Monday, April 30, 2012

It’s Been One Week!

What a difference a week can make, eh? When the Sox left town, they were reeling. Rain had, thankfully, washed out the last game of their series against the Yankees, following an epic collapse the day before. They needed a decent road trip to help bring things back. Thankfully, they had the chance to beat up on the weaklings in the AL Central. Some people had their doubts as to whether that would even help. In fact, the text question on the Red Sox radiobroadcast starting the trip asked the odds of the Sox having a .500 road trip. I don’t they got a lot of absolute certainty in their responses.

But, with the road trip the Sox did. They cruised through the travels, finishing 6-1 on the trip, after winning the first six games. How great of a trip was it? People were upset that they didn’t win all seven! The bats were awake. The pitchers showed up every game. It was magnificent. It was everything you hoped for when the trip began.

Now the Sox get to come home. They have a short stay, facing some more weaklings. They should clearly win the homestand against Oakland and Baltimore. In fact, the rest of the month looks pretty good too. Looking at the schedule for the next four weeks, the only decent team I see is TB (sorry Jim). And, the Sox took 3-4 from Tampa the last time they played.

That’s really the thing most people forgot in all their doomsday scenarios. The rest of the league just isn’t that good. A team with the talent of the Red Sox should be able to cruise against the likes of KC and Seattle. Or Oakland and Minnesota. Or any number of teams. They can’t help but be in the playoff hunt. That was always the reason the games against NY meant so much. They both should have been able to dominate the rest of the league. The division could very well come down to the head-to-head. That’s what made it hard to say the Sox were going to finish third or fourth in the East. Sure they may struggle against Detroit and Texas. But, so will everyone else. The Rays will beat up on the weaklings, but so will the Sox. It’s going to come down to a few games, and a little luck. Currently the Sox are 3-3 against TB and NY. That’s a good start.

This could be a fun month.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

April Contest: One Day Left!

The April contest is almost over!

Thank’s so much to everyone who has entered so far. For those that have forgotten, you have one more day to send in a copy of a completed Section 36 scorecard. So, if you planned on doing a live Red Sox game, this afternoon’s contest against the White Sox is your last chance. Of course, you can do any game you want for any team. So, you could also spend the afternoon copying an old 1983 game between the Mariners and Brewers onto a Section 36 card. Or Portland Seadogs vs. New Hampshire Fisher Cats. Or, Arizona State vs LSU. Whatever you want. Just send in a scan.

After all, the prize is a great book worth having in your collection.

Keep Scoring!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Wicked Good Year, By Steve Buckley

Wicked Good Year, By Steve Buckley

From the middle of 2007 to the middle of 2008, the fans of Boston sports had an unbelievable run. The Red Sox won their second World Series in four years. The Patriots became the first team in NFL history to finish the regular season 16-0, and came within a hair (or helmet) of winning their fourth Super Bowl of the decade. The Celtics joined in the party by winning their first NBA championship since 1986-7. That clearly was a “wicked good year.” This book looks to tell you how that all happened, and what exactly it all meant.

This was a nice book to read. If that seems like a less than enthusiastic endorsement, you’re right. It’s been a couple days since I finished reading it, and nothing is standing out to me. That certainly doesn’t make it a bad book. It just means it wasn’t riveting. I did find that the book spent a lot of time talking about things that didn’t happen during the “wicked good year.” That bothered me more than it should have, and I don’t know why. When books like “Game Six” focus on a single game, they often talk more about events outside the game than they do the game itself. Maybe it doesn’t bother be as much because I know a book written solely about one single game would be rather dull. (The exception, of course, being Steve Ketteman’s spectacular book One Day at Fenway) But, with an entire year to work with, I assumed that the book could focus simply on the year. It didn’t. The stories about the year, though, were great. It was especially nice for me since I didn’t know as much about the Celtics and Patriots as I did the Sox. So, most of those stories and events were fresher for me. The combination made the book better than a book on any one of the teams alone would be. This is certainly a book that any Boston sports fan should enjoy reading.

