Custom Cards For All Ages

I’ve been going pretty far afield with some of my 2020 SAC FLY custom cards… I think maybe the season itself is not interesting me much because of it’s half-assed format, short season and… well, I’m a fan of the Mets and Orioles, so it hasn’t been that great a season for me.

But I continue to crank away at the customs. I’ve made about 90 so far, some for KBO, some for NPB but most for Major Leaguers.

This morning I saw that the Red Sox called up César Puello… He started out as a 17-year-old Mets minor leaguer in 2008 and was in his 10th professional season when he made his Major League debut with the Angels in late 2017. From there… well…

After one game with the Angels he was claimed on waivers by the Rays. He played the rest of 2017 with the Rays, played in AAA for the D-Backs and Giants, played briefly for the Angels and Marlins last year and just popped up again with the Red Sox.

Puello has appeared on Bowman and Pro Debut cards, but has not appeared on any cards at all since 2016, before his MLB debut. I appreciate his tenacity, so I decided to make a custom card for him.

Ron Gardenhire also started out with the Mets, and yesterday he announced his retirement from managing, effective immediately. I made a 2020 custom yesterday…

…and decided to have a little mini custom card retrospective for Gardy.

2014 TSR

2017/18 TSR Hot Stove

(I don’t know about my readers, but even though they were pretty labor-intensive to make each custom, I really like the way my Faux Post cereal cards came out. I may have to do something like these again this winter.)

I made this custom the other day just because I liked this photo of Danny Jansen, even though it’s not a great photo, technically speaking.  But I like it anyway.

On occasion I take some liberties with my customs. I really liked this photo of Jake Marisnick leaping for the ball… except for the small unfortunate detail of his not catching the ball. So I digitally removed the ball. Always remember, boys and girls, that images are not always what they seem.

I’m not playing Fantasy Baseball this year for the first time in I don’t know how long… 15 years at least. Maybe 20. Anyway, one thing I’ve learned over all those years is to NEVER start a pitcher for his first appearance after a no-hitter.

Mills wasn’t awful in his follow-up game, but he wasn’t worth starting either. If I remember my Yahoo points system… 6 innings pitched for 18 points, add 7 strikeouts to make 25 points, minus 7 points for 6 hits and a walk, minus 4 points for four earned runs, minus 5 points for the loss, resulting in 9 points. Yup, not awful but you’d be annoyed that you started him.

But I believe that catches me up on the no-hitter customs for the year so far.

No particular reason to make a custom of Corbin Burnes other than to remind myself how much these particular Brewers uniforms make them look like Cub Scouts.

I do like the new Brew Crew uniforms, but as someone who ascended up to the scouting ranks to the lofty level of First Class Scout, I can’t get past the Cub Scout thing.

For those who aren’t familiar with the Boy Scouts, “First Class” is basically how far you get if you are in Boy Scouts for years but don’t apply yourself because the merit badges, skill awards and such are not what you’re there for.

Anyway… Let’s share one more custom before I move on to things I should be doing in real life…

I believe that Randy Dobnak has been assigned to the ominous-sounding Alternate Site, but between the glasses and the Fu Manchu, I had to make a custom of the guy.

Few will understand the reference, but I like the Vince Guaraldi vibe he gives off.

OK, that’s enough for today. Enjoy your Sunday!

Quick Thoughts On Baseball Card Photos In 2021

Although I haven’t shared my 2020 SAC FLY customs here a whole lot, I’ve been making a bunch of them for my own enjoyment.  The more of these I make, the more I realize that the pandemic will have a significant affect on what cards will look like next year.

For starters, some of the players are wearing masks while on the field.  I try to avoid using those shots because I like my customs to show what a player looks like, but it does limit the photo selection for those players (and because of that, I’m having trouble finding decent on-field images of managers and coaches).

As I’d mentioned in a previous post, a lot of the photos are taken from the stands, looking down on the players.

(FYI, Brock Holt was released by the Brewers and just signed with the Nationals)

There’s a lot of samey-same to the photos of pitchers, it seems more so than in recent years… and for those of you who didn’t realize, Madison Bumgarner has not appeared on a Topps card since 2017 (presumably he let his contract ran out), so if you want a card of him in a Diamondbacks uniform that hasn’t been digitally altered, you’ll have to call in a favor with your custom-making buddies.

