Friday, April 29, 2011

More Pix from 36!

Today I’m sharing some Pix from 36 sent in by loyal reader Bryanne. She attended one of the Blue Jays game during the last homestand, and sent in these great shots.

This first one is just a great classic shot of the view from Section 36. No matter how many times I see this shot, or one similar to it, I always find it interesting. It just never gets old.

The second shot shows off the fact that Bryanne must have a nice camera. That’s a very tight action shot to get from so far away.

As is the next one. There’s so much going on in this picture too. The strikeout at home. The play at second. (I don’t think he’s going to make it, do you?) A great shot.

So, thanks to Bryanne for sending in these great photos! Hopefully she’ll send in more from her next trip to Fenway.

And, hopefully everyone else will keep send in their own Pix from 36.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Card of the Week: 1982 Topps #274

When I see this card, I think of an article I read once about baseball card pictures. Basically, in the “old days” card companies wouldn’t waste the film on players who weren’t going to make the team. So, occasionally a rookie would ask the cameraman where he should go for a picture only to be told that it wouldn’t be necessary. Basically, it was the photographer telling the youngster that he wouldn’t make the team. Can’t you just see that happening here?

Ojeda – So, where should I stand for my picture?
Topps – Ummm…yeah, ok…how about over here?
Ojeda – Great. How’s this?
Topps – Would you mind taking off the Red Sox jersey? We’re, umm, doing a series of shots with just plain blue coats.
Ojeda – Umm…sure?
Topps – Oh, and can you tilt your hat up a bit? We’re trying something new where you can’t see hat logos.
Ojeda – So, how will anyone know I play for the Sox, and not any other team?
Topps – That’s actually the whole idea. Wait. No. I mean, don’t worry. They’ll be able to tell. Really.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Things Must be Getting Better

I didn’t mind last night’s loss as much as I did the other Sox losses this season. (And, no, it’s not just because I have Kevin Gregg on my fantasy team.) The pressure to win seems to have gone away. At least in my eyes.

Not that there was any actual pressure to win. It was more of, “Please win so people can stop harping on your losses.” I needed Sox victories so I wouldn’t be subjected to story after story of how bad the Sox start was. How unlikely it would be that they recover. I needed wins so the stories could go back to just analyzing each game on its own merits. That happened to me last night.

The Sox lost. OK. They’re going to lose at least another 50 games this season. It was a game you probably could have circled. They were facing a rookie pitcher. The Sox do better against people with histories they can study. It was the seventh game of a 9-game cross-country road trip. Losses on the road are to be expected more often. Especially after spending a week in California. Plus, the Sox did very well on the west coast, winning five of six and concluding with a four-game sweep. Can you imagine a large exhale after seeing Baltimore and Seattle as their next two opponents? I can. So, while those shouldn’t all be reasons for a loss, I can understand that they were.

And how great is it to say that those are the reasons? I’m not saying they lost because the new guys are overrated and overpaid. It’s not because the pitching staff is the fatal flaw some EEIdiots said they were. It was a loss. It happens. Phew.

Speaking of the pitching staff. Last night’s performance by Clay Buchholz was the worst outing by a Red Sox starting pitcher in a week. How bad was it? He gave up four runs in 6.2 innings. That’s the bad start? If that’s as bad as it gets, I will take that every day of the week. It’s also nice that this sub par start happened with Varitek behind the plate. (I’m not exactly sure why he was back there. But, it’s not my call.) That leaves one pitcher who doesn’t need Tek as his personal catcher. There should be no reason not to run Salty out there for every one of his starts. That certainly makes things easier.

So, hopefully the Sox recover to end the road trip as well as it started. There’s a long homestand coming up. This could be a nice chance to make some headway.

It’s getting better all the time.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Rolling of the Dice

Before the season got underway, I made a suggestion regarding Daisuke Matsuzaka. I felt that with the limited time left on his contract, the Sox should set him free. I felt they should tell him that he was free to follow whichever routine he’d like between starts. He could stay in the game as long as he wanted, no matter how many pitches he had thrown. Since he was going to be a free agent soon anyway, the Sox shouldn’t worry about an arm injury. It was time to let Daisuke be Daisuke, and see what happened. I can’t help but wonder if that’s not exactly what happened.