Rating: 3 bases

Thursday, April 26, 2012

More Voting!

Once again I’m late in pointing out a new voting session has opened at Fenway Park 100. Right now, you can vote for the best Right Fielder and Designated hitter in Fenway’s history.

Let’s start with the DH, since it’s the easiest. The nominees are: Don Baylor, Orlando Cepeda, Cecil Cooper, Mike Easler, Reggie Jefferson, and David Ortiz. None of those players are in the Red Sox Hall of Fame. Orlando Cepeda is in the baseball Hall of Fame, but he only played one year in Fenway. Clearly we’re going to vote for David Ortiz and move on.

Right field is a bit trickier. The nominees are: Tony Conigliaro, JD Drew, Dwight Evans, Harry Hooper, Jackie Jensen, and Trot Nixon. Tony C, Evans, Hooper, and Jensen reside in the Red Sox Hall-of-Fame. Only Harry Hooper has a plaque in Cooperstown. That would certainly appear to give Hooper a leg up. But…he only played nine seasons in Fenway. I know that 9 seasons are a lot…but not when you compare it to the 19 seasons Dwight Evans called Fenway home. All those extra seasons put Evans near the top of most career leaders for the Red Sox. But, and I didn’t realize this until I looked, so is Hooper. All-time Red Sox rankings for Evans and Hooper respectively: Games 2, 6. At-bats 2, 6. Runs 3, 8. Hits 4, 7. Doubles: 3, 17. Triples 8, 1. HR 4, 20+, RBI 4, 20+. Walks 3, 5. SB 20+, 1. TB 4, 10. Considering the difference in playing time, you could make the case that Hooper had the better years in Fenway. I’m still going to have to give the nod to Evans. If I were voting for the best right fielder, Hooper might get the nod. But, the best Fenway right fielder would be Dwight Evans.

Go ahead and vote!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Opening Day Package

I know I’m a little late. But, I wanted to mention a great surprise package of cards sent to me from Jim over at The Phillies Room. To celebrate the new season, Jim sent over a collection of Red Sox cards for me. As always, they were very welcome. Let’s take a look at a selection of the cards sent my way.

The package was heavy on Heritage. That was great since I have yet to buy a pack of it this season. It was nice to still be able to add some Sox cards to my collection. Looking them over, I have to wonder if the photographer told the players not to smile. Kevin Youkilis couldn’t look like he was having less fun if he tried. Maybe he was still nervous that Josh Beckett would find out he told everyone about beer and chicken. Speaking of Mr. Beckett, check out the AL ERA Leaders card. Yup. That’s Josh Beckett’s floating head in the lower left corner. Silly me. I thought he had a terrible year and was the sole reason the Sox missed the playoffs. But, here he is on a league leaders card. Huh.

I’m really glad to get the Carl Crawford card. This year I’m trying something new with my collecting habits. I’m buying fewer packs, and more sets. It seems like it’s working out well. But, it limits the number of inserts I get. So, it was nice to be able to pick up the Crawford with those pretty red borders.

The same would apply to the three inserts on the bottom of the picture. With the set buying mentality, those cards might have escaped me. Not anymore.

Thanks to The Phillies Room!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Stay On Target!

Target Field, at least.

I told you. The Sox just needed to stop playing playoff teams. Then, maybe their injuries wouldn’t hurt so much. That’s exactly what happened as they ended their skid.

The Sox got a great game from Cody Ross. Everyone said he had some pop in his bat. He looks to be a great mistake hitter. If you give him a fastball where he wants it, he’ll put it in the seats. Those are great hitters to have. But, they’re a bit susceptible to poor performances against good pitchers. Like the kind of pitchers playoff teams have. But, it was great to see him start the road trip with a great game.

