Two Weeks Of Customs: “I Should Have Known Better”

I’m sharing two weeks worth of customs which were originally out on Twitter ( #DailyTSRcustom ). I’m going to start with a couple of my original TSR Daily design, share a few “inserts”, and then wrap up with a run of “theme customs”.

For the record, my intention is to do these posts on a weekly basis but last weekend I was up all night for a work “event” which screwed up my… well, my EVERYTHING for 3 or 4 days…

2-time Cy Young winner Corey Kluber, signed by the Rays over the winter, got a no-decision in an 8-0 Tampa Bay win over the Orioles because he didn’t pitch the 5 full innings required of a starter. He pitched 4.2 scoreless innings, but gave up 3 hits and 4 walks with 5 Ks.  It’s been his best outing of the young season.

Mets starter Tylor Megill was given the opening day assignment and has responded with a 2-0 record, 15 strikeouts, 2 walks, a 2.20 ERA and a 0.918 WHIP

I made a custom of the A’s Billy McKinney for no reason other than I like Billy McKinney.  His full name, William Landis McKinney, sounds like it should belong to a baseball executive from 100 years ago.  No, that’s not why I like McKinney.

OK, time for the first insert…  Phungo, who shares his sketch cards on his blog and on Twitter, gave me an “aw, shucks” moment by creating a Kyle Schwarber sketch card using my design.  I’m biased, but I think it looks pretty damn nice.

I set off on a bit of a side project just after opening day… I can’t remember exactly what lead to this line of thinking, but I had an idea for a custom card “insert” that boils down pretty much like this:

1) Take a “photo” day image taken in front of a colored backdrop…

2) Add a vintage Topps design where the colored background was a significant part of the design (in this case, it’s 1970/71 Topps Hockey, for which I already had a template)

3) Throw in an Orioles opening day lineup with whom I was somewhat unfamiliar.

The end result?  A side project I really didn’t need to spend time on, but I’m kinda glad that I did.  I won’t share all 11 of the original customs (9 position players + the DH + the manager), but I’ll feature some of my favorites.

Austin Hays was in right field on opening day, but he’s spent about as much time in left.

Cedric Mullins is arguably the best player on the Orioles, although he’s off to a slow start.

Bryan Baker, an off-season waiver claim, is a reliever who was obviously not in the opening day lineup but who became one of my favorite Orioles when he came in to a tie game against the Yankees, retired all five batters he faced in the 9th & 10th and struck out three. The O’s won 2-1 in 11 innings, and the O’s would take 2 of 3 games and sent a bunch of Yankee fans into a fit of outrage, which is the pinnacle of joy for a present-day Orioles fan.

The Seattle Kraken recently signed their first draft pick (#2 overall) Matty Beniers to a three year contract, after which he scored a point in each of his first four games. Beniers played for the USA in the recent Beijing Olympics.

As many of you know, when Rachel Balkovec managed the Single-A Tampa Tarpons for the first time, she became the first woman to manage an affiliated minor league team. I made this custom then neglected to Tweet it for a little while, but when I did it became – by my own modest standards – one of my most-liked and retweeted Tweets of recent memory. I will say that I’m happy with the way it turned out.

Getting back to the “base cards”, I was unexpectedly set off on a theme. I Tweeted this custom of Nelson Cruz, who was signed to be the Nationals DH, and made a comment that I didn’t know when a NL team with a DH would stop being weird.

This got the following response:

And as someone who welcomes opportunities to not have to think about which player to do next, I took on this challenge.

…Just to be clear, however, not every NL team has a dedicated designated hitter, so there won’t be 15 customs in this ‘subset’.

Albert Pujols signed with the Cardinals to DH for one last season, and he is chasing after 700 HRs

Pujols also gets a short-printed variation (same home run, different moment) for reasons I won’t get into.

Luke Voit was obtained in a trade with the Yankees and seems likely to stay at DH while the Padres still have Eric Hosmer at first.

Daniel Vogelbach signed with the Pirates as a free agent and over 12 games is batting .311 with 3 homers, 9 runs and 5 RBI.

Wrapping up for this post (there are more DH’s to come) with Andrew McCutchen.  Seems like every time I get used to McCutchen being with a particular team, he’s wearing another uniform

And with that, we’ve reached the end of this particular “Jumbo Pack”.

I didn’t know what song to include in this post, so I poked around on YouTube until I stumbled across a song that fit my current mood… and that is “I Should Have Known Better” by The Beatles

Two Weeks Of Customs: “Roy Lavender”

I’m sharing two weeks worth of customs which were originally out on Twitter ( #DailyTSRcustom ).  There are a lot of customs today, be forewarned.  I’m going to go about sharing them largely in the order they were Tweeted, but I’ll wrap up with a bunch of 2022 Shmeritage customs I did to celebrate “Photo Day”, one of my favorite times of the baseball year.


