Topps’ Unintentional Gift To Custom Nerds, Plus A Peek Behind The Curtain

The other day I got this email from Topps shilling some of their “Collectible Posters” and there was a series that featured logo artwork by an artist named Timothy Raines… and no, he doesn’t appear to be related to former Expo Tim Raines.

The Collectible Posters featured Raines’ artwork based on MLB team logos and (because it’s Topps) the 1978 Topps Baseball design.  I went and checked it out, and it seems very nice and well executed, but none of it “spoke to me”.

I noticed a poster for the Rockies, and my initial thought was “Isn’t that interesting, the Rockies didn’t exist in 1978 and here they have the Rockies wordmark in the 1978 style.”

Topps Timothy Raines Art Collection - Rockies

…And then the possibilities of this set in, and I said “Oh, that is interesting….”

One thing you have to understand is that 1978 Topps is one of those sets that people shy away from when it comes time to make Archives sets or custom cards.  The bulk of the design is extremely simple, but the main stumbling point is that script team name.  One can’t just download a font to duplicate it.

One thing I’d played with in the past was trying to piece together letters and sequences of letters and even pieces of letters to fake up one of the five teams that didn’t exist in 1978… Here’s a quickie example for “Nationals”:

Faked up Nationals

I’d done one experiment with this method in the past, as a prelude to making a still-in-the-works “card from another universe” featuring the fictional “1978 Seattle Pilots”:

1978 Topps Pilots wordmark

Faking this script can be somewhat time consuming, but not impossible… and I believe that this is the technique Topps used when they created new wordmarks for the Rockies, Rays, D-Backs and Nationals.

So anyway, the whole gist of this is that I took the images of those Collectible Posters, isolated the wordmarks for the newer teams, added a white ‘border around it (disregard the green part, that’s just a remnant from my methods and I forgot to remove it)….
Nationals red better version

And voila, a word mark ready for customs like this one:

1978 Topps Custom Ryan Zimmerman 2015

(Not happy with the font used for the player name & position, but I’ll play with that when I get time.)

After I made this custom, I decided that I could improve on Topps work… I don’t think they properly adjusted the size of the “o” to match the other letters, so I tweaked it a bit after I made the Zimmerman custom.  Here’s the Topps version again:

Nationals red better version

…and here’s my tweaked version (as it stands right now).

Nationals red my version

I broke the word into “Nati”, “o” and “nals”, squished the “o” and leaned it over slightly, and then pushed them all together again.  I think it looks better, but there are still a couple of things that I wold improve upon.

BTW, when Topps created their capital “N”, I think they used the “M” from Mariners instead of from Mets… and I think the narrower letter works better for a long name like Nationals.

Here are the other wordmarks I isolated from the Topps posters:

Rays Navy better
Rays is probably the easiest of the bunch. “R” from Reds, Rangers or Royals, “ays” from Blue Jays. Voila.

Rockies black better
“Rockies” is a little tricky… One can use the “Ro” from Royals, the “k” from Yankees, the “ies” from Phillies, but none of the teams circa 1978 have a lower-case “c” in their names. I don’t particularly like this “c”, it looks kind of kludgy.  I think I’d tweak it before I used it.

D-Backs Red better
Topps cheats a bit by using the “D-Backs” nickname rather than “Diamondbacks”… But it saved them from fabricating a lowercase “m”, and it probably looks better abbreviated, anyway. They did a better job on this “c” than the one in Rockies.

Some of you may have noticed a missing team – there’s no Marlins. I went to the Timothy Raines website and he did do the Marlins logo, but for some reason Topps is not selling a Collectible Poster of that team… those bastards! (Just kidding guys, I love you, you know that).

I hope I didn’t bore anybody too much, but I thought the “custom people” would appreciate the information, and the rest of you would get a glimpse into the terrible obsession that haunts us customizers.

The Rays’ New Manager: Ohhhhhh, THAT Guy!

When I saw that the Tampa Bay Rays hired Kevin Cash as their new manager, I thought the name seemed vaguely familiar, but I wasn’t placing him. The articles said that he had been the Indians’ bullpen coach last year, played a number of years in the Majors and is younger than I am (the bastard!)

It wasn’t until I went in search of any baseball cards that I said “Ohhhhhh, THAT guy!”

So here’s what I know about Kevin Cash…

He turned 37 yesterday.

As a catcher he was said to be an excellent defensive catcher and game-caller, but while he could hit in the Minors he never quite got there in the Majors.

