Custom Sunday: I Love To Say BABIP

Four customs plus a rant today. Who could ask for anything more?

Continuing my series of 2017 MLB Leaders in some of the more obscure statistics, today we have BABIP – Batting Average on Balls In Play. The formula for this, according to MLB.com is (H – HR)/(AB – K – HR + SF).

I’m not sure how significant of an achievement it is for someone to lead the league in BABIP, but it’s a fun acronym to say so here it is.  Avisail Garcia lead the majors with a .393 BABIP and Charlie Blackmon and Jose Altuve both had a .373 BABIP.

I’m slowly working my way through all of the new managers and making 1963 Post-inspired customs out of them and I think that Red Sox manager Alex Cora is the last of the bunch.

I’m probably going to expand these ’63 Post customs to feature players from press conferences, but I hadn’t finally decided. Giancarlo Stanton, perhaps?

The offseason trade and free-agent market has been fairly slow, but I have to say that the move that has surprised me the most by far was the trade which sent Evan Longoria to the San Francisco Giants.

I hadn’t thought it likely that the Rays would trade someone who’s so closely associated with the team, but it seemed like he was about to reach a point where he’d acquire no-trade rights from having 10 years of experience and 5 with the same team, so it seems to have been a “now or never” moment in Tampa.

I’m going to wrap up with an unusual (for me) football custom, done in the style of the 1964 Philadelphia Gum set. The Steelers are drawing their regular season to a close against the 0-15 Browns, and coach Mike Tomlin will sit some of the regulars, so that’s good news for one of my favorite Steelers, backup QB Landry Jones.

It might seem odd to favor the backup on a team that’s clinched a first-round bye, but that’s the way it is for me and these Steelers. I’ve been a fan of The Black And Gold for 30+ years, and even though this is a winning team, this team over the past couple of years has tried my patience as much as some of those 10-loss teams I’ve seen. The reasons for my frustration are many, but can be summed up by saying that while this is winning football, it’s not what I consider Steelers football.

Public Enemy #1 is Ben Roethlisberger. I admit that I flat-out don’t like him or his style of play. It also drives me nuts that he stays in the game when he’s seriously injured and far less effective, but HEAVENS FORBID that you should have to put Landry Jones in there. Let’s just all jump in front of a bus and save ourselves the misery.

I’ve taken to calling Roethlisberger “The Black Knight”, which sounds good on the surface, but is actually a reference to the character from “Monty Python And The Holy Grail”:

Anyway, the long and short of this is that I’ll be rooting hard for Landry Jones today.

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Assorted Customs For December 17th

It’s that time of year when I don’t have energy for a lot of things, including catchy post titles and customs which take more than a half-hour or so… so no photoshopped images of relocating Major Leaguers this week. I think part of this is because the obvious candidate for such a card is Giancarlo Stanton, and I’m already tired of hearing about him.

So anyway, today I’ve got four assorted customs, all baseball-related.

I made this custom of Delino DeShields Jr. at the end of October, but didn’t use it at the time. Now I can’t remember why I made it… but it turned out nice enough that I’m sharing it anyway.

He did get largely overlooked by Topps in 2017, that may have had something to do with it. He played in 120 games but only appeared in Heritage High #’s and Topps Now. Something I just learned: He and his former-MLBer father have different middle names, so he’s technically not a “Jr.”

I do remember why I made this custom of Ronald Acuna… He’s a five-tool prospect, he’s Baseball America’s Minor League Player of the Year, he’s the MVP of the Arizona Fall League, he moved from A-ball to AA to AAA in 2017, he’s up near the top of any prospect list you may find and… this is sheer coincidence, BTW… he turns 20 tomorrow.

He also has a shot of being “The rookie you tire of pulling” in 2018.

The Winter Meetings were held this past week, and as always it concludes with the Rule 5 draft. The Orioles went a bit nuts, drafting two pitchers from the Yankees and one from the Cubs. There’s almost no way all three will stick, but the O’s have had decent luck with the Rule 5 in recent history, so fingers crossed.

I was a bit indecisive with this one in terms of how far I should go with the photos. How much time should I take with guys who may just be memories by Opening Day? I decided that, for a 1971 custom, having the Minor League cap logos removed would be most true to the originals… not to mention easiest (Hello, “clone brush”!)

