2019 Custom Cavalcade, Part 2

As I’d mentioned in Part 1, I thought it would be a fun late Winter / early Spring project to take all of the custom card templates I’d created of vintage card sets and use each one to create a custom for a new 2019 set.

We’ll start off with Blake Snell.  Because he plays for the Rays you’ve probably already forgotten that he won the Cy Young Award in 2018.

Back in 2016 I created a 1953 Topps template but now, thanks to Topps Living Set, you’ve probably had your fill of cards done in the style of 1953.  Too bad.  I like the way this photo works with the design.

Mea culpa: I screwed up by capitalizing “shortstop”.

Like last week’s 1985 custom, this 1961 Topps custom was created for a post I wrote months ago, and then I hadn’t reused the template until just now.

Many of you won’t be familiar with this design; this is from the 1970/71 Topps Hockey Stamps set.  It’s not a classic design, but it’s colorful and I like it.

That’s all I’ve got for this week… A large part of my day yesterday was spent preparing for a card show, at the card show, and doing card stuff after the card show, so I’m frankly a bit carded-out right now.


2019 Custom Cavalcade, Part 1

Over the winter I got to thinking about how many different types of custom cards I’d made since I started futzing around with custom cards in 2008, as well as since I started to share them here in 2012.  Some of the templates I created were used a number of times, some of them were one-offs used to illustrate a point or just to get one single idea of mine converted from thought to pixels.

Wondering how many templates there were got me thinking that I should make something of a Spring Training project out of creating new customs from all of these template I have, and in the process make something kinda sorta like Topps Archives… only in my case I wouldn’t be limited to Topps flagship baseball designs of a certain vintage.

Last week, I showed a tease in the form of this 1955 Bowman tribute…

…This week we’re going to start the project in earnest.

Just to emphasize the non-Archive-y nature of this custom set, I’ll continue with a template I’d made based on 1957/58 Topps Basketball, the first basketball set that Topps made.

I’m not a basketball fan or collector, but there’s something about this simple, colorful design which speaks to me. I think this is the first time I’ve used this design for baseball purposes.

The first and only time I used this horizontal 1973 Topps baseball template it was because I’d run across a photo that reminded me of 1973 Topps, and decided to build a custom around it. This time I did a 180 and went out looking for a photo which looked similar to a 1973 action shot… Relatively distant and with a couple of other players included.

I feel like I need to explain something with this next custom, a tribute to 1991 Topps Baseball.

The original cards had a logo at the top left which said “Topps 40 Years Of Baseball”.  When I originally made these customs three years ago, my logo said “Shlabotnik 5 Years Of Customs”, but because the little ribbons of text were hard to read, people could only really read the “5” and asked me what it meant.  This time around I’ve updated the number to reflect how long I’ve been publishing these customs on my blog, and yes, it says “Shlabotnik 8 Years Of Customs”.  So there you go.

Here’s another custom which features a non-baseball design;  this one uses the 1964 Philadelphia Gum Football design, which is a favorite of mine from the “less is more” school.

Every now and then when I get into a delusional state, I think that if I were to chase after a vintage football set again, I’d go after one of these 1960’s Philadelphia sets… and then the logical side of my brain kicks in and says “Seriously?  Bart Starr?  Johnny Unitas?  Gale Sayers?  You’re going to chase after THOSE cards?”  and I back down and say “Yeah, you’re right, maybe I should just focus on my Steelers team sets and leave it at that”.

Going waaaay back for this one, this is the 1940 Play Ball design.  The image of Jose Ramirez came from last year’s Spring Training “Photo Day”;  this year’s Photo Day should be coming up in a week or two, and I’m planning/hoping to get some images of players who have changed teams.

…And ideally someone from the Marlins in their new uniforms.  The question is:  Which Marlin?  Now that Realmuto’s gone, who would serve as a “big name” on that team?  Looking over the roster, I’d probably go with former Oriole Wei-Yin Chen or newly-signed Neil Walker.

I’m going to wrap things up for this week by heading back to the 1980’s:  Clayton Kershaw on the 1985 Topps Baseball design.

I was surprised to find I’d only used this design once before, in a post from last August where I predicted which designs would get used for 2019 Topps Archives.  When I’d created it – and this one is completely from scratch, I didn’t just scan a 1985 Dodger card and change the player name – I was pleased enough with the results that I wanted to use it some more… and I just now realized that I never had until now.  Maybe it was that lingering thought about not having used these templates enough that got me on this project in the first place.