2002 Topps Kevin Cash

It doesn’t seem right for a guy who was a “Rated Rookie” in 2003 to be a manager a dozen years later.
2003 Donruss Kevin Cash

He played for the Jays, Rays, Red Sox, Yankees and Astros; every team in the AL East except the Orioles.

2004 Topps Total Kevin Cash

He played in 4 games of the 2008 postseason while with the Red Sox.

This 2005 Topps Total card might be the only card to show him with the Rays.
2005 Topps Total Kevin Cash

On May 28, 2010 he pitched an inning of relief for the Astros to finish a blowout at the hands of the Reds. Cash gave up 3 hits and a run, so he has a career 9.00 ERA.

This 2009 Topps Update card might be the only card to show him with the Yankees.
2009 Topps Update Kevin Cash

Should anybody care, he also had cards in the following sets (according to my decidedly not-exhaustive database):
2002 Bowman Draft (and yet he wasn’t drafted! Go figure)
2002 Studio
2003 Ultra
2003 Topps Traded
2003 Leaf
2003 Topps Total
2003 Topps Heritage
2008 Topps Update (shows him with the Red Sox)

Coming Down the Home Stretch, Custom-wise

This is going to be the next-to-last post featuring my 2013 TSR custom set, and I’m going to let the customs speak for themselves…

No, wait, there’s one card I want to say something about… I couldn’t resist the opportunity to give the photo for this custom the patented “Topps tilt”.

2013 TSR #681 - Curtis Granderson

OK, now I’m going to let the rest of these customs speak for themselves…

2013 TSR #722 - Matt Carpenter

2013 TSR #751 - Zack Cozart

2013 TSR #146 - Yunel Escobar

Loria Purchases Mets, Holds Fire Sale, Moves Team To Sacramento

What would it take for me to stop being a Mets fan?

I started thinking about that after two other blogs made me think “If I weren’t a Mets fan, I could definitely see myself as a fan of the blanks“.

Wrigley Wax showed off 60 years of Cubs programs that got me thinking about the North Siders…

…and Tru School Sports got me thinking about the Rays.

Before I get into the teams I might get behind if I were no longer a fan of the Mets (or Orioles), I’m going to speculate what it would take to get me to stop being a Mets fan.

Some people would stop being a fan if their team left town, but I left town first and I live several hundred miles away, so that’s not really a factor.  I suppose if they moved out to the West Coast then games would start late at night for this East Coast boy, and I’d also have fewer chances to see them as the road team.  Sacramento is the largest west coast market without an MLB team, so I’ll pick on them for this exercise.

The Wilpons are not the greatest owners on the face of this Earth, but there’s always the “At least the Mets aren’t owned by Jeffrey Loria” factor… especially if the team holds a Marlins-style fire sale as part of the process.  Barring a clone of the late George Steinbrenner, this would be my greatest ownership fear.

Another nail in the coffin would be to get the uniforms designed by whomever it is at Nike who comes up with those constantly changing but unerringly fugly Oregon Ducks football uniforms.  I’m thinking black, silver, midnight green and blood red uniforms with chrome helmets.

Finally, to really drive me away, they’d have to pick some gimmicky name for the team like the SacTown RivvaHawkzz Of Sacramento.

OK, that was a lot of setup, let’s get to the main point… Which teams could I see myself being a fan of?

1)  Chicago Cubs
I gravitate towards underdogs, and from an underdog standpoint, are the Cubs really that much different from the Mets?

However, that’s not what makes me think it would be fun to be a Cubs fan.  It seems like the Cubs have always had a good relationship with their dedicated fanbase… Even if the on-field product is weak, they know how to treat the people who ultimately pay the bills.

1972 Topps Don Kessinger

There’s also those abso-freakin’-lutely beautiful program covers the Cubs had for three decades.

Not to mention Wrigley Field, known here as “Cadaco All-Star Baseball Field”.
Cadaco All Star Baseball

2)  Tampa Bay Rays

1979 Joe Maddon

I’ve mentioned that I like underdogs… So tell me what other team can, within the past 5 years,  have 5 straight winning seasons, play in a World Series, win the division twice and despite all that, still be underdogs?  Besides that, I just like the way they do business… They play the game right, run the team right, treat their few fans well.  What’s not to like?

3)  Minnesota Twins
1980 Topps Geoff Zahn

I’ve never been to Minnesota, but over the years it seems like a lot of players have taken less money to sign with the Twins, and that makes me think it must be a nice place to play… Plus I love the “TC” caps.