As for the three players drafted… Nestor Cortes is a lefty who impressed at three levels in the Yankees system and is probably the most likely to stick. Pedro Araujo has only 2 innings in AA, but had a 1.74 ERA and 0.677 WHIP in the Arizona Fall League this year. Jose Mesa Jr. also has minimal experience in the higher levels, but is (surprise!) the son of former MLB reliever Jose Mesa.

Phillies fans must be excited this winter, because they have a number of well-regarded prospects and they’ve made a few moves which have made this Mets fan say “Uh-oh”.

Ditching Pete Mackanin for Gabe Kapler seemed odd earlier this offseason, but it certainly seems that they’ve decided to accelerate the rebuilding process.

Oh! Oh! Oh! Ohtani! …And Other Customs

The jingle for a chain of auto parts stores popped in my head while I was trying to think of a Shohei Ohtani-related title for this post, so I decided to go with it.

With Ohtani officially signing with the Los Angeles Angels, I decided it was time to fire up my relatively-ancient copy of Paint Shop Pro and get to work on my first “Photoshopped” Hot Stove card of the season.

The downside of being the first is that I’m out of practice;  I haven’t photoshopped someone into a new uniform since last February.  Hopefully you won’t notice the difference, but I look at it and see things I could’ve done better. Ah, well… No matter…

One thing that occurred to me is that if Ohtani has any sort of success – and likely even if he doesn’t – we’re going to see an onslaught of rookie cards, inserts, Topps Now and other online exclusives, the likes of which we haven’t seen since… um… Well, if you’re tired of Aaron Judge now, you’ll probably be tired of Shohei Ohtani in December, 2018.

I spent a fair amount of time waffling about which statistical category to use for this week’s “2017 Leaders” card, but finally decided on doing Total Bases.  This category gives us three players from the two 1993 expansion teams, and gives us one last look as Giancarlo Stanton as a Marlin.

Charlie Blackmon lead the Majors with 387 total bases.  That’s 127 singles, 35 doubles, 14 triples and 37 homers.

Giancarlo Stanton came up second with 377;  77 singles, 32 doubles, no triples and 59 homers.  It’s interesting how different Blackmon’s totals and Stanton’s totals are.

Nolan Arenado was third with 355;  100 singles, 43 doubles, 7 triples and 37 homers.

For the record, Jose Abreu came in 4th overall and 1st in the American League with 343 total bases.

As for Stanton, it’s looking like he’s going to the Yankees, which is a good thing for first-time manager Aaron Boone.

I don’t have anything against Aaron Boone, but as a Mets fan I am morally and legally obligated to wish nothing but ill on the Yankees, so here’s hoping that he’s unable to find enough playing time to keep his multitude of outfielders happy.

It’s been a while since I posted a sheet of U-KNOW-M stamps… “You love ’em because U-KNOW-M!”

Remember to look for U-KNOW-M stamp albums at your favorite virtual retailer!

Gigante is a mascot for the Single-A San Jose Giants; he amuses me because he kinda sorta reminds me of a friend of mine from High School (I guess that may not be the nicest thing to say about someone, but anyway…)

I screwed up a bit when I picked out the subjects of these stamps.. I thought that today would have been Kirsty MacColl’s birthday, but it was actually October 10th. Since it’s December, you may be hearing her sing with The Pogues on the Christmas-themed “Fairytale Of New York”. She had a few solo Top 10’s in the UK, but was largely unknown in the US… but if you listened to the right radio stations in the 1990’s, you might know songs like “Walking Down Madison”, “In These Shoes?” or “I Can’t Stop Killing You”. I found out about her from two songs on a 1989 mix tape, and she one of my favorite musical artists. Sadly, she was killed in an accident in 2000, but she’ll always have a special place in my music collection.

Although I originally knew her from The West Wing, Allison Janney really caught my attention on the short-lived Matthew Perry vehicle “Mr. Sunshine”…. She was easily the best part of that show. This stamp was originally intended to publish on her birthday, but in another birthday mishap I blew way past that.

…As Maxwell Smart would say, “Missed it by THAT much!”… or perhaps “Sorry about that, Chief!”

Customs, 1972-Style: Arcane Leaders, Canadian Football And… 3-D Hockey?

