Hello, My Name Is Joe, I’ll Be Your Jinx For Tonight…

I had somewhere to run to Wednesday night, and just before I got in my car I checked my phone and saw a notification that the Orioles’ Dylan Bundy was perfect against the Rockies through five innings.
2014 Bowman Top 100 Prospects Dylan Bundy
“Hot damn,” I thought, “I’ll have to listen to the game in the car!”

So I’m in my car trying to figure out which XM channel the Orioles game was on. By the time I found the game, the Orioles radio announcers were talking about how Bundy had walked former Oriole Mark Reynolds to lose the perfect game.

2014 TSR #179 Mark Reynolds

I didn’t have any readily-available scans of Mark Reynolds cards, so you’ll have to settle for a 2014 TSR custom card.

At that point, I should’ve realized what I was doing to Bundy’s chances and gotten out of there like Shaggy and Scooby after seeing a ghost. But no, I said “He’s still got the no-no!” and I kept on listening.

So naturally, on what was the second or third pitch I heard, Nick Hundley… another former Oriole…
2014 Topps Update Nick Hundley
…hits it out of the park. Goodbye no-hitter, goodbye shutout. Two batters later, Bundy gave up David Dahl’s first MLB homer, and that was it for Bundy. The Orioles ended up losing 3-1 and Bundy took the loss.

I’m sorry Dylan.
2012 Topps Heritage Minor League Dylan Bundy

I have this incredible track record of jinxing perfection as soon as I become aware of it. I’ve been bowling in leagues for over 20 years, and I couldn’t tell you how many times I heard someone say something along the lines of “Hey, check out Frank’s score” and no sooner do I look up to see that Frank’s line on the scoring computer looks like this:
FRANK  | X | X | X | X | X | X | X | X | X |
…when Frank throws a 7-10 split. It’s the Shlabotnik curse. I become aware of perfection, it ceases to be perfect.

2013 Bowman Draft Picks Prospects Dylan Bundy

Last year I was at a minor league baseball game, and both pitchers were pitching really well, only the visiting pitcher had a slightly rocky start before getting into a groove. Even though I was keeping score, I only knew I was watching a pitcher’s duel with a lot of K’s, I wasn’t aware of what was going on until I hear the guy behind me say “He has a no-hitter going”. I mentally went “Whuuuh?”, looked at the scoreboard, looked at my scorebook, sure enough… no hits and working through the 5th inning. Two batters later, a ground ball between the shortstop and third baseman, no more no hitter.

2013 Topps Gypsy Queen Dylan Bundy

So this is your opportunity to tell me about your similar stories, or perhaps to gloat about how you’re not an instant curse like I am.

How far into a no-hitter have you ever seen a pitcher get?

Full disclosure: I did eventually see someone bowl a 300 game.

The 2014 Heritage Matt Wieters That Never Was, Plus Other Orioles Customs

As I’m sure most of you know, Matt Wieters doesn’t have a contract with Topps. As a result, he doesn’t get into Heritage or the base Topps set or Stadium Club or anything that allows him to show a flash of Oriole logo (or even orange in most cases).

So, as usual, I’ve taken the law into my own hands…
2014 TSR Schmeritage Matt Wieters

With the absence of Andrew Miller from 2014 Update, I strongly suspect that he should be added to Wieters and Ichiro on the list of “Guys without Topps contracts”. He hasn’t appeared on a card since 2010, and it’s not like he doesn’t deserve at least an Update card. I thought about creating a Heritage card for him as well, but I’ve already spent too much time…

Awwwww, what the hell.
2014 Schmeritage Andrew Miller
There. I hope you’re all satisfied. :-)

Getting back to the mainstream of this post, I had a number of Orioles customs from my TSR set that I wanted to share now that the Orioles are taking down the bunting, packing up their stuff and going their separate ways. It was a disappointing end to the season, but we shouldn’t lose perspective on it… It’s still better to lose the ALCS than to be looking up at the Yankees and Red Sox (and Rays and Jays) at the end of the season.

