Sunday, May 30, 2010

Thursday, May 27, 2010


Wow. Even I would have had a hard time predicting that. The Sox just finished a rough stretch of division contenders, most of it on the road. They went to Detroit and New York. Hosted the Twins, and went into Philadelphia and Tampa Bay. Yikes. Just holding their own would have been a great stretch. The Sox didn’t do that, though. They flexed some muscle and kicked some butt.

They took one from Detroit, one from New York, swept the Twins, won the Phillies series, and swept the Rays. What’s that? Really? A 9-4 stretch? Anyone else not quite call that one? So, that performance really begs the question. What does it mean? Before this stretch, all the so-called experts said this was the important stretch. This is where we’d see what the Sox were made of. When they played these good teams and fell even farther back, they could finally declare the season done. That still must be the case. When you go stomping through other playoff caliber teams, doesn’t that make you a playoff caliber team? Instead of struggling because of injuries, are they now playing well in spite of them? That’s a much better sign.

Even though the personnel isn’t all there, this was the team Theo expected. The pitching has been amazing as of late. Starters have been going deep into games, and pitching well while doing it. The bullpen has almost been underworked. When the starters are going seven and eight innings, it’s hard to find time to use the middle relief. What a wonderful problem to have! The defense has been astounding as well. Just the plays made during Dice-K’s no-hit bid were enough to fill a highlight reel. It’s exactly the run prevention that was supposed to be happening. The offense hasn’t hidden either. They’ve been scoring runs when needed. They’ve been putting the pressure on the opposing pitchers. I’m almost giddy for the point when the entire starting lineup is back at the same time. And, speaking of line-ups, did you see Ortiz back in the 3-spot? How much has his season turned around? The fact that he practically carried them to the Rays sweep was a sight for sore eyes. Frankly, I’m fresh out of cliché’s for the description of this team.

Of course, it only means anything if they keep it up. It doesn’t help anyone to sweep the Rays and then loose three of four to the Royals. This will be another huge stretch for the Sox. Well, as huge as a May series can be. But, after thumping the elite teams in baseball, you need to go out and demolish the bottom dwellers. If you don’t it just makes you yet another inconsistent team. If, however, the Sox can win the homestand, they’ll be in great shape.

And I’ll be ready for the ride.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Wantlist: 1979 Topps

Another group of cards I wish I had...

1979 TOPPS
214 Don Zimmer

Monday, May 24, 2010

Who’s the most disappointed?

There are two sides to every coin. Newton tells us that there’s always an opposite reaction. So, even after the Sox won two of three games in Philadelphia, some people aren’t going to be happy. Some people are worried about the reaction. Who lost the most? There are a couple contenders.

The Phillies, and their fans. When the best thing you can get out of a game is that “we didn’t get no-hit”, that’s a pretty bad day at the park. Your superstar shortstop goes back on the DL with a calf injury. Your ace gets smacked around by a team that is built around pitching and defense. Not a great weekend.

Daisuke Matsuzaka. Chances for no-hitters don’t come around very often. They’re mostly luck, and they’re held with pretty high esteem around baseball circles. To get that close. To have that many balls bounce your way. To be four outs away. To lose it on a bloop hit just out of Scutaro’s reach must be beyond annoying. He’ll have to take solace in the fact that one of the best-pitched games ever was Pedro’s Yankees game in 1999. Not only was that not a no-hitter, it wasn’t even a shutout.

The Boston Media. Can you write doomsday stories after the team wins a series on the road against the defending NL champions? Can you write stories about how maddening Dice-K is to watch after his masterpiece on Saturday? Can you watch Saturday’s game and not write that pitching and defense is a viable way to win a ballgame? Do they even remember how to write with cutting and pasting?