A little while ago I posted which featured, among other things, a 1970 Kellogg’s Football card. In the comments, Hackenbush speculated on how cool a Kellogg’s Hockey card would’ve been. That got my wheels turning, and since I’ve been getting ready for my Faux-3D “Hot Stove” customs, I figured I’d tease it (plus work out a couple of kinks in my template) by creating a couple of customs featuring current NHL players. Here’s the first:

The NHL and I had a falling out over a dozen years ago – not that the NHL knows the difference – so I don’t currently have a favorite active hockey player, not exactly. The Sabres’ Jack Eichel is someone who caught my eye when I saw him on TV playing for Boston University, and at the moment “I’ve heard of him and have maintained a favorable impression of him” is as close as I get to “he’s my favorite hockey player”.

I wanted to do a second 3-D custom, so I figured I’d make a “Thanks for the idea” custom of one of Hackenbush’s Blackhawks.  As is often the case, the second effort proved to be the better one.

One thing I’ve noticed after doing these two customs is that hockey arenas don’t provide the best “faux-3D” backgrounds. I’ve found that the 3-D effect works best when the background has lines and contrasting colors (as one gets with ballparks). I also should’ve kept the puck (the blur in the lower left) as part of the foreground.


Towards the end of this past season, I had an idea that had been floating around in my head, waiting for the right vehicle.  There were so many strikeouts this year – Aaron Judge had an astronomical 208 and there were over 40K for the Majors as a whole – it would be nice to somehow honor the batters who struck out the fewest times. This idea kinda floated around for a while, until I also had the idea that it might be fun also honor those players who lead the Majors in other less-publicized statistical categories.

Earlier this week I went looking for something to use as a template, looked at various League Leader cards from the 1970’s, and decided on this:

You may recognize that this is not an exact copy of a 1972 Topps Leader Card… First off, I didn’t want to go absolutely nuts and make customs for each league, so instead of “A.L. Leaders” or “N.L. Leaders”, it’s going to be an implied “Major League Leaders”… and because it’s a different type of Leader card than the original 1972 cards, I also changed up the color scheme.

As for the honorees… Based on a minimum of 502 plate appearances, Joe Panik set the pace by striking out just 54 times, “Sideshow Bob” impersonator Yuli Gurriel was in second with 62 K’s and Andrelton Simmons was third with 67. Others who did us proud included Jose Ramirez, Didi Gregorius, Brandon Phillips, Miguel Cabrera, Daniel Murphy and Mookie Betts.

I intend to do more of these “Leader” cards, and I welcome any suggestions for statistical categories… just leave a comment.


After using the 1972 Topps and 1972 Kellogg’s designs for customs, I felt like I should do something else related to 1972 and I thought of the 1972 Topps football template I had worked out a little while ago… But what to do with it? Even though I’ve been a Steelers fan for 30+ years and they’re one of best teams in the AFC, they’re leaving me cold this year, for reasons I don’t fully understand. (Well, other than I really don’t like Roethlisberger, despite his accomplishments). I don’t currently have a favorite Steeler; that title went unclaimed after Heath Miller retired.

…Then I thought about last weekend’s Grey Cup game. The Grey Cup is the Canadian Football League’s championship game, and even though I didn’t watch it or really follow the CFL, I’d heard it was a very exciting game.

That’s when I found out that one of the highlights of the game involved the Toronto Argonauts’ defensive back Cassius Vaughn scoring a 109-yard touchdown on a fumble recovery (Canadian football fields are 110 yards long), and I knew I had my final custom.

I couldn’t get the video of this to embed in this post, but you can check it out on the CFL’s website by going here.

 

Custom Card Sunday: Where The Week Took Me, Plus Others From The Files

This has been a crazy week for me, but as I haven’t posted anything in several days I’m going to make this one of those somewhat-dreaded “clearing house” posts. I’ve got three customs I made this week, plus two which have been sitting in unposted drafts, curled up in the corner, silently weeping.

Well, that’s a dark start to a post, isn’t it?

Let’s counteract the sadness with Mookie Betts! The Red Sox outfielder bowled a perfect 300 in a Professional Bowlers Association event, and I felt like this was a custom-worthy event (full disclosure: The image used in the custom is not from the 300 game).

As someone who bowls in a league (and whose delivery is way too inconsistent to even sniff at a 300), I have nothing but respect for a feat like this.

