Quick Thoughts On Baseball Card Photos In 2021

Although I haven’t shared my 2020 SAC FLY customs here a whole lot, I’ve been making a bunch of them for my own enjoyment.  The more of these I make, the more I realize that the pandemic will have a significant affect on what cards will look like next year.

For starters, some of the players are wearing masks while on the field.  I try to avoid using those shots because I like my customs to show what a player looks like, but it does limit the photo selection for those players (and because of that, I’m having trouble finding decent on-field images of managers and coaches).

As I’d mentioned in a previous post, a lot of the photos are taken from the stands, looking down on the players.

(FYI, Brock Holt was released by the Brewers and just signed with the Nationals)

There’s a lot of samey-same to the photos of pitchers, it seems more so than in recent years… and for those of you who didn’t realize, Madison Bumgarner has not appeared on a Topps card since 2017 (presumably he let his contract ran out), so if you want a card of him in a Diamondbacks uniform that hasn’t been digitally altered, you’ll have to call in a favor with your custom-making buddies.

Like I said, samey-same photos, especially for relievers and the back end of the rotation.

You may not have noticed that the three colored boxes on my customs is complemented by text in three different colors.  I really like the way this looks, but it’s frankly a pain when you’re trying to crank out a bunch of customs.

Because of the samey-sameness, I’ve been using photos which aren’t necessarily great photos, but are at least different.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see photos from the truncated 2020 Spring Training in 2021 sets (I probably should’ve spent more time messing with the brightness on this photo, but I’ve got chores to get to today)

So that’s a few things that might be coming our way next year.

Before I go away, I have an unofficial policy of featuring customs for anyone who throws a no-hitter in 2020. Lucas Giolito struck out 13 Pirates in throwing a no-no a few days ago…

This custom was actually created back in May, so the photo is obviously not from the no-hitter.

Across the Pacific, Yasuhiro Ogawa no-hit the Yokohama DeNA BayStars two weeks ago. This photo is also not from the no-hitter but as I mentioned when I tweeted this custom, I really like this jersey.

I don’t want KBO fans to feel left out, so I’ll close things out with a familiar face for fans of the Twins, as well as anyone who was buying up rookie cards in 2016…

Assorted Bits Of Mental Debris And 2020 SAC FLY Customs

Last week I debuted 2020 SAC FLY, my custom card design which is called SAC FLY because the intent was to save the intended 2020 design for a ‘real’ season and to have a relatively quick replacement ‘sacrificed’ in its place. Thing is, I’ve come to really like my sacrificial lamb, and I’ve gotten positive responses to it as well… So maybe I’m inadvertently on to something.

No real theme to this post other than the general direction my custom cards have been taking so far.

I’ve been working on making customs of former Major Leaguers currently playing in Japan, but I’m not ignoring Japanese players who came over to play in the Majors and then went back to Japan to continue their career.  I particularly like the results I got from this custom of Nori Aoki, who played for 7 MLB teams over 6 seasons (but 40% of those games were with the Brewers)

Sports photography poses all kinds of challenges in 2020, and you should expect this to effect cards in 2021.  Photographers don’t have the access they have had in the past, and a lot of the photos I’ve seen have been taken from the stands… for example, this Jay Bruce custom uses a photo that was taken from quite a long way away.

Pretty much any photos I’ve seen from Citizen’s Bank Park have been taken from a distance, so I’m thinking that Phillies fans will see a lot of road uniforms in next year’s sets.

…Or maybe photos from 2019. Keep an eye on those Nike logos, boys and girls!

Another side effect of photos from the stands is that the netting has to be dealt with.  Judicious use of focus can make it visually less distracting.

The Orioles signed José Iglesias as a defensive shortstop, but he’s surprising people with his offense. As of Monday morning he’s batting .405 and his 7 doubles is tied for the Major League lead.

