Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011- The Year in Review

Life is very strange. I can remember specific details about this exact date last year, and how we rang in 2011. Here I am kissing it goodbye. Told you life was strange.

Being that the year will be over in about 12 hours, I figure I'll do what I usually do on the blog this time of year: recap the huge baseball related events, usually beginning with "this was the year that...". Because, if nothing else, at least I'm consistent.

This was the year that I attended the Super Bowl. Got that out of the way quickly, so that the rest of the post won't be fueling your hatred of me.

This was the year that my blog readership was higher than last, which is nice. My only question is why a post titled "The Calm Before the Storm", which is a couple sentences about Topps Series 1, is getting so many reads.

This was the year that a once loved blogger shocked his fans by instead choosing to draw cartoon miniature horses.

This was the year that I visited three baseball stadiums, in Washington, Pittsburgh and Cleveland. All three games were good, with all but the Pirates winning theirs. Fitting.

This was the year that I sent out a few trade/general card packages. I realize there is one I need to get out approximately yesterday, so I'll do my best to send that one out this week.

This was the year that pretty much every Marvel movie teased next year's Avengers movie. Meanwhile, the Green Lantern movie teased the fact that there would never be a sequel.

This was the year that I held my first blog contest. I think it went rather well. Another, smaller, less complicated one should be on the way in 2012.

This was the year that I kept my interest in football cards. I eventually recieved the full factory set of Football. Unfortunately, rather than recieving the Cam Newton patch card that everyone's getting, I got the Jake Locker one. Yay.

This was the year that a team signed so many stars, and was destined to make the playoffs...then failed miserably and spent time losing to terrible teams. I'm talking about the Cowboys. Kidding, it's my frigging Birds. This year was not the best year to be an Eagles fan. Or a fan of anyone in the NFC East in that matter.

This was the year that I went to my first Eagles game. They actually won.

This was the year that after unfairly defeating my Phils in the NLDS, the Cardinals took the World Series. The first time since 2007 where I haven't been satisfied with the Series winners. And I don't wanna talk about the 2007 World Series.

This was the year that, on television, Coach lost for no reason, the bald chick lost for no reason, the guy with the really deep voice won, Deb walked in at the exact wrong time, Amy was presented with a Girlfriend Agreement, and the producers decided to just give Boston Rob the money.

This was the year that a baseball player saw one of my customs, liked it, and posted it as his Twitter profile picture. Thanks again Brent.

So it was a pretty good year for me. I guess that only means one thing: Next year's going to be even better.

Friday, December 30, 2011

My 30 Favorite Customs of the Year (Part 2)

I got a few comments on the first 15 cards in the countdown, saying that a select few stood above the rest. If I got kudos for the first 15, the final 15 entries will get a lot of praise, I hope.

#15. Nick Markakis, 1981. Always a fan of the 81 design, and of Markakis. Besides, the guy just cranks out excellent fielding shots. This card was a match made in heaven.

#14. Ryan Braun, 1973. This was one of the first customs of the season, which means the season began with a bang. No one knew the season Braun would have, or the changes that would befall him by year's end. Still, the card symbolizes the year- beautiful, and a tad over the rest.

#13. Hunter Pence, 1975. I made a Pence custom after he was traded, but the photos were rather scarce from his first game. So once he got settled in Phillies garb, I made another one, focusing more on detail than color. And it worked.

#12. Dee Gordon, 1980. This card captures the quick on his feet shortstop in all his glory. Of course, according to some bloggers, his regular Topps card is muuuuuch better.

#11. CJ Wilson, 1982. The pitcher's pose is nothing new, but I made the card rely on mostly the red and white of the uniform. And it worked. The card still flows, despite the fact that Wilson will be donning another shade of red next year.

#10. Cliff Lee. I love how everything in the background fades to one color, like it's not as important. The image of Cliff in mid-pitch waiting for the ball to hit is another amusing one. On top of that, it's a beautiful card of the city's 2nd huge ace.

