Wednesday, April 16, 2014

2014 Spirit Base Series 1: 221-230

#221 - Carlos Corporan
This would be an easy photo for Panini to use if they ever release a set big enough to include the likes of Carlos Corporan.

#222 - Luke Hochevar
Well, with Hochevar set to miss the entire season with Tommy John surgery, this card is pretty obsolete now.

#223 - Erick Aybar
There have been a few rain shots sprinkled* through the set so far but none as cool as this.

#224 - Kenley Jansen
I'm guessing this is him looking at the runner on third but who knows.

#225 - Giancarlo Stanton
Hard to top a walkoff reception.

#226 - Jim Henderson
I was wondering what this guy was up to these days. Pitching in Milwaukee apparently.

#227 - Glen Perkins
I guess the Twins won a game? Cool.

#228 - Bobby Parnell
"What do you think of all the Tommy John surgeries these days, Bobby?"

#229 - Mark Teixeira
There weren't a whole lot of photo choices for Teixeira seeing as how he was hurt for most of 2013.

#230 - Alberto Callaspo
I like how Callaspo seems to be keeping his cool as Hamilton is about to slide face first into his knee. His nickname should be Cool-aspo*.

*Sorry for the puns. I haven't been fully rehabilitated.

Monday, April 14, 2014

2014 Spirit Base Series 1: 211-220

#211 - Didi Gregorius
This is a pretty dynamic play by Didi here. I sure wish the Arizona fans could've filled up the bleachers in the background though.

#212 - Jonny Venters
Venters missed all of 2013 and opened up the 2014 season on the DL. I hope he comes back in time to make this card relevant.

#213 - J.J. Hardy
Hardy's finally getting some recognition as one of the better AL shortstops. I'm already calling him signing with the Yankees this offseason.

#214 - Koji Uehara
Boston's postseason hero with that ever-present smile on his face.

#215 - James Russell
When I see/hear "James Russell," the first thing that pops in my mind is this.

#216 - Jose Quintana
With the White Sox uniforms, it's nice to have the green grass add some color to things.

#217 - Ryan Ludwick
Why the long face/neck?

#218 - Justin Masterson
I'd think Masterson would be established enough now to get a lower number but apparently he's still rocking #63.

#219 - Charlie Blackmon
Even as a Giants fan that follows the NL West pretty closely, I had no idea about Charlie Blackmon before this season started. Couldn't tell you his position, how old he was, what he looked like, nothing. Needless to say, he's turning a heads so far.

#220 - Drew Smyly
I kinda love the psychadelic background here.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

2014 Pennant

With Heritage on the shelves and Gypsy Queen soon to be joining it, I thought it was time to unveil the 2014 for Spirit's retro release, Pennant.

This year's design is by far the most colorful of the Pennant releases. The rounded edges inset from the border are filled with the primary team color while a small strip of a secondary color house the position and team name at the bottom. The black name bar off-sets the photo and leaves plenty of room for even the longest player names. Also, I realized I've yet to include any kind of 'rookie card' designation on any of my designs thus far, so I one to the Tanaka card up there. It's pretty similar to Topps' but it works well with this design in particular. I added some age to the photos as is typical for retro sets. I think I held back from going overboard with speckles and noise. The cardstock would be pretty much what Topps runs Heritage on.

I kept the backside pretty similar to the 2013 version but made a few small changes. The most obvious one is changing the color from black to a brownish-pinkish hue. The numbers are also bigger and the font selection is bolder to help with readability.

I also threw in an autograph variation since this paper stock is really great for on-card autos. The backs are pretty much the same with the only change being the congratulatory auto text in place of a brief player bio or whatever.

All-in-all, I think this design is successful in looking retro without overtly ripping of a particular set from the past. I'm not sure I could even pinpoint a certain era it'd fit into but it definitely doesn't appear to be tied to the 2010s.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

2014 Spirit Deluxe

Time to slow things down a bit on the Spirit base front since we're approaching the end of Series 1 and the season hasn't even started yet. Here's this year's "high-end" release, Spirit Deluxe.

The front features a full-bleed photo again, though this year the background is a shimmery, refractor-y, prismatic thing. I'm not sure I can replicate it digitally but I think this gives you an idea. It's a lot more prominent on the day game photos. At the bottom is a team-colored marble block with lots of silver foil accents. The thin rails on the left and right extend up into the photo space before softly fading out. It reminds me of a spotlight receding into the darkness of night.

