Custom Sunday: Moving In Twenty Different Directions

Things are a bit up in the air here in the Custom Card Department of The Shlabotnik Report. I’ve been working on bringing my 2018 TSR set to a satisfying conclusion, getting templates ready for the Hot Stove season, playing around with Football customs and brainstorming ideas for the 2019 design.

The end result is a lot of progress, but not a lot of completed customs. As a result, today’s post is a bit more disjointed than usual.

A little over a week ago I was weirding out about how Ron Santo had batted .267 in three of four seasons towards the end of his career (1970, 1972 and 1973). “What are the odds?”, I wondered.

Well the odds are somewhat less than batting .247 four seasons in a row, like the Athletics’ Khris Davis has done. For some completely unfathomable reason, this didn’t generate a Topps Now card, so I went ahead and did a ShlabotNOW card to fill in the void.

Statistically speaking, it might be more impressive to say that there have been only two seasons in his six major league seasons where he did *not* bat .247… and if he had 2 more hits and one more at bat in 2014, he would’ve batted .247 that season as well.

I mentioned before that I was wrapping up my 2018 TSR custom set. In that light, here is the last of the manager cards, the Mets’ Mickey Callaway.

All 30 teams have been represented in my manager subset, but there were a few managers who were fired before I got to their team (i.e. Bryan Price & Mike Metheny). There are currently five vacancies for manager jobs and interestingly enough they’re all in the American League.

I’ve been sitting on this “Pointless Pairings” idea all seasons, but I only recently finished the custom.

In a different type of pointless pairing, here’s another classically bad “combo card” featuring heavily hyped rookies; in this case it’s Ronald Acuna, along with one of last year’s rookies, Rafael Devers.

Finally, here’s one of those football customs I mentioned, a template I’ve been having fun with lately.  As much as the NFL has become about passing these days, it’s kind of nice to see a running back having success, so I created a custom for the Dallas Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliott.

Elliott is currently leading the league in rushing yards, and last week he rushed for 152 yards and (yeah, OK, fine) had 88 receiving yards on top of it.

I don’t know if next week’s post will be any more cohesive, but I will say that I’m excited about some of the customs I’ve got coming down the road… I’m counting on the offseason to give me the time to do that.

2018 TSR: The Last Day Of The Season

With two divisions still up in the air and the last day of the regular season upon us – unless there’s a tie for the NL Central or West divisions – I naturally decided to focus on a couple of the other stories of the weekend.

First off… David Wright.  I had my doubts as to whether I would be making a custom of David Wright in 2018, given his physical issues over recent years. As things worked out, he will be declared medically ineligible to play, but before he went he got a nice sendoff from the team and from Mets fans last night.

Wright pinch hit on Friday night, and last night he got his final start, taking 3rd base next to long-time teammate Jose Reyes. He got two at-bats and one fielding chance, and came out on to the field at the top of the 5th when he was pulled in a defensive change which gave him another chance to tip his cap to the Mets faithful.

Fortunately for me, MLB.TV is free this whole weekend, so I got to watch the beginning and end of the game. A nice evening all around and a great way for David Wright to ride off into the sunset.

Next up is a custom in my new “ShlabotNOW…Or Later”, addressing those moments from the season which Topps NOW neglected to address.

The Orioles Chris Davis broke a record that nobody wants to break… Of all the batters in Major League history who qualified by having 3.1 at bats for every game his team played in a given season, Chris Davis now has the lowest batting average ever, finishing with a .168 average.

Although Davis is healthy, the Orioles announced that he would not play at all this weekend, so he’s not going to get a chance to improve on this saddest of achievements.

Orioles fans can take some slight comfort in knowing that their team is not the only one to lose 100 games this year; the Royals currently sit at 58-103

Ned Yost doesn’t seem about to take the fall for the 103 losses. FYI, this is my next-to-last manager card for 2018.

Here’s another custom in the insert set of classically bad combo cards featuring excessively-hyped rookies:

Speaking of excessively-hyped rookies, I’ll wrap up with an Ohtani custom I made back in May, but which stayed on the shelf… until now.

