Thursday, May 28, 2015

Miss Massachusetts Visits Section 36!

Lauren Kuhn is obviously a Red Sox Fan. She also happens to be the current Miss Massachusetts, having finished in the top five at Miss America 2015! I thought it would be fun to reach out to Lauren and ask her some questions about Fenway, the Sox, and her time as Miss Massachusetts. So, let's see what happens when Miss Massachusetts visits Section 36!

How often do you get to Fenway Park?
I get to Fenway Park about once per month during the season.  I make the most of every game I attend and of course, I attended the World Series souvenir ring night and I will cherish that ring for many years to come. On a student budget, I have to make the most of the times I can afford to attend!

If you can't sit in Section 36 to watch the Red Sox, where do you (or where would you) like to sit?
Lauren in the Miss America Parade.
One of the few times, I imagine, that she
wouldn't rather be in Section 36!
I enjoy sitting almost anywhere!  I feel like I've been all around Fenway Park, because I enjoy sampling the sections.  Even the standing room only area is fun!

Where were you when the Red Sox won the 2013 World Series?  
I was outside Fenway Park!  I was hosting a visiting student from California and I took her to the Fenway area, where we stood on the bridge near the Yawkey Commuter Rail Station to be able to peek into the park and feel like we were part of the excitement!

How did you celebrate becoming Miss Massachusetts?  
celebrated by preparing for Miss America.  It was a dream come true for me to have the opportunity to compete at the next level!  I will say I love to sample different cuisines, travel, and sleep in (when possible), so I tried to mix that in with my Miss America preparations.

What has surprised you about being Miss Massachusetts?  
I've been surprised by how kind and hospitable people have been!  There have been times this year when I've literally felt like a queen.  It's been an unique experience and I've been asked to attend and speak at events across the state.

I know there's not much time left, but do you have a goal you'd like to accomplish before the end of your reign as Miss Massachusetts?  
I'm working very hard to make myself available to this year's contestants.  Each time I've competed, I've had a lot of questions and I'm hoping to answer any and all questions they have BEFORE they compete.  Knowledge is power, right?

How did you become interested in your platform, "Empowering Women Through Education"?  
I myself have been the recipient of many scholarships, as well as encouragement from family and community members.  However, simultaneously, I have been told by both family and friends that my scholastic and career goals are too lofty.  I know what it's like to feel a mixture of encouragement and discouragement.  I want young women to see that their educational goals are affordable and attainable.  As part of my platform, I also started a scholarship which will be awarded for the second time this year to a UMass Dartmouth student.

What does the future hold for you once you turn over your crown?  
I am currently a full-time Doctor of Dental Medicine student at Harvard University and will continue my studies until May 2017, when I will graduate! 

At the moment, how do you like the Red Sox chances in 2015?  
I am always keeping my fingers crossed.  I think they have a shot and I'd love to see them win the World Series again very soon!


Have to love that optimism!

A big thanks to Lauren for participating, and for sending along the fantastic parade photos. (That outfit is just spectacular!) Hopefully future trips to Fenway will include a picture with (or even in) Section 36!

And, who knows...maybe one of this year's contestants will be the next to Visit Section 36.

Thanks again Lauren!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

From the Pedro Binder

2000 E-X

First off, this card isn’t cardboard. It’s that acetate stuff that has snuck into cards every once in a while. Also, the sections that look white, are actually clear. Or, at least opaque. So, this is a different animal than most cards in the Pedro binder. That makes this one unique…if nothing else.

You know, it’s interesting I was going to point out what I immediately considered a major flaw. I’m guessing you can figure out what it is. Then I started thinking. I have a sweatshirt in my closet. It’s blue, and says GAP across the chest. I also have a pair of shorts in my drawer. They’re pretty well covered in the little Ralph Lauren Polo guy. So, I’m willing to wear clothes whose only design element is a company logo scattered about.

Why does it annoy me so much on cards?

I mean, look at that clear swipe through the middle. It is absolutely infested with E-X logos. It grinds at me.

Maybe it’s because I don’t have any expectations when it comes to clothing. If it looks nice, I’ll wear it. If the horsey guy looks nice in the color combination, that’s fine by me. But, I do have an expectation when it comes to a baseball card. This is supposed to be a Pedro card. Not an EX card. It would be more like having GAP written across the front of a Red Sox jersey. It’s out of place, and wrong.

The rest of it is wrong too. Pedro’s name is in foil. Written sideways. Facing the wrong way. My goodness. The sweeping design is just oddly distracting.

I do like the picture, though. For some reason it appeals to me. I don’t know if it’s a slightly different angle than I’m used to seeing. Or, if the distracting background actually makes the photo pop. Or, if it’s just so well cropped that it demands attention. Whatever it is, I enjoy it.