I don’t know why Jon Lester can’t pitch in Minnesota. Sometimes that happens to a pitcher because a particular team is a bad match-up. Sometimes it’s a park that doesn’t play to their strengths. Sometimes it’s just the way it goes. Whatever the reason, Lester had a tough time last night. But, after one terrible inning, he pulled it together and really closed it out at the end.

I was impressed by the bullpen last night. When the single given up by Morales in the eighth was turned into a triple, it would have been easy to mail it in from there. “Here we go again.” But, he didn’t. He got Joe Mauer, of all people, to ground weakly to first base before leaving the game. That was a nice recovery. Bard did a great job coming in between starts. I’d prefer not to see line drives caught by a drawn-in infield. But, I’m not going to complain about a clean inning.

Just like I’m not going to complain about Aceves in the ninth. Sure, one of his outs was pretty loud. But, they all count the same. Really, every out is close to being a hit. I don’t discredit any other performance because of a nice play in the field. So, I’m not going to do it this time. Again, it was nice to see the long out not rattle Aceves. He could have dwelled on the potential bad instead of the actual good. He came right back and got the next guy. Game over.

It was a great start to the road trip, when they desperately needed one. I’m reminded that in 2004 there was a pretty bad defeat at home against the Yankees. The next day it rained. In the game they stormed from behind, and hit a home run off the Yankees closer. It started their run to the World Series. On Saturday, the Sox had a bad defeat against the Yankees. The next day it rained. In their next game they stormed back from behind including a home run off the closer.

Let’s hope the similarities don’t end there.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Grey Skies are Going to Clear Up!

The Sox have had a bad start. I get that. But, really, wasn’t that expected? Look at the teams they were playing. Texas? NY? Detroit? Tampa? Correct me if I’m wrong, but weren’t those all playoff teams last year? The only team the Sox have played that wasn’t a playoff team was Toronto. They took 1-3 from the Blue Jays in Toronto. Oh, and the Sox did this all without their all-star left fielder, and their all star closer. Oh, and half the time they didn’t have last year’s most valuable positional player in the AL. So, basically, we’ve learned that the Sox can’t beat playoff teams with three arms tied behind their backs. Big whoop. If the Sox were 9-5 this season, I’d be amazed. But, now things get more reasonable. Here’s are the teams the Sox will play over the next five weeks. Minnesota, Chicago, Oakland, Baltimore, Kansas City, Cleveland, Seattle, Tampa, and Philadelphia. Phew. That looks much better. Most of those teams the Sox should be able to take with three arms behind their backs. They also should have Crawford back halfway through that run. Ells might even be back by the end of it. By the end of May, this team will be in a much better position. All the doomsday proponents are going to look mighty fooling on June 1st.

Plus, the Sox with have Marlon Byrd for those games. I know he’s not the answer to everything. He might not even be the answer to anything. But, if you’re going to be without Crawford and Ells for a while, Byrd is a fine fill-in. Once those two are back, it makes the Sox bench much better. I heard some people complaining that the Sox gave up a young pitcher for a hitter when it’s their bullpen that really needs the help. The nicely ignored that Bowden was one of those bullpen people not performing. So, why is it such a loss? It’s a nice move that gets rid of a spare part for a need. Could Bowden finally blossom into the star some thought he’d be? Sure. That’s the chance you need to take sometimes.

I’ve also heard way too many people complaining about Bobby Valentine. Why? Which moves have he made that Tito wouldn’t have? What would Tito have done that Bobby didn’t? The only move I can think of so far that I have questioned is leaving Bard in one batter too long. But, I understand it. He needed to see what Bard had. He needed to see if Bard could get out of a jam. He needed to build trust. So, he gave Bard a chance to get out of trouble himself. It didn’t work. But, other than that, I think he’s done a fine job. Get off his case.