I’ve also been doing some customs of 2020 Draft Picks, including the awesomely named Burl Carraway, a 2nd round Cubs pick whose name sounds like it should belong to a 1940’s character actor. “Gary Cooper, Linda Darnell and Burl Carraway star in ‘The Trail to Santa Fe’!”

Since Burl is a pitcher, you know that some broadcaster or headline writer has made jokes about Carraway throwing seeds.  [rim shot]

Cubs fans, you heard it here first.

I’ve been making KBO customs as well…  Mel Rojas Jr. has been tearing it up over there, and is a candidate for winning the Triple Crown.

Rojas is the son of 1990s pitcher Mel Rojas, and is also related to everybody in the “Alou-niverse”… Felipe, Manny, Jesus, Moises and current Mets manager Luis Rojas.  Mel Rojas Jr. has yet to play in the Majors, but he did make it into several prospect-y sets like Heritage Minor League and Pro Debut.

One of the Orioles’ best options out of the bullpen this season is 30-year-old Cole Sulser, who has 3 saves and a 0.857 WHIP in 5 games. If you said “Who?” you’re not alone.

Sulser appeared in 7 games with the Rays last year and was picked up on waivers last October. His only nationally-distributed baseball card is a 2020 Topps Total card… Beyond that, Trading Card Database only shows cards from minor league team sets. I enjoy stories of overlooked players getting a shot, and it seems like the Orioles have a couple of players like that this year.

OK, now it’s time for a new feature – probably a one-shot – called…

CUSTOM CARD TIPS FROM AN AMATEUR!!!!

I’ve been trying to make sure that I always include the accents and tildes on Latin names on my customs, but it’s always been such a pain to figure out how to type those out on my standard issue American English keyboard… But somewhere in 2019 I hit on this idea: I set up my template so that each of those characters is in a saved text field, and so I can just copy and paste those characters as needed. This is what the bottom of my custom looks like when you open the template:

It’s a simple hack, but it’s made my life a bit easier so I figured I’d share it here.  I forget why the first name is ANTHONY, It might’ve been left over from Anthony Rendon, who was the subject of one of the photos I used when I was initially hashing through the design.

One last custom for today…  I made a 2020 custom of Yoenis Céspedes despite the fact that he played all of 8 games before opting out in what seemed like an acrimonious manner, but since the dysfunctional team ownership could have contributed heavily to the acrimony, I’m not going to hold it against Yoenis.  It’ll be interesting to see where he ends up next.

…and that’s it for now.

Custom Cards in 2020? It Called For a SAC FLY

I’ve been making my own custom baseball cards for a dozen years now, and sharing them here since 2012.  I normally come up with a new design over the winter and debut them around the beginning of the baseball season.

This past winter I struggled to come up with a new design, gave up and decided to update a vintage hockey set that I liked… but giving up seemed to relax my muse a bit, and I ended up making a bunch of changes to that updated hockey set.  By the time I was ready for the debut, it had gone from a ‘good enough’ replica to being a heavily modified mash-up that I was quite pleased with.  This was in early March.

And then everybody’s plans fell apart.

With the entire season up in the air, I decided I didn’t want to start using a design I’d put a lot of work into and then have the season be canceled and make all my efforts seem wasted.  I decided to shelve my new design for now and go back to figuring out something else that would be ‘good enough’.

That’s when I found myself looking at a 2009 Upper Deck baseball card.

It wasn’t this particular card of Brian Roberts, but I was just thinking about how I always liked this set in a less-is-more kind of way… and I also appreciate the stained-glass approach to the design.  (Sort of “Partridge Family Bus”, for those who get that reference)

What started out as a attempt to make a throwback out of 2009 UD ended up being a mash-up between 2009 UD, 1961 Topps and 1959 Bazooka.

When the only baseball on TV was coming from Korea, the set went from being a “Major League” set to being an international one.

As things went along, the strategy of sacrificing an At Bat to move a runner along became a winning metaphor for me, and I decided to call the set “2020 SAC FLY”.

