2015 TSR: …One Last Pack…

The season is over, the offseason is underway with managers being hired, players being traded, free agents signing with new teams,  and so on.

It’s also time to open up one last pack of 2015 TSR before it gets put on the shelf for another year.  Work is already well under way for the TSR “Hot Stove” set, which is based on 1976 Kellogg’s and has some (hopefully) fun additions to it. I’m hoping to get the groundwork finished over the long Thanksgiving weekend, so hopefully the first “box” will hit the shelves shortly afterwards.

In addition, our team of graphic designers (built around that dynamic trio of me, myself and I) is hard at work on the 2016 design, which you’ll start to see next March.  This is the time of year when I start to panic over whether I’ll have a new design that I enjoy as much as I enjoyed the outgoing one, but I do have a couple of ideas with potential…

But that’s all in front of us.  Before we go, let’s open one more virtual wax pack of 2015 TSR…
2015 TSR Wrapper Series 4 thumb

I wish I’d worked more horizontal cards into the set, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.  Here’s one last one for the road…
2015 TSR #555 - Ruben Tejada

Nobody will be more surprised than me should Yoenis Cespedes re-sign with the Mets… So let’s take one last look at him in a Mets uniform.  The guy couldn’t have been more hot or cold during his time with the Mets, but he’s earned a special place in the hearts of Mets fans…
2015 TSR #550 - Yoenis Cespedes
…and you’ll very likely see him photoshopped into a new uniform in the upcoming “Hot Stove” set.

One last League Leaders card, just because I wanted to feature guys bunting.
2015 TSR LL-3 Sac Bunt Leaders Lindor Teheran

One more “Familiar Faces” insert, this one featuring former Met prospect Lastings Millege.
2015 TSR FF-2 Lastings Milledge
…And another type of card I wish I’d had the time and images with which to do more… Maybe next year.

And finally, I close out the set the way I’ve closed out the previous three sets… With some “Self portrait” cards…
2015 TSR #296 - Joe Shlabotnik Yankees
2015 TSR #315 - Joe Shlabotnik Phillies
2015 TSR #389 - Joe Shlabotnik Rangers

…And that’s a wrap!  Hope you all enjoyed this year’s set, and I hope you’ll enjoy what’s yet to come!

2015 TSR: For The First Time, A Virtual Blaster

I’ve reached the point of the year where things are winding down with my virtual card set, and I start to run across semi-forgotten images and notes, and I say “Oh, yeah, I was going to do that…”

One of those things is a virtual blaster of 2015 TSR Baseball.

To quote Pee Wee Herman, “Why?  What’s the significance?  I DON’T KNOW!!!!”

Well, let’s take a look… Here’s the blaster, fresh off the shelves at ShlabotMart…

Topps Series 4 Blaster

I would ask you to pay particular attention to the blurb on the lower left of the blaster box.  “Cards on the back?”, you ask, “He couldn’t possibly mean that…”

Aw, hell yeah I could!

2015 TSR BOX 7 - Curtis Granderson

That’s right… You can keep your minis and your die cut cards…This is all about being oversized and hand cut!  Yeah, baby!!!!

Once the card is cut off of the blaster, it’s roughly 3.5″ x 5″… Twice the size of a standard card, roughly the size of an early 1970’s Topps “Super” card.  And, unlike Hostess cards or the “box bottom” cards of the 1980’s, blasters are shrink-wrapped, so surface wear is not an issue.

So that’s the big “reveal” for this post… Of course, the virtual blaster has virtual cards inside it as well.  Crazy, right? Let’s check out some of those.

The first card inside the blaster represents another idea I kept meaning to get around to… An insert set based on former MLB players who are currently active in foreign leagues… We’ll start it off with a Japanese player who established himself in Japan, played for 7 years with the Dodgers and Yankees, and went back to Japan for 2015.  I’m talking about none other than Hiroki Kuroda.
2015 TSR FF-1 Hiroki Kuroda
This past season, the 40-year-old Kuroda went 11-8 with a 2.55 ERA for the 4th place Carp.  For what it’s worth, it’s his third straight season with 11 wins;  he went 11-13 in 2013 and 11-9 in 2014.