Things will look better soon.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

List of 36: Cool Facts About the 1912 Season

1. Fenway Park Opened
2. Tris Speaker won the MVP (Chalmers Award)
3. Red Sox won 105 games
4. 597,096 people attended games at Fenway
5. Sox scored 21 runs on May 29
6. Sox won 20 games in August
7. Joe Wood won 16 games on the road
8. Sox won 10 games in a row 8/28-9/6
9. Tris Speaker scored 136 runs
10. Joe Wood struck out 258 batters
11. Joe Wood won 18 games at Fenway
12. Sox won 21 games in June
13. Sox won 21 games in July
14. Joe Wood pitch 344 innings
15. Larry Gardner hit 18 triples
16. Joe Wood completed 35 games
17. Tris Speaker had 222 hits
18. Joe Wood won 16 straight games
19. Tris Speaker hit for the cycle on June 9
20. Joe Wood threw 10 shutouts
21. Hugh Bedient won 20 games
22. Tris Speaker stole 52 bases
23. Buck O’Brien won 20 games
24. Joe Wood won 34 games
25. Tris Speaker hit in 30 straight games
26. Joe Wood had a .872 winning percentage
27. Tris Speaker batted .383
28. Joe Wood had a 1.91 ERA
29. Hugh Bedient had 2 saves to tie for team lead
30.  Charley Hall saved 2 games
31. Tris Speaker hit a league leading 10 HR
32. Tris Speaker hit 8 inside-the-park HR
33. Larry Gardner had 167 putouts at 3rd
34. Tris Speaker hit 53 Doubles
35. Joe Wood had 110 assists
36. Tris Speaker had 35 assists in CF (no wonder he was the MVP)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Happy Birthday!

Photo by Bryanne
Happy 100th Birthday Fenway Park! Usually I only celebrate 36th birthdays on this site. But, in Fenway’s case I’d have to have done that in 1948. I figured a 100th birthday was OK to make an exception. Especially since this makes Fenway the first baseball park to reach the century mark. Very impressive.

As I alluded to Wednesday, I love this stuff. I admit, I sit in the stands sometimes imagining it’s 100 years ago. I look out and imagine Babe Ruth warming up in right field. Or Ty Cobb patrolling center field with a crowd full of people in suit coats and bowler hats. That’s the wall Ted Williams banged hits off. I imagine people sitting in the same seats I’m in looking out at Tris Speaker playing just behind second base, knowing he was deep enough and marveling at his speed. Don’t worry, I know. It’s not exactly the same. The park looks a bit different. I know the seats have all been replaced. They’ve replaced all the sod, so it’s not even the same grass. But, somehow it’s still all the same. There’s still a connection. I’ll just sit and imagine.

Not that the wonders of Fenway are only in my imagination. As I’m sure it has for all of you, Fenway has provided me with plenty of real time memories of my own. I’ve sat in the current seats and watched plenty of unforgettable things. Some of my most memorable? Off the top of my head…

The 2005 Opening Day ring ceremony. Never thought I’d actually be in the park to see a ring ceremony (let alone two). It was pure joy and celebration. I didn’t want it to end.

The 1999 All-Star game. Talk about history. Everybody who was anybody was at that game. The current all-stars. The legendary Hall-of-Famers. Pedro Martinez. What a game.

The 1999 Home Run Derby. Sure, it’s just a silly contest. Sure, it’s lost a little bit of luster lately with various indiscretions of some of the participants. But, it was McGwire and Sosa head-to-head. It was just fun.

The Father’s Day catch. Ten year’s ago, the Sox opened Fenway up on Father’s Day so fathers and sons (and daughters, and whomever) could come have a game of catch on the field. How cool was that? To actually grab a ball and a glove, and play catch on the Fenway grass? The same spot where all those players I mentioned in the beginning roamed? Fantastic. I even made sure to “dive” for one ball. Got some grass stains on my jeans from that maneuver. Don’t care. Fenway grass stains. I didn’t care that they didn’t ever really wash out. (Frankly, I’m surprised I even tried to wash them.)

Of course, there are tons of memories beyond those. D-Lowe’s no-hitter. Drew’s grand slam. Ted Williams’s memorial celebration. And on, and on. And, there will be several more memories on the way. I can’t wait.