Here are some postseason cards that I don’t love, but I created a “2014 Highlights” template, and dammit, I’m going to use it!
2014 TSR #751 O's Clinch East

2014 TSR #760 O's Sweep Tigers

Matt Wieters also gets a card in my custom TSR set…
2014 TSR #790 Matt Wieters
In case you were wondering, I’ve already created and posted an Andrew Miller card for this set. You can see it by clicking on the “Galleries Of Custom Cards” tab up top.

Where would the Orioles be without Buck?
2014 TSR MC-5 Buck Showalter

I like Ubaldo Jimenez, but he hasn’t been quite the pitcher the Orioles were hoping for.
2014 TSR #662 Ubaldo Jimenez
…But I do like the way this custom came out.  I’m a sucker for any card with a nice shot of Camden Yards in the background, even when I create the card and I’m the one who put Camden Yards in the background.

I’ll confess, every once in a while I’ll see a pitcher with “CHEN” on the back of his jersey, I’ll think of Bruce Chen instead of Wei-Yin Chen.
2014 TSR #720 Wei-Yin Chen
I miss Bruce Chen’s bad jokes that got played on the Camden Yards scoreboard.

Wei-Yin Chen, the guy who’s actually on the card I’m featuring, was one of the Orioles best pitchers this year, going 16-6… He did have a rough postseason, though.

I had to make sure that I got Nick Markakis (a.k.a. Mar-KickAss, a.k.a. Mark Nickakis) into this set, because I have a fear – hopefully unfounded – that the O’s will decline the option on Nick’s contract and he’ll end up elsewhere next year.
2014 TSR #675 Nick Markakis
Of course, if that happens and Nick ends up with the Mets, that wouldn’t be so bad…

I know a lot of Orioles fans took to Nelson Cruz this year, but give me J.J. Hardy any time.
2014 TSR #193 JJ Hardy

David Lough was new to the team this year and I enjoyed watching him play, even if it was as a 4th or 5th outfielder.
2014 TSR #514 David Lough

I should’ve done more of these Pointless Pairings cards… and some horizontal cards… and more highlights cards…
2014 TSR PP-1 Chris Khris Davis
Oh, well. As The Shlabotnik Report’s team of graphic designers feverishly work on the 2015 set, I’ll make sure that they put more of an effort to hash out those designs up front.

The 2014 Heritage Ichiro That Never Was

Ichiro Suzuki is one of two notable baseball players to not have a current contract with Topps. As a result, he didn’t get a card in 2014 Heritage, so Ichiro fans are left wondering what such a card might look like.

I have my own thoughts on the subject…
2014 Schmeritage Ichiro Suzuki

If you came here through an image search – and posts like this draw a fair amount of drive-by hits – I will explain that the image above is a virtual baseball card I made because that’s one of the ways I get my jollies.

Another way I have fun with custom cards is by making cards for my own card set, one which is entirely my own design:
2014 TSR #225 Ichiro Suzuki

I should also point out that Mr. Suzuki and/or his agent are the ones who deprived us of real cards, so if they don’t play nice by me, I won’t play nice by him… He get’s his full name here. If you don’t like it, Mr. Suzuki, you can go sign a contract with Topps.



Elvis Is Everywhere!

I can’t believe I didn’t use this subject line for the first post

The previous post, like this one, involve “parallel” custom cards featuring Elvis Andrus placed in a variety of locations and situations.  The original idea came from 1967ers at Diamond Cuts And Wax Stains, and after the first post I got a bunch of great suggestions on where to take Elvis Andrus next.    You can call it “crowdsourcing”, or you can say I’m like one of those comic strips that are largely written by the readers and feature little boxes that say “Thanks to D.W. Washburn, Plano TX!”

…And before I get started, I didn’t use every suggestion, but that was more because I couldn’t get them to look the way they did in my head.  As it was, a couple of these required some work, including removing a guy named “Barry” from the background of one.