Like I said, samey-same photos, especially for relievers and the back end of the rotation.

You may not have noticed that the three colored boxes on my customs is complemented by text in three different colors.  I really like the way this looks, but it’s frankly a pain when you’re trying to crank out a bunch of customs.

Because of the samey-sameness, I’ve been using photos which aren’t necessarily great photos, but are at least different.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see photos from the truncated 2020 Spring Training in 2021 sets (I probably should’ve spent more time messing with the brightness on this photo, but I’ve got chores to get to today)

So that’s a few things that might be coming our way next year.

Before I go away, I have an unofficial policy of featuring customs for anyone who throws a no-hitter in 2020. Lucas Giolito struck out 13 Pirates in throwing a no-no a few days ago…

This custom was actually created back in May, so the photo is obviously not from the no-hitter.

Across the Pacific, Yasuhiro Ogawa no-hit the Yokohama DeNA BayStars two weeks ago. This photo is also not from the no-hitter but as I mentioned when I tweeted this custom, I really like this jersey.

I don’t want KBO fans to feel left out, so I’ll close things out with a familiar face for fans of the Twins, as well as anyone who was buying up rookie cards in 2016…

Assorted Bits Of Mental Debris And 2020 SAC FLY Customs

Last week I debuted 2020 SAC FLY, my custom card design which is called SAC FLY because the intent was to save the intended 2020 design for a ‘real’ season and to have a relatively quick replacement ‘sacrificed’ in its place. Thing is, I’ve come to really like my sacrificial lamb, and I’ve gotten positive responses to it as well… So maybe I’m inadvertently on to something.

No real theme to this post other than the general direction my custom cards have been taking so far.

I’ve been working on making customs of former Major Leaguers currently playing in Japan, but I’m not ignoring Japanese players who came over to play in the Majors and then went back to Japan to continue their career.  I particularly like the results I got from this custom of Nori Aoki, who played for 7 MLB teams over 6 seasons (but 40% of those games were with the Brewers)

Sports photography poses all kinds of challenges in 2020, and you should expect this to effect cards in 2021.  Photographers don’t have the access they have had in the past, and a lot of the photos I’ve seen have been taken from the stands… for example, this Jay Bruce custom uses a photo that was taken from quite a long way away.

Pretty much any photos I’ve seen from Citizen’s Bank Park have been taken from a distance, so I’m thinking that Phillies fans will see a lot of road uniforms in next year’s sets.

…Or maybe photos from 2019. Keep an eye on those Nike logos, boys and girls!

Another side effect of photos from the stands is that the netting has to be dealt with.  Judicious use of focus can make it visually less distracting.

The Orioles signed José Iglesias as a defensive shortstop, but he’s surprising people with his offense. As of Monday morning he’s batting .405 and his 7 doubles is tied for the Major League lead.

I’ve also been doing some customs of 2020 Draft Picks, including the awesomely named Burl Carraway, a 2nd round Cubs pick whose name sounds like it should belong to a 1940’s character actor. “Gary Cooper, Linda Darnell and Burl Carraway star in ‘The Trail to Santa Fe’!”

Since Burl is a pitcher, you know that some broadcaster or headline writer has made jokes about Carraway throwing seeds.  [rim shot]

Cubs fans, you heard it here first.

I’ve been making KBO customs as well…  Mel Rojas Jr. has been tearing it up over there, and is a candidate for winning the Triple Crown.

Rojas is the son of 1990s pitcher Mel Rojas, and is also related to everybody in the “Alou-niverse”… Felipe, Manny, Jesus, Moises and current Mets manager Luis Rojas.  Mel Rojas Jr. has yet to play in the Majors, but he did make it into several prospect-y sets like Heritage Minor League and Pro Debut.

One of the Orioles’ best options out of the bullpen this season is 30-year-old Cole Sulser, who has 3 saves and a 0.857 WHIP in 5 games. If you said “Who?” you’re not alone.

Sulser appeared in 7 games with the Rays last year and was picked up on waivers last October. His only nationally-distributed baseball card is a 2020 Topps Total card… Beyond that, Trading Card Database only shows cards from minor league team sets. I enjoy stories of overlooked players getting a shot, and it seems like the Orioles have a couple of players like that this year.

