First Custom Cards In A While

After an unintentional break, I’ve been back to doing customs, and I’ve shared a couple of them out on Twitter (@Shlabotnik_Rpt) but it’s been a while since I shared them on the blog… and so…

First, let’s roll through a few “Hot Stove” customs based on the mid-1960’s Bazooka design.

First off, here’s the Diamondbacks’ new ace Madison Bumgarner.  I borrowed the photo from the D-Backs’ social media, but swapped out the background.

It looks weird to see MadBum in a different uniform, but that’s true of certain players every spring.

Recently the Red Sox said “Oh, hey, pitchers and catchers are getting ready to report to Spring Training… maybe we should get a manager?”

Dellin Betances signed with the Mets a while ago, but I like this picture too much not to use it.

Back when Joe Girardi was introduced in a press conference, he put on a Phillies jersey but never put on a cap… much to my dismay and annoyance, so I went and photoshopped an older photo.

A little over a week ago, Twitter account @TheOldTowneTeam tweeted an image of the bottom of a 1974 Topps Traded card and said “Someone needs to come up with a Mookie Traded card.

I don’t need much of an excuse to make 1974 customs, so I hauled out my template, updated it for Traded cards, and came up with this:

Pretty simple stuff, all I needed to do to the photo was change the color of Mookie’s undershirt.

That left me somewhat unfulfilled… I wanted to do something with fake airbrushing and I was someone intrigued by the Twins getting starting pitcher Kenta Maeda, so a week later I did the following:

I’m not sure I’ll do more of these… but I’m not sure I won’t.

I’m going to wrap up today with something that, a few months ago, I never thought I’d do… I’ve made an XFL custom card.  Y’see, I like Dallas Renegades’ quarterback Landry Jones from his time with the Steelers, and when I heard that he was the first player signed for the new version of the XFL, well it most definitely caught my attention.

I don’t know why Spring football draws so many haters.  Yes, history is littered with failed Spring leagues (although one could argue that the USFL was murdered… or maybe it was criminally-negligent homicide), and we had a league that failed just last Spring… but is it such a bad thing to give overlooked players a venue to prove their abilities?  I don’t know, I don’t expect to watch a whole lot of the XFL, but I don’t get the venom…

…Except that there are a lot of people out there who are just looking for people, places and things to spit venom at.

I Stayed Up All Night Making These Customs!

Well, I *was* up most of the night, and I *was* making customs during the night, but the cause and effect are a little bit different than that.

Y’see, I work in IT and this weekend we did our monthly rebooting of servers (along with software updates and the like).  This month it was my turn to stay up and babysit and do a lot of small tasks, but the way our procedures are currently set up, I click on something, wait a minute or two, click on the next thing, wait a minute or two.

Since I was sitting there in the wee small hours of the morning and decided I may as well do something else in the recurring minute or two of downtime.  On my personal laptop I had a number of images which I never got around into making into Hot Stove customs, so I figured I’d make use of my tiny little fragments of down time.

I’m feeling OK at the moment, but I got hardly any sleep last night so forgive me if I start to babble or not make sense.  I’m really hoping I don’t say something blatantly wrong or stupid.

So we’ll start with of of the newest Blue Jays, Hyun-Jin  Ryu.  This one actually is from a couple of weeks ago, but I wasn’t going to do a post with just one custom.

The photo is from a press conference, which is why he’s wearing a shirt and tie under his jersey… but I decided to try removing the press conference background and do an old school Topps trick of making the background solid blue.  It’s not quite the same blue (old Topps used solid cyan ink), but it’s close enough for government work.

For a guy who just signed a contract for a shitload of money, Gerrit Cole looks pretty unhappy… Maybe it’s because he had to shave.

I should’ve lightened the photo and gotten more of the Yankee Stadium background, but this is what happens when I make customs at 2am.  Unlike a certain famous sportscard blogger, I am most decidedly not a night owl.

Equal time for the Mets, even if signing Betances won’t quite have the impact of a Gerrit Cole.

I do like the way this one came out, though.

Back in December… I think it was December… the Rangers unveiled their new uniforms which I suppose are meant for their first season in their new ballpark which replaces their horribly old former stadium which was built in the 1990’s if you can believe it.  I didn’t bother putting new backgrounds in for these, I didn’t think it was worth it.  Anyway, here’s manager Chris Woodward in the new home uniforms.

