Friday, April 28, 2017

No, it Wasn’t an Excuse

People are desperate, aren’t they?

Yesterday, Xander Bogaerts was asked about the difficulty the team seems to have scoring runs. Last year, they scored runs in bunches. This year, not so much.

What’s the difference?

Xander simply answered. David Ortiz. 

Because, almost literally, that's the only difference between last year and this year. Leon? Same. Hanley, Pedroia, Xander? Same. Bradley? Betts? Same. Benintendi? Same as last September. Third base? Slightly different. Last year Panda was there some of the time, and a collection of goofballs was there some of the time. This year? Panda and a different collection of goofballs. I’ll admit, that is slightly different. So, of the nine batting positions, 7.5 of them are the exact same players as last year. The only position that’s completely different? David Ortiz.

It was almost literally the only correct answer Xander could have given.

He did go on to say how valuable David Ortiz is to a line-up. Is anyone going to argue with that? He was a pretty valuable guy. Xander finished by saying that the team needed to move on without him and get the job done.

How has this been turned into whining about David Ortiz? How has this been turned into complaining about roster decisions? How has this been turned into excuse making?

He gave the most accurate answer to a question you’ll ever see. In fact, the answer is so obvious, I wonder why it was asked. Was it just in order to turn it into complaining? Was the reaction story written before there was something to react to? 

If Xander had answered anything other than “David Ortiz” I would have questioned it. Why is he dancing around the elephant in the room? Has he been instructed to pretend Ortiz didn’t exist? Have there been rules put in place to only look forward?

But he didn’t. He gave the correct answer. And people don’t like it.

I think that’s their problem, not his.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Was Josh Beckett Any Good?

It’s been a while, so I thought it would be fun to dive back into the scorebooks and see how people performed with my watchful eye peering down on them.

Today I chose Josh Beckett. He had quite a roller coaster of a career here in Boston, from terrible trade to ace to deadweight. But, did the games I saw reflect that? Let’s see.

On first glance, I was surprised that I saw so few Beckett starts. Seven games over seven years seems pretty sparse to me. The other thing you notice is that, yes, I captured the up and down nature of Beckett’s career.

It looks like in the seven games, I got two absolute stinkers and five very high quality starts. Interestingly enough, one of the stinkers was during his best season of 2007. So, while the numbers would say that on the whole I saw a guy with a mid-threes ERA, in actuality most of the time I saw a guy give up a run or fewer. That’s not bad at all.

How do his starts with me in the park project out? An 18-9 record is pretty darn good. Not legendary or anything, but exactly what you’d be looking for. As is his 3.40 ERA and 1.01 WHIP. He would strike out fewer people than I would have expected. I was actually surprised when I looked how low his strikeouts per game were. Only once did I see him strike out ten batters, and only twice did he strike out more than one batter per inning.

But, overall, the Josh Beckett I saw would be the ace of many staffs. It makes me wish I saw him more often.

How did he do with you in the park?

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The 30-Day Baseball Card Challenge: Day #3

Tony, the wonderful writer of the “Off Hiatus Baseball” blog, started a fun activity based off the “30-Day Music Challenge” that Twitter users were taking. The list of challenges looks like this:

Today, we have Challenge #3: A card from the first set you tried to complete.

I’m fairly certain that the first set I ever tried to complete was 1987 Topps. I don’t think I ever tried to complete the set in 1986, and that would be the only other candidate. So, for this exercise I’m just going to assume it was the ’87. With that nailed down, I'm going to go with this card: 

I was just a youngster when this card came out, but remember being very confused when I saw it. “Earliest home run”. What did that mean? By date? By time? As it turns out, it means by pitch. Dwight Evans hit the first pitch of the season out of the park. Of course, that was just the first pitch of the Red Sox season. (Well, and the Tigers season, I suppose.) I have no idea if it was the first game of the year. Or if someone else hit a ball on the third pitch, but one minute before Evans. So, “earliest” is kind of an odd designation.

But, the card itself is pretty cool. A great picture of Evans filling out the frame. The colors work well with the wood borders.

And with it, I was one more step closer to completing the 1987 set. 

Monday, April 24, 2017

What’s the Matter with Dustin Pedroia?

I mean. I always knew he was selfish, but this seems out there even for him.

In case you missed it, and I’m not sure how you could have, Manny Machado took Pedroia out of the game on Saturday by sliding hard into second base with spikes flying high. His slide took him over the bag, and drove his spikes into Pedroa’s knee on the far side where Pedroia was awaiting the throw. Pedroa had to leave the game, and ended up missing the next game as well.

Of course, MLB has added rules recently specifically to protect fielders turning the double play at second base. So, people immediately suggested that Machado, a well-known dirty player, should be called out, and the Sox should be credited for the double play they didn’t end up getting because of the injury. They also called for Machado to be punished. Maybe with suspension, or at least by getting plunked.

Pedroia, of course, made it all about him. First, he suggested that he didn’t even know what the rule was for a slide at second base. He just goes out and plays. Boy, what a tough player he must be. He later said that the rule was only put in place to protect players with bad footwork, so that didn’t apply to him anyway. So, he apparently does know what the rule is after all. But, wanted to take another chance to pump his own ego.

That’s not even the worst part. The Red Sox did end up throwing at Machado, just like Buck Showalter said they should. Now, they went a little high at Machado’s head, which is never a good thing. But, no harm came of it. How did Pedroia react to his teammate sticking up for him? By immediately showing him up by explaining on the field, that he didn’t agree with the move. He then said after the game that he didn’t want Machado thrown at. He texted Machado after to reiterate that it wasn’t his idea to throw at him. It was his teammate.

Boy, what a team leader.

That’s what everyone keeps talking about, right? His team leadership? His clubhouse presence? So, either he kept telling everyone not to do something, and they ignored their great team leader or he did want Machado hit, but threw his teammates under the bus once it happened.

Which guy is the leader in the clubhouse that you’re looking for?

If he really didn’t want Machado thrown at, why wouldn’t he keep his mouth shut? Why can’t he just support his teammates? An answer like “I didn’t ask him to do it, but nice to know he has my back” would be perfectly fine. Would that answer not call enough attention to Pedroia? Would that make someone else look like the real leader?

How selfish can a guy get?

Friday, April 21, 2017

Sherene Iskander Visits Section 36!

Sherene Iskander is a Red Sox fan, a world traveler, and the current Miss Cranberry Country. With all those topics to discuss, I thought
it would be fun if Sherene visited with us. Thankfully, even though she’s busily getting ready for the Miss Massachusetts competition in July, she agreed. 

So let’s see what happens when Sherene Iskander visits Section 36!

How did you celebrate being crowned Miss Cranberry Country?
The first thing I did was Facetime my parents. They live in Oklahoma, so they were unable to attend, but they were so excited to see me with the crown on my head! After that, I went out to
dinner with a few of my friends and had a giant piece of chocolate cake! Definitely my weakness!

What lesson did you learn at the Miss Cranberry Country competition that you can bring with you to the Miss Massachusetts competition?
I’m a pianist and during the talent portion I decided that my goal that day was to have fun with my Liberace-style Chopsticks because it is truly a fun piece to play! The audience could clearly tell I was enjoying myself because they started clapping along, which in turn helped me perform better! So the lesson I took away is to be in the moment and have fun and to not worry about “messing up”, because I’ll perform better if I’m having fun!

What is a goal you'd like to accomplish during your time as Miss Cranberry Country?

Well obviously one goal is to become the next Miss Massachusetts and compete at Miss America! This is my last year of eligibility to compete in the Miss America Organization, so my main goal is to take away everything from this experience that I possibly can and truly enjoy it and make a difference by spreading awareness of my Platform “The Gift of Giving”.