#9. Justin Verlander, 1968. Well, even the Cy Young winner has to have a good custom. Denny McLain comparisons aside, it's a simple, unique card, that captures the season Verlander had.

#8. Billy Butler. Another one of the first few I made. I actually made this one with a few relatives of mine in the room, to show them the process. They were amazed with the final result. I personally love the detail on Billy, and the foreground, and the simplicity of the background.

#7. Carlos Beltran, 1971. Within a day of posting this one, I was told by my dad that this is one of my best.I couldn't agree more. The way it captures the back of the uniform is pretty awesome.

#6. Chase Utley, 1978. Whenever I post new customs, I always assume that the new ones are the ones that stand out to me the most. This thought backfires on me, since this card always stands out, and pops to me. And Utley almost has an outline against the StateFarm logo behind him.

#5. Jose Reyes, 1975. I felt like I was blessed with this shot, and figured there was only one design it could fit with. I got a comment after posting it that asked if my influence was 2009 OPC. It never really crossed my mind, but looking back on it now it could have fit in with that set easily. I didn't need to do much filtering for this one.

#4. Brent Lillibridge, 1972. This card is on the list not only because it's an awesome card, but because of how the man on it responded. The Fan, who I have mentioned before, knows Brent, and showed this to him after I made it. The card has been Brent's Twitter photo since August. Glad you liked the card, Brent.

#3. Andrew McCutchen, 1993. It's a shame that there are so few sideways Topps designs, so I will eventually run out of ways to capture the moving awesomeness of Andrew McCutchen. Last year's was just as awesome as this year's. I figured I had to top it somehow, and I did. Look for an even better one next year, if I can.

#2. Brian Wilson. This may be #30 for a certain Dodger blogger, but even though he may strike fear into the hearts of Dodger fans and barbers everywhere, there's no doubt that underneath all 2 tons of facial hair, there's a good guy. The way I washed out this one, it's almost like there's a bit of grey in the beard.

#1. Ryan Howard, 1966. Of course, the number one spot was not going to cuteness. It was going to a card that contained all of the badassness of the man pictured. I made the background desaturated, and heavily saturated the red of Ryan's Phils uniform. Also, I picked a photo that could easily scare some children. He looks so big, and it looks like the bat is coming toward the camera...which would explain what happened to the photographer. Still, with the elegance and awesomeness of the shot, combined with the contrast of colors, this is easily the best custom of the year.

Unfortunately, you won't be seeing another custom until mid-February, which means it will be a rather quiet blog for a little while. But who cares. There's still the thought of more customs coming to keep the anticipation going.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

My 30 Favorite Customs of the Year (Part 1)

One thing that's always constant at the end of a year, besides Dick Clark waving to the crowd while Ryan Seacrest upstages him from outside, is an array of lists. This blog does not wish to puncture the long-practiced tradition, as I'm making one of my own. This morning I went through the dozens of customs I've made this year, and picked out 30 of my favorites. But, like most lists, you're going to have to wait until the next installment for the really good stuff.

#30. Rafael Furcal, 1966. I've always thought double plays make great cards, and here is no exception. The yellow really makes things brighter.

#29. Jason Motte, 1976. 2nd finalist in the Excited Men With Beards competition. The look on Motte's face as he leaves the mound says it all. The card does this face justice.

#28. Yuniesky Betancourt, 1976. I've always liked this one. Not really a reason why, but maybe it's how the double play shot contrasts with the long name squeezing into the namebox.

#27. Nyjer Morgan, 1975. People have considered Mr. Morgan to be a bit of a wild card, considering that the man has cursed on live broadcasts to children watching everywhere. This card doesn't play against this fact- he's wild, he's bombastic and you never know what he'll do next.

#26. Chris Young, 1981. This was the year I began shopping new teams into old designs, successfully. This card is no exception. I love how the wall has its own gradient, and Chris has a bit of an outline.

#25. Tim Wakefield, 1977. If and when Mr. Wakefield retires, this card will be the ultimate tribute.

#24. Curtis Granderson, 1981.Two things I love about this one. 1. The way the navy blue almost looks black, and how the shine off Grandy's helmet defines the photo. 2. I made this card a few months before All Star Season, and the All Star marker at the top of the card came true. How do you like that?

#23. Matt Kemp, 1984. This card was a commission by The Fan, a guy that has been sending me requests for customs all year, requests I usually make possible. This Kemp really shines, and really reminds me of the actual set. One could mistake this for an actual 1984 card.

#22. John Axford, 1972. I held this card for two months after the Brewers lost. One must wonder why. This card is quite an achievement.

#21. Joe Mauer, 1971. I love this card. While Joe did not have the year we all thought, this card still captures the essence of Minnesota's Poster Boy.

#20. Joey Votto, 1976. Why didn't this card get the reaction I hoped for when I posted it? It's a photo that might have been used in the 1976 set.

#19. Miguel Tejada, 1964. Tejada did not have a great season, but this card makes you forget all that. It looks like he's flying off the card.

#18. Vladimir Guerrero, 1978. I've been a moderate Vladdie fan for a little while, because he seems like such a good player, and he can hit well too. This card is truly awesome. Not only does it look like a 1978 card, but it's a really cool night card that makes Vladdie look awesome.

#17. Alfonso Soriano, 1980. This card didn't get much response. It's quite beautiful, and it looks like it was colorized. At least that's what I was going for.

#16. Yadier Molina, 1976. Possibly one of the most badass cards of the year. Would you want to mess with that guy? Also, the reds and blues really mix well here. I thought this was awesome when I made it.

Tomorrow: 15 all the way to #1. Who will it be?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


So...does this mean Bobby Jenks is looking for a job?

Still, this was a huge move. Boston is only getting richer, and Oakland is only getting oaklandier.

Year by Year Customs: 1991

This design is pretty tough to customize, but I pulled it off anyway. These ones are pretty good.

I made this one in October. Then the Brewers lost.

Coming Tomorrow- For 5 players who have changed teams, featured in Year by Year, I'll give them the old 70's Topps treatment. Airbrushing.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Year by Year Customs: 1989

The penultimate day of year customs. These ones are actually pretty awesome.

Coming Tomorrow- A set I've only attempted customizing once- the dreaded 1991 set. Wish me luck.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Year by Year Customs: 1987

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas. I'll post my Christmas results a bit later. First, a few customs I made a few days ago.

Now a member of the Nationals.

What an unfortunate name.

Coming tomorrow- Cards from 1989.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve Packs: 2011 Topps Chrome and Update

Last night I spent Christmas Eve Eve with my extended family. A few of them managed to sneak in some card related gifts (including my Uncle, but we'll get to him in another post). I ended up recieving a rack pack of Topps Chrome and a blaster of Update.

First the Chrome:
94- Shane Victorino. Awesome, starting with a Phillie.
39- Travis Wood PURPLE BORDER #'D TO 499. Nice. The man was just traded to the Cubbies for Sean Marshall.
122- Adam Lind. Bleh, Blue Jay.
128- Matt Joyce. Bleh, Ray.

Pack 2-
97- Ubaldo Jiminez.
210- Pedro Strop
218- Hector Noesi

Pack 3-
74- Nelson CRUUUUZ!
78- Sean Rodriguez
220- Aaron Crow

15- Tim Lincecum
133- Drew Storen, who I saw close a game.
125- ROY OSWALT, Phormer Phillie.

And now the Update-

Pack 1-
253- Scott Linebrink.
165- Al Alburquerque.
153- Matt Guerrier
142- Alex White. Weird card.
Duos of Hank Aaron and Jose Bautista. Oh, no...
174- Jacob Turner
62- Jason Marquis.
316- Justin Upton AS

Pack 2-
266- Jason Isringhausen
285- David Purcey
300- Carl Crawford. A shame he didn't do a damn thing as a Red Sock
218- Matt Kemp
26- Jered Weaver cl
Bill Caudill 1980. Alright. Better than the 90's crap I've been getting.
Willie McCovey mini

Pack 3-
28- Adam Kennedy
87- Clayton Mortensen
270- Todd Frazier
36- Josh Judy
133- Fernando Salas
46- Angel Sanchez SHINY CARD!!
18- Robinson Cano AS
259- Andre Ethier CL

Pack 4-
214- Matt Daley
243- Chris Denorfia
7- Nate Schierholtz. Had such high hopes for him.
291- Andrew McCutchen AS COGNAC SHINY!!!
Michael Pineda Topps 60
147- CJ Wilson AS.
144- Aw, come on. YOOOOOOOOOOOUK AS
170- Brad Zielger

Pack 5-
77- Freddy Garcia, somehow one of our top aces.
29- Mike Macdougal
184- Tyler Chatwood rookie
210- Jayson Werth. He sucked for Washington cause he shaved his beard.
63- Doug Fister BLUE SHINY #'D TO 60! WOOOOOOOOOO!
Holliday mini
75- Gio Gonzalez AS. Now on the Nats.
154- Cliff Lee AS. Yeah, that's right.

Pack 6-
226- Steve Pearce
265- Willie Harris
83- Brandon Belt
312- Danny Duffy rookie
246- Alcides Escobar, snagged in the Greinke trade
Ricky Romero Topps Town
231- Mark Buehrle BOOZE SHINY!!!
3- Blake Beavan RD

Pack 7-
212- Pat Neshek
284- Laynce Nix.
169- Ezequiel Cabrera. Another Cabrera?
127- Rickie Weeks HRD
315- Carlos Pena
Miguel Cabrera mini. Wait, what's he doing in a Marlins uni?
52- Lance Berkman AS
53- Koji Uehara

Pack 8-
103- Josh Collmenter rookie
233- John McDonald
330- Lance Berkman. His team hopes for him to have another monster season.
148- Alex Presley rookie.
229- Asdrubal Cabrera GOLD #'D TO 2011
Reed Johnson SHINY CARD!
109- Jair Jurrjens
38- Josh Hamilton AS

Pack 9-
318- Brayan Pena
41- Lou Marson, traded away in the Cliff Lee deal. No, the first one.
199- Micah Ownings
Tom Hausman 1980. Okay.
George Sisler Topps 60
193- Lonnie Chisenhall RD
305- Carlos Beltran.

Pack 10-
65- Mitchell Boggs
95- Lyle Overbay.
237- Ryan Roberts
282- Brad Hand. Possibly a relative to Randy Foote?
206- JP Howell
Posey and McCann Duo
23- Chance Ruffin. May I guess...Bruce's son?
299- Robbie Cano Home Run Derby. He's doing his best Jack Nicholson impression on the card.

Patch Card: Brandon Belt of the Giants. He better be good.

Good packs. As for the digging, I got a Diamondbacks ring, and a Chicago White Stocking ring. Cool.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Year by Year Customs: 1986

Finally got these up. After today's smattering of customs, there are four days in Year by Year left, including a brief update set. Enjoy these.

Got his autograph personally.

Coming Monday: The first set I ever completed from scratch.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

No Customs Today

Being that I had the mother of all busy days today, the customs scheduled for this afternoon have been postponed to sometime tomorrow. Besides, after tomorrow, there's a Christmas Eve post, and then there's Christmas. Anywhere within the next few days there could be cards. Just saying.

But regardless, there will be customs tomorrow. Just a matter of when.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Year by Year Customs: 1984

Not the easiest design to customize, but it still works. These four are pretty cool. Unfortunately, that means I only have a few designs left to do for Year by Year, and that includes a brief Update set at the end. One of the sets is 1991 Topps...scary stuff.

Coming Tomorrow- A decent design with a few stars.