Looking at this custom I see the folly of having off-white borders when the photo itself is very much not off-white.  I do that so the custom is not solid white, but here it looks a bit silly.  I’ll have to ponder that before I use that on any future templates.

If I’m not mistaken, this is the first time since 2008 that the Rangers’ jersey actually says “Rangers” on it.  Shocking, I know.

Joey Gallo seems startled by the new powder blue alternates.  It’s funny how a number of teams have gone powder blue alts lately, but at least they’re all teams which had used powder blue in the past.  I’m not sure I’m a fan of the powder blue cap.

That’s about it for now… I did make other customs, but the mistakes on those are too great for me to post them here… They should show up next week after I’ve made some corrections.

“Hot Stove” Customs: Brewers, Managers And Will Smith (No, Not That One… Or That One…)

I’m a bit behind the times with this, but the Milwaukee Brewers released a new set of uniforms early this past week, and while the new uniforms are a big improvement over the previous set (which were “fine” in the somewhat dismissive sense), I’m still wanting something a bit more… but on the other hand, I’m not entirely sure what I would change.

The standard home uniform is pretty similar to what the team wore in the mid-1970’s, complete with wide (by 21st century standards) blue and yellow stripes on the sleeves. There’s also a pinstriped version which is similar to what they wore in the late 1970’s and all throughout the 1980’s.  (…and by the way, this is a Faux 3-D parallel of the Hot Stove set)

My unpopular take: I don’t love the ball-in-glove logo. Yes, it’s all clever and such with a lower case ‘m’ and a lower case ‘b’ forming a glove, but from the day of the original’s introduction, it always struck me as a little *too* clever for it’s own good. I’ll admit, this is probably a lingering emotional reaction to what 13-year-old me thought when they introduced the BiG logo the first time. I always kind of liked the serifed “M” that the team (*ahem*) borrowed from the Milwaukee Braves.

The road uniform isn’t much to talk about, but I have to say that I like the road alternate uniforms, even though some people have pointed out that it looks like the Cub Scouts uniform… Or maybe, on some level, *because* it looks like the Cub Scouts uniform. I was active in Scouting for a number of years, so maybe that contributes to my liking this alt.

All in all, I’m in favor of this change except for two things: I would’ve preferred Royal Blue instead of Navy Blue, and I would’ve liked powder blue road uniforms… but I suppose this all comes back to my wanting the mid-1970’s Brewers uniform back.

Time to catch up on managerial hirings… and I still haven’t made a custom for Joe Girardi… and the Pirates still haven’t hired a manager yet…

I’ve always been a fan of Carlos Beltran, even during his time with that *other* New York baseball team. While I went into the offseason thinking the Mets would do best to hire a manager with experience, I like Carlos too much to hold that against him.

And with Beltran reclaiming his traditional #15, it looks like Tim Tebow is going to have to wear a different number in Spring Training. Maybe he can adopt a Japanese convention and go three digits (Now batting… Number 115… Tim Tebow…)

Judging from the reaction I saw on Twitter, the Giants’ hiring of Gabe Kapler is not a popular one… and it’s not like I don’t understand. He had some talent on his Phillies team, especially in 2019, but delivered some very mediocre results.

I can only think that Kapler gives one hell of an interview… And with Brad Ausmus out of a job, Kapler is a contender for “Most handsome manager of 2020”.

As you can see, my manager “Hot Stove” customs generally come from press conferences, and feature the newly-hired manager wearing a cap and a jersey over a dress shirt. Joe Maddon would have none of that during his press conference, though. From the many photos I searched through, I could not find one where he’d buttoned up his jersey or put a damn cap on his head.

…But I suppose it’s just as well, because you know and I know that Maddon won’t actually wear a jersey once the season starts. What I did instead was find a more appropriate photo of Maddon in a Cubs hoodie and photoshop it into the likely Angels apparel.

I don’t know whether Maddon and actor Bradley Whitford looked much alike in their younger days, but they seem pretty much interchangeable now.

