The Nightly Show With Larry Milbourne

The other day I was talking to someone about The Nightly Show, which is the new show on Comedy Central which airs after The Daily Show.

After a few minutes of conversation, I suddenly realized that instead of referring to the host as Larry Wilmore…
2015 TSR Fauxback Larry Wilmore

…I’d spent several minutes referring to him as Larry Milbourne.
1975 Topps Larry Milbourne


Larry Wilmore may have his own TV show, but he was never named to the Topps All-Star Rookie team…

1978 Topps Larry Milbourne

Wilmore didn’t have the walk-off double in the Mariners’ first-ever win (4/8/77).

1981 Fleer Larry Milbourne

And Wilmore was never involved in a trade where another player was essentially traded for himself:
November 18, 1980: Traded by the Seattle Mariners with a player to be named later to the New York Yankees for Brad Gulden and $150,000. The Seattle Mariners sent Brad Gulden (May 18, 1981) to the New York Yankees to complete the trade.

Doppelganger: 1994 Fleer/Score Terry Steinbach

My latest Doppelgangers (two cards from different manufacturers featuring different photos of the same play) come from 1994 Fleer and Score, and involves a play at the plate involving A’s catcher Terry Steinbach and Mariners catcher Bill Haselman.
1994 Fleer - Score Terry Steinbach
Here’s what I believe to be the play pictured: August 4th, 1993, Mariners at Oakland on a Wednesday afternoon. In the top of the 7th, the Mariners are leading 4-2 and Bill Haselman draws a walk off Kelly Downs. Omar Vizquel comes up next, singles up the middle and Haselman moves over to third. Mike Felder came up next, and the runners must’ve been going because Felder hit the ball to A’s 2nd Baseman Brent Gates who threw to Steinbach to get Haselman out at home. Felder got to first on a fielder’s choice, but neither he nor Vizquel would score.

The Mariners would hang on to that lead going into the bottom of the 9th, and starter Tim Leary was cruising along. After Leary gave up a leadoff triple to Ruben Sierra, Dennis Powell was brought in to face Lance Blankenship, walked him, and that was it for Powell. Jeff Nelson comes in, gives up two runs, loads the bases and plunks Mike Bordick to drive in the winning run. Athletics 5, Mariners 4.

My goodness! Where are my manners?

This past Monday I was featured in the latest edition of Nachos Grande’sBetter Know A Blogger” series, and unthinking cad that I was, I forgot to thank him here in my own blog. Thank you, kind sir, for stretching the definition of a “theme week” and allowing me to take part.

And for the record, there’s no truth to the rumor that Nachos Grande is related to Ariana Grande.  That being said, I couldn’t say whether or not he’s got one less problem wit’out cha.

The Mariners Unveil Some Nice Sunday Alts In Their Original Colors

Yesterday the Mariners unveiled some new alternate uniforms they will wear for Sunday games in 2015.  The basic concept sounds simple;  the uniforms are generally the same as their normal home uniform, but done with cream-colored fabric and featuring their original colors of royal blue and gold.

The concept might be simple, but the results are wonderful… Check it out:
2014-15 Hot Stove 1968 Insert Nelson Cruz

The back of the uniforms are old school as well, as they feature larger numbers and leave the players name off the back.

The overall effect of this is really nice, but what I really love about these alts are the hosiery… Check out these Seattle Pilot-esque stirrups!
2014-15 Hot Stove 1968 Insert Awesome Stirrups
You know I’m a complete nerd when I’m making custom baseball cards to feature a uniform element that most people don’t care about.

For the record, the Mariners are going to also have a solid-color sock with the same stripes, and for other days of the week they’ll have stirrups and socks that are striped in their regular colors. With all this hosiery goodness going on, it’d be a shame if the entire team is made up of “pajama pants” guys.

For those of you who are wondering why I’ve strayed away from my “Hot Stove” set that is based on the 1974 Kellogg’s set… part of the reason is that the best photos I could find of the new alts all featured Nelson Cruz, but I’d already photoshopped Nelson Cruz into a Mariner uniform earlier this offseason:
2014-15 TSR Hot Stove #10 Nelson Cruz

I thought about creating a custom in the same design and pitching it as a “variation”, but I didn’t care much for the way it turned out. The relatively narrow Kellogg’s design didn’t really allow the uniform to be showcased the way I wanted it to be.