A couple starts ago against the Rays, Matsuzaka got lit up. That’s putting it gently. He couldn’t get anyone out, and everyone kept scoring. But, he was doing what the Red Sox (and their fans) always wanted him to do. He stopped nibbling. He threw first-pitch strikes. He pitched to contact. And, it failed miserably. There was even some speculation at the time that it was exactly as he planned. He was showing the Red Sox that their way didn’t work. They should get off his back, and let him nibble and otherwise pitch exactly as he wished. Whether or not that conversation actually took place, you can’t say it hasn’t brought results. Since that debacle at Fenway? Matsuzaka hasn’t been scored upon. He hasn’t been throwing first-pitch strikes all the time. But, he’s been getting outs, pitching scoreless ball, and getting wins. Just what you’d want from a pitcher. Interesting.

Beyond Matsuzaka, what a swing through the rotation this has been, eh? The only runs in the last five games coming on a single two-run homer. Wow. The starters have been pitching well, and pitching deep. It’s even more than anyone could have hoped for. Yes, I know, it’s only been a week. But, it’s been one amazing week.

When you’re trying to turn a season around, sometimes it’s the little things that make all the difference. Carl Crawford finally has a home run. Now, when he looks at his stats (in HD) on the scoreboard, they won’t be flashing that zero anymore. The Sox have been winning, and he’s been slowly contributing. That’s a pretty good sign for the future.

It’s been nice to witness the power of the fully operational Red Sox.

Even if it’s just been a week.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Page for Pix from 36!

I’ve finally gotten around to finding a permanent (at least for now) home for all the wonderful pix from 36 that people have sent me. Check out the page link at the right of the blog to see the whole collection. And, don’t forget to keep taking and sending your own pix of, in, or from Section 36…wherever that Section 36 happens to be. Thanks to everyone who has already sent in pix.

And keep them coming!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Personal Preference

The question is back. Josh Beckett pitched poorly with Jarrod Saltalamacchia behind the plate. He has dominated with Jason Varitek back there. Daisuke Matsuzaka got lit up, and I mean lit up, with Salty calling the pitches. Dice-K mowed hitters down when Tek was calling the shots. So, the question has to be posed. Should Tek catch those two all the time?

Quick answer. Absolutely. A related question. Why not?

I’m pretty sure that the main purpose of the Red Sox is to win games. It’s not to prepare people for the future. It’s not to make pitchers non-wusses. It’s to win baseball games. So, if having Varitek behind the plate helps them win games, he should be back there. I don’t care that Beckett should be able to pitch to whomever is back there. I don’t care that Salty is a fine catcher who should be trusted. I really don’t care. If those two guys pitch better to Varitek, by all means let them. I don’t care if it’s trust. I don’t care if it’s comfort. I don’t care if they just prefer the color of the chest protector. If it works, go with it.

And, yes, I understand that Varitek is a back-up catcher for a reason. I know he’s getting older, and less effective. I understand that he can’t catch every game. But, really, two out of every five seems reasonable to me. At least to start. Once Salty has another half season under his belt with the rest of the staff, he may be able to be integrated into mix for Beckett and Matsuzaka. He may not. I’m OK either way.

It’s not like the Sox would be saying that Salty can’t catch. They’re not saying that Beckett and Dice-K think Salty can’t catch. There’s just a flow there that I see no reason to interrupt. Now, if that schedule starts hurting the team, that’s another issue. But, I don’t see a downside at this point.

Just put the team in the best position to win.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Happy 36th Carlos Castillo!

Carlos Castillo was a relief pitcher for the 2001 Red Sox. I have to admit, that’s all I know about him. Sorry.

Looking through my scorecards, I see that I attended one game in which Castillo pitched. Since I have cards from 22 games that season, I’m going to say he wasn’t used all that much by the Sox. So, how did he do during my game?

He pitched the ninth inning of the July eighth game against the Braves. He entered the game with the Sox trailing 7-0. I love the list of batters he faced. First, he got BJ Surhoff to ground out to first. Then, he got Andruw Jones to pop up to first. Jones had hit a 2-run homer earlier in the day, so it was nice to get him out. He wasn’t as lucky with the other Jones. The Braves clean-up hitter, Chipper Jones, took Castillo deep for a solo home run. Castillo regrouped to make Ken Caminiti ground out to third. So, one inning, one hit, one run. 

