Friday, March 30, 2018

A Call to Revolution!!! (or How I'll be spending my Summer Vacation)

I tell ya, everybody, I have been PERCOLATING these past few days. And it's not just because of the start of the baseball season. I've come up with a fairly awesome idea that - if it works - could create this year's greatest set of baseball cards.

First off, Topps Live and Topps Now are pretty good ideas... good IDEAS. The execution leaves a lot to be desired, especially for small market fans. But I really dig the idea that a set could be a living, active thing, being a document of a season. This was attempted, in a way, in 2009 Upper Deck Documentary. That set, however, was neither really a good idea or an example of good execution. When sorting my Brewers Fs this past week, I found the card for Game 162 of the Brewers 2008 season - when they beat the Cubs on a Ryan Braun homer to break a 26-year playoff drought. It was one of the most exciting and memorable games in franchise history. And the UD Doc card features the same picture of Prince Fielder at Wrigley Field (the game was in Milwaukee) that 30 other cards in the set use. Barf city.

What I wanted was a living documentary set that features only the Brewers and isn't overly expensive and features ALL the Brewers and has fun pictures and cool backside copy. Since no one is going to do this for me, I guess I need to do it my damn self.

There is a custom card app called "Rookies." I've used it once before, to order a set of cards featuring our pet rats for my wife for last Christmas. I had a "eureka" moment a few days ago when I realized that, using this app, my dream set could become a reality. 

So I started playing around with it. The app does have limitations. You must use one of their pre-designed templates and color selection is limited. The backside designs are.. not great... and leave a kind of limited space for text. The cards themselves are pretty nice... sorta of like early 90s O Pee Chee, if you can remember those. They're not Stadium Club stock, but that's not what I want for this set anyway.

This is the look I've chosen for my base cards. It's actually a pretty great design, in my opinion. It would fit right in with anything Topps made 1971-1982. I added some of my own touches, like the lower case team name. I would have liked a blue/gold color scheme, but had to settle for this orange/blue instead, but the more I see it, the more I really like it. And here we have what probably no Topps issue will have this year, a dual-position card for new part-time first-sacker Ryan Braun. And a pretty cool pic, too. 

So yeah, the backs are not as great. But not awful. I can fit about 50 words in the middle, with another 20 or so in the "fact box." Still, far more text than anything you'll find in 2018. Plus, I really have fun writing these. 

Rookies sells cards in multiples of 20 ($13 plus shipping). So, I envision this set being probably 5-6 series of 20 cards each. The Brewers used about 50 different players last season, so I am thinking the set will be a pretty even split between players and these season highlight cards. These are the Topps Now part of the thing, and what I'm really looking forward to when I flip through these cards again in years to come. Did you know the Brewers won the Cactus League this spring? It's not a big deal, but it'll be a nice thing to remember. 

I went with a different backside for these. The can take more text, but it comes out in tiny, tiny print. Anyway, I get to have fun with that, too. 

Did you see the Brewers' Sandlot video? It was a hell of a lot of fun, and I think this team is going to be a lot of this year as well. And I think it needs a card to commemorate it. Another limitation of the app is that you can't alternate between vertical and horizontal lay-outs. They have vertical templates, but they're all kind of lousy and wouldn't match the rest of the set. This picture (i had to trim out poor Hernan Perez) would have been much better sideways. 

And how about coaches' cards? Hell yeah! My set will have them. Here, I borrow the old 70s "as player/ as coach" thing from Topps. 

And if you happened to catch the Brewers yesterday, you know they won in exciting fashion, aided by Ji-Man Choi, the last man to make the team and the the guy who probably won't be with the team in a few days (they'll be adding another pitcher or two after the coming off-day). Ji-Man's heroics get the honors of the first regular-season highlight card... with a picture from actual event!

This format also gives me the freedom to use photos from this season as I put the regular player cards together. I hadn't planned on doing a Chase Anderson card in this first series, but then he face-planted "sliding" into home plate yesterday afternoon, which resulted in this great photo. How can I not use this totally unflattering image on his card? 

My goodness! I haven't been this excited about a set in maybe forever. 

Of course, there are some possible snags. First, the quality on these images might not translate real well to the printed product. I'm trying to use pics of as high resolution as I can find, but I am kind of anxious to see how they look IRL. Also, Rookies might not print cards using MLB images and real players. The app is marketed as something to make personal cards using images and likenesses of which you have ownership over. But I've known some other collectors who use the app to make cards of real players (mostly older guys for All-Time Team sets) and have had no issues. But I think if I'm just ordering one card of each (so it's obvious I'm not reselling them) they'll probably let this slide. After all, they're really just a printing service. (UPDATE - Browsing the Rookies Twitter feed, it seems that they have no issue printing cards of real ballplayers. WHEW) But still, I'll be a lot more excited about this project when I get those first cards in my hands. 

There was some chatter on twitter about other collectors doing the same treatment for their favorite teams.... anyone else wanna join me? If we could get 30 people doing this, we could create a massive, 5,000 card all 1 of 1 master set of the entire season! Middle relievers would be recognized! Aaron Judge would get as much attention as Whit Merrifield! Variations would be eliminated! The RC bug would be a thing of the past! We shall write our own sell sheets! We shall insert, not be inserted upon! We shall boom while others break!



  1. From a printing point of view. 2.5"x3.5" images means you'll want close to 750x1050 pixel jpgs after cropping. Which isn't too much to ask from the web. And you probably won't notice anything if they're a bit smaller (to like 625x875) but once you start getting close to 500x700 you'll run the risk of seeing things get kind of chunky.

    Also I'm totally starting a Giants version of this but I'm not sure how I'll print thing yet. Am just going to be saving images for now.

  2. This idea is awesome on an epic level. If I had the time/energy, the Red Sox would have joined your revolution! Good luck - I look forward to seeing these creations!

  3. You may know all this but you can use specific settings when doing a google image search. I find my Cubs images this way and usually search for 4MP or higher and from the past week. My search is bookmarked and I use it a couple of times per week.

    A few years ago, I took a stab at documenting a Cubs season but gave up after a week and a very poor start. Too many "L" flags and not enough of the W's. Check out the start of my attempt here:

    I also made customs cards with an original design for the entire 2012 team. That was a terrible team too but I stuck with that.

    I've been out of customs making for a bit but may jump back in!

  4. This is awesome. I would be very interested in seeing the finished product.

    Good luck!

  5. This is such a cool idea. I may have to check out the Rookies app and play around with it. I'm certainly excited to see the final outcome.

  6. Awesome idea. The front design has an 82T feel and the card back reminds me of the 86T design. I'd love to do this, but I know myself too well. Time is my biggest roadblock. I barely have enough time to blog and read blogs. Best of luck on your project though.

  7. The Darnell Coles "As Player" photo is actually Joe Carter