02 February 2013

Whose broad stripes and bright stars

Its an odd time of year to feel patriotic. The snowbelt has once again been buried in the fluffy white death. Cars slip and slide and cause twenty-vehicle pile ups. The sunlight doesn't last long and most of your meals are ate when its dark outside.

Its winter, so far from the 4th of July, from Memorial Day, from anything else in which we wave flags, drink Budweiser straight from the can and celebrate the Independence of our nation by blowing up small chunks of it.

Yet, oddly, I still feel patriotic. Gripped by the icy cold fingers of February, I reach into my mailbox (which will inevitably snap shut on my fingertips) and pull out an assortment of all-American goodies. A pair of W-2s, tuition somethingorothers, and that one thing that warms every blogger's little 2"x3" heart...the padded manilla envelope.

This week, I received quite a few. Trades have started up again after about a month away, but ebay has been ripe with deals.

Fueled by the spirit of the World Baseball Classic only a month away at this point, I've been searching out cards showing varying degrees of patriotism in the form of Team USA (for a team Australia touch, stay tuned) baseball cards - something I quite enjoy.

I'll start simple.

Ahh, the plain white swatch of ex-Blue Jay great, current Diamondback cyclist (see what I did there?) and all-around solid bloke, Aaron Hill. Hill and fan-favourite John MacDonald were shipped from the GTO to Arizona late in 2011 in a post-deadline deal that brought (ugh) Kelly Johnson to Toronto. I'd rather have Hill and Johnny Mac, but the three involved all benefited from a change in scenery, before Johnson reverted back to his normal, miserable poor second base defense and ever present strikeout woes. Although, he would occasionally make a nice play and for a brief stretch late in 2012 would hit home runs whenever the girlfriend walked in the room.

And it's Aaron again! I've said enough on him so far, though I didn't say too much about him, really, so I'll move on to the card itself and the story behind them. I originally won four separate auctions from a seller on ebay as far back as November (the case has since expired). The two Aaron Hills were in there along with refractor rookie cards of The Pasty White Hope and one of my favourite Blue Jays, Casey Jansen. The package arrived postage due, which irritatetd the hell out of me, so I sent it back. Seller claimed he never got it back, and eventually the case expired - however, I won all four for a princely sum of something like $.81, so I wasn't too discouraged. THEN, this week, all of them arrived with a note and apology from the seller. I was very happy about that.

At this point, you should expect a JP Arencibia Team USA card of some sort. That's just how things go around here. However, I didn't receive one this week.

I received three. And they're all exceptionally awesome. I'll start with the most boring of them all, a lowly signature from 05/06 Upper Deck USA Baseball. That's right, a baseball set with hockey dating. America!

Awesome. There is much to love about this one. Team USA cards almost always feature the catcher in full-gear (something I require), blue serial numbering on the front, and usually some awesome red foiling on the names and company logos.

Also of note it that JP signed the "44" of his jersey number on this one. He wears #9 on the Blue Jays, and very rarely inscribes that into his baseball card signatures now. You will, however, find baseballs and bat, things not signed assembly-line style with a 9, on occasion.

But like I mentioned recently, this was one of the more bland (which it totally isn't) card of the bunch. It just gets better from here.

Oh hell yes, that's how you make a baseball relic-auto card. Full on America boner? Check. Cut-style signature window? Sure. Catcher in gear, doing something catcherly? Hell yes. Plain gray swatch? Where would I be without it?

This one, of course, deserves a scan of the back, which I rarely ever do anymore:

Sigh. I long for the days of something-like-honesty in the card collecting industry.

In 2007, Upper Deck still had some integrity in baseball, and they emphasized their authenticity with a photograph of the jersey on the back of the card. I miss that.

This photograph was also used on the last card that I'll be writing about in this post - which until I actually started writing this section, didn't occur to me. I grabbed both of these in the span of about a week for less than $30 combined. But this is the one I've been waiting for. I saw this once about three years ago on ebay. When my saved search popped up on ebay last Sunday, I jumped. Must have made the seller happy, as he accepted my BestOffer within twenty minutes, and since the card was only travelling across one state boundary, I had it in-hand by Tuesday.

So without further Apu, here it is. The new cornerstone of my John-Paul Arencibia collection and the final piece of the pentafacta:

Oh, sweet baby Jeebus.

Modern baseball cards just don't get any better. 


  1. sweet additions! love Team USA stuff. and congrats on the Pentafecta!

  2. That last Arencibia is fantastic!!! I've never seen anything like it. Very very cool : )