Sunday, March 3, 2019

Pictures, Please (or Addressing The Lack of Customs Thus Far)

Ah, yes. A post I was hoping I didn't have to write, but desperate times.

So, um...

...I'm worried I may not be able to do customs this year.

Granted, I do get worried about things that end up being unfounded. I'm a very anxious person by nature, and a lot of the worrying I end up doing isn't really based in reality. But...this has me concerned.

And I'll specify first that this nebulousness doesn't come from anything on my end. I can still type, my computer still works, Photoshop is still working and updated, and I have plenty of memory on my laptop.

But...what worries me is that my source for MLB photos, free to use, for the last ten years...hasn't been producing a ton of daily content since last season ended. My source, who I'll at least spoil begins with a Z, has only been covering high-profile events (or ones where celebrities show up), or the occasional fledgling international sporting event. There's a much lower frequency than before, where you'd expect dozens of new photo updates per day, which had been the case for ten years.

And now...the well seems to be drying up. In past years, I'd often only find one or two Spring Training games with usable photos. There hasn't been a single one, and games have been played since last week.

On one hand, it may not be anything, as Spring Training photos are usually passe, and I end up redoing the customs of these players anyway as the season goes on. But...if there's nothing coming for Spring Training, there's a chance that this site may not produce content for the hundreds of games during the regular season. And if I don't have those, I don't have content.

...and if I don't have content, then I essentially have nothing.

I like making customs. It's been one of the few constants in my life since starting the blog in 2009. It's an easy activity to keep photoshopping new players into old designs, and present them as a backdrop for MLB commentary. It's been one of the staples of the blog since its inception. And I'd really, REALLY rather I not lose that.

So I have a few options. Either I wait it out until the regular season, and continue to fill the blog with...the spotty content that you've witnessed since the season ended, and hopefully they produce copious amounts of new baseball photos. Or I can try and find a new photo supplier, a source that could give me new, high-ish quality photos to use in customs without being sued, and preferably without having to pay a great deal, or at all. I honestly don't know where to begin there, so if any of you have any leads, let me know below, or wherever. Remember, my goal here is to not get sued or arrested for breaking copyright laws, something I've evaded for 10 years in using this Z site.

Or I could just...move on from customs entirely? Figure out a new way to present content? Use my scanner more? Become a...normal card-blog?

...but what fun would that be? I like to think a lot of you read this thing simply BECAUSE it's not normal. It stands out. And hopefully you're alright with that.

So I sincerely hope I can continue to stand out for you all. Hopefully this photo issue will be resolved, and I can get right back to producing my own content for you all (and for myself but mostly for you all).

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Two Rack Packs of 2019 Topps Heritage


Yesterday I broke a blaster of Heritage, today I bust some rack packs. It's that simple. If it's a good product, you get more of it.

20 cards per, and 2 rackers. Here we go:

Pack 1- All of these are dupes. Okay then. Even the Kopech, which will probably be worth money if he ever gets healthy again.

Some commons. Morrow's probably looks the best here, though Jesse Biddle's giant baseball is intimidating.

Some better names. Moncada's is a great card. Absolutely awesome. I love the poses on Happ's and Moreland's as well.
And some highlights: I still adore those ASG cards, as they've made these new stars, like Judge and Baez, fit so well in the old design. And Snell's New Age Performers is another victory for that awesome design.

Pack 2- With the exception of the AL Rookie cards, all of these are dupes. Still good stuff, though.

These ones I needed. That Lucchesi is a nice one. Lagares' stern pose is also pretty good, as is the blue hue on Harrison's.

Genuine hero cards. All of these are nice. I also like how happy Anthony Rendon is to be the flagship star in Washington now.

This...is my short print. Of Matt Carpenter.

...it is also a mini parallel....numbered to 100.

...why the hell do they keep sending all these low numbered Cardinals to the Yankee fan who hates the Cardinals??? Do they think this is FUNNY???

Okay, okay. I should end this post on a good note. Let's see, uh...


Oh yeah, I pulled the best card of the year.

This is Pat Neshek, KNOWING the 70 Heritage year was coming up, doing a tribute to the Lowell Palmer card from 70T. I love that Neshek is such a Topps nerd, and I love even more than he plays for my team. May his health continue.

So yeah. 2019 Heritage is everything you're expecting and a little more. Snap some up before it becomes stale.

Friday, March 1, 2019

A Blaster of 2019 Topps Heritage


With 2019 Heritage, the product goes into the 70s era of card-collecting, where things would get a bit more experimental in terms of design and production. With this being the 1970 set, this means we're getting close to the point where Heritage is going to start edging out all the great 70s designs I can do customs of (and that's nothing compared to my current custom woes, which requires it own post).