What made you interested in "The Gift of Giving"?
When I was growing up my parents taught me to always appreciate what I had and give back however I could to those around me. But, it never really clicked why, it was just something I was taught. However, in 2013 I was a volunteer at the Boston Marathon Finish Line. The horrible tragedy that happened that day truly showed me the importance of a community and how when we come together and support each other we are stronger. I realized that giving back is really just a way to support others in our community. The whole purpose of “The Gift of Giving” is to show the various ways we can
give back. Not everyone has money to donate or time to volunteer, but everyone can give every single day in some way. It’s about smiling at the person on the T who looks like they’re having a rough day, or helping a classmate understand something. The Gift of Giving is about giving in whatever way one can to create a better community in every aspect.

You've been able to visit all seven continents. What was the trip to Antarctica like?
I love to travel and fortunately when I was growing up, my parents saw the value that travel provided. It opened my eyes to the world and helped me understand the importance of diversity and understanding that differences are to be celebrated, not condemned. When I was 16 I was able to travel to Antarctica, which was no easy task. But, the experience was unlike any other I had while traveling. To go somewhere few have gone and realize how incredibly small I am compared to the world was an eye-opening experience. We even got to go swimming in a volcano... The sand about 8 inches down is incredibly hot, so we dug holes in the sand that when the waves came up and filled them, it would create a “hot tub”. But, the agreement was that if we wanted to enjoy the hot tub, we had to run into the cold ocean water first. Brrrr. I can’t put into words how that trip changed my life, but I am so grateful that my parents were willing to give in to my persistence and trust that I could handle a difficult trip at such a young age. Thanks mom and dad, I owe ya!

You've competed in several "Run Disney" events. What do you like about those races?
Sherene and Alissa
The first Run Disney event I ever ran was the Disney Princess Glass Slipper Challenge in February of 2016. The “challenge” involved running a 10k on Saturday and a half marathon on Sunday. I actually decided to participate because the presenting charity was Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, which is the national platform for Miss America! I even ran as a charity runner for CMNH and raised $1,200. It was such an incredible weekend because I was able to meet several miracle children and even Miss America, and of course, go to all the Disney parks! The race courses even run through the parks, and there’s no experience like running through the Magic Kingdom castle or around the World Showcase at Epcot. Plus, everyone is dressed as Disney characters and princesses, so it definitely makes the miles seem to go by faster. And as a fair warning to anyone reading this, once you run one, you’ll be back! 

The Red Sox are playing this season without David Ortiz for the first time in a while. What's your favorite Ortiz memory?
Absolutely, without a doubt, his speech at the first home game back after the Marathon bombing in 2013. Boston is a strong city and that speech proved to anyone with doubt that this city would recover and be more resilient than ever. This city is and forever will be Boston Strong. 

What do you remember about your last trip to Fenway Park?
My last trip to Fenway Park was amazing (as they always are)! I graduated from Northeastern University last May and one of our events during Senior Week was a Red Sox game! It was such a blast because the entire section was filled with Northeastern students celebrating our graduation! We also beat the Yankees 8-0 that night, so what’s not to love, right?

How do you think the Red Sox will finish the 2017 season?
Obviously they’re going to win it all!

Oh, obviously!

As always, I want to send out a huge thank you to Sherene for doing this interview. These visits are always very popular, and I have no doubt that here will continue that trend. Also, a big thanks for providing the pictures to accompany the interview. She did a great job of providing shots that matched up with the questions.

As Sherene continues her reign as Miss Cranberry Country, I encourage you to follow her on the official Facebook page, and Instagram. Also, please consider joining in on the “Gift of Giving” by visiting Sherene’s personal Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals donation page. Every little bit helps! 

And, of course, I want to wish Sherene luck in July as she competes for the Miss Massachusetts crown. It would be fantastic for another Section 36 visitor to claim that title.

Thanks again Sherene, and good luck!

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