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“Fixing” 2018 Topps

I have gone on record regarding my opinion of 2018 Topps. Really, the past three years of Topps cards have been disappointing. I don’t like change, and these cards have changed so much it’s disturbing.

There are a lot of effects that simulate television graphics—which would look cool as an insert set, but not for the base card. The lack of borders bothers me (and always will). So I decided to fire up Photoshop and “fix” Topps’ flagship issue this year. It’s a very rough draft, but I have added a border and edited the graphic-heavy name plates. I also tilted the Reds’ logo, because I don’t like cutting off the wishbone like Topps did, and nudged the name to the right so it’s not hiding behind the waterslide. Here is version 2.0:

Arroyo

I chose Bronson Arroyo as the featured player since he has retired, and Topps will likely not fawn over him like they do Derek Jeter. The dude was a workhorse until leaving Cincinnati, and once he got hurt in Arizona, he just couldn’t bounce back. I wish him the best in whatever his future holds, whether it is baseball-related or music-related or hey-let’s-go-fishing-because-I’m-retired-and-I-made-so-much-stinking-money-I-never-have-to-work-another-day-in-my-life-related.

Now, the waterslide is an issue in the above mock-up. By tilting the logo and scooting it to the right so the entire wishbone is visible, it reveals much more of the waterslide. I tried some hack editing and made it look even worse, so decided to remove it all together in version 3.0:

Arroyo

And then, after removing the waterslide, I decided the logo could be re-straightened. So, here is version 4.0:

Arroyo

I’m not crazy about any of these versions really, but I like it better (though it is in very rough form) than what Topps released. I would love to see a real graphic designer get a hold of it and fix the issues.

Sometimes, though, some things are just too broke to fix.

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Happy Reds birthday, Bronson Arroyo!

Bronson

February 24, 1977

I can’t tell you how good it is to see Bronson Arroyo back in a Cincinnati uniform. In eight years for the Reds, Arroyo won 105 games with a 4.05 ERA. He started his career with the Pirates in 2000, and also pitched for the Red Sox and Diamondbacks through 2014, and was a part of the Braves, Dodgers, and Nationals organizations in 2015 and 2016, but only pitched 2 games for the Nationals’ Gulf Coast League team in 2016. I’m rooting for him to make the Reds out of Spring Training.

The Card Chop Swap

I recently sent some Dale Murphy and Atlanta Braves cards to Steve of The Card Chop, and he responded with a package of Reds cards. Always happy to receive an envelope full of Reds, especially when I need every single one…

VottoPhilllips

Let’s start with this Joey Votto/Brandon Phillips “Back to Back” card from the new 2016 Topps flagship. I like this card. A lot of people are hating on this particular insert set, and while it’s not the most fantastic card ever, I still like it. Plus, Topps was smart by using two players that were pretty much guaranteed to still be on the Reds roster when the season opens. As opposed to this guy…

Chapman

…who will be sitting out the first thirty games serving a domestic violence suspension. I’m not sure how much the Reds will actually miss Aroldis Chapman this year, since he is a closer and expected to save games. The Reds probably won’t have very many games to save.

Bruce

And then there is this guy, who was almost a Blue Jay last week. Jay Bruce has been the subject of trade rumors since the All-Star break last year, and I still would not be surprised to see him in another city for opening day. He has a big contract that Cincinnati would love to get rid of, despite being one of the league leaders in homers and RBI just a few years ago…

Bruce

Bruce

Speaking of league leaders…

Hamilton

…when is Billy Hamilton going to get on base enough to lead the league in stolen bases?

Keeping with the league leaders theme…

Harang

Aaron Harang had the most strikeouts in 2006. That kinda blows my mind. He’s still looking for a job this spring, after finishing the 2015 season in Philadelphia. Another former Reds pitcher…

Arroyo

…is trying to rejoin his former skipper Dusty Baker in Washington. Bronson Arroyo considered returning to the Reds, but settled for a minor-league deal with DC.

Steve sent over a slew of 2006 Topps Reds that I didn’t have yet.

Reds

Ross

David Ross announced that 2016 would be his last season in the bigs, and Jason Heyward gave him a pretty “suite” retirement gift.

Phillips

Brandon Phillips is the only player from the 2006 Reds team that is still in Cincinnati in 2016. 2006 was before Votto and before Bruce. One of the players on that roster is now deceased. It seems like an eternity ago, when Ken Griffey and Adam Dunn still roamed the outfield at Great American Ballpark.

Steve sent several other 2006 Topps Reds, but I don’t remember half of them. I did want to show one other card in the package, going way back to 1995…

Larkin

Hall of Famer Barry Larkin, punched out of a Sports Illustrated for Kids magazine. I loved the 90s.

Arroyo in Arizona

Arroyo in Arizona

The deal is official. Bronson Arroyo passed his physical exam yesterday and is now officially a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The Reds have a very good pitching staff, and extending him another year for $14 million just didn’t make sense. Arroyo met with several teams over the winter months, including the New York Mets and Minnesota Twins, but in the end Arizona was the only team that was seriously interested. He is a dependable starter and will fit in well at the bottom of the D’backs rotation, but still seems a bit pricey for a #4 starter in my opinion.

I attempted to go old-school with the Photoshop “fun card” above. It has a bit of airbrush quality to it, but still uses the real Arizona logo because I couldn’t digitally draw that if my life depended on it. At least not in less than ten minutes, which is all the time I wanted to spend on it.

Cards from the Night Owl

I received an envelope today in the mail; but it was not filled with bills. My name was hand-written on the envelope, and when I looked at the return address I knew I would be thrilled with the contents inside. I received Reds cards from the Dodger fan Night Owl, and that’s always a treat…

First we have Bronson Arroyo, who promised in December 2011 to retired if he had another dismal campaign like that year. He has certainly improved, but I doubt we will see him in a Cincinnati uniform next season. Perhaps he’ll end up wearing orange and blue?

Next is outfielder Jay Bruce, a spectacular player, currently 3rd in the NL in home runs and tied for 5th in RBI. I’m glad he is singed long-term.

Fireballer Aroldis Chapman was the next to fall out of the package. I liked last year’s Triple Play cards, but this year is a bit…meh. I’m not impressed.

The pièce de résistance, however, was a 24-year old card…

1989 Bowman Paul O’Neill, the final card I needed for the 1989 Bowman Reds set. It’s nice to have this card finally, after purchasing a wax box of 1989 Bowman and coming up short a few months ago.

This made me wonder what other sets from the 1980s I’m one card away from completing.

1983 Topps – #101 Pete Rose Super Veteran
1984 Fleer – #640 Johnny Bench/Carl Yastrzemski Super Star Special
1987 Donruss – #433 Eddie Milner
1987 O-Pee-Chee – #305 John Franco
1988 Fleer – #627 John Franco/Steve Bedrosian Super Star Special
1988 Topps Traded – #92T Jose Rijo
1989 Upper Deck – #636 Herm Winningham error card

That’s just a quick scan of my 1980s Want List. I’m only 2 away from the 1989 Score set (Ron Oester and Jeff Reed are eluding me), and only a few away from several other sets.

Thanks for helping me complete that 1989 Bowman team set, Greg, and thanks for the 2013 cards too! They’ve all been marked off my want lists!

Redsfest 2011: Bronson Arroyo

The last post for Redsfest 2011 is not an autograph post, or a baseball card post, or even a baseball post really. Pitcher Bronson Arroyo is also a musician, and took the stage at the end of Redsfest 2011 for a performance with his band.

The set began with a cover of the Goo Goo Dolls’ song “Slide,” and he continued through several other grunge/alternative rock songs from the likes of Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters, and more. Blessid Union of Souls singer Eliot Sloan was brought out on stage to sing “Hey Leonardo (She Likes Me For Me)” with the band while Arroyo took a short break.

Arroyo has recruited some good musicians in this project, and it was fun to see him excelling in another area that wasn’t baseball. I’m an Arroyo fan, but he can be frustrating to watch on the baseball field because of inconsistency. He recognizes that himself, saying prior to the “Everlong” performance, “If Bronson Arroyo goes 9-12 with a 5 ERA, I’ll probably retire.” See for yourself…

Arroyo has the voice for this type of music, and does a fantastic job on the Pearl Jam songs especially. You can search YouTube for more performances, but as always it’s best to see the band live in person. I don’t know how often they perform, but if you catch them live be sure to let me know what you thought.

To see some photos from the performance, click Read the rest of this entry

Games 154-156 (vs. Astros)

That’s a wrap!

Joey Votto batting in the first inning

I went to the Reds game today, the last home game of the season, with my dad. We got to see Bronson Arroyo pitch a complete game shutout, beating Wandy Rodriguez and the Astros 2-0. We also got to see Miguel Cairo hit a home run, and Dave Sappelt make a couple of great defensive plays in left field. I will post some more photos later as well as my thoughts on the 2011 season on the whole.

Game 94

This is what happens when Zack Cozart isn’t in the lineup: the Reds lose. Bronson Arroyo has given up 26 home runs so far this season.

Game 83

Bronson Arroyo has given up a league-leading 24 home runs so far this season, including three on Friday against the Indians. The record for most homers surrendered in a season is held by Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven, who gave up 50 in 1986. Arroyo isn’t quite on pace to catch him…but you never know.

Also of note on Friday, Brandon Phillips reached the 1000-hit mark for his career.

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