Using My Fantasy Team As An Excuse To Make Customs

I had a really good season in my points league;  I wish I could tell you that I won, but I didn’t.  Had a “knock ’em out, drag ’em out” fight with another team and I lost by 14 points… Just to make clear how razor-thin this margin is, the actual totals from the league was 8,187 to 8,173… Close enough to give me thoughts like “If I hadn’t started Ricky Nolasco when he got shelled, I would’ve won…”

Once again, done dirty by the Dodgers.

As a way to begin wrapping up my 2013 TSR set, and as a way to pay tribute to this almost-team, I present customs of some of my better fantasy players.

We’ll start with my #1 pick (3rd overall), your MVP and mine, Miguel Cabrera!

Cabrera lead the majors in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage, and was second to Chris Davis in homers and RBI.
2013 TSR #700 - Miguel Cabrera
Not surprisingly, Cabrera earned the most points of any position player on my team. It is nice for a #1 pick to actually pan out.

Joey Votto batted .304/24/73, lead the majors with 135 walks and was second in MLB in on-base percentage.
2013 TSR #720 - Joey Votto

Dustin Pedroia was tied with Cabrera for 2nd in the A.L. in hits. He batted .301/9/84.
2013 TSR #730 - Dustin Pedroia

Yu Darvish went 13-9, 2.83 and was the ace of my virtual rotation – at least in terms of total points earned.  He lead the Majors in K’s and was second to Jose Fernandez in batting-average-against.
2013 TSR #742 - Yu Darvish

I will be back with more customs before I’m through;  if nothing else, I intend to get at least one custom for every team, and I’m not there yet.

I Am Definitely Not Collecting 1972 Topps… And I’m Making Good Progress!

1972 Topps baseball, a 787 card set with “real” high numbers, is such a daunting set to collect that even though I’ve been picking up cards from the set for 35+ years, I always told myself I wasn’t actually working on completing the set, I was just buying cards I liked.  I always took the attitude that I’d end up wherever I end up.

Sometime within in the lifespan of this blog (just about 2 years) I decided I would continue my general pattern of picking up cards here and there, but my official goal would be to finish Series 1 and see what happens from there.

A few months ago I completed Series 1 with this card of Billy Martin surreptitiously giving the photographer (and, consequently, all of us) the finger.

1972 Topps Billy Martin

I’d never been a fan of Billy Martin in the 49 different times he’d managed the Yankees, but from numerous stories I’ve heard about “Billy The Kid” over the years, I feel fairly safe in saying that the man was a bit of an arse.


With Series 1 completed, I decided to work on series 2, and continue to accumulate any cheap cards from later series.  Well, I’ve now completed Series 2 with a number of cards like these:

1972 Topps Dave Giusti

1972 Topps Deron Johnson IA

I’ve also made progress on Series 3 and 4, and picked up some lovely, cheap 5th and 6th series cards.  At this point, I need 8 cards to complete the third series, and 16 cards to complete the fourth, plus I need only one high-numbered card to complete my Mets team set.

So at this point you’re probably asking if I’ve changed my goals and I’m working on completing the entire 1972 set.

Are you nuts?  It’s too hard!

From The Vault: Complete Drake’s Box Featuring 1987 Super Pitchers Cards

I’ve got a couple of complete Drake’s boxes in the box on the closet shelf officially known as “The Vault”.  When I first unearthed these, my first reaction was something along the lines of “coooooool!” …maybe even “kewl”, but that’s a dated reference, isn’t it?  Forget I said it.

1987 Drake's Ring Dings Gooden Morris

But things have changed a bit now that I’m trying to find a better place to keep all the things I’m finding within “The Vault”.  I’ve pulled stuff out of boxes, I’ve enjoyed looking through it, but what I’m trying not to do at this point is to just throw it all back in the box and stick it back in the closet.

So wrappers and box bottoms and the like are being put into single-pocket pages and put into appropriate binders.  Anything else that can go in a binder is going in a binder.
1987 Drake's Ring Ding Box

But a complete Drake’s box?  What do I do with that?  It’s cool, but not cool enough to put on display… and it’s much too big to go in a binder.

I don’t know… Maybe it will end up back in a box on a closet shelf.

Does anybody have any suggestions?