Still, Walmart had Heritage, so I...kind of had to get some. Duty as a collector and all that. 8 packs, 9 cards per.

Pack 1-
This, quite obviously, is what we're working with design wise. Other than some obvious 2019 innovations, like the gradient fade on Castillo's, this is pretty accurate in terms of likeness. I feel like Topps did use the same photo for Barria last year for Heritage though, which is a bit concerning. Why do a High Number series if you're just going to use the same photo for next year's Heritage proper?

The poses are very 1970 Topps. I do wonder how Heritage is going to handle it next year and beyond, when we get some years when Topps embraced action photos. Will Heritage still leave those to Short Prints?

Some highlights- a REALLY COOL DESIGN FOR NEW AGE PERFORMERS THIS YEAR, featuring the mighty Mike Trout, an awesome candid shot for Todd Frazier, and a really fun posed shot for Wilmer Difo. That'd definitely be a 60s Senators card, for sure.

Pack 2-
A pair of Dodgers and a pair of rookies. Again, no criticisms here, other than those pesky copyright logo quotas.

Some star cards. Bryant's is a short-print. I'm also not a fan of Topps' decision to save all the star cards for SPs. Like...if a pleb collector wants to get an Aaron Judge card, he shouldn't have to open 20 packs to get one.

These two were interesting, as they were traded for each other, and these are definitely airbrushings. I have to say that Bruce's is honestly a little better. Maybe it's easier because the M's don't really have gray uniforms, and they had to burn a white one to make Cano's.

Pack 3- Commons. I appreciate wide zooms like Kingery's, even if the hatlessness makes me think we included him last minute in the Realmuto deal.

Highlights. I can finally say I know what James Paxton will look like as a Yankee, and that's not a bad airbrushing either. Bryant's is a '70 Cloth Sticker, which is a nice touch. Pedroia better get some playing time this year. He's too good to David Wright his way onto the bench.

Pack 4- Some commons, but all of people I collect. It'll be nice to see Leonys Martin get substantial playing time in Cleveland this year. Also, looking forward to Victor Arano being part of the SUPER COLOSSAL MEGA-ULTRA PHILLIES BULLPEN this year.

Highlights. kinda surprised Thor isn't an SP. Yaz' Baseball Flashbacks is nice, despite being a BoSox card. Fowler...I really wish he'd get back to his Cubs numbers.

Pack 5- More commons. Kinda odd seeing Joak Soria on the Brewers, even though he's kinda a journeyman at this point. And the product must have printed before Topps caught wind of Chirinos' signing in Houston.

The star cards, definitely. Love Braun's pose. The SP here is...Rhys Hoskins, which would have made it difficult for me, the Philly collector, if I didn't pull it.

 This...is beautiful.

Okay, maybe not the Boston-ness of it all, but the recreation of the 1970 ASG cards. Those are great. Those work. And the backs are awesome too.


Pack 6- I bet the Rangers are growing impatient with Willie Calhoun at this point. Also, how much longer until Yuli Gurriel becomes the Kyle Seager of the Gurriel household?

I know that these WS cards are going to be the basis of a post on a certain iconic Dodger-centric blog,  but i'm fine with them. They're alright.
I also dig the zoom on Nova's. Good airbrushing on that ChiSox cap, too

...and then this happened.

On the one hand, it's a blank white swatch. But on the other hand...it is Cleveland Indians standout Francisco Lindor. To get a hit of this guy during his prime is pretty damned nice. If he keeps it up, it could be worth even more.

Again, would have preferred a jazzier swatch, but...it's still a pretty nice hit

Pack 7-
Commons, but still fine. Villar's looks pretty good. Nice that they got an updated static posed shot of him, post-trade.

Flashier stars. Archer's is close to an action shot, but...mostly because he didn't really have time to do posed stuff in Pittsburgh. I dig the backgrounds in both Reddick's and Morales'.

Beauty across the board here. Those two phenomenal ASG cards, and a sweet-ass New Age Performers of Glibber. The colors and design on that are so cool.

Pack 8- Commons. That Zunino 'shop is pretty damn good.

Stars. The Bour one ain't bad either. Votto's is a Short-Print, and a photo I am familiar with from customizing. Mike Fiers seems happy to be back in Oakland. Andrelton Simmons needs a hug, I think.

We end on Didi. Why? Why not? He's Didi Gregorius.

Pretty solid product, as per usual. I have two rack packs of the stuff in the scanner ready for tomorrow.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Bryce to Meet You


Just a general thing: Typically when Philadelphia is the frontrunner for something...they don't usually get it.

Not just with baseball, with anything. I don't care if they're the Front-Runner to get LeBron James, or the front-runner to get a Super Bowl played at the Linc, or the front-runner to have one of the Obama kids go to school here. What usually happens is because we're the front-runner, someone else with better credentials uses our early lead to craft a better sales pitch and let Philly leave empty-handed. This almost always happens.

Alternatively, when we DO get things, like a Super Bowl, a World Series, Jim Thome, etc, we're never the expected target for it. We're always an underdog, never a front-runner.

...'til now, that is. Because last week, we were the front-runner in the Bryce Harper sweepstakes. And today, somehow, we got him.

And I was worried, too...because once we were announced as front-runner, the Dodgers, who didn't need him but can make deals like this work, and the Giants, who I always figured were going to sign him anyway, reentered the race. And yesterday I was like 'if it hasn't happened by now, the Phils have screwed it up.'

And yet it still happened. Because the Phils made a deal for 330 million over 13 years, meaning Bryce Harper will be a Philadelphia Phillie until 2032...the year I turn 37 years old, for anyone wondering.

Really the only way this can be a guaranteed win for everybody is if Bryce Harper ups his game. Because with all of the good work he's done, even with his MVP and ROY, he's had some down years, and he's had some years where he's ballooned his average and struck out too many times. So if he wants to keep the fanbase on his side, which is very tricky in Philly, he needs to play like a pro for the entirety of this deal. Or, alternatively, have multiple MVP seasons, cement a HOF status, and pull a Miguel Cabrera and spend the rest of the deal sitting on it.

Whatever happens now is up to Bryce Harper. I'd love for him to finally see a postseason win, and perhaps a World Series, with this new and improved Phillies team. But it's not just on us; it's on him as well. And I hope he realizes how much work he needs to put in to make this deal work for everyone.

Obviously I'm overjoyed, but I'm aware of the chance of failure. And I hope we avoid it.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

On Machado, or How Does This Make Sense??


So...uh...somebody finally signed Machado.

The weird part is, I think that everyone was dead set on Manny Machado landing in either Chicago or Philadelphia. Two cities that were both rebuilding for the immediate future, and had solid cores already that Machado could have tried to fit into. Which may not have gone well.

And yet when I heard that the Padres were entering into the sweepstakes, my first thought was 'ohhh WHAT'S THE POINT OF THAT?' Because I've become a bit annoyed with the Padres consistently roping in contracts when they're not especially close to competing. It didn't work in 2015 with Shields, Upton, Kemp and Kimbrel, and it didn't work last year with Eric Hosmer. So I was thinking that the Padres were making a mistake by going after Machado with the little they were bringing to the table.

...and yet the Padres turn out to be the best fit for Machado. So he signs there for 10 years and 300 million.

So here we go again, I guess.

The more you think about this deal, the more it actually does make sense. Like, yesterday the Padres' primary starting option at third base was rookie Ty France. Who has not played any games in the majors. And he'd be a major risk, along with starting rookie Luis Urias at shortstop and potentially pushing for Francisco Mejia as, at the very least, backup catcher. This is, after all, a team that is trying to make its name with its farm system, and subsequently has a very young core. You have young players like Manny Margot, Hunter Renfroe, Franmil Reyes and Joey Lucchesi, and those subsequent rookies, who haven't made huge impacts in the majors but definitely have the potential to.

With Machado, they have a more trusted third baseman, as well as an infield consisting of Eric Hosmer, Ian Kinsler and Luis Urias (though if I were a betting man, I'd guess that Jose Iglesias might be signed very soon to replace Urias). There's enough mix between youth and contracts that this could definitely work. Plus, Machado is still in his prime, has been consistently healthy throughout his first 6 seasons, is still one of the best defensive and offensive players of his era, and even in 2029 will still be a force to be reckoned with in the MLB (hopefully).

I'm not sure if the Padres will be competing in 2019, but with Machado they will definitely win a division title in the next ten years, probably sooner. I can't believe this deal actually works, but it works super well.

Now...all that remains is for Bryce Harper to land somewhere. I'm gonna keep praying that it's Philly.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

5 Packs of 2018 Topps Series 1

Real talk: I've been battling illness all week, which explains why my posts have been so sporadic. This was a hell of a virus, and I appear to finally be ahead of it, which is a great feeling. In celebration, I checked Target for Series 1, and found something astonishing...75% of the selection of hanger boxes, rack packs and blasters of the product, that were new a week ago, were all gone. Only the little basket of single packs remained, which was still fine, as I still scooped up 5 of them with no problem. It is kind of nice that people are buying more packs now. Amazing what a genuinely good product will do to sales.