Like the oversized blaster cards, I would be all over an insert like this.  I can’t see an insert set like this being very large, since I don’t expect that there would be much demand for cards of Dennis Sarfate or Wily Mo Pena… But I think it would be pretty durn cool.  (And *I* would want a card of former Oriole Sarfate…)

TSR Production hasn’t kept up with the postseason, so for now you’ll have to make do with a Mets N.L. East Champions card…
2015 TSR #501 - Mets NL East Champs

I would like to point out that someone other than Topps had sepia-colored inserts featuring throwback uniforms, and that someone started featuring them several months ago.
2015 TSR TB-2 - CJ Wilson
You’re welcome, Topps.

The latest issue of Baseball America lists Lucas Giolito as the Nationals’ #1 prospect.
2015 TSR FG-5 Lucas Giolito
…But what I find most interesting about Giolito is that he comes from Hollywood stock. His father, Rick Giolito, was a regular on “As The World Turns”, was in multiple episodes of “Twin Peaks” and is now a producer. His mother, Lindsay Frost, was also on “As The World Turns”, and has also appeared on “L.A. Law”, “Murder, She Wrote”, “Frasier”, “Lost”, “Boston Legal”, two different CSI’s (playing two different characters), as well as movies like “The Ring” and “Collateral Damage”. On top of that, Lucas’ uncle Mark Frost was co-creator of “Twin Peaks”, Lucas’ grandfather Warren Frost had a recurring role on “Seinfeld” (as “Mr. Ross”, the father of George’s ill-fated fiancee) and was also on “Twin Peaks” (imagine that)… anyway, you get the idea.

As long as we’re talking about Hollywood types, I saw this image of Debra Messing throwing out the first pitch at a Mets game, and couldn’t resist.
2015 TSR FP-1 Debra Messing
I can’t say that Topps stole my idea for first pitch cards, but neither did I steal the idea from them.

Oh, and there are some base cards in this blaster. Here’s one of…

2015 TSR #159 - Brock Holt
If you’ve ever wondered why people like Keith Olbermann (and me) always follow BROCK HOLT! with an exclamation mark, it’s a reference to a character on “Arrested Development”. I’d explain it further, but it’s the kind of running joke that doesn’t come across well in exposition.

…But at least BROCK HOLT! has one arm raised…

And I almost forgot the last card, which is a League Leader card for statistical categories you don’t normally see on League Leader cards…

2015 TSR LL-1a Hit By Pitch Leaders

I’ve gotta say, this is my favorite card out of the subset.

So that’s it for the blaster… I should have one or two more posts to wrap up the 2015 TSR set before we get to the 2015/16 “Hot Stove” set.  We’ve already had a number of managerial changes, last night the Rays and Mariners pulled off the first trade of the offseason, and our hard-working production team is feverishly working on finalizing the details for the “Hot Stove” set.  Like last year, it will be an homage to a 1970’s Kellogg’s set… but with some added elements that I think you’ll enjoy.

Over? Did You Say “Over”?!?

Nothing is over until WE decide it is!

2015 TSR AH-1 Bluto Blutarsky

Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?  HELL, NO!!!


(“Forget it, he’s rolling.”)

…It ain’t over now.

‘Cause when the going gets tough….



…The tough get going!

Who’s with me?  LET’S GO!!!!!

2015 TSR: Zych – China Clipper Calling Alameda

When the time comes for 2015 Sportscard blog nominations, I trust that one of you will nominate this subject line in the “Most Dated And Arcane Pop Culture Reference” category.

…But hey, Series 4 is out!  Yay!

2015 TSR Wrapper Series 4

When Tony Zych made his Major League debut on September 4th, be became the last player listed in the all-time baseball register. Zych pitched 18.1 innings this year, struck out 24 and had a 2.45 ERA
2015 TSR #276 - Tony Zych
The “last player” was previously Dutch Zwilling, who held that title for over 100 years. Zwilling pitched from 2010 to 2016 1910 to 1916 for the Chicago teams in the American, Federal and National Leagues.