This next custom is for a type of mining truck that has intrigued me since I first saw a picture of it from a mining trade show a few years ago. That picture (which I don’t have access to now) featured somewhere around eight men posing on the built-in staircase (seen running diagonally across the grille) of a Caterpillar 979F. When a truck has a built-in staircase, you know it’s a huge freakin’ truck.

Check out the specs on this monster: 400 ton capacity; 4000 HP; each tire is over 13 feet tall and costs more than $40,000 each. The truck itself costs approximately $5M, but the price varies because naturally when a truck goes for millions of dollars, each is built to the customer’s specs.

The gravel pit background reminds me of 1970’s vintage Doctor Who… One almost expects Tom Baker (the 4th Doctor) to make his way across and encounter some low-budget alien.

…And speaking of Doctor Who… A recent promotional image for the show featured Jodie Whittaker, the upcoming 13th Doctor, shown in character for the first time.

I’d been expecting for a little while that #13 would be played by a woman – I was kinda expecting Olivia Colman but instead got someone else I knew from Broadchurch. One is always apprehensive with a casting change… The aforementioned Tom Baker was my first Doctor, and every one after him has had to win me over… some (Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant) much more successfully than others (Colin Baker). I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of vision Whittaker and new showrunner Chris Chibnall have, and I can only hope that they “GET IT”.

…And now on to the sad, misplaced customs…

I think this Jay Bruce custom was originally part of a post about how 2017 Topps Archives didn’t correctly replicate 1960 Topps… the custom may have lost it’s purpose in life, but it turned out a bit too good to not share.

Finally… One of my favorite promotions of this past season is one put on by… (Sigh)… I hate to admit it when the Atlanta Braves do something I like.  They have this promotion where an ordinary fan is given a big lead in a race against “The Freeze”.  The Freeze is Braves’ groundcrew member Nigel Talton wearing blue spandex and goggles.  Talton impressively fast and is (surprise surprise) a competitive runner.

This clip was my introduction to The Freeze, and remains my favorite moment:

Custom Card Sunday: Former Oriole Makes His Mark In Japan

The customs are all over the place today… Sometimes that’s the best place to be.

Former Oriole, Brewer and Astro Dennis Sarfate was named the MVP of the Japan Series (the NPB equivalent of the World Series) by picking up two saves and pitching three scoreless innings to get the win in an extra-inning, series-clinching Game 6 for the SoftBank Hawks against the DeNA BayStars.

Sarfate had a season to remember, because he also set an NPB record with 54 saves during the regular season as well as the career saves record for a non-Japanese pitcher.

Meanwhile, back in the States…

A number of managerial press conferences have been held lately, and as a result we’ve got more of my “Hot Stove” customs coming your way, including this one based on 1963 Post Baseball.

For those who might be wondering, the “3-D” customs will be coming once players start moving around, and the design to be used for this offseason’s customs is from 1972 Kellogg’s.

We’ll wrap things up with another sheet of U-KNOW-M stamps… You’ll love ’em because U-KNOW-M!

I’m sure by now most of you have seen the clip of Carlos Correa proposing to his girlfriend Daniella Rodriguez during the World Series post-game show.  It was fun to watch when it happened (I’d fallen asleep on the couch, woke up for the last out and watched some of the post-game), but I was not prepared for the coverage it got the next morning.  Good thing she said “Yes”.

Although I’d never seen him perform, it seemed like Myron Noodleman had been everywhere during any given minor league season… So I was sad to see that he recently passed away from an aggressive form of cancer.  Noodleman was named the “Clown Prince Of Baseball” in 2004 and will be missed.

A certain person who has been in the news lately has indirectly made me think of George Harrison’s cameo in Monty Python’s Life Of Brian. George, who stepped in at the last minute to underwrite the film under his newly-created HandMade Films production company, appears very briefly as “Mr. Papadopoulos”, and his one spoken word, “Hullo”, was actually overdubbed later on by Michael Palin.

When I was a kid I bought a remaindered album called “Dick Clark’s 20 Years Of Rock ‘N’ Roll”. The 20 years in question were from 1953 to 1972, and that two LP set was my introduction to musical acts like Carl Perkins, Brenda Lee, Dion and the Belmonts and Fats Domino.  The song featured on that album was “I’m Walking”, which remains a favvorite of mine, but Fats was also known for “Ain’t That A Shame?”, “Whole Lotta Loving”, and, of course, “Blueberry Hill”.  He was an inaugural member of the Rock Hall Of Fame, and recently passed away at the age of 89.

Hey, Kids! Collect U-KNOW-M Stamps — Now In TSR Fun Packs!

That’s right, you get four fun stamps in every pack…

…Featuring your favorite athletes, musicians, actors, historical figures, Nobel Prize-winning economists, game show hosts, cartoon characters, authors, theoretical physicists, sportscasters, members of Congress, mascots and celebrities who are famous for being famous!

You know you’ll like ‘em… because U-KNOW-M!

Here’s your first sheet… Make sure you go to your local VIRT-U-L-MART to pick up the official stamp album!

I fell asleep watching Game 1 of the ALCS on Friday night, woke up for the 9th inning, and ended up watching a fair amount of what followed on  FS1, the Pearl Jam concert film “Let’s Play Two”. I have to admit that even though I’m largely indifferent to Pearl Jam (their music just doesn’t speak to me) it was an interesting film. At the beginning there were shots of the band hanging backstage and I wondered “Who’s this guy hanging with the band, the one with short-cropped hair and glasses looking like Bob Saget’s younger brother?” As it turns out, Saget The Younger turned out to be Stone Gossard, rhythm guitarist for Pearl Jam. This amused me enough that I created a stamp for him.

For those who missed the debacle, the USMNT (U.S. Mutant Ninja Turtles Men’s National Team) were eliminated from World Cup qualification, bringing shame and disgrace on our country for generations to come. I haven’t seen the USMNT lately… and apparently won’t for quite a while… but Christian Pulisic sounds like he’s the future of soccer in the United States. Just the fact that he’s a 19-year-old playing in the German Budesliga impresses the hell out of me.  Maybe things would’ve gone better for the USMNT if the Mutant Ninja Turtles had been sent out to play against Trinidad And Tobago… or at least if Splinter had been the head coach.

I was amused by a t-shirt I saw, one which featured Cookie Monster and says “Straight Outta Cookies”. I like the shirt, but given Cookie Monster’s speech patterns, wouldn’t he say “Straight outta cookie”? …or maybe I’m just overthinking this.

Hagar Ben Ari is the bass player in the house band on The Late Late Show With James Corden. She’s often seen in the background and has this cool vibe about her, but I’d never seen her do anything but play bass and react to things on the show. I’ve been intrigued by her for a while, even more so when Googling turned up only her name, the fact that she’s Israeli and…. um….. she plays the bass.

Hopefully you enjoyed these… let’s see what else is in this particular Fun Pack!

While I have no love for the Washington Nationals, they recently did something I whole-heartedly approve of… They installed a full-blown organ for their organist Matthew Van Hoose (who previously had been using a keyboard).

I grew up listening to Jane Jarvis playing the organ at Shea Stadium, so I feel like a good organist should be part of a baseball game.  It’s been a few years since I’ve been to Nationals Park, but when I return to watch the Mets take on the Nats, I’ll make sure to appreciate Dr. Van Hoose.  I have a feeling, however, that he won’t be playing “Meet The Mets”.


When Nathan Walker took the ice recently, he became the first Australian player in the NHL. I thought that was really cool, and it almost made me want to root for the Capitals again. Almost. You know the rules… I won’t have any thoughts of reconciliation with the Capitals until Ovechkin’s gone.

The absolute best thing about this story is that Walker was congratulated by the Australian ambassador to the United States, a gentleman by the name of – and I am completely serious about this – Joe Hockey. My sources tell me that Mr. Hockey does not spend his winter skating on a frozen-over birdbath, thinking things like “Here’s Joe Hockey at the Stanley Cup Finals…”


If you hadn’t heard, the NBA is allowing teams to wear an advertising patch on their uniforms starting this year. What you may not have known is that the Indiana Pacers will be sponsored by 1994 Fleer Baseball.


The Angels’ Parker Bridwell went 10-3, 3.64 with a 1.198 WHIP. He also went at least 6 innings in 13 of his starts. The Orioles really could’ve used a guy like that in their rotation….

What’s that?

The Orioles had Parker Bridwell and DFA’ed him in April?

Oh.