Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Let The Games Begin!

Did you hear it?

Did you see it?

Yup. That was actual real live baseball you heard on the radio. Those pics you saw on twitter weren’t (all) from last season. The Red Sox are playing baseball again!

That’s one more milestone down. Just one more to go.

Opening Day.

That’s the most important part of games starting. It means there’s nothing else to wait for until they start playing the games for real. It’s so close I bet you can almost taste it.

So, while we watch and listen we get to dream of the coming season. Sure, the games don’t actually mean anything. I don’t really care if Rick Porcello struck out every batter he faced today, or gave up a home run to all of them. Coming out healthy and prepared is the only thing that matters.

I sometimes wonder what spring training is like for other teams where several positions are potentially up for grabs. In the Red Sox line-up, I can think of one. Who will play center field. Betts or Castillo. Other than that, maybe last man in the bullpen? Last bench guy? I wonder if there were two or three positional competitions if the media would be less annoying about them. With just the one, they have to go into overdrive. Betts started the first game with the other regulars. Does that mean he’s in the lead for the position? As of the very first spring training game? That’s worse than reporting which team is “in the lead” for a free agent acquisition. Let’s just let it sort itself out.

Which always makes me wonder how these battles are supposed to play out. Just like last year with the Sizemore-Bradley Jr competition. Is a better batting average against college players really going to decide their fate? A better batting average over three weeks? Or, is it going to be about options, flexibility, depth, or whichever factor the Sox feel is important? Is it really going to be a .320 average vs a .290 one? Heck, even .410 vs .250?

But, it’ll all play out somehow. In that specific case, I’m not sure there’s a wrong answer. So, I’m free to just sit back and enjoy the action. Enjoy seeing players pitch and run and hit again. Enjoy the fact that baseball is being played somewhere right now.

And hope that nobody gets hurt.

Monday, March 2, 2015

From the Pedro Binder

2002 Stadium Club

What a great card.

If you’ve read anything I’ve had to say about cards from the Pedro Binder, then you probably expect that I’d enjoy the Stadium Club sets.

You’d be absolutely correct.

What’s not to love? The borderless cards allow the picture to take up as much room as possible on the card. The graphics floating over the picture are always tucked away as to not interfere with the photo. And, of course, the photos are magnificent.

This is certainly noexception.

Look at that photo. I always thought Pedro had a bit of a stunted follow through. His final leg kick gave the impression that he was trying to stop halfway through. This picture shows that perfectly. I love how the background is clean. Nothing is distracting from Pedro. This picture would look great, enlarged on the wall.

As always, the Stadium Club logo is as far out of the way as it can be. Perfect. Perdro’s name and position is floating over the photo. But, not just floating. Floating in a spot with absolutely no action. It’s just covering some of the mound. Your eye is allowed to skip right over the graphic to still enjoy the photo.

I wouldn’t have expected anything less.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Is it a Pace of Game Problem, or a PR Problem?

Now, let’s get it out of the way right off the bat. There are any number of things that baseball can do to make the games shorter. They’re easy, and they’re not doing them. But, the real question is…

Should they have to?

People think baseball moves slow. They think people don’t watch it because of that. Who’s telling us this? Major League Baseball. I’ve never seen an organization tell everyone how badly their doing more than MLB. They can’t wait to tell people how low the ratings are for the World Series, while ignoring the fact that they’re higher than any number of other program options. They keep telling us that they need to schedule games for times people are already watching TV in order to get ratings, instead of just scheduling them when they work best and letting people find them. And, now they’re doing it again. Games are too long and slow so we need to institute new rules.

Maybe they can just stop telling people the games are slow.

Have you ever watched other sports? There’s quite a bit of dead time in those too. I think it’s football that really get to me. The NFL is wildly popular, and its games are just as long and slow as baseball is. After every play they stop the action and everyone gets together and talks the next play over for 20 to 30 seconds. Sometimes, they even get to the line, and stay there for five to ten seconds just sitting there. Peyton Manning is the king of this. He gets praised over and over for just standing and the line and calling out signals. Sometimes he steps back, and everyone sort of resets themselves. It’s lauded as outsmarting the defense. If a baseball catcher sat there giving signals for 15 seconds before the pitcher steps off and starts over, they’re both booed. Do it twice and the fans may riot.

What’s the difference?


The NFL doesn’t tell people how slow their games are. Their reporters don’t tell you how slow the game is. They tell everyone it’s strategy.

That’s exactly what David Ortiz tried to do the other day. He’s not just stalling when he steps out of the box. He’s thinking. He’s planning. He’s deciding. Because of that, he’s being called selfish. Thinking he’s above the game.

Peyton Manning is called a genius.

He has better PR

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Collecting the Sox: Disney Crossovers

In addition to my (very healthy) obsession with the Boston Red Sox, I am also a bit of a Disney freak. (Again, it’s very healthy) More than just the movies or the characters, I’m obsessed with the company itself. The way they built themselves such a dominating empire is fascinating to me. I mean, I walked into a Toys R Us recently. There are around ten aisles with toys in them. One was all Disney owned Star Wars stuff. One was Disney owned Marvel. One was Disney owned Pixar. One was Disney Princess merchandise. One was Legos, of which about half were Disney themes. And those were just the dedicated aisles. How can you not be amazed that half the toy store is dominated by one company?

So, imagine how excited I get when the two obsessions are able to overlap! (And, how excited I was when Disney sold the Angels!)

Thankfully, again since Disney is so huge, it happens quite a bit. And, it’s wonderful. It allows me the chance to add a lot of variety to my collection. That’s really the appeal of any crossover collection. My Red Sox collection is able to branch out into other areas and pick the best portions of other collecting opportunities. Really, it’s applying a focus to the collection, which helps things from getting too large. In my case, I don’t need to add on an extra room to house both a Red Sox collection AND a Disney collection. I can sneak the Disney stuff into the Red Sox. Perfect.

Like I said, it’s easy to do.

The Red Sox team store even sells Disney items. How easy is that? I’ve seen a stuffed Mickey Mouse wearing a Red Sox uniform. There were some great 8x10 pictures of Mickey, Donald Duck, and Goofy playing baseball in Fenway wearing their Sox uniform. I’ve seen pins of Mickey wearing Sox gear. There’s even a Mickey Mouse statue in Fenway Park moved there from the All-Star game in Anaheim. Of course, you can buy miniature versions of the statue to put on your desk.

It also goes the other way. I’ve mentioned before that I saw Red Sox clothes being sold in EPCOT. Disney also sells collectable statues called Vinylmations. One of those depicts the Red Sox.

So, whether it’s Disney trying to harness the collectability of the Red Sox, or the Red Sox hitching their star to Walt Disney, there are plenty of opportunities to build both collections at once. You could practically devote an entire shelf in your Red Sox room to Disney. It makes both collections even more fun.

Which is really the point of any collection.

Do you have a favorite Disney Red Sox (or baseball) collectable?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

From the Pedro Binder

2003 SP Authentic

This card seems very “SP Authentic” to me. If you had to use a card to explain what the brand is about, this would be a good one to choose. Very deliberate, almost mechanical, designs. Lots of clean white (or, at least light) space. If Apple had to design a card, it would design SP Authentic.

That doesn’t mean I have to like it.

Sure, I don’t NOT like it. There’s not much to dislike about it. I’ll always prefer a full picture as opposed to the cut-outs. But, that’s not going to be possible on every card. I get that. And, I appreciate how the Authentic logo and the 10th Anniversary logo are hidden in the corner. The 10th Anniversary one is especially pleasing. That’s the sort of thing you could almost forgive them for plastering all over the card every place they could. But, they held back. They were restrained. Which is in keeping with the rest of the design.

I like the splash of color. The red stripe doesn’t seem to have a reason or a purpose, but it makes the card feel a little less clinical. The weird zoomed in rectangle serves the same purpose, while having the same lack of reason. Color for the sake of color, I suppose.

I will always appreciate a player’s name written horizontally. I will always not appreciate when it is placed in the middle of the card, blocking some of the picture. I don’t really understand that.

I’m going to have to decide that I don’t like the card, but I understand it. Companies need different brands to attract buyers. I can certainly see how this could appeal to any number of people. I just don’t happen to be one of them.

Are you?

Monday, February 23, 2015

Moncada Makes More

As if the Red Sox roster wasn’t confusing enough, the Red Sox apparently got top Cuban prospect Yoan Moncada today. And, things got a little bit more crowded.

Initially, I figured the fact that Moncada was only 19 mean he was a super-long range type thing. A replacement for Panda when his contract was up sort of long term. But, I’m hearing things like he’ll be in Boston in two years tops. Which is wonderful.

Because, the Sox already had no idea where to play Betts. What’s another player to jumble around?

Now, I get the idea of stockpiling prospects. You never know what’s going to happen. You never know what you’ll need. You never know who will pan out. (It’s that latter point that leads me to usually beg to trade prospects for proven talent any day of the week.) But, I understand it. You need players. With the size of the farm system, there’s plenty of space to save a player for a rainy day. Or the perfect deal. But, there’s one difference here.

Prospects are usually cheap.

Isn’t that the whole point? Draft well, and you get the players while they’re young and then let them walk or trade them when they start earning real money. Like they did with Ellsbury and Lester, and should have done with Pedroia. It makes sense to collect prospects. After all, if they don’t pan out, they don’t cost you much. So hoard them, and see what happens.

But, Moncada isn’t cheap. He’s costing over $60 million once you count fees and other bookkeeping that I don’t pretend to understand. What does that mean?

