Sunday, March 31, 2019

A Blaster of 2019 Opening Day

Happy Opening Weekend! A great time to look at everything and see how new it feels! A time for new uniforms, spring sunshine, and Luke Voit not being able to make a simple throw at first (i'm a little bitter, yes).

It's also a time where not much is on shelves except for flagship and heritage, and Opening Day. I've never been a huge fan of Opening Day, as it doesn't do much that flagship doesn't, but I'm getting it for two reasons. One, because I wanna see some airbrushing and variations on eventual flagship cards, and two, because that 150 Years of Fun insert set looks great.

11 packs, 7 cards per. Let's try to have fun:

Pack 1-
176- Joey Gallo
81- Jeimer Candelario. Same as S1
139- Jack Flaherty. I forget if I pulled this in S1 or not
Opening Day insert of the A's. This set is a great excuse to show off some really cool photography, similar to the Perspectives insert from a few years back, but with less emphasis on player and more on team.
82- Jonathan Villar. From S1
92- David Peralta. This is a nice shot.
113- Edwin Diaz. Airbrushed into a Mets uniform...and done pretty well, though the muted color is a giveaway.

Pack 2-
79- Justin Turner. Looks new, and nice
150- Jacob De Grom. From S1
16- Brian Anderson
150Y0F of SANDY KOUFAX. This one is just charming enough
103- Mitch Garver
121- Orlando Arcia
83- Kole Calhoun. This one looks newer as well

Pack 3-
86- Anthony Rizzo. I don't know if this is an Opening Day thing, or just a Topps thing in general, but the main cutout of the players on several cards have a slight drop-shadow  behind them, setting them apart from the background, which is cool, but sort of takes away from the photo a bit? I'm still behind it, but I'd like to know how long they've been doing that
127- Mitch Haniger
42- Rafael Devers
A Mascots card of Mr. Red. Those are always fun to pull
95- Javier Baez
122- Ryan Zimmerman
141- Ryan Yarbrough. With such a small checklist, I'm glad a sneaky reliever like Yarbrough got a base card

Pack 4-
199- Brandon Crawford. That's a cool shot.
44- Trey Mancini
123- Eric Hosmer
150YOF of Ronald Acuna. Another fantastic, goofy shot
10- Jordan Zimmermann
40- GREAT SHOT of George Springer
157- Lorenzo Cain

Pack 5-
78- Andrelton Simmons
152- Matt Olson
51- Ronald Acuna, who must have a billion cards in these sets
Opening Day insert of the Diamondbacks
167- Tyler Glasnow
177- Jake Bauers. Now, technically this is a nice airbrush job, as the Indians duds look natural on him. HOWEVER...there's a flaw here. On his arm is an ASG patch, as the Indians are hosting the 2019 All Star Game. Bauers did not play for the Indians in 2018, therefore hasn't had the opportunity to wear the patch yet. So this HAS to be an airbrush job, even if it is a good one
166- Didi Gregorius

Pack 6-
106- Gleyber Torres. This one is new to me
89- Yoan Moncada. Beautiful shot of him, with a helmet toss in a throwback
68- Christin Stewart BLUE PARALLEL. It's not numbered, but it makes the card look even cooler
150YOF of Ernie Banks. Could have picked a slightly more fun photo, but still great
162- Jean Segura as a Phillie. This airbrush job is NEARLY perfect, as the two on the back of his uniform looks mildly artificial.
119- Randal Grichuk. His Jays white cap looks pretty awesome here
172- Max Kepler

Pack 7-
191- Joey Wendle
60- JT Realmuto. This product must have been finalized before the Phils deal
91- Brad Keller
Team Traditions and Celebrations insert of the Diamondbacks Pool, which was made even more famous on Zack Godley's Stadium Club base card last year
17- Sandy Alcantara. Great shot
28- Mark Trumbo
21- Kenley Jansen

Pack 8-
153- Willians Astudillo. I have been waiting a bit to pull a card of this guy.
23- Miguel Cabrera
124- Stephen Strasburg
Mascot card of Orbit, from Houston. Yeeeahhh.
18- Kyle Tucker
12- Zack Greinke. I'm glad he's brought back the long hair thing. I feel like he waits til he's comfortable on his new team, then grows it out.
56- Justin Upton

Pack 9-
31- Nolan Arenado
112- Rowdy Tellez RC. Nice!
25- Michael Lorenzen, the next two-way player, who seems to be doing well for the Reds
150yOF of TED WILLIAMS...WITH A FISHING POLE. Because of course.
160- Ramon Laureano
150- Josh Hader, who only needed 9 pitches the other night
197- Felipe Vazquez

Pack 10-
180- Elvis Andrus
46- Clayton Kershaw
61- Albert Almora
150YOF Mike Trout. Not bad
178- Touki Toussaint
41- Jose Altuve
138- Luis Urias. Not Tatis, but not bad

Pack 11-
74- Jonathan Schoop. Another nice airbrushing job done on his Twins duds
45- Kris Bryant
185- Khris Davis. Love these bright green-and-yellow highlights on this card
Mascot card of the D-Backs Mascot
50- Mike Clevinger
190- Miles Mikolas
4- Ryan O'Hearn

Not great, but still a fun little rip. That's what it's meant to be, I think

Oh, By the Way, Customs are Back

I was kinda worried back there.

About a month ago, I faced a dilemma about my photo source for customs, as it wasn't giving any MLB updates, and I thought I'd have to stop doing customs. Which...was not preferable. I mean, I love talking about baseball, but the customs are my means of doing so. Y'all are here for analysis, but a thumbnail looks nice, too. There's a reason so many blogs have worked both the writing AND visual angles, and succeeded. And I didn't want to be left without visuals.

So I found another source. This one is a little more strenuous, on my part, to accumulate, but it's a system that I can get well into, and will make the eventual process of photo selection a ton easier, especially during Uncustomed Heroes. I'm gonna try to get on a good routine in production before I can go back to my two-per-day routine, but at this rate that'll probably happen quite soon.

I usually save the First Custom of the Year for an amusing acquisition, a rookie, or a Japanese import, but...I went for Ichiro.

Ichiro's been in the leagues as long as I've been making customs, and he's definitely one of my favorites. You can't NOT love somebody whose style of play is almost entirely based around contact. Last month, as Ichiro began to make his final appearances, I thought I was about to make mine. But I found a way.

Having seen Ichiro's final game, and how emotional it was for everyone involved, especially the man himself, I couldn't not commemorate the man. Even if I'm starting right off with a retired's someone I respect. And we all do.

So, it's official. Customs are back. And so am I.

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. my short print. Of Matt Carpenter. 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. 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 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,'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.