And now, on to Will Smith… No, not the actor… and no, not the Dodgers catcher. This is the relief pitcher formerly of the Royals, Brewers and Giants who signed a 3-year contract with the Braves. Since there hasn’t been a lot of player movement just yet, and because I felt like making a custom last week, I whipped up a quickie for Mr. Smith.  I’m not 100% happy with the results, but I’ll leave it to you to determine what I don’t like about it  (and once again, this is a Faux 3-D parallel)

Every year I would love to do a Hot Stove set that’s more like the 1970’s traded sets with simulated bad airbrushing and – ideally – guys looking skyward. Photos of guys looking up at a bird, at a plane, at SUPERMAN! are not the kind of thing you find out in the wild, however.

To wrap up, and just for giggles, I’m going to share the other four customs I’ve made of Carlos Beltran over the years.

2012 TSR

2013-14 TSR Hot Stove

2016 TSR

2016-17 TSR Hot Stove

Custom Sunday: 2020 NL West Uniforms And A Hockey Request

After last week’s debut of my “Hot Stove” customs, I’m sure many of you said “Managers at a press conference… Ho-hum”

Well, today I’m going to stretch the boundaries of what these customs can be, both in subject matter and…



…Well, simulated dimensions, anyway.

Over the past couple of days we’ve had two teams from the National League West unveil new uniforms for 2020. Since the whole idea of the Hot Stove customs is to give us a sneak peak of what the next season will look like, and since new unis are part of that, I like to work these unveilings into the customs.

…And since these photos often come with a non-baseball background, I generally remove the background… and since I’m removing the background, I may as well put in a ballpark image with some horizontal motion blur, and make these customs into simulated 3-D cards… or 3-D “parallels”, since it’s the same mid-60’s Bazooka design made into faux 3-D, something which never happened in real life.

Are you with me so far?

So on Friday the Diamondbacks did a surprise – well, surprise to me, at the very least – unveiling of their refreshed uniforms. Apparently with MLB’s switch from Majestic to Nike uniforms in 2020, the D-Backs decided it would be a good time to get rid of the gimmick-y sublimated snakeskin patterns and goofy red shoulder thingies, and just go with a straightforward version of their existing design.

I don’t love the revised unis, but it’s still a big improvement.

They also ditched the dark grey on the road uniforms and went with a more conventional road grey.

This was very welcome news to me, because the D-Backs unis have been the worst in the Majors over the past few years.  There were also a number of alternates unveiled, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to get into these beyond the primaries.

Last night the San Diego Padres had a uniform unveiling which, they let it be known up front, is all about going back to brown.  In fact, when new manager Jayce Tingler was introduced, they gave us a sneak peek of the new cap only with the 2019 brown alts (and forgive me for “reprinting” a custom I shared last week).

The San Diego Padres uniforms of late haven’t been bad, but they’ve been completely uninteresting to look at. I know they were going for “understated classics”, but I’m sorry, they needed something. I liked when they added yellow trim during the All-Star season, but that went away as quickly as the lifespan of that Fox TV series “Pitch” about the first woman in the Majors (and in that show the Padres wore those nice unis).

So along with going back to brown, which the team wore from their start in 1969 through 1990, they also return to pinstripes, which they wore from 1985 through 2001.

I’m not sure about the overall design… it’s not bad, but I think I’ll have to see it out on the field.

Here’s another custom featuring the new home uniform.

There weren’t a lot of good shot featuring the road unis, otherwise I would’ve included those.  The primary road unis have a brown jersey with SAN DIEGO lettering, plus tan (or “sand” as the team puts it) pants.  Yup, no road greys, they’re road tans.  MLB also asked the team to have a lighter road uni for when the home team wants to wear a dark alternate, so the team has a pinstriped tan-colored uni set for use as a road alternate.

All in all, the look is a huge improvement… Yeah, while I’ll say it’s not a home run, it’s certainly at least a stand-up double.

It also got me thinking… These two teams have been my go-to for “worst uniforms in MLB” for the past couple of years, but now that both have been modified, I’m not sure what the worst is now.  There aren’t any truly bad uniforms, so “worst” is a very relative term.  Off the top of my head, the worst might now be the fairly uninteresting uniforms worn by the Tampa Bay Rays and Cleveland Indians… or maybe the Miami Marlins, whose uniforms are OK, but have some poorly-designed hats and black alternates that look blank from any kind of distance.

Which uniforms would you say are now the worst in the Majors?

To wrap up, I’m going to share a custom I was commissioned to make… “commissioned” in the sense that Shane from Shoebox Legends asked me nicely and I wanted to make it before I forgot.