I just realized I never shared the full “mission statement” for this project.  I’m going to feature use each template once and only once within this project, I’m going to try to feature only players who could be considered to be among the top 100 or so players in the game (thus sparing you from looking at customs of my personal favorite players who are currently non-roster invites to Spring Training), and I’m planning on creating a couple of new templates for use in this project.

So there we go.  If things go as planned, I’ll be doing this through the end of March.

Hope you enjoy it!

Custom Sunday: More Baseball Stamps, Plus A Preview Of The Next Project

I need to be productive with my Sunday, as I didn’t get a whole lot done yesterday… Well, that’s not true, I got a bunch done hobby-wise, but not a lot done in terms of the stuff I should be doing.

So my point is that this will be a fairly quick post; I’ll start off with three 2019 TSR Stamps (which are based on the 1969 Topps Stamps), all reflecting players on the move.

After four seasons in his native Canada, Russell Martin was traded back to the Dodgers for a couple of minor leaguers. It had been long enough for me, with stops in Pittsburgh and New York in between, that my first reaction to the news was “*Back* to the Dodgers? …Oh, yeah, that’s right…”

In looking Martin up on Baseball Reference I found out that he had been drafted out of high school – or “Polyvalente”, because it was in Quebec – by the Expos. I did not know that.

The Diamondbacks signed three-time All-Star Greg Holland as a free agent. Holland lead the league with 41 saves in 2017, but had a mixed season in 2018.

He signed with the Cardinals late in Spring Training and was not at all good in his time with St. Louis. He was released at the beginning of August, hooked up with the Nationals and pitched well for them.

It seems to me that this pattern was repeated several times last year – a player missed much of Spring Training because of the slow free agent market and as a result he got off to a poor start and didn’t get his act together until well into the season. I hope that both players and GM’s are more aware of this in 2019 than they were a year ago.

Someone who didn’t wait around was former Mets and Reds pitcher Matt Harvey, who signed with the Angels in December. Mr. Harvey enjoys the night life, so it wouldn’t surprise me if he told his agent to get him in as big a city as possible. “No more Cincinnatis!”

I wasn’t planning on teasing this upcoming project just yet, but I’m a little short on material today, so I’ll throw in one extra custom…

While going through all of the custom cards I’ve made over the past seven years of this blog, I was pondering how many different types of customs I’ve made, and I thought that it might be fun to make a special “set” during Spring Training which would feature one custom for every Template I’ve made (not including my original designs).

So here’s the teaser, the “Pre-production sample” if you like: It’s Aaron Judge in a 1955 Bowman design.

I think this will be fun, if I can just stay on top of things enough to keep up with myself.

So, more of these soon!

Everybody enjoy the Superb Owl today, if you care about such things. I’m just happy that it signals that baseball isn’t too far off (and I have to admit, I’m curious about the upcoming Alliance of American Football).

Custom Sunday: Four Somewhat Recently Signed Free Agents

It wasn’t technically a New Year’s Resolution, but over the past few weeks I’ve been giving increased focus to organizing my collection and the room it’s housed in. The effort has paid off in some small ways – I’ve found some items I forgot I had, I haven’t felt the need to buy packs just for the sake of buying packs, and I can actually see the fake wood grain on the top of my desk.

The downside of this is that I’ve had less time for things like custom cards. I apologize for that, but a guy’s gotta do what a guy’s gotta do.

Today’s post is short and sweet and highlights four free-agent signings done up in the style of 1969 Topps Stamps.

Andrew Miller returns to the National League for the first time since his stint with the Marlins from 2008 to 2010.

I like Miller and was kinda hoping the Mets would sign him, but I’m generally happy with the direction the Amazin’s are heading.

The Nationals signed former Twin and Dodger Brian Dozier to play second base.

…and the Yankees signed former Rockies All-Star D.J. LeMahieu to form a double-play combo with former Rockies Al-Star Troy Tulowitzki.

Finally, the Brewers signed former Dodgers All-Star Yasmani Grandal.

I did get an idea from Twitter for a non-sports custom set, so maybe you’ll see that next week… or the week after that… or never, depending on how happy I am with the results.

Custom Sunday: 1969-Style Stamps And The Last “Giant”

Inspiration struck me late this past week and I spent most of my custom-making time on a new template which… well, I’ll come to that.

