“Hot Stove” Custom – Tigers obtain Ian Kinsler From Texas

Here’s the counterpart to the Prince Fielder custom I posted last week.  I feel fairly confident that, unlike the Rangers, the Tigers have not made modifications to their uniform, causing my custom to look somewhat anachronistic.

2013-14 TSR Hot Stove #8 - Ian Kinsler

BTW, for those of you who might be new to this blog, this is another in a series custom cards reflecting off-season changes.  The card’s design is based on the 1959 Bazooka set.

The Tigers are certainly having an interesting offseason…  The Fielder/Kinsler trade,  sending Doug Fister to the Nationals, signing Joe Nathan, hiring Brad Ausmus as their manager.  It’s certainly a contrast to a good number of other teams which have done basically nothing so far.

I would like to send my apologies to the city of Detroit;  more specifically to the owners of the building I have obliterated from the city skyline.  I’m sorry, but it just looked cluttered behind Kinsler’s head with the building there.  Hopefully I didn’t displace too many people with my wanton destruction.

I feel kinda like Marvin The Martian here… “Oh, I’m going to blow it up.  It obstructs my view of Venus…”    Just don’t any of you try to steal my Illudium Q-36 Explosive Space Modulator… I’ve got my eye on each and every one of you.

Secrets of the computer graphics amateurs!

The only things I did on this custom that I hadn’t done on all the others was to play with the “Warp Brush” tool in Paint Shop Pro.  The piping on the jersey was actually borrowed from another image, and I used the Warp Brush to kind of “push” the piping around to better match Kinsler’s jersey.

“Hot Stove” Custom – Royals Unveil New Road Alts

2013-14 TSR Hot Stove #7 - Eric Hosmer
Going into this offseason, I was pretty sure that no teams would be doing a wholesale uniform change like we had with the Astros a year ago.  Even with the lack of complete visual overhauls, some tweaks and alternate uniforms are starting to see the light of day.   This jersey is a new alternate the Royals will be wearing on the road.  I don’t think you can see it on my custom, but there’s both powder blue and white piping on the jersey.

The only negative thing I can say about this alt is that the Royals have joined a growing trend of having at least one jersey with placket piping – the piping that goes around the collar and down the front.  I’m a little too bleary of brain to come up with a definitive list of who has it on a home, road or alternate with placket piping, and who does not, but the “haves” (Red Sox, Braves, Nationals, Tigers, Astros, Rays, and Mariners are among the obvious ones) definitely outnumber the “have nots” (Trickier to define because a lot of alts have it).  It’s a good and traditional look, but I’m worried that it’s becoming overdone.

Getting back to the Royals, one of the things about them that I’ve grown to appreciate over the years is their uniforms.  They went with a classic design from the start, and they’ve stuck with it since 1969 with only minor changes here and there.

There’s a lot to be said for that… of the 14 teams that started off as expansion teams, only 3 have maintained the same essential “branding” throughout their existence:  The Mets (if you’ll forgive the “racing stripes” of the 1980’s and the altered Mets script in the 1990’s), the Royals and the Rockies.

A couple of notes about the custom

Unlike my previous customs this offseason, Eric Hosmer was not photoshopped.  All I did to the original image was to separate him from the grey background and superimpose him on a background of the White Sox ballpark (which has a sponsored name I’m not remembering and don’t care to look up).

“Chicago?” you say, “Why not Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City?”

I almost did look for a background image of Kauffman, until I remembered that this is a road jersey, so it needed a road background.  Of the backgrounds I have in my inventory, Chicago worked best.

Other than that, the only thing I had to do on this card was modify a Royals logo.  I changed the yellow & blue to make them more basic and Topps-like, and I added the black border to set it off from the colored stripes behind it.

2013/14 “Hot Stove” Custom – The Rangers Trade For Prince Fielder

It wasn’t quite two years ago.

2013-14 TSR Hot Stove #6 - Prince Fielder

Prince Fielder was a free agent, and Tigers President & GM Dave Dombrowski said that the Tigers & Prince weren’t a good fit.

And the next thing you know, Prince Fielder is at a press conference wearing a Tigers cap.  And who was that standing next to him?  The guy with the huge grin?  Tigers owner Mike Ilitch.

It wasn’t hard to figure out who’s idea the big contract was.

That was one of the first things I thought of when I learned about the trade; Dombrowski is taking the construction of the team back into his own hands.  You can almost picture Dombrowski emerging from the shadows as he says “I didn’t start this… but I’m sure as hell going to finish it”.

Even so, I think this trade helps both teams and it’ll be interesting to see how it all shakes out.

Secrets Of The Computer Graphics Amateurs!

If someone who deals with digital forensics examined the custom card above, they’d find that it’s actually a combination of several images… Prince himself, the sleeve patch, the cap logo, the background, the jersey lettering, all came from different images. If there were ever a “Franken-card”, this is it.

The one different thing I tried on this one was using the “soften” tool to smooth out the edges between Fielder and the borrowed background he’s in front of. It did do quite the nice job of removing the “jaggies”… Not something you’d consciously notice, but it makes for a less jarring transition between foreground and background and subtly helps maintain the illusion.