Castillo only lasted the one season in Boston before heading out of town. Maybe I’m having a hard time remembering Castillo since the 2001 season was one I’d just as soon forget. The Sox finished barely over .500. Jimy Williams was finally let go. Joe Kerrigan then went out and proved to be the second best manager the Sox had that year. So, I imagine I have erased all references to the 2001 season from my mind. Which is too bad.

Happy 36th Birthday Carlos Castillo!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Incomplete Reactions

I get it. I really do. I know how you sell newspapers. I know how you get blog hits. I know it’s not by writing the same thing as everyone else. That’s why the cover story in Time Magazine is never, “Yup. Sky is Still Blue.” The cover story would be, “Sky Might Not be Blue Forever.” So, I understand how writers get readers by going against the grain. It’s just a little frustrating to read.

The Red Sox had a bad year last year. So, why report that they may have a bad year this year? That’s no fun. So, last winter, let’s write about how they might do better the next year. Of course, signing the best two free agents helped that story along. With that, the Red Sox were anointed the best team in decades. Well, who is going to read another story about that? So, then came the stories that maybe they weren’t improved after all. Their fifth starter is a bit of a question mark. So is their long man in the bullpen. Come read my story, I’m telling you the stuff nobody else will. Then, the best team ever loses a few games to start the season. That led to my favorite type of contrary reporting. The “I’m not ready to call it the end of the season, but the season is over” stories. This is when they brought out the stats on how many teams that started 0-4 or 0-6 won the World Series. The ridiculous misuse of statistics and probability was ignored just for a story. It was pure writing genius, though, the way everyone hedged their bets. They wanted to be the first to write about the doomsday scenario, but didn’t want to be on record as complete idiots when the Sox turned it around. So, they wrote all the stories of how they better turn it around soon, or else. Then, the Sox win three in a row. Suddenly, everyone wants to be the first to say it’s not so bad. After all, last year’s team started 5-9 and was doing just fine before everyone got hurt. It’s crazy.

So, here the Sox sit on their way to the west coast. They have a 5-10 record after 15 games. The team looks to be figuring it out. Some of the key players have stats that don’t look quite so anemic as they did last week. Sometimes, it’s all a mental thing. Sometimes it takes a player like Jed Lowrie taking the focus off of a slump. There’s nothing that suggests to me that this team won’t have a great year. This should be a really fun stretch.

Too bad it’s going to be on the west coast.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Stating the Obvious

So, I had the opportunity to attend my second Red Sox game of the season this weekend. (Putting my personal record at 2-0 this year, by the way.) Having now been able to see him in person twice, I feel comfortable making the following statement. Adrian Gonzalez is really good. No, really.

I know. I’ve seen his numbers. I knew he could hit just by researching a little bit. But sitting in the stands seeing the whole field really gives you a great vantage point to see what he’s really all about. Three things really stand out to me. The first two were at the home opener. The Yankees were using a nasty shift on him. So, he decided that the best thing to do would be to go against it. He effortlessly drove the ball to the hole where the shortstop would normally be playing. It didn’t look like a guy trying to slap it the other way. It looked like a player who usually hit the ball there, and was glad there wasn’t a defender there this time. He also dropped a bunt down later in that game. People can say all they want that if Gonzalez is hitting singles, then the other team is getting what they want. I’m willing to bet that the other team doesn’t want a runner on base for Kevin Youkilis. As I’ve been saying for years to David Ortiz, even bunting a little bit helps you out. Every step back to their regular position the defense takes, the better of you are when you pull the ball. The last example happened yesterday. Gonzalez drove a double to the opposite gap. Again, not slapped. He drove it the other way in a manner I haven’t seen since Manny was tossed under a bus. While I’m not ready to put Gonzalez in the same class as Manny Ramirez, I think I’m going to like having him on the team for the next seven years.

Another obvious observation? Jed Lowrie is making things tough on Terry Francona. There are quite a few people struggling at the plate for the Sox. (Yup, Captain Obvious strikes again) But, only Marco Scutaro seems to have a replacement available. It’ll take a much longer struggle for Mike Cameron to replace Carl Crawford. But, for Jed Lowrie overtake Scutaro? It may have already happened.

How nice to be able to talk about a few things that are going well for the Red Sox though. Sometimes it’s just a mental thing too. Zero wins just sticks out at you. One win isn’t much better. Once you get to four or five…it’s mentally a much nicer total. Hopefully this will let the whole team just relax a bit, and play like they’re supposed to. This is how it’s supposed to have been all year.