But, it can’t help save the rest of the card from itself. It really looks like it’s trying to hard.

Understated can be good.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Another Implosion?

Well, it was certainly an implosion. But, I cringe a bit at the tone usually applied to the word “another.”

Yes, of course, the Sox starters have imploded before. And, Kelly has even imploded before. But, everyone seems to be treating it like a “Here we go again” sort of feel. “We need an ace because these guys keep getting lit up!”

But, that’s not really the case.

Let’s do a little comparison…just for fun. The Houston Astros currently lead the AL with 29 wins. The Red Sox have 21. In the month of May, the Astros have played 23 games, and have given up 104 runs. The Red Sox have played 23 games in May, and given up…104 runs. In the Month of May, the Astros have played 10 games where they’ve given up three or fewer runs. The Sox? 11.


But, wait. It’s not the good games…it’s the bad games. When the Sox are bad, after all, they’re very very bad. Ok. In the month of May the Astros have one game where they have given up at least ten runs. Aha. See? That’s where the difference is. The Astros can control the damage better to keep games within reach.  That one game is nothing compared to the Red Sox who have allowed ten runs or more onetime in the month of May.

Wait…once? Just like the Astros?

Really, the numbers of times the two teams have given up a certain number of runs is eerily similar. What does that mean? Probably two things. That the Red Sox woes are really just a matter of timely hitting, and perception.

The timely hitting will come around. It always does. That’s a definite “water finds its level” sort of thing.

The perception we may need to work on. The people calling for an ace need that comfort. People are complaining that the Sox will never go on a run, because one of the starters will blow up at least once every turn of the rotation. That might be true. But, it’s also true of other teams. It’s just usually the #5 starter.

Which is really the problem. People like to think they can count on things. We could count on Pedro winning his starts. The 2015 Sox don’t have that. But, they can probably count on one starter putting up a great start every time through. (No, not a Pedro start…but a great start.) Which is what they’ve had. But, it’s not always the same guy. Conversely, people seem to be willing to accept one guy blowing up every time through…as long as it’s the same guy. “Oh well, Dempster got hammered again.”

But, the Sox are really getting the same thing. 1/5 great starts, 1/5 awful starts.  Sure, you never know who’s going to pitch a gem, and you never know who will fall apart. But, in the grand scheme of things, does it matter? Once the Sox find their offense, does it matter who’s pitching the gems and who isn’t? Shouldn’t the Sox be able to handle whichever pitcher it throwing whichever game?

Shouldn’t we be able to live without knowing?

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Facing Ted Williams, edited by Dave Heller

The greatest hitter that ever lived. Ted Williams is a legend among legends. What a privilege people who got the chance to watch him play had.  Unfortunately, since Ted retired over fifty years ago, there aren’t many of those privileged few left. Which is what made this book so intriguing. Even better than talking about people who got to see Williams play, this book focus on people who actually played against him. What was it like trying to get him out? Did you just assume you had no chance and hope to limit the damage? Did you actually think you could strike him out? How about fielders, did they play any differently with Ted at the plate? I couldn’t wait to dive into the book.

Then, I hit a problem. This book relied on fresh interviews, as opposed to historical accounts. As I mentioned, Ted last played fifty years ago. Do the math, and even a 20 year old breaking in during Ted’s last season is pushing 75 years old. There aren’t a lot of players left who faced Ted personally. There also weren’t a lot of players who faced Ted very often. Again, if your career overlapped Ted’s by ten years, you’re at least 85 years old. So, the book had a high percentage of people I had never heard of. Bob Feller is the only name that sticks out as a name I knew, and as a player who had faced Ted quite often. It also meant that those players had faced Ted only once or twice. It didn’t make their stores less valid, but it did make them a bit less original. Every one of them, it seemed, was a wide-eyed rookie when Ted came to the plate. Their memories were all similar. Then came the second problem. Usually, their memories were all wrong. Whether it was the passage of time, or an exaggeration that crept in over the years, many of the stories were inaccurate. That left Heller with two choices. To ignore it, and let everyone tell about how they stuck Williams out with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth, or to point out the errors. I’m not sure which I would have done, but Heller chose the latter. In footnotes, he would correct the misremembering. That would have been fine, if it didn’t happen so often. Almost every time someone remembered something, there was a footnote correcting it. Made me wonder what I was reading…since it certainly didn’t seem to be anything like a story about facing Ted Williams. I wonder if Heller himself was a bit disappointed by what he ended up with when he saw the inaccuracies.

I know I was.

Rating: 1 base.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Everything at Once

Why can’t the Red Sox do everything at once?

