2021 TSR Daily: With HR Derby, Draft Picks and… HOCKEY?!?

Time for another virtual pack of 2021 TSR Daily custom cards (I Tweet out a custom each day #2021TSRDaily )

Freddy Peralta was named to his first All-Star team and is top 5 in the NL in strikeouts and WHIP

Charlie Blackmon could be in another uniform this time next month… and in my twisted custom logic I wanted to make sure I got him in this set as a Rockie because I’m running short on Rockies candidates for my checklist. I can always give him an “update” custom if need be.

If there are any Rockies fans out there, I’m open to nominations. Other than Blackmon I’ve already done Trevor Story, German Márquez, Jon Gray and Ryan McMahon.

Anthony DeSclafani has the league lead with 2 shutouts and has 10 wins against 3 losses. He’s one of the players who has flown under my radar because I’m not doing fantasy baseball this year… and I do kinda miss it, even if it does take a fair amount of time. I’ll have to see what I can do about 2022

I’ve watched home run derbies on TV… A couple of years ago I went to a minor league home run derby… So it’s not just a knee-jerk reaction when I say that home run derbies are dull, dull, dull, dull, dull. But I felt like I should watch this year because of Trey Mancini and Pete Alonso. It turned out that my two guys in this competition made it to the finals… and I struggled to stay awake. But I have to make a custom, right?

I made sure to get Mets bench coach Dave Jauss included in the custom, because he put on a show of a different sort by throwing pitch after pitch in the same place.

Jean Segura leads the Phillies with a .315 average, plus is among the the league leaders in a number of defensive statistics

Rookie 2nd baseman Jonathan India leads the Reds in On-Base % and stolen bases, plus he’s been hit by a pitch 14 times, tied for the most in MLB. You’d have to think he’s a ROY candidate.

Aroldis Chapman was named to the All-Star team even though his stats are not particularly impressive. I will assume I’m missing something, unless it’s mainly about his reputation and being the Yankees closer

I made up a couple of Draft Picks customs, and since I don’t want to overload on Mets customs I’ll feature the second one I made – #2 overall pick Jack Leiter, drafted out of Vanderbilt by the Texas Rangers.

One thing about Jack Leiter that I hadn’t realized until I watched the draft is that Jack looks a whole lot like Steve George.

Ha, you’re welcome 1988 Topps fans.

Jack Leiter is the son of former Major Leaguer Al Leiter, and Jack looks a lot like his old man. He also wears #22, which Al wore with the Mets and Marlins.


One more custom… this is a sort of “promo card” for a project I’ve been slowly working on for months, and which I hope that you’ll appreciate the work that went into it, even if — well, sorry, but it’s not baseball.

A little backstory… I was a big hockey fan for about 20 years and a devoted fan of the Washington Capitals, but in the late 1990’s a series of disappointing moves by the Caps and the NHL, compounded by my moving from hockey-mad Long Island to “Hockey? Whuzzat?” Shlabotsylvania made me lose interest in the league as a whole. I still enjoyed watching hockey, especially in the Olympics, but I gave up on the NHL. Over the last couple of years I’d thought about starting over with another team, since the Caps of today are still more the “ex” I grew apart from than the team I fell in love with. I made an attempt with the Rangers and Blackhawks before the pandemic, but that didn’t completely take.

I decided I’d give it one last try with the expansion Seattle Kraken, who will start play in October. They’re a bit problematic in that they are clear across the country from Shlabotsylvania, but I got a good vibe from the organization and I decided to go for it.

I haven’t paid much attention to the NHL over the past 15 or so years, so I decided I would get to know the players on my new team by making customs of them. Somewhere along the line I had the idea of making card backs as well, which is very much out of character for me.

To this former Capitals fan (and retroactive fan of the Kansas City Scouts), 1974/75 Topps is the set that most says “EXPANSION!” to me, and I kinda like the cheesy attempts to show players in uniforms which clearly weren’t for the expansion team in question.

Like Topps in 1974, I didn’t want to put a huge amount of effort into this custom set.

