Custom Sunday: More Scoops, More Football

Just a few scattershot customs today…

First off, I’m continuing to catch up on the “Scoops” for this season. I’d like to do this again in 2020, but I need to find a way to streamline my processes so I can do a better job of keeping up.

Since they got a good response and I enjoy doing them, I’m also going to try to keep up on these Football customs (based on 1973 Topps Football). Last week I featured Ben Roethlisberger and I admitted that I was tired of him, but now he’s out for the season after elbow surgery, so the Steelers’ starting quarterback from here on out is 2nd year pro Mason Rudolph. Rudolph looked pretty good from what I saw of last week’s game, so we’ll see how he does today against the 49ers.

I don’t want to make this custom set be all about my Steelers, so I’m thinking up ways of featuring players from other teams. This time around I’m featuring the Steelers opponents from San Francisco. George Kittle set a record last season for receiving yards by a tight end.

I might come up with other ways to pick players to feature… Each conference names an offensive, defensive and special teams player of the week, so if nothing else I’ve got six topical names to pick from.

I’ll also take requests… but with all of these, a lot depends on whether I can find decent images to work with.

One last custom, this time I’m reviving my original “Fauxback” template to feature a WNBA player who caught my eye when I happened to see a few minutes of a WNBA game a few weeks ago.

Diamond DeShields is a guard with the Chicago Sky, and if you’re asking “Is she?”, the answer is “Yes, she is”.

DeShields and the Sky got into the second round of the WNBA playoffs before losing to the Las Vegas Aces. He father is former Major Leaguer Delino DeShields and her brother is, of course, Texas Ranger outfielder Delino DeShields Jr.

So that’s it for this week’s customs. As a sort of bad tease, I’ll just mention that at this point I have little idea of what customs will be featured next week.

It’s “Crunch Time” For 2019 Baseball Customs

It’s been a couple of weeks since I did a custom card post and it occurred to me this morning that I need to get going if I want to get more of these done.

I’ve already scrapped my goals to make a custom of everybody to play in a game for the Mets and Orioles, although this is partially because my prior source for good images went away, so it’s much harder to find good photos of relievers and bench players.

At any rate, I figured I needed to prioritize at this point and start making customs of the guys I want to make sure are featured on my customs.

I’ll start with this one of Cubs’ reliever Danny Hultzen.

Danny Hultzen was drafted 2nd overall by the Mariners in 2011 – just after Gerrit Cole and just before Trevor Bauer. Along with Bauer, the M’s passed up on Francisco Lindor, Anthony Rendon, George Springer, Brandon Nimmo, Jose Fernandez, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Sonny Gray to draft Hultzen… But Hultzen looked like the real deal… until the injuries took a toll. Hultzen lost two entire seasons to shoulder surgery, so after 8 years in the minors it’s nice to have seen him make his MLB debut.

Last night the Mets beat the Dodgers on a 3-run homer by pinch hitter and reserve outfielder Rajai Davis.

For a guy who has appeared in only 20 games, he’s had a significant effect on the Mets this year. You may remember he made his Mets debut after taking a 2+ hour Uber ride from Pennsylvania (where the Syracuse Mets were playing) to Citi Field, and then helped the Mets win with another 3-run homer.

A former Mets prospect recently made his Major League debut with the Blue Jays. Anthony Kay was sent to Toronto in the Marcus Stroman deal, but I’d already “bonded” to him a little because he (like me) is from Long Island and needs corrective lenses.

Moving on to another Anthony… Anthony Santander was a Rule V guy drafted from the Indians and stayed with the Orioles through the 2017 season. At the time, all of the team announcers called him “san-TAN-der”, but I’ve noticed that this year they’re calling him “san-tan-DAIR”, which is probably correct (or closer to correct) given that he’s from Venezuela and not South Dakota.

I saw Austin Voth pitch in the minors several years ago and was impressed by what I saw. I kept an eye on him as he ascended through the minors, but apparently he wasn’t as high-level of a prospect as I thought. Never mind, he’s in the Majors now, hopefully to stay.

Although I’d made “Expos” customs, I realized with this custom that I had not made a Nationals custom. I’m not 100% thrilled with the colors I’d picked out for them at the beginning of the season – they’re the colors used in 1976 Topps for the Phillies and Angels – but in mid-September I’m not going to worry about that.  After all, it’s just the Nationals.  :-D

These two “Scoops” customs are pretty old at this stage, but I like them too much to let them go unposted:

And I’m going to wrap up with a new custom in what may or may not be a series… Over the summer I worked up a 1973 Topps Football template and had the idea of featuring a “Steeler of the week” custom for my favorite football team. As it turns out, last week’s game against the Patriots was one best forgotten by the Black And Gold faithful, so I’ll burn off this obligatory Roethlisberger custom.

You may be asking yourself “Why is a Steelers fan making a custom like that of the Steelers future HOF quarterback?” And the answer is because I don’t like him and am patiently waiting for him to retire so I can stop yelling at my TV. Yes, I am fully aware that he was a critical part of two Super Bowl winning teams. At this point I’m just tired of him.

I’m really liking the way the 1973 Topps Football design works for customs, so even if I don’t keep up with the “Steeler of the week”, I may just do a “Football player or two of the week”… or even use it for other sports, there’s nothing particularly football-y about the design.  We shall see.

2019 TSR: More Men On The Move

My lawn badly needs mowing and its a nice day for August, so I’m going to make this fairly brief and get on out there.

Zack Greinke was traded at the deadline for a number of prospects, giving the Astros an even more formidable rotation and – much to my dismay – most likely sending Shlabotnik favorite Brad Peacock to the bullpen once he returns from the IL.

It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was faking some 1970’s airbrushing when Greinke signed with the D-backs.

The Giants didn’t seem to be going anywhere this year, but they were a game above .500 in June and 19-6 in July. They decided not to sell off at the deadline and even traded for Scooter Gennett… and have gone 3-7 in August.

This all worked out pretty well for the Mets and Joe Panik. Panik must’ve seen the writing on the wall when the Giants got Scooter, and they were kind enough to DFA him around the same time that the Mets’ Robinson Cano went down with an injury.

Joe Panik was already a guy I liked, so I was happy with the move (and I’m keeping my expectations of Panik’s bat on the modest side).

Nicholas Castellanos got his wish by being traded to a better team. I was a bit surprised to find out that this is the first Cubs custom I’ve done for 2019 TSR.

By the way, I’ve decided that for future custom sets, when I’m making up some “promo cards” of a new design to make sure it works in number of situations, I will be using NICHOLAS CASTELLANOS as my “long name test”.

Jonathan Villar is here because I’m trying to get back to featuring a Met and an Oriole in each post. (And to the smart asses who are undoubtedly snickering at this… yes, there *are* Orioles worth featuring.)

I’m in my 46th season as a Mets fan, so I’ve had plenty of times where I got my hopes up only to have them tossed off a very high cliff and dashed on the rocks below. A month or so ago I expected nothing out of this season other than hopefully setting the groundwork for a more successful 2020 season, but the Mets have been raising eyebrows with their recent tear.

They’re now just a half-game out of the 2nd wild card spot, much to my surprise. I will enjoy things as much as I can, while keeping in mind that the Mets giveth and the Mets taketh away.

2019 TSR: Men On The Move (Plus “Scoops” For A No-Hitter)

The trade deadline has come and gone and I’ve been trying to find decent photos of players in their new uniforms.  It’s not always easy in a short timeframe, but I’m happy with what I’ve got.

Since I’m a Mets fan, I’ll start with the Mets’ surprising new acquisition, Marcus Stroman.  Stro struggled a bit in his Mets debut last night and got a no-decision.

To me, one of the strangest sights of the post-deadline world is seeing Yasiel Puig in a Cleveland uniform.  I was just getting used to him being with the Reds.

Speaking of the Reds and not getting used to players in new uniforms, the idea of Homer Bailey with the Royals hadn’t really sunk in at all, and then he was traded to the Athletics in the middle of July.

I was also surprised to find out that I had never made a final decision on which colors to use for the Athletics.  I hope this combination works for any Oakland fans out there.

Because of the draft pick compensation associated with Dallas Keuchel, he did not sign with a team until after the Draft.  So far he hasn’t been the All-Star pitcher of 2017, but I’m not sure he was last year either.

I’m going to wrap up with one of my “Scoops” customs.  I’m way behind on these, but I wanted to do a quick one for last night’s combined no-hitter by the Astros. Much has been made already about the fact that starting pitcher Aaron Sanchez made his Astros debut in such a spectacular fashion, but reliever Joe Biagini was also making his debut in Houston, so I made sure to recognize that (and the other two pitchers) in my custom.

Sorry about the quickie post, but I’ve got a full day planned.  I hope to have more traded players next Sunday.

Custom Draft Picks And Scoops

So I don’t have a lot of time for the writing part of the whole blogging thing, but I made a bunch of customs for a number of 1st round MLB draft picks, and I made a bunch of TSR “Scoops” customs, and I need to spend my Sunday doing some of the things I should’ve done when I was making custom cards during the week.

OK, so here are the first 4 picks in the draft;  I did the Rutschman custom because I’m an Orioles fan, but I also found images of the #2 – 4 guys because it wasn’t out of the question that the O’s would draft them.  Since I already had images, I went ahead and made customs for those players & their drafting teams.

#1 – Adley Rutschman, Oregon State University

#2 – Bobby Witt, Jr. – Colleyville Heritage HS (TX)
For those who didn’t know, Bobby Witt Sr. pitched 16 seasons in the Majors, mostly for the Texas Rangers.

#3 – Andrew Vaughn – University of California

#4 – J.J. Bleday – Vanderbilt University
I really hate these black-with-gold-pinstripes Vandy uniforms, but perhaps that just labels me as an old man.

I also did a few other draft picks for various reasons…

#10 – Hunter Bishop – Arizona State University

#11 – Alek Manoah – West Virginia University

#12 – Brett Baty – Lake Travis HS (TX)

That wraps up the draft picks… for now, anyway. If you ask nicely (and if I can find usable images, sometimes a very tall order), I’ll make a custom for your team’s #1 pick.

Moving on to the latest “Scoops” customs…

A lot of Mets fans… or at least a lot of the more vocal Mets fans… were calling for the team to ditch Jason Vargas and go after Dallas Keuchel. I’m OK with Vargas in his role as back of the rotation guy, and the Vargas faithful (relatively speaking) were rewarded this week when he shutout the Giants.

The Orioles remain on a pace to lose well over 100 games, but they’ve shown signs of being a team that might – MIGHT – suck less in the remaining games.

Pedro Severino, acquired on waivers from the Nationals towards the end of spring training, hit three homers against the Rangers and made a heads-up play to end the game by chasing down a wild pitch 3rd strike and throwing the batter out at first.

Yesterday the O’s were in Houston and Anthony Santander, playing in just his third game of 2019, made a impressive catch to rob Yuli Gurriel of a home run, and then doubled Michael Brantley off of first.

If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s worth seeking out (and isn’t hard to find).

OK, I’ve got to get back to my to-do list. Enjoy the rest of your weekend, everybody.

Custom Wax Pack for June 2nd, 2019

I went into this with the intended first line of “This is going to be a light week”. As always, I got in my own way and made more customs than I really meant to. My loss (of time) is your gain.

Justin Verlander is the unofficial Shlabotnik Report Pitcher Of The Month for May.  He may be the A.L. Pitcher Of The Month as well, those awards haven’t been announced as of my writing this.

During May, Verlander went 4-1 in 5 games, with a 2.29 ERA, a 0.594 WHIP, 42 K’s and 6 BB’s in 35.1 IP.

Josh Bell had more total bases in May (94) than any Pirate had ever had (Ralph Kiner had the previous record of 92 in June, 1947).  Bell had more total bases in May than anyone since Willie Mays in 1958.  Pretty damn impressive.

In May, Bell batted .390 with a .442 OBP, 26 runs, 31 RBI, 12 doubles and 12 homers.

This next custom is an idea I got out of the blue (and have already shared on Twitter – @Shlabotnik_Rpt )…  It’s a custom in the style of the late 1970’s Renata Galasso Glossy Greats sets, and it’s of Renato Nunez, so…

It’s a “Renata” of Renato!

Yeah, fine, both the original Galasso’s and my custom are just using the 1960 Leaf design.  Since it’s not a portrait with a “halo” behind the player, I’m calling it a Galasso.

Renato had a pretty good month of May… by Orioles standards, anyway.  While he batted just .217, he had 8 homers and 16 RBI.  For 2019 as a whole he’s already set career highs for runs (30), RBI (34) and homers (14).

With this next custom of Michael Conforto, I’m going to let you in on a little “custom maker’s secret”… The angled tops and bottoms of my designs sometimes makes it hard to fit photos in there without cropping out stuff I don’t want to crop out – like the baseball below.  To compensate, I sometimes cheat my way through it.

You see that blue outfield wall padding in the upper right corner?  That’s not there in the original photo.  I copied the upright padding from the right hand part of the photo, rotated it 90 degrees and pasted it up there.

…And now you know the REST of the story.

Getting back to the Orioles, they had a “highlight” the other day that was good enough to get a “Scoops” custom.  The O’s and Giants were having a black ‘n orange faceoff in Baltimore, and the Giants scored five runs off of starter Andrew Cashner in the top of the first.  Amazingly enough, that did not signal the end to the O’s that night.

The O’s scored 6 runs in the bottom of the first, thanks in part to Dwight Smith Jr.’s first career Grand Salami, and they went on to win 9-6.  Of course, the Giants kicked the Orioles butts the following night, but we won’t get into that…

I’m going to wrap up with a new “insert”.

The Dodgers recently called up a rookie catcher named Will Smith, and given that there’s already a veteran Giants reliever named Will Smith, it seemed the right time to make a new Pointless Pairings custom. For 2019, these Pointless Pairings will be in the form of a stamp sheet insert.

Catcher Will Smith hit his first career homer last night. Pitcher Will Smith has better stats than I’d expected a 2019 Giants pitcher to have; he’s got a 2.49 ERA, a 0.738 WHIP and 13 saves. He’s in a walk year, so expect him to be playing elsewhere by August.

Custom Cards: The Next Generation

It seems like every time you turn around lately, there’s another 2nd or 3rd generation baseball player making his Major League debut… This year it started with Fernando Tatis, Jr. and went on to Vladimir Guerrero Jr… Now the kids are coming fast and furious, and I felt like I should kick up the Next Generation customs into gear.

Craig Biggio is the latest HOFer to have a son in the Majors… and the latest second-generation player on the Blue Jays.  Welcome to The Show, Cavan Biggio!

Update: Young Biggio just got his first MLB hit

Yesterday, Carl Yastrzemski’s grandson Mike made his debut with the Giants, who are on a pace to have 41 different players roam the outfield this season (and that’s not hyperbole).

Mike was in the Orioles organization for a number of years so I’m happy to see him get a shot.

Last night, Cal Quantrill, son of reliever Paul Quantrill, got his first MLB win, beating the Blue Jays and Edwin Jackson.

Fun stuff:  Edwin Jackson and Paul Quantrill were teammates with the Dodgers in 2003.  Jackson was a 19-year-old September call-up and they both pitched in the same games twice:  September 17 and September 27.

I’ve got plans to do something fun with all of the family connections in the Majors, I’m still working to get what I have in mind to work out the way I want it to in pixels.

This past week I felt like making a new custom template, and I decided to do something to help me remember the Steelers’ first round draft pick come the Fall… Because I don’t really pay attention to football until after baseball is over for me, and by then I might be saying “Who’s this ‘Bush’ guy? Where did he come from?”

I’ve always liked the 1973 Topps football design, so I decided to go ahead with that; I added a “1st Round” graphic to the design, and here we are:

I was pleased enough with that custom that I decided to do a second one. Not knowing who else to feature, I went with the Overall #1 pick, Kyler Murray.

One thing that’s nice about this design is that it’s sport-agnostic… I could just as easily feature a player from the recent Badminton something-or-other cup that I saw on the Olympic Channel recently, and I wouldn’t have to change the design. Honestly, the only thing that kept me from doing that very thing was my not finding a good photo after 5 minutes of searching.

By the way, Badminton played at a high level is mesmerizing.

…But to be fair, it was 6:30 in the morning when I was watching it.

I’ll wrap things up with my obligatory Scoops, Mets and Orioles customs…

Carlos Gomez came up through the Mets system as a kid, but was traded to the Twins in the Carlos Santana deal. The Mets nearly acquired him from the Brewers four years ago in a failed deal that reportedly would’ve sent Zach Wheeler and Wilmer Flores to Milwaukee. Now he’s finally a Met again, and his presence seems to be helping the team’s general enthusiasm, something that was needed.

Keon Broxton was a depth piece acquired by the Mets over the winter, but he never got it going, and never really got a chance to get it going. The Orioles acquired him, and wouldn’t you know it, Broxton hit the first pitch he saw into the seats.

For those of you who didn’t see this story, the Mets also called up MLB veteran Rajai Davis, who had already taken BP with the Syracuse Mets for their AAA game against Lehigh Valley. Davis needed to get to CitiField for that night’s game, so he got an Uber to take him from Pennsylvania to Queens. He got there in the middle of the game and ended up hitting a 3-run pinch-hit homer.

…And that’s it for this week’s pack. Enjoy your weekend, everybody!

Custom “Wax Pack”: Taking Things Lying Down

If I didn’t have so many different tasks to occupy my “hobby time”, I would have been putting more work into my custom tasks…

…and it wouldn’t have taken me until the middle of May to finish up the horizontal version of this year’s custom design!

Not to mention that I’ve been dying to use this shot of the Pirates’ long-haired shortstop Cole Tucker sliding into a base.  It doesn’t quite translate to a custom card the way I’d hoped, but I am happy with the way the design translates to landscape format.

…Although I’m looking at the horizontal design and I still have thoughts like “Well, what would it look like if…”, so this may not be a final version.

The Mets have lost two straight to the lowly Miami Marlins, have a four game losing streak and a 5-10 record in the month of May.  From the buzz out there now, it seems I’d better get my Mickey Callaway custom done while he’s still the Mets’ manager.

I like Callaway, but this team often seems to be going through the motions and not playing like a team that was thinking postseason at the beginning of the season.  I wonder if anyone is having second thoughts about Terry Collins as a manager.

To put things in perspective, the Orioles have an identical 5-10 record in May, and everybody expected the O’s to be bad.

With the poor play of my two teams, perhaps it’s not a coincidence that I’ve been having fun making “Joe Shlabotnik” customs which feature images which no player would want used on a baseball card.

Similarly, I’ve no real reason for a custom of Josh Reddick other than I liked the action shot and wanted to make sure that the colors I’d picked out for Houston were going to work (and they do).

For those keeping score, this color combo was ‘borrowed’ from the Orioles/Giants colors in 1976 Topps.

Moving on to some “Scoops” customs…  This week, Edwin Jackson pitched his first game for the Blue Jays and by doing so he set a new MLB record by pitching for his 14th team.

In order of his debut, he pitched for the Dodgers, (Devil) Rays, Tigers, Diamondbacks, White Sox, Cardinals, Nationals, Cubs, Braves, Marlins, Padres, Orioles, Athletics and Blue Jays.  For what it’s worth, he had two different stints with the Nationals;  one in 2012 and one in 2017.

I somehow missed a Mets highlight earlier this month;  Noah Syndergaard earned National League Player of the Week honors, and it was based entirely on the game where he hit a homer and shutout the Reds.

One more custom for what was the last enjoyable game the Mets played…

Right now, Noah Syndergaard has the lead with the most “Scoops” so far…  We’ll see how things shake out as we go.

And with that, I need to mow the lawn before it gets too hot out.

Custom “Wax Pack” For May 12, 2019

Another week, another pack of virtual cards.

Travis d’Arnaud got traded twice as a prospect – from the Phillies to the Blue Jays in a trade for Roy Halladay, from the Jays to the Mets in a trade involving R.A. Dickey (which was also the trade which brought Noah Syndergaard to the Mets organization).

Travis is now making the rounds again…

…d’Arnaud was released by the Mets, signed by the Dodgers and made one plate appearance (grounding out to short) before being sold to the Rays. He made his Tampa Bay debut last night, wearing a throwback Rays uniform as the Rays beat the Yankees. There’ll be a follow-up d’Arnaud custom as soon as I find a workable image.

Mets custom of the week: Amed Rosario. Don’t have a lot to say about Rosario right now.

Just one “Scoops” custom this week, to commemorate Mike Fiers no-hitting the Reds.

I know Topps Now has this type of thing covered, but my goal is to commemorate everything I would like to remember this season for… and at any rate, I’m not charging you out the wazoo for it (nor am I offering up countless parallels to get you to pay even more out the wazoo).

Not many of you are likely to know of John Means, unless your a fan of the Orioles or West Virginia University, but he’s been a pleasant surprise on an Orioles team that needs pleasant surprises.

Means has a 4-3 record while pitching for a team with a .333 winning percentage, and he has a 2.48 ERA and a 1.010 WHIP. Baseball Reference has him tops on the O’s with a 1.1 WAR. He’s scheduled to pitch against the Red Sox today (weather permitting) so now that I’m shining a small spotlight on him, he’ll probably get shelled.

The San Francisco Giants have had a rough season as well, and their outfield has been constantly in flux. However, it does seem like every time you turn around Kevin Pillar is robbing a home run from someone.

What I want to know is this… First we had Kevin Millar, then we had Kevin Pillar. Is this progression going to continue in a few years with someone named Kevin Sillar?

One last custom… Most anyone who is familiar with Curling knows about the Norwegian curling team with the outlandish pants. That team is lead by Tomas Ulsrud, and they retired from competitive curling after the just-concluded Curling World Cup.

And just to be clear, this isn’t a Norwegian thing, this is just a Team Ulsrud thing. I’ll miss this team, and not just for the pants.

OK, that’s it from me. Happy Mother’s Day!