28 December 2012

Warning: Beautiful Baseball Cards.

Yesterday, the 'burbs of Syracuse, New York were buried in about 18" of fresh powdery snow. I have to drive a good amount for my job (about 70 miles/day) in a rear-wheel drive Ford Ranger - a vehicle which has no place on anything other than tarmac in even the best of weather. Knowing full well that I had recently won many auctions of some very exciting cards off of the 'bay, I used my hard (read: moderately hard) earned vacation time to hang out, exhume cars from the depths of December and watch a mini-marathon of No Reservations until my shiny new awesomes arrived.

I know, I'm living the life.

However, the cards never came. In fact, they should have on Wednesday, but they didn't then, either. Patiently (or, obsessively refreshing every 10-20 minutes) checking the tracking info, I received a message around 8pm that the postal carrier left an undeliverable note in the box. This was not so - we had placed the rent check to be mailed out in the box earlier in the day, and it was still there by this time. Jerks.

Anyways, today the packages came. All four of them. This is one of those times where you'll hear some ridiculously repetitive spiel about how these cards look so much better in person! or the scans just don't do these justice!

I'll spare you that. Just know that these are some of the best-looking cards to come out in 2012. Bottom line.

I'll start with my main man and current Blue Jays rotation afterthought, Drew Hutchison.
Sepia Swooooon
This is the sepia refractor variation of Drew's 2012 Topps Chrome Rookie autograph. I will admit Topps have been pumping out some great Jays rookie autos of late, from Kyle Drabek and JP Arencibia in 2011 to Drew Hutchison and Brett Lawrie in 2012. Any version of this card which featured a full-colour photograph is an absolute abomination. One of the worst Toppshoppings I have ever seen. Awesomely, though, there are only 75 of these buggers. Happy to have one.

Have you ever seen a 1st Bowman Card of a 32nd round, 985th overall pick? Well, Jorge Saez is one, and Bowman decided to feature him on this card for 2013. I can find almost nothing on him. In fact this is the only one I have of him - COMC is bare and everything else on ebay was overpriced.

The Jays drafting Saez shows Jays Brass' love of college catchers. JP Arencibia, Yan Gomes (now with the Tribe) and Saez - all recent picks. The blue refractors are astonishing with the new Jays uniforms, even if they are Toppshopped - and Jorge's catcher's gear makes this card that much better.

This card, however, was just a $.99 throw-in to the main attraction:

Hello, I love you.
Introducing the perfect baseball signature card. This card is absolutely stunning. Its really hard to convey that message through a poor scan (after vicious cleaning of the scanner bed and checking the card over for imperfections), but believe me when I say that this card is absolutely perfect. Francisco has an original, instantly-classical signature. Rarely do you see such a compelling "F" in someone's inkings. I've had quite an adoration of Lindor since hearing about him on Baseball Prospectus' Up and In podcast - the best podcast ever, if you were wondering - and have made him a cornerstone of my collecting interests with this purchase and a pile of Lindors waiting for me to request shipment on COMC.

By the way, I've bought four of these so far.

Yep. Four.

And that does not include the following three, all 2012 draft picks of your Toronto Blue Jays.

Round 1, Pick #17:
DJ Davis

Bowman Scouting Report: Davis has scary speed and good instincts, which lead to myriad outfield highlights*. His strong forearms whip the bat through the zone, generating line drive to all fields.

I do not know too much about DJ Davis - mostly that he's a hell of a sight in centre field and was regarded as the fastest in the 2012 draft class. Some of his major-league comps include Alejandro de Aza and Michael Bourn. That's fine by me, but I'll be honest, I was hoping Lucas Giolito would slip one spot lower than he did. So it goes.

I do, however, love Davis' signature. It's so authentic. Its not forced. It doesn't look like he has been practicing it since he was eleven years old. It's just...honest.

Round 1, Pick #22 (Supplemental):
Marcus Stroman

Bowman Scouting Report: Stroman turned Duke into destination for scouts*, unleashing 95-mph fastballs and filthy sliders against overmatched ACC competition. His efficient delivery, obvious intelligence and rare polish make him a good bet to zip up the Blue Jays chain.

I am quite excited for Marcum Stroman's future as a Blue Jay. He was amazing at Duke. Unfortunately, a banned-substance suspension ended his 2012 and will cut into his 2013. I highly doubt that Stro' is juiced - it doesn't fit his build or his performance. However, Marcus immediately took responsibility for his actions and vowed that this instance was entirely a mistake and will be buried in the past.

Round 2, Pick #50 (CA)
Matthew Smoral

Bowman Scouting Report: Left-handed swingers never feel very comfortable against Smoral, whose low, three-quarters arm angle and long limbs can make his low-90s heater seem like it's jumping at hitters. A plus-slider and an improving change-up keep the righties at bay, too.

Smoral seems like decent replacement in the ranks for recently-traded Noah Syndergaard. Big, tall, lefty, with solid control and medium heat. I love the way the Jays uniform, albeit inauthentic, looks on this card. Blue jersey. Blue border. Blue ink.

Matthew's signature is definitely the least interesting, though, but it's bound to morph into something different during his trip through the Jays system.

This post was wordy, but most of the good ones are. I try to avoid the cliche "look what I found on ebayz!!1" posts and actually write something rather than just...write. Something.

I hope you enjoyed it. Leave comments to let me know you did or did not.


*I apologize for the abysmal grammar on these cards. I doubt they were actually written by baseball scouts, but rather deciphered from their notes and columns and so on.

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