…But as I tend to do, I got carried away with things. I had a lot of fun trying to duplicate the card backs, something I’d never really tried to do before. I also wasn’t sure what to do about duplicating the cartoons, which was a whole ‘nother rabbit hole for me.

Quick apology – if I knew I’d be writing this much about my hockey customs, I would’ve made it a separate post. Too late now. :-)

Anyway…

We’re just days away from the expansion draft… Oh, excuse me, from the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft™ presented by Upper Deck. I just recently learned that it’s sponsored by Upper Deck, which I thought was an interesting sponsorship.

ANYWAY…

The expansion draft is this Wednesday, NHL rosters are already frozen in preparation and I’m ready to hit the ground running with these things. I’ve already tweeted out team-related customs and one of head coach Dave Hakstol, but the only Kraken player’s card I’ve created so far is this BLOG EXCLUSIVE card of Luke Henman who became the first player under contract to the Kraken after he was signed out of the Juniors.

I cheated a bit with the cartoon portrait of Gordie Howe on the back of the card… I tried doing it free hand but ended up digitally tracing a photo of him and used that as the ‘cartoon’.

OK, that’s enough babbling from me for now. Enjoy the rest of your weekend! (or “Have a good day!” if you’re reading this later)

2021 TSR Daily: Like Father, Like Son

Time for another virtual pack of 2021 TSR Daily custom cards (I Tweet out a custom each day #2021TSRDaily )

Former Top 100 prospect Austin Hays is among the Orioles leaders in Wins Above Replacement.  I’m getting to the end of the 5th “series” in my custom set, and I’m telling you now that it’s getting more difficult to figure out which players on the last place teams deserve a custom.  My goal at the start was to have 8 customs for each team, but I’m not sure I can justify that going forward, especially after some teams will trade anyone who has any value.  We’ll see what happens.

Mike Zunino was name to the AL All-Star team for the first time in his career..

One sign of a return to normalcy is the increasing number of people throwing out the first pitch before Major League games. I ran across some photos of Jeopardy champion Ken Jennings as he was about to throw out the first pitch before a Mariners game, and I couldn’t resist giving him the Shlabotnik’s Picks treatment.

Emmanuel Clase leads Cleveland in Saves and ERA, and is one of the players received in exchange for Corey Kluber.

David Fletcher leads the league in singles and sacrifice hits and has scored more runs than any Angel not named Ohtani.

I’m still catching up on my season highlights, and I do intend to do one for Padres pitcher Daniel Camarena whose first Major League hit was a grand slam… But for now, let’s address the backlog of no-hitters and feature the Tigers’ Spencer Turnbull whose no-no of the Mariners is undoubtedly one of the season’s high points for Detroit.

Closer Ryan Pressly was named to his 2nd All-Star team. This year, he’s 4-1 with 16 saves, a 1.42 ERA, 0.789 WHIP, 11.4 strikeouts per 9 innings and 9.60 strikeouts per walk

The Mets signed Taijuan Walker as rotational depth, but the newly-named All-Star with a 7-3 record and a 1.033 WHIP has made that signing an act of genius, especially when the Mets are still without Noah Syndergaard and winter acquisition Carlos Carrasco.

Cardinals closer Alex Reyes has 20 saves, 5 wins, a 1.52 ERA and was named to the National League All-Star team

One more insert to close out the “pack”…

At the Orioles game this past Friday night there were a number of fans who were there to cheer on White Sox rookie Gavin Sheets, a Baltimore native who was playing his first game at Camden Yards.  I thought this was pretty cool – I remember a Mets game in the 1990s where I got caught up in joining people around me who were cheering for Cardinals pitcher and Queens native Allen Watson.

As it turns out, it got a bit cooler because Gavin Sheets is the son of former Orioles outfielder Larry Sheets.  Gavin and his fellow second-generation Major Leaguers – there seem to be a lot of them right now – inspired me to create a new custom card I’ve been meaning to do for a year or two, one based on subsets found in 1976 and 1985 Topps, but done in the style of my current TSR Daily set.