It’s getting to be fun again.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

I Scored! April 27, 2002

Let’s see if anything exciting happened in this game. A quick look at the card shows that the Sox scored a lot of runs. All those black diamonds just pop out at you. How about the Devil Rays? Let’s see. No runs. Woohoo! Wait a minute though. There are two zeroes in the line score. Quick, look at the bottom of the card. Yup. Derek Lowe pitched the complete game with all those zeroes, including the one in the hit column.

This is, obviously, the scorecard from Derek Lowe’s no-hitter. It might be the coolest game I’ve ever been to. It wasn’t like a playoff game, or a great pitchers duel. You know when you’re going to those games that it is going to be special. Nobody knew this was coming. It just evolved as the game went on. Pretty amazing.

Things started off great for the Sox, with Rickey Henderson adding to his record total of lead-off home runs. A fast 1-0 lead is just what the doctor ordered. The Sox really broke it open in the third scoring six runs, and giving Lowe a comfortable lead to work with. All the offense took the fans attention away from the fact that Lowe hadn’t given up any hits. After all, if a Red Sox pitcher was going to throw a no-hitter, it’s Pedro that you tracked it for. But, by the time the eighth inning rolled around, everyone in the park knew exactly what was at stake. So, for the only time I can think of, the last thing I wanted to do was see the Red Sox score a lot of runs. I wanted Lowe to get right back out there and finish the thing off. Of course, looking at the card shows that it didn’t exactly happen. The Sox almost batted around giving Lowe plenty of time to sit in the dugout and contemplate his place in baseball history.

Thankfully the wait didn’t hurt him. He finished off the string of zeroes to complete the no-hitter. The offensive hero on the day? (not that anyone would remember there was even an offense) I’m going with Jose Offerman. Three runs scored on a 2-3 day. The goat? For a ten-run game there are a surprising number of candidates. But, I’ll go with Trot Nixon. Sure, he was 2-5. But, he struck out twice. He also didn’t score or drive in a run, the only player in the line-up who could make that claim.

So, long before every Red Sox pitcher started throwing no-hitters, this one broke the drought. It was Varitek’s first career no-hitter caught. It let everyone know that maybe, just maybe, Derek Lowe could make it as a starter after all.

And the scorecard shows how it happened.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Card of the Week: 1981 Topps #662

There’s something about the 1981 Topps set that always appealed to me. Maybe it’s the sharp contrast to the rushed together sets put out by the other two card companies. But, it always had a classy look in my eyes.

This team card is no exception. It has a clean look to it. The only thing that breaks it up in the need for the Ralph Houk insert in the corner. The team photo still has the gerbil in the middle, and that wouldn’t do.

It’s always interesting when a company has a nice card design for the base cards, and then has to alter it for subsets such as this. The base cards would have a much bigger hat slightly more prominently displayed in the corner. This version looks stuck there because they had to have a hat somewhere. So, that’s too bad.

I always missed the team cards when companies stopped issuing them. It’s a nice card to have as a team collector. Everyone on the team in one shot. I also like the inclusion of the team checklist on the back. It makes creating wantlists a lot easier.

But, why did everyone have to sit with their hands on their knees?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Pix from 36?

Jim, author of the fabulous blog The Phillies Room, recently sent over his Pix from 36. Unfortunately, Jim has a problem. He’s a Phillies fan. Now, that hasn’t been much of a problem the last five years or so. But, in this case it is. There is no Section 36 at Citizen’s Bank Park. So, what’s a guy to do? Jim came up with a great solution.

Yup. Section 136. Nicely done. Jim was also kind enough to include a shot of the view from Section 137. We’ll assume it’s probably the same view as 136.

That’s a nice looking park. Thanks Jim for sending the pictures along. Hopefully everyone else is remembering their camera when they go to game.

I love sharing your Pix from 36!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Opening Day Pix from 36!

A few loyal readers were fantastic enough to send in some pictures they took on Opening Day in Section 36. I could bore you with a long discussion, but I figured it would make sense to just jump right in.

The first two are from Jere over at A Red Sox Fan from Pinstripe Territory. He snuck over to Section 36 before the game, and took a couple shots. One shows a little bit of the pregame activities. The other is a nice artistic shot of the seats in the Section.