The first one features Elvis Andrus at an Elvis Presley concert.  This one was suggested by Nick – and since the link on his comment didn’t work, I’m assuming this is Nick over at Dime Boxes.
2014 TSR #115-E Elvis Andrus Elvis
Elvis Andrus is so “Old School” that he’ll only be seen in a 1950’s Elvis Presley concert.

Incidentally, if you’re wondering why I’m picking on Elvis Andrus, it’s just because it happened to work out that way.  Right place, right time.

Jeff at 2×3 Heroes got all topical on me and suggested that Elvis Andrus might’ve been waiting in line for an iPhone 6:
2014 TSR #115-iP Elvis Andrus iPhone

CommishBob at The Five Tool Collector had some terrific suggestions, and I unfortunately chose the one that involved the most work out of any of these (remember my comment about digitally removing the guy named “Barry”?)
2014 TSR #115-WH Elvis Andrus White House
“My fellow Americans… Dios mio!  What am I saying, I’m Venezuelan!”

Finally, 2×3 Jeff had another suggestion which was too hard for this Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan to ignore.  He’d suggested that I make a custom of —


2014 TSR #115-MST Elvis Andrus MST3K 2

At the risk of beating a dead horse, I’m going to do one more post in this series… I’ve still got a couple of ideas I haven’t had a chance to implement, I’m still trying to work out some of the prior suggestions to my satisfaction, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some of you have some more great ideas.  Lay ’em on me!

2014 TSR: Introducing A New Multi-level Parallel Set Featuring “Elvis Andrus At Arby’s”

Today’s custom cards were inspired by 1967ers over at Diamond Cuts And Wax Stains!

…So it’s him that you should give a hearty pat on the back (or pull to the side and whisper “Don’t encourage him!” into his ear).

Back in April I’d written a post about how, when I take over the operations of Topps, we will no longer use fake clouds as a background.  As an example of better ways of doing things, I provided this custom of Elvis Andrus, which actually was made up of a “Photo Day” photo of Andrus and a background from some forgotten Spring Training ballpark.

2014 TSR #115 Elvis Andrus

In the comments for this post, Mr. 1967ers said, “I like it. It also opens the door to fun variations of ‘Elvis Andrus standing in front of different things’, such as, I dunno, the local Arby’s or something.”

The thought of a parallel featuring Elvis Andrus standing in front of an Arby’s was too much for me to resist… for a while, until I got distracted… But once I was reminded of it again, I could not resist!

So, behold!  The first of the “Standing in front of different things” parallel set:
2014 TSR #115-A Elvis Andrus Arby's
For the record, that is an actual Arby’s in Fort Worth, Texas.

Oh, but it doesn’t stop there!

There’s also a short-printed parallel of Elvis Andrus at the DMV…
2014 TSR #115-D Elvis Andrus DMV

…and a super-short-printed parallel of…


2014 TSR #115-S Elvis Andrus in space

If there’s anyplace else you’d like to see Elvis Andrus, leave a comment and we’ll see if we can’t convince the TSR Production Department to crank out more parallels!

Perhaps the One Thing I’ll Miss About Derek Jeter…

…Is making unflattering customs of His Jeterness.

Like this one:
2014 TSR #300 Derek Jeter

…or this one from the 2012 TSR set.
2012 TSR Custom Derek Jeter

Mets fans like me will clearly have to make some adjustments.  I mean, Chipper’s gone.  Jeter will be gone.  What’s a Mets fan to do?  Whom shall I mock?  Whom shall I regard with disdain?

Sorry, Bryce Harper fans.  Looks like your boy’s next.
2014 TSR #600 Bryce Harper

2012 Card #18 - Highlight Harper

How Topps Should Use The Extra Cards In The 2015 Set

For those of you that haven’t heard, Series 1 of 2015 Topps will have 350 cards instead of the standard-of-late 330 cards… That would seem to mean 40 extra cards in the base set, 60 altogether if they extend this to the Update set.