I’ve got a couple of tweaks in mind for this, but I’m largely happy with how it turned out.  For what it’s worth, I wasn’t strictly limiting myself to Topps cards of Larry Sheets, but I thought this particular card from 1985 Topps Traded was well-suited to these purposes.

I plan on doing more of these, and I’m welcome to suggestions.  I’d like to focus on some of the lesser-known ones, as everybody already knows about Vladimir Guerrero Jr. & Sr as well as Fernando Tatis Jr. & Sr.

OK, that’s it for this week.  As a coming attraction, I’m working on insert cards for some of the players who were selected in last night’s Major League Draft.  You can bet that this Mets fan will be including Kumar Rocker… I’m still surprised that he fell down to the Mets at #10.

…And that there’s *another* player named Max Muncy… but we’ll get to that.

2021 TSR Daily: Yoán, Yusei, Ozzie and Gwen

Time for another virtual pack of 2021 TSR Daily custom cards (I Tweet out a custom each day #2021TSRDaily )

Ozzie Albies was named to his 2nd All-Star team and his 59 RBI leads the league

Yoán Moncada is 3rd in the Majors with a .403 on-base % and was a finalist in All-Star voting (although after all the dust settles on injuries and such, he could still make the team)

Earlier this season Josh Donaldson was credited with scoring Major League Baseball’s 2 millionth run. There are rumors that the Mets are interested in him, which makes long-time Mets fans shudder at the thought of another “young prospect for an aging 3rd baseman” deal.

Time for the fist insert… 60 years ago, a girl name Gwen Goldman wrote the Yankees and volunteered her service as a bat girl. This type of thing just wasn’t done in 1961, and the Yankees politely declined her offer. This past week, she was brought to Yankee Stadium as a guest of honor and got to throw out the first pitch. It’s a fun story I’m not doing justice on, so go search on “Gwen Goldman” to get a better recap.

The D-Backs are 3-26 since June 2 and Merrill Kelly has all three of those wins, going 3-1 over that same span. In his last start (July 1st) Kelly got an RBI single for his second career hit and first since 2019

The Rangers’ Kyle Gibson, who was recently named to the AL All-Star team, is 6-0 with a league-leading 1.98 ERA. This is even more impressive when you consider that on Opening Day he was staked a 5-run lead in the top of the first, was rocked for 5 runs in the bottom of the 1st and his ERA was 135.00 after that first game. The Rangers are in last place and on a pace to lose 98 games, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see Kyle Gibson pitching somewhere else come August.

Sean Manaea leads the league in CG’s (2) and Shutouts (2), and was named the AL Pitcher of the Month for June.

Yusei Kikuchi was named to the 2021 AL All-Star team, Kikuchi’s first such honor in the USA. He’s currently 6-3 with a 3.18 ERA and 93 K’s

I think I’ve seen too many TV commercials recently, because in thinking of Kikuchi my brain keeps ‘playing’ Lisa Loeb singing “Yusei, I got a crack in my windshield…”

I’ve been on a custom kick this past week, so I got to catch up on my highlights inserts (but I won’t share them all right now, there was quite a backlog). It seems only fitting that I pair up a couple of highlights which both happened on June 25th…

First off, four Cubs pitchers combine to no-hit the Dodgers. Ho-hum.  For me, the Dodgers involvement is the highlight of this no-no.

I’ve got another two no-hitter “Highlights” customs to share, and maybe by then there will be a couple of more to add to my backlog.

That same day in Queens, Aaron Nola struck out 10 consecutive Mets to tie a National League record set by Tom Seaver.  I’m happy for Nola, a guy I semi-collect after seeing him pitch in the minors, but did it *have* to be the Mets?  On the other hand, it’s cool that both events happened on more-or-less the same site given that Citi Field was built next to Shea Stadium.

And that’s it for this week!

2021 TSR Daily: Gang Aft Agley

Time for another virtual pack of 2021 TSR Daily custom cards (I Tweet out a custom each day #2021TSRDaily )

While getting this post ready, I realized that all of the plans I’d had for “inserts” never got completed; I had intended to do a couple of Highlights from last week, plus I’ve been working on a 3-D insert, but you can blame my Pandemic Brain for the failure.  I got distracted by yet-to-be-released custom card project which is taking me in somewhat new directions that are giving me some fun challenges.

