Wednesday, January 14, 2015

THIS IS THE REMIX: 1989 Donruss

Oh, hi there. Long time no blog. Just to bring you up to speed, I'm going to make my first 2015 Spirit post some time in February. But if you don't wanna wait until then to see the 2015 design, I'm in the midst of posting a card a day on my Instagram. Once all 30 teams are up, I'll do a standard post here discussing the designs and whatnot. In the mean, I thought I'd revive the long-dormant feature known as "THIS IS THE REMIX."

1989 was right when baseball cards entered my universe. Up to that point I had acquired a few random cards from either my dad buying me packs or cousins tossing me some of their duplicates. Just stuff stacked along with my Batman trading cards. But the summer 1989 is when I started paying attention to baseball. I would look for wax at every convenient store I entered, saving up quarters and dimes to buy a pack whenever I could. There was a gas station three blocks from my house I could ride my bike to whenever I had 54 cents burning a hole in my pocket. They usually had a box of both Topps and Donruss there amongst the candy. I seemed to favor Donruss. They were more colorful than '89 Topps and they came with a freaking puzzle. How could I resist?

I'm not really sure if there's a consensus regarding the '89 Donruss design. Obviously it's not a masterpiece but I don't seem to recall it garnering hate like so many other designs of that period. My guess is the color strips are kind of endearing. That and the fact that it's not cluttered with unnecessary design elements like little baseballsSuper Mario tubes or paint splatters. All in all it's a pretty simple design, but there's still room for improvement.

The basic build is the same but with just a few minor tweaks. We still have gradient color bars sweeping horizontally from edge to edge. My first decision was obvious – change the colors to team colors. Call me crazy but if you're gonna have the colors vary from card to card, might as well make them fit the player and their uniform. As I continued to tinker, I thought about having the top and bottom bars go opposite directions, i.e. the Braves would go red to blue on top and blue to red on bottom. It wasn't horrible but it just didn't quite work. Then I had the notion to fade each bar to black instead of the opposite team color. Perfect. It put the team colors on opposite corners and kept the whole gradient motif without affecting readability.

After having the black in the corners, I played with the tiled line edges. I made sure to lighten them up so they're visible no matter the ink saturation. On a lot of '89 Donruss cards, the edges just look solid black. Making them fade from black to a light gray would help with that and it really tied into everything else at that point.

I decided to go with team cap logos instead of their primaries. The thought behind that is to try keeping the logo from getting too big. Look at that big, boxy Braves logo from 1989. That thing takes up a lot more space than the A does. And since the logos do dip down into the photo a bit, I thought it would be best to have the option to flip the design to accommodate any particular photograph. For instance, the Mariners logo would cover up the helmet bill on Kyle Seager's card if I had gone with the normal orientation.

The final change was the picking a new typeface. After going through several, I landed on Klavika. It's definitely more modern looking than the previous font but still has some of that same "square but not really" flavor to it. I made the names all caps and just added a bullet after, followed by the player position. It really bugs me how the position is a different typeface and smaller on the '89 cards. Problem solved.

Overall I think this has been one of the smoothest remixes I've done. That probably has a lot to do with the starting point. I've always chalked my '89 Donruss fondness up to nostalgia but I'm starting think it was just a secret little gem in need of a polish.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

2014 Spirit Artistry

I decided to bring back the Artistry insert for another year. Just to refresh your memory, it's a small insert set that focuses on pitchers that are particularly adept at confounding hitters. I figured King Felix was a no-brainer for inclusion.

The art here is basically a digital mixed media painting. Again, I've combined the photographs with some brushes and textures in Photoshop to meld the two together. Last year's Artistry cards took too much of my time so I decided to scale back the "painting" part a bit. I did make the title a lot more prominent to help differentiate from 2013.

I ditched the frame on the back and added a close cut of the player's face from the front. There's a soft watercolor wash behind the text. There's also room for the team logo for the first time.

I'm guessing if I do this insert for 2015 I'll have to change things up a bit. I'm not sure I how I can use these same tools and have them look any different than they have thus far.

Monday, November 10, 2014

2014 Gint-a-cuffs: The Epilogue

Well, it looks like I ended up winning Gint-a-cuffs again this year. I guess I should add Jose Altuve to my favorite players list since this extra hit pretty much lucked me into first place. This was my third year to participate and it's my second win. Part of me feels like I should take 2015 off but it's so much fun and, really, what are the odds I'd actually come in first again? Hopefully there will be plenty more participants and we'll all get awesome boxes so nobodies disappointed. Whenever the Commissioner opens up shop next June or so I'll be sure to make note of it here and encourage everyone to participate. I mean, look how easy it is to win! *joking, please don't hate me*

My prize box arrived in the mail Saturday, which was perfect timing. This season, my interest in football has been at its lowest since I was in elementary school. I was probably this close to watching a game or two this weekend until I had some leftover baseball to tweak out on. I unwrapped that sucker and started methodically opening each pack, thumbing through every card to eyeball any that I had yet to see this season. Knowing it would most likely be my final box of 2014 cards, I leisurely made my way through the stack.