Happy 100th Birthday Fenway Park!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Only Good Thing About Lazy Media

The media is lazy. I get that. I’m not entirely sure I blame them. If they sell papers taking one minute to slap together some half true story, I guess it’s our fault. But, their laziness has created one benefit. In order to hopefully get some relevant facts into articles, the Red Sox produce a media guide. I love the fact that it’s called a “media guide.” It’s not a handbook, or a prospectus, or an information packet. It’s not a fan guide. It’s a guide strictly for the media. They’re apparently the only ones the club feels need guidance. Isn’t that telling?

But, it does make for a great book. All the information you could ask for about the Red Sox is listen in one handy place. Naturally, this season’s guide is an ode to the 100th birthday of Fenway Park. I’m guessing that may be a common occurrence this year. Of course, I’m in favor of that. I love history and tradition. I collect Topps baseball cards. I drink Coca-Cola. I watch games at Fenway Park. It’s the perfect carryover. So, I like the historic touches in the media guide.

The player section looks to be bigger this year than last year. That’s also fine with me. I can’t get enough of the little tid-bits they throw into the player profiles. Where else would I find out that Mark Melancon has a daughter named Brooklyn? I also like the career transactions that are listed. So, I can see that Melancon has been traded for both Lance Berkman, and Jed Lowrie. Some of the players have long lists of moves over their career. It’s always fun to go back in time like that.

The other big section of any media guide is, of course, the obscure statistics. The last time the Sox swept a three-game series on the road. The pair of teammates that have homered in the same game the most. It’s all just wonderful.

I say it every year, but if you’re a Sox fan, you need to read the media guide.

It’s too much fun.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Right Back Into It

Sometimes the beginning of the season can be a mental struggle. Everyone is looking to get any number of monkeys off their back. The first win. The first hit. The first homerun. Whatever you need so that when you look out at the scoreboard, it’s not a horribly depressing number staring back at you. The Sox did that for themselves this weekend. They brought the number on the scoreboard to the point where it’s not scary.

They started the series against the Rays with a lone win on the season. The winning percentage stood at 0.166. That’s just depressing. It was even more depressing with the Rays coming to town. If you believed the hype, this was a quality team. For some reason, the pitching staff was considered the best in the league. Would that already sad number look even worse once the marathon was over?

But, the Sox took care of that. By taking three of four from the Rays, they brought that win total up to something that didn’t stare back at you. 4-6 doesn’t yell out like 1-9 does. The Sox have won about half their games. Considering who they’ve been playing, and where they’ve been playing them, that really seems about right.

How do I know that the Sox have crossed that threshold? Because the media didn’t talk about their slow start yesterday. Instead, they had to invent some controversy with Youkilis. Let’s take a random quote from the manager, and ask a bunch of players about it before talking to the source. So, let’s ask Dustin Pedroia why Bobby Valentine was bashing Kevin Youkilis. We won’t ask Valentine what he was talking about. This way is more fun. Obviously, Pedroia defended his teammate. Boom. Instantly the manager doesn’t have the respect of the team, and the media can fill a void that was left by the lack of the “slow start” stories. It’s really amazing. Once everyone actually talked to the people with all the information, everything went away. But, they got a news cycle out of it. Even more important, they can fall back on that story whenever they need to invent another story in the future. If Youkilis gets a day off in June, the story can just write itself. “Kevin Youkilis wasn’t happy about sitting out last night. With the incident between him and Valentine from April fresh in our minds, we have to wonder how this will affect the team.” Then they can ask every member of the team if they think this pattern of conflict is a distraction. Which, of course it will be because every member of the media is distracting them by asking them if it’s a distraction. Bingo. A third cycle from the same overblown story.

But, at least if the media has to invent things, it means the team is playing well. I guess I’ll take that over the alternative.