The next photo is from Kristen of fame. She shared a picture of the seats around her way up in Section 36. I like how both Jere and Kristen got the “Section 36” label on the back wall in their pictures. They’re both great shots that I should probably hang on a wall or something.

The last picture is from loyal reader Sean. This shot is a bit closer to gametime, since the stands are starting to fill up.

So, thank you to all three of them for sharing their Pix from 36! I’ll put them all together on a page with the others that have come in already so everyone can enjoy them.

And, keep sending in your own Pix from 36!

Monday, April 11, 2011

OK. Now I’m Into It.

I told you that I really needed the Home Opener, and I was right. The season seems to have really started for me finally. And, no, it’s not just because they’re winning. Was the losing annoying? Sure. It was agonizing to read the same thing in every game report. “No need to worry. It’s just one game. Or two games. Or Six. But, did you know that nobody have ever won after losing this many games?” It was an annoying attempt to stay calm, but jump off a cliff at the same time. Nobody was willing to doubt the team, but wanted to have a “told you so” if things went bad. Just like the people screaming that they fell too far behind last April were so annoying when they ended up missing the playoffs last October. The slow start meant nothing until they lost half their team to injury. So, winning helped with that annoyance.

Friday was the first game this season I was able to see in person, and it was a beautiful day. Something about sitting in the stands keeping score that just seems like baseball. I could see the players. I could see the field. I could deal with annoying loud guys sitting near to me. It all started. Even though the game itself was pretty much torture, it was the kick-start of the season, and it felt really good.

Last night’s game was the first one I’ve been able to see televised. Once again, being able to see all the player’s faces was refreshing. Looking at batting stances and wind-ups adds a dimension that was missing previously. And, what a game it was! It was vintage Beckett. Except that Beckett never pitched like that for the Sox against the Yankees. After so many starters slogging through their outings, it’s nice to see that the bar has been raised. The most amazing part is that Beckett was so efficient against the Yankees. A team built on taking pitches couldn’t get Beckett off the hill until the ninth inning. Brilliant. It was also nice to see the Sox beat up on a tough lefty. I know they didn’t score many runs off CC. But, the one fear going into the season was that this lefty-heavy line-up would be crushed by good lefties. It’s nice to get one of those starts out of the way with good results. The only bad part about last night was the plunking of Adrian Gonzalez. With the way this season has gone, you just knew that was going to be a crushing development. Hopefully he’ll be just fine.

Speaking of Gonzalez, do you think David Ortiz was watching his performance on Friday? A ball slapped against the shift to where the shortstop should have been, and a bunt base hit all in the same game? That’s exactly what Ortiz needs to start doing more often.

Let’s see if they can keep the home fires burning.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

New Baseball Playoff Structure?

There had been some discussion in MLB headquarters about expanding the playoffs. At the time, I mused that they might as well include every team. A playoff system rarely rewards the best team anyway. Might as well have some fun with it. Since then, we’ve had the NCAA tournament, and the madness it brings. I’ve also been talking with someone I know who is a huge EPL fan. Since Fenway Sports bought the Liverpool club, he’s been giving me lessons on English football. Apparently, along with regular league play they have a mid-season tournament. They then crown both a tournament champion, and a season champion. Suddenly, the wheels were turning. I also thought about the Super Bowl. I’ve often said that the Super Bowl had one big advantage over other sports championships. They knew when it was going to be weeks in advance. OK, years in advance. A game seven of the World Series is just as exciting and tense as a Super Bowl. But, nobody knows if there will be one until the day before. That hardly gives enough time to plan a proper party. But, what if the championship game was set? What if we combined the best of all those worlds?

So, let’s take a cue from soccer. We’ll play the regular baseball season, all 162 games, to determine a champion. But, instead of a season-ending playoffs we create a mid-season tournament. That creates a dual championship of sorts. The only tricky part is making them each as prestigious a championship as the other. We wouldn’t want a team giving up on the tournament to save their horses for the regular season. But, that would just take time…or until the Yankees one win it. It seems to work in England. It even works a little bit in hockey, where I’ve seen banners hung for winning the regular season.

