one more “unsung” player and maybe you can’t call someone “unsung” when he’s one of four players tied for the MLB lead with 18 wins, but Carlos Carrasco unquestionably operates in Corey Kluber’s shadow.

Carrasco is 18-6 with a 3.29 ERA, 226 K’s and a 1.10 WHIP.  He’s in the Top 5 in the A.L in K’s, Walks/Hits per Inning, K’s per walk, K’s per 9 innings, BB’s per 9 innings and winning percentage… but in each of those categories he’s behind Corey Kluber.

Julio Teheran isn’t heading for the postseason, but he was a major “find” for my fantasy team this year… once I learned how to use him.

Overall, Teheran was an unimpressive 11-13, 4.49 this year… But he was pretty bad in the Braves new home in suburban Atlanta.  If you look at his road numbers – and I only had him starting on my fantasy team when he was on the road – he pitched a much more impressive 8-3, 3.14.  He even managed to have more strikouts and fewer walks on the road.

Less impressive was A.J. Ramos, who the Mets picked up from the Marlins during the season.

In 21 games with the Mets, he put up a 4.74 ERA and 1.632 WHIP.  It looks like the Mets might have a new manager and pitching coach next year, so we’ll see whether this was an aberration or just another typical Mets “buy high” acquisition.

The Orioles took Anthony Santander from the Indians in last year’s Rule V draft, and even though he was on the 40-man roster all season, he only appeared in 13 games.

Santander spent most of the season on the DL, so if the Orioles are to keep him, they’d have to have him on the active roster for part of next season as well.  He’s been hitting pretty well in his short time playing, it will be interesting to see if the Orioles will hang on to him.

2017 TSR: What Happened

If Hillary Clinton can ask that, so can I.  One can safely assume that my version will make significantly less money.

In my case, “What Happened?” refers to my 2017 TSR custom set.

I’ll be the first to tell you that 2017 was not a great year for my original-design TSR custom card set. I worked hard on the design, but because I was also working on customs for the World Baseball Classic, I ended up rushing the design phase a bit, and I later came to realize that there’s a bit too much going on… The end result is a set I like but don’t love, and given the crickets in response to most of the posts, I’m thinking that the lack of love was pretty universal.

I’ve also come to understand that the underlying theme of a virtual card set representing my pack-busting desires has gone from inspiration to hindrance. Because of where the hobby is now, some of the subsets became largely pointless. Why make a 2017 Highlights “Indians Set Winning Streak Record” custom when Topps Now had already featured the streak 10 times?  (By my count, anyway)

…But I DO enjoy coming up with original card designs, I DO enjoy making customs and sharing them with all y’all, and I DO want to carry on in 2018.

In preparation for next year, I’m working on a 1960’s-inspired design and sorting out a “mission statement”. Over the next couple of weeks I’m going to put some ideas to the test, but rather than saying “My 2017 design wasn’t great – here it is a bunch more times!” I’m going to whet your appetite for next year with a 1960’s favorite: 1960-62 Bazooka.

I always enjoy customs of players who changed teams, and at the moment nothing seems quite as odd as the sight of Justin Verlander in an Astros uniform.  I actually had to make this custom twice because –  no joke – I automatically typed DETROIT TIGERS before I saved the image.

Naturally, I like to feature Mets and Orioles as well, especially guys who are new to the team.  For a guy who’s been traded and lost on waivers since the season began, Norichika Aoki has been doing quite nicely in the Mets lineup every day since they got him.  In 19 games he’s batting .321 with 12 runs, 8 RBI, 7 doubles and a triple.

…And he’s using “Ghostbusters” by Ray Parker Jr. as his walk-up music.  How can I not love this guy?  Watching Mets games now, I find myself in an odd position regarding the Mets outfield.  I like Aoki, I like the Gold Glove-winning Juan Lagares, who’s getting regular playing time again.  I like Brandon Nimmo and his .385 OBP.  Despite his injury-prone label, I like Yoenis Cespedes.  I really like the injured Michael Conforto, who looks like he could be a star in the making.  I wouldn’t mind a return of Jay Bruce when he hits free-agency.  And because I’m a Mets fan, I fear that the team will ignore Bruce, let Aoki leave as a free agent, trade several young outfielders for an inning-eating pitcher and then sign some past-his-prime big name outfielder, both of whom will suck.

Moving right along…

Night Owl indirectly inspired an idea I had for next year’s set.  Over at Topps, where they think that QA stands for “Questions and Answers”, the All-Star Rookie Cup was left off of the cards of each winner who appeared in Series 2.  That gave me the idea of having my own Rookie Star subset using a different method of picking the players, and in doing a test run using 2016 rookies, I came to realize that the 2016 A.L. Rookie Of The Year was not a Topps All-Star Rookie.

Nope, Fulmer got passed by for Kenta Maeda as the rookie RHP, even though their numbers were similar and Maeda was a 28-year-old rookie (having first become a star in Japan).  Will one of the 2017 Rookies of the Year get left off the Topps All-Star Rookie team?  HA!  Like Topps isn’t going to continue to hype the holy hell out of Bellinger and Judge.

Another idea I had for an occasional theme is “Players I like I on teams I don’t like”.  My disdain for the Marlins, who have had a steady succession of disagreeable ownership, have outpaced the Phillies and Braves in terms of “Most disliked division opponent of the Mets” and, on the right day, the Fish will give the Nats a fight for this ignominious honor.

Figuring out my favorite Marlin is easy… Ichiro, of course!

Ichiro is so talented, he can hit BP while simultaneously covering all logos, just for the benefit of Panini and other companies who are licensed only by the MLBPA!

BTW, while I don’t think Don Matttingly deserves it, part of me hopes that the new Marlins ownership will fire the manager… Just because the optics of Derek F’ing Jeter firing Donnie Baseball will make the Yankee fandom implode.

…or not.  More likely then not, they’ll say “Whatever” and then “All rise!”

I always enjoy watching Major Leaguers who I first saw in the minors, and the Orioles’ Austin Hays is the latest entrant into that category.  Hays was a 3rd round pick in 2016, was impressive in A and AA this season, was named the O’s Minor League Player Of The Year and earned himself a September callup.

Despite this impressive catch in last night’s game, the O’s lost, were mathematically eliminated from the postseason and are guaranteed a losing record.  Yay.

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.