More likely than not, Topps will use the extra cards for “A Tribute To Derek Jeter’s Greatest Stand-up Doubles” or “Topps All-Time Team Of Guys Named Bryce, Yasiel or Clayton”.

…But if I were in charge…

…And I’m still waiting on that Nigerian Prince to send me my money so that I can complete my purchase of Topps…

…But if I were in charge, those extra cards would go towards established players who, through no fault of their own, are cardboardless.  Think of the pain and suffering their families go through when they have to admit “Yes, my father/brother/uncle/nephew/cousin is a major league player, has been for years, but I can’t show you a recent baseball card because he doesn’t have one”.

Until the day that Topps can get their act together and resolve this on a more permanent and ongoing basis, I’m going to put a band-aid on this injustice and feature some of these players in my 2014 TSR custom set.

The first player I’d give a card to is one I’ve already shown a custom for…

Andrew Miller, Pitcher, Baltimore Orioles

2014 TSR #559 Andrew Miller
Last nationally-distributed card to the best of my knowledge, feel free to correct me (LNDCTTBOMKFFTCM): 2010 Topps, Heritage & Upper Deck.

Andrew Miller has appeared in 177 games since appearing on cardboard, including 63 games this year split between the Red Sox and Orioles. He doesn’t have the flashier numbers like wins or saves, but consider these numbers he’s put up this year:  0.873 WHIP, 14.1 K’s per 9 innings, 2.13 ERA.

If this guy doesn’t get a card next year (or in this year’s Update), it will be a grave miscarriage of justice.

Dan Otero, Pitcher, Oakland Athletics

2014 TSR #424 Dan Otero
LNDCTTBOMKFFTCM: Dan Otero has NEVER appeared in a nationally distributed set, or at least none that I can find. No Bowman. No Pro Debut. No Heritage Minor League. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Bupkis.

Dan Otero was a 21st round draft pick of the Giants, and had a couple of cups of coffee in San Francisco in 2012.  Towards the end of 2013 Spring Training, the Giants lost him on waivers to the Yankees.  The Yankees immediately put him back on waivers, and lost him to the Athletics the next day.  Last year, Dan Otero appeared in 33 games, had a 2-0 record with a 1.38 ERA and a 1.231 WHIP.  He also appeared in 4 games of the ALDS against the Tigers, pitching 5.2 shutout innings.  This year, he’s appeared in 60 games, has an 8-1 record and a 2.15 ERA.

Chris Stewart, Catcher, Pittsburgh Pirates

2014 TSR #439 Chris Stewart
LNDCTTBOMKFFTCM: 2007 Fleer, Topps & UD

On paper, Chris Stewart has 8 years of Major League experience…  OK, yeah, from 2006 to 2010 he had 26 total games under his belt, but from 2011 to this year he’s appeared in 271 games.  I’ll admit, part of my motivation is just that I’m tired of looking at his 2007 Topps card in my Current Roster Binders.

John Baker, Catcher, Chicago Cubs

2014 TSR #473 John Baker
LNDCTTBOMKFFTCM: 2010 Topps Update

John is a man of incredible symmetry, at least as of this morning.  Check out his Games Played totals for the past four years:
2011 – 16 games
2012 – 63 games
2013 – 16 games
2014 – 63 games

If nothing else, John Baker deserves a card for being the winning pitcher in the longest game in Cubs history… It was a 16-inning game that took 6:27 to play.  He pitched the top of the 16th and, in the bottom of the inning, would get a walk and score the winning run.

I’ll admit, I keep confusing John Baker with Jeff Baker, who also had played for the Cubs.  Jeff is the guy on the 2012 Topps Card signing a replica of the Wrigley Field sign for a bearded Cubs fan in a floppy hat.

Ramiro Pena, Infielder, Atlanta Braves

2014 TSR #488 Ramiro Pena

Ramiro Peña is a former Yankees prospect who was very likely overhyped because… well, he was a Yankees prospect.  He’s spent the last two years as a utility infielder with the Braves, getting in 50 games last year and 70 this year.