“Hot Stove” Custom – Brad Ausmus Replaces Leyland As The Tigers’ Manager

2013-14 TSR Hot Stove #3A - Brad Ausmus

I actually don’t have a lot to say about this particular custom, other than that the Tigers cap logo was lifted from an image of Jim Leyland… So it’s like the passing of the torch.  Kind of.  Sort of.  In a matter of speaking.

Oh, I should mention, for those who may be coming in through search engines or other means, that this is another custom card from my “Hot Stove” set reflecting off-season changes.  The card’s design is based on the 1959 Bazooka set.

Beyond that, I think everybody knows the deal with Ausmus.  No managing experience, put in charge of a team with high expectations, yada yada yada.

Here’s a fun fact about Brad Ausmus:  Between 1996 and 2000 he was traded from the Tigers to the Astros, back to the Tigers and then back again to the Astros.  In the first two of these trades, C.J. Nitkowski was traded along with him.

Not enough for you?  I do feel like I need to do something else with this post… Um… How about a parallel version?  Here’s a mini.  Yay.
2013-14 TSR Hot Stove #3A - Brad Ausmus

Next week I’ll get back to customs of players.  I’ve got two in mind, we’ll see what happens.

“Hot Stove” Custom – Brayan Peña Signs With The Reds

I did this custom of Brayan Peña as a bit of a challenge to myself.

2013-14 TSR Hot Stove #4 - Brayan Pena

BTW, for those of you who might be new to this blog, this is the second custom card from my “Hot Stove” set reflecting off-season changes.  The card’s design is based on the 1959 Bazooka set.

I originally had a Brad Ausmus custom lined up for this week, but after having a Matt Williams custom last week, I wasn’t sure I wanted to have another manager right away.  The main problem with that thought is there hasn’t been much player movement so far.

Brayan Peña was the first player of any significance to change teams, having come to terms with the Reds over the weekend and finalizing the deal on Tuesday.  I like Peña, so I had no problems with taking the time to make a custom… but I wasn’t sure if I could take a navy blue Tigers cap and turn it into a Reds cap.

So just for grins, I took a “Photo Day” image of Peña from last spring, messed around a hell of a lot with hue/saturation as well as brightness/contrast, and when I was done, I looked at it, nodded approvingly and said to myself “That does not suck!”

Just to “Cincinnati it up” a little more, I changed the background so that it shows Great American Ballpark instead of a plain backdrop.

Peña signed a 2-year contract and is slated to be the backup to Devin Mesoraco, a job that Ryan Hanigan held in 2013.  All three are currently on the Reds’ 40-man roster, so expect Hanigan to be moving sometime before opening day.

Next week’s custom may be Brad Ausmus… or Marlon Byrd, who signed with the Phillies today… or someone else that neither you or I know about just yet.  We shall see.

“Hot Stove” Custom Of The Week: Nats Manager Matt Williams

This is the first of this off-season’s “Hot Stove” custom cards.  I’m planning to feature a different Hot Stove custom each week until Opening Day.

The design is based on the 1959 Bazooka baseball & football sets.

2013-14 TSR Hot Stove #2 - Matt Williams

The recent hirings of Matt Williams, Brad Ausmus and Bryan Price are very interesting to me;  it used to be that when a team was expected to win and needed a manager, they would hire someone with… well… experience.  And success.  Often a big-name manager.  It seems like Mike Matheny and his peers have shown that lack of experience is not necessarily a negative.

It makes me wonder if GM’s are starting to view managers like closers… A volatile commodity that, more often than not, isn’t worth the commitment of a large contract.

…or maybe it’s just that all the good, experienced managers are taken.

It’s quite the pressure cooker that these guys are stepping in to.  The Nats, Reds and Tigers will be expected to contend next year.  If they disappoint, how much of the backlash is going to be focused on the newbie manager?

The thing about this trend that I dislike the most is that both Matt Williams and Brad Ausmus are younger than I am.  If you’re not nodding your head knowingly, that’s just because you haven’t gotten there yourself.  Trust me; it’ll happen to you someday.

…and now, I’d like to introduce a new recurring feature I call…

Secrets Of The Computer Graphics Amateurs!

I don’t really know what I’m doing.

I just wanted to set things straight before I go any further.  I’m not a graphic designer; I’ve never taken any classes in computer graphics.  I’m just a guy with an artistic bent who gets his jollies out of playing with his outdated copy of Paint Shop Pro.

…But in the spirit of “writing the blog that I would want to read”, I decided that I would give a quick overview of what was involved in “photoshopping” the images used for each custom I create.

This one was relatively simple.  The original image showed Williams in a Diamondbacks cap & pullover jersey, so the first thing I did was duplicate the original image as a second layer, and then removed everything from that layer except for the D-Backs cap & pullover.  At this point, the duplicate layer contains only red-colored clothing.  I adjusted the brightness & contrast on this layer so that the “D-Back Red” was a bit lighter and closer to “Nationals red”.

Using the Clone tool, I obscured the D-Back logo on the cap.

Finally I copy-and-pasted a Nats logo from another photo, tweaked the size and rotation of the logo, and that’s was pretty much all that was involved.