1976 SSPC: #360 Willie Horton (Tigers)

1976 SSPC #360 Willie HortonHi, I’m Willie Horton!  You may remember me from… Playing 15 years for my hometown Detroit Tigers, being named an All-Star four times, and helping the Tigers win the 1968 World Series. There were also several years in Texas, Oakland, Cleveland, Toronto and Seattle, but that’s not what people remember.

In 1976, Willie Horton… had a down year, hitting .262 as a DH, while slugging just 14 homers.

Betcha didn’t know… Willie is a fan-favorite in Detroit, had his #23 retired by the Tigers, and also has a statue at Comerica Park.

People forget that… Willie hit 29 homers with 106 RBI for the 1979 Mariners..

Just to be clear: If you Google on “Willie Horton”, the first couple of hits you’ll get are for a convicted murderer serving a life sentence. That’s a different Willie Horton.

1976 SSPC #360 Willie Horton back

A Really Big Schu

News item:  The Washington Nationals fired hitting coach Rick Eckstein and replaced him with organizational hitting coordinator (and Shlabotnik favorite) Rick Schu.

Before I get started:  My apologies to Mr. Schu for the subject line and what’s about to follow.

1990 Donruss Rick Schu

I’ve already talked about my fondness for Rick Schu here, but I can’t resist another opportunity to highlight my Rick Schu PC… So right now I’m going to share with you my top 10 songs which have something in the title which sounds like “Schu” (starting with the favorite, roughly speaking, and working down):

1. Shoehorn With Teeth – They Might Be Giants
I freakin’ love this song, it’s catchy, cheesy, goofy and just plain ol’ bizarre, all rolled into 1  minute and 13 seconds… How the heck can you resist a song where one of the verses is “Tour the world in a Heavy Metal band, but they run out of gas – the plane can never land”.

2. Old Brown Shoe – The Beatles
Beatles. ‘Nuff said.

3. Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes – Paul Simon
1987 Topps Rick Schu

4. (The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes – Elvis Costello & the Attractions
There’s a group called Hem which does a really interesting version of this song.

5. Shoe Box – Barenaked Ladies
BNL used to be one of my favorite bands, but that was at least 6 studio albums ago. Sorry, guys, but you lost me with “Everything To Everyone”.

6. Blue Suede Schubert – The Rutles
The Rutles are a parody of The Beatles, as done by Eric Idle of Monty Python and Neil Innes, who was sort of “The 7th Python”… or maybe the 8th, you could make a good argument that Carol Cleveland was “the 7th Python”. Anyway, there was a very funny TV special called “The Rutles: All You Need Is Cash” which featured Idle, Innes and had cameos from an amazing bunch of people: Mick Jagger, Paul Simon, half the original cast of Saturday Night Live, even George Harrison.

7. Shoo Be Doo – The Cars
More of a link than a song. Too bad. It’s my list and “Shoo Be Doo” is cool.

8. Blue Suede Shoes – Carl Perkins
Elvis? Elvis who? Carl Perkins was much better.

9. Goody Two Shoes – Adam Ant
1987 Fleer Rick Schu

10. Wing Tip Shoes – Henry Lee Summer
I saw Henry Lee Summer open for Chicago years ago. Chicago was OK, but Henry Lee put them to shame.  Pity there’s no commercially-available version of this song which does it justice.

1994 BBM Rick Schu

This is the second time I’ve featured this card, but it’s too awesome of a card to not post again.

1976 SSPC: #47 Jim Crawford

…As we continue to hopscotch through the 1976 SSPC set…

1976 SSPC #47 Jim CrawfordJim Crawford Says… Huh? Whuzzat? You wanna see my Don Wilson memorial patch? Sure, check it out.

‘Round here, folks call me:  Catfish

You may remember me from… Pitching in relief with the Astros and Tigers for several years.

In 1976, Crawford… Was largely a guy out of the bullpen, but did pitch the only complete game of his career, which is notable given that over his career he had just 14 starts in 181 games.