4)  Pittsburgh Pirates
1972 Topps Milt May
I’ve mentioned here numerous times before that I have a sort of mini-crush on the Pirates going back to childhood… And since I’m a Steelers fan, it wouldn’t be a stretch to switch to another Pittsburgh team… and unlike Minnesota, I’ve been to Pittsburgh.  Well, OK, fine… I drove through Pittsburgh.  Squirrel Hill Tunnel, baby!

5)  San Francisco Giants
1973 Topps Chris Speier

When I lived on Long Island, people would sometimes ask me what team I would’ve been a fan of had the Dodgers and Giants not left for the West Coast.  My answer has always been the Giants, mainly because my mother had been a Giants fan back in the day, and I just couldn’t picture myself as a Yankees or Dodgers fan.  It’s probably academic, because if the Dodgers & Giants hadn’t left town together, it was pretty likely that the Giants would’ve left by themselves, maybe to Minneapolis where their top farm team was in the 1950’s.  At any rate, I feel a tiny, tiny little connection to the Giants.

Honorable Mention:  I have friends who are fans of these teams, and through those friends I’ve seen the appeal of following these teams (in order by city):  Oakland Athletics, Philadelphia Phillies, St. Louis Cardinals, Seattle Mariners, Toronto Blue Jays


So, what about you?  What would it take for you to stop cheering for your current team? If your team were to suddenly become the SacTown RivvaHawkzz or the Buffalo Snow, what would you do?

Aw, Man! I Want A Fairfield Repack, Too!!!

I’ve been seeing a bunch of posts lately for repacks, and it lit a fire within me.

MUST…
HAVE…
REPACK!!!!

I had to go to Target anyway, so I went through the repacks they had on hand… Unfortunately, the ones they had made no promises of vintage, just 5 rookie cards. Whoop-dee-doop-dee-doo.

Didn’t matter, I needed a fix. Into the cart it went, and into my blog it goes…

The particular repack I bought was one I picked out because of this Jason Bay card I didn’t recognize… and it turned out to be a 2007 Topps Wal-Mart insert. Despite his less-than-stellar time with the Mets, I like Jason Bay and hope he turns it around with the Mariners.
2007 Topps Wal-Mart Jason Bay

Just like most Fairfield repacks, I got some 1980’s Topps glossies… Usually my favorite part. Unfortunately, this time around the only one I needed was this Clemens…
1987 Topps Glossy All Star Roger Clemens
…and naturally, I ended up with two of these. Sigh.

I like the late-1980’s parking lot in the background.  I believe that’s a big ol’ Cadillac just over Clemens’ shoulder.  It’s too bad it’s not a pink Cadillac, crushed velvet seats, ridin’ in the back, oozin’ down the street, wavin’ to the girls, feelin’ outta sight, spendin’ all my money on a Saturday night, honey I just wonder what it feels like in the back of your pink Cadillac… pink Cadillac…

Huh?  Whuh?  Oh, sorry, drifted away for a minute…

Woo-hoo! I got Bipped! I think that’s almost becoming a point of honor…
1992 Upper Deck Bip Roberts

Huh. I didn’t know Star did a Keith Hernandez set… I’ve got a couple of other player-specific Star sets, but I don’t recall running across Keith before.
1987 Star Keith Hernandez Post Season Stats
The problem with doing these player-specific sets in the colors of the player’s current team is that you get bad combos like a Cardinals uniform framed with Mets orange. This would’ve been a nicer card with different colors… but it’s Star, it’s only going to get but so nice… I’ll just distract myself by admiring Keith’s stirrups.

I got a number of 2010 cards, including this Aaron Laffey. Laffey was on the Mets earlier this month, and I didn’t have a single card of his. Last week the Mets put him on waivers and he was claimed by the Blue Jays… and NOW I have a card of Aaron Laffey. Ain’t that just…
2010 Topps Aaron Laffey
In case you hadn’t noticed, the Blue Jays will put a waiver claim on ANYBODY. Don’t believe me? Keep an eye on the transactions column… seems like half the guys who go through waivers get claimed by the Jays, even if the Jays then turn around and DFA the guy.

No, I don’t understand it.

…and for what it’s worth, the Jays did turn around and DFA Aaron Laffey.