While ruminating on my missed opportunities, in my head I could hear the Scottish poet Robert Burns — “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley” — as read by my English teacher from 40 years ago.  Imagine an Italian-American woman from New York endearingly attempting a Scottish accent, and you’ll get the idea of why this stuck with me all of these years.

…Anyway…

There *is* one insert this week, I’ll leave that for the end.

Jake Cronenworth was the 2nd baseman on the 2020 Topps All-Star Rookie team, had tied for 2nd place in NL Rookie of the Year voting and is in the Padres’ top 3 in runs, hits, batting and On-Base %

I’ll admit, Pirates reliever Richard Rodríguez had escaped my attention… but in a Twitter conversation with a couple of Pirates fans (including Bob Walk The Plank), it was made known to me that he should have a card in flagship Topps, as well as my modest little custom set.  Rodriguez has 10 saves, a 3-1 record, a 1.78 ERA and a 0.692 WHIP while making 29 appearances for the 29-47 Pirates.

Casey Mize, ranked among the Tigers’ top prospects and top 30 in the Majors, rode a hot May into Rookie of the Year consideration.  In his five starts in May, he went 2-0 with a 1.74 ERA and 27 strikeouts.

Former All-Star Whit Merrifield currently leads the majors with 21 stolen bases.  He also leads the Royals in runs, hits and doubles.

Earlier this month Starling Marte was named the NL Player of the Week after going 14-for-28 with a double, 2 homers, 4 stolen bases, 8 runs and 5 RBI

Nathan Eovaldi leads the Red Sox staff with a 8-4 record and leads the league by allowing just 0.397 home runs per 9 innings pitched

Willson Contreras caught the Cubs’ no-hitter last week and is one of the finalists in 2021 All-Star voting

Here’s the insert, it’s of a little-known Yankees outfielder who is coincidentally named Joe Shlabotnik

Enjoy your week, everybody!

2021 TSR Daily: I Don’t Know Whether I’m Coming Or I’m Going

Still having problems thinking of subject lines…  I got this one from The Kinks’ song “State Of Confusion” which happened to be streaming when I was sitting here staring at the screen.

Time for another virtual pack of 2021 TSR Daily custom cards (I Tweet out a custom each day #2021TSRDaily )

On June 13 Aaron Nola shut down the Yankees, allowing just 4 baserunners and striking out 9 over 7.2 innings as the Phils won 7-0.  In his next turn in the rotation he gave up 6 runs to the Giants.  I’m not sure what my point is.

When I Tweeted this next custom of Gio Urshela I made a comment about the Yankees fans on Twitter… which I won’t repeat here, but I’ll just summarize by saying that many vocal Yankee fans expect dominance every year and it’s not a pretty picture when the Yankees don’t dominate.

A quick custom from the manager insert set…  Aaron Boone pulls his best McKayla Maroney face during a recent game.

2020 Gold Glove winner JP Crawford has a 2.3 WAR, best on the Mariners.

Tyler Mahle has a 7-2 record, a 1.090 WHIP and leads the Reds with 90 strikeouts

I Tweeted this custom of Kyle Schwarber Saturday morning… And then he hit two homers against my Mets on Saturday and three more on Sunday.  That’s gratitude, I tell ya…

Marcus Semien was the AL Player of the Month for May, batting .368 with 8 homers 23 runs and 22 RBI.

Mookie Betts got 2 first place votes in last year’s MVP voting, and he also won a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger

I stumbled across some photos of Byron Buxton re-habbing with the Triple-A St. Paul Saints, so I couldn’t NOT make a Shlabotnik’s Picks custom using one of the images.

OK, I’ve got to get going.  Have a good week, everybody!

2021 TSR Daily: Base Cards Only

Time for another virtual pack of 2021 TSR Daily custom cards (I Tweet out a custom each day #2021TSRDaily ).

Apologies to those looking for inserts today… This is a “Dollar Store” pack with only base cards… I haven’t had any time to make inserts. It’s been that kind of week.