I only post this one because I like the way this turned out. I really wish we’d gotten a 1988-themed insert set this year.

I’m Trying To Think Of A Catchy New Name For My Sunday Custom Card Posts

For much of the time I’ve been doing this blog, I’ve treated my custom cards as if they came in virtual packs. I have my TSR custom sets which had their wrappers…

I have my “Hot Stove” Kellogg’s-style customs which used to come in a fake cereal box until I ran out of cereal-based jokes.

But lately I’ve been thinking of abandoning that pretense and just sharing a number of customs each Sunday, basically whatever unpublished customs I have on hand on Sunday morning.  I dunno, maybe I’m just burned out on the concept and need to take a break.

So I’m trying to think of something to call these posts… “Capricious Customs” came to mind, but I may just go with “Custom Sunday” or just no name at all… I’m sure you all can figure it out without a theme name.

With that being said, let’s move on to the customs…

All year long I’ve been toying with the idea of creating something to sort of poke fun at the Topps Now concept… A series of cards which would commemorate some sort of play or event which I appreciated, but which didn’t get the “Now” treatment.  I guess I finally got some inspiration on Thursday when watching the Mets and Nationals play, and Mets pitcher Robert Gsellman became the first visiting player to use the Nats’ bullpen cart.

…And yes, I know that the Diamondbacks brought the cart back before the Nats, but I never got around to doing one of that cart. 

I may do more with this “ShlabotNOW…or Later” concept… or maybe save it for next year.

One other quick thing of moderate interest:  Sean Doolittle, who’s depicted on this custom, rides in the cart, but Gsellman rode on the back.

Another new “subset” I’ve been playing with lately also pokes fun at Topps, and features some classically bad combo cards.  Topps has unleashed some bad ones in recent years, so I’ve tried to outdo them in that respect, while featuring TOP ROOKIES OF TODAY!!!!!!

I wonder if Javier Baez would sign a custom like this…

Speaking of hot rookies, I couldn’t resist this photo of Gleyber Torres in front of a Fenway linescore which does not reflect well on the visiting Yankees…

I’m winding down on the Manager customs, only two more to go after this one and then all of the teams will have been represented.

I have to admit, I was a little disappointed when the Phillies faded down the stretch.  I can’t help but wonder if they tinkered with their lineup too much at the deadline, or if they added too many Mets (Asdrubal Cabrera and Jose Bautista) or if they just plain ol’ “ran out of gas”.

At any rate, I dislike the Phillies much less than any other NL East rival of the Mets;  I guess we’ll see what happens with them in 2019.

I’m going to enlist the help of my readers on this next subset… I’d like to do a few customs of players who are currently in Japan and had previously played in MLB.  I couldn’t resist Koji Uehara, but I haven’t taken the time to research who else would be a candidate for this set.  Any nominations?

And I’m going to wrap up with two TSRchives Football customs, featuring the 1968 Topps Football design.

After Week One I featured the Steelers’ James Conner, who had caught my attention while I was watching the Steelers and Browns, but a case could easily be made for me to have featured outside linebacker T.J. Watt, who also had a great game and blocked what would’ve been a game-winning overtime field goal by the Browns.

If I wanted to feature the outstanding Steeler of week 2, I’d feature the future HOF quarterback… but I really don’t like him despite his accomplishments, and I imagine I’ll have an opportunity to feature him later on.

On the other side of the field for Week 2, the Steelers faced the Chiefs and 2nd-year quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

Mahomes threw six touchdown passes in the Chiefs win, but what surprised me was that it had somehow got past me that Patrick Mahomes is the son of former reliever Pat Mahomes.

Pat Mahomes, the pitcher, played 11 seasons in the Majors and made it to the postseason with the Mets in 1999. Patrick, the quarterback, grew up in MLB clubhouses so I would think he isn’t fazed by any top tier opponents.

As for the customs themselves… I’d never really did much in the way of football before, but I’m having fun with these so we’ll see how far this goes.