Pack 1-
297- Paul Goldschmidt. Obviously not in a Cards uniform yet, of which I am thankful.
255- Andrelton Simmons
155- James McCann. Great shot, though he's since landed in Chicago.
328- Yonder Alonso, now ALSO in Chicago.
A trio of 3 dupes, Abreu, Rosario and Stroman, which I already have dupes of
Cactus League insert of Francisco Lindor...who won't be playing much in the Cactus League, since he just got injured.
Stars of the Game insert of Trey Mancini. These are minimalist and shiny. Not bad.
283- Rich Hill. More dupes
52- JT Realmuto. Now a Phillie.
302- Jose Berrios
2 more dupes
321- Jack Flaherty
136- Brad Peacock

Pack 2-
17- Caleb Joseph
236- Sean Doolittle. Hopefully he'll stay healthy this year
247- Sam Tuivailala
223- Jose Ramirez, still a standout in Cleveland
317- Kevin Gausman
293- Andrew Miller, now in St. Louis
195- Brett Phillips, a dupe
Cactus League insert of Mike Trout. Not a bad one to get, too
Stars of the Game of Adam Jones
4 dupes
234- Austin Hedges
153- Hunter Strickland
139- Mitch Haniger

Pack 3-
318- Cedric Mullins RC, which should age well
332- Ryan O'Hearn
301- Tanner Roark, now on the Reds
240- Trey Mancini
350- Nick Markakis. Kinda cool he got the 'end of the set' number.
3 dupes
84T of Matt Chapman. Very cool
Stars of the Game of Marcell Ozuna, who looks great on one of these
2 more dupes
201- Marcus Semien
96- Trevor Williams
148- Brandon Belt
58- Carlos Martinez

Pack 4-
206- Jaime Barria
264- Avisáil Garcia, now on the Rays
343- Sal Romano
16- Charlie Blackmon. Great shot of him, too
159- Astros TC
339- Josh Harrison
134- Sean Reid-Foley
199- Mike Clevinger GOLD #'d to 2019
Stars of the Game of Nick Castellanos
Gleyber Torres insert of Spring Training 2017, which uses the same photo as is 2017 Bowman rookie card.
121- Joey Wendle
199- Mike Clevinger. And the regular version!
330- Lorenzo Cain, looking dramatic here
11- Mike Zunino. Now with the Rays
271- Shane Bieber
72- Chris Taylor

Pack 5-
100- Mike Trout. Well, now I don't need to spend the big bucks on that one.
124- Jason Kipnis
95- Dennis Santana
140- Daniel Poncedeleon
3 dupes
287- Jesus Aguilar GOLD #'D to 2019
Greatest Moments of Mike Piazza. On the Mets this time
Stars of the Game of Wil Myers
3 dupes
22- Adalberto Mondesi
109- Michael Conforto
224- Odubel Herrera. At least we end with the only new Yankee or Phillie in these packs.

Solid enough stuff, and a lot of base needs, but even a week later I still have dupes in packs. Lovely.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Ten Years Later...


That...is what I looked like ten years ago. Around the time of February 9th, 2009. When I started writing this blog. 

I was a little young. A little immature. And I just wanted to write. I wanted to be a part of this community I'd wandered onto in order to see photos of 2008 Updates and Highlights. I didn't know how long it would last, or what I'd be doing, but...I just wanted to start it and see how it went. 

I don't think I even thought I could go for ten years, though. It's weird to think about doing one thing consistently for a ten year period. Especially when said period goes from adolescence to post-grad life. That kid has no idea how many card shows he's gonna attend, what college he's gonna go to, who he's gonna fall in love with, how close the Yankees are gonna get to World Series' before being felled by other teams. 

Hell, that kid has no idea he's gonna teach himself photoshop and start a career in graphic design via baseball cards that'll lead to his real-life employment. That'd probably scare the shit out of him.

Still, if younger me saw what I was doing now, what the blog looked like, he's probably dig it. He'd probably complain that I use the word 'shit' too much, but that was a change that came with college, and I still limited myself from using the other big curse word. 

I started writing this blog, really, to honor my grandfather, who died the fall before. He loved the Yankees, and collected the 48 Bowmans that provided the centerpieces of my collection. And my deepest regret is that he never got to see the blog. He would have been giving me post ideas every week. That would have been something.

This is still for him. But more importantly, it's for me. I've been doing this long enough that I've figured out what people want to read, and what they want to see. I'll just keep at that until I run out of things to say, which isn't likely. 

So...really, all that remains is to thank everyone who's been supporting the blog, and everyone who's been reading me ever since the beginning (and if you have, I sincerely apologize). I could not have done this without you, fair readers, and I will continue to do this for you. 

So that was...ten years. Went awful fast, didn't it? Crazy. 

Here's to the next milestone.