Terry Francona. Do you think he was the only person not on the Phillies hoping for a hit on Saturday? Can you see him projecting the pitches in his head, and wondering he has to keep Dice in for 160 if he’s working on a no-hitter at the time? What about the catchers? Saturday night certainly isn’t going to stop questions as to whether Tek needs to be behind the plate. Tito is forced by the schedule to get Tek into a game, and Dice throws the game of his career? Talk about your bad breaks. How does he possibly put Victor behind the plate for Matsuzaka’s next start? If he does, and Dice pitches poorly, then what? If you make Varitek Dice’s personal catcher, what about Beckett? Where does it end? What about Wakefield? Francona makes the call to send him to the pen. He comes out to fill in for Beckett a bit, and pitches 8 shutout innings to out-duel Roy Halladay? Really? Now what does he do?

Any one of these groups will have a hard time coming out of the weekend with a smile on their face. I’m sure there are even more.

I just can’t think of them.

List of 36: Best Red Sox Second Basemen of the Past 36 years

1. Dustin Pedroia
2. Jerry Remy
3. Jose Offerman
4. Marty Barrett
5. Jody Reed
6. Todd Walker
7. Mark Bellhorn
8. Pokey Reese
9. Mike Lansing
10. Donnie Sadler
11. Mark Loretta
12. Jeff Frye
13. Scott Fletcher
14. Denny Doyle
15. Mike Benjamin
16. Lou Merloni
17. Ed Romero
18. Ernest Riles
19. Ted Sizemore
20. Steve Lyons
21. Luis Alicea
22. Doug Griffin
23. Carlos Baerga
24. Mark Lemke
25. Chuck Goggin
26. Bob Heise
27. John Kennedy
28. Kim Andrew
29. Steve Dillard
30. Esteban Beltre
31. Jeff manto
32. Keith Johns
33. Dick McAuliffe
34. Tommy Barrett
35. Stan Papi
36.Jack Brohamer

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Red Sox A-Z: Q is for…

Quintana, as in Carlos

Carlos Quintana played for the Sox during five seasons. He was a fine player, taking his position at both first base, and the outfield. I have to admit, though, I wasn’t a Carlos Quintana fan. Why? Nothing that he did. he was a fine player. He held his own in the field and at the plate. My problem with him? He wasn’t Phil Plantier. Nor was he Mo Vaughn. Quintana was with the Sox for two seasons before young Phil shot to the scene. Plantier had one of the great September call-ups you’ll ever see, and was destined for greatness. Quintana had three years before the slugging Vaughn came to join him.But, they couldn’t get to their greatness until they started playing. And, the Sox…kept…playing…Quintana! Like I said, it wasn’t like Quintana was hurting the team. It wasn’t like he had no business clogging up the spot. It wasn’t even all Quintana’s fault. Tom Brunansky was playing right field for the Sox. But, he was good enough that I didn’t blame him. Mike Greenwell was, obviously, holding down the fort in left. So, it couldn’t be his fault. I knew that Plantier had no business in center. Vaughn was clearly a first baseman. So, it was Quintana that received my rath, whether he deserved it or not.

It’s the eternal struggle of the hyped youngster trying to displace the current crop. It happened when Ellsbury tried to shove off Coco Crisp. Clay Buchholz has had a devil of a time wrestling the starting spot away from Tim Wakefield. When is it finally time to turn over the keys of the car? When do you give up on what you have, and go with what you’ll get. It’s a question that has plagued teams forever. It certainly did for the Sox from 1990 to 1993.

So, it’s really too bad about Carlos Quintana. He just wasn’t as good as someone else. Isn’t that pretty much something you could say about all of us?

Q is for Quintana, Carlos.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Team Sets: 1987 Topps

Players Included: John McNamara (mgr), Tony Armas, Marty Barrett, Don Baylor, Wade Boggs, Dennis Boyd, Bill Buckner, Roger Clemens, Steve Crawford, Pat Dodson, Dwight Evans, Rich Gedman, Mike Greenwell, Dave Henderson, Glenn Hoffman, Bruce Hurst, Tim Lollar, Al Nipper, Spike Owen, Jim Rice, Ed Romero, Kevin Romine, Joe Sambito, Calvin Schiraldi, Tom Seaver, Jeff Sellers, Bob Stanley, Dave Stapleton, Sammy Stewart, Marc Sullivan, Rob Woodward