Wil Nieves, Catcher, Philadelphia Phillies

2014 TSR #502 Wil Nieves

Nieves might be something of a stretch for candidacy in this group… He has appeared in 151 games since his last cardboard appearance, but that’s over 4 years, and he’s appeared in only 28 this year.  But over those 151 games, he’s batted .275 with 24 doubles, and that’s not too shabby, so he stays.

Joaquin Arias, Infielder, San Francisco Giants

2014 TSR #518 Joaquin Arias

I’m going to wrap this up with a player whose lack of baseball cardage definitely falls into the “Crimes Against Humanity” category.  Over the past three years with the Giants, Arias has appeared in 309 games, scored 61 runs, drove in 64 more and batted .261.  Barring an injury, Arias will have appeared in 100+ games for three years in a row… so why the heck hasn’t this guy been on a baseball card since 2009?

Trivia time:  Arias was the “Player To Be Named Later” that the Rangers got in the trade that sent Alex Rodriguez to the Yankees.

OK, boys and girls, it’s audience participation time!

Has anybody on your favorite team been criminally ignored by Topps?

In the meantime, I have to admit, I screwed up while making this post… I created a custom for a guy I hadn’t realized had not pitched in the Majors this year and is not on a 40-man roster.

2014 TSR #411 Manny Corpas
…But I’d already made the custom and uploaded it, so here it is… Enjoy, all you Manny Corpas fans out there.

2014 TSR: A Petit Reminder That It’s Never Pointless To Get The Vogt Out

Today’s post is little more than an arbitrary assortment of customs… but “arbitrary” is not necessarily a bad thing.  Let’s get rolling…

I tend to think of Yusmeiro Petit as something of a failed Mets prospect, but just because he never made it to the Mets doesn’t mean he hasn’t had his flashes of brilliance. Last year he came within one strike of pitching a perfect game, and settled for a one-hit shutout. This week, he set a Major League record by retiring 46 consecutive batters, breaking a record held by Mark Buehrle.
2014 TSR #527 Yusmeiro Petit

This next custom is from the batch I created just after the trade deadline, but it’s here just because I like the way it turned out.
2014 TSR #573 Asdrubal Cabrera

I made this Nolan Arenado custom a while ago… I had a reason at the time, but damned if I can’t remember it now.  Since Nolan recently won the NL Player Of The Week award, I figured it’s as good a time as any to unveil it.
2014 TSR #255 Nolan Arenado
Over the week ending August 24th, Nolan Arenado lead the league with a .545 batting average, hit three homers, scored six runs, had three RBI, three doubles, three homers and a triple.

Casey over at Cardboard Brooklyn requested a custom of Stephen Vogt, and I was only too happy to comply.  You’ve gotta love a guy that is legitimately listed as “1B/OF/C”… and I technically could’ve listed DH as well, but he’s only done that a handful of times.
2014 TSR #519 Stephen Vogt
I thought of putting “UTILITY” down as the position, but that’s overly vague and not as much fun.

Finally, I realized a while ago that I had not posted any “Pointless Pairings” inserts, so I’ll kick things off with this one:
2014 TSR PP-2 Headley Marakovits

I think this is also the first horizontal card I’ve posted, although I have created a couple and did intended from the start to make it more of a “standard card”.  I’ll see if I can’t get more horizontal cards worked into the later series of this set.

Team Coco, “Dandy” Throwbacks And The Guy Who Makes Me Say “Bastardo!”

Today’s customs were made for a variety of reasons…

Last week, I made an offer to make a custom for anybody who wanted to see their player on my 2014 TSR design. Gary over at Coco Crisp’s Afro leapt at the opportunity, and he requested – to nobody’s surprise – Coco Crisp.
2014 TSR #499 Coco Crisp
The deep, dark secret behind this custom… That’s a Seattle Mariner spring training batting cage in the background. Don’t tell Coco.