Here's an overview of what all was inside. I actually went through and totaled up the score from this box just to see how it would've fared in the rankings. Final score: 202, which was actually less than the "winning" total. You can see the boxloader was a Roberto Clemente Oversized Reprint. I had a stack of SPs, a pretty even amount of Yankees (baseball and non-) and cards from the Favorite Players list. The scoring on the minis seems to have dipped in this box. And my pile of inserts was equal to the number of packs in the box, 24. Now onto the hits....

Here were the first two I pulled. An Allen Craig Full Size Relic with a white swatch. Definitely a step down from the relics I pulled from my first box. The Casey Kelly Auto is nice since I didn't get an autos from box one. But how many Casey Kelly collectors are out there? As for the last, you may notice something odd in the overview pic up there. That hit stack looks a bit tall for 3 hits.

I wish I would've taken a photo of this thing in the pack. I was just too excited to open it, though. It was easily twice the thickness of a regular pack. I think a packsearcher could probably pick it out blindfolded with mittens on.

This is the first booklet card I've ever pulled. And it's of a no-doubt Hall of Famer. Steve Carlton retired just before I started following baseball so I don't really have a firm grasp on where he ranks amongst other HoF pitchers. But he's definitely a worthy HoFer. And this is definitely much more exciting than Mark Trumbo or Hisashi Iwakuma or something.

It's numbered 02/10. And, for some reason, has a jumbo relic of a bat. I'm not complaining, though. This thing is freaking cool. Seeing photos online of booklet cards doesn't really do them justice. I need to restrain myself from opening it up over and over again. Hopefully I can get a case or something for it with relative ease.

I'm really surprised that even with this huge hit, this box scored less than my previous one. It just goes to show you how it isn't all about the hits. And hopefully it gives hope to anyone contemplating whether or not to participate next year. You can still have a great box even if you don't end up at the top of the leaderboard. And you can definitely have a great time, no matter how the cards fall.

Thanks again to the Commissioner, Mark, for all the time and effort he puts into Gint-a-cuffs year after year. It can't imagine the patience it takes to coordinate this thing. It seems odd to reward him with more work but the best way to show my gratitude is to encourage everybody to sign up for the 2015 contest. Unless he'd prefer some cookies or something.

Also, thanks to Topps for ponying up the prize for this thing. I feel like it helps legitimize the card blogging community when they're willing to donate.

Monday, October 27, 2014

2014 Spirit Base: 886-900

#886 - Gerardo Parra, #887 - Chris Herrmann, #888 - Josh Edgin

#889 - Shawn Kelley, #890 - Drew Pomeranz, #891 - Mario Hollands
I've spent so much time recoloring the A's jerseys & hats they should just throw me a bone and make the switch to kelly green.

#892 - Brent Morel, #893 - Kevin Siegrist, #894 - Alex Torres
I don't begrudge Alex Torres for wearing the puffy hat since it's in the name of safety. But I really hope they can improve the technology and find something as effective that doesn't take up as much space. He looks like one of the Mario Bros. out there.

#895 - Hector Sanchez, #896 - Fernando Rodney, #897 - Jeff Beliveau
As annoying as it can be, it just didn't seem right to use a non-arrow photo of Fernando Rodney.

#898 - Colby Lewis, #899 - Steve Delabar, #900 - Tyler Moore
It's cool that there are still unique photos this late in the set. That Delabar shot is one of my favorite.


So that wraps it up. With an assist from the Royals and Giants, I was able to reach my goal of completing this set before the end of the 2014 season. Sure, I probably should've spaced it out over the whole year a little better instead of dumping 600 cards in the final month or so. I've learned my lesson. And that lesson is to never do a 900-card project again. Unless of course Panini or Topps comes calling.

Thanks for your patience and whatever time you spent (and continue to spend) reading my posts and viewing my work. My plan for 2015 is to stick with what I was doing before this season. There will be base cards for Spirit, Clubhouse, Deluxe and Pennant along with a variety of insert designs. Also, I'll try to review more Topps and Panini release throughout the whole season. And if you'd like to see some more design remix posts, feel free to hit me up with some suggestions.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to back away from the computer and enjoy the final game(s?) of the World Series without these base card posts eating away at my nerves.

2014 Spirit Base: 871-885

Okay, we're finally here. The last 30 Spirit base cards of 2014. One more for each of the 30 MLB clubs...

#871 - Jordan Pacheco, #872 - Shae Simmons, #873 - Steve Lombardozzi
I've mentioned the Doug Fister trade before and how perplexing it is, but Detroit really ramped up the absurdity by shipping Lombardozzi off to Baltimore before the season even began.

#874 - Burke Badenhop, #875 - Neil Ramirez, #876 - Javy Guerra
The secret MVP of this whole project has been the Chicago White Sox. They consistently required the least amount of photo editing. Whenever it came time to do a White Sox card, it was like a little break from Photoshop for me.

#877 - Tucker Barnhart, #878 - Jose Ramirez, #879 - Justin Morneau
The Rockies cards were also a fun to layout. The purple was a nice break from all the blues that needed tweaking.

#880 - Bryan Holaday, #881 - George Springer, #882 - Bruce Chen
You know, all these blues. Both the Tigers' and Astros' "blue" gear is basically black.

