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.

2014 Spirit Base: 781-795

As much as I appreciate the Giants giving me a little extra time to finish these up before the World Series ends, they can go ahead and win three more games as quickly as possible, k? Thanks.

#781 - Chase Anderson, #782 - Gus Schlosser, #783 - Andrew Miller
Try to say 'Gus Schlosser' without slurring syllables. Can't be done.

#784 - Rubby De La Rosa, #785 - Kyle Hendricks, #786 - Zach Putnam
Wow, there are a lot of pitchers in the league.

#787 - Kristopher Negron, #788 - Bryan Shaw, #789 - Franklin Morales
I really like the Morales card. Nice colorful jersey, nothing too busy going on in the background. Really nice non-action shot.

#790 - Evan Reed, #791 - Jesus Guzman, #792 - Aaron Crow
I feel partially responsible for Aaron Crow's struggles. I used to have his NWA Naturals shirsey that I'd wear to the couple of games we'd make it over to see. He was moving along pretty well into the majors and stuff. Then I lost a bunch of weight so the XL shirt didn't fit me anymore. Since banishing his shirsey to Goodwill, he's struggled with the Royals, falling down the bullpen pecking order. He was even left off the postseason roster :/ I'm sorry, Aaron.

#793 - Jason Grilli, #794 - Pedro Baez, #795 - Bryan Morris
Seriously, so many pitchers.