On the back, the team-colored marble takes up about 2/3 of the bottom, leaving room for a brief write-up and some fine print along with the player name. The rail element from the front reappears, this time anchoring the bottom as well as separating the photo from the text block. The team logo sits inside a white circle centered where the 2 sections converge.

Here's a look at the standard auto and relic variations. The auto has a white glow for the player to sign. It covers up the light rails a bit but it's functionally necessary.

I think this is a nice evolution from the 2012 and 2013 versions. They aren't drastically different but hopefully you'll be able to distinguish from year to year. I just want to keep the full bleed, glossy thing going so there's consistency.

Thanks for checking this out.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

2014 Spirit Base Series 1: 201-210

#201 - Phillippe Aumont
I wonder if Phillippe has gone through life correcting people that think his last name is a typo.

#202 - Russell Martin
So nice to see Martin finally with a team that's easy to root for.

#203 - Matt Adams
Hey look, he can field, too.

#204 - Andrew Cashner
This photo needs some context for sure.

#205 -  Pablo Sandoval
I really hope Panda keeps his slimmed down physique for more than just this (contract) year. Even if he *gasp* leaves the Giants, I hope he stays healthy enough to silence all the #fatchat that's been plaguing him the last few seasons.

#206 - Mike Zunino
I'm really enjoying all these catchers' photos I've found thus far. They all look bad ass in their gear.

#207 - Matt Moore
The smattering of blurry red in the background is kind of odd but is a nice contrast for the Rays' uniforms.

#208 - Geovany Soto
Great action shot. I wish the ump was a little blurrier or just out of the frame completely, though.

#209 - Brandon Morrow
I'm really glad the Blue Jays rebranding happened. They look so good in their old/new blue uniforms.

#210 - Jordan Zimmermann
Zimm looks a little Oswalt-esque here. I hope he ages a little better on the mound than Roy did.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

2014 Spirit Base Series 1: 191-200

#191 - Jason Castro
I wonder if there's ever been another player/team name situation like Castro / Astros before.

#192 - Wade Davis
I take back what I said about the Rockies having the best looking team set thus far. I think it's probably the Royals.

#193 - J.B. Shuck
That's some pretty intense baserunning there.

#194 - Brian Wilson
I'm so glad he's pairing that beard/horse-hawk with a Dodgers uniform now. It makes perfect sense.

#195 - Marcell Ozuna
You may look at the empty seats in the background and think the game is in Miami but that's Turner Feild. Granted, I know the Marlins aren't the biggest draw but, c'mon Braves fans.

#196 - Carlos Gomez
I didn't realize it until writing this post but that's another photo capturing a load of empty Atlanta seats in the background. What I did know about the photo is the exact game this shot is from. That was probably the most entertaining thing you could ask for during a Brewers/Braves game in late September after the Braves had already clinched.

#197 - Trevor Plouffe
Probably one of the most fun last names to pronounce.

#198 - Jonathon Niese
I'm sure Niese would appreciate not using a profile shot.

#199 - David Robertson
Pretty cool non-pitching shot from the mound here.

#200 - Nate Freiman
Those yellow jerseys look great in the Bay-area setting sunlight.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

2014 Spirit Base Series 1: 181-190

#181 - Josh Collmenter
What a wickedly weird delivery.

#182 - B.J. Upton
I have no personal investment in either of the Upton brothers but it was kinda depressing to see B.J. the elder have such a poor 2013 season. Let's hope he turns it around this year.

#183 - Kevin Gausman
It may be a dump overall but I really appreciate Tropicana Field for providing nice colorful backgrounds for these mound shots. There are quite a few I've seen with the cyan band across the fence. It really looks good.

#184 - Xander Bogaerts
This year's most-hyped rookie at the moment. I'm glad to see he dumped his old #72 for something a little more permanent. I'm also glad I checked some spring training photos before I published this.

#185 - Darwin Barney
That's some dark Wrigley ivy in the background there.

#186 - Jeff Keppinger
I'll always associate Kepp with the embarrassment that was the Giants' 2011 season. Sorry, Kepp.

#187 -  Jack Hannahan
He should be playing for the A's with all those vowels.

#188 - Jason Kipnis
I hope Kipnis continues on his current trajectory. He's a pretty complete second basemen in a league with few overall great players at the position.

#189 - Jorge De La Rosa
It pains me to say that the Rockies are probably having one of the best looking teamsets up to this point. Must be something about that Rocky Mountain sunlight.

#190 - Rick Porcello
I keep hearing everyone say Porcello's destined to be 2014's Max Scherzer. Oh yeah, that's really fair. I guess that's why Detroit traded Doug Fister for such a lackluster return this offseason. They're just trying to keep things fair. How nice of them.

