Thursday, December 22, 2011

Happy Holidays

Just like the rest of the country, I'll be in shutdown mode for the rest of 2011. Look for a new design posted shortly after the new year begins. Thanks for following and happy holidays!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

2012 Spirit Award Winners

I really miss having an insert set devoted to MLB award winners. To me, it seems like an easy way to chronicle the best players from year to year instead of finding some abstract thread to tie together certain players. What are the criteria to make the 'Diamond Stars' set? Or how about the neverending 'Topps 60'? Instead of trying to figure out a new way to produce another A-Rod or Joe Mauer card even when their on-field production takes a hit, let's give some love to the guys who really stand out each season, even if they aren't household names.

The 2012 Spirit Award Winners insert set consist of each Gold Glove and Silver Slugger winner from the NL and AL. That means 36 cards total with 4 different subsets (wow, an insert set with subsets.) There are a few guys that overlap but those are mostly superstars you can't argue with.

The Gold Glove cards have a nice shiny gold disco ball-like pattern. This is the first Spirit design that's employed on the 'oooh, shiny' factor. The defensive stars are cut-out from a photo of them flashing their gold glovework. For the Silver Sluggers, the pattern is silver with a nice batting image displayed. Toward the bottom of a card is a block for the player name and info. The NL guys have a red mesh backdrop while the AL players have a blue one. So each subset is differentiated by background color (gold or silver) and text box color (red or blue), depending on the league and award depicted.

The back of the cards only have the league color designation with the awards being notated to the left of the mugshot and also the numbering in the upper left corner. Below the player name is their position and ballclub followed by a brief write-up about their award-winning season.

Below is the checklist for all 4 subsets. There are 6 players that appear in both the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger subsets but they definitely earned their spots. If you finished the set, it would fit perfectly in 4 consecutive pages in your binder and look pretty handsome flipping between them.

1. Clayton Kershaw
2. Yadier Molina
3. Joey Votto
4. Brandon Phillips
5. Placido Polanco
6. Troy Tulowitzki
7. Gerardo Parra
8. Matt Kemp
9. Andre Ethier

1. Mark Buehrle
2. Matt Wieters
3. Adrian Gonzalez
4. Dustin Pedroia
5. Adrian Beltre
6. Erick Aybar
7. Alex Gordon
8. Nick Markakis
9. Jacoby Ellsbury

1. Tim Hudson
2. Brian McCann
3. Prince Fielder
4. Brandon Phillips
5. Aramis Ramirez
6. Troy Tulowitzki
7. Justin Upton
8. Matt Kemp
9. Ryan Braun

1. David Ortiz
2. Alex Avila
3. Adrian Gonzalez
4. Robinson Cano
5. Adrian Beltre
6. Asdrubal Cabrera
7. Curtis Granderson
8. Jacoby Ellsbury
9. Jose Bautista

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

2012 Spirit Namesakes

Time for some Name Game. Insert set number three here and this one features a group of MLBers who happen to share the same last name. Some are related, some are not. 20 cards featuring 40 guys with varying degrees of fame/success, but all members of a small group of players. This was a fun checklist to put together. Guys like the Upton brothers were rather obvious but I like some of the odder pairings like Cliff/Carlos Lee.

Design-wise, we've got a horizontal card to make room for full-body 'action' shot. In the center you'll see the shared surname in what I'd guess you'd call a nameplate. The first names of each guy flank the centerpiece with all names stamped in gold foil. The main part of the card is made up of an action shot of each guy, cutout and in full-color placed on top of the rest of the scene saturated in team colors. Between these two layers you'll see their team logos screened back for an added bit of depth.

It's nice to have room for some varied action shots but also finding a way for the team colors to come in and help differentiate each player and each card in the set. We've carried over some elements found on other cards in the 2012 Spirit line, mainly the black mesh at the bottom and the gold foil. I think it helps identify this release as Spirit.

On the back side, you'll see the swoop and mesh continued over as a nice backdrop for the rest of the elements. The 'nameplate' is also found here, this time at the top and in white/black. Team colors round out the top edge in an easy short gradient to keep the back from looking to b&w. There are some tightly-cropped portraits on each side with the first names and team info found below. A brief write-up fills in the rest of the center.

This insert set is pretty much Spirit's answer to Topps' Diamond Duos cards from 2011, only the pairings seem to be more concrete and not just seemingly arbitrary. I thought about possibly making this a dual-autograph set but I don't really know how to go about finding images of these guys' signatures. But the design easily lends itself to one of those soft white gradients right at the bottom of the photos. I need to start thinking about some 'high-end' sets.

Below is my checklist for all 20 cards in the set.
1. CABRERA - Asdrubal, Miguel
2. CAIN - Lorenzo, Matt
3. CRAWFORD - Brandon, Carl
4. GARCIA - Freddy, Jaime
5. GONZALEZ - Adrian, Carlos
6. HUDSON - Tim, Daniel
7. JONES - Chipper, Adam
8. LEE - Cliff, Carlos
9. MARTINEZ - J.D., Victor
10. McCUTCHEN - Andrew, Daniel
11. MOLINA - Javier, Jose
12. RAMIREZ - Aramis, Hanley
13. ROBERTS - Brian, Ryan
14. RODRIGUEZ - Alex, Wandy
15. SANTANA - Ervin, Carlos
16. UPTON - B.J., Justin
17. WEAVER - Jeff, Jered
18. WILSON - Brian, C.J,
19. YOUNG - Michael, Delmon
20. ZIMMERMAN - Ryan, Jordan