I’m going to touch on some of the results of the round-robin portion of the World Women’s Curling Championship wrapping up this weekend, but I won’t mention who won any of the playoff games… just in case people are still catching up on their viewing.

We’ll start with a curling highlights custom of Team Gushue, winners of the Tim Hortons Brier, the Canadian men’s championship.  Due to a failed COVID test during the tournament, they were down to three men on the ice, but still managed to win it all.  They also won Bronze in Beijing and will go on to represent Canada in the World Men’s Curling Championship in Las Vegas this April.

This next custom was featured on Twitter before my previous post featuring the Dave Roberts of the 1970s.  Shouldn’t the Dodgers’ Dave Roberts should have gotten a card in 2022 Heritage?  An insert, at the very least…

Siblings Becca and Matt Hamilton won the US Mixed Doubles championship and will represent the US at the World Mixed Doubles Curling Championship in Geneva in late April.

It was announced that Jennifer Jones, whose team decided to break up and go their separate ways, is going to join Team Zacharias as skip, bringing one of the greats in curling history together with the team which won the 2020 World Junior Curling Championship.  There have been a few “holy crap!” announcements of team changes taking effect after this season, I’m sure there are more to come.

I’d already featured Jennifer Jones here on the blog, but I guess it doesn’t hurt to repeat it.

…and what the heck, since 2022 is the year that Topps Heritage does the 1973 design, and since I did my first batch of curling customs eight years ago using that same 1973 design, here’s the Jennifer Jones custom from back then.  I’ve gotten better at doing 1973, but these customs hold a special place in my nerdy little heart.

At the beginning of the World Women’s tournament I featured customs of Anna Hasselborg and Eun-Jung Kim, and both teams made it to the playoffs, not that this was a tremendously brave prediction.

My Steelers have been busy lately so I decided to bring back my 2021-22 “Hot Stove” template and feature some of the comings and goings now so I won’t be as surprised in September. Mitch Trubisky was signed to help fill in the gap left by the retired Ben Roethlisberger.  This Steelers fan is ready to move forward from Ben, whether it’s for good or bad.  There will be more of these customs, but I haven’t gotten a chance to make them just yet.

Mariners pitcher Casey Sadler has pitched in over 100 career games and appeared in 42 last year, but his only Major League card is from 2020 Topps Total.  Sadly, shortly after I Tweeted this it was announced that Sadler will undergo shoulder surgery and  miss the upcoming season.

Oh, one other thing about this custom…  2022 Heritage uses magenta and green for the Mariners, and there was no way I was going to replicate that ugly combo in Shmeritage, not when green and blue are otherwise unused, come closer to team colors and generally looks far better.

After 12 years as a third on Team Jennifer Jones, Kaitlyn Lawes has announced that she’ll be the skip of her own team next season. Joining her will be Selena Njegovan, Jocelyn Peterman and Kristin MacCuish.

Nashville defenseman Roman Josi was named the NHL’s 1st Star of the week ending 3/20. For the week Josi was tops in the NHL in assists and points (both 9). FWIW, this is the first Predators custom I’ve made in this “set”.

Switzerland went undefeated in the round robin of the World Women’s Curling Championship, and has qualified for this weekends playoffs. Silvana Tirinzoni is the skip, but throws third. Alina Paetz throws fourth.

Sandy Alomar Sr. was in 1973 Topps… It seems like Sandy Jr. should’ve gotten a card in this year’s Heritage set.  Again, an insert would’ve been fine.

Daniel Sprong, obtained from the Capitals at the trade deadline, has provided some much-needed offense for the Seattle Kraken. He’s scored a goal in each of his 2 games since the trade.

One of my favorite parts of Spring Training comes early in the whole process.  Photo Day!  It’s always fun to see photos of players in new uniforms, whether they’re new to that player or new to everybody.  I did a bunch of customs using my 2022 Shmeritage design, and I’ll just feature them here without comment.

Continuing with my series of the offbeat songs I might consider using as walk-up music if I had enough athletic talent to play in a league which has a PA system over which to play walk-up music…. “Roy Lavender” by Henley Douglas RnB is a song I just happened to catch on the radio one day, and it instantly caught my attention.

Two Weeks Of Customs: “Sonido Total”

This time around it’s more like a week and a half’s worth of customs which were originally out on Twitter ( #DailyTSRcustom ). I took a short break after the Olympics before getting back into the swing of things.

Normally I just plug these in to the post in the same order that they were Tweeted, but this time around I’m going to break things up by sport.