Monday, March 10, 2014

2014 Spirit Base Series 1: 171-180

#171 - Carlos Ruiz
Chooch missed a lot of the 2013 season so the photo options weren't the best. Hopefully this isn't too unflattering.

#172 - Josh Harrison
Those shades almost look fake.

#173 - Carlos Martinez
Hopefully Baby Pedro has a good start so this won't be the first thing people think of when they hear his name. That memorable follow-through should help, too.

#174 - Yasmani Grandal
It's always cool to get a shot of a catcher in full gear, especially when he's ready to throw and you can see his eyes through the mask.

#175 - Gregor Blanco
The White Shark's kinda getting a raw deal with the Giants' outfield. As much as I'd like to see him get more playing time in 2014, odds are it would come at the expense of someone getting injured and I sure don't want that to happen.

#176 - Kyle Seager
I look for Seager to get some attention this year with the new Mariners' lineup. He's been pretty solid the last two years.

#177 - Jose Molina
This is a pretty cool shot but what's Joey Fatone doing in the Rays dugout?

#178 - Martin Perez
Boy, the Rangers need him to really come through this year. Their pitching staff is literally hurting.

#179 - J.A. Happ
By far the Happ-iest card in the set. (sorry)

#180 - Adam LaRoche
Another nice out of the batter's box pose. The daytime lighting is perfect as well.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

2014 Spirit Base Series 1: 161-170

#161 - Jose Altuve
Altuve's probably my favorite that I don't collect. Maybe it's because of his stature. Or how much fun it is to say his name. Or the fact he's stuck on the Astros. Either way, I'm pulling for him to shine.

#162 - Aaron Crow
I used to have an Northwest Arkansas Naturals Aaron Crow shirsey, oddly enough. I went to a game at Arvest Ballpark and felt out of place without any gear so I grabbed a Crow shirt off the clearance rack. I don't think he had been called up to Kansas City yet but I guess it was obvious he was done with AA.

#163 - Howie Kendrick
I think Kendrick tried to go by Howard last year but I guess it didn't take. I keep seeing Howie everywhere online.

#164 - Andre Ethier
Boy, I bet he feels lucky Matt Kemp's been such a DL-hermit the last couple seasons. Ethier's been able to redeem himself enough to where his contract doesn't look like the absolute worst in the league anymore. Probably only top-10 now.

#165 - Jacob Turner
Going into 2013, Turner looked like he'd been the Marlins' #1 starter. Going into this season, he's probably #4 or #5, even though he had a decent season last year. Miami's rotation could be amazing in 2014.

#166 - Yovani Gallardo
I really don't like the lighting in Miller Park.

#167 - Brian Duensing
I really dig the depth of field in this shot.

#168 - Lucas Duda
Oy, those empty seats at Citi Field.

#169 - Brett Gardner
One of my biggest hopes this offseason was that after the Yankees signed Ellsbury, they'd be willing to move Gardner since he'd be a perfect fit for San Francisco. Unfortunately, the Yankees were smart enough to lock him up for a few more years. Meanwhile, the Giants signed noted clomper Michael Morse to clomp around left field...

#170 - Tommy Milone
If I were an Oakland fan, I'd try really hard to find a reason to call him Tommy "The Mailman" Milone.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

2014 Spirit Base Series 1: 151-160

Alright, after that short break, time jump back in the saddle here.

#151 - Brad Ziegler
Ziegler's mechanics don't really lend themselves to many aesthetically pleasing photographs.

#152 - Evan Gattis
El Oso Blanco. What a great nickname.

#153 - Wei-Yin Chen
I'm glad this angle was able to keep the ball in frame as it hurls into the foreground.

#154 - David Ortiz
There are so many good Red Sox photos from the postseason. I hope I'm not overusing them.

#155 - Chris Rusin
I really hope the Cubs roster building pans out soon. There are so many guys on their roster I have no idea about.

#156 - Dayan Viciedo
Dayan/I don't say it but I know/You know
(probably like a 1% chance anyone gets that reference)

#157 - Mike Leake
I can't believe Leake's 26 years old. He looks like he's barely old enough to drink.

#158 - Ryan Raburn
This is a nice pose at the plate here. There's a little bit of action going on but you get a clear look at Raburn's face. It's not that easy to find batting shots where their faces/mouths aren't all contorted.

#159 - Adam Ottavino
Just enough of Ottavino's profile here to make this one usable.

#160 - Austin Jackson
Just now noticed that all of these pairs are pitchers on the left and hitters on the right.