Monday, November 29, 2010

Red Sox A-Z: W is for…

Wakefield, as in Tim.

When Dan Duquette sign Tim Wakefield to a contract, I wonder what he thought he was getting. Wakefield was the national Darling when he came up to the Pirates in 1992. He had gone 8-1 on the season, and earned MVP honors in that year’s NLCS. He was the talk of the town.  The next season? Not so good. He ended up with a 6-11 record, and spent a good portion of the season in the minor leagues. That is where he spent the entire 1004 season, posting a less than mediocre 5-15 record. Clearly, the bloom had come off his rose. Maybe his trick pitch was just a fluke after all. The future was not bright. It was with that background that Duquette signed Wakefield to a minor league contract just after the start of the 1995 season. What did he think Tim would be? A player to fill out the minor league roster? A fill in if the big club needed a spot starter? Was he hoping Tim would develop into a back of the rotation guy? A ace? What was the plan? No matter what the plan was, I’m assuming he didn’t think Tim would go out there in 1995 and lead the team in wins, earned run average, and innings pitched. I’m guessing a third place finish in the Cy Young voting wasn’t on the radar either. Not too shabby.

Of course, the story didn’t end there. Tim Wakefield is still on the team. He’s currently the longest tenured member of the team. He’s moving steadily up the ranks of all-time great Red Sox pitchers. Frankly, the only reason he’s not higher on just about every list is because the Sox keep changing his role. Imagine if he had just been a starter. Or, just a reliever. His career numbers would be even more impressive. As it stands, he’s the Red Sox career leader in games started and innings pitched. (Along with walks and losses…but we’ll ignore that) He’s second in strikeouts and games pitched, and third in wins. Not too shabby for a minor league free agent.

As a fan, I loved going to games where Wakefield was pitching. If I had a tickets to a game and it was a Pedro or Wakefield start, I was a happy camper. Pedro games meant total domination. Wakefield games? They guaranteed getting home at a reasonable time. He pitched like he had a bus to catch. It was fantastic.

My favorite Wakefield memory? There are, obviously, several. But, one has a clear-cut edge. I was able to be at Fenway when he pitched game one of the 2004 World Series. If Pedro couldn’t be on the mound, I couldn’t think of another Sox pitcher who deserved it more. He had certainly earned the right to be on the mound for the first Fenway World Series game in almost 20 years. It was also nice for me, since the day was cold and raw. The wind was blowing, and the drizzle was falling. If there was ever a time for a quick Wakefield game, it was that night. Of course, the game ended up going exactly four hours. Proof that even Wakefield can’t do it alone. But, as I sat there shivering, it was certainly comforting to see him toe the rubber in the first. It still annoys me that he couldn’t come away with the victory in a back and forth battle. But, I guess I can’t have everything.

So, as we approach the end of Tim Wakefield’s time with the Red Sox, he deserves a look back. He’s seen it all in Boston. And, we should all thank him for it.

W is for Wakefield, Tim.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Theology By: John Frascella

This book explores the life and career of Red Sox general manager
Theo Epstein. As most coverage of Theo, it focuses on his career, more than his life. But, the life story does supply important background into the man who holds the career. The book discusses Theo’s goals and views, and how they play out on the baseball field. The subtitle of the book, “How a Boy Wonder Led the Red Sox to the Promised Land” really tells you everything you need to know about what the book covers. It’s a detailed look into the general manage who brought the Red Sox 2 World Series titles in four years.

This book is mostly a collection of research assembled by the author. As such, it is not full of new information. It is, however, organized to give a great story to that research. The author takes a casual approach to his writing. He talks to the reader, which I found disarming at times. (It was weird that I felt that way, since I tend to talk to the reader a lot, right?) But, it certainly didn’t detract from the flow of the book. The casualness occasionally cut back on the quality a bit. It’s sometimes hard to take a paragraph seriously when there are little quips in it. But, again, those instances didn’t detract from the overall storyline. As such, this is a great book. It allows the reader to follow behind the scenes of the Red Sox. It allowed me to put events that I thought I remembered into their proper order and significance. I have read just about everything I can get my hands on when it comes to the world champion Red Sox, as I’m sure many of you have. So, it’s hard to surprise me at this point. But, this book was an enjoyable read.

Rating: 3 bases

Thursday, November 25, 2010

List of 36: Things I was Thankful for from the 2010 Red Sox Season

1. Clay Buchholz’s all-star selection
2. Being at Fenway on Aug 31 for Lowrie’s walk-off HR
3. Lowrie pinch hitting for Nava pinch hitting for Navarro
4. Ortiz earning his option
5. Ryan Kalish’s sneak peek
6. Jon Lester’s continued progression
7. Adrian Beltre’s head rubs
8. Tim Wakefield doing whatever was asked of him
9. The solid play of Marco Scutaro
10. Adding Josh Hamilton to my “seen live” list
11. Terry Francona’s Wednesday interviews
12. Daniel Nava’s first pitch grand slam
13. The players never giving up
14. Being at Fenway to welcome Manny and the Dodgers
15. Beltre abusing the monster
16. Being at Fenway for Youkilis’s walk-off sac fly on July 17
17. Keeping score
18. Having room on my scorecard for “Saltalamacchia”
19. Darnell McDonald’s performance
20. Trade rumors
21. Adding Cliff Lee to my “seen live” list
22. Ice cream in a helmet cup
23. Terry Francona’s line-up creativity
24. John Lackey’s good starts
25. Being at Fenway to welcome Manny and the White Sox
26. AAA players on-call
27. Magnet schedule give-away
28. Red Sox grass seed mix
29. Being at Fenway for Pedroia’s walk-off single on June 19
30. Victor Martinez’s all-star selection
31. Adrian Beltre’s Silver Slugger
32. Tim Wakefield’s 200th Fenway start
33. Beckett-Lester-Buchholz-Lackey-Matsuzaka
34. “Visitor’s Views”
35. Staying in the hunt
36. The potential for the 2011 Red Sox

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Please Tell me There’s More to the Story

Please tell me there’s a reason the Sox didn’t sign their top priority other than money. Please tell me it’s not just Theo showing off again. Please tell me there was a reason the Sox couldn’t add $8 million for the only guy they really needed to resign.

Please tell me its because they needed the money for Carl Crawford. Please tell me the Sox didn’t want to pay him the money to play a lot of first base because Adrian Gonzalez will be at first base for the next seven years. Please?

It’s weird. I never thought the Red Sox were going to get Victor Martinez. I knew they try to avoid those “albatross” contracts. I knew they wouldn’t give him the four years. So, I had sort of removed the idea of V-Mart from my head. So, I’m not sure which is worse. That they lost out over $8 million, or that they actually offered the fourth year, but still tried to cheap it out. Apparently it wasn’t that extra year that was the problem after all. They were just too cheap? Say it ain’t so Theo.

So, what happens now? Clearly the tandem of Tek and Salty will be handling the catching duties. Once again, Theo will try to show off and pay two cheap guys to do a job worse than the expensive guy would. They certainly better not spend any real money to grab another free agent catcher…assuming there are any. So, the Sox have a remaining hole in their line-up over at third. I will put myself in the “not Beltre” camp. His history of only performing in contract years is a little too consistent for my liking. I’d rather try the other corner. Obviously, a big gun in the “Fielder/Gonzalez/Pujols” area would be the ideal. But, I think the Sox could get away with a “steady” bat in that area. A Derek Lee/Lance Berkman type could fill in for a while. At least until the Sox get one of those other three at the deadline.

That really better be what the lack of V-Mart signing means. They need the $120 million plus to get one of those three. If waiting until the deadline cuts down on the prospects you need to give up, I’m OK with that. If you’re SURE you can sign one of them after the season, I’ll play along. For one year, I’ll take the batting line-up of Ellsbury-Pedroia-Ortiz-Youkilis-Drew-Cameron-Saltalamacchia-Lowrie-Scutaro. Really, when you pair that with the Lester-Buchholz-Beckett-Lackey-Matsuzaka rotation, that’s not so bad. Pretty good really…for a year. After that, the money needs to flow. Cliff Lee? Carl Crawford? Adrian Gonzalez? Prince Fielder? Albert Pujols? One of these guys needs to be squarely in the radar. They need to be practically signed and sealed with offers they can’t refuse.

Please tell me that’s the case.

Monday, November 22, 2010

In Case I Didn’t Feel Guilty Enough

I received yet another package from Adam at Thoughts and Sox. In my dealings with Adam, I have come to a couple conclusions. One, his generosity apparently knows no bounds. Two, he busts more wax than a team of beekeepers. He once again sent along a shipment of cards that took a good size bite out of my wantlists. I can’t even hope to do justice to the nearly 150 cards Adam sent along in this one post. But. I thought I’d mention a few examples of what he sent along.

The Jon Lester 2009 Topps Heritage is a nice card. It’s a good look at Lester, who never seems to smile. It also celebrates a wonderful event in Lester’s career. Yet another young Red Sox pitcher notched his first career no-hitter. A great card. The 2008 Stadium Club Youkilis card is from a lost set for me. I have always been a big Stadium Club fan. It’s hard not to be. But, I somehow “missed” the 2008 release. Obviously, I knew about it. But, I never really got any of them, or read much about it. It appears that all the cards have about 36 variations…including this “first day” version. The idea being that these cards were from the first day of printing of the set. Sort of stealing an idea from stamp collectors. It doesn’t do much for me, but it’s still a nice idea. The card itself is great. It’s shiny, without gong crazy. The photography is, as usual, fantastic. A very nice addition. The 2009 Topps Bard is another neat card. It’s a great photo. Nicely cropped. Maybe this is a chance for Jere to bring his detective skills out again. Bard is in his home whites…but that’s not Fenway he’s pitching in. I like the tongue though. As if pumping a ball in there at 100 mph is just a fun little activity. The Topps Heritage Billy Wagner is a great reminder of a pretty good move. The Sox acquired him on the cheap, hoping simply to get draft picks when he left town. The fact that he was dominating down the stretch was a fantastic bonus. While this card is nothing special, I do like the overall look of the set. The 2010 Bowman Ellsbury is one of my first cards from this set. It’s another great photo. Nicely cropped so nothing detracts from the action. The card itself is also quite simple. No crazy borders or graphics getting in the way of things. I can’t really say anything bad about it. The 2009 Allen & Ginter Rocco Baldelli is a great card, if for no other reason than to remind us that Baldelli was on the Sox. While I like the design of the A&G cards, I think they start to become too much of a good thing. One simple painting is a change of pace. One hundred simple paintings becomes a rut. The 2009 Bowman Daisuke Matsuzaka is a bit of a difficult card to see. Obviously, it was Matsuzaka’s performance in the WBC that supposedly led to his lost 2009 season. It was really too bad. The Topps Kids Mike Greenwell is a fun card. The set’s idea was to appeal to kids. Naturally, it was really to appeal to collectors who needed yet another Mike Greenwell card to their collection. The set had several design formats, of which this is one of my least favorites. But, it’s a fun way to spice up the collection. The Scott Hatteberg is another fun blast from the past. Remember when it was Hatteberg that was keeping Varitek from getting playing time? As we know, due to Varitek’s emergence, Hatteberg had to go elsewhere to make a name for himself and change positions to star in Moneyball. But he was certainly an up and comer in the Sox organization for a while.

As I said, that doesn’t even scratch the surface of the goodness Adam sent over. As always, I urge you to check out his wantlists to see if you can help him out.

I’ll certainly be doing the same.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Collecting the Sox: Souvenir Cups

When you go to a game at Fenway Park, you have a few beverage options. If you lean towards the soda fountain items, you still have a big decision to make. What size drink do you want? The concession stand will tell you itself. The best value is in getting the souvenir size soda. Not only do you get the most beverage, but you get a collectable plastic cup as well. What more could a Red Sox collector ask for? Not only do you get the drink you were going to get anyway. But, you get a nice Red Sox collectable to go along with it. As you may imagine, that’s the choice I make every time I go to Fenway Park. The cups are colorful. Every year they come up with a new design for the cups. In many years, there are several designs. During the playoffs, they usually come up with a special design just for the postseason. (Does that make it a short printed collectable?) I don’t really like the “magic motion” designs they’ve been using a lot of lately, but that doesn’t detract from the overall appeal of the cups. I also got the souvenir cups in Montreal and Philadelphia when I saw games there. That gives a collectable high marks in my book. When you can get them everywhere, it makes for a great item. In fact, I can only think of one downside to the collectable.

What, on earth, do I do with all these cups?

Yes, I know, I could simply use them at home to hold my beverages. And, I do do that. But, there’s really a limit to the number of cups I need to drink from. Right now, I have the balance of them stacked in a corner. Not exactly the best displaying technique. What else can I do? I’ve thought about nailing them to the wall. A whole wall of them would make a nice mosaic effect. Or, a couple of them could be used to hang stuffed animals from. One or two Red Sox bears peeking out of the tops of cups could be a nice look. I also thought of using them as brackets to support narrow shelving. Other Red Sox collectables could be displayed on the shelves rather nicely.

Then, there are the larger-scale options. I considered gluing the cups together into a coffee table shape. If I placed a Plexiglas top on it, it could be a useful piece of furniture. I considered, once, cutting the cups into square pieces. If I attached them to a shirt, it would be making a set of Red Sox cup chain mail. I haven’t done that, though. So, I’m still trying to sort through display/use options.

Anyone have any ideas?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Am I Allowed to Feel Sorry for Barry Bonds?

I was able to watch a rebroadcast of Ken Burns’ Bottom of the Tenth Inning on Monday night. It’s probably the best non-Red Sox Red Sox documentary there is out there. But, it also had a healthy dose of Barry Bonds coverage in it. Watching it this second time, I started to feel sorry for the guy. I’m not sure what to do about that.

To start off with, I’m sure the guy is a complete butthead. There are enough people who would know that say so, that I’m inclined to assume it’s true. The unfortunate part for Bonds is that his career shouldn’t need nice guys, but it does. It’s not like Bonds decided to go into sales, or teaching. If he had, the fact that he’s a jerk would have shown an unwise career move. But, he didn’t. He became a ballplayer. His job description is to use a stick to hit a ball, and a glove to catch one. The fact that he’s interviewed by hoards of reporters after every game was a recent unfortunate development. But, that’s not even the part I feel sorry for him about. Even if he didn’t want to talk to people, or be bothered by reporters, he was probably meaner about it than he could have been. That’s still on him a little bit.

No, the reason for my pity is the performance enhancing drugs. When (we assume) Barry was completely clean, he was one heckova ballplayer. He could do it all. He was the very model of a five-tool stud. But, nobody seemed to care. The documentary tells us that Bonds was never interested in the home run record. He wanted to be an all-around star. And, he accomplished that when he amassed 400 career homers and stolen bases. That was quite a feat. But, nobody seemed to care. They were too interested in McGwire and Sosa. How annoying must that have been? You finally accomplish a career mark that should probably be celebrated above all others, and nobody gives a hoot. So, to combat that public perception (we assume) he turned to the same PED’s that helped McGwire and Sosa achieve the marks that had overshadowed Bonds. So, he goes out and sets the new home rune record for a season. When does he do it? About a month after September 11th. Once again, everyone’s attention is on another story. Once again, his timing couldn’t have been worse.

Nor could it have been worse when it comes to the whole PED scandal. He was one of the first ones “outed”, when everyone still assumed it was isolated. He was blacklisted. McGwire took PED’s too. But, he still got to be celebrated like a national hero before everyone found out. Andy Pettitte used PED’s. But, he’s still celebrated as a great Yankee and (oddly) a member of its “core four.” Bonds? The commissioner doesn’t even want to show up when he sets the all-time home run record? Despite being a feared hitter, Bonds gets dropped by the Giants and not one single team picks him up?

So, was Barry Bonds a jerk? Yup. Did he cheat? Yup.

I still can’t help but feel a little sorry for him though.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Team Sets: 1993 Upper Deck

Players Included: Scott Bankhead, Ellis Burks, Ivan Calderon, Roger Clemens, Scott Cooper, Danny Darwin, Andre Dawson, John Dopson, Scott Fletcher, Mike Greenwell, Greg A. Harris, Billy Hatcher, Joe Hesketh, Tim Naehring, Tony Pena, Phil Plantier, Carlos Quintana, Jody Reed, Luis Rivera, Jeff Russell, Ken Ryan, John Valentin, Mo Vaughn, Frank Viola, Bob Zupcic

Best Picture: Luis Rivera. Rivera is show in full flight as he attempts to turn a double play. The ball is already in the air. Now all Luis needs to worry about is staying out of the way of the sliding runner. A great action shot.

Hall of Famers: Andre Dawson

Future Hall of Famers: Roger Clemens

Reason to Buy the Set: Hall-of-Famer Andre Dawson stands out. He wasn’t a long-time Sox or anything. But, he has some hobby draw. Add in Roger Clemens, Mo Vaughn, and Frank Viola and you have some decent resumes in the set.
Overall Reaction: This is a set I would have just to have. It’s bleh in almost every respect. The design isn’t particularly striking. The player selection isn’t all that hot. If you want all the Red Sox sets, or all the Upper Deck Red Sox set, you’ll have to grab this set up. Otherwise it doesn’t do anything for me.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Showing Off?

Sometimes I think Red Sox general managers have a recognition issue. They know they have the money to get just about any free agent they want. Sometimes, though, they seem to want to show off a little bit. After all, anyone can be Brian Cashman. Anyone can simply buy the best three free agents in one off-season, and then just replace them when an even better one comes along. Where’s the challenge in that? You don’t make the Hall of Fame just by spending money. No, you make the Hall by making moves nobody else would. You make the Hall by correctly predicting that the injured star will regain his form and help your team. You make the Hall by correctly predicting that the misused slugger just needs some at-bats become great. That’s how you do it.

Dan Duquette was famous for it. He was always filling the roster with reclamation projects. Half the team, it seemed, was someone who used to be good before he got hurt, or could be good. Very few were players who were actually good. Unfortunately for Red Sox fans, Duquette hit it big pretty early on with Tim Wakefield. He predicted correctly that Tim would regain his form and help the club. And, help he did. That gave Duquette more confidence to fill the roster with those types for the rest of his time in Boston. Unfortunately for Boston, Theo did the same thing when he found David Ortiz. He gets to swing and miss at a lot of “chances” due to the success of Ortiz. The problem is, that it sometimes gets to be too much.

I get taking chances. It’s a part of the process. It’s when you fill the roster with chances that it gets a little tricky. Getting John Smoltz on the cheap is a great move. If he works out, you’re set. If he doesn’t, you didn’t waste a lot of money. Same goes for Brad Penny. You don’t spend a lot of money on him, so if it doesn’t work out, you don’t lose much. Individually, those are fine deals. But, when you have both Smoltz and Penny on the same roster, it gets a little murkier. A couple million on one chance, plus a couple million on another chance is suddenly enough money to afford not to take a chance. Instead of hoping one of four guys comes though, you can just get the one guy you know will come through. Isn’t that a better way to build a team?

I know. It’s an odd time for that little discussion. After all, this weekend Theo didn’t really do that when he picked up Andrew Miller from the Marlins. I see Miller as a wash, worst case. So, it’s not really a hope that he’ll pan out enough to help the team. He’ll help the team. The hope is that he ends up “really” helping the team. That’s a difference. Plus, as I noticed with the SF Giants World Championship…you don’t lose talent. The Giants roster was filled with guys that used to be good, or everyone once thought was good. Those players often end up as decent additions to a team. Andrew Miller is a former first-round pick. He was thought of highly enough to be included in a trade for Miguel Cabrera. There must be something there. Plus, he’s still very young. I don’t know what Theo thinks of Miller long term. But, he’s the type of guy who definitely can fill a role now. As for the future? It has some possibilities. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Along with everyone else.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

I Scored! April 11, 1998

The 1997 Red Sox had finished the season with a 78-84 record. They were in fourth place in the AL East, 20 games behind the leader. Their lone bright spot? The incredible rookie campaign of Nomar Garciaparra. He put up one of the greatest seasons ever by a rookie shortstop. But, even with that, the 20 games were a lot. The Red Sox needed more. Enter Pedro Martinez. The Red Sox traded for him following the 1997 season, and signed him to a long-term deal. As we all know, the Red Sox haven’t had a losing season since. But, on April 11, 1998 Pedro had yet to show his stuff to the hometown fans. His first starts as a member of the Red Sox had been wonderful, but had been in other cities. The fans were drooling over the chance to see those performances in the home whites. This was the chance. Here is how the day looked.

With all the build-up, let’s just start in the pitchers spot and see how the great Pedro Martinez did in his Red Sox Fenway debut. Yeah. Not so bad, eh? Nine innings. Zero runs. Two hit, two walks, and 12 strikeouts. He certainly has a flair for the dramatic, doesn’t he? It always amazes me when an athlete enters a game with unrealistic expectations, and them exceeds them. We all expected him to dominate. We all expected him to win. He simply shut Seattle down. It was almost unfair.

Who else played a part in the game? I see Nomar still in his lead-off position. Really, the top three that year is pretty solid. Nomar-Valentin-Vaughn is pretty formidable. Compared to Ellsbury-Pedroia-Youkilis? Not really much of a drop off. It’s the rest of the order that needs some work. In this game, Jim Leyritz did just fine…even if I forgot to write down his number. Frankly, he was probably the offensive star of the game. He went 2-3 with three RBI and a home run. Not a bad day from the clean-up hitter. The stiff of the day? That honor has to go to Damon Buford. He was the only player without a hit on the afternoon. Hatteberg’s presence in an early season line-up shows that Jason Varitek was still “That other guy they got for Slocumb.”

So, the Sox rallied around their new ace. It was a mark of things to come. They would finish the season 92-70, improving by 14 games. (Oddly, they would finish even farther out of first…22 games…but win the wild card behind the ’98 Yankees) Pedro would finish with a 19-7 record. This Fenway start certainly gave a glimpse of greatness yet to come.

And the scorecard shows how it happened.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Wantlist: 1975

This list is for cards I need to finish my complete 1975 set. I have previously listed my wantlist for the 1975 Red Sox set. Some cards show up on one list, or the other. I assume some cards show up on both lists. If they’re on both lists, I’ll need two of them. If they’re on one list, I only need the one.

17 Dave Concepcion
50 Brooks Robinson
180 Joe Morgan
199 1961 MVP’s
201 1963 MVP’s
204 1966 MVP’s
206 1968 MVP’s
220 Don Sutton
223 Robin Yount
246 Cardinals Team/Manager
284 Ken Griffey
304 Pirates Team/Manager
308 ’74 RBI Leaders
320 Pete Rose
347 Mike Caldwell
466 A’s Celebrate
500 Nolan Ryan
511 Rangers Team/Manager
531 Reds Team/Manager
540 Lou Brock
554 Rich Gossage
560 Tony Perez
561 A’s Team/Manager
616 ’75 Rookie Of’s (Jim Rice)
622 '75 Rookie Of's (Lynn)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Red Sox and Veterans

In 1945, the occurrence of World War II resulted in the cancellation of the All-Star game. I’ll be honest. I’m not sure why they cancelled the all-star game, but the season itself was going on. If you play the season, you think one day would be easy to fit in. But, I wasn’t alive during 1945, so who am I to argue? Maybe they figured that since all the actual stars were not with their clubs, and instead fighting the war, it seemed weird to have a non-all star game. The Red Sox, for instance, were missing Ted Williams, Bobby Doerr, Johnny Pesky, and Dom DiMaggio. Those four could very well have been on that team. For whatever reason, the game wasn’t held.

Instead, they baseball teams played exhibition games with the proceeds going towards the war effort. Cities and regions that had more than one team got to see a game pitting those two squads. Years away from interleague play, those games would have been quite the event. The game played at Fenway Park had the Red Sox squaring off against the Braves. Over 23,000 people saw the game, and raised $70,000. That’s quite a chunk of change.

I’ve always thought these games were interesting. I can’t imagine those games happening today. Sure, MLB still wants to support our troops and veterans. That’s obvious. But, staging exhibition games in the middle of the season for that purpose? That’s pretty incredible.  I wonder what kind of money games like that could raise today.

Thank you veterans!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

2010 Scavenger Hunt

Once again, we’ve reached the end of another baseball season. (Much sooner for the Sox than I would have preferred.) It’s more than three months before we can even talk about Spring Training. Hopefully the Sox will have a productive hot stove season, but that will be many more rumors than facts. How else can we all spend our free time time? Once again, I have the answer. I present the Third Annual Section 36 Scavenger Hunt! I liked the way using pictures worked last year, so I’m going to make that the standard method. Here’s how it will work. Below, you’ll find a list of 36 items. When you find an item, take a picture of it and send it along to me in an e-mail. Whoever sends me pictures of the most items wins. Pretty simple, eh? We’ll make the end of the hunt be 12:36 PM eastern time on February 9, 2011. This both gives enough time to find the stuff, and fills the time right up to pitchers and catchers reporting to Spring Training. Sound like fun? What do you win if you find the most items? Worldwide fame and admiration! I will post the winner’s name (and picture if one is provided) on this very site and hail them as the 2010 Scavenger Hunt Champion! I’m sure that Jere from RI has found his worldwide fame to be quite an honor this past year. I’m also offering an official Section 36 scorebook to the winner. This book will use my custom scoresheet, and will be bound with enough sheets to score 20 games. Not too bad, eh? OK. I'll sweeten it even more. The winner will recieve 200 cards of their favorite MLB team! Ready to get started? Here is this year’s list of items to get pictures of:

1. Bobblehead of Red Sox player
2. Dustin Pedroia replica jersey
3. Red Sox bat
4. Poster featuring Red Sox player
5. Red Sox/Coca-Cola item
6. Homemade “Section 36” t-shirt
7. Red Sox picture frame
8. Red Sox lamp
9. Gate “B” sign at Fenway Park
10. Red Sox mousepad
11. Red Sox player
12. Red Sox wall clock
13. Used official Section 36 scorecard
14. Red Sox blanket
15. Hallmark Ornament of Red Sox player
16. Wine bottle featuring Red Sox player
17. Clay Buchholz t-shirt
18. Red Sox foam finger
19. Red Sox keychain
20. Red Sox underwear
21. Red Sox Monopoly token
22. Official program from 2004 World Series
23. Mike Cameron baseball card
24. Red Sox lanyard
25. Red Sox shot glass
26. Ticket stub from Section 36
27. Red Sox beach ball
28. Autograph of member of 2007 World Series roster
29. Ticket to ALCS game played by the Red Sox
30. Red Sox pin
31. Starting Line-Up brand figurine of Red Sox player
32. Red Sox chair
33. Plush Wally the Green Monster
34. Fenway Park dirt
35. Female Red Sox fan
36. Male Red Sox fan

A quick clarification. Unless it says otherwise, “Red Sox Player” refers to anyone who ever played for the Sox in a regular season game. That counts even if the player isn’t depicted as a Red Sox player in the picture. So, Jim would be able to use anything from his Phillies Room depicting players like Curt Schilling and Pedro Martinez, even if they’re in their Phillies garb.

Now, since I want this to be a scavenger hunt, and not a google search, I’ll need a way to make sure you actually find these items yourself. So, in order to qualify any picture will need to have either one of these two things in it.

  1. You. This might be the easiest way. If you’re in the picture, I can be pretty sure you actually found the item. This has one advantage in that it doesn’t have to be a new picture. If you went to Fenway last summer and took a picture in front of Gate B, that would work. Or,
  2. The address of this blog, “” , written somewhere in the picture. Either write it out on a piece of paper, on a sidewalk with chalk, on someone’s leg, whatever. (Just don’t vandalize anything). It has to be something in the picture, obviously, and not digitally added.

That make sense? So, send in your pictures to me, section36 at gmail dot com (I bet you know which parts to replace with symbols) It would be nice if you told me which items you thought were in each picture. If there’s a tie between people who have the same number of found items, the first tiebreaker will be the person who did it with the fewest number of pictures. If you get a picture of a Female Red Sox fan, wearing a Red Sox lanyard over a Clay Buchholz t-shirt while holding a plush Wally the Green Monster, it would be 4 items in one picture. That’s a great start, although I’m sure you can do better. Last year, Jere had over 20 items in a single photo! (In case you were wondering, the other tiebreaker will just be my judgment as to which pictures I like the best.)

As I’m sure you can imagine, if you send me a picture, you’re stating that you have the rights to send me the picture. You’re also telling me that I can use the picture on my blog in just about any way I see fit.

I think that covers everything! It’s now up to you to start sending me your pictures. I’ll keep reminding you as the months go by.

Good Luck!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Let the Craziness Begin!

So, Boston sports talk radio is barely listenable as it is. But, it’s about to get even worse. Jed Hoyer officially announced that he doesn’t see how the Padres can keep Adrian Gonzalez after he becomes a free agent. Translation? Send me your trade offers now, because I better get something for him before he walks. So, I expect non-stop trade offers to be discussed by the EEIdiots. Every call will consist of, “What if we ship them Dice-K and Mike Cameron? Then they get the pitching and outfielding they need!” After all, what every team begs for is all of our overpaid contracts. So, while I don’t like Hoyer’s announcement for my ability to listen to the radio, is does give me something to write about. And, no, I’m not going to suggest my own trade proposals…although I’d still do Buchholz and Ellsbury if that’s still on the table.

What I do find interesting is what this announcement means for baseball. By all accounts, Gonzalez is one of “those” players. He’s a superstar, just getting ready to put up his prime numbers. He’s a defensive whiz at first base. He is exactly the type of player GMs drool over when they hit the market. He’ll very likely seek a $100+ million contract, and will probably be worth every cent of it. That leaves one question to be asked. If he’s such a rare talent, why aren’t the Padres keeping him?

Assuming that, as has been implied, it’s only the money that is making him leave. The Padres said they can’t afford him. His agent said they can’t afford him. So, I’m going to assume that it’s not that he doesn’t like San Diego. If the Padres had the money, he’d be in San Diego for the rest of his career. So, the obvious observation is that this is yet another case for better revenue sharing. How is it fair that the Padres need to lose such talent just because they play in a small market? After all, the Yankees wouldn’t be making their money if there were no other teams to play. This is a clear-cut argument for a salary cap or some other form of salary restrictions. And, that’s an absolutely valid argument.

But, isn’t this also an example of poor business by the Padres? The game currently has no salary cap. The owners can spend as much money as they see fit to build a winning club.  If the Padres owner can’t shell out that kind of money for Adrian Gonzalez, will he ever? If there was ever a time to stretch the purse strings, isn’t this it? Gonzalez is the face of the franchise. The Padres finished, what, a game behind the World Champions in their division? If they sign Gonzalez now, for the big bucks, do their fans come along with him? After the Red Sox signed Pedro Martinez, ticket prices went up. I doubt anyone complained. Same thing with Manny. So, why don’t the Padres take it on this chin with this one player? They tell their fans they want to put a product out there worth watching. They have a beautiful park, and now a fantastic franchise player. Isn’t that how you build a fan base? Isn’t that how you increase revenue? Isn’t that how you afford the next piece the next year? A division title in 2011 is certainly attainable. Why not use that and Gonzalez as the anchor to the franchise? Why not go for it and make the Padres relevant again? Why simply hide behind the “small market” label and go for the “woe is me” argument? Shouldn’t they take this opportunity to make the Padres into something?

Unless, of course, they really will trade him to the Sox for Matsuzaka and Cameron.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Optional Reading

So, the Red Sox officially picked up David Ortiz’s one-year option for 2011. What does this mean? The Boston media and talk radio hosts are completely useless and out of touch. But, we knew that already.

Ortiz is a perfect example of the warped way many baseball people look at numbers and statistics. It drives me bonkers when an announcer says a player is “due” for a hit or a homerun. The implication being that if you bat .300 for a season, you should get one hit in every 3 or 4 at-bat span. That’s not how it works. Every player has hot stretches and cold stretches. They go 0-10, and then 5-6 and it all works out that way in the end. Ortiz simply had a slightly more drastic split than some other players. In 2009, David Ortiz hit 35 home runs in 150 games. In 2009, Kevin Youkilis hit 27 home runs in 136 games. Ortiz hit a home run every 4.3 games. Youk hit one every 5 games…on average. Does it matter if most of Ortiz’s came at the end of the season? I don’t see why. I’d be willing to bet that Youkilis had more games during the season where he didn’t hit a home run than Ortiz did. That’s the important number. How many games do you help your team win? It doesn’t matter if you help win an April game any more or less than if you help a September game.

So, Ortiz is a valuable player. Is he worth the contract? Apparently Theo thinks so. As a DH, Ortiz is a stellar option. Many of the EEIdiots have been saying the Sox should move more towards a utility DH. Instead of a true DH-type, simply have another player who DH’s sometimes. Have a fourth outfielder DH when he’s not needed in the field. Use the DH spot as a place to rest the regulars. Use Youk as DH instead of a full day off. Of course, then I watched the World Series. The announcers kept talking about the NL DH. They commented how it took a special player to be able to play without going into the field. The player needs to figure out how to manage himself during the game. That’s why Aubrey Huff was so nice for San Francisco. He had been a full-time DH before, so he knew how to do it. That would suggest that maybe Ortiz as a pure DH has some merit. Maybe it’s not as easy as plugging in Mike Cameron every once in a while. David Ortiz as a true DH is a valuable asset to a team…even if he hardly ever takes the field.

Does all that make his worth his contract? Who’s to say? I’ve never much cared how John Henry spent his money, as long as it didn’t prohibit other moves. People kept pointing to the deal Vlad Guerrero got in Texas. But, I think Ortiz is more important that that. I’m also not averse to overpaying a guy one year when he was vastly underpaid when he was banging out 50 home runs. The contract certainly looks right to me. It’s a quality player that fills a huge spot in the line-up. It allows the Sox to focus their attention on other needs.

Like a corner infielder.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Wantlist: 2010

2010 Allen and Ginter
36 Victor Martinez
57 Jacoby Ellsbury
64 Josh Beckett
206 J.D. Drew
239 Mike Cameron
284 Dustin Richardson RC
290 Jon Lester
330 Jonathan Papelbon SP

2010 Bowman
17 Josh Beckett
73 David Ortiz
124 Jon Lester
140 Dustin Pedroia

2010 Bowman Chrome
7 Josh Beckett
22 David Ortiz
47 Kevin Youkilis
82 Jon Lester
83 Clay Buchholz
105 Daisuke Matsuzaka
145 Jacoby Ellsbury
171 John Lackey

2010 Finest
51 Victor Martinez
54 Kevin Youkilis
70 David Ortiz
72 Dustin Pedroia
73 Jon Lester UER
75 Josh Beckett
82 Marco Scutaro
105 Jacoby Ellsbury
148 Dustin Richardson RC

2010 Topps
572 Clay Buchholz
650 Dustin Pedroia

2010 Topps Chrome

2010 Topps 206

2010 Topps National Chicle

2010 Topps Heritage
16 Clay Buchholz
113 Jonathan Papelbon
128 Jacoby Ellsbury
457 J.D. Drew SP
476 Dustin Pedroia - 2005 AL MVP SP
481 Manny Ramirez - 2004 World Series MVP SP
491 Jason Bay AS SP

2010 Topps Opening Day
17 Victor Martinez
21 Marco Scutaro
28 John Lackey
93 Josh Beckett
157 Daisuke Matsuzaka

2010 Topps Update
US284 Josh Reddick

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Not a Trade Post

I don’t want to lie to all of you. (Ok, maybe “all” is overstating my readership a bit) I was going to call this a trade post, but I couldn’t call it a trade. A trade would imply that an exchange of good was made. However, in this case, Thoughts and Sox simply sent along some cards that I wanted. I keep trying to find cards I have off of his wantlist, but to no avail. When I buy cards, I’m more of low quantity/high variety sort. So, I’ll grab an occasional blaster or two, but not often of the same brands as the last time…just to mix it up a bit. The reason I’m telling you this? It causes me to not get many duplicates….which leaves me few cards to send to a fellow Sox collector. But, I’m working on it. If any of you have extra Red Sox cards, I suggest you look at the wantlist over at Thoughts and Sox and see if you can help him out. So, what wonderful things were in this unexpected package? Let’s take a look at a small sample.

The Phil Dumatrait and Roger Clemens cards were great. They both completed their respective Red Sox team sets for me. It’s always fantastic to remove a set from the list. The Donnie Sadler card is fun, because I remember just how fast Donnie was. Ellsbury may have wheels of his own, but I’ve never seen him hit a stand-up triple off the Wall in left like Sadler did. It was one of those cases where you follow the flight of the ball for a second, turn your head towards second to see if Sadler would make it…and see him standing on third. Brian Rose is another fun player for me. I was hanging out around the players exit once while he was new to the Sox. Suddenly, this guy comes out, and starts walking towards the car I’m standing next you. It was Brian Rose. I only knew because I happened to see him on a NESN interview the night before. About the time he got to his car, someone else figured out who he was and asked for an autograph. Saying he had a date, Rose declined and hopped into his car. It was weird to just see him walk out like that. Hideo Nomo, of course, made a huge splash with the Sox by throwing a no-hitter in his Red Sox debut. Juan Pena is another binkie of mine since I was at his fantastic major league debut. As for Kim? The best thing he did for the Sox is free up a spot for David Ortiz in the line-up when Shea Hillenbrand was traded away for Kim. That should count for something.

So once again, a huge thanks to Thoughts and Sox. I am always amazed at the quality of the packages he sends along.

I’m scouring your wantlist.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Congratulations Edgar Renteria!

I know. I know. Why can’t the Red Sox get shortstops like that? But, Renteria has cemented himself as Mr. November with yet another fantastic World Series performance. That would give him World Series winning RBI thirteen seasons apart? That’s a pretty impressive resume. Considering he also led the Cardinals to the series in 2004, that’s three different franchises he’s starred for in the series. (OK. Maybe he didn’t star in the 2004 World Series…but he was a star for St Louis during the regular season.) So, following the 2005 season, the Red Sox traded away the future World Series MVP for Andy Marte. They shipped Marte away in a deal for Coco Crisp. They shipped Crisp away for Ramon Ramirez. After Renteria left the Sox, they have had the shortstop hole plugged by Alex Gonzalez, Julio Lugo, and Marco Scutaro. Talk about your amazing revolving door. Funny the way baseball works sometimes. What would have happened if they had just kept Renteria to begin with? Of course, Renteria wasn’t the only former Sox playing a big role for the Giants. Freddy Sanchez set the table for the not exactly potent Giants line-up. He, of course, was traded away to get Jeff Suppan…who teamed with Renteria in losing to the Sox in the 2004 World Series. I have no idea what any of that means. Baseball is just fun to play “what if” sometimes. This happens to be one of those times. But, I’m glad to see Renteria get another ring for his collection. Like I’ve always said, I thought he got a raw deal here in Boston. Maybe it was people like me who still wanted to see number five playing short. Maybe it was because “Rent-a-wreck” was too catchy of a moniker to let it die. Maybe it was people who still think errors are the most important fielding stat in the history of the world. Whatever it was, good for Edgar.

While I’m talking about the Giants, can any San Francisco fans tell me what exactly Brian Wilson is doing with his arms after a save? Every time he completes the save, he makes that guns-a-blazin type X with his arms. I’m sure it has some significance to him somehow. I’m not sure I’m a big fan of the choreographed celebrations after big plays. And, no, I don’t know what the line is between making an X and pumping your fist. But, I always thought it was interesting that in the heat of the moment, with the emotions running high, a player can step back and remember a routine. Football players celebrating sacks was always a big one for me. They run as hard as they can, propel themselves at another human being, sack the quarterback for a huge loss, and change the dynamic of the game. How do they then remember to stand up and pretend to swing a baseball bat? In the case of Speed Turtle last night, he had just won the World Series. When Jonathan Papelbon struck out the last batter in 2007 he immediately jumped in the air with clear joy. When Wilson struck out the last batter, he very calmly turned around and made the X sign. He then turned back to Buster Posey to join in the celebration. If you watch Posey, it looks like he was a little thrown too. He knows that, as the catcher, he’s supposed to jump into the pitcher’s arms. But, as he’s running out the pitcher turns his back on him. You can see Posey kind of slow his run, and look to the dugout instead of focusing on jumping at Wilson. Now, I’m not saying Wilson is doing anything wrong. Who am I to say how someone else should celebrate? I just thought it was interesting.

Congrats San Francisco!

Happy 36th Birthday Orlando Cabrera!

I’m trying to remember how the Red Sox acquired Orlando Cabrera. I think it was some sort of trade, or something. Can anyone remember the exact details of that transaction?

Of course, no Red Sox fan can ever forget that Cabrera was the largest bean in the bag the Sox got when Theo traded away Nomar Garciaparra. He was a solid player with a history of sparkling defense at short. He was the kind of shortstop that many teams would be happy to have. Really, other than Boston, Oakland, and Texas, he was probably an upgrade over any other shortstop. The problem for Cabrera was the place he was traded to was Boston. But, he did his best to make the trade look reasonable.

He clubbed a home run in his first at-bat with the Red Sox. He went on to have several key hits for the Sox during the stretch run. He even plated a game winner against the Yankees as the Red Sox were fighting to stay in contention. And, along the way, his defense was exactly as advertised. His play up the middle was fantastic. He was smooth and effective. A fabulous combination.

The play that sticks out for me when it comes to Cabrera was more something he couldn’t do that what he could do. In the first inning of game one of the 2004 World Series, he couldn’t get out of the way of a pitch. It plunked him in the helmet. Being the rational Red Sox fan I was at the time, I naturally assumed this was the end of the Red Sox season. Of course, in the first inning of the series the Sox would lose their starting shortstop. Of course that’s the way it would work. Of course whichever guy they stuck in at short would make four errors a game for the rest of the series. Of course, the Sox would complete the greatest comeback in the history of sports only to have their dreams squashed two freakin’ batters into game one. Ok. So maybe I wasn’t all that rational. Cabrera ended up making his way to first, and scoring when David Ortiz followed with a 3-run home run. The Sox never trailed in the series.

Curiously, the Red Sox didn’t keep Cabrera after the 2004 season. There were rumblings that he might not have been the best clubhouse presence. That always struck me as odd. After all NESN (who owns them again?) couldn’t stop showing clips of him getting along with his teammates. Special features of him and his handshakes flooded every broadcast for the rest of the 2004 season. The clear message? This shortstop was fun and easy to get along with…not that other shortstop they got rid of. So, it was interesting to hear that one of the reasons he was allowed to leave the team was clubhouse chemistry.

Cabrera’s time with the Sox, though, certainly was full of activity. He was on the field when the Sox won their first World Series in 86 years. That’s not nothing.

Happy 36th Birthday Orlando Cabrera!

Monday, November 1, 2010

A Giant(s), Texas-Sized Hole

In the 2007 ALCS, the Red Sox found themselves in a 3-1 series deficit. The bad news? In game five they would be facing CC Sabathia, who would later be awarded the 2007 AL Cy Young award. The good news? They would be starting Josh Beckett in game five. Beckett was probably the best postseason starter in 100 years. Tonight the Texas Rangers find themselves in a 3-1 hole, facing the two-time defending NL Cy Young award winner, Tim Lincecum, in game five. The good news? They have Cliff Lee, the best postseason pitcher since Josh Beckett…at least until game one, on the mound for them. So, the Rangers can draw some confidence from the results of the series three years ago. Of course, when you dig a little deeper, it’s slightly direr for this year’s Rangers club. For one thing, the 2007 Red Sox didn’t have to face Matt Cain in game six. They also got to come home for games six and seven. So, their mood could be a little lighter. They knew they had the best possible pitcher on the mound set to send them home for the next two games. That might not be the best example for the Rangers to look to.

Luckily, the Red Sox can provide a better example for the Texas Rangers. In the 2004 ALCS, the Red Sox trailed the Yankees 3-1 heading into game five. On the mound for the Sox was the best pitcher in at least a generation, playoff or otherwise, in Pedro Martinez. So, the Sox had to feel pretty good about that game, as the Rangers do tonight. If the Sox won game five, they would have to go back on the road for games six and seven. They would also have to face Jon Lieber, who had shut out the Sox for seven innings in game two. Anyone remember how that turned out? The Red Sox never trailed in game six or game seven as New York choked away the series.

So, tonight might not be the best time for the Rangers to be mapping out parade routes. (Unless, I suppose, they plan to give Bengie Molina a Ray Bourque-type parade to celebrate his ring with another team.) But, there’s still reason for them to have hope. What they need to do has been done before. They just need to stay focused.

Although, I’m still sticking with “Giants in six”

What people are reading this week