1976 SSPC #47 Jim Crawford backSo… take your time… and tell me… Is it Shea?  Yes, it’s Shea.

About the back of the card:  There’s a reference to Arizona State being “the baseball factory”, and that’s a reference both to ASU’s status as one of the premier college baseball programs, but also to the impressive bunch of players to come out of ASU in the Sixties and Seventies.  At the top of the heap were Sal Bando, Rick Monday and Reggie Jackson, but at the time this set came out there were other Major Leaguers like Duffy Dyer, Larry Gura, Gary Gentry, Lenny Randle, Craig Swan, and Eddie Bane.

After the set, you had players like Bob Horner, Bump Wills, Ken Landreaux, Hubie Brooks, Marty Barrett, Mike Devereaux, Paul LoDuca, Dustin Pedroia, Ian Kinsler, Andre Ethier… Oh, and Barry Bonds. Yeah, him.

One other thing about the back… “Denver” refers to the Denver Bears, the Astros’ AAA team in 1974.

More about that memorial patch…Don Wilson was an outstanding Astros pitcher in the Sixties and Seventies who died of carbon monoxide poisoning in January, 1975. At the beginning of the 1975 season, the Astros retired Wilson’s #40 and they wore the above patch for the 1975 season.

Mystery Box Of 1970 Topps: O-R-I-O-L-E-S!!!

A couple of weeks ago I bought a box of 100+ 1970 Topps cards, and I’m going through them in roughly “pack-sized” lots of 10-15 cards.

The good news is that the latest “pack” was almost all Orioles. The bad news was that, since I actively collect Orioles, I didn’t need as many. Even so, I still knocked off 3 of my wants.

Chico Salmon was originally a Cleveland Indian, was taken by the Seattle Pilots in the 1969 expansion draft and traded to the Orioles just before the start of the 1969 season.
1970 Topps Chico Salmon
Chico’s real name is Ruthford. Who would’ve guessed? And you gotta love those stirrups. They brought back the cartoon bird, now they need to bring back some striped stirrups!

Paul Blair was originally signed by the Mets as an amateur free agent, and then was drafted by the O’s from the Mets in the 1962 minor league draft. The O’s converted him from a shortstop to an outfielder, and the rest is history.
1970 Topps Paul Blair
Paul Blair would later be traded to the Yankees for Elliott Maddox and Rick Bladt, a trade that keeps resurfacing on this blog for no good reason.

I like this shot of Andy Etchebarren grabbing some lumber before heading out on the field. It’s either batting practice or a pathetically-attended game. Anybody recognize the concrete dugout and blue seats?
1970 Topps Andy Etchebarren
Etchebarren is the 2nd best Oriole to wear #8.

Best card in the ‘pack’: Paul Blair
Best Cartoon: Chico Salmon
1970 Topps Chico Salmon cartoon

I also got a Tigers team card in this pack; it’s in rough shape, but that’s the way it goes.
1970 Topps Detroit Tigers

So now with 4 more cards added to my set I’m at 434 with 286 to go.

Mystery 1970 Box: Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright…

Cards from 1970 Topps at less than 15 cents apiece?  Hell, yeah I’ll buy it!

A couple of weeks ago I went to my Semi-Local Card Shop to buy some plastic sheets, and as long as I was there I figured I’d poke around a bit. Now this store is more about gaming cards than anything else, so I wasn’t really expecting to find much… But over by a beat-up binder of $1 cards, I saw a box of over 100 1970 cards for $15. The box was taped shut, so I couldn’t see which cards they were and what the condition would be like… but when I realized that I’d be getting more cards than a blaster of 2013 Topps and for less money, I couldn’t say no.

I decided it would be fun to treat it sort of like a blaster, pull out 10-15 cards at a time and call it a “pack”.  Unfortunately that idea was based on the assumption that the cards within the box would be more or less random, and since all the cards in my first “pack” were Tigers, there is clearly not a random thing going on here.  Screw it, I’m going to go ahead with this idea anyway.

Here are the highlights of “Pack #1”:

I got a couple of pitchers in a fake windup…
1970 Topps Daryl Patterson

1970 Topps Tom Timmermann

I got a pair of Bill Freehans, and I noticed something about the two photos…
1970 Topps Bill Freehan AS

1970 Topps Bill Freehan
…The All-Star card is missing the MLB 100th Anniversary patch from Freehan’s left sleeve, which means the photo is not from 1969. The card’s number is 465, so I suppose the photo could be from 1970, but I’m guessing 1968 or earlier.