OK, now it’s time for a new feature – probably a one-shot – called…


I’ve been trying to make sure that I always include the accents and tildes on Latin names on my customs, but it’s always been such a pain to figure out how to type those out on my standard issue American English keyboard… But somewhere in 2019 I hit on this idea: I set up my template so that each of those characters is in a saved text field, and so I can just copy and paste those characters as needed. This is what the bottom of my custom looks like when you open the template:

It’s a simple hack, but it’s made my life a bit easier so I figured I’d share it here.  I forget why the first name is ANTHONY, It might’ve been left over from Anthony Rendon, who was the subject of one of the photos I used when I was initially hashing through the design.

One last custom for today…  I made a 2020 custom of Yoenis Céspedes despite the fact that he played all of 8 games before opting out in what seemed like an acrimonious manner, but since the dysfunctional team ownership could have contributed heavily to the acrimony, I’m not going to hold it against Yoenis.  It’ll be interesting to see where he ends up next.

…and that’s it for now.

Custom Cards in 2020? It Called For a SAC FLY

I’ve been making my own custom baseball cards for a dozen years now, and sharing them here since 2012.  I normally come up with a new design over the winter and debut them around the beginning of the baseball season.

This past winter I struggled to come up with a new design, gave up and decided to update a vintage hockey set that I liked… but giving up seemed to relax my muse a bit, and I ended up making a bunch of changes to that updated hockey set.  By the time I was ready for the debut, it had gone from a ‘good enough’ replica to being a heavily modified mash-up that I was quite pleased with.  This was in early March.

And then everybody’s plans fell apart.

With the entire season up in the air, I decided I didn’t want to start using a design I’d put a lot of work into and then have the season be canceled and make all my efforts seem wasted.  I decided to shelve my new design for now and go back to figuring out something else that would be ‘good enough’.

That’s when I found myself looking at a 2009 Upper Deck baseball card.

It wasn’t this particular card of Brian Roberts, but I was just thinking about how I always liked this set in a less-is-more kind of way… and I also appreciate the stained-glass approach to the design.  (Sort of “Partridge Family Bus”, for those who get that reference)

What started out as a attempt to make a throwback out of 2009 UD ended up being a mash-up between 2009 UD, 1961 Topps and 1959 Bazooka.

When the only baseball on TV was coming from Korea, the set went from being a “Major League” set to being an international one.

As things went along, the strategy of sacrificing an At Bat to move a runner along became a winning metaphor for me, and I decided to call the set “2020 SAC FLY”.

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ve seen some of these before… but right now it’s time for the blog debut of some 2020 SAC FLY customs.

Now I’m not 100% certain what the ‘checklist’ for this is going to be like.  Certainly plenty featuring my teams (Mets & Orioles).  I’ll probably take advantage of photos I like, as with the Rendon custom there.

There will be KBO cards, mostly of former Major Leaguers like Aaron Altherr.

Same goes for NPB (Japan).  This may not be the only custom I make of Adam Jones (especially since this was an early custom and I’ve decided that this color combination will not be repeated).

There may be customs of the occasional noteworthy moment…

I’m probably going to whip up a bunch of Draft Picks, since regardless of what happens on the field, the Draft is a done deal and doesn’t necessarily require 2020 photos… and Draft Pick customs are fun to look back on down the road (I can still visualize my 2015 Dansby Swanson Draft Pick custom)

There will be customs made with “Photo Day” images when that’s what I’ve got to work with…

And there will be customs which serve as an excuse to use a photo I ran across.

Some of these aspects will carry on for a while. Some may not. Time will tell.

Just a couple of comments about the design before I go…

Unlike custom sets I’ve done in the past, the colors on the design are not “assigned” to a given team. They’re more or less arbitrarily picked for each card… I decided to lean into the concept that this is an early 1960’s set.

I will be randomly repeating color combinations if they work and, if they don’t, quietly filing them under ‘failed experiments’.

The logo I use is often some version of the team’s cap logo, but exceptions were made in some cases.

I feel like there were all kinds of things I had wanted to say about this design, but I’m coming up blank at the moment. Oh well… there should be future opportunities to say things.