…But I did want to maintain the faux 3-D theme, so I went with the best non-Kellogg’s option there is for 3-D cards: The 1968 Topps 3-D test issue (which was also made into a Topps Lineage insert in 2011 and an Archives insert in 2012).

I’m happy with the way this custom turned out… maybe I’ll keep this design in mind for the 2015/16 Hot Stove set.

Hot Stove: Cruz, Markakis & Miller View Baltimore Through Their Rear-View Mirrors

Last week was not a good week for Orioles fans.

I expected Nelson Cruz and Andrew Miller to go elsewhere… But to lose both of those guys AND Nick Markakis, the guy who had the longest tenure of any Oriole?  All within the span of 6 days?

Last week was not a good week.

But we must soldier on…  Perhaps we must, to beat a dead meme even more than it’s been beaten, “Keep calm and make customs”.

For those new to this blog, the following are all custom baseball cards based on the 1974 Kellogg’s set, and all three players in today’s post were “Photoshopped” into their new uniforms.  (Although I actually used Paint Shop Pro)

First we had Nelson Cruz head to the Pacific northwest.  Later, Cruz.  Front door, backside.
2014-15 TSR Hot Stove #10 Nelson Cruz
I kept my emotional distance from Nelson Cruz last year. The guy signed a below-market one-year contract late in the offseason, so I figured there were two ways it could go… 1) Cruz would have a good season and take off for bigger piles of cash than the Orioles would pay, or 2) Cruz would be worthless without the PED’s and the Orioles wouldn’t want him back. Either way, the guy was clearly a short-timer. I’ll miss his offense, I won’t miss him.

For what it’s worth, the Nelson Cruz custom was made before the official announcement, and was a means of killing time while I was on hold with my internet provider’s support line.

…And then there’s Nick Mar-kick-ass. For a long while it seemed that re-signing with the Orioles was a mere formality. Then talks slowed down. Then they stopped. And the next thing you know, I’m digitally putting Markakis into a Braves uniform.
2014-15 TSR Hot Stove #11 Nick Markakis
This just looks wrong, and I’m not talking about my work on the card. Nick is supposed to be an Oriole, what’s he wearing that damn tomahawk for?

For his troubles, Markakis is going to have to switch numbers; his customary #21 was retired for Warren Spahn, so he’s switched to #22.

Before we move on to the third custom, I’ll point out that the Braves will be playing in Baltimore in late July. Should be interesting to see how Nick is welcomed back.

Finally, Andrew Miller went to the Yankees… and you can’t even say he went just for the big payday, because the Astros offered him more. Frankly, I probably would’ve gone to the Astros – More money, and possibly a brighter future than you have in the Bronx (but that’s probably wishful thinking on my part).
2014-15 TSR Hot Stove #12 Andrew Miller
Useless information: I adapted Miller’s Yankee jersey from an image of Ichiro. I think it’s fairly safe to say that in real life the 6’7″, 210 lb. Miller would not be able to wear the jersey of the 5’11”, 170 lb. Ichiro… But that’s the magic of digital photo manipulation!

I decided to combine the heavy shadow on Miller’s face with a nighttime Yankee Stadium background, thus creating my first night card for the 2014/15 Hot Stove set. You’re welcome, Night Owl.

So there you have it… Three former Orioles moving on.   Hopefully it won’t be too long before I’m making customs of guys coming to the Orioles.

Los Hansons De Mi Madre

I’ve spent pretty much my whole life on the East Coast, and while I’ve been on vacations out west, in many ways the Pacific Coast may as well be another country… I mean, I’ve never been to a Shakey’s Pizza, I don’t listen to radio stations whose call letters start with “K”, and I consider an omelette with ham, peppers and onions to be a “Western Omelette”, not a “Denver Omelette”.

One other aspect of West Coast living that’s long been hidden from me is Mother’s Cookies cards. Not only do we not have Mother’s Cookies where I am, but the cards are seldom seen at card shows. Because of that, they’ve acquired a certain mystique among those collectors who refer to themselves as “Joe Shlabotnik” and write blogs about baseball cards.

During a semi-recent COMC shopping event — one which has a name I’ve grown tired of typing, so I’ll call it “Viernes Negro” — I managed to pick up not one, not two but THREE Mother’s Cookies cards of Shlabotnik Report favorite Erik Hanson.

Erik’s from New Jersey, and he don’t eat no Denver Omelettes.

Here’s the 1989 Mother’s Cookies card…
1989 Mother's Cookies Mariners Erik Hanson

…and the 1992…
1992 Mother's Cookies Mariners Erik Hanson

…and the 1993… With the 5 o’clock shadow, the darker uniform and the night photography, I consider this to be the “Dark Knight” of Erik Hanson cards.
1993 Mother's Cookies Mariners Erik Hanson

Special Bonus Feature! For a limited time only, you can see the 1996 Leaf Signature Series Erik Hanson I got!
1996 Leaf Signature Series Erik Hanson
That’s one thing that’s nice about collecting non-star players… Affordable sigs! I got this baby for less than a buck. Suck it, Jeter fans!

I promise to get back to something with more universal appeal tomorrow… Hopefully I’ll be able to find a pack of 2014 Topps and be one of the 1,828 bloggers writing about that subject.

Black Friday: 2002 Topps Total Pre-Production Set

Back in 2002, Topps issued a 3-card promotional set of cards for the then-upcoming inaugural Topps Total set.

Thanks to Nick over at the “Dime Boxes” blog, I found out about these cards in time to include them in my COMC Black Friday frenzy.  I got all three for under $1.50.

All three promo cards feature different photos, and have some variations on the back as well.

First off, we’ve got Ichiro.  Mr. Suzuki was coming off his ROY/MVP season when this card was issued, so it’s no surprise he would be featured here.
2002 Topps Total Pre-Production Ichiro

…and here’s the “regular” Topps Total card; they should’ve stuck with the pre-production photo:
2002 Topps Total Ichiro

Like Ichiro, Barry Bonds had also been the MVP the previous season. Here’s the pre-production card:
2002 Topps Total Pre-Production Barry Bonds

…And the regular card; again, I prefer the pre-production card of the big jerk:
2002 Topps Total Barry Bonds

The final card of the trio is for Hank Blalock, who was a top prospect at the time… Baseball America ranked him at #3 in 2002, calling him “the best pure hitter in the minors”. I believe this photo is from the 2001 Futures Game.
2002 Topps Total Pre-Production Hank Blalock

You want to know who the two guys ranked above Blalock were, right? Josh Beckett and Mark Prior.

Here’s the regular Total card. This is the only one of the three where the pre-production card is the lesser of the two.
2002 Topps Total Hank Blalock

And because I can’t just let things slide without showing how the backs differ… The most obvious difference is the card number. The numbering of the “team set” in the lower right-hand corner differs as well in that they went from a two-letter to a three-letter abbreviation (“SM” to “SEA”).  Topps also couldn’t decide whether to put Ichiro’s name up top or down low.

2002 Topps Total Pre-Production Ichiro back

2002 Topps Total Ichiro back

Ichiro and Bonds have different write-ups on their backs.  Blalock’s back has the same text, but some minor differences in how the minor league stats are presented.

In terms of how much I enjoyed it at the time, 2002 Total is one of my top sets of the 21st century.  After being bombarded with shiny, foily, garish, “More is MORE!” sets since the early 1990’s, the idea of an understated, simply designed and relatively appealing 990-card set which included relief pitchers and bench players was very exciting to me.  I first saw packs of Total at a show;  I bought a couple of packs and immediately ripped them… I can still remember standing in a show aisle, thumbing through cards and maniacally giggling about my wishes coming true.

I won’t suggest that the set has held up well over the years, but it’s still a personal favorite and is the only Total set I’ve completed to date.

I miss Total, and while I know it’s never coming back, I do wish that the base Topps set would be more Total-y.

“Hot Stove” Custom – Mariners Sign Robinson Canó

2013-14 TSR Hot Stove #11 - Robinson Cano

I took the easy way out with this one…  I didn’t do any “photoshopping” of Canó himself, I just took a promotional photo released by the Mariners , replaced the background on it and made that into a custom card.

I have a tiny, little soft spot for the Mariners, so I hope this works out for them… but to quote every single character who appeared in a Star Wars movie or spinoff, “I’ve got a bad feeling about this”.

I’ll be curious to see how much the Yankees miss him… I’ve got some thoughts on the matter, but I’ll save them for tomorrow’s post…

…And for those of you who might be new to this blog, this is another in a series custom cards reflecting off-season changes. The card’s design is based on the 1959 Bazooka set.

A Seattle Slew Of Mets; COMC Black Friday; Blogrolls Are The Devil’s Playground

Before I get into the main subject, I’d like to point out that there’s information on my COMC Black Friday plans below, as well as a plea for blogrollical help.

Now, I normally wouldn’t pay much attention when a team I don’t follow announces their coaching staff… but in the case of yesterday’s announcement about the Mariners’ coaching staff, it read like a “random Mets cards” blog posting… so I figured I’d make a random Mets card posting out of it.

New M’s hitting coach Howard Johnson was a member of the 1986 World Champion Mets, he holds or is tied for a couple of Met team records including “extra base hits in a season” and one could make an argument for his inclusion in the Mets’ Hall Of Fame.
1990 Classic Howard Johnson

John Stearns, the new 3rd base coach, was the Mets’ starting catcher for a couple of years and was an All-Star four times.
1981 Fleer John Stearns

Infield coach Chris Woodward was a Met in 2005 and 2006 and during those two years the only position he didn’t play was pitcher and catcher. He also DH’ed some.
2005 Topps Heritage Chris Woodward

Bullpen catcher Jason Phillips has actually held that job for 5 years, but he’s a former Met, and Mrs. Shlabotnik likes him because he wore glasses on the field.
2003 Topps Total Jason Phillips

When Black Friday comes, gonna sell my cards online
Gonna discount ’em all and hope they sell this time…

COMC is having a Black Friday special, and not only will I be participating, but I will have 500 new cards added to my inventory by then (I’m in the process of pricing them).  Parallels and inserts (many from 2013), manupatches, vintage, 1986 glossy cards, rookies and pre-rookies, oddballs, 1970’s O-Pee-Chee baseball, 1976 SSPC, hockey, basketball, football, even Donruss Truckin’ cards.

More information to come!

Finally, I’ve been having problems with my posts showing up in blogrolls, and I hoping someone’s had the same problems. After reading through support, I wonder if I’m having a problem with pasting text from MS Word (which I do) or with “auto-pagination”, which I’m not clear on what that means, but it is connected to other people with the same problems.

If anyone has any suggestions, hints, etc., I would love to resolve my situation.


After Bud Selig Steps Down And I Become Commissioner…

You know what?  I don’t think I’m supposed to say anything about my taking over from Bud in January, 2015… But what the heck.  I trust you guys, and I know you won’t say anything to anybody… Let’s just keep this between us… our own little blogospherical secret.

Even though I’ve got 15 months before I take over, I’m starting to take notes of things to change.  I got one idea on Saturday when I saw highlights of that day’s Angels-Rangers game.

It’s easier to show you than to explain;  Here, take a look at this custom I made…
2013 TSR #669 - Elvis Andrus

You may ask “Why is Elvis Andrus attempting to slide past his teammate?” Because – despite the red helmet and the red jersey, Chris Iannetta is not his teammate, he’s on the Angels.  The Rangers were wearing red jerseys, red caps and white pants, and the Angels were wearing red jerseys, red caps and grey pants.  It’s perfectly obvious which team is which, right? Shaaaaaa, right.

Every other major sport has requirements about some sort of color contrast between teams, and I’m going to bring MLB in line with that.  The home team declares their uni choices before the beginning of a series, and the visiting team has to pick out clearly different uniforms.  I haven’t yet worked out the specific definition of “clearly different”, but I’ve got some time to hash that out.

…and as long as we’re talking about the Angels’ red jerseys – no more red numbers on a red jersey.  There has to be a minimum contrast between numbers and jerseys.  If I’m sitting in the upper deck, I need to be able to read the uni numers, otherwise what’s the point of having uniform numbers except for the Yankees to retire them?

I’ll be sharing  more plans for my Commissionership here in this blog, but if any of you have suggestions – and I know you do – leave me a comment, or write your own post about it and leave me a link.  I’d love to know what you’re thinking.

As long as I’m here, let’s take a look at a couple of more customs, shall we?  I’d like to have posted at least one custom for every team, so I’ll just throw out a couple of more here…

Hisashi Iwakuma put together a nice season, going 14-6, 2.66 with a .220 Batting Average Against and a 1.01 WHIP for the 71-90 Mariners. His ERA, BAA and WHIP were all among the top 10 in the Majors.
2013 TSR #761 - Hisashi Iwakuma

I stole the red/yellow/grey color combination from 1974 Topps Indians cards, and I have to say, I really like the way it looks. I’ll probably do something similar for my 2014 TSR customs (although not necessarily for the Indians).
2013 TSR #675 - Michael Bourn