Best Picture: Jim Rice. There’s nothing special about this photo. It’s simply a classic picture of a ballplayer. Here we have the team’s slugger on the follow through. His eyes are looking in the distance to follow the flight of the ball. It’s a great moment in a ballgame.
Hall of Famers: Wade Boggs, Jim Rice, Tom Seaver
Future Hall of Famers: Roger Clemens
Reason the buy the set: Three Hall-of-Famers in one set is a great start. It’s especially nice to see Tom Terrific in the Sox uniform. Add in Clemens from a Cy Young year, Buckner practically wearing horns, and the rookie card of Mike Greenwell, and you’ve got yourself quite a set.
Overall Reaction: I like the wood grain. Sure, it’s a little tacky and old-fashioned. But, it’s different, and doesn’t scream at you. It’s not bright pink. It’s a simple design allowing for the pictures to take center stage. It’s pretty high on a must have list of Red Sox team sets.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Win, and a Loss

When it comes to the Sox, you may have noticed I’m more of a glass half full sort. My general belief is that the law of averages is still in effect, and a good team will be a good team. A bad team will be a bad team. It’s that simple. Playoff team vs. good team? That’s just a win here or there. That’s nothing to stress over. If you’re going to worry all year if the Sox can win 97 games as opposed to 95, you need a lot more help than reading this blog will provide.

So, I choose to focus on the fine performance by young Mr. Buchholz last night. He was throwing BB’s at the Twins hitters. He’s actually been stringing together some great starts lately. He’s a nice addition to the starting rotation. Now all we need is for the other pitchers to remember that they’re supposed to be better than he is, so they’ll start pitching like it. But, Clay was efficient with his pitches, which was huge. He was able to give the bullpen some much-needed rest. It was all I could have hoped for, and more. His trade value must be sky high right now. Time to move.
It was also nice to see Ortiz go deep once again. I don’t know if I want to say he’s back to his old self. I don’t see a 45 home run season for him or anything like that. But, could he be becoming the DH a playoff team needs? Absolutely. He’s 8 homeruns ahead of where he was last year. If he can finish this year like last, he’ll be a great help to the team. I wonder if performing well against the Twins ever gets old for him.

Of course the elephant in the room is the Sox ace. Josh Beckett found himself on the DL with an icky back. I guess it’s a good thing that the Sox have Tim Wakefield waiting in the wings. Francona always said things would work themselves out. I’m guessing that he was hoping it would work out a little differently that losing Beckett. But, Wake can hold the fort for a couple weeks. It just needs to be only a couple weeks. If Josh can come back from his time off rested and ready to dominate, it will be well worth the DL stint. He looked to be on his way to finding his groove again. Hopefully he just picks up where he left off.

Really almost a must win to close out the homestand. I know, I know. No such thing as a must win in May. But, the upcoming road trip is a killer. If I have to go into Philadelphia and into Tampa Bay, I want to do it on a three game winning streak. At least then, even if Philly sweeps you, you’re still on a .500 stretch. Just sounds better.

Although, not as good as a 5-game winning streak.

Wantlist: 1978 Topps

Who has extras?

1978 Topps
40 Carl Yastrzemski
295 Bill Lee
670 Jim Rice
695 Dwight Evans

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Visitors Section

Once again, I’d like to inject some opposing viewpoints into this blog. I have reached out to my fellow bloggers to see what they had to say. Since the Minnesota Twins will be visiting Friendly Fenway tonight, I contacted Sarah of Oh, It’s THOSE Girls. I asked her to answer a couple questions for me since hers was the best Twins blog I’ve seen. She, thankfully, agreed. I asked her the same questions I asked my visiting Yankee fan. I wonder how the answers compare. Here’s what she had to say:

When did you start blogging?

I've been blogging in one form or another since 2003, but Oh, It's THOSE Girls was born in 2007, shortly after famed Twins super-blogger BatGirl went into retirement. Without her around to amuse and entertain us, we were all forced to amuse and entertain ourselves, by any means necessary.

What is the theme/goal of your blog?