The Canadian men’s curling championship, officially known as the Tim Hortons Brier, is wrapping up this afternoon and tonight.  Team Bottcher, the defending champions, are playing in a semi-final against Team Gushue (aka Wild Card 1), and the winner… .

…The winner faces Team Alberta, skipped by Kevin Koe, who have already qualified for the final.  Reports are that this is the last go-round for Team Koe as they’re currently set up, we’ll find out more in the offseason.

Here in the US, the pandemic has wiped out the annual curling championships so USA Curling has picked teams to represent the US in the upcoming World Championships.  For the women, Team Cory Christensen and her intense stare will be going to Prince George, British Columbia when the tournament starts this coming Saturday.

Before I introduce this next batch of customs, I want to point out that I am working on an original “TSR” design for the upcoming season (now that we know we have an upcoming season).  But as 2022 Heritage came out this week, and it’s based on 1973 Topps, I wanted to do a custom version of 1973 because a) It’s fairly easy to replicate and b) it’s my original idea of ‘vintage’, being the set which came before I entered the hobby in 1974.

The thing is, it’s kinda pointless to make 1973 customs of players who are in 2022 Heritage, so in my version – which I’m so very creatively calling “Shmeritage” – I’m featuring players, managers and coaches who are not likely to appear in Heritage or Heritage High Numbers later this year.

The MLB Network, apparently short of programming for some strange reason, showed a season-opening college tournament taking place at Minute Maid Park in Houston.  I watched a little bit of several of the games, and I can’t swear that this was televised, but in that tournament Tennessee freshman Chase Burns faced #1 ranked Texas and struck out 10 Longhorns in 5 innings.  Burns got a no-decision as Texas went on to win 7-2.

I was reading an article in Baseball America about former Major Leaguers who are now head coaches in Division I Baseball.  I thought it would be fun to make customs of a couple of these coaches, so I started with Jose Cruz Jr., head coach of the Rice University baseball team.

Former Astros All-Star Lance Berkman is the head coach at Houston Baptist University

This last 1973-style custom has a bit of a story… a breaker on Twitter was complaining about an autograph of John Hiller in 2022 Heritage.  He complained that he didn’t know who Hiller is, and how disappointed a 10-year-old would be to get Hiller in a break.  I spent a while trying to come up with what I hoped would be a polite rebuttal that this is an awesome pull for anyone who was familiar with baseball in 1973, or who is familiar with members of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame (Hiller is from Toronto)… and also, should 10 year olds or anyone else get upset for pulling something like that from Heritage?  That’s like complaining about (let’s say) pulling a Ken Jennings autograph from a box of Allen & Ginter.

After several versions of this reply I gave up and decided to funnel my energies into a custom, so I made one of Tony Perezchica, the 3rd base coach of the Diamondbacks, and a player I used to like back when he was active from 1988 to 1992.

Several things I want to point out about this… First off, there were no coaches in 1973 Topps, which meant there wasn’t a little symbol for coaches and I had to make one up of a coach waiving a runner home.  I also wanted the little circle to use a color which wasn’t used in 1973, which didn’t leave me many options.  I went with the ‘sand’ color that you see above.

By the way, if you’re curious about why John Hiller was an excellent pick for a 1973 autograph, I wrote about him a few years ago.

Switching to hockey…

American defenseman Will Borgen plays for the Seattle Kraken, was drafted from the Sabres and got his first NHL goal and assist earlier this season.

Jason Robertson had back-to-back hat tricks and was named the NHL’s 1st Star for the week ending March 6th. Jason and his brother Nicholas (who plays for the Maple Leafs) are the first Filipino-Americans in the NHL.

And finally, Patrick Kane had a goal and five assists in the Blackhawks’ win over Anaheim this past Tuesday. He leads Chicago in assists and points and over his career he’s won the Calder, Smythe, Hart, Pearson and Ross.

This song came up on my phone the other day… I can’t remember where or how I first heard “Sonido Total”, but hearing it gave me the idea of doing a short series of the offbeat songs I might consider using as walk-up music if I had enough athletic talent to play in a league which has a PA system over which to play walk-up music.  The song’s kinda weird but catchy, and I like “kinda weird but catchy”.

Two Weeks Of Customs: “A Hazy Shade Of Winter”

Ideally I’d be featuring a week’s worth of customs which were originally out on Twitter ( #DailyTSRcustom ) but I’m still off my schedule and skipping weeks. Maybe next week…

Should we ever get back to baseball, Steven Matz, who won 14 games for the Blue Jays in 2021, will be with the St. Louis Cardinals after signing a four-year contract.

Quick editorial comment: After MLB aggressively and heavy-handidly took over the minor leagues and screwed over a number of small-market teams, I’m not looking favorably on their latest attempts to have their way.