Freddy Galvis has played well enough for the Orioles that I expect him to be elsewhere once the dust settles on the trade deadline

J.T. Brubaker leads the Pirates in wins, leads Bucs starters in ERA and WHIP, and his 56 Ks are second on the team (at least until his next start)… and yet his only baseball cards come from minor league team sets. Baseball America ranked him as Pittsburgh’s #16 prospect coming into this season, I guess that’s not good enough to get on a Bowman or Pro Debut card.

Carlos Rodón pitched a no-hitter in April, and currently has a 5-2, 1.98 record with 80 strikeouts

Javier Báez leads the Cubs in HR and RBI and was a 2020 Gold Glove winner

I’m not sure when/how Aaron Civale racked up 8 wins, but he’s tied for the AL lead. Dude completely flew under my radar.

36 year old Yusmeiro Petit is 7-0 and – get this – is a reliever! He leads the AL with 29 appearances and is tied for the AL lead in games and winning %

Jared Walsh was named to the 2020 Topps All-Star Rookie team, and his offense helped the Angels make a decision on Albert Pujols. He’s a 2-way player who pitched 5 innings in 2019

2021 TSR Daily: The End Of May

Time for another virtual pack of 2021 TSR Daily custom cards (I Tweet out a custom each day #2021TSRDaily ).

Joe Musgrove is tied for the league lead with one shutout… as is everyone else who pitched a complete game no-hitter this year (and a few guys who just pitched shutouts).

Danny Duffy hasn’t put up huge numbers, but he’s been one of the most consistent performers for the Royals this year.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. leads the Majors with 16 homers, 41 RBI and a .674 slugging %. For those who are in to such things, this custom features some pretty significant “Topps Tilt”.

Trevor Rogers, the Marlins’ 1st round pick in 2017, is off to an impressive 6-3, 1.87 start, was named the NL Rookie of the Month for April and has established himself as a top candidate for Rookie of the Year.

40-year-old Nelson Cruz leads the Twins in runs, hits, homers, RBI, batting average and slugging percentage.

Eduardo Escobar is one of those guys who flies under my radar… maybe because his home games are on the other side of the country from me and because the Diamondbacks don’t get much attention nationally. I was a little surprised to find that in 2019 he had 35 HR and 118 RBI and lead the league with 10 triples. This year he leads the D-Backs in HR, runs and RBI.

I mentioned before that Vladimir Guerrero Jr. leads the Majors with 16 homers… well, he’s actually tied for the lead with Adolis García, who also leads the Rangers with 41 RBI and a .286 batting average.

Insert time!

This first one is a rare basketball custom from me. Now I tried to get into basketball as a kid, but it honestly didn’t take… with the one exception of Game 7 of the 1979 Eastern Conference semifinal between the Bullets and Hawks. I happened to catch the end of the game on TV, and even though I didn’t have a dog in the fight (and wondered whether President Jimmy Carter, who was at the game, was rooting for Atlanta or DC), I enjoyed watching it more than any basketball game before or since.

OK, I’ve wandered of my subject which is that I have tried to get into basketball, but it just never appealed to me. However, I spent enough years listening to sports radio out of New York City to gain an appreciation of the suffering of New York Knicks fans. So, when I found out that the Knickerbockers unexpectedly made the playoffs, I decided I would commemorate the team by making at least one custom for each postseason win they get. They beat the Hawks in game two, so I made a custom of that game’s leading scorer, Derrick Rose. I reviewed the roster of the Knicks and Rose is quite honestly the only one I’ve heard of.

The design is from 1957 Topps basketball, a set I really like the looks of and which is, I’m pretty sure, the only basketball template I have. The Knicks are currently down 3-1 but I’ll make a pointless promise that I’ll make a new custom for every postseason win they get this year (hopefully Rose gets some teammates out of this).

On Saturday, Josh Donaldson scored the 2,000,000th run in Major League Baseball history. I remember when Bob Watson scored run #1,000,000 in 1975, and it was a big deal. There was a national countdown and Dave Concepcion sprinted aroud the bases after hitting a home run, hoping to score that millionth run (he didn’t quite make it). This time around it seems to be lost in the deluge of information, right in there with “Francisco Zambrano has grounded into more double-plays than any other left-handed Venezuelan born on the 24th of the month.”