When I started the blog, the initial premise was basically to put the strange, silly and utterly ridiculous thoughts I have about the Twins into written form. 3 years later it hasn't really changed so much. I'd say the main theme is just how much fun it is to be a fan. I'm completely and totally irrational about a lot of things, and I think that's OK. As a devoted sports fan, if you're not willing to admit to, and embrace, the irrationality of what you do, you're missing out on half the fun. My goal is to encourage that little bit of insanity that makes your devotion to a sports team so fulfilling. I say bust out your lucky underwear, scream obscenities at the TV whenever Nick Swisher's face is on, and spend a quarter of your paycheck on that rare eBay bobblehead. Go hogwild. I won't judge you. But I might bid against you on eBay for that bobblehead.

Which member/group of the Twins are you most confident in?

If Twins Territory had its own currency, and they let me design it, it would read "In Rick Anderson We Trust." As our pitching coach, he might not be a player on the field...but we wouldn't have had any of the success we've had the past several seasons without his work behind the scenes with our young pitching staff. You thought I was going to say "Joe Mauer," didn't you? I try to steer clear of the cliche.

Which member/group of the Twins concerns you the most?

I'm always concerned about the bullpen. When they're bad, you worry about that. When they're great, you worry they will get overused. The bullpen is the thing most likely to give me an ulcer in any given season. There can never be too many strong and consistent arms.

Which member of the Red Sox scares you the most? (Yes, you have to pick one)

Wait...does this mean scare as in "I am frightened for my pitcher and my team when this player comes to the plate?" Or is it scare as in "I am frightened for my life when I meet this player in a dark alley"? Nevermind. Doesn't matter. The answer is probably Youkilis either way.
[However, if the question can be interpreted as "I love this player so deeply that sometimes it scares me," then obviously the answer is Boof Bonser. Even though he isn't technically on the active roster. Boof, you are always on the active roster of my heart.]

Which member of the Red Sox do you like the least?

Sorry Sox fans...but Dustin Pedroia is the human equivalent of fingernails on a chalkboard. You know it's true.

What’s your prediction for the upcoming Red Sox/Twins series?

I hate 2-game series. I hate them because by their very nature, they encourage a series split. So...that's what I'm predicting: A series split.

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when I say the number “36”?

Joe Nathan. I didn't even read the whole sentence. I saw "36" and Joe Nathan magically popped into my mind. Please note that I am NOT complaining about that.

Hold the phone...does that question mean that not EVERYONE thinks about Joe Nathan when they see the number 36?! Consider my mind blown. Whoa.

Since I am far from a professional interviewer, I hope these questions offer some insight into the Visitor’s Section. (If you have a question you wish I had asked, let me know. If I do this again with other visiting teams, maybe I’ll use it.) My reaction to Sarah’s responses? They should show you why I like her blog so much. I agree with her comments on the bullpen completely. I will say that I can think of other Red Sox I’d rather not meet in a dark alley than Youkilis. (David Ortiz and Jon Lester are just huge) But, she was right on with Pedroia. And, I absolutely endorse yelling obscenities at Nick Swisher’s face. So, thanks again to Sarah for helping me out. I wish her Twins luck.

At least when they’re playing the Yankees.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Collecting the Sox: Action Figures

In the 80’s, a company called Starting Lineup made collectors everywhere question themselves. They introduced a line of action figures based on Major Leaguers. What were these anyway? Were they toys? Were they collectables? Were they statues? Were adults allowed to collect them?

These items were sold in the toy stores or toy departments. That certainly implied that they were supposed to be a kid’s plaything. But, they had the Major League logos on them. They stood very nicely as a little plastic statuette. Did that mean that adults could buy them as part of a collection? Was it dorky if you left them in the package? I saw a friend of mine had his collection still in their packages hanging on his walls. He said they looked pretty nice displayed that way. I agreed that it was a unique look, but wasn’t sure if that was supposed to be the way it went. Weren’t they toys?

In the end, it doesn’t really matter. They were items depicting Red Sox players, and that made them available to collect. (It’s certainly no weirder than saving ice cream cartons.) Starting Lineup produced the action figures for many years. That market niche was filled later by the McFarlane figures that are still sold today. They make for nice items. They’re relatively cheap. They’re small enough to allow you to display quite a collection without getting crazy. They come depicting different players and poses. They use different colors and styles. They look really nice on a shelf.

Yes. They’re toys. In the beginning, Starting Lineup would send them to toy stores depending on the local team. So, the Boston area stores would get more Red Sox in their shipments. I don’t know if that the way McFarlane does it. But, with the rise of the internet, it doesn’t really matter. You can get just about any player you want without too much effort. McFarlane has even gone the extra step and created rare versions of their pieces. Players in certain uniforms might be harder to find than others. This creates a little bit more demand for those versions. Sounds like a collectable to me.

Whether you focus on the current Red Sox, or earlier years, there is bound to be an action figure out there for you. They’re easy to locate at your local Toys R Us. They’re even easier to find online. It’s a great way to add a third dimension to any Red Sox collection.

I still don’t know if I should open them up or not.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Well, That wasn’t great

I guess that’s why they call it home field advantage. That means that when one good team meets another good team, the home team should win more than the visitors. So, going into the series in Detroit, a loss or two shouldn’t have been a shocker.

It still doesn’t mean that Saturday’s loss didn’t hurt. A lot. The game should not be in question with your ace on the mound, and a five-run lead. But, there it was. The Tigers chipped, and chipped, and dragged themselves right back it. Once it gets to extra innings, it’s all a crapshoot. Sure, the bases loaded walk is just a depressing way to end it. But, I doubt I’d feel much better if they got a game ending, bases loaded, double instead.

Yesterday’s loss was just one of those problems the Sox are going to run into. Especially missing so many starters like they were. They just didn’t score enough runs to cover for a somewhat shaky outing from their starter. It’ll happen, and it did.

But, that’s to Friday night’s triumph, the salvaged one win from the series, and head into New York. It’s a short series, which is just annoying. Lose two games, and people crow about being “swept.” And, really, you’d have to expect to lose at least one. Right? Cameron’s coming back though. So, that’s a good thing. No, he’s not a shining knight on a white horse or anything. But, he has to be a tick above Bill Hall in center, right? It’s definitely a step in the right direction.

With Ellsbury nearing a rehab start, the Sox are holding close while they wait for the cavalry to come. It’s all we could have expected. From here on out, let’s see what the entire, fully operational Red Sox can do.

You know…if they’re ever fully operational.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Friday, May 14, 2010

I Scored! June 28, 2003

This is a rather depressing scorecard. The first thing you notice is the mass of colored squares in the middle. But, it was all for not. The eventual World Champs came back, and took the game right out from under the Sox.

One of the more interesting parts of the card is the “game notes” section. It states that this is Gabe Kapler’s first game with the Red Sox. Kapler was a shooting star when he entered the league. While he developed into a decent player, he certainly didn’t quite pan out. The Red Sox picked him up not long before to fill a hole in the outfield. How did he do? If only all holes were filled as well as this one. Kapler doubled in his first at-bat. He singled in his second. His third at-bat produced an RBI triple. That’s right. Six innings into his Red Sox career, and he’s a home run away from the cycle. Next time up? He didn’t quite do it. We had to settle for a double, driving in two runs. If you’re looking to become a fan favorite, going 4-4 with three RBI in your debut is a great way to start. The fact that he struck out in his final chance didn’t matter. He had us hooked. Gabe ended up homering in the next game…so he got a slightly extended cycle.

Who else had a good game? Nomar certainly stands out. He stands out in a lot of scorecards. He only went 2-4, but with a home run and four RBI. Who had a bad game? Brandon Lyon. He was entrusted with a three run lead, and only one inning left to play. He couldn’t do it. Four runs later, the Red Sox were losing and didn’t recover.

It was too bad, because it’s certainly a game the Sox should have won. It’s too bad because Kapler came in with such gusto. It’s too bad because the game was so much fun for 8 innings. It just didn’t end well.

