Tuesday, June 26, 2012

No-Hit Club

I may be a few weeks late here, but since Matt Cain's perfect game, this insert has been kicking around in my mind. (Plus, how can I resist the opportunity to brag up a Giants milestone?) With the influx of no-nos the last few years, I think there's finally enough members of the No-Hit Club to warrant a full insert set. There are currently 22 active MLB pitchers who have tossed no-hitters (excluding the combined efforts by the Mariners this season and the Astros in 2003.)

The list includes some marquee guys like Roy Halladay, Justin Verlander (below) and Johan Santana, but it's mostly comprised of some second-to-even-lower-tier guys. I kinda like the idea of guys like Anibal Sanchez and Dallas Braden showing up in something other than base. Through their performance, I think they've earned it.

Design-wise, the front is team-colored with the full-color cut out, along with a "No-Hit Club" logo straight out of Ghostbusters. There's little bit of silver foil here just to keep them from looking low-grade. The back side has a brief write-up along with a celebration photo. The design is pretty clean and uncluttered and fits in very well with the rest of the Spirit line.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Don't Skip Class

The 2012 edition of the MLB Draft happened a week or so ago so I've kinda had it on the brain for a bit. Baseball's draft is really unique when compared to the NFL and NBA versions. Most of guys are complete strangers before getting drafted, unlike the top college football and basketball players who get national attention for a season or two along with the copious amounts of coverage leading up to the draft. And unlike the Cam Newtons and Kevin Durants, the top picks aren't expected to lead their teams the following season. The timeframe for these players to start contributing is stretched much further, so by the time a guy reveals himself to be a bust or not, fans have moved on. Basically, it'll take years before anybody has any clue whether or not a particular class is strong.

I took a little trip back to the draft results from the past dozen years or so and decided to do a draft-focused set to pick out the best picks and see how they stack up from year to year. Clubhouse Head Of the Class. This is a 100-card insert set that spans 10 drafts, from 2000 to 2009. That's a pretty good cut-off as far as singling out the 10 best players from a draft. Outside of Harper and Chris Sale, I'm not sure anyone from 2010 has made a mark in the big leagues yet.

The first thing I did was compile the checklist. It's pretty interesting to see the stacked 2005 draft (8 of the top 12) compared to bottom-heavy drafts like 2000 and 2001. Some years were a little thinner than others but I think I did a good job find 100 guys that deserved to be featured.

Looking at the design, we have a silver foil border that goes around approximately 2/3 of the card edge. The left side is a bit thicker and has the "HEAD OF THE CLASS" text in black running over it. Above that is the draft year in silver foil as well. This is one of the few asymmetrical inserts I've done, so it was nice to change that up a bit. We've got the team color backgrounds behind the player cutouts along with an info bar at the bottom with the player name and team logo.

On the back, the silver border has been turned the team color and the background is solid black. We have a small player portrait on the right with the card number and player position/team below. The top spells out which year the player was drafted along with the top 10 picks from that respective draft. The picks are listed in order but obviously skips ahead to the pertinent draft slot. The player depicted on the card has his name and draft slot bigger, bolder and italicized. Beneath that is a brief write-up about what makes them one of the 10 best from their draft.

This was a fun insert just to figure out the players to include and to take a look back at drafts of the past. The fun part is, I'm sure that even 2 or 3 years from now, these checklists could look drastically different as some late-bloomers or Renaissance men start to emerge in the league. As a Giants fan, though, I sure hope the #10 pick from 2006 could stay included in the future.