Phungo (Tweety Phungo and Bloggy Phungo) is at it again, using my design to make a sketch card… and not just a sketch card, but a *variation* sketch card. This is a “local college variation” sketch card (being that Georgetown U. is local to the Nats).

And that’s the pack for this week. Hopefully it’s not the only pack you get to open this week.

2021 TSR Daily: Another “Pack”, Two “Inserts”

Time for another virtual pack of 2021 TSR Daily custom cards (I Tweet out a custom each day #2021TSRDaily ).

Nick Castellanos is batting .356 to lead the league and also leads the Reds in hits, doubles and walks.

When the Angels dropped Albert Pujols, I figured he’d end up with the Rockies or Pirates, or possibly both over the course of the season if he continued to bat the way he was… so imagine my surprise when he signed with the Dodgers.  It’s only been a few games, but he’s hitting much better with the Dodgers than he has with the Angels, so I guess we’ll see where this takes everyone involved.  I modified my “2021 Highlights” insert to be a “Transactions” insert, and we’ll see how much this particular template gets used.

Ryan Zimmerman was the first-ever Nationals draft pick (#4 overall in 2005), made his MLB debut that September and has been on the field every season except 2020.  I would like to see the Nats retire his #11 after his playing days are done, but I don’t expect it to happen.

Chris Flexen was a decent prospect in the Mets org but a season pitching in Korea helped him put it together. He’s currently 4-2 with the Mariners

Matthew Boyd currently leads the Tigers with 42 strikeouts, a 1.4 WAR and 52.2 innings pitched. In 2019 he became the first Tigers lefty with 200+ K’s since Mickey Lolich in 1974

Rafael Devers leads the Red Sox in homers (13) and RBI (39).

Max Muncy leads the NL with 40 walks and a .460 on-base %, plus he leads the Dodgers with 10 HR, 25 RBI, and batting/OBP/slugging of .292/.460/.549 …Not bad for a guy who couldn’t buy his way on a baseball card for a while.

Austin Riley leads the NL in HBP and leads the Braves in hits, average and on-base percentage

OK, so at the time the Seattle Mariners’ José Godoy made his Major League debut he was hailed as the 20,000th player in MLB history… only I later saw disagreements about that from other sources who said that he wasn’t really 20,000, that’s just what Baseball Reference mistakenly said because they don’t factor in something or another… and then this morning I looked at Godoy’s page on Baseball Reference and they have him listed as 19,998 so I don’t know which end is up at this point.  I made the custom, I’ll share it here anyway even though it’s apparently wrong.

And that concludes the pack for this week.  Who knows, maybe next week we’ll have another custom for the player who is the revised 20,000th player in Major League history.

2021 TSR Daily: Trying To Get Back On Track

I’ve fallen way behind in… well, pretty much everything in my life. As part of the effort to get back on track and maybe post something here beyond customs and “1970s: A-Z”, there are no “inserts” in this week’s pack of 2021 TSR Daily (I Tweet out a custom each day #2021TSRDaily ).

Corbin Burnes got into the 5th inning of his 6th start before he walked a batter. As things currently stand he has 58 strikeouts and 1 walk (oh, and a 1.57 ERA).

Gerrit Cole struck out 12 Rays on the way to his league-leading 5th win. His ERA is 1.37 and for the season he has 26 K’s for every walk.

Adam Frazier is tied for the NL lead with 51 hits, as well as leading NL 2nd basemen in Assists and Double Plays Turned.

After signing a 5-year contract with the Phillies, Wheeler got some Cy Young votes last year and pitched a 3-hit shutout against the Brewers earlier this month.

Matt Olson currently leads the Athletics in HR, RBI and Slugging %

Brandon Crawford is in his 10th season as the Giants’ starting shortstop, and (to my surprise) leads the team in HR (9) and RBI (21)

2021 TSR Daily: A Sketch Card Not Of My Own Doing

When I started out doing my 2021 TSR Daily customs (called “Daily” because I Tweet out a custom each day #2021TSRDaily ), I decided to compile the “checklist” as if I were creating a real set which would represent the best eight-or-so players from each team.