…and that offer still stands for everybody, all you have to do is ask.  Disclaimer:  I can only do these if there are images available to use.  Just as an example, I’ve got a post that’s waiting on a decent photo of Shlabotnik favorite Nolan Reimold in a Blue Jays uniform.

Moving right along, dubby dub, dubby dub…

Every time I see this Phillies pitcher enter a game, I clench my fist, narrow my eyes and bitterly exclaim “Bastardo!” in my best Telenovela voice.

2014 TSR #154 Antonio Bastardo

I don’t have anything against Antonio Bastardo, I just like to say his name that way.  I also promised a Bastardo! custom to Jim over at The Phillies Room.

This past Friday, the Orioles commemorated their 60th anniversary by wearing 1954 throwback uniforms. I’ve never been one to let some perfectly good throwbacks go to waste, so rather than spending my time being a productive member of society (or my household), I created a relatively quick throwback custom in the style of a 1954 Dan-Dee Potato Chip card.
2014 TSR 1954-1 Chris Tillman

For those of you who don’t recognize the name “Dan-Dee” but think the card looks familiar, this basic design was used for 2005 Fleer Tradition.

Finally, I wanted to give a little attention to Orioles catcher Caleb Joseph.

For those of you who don’t follow the O’s, Caleb Joseph is a 28-year-old rookie in his 7th year of professional baseball. When Matt Wieters went out for the season, Joseph got called up and was given a chance to prove himself at the Major League level.
2014 TSR #512 Caleb Joseph
He got off to a slow start with the bat, but Joseph has gotten hot and has homered in 5 straight games. I think that more than qualifies him for a custom.

2014 TSR: Previewing Series 5 With Some “Trade Deadline Guys”

I don’t know how many of you realize that my custom card set comes out in six series of 132 cards each… as if such a thing mattered tremendously.  What the heck, it adds a tiny little element of fun for me, and possibly for some of you.

Series 5 went “live” on July 15th, which means that the first series to reflect the trade deadline deals ends up being Series 6, which gets released on September 1st.

The below customs are not meant to highlight every player moved or even the most important ones… In this case, it reflects the subset of players who moved and for whom I’ve created a custom which meets the exacting standards of The Shlabotnik Report, not to mention the Bavarian purity laws set out in the Reinheitsgebot.

For those of you who enjoy the concept of honoring players by giving them round card #’s, this Yoenis Cespedes card is #550.
2014 TSR #550 Yoenis Cespedes

…and David Price is #625. For these recently traded guys, I went with more pre-game cameo shots than I normally would… but I just liked the photos.
2014 TSR #625 David Price

Austin Jackson has been traded twice in his career, and both times it was a blockbuster-esque 3-team deal.
2014 TSR #540 Austin Jackson
Back in late 2009, he went from the Yankees to the Tigers in a trade that saw Max Scherzer, Curtis Granderson, Ian Kennedy, Edwin Jackson, Phil Coke and Daniel Schlereth change teams.

The Orioles took advantage of the Red Sox “We suck with you, we can suck without you” sale, and got an Andrew Miller rental for prospect Eduardo Rodriguez. I hope this doesn’t come back to bite the Birds in the butt. (Sorry, I know I shouldn’t let my Mets pessimism leak over to my Orioles fandom).
2014 TSR #559 Andrew Miller
Miller’s no stranger to being traded; he was part of the package of prospects that the Tigers sent to Florida for Miguel Cabrera. The Marlins also got Cameron Maybin, Burke Badenhop and a couple of other guys. I’d think you’d have to give the Tigers a teeny tiny little edge on that one.

Allen Craig wasn’t one of the players I had in mind when I started making these customs, but I just liked the way this one turned out.
2014 TSR #533 Allen Craig
I’ll freely admit that I make a bunch of customs and then throw them at the wall to see which ones stick.

To wrap things up for now, here are two of the pitchers that the Red Sox unloaded in their “looking towards 2015” deals.
2014 TSR #620 John Lackey

2014 TSR #598 Jake Peavy