Sunday, December 30, 2018

2019 Collecting Goals!

Happy New Year, everybody! With 2018 coming to a close, I though I'd set a few goals for myself for the coming year. This isn't really a new idea or anything, but I've never done it before, so let's get it rockin'...

1. Get Stinking Organized!

This seems to be an annual goal for myself, even if I don't declare it in writing. Check out the scene above... that's the look in our guest room right now. I'm in the process of following up on my BIG BREWERS SORT of 2018 by paging up Brewers organized by player. I'm still not sure if I'm just going to do them alphabetical from start to end or separate them era or what, but I gotta get this into some form of finality. I've been dinking around with this for far too long now. 

2. Do More Bloggin!
I severely fell off pace in blogging this year. And I do really miss it. I've been doing most of the action on twitter, and I really dig the crowd over there, but I also want to keep up with my blog folk. I'm getting a good start on this already, by deciding to post this list as a blog post than just a twitter thread. Woo-pee!

3. Reach the 500 Mark on my Ryan Braun Collection

With some orders that on their way to my house right now, I will enter early 2019 with about 370 different Ryan Brauns. He's the largest PC in my collection and this past Brewers season has really given me an appreciation for his place in Brewers history. I'm well aware that he cheated and then lied about it and he very may well be a total asshole IRL. But I've long ago gotten over all that. And every time he goes on the road and gets booed like hell and then burns the hometown club... it's very satisfying. So everyone who hates this SOB can just go ahead and send their Braunies my way. 

4. Build up my non-Brewers PCs

This a new project I started this year, focusing on a handful of guys I've always liked. I've also decided to become a Brien Taylor super-collector. The super-prospect to end all super-prospects has only about 100 different cards per the trading card database - an absurdly low number for a prominent player. I have 47 different so far, ranking me second on TCDB.

5. Brewers Dupes! They gotta go!

As a result of my BIG BREWERS SORT, I ended up with a BUNCH of Brewers dupes. And with all the traffic from my trades in the Team Collectors group, I am ending the year with about five thousand extra Brewers. See that monster box above? Yeah, that's just about all of them. I know there's someone out there - a few people probably - who can benefit from this bounty, and I sure could use the extra room. 

6. Reach the 10,000 mark in my Brewers Collection

I'm at about 8,700 different Brewers cards as the year closes out. 10K is an ambitious goal, but I think it's within reason, especially with all the new releases that will be out next year. Plus, I've still got a lot of Brewers police sets that I can add to the collection, which will add about 30 new cards at a time.

7. Become a Trading Card Database King

2018 Topps Now #412 Keon Broxton Front

I want to be the top collector in a TCDB category. Right now, I have 104 different Seattle Pilots cards, as I consider them to be part of the Brewers franchise and thus within my Brewers collection scope. That ranks me 5th overall among TCDB collectors, but just 15 cards from the #1 spot. It's a small number, but a challenging one. I'm second place among Keon Broxton collectors, about five cards off the lead. This will be a much easier gap to close, but it could turn into a horserace depending on how well represented Keon is in 2019 releases. And finally, I'm about 13 cards off the lead for Brien Taylor. That will also be a slog, as I am mostly into the minor league and oddball issues on my wantlist. 

So that's what I'm gunning for in 2019. How about you?


Monday, December 17, 2018

A tour of my 2018 brewersNOW set - Part 1

You know, I don't even remember where the idea came from anymore. I had been fooling around with the Rookies app - a custom baseball card creator - for a while early this year, but hadn't really considered actually ordering anything. It was just a dumb way to kill time. And then, sometime between Valentine's Day and the middle of Spring Training, I had an idea that would forever change the direction of this century-old hobby... for me and a couple of other guys, anyway. 

The idea - which I dubbed "brewersNOW" - was pretty simple. I'd create a custom card for every player who appeared with the Brewers in 2018, and make a series of season highlight cards to commemorate big moments in the season. I figured it would be a fun way to keep up with the season and do something better (and cheaper) than Topps. I guessed I'd end up making about 100 cards.

I ended up with 194 cards, chronicling the greatest Brewers season of my life and a damn-near miss at a World Series. It was really the perfect season for me to try this idea... a season that both kept me motivated to keep moving forward with the project, and a project that kept me fully engaged with the season. I was able to actually build the set in my mind as I watched the season unfold. And - in a calendar year that was dogshit personally for me and mine in a lot of way - this dumb game and my dumb team meant a whole hell of a lot to me. 

I'll be presenting my set over a few posts... sharing some of my memories of the cards and of making the set. Let's start off with the player series.

1. Ryan Braun
Yeah, eat it up, everybody. He might be an asshole, but he's our asshole. And there was no one better to drive a steak into the heart of the Cubs in game 163 than this SOB. I made this card during Spring Training, with a fun pic reflecting Braun's brief foray as a first baseman.

2. Craig Counsell
I didn't put too much thought into the numbering of the player series, but Braun was an obvious pick for #1, leaving the two-spot a good place for the skipper. I was making this set in real-time during the season, with the first batch of 20 printed and shipped by the end of April. So I had a few chances during the year to re-do cards when I found a better picture. This is one of those cards, with this pic of Couns balling out Tom Hallon after Madison Bumgarner plunked Ryan Braun in September. Counsell got tossed and Jonathan Schoop belted a grand slam in the next at-bat that gave the Brewers the lead and put an exclamation point on a city-wide f-you to Bumgarner.
3. Ji-Man Choi
In the first of many odd-but-genius moves by the Brewers in 2018, Ji-Man Choi made the Opening Day roster as one of, like, twelve, first basemen. Ji-Man had pinch-hit in the opener in San Diego, hitting a key double and scoring the go-ahead run. He was send down the next day. I listed him as a punch-hitter here, since I was pretty sure that's the only role he'd have with the Brewers in 2018, although he did get a call-up later on in the season and did play a bit in the field.
4. Jeremy Jeffress
For some of the early cards in the player series, as is the case here. JJ would have some awesome moments in 2018, but i left this card as-was. It's a nice pic and does well to convey JJ's take-no-shit attitude.
5. Jett Bandy
Hell, not much to say here. Bandy opened the year with team and saw action in two dozen games. This is another 2017 photo.
6. Chase Anderson
Another picture from Opening Day in San Diego. I patterned this one on that 1987 Classic card of Andre Dawson taking a pitch in the face... with Anderson looking less than comfortable after sliding into home plate on his face.
7. Oliver Drake
I probably have less to say about this card than any in the series. But there he is.
8. Brent Suter
This is another re-do card, with this awesome shot of Suter diving to tag out Alex Gordon at first too cool to resist. These images I'm using here are actually screencaps, not scans of the actual cards. While I was, overall, very impressed with the quality of the end product, dark photos tended not to print as well. This was one of those, looking much better here than it does IRL. I know exactly dink about printing or color balancing, so I wasn't able to do much about this.
9. Jonathan Villar
A word about the design here... it's goddamn awesome. The Rookies App has about a dozen different design templates, and this was easily the best one. It's clean and simple, a great throw-back with feeling like they tried too hard. It's a touch of 1982 Topps, with a bit of a nod to 1971 Topps. I was able to customize it a bit, mostly in color. The obvious choice here would have been to do blue and gold, but gold was not an option. Still, I think the orange works really well. The lower-case team name was my touch, too. A really nice touch, if I do say so.
10. Josh Hader
Hader was a tough guy to get in a good pic. His splayed-out wide-up is much-better suited to horizontal cards, which I hadn't yet decided to use in this set. This is another 2017 pic.
11. Pat Murphy
Coaches! Why don't they get any cardboard love. I had toyed with using a unique design for the coaches, but nothing really looked right.
12. Hernan Perez
13. Manny Pina
This is probably the most recognizable of the last-year photos. Here, Pina celebrates after mashing a three-run homer on Mother's Day to complete a wild comeback against the Mets.
14. Jesus Aguilar

15. J.J. Hoover
16. Brett Phillips
17. Jacob Nottingham
I wanted to change things up a bit for the rookies. Although I hate the Topps Update "rookie debut" duplicate rookies, I felt like changing up the base cards of rookies a bit was a nice idea. These use an pic from the player's debut, the date, and a summary of the game on the back. 
18. Jorge Lopez
It wasn't until I made the Lopez card that I realized I could actually use letters from the Spanish Alphabet. It's a really nice touch and I considered re-doing guys like Jesus Aguilar, but I didn't.
19. Ed Sedar
Eddie Love has been a fan favorite for years in Milwaukee. It's about damn time he had his own card.
20. Taylor Williams
Of all positions, it was hardest to find good pictures of middle-relievers. At the time I made this Williams card, all I could find was an old picture, with him wearing a uni number he gave up in 2017.
21. Eric Thames
So, the nominees for card of the set begin here. After an April game in which he smashed a pivotal homer, he was asked in the post-game, on-field interview about the secret to his success. 
"Um... Miller Lite?" He replied to the delight of home crowd. Shortly after, Miller send the big man some free beer, which produced this OH-SO-MILWAUKEE picture. This is the kind of card you might get if you had card makers (PLURAL!) willing to take a chance and offend sensibilities.
22. Darnell Coles
This was the ONLY picture of Coles as a Brewer I was able to find online. It's a few years old. Probably the oldest pic in the set.
23. Junior Guerra
24. Jacob Barnes
As middle relievers tend to be less often featured in photos, I sometime had to capture them in less-than-flattering moments. Here's Barnes getting yanked after a rough outing.
 25. Davey Nelson
This is the only non player/coach in this series. I thought I should honor Davey, who had been a coach/commentator with the Brewers for years. He was a beloved fixture in Milwaukee. He passed away in April.
 26. Christian Yelich
Yeli wasn't yet on his MVP pace when I made this card, but I think I still got him in a pretty nice shot. This is one of 23 cards on which Yelich appears in this set.
 27. Travis Shaw
Another candidate for best card in the set. I am beyond proud of myself for the clever cropping here.
 28. Adrian Houser
And how about the worst card in the set? Maybe this one. No shade on Houser, I just didn't have many (or any) good images to pick from.
 29. Lorenzo Cain
Another awesome card. This is one that I would just periodically stare at after I got it printed. A note on the images - most come from the JSOnline (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) game recaps. Some, like the Thames, came from Twitter. The Highlight cards presented a few more challenges photo-wise than the team series. Which I will get to when I post about those.
 30. Orlando Arcia
 31. Lee Tunnell
The coach photos were kind of hit-or-miss. This one was a bit hit, I think. You can see bullpen catcher Marcus Hanel in the background. I considered making bullpen coach cards for him and Robinson Diaz, but ended up not doing it. Which I am glad for, because it would have given me a total of 64 cards, leaving me with a dreaded single-card page in the binder. 

 32. Eric Sogard
Nice shot of a guy who just had an awful go of it in 2018. 

So that's it for round one... I'll be back later this week with the rest of the player series, and then after we'll visit the Season Highlights!