Let’s start off with a couple of customs using my 1962 Post-inspired “Hot Stove” design. After extensive negotiations with the Marlins over J.T. Realmuto, the Mets ended up going the free agent route and signing catcher Wilson Ramos, who was with the Phillies and Rays this past season. Would I have preferred Realmuto? Of course, but not at the price the Marlins were apparently demanding.

BTW, my kneejerk reaction when I first saw this picture was that Ramos had gone “old school” and worn a windbreaker under his Mets jersey. I quickly realized that wasn’t the case, and he just happened to be wearing a blue collared shirt at the press conference. This is one of the few times when I don’t mind the collared shirt under the jersey.

Next up is a custom in my new series featuring prospects with great names. Today we feature Diamondbacks prospect Jazz Chisholm.

No mere great name is Chisholm, since he’s regarded as the D-Backs’ top prospect, a shortstop who combines power and speed. He’s still a bit away from the Majors, however.

While I enjoy making customs using this Post-ish template, they’re time-consuming to make because I have to change the weight, height, birthplace, etc. plus researching and writing a paragraph – and yes, those are written by me, I’m not just stealing text from somewhere else. There are some players where I find an image on Twitter or can easily “photoshop” a new logo on their photo, but I don’t really want to go through all the research and writing.

Enter the 1969 Topps baseball stamps design. Last year I used the 1974 Topps baseball stamps as the basis for a non-sports set, but I thought I’d create a 1969 design for 2019… it’s the 50th anniversary after all. Besides, sometimes I just enjoy creating a new template.

I honestly wouldn’t have made a full custom for these four players (all of whom signed as free agents), but now that I’ve got the stamps set up and ready to go, you’ll be seeing more of these… as well as the other Hot Stove sets I’ve started.

Since last May I’ve been making a tribute to the 1964 Topps Giant-sized All-star set, and after I finished off my series of posts I had a few special requests for players I’d left out. Joey Votto is the last of those requests… unless I forgot someone, in which case don’t be shy about leaving a comment.

I’ll make the offer one last time… If there’s anybody you’d like to see in the 1964 Giants design, speak now or forever hold your peace.

Custom Sunday: Let’s Focus On Puig And Trout… That Might Put Us In A Good Place

For today’s post I dusted off my “photoshopping” skills.  Not having done this type of thing since last Winter, I have to admit I’m a bit rusty on this stuff.  Hopefully it doesn’t come across as “Amateur Hour”, but then again… I *am* an amateur.

The Orioles, being the worst team in the Majors this past year, got the first pick in the Rule V draft and picked Richie Martin, who had been the 20th overall player taken in the 2015 draft.

The main reason that Martin wasn’t protected on the Athletics’ 40-man roster was because his bat has lagged behind his other skills, but I’m actually fine with that… I would love for the Orioles to have a defensively-oriented shortstop even if he hits as poorly as… well, Chris Davis (without the power, of course).  I think it’s better for the O’s to lose a game 3-1 rather than lose 13-11…  It’s less painful to watch and, if nothing else, it will help with the confidence of the young pitchers they’ll be trotting out there.

In a transaction that got a bit more attention, the Reds picked up Yasiel Puig from the Dodgers in a blockbuster trade that involved seven players and a lot of financial considerations.  One of the more interesting things about this deal is that Homer Bailey, the main piece going to the Dodgers (other than financial relief), was immediately released… apparently that was done to get Bailey to waive his no-trade clause.  I wonder if the Reds have any interest in getting him back.

I’m not a fan of Yasiel Puig, but I kinda like the Reds so I wouldn’t mind it if Puig finds the Great American Ballpark more to his liking than Dodger Stadium.

I was mildly surprised that I even *had to* fake the Reds cap on Puig, as many teams will post photos (either real or photoshopped) on their social media after a big trade like that, but I guess the Reds don’t consider it a priority.

I’m going to do something I don’t often do;  I’m going to “re-issue” the first card in this set.  It got posted at the end of one of my “Giants” customs posts, and I think it got missed by some Reds fans.

Speaking of my tribute to the 1964 “Giants” set, here’s another requested custom from my recent 2018 TSR Giants set…  This time around featuring Mike Trout.  Trout was included in the checklist, but I hadn’t made a custom for him until now.