Again, I’m not worried about the money. I’ve always said that John Henry is allowed to waste as much of his money as he’d like. As long as it didn’t affect other areas. So, if he wants to pay Pedroa way more than he should, go right ahead. But don’t dare say we couldn’t sign Lester because of it. The same applies here. I doubt that the Sox didn’t get Lester or Scherzer because the Sox were saving money for Moncada. But, will this put a wrinkle in a Hamels deal? Or another ace? Does this tie the purse strings at all? I sure hope not.

Beyond the “throwing money away” aspect, does the amount they spent on him mean they expect Moncada to make a sooner impression? Are they going to spend $30/60 million on a guy to sit in the minors for four years? If they’re also on the 1-2 year max timeframe, the roster juggling gets a lot more interesting. Suddenly you now need to think about what happens with people. Does this now suggest Panda moves to first at some point after next season to clear a spot at third? Does this make Betts all the more expendable?

The collection of talent I get. Having talent is NEVER a bad thing. But, at some point it’s going to become cumbersome. If the Sox are expecting quick movement from him, and Betts, and Swihart…they’re going to need to start clearing some space for everyone sooner or later. Since the Sox could use an ace, I certainly hope it’s sooner.

I wonder what the plan is.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Which Images Make Your Grid of Champions?

You may have heard that the Patriots are world champions once again. Really. It was just a few weeks ago. That gave Boston sports teams nine world championships this century. That’s pretty amazing, isn’t it? This has led lots of people posting pictures on social media commemorating the nine titles. Maybe with pictures of all the logos, or players, or magazines. The great part about it is that since there are now nine, they fit into a nice 3x3 grid. A Grid of Champions.

That got me thinking. How cool would it look to have a matted display of pictures of the championships in that 3x3 grid. If you used 8x10 pictures, for instance, you could lay them out, and the final piece would probably only need to be about 3’x3’ (or, as I like to call it 36”x36”). That’s not a ton of wall space when you think about it. That would be fun.

But the big question. Which images would you pick?

I’d want them to specifically represent the championships. I don’t want a picture of Tom Brady playing against the Bengals. I could pick some sort of collage photo showing all the players from the various teams. But, I don’t particularly like those. I thought about using the last play of each game. That would work pretty well for the Red Sox titles…Foulke tossing it to first or Koji striking out Carpenter. It even works for the first two Pats championships. Vinatieri jumpining for joy. But, what about the last Pats championship? Brady taking a knee? Or the Bruins…there isn’t even a last play really. So, that wouldn’t work. I thought of the pig pile pictures, but the sports other than baseball don’t really do those. First pitch/puck drop/kickoff/tipoff? Not a bad idea, but they’d look pretty bland since they’d all be pretty similar.

Then I thought of that great picture of Butler’s interception. You know the one. Butler has the ball, and both he and the intended receiver are falling to the ground. What about a picture of the seminal play of each championship? That has promise. But, what images to choose.

Some of them might be listed above. Hard to argue with the two Vinatieri kicks from the Super Bowls. But, would a “tuck rule” picture be even more iconic? Would that be OK? Would you put in a picture of Roberts stealing second over any specific image from  the 2004 World Series? Tough call. Personally, since I was at one game of each of the Red Sox championships, I’d tend to gravitate to images from those games. But, if I had to make choices, what would I go with?

For the first two Patriots titles, I think it would be the final kicks. Closely cropped, right before the kick. For 2004 I think I’d stick with Foulke about to underhand it to Mientkiewicz. That was such a fantastic moment. The third Patriots title? I’m going to be honest with you. I can’t think of a single play that stands out in my mind. Maybe a nice picture of a Branch catch.  For the 2007 Series? A Beckett pic? How about a shot of Lowell diving head first into third? Good choices. But, I think I’ll have to go with Papelbon jumping in the air after striking out the final batter. For the Celtics title? Unfortunately, the image that stands out the most is Paul Pierce coming off the court with the injury…or his triumphant return. But, that seems like a morbid thing to celebrate. It would have to be the GAP threesome. There has to be a shot of the three of them together somewhere. I’ll use that. For the Bruins? I’m tempted to go with the pre-game shot squirting Boston water on the ice. But, that’s another weird shot that would break up the feel of the grid. So, maybe a great shot of a Thomas save, or him raising his arms in triumph. The 2013 Red Sox? I like the shot of the three Red Sox players all making the “safe” sign as Gomes scored the third run. And, the last Patriots title gets the Butler interception picture that started this all.

That’s what I’d go with. At least for now. I’m still tempted by earlier rounds shots like the Roberts steal, or Torii Hunter’s tumble, or the Edelman touchdown pass. They weren’t in the championship round, but they were pretty iconic.

Would you put them in your grid?

Which nine pictures would you pick?