Sunday, February 26, 2017

36 Days Left

That's right! It's that magical time when there are exactly 36 days left until Opening Day!

It's actually a pretty cool timeframe, as you'd probably imagine. The full days of workouts are gone, and there are actual real live
exhibition games going on. (We're even already past the exhibition exhibition game) Rotations are falling into place a much as anything can fall into place more than a month out. Players are starting to get into the feel of the game. Some of the stars are remembering where their grooves are. Some of the bench players are pretending they're more than bench players.

The pitchers are simulating their games,and pitching their games.

The radio has baseball on it again. Out televisions have baseball on them again. Bloggers have things to write about.

It's a wonderful time to be a baseball fan.

36 days out.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

From the Pedro Binder

2002 Flair

I honestly don't know what to make of this card. There's a lot going on. Some of it good, some of it not so good.

First, name and position in gold foil written sideways is about the worst decision a card company can make. I'm not sure it could be harder to read is it was in invisible ink. Awful. And, what's with the different fonts for the first and last name? Very strange.

I do like Pedro's number in outline. It's tucked in the corner, so it doesn't detract from the rest of the card. The rest of the shapes and stripes are, likewise, pretty well stuck to the side. I'm actually surprised how little the white stripe in the top corner and down the side bothers me. Although, all the stuff together makes it look like they're trying just a little too hard. The gold fillet in the corner seems out of place with the rest of the card. 

But, all the design elements do allow more room for the picture. Or, in this case, pictures. The two pictures give a bit of a 50's Topps feel with the large head shot, and the mini superimposed action shot. This isn't '56 Topps, but it has that element to it. I don't usually like the floating image idea, but it's not terrible in this case.

Put it all together, and I don't mind this card as much as I'd thought I would. Nothing jumps out as being great, but nothing really scares me away. It's just a different card.

And variety is usually a good thing.

Friday, February 24, 2017

I Scored: August 18, 2007

OK, what do we have here? Today I decided to flash back to a game in the fantastic season of 2007. The Sox were on their way to winning the division, finishing with the best record in the American League. This team had some skill, and the scorecard from this game shows exactly that.

Let’s start with the pitcher box. This box sums up this gave very well. Curt Schilling struggled out of the gate, only being able to go six innings while giving up five runs. But, the rest of the bullpen was able to shut things down to allow the Sox to stay in the game. In fact, that pitcher succession would be seen again in the World Series, simple removing the need for Timlin. This game was also closer than the final score would indicate, because of the Sox scoring so many runs in the eighty. When Timlin and Oki were in there, they were in a hold situation. Then the offense did their thing.

Speaking of the offense, Wow. Just look at it go. As always with these old cards, the names are fun to look at. Julio Lugo leading off? Alex Cora at second base? 

I love the Manny Ramirez line. Could there be a more “Manny” outcome? He started with four swinging strikeouts. But in the eighth he followed an intentional walk by driving in two huge insurance runs with a double. With that double, the Ortiz-Manny combo ended up with fantastic number, driving in six on the ten runs (thanks to an Ortiz grand slam) and scoring three of their own.

The hero of the game? Have to give that to Ortiz. His go-head grand slam in the fifth was enormous. Clutch, you might say. 

The goat? I usually give the horns to a batter. But, the only starter who didn’t score at least one run was Varitek, and he went 2-5 with an RBI. So, I’m going to hang them on Curt Schilling. Five runs in six innings is just not what you’re looking for. He’s lucky the offense bailed him out, of it would have been a disaster.

But, the offense did bail him out. JD Drew collected his 1000th career hit on the way to an eventual blowout.

And the scorecard shows you how it happened. 

Thursday, February 23, 2017

How to Maximize Ad Revenue on Your Blog

I promise you. This is eventually a baseball post. It just requires a slight diversion first. 

I have some ads on my blog. Hopefully there aren’t so many that they’re distracting or annoying. (If they are, let me know.) But they’re there in case they interest you. It’s just a little way for me to try and see if I can get this blog to be self-sufficient and see if that will allow me to do more fun things.

So, like most people, when I added the ads I did a little bit of research into how to make the ads as effective as they can be. Naturally, this being the internet, there are plenty of people out there giving you tips and tricks on how to get people to view your blog so they will view your ads. Some ideas?

You can use pictures. Pictures attract people’s attention. If they see a picture in a thumbnail, they might be more likely to click to your blog looking for more. Pictures also show up in image searches, which gives you yet another way for people to stumble upon your blog.

Linking to other posts in your blog is another great tip. If someone is reading a post including a recent interview with Miss Bay State, it stands to reason that they’d be interested in an interview with Miss Cambridge. Or even Miss Vermont. So, adding links to capitalize on those thoughts brings along even more hits for your site.

There are timing ideas. Posting in the morning allows your fresh post to show up all day. But, posting in the evening has it show up when people are apt to be home from work. 

Social media helps. Posting a link to you blog on its Facebook page, or especially your personal Facebook page gets more exposure for your post. Tweeting a link on Twitter. Including a photo with a link on Instagram. Snapping a picture of your post. Pinning the post to Pinterest. All those places offer ways to get more people’s eyes on your posts. The more eyes are on it, the more likely there is engagement. 

You can write clever titles to hopefully pique someone’s interest? “How to maximize revenue” is probably better than “My views on MLB.” 

I’m sure there are even more. But, all these tips seem to ignore the best way to increase revenue. Write lots of quality posts. If you do that, people will seek you out. They’ll tell their friends about you. Sure, you can tweet a link to your 1000 followers. But, what if 100 people loved your post so much they tweeted it to their 100 followers to say how awesome the post was? Or 100 people tweeting to 1000 followers? Those are numbers that are much harder to reach on your own. 

So, why do people talk about all the other tips? They’re much easier. You don’t need any talent to tweet out a link 1000 times. It takes a different talent to write a catchy headline than it does to write a 5000 word post that people want to read. It doesn’t matter what you post if you’re just posting it when people happen to be online reading any post they find. It’s a whole different skill set.

Which is why it always bothers me when MLB does it. 

(See? Told you I’d tie it in.)

I’m assuming that MLB has some pretty smart people working for it. They know how television and entertainment is supposed to work. But, they still keep taking the easy way out. When should we hold World Series Games? How about at night when people are flipping channels anyway. Certainly not at a time when kids can see them. We don’t want to build our brand. We want to have people fall into us by mistake. We don’t want to be Seinfeld. We want to be the show after it that people watch just because.

It happened again with the intentional walk. They wanted to pretend that the game was improving. Look! We made a change to cut down on game times. Come watch us! You know what else would cut down on game times? Dropping an ad or two from the between inning break. Instead of cutting 20 seconds a game, it would be more like ten minutes. That’s significant.

But, it wouldn’t be easy. Because it would seem to cut down on revenue. Fewer ads equal fewer dollars.

But, they’re not looking at the long term. Fewer ads mean shorter games. Shorter games mean more viewers. More viewers mean more viewers tweeting that they’re watching games. That leads to even more people watching the games. That means you can increase the ad prices for the ads you have left. 


You’ve now compensated for the loss in revenue from dropping one ad per inning break. And, you’ve increased your viewership. And, it’s not just viewers tricked into watching. They’re viewers who want to watch. Who want to watch again. They’re viewers who will follow you anywhere.

They’ll watch a daytime World Series game with their kids. They’ll buy your merchandise. They’ll spread your word.

You can’t do all that by following the “top ten ways to get more blog hits” lessons. You can only do it by “producing quality content.” I know it’s harder. I’m not even saying that I’m capable of doing it myself.

But you’d think MLB could.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Intentionally Stupid

So, Major League Baseball came out with a rule change yesterday. Instead of making a pitcher throw four balls during an intentional walk, the manager will simply signal the umpire to have the batter take his base.

Honestly? The idea doesn’t really bother me. There’s probably no good reason to make a pitcher actually go through the motions of throwing four balls high and away. I’m not sure it will affect the game beyond the “That’s the way it’s always been” argument. That’s always a terrible argument, so I feel OK ignoring it.

There are some complaints about it floating around. And, they do have some merit. Some people point out the times that a player has swung at an intentional walk pitch. Or, the times a pitcher has thrown a wild intentional walk pitch. Or, when a team has faked an intentional walk in order to strike a batter out. If the intentional walk becomes automatic, those plays will never happen again.

That’s absolutely true.

Problem is, they never really happened before. Not that often, at least. I saw a list online (so it must be true) saying that around a dozen times in baseball history a player has gotten a hit off an intentional walk. (I swear Mike Greenwell knocked a double off the Wall on an attempted intentional walk…but that wasn’t on the list.) Whether they had a comprehensive list or not, that seems about right. It’s not like it happens even once a year. And the fake intentional walk? I can think of two. Johnny Bench in the World Series, and Jimy Williams trying it against Chipper Jones. Now, it’s possible there were more that we can’t research because it just goes in the books as a strikeout (or in the case of Jones, an attempted strikeout. He wasn’t fooled.) But, the facts are, it’s not a lot. Again, way less than once a year.

Now, a pitcher throwing a wild pitch? That probably happens more often. But, I guess I’m OK with that. I fall back to wanting the better team to win. And, yes you could say that the better team is the one that doesn’t throw a ball to the backstop. But, that just seems more like “chance” to me. It’s not like you draft a guy knowing he “makes good intentional walk pitches” or a team should know not to have a guy try to intentionally walk someone. So, I feel that it’s different than, say, fumbling a ball in the super bowl. The Patriots made a play to cause a fumble. Conversely, if they lost the game by fumbling a kick, after having trouble with that all year, that’s something they should have coached. If, however, Brady just takes his three step drop, and just drops the ball untouched for who knows why…that’s a whole different thing. Isn’t it?

Which is a long way of saying that I don’t like fluke plays deciding games. So, if the only reason to keep the four pitch intentional walk is because once a year the ball might slip out of a pitcher’s hand, I say get rid of it.

My problem with the change? The reason they gave behind it. Pace of play. Seriously? Of all the changes they could have made, they make a fundamental change to the rules in order to save, on average, 20 seconds a game? We’re still going to allow managers to visit the mound just to stall in order to give their reliever time to warm up, but we’re changing a rule to remove a walk. Managers still stand at the top step of the dugout waiting for a review before challenging a play. But, to save time we’re changing the walk. We still have a million ads being shown between each half inning. But, instead MLB changes a long-time rule.

That’s the part that bothers me.

Sure, twenty seconds are twenty seconds. And it’s an easy twenty seconds to cut. But, there are other ways to trim the game that don’t affect core rules. Even core rules that don’t amount to anything. That’s the part that bothers me. Go ahead and do it. Don’t do it for a stupid reason.

Especially to speed up games.

What people are reading this week