Ever since I decided on that format, I’ve been looking for another way to include the players *I* want to make customs for… and I think I’ve got a new “insert set” which covers that.

…But before we get to that, I want to lead off with a different sort of insert. One thing I’ve been pondering for a year or two is creating some sketch cards which would make use of my modest drawing abilities.

Well, after Joe Musgrove pitched the first no-hitter in San Diego Padres history, I was beaten to the punch.  Phungo Tweeted out a sketch card using my 2021 TSR Daily design as the “canvas”.

This brought a big smile to my face, both because I liked the sketch card in and of itself, and also in a Sally Field “You like it!  You really like it!” kind of way.  Thank you, Phungo!  I truly appreciate the homage!  (I’ll also throw out a link to his blog).

OK, on to the “base cards”…

Christian Walker lead the 2020 D-Backs in doubles was among the team leaders in runs, hits, homers, RBI and Slugging %.  There’s a part of me who’s a bit irritated that the Orioles lost Walker on waivers 4 years ago, but I’ll also admit that the one thing the O’s don’t really need is another first baseman.

Adam Wainwright has pitched in 16 seasons for the Cardinals, so I’d forgotten that he was originally a 2000 1st round pick of the Braves. I love Wainwright’s socks, so I made sure that they were included when I cropped the image

Last week, Brandon Woodruff no-hit the Cubs into the 7th inning but ended up with a no-decision when the Brew Crew won in extra innings.  Woodruff was much sharper in that start than in his first start of the year when he gave up 3 runs in 4 innings.

Last year Bryce Harper lead the league in Walks and his 8 stolen bases was tied for 10th with four other players.  What’s funny about this custom is that I was intending to not spend much time on it because “Eh, it’s just Bryce Harper”, but then I ran across this image and said “Oh, well *that’s* a nice shot…”

John Means was the Opening Day starter for the O’s and lead the team in K’s in 2020.  Even within the Orioles organization he seemed to come out of nowhere to become the staff ace.  I don’t believe anybody had him pegged as a significant prospect.

Anthony Rizzo has won three straight Gold Gloves and has been top 5 in HBP every year since since 2014… I discovered this fact yesterday while poking around his Baseball Reference page trying to find something interesting to say about him… and Boy Howdy, that’s pretty interesting

Former 1st round pick Ian Anderson (3rd overall in 2016) pitched as a rookie in the 2020 postseason and came out with a 2-0 record and a 0.96 ERA over 4 starts.  I started semi-collecting him 3 years ago after I stumbled across his Pro Debut card and said “Hey, his name is the same as the frontman from Jethro Tull!”

OK, as for that insert set I mentioned at the beginning… I knew what I wanted to do in terms of creating another custom set which would highlight the players I would want to feature in custom cards — I even had a name for it:  “Shlabotnik’s Picks” — but I wasn’t sure how I wanted to go about “invoking” it.

I played around with some already-existing custom templates I had sitting around but hadn’t used much.  One that stuck out to me was for a personal favorite which has its 25th anniversary this year:  1996 Upper Deck Collector’s Choice.  That set’s simple but elegant design is one of my favorites of the 1990s and I put a fair amount of effort into chasing the set back then.

I played around with what I had, but I wasn’t happy with it… and then I hit on the idea of dropping the standard base card version and making a custom using the full-bleed version of the design used for several subsets, and things fell into place.

Voila…!

I still need to play with the fonts a bit, but I like the way this is panning out.  It’s hard to tell from the image, but I replaced the “Collector’s Choice” badge with “Shlabotnik’s Picks”, and also swapped out my cartoon face for the UD logo.

I also tried to ‘photoshop’ a ballpark background to replace the studio backdrop, but Doolittle’s beard with it’s undefined edges made it more effort than I wanted to get into.  I’m not unhappy with the results, though.

OK, that’s it for this week’s pack.  Have fun, stay healthy and be excellent to each other!