Moving on…

Chrys Plys is half of the US Olympic mixed doubles curling team (I featured Vicky Persinger last time).  As I write this, I believe the US team has been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs.

Resident Alien, a show that quickly became a favorite of me and Mrs. Shlabotnik after it premiered, is back on SYFY. The show is generally about an extraterrestrial forced to pass himself off as human in a small town in Colorado, but there are a number of other running plots going on. Alan Tudyk is great in the titular role, and this season Nathan Fillion has taken a larger role as an octopus. It’s a weird show, but it’s fun.

Keith Yandle recently played in his 965th consecutive game, breaking the NHL “Ironman” record held by Doug Jarvis (whose streak ran from 1975 to 1988). This gives me another excuse to use my “Highlights” design, which is really the original 1974/75 Postseason design – there weren’t any highights cards in the original set.

The 2022 Scotties Tournament of Hearts, the Canadian women’s national curling championship, is in its final stages. Team Einarson are going for a three-peat, having won in 2020 and 2021.

With 4 goals in 23 shots, Colin Blackwell is among the Kraken team leaders in shooting percentage. For what it’s worth – and it’s not worth anything to 99% of you – I’m considering the All-Star break to be the end of Series 1. At this point I don’t know what difference this will have, other than higher card numbers on my fake card backs.

Australia is taking part in Olympic curling for the first time, represented by the mixed doubles team of Tahli Gill and Dean Hewitt. They’ve been competitive for the most part, and won their first game… yesterday? This morning? I’m having trouble adjusting to the 13-hour time difference between Beijing and Shlabotsylvania.

Both Monty Python’s Terry Jones and Doctor Who’s Elisabeth Sladen would’ve celebrated birthdays on January 31st, but they left us too soon. Both were favorites during my teen years and beyond

Scottish pair Jen Dodds and Bruce Mouat are representing Great Britain in mixed doubles and have qualified for the playoffs. I’ll point out that this was a promotional shot from last fall… I don’t think Jen would compete with her hair down like that.

Colorado’s Nazem Kadri was named the NHL’s 1st star for the week of Jan. 24-30; In four games he had 3 game-winning goals and eight points. He’s currently 2nd in the league in assists and tied for 3rd in points

21-year-old Canadian hockey player Sarah Fillier scored four goals in her first two Olympic games and early on in the tournament is among the leaders in points.

I was debating on whether to include Olympic hockey in my customs mainly because I wasn’t sure how to adapt the design I’m using for Olympic use. After some kind words and a request from a reader named Frank, I moved ahead and settled on replacing team logos with the Beijing 2022 logo; Hope this works out, but if it doesn’t it won’t last more than two weeks.

One thing I’ll point out after doing this one custom – photos which work with my design seem to be in short supply, so while I’ll try to feature some of the top men and women hockey players of the Olympics, I can’t make any promises.

Seems like every time I see the Italian mixed doubles curling team (Stefania Constantini and Amos Mosaner) they’re burning stones or committing hog line violations, but they’re 8-0 and have qualified for the playoffs, so I’m clearly missing the good stuff

I heard some group had a bit of success with this song in the 1980s…

Three Weeks Of Customs: “Where The Hell Is Memphis?”

I knew how long it had been since I did one of these posts, but I also kinda didn’t know.  Willfully, on some level.  The “blahs” of the holiday season have largely seeped into my January and it’s all too easy to say “Yeah, I’m not completely up to doing that”.

I thought about breaking this up into two posts, but think of it instead as a jumbo pack, and you can linger or skip as you see fit.

I knew it had been a while since my last custom post because the first custom to share is from a series I’ve wrapped up a while ago on Twitter (#DailyTSRcustom).  This is another of my mashups of my custom baseball designs and 1975 Topps, this time featuring 2019 MVP’s Mike Trout and Cody Bellinger.

These two customs were made this year with photos from 2019 and the original template.

In an effort to re-familiarize myself with the NHL, I’m playing fantasy hockey.  As with most things related to my return to following the NHL, it’s not going as I would like – I’m in 7th place out of 12 – but I wanted to feature my best player at this point of the season, the New York Rangers’ Chris Kreider.

In the fantasy league draft he was my 14th pick (165th overall), so I’m going to give myself a little pat on the back for that accidental but astute scouting job.

I’m also forging ahead with my Seattle Kraken cards.  I gotta tell you, I didn’t expect them to make it to the Stanley Cup finals like the Vegas Golden Knights had in their first season, but I also didn’t expect to suffer through a 9-game losing streak and an earlier 6-game streak.