Besides, Youkilis is a little annoying anyway.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

What Once Was Lost…

…Now is found

A couple weeks ago I was looking through one of my miscellaneous binders. I noticed a Frank Robinson autographed card I had gotten through Nabisco many moons ago. I believe it was $5 and some sort of proof of purchase. I thought to myself, this is a card I need to try to move. It’s an autograph of a Hall of Famer that is being wasted sitting in my miscellaneous binder. There has to be someone who would enjoy this more than me.

Not two days later, I noticed a trade post with a blog I was unfamiliar with, The Lost Card File. I checked it out, and found a great site. There were posts of a man cave creation, and of various cards added to the collection. There was also a page of “lost cards” that at one time needed to be sold, but that wanted to be replaced and returned to their rightful spot in the collection. As I scrolled down the list, there was the Frank Robinson Nabisco! That had to be fate. So, I sent off a note. It turns out that I also had some Lineage relics that were needed, so a trade was worked out for the whole lot. Here are just some of the beauties I received in return.

I buy almost all of my cards at Target. As such, my exposure to high-end brands like Tribute and Tier One is almost none. That made it great to add a couple of examples in this trade. They are gorgeous cards that, naturally, look much nicer in person than they do in the scan. The trade also included a stack of 206’s I needed to fill out my Red Sox team set. Those are always welcome. The Pedroia pin card is a nice piece too. As a rule, I don’t know what to make of these manufactured cards. Are they a card? Are they a matted souvenir? I don’t know. But, it’s a card celebrating a Red Sox World Championship. That ranks it pretty high in my book. The key to the deal has to be the Tier One Iglesias auto. This slick fielder is the Red Sox shortstop of the future. A high-end auto is something I would never ordinarily get. It really is a nice looking card too. It’s a simple design that displays the signature well, without making a card that looks like it’s made for a signature.

I couldn’t be happier with the trade. I got some great Sox cards, and the Robinson found a good home.

Thanks to The Lost Card File!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Time To Open Up!

The Red Sox won’t go 162-0 this year. The Red Sox won’t go 81-0 on the road this year. But…they could still go 81-0 at home this year. That journey starts today on the most important day of the year! No matter how the Sox are doing at the time, something about seeing everyone line up on the foul lines to start the year puts me in a better mood.

If you’re going to the game today, or any other game this year, don’t forget to head over to Section 36. Take your picture, and send it along for all of us to enjoy!

This also is a good chance to score a game at Fenway on one of my scorecards. Send in a copy to be entered into the April Contest. If you don’t enter, you can’t win.

Go Sox!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Prince of Fenway Park, By Julianna Baggott

The Red Sox really were cursed. No, not by Babe Ruth. By mythical creatures living in Fenway Park. Only one person can break the curse, or the Sox will be doomed to an eternity of losing. Will he succeed?

I know. This is a kid’s book. But, so was Harry Potter, and that was still a great read. The Prince of Fenway Park was not Harry Potter. I think it wanted to be, though. It was a little bit forced. It was like the author was told to write this book. The Red Sox sell. Fantasy sells. Put the two together somehow into a book, and it should sell. Write it. It didn’t really work. It does take place in Fenway Park during the 2004 playoffs. So, that’s a nice remembrance. It wasn’t quite enough to make it a good book, but it helped. A bit. I’ll leave the possibility open that kids may like it. I just didn’t. I will repeat a warning, though, that the author gives as well. The “n-word” is used three times in the book. If that’s a problem for you, now you know.

Rating: 2 bases

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Left Field

Yesterday, I forgot to mention that yet another category of voting opened up at FenwayPark100. You have another two weeks to vote for the best left fielder in team history. That’s it.

It’s weird that they crammed two or three positions into some voting periods, but only had one this time. Left field is by far the easiest position to choose.

The nominees are: Mike Greenwell, Duffy Lewis, Manny Ramirez, Jim Rice, Ted Williams, and Carl Yastrzemski. If it’s not obvious that Mike Greenwell is your only choice, you don’t deserve to vote.