Among the promised rookies I got were a 2005 Bazooka Melky Cabrera (which seems to actually have some value), a couple of uninteresting 2010 rookies and this 2007 TriStar David Price, which is at least shiny even if it is kinda ugly.
2007 TriStar Prospects Plus David Price

Not one of the better repacks I’ve gotten, but still $4 worth of entertainment.

…And for the record, 36 cards went straight from the repack into the recycling bin… Just doing my part to keep America safe from Junk Wax.

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).

Ladies And Gentlemen, Your 1979 Tampa Bay Rays! (Wait, What?!?)

The card is a custom, but the photo is real. On June 30th, the Rays and Tigers will throwback to 1979.

You say the Rays didn’t exist in 1979?  Pfft.  Technicalities.

The original image was tweeted by the Rays on Wednesday.  The uniform is fun, but it is “inspired” by the late 1970’s Padres uniforms in the same way that Upper Deck Vintage was “inspired” by Topps – I’m sorry,  I meant O-Pee-Chee,  how silly of me – designs.  Check it out…
1979 Topps #679 - Derrel Thomas - Courtesy of CheckOutMyCards.com
The cap logo isn’t all that dissimilar from the Brewers logo of the same vintage.
1979 Topps #95 - Robin Yount - Courtesy of CheckOutMyCards.com
I expected the “fauxback” uniforms to be derivative, but this was a skosh more than I’d expected.  Even so, I’m glad the Rays are having fun with this.  I could so easily see myself as a Rays fan if I weren’t already a fan of the Mets and Orioles; the Rays stay competitive without buying mega free agents every year, they’ve got a great manager, likeable players, goofy promotions like this…  What’s not to like?

About the custom card:
I had already been working on a series of “Double throwback” customs – throwback uniforms on throwback cards – so when I saw the image of Joe Maddon, I said “Aw, HELL YEAH!!!”

This would technically be a custom 1979 Burger King card, because if I did a Joe Maddon 1979 Topps card, his photo would’ve been reduced to a little circle at the bottom of a team card, and what fun would that be?

Just for grins, I borrowed (and cloned to death) some background from the 1979 Len Randle card I used as source material, so Joe gets an authentic period tilted background. I point that out so that it gets the proper admiration it deserves.

The fonts used are Arial Black, which isn’t quite right but is close enough.  When all else fails, use Arial.

The blue in “Joe Maddon MGR”  is actually a lighter shade of blue than is used in “RAYS”;  I thought this would work out better than it did and reflect the colors in the fauxback, but it didn’t quite.  If I went back and did this over, I’d change the “Joe Maddon” color, but I’ve already spent way too much time on this one image.

Is this the hairstyle you wanted? A reversed Mohawk?

I look at the facial hair being sported by Luke Scott, and I hear Bill Cosby saying the subject line (which is a quote from the movie  “Bill Cosby: Himself”).  Luke has completely reversed the Mohawk by putting the hairless stripe on the bottom of his head.

For what it’s worth, “Bill Cosby:  Himself” is in the Top 5 of “Movies I’ve watched the most”.  It hit cable when I was in college, it was on constantly, it’s hilarious, it’s very quotable and made for a good study break.  “Dad is great!  Give us the chocolate cake!”

One other thing I’ve noticed… If there’s ever a “Moneyball 2” and if, for whatever reason, they need someone to play Luke Scott, I think I know who to call.

The Basis For My Blog’s Header

Just in case anybody was wondering whose foot is in my banner, it’s belongs to Chad Bradford (or Brad Chadford as I like to call him because it amuses my tiny, little mind).  Back in 2008 I made a number of custom cards based on the 1974 set.  The main objective of the “set” was to get cards of Mets and Orioles who weren’t on a 2008 card (or at least a card I owned), but I found out that that part of the fun in making these customs was trying to determine what colors to use for all the teams which didn’t exist in 1974.

This card’s colors were based on the Milwaukee Brewers 1974 cards, but to differentiate the two teams’ cards I made the “TAMPA BAY RAYS” lettering in the same yellow as is used in the border.

I recently realized that, even though I had mentally figured out the color combinations for all of the non-1974 teams (Blue Jays, Mariners, Rockies, Marlins, Diamondbacks, Rays and Nationals), I’d never actually made a Blue Jays card.  I need to rectify that soon, because the colors I had in mind only work with the recently-departed “Black Jays” unis.  I’ll have to find a player worthy of the honor (and find a photo).

I plan on posting a number of my 2008 customs (as well as some of my other customs) in future posts… most likely when I’m stuck for something to write about.