2018 TSR: Now With Football!

It’s been a long baseball season, and a fairly poopy one on many fronts. The Mets were 15-9 in April and are 10-4 this month, but they stunk in May and absolutely cratered in June. The Orioles… well, the only month where the O’s had a non-awful record was March when they went 1-1. Even on the minor league level, the weather kept me from going to anywhere near as many games as I usually attend, and the teams I did see were not particularly good nor promising.

So maybe it shouldn’t have surprised me when I watched a football game last weekend and actually got into it. I normally pay little attention to football until at least October (and hopefully November if I have a strong rooting interest in the MLB Postseason), but here I was on September 9th enjoying a Steelers/Browns matchup.

Well, maybe “enjoying” isn’t entirely the right word. It was entertaining, but due to rain and other factors, it wasn’t the best-played game you’ll see all year… and it ended in a tie (which, as far as I’m concerned, was a victory for the Browns).

But it inspired me to make some football customs, which may or may not end up being a series. This year has been filled with custom sets I started and never took as far as I’d originally intended.

I wanted to pay homage to a vintage football set, and after much deliberating I decided to be “Heritage-y” and observe the 50th anniversary of the 1968 Topps set.

With Le’Veon Bell holding out, Steelers’ running back James Conner got nearly as many carries (32) and yards (144) as he did all of last season, plus he scored two touchdowns and caught five passes.

Conner is a local guy who’s from Erie, PA and went to the University of Pittsburgh. Le’Veon is still sitting at home, so I would guess that Conner’s the guy again against the Chiefs this afternoon.

As for the Browns… Much to my surprise they didn’t suck. I have to admit, I liked seeing excited fans in the stands in Cleveland. I wasn’t sure who to feature on a Browns custom, so I let the availability of images dictate my choice to a large degree and I went with new QB Tyrod Taylor.

The Browns acquired Taylor from the Buffalo Bills for a 3rd round draft pick this past Spring.

OK, that’s it for football this week. I guess we’ll see how inspired I am to make more customs after today’s games… There are probably at least some more coming, if only to justify the time I spent on the 1968 template.

Moving on to baseball… Even though they went on a tear a bit too late for playoff contention (barring an epic collapse by the Yankees or Athletics), I’ve been rooting for the Tampa Bay Rays. They’re 27-13 since the beginning of August, and staff ace Blake Snell has broken out in a big way and deserves some serious Cy Young consideration.

Snell has a 19-5 record and a 2.03 ERA and leads the league in wins and ERA. He’s also third with a 0.982 WHIP.

A note to the Atlanta Braves: It doesn’t matter how many former Orioles and Mets you acquire, I will never root for the Braves.

…OK, well perhaps grudgingly if they’re facing the Yankees, but in that case I will not watch.

MLB announced recently that there wiil be an all-star team touring Japan this fall, and Marlins manager Don Mattingly will be in charge of that touring team.

I’m sure he’s looking for a distraction for what’s going on in Miami these days.

The Orioles recently called up their 2015 1st round draft pick, outfielder DJ Stewart.

After 10 plate appearances, he’s still looking for his first MLB hit.

Just for funsies, I’ll “reprint” the custom I made for him in 2015.

I have to admit, I was uninspired as to who to feature for the Mets, given that all of their best players have already appeared on one of my customs, so I just went with an action shot I like.

Gavin Cecchini is on the Mets 40-man roster but has played sparingly and has not appeared with the Mets this season.

Just to wrap things up with another sport… Congratulations to the Seattle Storm who recently swept the Washington Mystics to win the WNBA championship. Breanna Stewart was named the MVP of the finals.

I only saw a few minute of the final game, but I heard that the WNBA playoffs were very exciting this year. Did anybody watch any of it?

2018 TSR: Combo Cards And Throwbacks! Whoo!

Three days ago I had a different idea for this virtual pack of custom cards. Then I was looking at the checklist for 2018 Topps Heritage High Numbers (which gave me the idea of doing a special kind of combo card), and I also became aware of two throwback games happening this weekend… after that, things just fell into place.

Before I get to those, however, there are some other customs that I want to get in here.