I’m happy with the way this custom design has worked out, but I’m not sure I love the blue type for the Bruins wordmark, but I can revisit that when I make another Bruins custom – and I’m going to make at least one more.  Here’s a hint:  The player involved was one of the few players I remember from before I walked out on the NHL back in 2004.

Custom Sunday: Postseason Ends, Hot Stove Begins

Before we move on to what’s new, let’s wrap up the Postseason and the Hostess-inspired customs that I created as an experiment and liked well enough to keep going for a while.

Simone Biles threw out the first pitch at Game 2, but before she did she did a backflip and twist from a standing position.

And here’s the super-short-printed backflipping variation

To wrap up the postseason, here’s World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg.

Seven years ago I made my first “Hot Stove” custom set. Over the years the general format has changed, but the basic premise has remained the same: Create customs using oddball designs and showing players and managers in their new uniforms.

I started out with Bazooka designs…

…Went faux-3D for a few years…

…And as a side note, while I recognize that these were quite popular, they also require posed “photo day” images, and finding those the past couple of years has become… um…. problematic.

Getting back to the Hot Stove recap, in recent years I took some side trips into other oddballs like Topps stamps…

…And did a couple of years of Post designs.

For 2019-20, I wanted to do something that was less involved than the 3-D or Post designs, and also something a little smaller than standard-sized… but not as small as the stamps. I settled on a return to Bazooka, with a new template based on the 1963-67 Bazooka baseball designs.

I’ll start off with new Cubs manager David Ross (who, I’ve seen referenced somewhere, would like to leave the “Grandpa Rossy” nickname behind with the 2016 World Champion Cubs)

Ross has some big shoes to fill with Joe Maddon, and will be expected to bring the Cubs back to the postseason. Oh, how the expectations on the North Side of Chicago have changed over the past five years…

Down in San Diego, Jayce Tingler another first-time manager is going to have expectations of “meaningful September games”, at the very least. This is what happens when your team has Fernando Tatis, Jr. and the very-well-paid Manny Machado.

The Padres also gave us a sneak preview of their 2020 uniforms by having Tingler wear the team’s new caps. The full uniforms will be premiered this coming Saturday and yes, brown is returning as a full-time primary color. (About freakin’ time)

Finally, here’s our first repeat manager, Mike Matheny who takes over the Royals after Ned Yost’s retirement. The Royals have lost 207 games over the past two seasons, so expectations for Matheny are probably not high.

Mike Matheny’s name still makes me think of Jazz guitarist Pat Metheny, even though I don’t recall having heard anything by Metheny since his 1987 “Still Life (Talking)” album. There was an extended period in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s were I was getting pretty heavily into then-current jazz and new age music… Metheny, Special EFX, Andreas Vollenweider, Bill Meyers. Somewhere over the past couple of decades, my perceptions of this music have changed and much of it no longer appeals to me. Just one of those cases where one’s musical tastes change over time.


Time for a hockey custom, even though my attempt to get back into the NHL this season has fallen into the too-ambitious-for-my-own-good trap that I fall into far too often.

I heard that the New York Islanders have won nine straight games, and I was curious to find how many current Islanders I had heard of.  Now keep in mind that I have not truly followed hockey over the last fifteen years, and I’ve been gone from Long Island for over 23 years.

So how many Islanders rang a bell?  Not a damn one, Quasimodo.  So I decided it was time to learn something about *someone* on the Islanders, and I picked team captain Anders Lee (who, despite the first name, is not Scandinavian… at least not first-generation Scandinavian).

According to his page, he’s from Minnesota and was a standout quarterback, pitcher and 3rd baseman in high school.  He was drafted in the 6th round by the Islanders and played 3 seasons at Notre Dame.  He was named team captain after prior captain John Tavares took his talents to Toronto.

In retrospect, I could’ve done a better job cropping the photo (which shows Lee high-fiving the players on the Islanders bench), but I’m not going back and re-doing it.  Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Speaking of “ain’t nobody got time for that”, I was going to do up a custom for today’s Steelers opponent, the Indianapolis Colts… but I ran out of time, so you’ll have to settle for Pittsburgh offensive guard David DeCastro.

OK, that’s about it for today. Pat Metheny, play us out!