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ve seen some of these before… but right now it’s time for the blog debut of some 2020 SAC FLY customs.

Now I’m not 100% certain what the ‘checklist’ for this is going to be like.  Certainly plenty featuring my teams (Mets & Orioles).  I’ll probably take advantage of photos I like, as with the Rendon custom there.

There will be KBO cards, mostly of former Major Leaguers like Aaron Altherr.

Same goes for NPB (Japan).  This may not be the only custom I make of Adam Jones (especially since this was an early custom and I’ve decided that this color combination will not be repeated).

There may be customs of the occasional noteworthy moment…

I’m probably going to whip up a bunch of Draft Picks, since regardless of what happens on the field, the Draft is a done deal and doesn’t necessarily require 2020 photos… and Draft Pick customs are fun to look back on down the road (I can still visualize my 2015 Dansby Swanson Draft Pick custom)

There will be customs made with “Photo Day” images when that’s what I’ve got to work with…

And there will be customs which serve as an excuse to use a photo I ran across.

Some of these aspects will carry on for a while. Some may not. Time will tell.

Just a couple of comments about the design before I go…

Unlike custom sets I’ve done in the past, the colors on the design are not “assigned” to a given team. They’re more or less arbitrarily picked for each card… I decided to lean into the concept that this is an early 1960’s set.


I will be randomly repeating color combinations if they work and, if they don’t, quietly filing them under ‘failed experiments’.

The logo I use is often some version of the team’s cap logo, but exceptions were made in some cases.

I feel like there were all kinds of things I had wanted to say about this design, but I’m coming up blank at the moment. Oh well… there should be future opportunities to say things.

#WhoWentWhere2020 Customs: Three Guys Who Went To Asia

It’s been a while since I’ve featured any customs here, and since I’ve been watching Korean baseball every morning (and wondering if Preston Tucker’s card values have gone up a few cents over the past week) I decided to show off some “Who Went Where 2020” customs I made a little while ago but got temporarily forgotten by my Stay-at-home Brain.

I’ll start with the most jarring… Former Orioles star Adam Jones went from odd (a season with the Diamondbacks) to even odder as he signed a contract with the Orix Buffaloes of Japan’s Pacific League.

The Buffaloes finished in last place in 2019, so Adam’s got his work cut out for him… but I wish him well, and I desperately hope that if/when NPB starts up, someone will broadcast those games here.  I’m enjoying the KBO, but I’d really like to see some NPB.

Also jumping the Pacific Ocean and fresh off a World Championship, Gerardo “Baby Shark” Parra signed a contract with the Yomiuri Giants of the Central League.

The Giants finished in first, but got swept in the 2019 Japan Series by the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks.

One other quick comment…  Along with broadcasting NPB games here, I hope someone can merchandise NPB here as well.  I’d love to get caps for the Giants and Hanshin Tigers.

While watching the Kia Tigers of the KBO, I saw a familiar-looking guy in the dugout.  I eventually found out that the Tigers are managed by former MLB player and manager Matt Williams!

Like in Japan, Korean teams are named for their corporate ownership, and yes, this is Kia, the car company… Sorento, Soul, Optima, Sportage, yadda yadda yadda.

The quality of the photo isn’t the greatest, but I’m still trying to figure out good sources of KBO photos.  This one actually came from the website of the Hyundai Motor Group…  Kia is owned by Hyundai.

That’s all of the overseas updates I have for now.  I’d like to make one for former Orioles pitcher Tyler Wilson, who’s now pitching in Korea for the LG Twins, but we come back to the “Still trying to find good sources of KBO photos” issue.

Since I’m here and posting, I’ll throw in a few more “Who Went Where 2020” customs, just to serve as a reminder of where certain players will be when things start up again.