And the scorecard shows how it happened.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Feeding the Monster By: Seth Mnookin

This book is an in-depth look at the interworkings of the Boston
Red Sox. As with any Red Sox book worth it’s salt, it begins with a brief history of the team itself, exploring the so-called curse, as well as the Yawkey ownership. It follows with a thorough account of the sale of the team to the group eventually led by John Henry. It then hit the big time with a behind the scenes look at the 2003 Red Sox team and front office. With unprecedented access to the front office, Mnookin shows readers what happens before something happens. It’s a hard look at personalities and egos both on the field, and in the offices.

The jacket of the book talks about Mnookin’s access. It brags that he had a key to Fenway Park, and a desk in the front office. The theory being that the kind of access he had must mean that he has the best information. In reality, it means he has the most one-sided information. I’m not saying the Red Sox front office spent time misleading him with false information or opinions. (Although, I wouldn’t put it past them.) But, there are two sides to every story, and Mnookin mostly got one side. The good thing? He told the side he had wonderfully. This is a fantastic book. The section on the sale of the team was especially interesting to me. The back and forth between the team and bidders, and bidders themselves was fascinating. It was also interesting to hear the Red Sox version of many of the personnel issues facing the team. After reading Becoming Manny, the opposite explanation for some of the incidents makes you think. This is certainly a must read for any Red Sox fan.

Rating: 4 bases

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Birds of a Feather

Interesting what happens in a week, isn’t it?

Last week, I explained that there was no need to worry about the Sox. Even though they were a paltry 11-14, the world would not end. They could still play .613 ball the rest of the season and make it respectable. Since then? The Sox swept a four-game set from the Angels, took one of three from the Yankees, and the first game against Toronto. So, they are now 17-16 after 33 games. If I repeat my little exercise to see what they need to do the rest of the season…to get to 95 wins, the Sox need to go 78-51. That means playing ball at a .605 clip. Look at that. It’s even easier now!

I will admit, though. This weekend was not a lot of fun. I don’t know what happened to Josh Beckett on Friday. I can only assume that sometimes pitchers have that happen to them. He was pitching very well, and then just lost it. Hope he finds it again in the next couple days.

Clay pitched pretty well on Saturday, despite the monsoon that finally ended his day. I had the misfortune of being at that game, and didn’t enjoy very much of it. It was nice to see the Sox get to CC a little bit. He didn’t look like he was mowing through anybody. Clay held it together while he was there, and at least gave the Sox a chance. A couple surprising things, at least to me, from Saturday. Joba Chamberlain is huge. I saw him warming up, but couldn’t tell who he was. I just wondered who the chubby guy was blocking out the sun in the Yankees ‘pen. I almost fell out of my seat when I realized it was Joba. I also thought it was interesting that two pitchers got hurt following the rain delay, and nobody went out to check the mound. Sure, it was possible that the two injuries weren’t related. But, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen two of them go down in an inning. I think I would have tossed some kitty litter out there, just to be safe.

Sunday’s game was more of what I expect. Lester pitched wonderfully, and the Sox line-up took advantage of an inferior pitcher. It was exactly the kind of game that the Sox team was built for. It’s also a telling example of the problems with using stats early in the season. Entering the game, Burnett was undefeated, with an ERA under two. After the game? Not so much. So, what if he had this game to start the season, instead of waiting until now. Everything else would be the same, but his ERA would have looked awful all season. You’d assume he was struggling all year. Just a cautionary tale.

The Sox have another division foe in Fenway. They managed to take the first game. Once again, the pitching wasn’t great. But, it was good enough to win the game. I’m pretty sure that’s the whole point. Sure, I’d prefer lackey pitched more like Lester. But, I can forgive a hiccup…or six. Hopefully, this is the start of another seires victory. If they can take at least two, it will go a long way. It will give them a great homestand. It will inch them closer to the 95-win total. It will get even more games out of the way missing two outfielders. It will put the team in a pretty good place. And, with Dice and Wake going, I like their chances.

In one of the games, anyway.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Wantlist: 1976 Topps

Continuing along with the Red Sox baseball cards I need from every year:

1976 TOPPS
50 Fred Lynn

230 Carl Yastrzemski
326 Dick Pole
347 Ted Williams ATG
350 Lefty Grove ATG
365 Carlton Fisk

1976 Topps Traded
250T Fergie Jenkins

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Can I Quote You on That?

[Jimmie Foxx] has muscles in his hair – Lefty Gomez

It looks like big muscular guys aren’t anything new after all. There’s always somebody who is going to be bigger and stronger than everyone else. That guy is going to be able to put up some pretty amazing numbers. Foxx could simply do things with a baseball that other people in his era couldn’t do. Frankly, I don’t think there are many people in any era who could put up his kinds of numbers.

Jimmie Foxx is a guy that always seems to get overshadowed in my mind, and that’s too bad. For the Boston Red Sox in 1938, look at this line. .349 batting average, 50 HR, and 175 RBI. What about the newfangled numbers? His OBP that year was .462. Add that to his .704 slugging, and you end up with an OPS of 1.166. The scary part? That wasn’t Foxx’s career year. I’ll give that honor to his 1932 season with the Philadelphia A’s. That year he went .364-58-169. His OPS of 1.218 comes from an OBP of .469, and a SLG of .749. Absolutely amazing. Why isn’t this guy more revered? Am I just missing the hype? Especially if you consider that he played in Philly and Boston. It’s not like he was hidden in Milwaukee his whole career? Is it simply a case of Ruth, and everyone else? If you weren’t wearing pinstripes in those years, you’re not worth it?

Where’s the love?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Wantlist: 1975 Topps

When people look to make baseball card trades, naturally they wonder what I'd like to trade for. Until recently, my response has been, "Just about anything." So, I thought it would be a good idea to whittle that down a bit. As such, I thought I'd post my wantlist for every year of Sox cards I'd like to collect. That way, the whole list will be in one place. For those of you that don't collect cards, these posts will be a tad dull. Sorry bout that. But, at least you can look at the list of naems and remember good times. Plus, there will usually be a pretty picture. Starting with my favorite set, the 1975 Topps...I still need:


56 Rick Wise
80 Carlton Fisk
103 Rick Miller
172 Darrel Johnson
280 Carl Yastrzemski

Monday, May 3, 2010

O No!

What on Fenway’s green earth was that? Were the Red Sox just swept away by the Orioles?

I have to admit. While it’s an unusual strategy, it has some merit. When the Sox lost to Baltimore at Fenway, it was a large cause for concern. The Orioles, after all, only had a couple wins at the time. By sweeping the Sox this past weekend, the Orioles now have twice as many wins as they did. So, it looks like the Sox lost to a much better team. Sort of like when Notre Dame lost an early season football game to Northwestern not too long ago. At the time, it made ND look terrible. How could they lose to such a bad team? But, as Northwestern started adding more wins, it didn’t make the Irish look so bad. That must be what the Sox are looking for now. Make the Orioles look better, so they don’t look so bad. Increase their “strength of schedule” factor. Very impressive planning.

The Sox record currently sits at 11-14. That’s not good. No, really. It’s not good. But, when you add the two numbers, you only get 25. So, 25 games in, the Sox don’t look good. Thankfully, there are 137 games left. So, all is not lost. Let’s say the Sox want to win 95 games this year. No matter whether or not you make the playoffs, if you win 95 games, there’s no reason you can complain about the season. So, to win 95 games, the Sox need to go 84-53 the rest of the way. That works out to playing .613 baseball the rest of the season. Boy, that’s tough. How can they be expected to do that? That never happens. I mean, to play .613 ball for an entire season, you’d be on a 99-win clip. You can’t depend on that. Wait, what? The Sox did that last year? Really? There was a 25 game stretch in July where the Sox went 10-15? Huh. So, the rest of last season, they had to play at a .620 clip? That happened? Huh. What do you know? Before this weekend, the Sox were 11-11, and things were looking up. After this weekend, they’re three games lower, and the end is near. Yeah, that doesn’t make any sense to me either.

The problem, really, is how people insist on looking at statistics. Baseball announcers love looking at a player like Dustin Pedroia and his .330 batting average, see him 0-3 in the game and say, “he’s due.” He’s not “due.” If a player has a .333 batting average over a season, it doesn’t mean he got one hit every three at bats. It means he got a hit in one third of his at-bats. They came in bunches. There were long stretches with no hits. An average isn’t a constant thing. Just like wins. If you win 95 games, you don’t win 59% of every ten games. You win 59% of the total games. There are 7-game win streaks mixed in, along with 10 game losing streaks. Yup, the Sox started tough. But, let’s not get crazy here.

To be honest, missing two starting outfielders, 11-14 looks almost respectable. The pitching will be good. The top three will win their share of games. They won’t all have the worst years of their careers the same year. The offense will score runs. It’s show that it can. No need to worry.

This is still a good team.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

36 Questions: Schedules

How do they make the schedules?

At the beginning of the year, there were some complaints about the schedule. It was felt that the Sox shouldn’t open against the Yankees. I agreed. As a Sox fan, I’d just as soon have the excitement of Opening Day be separate from the excitement of a Yankees series. I also would like the Sox to have a few games under their belt before the big series start. Ideally, I’d like to see them open against the Nationals, and then move on to other teams. Naturally, that’s not going to happen. But, the conversation got me thinking. How in the world do they manage to put a major league baseball schedule?

At first glance, I can see it being nearly impossible to set the games up for a team. The Sox need to play teams from the AL East 18 times each. You’d like to try and space those out a bit. You can’t schedule a team for too many games in a row without an off day. You need 81 games at home, and 81 games on the road. Those parameters on their own don’t make the job impossible. I can see myself with a blank calendar. I can picture placing series in until the numbers add up. Start with Baltimore, then Tampa. Then Kansas City, and so on. I can even imagine it would be easy to change it up from year to year. I’ll make the schedule for AL East Team A, and one for Team B, C, D, and E. I can change up which team is which every year, and that makes each years schedule different. That wouldn’t be awful.

But, of course, the schedule makers don’t do that. Why? Because they can’t. My schedule has left out a few criteria. The Red Sox need a homestand on Patriots day. I don’t know if other teams have similar requirements, but I bet there are a couple. That’s not too difficult to incorporate. But, I’ve left out the biggest requirement. Road trips. You can’t have a team go from LA to Minnesota, to Seattle, to Tampa. It would be too much. So, you set it up so that the Red Sox go from Seattle to Oakland to LA. At the very least, you need an off day in between. The Sox this year, for instance, have a game in San Francisco on a Sunday, and Tampa Bay on Tuesday. At least there’s a break. So, that all needs to be figured in. Not too bad either. Except, that means that Seattle and Oakland and LA need to have homestands on those days. It also means that you can’t mix up teams using the “Team A” process, because one time Team A could be Texas, and Team B Seattle. So, every year, to make things different, you need a whole new schedule.

Even with all those restrictions, I could probably put together the Red Sox schedule. Heck, I have an example to copy taped next to my computer. But, what about the next team? Just for fun, take this year’s Red Sox schedule. Without looking it up, use a blank calendar to try to create a schedule that would work for the Orioles. You’ll need to have them in Boston when the Red Sox are scheduled to be home, and in Baltimore when the Sox are scheduled to play at Camden Yards. From there, fill in the other games keeping road trips reasonable. It’s getting trickier. But, I bet it would be possible. OK. Now try Tampa. They need to be in Boston when the Sox play them at Fenway, Baltimore when the Orioles play them Camden Yards, and at the Trop when either the Red Sox or Orioles are scheduled to be in Tampa. Wowsers. It’s already getting a little crazy. I haven’t even added in Toronto or NY yet. I haven’t made you set aside time for the interleague play. If I kept going, adding teams to create schedules for, how long before you made a mess of things? When you get to Texas, could they be in Toronto when you already wanted them to be, and then in Arlington when you wanted them to be? What a mess. I have no idea how they do it year in and year out. I don’t doubt that there are computers involved, but even that’s a little crazy. Do they set a maximum number of miles between road stops? Maximum number of time zones? Maybe I need to cut the schedule makers a little slack.

How on earth do they put together a new schedule every year?

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