That being said, here’s another one of my “super deluxe” Kraken customs… And they’re super deluxe because I make the backs as well as the front.  Marcus Johansson is a former 1st round draft pick who signed a one-year contract after playing last season for Minnesota.

The final mashup of my customs and 1975 Topps features 2020 MVPs José Abreu and Freddie Freeman. Because of the truncated 2020 season this design was meant to be a quickie riff on 2009 Upper Deck and 1961 Topps, but it ended up being a fun design anyway.

Rachel Balkovec was recently named the manager of the Tampa Tarpons, the Yankees Low-A farm team. This will make her the first woman to manage an affiliated minor league team, so I faked up a Tarpons “Hot Stove” custom to commemorate the event.

Even though I took the Tarpons logo from a cap being sold online, it still looks superimposed, I guess that’s something I’ll have to work on in the future.

The mid-engine Maserati MC20 signals a return to racing for the historic Italian brand and is the first mid-engine car Maserati has developed in-house since the 1970s.

Holy crap, the Winter Olympics start in just over a week!  For me that means a bit of international rules hockey (love the bigger rink) and a lot of curling.  I’ve been planning to make curling customs for months, and here’s the first;  it features John Shuster, whose men’s team will be defending their 2018 Gold Medal… something that still seems a bit odd to say about an American curling team.

Rachel Homan and John Morris were selected to represent Canada in Olympic Mixed Doubles.  I don’t spend a lot of time following mixed doubles mainly because I enjoy watching both men’s and women’s curling and I have to draw the line somewhere.

And for anyone wondering whether I meant to make my design look like 1978-79 Topps/O-Pee-Chee Hockey, the answer is yes, emphatically YES!  I quite blatantly ripped off the design because I thought it would work well.  The little inset that I use to designate the country was originally used in the Topps set to designate the All-Stars.  That’s a big part of why I’m using stars to fill in space on either side of the country name, although if anyone were to call me out on it, I’d say that they’re there because my set is called “Stars Of Curling”.

For what it’s worth, this isn’t intended to be an Olympics set, more of a “This Year In Curling” set.  I’m trying to decide if I want to have “Highlights” cards to match the original hockey set, but who am I trying to kid, I’ll most likely break down and do it before the end of the Olympics.

The Texas Rangers signed SS Marcus Semien to a 7-year, $175M contract.  I cheated a little on this one and used a closely-cropped press conference photo with a little faked-up jersey to cover some of his street clothes.

I’m still a bit sad that Betty White didn’t make it to her 100th birthday, but I’m glad she was with us as long as she was.  This design is from my “Shlabotnik’s Snack Cakes” series.

The Bruins’ Brad Marchand was named the NHL 1st Star for the week of Jan. 10-16. He recorded multiple points in each of his 4 games – including a hat trick against the Habs – and tallied 6 goals and 4 assists for the week.

Just a little side note… I hadn’t realized that the Bruins changed their logo from what I was familiar with. It’s not a major change, but it’s not a change I see as being for the better.

Vicky Persinger will be going to her first Olympics as she and teammate Chris Plys represent the USA in mixed doubles curling (and yes, a Chris Plys custom will come before too long)

For no particular reason, a custom of Kate McKinnon…

The Mets surprised this Mets fan by signing Max Scherzer to a 3-year $130M deal… it’s going to be like Tom Glavine was where I have to keep reminding myself that I need to root *for* him now

Here’s another Kraken… Riley Sheahan scored the first pre-season goal in Kraken history, but that doesn’t get mentioned on the card because they went to press before any of that happened (*wink*)

For anyone who’s interested, I’ve created customs for most of the current roster, with the exception of a handful of players who have appeared in fewer than half of the 40 games the Kraken have played so far. I’m not stopping yet, but at some point I might get to a point of diminishing returns.

The other day I was listening to the out-of-print Joe Jackson album which was meant as a soundtrack to the 1984 movie “Mike’s Murder”.  I saw the movie years ago, you’re not missing anything – plus most of the Joe Jackson music was minimized in the actual film. While the album itself is out of print, most of the songs are available as bonus tracks or on compilations. Anyway, this is more background than any actual point I’m making… The main thing is that I heard this song and thought I should feature it in my next customs post (except I’m using the superior live version of “Memphis” from an album which came out later in the 1980s)

Two Weeks Of Customs: What Is And What Should Never Be

I normally feature a week’s worth of customs which were originally out on Twitter ( #DailyTSRcustom ) but the holidays threw me off of my schedule, so…

Here’s another mashup of my customs and 1975 Topps, featuring the MVP’s of 2016, Mike Trout and Kris Bryant. The general idea of the design was to have a foul pole as one border and the team name on the ‘outfield wall’, but I never felt like people ‘got it’. I’m not 100% satisfied with the execution, but I still like the concept.

