Monday, June 29, 2015

Pictures!

I keep saying it. I love looking at pictures! Don't you? That's why I keep asking people to send in pics for the 36 Pix page and all its features. I add new pictures all the time! But, are you still not checking those pages regularly? Here's a quick look at some of the great stuff you've been missing!

As you know, the Pix in 36 page shows people enjoying themselves in the greatest section in Fenway. Here are some of the most recent examples!

This one is from Elle
Matt sent in this great group photo
Another great group shot. This on from Anna.
Even Blue Jays fans know where the best seats are. Jane sent in this pic.
Some of my favorites are the Pix with 36. Since they can be taken from anywhere in the park, they offer a lot of variety! Here are some of the newer ones!
Here's one from Kimberly
Erin celebrated a big birthday by posing with the best Section
Here's one from the lovely Alicia with Section 36 just behind her!
Christina's back with another great pic, just in front of Section 36

Here's Lauren with a great angle on Section 36
Once again, even visitors know where to pose. Brad made sure to catch the best shot.
As always, I appreciate each and every pic that is sent in. So keep sending them! And, don't forget, that this isn't all the pics that are submitted. There are even more on the 36 Pix page, and even more than that are posted on the Section 36 Facebook pg.

Check them out!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Panda Hats

It started almost as soon as it looked like Pablo Sandoval was going to be leaving San Francisco. The kidding began. “I bet the Sox are drooling over being able to sell Panda hats.” “I bet Tom Werner is already grabbing stock footage of pandas for all his new TV shows!”

Of course, it showed up tenfold once they signed him. “That’s a big contract…hope they sell lots of hats.” It was a lot of fun. And, of course, the Sox did quite a bit of that. There was a panda (Or, at least I think it was a panda…might have been a lemur) at Pablo’s introductory press conference. His player tees can be found with “Panda” on the back. And, I think I’ve even seen a panda hat or two showing up at Fenway.

But, the more Pablo has struggled, the more people have been commenting that they can’t believe they signed this slug just to sell hats.

Saying it like they believe that’s what happened.

That the Red Sox signed a guy to a five year deal to sell a few thousand hats.

Don’t they see how ridiculous that is?

First of all, Tom Werner isn’t a complete moron. He didn’t make all his money and win all his awards because he was stupid. Even he knows that a show or marketing campaign based on a bad player won’t sell, even if he’s cute and cuddly.

The rest of the Sox know that too. They know that even with Pablo on the team, the most marketable players on the Sox are still Ortiz and Pedroia. They’re still the best ones to build a television show around. Ortiz’s player tees have “Papi” on the back. Heck, you can even get them with “Mookie” on the back. Besides, if the Sox wanted a readymade line of merchandise, there are plenty of cheaper players with fun nicknames. People think the Sox chose Pablo over Josh Donaldson because he was Panda. But, Donaldson goes by “BringerofRain” on twitter. You don’t think the Sox could come up with a way to sell some t-shirts based on that nickname? After all, this is the same organization that built a whole line of shirts and hats and everything else based on beards. Beards, for crying out loud.

So, why would they see the need to weaken the team in order to lock themselves into a fun name?

A fun name they can’t even trademark.


I promise you, they’re not that stupid.

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Negativity in this Town…

Really. I’m actually curious.

I happened to turn on the EEIdiots this afternoon to see if, perchance, there was an interesting interview or something. So, I caught the beginning of the noontime hour of M-F-B. The first thing they said was, essentially, “We know the Sox had a big win yesterday, but we’re going to go to two talking points from Saturday’s loss” They wanted to ignore the good performance by Miley, and the barrage of hits. They wanted to ignore the bats waking up, if even for just a game, and talk about Porcello’s struggles on Saturday, and Papi’s ejection. So, ignore the good performance from a new acquisition and go back to a bad one. Ignore the good day Ortiz had, and go back to his bad one.

What is that?

What is the compulsion to focus on the bad? I know some of it is the headache that is talk radio. For some reason they’ve decided that negativity sells. But, it’s popping up other places as well.

I know that social media is the last place you should go to see how people really feel. If there was ever a place where people went for shock value, it’s twitter. But, they only ever seem to go for the negative shock. If the Sox are up 13-0, the tweets are all, “I can’t wait to see how they blow this.” Going for the shock. But, if the Sox are down 13-0, there’s never a “I can’t wait to see how they come back from this” tweet. Wouldn’t it have the same shock value? What is the disconnect?

It shows up on the broadcasts too. It’s one thing to say things like “If this score holds, the Sox will drop a game” after the team ahead of them wins. It’s stating a fact, and passing along information. It’s another to say after the Sox go down by a run in the fifth that the “Sox are looking at their third straight loss” or whatever it is at the time. That’s not a fact. It’s a projection. And, they’re always a bad projection. If they go down by a run, they never say “the Sox are looking at their fifth comeback of the year.” It also comes up when the Sox have the lead. Say a pitcher loads the bases with two outs and a six run lead. The comments isn’t “The Sox are one out from being out of the jam.” It’s “A home run here would make it a two-run game.” Or, “A home run here would put the tying run on deck.” So, the guy not only has to hit a grand slam, but the next two guys need to also score before an out is made…and this is the direction they choose to report?

I’m not saying everyone should be sunbeams and rainbows. But, shouldn’t it be evenly split?

I remember during the 2007 World Series, the Rockies had a “one pitch away” slogan. No matter how bad things looked, the pitcher was always one pitch away from getting out of it. There were “one pitch away” chants in the stands. Why isn’t there ever any of that here? More often than not, a runner on base doesn’t score. Why do we always assume the Sox pitchers will allow theirs to come around? Why don’t we assume they just need one more sinker to get the groundball?


That’s usually what they do.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Blame Ben?

Ben Cherington fell on the sword a little bit yesterday when asked about the state of the team. He correctly pointed out that it wasn’t just one thing, or one player, that has dragged down the season to this point. He said it was a number of things all going wrong at once. So, if you needed one person to blame for wide sweeping failures, it would be him.

But what, exactly can we blame him for in regards to the first few months of the 2015 season?

After all, if we’re talking about this current team and its struggles, we can’t talk about overpaying for a guy, or signing him to a long term deal. So, you can think that Hanley Ramirez isn’t worth $20 million, or that they shouldn’t have signed Porcello before he threw a pitch. You’d be wrong anyway. But, those would at least be valid complaints if we’re three years from now and were saying that Hanley hasn’t help up to be productive in his fourth year, or Porcello didn’t develop into an ace when he was thirty. But, neither of those would affect April, May, or June of the 2015 season.

So, which mistake did he make that is affecting this current situation?

Should he have known that Pablo would perform so much worse than he had over his career, or last year? Should he have known that Porcello would be worse than he’d ever been? Should he have known that Craig, and Castillo, and Nava would all be terrible after Victorino got hurt?

Which ace was he supposed to sign? Have you seen Lester’s numbers in the NL? Should he have given up Betts and Swihart for Hamels? Would that have helped? Or would the Sox be in last place, without two top prospects.

You could complain that he didn’t get much for John Lackey, apparently, in the trade last year. But, really, Kelly was a 25-year old starter, with a World Series start under his belt. How much better did you want him to do for an older pitcher who may have been a two month rental in some team’s eyes? You could argue that they should have gotten more for Lester. But, the clean-up hitter for the team with the best record in the league? That’s a pretty good haul for someone you weren’t going to have in a couple months. Then, they traded that for a young starter…basically Lester four years earlier. So, they traded Lester for a younger version of himself. Not bad.

No, Porcello-Buchholz wasn’t Pedro-Schilling. So, maybe the blame can go to assuming the offense could score five runs a game to make up for the runs the staff gave up. But, who didn’t think this offense would score runs? Were there any signs that every player on the team would stink? Napoli was finally healthy, was he supposed to forget how to hit? Was he supposed to know that heart of the order would all play significantly below their career levels? Or even last year’s levels?

What was he supposed to know? What was he supposed to do?

Which specific mistake did he make?


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

From the Pedro Binder



2002 Topps 206

Topps is a big fan of its history. It has flooded the market recently with cards using designs or themes from their past. It might be reprints, or new pictures on old designs, or new players on old designs. However they could do it, they’ve celebrated their past. And, they should. For one thing, they have the most history compared to the other companies out there. Second, it makes for some variety in their card sets…even if its variety through similarity.

But, even their vast history only goes back to 1951. If they want even more designs, they’ll have to go back farther and use other companies. They’ve done that quite well with several brands, including T-206.

Of course, T-206 isn’t so much a brand as a catalog designation. Which makes things a bit more challenging when compared to, say Heritage, where each year a new design is available to copy. With T-206, there’s really just the one design. So, if Topps wants to carry on the line for more than one ear, they have to get creative. They need to come up with designs in the style of T-206.

Thankfully, in this case, they were able to hold pretty true to the standard set by T-206, except for one thing. I hate the clouds.

Sure, I know that some T-206 cards had different backgrounds. But, I always picture the solid color behind the players. Maybe that’s because the care I see most often, Honus Wagner, has a simple solid color. (And, by “see” I mean “See pictures of.” I of course don’t mean “see when flipping through me binder.”)  To me the addition of the clouds not only makes it seem like a cheap knock-off, but it somehow calls attention to the lack of quality in the Pedro image. It looks so fake and computerized. Definitely not what I’m looking for when I’m trying to replicate a set from almost 100 years earlier.

So, while this is a nice simple card of Pedro, it loses a lot of points for me by not holding true to the form of the original set.

If Topps wanted to make a modern version, they didn’t need to call it 206.

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Curse of a Balanced Line-up

The Red Sox have been working for a while now towards having a great balanced line-up. They, along with the rest of baseball really, have shied away from a lineup of a couple mashers and some extra parts. The idea it to have every player on offence put up a tough at-bat. The have the order progress from one tough out to another. No longer should Ortiz and Manny carry the team. Every player needs to do his little part for the team to win.

It’s a great plan, really. If for no other reason than it gives some insurance. If you’re line-up depends on Manny and Ortiz driving in 150 runs a piece, and something happens to Ortiz, you’re in a ton of trouble. If, however, you’re asking nine guys to drive in 70 runs a piece…losing one of them doesn’t seem as damaging. Want the ultimate example of that? Imagine the 2013 World Series without Ortiz. The Sox won those games almost entirely because Ortiz just wasn’t getting out. It would have been a lot nicer if everyone else helped out a lot more.

But, there’s one big problem with that approach. It’s sometimes not pretty.

Let’s say for the same of discussion that you’ve built what the Sox would probably consider the perfect team. Every batter in it has a .500 OBP. That means that every time to the plate, there’s a 50-50 chance they’ll reach base somehow. So, they could very easily put up this mythical inning.

Single-flyout-double-strikeout-walk-flyout.

Or this one.

Double-walk-strikeout-walk-double play.

In each case, half the batters reached base. The team, overall, would have a .500 OBP. But, they would have left the bases loaded in each inning, and not scored a run.

That would frustrate fans to no end. But, really, who are you going to blame? Are we actually expecting every batter to reach base? Are we really going to complain that a guy with a season OBP of .500 happened to hit a groundball in a particular at-bat? Is that really fair? Don’t you just have to accept that those are the beaks somehow?

Of course, that won’t be the exact order of things every time. The laws of probability don’t work out perfectly all the time…unless you’re Gregor Mendel. So, sometimes everyone will be getting their hits in bunches, sometimes they’ll be evenly spread out like these examples, and sometimes nobody will be getting their hits. It’s the way the dice roll. When everyone gets hits at the same time, you can get innings like the bottom of the eighth last Sunday. Sometimes that lasts a month, like it did in April. Or, a whole season like in 2013. When, nobody’s getting their hits, you get shutouts, or months like May.

It gets even worse when you don’t have .500 OBPs for every batter. And, really who does. So, run those same examples, but use a .400 OBP. Suddenly in order to get those three or four hits you need to score, it takes a lot more batters. It’s a much rarer occurrence…just by probability. Then, replace one or two of those .400 OBP with a .300.

Yikes.

That’s what happens with balance. It’s the very thing the approach is supposed to solve. True, instead of just waiting for Ortiz and Manny to save you, any number of players can produce. The problem is that you really need everyone else to produce. Otherwise, it looks pretty darn ugly.

Which is why the Sox are 5-5 in their last ten games, but all anyone can think about is how terrible they’ve been. It’s depressing. It’s disheartening. It’s a harder game to watch because there’s no light at the end of the tunnel. You can’t watch a scoreless inning end, and comfort yourself with thought or Manny and Ortiz batting second and third the next inning. Every inning is the same. Every inning you just need three or four guys to string something together. There’s nothing to depend on. So, it seems hopeless. Even when it’s not. Even when you’re getting exactly what you want. It just doesn’t always work. For every May, there’s an April. For every 1-2-3 inning, there’s a rally. If the Sox are down at the moment, it’s because the ups are coming. It’s the way things go. It doesn’t mean it’s awful. Or pathetic. Or emotionless. Or hopeless.

It just seems that way sometimes.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Mariano Rivera Live

With all the talk of Mariano Rivera’s son being drafted by a team not playing in NY, I thought it might be fun to see how Mariano Rivera Sr. performed while I was in the Park. So, I flipped through my scorebooks, and found seven games where the Sandman entered. Again, this might not be a complete total, but just the games I scored. I may have missed a game or two for one reason or another (Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS jumps to mind).

What surprised me was that it was only seven games. Since I had 24 Derek Jeter games, I would have expected Rivera to at least reach double digits. I guess that’s a good sign. Apparently the Yankees didn’t have very many save situations when I was there.

So, how did Rivera do? Take a look.



Eh.

Not exactly utter domination. Sure, it works out to 46 saves if you stretch it out to a 65-game season. (By the way, I didn’t know what to consider a “full season” for a closer/reliever. Is there a better number than 65 games?) But, a 3.53 ERA doesn’t scream at me. 74 K’s in 51 innings is pretty good. But, for instance, take Koji in 2014. In 64 games he had a 2.52 ERA, striking out 80 in 64.1 innings. And that was supposed to be a down year for Koji. He only saved 26 games, after all, and people we calling for him to be removed from the role.

So, clearly Rivera was nothing special while I was there watching him. Maybe I made him nervous. It’s certainly one reason why I never really feared seeing him come into the game.

Just in case you cared.