Best Card: Denny McLain
1970 Topps Denny McLain

Best cartoon: Daryl Patterson
1970 Topps Daryl Patterson cartoon

Before the box, I had 424 cards out of the 720 in the 1970 set.  I pulled 6 cards I needed so now I’m at 430 with 290 to go. If I can get another 45 needs, I’ll have 2/3rds of the set, which would be a cool milestone to reach.

Several of the cards I didn’t need turned out to be upgrades… Part of that is because more than a couple of my early 1970’s cards are in rough shape – think of back pockets and bicycle spokes – so upgrading them is not a tall order.  When the “upgrade” has creases or pen marks, you know the original card was in really bad shape.

There were a couple of cards where I could’ve sworn I needed them but didn’t. I don’t like not remembering vintage cards, that’s a sign that I’ve got too many cards in general, don’t spend enough time with newly acquired cards, or both.  I’m working on addressing both issues.

Hostess Card Of The Week: 1975 Mickey Lolich

“Hey, Mickey!  Let me get a shot for a baseball card!”

“What, now?  I’m just heading back into the clubhouse.”

“It’ll just take a second, I want to get a shot of you throwing a baseball.”

“But I don’t have a ball.”

“Pretend like you just threw one.”

“I don’t have a glove.”

“Aw, jeez…well, just hold your glove hand behind you like it’s part of your follow-though.”

“OK, you’re the boss…”

There are some interesting things on this card, uniform-wise… Check out the uniform number on the end of his jacket’s left sleeve.  That’s an interesting little detail, I’m not sure I’d noticed that before.

Mickey is rockin’ the striped stirrups, which was pretty old school for the mid 70’s. Generally speaking, players showed as little as possible of the stirrups, and certainly not the stripes.

That is one big freakin’ logo on his cap… but I think I prefer the Tigers road caps with the white outline around orange “D”.  Just the plain, orange “D”, like they use now, is kind of blah.

Mickey Lolich pitched most of his career in Detroit, and finished up with the Mets and Padres.  Here are some of Mickey Lolich’s accomplishments:

  • Was the 1968 World Series MVP after pitching three complete games (Games 2, 5 and 7)
  • Went 25-14 in 1971 (after leading the league in with 19 losses in 1970)
  • Lead the league in with 308 K’s (also in 1971)
  • Three-time All-Star
  • Finished 2nd and 3rd in Cy Young voting in two years
  • All-time Tigers leader in strikeouts
  • Third in Tiger wins behind Hooks Dauss and George Mullin.

1979 Customs Made During A Sleepless Night: Jackson, Thome, Farnsworth

The following customs were made around 2am this morning when I couldn’t sleep;  in the state I was in, I could very well have made some mistakes;  I in my half-asleep state I could’ve hidden the original German from the Choral finale to Beethoven’s 9th in there somewhere.  Who the heck knows.

The impetus for these customs was the Tigers/Rays game of this past Saturday where both teams wore 1979 throwback uniforms (the Rays throwbacks being completely fictional).  Plus, I’ve got this new toy in the form of a 1979 Topps template, and I want to play with it.  Wanna play!

I’ll start with the team which started it, and the player you’re probably least interested in among the three.  “Kyle Farnsworth?  Why Kyle Farnsworth?”  Well, I like Kyle Farnsworth, I’m not sure why…  Plus there’s only a certain number of photos of these “fauxback” uniforms I have to work with anyway.

Austin Jackson is another player I like, but I’ll admit that part of the reason might be that he’s a former Yankees prospect, and the best kind of Yankees prospect is a former Yankees prospect.  Unfortunately the Yankees got Curtis Granderson in that three-team trade; it would’ve been better if it were a “What were they thinking?” trade.

I like these retro Tigers road uniforms.  They shouldn’t ever ever ever change their home uniforms, but their road unis would benefit from a little more color than what they currently have.

Finally, I’m throwing in Jim Thome for grins.  The uniform isn’t a throwback, but he’s wearing a cartoon bird helmet similar to what the Orioles wore in 1979, and that’s close enough for me.  Did I mention my toy?  I gots a toy.

Ideally,  at least one of these teams would’ve had a banner-thingie which was a color other than yellow, but I have to stay true to the originals (or, in the case of the Rays, the original I made up a couple of weeks ago).