Really, though, just look at that list. If they did this for other teams, would there be a more star-studded position? Three of them are Hall-of-Famers. Five of the players are in the Red Sox Hall of Fame. The only one who isn’t, Manny Ramirez, ranks in the top ten of just about every offensive category. What a group. If I actually had to rank them? I’d put Lewis at the bottom. Mostly because he played the least in Fenway. Greenwell is the only one of the others not a Hall-of-Fame caliber player. From there? Still going from the bottom, I’d probably put them Rice, Manny, Yaz. Obviously, that leaves Ted for the top spot. Duh. The biggest slam-dunk in the voting process.

Now, go make your votes!

Monday, April 9, 2012

It’s Just Not Fun

Ten years ago, if you had asked me if I preferred a Red Sox win, or a Yankees loss I would have answered the Yankees loss. It’s not that I had some sick obsession with the Yankees or anything like that. It was their fans. Basically, if the Yankees lost, their fans disappeared. So, if the Yankees and Red Sox were both playing on a random Tuesday in April, there were a few possible scenarios. They both could win. But, the Yankees victory would mean that I had to hear them gloating about their 26 rings…or however many they had at the time. If the Yanks won but Sox lost, it was even worse. But, if the Yankees lost…even if the Sox lost too…the fans disappeared. I was rewarded with 24 hours of silence. It was pure bliss. I didn’t get that with a Red Sox win…only Yankees loss. So, when Yankees games were on tv, I watched them differently. It wasn’t about watching a game. It was about avoiding pain. That has gotten better since 2004. The Yankees fans have been a little quieter now that the Sox are the AL team of the century, and only the Cards can challenge them in the NL.

But, now it’s happening with Red Sox fans. Or, more specifically, the Red Sox fans who do whatever the media wants them to do to increase revenues. The Red Sox got swept this weekend. Whoop-de-do. They lost three games on the road to a team that played in the ALCS last year. Shudder to think. And our closer blew a save! Oh the humanity. Every closer blows saves. Yes, I said every. I don’t care. The Sox lost three times. They’re going to lose another 60 times this year. It happens. It doesn’t bother me. What bothers me? Sox fans. I’m watching Sox games the same way I used to watch Yankees games. Melancon blew a save. So, I know that I’ll have to avoid all newspapers and radios this morning. I also have to avoid the moronic fans who want Bard to be the closer. That’s getting hard to do. So, I can’t just watch the game. I dread the outcome. It’s not fun. Not one bit.

I mentioned last year that I realized that I really didn’t enjoy the season. I had to spend all April listening to the morons say they had already blown their chance with an Opening Day loss. Then I had to hear them talk about every loss in September like it was all over. It was draining. I want to be able to just watch and enjoy the games. Maybe it’s the biggest problem with the “pink hats” that don’t watch the games. Maybe there are just too many of them out there now. Too many fans actually think the Sox may miss the playoffs this year. Too many fans don’t know any better. They’re sucking the life out of me.

I want them to stop.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Red Sox 1-36: 7 is for…

7 Leadoff HR by Nomar Garciaparra in 1997

I’ve said before that I’m not a big fan of qualifiers on stats. I don’t care who has the most home runs in the fourth inning. I don’t care who has the most doubles by a player from Sleepy Eye, Minnesota. So, I really don’t care who had the most leadoff home runs any more than I care who had the most home runs during the second at-bat of the game. If Manny Ramirez hit leadoff, I’d be willing to bet he’d pick up a few leadoff home runs.

That being said, while a leadoff homer doesn’t mean anything to me as far as the player is concerned, they’re nice to have. A leadoff home run instantly puts the other team (hopefully) in a hole. It’s a quick punch in the mouth. Two such home runs come instantly to mind.

The first is Johnny Damon’s in game four of the 2004 World Series. The Cardinals were down 0-3 in the series, and had yet to have an inning where they didn’t trail. They needed to storm out. What did Damon do? Hit that leadoff homer. You could just see the Cardinals players droop as soon as that ball landed. Here we go again, coming from behind. It was crushing.

The second is Dustin Pedroia’s in game 1 of the 2007 World Series. The Rockies were on a huge winning streak entering the game. Josh Beckett slammed the door on them in the top of the innings. Pedroia really made it sting when he launched a homer to lead off the bottom half. Instantly the Rockies were reminded that they could lose. They were in a quick hole, and helped set the tone for the game, and the series.

So, leadoff homers are nice to have. I don’t know the results of the seven games where Nomar hit his. I’m sure the opposing team didn’t like the immediate runs scored against them. It had to sting. Although, if it was really defeating, why didn’t Manny Ramirez leadoff?

7 is for 7 leadoff home runs by Nomar Garciaparra.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Getting Greedy!

It’s so hard to keep perspective.

If you got a score from yesterday’s game, it wouldn’t look too bad. The Sox lost 3-2. Lester went 7, Verlander went 8. Bummer, you’d think. Tough loss. But, that’s what happens sometimes when you’re facing the reigning Cy Young/MVP winner on the road. Go get ‘em Saturday.

The actual results are either better than that, or worse than that. The bad part? The bullpen allowed two of those runs. None of the relievers exactly got rocked, but they allowed too many base runners. So, they wasted a strong comeback by the offense. That sucks.

But, the rest of the news is pretty promising. Let’s face it. The Sox aren’t the first team to be shut out by Verlander for eight innings. They won’t be the last. But, when they had the chance, they jumped. Once the bullpen came in, they pounced all over a pretty darn good closer. I’ll take that from a line up. And, the rally was a whole team effort. It was wonderful to see. It would have been way to easy to pack it in. But, they didn’t.

It was also great to see Lester come out strong. He matched Verlander almost zero for zero. That’s a pretty good offense over there in Detroit too. Holding them to one run in seven is about all you can ask for…even from your ace. If that’s what we can expect from Jon, it’s going to mean good things.

Of course, the important part is to build on this. Saturday’s game should be a continuation of everything that was good about the ninth inning. Beckett needs to outpitch an opposing pitcher that he should certainly outpitch.

Go get ‘em Saturday.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Bottom of the Order

I’m lumping the last three batting positions into one post for a couple reasons. First, I’m running out of time. With Opening Day tomorrow, there will be more stuff to talk about than just previews. Second, I have to admit these haven’t been the most exciting posts. How any of you have gotten through them is beyond me. But, them most important reason is that these spots are the lumped together spots. I don’t expect any one guy to be at these spots exclusively. Sure, Salty will see the bulk of the action behind the plate. But, he’ll be replaced often, as all catchers are. Aviles may start the year at short. But, the general feeling is that Iglesias will be there by September. The right field looks to be a practical platoon once Crawford comes back. So, it seems silly to do a post on any one player in those positions.

That’s not to say that these positions will be bad. They just don’t stand out. Salty should have a fine season as he officially leaves Tek’s shadow. This is his team, and his staff now. That should be a nice weight taken off his shoulders. He should be able to put up numbers at least as good as last year’s.

In 2011, the Red Sox right fielders were the worst in baseball. Apparently, a statue of Dwight Evans would be an improvement. So, how can you not be pleased with any player going out there? It might not be an all-star, but it will be better.

As for shortstop, it’s not like they’re replacing Nomar out there. Scutaro was good, sure. But, I don’t think he did anything we can’t expect out of Aviles.

Basically, the best offense in Major League Baseball should see an improved bottom of the order in 2012. That’s an exciting prospect. Even if they players themselves aren’t.

So, what do I expect for this group? Rather than a player, I’ll go with a position prediction.

BA: .245
R: 65
HR: 20
RBI: 70
SB: 1
OBP: .290

Right Field
BA: .250
R: 50
HR: 10
RBI: 50
SB: 5
OBP: .320

BA: .290
R: 70
HR: 12
RBI: 65
SB: 12
OBP: .355

Now let the games begin, and see if I’m right!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Now Batting, