Wednesday, October 26, 2016

One Down!

Now the Indians just need to work on the "three to go" portion.

That's really going to be the tricky part. The Indians rotation can't match the Cubs. Which is why it surprised me a bit to see Andrew Miller in the game last night so soon. I know it was relatively close at the time, but I would have been tempted to save him. If your ace can get one more inning before hitting the showers, maybe Miller is available tonight for a bit longer. 

Of course, who am I to argue about the way Terry Francona uses his bullpen? I'm willing to assume that he knows more about his team than I do. I'm also fully aware of the masterful job he did with Keith Foulke in 2004 for the Red Sox. Looks like he has the same thing in mind for Miller this year. Use him to get as many of the most important outs as possible. If he can't lift his arm by election day, so be it.

Or, maybe he saw the weather forecast? Maybe he figured he wasn't going to use Miller tonight anyway? Either the game was going to be rained out, or rain shortened, or he wasn't going to risk the most valuable player he has pitching in the slop. Maybe he took a calculated gamble that throwing Miller to his max wouldn't come back to bite him. After all, what the old saying? Never save your pitcher for tomorrow...tomorrow it may rain.

But, it does make me wonder what Francona has in mind if the game is actually played tonight. Hope for a blowout? Hope he can get more out his starter than he needs? Hope Miller isn't needed to put out a fire in the eighth? I guess just hope it all works out?

I hope it does all work out. Not just because I'm hoping that the indians win the series. But, because I love the way Francona is using Miller. I love that he's using him to get the most important outs, whenever they may be. However many there may be. 

I know that FOX said last night that you can't use a reliever like this in the regular season. But, I'm not sure why not. Oh, sure. You can't use him every night. But, imaging if you had a long guy that could dominate for na inning or two or three? And you could bring him in in the sixth, or eighth, or second. He'd get the job done. What a weapon that would be.

So, I'm anxious to see what the indians do tonight without their ace on the mound. I;m curious to see how Francona handles pitching changes. I'm interested to see how they pull it out.

I certainly know better than to think it won't all work out.

Monday, October 24, 2016

The Stage Has Been Set

With the Cubs beating the Dodgers in the NLCS, it was all over except the waiting. It meant the Indians and Cubs would be waiting to face each other in Game 1 of the World Series Tuesday night.

As with any match-up of this magnitude, there’s really only one question on anyone’s mind. Who do I want to win the Series?

This year, that decision is trickier than some. There’s no clear cut winner. If the Red Sox are playing, that’s an obvious one. If the Yankees are playing, just as obvious. Sometime my rationale is stupid. I would probably cheer against the Giants because I don’t want them to have more championships this century than the Red Sox do. I’d probably cheer against the Rays because the Devil Rays were so annoying, and for the Phillies because I’ve always felt a kinship with their fans. I would have cheered for the Dodgers because Adrian Gonzalez was cheated out of his 2013 ring with the Sox. Or the Blue Jays because so many Blue Jays fans seem to be fans of this blog.

But, for this match-up, things are a bit murky. Both teams are littered with ex-Red Sox. Both teams have gone a long time since winning their last World Series championship. Neither team is a particular rival of the Sox. I would have expected that I’d be rooting for the Cubs, as sort of a “long championship drought” kinship. And, a few years ago, that probably would have been the case. But, not this year.

I’m rooting for the Indians.

The first reason why is Joe Maddon. While it has slowed a bit since his move to the Cubs, but I’m already annoyed by the treatment Maddon gets from the media. His “genius Joe” routine is beyond annoying. The fact that he makes his team dress up in ridiculous costumes is maddening. For a guy who hasn’t won anything, he’s treated like god’s gift to managing. Imagine if he actually had a ring on his finger to go along with it? I shudder to think. From there, a couple other minor reasons. Jon Lester made a decision to not sign with the Sox. He could have chosen them, but he didn’t. Likewise, Theo made the decision to abandon the team to fit his desires. I figure they deserve to go winless more than other players.

Like the ones on the Indians, for instance. Mike Napoli was ditched by the team. Same with Coco Crisp. It seems to me that Tito Francona was tricked (by Theo) into leaving the Sox before he might have wanted to. I don’t been bad cheering for them. They’re still “one of us.” There’s also the marginal reason to root for the AL team. Keeping it in the League. Or, rooting for the team that beat the Red Sox. It’s slightly easier to swallow if the Sox are swept out of the playoffs by the eventual World Champions. 

Now, I admit, I’m not thrilled about hoping for Cleveland to win another championship this year. I’m not comfortable with them becoming a sports powerhouse to rival Boston’s glory days. But, then I look at the Browns, and don’t worry about that too much. I’m also not all that eager to open the “What if the Sox had traded for Miller instead of Cleveland?” line of questioning. But, those are minor issues in comparison. When it comes down to it, I can’t cheer for Joe Maddon.

Let’s go Indians!

Friday, October 21, 2016

Who Dresses Ceremony Guests?

I’ve been fortunate enough to be at Fenway for several special ceremonies.  Whether it be ring ceremonies, or regular Opening Day ceremonies, or whatever…these events usually involve special guests. Sometimes, guests from other Boston Area sports teams. These guests usually wear the jerseys of the team they play for during the ceremony. With all the championships they’ve won, I’m starting to lost track of the number of Patriots players I’ve seen in the standard Jersey/jeans combination. But, I’ve also seen Bobby Orr, for instance, in his Bruins jersey, or Leon Powe in his Celtics warm-up jacket. (It was April, after all. Sleeveless was definitely not the way to go.) I never really gave the wardrobe much thought. 

Until the Patriots won their last championship. I saw them visit other area teams for ceremonies. I saw Gronk spiking a puck at a Bruins game…wearing a Bruins jersey. Wait. That’s odd. Or, at least different. I guess that’s one way to go…wear the jersey of the team you’re visiting. Huh.

Again, different teams do different things. But, then the Patriots made their appearance at Fenway. You may remember that Brady was just wearing a t-shirt. The rest of the group was dressed in their civilian clothes. Again, odd. I figured that, maybe, since the rest of the group was ownership or management, they didn’t really have jerseys. The Krafts do wear a button down shirt to games. Maybe it would have been weird to just have Brady in a jersey, so they all went casual. I guess that made sense.

Then they had the triple-ceremony for David Ortiz at the end of this season. There were Bobby Orr and Ray Bourque wearing their usual Bruins jersey. But, the Celtics team all wore jerseys with the #34 on them. Pretty sure they weren’t all Paul Pierce. It was a slight shift. Why wouldn’t Bourque and Orr wear #34 Bruins jerseys to be consistent? Who makes that call?

It got even weirder during the final ceremony on Sunday. They brought back several of Ortiz’s teammates from World Championship teams. They all marched out from underneath wearing their jersey. All except Doug Mientkiewicz. He wore a #34 Red Sox jersey. Huh. Who’s call was that? Everyone had a jersey with a David Ortiz patch on it. So, it’s not like they all brought a jersey from their playing days, but Doug’s was lost by the airline on the way in. Everyone had special jerseys made (maybe even provided) for them. Why was he the exception? I also saw Pedro Martinez make his way out the centerfield before the game. He wasn’t wearing the jersey then. Neither was Kevin Millar. They both put one on while they were waiting under Section 36 for the ceremony to begin. So, they made a conscious choice to wear that jersey. It wasn’t just something they grabbed on the way out the door.

Later in the ceremony, the President of the Dominican Republic threw out the first pitch. He was wearing a Red Sox warm up jacket for the occasion. Made sense. It was a bit chilly and rainy, after all. But, who decided he’d wear a jacket? Why didn’t Robert Kraft wear a Red Sox jacket? I’m guessing that the President doesn’t usually wear a baseball jacket. Who told him to put one on for the ceremony? Why isn’t there any consistency?

Suddenly something I never really thought much about is loaded with questions. Who picks out the wardrobe? Who supplies the wardrobe? If it’s not the team, does it have to be cleared with the team first?

So many questions, so few answers!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

David Ortiz Live

With all the hoopla at the end of the season surrounding David Ortiz, this one just seemed like a natural fit. How had Ortiz performed while I was in the park? I hadn’t looked at anyone with such a large sample size before, so I thought this would be interesting. First, of course, I needed to be sure that I was really covering every game I saw him in. So, I waited until after the Red Sox were eliminated, just in case. Of course, that made me really regret that I don’t have every time I’ve seen Ortiz chronicled here. There are games I don’t score for one reason or another. That’s especially annoying in this case because I notice no October games in 2004. That means I missed ALCS game 4. I feel like he did pretty well in that game.

But, even missing those few instances, I have an amazing sample of Ortiz performances ranging from 2000 to 2016. Those games encompass his entire Red Sox career, and then some. I scored 65 of his games, totaling 270 plate appearances. 

How did David Ortiz do while I was in the park?

Yup. Pretty damn well. Exactly what you’d expect from Ortiz, and maybe then some.

Just the raw numbers. I’ve seen David Ortiz hit a home run at least fifteen times. I’ve seen him drive in over 50 runs, and score more than 40 himself. Those are fantastic numbers.

But, look at the extrapolations. If I scale his performance to a 660 at-bat season, I can see what kind of player I was watching. From the looks of it, I was watching an MVP. Look at that slash line. Slugging over .600? An OPS of 1.025? Monster numbers. 200 hits. 150+ RBI. 44 HR. Even if he didn’t exactly end on a high note, he was a magical player while I was in the park.

Which is, of course, exactly what I was hoping for. It’s always nice when I do these and see that I saw a pretty fair representation of the player. I don’t like that I saw the very worst of Paul Konerko. I wish I had seen more of the “real” Mariono Rivera. (On second thought, scratch that. I’m glad I saw the worst of him.) But, much like Pedro, with Ortiz I got a true representation of the player, and I’m thrilled.

How did Ortiz do when you were in the park?

Monday, October 17, 2016

Collecting the Sox: Phantom Tickets

Postseason baseball creates a great many things. It creates heroes. It creates goats. It creates memories. It creates disappointments. It also creates a fun Red Sox collectable. Phantom tickets.

Phantom tickets are ticket stubs to games that never happened. Those can occur during the regular season if there’s a rain out, for instance, that is never made up. But, it’s much more prevalent during the playoffs. Due to the nature of the bracket system, fans and teams don’t know when or where games will be played until very late in the process. If the Red Sox waited until they made it to the ALCS, for instance, before they printed up and sold the ALCS tickets, they’d run out of time. So, they have to be printed and distributed well in advance.

The problem with that is, of course, sometimes the Sox don’t then make it to the ALCS. 

Enter the phantom ticket.

I’ve heard of people specializing in this type of collectable. As a baseball-wide type thing, I can see the appeal. It’s a unique collectable that has a curiosity aspect to it. Just about every team has one for any number of years. A potential checklist of items to add you your collection would be large, and ever-growing. The thrill of the chase would always be there.

As a team collectable, I can see the plusses and minuses. On the one hand, if a game isn’t played for a good reason, it might be fun to have a stub in your collection. I think it’d be neat to have the Red Sox World Series tickets for game six or seven of the 2004 World Series. It would be a constant reminder that the Sox swept the series, and therefore didn’t need those games. Or, tickets to the 2016 Wild Card game played in Fenway Park. Those would be a constant reminder that the Red Sox won the division this year, so didn’t need to play in the Wild Card Game.

But what about the other side of it? Not sure how I’d feel about having 2003 Red Sox World Series tickets sitting on my shelf. Talk about a never-ending kick in the gut. Or tickets to the 2011 playoffs. Or 2016 ALCS. Bleh.

I have often thought about going for phantom tickets from other teams. As the converse of the paragraph above, wouldn’t it be neat to have Yankees 2004 World Series tickets?  Or 2007 Indians? That would be another fun reminder that those teams didn’t need those tickets because the Red Sox won the Series that year. Maybe a collection of game six tickets for the other AL teams that didn’t make the Series in 2013. That would make for a fun little display. Game six tickets with the Red Sox, Tigers, Rays, Indians, and A’s logos on them all framed up in a row. Maybe there are even tickets out there of AL teams that didn’t even make the playoffs. That could be a great item.

So, as with any great collectable, there are some options there for a fun addition to your Red Sox collection. The possibilities are almost endless.

Do you have any phantom ticket stubs?

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