At the other end of the alphabet is former Braves pitcher David Aardsma. Aardsma took the 1st spot from Hank Aaron in 2004.
2015 TSR #321 - David Aardsma
Unfortunately, Aardsma was released a few days before Zych made his debut, so they weren’t technically active at the same time.  Maybe next year…

Blake Snell is a Rays prospect who was named the Minor League Player Of The Year by both Baseball America and USA Today.
2015 TSR FG-4 Blake Snell
Snell started the season with the class-A Charlotte Stone Crabs, moved up to the AA Montgomery Biscuits and finished out with the AAA Durham Bulls. His combined record for 2015 was 15-4 with a 1.41 ERA and 163 strikeouts in 134 innings.

Past winners of the Baseball America award include Kris Bryant, Mike Trout, Jason Heyward, Jay Bruce, Matt Wieters, Joe Mauer, Paul Konerko, Derek Jeter, Manny Ramirez, Frank Thomas, Jose Canseco and Dwight Gooden.

To be fair, past winners also includes Delmon Young, Rocco Baldelli, Jon Rauch, Derek Bell, Tom Gordon, Mike Bielecki, Mike Marshall and Ron Kittle… But the key thing is that everybody who won the award had some kind of Major League career. Not always a HOF career, but they all had more than a cup of coffee.

Mmmm… Coffee…

Anyway… here’s a new insert for Series 4: League Leaders. Every card company has done Leaders for Batting and Strikeouts and the like. Let’s pretend that I did that as well, but I also decided to do League Leaders for some of the secondary categories… Kind of like the awards shows that have a “pre-show” for “Best Sound Mixing For A Comedy Or Drama Series”.

…or “Most Dated And Arcane Pop Culture Reference”…

The first insert is “Holds”.
2015 TSR LL-2 Holds Smith Watson
Holds are not an official statistic, but they are listed on the MLB website. According to baseball-reference.com, “A hold is granted to a relief pitcher who enters a game with his team in the lead in a save situation, and hands over that lead to another reliever without the score having been tied in the interim.” A player cannot get a hold if they get a win, save or loss.  According to the little popup on the MLB.com Holds column, a player must also pitch at least 0.1 inning.

So there you go,  your 2015 Holds leaders.  Give ’em a hand!

There will be more of these cards.  You have been warned.

Here’s another insert. I like Koji, I have a long-standing love for that mid-1970’s Red Sox cap, so this one was a natural.
2015 TSR TB-5 Kojie Uehara
I can’t even explain why I like this cap, I just always have. I used to own one when I was a kid, even though I’ve never been a Red Sox fan.

Since the subject line has a dated reference, I’ll throw in another. I’ve been waiting quite a while for this player to make his debut so I could make this reference:

2015 TSR #401 - Wilmer Difo

Devo references aside, Wilmer Difo got a September callup by the Nationals after spending most of the season with AA Harrisburg.  After the 2014 season, Baseball America named him the Nats’ #7 prospect and the best defensive 2B in the South Atlantic League.

To tie up the arcane references, I suppose I should elaborate on the subject line.  It’s from the Monkees track “Zilch”… and while I found out that “Zych” rhymes with “sick”, it still looks somewhat like “Zilch”.

Next time, maybe I’ll make a “Zor And Zam” reference. Or maybe not. Yeah, probably not.

2015 TSR: Some Of The Best Names In Baseball

It’s been a while since we’ve had a virtual pack of my custom cards… and we’re still stuck in Series Three even though Series Four was originally scheduled to be released over a month ago.  I apologize, but that’s the tradeoff that’s made when you go with a locally-sourced, artisan, virtual micropublisher instead of one of the corporate giants.

This time around we’ve got a “hot pack” and it’s built around a theme of sorts….  Players who have the best names in baseball.

2015 Series Three Wrapper

Trevor Plouffe has been one of my favorite names in baseball for several years now.  His last name just begs to be in bold and have an exclamation mark after it:  Plouffe!

This year he appeared in a career-high 152 games.
2015 TSR #39 - Trevor Plouffe
Word on the street is that Plouffe will have some sort of special involvement in the 2015/16 TSR Hot Stove set coming out after the end of the World Series!  (Tease, tease, tease).

My apologies to anyone named Darnell for the following comments…
2015 TSR #267 - Darnell Sweeney
…but anytime I run across someone named ‘Darnell’, I hear Jason Lee’s voice in my head saying “Hey, Crab Man!”  The Phillies need to get guys named Earl and Randy in uniform, maybe get Mr. Turtle as a mascot…

Darnell Sweeney was one of the two minor leaguers obtained from the Dodgers for Chase Utley.  He’s played 37 games for the Phils this year, although he hadn’t played above AA before this season.  He appears to be the third player with the first name of Darnell to play in the Majors, after Darnell Coles and Darnell McDonald.