Detroit captain Dylan Larkin was named the NHL’s 1st star for the week of Dec 13-19; Larkin had 5 goals and 2 assists, including his first career hat trick in a game against the Devils.

My hockey customs have slowed down with all the cancellations for the season… I was planning to do Olympic Hockey customs in the style of 1975/76 Topps, but with the NHL pulling out I’ll probably save that design for some other project.

The Athletics have formally named Mark Kotsay as their manager.   Kotsay was the team’s 3rd base coach in 2021 and held other coaching positions in the 6 years before that.

Another 1975 Topps MVP mashup featuring 2017 MVP’s Giancarlo Stanton and Jose Altuve

This design was a mixed bag; it looked good with the colors I’d assigned to certain teams, but as I started to add teams I realized there were… um… issues.  The design looked pretty good with the teams I’d started out doing, but as I went into other teams/colors I realized some of them were pretty ugly. Since then I create a lot more ‘proofs’ before I make a new design public.

Javier Baéz signed a 6-year contract with the Detroit Tigers. As a Mets fan I still don’t know what to think of this (although “Hell, I don’t know” has become my take on a lot of things lately)

A third mashup featuring 2018 MVP’s Mookie Betts and Christian Yelich. This design might be the one that went through the most changes during the time I was developing it, but I’m happy with the end result

A friend of mine bemoaned the lack of manual transmissions in new cars outside of expensive performance models. I suggested the upcoming Nissan Z as an affordable car with a manual, but I don’t think she’s going for it

Kendall Graveman had a 0.82 ERA over 30 games with the Mariners last year before being traded to Houston before the deadline. He made 9 postseason appearances and signed as a free agent with the White Sox.

Another Seattle Kraken custom… Ryan Donato, whose father Ted also played in the NHL, signed with the Kraken after playing for the Bruins, Wild and Sharks

For no real reason, here’s Led Zeppelin performing “What Is And What Should Never Be” at the Royal Albert Hall in 1970

A Week Of Customs: Jingle Hells Bells

Another week’s worth of customs which were originally out on Twitter (#DailyTSRcustom …when I remember to include the hashtag, anyway…)

We’ll start with another mashup of my customs and 1975 Topps; First it’s my original 2014 TSR design and the MVP’s of 2014 – Mike Trout and Clayton Kershaw. Seven years later and this design is still possibly my favorite of the ones I’ve done.

Here are the “full size” versions of the customs which, I’ll admit, were made a couple of weeks ago using photos from 2014 and my templates

I usually get my inspiration from past trading card designs, but this one was partly inspired by a vintage team program… I think it might’ve been the Cubs but I honestly don’t remember anymore.

Former ROY Corey Seager signed a 10-year, $325M contract with the Texas Rangers. I’m no fan of the Rangers, but it’s nice to see $$$ thrown around by someone other than the usual teams.  Hopefully for the Rangers it works out better than the last time they threw big bucks at a shortstop (*cough* A-Rod *cough*)

Another mashup of my customs and 1975 Topps; This one features the MVP’s of 2015 – Josh Donaldson and Bryce Harper

…and the non-original “originals” (again, made a few weeks ago)

It’s kind of odd to look back at Donaldson as an MVP… Not that he was bad this year, but it’s been a while since I thought of him as MVP material.

Bryce Harper was, of course, the MVP this past season, but he’s also considerably younger than Donaldson.

In one of the less-noticed free agent signings by the Mets this offseason, outfielder Mark Canha signed a 3-year contract, and that seemed to have been a sign that Michael Conforto will be playing elsewhere whenever games end up being played.

They Rays signed Corey Kluber to a one-year contract hoping that his veteran presence will complement their young rotation.  It’s a somewhat unusual big name for the Rays, but I trust they know what they’re doing.

And finally, we have another one of my Seattle Kraken customs using the 1974/75 Topps & O-Pee-Chee design.  Mason Appleton was drafted from the Winnipeg Jets, but I’ve seen a few rumors about him being traded… one was to Boston for unhappy left wing Jake DeBrusk.

It’s less than a week before Christmas and I’ve realized I’ve done TOO GOOD of a job of avoiding Christmas music.  No Vince Guaraldi, no Bob & Doug McKenzie’s “12 Days Of Christmas”, not even anything from Bob Rivers.  I think it’s time to rectify that with an AC/DC parody version of “My Favorite Things”…

A Week Of Customs: One Of Submarines Is Missing Tonight

Another week’s worth of customs which were originally out on Twitter (#DailyTSRcustom …when I remember to include the hashtag, anyway…)

We’ve got a whole lot of images to share this week, so let’s get to business.

I’ve got another couple of mashups of my customs and 1975 Topps; First up it’s my original 2012 TSR design and the MVP’s of 2012 – Miguel Cabrera and Buster Posey.

The design is admittedly rudimentary, but hey, it’s my first public design (I’d played around with some other designs before this but this is the first that anybody else saw). Through 2021 eyes it needs *something* to zhuzh it up a bit, but on the whole I still like it.

BTW, the design is 2012 and the images are from 2012 but each of these particular customs was made two weeks ago.

Just for the heck of it, here are the two new customs in ‘full size’:

Next is my original 2013 TSR design and the MVP’s of 2013 – Miguel Cabrera and Andrew McCutchen. These 2013 customs were actually made in 2013, which made life easier for me.

Here are the originals which were featured on this blog lo those eight years ago:

This design was largely “inspired” by 1983 Topps football…

With a little bit of 1988 Topps Baseball thrown in

Jackie Bradley Jr. is back with the Red Sox after an unspectacular year in Milwaukee. I welcome any opportunity to create a Hot Stove custom without having to digitally alter a photo… and there was a lot going on this past week, so it’s pretty much the only way I was getting a Hot Stove done.

Florida’s Jonathan Huberdeau was named the NHL’s 1st Star of the Week for Nov 29 – Dec 5.

In three games he had a goal and 8 assists, helping the Panthers to comeback wins in each of the games. The goal and four of the assists came when rallying from 3 goals down against the Sabres. He currently has 31 points, which is good for 10th in the league.

The next custom came from this challenge on Twitter:

My version may not be the most original, but I had fun doing it (and may do more like it).  I wouldn’t be surprised if most of you had never heard of Hector Heathcote, but I remember watching it as a kid (and I loved Tennessee Tuxedo and Gigantor)

One challenge of my own, that I thought of a number of years ago, was to make a custom card set using only images from the opening and closing credits of The Monkees.  I started on something a couple of years ago, didn’t get far, but was spurred to action again with the passing of former Monkee Mike Nesmith.  I’ve long thought that the “Peter screws up the names” sequence would make for a good ‘subset’.

I used the 1964 Topps baseball design because those rookie cards worked best with the landscape TV captures that I had.

Rest in peace, Nez.

Finally, we’ll wrap up with another Seattle Kraken from my 2021/22 TSR Hockey custom set.  Carson Soucy was drafted from the Minnesota Wild and currently leads the team with a +5 plus/minus.

I thank Mr. Soucy for being born in the uniquely named town of Viking, which gave me something to draw a cartoon about

This morning I was listening to a radio show that features Alternative music from the 1980s, and they played “One Of Our Submarines” by Thomas Dolby… a song I hadn’t heard in a good number of years.  If Thomas Dolby gets played these days it’s usually “She Blinded Me With Science”, but he had a number of good songs… like this one

A Week Of Customs: They Say She Plays Guitar And Cries And Sings

Another week’s worth of customs which were originally out on Twitter (#DailyTSRcustom …when I remember to include the hashtag, anyway…)

Noah Syndergaard disappointed me and many other Mets fans by signing a 2-year contract with the Angels. I don’t blame him, but I still won’t enjoy seeing him in another uniform.

Another mashup of 1975 Topps and my 2021 TSR Daily customs, this time featuring Comeback players Trey Mancini and Buster Posey. Ideally the heading of the card should be plural – “COMEBACKS OF THE YEAR” – but it just seemed kind of awkward.

Due to popular demand (i.e. someone suggested it and offered mild encouragement), in the near future I’m going to do a series of these featuring the 2012 – 2020 MVP TSR customs featuring each year’s MVP in this 1975 design.  In years past I didn’t make as many customs as I did in 2021, so most of these will involve me going back and creating new customs using my old templates (and, in a couple of cases, retrieving fonts that were on a previous laptop).

During the month of November, Nathan MacKinnon ranked 2nd in the NHL with 25 points (10 G, 15 A) over 14 games, plus he lead the league with 79 shots on goal.

Good news for those who pulled redemptions out of packs of 2021 TSR Daily – the 3-D inserts have started to ship, starting with Ronald Acuña Jr!

It’s been a few years since I did a faux 3-D card, so I’ll need to work out a couple of bugs before I do any more of these

Marcus Stroman recently signed a 3-year, $71M contract with the Cubs. I’m sorry to see him go, but it does seem like a lot of money for his accomplishments. This past season he went 10-13, 3.02 with the Mets

Marcus Stroman and Steven Matz once faced off in a legendary high school baseball game on Long Island (not generally a hotbed for Major League prospects), both were teammates with the Mets, and now both will be rivals in the NL Central. So it goes.