The Mets signed former Yankee Dellin Betances.  How warmly the Queens faithful will greet Betances will depend on how well he pitches, but I’m sure there will be some who will never see him as anything but a Yankee.

Speaking of the Yankees, everybody knows that Gerrit Cole signed with them during the winter, but… you know, gotta keep the set complete.

Here’s a double reminder: Todd Frazier is in Texas, and the Rangers will have new uniforms.

I’ll wrap things up with Mike Matheny, who is the new manager of the Kansas City Royals.

Well, I’ve got to go mow the lawn now. Everybody take care, I’ll try to be better about posting customs… and posting in general.

More Who Went Where 2020 Customs

I’m back with more of my Who Went Where 2020 customs which I’d created to sort of “bookmark” where team-changing players were when everything got put on hold.

When I started this I should’ve set a limit on the size of my “checklist”, maybe 33 or 44 like a small Topps set, but it turned out to be fun and a bit therapeutic.  As of right now the checklist is over 70 customs, but a fair number of those are personal favorites that I did for myself without any real intention of posting or Tweeting.

If you want to know more about the set itself, click on the link at the top of this post and look at the first post in this series… for today, I’m just sharing a few and making a couple of comments.

The White Sox picked up a bunch of name players this winter, including 2015 Cy Young Award winning Dallas Keuchel, who signed with the team at the end of December.

Next up is new Padres manager Jayce Tingler who is sporting the new (and thankfully brown) uniforms representing San Diego… whenever it is that San Diego gets represented.

I’m currently in the process of organizing (and thinning out) my 2005 baseball cards, and I ran across a Jayce Tingler card from 2005 Topps Updates And Highlights.  Topps went a little overboard with the “First Year” players, and had I done the reorganizing even 6 months ago,I would’ve said “Why should I keep this card of some guy who peaked with 25 games in AA?”, but now I have another reason to hang on to the card (aside from his cool name).

The Brewers also have new uniforms.  I was a bit unsure about them when they debuted, but after seeing a few shots of them on the field I will give them my stamp of approval.  Brock Holt signed with the Brew Crew in February.

I was about to say that Mike Moustakas is heading for the National League for the first time, but then I remembered that the Brewers *are* in the NL.  I am now taking bets for how long it will take me to get used to the NFL’s Raiders not being in Oakland.

I like Wilmer Flores, as do most Mets fans, so I would’ve done a custom for him anyway, but due to a special request, I’m featuring him here.  Wilmer signed with the Giants in February.

Among the players I’ll be featuring are those coming the the Majors from other countries, like Korean pitcher Kwang-Hyun Kim, who signed with the Cardinals… and because I don’t have to worry about licensing restrictions, I can refer to the team as the “Cards”, like it was in the good ol’ days!

Finally, for Gary Trujillo of the Coco Crisp’s Afro blog, here’s a custom of the Athletics’ most significant (relatively speaking) acquisition of the off-season…

Tony Kemp was acquired from the Cubs in exchange for a minor leaguer, and was expected to compete for time playing at 2nd.  I made this custom early on, when I was testing the design with different colors (green, brown, red, blue).  I was also going to test with purple, but the Rockies didn’t add any Major Leaguers to their 40-man roster over the winter…. So out of 70 customs I’ve made there’s not a single Rockie.

OK, gotta get on with my day.  Take care of yourselves and be excellent to each other!

The Why (And How) With Who Went Where 2020

My latest custom set came from how I love to see cards of players in new uniforms, but also about how everything in our lives has been put on hold or canceled.

Before I go any farther, and for those who haven’t seen my new customs, I call them WHO WENT WHERE 2020 and here’s an example:

This particular custom is a “blog exclusive” since it’s not one that I’d already tweeted (If you’re not aware, The Shlabotnik Report is on Twitter: @Shlabotnik_Rpt ).

Every year since 2012 I’ve created a original custom card design and more or less played pretend that I was a card manufacturer cranking out a licensed set (and doing a couple of things that truly licensed sets would not be able to do).  I have a design created for 2020, but I became hesitant to unveil it because who knows what’s going to happen with the 2020 baseball season at this point.  I didn’t want to take something I’d spent a fair amount of time tweaking and fussing over and then more or less waste it by having to use old photos, Spring Training Photos and “Photo Day” images.  I could always save it for 2021.

…But I *did* want to put something out to help me and all of you good people remember where we were when MLB hit the pause button.  I thought of doing something like the 1970’s Topps “Traded” sets, but I’ve played with those recently and in the past…

…and wanted to do something different.

Lately when looking for inspiration, I’ve been poking through the designs used in the 1980’s for football, hockey and basketball.  Although I don’t actually own any, I’ve always liked the 1981-82 Topps Basketball design.

1981-82 Topps - [Base] #20 - Kareem Abdul-Jabbar - Courtesy of COMC.com

1981-82 Topps – [Base] #20 – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar – Courtesy of COMC.com


I suppose Topps was going for a sort of “comic book” motif – POW!  BAM! KABOOM!  and all those other concussive sounds – but I am always reminded of graphics they use on food packaging to draw attention to some changes they’d made…

NOW WITH PROTEIN!

A GREAT SOURCE OF VITAMIN D!

NO ARTIFICIAL COLORS OR FLAVORS!

My initial thought was to replicate this set in a sort of “Topps Archives” way, but I couldn’t get it to work the way I wanted, plus I didn’t have the same font that Topps had used for the team name.  I decided to lean into the who “NOW MADE WITH WHOLE GRAINS!” aspect of it.  I started with the sunburst, and went into my mental card graphic “junk drawer” for the top part of the custom card design.

I’ve been having fun with these and it has given me a distraction from other things going on.

As of my writing this, I’ve created over 50 of these, and I have plans to create another dozen.

I’ll admit, it’s kid of freeing to have a relatively simple design to work with and not worry too much about which players to make customs of… I just have a list of transactions from the end of the 2019 World Series up through the roster freeze that was implemented at the end of March, and I pull the names off of that.

…As well as managers with new teams.

In certain cases, when I feel comfortable that a Non-Roster Invitee would’ve already been on the team in other circumstances, I’ve included them as well.

I’m trying not to rely too much on the “Photo Day” portraits and getting some game shots in there… but I also prefer having the teams’ regular uniform when possible, especially given the Spring Training caps they’re using this year (they’re OK in a few cases, generally bad, somewhat disturbing in the case of the Orioles).

As I mentioned before, I like to go beyond what a regular card company would be able to do, and one type of player I’m hoping to feature is former Major Leaguers who are slated to play in Japan or Korea. Finding photos has been something of a challenge, but I’ve discovered that Instagram can be a good source. Keep an eye out for those in the future.

I’m open to requests, but keep in mind that this is all about seeing images of players in new uniforms. It would look a bit goofy to see, for instance, Yadier Molina on a custom that says “Now with Cardinals!”, because the natural reaction is “Well… YEAH…”

So there you go. Hope you like these because you’ll be seeing more of them. At this point I’ve spent too much time on them to NOT share them.

Thanks for reading, take care of yourselves and as Bill And Ted would say… Be excellent to each other!

Curling Customs: My Latest Batch For The Winter Olympic Sport

I posted a couple of these on Twitter a couple of weeks ago, and at the time I was going to  post them here after I’d made a bunch during and following the pending World Championships.  Well, it should come as a surprise to nobody that the World Championships were canceled, so I ended up being a little short on images, especially for the U.S. curlers.  I’m also finding that non-Canadian curling news is hard to come by, and I’ll get into that in a bit.

So the general idea was to make a Goudey-esque custom card featuring top curlers of the 2019-20 season, plus some favorites.  It’s still officially a work in progress, but things have definitely slowed a lot.