“Guido” and “Knudson” are not two names I would expect to see together, but here they are.
2015 TSR #268 - Guido Knudson
Guido Knudson is not the first Guido in the Majors, nor is he the first Knudson.  Guido Grilli pitched for the Red Sox and A’s in 1966, and appeared on a high-numbered rookie card in that year’s set.  Guido Grilli doesn’t appear to be related to Steve and Jason Grilli.

Mark Knudson pitched for the Astros, Brewers and Rockies in the 1980’s and 1990’s.

Doesn’t it seem like a guy with the name Chi Chi Gonzalez should’ve pitched in the 1960’s?
2015 TSR #269 - Chi Chi Gonzalez
Chi Chi pitched a shutout against the Royals in his second big league game.

Travis Shaw isn’t a terribly unusual name, but two years ago, after I pulled a card of his out of a pack of Bowman Draft, I started to run his name together for no good reason:  Travishawwwwwwww!!!
2015 TSR #272 - Travis Shaw
BTW, “Travishawwwwwwww!!!” is the son of former reliever Jeff Shaw, who appeared in over 600 games, mostly in the 1990’s.

I can’t say what exactly it is that I like about Kelby Tomlinson’s name, but it appeals to me somehow.  Doesn’t hurt that he wears glasses like I do.  Any athlete who wears glasses gets bonus points.
2015 TSR #274 - Kelby Tomlinson
Kelby hit an exciting inside-the-park homer against the Rockies this past weekend.

Cheslor Cuthbert is from Nicaragua, was featured in this summer’s Futures Game, and is currently a 22-year-old rookie with the Royals.
2015 TSR FG-2 Cheslor Cuthbert
I’ve featured him before in a Royals uniform, but I’m using this as an excuse to work one of my Futures Game customs in here.

Jedd Gyorko may not be the top middle infielder in the Majors, but he has one thing going for them that I doubt few active players could match: There’s a street named after him.
2015 TSR #316 - Jedd Gyorko
Monongalia County Ballpark, home of West Virginia University baseball and the Single-A West Virginia Black Bears, is located at 2040 Gyorko Drive, and is named after WVU alumnus and Morgantown, WV native Jedd Gyorko.  Now you know.

…and, if you were wondering, Gyorko’s is a Hungarian name and is pronounced “JERK-o”. Well, at least Jedd’s family pronounces it “JERK-o”, I don’t know whether or not Hungarians would pronounce it that way.

So that’s the end of this pack, and probably of Series Three.  Series Four will be coming soon, and will be a season-wrap-y, update-y, trade-y, rookie…y series.

The Latest Stop On The Kelly Johnson World Domination Tour

Before the season ends, I want to pay tribute to the happy wanderings of Mr. Kelly Andrew Johnson, who began his Major League career as an Atlanta Braves outfielder, then their starting second baseman, and has recently been playing anywhere for anyone.

Kelly Johnson was drafted by the Braves in 2000 and made his debut as an outfielder in 2005.  He missed most of 2006 and came back as a 2nd baseman in 2007.
2009 Topps Kelly Johnson

In December, 2009, he signed with the Diamondbacks as a free agent.
2011 Topps Kelly Johnson

In August, 2011 (his “walk year”), he was traded to the Blue Jays for for Aaron Hill and John McDonald. (This is where the fun starts)
2012Topps Kelly Johnson
He became a free agent but re-signed with the Jays.

After the 2012 season, he became a free agent again, this time signing with the Tampa Bay Rays.
2013 Topps Kelly Johnson

After one season in Tampa, he became a free agent again, and signed with the Yankees.
2014 Topps Kelly Johnson

At the 2014 trading deadline, he was traded to the Red Sox for Stephen Drew.
2014 Topps Update Kelly Johnson

One month later, Kelly Johnson and Michael Almanzar were traded to the Orioles for Ivan DeJesus and Jemile Weeks. (This card is a custom, BTW).
2014 Schmeritage Kelly Johnson

When he got traded to the Orioles, he completed the cycle by playing for all five AL East teams.