So, how would this tournament work? I’m glad you asked. MLB has 30 teams, which isn’t perfect for a tournament. But, it can work. First, the tournament would have to ignore AL-NL affiliations. All 30 teams would be seeded as a unit. There would be a western division and an eastern division. This would cut down on travel times. So, rank the 15 westernmost teams 1 to 15 based on their record through 81 games of the season. Do the same on the east. The number one seed on each side gets a first round bye, to make the numbers work. From there, the games begin.

The tournament starts on the Saturday after all teams have played 81 games. In 2011, let’s say July 3. The 14 teams without the bye in each division play each other, using standard seeding match-ups. #2 plays 15, 10 plays 7, 11 plays 6, 14 plays 3, 13 plays 4, 12 plays 5, and 9 plays 8. The games will be played at the lower seed’s home field. So, a true home field advantage. The winners would advance to the next round, to be played on Monday. The number one seeds would be inserted at this point. If all the favorites win, they would play the #8 seed in round 2. Again, home field to the lower seed. Round 3 would be on Wednesday. The final four would be on Friday. The championship game would be on Sunday. See what I did there? Not only do we now know 4 months ahead of time that the championship game would be on July 10, but I’ve created a fillable bracket! So, set your party dates for that Sunday, and buy your chips and dip. Get your office brackets ready to go. That should bring some interest to this new championship.

The tight schedule is great for a couple reasons. First, this only takes up a week in the middle of the season. The full regular schedule will fit, since we don’t need October for the playoffs. It also means that even first round losers only have a week break. They get that now around the all-star game. It also means the first round bye doesn’t make a team rusty. It’s only a couple days. The quick pace also means you need a pitching staff. You really need the three top pitchers to make the needed rest work. It also gives the number one seeds an advantage in that their ace is lined up for the championship game on regular rest.

The problems? There aren’t many. The travel would be quick. But, teams sometime have games in different cities on consecutive days now. I’m giving them an off day in between. That would be another advantage to having a high seed. If you get to stay at home for three rounds while your opponent has to fly twice, that’s a bonus. Ticket sales would need to be quick too. But, they do that for the playoffs anyway. People buy tickets to games all the time that never get played, and it still seems to work.

The only real problem I have is rain. I’d hate to make the games have to be played in one of the five domed stadiums. For one thing, it would be hard to fit 14 games on that first Saturday. The off day in between games would make it possible to have one rainout. But, that’d be annoying.

But, if that’s my only problem, I say go for it. It brings meaning back to the regular season. The team best built for the long haul would be rewarded. Depth would bring a championship. But, the tournament would give everyone a chance at one of the championships. Would Seattle have kept Cliff Lee last year if they knew the Felix-Lee 1-2 would make for a great tournament run? Maybe. Everyone suddenly has a chance! And, some years a team would win both the tournament and the regular season. Like in boxing, that would create the rare undisputed champion. The best of the best. Fantastic!

How would it not be great for TV? Maybe local networks could keep the rights for local teams. All the others would be on a national network March Madness style. You can even stagger the starts on Saturday to have playoff baseball all day. Get a few networks to carry all the games so everyone gets to see everyone.

Are you reading this Bud Selig? How is this idea not great for baseball?

Seriously, anyone have a reason this isn’t the best idea ever?

Friday, April 8, 2011

I Need the Home Opener!

I don’t really know what it is. I’ve just had a hard time getting into the season this year. I’m hoping that seeing those gleaming white uniforms will snap me out of it.

I think it’s that I’ve been waiting so long for the inevitable, that I’m growing bored with the waiting. I mean, we’ve been waiting for the World Series coronation since, when, January? Even the start of Spring Training did nothing but bring along a string of meaningless games. The start of the season? More of the same. I can’t even get all riled up about a losing streak to start the year. It just doesn’t matter. The Sox will be right there in October, and all I have to do is get there.

Frankly, it’s the same story for most of the Boston area teams. The Celtics are just passing time until the playoffs. They haven’t played an important game since game 7 against the Lakers. They’ll make the playoffs as one of the top seeds…just like we all knew in October. They’ve been resting players since February. A loss means nothing until the playoffs start. Hard to get too excited about any of it.

So, here I sit with the Red Sox. The games are on, but they’re just there. It’s just not important. It’s just a waiting game. Just like I’ve been waiting for months.

I need something to snap me out of it.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

I’m sorry. But, It Just Drives Me Crazy.

It seems to happen every year. I saw a newspaper this weekend with a large front page, above the fold, headline stating that Red Sox tickets were hard to get. We’ll ignore the question of whether this is actually a front page worthy news story. It’s the body of the article that drives me bonkers. The basic premise? Real fans have no chance of getting tickets, and it’s the Red Sox fault.

Of course, the article shot itself in the foot right off the bat. It says that the Sox have already sold 85% of this season’s tickets. In other words, there are still 15% of the tickets waiting to be purchased. So, already we should change the tone of the article from having no chance to get tickets, to having no chance of getting the really popular tickets. It goes on to say that 70% of the really popular games were sold months ago to season ticket holders and ticket resellers. So, again, the theme should be changed. Even really popular games had 30% of their tickets remaining until recently. But, the author of the article didn’t adjust the theme. He just went on with the same blabber I hear all the time this time of year. Sox tickets should be available to average people who are real fans, not the super rich or the corporations. I guess I really only have one question. Why?

Why do people seem to think they’re entitled to Red Sox tickets? Why do they assume that whomever sits in corporate seats doesn’t deserve it? Why can’t you have money AND be a Red Sox fan?

If I was to go see a play at the Boston Opera House, they don’t make me take a test. I don’t have to prove that I love musicals more than someone else. I don’t need to sing the main song from the play. I don’t need to point my face green before they let me in to see Wicked. It would be crazy to even suggest that musical tickets should only be available to real musical fans. They’re available to anyone who buys them first. They’re also, by the way, not cheap. Nobody is writing articles saying that the average fan is shut out of seeing the Lion King because only the rich can afford box seats.

This article, along with all the others like it, enjoys pointing out that the Sox have one of the highest average ticket prices in baseball. Of course they do. They have just about the smallest park, and people want to go there. Progressive field holds about 10,000 more people then Fenway does. And, those 10,000 extra seats are worse than the ones at Fenway. So, those 10,000 tickets are priced lower then the cheap seats at Fenway. So, if you have 30% more tickets than Fenway that are worse then Fenway, and therefore cheaper, the average goes down. So, the Red Sox should compensate their fans because they don’t have as many bad seats as other parks? Really?

I’ve never seen another industry that people expect so much from. I don’t expect Lexus to make a car that I can afford. I don’t expect Hooters to clean up their image so kids can go there too. I don’t expect the movie theaters to stop selling their tickets to just anyone who comes and gets them. I don’t expect McDonalds to ask me how much I like hamburgers before they’ll sell me one.

Why do people feel entitled to cheap good Red Sox tickets?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

TTM Success!

In four short weeks, I was able to get this card returned from Red Sox pitcher Felix Doubront!

I like the picturd on this card, which is why I sent it in the first place. This is one of the few times recently where I’ve actually gotten the card I sent back signed. I love how he took advantage of the white space provided by his uniform. I also like his choice of pen. It’s a very thin line. I suppose you need to make that decision when you’re signing a name like “Doubront.” If it were a standard fat Sharpie, there wouldn’t be enough room to fit it in without flowing together. I have to admit to having a little trouble figuring out the signature. It certainly looks to start with a “D,” so maybe he just signed “Doubront.” But, there are a few too many tall and hanging letters. In “Felix Doubront, all the letters are above the line, while the sig appears to have at least one hang below. If looks like there’s a lowercase “f” in the middle. There should also only be one tall letter, the “b,” in the middle. There looks to be 2. It should end in another tall letter, but doesn’t. Anyone know if he signs something mysterious? Like Nomar starting his sig with the “A” from “Anthony?” But, it doesn’t really matter. It’s a great looking card.

Thank you Felix Doubront!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A Pic From 36!

A big thanks to Jere of A Red Sox Fan from Pinstripe Territory for sending in the first Pic from 36. To make it even more special, it’s a visiting park. The Ballpark in Arlington! Let’s take a look.

My first reaction to the picture was that it looked like it was photoshopped. It’s like there are two completely different parks in the background, with the dividing line between the Southwest and JC Penny ads. It’s just strange looking. But, I guess it’s a real photo. It loos like Section 36 in Arlington would have a great view for the game. Thanks, Jere, for sending it in.

Keep the pictures coming everyone!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

It Was Never About The Babe By: Jerry M. Gutlon

This book sets out to set the record straight concerning the fabled
Curse of the Bambino. It attempts to lie out the reasons that there was never a curse. The reason for 86 years of suffering had nothing to do with selling Babe Ruth. As the book’s subtitle tells us, it was a case of racism and mismanagement that led to the years of despair. Not a ghost hovering over Fenway Park. This book chronicles the history of the Red Sox. It tries to correct some long-held misconceptions along the way. It dives deep into the background of stories that everyone only thinks they already know. It presents itself as the actual history that nobody wanted to hear about. They would rather just place it all on some Curse.

If you ask a religious person for proof that there is a god, they’ll often tell you to look around. The trees, the mountains, the air, all the goodness. They are all god’s work. So, if I was looking for proof of the Curse, couldn’t I use the racism and mismanagement as proof of its existence? Couldn’t the Red Sox have been mismanaged because of the Curse?

The problem with any Red Sox history is that all the important stuff happened long ago when it wasn’t all that important. In 1919 the Red Sox got rid of a disgruntled superstar, but coverage of it was relatively minimal. In 2004 the Red Sox did the same thing, and you couldn’t leave the house without tripping over coverage. I think I have a pretty good idea of what Theo was thinking when he traded Nomar. I have a great idea of what fan reaction was to the trade. It was covered to death. Babe Ruth? What stories remain were only a fraction of the information we have at our disposal today. So, anytime a book like this is written, it’s always a toss up as to what the “true” history is. Was Ruth a distraction? Was the Jackie Robinson tryout a sham? One book will find accounts on one side, some on the other. Who’s to know? So it’s somewhat troubling when this book falls into some of the same traps as the Curse of the Bambino book it is trying to discredit. My opinion of this book flip-flopped constantly as I read it. I’d read a section that made me question the whole book. Then, I’d read a wonderful section that made me want to read it again. In the end, it’s a well-written book. It had some information in it that I hadn’t heard before. It’s well worth sitting down to read. You’ll just have to ignore the part where Bill Buckner is run out of town.

Rating: 3 bases

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Card of the Week: 1980 Topps #320

Look at that stare. Eckersley is just glaring in at the hitter as he goes through his wind-up. It must have been a scary sight. It must have been even scarier eight years later when he was one of the top closers ever.

This is a well-done card. I like the banners that hold the information. It adds a baseball feel to it. The shadow effect that makes the flags look like they’re flapping is a nice touch. I’ve never been a big fan of the facsimile signature on a card. For one thing, it makes it harder for me to get the card autographed myself. The double signature does not look good to me. But, on this particular card it doesn’t detract too much from the overall effect. It’s placed in a less busy portion of the picture, without blocking anything out that I need to see.

The picture itself is a great shot. It’s well cropped. The background is so cluttered it’s clean. Nothing stands out to detract from the wonder that in the pitcher in mid-throw. Eck’s hair is flowing out from under his cap. It’s fantastic, especially considering the typical card photo from 30 years ago.

The card has all the information I need on the front. Name. Team. Player. And, when sifting though a stack of cards, it’s easy to see the team name in the bottom left if I’m looking for Red Sox cards. It’s also easy to see the name in the upper right if I’m looking for Eck himself. The name’s not in script, or gold foil, or written vertically. It’s nice and easy. I love it.

What a nice card.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Play Ball!

So, anyone have any plans at the moment?

Has there been a more anticipated Red Sox season ever? Really. Such universal praise? Such an overall expectation of dominance? Frankly, that’s the only thing that worries me about the Sox this season. Will they fall into the Heat trap? King James and Co have the third best record in the east, and everyone thinks they’re utter failures. Will we fret over ever Red Sox loss? If they lose a homestand, will everyone assume they’re not all they were cracked up to be?

I certainly hope not. I for one intend on enjoying every game of the season. The team should be a lot of fun. They should score runs. There isn’t a starting pitcher that I would regret watching. There isn’t only one pitcher that I’m hoping to see. Every single game should be as fantastic as the one before it. What a season to look forward to.

How many steals will Jacoby have? Will it be more than Crawford? Can Lester get to 20 wins? Will Buchholz have more? Can Dice-K pitch like it’s 2008? Does JD know it’s a contract year? How many dents will Gonzalez put in the Wall? Will Ortiz have an April like his last Septembers? Will Salty emerge as the catcher everyone used to think he’d be? My goodness.

Let’s play some baseball!

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