First off, the Red Sox called up Brandon Phillips, who had spent the season so far in AAA. Phillips has appeared in one game, but hit the game-winning homer in that game.

If he got a Topps Now card from that, I couldn’t find it after a quick search… but I love the fact that Phillips is the first Red Sox player to wear #0, so he gets a custom for that alone.

Each week I feature a Met, an Oriole and a manager card. Recent buzz indicates that Blue Jays manager John Gibbons will be fired after the end of the season, so I figured I’d better get his custom posted now.

If you’re not a Mets fan or don’t collect 1980’s Donruss cards, you might not know that Gibbons was a catcher who played 18 games for the Mets in the mid 1980’s. It appears that Donruss was the only manufacturer to issue a card for him during his playing days.

As little as the Orioles have been involved in the international player market in recent years, they somehow have an Australian pitcher in their organization. Alex Wells represented the O’s in this year’s Futures Game.

Wells hasn’t made it out of A-ball yet, but he’s only 21 and had an impressive August to close out the 2018 minor league season… plus he’s Australian and wears glasses, so I’m already a fan.

I struggled to find a Met for the custom this week, as pretty much anyone of note has already been featured. I decided to go in a different direction… Jose Reyes used to be my favorite Met, but now Mets fans ask why he’s still on the roster, and I have to admit, I can’t answer that.

He’s batting below the Mendoza Line, he doesn’t play defense like he used to, I can only think that he’s a favorite of the Wilpons and they don’t want to just release him. Maybe they’ll have a nice tribute at the end of the season and that can be that.

OK, throwback time. The Tigers have been celebrating the 50th anniversary of their 1968 World Championship, and as it works out they’re playing the Cardinals in Detroit this weekend, the same team they beat in 1968. As part of the festivities, the Tigers and Cardinals wore 1968 throwback uniforms, but in an interesting twist, the Tigers wore road throwbacks.

I understand the significance of these throwbacks, but they’re not the most visually exciting unforms… I like this photo of Jeimar Candelario, though, so it was a no-brainer as a custom card. BTW, the Cardinals did wear home whites in Detroit.

The Tampa Bay Rays are celebrating their 20th anniversary this season, and as part of that they wore 1998 throwbacks last night, and kicked the O’s butts in the process (as if that’s some sort of achievement this season).

I’m also not a fan of these throwbacks, but it’s all about the significance not the appeal.

When looking at the Heritage High Number checklist, I had two thoughts about the Combo card inserts. First, they obviously wanted to get as many hot rookies involved as possible. Second, these combo cards would likely feature photos of two players who happened to be standing near each other, or perhaps photoshopped into the same image. Seemingly gone are the days when a photographer would ask two players to actually pose next to each other.

So that got me thinking I should beat Topps to the punch… not only feature hot rookies, but also have intentionally bad combo cards… and this was the most fun I’ve had with customs in a while, so you’ll be seeing more of these.

First up… who can resist teenage sensation Juan Soto with his teammate, former teenage sensation Bryce Harper?

And then you’ve got the young Atlanta Braves’ dynamic duo of Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuna!

I’m telling you, that’s cardboard gold right there… or they would be if they were real.  Make 1/1 superfractor parallels of these, and look out eBay!



2018 TSR: Movin’ On With Cutch And Joey Bats

Back at the beginning of the season, I made a custom card of Jose Bautista just because it looked so *odd* to see him in a Braves uniform.

The Braves dropped him after a short time and the Mets picked him up, so naturally I had to make an updated custom because Joey Bats was with one of my teams…

Now comes the August trade deadline, Bautista is on the move to another N.L. East team and I said “Well, now I almost *have* to keep cranking out the Bautista customs.”

It hadn’t occurred to me to look before, but most of Bautista’s actual 2018 cards still show him with the Blue Jays.  The only exceptions I found were a couple of Topps Now cards which show him with the Mets.  I’m thinking his time with the Braves will eventually be a bit of forgotten trivia like his wanderings at the beginning of his career… “What do you mean Jose Bautista was with the Devil Rays?!?”