When it comes to international competition, I often root for Sweden, even though I’ve not a drop of Swedish blood in my veins.  It mostly comes from the Winter Olympics, where I’ve always enjoyed the Swedish style of hockey, and now it’s spread into curling… I’m not a huge fan of Niklas Edin’s team, but they’re up there in my personal rankings. Team Edin won the 2019 European Curling Championship this past December.

Same is true for Anna Hasselborg;  I have to say, the the finals of the Women’s European Championship was fun to watch.

I think the last major event of the 2019-20 season was the Tim Horton’s Brier (the Men’s Canadian championship).  Team Brad Gushue walked away with the cup for the third time.

On the women’s side, Team Kerri Einarson won the Scotties.  I didn’t know a lot about Einarson going into this season, so I don’t have much else to say…

John Shuster is probably the closest there currently is to a household name in the US, thanks to his team’s Olympic Gold Medal in 2018.  Team Shuster won the US Men’s Championship in February.

Tabitha Peterson, who took over as skip when Nina Roth went out on maternity leave, won the US Women’s Championship.

In poking around on my usual curling websites (all Canadian), I found out that Chelsea Carey, whose team won the Scotties in 2019, is now a free agent as her team has disbanded.

And on the American side, three-time US championship winning skip Jamie Sinclair is also a free agent, after her team dissolved… but because I don’t know of any good US Curling news sources, I don’t know what happened.

I’m intrigued because Jamie tweeted out “Good luck to Team Christensen next season”, which implies that Cory Christensen left Team Sinclair to form her own team again.  If it were just her, though, Team Sinclair could continue.  Did they all go their own separate ways?  Is Team Christensen basically Team Sinclair without Jamie?  I’ve been trying all morning to find out, but had no luck.

BTW, if anybody knows a good website or Twitter account I could use to keep up on USA Curling news, I’d appreciate it if you’d tip me off in the comments!

As for these customs… I may have another small batch coming.  If you have any requests, I’m all ears (conditional, of course, on my being able to find decent images of the curler in question).

 

What If There Were Exhibit Celebrity Cards In The 1970’s?

…That’s a question I was asking myself as I was shopping for Exhibit “Movie Stars” and “TV And Radio Stars” cards on COMC, and also while searching through the scanned images of the Jefferson Burdick Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. These postcard-sized blank-backed cards, which were sold in arcade machines for many years, would feature many names which are still well known today:   John Wayne, Bette Davis, Clark Gable, Ingrid Bergman, Humphrey Bogart and Spencer Tracy.

But what intrigued me more were the lesser-known stars of the day, such as the ones I knew from listening to rebroadcasts and cassettes of vintage radio comedies… Mary Livingstone, Jim and Marion Jordan (aka Fibber McGee & Molly), Gracie Allen… even (gulp) Amos And Andy.

And then there are the ones where I had no clue at all… names like Bonita Granville, Ben Bernie, Jessica Dragonette, Brian Aherne and Preston Foster.  Maybe if I were more into classic films or knew more about other subjects I’d recognize them, but I don’t.

That got me thinking about some of the celebrities of the 1970’s, people that everybody knew at the time but are far less reknowned in the 21st century.

And it also made me think about how it would’ve been fun to have had the ability to stick a penny, nickel or quarter into an arcade machine and gotten a couple of photos in return.

So that’s when I decided to make a few customs to replicate the Exhibit look, complete with fake signature and salutation, but featuring some of the celebrities of the 1970’s.

One of the first acts I thought of was the husband and wife mime team of Shields and Yarnell. They had appeared on numerous shows, often performing as their robot characters “The Clinkers”, and had their own TV show in the late 1970’s.  Lorene Yarnell’s best-known work to younger audiences might be inside the “Dot Matrix” suit in the movie “Spaceballs”.

Vicki Lawrence was a cast member on The Carol Burnette Show, is famous for her character “Mama” (first in the “Eunice” sketches and later on “Mama’s Family”), and, of course, her 1972 hit song “The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia”.

Wolfman Jack began his career as a DJ, had a breakout in his role in “American Graffiti”, and then – at least from my standpoint – eventually got famous for being famous.  I saw him on numerous shows, and I knew him primarily for being on numerous shows.

Rodney Allen Rippy became famous for a series of Jack In The Box commercials and also became a “thing” unto himself.  I never realized until just now when I was researching him, but he had a small role as a young Bart in Blazing Saddles (in the scene where his family was in a covered wagon and surrounded by Mel Brooks and other “Indians”

I might consider making more of these custom 1970’s Exhibits if this post gets any kind of response.  I’ve got better ideas of how to do the fake signatures instead of the Brush Script font that I used.

But right now… “Supper’s waitin’ at home, and I gotta get to it”.

I Stayed Up All Night Making These Customs!

Well, I *was* up most of the night, and I *was* making customs during the night, but the cause and effect are a little bit different than that.

Y’see, I work in IT and this weekend we did our monthly rebooting of servers (along with software updates and the like).  This month it was my turn to stay up and babysit and do a lot of small tasks, but the way our procedures are currently set up, I click on something, wait a minute or two, click on the next thing, wait a minute or two.

Since I was sitting there in the wee small hours of the morning and decided I may as well do something else in the recurring minute or two of downtime.  On my personal laptop I had a number of images which I never got around into making into Hot Stove customs, so I figured I’d make use of my tiny little fragments of down time.

I’m feeling OK at the moment, but I got hardly any sleep last night so forgive me if I start to babble or not make sense.  I’m really hoping I don’t say something blatantly wrong or stupid.

So we’ll start with of of the newest Blue Jays, Hyun-Jin  Ryu.  This one actually is from a couple of weeks ago, but I wasn’t going to do a post with just one custom.

The photo is from a press conference, which is why he’s wearing a shirt and tie under his jersey… but I decided to try removing the press conference background and do an old school Topps trick of making the background solid blue.  It’s not quite the same blue (old Topps used solid cyan ink), but it’s close enough for government work.

For a guy who just signed a contract for a shitload of money, Gerrit Cole looks pretty unhappy… Maybe it’s because he had to shave.

I should’ve lightened the photo and gotten more of the Yankee Stadium background, but this is what happens when I make customs at 2am.  Unlike a certain famous sportscard blogger, I am most decidedly not a night owl.

Equal time for the Mets, even if signing Betances won’t quite have the impact of a Gerrit Cole.

I do like the way this one came out, though.

Back in December… I think it was December… the Rangers unveiled their new uniforms which I suppose are meant for their first season in their new ballpark which replaces their horribly old former stadium which was built in the 1990’s if you can believe it.  I didn’t bother putting new backgrounds in for these, I didn’t think it was worth it.  Anyway, here’s manager Chris Woodward in the new home uniforms.

Looking at this custom I see the folly of having off-white borders when the photo itself is very much not off-white.  I do that so the custom is not solid white, but here it looks a bit silly.  I’ll have to ponder that before I use that on any future templates.

If I’m not mistaken, this is the first time since 2008 that the Rangers’ jersey actually says “Rangers” on it.  Shocking, I know.

Joey Gallo seems startled by the new powder blue alternates.  It’s funny how a number of teams have gone powder blue alts lately, but at least they’re all teams which had used powder blue in the past.  I’m not sure I’m a fan of the powder blue cap.

That’s about it for now… I did make other customs, but the mistakes on those are too great for me to post them here… They should show up next week after I’ve made some corrections.

“Hot Stove” Customs: Brewers, Managers And Will Smith (No, Not That One… Or That One…)

I’m a bit behind the times with this, but the Milwaukee Brewers released a new set of uniforms early this past week, and while the new uniforms are a big improvement over the previous set (which were “fine” in the somewhat dismissive sense), I’m still wanting something a bit more… but on the other hand, I’m not entirely sure what I would change.

The standard home uniform is pretty similar to what the team wore in the mid-1970’s, complete with wide (by 21st century standards) blue and yellow stripes on the sleeves. There’s also a pinstriped version which is similar to what they wore in the late 1970’s and all throughout the 1980’s.  (…and by the way, this is a Faux 3-D parallel of the Hot Stove set)

My unpopular take: I don’t love the ball-in-glove logo. Yes, it’s all clever and such with a lower case ‘m’ and a lower case ‘b’ forming a glove, but from the day of the original’s introduction, it always struck me as a little *too* clever for it’s own good. I’ll admit, this is probably a lingering emotional reaction to what 13-year-old me thought when they introduced the BiG logo the first time. I always kind of liked the serifed “M” that the team (*ahem*) borrowed from the Milwaukee Braves.

The road uniform isn’t much to talk about, but I have to say that I like the road alternate uniforms, even though some people have pointed out that it looks like the Cub Scouts uniform… Or maybe, on some level, *because* it looks like the Cub Scouts uniform. I was active in Scouting for a number of years, so maybe that contributes to my liking this alt.

All in all, I’m in favor of this change except for two things: I would’ve preferred Royal Blue instead of Navy Blue, and I would’ve liked powder blue road uniforms… but I suppose this all comes back to my wanting the mid-1970’s Brewers uniform back.

Time to catch up on managerial hirings… and I still haven’t made a custom for Joe Girardi… and the Pirates still haven’t hired a manager yet…

I’ve always been a fan of Carlos Beltran, even during his time with that *other* New York baseball team. While I went into the offseason thinking the Mets would do best to hire a manager with experience, I like Carlos too much to hold that against him.

And with Beltran reclaiming his traditional #15, it looks like Tim Tebow is going to have to wear a different number in Spring Training. Maybe he can adopt a Japanese convention and go three digits (Now batting… Number 115… Tim Tebow…)

Judging from the reaction I saw on Twitter, the Giants’ hiring of Gabe Kapler is not a popular one… and it’s not like I don’t understand. He had some talent on his Phillies team, especially in 2019, but delivered some very mediocre results.

I can only think that Kapler gives one hell of an interview… And with Brad Ausmus out of a job, Kapler is a contender for “Most handsome manager of 2020”.

As you can see, my manager “Hot Stove” customs generally come from press conferences, and feature the newly-hired manager wearing a cap and a jersey over a dress shirt. Joe Maddon would have none of that during his press conference, though. From the many photos I searched through, I could not find one where he’d buttoned up his jersey or put a damn cap on his head.

…But I suppose it’s just as well, because you know and I know that Maddon won’t actually wear a jersey once the season starts. What I did instead was find a more appropriate photo of Maddon in a Cubs hoodie and photoshop it into the likely Angels apparel.

I don’t know whether Maddon and actor Bradley Whitford looked much alike in their younger days, but they seem pretty much interchangeable now.

And now, on to Will Smith… No, not the actor… and no, not the Dodgers catcher. This is the relief pitcher formerly of the Royals, Brewers and Giants who signed a 3-year contract with the Braves. Since there hasn’t been a lot of player movement just yet, and because I felt like making a custom last week, I whipped up a quickie for Mr. Smith.  I’m not 100% happy with the results, but I’ll leave it to you to determine what I don’t like about it  (and once again, this is a Faux 3-D parallel)

Every year I would love to do a Hot Stove set that’s more like the 1970’s traded sets with simulated bad airbrushing and – ideally – guys looking skyward. Photos of guys looking up at a bird, at a plane, at SUPERMAN! are not the kind of thing you find out in the wild, however.

To wrap up, and just for giggles, I’m going to share the other four customs I’ve made of Carlos Beltran over the years.

2012 TSR

2013-14 TSR Hot Stove

2016 TSR

2016-17 TSR Hot Stove