Another Seattle Kraken from my 2021/22 TSR Hockey custom card project… Swedish forward Calle Jarnkrok, currently on injured reserve, was drafted from the Nashville Predators. I’m hoping that his slow start this season is due to whatever injury has caused him to be on IR.

The cartoon at the bottom of the card back is based on a photo from the 1972 Summit Series between Canada and the USSR.  Late last night, just before I dozed off, I realized that I’d neglected to ‘color in’ the goalposts.  Damn.

Y’know, each time I do one of these card backs I hope that I can find out something interesting about the player for the text or the cartoon, but most of the biographical information I can find online is about each player’s hockey accomplishments, and there’s rarely anything like “Connor and his wife were married on top of a Zamboni” or “Oskar works as an accountant in the off-season”.  I will continue to hold on to hope.

For no real reason, here’s a live 1975 performance of Led Zeppelin’s “Goin’ To California”. The former college newspaper editor within me cringes at the misspelled Led Zep scarf near the beginning of the video.

2021 TSR Daily: Wrapping Things Up

This morning I Tweeted the last of my 2021 TSR Daily custom cards (called “Daily” because I Tweet out a custom each day #2021TSRDaily ).

I started Tweeting these on February 23rd and sharing them here on March 1st.  Back in 2020 with everything shut down, I created a couple of hundred customs as a way to keep me occupied and relaxed.  For 2021 I decided that if I was going to crank out that many I might as well make a small cohesive set and try to represent all of the teams.  I’m going to share the last batch of customs and then I’ll discuss how well I met my goals and what is coming next for me.

Alek Manoah was named the September/October AL Rookie of the Month, and for the season he was 9-2 with a 3.22 ERA, a 1.048 WHIP and 10.2 strikeouts per inning

One of the things I tried to do late in the game was make sure that I made a custom for anyone who might win an award or be a league leader in some major category (i.e. I didn’t sweat the Hit By Pitch leaders). I don’t think Manoah is going to be the AL Rookie of the Year, but I expect he’ll get some consideration.

Lucas Giolito has gotten Cy Young votes in the past and threw a no-hitter last year. This year he has 11 wins and 201 strikeouts.

During the month of August Shane McClanahan won each of his five starts. One other thing I found out, and I don’t know why this surprised me as much as it did, but he’s just the second McClanahan to appear in the Majors… the first was Pete McClanahan who played in 7 games for the 1931 Pirates.

Quick side note about Pete McClanahan: He’s a “reverse Moonlight Graham” in that he played in 7 games without ever taking the field. He pinch hit 6 times and pinch ran once. For his abbreviated career he went 2-for-4 with 2 walks and 2 runs scored. The 1931 Pirates were a mediocre team, it makes me wonder why a guy with a .667 on-base % didn’t get more of a shot… but there’s very little information about Pete out there.

Getting back on track…

Rookie starter Luis Garcia is one of four Astros starters with double-digit wins, and he averaged 9.7 Ks per 9 innings pitched.

The Braves’ Will Smith lead the NL with 60 games finished and he’s 3rd in the league with 37 saves.

Garrett Whitlock was selected from the Yankees farm system in last winter’s Rule V draft… and then he helped end the Yankees’ season by pitching the 9th inning of the Wild Card game. He lead Boston pitchers with a 1.96 ERA and a 1.105 WHIP.

Kenley Jansen’s 38 saves was second-best in the National League.

As I mentioned, my original objective is to have each of the 30 teams represented by 8 different players.  I had pretty decent success with that as 22 teams had at least 8 customs.  Eight teams had only 7 customs, but in some cases there wasn’t much I could do about it.  For example, after the Nationals traded off many of their players I tried going forward with a prospect they’d obtained in one of the deals, but ultimately decided that I wouldn’t feel good about anyone I’d select as the 8th Nat.

Early in the process I made sure I included anyone who won an award in 2020, assuming that they were still active and not out for the season.  Later on, I did the opposite, trying to make sure that I didn’t miss anybody who would go on to win an award this year, or lead the league in some category.

I had a lot of fun doing this, I learned a lot about different players along the way, and I plan to do something similar in 2022… but I don’t know that I would do this same exact thing.  It was fun, but it was also a lot of work.

In the meantime I have plans to do some other custom projects coming along.  You’ve seen my hockey customs.  I recently came up with a new design to use for a “Hot Stove” set that will probably kick off whenever the Cardinals, Padres or Mets hire a new manager… and I’ve got some other things in the works.

And here, for those who are curious, are the team checklists for my finished set. Feel free to give me grief about leaving any players out; I’m genuinely interested in your takes on that, but will also invite you to make your own equally-representative checklist and see how much of a challenge it is.