Over this past offseason, he went back to the Braves, and I held off on this post until after I got my 2015 Topps factory set, thinking that Kelly Johnson would be on one of the 700 cards — but I was mistaken.  We’ve got to wait for Topps Update or Heritage High Numbers to get Kelly Johnson on a 2015 card, so I’m going to repeat the 2009 card to stand in for a 2015 Braves card.
2009 Topps Kelly Johnson

In July the Braves traded Kelly and Juan Uribe to the Mets for two minor league pitchers.
2015 TSR #307 - Kelly Johnson

Just to recap, that’s 8 teams over the past 5 seasons, including all of the teams in the AL East and two out of five in the NL East.  So far this season, he’s played at first, second, third, short, left field, right field and DH (although only one game each as a shortstop and DH).

Just for fun, here’s another custom I’m “reprinting” from last year featuring Kelly Johnson and Kelli Johnson of Comcast SportsNet.
2014 TSR PP-3 Kelly Kelli Johnson
Kelli Johnson’s also been on the move;  this past winter she moved from Comcast SportsNet Houston to Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.  Before that, she was with Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic.

Are You Sure The Mets Can’t Blow The Division Lead Somehow…?

So I was out with my wife last night, and at one point I checked my phone and said to her “Oh, the Mets are up 10-2, looks like they’re going to clinch tonight”.
2015 TSR #401 - Jeurys Familia
When we got home, I fired up MLB.TV and watched the ninth inning, and then spent what must have been an hour watching postgame interviews and celebrations. I enjoyed that, I enjoyed watching the players go back out on to the field and celebrate with the Mets fans who were in Cincinnati…
2015 TSR #402 - Lucas Duda
…But even though I enjoyed it, I didn’t get excited. This is what 42 years of following the Mets will do to you. There’s always a voice inside me that resists the urge and says “Oh, no… You’re not pulling a fast one on me again!” Oddly enough, the voice often sounds like Daffy Duck during one of those cartoons where he repeatedly gets his beak blasted off by Elmer Fudd’s shotgun. (Bugs: “Wwwwwwwwwwabbit.”, Daffy: “Duck! FIRE!!!!” – BLAM!!!)
2015 TSR #403 - Curtis Granderson
But this morning, just in case I had any lingering doubts, there it was showing up on my laptop and in the newspaper… 2015 National League East Champions.
2015 TSR #404 - Wilmer Flores
So now all attention turns to the Dodgers, and getting home field advantage against the Dodgers.
2015 TSR #410 - Matt Harvey
It will be interesting to see what happens with the Nationals, where the season started with talk of 100-win seasons and World Championships, and here they are in late September, eliminated from a playoff spot and still with a chance of finishing below .500.
2015 TSR #425 - David Wright
My apologies go out to the Pittsburgh Steelers… I’m not the most dedicated fan of the Black And Gold in that I don’t pay much attention to football until baseball is over for me… and this year, it’s going to be later than usual. We’ve been here before, the Steelers will get by just fine without me.
2015 TSR AS-7 Jacob deGrom
I’m sure that the upcoming postseason will all sink in during the coming week, and I’ll start to get excited. The Dodgers have their ginourmous payroll and an impressive one-two punch in Kershaw and Greinke, but they are not infallable. Both pitchers went 1-1 against the Mets this year, and it needs to be pointed out that the Mets lineup which Kershaw shut out on July 23rd had Eric Campbell playing third and John Mayberry Jr. batting cleanup (and Mayberry’s not even in the organization anymore).
2015 TSR #400 - Yoenis Cespedes

As A Public Service, Here’s A Guide To Some Confusing Rookies

There are two pairs of rookies who, if they all stick around, seem destined to cause more than their share of confusion in the Majors. As a service to the readers of The Shlabotnik Report, I present you with field guide to spotting these rookies.

First off is the Mets rookie pitcher Dario Alvarez:
2015 TSR #278 - Dario Alvarez
Dario pitched a few games last year, and is a September callup this year.

Second is Orioles rookie outfielder Dariel Alvarez:
2015 TSR #277 - Dariel Alvarez
Dariel was the Orioles’ #5 prospect entering this season (according to Baseball America).