#883 - John McDonald, #884 - Chris Perez, #885 - Sam Dyson
Maybe it's just an unflattering angle but I never thought of Chris Perez as such a large fellow.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

2014 Spirit Base: 856-870

#856 - Lyle Overbay, #857 - Michael Tomlin, #858 - Vic Black
I saw that Overbay pic with the football and had to use it. A callback to this classic card.

#859 - Adam Warren, #860 - Ryan Cook, #861 - Ken Giles
I don't really know what's happening in that Giles photo. You can tell he's completely off the ground but it's not very certain why.

#862 - Mark Melancon, #863 - Sam Freeman, #864 - Nick Vincent
I'm not sure why Melancon's mouth is agape here. I bet if I said he's yawning it would make you yawn, too. Or maybe you're yawning from the rest of the post...

#865 - Yusmeiro Petit, #866 - Yoervis Medina, #867 - Juan Carlos Oviedo
Wow, two Y-names back-to-back. What are the odds?

#868 - Roman Mendez, #869 - Brett Cecil, #870 - Matt Thornton
I had to crop it out but Mendez is smiling at a bird that landed just off the mound and NOT because the photographer is checking out dat ass.

2014 Spirit Base: 841-855

#841 - Chris Owings, #842 - Tyler Pastornicky, #843 - Brian Matusz
I wonder how many NL Rookie of the Year votes Owings will get?

#844 - Joe Kelly, #845 - Justin Grimm, #846 - Eric Surkamp
I'm glad these three pitcher shots have some variety.

#847 - Pedro Villarreal, #848 - Josh Tomlin, #849 - Boone Logan
If trading cards had stooped to the level of greeting cards and added the little sound plug, I could imagine this Tomlin card would say "alright, alright, alright."

#850 - David Price, #851 - Jose Veras, #852 - Raul Ibanez
I thought I had better give Price a normal-looking card for Series 3 since his previous one features him with a cow and all.

#853 - Mike Morin, #853 - J.P. Howell, #854 - Andrew Heaney
I really like Heaney's card. Probably because it's one of the few Marlins' images that fits the color scheme.

Friday, October 24, 2014

2014 Spirit Base: 826-840

#826 - Jeremy Jeffress, #827 - Ryan Pressly, #828 - Jenrry Mejia
All three dudes have their arms stretched wide apart.

#829 - David Phelps, #830 - Dan Otero, #831 - Justin de Fratus
The Otero image is probably too close to the edges but I didn't have any more canvas to work with.

#832 - Ernesto Frieri, #833 - Oscar Taveras, #834 - Kevin Quackenbush
Ernesto Frieri just chilling on the mound, checking out all the intricacies involved in stitching together a baseball. Ignore the runner in the background in the midst of his homerun trot.

#835 - Jeremy Affeldt, #836 - Chris Young, #837 - Drew Smyly
That's as smiley as I could find Smyly.

#838 - Shawn Tolleson, #839 - Aaron Loup, #840 - Craig Stammen
The off-centeredness of Loup's delivery bothers me here but that's the best solution I could find.

2014 Spirit Base: 811-825

#811 - Eury De La Rosa, #812 - Emilio Bonifacio, #813 - Jimmy Paredes
Here are three image types I haven't used a ton of just yet. Unlike a lot you're about to see.

#814 - Brandon Workman, #815 - Hector Rondon, #816 - Matt Lindstrom
Pitch, pitch, pitch. That's all you ever do.

#817 - Donald Lutz, #818 - Scott Atchison, #819 - Tommy Kahnle
The Atchison photo was a last resort. Didn't find a lot with him in Cleveland. Another nice Rockies photo, too.

#820 - Jim Johnson, #821 - Gregorio Petit, #822 - Josh Willingham
Petit was a last-minute replacement when I couldn't find a usable photo of some other Astros reliever. Thems the breaks at this point.

#823 - Cory Rasmus, #824 - Jamey Wright, #825 - Tom Koehler
It's nice to have a high-angle shot everyone once in a while to break the monotony. Especially since most of us see the field and diamond when watching games instead of field level shots like these photographers get.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

2014 Spirit Base: 796-810

#796 -Rob Wooten, #797 - Anthony Swarzak, #798 - Dilson Herrera
I'd like to see the addition of a Yosemite Sam mustache so we could call him 'Rootin' Tootin' Rob Wooten'.

#799 - Chase Headley, #800 - Jeff Samardzija, #801 - Grady Sizemore
Hey, look! Three players that I'm sure everyone has actually heard of!

#802 - Jared Hughes, #803 - Randy Choate, #804 - Jesse Hahn
And back to the guys most people have only heard of if they've done something bad.

#805 - Jean  Machi, #806 - Austin Jackson, #807 - Kirby Yates
Man, has Machi fallen off the rails in the postseason. I wish he would return to his early-season form and start throwing gas again.

#808 - Dan Robertson, #809 - Todd Redmond, #810 - Jerry Blevins
I try to avoid having a card depict someone other than just the featured player, but Todd Redmond's photo choices were very limited. Luckily the catcher is still geared up so he's still somewhat anonymous.