Andrew McCutchen recently moved from the Giants to the Yankees, and as strange as it seemed to see Cutch in a Giants uniform, it’s even stranger to see a clean-shaven Cutch with the Yankees.

McCutchen is a free agent after the season and I would think he’ll be elsewhere in 2019, but I’m sure Topps will include him as a Yankee in Series 1 and Heritage… Because YANKEES.

When reading someone’s review of 2018 Topps Archives, it occurred to me that modern day Topps has an aversion to head shots that vintage Topps never had. Look at the original 1959 Topps cards, and many of them had head shots in the circle formed by that big colorful border… but I’ve yet to see a shot like that in Archives.

…and as I was being critical of that, I realized that I don’t feature head shots in my custom cards, so I either needed to correct that or shut up.

I also realized that I’d managed to make it to September without having done a custom of Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard who is (surprisingly) tied with Zack Wheeler for the Mets team lead with nine wins and also tied with Robert Gsellman with a .750 winning percentage… About the only two pitching categories (other than saves) where Jacob deGrom is not the leader.

FWIW, Jeurys Familia still has a healthy lead in the Saves category, over a month after being sent to Oakland.

Speaking of trades, the Orioles picked up Josh Rogers from the Yankees in the trade that sent Zach Britton to the Bronx.

Rogers made his MLB debut recently, pitching 5 innings against the Blue Jays and getting the win. These days we’ll take any positive achievement we can get with the Orioles (who would have to go on a 23-3 tear to avoid 100 losses).

Our manager card of the week features Andy Green, whose Padres are fighting it out with the Marlins to avoid the “Worst team in the National League” label.  On the plus side, this photo is one of the better ones I’ve found for a manager.

I don’t know how likely it is that I’ll take on the manager customs in 2019, because so many of the photos show a manager’s back as he takes out a pitcher or argues with an umpire.  I’d had thoughts of including cards of coaches as well, but outside of “Photo Day” images, the pickin’s are slim indeed.

2018 TSR: Just To Show It Can Be Done Right

The 2018 Topps Heritage All-Stars subset is like a badly remastered 1960’s album.  I’m sure many of you know the type of albums I’m talking about… You download “The Best Of The Cordial Kumquat” and when the first song starts you think “Wow, I can really hear the rhythm guitar and cowbell on this song!”, but then the lead vocalist comes in and you realize you can’t hear him because his voice is overwhelmed by the rhythm guitar and cowbell – all because the album was “remastered for digital download” by mixing each of the different tracks of a recording to the same apparent volume.

…and yes, I did make up “The Cordial Kumquat”, but admit it – you weren’t quite sure at first.

In the same way, the 2018 Topps Heritage All-Star cards have a headshot that’s no longer a headshot and a smaller action shot that’s no longer all that small and…

…hold on, I guess it’s easier to show you.

Bryce Harper should be next to the yellow circle, not behind it, and his head should be twice as large as it is.

Side Rant:  What is it with Topps these days where they insist of listing the position as “Outfielder” or “First Baseman” when the originals said “Outfield” and “1st Base”????

Now granted, it could be that part of the problem is that camera technology has advanced over 50 years so that one can zoom in on the subject and exclude all that worrisome ballpark stuff.  I wouldn’t be surprised if part of the reason for the change was that correctly “distant” photos are hard to come by.

Given that part of the jollies I get out of creating customs is attempting to outperform Topps, I decided to try my own card using this design, but rather than redoing a red NL All Star card or a green AL All Star card, I decided I was going to go in another direction, make the frame blue and call it “Shlabotnik’s Picks” (originally intended to be something of a series, although I don’t know if I’ll do it at this point).

The proof-of-concept I did was for a personal favorite, Michael Conforto.

Yes, it isn’t always possible to find a loosely-cropped photo that will work as the background… but it’s not completely unheard of.  There are also tricks that can be done to create more background than originally existed in the original photo. And, you know, you can always use an image of WIllie Mays sliding into home and say that it’s Justin Upton.

The majority of my free time this weekend has been spent on organizing the horrendous mess that is Shlabotnik World Headquarters, so I’m going to keep this post a bit short.

I’d promised myself at the beginning of the season that each post would contain at least one Met, one Oriole and one manager.  Since I’ve already got a Met, I’ll wrap things up with the other two.

Cody Carroll was acquired from the Yankees in the Zach Britton trade.  His overall numbers are fairly ugly, but he seems to either be good… or not good.

Looking over his game logs, he’s had five effective relief outings, but there were also three not-at-all-effective games which drag his numbers down.

The Manager Card Of The Week goes to Bruce Bochy.

I hadn’t realized this until I made the custom, but if you look under Bochy’s left hand, it looks kinda like he has three legs.

2018 TSR: Teams I’m Pulling For, August 2018 Edition

My Mets have been showing some signs of life lately, but they’re still 15 games out (and 8 games behind the 3rd place Nationals).  My Orioles are… well, I won’t say how many games behind Boston they are, nor how many games below .500.  The answer to both is “A lot.  A whole lot”.

I’m not about to abandon either team, but I’d still like to have a few more smiles when I read the game summaries each morning.  I’ve come to realize that I’ve latched on to three American League teams as providers of a little box score joy.

Two of the teams fall into the same category… I kinda like both of them, and for the Yankees to miss the playoffs requires that both teams do well.

First off is the Oakland Athletics (From across the continent I can hear a “Yay!” from Fuji).  Back in the 1970’s the A’s would’ve been among the last teams I’d root for, but now they’re one of those teams which raise eyebrows when they’re deadline buyers, as they were this year.

Today’s custom doesn’t feature a player they traded for this season, but when a former National has more saves than any current National, that’s the type of thing which warms my heart.

There’s a fair amount of animosity towards the Nats & Yanks in this post… just want to be clear about this. It’s not anything unusual for me, anyway.

The other contending team I want to do well is the Seattle Mariners.  I have Mariner fan relatives in Washington state, plus I’m a Seattle Pilots collector, so rooting on the M’s isn’t a huge stretch for me.

Edwin Diaz leads the majors with 47 saves, has a 2.07 ERA, a 0.787 WHIP, 15.5 K’s per 9 innings and was an All-Star.  If this guy pitched for the Yankees, Dodgers, Cubs or Red Sox we’d be up to our ears in Edwin Diaz inserts by now. Instead you’ll have to settle for my 1988 Tribute to be devoted to him this week.

I’ve had Diaz on my fantasy team last year and this year, and the dude has been golden for me.

The third team that I’ve found myself rooting for is a team which is not a contender, which traded off several veterans at the deadline, and yet have remained consistent in not sucking… and I have to admire that more than a bit.

The Tampa Bay Rays traded Alex Colome and Denard Span to Seattle in May, were at .500 on June 30th, traded off Chris Archer, Wilson Ramos, Nathan Eovaldi and several others in July, ended the month a game above .500 and are still a game above .500.

Tyler Glasnow was one of the players acquired from the Pirates in the Chris Archer trade.  He was a reliever with the Bucs, but the Rays have him starting.

Although his W-L is nothing to brag about, since the trade he has better stats than Chris Archer.

Right now, in mid-August, the Rays have a better record than the Nationals (poke, poke) and the Angels (although only by thousandths of a percentage points).

…And I have a feeling that if I were to declare myself a Rays collector, I’d have numerous large boxes of Rays cards on my doorstep within a week.  “Finally!” everybody cries, “Someone who wants Rays!”

Speaking of unexpected success…

The Cardinals have a 21-10 record since Mike Shildt took over as manager.  I’m not sure the Cardinals originally had him in mind for anything other than “Interim Manager”, but Shildt has forced the conversation.

At first I thought I was navigating through incorrectly, but Mike Shildt has never played professionally at any level;  his playing career topped out in college.  After college he coached high school, college and minor league teams, as well as working as a scout.

Before I move on from Mike Shildt, for some reason it took me a while to get it in my head that his name isn’t “Milt”… and I have no idea why. Milt Shildt sounds like someone who would have appeared on one and only one baseball card in the 1950’s.

Let’s wrap up with my O’s and Mets for the week.

Cedric Mullins was called up by the Orioles to take over in center field, with Adam Jones shifting to right. In 8 games, Mullins is batting .357 with 7 runs and 3 RBI.

What appeals to me about him is that he’s fast and he’s my height (5’8″).

Peter Alonso is one of the Mets top prospects and is nearly Major League ready.

Fans are calling for him to be brought to Queens, but I don’t expect that to happen because he’s not currently on the 40-man roster and the Mets have other players they’d like to protect this winter by adding them to the 40-man. Plus, I’m sure, they don’t want to make him eligible for free agency before they need to. We *are* talking about the “small market” Mets here.

2018 TSR: Forward Into The Past!!!

“Gee, I hope he gets back before all this dry ice melts…”  (A virtual fist bump to anyone who gets this reference).

So this season has been a bust (to put it mildly) for my Mets and Orioles.  We’re not even halfway through August and the Orioles have already been mathematically eliminated from winning the division.  That, my friend, makes for a long season.

Oh, and before I forget… Congratulations to Brian Roberts who was inducted into the Orioles Hall of Fame last night! This custom is from my 2013 TSR set:

Getting back to the tire fire that is this season… I started to think that maybe I should focus some of my custom card attention on some of the prospects coming down the road for both teams.

While I was thinking about this, the Astros and Mariners had a game on Friday night where both teams wore 1979 throwbacks, so I knew I had to do something with *that*. It was at that point I decided to put the future and the past in the same post.

When the Orioles traded Manny Machado to the Dodgers, they got five prospects in return. Of the players the O’s got, the biggest potential belongs to Yusniel Diaz who is one of the top 100 prospects in baseball and who hit 2 homers in the 2018 Futures Game.

Diaz is a 21-year-old Cuban who looks to be a center fielder with power. He’s currently playing with the AA Bowie Baysox.

On the Mets side, their top prospect is 19-year-old shortstop Andres Gimenez who is among the youngest players at the AA level.

Gimenez is talented with a bat and a glove, but is probably a couple of years away from the Majors… but he can always force his name into the conversation.

Another prospect who got traded as the deadline approached was Francisco Mejia, who the Indians sent to San Diego in exchange for relievers Brad Hand and Adam Cimber.

Mejia has been selected for three straight Futures Games, and during this past season he was regarded as the Indians’ top prospect and the top catching prospect in baseball.

Finally, to get some bloodlines in here, Bo Bichette is the son of former MLB outfielder Dante Bichette.

Bichette was a consensus Top 20 prospect going into this season and was selected to the USA team in the 2018 Futures Game.

Moving on to the “Past” part of this post… As I mentioned, this past Friday night the Astros and Mariners had a game which threw back to 1979. Me, I quite literally had this game marked down on my calendar, and I was not disappointed in the sartorial splendor of the throwbacks.

I forgot which team it was that did this, but to promote this game one of the teams had a little promotional video which used the word “Groovy”. As someone who was in high school at the time, I feel pretty confident in saying that the word “Groovy” was no longer in common use by 1979… not unless somebody was being sarcastic or was quoting a line from “The Brady Bunch”. Thank you for enduring my little rant.

Anyway, I honestly wasn’t “feeling” the 1979 Topps design for this post, but I figured that photos from 1979 were used in 1980 Topps, so that’s how I approached it. I’m just going to run through these customs without any bothersome text.

And finally, if I’m going to feature a manager from each team before the World Series is over, I can’t be skipping a week… so here’s the manager card from this special vitual pack:

The Indians are the only AL Central team with a winning record and they have an 11-game lead over the second place Twins.

Bear with me while I do another quick rant. Francona wearing his #77 on his sleeve reminds me of the argument people have over whether managers and coaches should wear uniforms like the players do. I personally don’t care if they dress the same way as the players, but part of the reason they’ve traditionally worn uniforms is because, unlike other sports, the manager and coaches are out on the field, and when I’m in the stands and somebody walks out of the dugout and talks to the pitcher, I greatly appreciate it when that somebody is wearing a number on his back so I know whether that’s the manager or the pitching coach.