I’m going to go on an off-topic rant.  The American “Big Three” auto makers have made headlines lately by phasing out their North American cars in favor of SUV’s, crossovers and trucks.  Now I’m one of those difficult people who doesn’t like to sit up high when driving, I like cars.  Back in 2000, when I needed something that could carry more cargo, I didn’t go with a crossover or SUV, I got a wagon (and then another wagon and now a hatchback).  The last time around I gave strong consideration to the Ford Focus…

…But since it had been nearly 20 years since I owned a Ford (because they didn’t have a wagon when I wanted one), I stayed loyal to manufacturer I have been driving lately and got another import.  I know I’m not a great example, being fairly atypical and obstinate, but I can’t help but think that the Big Three are ceding a big portion of the car market to foreign companies, and if the trends ever shift back to cars they’ll be screwed… and, at the very least, I know that I won’t be buying from the Big Three next time around.  Sorry guys, but if you don’t make what I want, I’ll go elsewhere.

These TSR Fauxback cards have a puzzle-back, let’s take a look at this one…

There’s no point in dragging the puzzle out any further… as you may have figured out, the puzzle features Janet, a character played by D’Arcy Carden on the NBC show “The Good Place”.  Janet is… well, it’s hard to describe Janet, but she’s my favorite character on the show, especially after her kick-ass fight scene and the episode where the four humans on the show (again, hard to describe in a sentence) were played by D’Arcy.

Here’s the “complete” puzzle.

So at this point everybody is either saying “Huh?” or “Oh, I love The Good Place!” Hopefully there are more people in the “love” category than the “huh” category.

So I’ve really set myself up as a “different drummer” kind of guy… Give me good-glove-no-bat guys, a car and The Good Place and I’m a happy camper.

What do you think? Do you value defense over offense? Do you like Yasiel Puig? Crossovers and SUVs? Let everybody know in the comments!

Custom Card Sunday: Two Cutches and A Duck

For the three people who aren’t frantically preparing for the impending holiday, I’ve got a number of custom cards made over the past week.

The Phillies signed Andrew McCutchen to a three-year contract. I didn’t expect him to return to the Yankees, but I guess this cements the idea that 10 years from now we’ll be saying “Hey, remember when Cutch was a Yankee?”

There’s another Cutch custom at the end of the post… Just so ya know.

It’s been an interesting offseason for the Orioles. First came Executive VP and General Manager Mike Elias and some other front office people, then they took their time before hiring new manager Brandon Hyde, who was Joe Maddon’s bench coach with the Cubs this past season.

I’m sure the O’s are going to take their time and try to find some bargains in the free agent market, but so far all they’ve done regarding the roster is claim infielder Rio Ruiz on waivers from the Braves, plus select two more infielders in the Rule V draft. I’m going to try to do some customs of those two as well, once I have time to do some “photoshopping”.

I grew up on Long Island, but of course Long Island didn’t get a minor league team until after I moved away. Even so, I like to keep up with the independent Long Island Ducks, and I couldn’t resist making a custom of their new manager, Wally Backman.

Wally was, of course, a member of the 1986 World Champion Mets, which remain the best Mets team of my baseball lifetime. As for the Ducks, one of these days I’m going to see them play a home game (Usually when I go back, it’s the offseason or the Ducks are on the road).

Speaking of the Mets, they had a video which was meant to highlight the re-acquisition of Jeurys Familia, who had been traded to the Athletics during the 2018 season. I quickly forgot about Familia when the video included…



People on Twitter were debating whether this meant that the Mets would truly bring back the bullpen cart in their home games, and I suppose this could have been a way to gauge fan interest. I like to think that they wouldn’t go this far without having an intent to bring it back to some degree. C’mon Mets, if you’re going to have that Home Run Apple, the least you can do is bring back a part of *my* youth.

Penny Marshall, the reknowned director and actor, passed away this week. She’s best known for her role on Laverne and Shirley, but I tend to think of her as the director of “Big” and “A League Of Their Own”, not to mention her role as Myrna, Oscar Madison’s secretary, on “The Odd Couple”.

As you may know by now, customs from this “Fauxback” set have a puzzle on the back. Here’s the back to this card.

…and just as a reminder, here’s a previous puzzle piece:

If you’ve yet to identify this character from a broadcast TV series, I’m thinking you probably don’t watch the show in question… But I’ll hold off on the reveal for the time being.

To wrap up, here’s the other Cutch custom, this one by request: