Archive for February 2011

2011 Topps Jeremy Jeffress and Jeff Francis   Leave a comment

Jeff Francis 2011 ToppsJeremy Jeffress 2011 ToppsI already missed a day so today is a double, I’m choosing two new members of the Royals today. I think both will end up on the opening day roster. Jeremy Jeffress, who came over in the Greinke deal, and Jeff Francis, a one-year free agent who has had past success with the Rockies.

Posted February 28, 2011 by VocalsOnTop in 2011 Topps Royals

2011 Topps Alex Gordon custom card   Leave a comment

Alright, in my last post I mentioned Alex Gordon’s 2011 Topps card of him playing third base. I have posted a picture of it here along with a version I made of him playing the position listed on the card. The real card is pictured on the right and my custom card is pictured on the left. My card has a picture of Gordon from spring training this year. I could get a nice picture from last year but I am thinking of composing an entire set of 2011 Topps Royals cards containing nothing but spring training pictures.

Alex Gordon 2011 Topps

Alex Gordon's 2011 Topps custom card with a picture from spring training

2011 Topps Alex Gordon

Alex Gordon's actual 2011 Topps card














At this point I will point out some of the subtle differences between my card and the actual card. Some are quite obvious, the silver foil being the most obvious. Also as a quick list: I made my blues lighter, I put the position in a different color, the baseball behind the logo is different, I have a thin white border around my Royals logo. Alright, those are the big ones, I have reasons for all of these changes that are justified and boring so I won’t go on about it here. Instead I’ll explain how I build the cards briefly.

I think I could more closely replicate the actual cards if I used Photoshop. I could edit out the existing picture and keep the look of the original card. The reason I don’t do this is I want every thing to be vector artwork except the actual picture. This means I re-create every nuance of the card. It does give my cards a little more of a 2-D look but I think they are still a very fair representation of the original.

I will try to post a new 2011 Topps Royals card each day until Opening Day, It could become challenging but it should be a nice looking set when I’m done.

Posted February 26, 2011 by VocalsOnTop in 2011 Topps Royals

John Lamb 2011 Topps custom card   Leave a comment

John Lamb 2011 Topps

A preview of what John Lamb's 2011 Topps card might look like.

Here we go, spring training is upon us and baseball fans are overflowing with excitement. The Royals (and every other team) have reported to camp. This is especially exciting to me because it means pictures for custom cards. The Royals had a lot of turnover on the roster this year plus many of the most notable players haven’t even wore a big league uniform much yet. But now spring training has started and I now have access to pictures of young stars like Mike Montgomery, John Lamb, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar and so on.

Also, did anyone notice 2011 Topps came out? Not a bad design either. The typical classy white border with a lot of picture, just the way I like it. It has a nice curved bar across the bottom for the name and the team logo in a circle on the right with a baseball behind it. It has a minimal amount of silver foil as is consistent with recent years of Topps. The foil makes the cards look nice but on a personal note makes it very hard to replicate for a jpg on screen for a custom card.

Two problems with the 2011 Topps; 1. The circle has “Kansas City Royals” written on top and bottom, this strikes me as overkill and a bad idea just to fill space; 2. The position is written in foil back just by the picture making it hard to read. The second problem is much more cumbersome to me than the first but I digress.

I have combined the two new exciting events and made a 2011 card with a spring training

photo. I chose John Lamb. Why? Lamb is good for one, but for the most part it was random. I made my landscape card design first, so I needed a landscape picture. I’m planning on making the team set before the rest of it comes out. Series 2 and update should be incredibly exciting for Royals fans this year. We could have our first official Topps cards of all the young rookies we have heard so much about.

Lets quickly go over what Royals are already done. The series 1 Royals set contains 9 cards just like last year. 9 isn’t too bad right? WRONG. Of the 9 players featured, 4 of them will not wear a Royals uniform in 2011. That is nearly half of the Series 1 set. The players featured that are now gone are: Greinkie(Brewers) Betancourt(Brewers) Dejesus(Athletics) and Meche(Retired.) There are 5 current Royals featured as well, they are: Lucas May(Rookie Card), Gregor Blanco, Mike Aviles, Kyle Davies and Alex Gordon.

Minor complaint: Gordon is listed as Outfield as he should be but the picture is clearly of him making a throw from third base. This is almost as bad as when they kept using pictures of him wearing number 7 after he had switched to number 4, but I once again digress.

A note on the Lamb card; The picture doesn’t fit. The ball he is throwing is obscured by the Royals logo, not horrible but it bothers me. I may change his card later. Technically, I believe Topps can’t even make this card yet, he has to appear in a Major League game first. Consider this a preview.

Also a quick thanks to Around The Horn KC blog for the photo, I hope they don’t mind me using it. They are a great blog and every Royals fan should definitely check it out.


Posted February 26, 2011 by VocalsOnTop in 2011 Topps Royals

An iconic icon   Leave a comment

An Interpretation of the Clash's London Calling cover

An Interpretation of the Clash's London Calling cover

Posted February 24, 2011 by VocalsOnTop in Uncategorized

The Decemberists: Greatest Hits   Leave a comment

This will be the first installment of likely several custom greatest hits tracklistings I make available on this site. Many bands have greatest hits or best of albums but many bands don’t for different reasons. Most reasons involve a record label. Some bands that have best of packages are flawed for one reason or another. Examples of this are the tracklist isn’t updated or they just plain did a bad job picking songs.

I like making these “Best of” packages for my car, as I’m sure many people do. Because of this, all my tracklists should fit onto a regular blank cd if anybody is interested in making one of their own. The term “Best of” works much better than “Greatest Hits” for these collections I feel. Many of the bands I will do this for don’t really have hits anyway. Hits are for Lady GaGa, I’m interested in good music.

For my first collection I have chosen the Decemberists. Why? They just released a new album; I am currently liking the album quite a bit; They have never had a best of collection. So here is the tracklisting for the album.

1. Oceanside

2. July, July

3. Los Angeles, I’m Yours

4. We Both Go Down Together

5. Eli, The Barrow Boy

6. 16 Military Wives

7. The Mariner’s Revenge Song

8. The Island: Come & See/The Landlord’s Daughter/You’ll Not Feel The Drowning

9. Yankee Beyonet

10.  O Valencia!

11. The Perfect Crime #2

12. The Wanting Comes In Waves/Repaid

13. The Rake’s Song

14. January Hymn

15. Down By The Water

16. This Is Why We Fight

A few notes:

I chose to do this in chronological order, most times I don’t do this but for this album I felt it was appropriate.

I only took one song from their first two records. I know this will likely enrage longtime Decemberists fans who think those first records are the best things they have ever recorded. The bottom line: they aren’t, their new stuff is much better.

Songs from albums are as follows:

5 songs ep: 1

Castaways and Cutouts: 1

Her Majesty: 1

Picaresque: 4

The Crane Wife: 4

Hazards of Love: 2

The King Is Dead: 3

FYI, the last cuts I made were: The Hazards of Love 1, Billy Liar, Valarie Plame and Shankhill Butchers.

I would love any feedback on this list or anything else on the site. Post a comment or send me a direct email.

Posted February 18, 2011 by VocalsOnTop in Uncategorized

The 5 most important cards in Royals history   1 comment

For many years baseball cards have been very important to the game of baseball. Cards seem to document the game and bring it to a more personal level for fans. This obviously starts with kids collecting baseball cards. It makes each players face more familiar and seem closer to fans and especially young fans. The internet really hurts baseball cards in this way. It makes players familiar without the benefit of cards or even newspapers.

Baseball certainly doesn’t need cards to survive, especially now, but I think it is a key part of the lure of the game. Growing up in a city without a major baseball team I couldn’t make it to many games and cards drew me closer to it without even being at the stadium. A couple of trips to the stadium in a year only added to the excitement. What does all of this mean? It means baseball cards are very important to baseball as a whole and important to each individual club. My team is the Kansas City Royals so now I present the 5 most important baseball cards in Royals history.


1975 Topps George Brett

#1, George Brett 1975 Topps, #228, Book Value = $80

The 1975 Topps design is one of the most colorful they have ever done. Brett’s rookie card in this set is the iconic image of the set that also included Robin Yount’s rookie. You could also say Brett’s card is one of the most iconic cards in baseball card history. this simple pose of Brett in his famous left-handed stance is burned into the brains of baseball card collectors all over the world.

Why is it important? This one is pretty easy. Brett is almost unquestionably the best player in Royals history and a first ballot Hall of Famer. You could argue that even after about 15 years off of the field he is still the face of the Royals. I could list all of Brett’s achievements but if you are reading this you are already well aware of them.

1984 Topps Bret Saberhagen

#2, Bret Saberhagen 1984 Topps Traded, #T104, Book Value = $3

First let me breifly explain traded sets. Card manufacturers, mainly Topps, put out a couple of different releases of cards for each year. Topps is traditionally separated into series 1, series 2 and a traded or update set.  The traded set is a vehicle to put out cards of players who weren’t originally intended to be in that particular set. There can be 3 reasons for this; the player is a rookie, the player was traded to a different team or the player’s card simply didn’t make either one of the first two series. So a player can appear in Series 1 and the traded set in the same years, this is fairly common.

The card in question is a rookie card. Bret Saberhagen did pitch in 1984 and in fact had 10 wins with a 3.48 ERA. He was included in the traded set and is still one of the most sought after cards in that series.

Why is it important? The Royals have won one championship, 1985. Saberhagen was an essential part of the 1985 season posting 20 wins, a 2.87 ERA, AL Cy Young Award winner and most importantly was named World Series MVP.

2006 Topps Alex Gordon

#3, Alex Gordon 2006 Topps, #297b, Book Value = $80

This one is tricky. It’s importance is mostly due to the circumstances surrounding it as opposed the player actually on the card. To call this card a short print is an understatement. This was once one of the most sought after cards in history. There are two versions of the Series 1 card. A regular version and one with the picture actually cut out of the middle of it! They were found in packs this way.

A brief explanation: Topps was not supposed to put the card out until Gordon had logged his first major league game. They put it in the set and claimed it to be a mistake. The cards that weren’t distributed yet were “cut out.” The card, in 2006 sold for as much as $7500, a shocking number for a single card. It can now be obtained much cheaper as Gordon’s star has unfortunately continued to decline over the past few years.

For a little better rundown of the history of the card see this site:

Why is it important? The value it sold for alone is one reason. As a Royals fan, this represented, at the time, the climb back into contention for a club that had been horrible for years. Gordon suffered constant comparisons to George Brett and the whole franchise seemed to ride on the young shoulders of the “sure thing.” Sadly it still hasn’t worked out. Gordon enters 2011 as a player barely good enough to stay in the big leagues, his potential may be the reason he is still with the Royals. He has moved to the outfield from third base and will have to fight for a starting job in spring training this year. Worst case: Gordon doesn’t ever pan out, The 2006 Topps card will always remain an important part of baseball history.

1987 Topps Bo Jackson

#4, Bo Jackson 1987 Topps, #170, Book Value = $2

This card is of a young star soon to make an impact on both the MLB and The NFL. Jackson was a rare two sport star. He played for both the Kansas City Royals and Oakland Raiders. The 1986 Topps set is important for the Royals because it largely depicts the team that brought Kansas City their only World Series Championship. This card of Jackson from the next year’s set did not represent that team, it represented the next step for the Kansas City Royals. Jackson did have a traded card in the 1986 Topps set that serves as his proper rookie card. This card sums up the excitement of Jackson, an action shot of him patrolling the outfield while his 1986 card was a simple mugshot picture. “Future Stars” scrolled across the bottom of the card represents exactly what the Royals needed, their next star player.

Why is it important? Bo Jackson represented excitement, whether it was a long touchdown run or a long home run flying out of Royals Stadium. Jackson could pound the ball and make great plays in the field, could steal bases and gun down runners trying to tag on a sacrifice fly. He was a bright personality that brought young fans to the game including myself. Bo Jackson was the first player to captivate me as a young fan of not even 10. I can still remember the excitement of pulling his 1990 Donruss Diamond Kings card out of a pack in Savannah, MO. (Current book value $.25) Jackson was simply the man at that time.

2010 Topps Zack Greinke

#5, Zack Greinke 2010 Topps Award Winners, #155, Book Value = $.25

Topps has put a second base set card of players that win major awards in recent years(Cy Yound, MVP, Rookie of the Year(I think)) This is a great way to honor the recipient of the awards. Greinke won the Cy Young award for the AL in 2009 and got this card to reflect the prize. These cards aren’t short prints or even look much different than the base set cards, they also have no more value that the base set cards. As a side note, this card has a much better picture than his 2010 base card.

Why is it important? This is really the only curious choice of my 5 cards. I will sum it up by saying the Royals really needed him to win this award. They needed something to hide how bad they were. It also helped sell merchandise and sell tickets greatly. It was a close race simply because Greinke didn’t have the normal amount of wins usually associated with the award. It wasn’t that he was pitching bad, it was that the Royals hitters seemed to take the day off when he was on the mound. Greinke had a eye-popping 2.16 ERA during the season while winning only 16 games. If CC Sabathia would have had a 2.16 ERA that season with the Yankees he may have won a number of games that would have been in the upper 20s.

Greinke is gone, and that is a good thing now I believe, but at the time it was one of the most important achievements in Royals history because they sure weren’t getting any awards associated with winning at the time. The card is important because of the effect of the achievement the card itself would be listed as a common in nearly any price guide.

Posted February 8, 2011 by VocalsOnTop in Random Royals, Uncategorized

The Old 97’s: One of the best live acts around   Leave a comment

The Old 97’s swung through Lawrence, KS last weekend and put on another classic show. I have seen the band live three times now and every time I am shocked at the enthusiasm the band displays. They are four of the nicest musicians I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. It is rare to see a band that looks genuinely happy to be performing in a club with about a hundred or so people. The Old 97’s are that band, not only that but after the show they all made themselves very accessible to the fans.

They were supporting their very strong new album, The Grand Theater Vol. 1. They hit it rather hard, playing 9 of the 12 tracks from the album. It was a sold out show and the band didn’t disappoint mixing in several old songs with the new album while blasting through a 26 song set.

The setlist:

Lawrence, KS – The Bottleneck 1/28/11

The Grand Theatre
Here’s to the Halcyon
The Dance Class
Dressing Room Walls
You Smoke Too Much
The New Kid
Champaign, Illinois
W. TX Teardrops
A State of Texas
You Were Born To Be in a Battle
Barrier Reef
Let The Whiskey Take The Reins
Murder (Or a Heart Attack)
Mama Tried (Merle Haggard cover)
Big Brown Eyes
Please Hold on While the Train Is Moving
Four Leaf Clover
Come Around (Rhett Miller solo)
Valentine (Murray Hammond solo)
The Other Shoe
Won’t Be Home
Every Night is Friday Night (Without You)

As I mentioned, the band was very approachable and I was able to get the spread on the inside of their new cd autographed by all four members of the band. So I’d like to thank Rhett Miller, Murray Hammond, Ken Bethea and Philip Peeples for coming through on the tour and I can’t wait for the next time.

The Old 97's The Grand Theater Vol. 1 cd inside spread autographed by (from left to right) Ken Bethea, Rhett Miller, Philip Peeples and Murray Hammond.

The Old 97's The Grand Theater Vol. 1 cd inside spread autographed with a nice silver sharpie by (from left to right) Ken Bethea, Rhett Miller, Philip Peeples and Murray Hammond.

Posted February 1, 2011 by VocalsOnTop in Uncategorized