End of my second rant, end of my post.

2018 TSR: Some Other Traded Guys And Some Other Asdrubals

Just like it’s fun when an update card set comes out and you can see players in new uniforms, I have fun when players start moving around and I can create customs representing players with new teams.

I’ll go straight to the weekly manager card this time, because it deals with some news which is still making its way out there…

This morning I went to look at the standings to see which team is hot, which is usually how I decide on the subject of the weekly manager custom. What I found instead was that Ken Rosenthal is reporting that Mike Scioscia is going to step down as Angels manager when his contract expires after this season.

After In almost every photo I found of Scioscia (aside from one where he was chatting with a former Tottenham Hotspur player about to throw out the first pitch at an Angels game), he looks extremely dour;  maybe he’s just had enough.

Scioscia’s first season as Angels manager was in 2000 when they were still the Anaheim Angels and wore those too-much-going-on “Disney” uniforms.  I was surprised when I was reminded of who Scioscia replaced as Angels manager… If you don’t remember, the answer’s at the bottom of this post.

Austin Jackson is technically with his third organization of 2018, but when he was traded by the Giants to the Rangers, the Texas front office told him not to report to the team. Sure enough, he was released by the team as soon as he cleared waivers. About two weeks later he was signed by the Mets, and he’s played pretty well for the Mets.

I’ve always wanted Austin Jackson to become a star because he’s a former Yankees prospect and I always like to see prospects they give up to do well (sadly, that doesn’t happen as often as I’d like). Jackson went to the Tigers in a three-team trade that also involved Max Scherzer, Curtis Granderson, Ian Kennedy and Edwin Jackson.

Brian Dozier was traded by the Twins to the Dodgers for Logan Forsythe and two minor leaguers.

I was going to do a Forsythe card as well, but couldn’t find a good photo (yet).

The Cubs acquired their second big-name former-Ranger pitcher when they traded for Cole Hamels.

Will this work out better than Yu Darvish has so far, or is this some sort of cosmic retribution for the Cubs trading Fergie Jenkins to Texas back in 1973?

The Red Sox lost Dustin Pedroia to injury after just three games, and they’ve been playing Eduardo Nunez, but decided to trade for the Angels’ Ian Kinsler… who was lost to injury after just three games.

Many Orioles fans were sad to see Jonathan Schoop join other players in heading out the door as part of a rebuild. For all the trades the Orioles made, the only name player coming back to the Orioles was Jonathan Villar.

I would say that a rebuild will be painful… but honestly, how can it get worse?

I spent too much time on other custom cards this week, so for the 1988 tribute we’ll feature an All-Star card of Manny Machado.  Yes, I know that’s two straight weeks of 1988-themed Machado customs.  Deal with it.

Let’s get into some Asdruba-mania!

The Adrubal that is most familiar to baseball fans is Asdrubal Cabrera, who was traded by the Mets to the Phillies for a pitching prospect.

I had never heard of the name Asdrubal before Cabrera, but it’s apparently not completely unusual.

I found out there’s also a Spanish soccer player who goes by just “Asdrubal”. He was in Australia playing for the Central Coast Mariners, but is now playing for a second division Spanish team.

The third Asdrubal I found was Asdrubal Sierra of the band Ozomatli; with all the talk lately about the 1991 ProSet Super Stars MusiCards, especially on Night Owl’s blog, I felt like i had to make a similar custom.

I became vaguely aware of Ozomatli about 10 years ago when I got a free download (probably through iTunes) of their song “Magnolia Soul”.  I liked the song well enough that, unlike most other free downloads, I still listen to it.

My main exposure to the band was when they did a stint as the house band on “Gabriel Iglesias Presents Stand-Up Revolution”, which was on Comedy Central a few years ago and led to the song “Hey, It’s Fluffy!”

But me, I prefer a little sweet Magnolia Soul.


Late in the 1999 season, Terry Collins stepped down as the Angels manager and was temporarily replaced by bench coach Joe Maddon – Maddon’s second stint as interim Angels manager.