So, to recap…
Dario Alvarez – Mets pitcher from the Dominican Republic.
Dariel Alvarez – Orioles outfielder from Cuba.

…and down in the lower levels of the Yankees organization is a young pitcher named Daniel Alvarez… Because you knew there had to be one.

Now that you’ve got that straight, I’ve got a bigger challenge for you.

You may already be familiar with Matt Duffy, who took over at 3rd for the Giants after Casey McGehee failed to stick at the hot corner.
2015 TSR #280 - Matt Duffy (Giants)
“Duffman” is making the people of San Francisco say “Panda?  What panda?  I don’t remember any pandas.”

So that’s Matt Duffy… Now, let’s turn instead to Matt Duffy.
2015 TSR #279 - Matt Duffy (Astros)
This Matt Duffy is also an infielder, but has spent his career in the Astros organization and was recently called up to Houston.

Although both are right-handed infielders, the Giants’ Matt Duffy is Matthew Michael Duffy from California, while the Astros’ Matt Duffy is Matthew Edward Duffy from Massachusetts.

Here’s the funny thing, and where the “Public Service” aspect really kicks in – it appears that all of the nationally-issued “pre-rookie” cards of Matt Duffy are not for the guy who’s starting in the majors and second only to Kris Bryant in Rookie Of The Year consideration, but for Astros Matt Duffy… So let’s be careful out there when buying your Duffy cards.


2015 TSR: Blah Blah Blah Blah

I originally intended for “Blah Blah Blah Blah” to be a placeholder for a real subject line, but then decided I liked it as well as anything else I could come up with.

This is another virtual pack of virtual baseball cards… Possibly one of the last packs of 2015 TSR Series 3 that we’ll bust… but time will tell.

2015 Series Three Wrapper

2015 Series Three Wrapper

Darin Ruf figured into a “Well, doesn’t that just figure” moment I had last week.
2015 TSR #314 - Darin Ruf
I recently took advantage of a deal from MLB.TV and got streaming video of the rest of the season for $25. Not long after, we started to experience internet issues at home, and even just uploading images to this blog became an ordeal. Streaming was out of the question.

We got our internet issues sorted out, and last Tuesday I was at home in front of the TV with some free time (finally!), and I said to myself, “I’m going to see what the Mets are doing!”

So I pulled up the Mets and the Phillies, and during the very first half-inning I watched on MLB.TV, the Phillies scored 5 runs, capped off by a 3-run homer from Darin Ruf.

It doesn’t matter how well or how poorly things are going, there’s always going to be “It freakin’ figures” moments when you’re dealing with the Mets.

Now, on to a new insert set. Back in the 1990’s I followed NASCAR and collected several of the sets that were out at the time. One of the things I liked about the NASCAR sets was that they gave a card to *everybody*… drivers, crew chiefs, team owners, jack men, gas men, even Miss Winston (back then the top circuit was sponsored by Winston).

They also gave cards to the TV and radio broadcasters that worked every race, guys that every self-respecting race fan knew… Jack Arute, Chris Economaki, Bob Jenkins, Dr. Jerry Punch, and of course former drivers Ned Jarrett and Benny Parsons.

I’ve often thought that baseball announcers should get the same treatment, and so with one particular ESPN announcer getting a fair share of attention lately, I figured now is as good a time as any to introduce this subset…
2015 TSR V-2 Jessica Mendoza
Jessica Mendoza has gotten a lot of positive press over the job she’s done working as an analyst for ESPN up in the booth with Dan Shulman and John Kruk. I went back and watched some of her first broadcast (I’ve got MLB.TV, remember?) and she did seem very good. She had some interesting insights into the game, and was a lot better than certain other analysts I’ve had the displeasure of listening to.

I’m not 100% thrilled with the “Voices Of MLB” heading on the card, but it was the best I could come up with. I’m open to suggestions.

This next card is here for three reasons:
2015 TSR #293 - Matt den Dekker
1) I told myself that we needed more horizontal cards in this set
2) I like Matt den Dekker (who’s a former Met)
3) There’s a Mets cameo… That’s catcher Kevin Plawecki on the left.

Unfortunately, den Dekker scored on this play and the Nationals won this game (July 22nd, for those who are curious).

There’s still plenty of games left so I’m not going to make any bold statements about the N.L. East…  However I will say that the Nats seem to be doing a wonderful job of mismanaging their bullpen.

Kyle Schwarber went from the Futures Game to hitting the ball out of Wrigley within just a matter of weeks. Talk about fulfilling one’s promise.
2015 TSR FG-1 Kyle Schwarber

I really wanted to see a card paying tribute to Mike Hessman’s career minor league home run record, and since I can’t count on Topps or Panini to do this…well, if you want something done right, you’ve got to do it yourself.
2015 TSR #311 - Mike Hessman Highlight
I gave some consideration to making this card be the same design as the 1974 Hank Aaron “All-Time Home Run King” card, but I decided it was more work than it would be worth… yes, even I have my limits.

Speaking of putting work into a card, I put just enough work into this card that I wanted to make sure that I posted it.
2015 TSR AS-5 Nolan Arenado
If you’re wondering where the work is, I reduced the contrast on the background to make Arenado stand out from other similarly-clad gentlemen. This one was definitely more work than it was worth, but here it is and you should oooh and aaaah over the results.

Oooh. Aaaah.

This card of Nori Aoki didn’t involve any extra effort on my part, I just like the way it turned out, and the end of the season is close enough that I want to make sure that some of these customs make it into a virtual pack.
2015 TSR #44 - Nori Aoki
…But you have to promise me you won’t tell anyone that this is card #44 and should’ve really appeared in a Series One pack (he said, as if any of this made a shred of difference).

The White Sox Got Very 1970’s; I Got Very Nerdy

Thursday night, the Chicago White Sox threw back to their late 1970’s “leisure suit” uniforms.  I love anything associated with 1970’s baseball, and these uniforms are so bad that they’re…

No, sorry, I can’t go there.  1970’s or not, they’re not “so bad that they’re good”.  They’re just bad… tremendously bad.  …But I do appreciate the fact that the White Sox did throwback to these unis, and I can’t let 1970’s throwbacks go by without making customs…
2015 TSR 1978 Carlos Rondon
Officially, these uniforms “throw back” to 1976, but they didn’t show up on baseball cards until 1977… and I don’t have a 1977 template yet, so I went with 1978.  It still works.

While I was making these, I also decided to play around with some ideas I’d had to simulate the printing of 1970’s baseball cards.

NOTE TO THE CASUAL READER:  I can understand if any of the following makes your eyes glaze over, and I won’t be offended if you stop reading… but just so you know, there are several more customs in this post.  Go check ’em out before you bail on me.

Part of the problem with making customs using today’s technology is that the customs end up being high-definition, and that takes away from the illusion of the throwback card. I’ve been thinking of ways around that, and these are my first experiments with that concept.

My graphics software has an interesting pair of tools… “Split Channel” and “Combine Channel”. Split Channel more or less gives you images like you’d have on a printing plate. For these cards, I split them into three channels, Red, Blue and Green (RGB), which I think is true to 1970’s printing. I could’ve also done it as CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black), which is what we generally pull when we get printing plate inserts in our wax packs.

Anyway, I made a custom, saved it, split it into RGB channels, which created a red, green and blue image.  In order to simulate a printing mistake, I took the “blue” image, adjusted the brightness, moved it just a tiny bit so it wouldn’t align with the other two colors, and then combined the three channels back into one image; this is what I got.
2015 TSR 1978 David Robertson RGB mess with blue

And this is the original:
2015 TSR 1978 David Robertson

It’s a subtle difference, especially when you’re viewing it on a blog, but it does give it a sort of “not a PSA 10” quality that I was looking for.

For the next custom, I did something similar but I messed with the red channel instead of the blue… and probably messed a little too much, because the custom ended up with a blue tinge… but that’s cool, it’s all part of the experiment, right?
2015 TSR 1978 Tyler Saladino RBG Red adjust

For the final custom, I tried another idea. I created the custom, then I duplicated that image into another layer, brought the transparency of the top layer way down to something like 20%, and then I moved it slightly horizontally and vertically. I was hoping to give it a little “fuzziness”.  Here’s what I got.
2015 TSR 1978 Adam Eaton offset

None of these are exactly what I had in mind, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t successful experiments.

And yes, I am a total nerd.