We’ve all had stretches like this, right? Maybe your car breaks down, once that gets fixed your TV goes on the fritz. Finally have that under control and the washing machine starts leaking all over the basement.

Why can’t everything just all work at once!?!

That’s what the Red Sox are going through at the moment. They had a stretch at the beginning of the year where things seemed to be going well. Then, the pitching disappeared. Sure, they could still hit but the pitchers were giving up too many runs. Then, suddenly the pitching came back. This last swing through the rotation has been exactly what you’d want. But, just as suddenly, the hitting disappeared. They just can’t score runs. So, instead of losing 8-7, they’re losing 2-1.

When are they going to start hitting and pitching at the same time?


Wouldn’t it have to be soon? I’ve always been a “back of the baseball card” type. Or, a “water finds its level” if you will. Just like I had to assume that every pitcher on the staff didn’t suddenly start sucking all at once, I have to assume that neither did the batters.

And, really, they haven’t forgotten. They’re just slumping a bit. After all, people have been complaining and complaining about leaving runners on base. But, they ignore the fact that, clearly they’re getting runners on base. So, if you have an inning that ends with a two out single, followed by a double, followed by a walk, followed by a flyout…do you get angry about not getting that last hit or are you please with the small two-out rally? The answer, frankly, depends on whether or not you win the game.

Hitting with runners in scoring position isn’t really anything special. Alan Craig didn’t have some secret formula when he was hitting almost .500 with RISP a few years ago. If he did, he should have written it down. Similarly, Pedroia’s not doing anything differently when he strikes out with the bases loaded than he is when he homers leading off an inning. It’s just a matter of when the hits fall. They’re getting their hits. The rest will work itself out.

Maybe they’re pressing a bit at the moment. What they need is one good game. Get a few of those .150 batting averages with men on base to go away. Let them just play. Maybe the pitching will help with that. If they don’t need to score 15 runs to win, maybe they can all just relax.

Whatever it is, it’ll work itself out. If nothing else, at least the Sox don’t have both things going wrong. I’d rather lost 2-1 than 12-1. So, until it all comes back to normal, at least the Sox aren’t dropping away to nowhere in the standings. Sure, they may be below .500. But, even with nothing going right all season, the Sox are only 2.5 games out of first. If the Sox were 21-19 instead of 19-21, those 2.5 game out would seem like they were right in the hunt. They’ve held their own.

Can’t wait to see what happens when it all clicks.

Monday, May 18, 2015

From the Pedro Binder

2000 Fleer Focus

Focus. What exactly is focus? Something that’s clearer? Something that’s more important? Both?

If the point of Focus is to highlight a player, isn’t that the point of every card? To focus on the subject player? If you’re not focusing on a player I don’t think you’re doing a very good job with the card.

This one does do a decent job of that. The clean white of the border spills into the design of the card as well. That really makes the rest of the card pop. Pedro has a while divine glow about him as he gets ready to fool another hitter. The blue on Pedro’s cap and sleeves carry a theme with the blue cap on the bottom and the Fleer logo. Pedro’s name is in that annoying foil, but at least it’s tucked out of the way. Sort of an odd font choice for something that’s supposed to be in focus. I would have expected something easier to read.

So there’s nothing special here, even though Fleer tries to convince us otherwise. It’s not the worst set Fleer put out in 2000, but it’s certainly not anything that would make me anxiously away the release of 2001 Focus.

It’s just another card.

Friday, May 15, 2015

I Scored!

June 8, 2000

I love Pedro games. I know. I’m not even close to being alone in this one. But, there’s a little bit of excitement in me every time I look at a scorecard and see his name on it. I know automatically that this game is going to be something special.

Of course it was.

The best part is, it wasn’t even anything extraordinary as far as Pedro games go. Take a look at his line. Eight innings. Of course. Zero runs, as expected. Another ten strikeout game. Boring! But, that was Pedro Martinez.

Since the Sox won the games, there must have been some runs scored. And, there were. Just enough. Plus, you’ll see that the first one wasn’t until the seventh inning. Pedro kept the Indians off the board when he really needed to. After all, the Sox were facing Bartolo Colon that day. Throwing up goose eggs was essential.

The hero of the game? Easily Carl Everett. His solo shot in the seventh was all the runs the Sox would need. For good measure, he scored another run the following inning. We’ll forgive the two strikeouts. Remember, it was Colon on the mound.

The goat? I hate to do it, but it has to be Nomar. 0-4 from your #3 hitter is not what you’re looking for.

But, thanks to Pedro, that didn’t matter. The Sox scored all the runs they would need, and Pedro showed why he was destined to be in the Hall of Fame.

Just like he did every game.

And the scorecard shows how it happened.