Tuesday, April 28, 2015

2015 Spirit All-Rookie Team

Last year I decided to copy Topps and made my own all-rookie squad. So here I am pulling another page outta Topps' playbook and recycling the same idea again with just a new design. But really, though, I think it's a sound decision to have an insert devoted to the previous year's rookies. Keeping with the whole "team" format can prove to be difficult, though, as you'll see from the checklist below.

1B: Jose Abreu
2B: Kolten Wong
SS: Danny Santana
3B: Nick Castellanos
OF: Billy Hamilton
OF: George Springer
OF: Ender Inciarte
C: Travis d’Arnaud
LHP: Roenis Elias
RHP: Jacob deGrom
RP: Dellin Betances

M: Matt Williams

There a no-brainers like Abreu and Hamilton, but sometimes there just isn't a stand out in one particular position. OR you have the inverse with way too many guys competing for one spot. The left-handed and right-handed pitcher situation up there is a perfect example. Last year's best newcomers on the mound were almost all righties. That means a southpaw like Roenis Elias makes the checklist while guys like Masahiro Tanaka, Marcus Stroman and Matt Shoemaker don't. Maybe I'll rectify that next year. Anyway, let's look at the design.

We're going horizontal again. There seems to be more room for the action shots this year with a sliver of the background staying on the card instead of them being complete cutouts. There are big team logos again just a layer behind the players with a subtle stripe motif behind them. A big silver foil band stretches across the bottom with the 'ALL ROOKIE TEAM' "logo" revealing some of the stripes from below. Player names & positions are in black on the foil bar so hopefully they're readable in most light.

Oh yeah,  here's the autograph parallel version. Same design but with a white fade coming from beneath and the certification text below the bar.

The back mimics the front but with the bar moving to the top and turning white. The only issue with this choice would be finding photos with enough open space up top as to not have the 'ALL ROOKIE TEAM' thing overlap a guy's dome. I lucked out with Hamilton here.

Overall I think these fit in with the rest of the 2015 Spirit designs thus far. Colorful without being too ornate and utilizing negative space in some capacity. I'd like to say that's on purpose but it's probably just a happy accident.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

2015 Spirit Team MVP

Time for the return of the Spirit Team MVP insert. This is the third iteration and just like the previous two, the basic design for these cards contain relic swatches.

The big 'MVP' letters runs across the bottom, cut out from a team-color bar to reveal the jersey swatch below. There are some gold foil embellishments with the player name and a frame around the edges. I managed to leave a lot more space for the player photos with this layout and having them stretch to the edges of the cards helps keep things from getting to claustrophobic. The team logos are also a bit more prominent than the previous design.

The backs are bright with team colors and white borders for each info compartment. I also included the relic codes where you could (hypothetically) enter the code online and see the actual jersey the featured swatch was pulled from.

Just for fun, lets look at the rest of the checklist:
MVP1: Mike Trout (Angels)
MVP2: Jose Altuve (Astros)
MVP3: Josh Reddick (A's)
MVP4: Jose Bautista (Blue Jays)
MVP5: Freddie Freeman (Braves)
MVP6: Carlos Gomez (Brewers)
MVP7: Yadier Molina (Cardinals)
MVP8: Anthony Rizzo (Cubs)
MVP9: Paul Goldschmidt (Diamondbacks)
MVP10: Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers)
MVP11: Madison Bumgarner (Giants)
MVP12: Corey Kluber (Indians)
MVP13: Felix Hernandex (Mariners)
MVP14: Giancarlo Stanton (Marlins)
MVP15: Matt Harvey (Mets)
MVP16: Jordan Zimmermann (Nationals)
MVP17: Chris Davis (Orioles)
MVP18: Andrew Cashner (Padres)
MVP19: Chase Utley (Phillies)
MVP20: Andrew McCutchen (Pirates)
MVP21: Adrian Beltre (Rangers)
MVP22: Evan Longoria (Rays)
MVP23: David Ortiz (Red Sox)
MVP24: Johnny Cueto (Reds)
MVP25: Troy Tulowitzki (Rockies)
MVP26: Eric Hosmer (Royals)
MVP27: Miguel Cabrera (Tigers)
MVP28: Joe Mauer (Twins)
MVP29: Chris Sale (White Sox)
MVP30: Jacoby Ellsbury (Yankees)

Boy, the A's slot was brutally hard to fill. Same with the Twins, though Mauer just keeps it by default on account of him still being around.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

2015 Pennant

Time for the old-timey set. Again, the Pennant brand isn't modeled after a particular set from the past like some of Topps' retro sets have been. The designs basically just contain elements that are reminiscent of an older era. So here's the 2015 version.

The card stock here is of the dull variety, meaning the colors are a little muted and there's definitely not a glossy finish. I've also added a little faux texture to the borders to help make it a little bit aged. In each corner is a little team color shape mean to look like those old photo frame edges you may have seen in photo albums from the past. Inset from the margins is another team color box with the player photo busting out from the edges. Along the bottom is a black bar to house their name, position and team. For the places where their white pants overlap the box, I had to add a black drop box behind the white text to keep things readable. I usually hate to add any kind of stroke or background to the text but I think it kinda fits the rest of the design here so I guess you can call it a happy little accident.

I decided to add a parallel into the mix this year almost strictly because of the design. The sepia parallel here fits perfectly since there are so many different frames and layers to keep thing interesting even when monochromatic. And since the card stock is perfect for autos, I decided to show an autograph version of the Soler card. I just removed the overlap from the bottom of the card and added a white fade spot to keep the signature nice and clean.

The backs are kind of inversed from the front with the corner edges being white and the thick margins being black. A couple things of note here are the full player name and also full career stat box. For the guys fairly new to the majors, there's room for a brief write-up. Overall, I'm really happy with the design, especially the sepia parallels. If I were to ever test-out getting some of my cards printed, this would definitely be at the top of the list.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

2015 Clubhouse All-Stars

Just in time to start the 2015 MLB season, let's take a look at the first 2015 Clubhouse insert, highlighting the players who made the 2014 All-Star teams. I've been doing this insert each year since I started the blog because it's always a great encapsulation of the standout players of the league. This year, it gives me a legitimate reason to feature a Derek Jeter since (so far) I've refrained from putting retired players into any Spirit product.

The cards are split by league once again with red to designate NL guys and blue for the AL. The bottom left corner as a foil star design which is a good anchor for the player name/position to the right along with the "2014 National/American League All-Star" text along the left edge. In the upper left corner is the respective league logo. The foil here is used strictly as a design embellishment and not as a crutch, with the names being an easy-to-read white on top of the color background. I've noticed I tend to lean towards centered, symmetric designs so I'm happy going asymmetrical here.

The back has room for a nice portrait-type image up top along with space for the team logo and a brief write-up. Since the all-star squads seem to be expanding each year, this insert set has a big checklist that would lend itself to being a "one-per-pack" insert which is perfect for a low-end product like Clubhouse.

Now that the season kicks into full-gear tonight and tomorrow, get ready for more designs coming with more regularity. Good luck to everybody's favorite teams and let's 'play ball'!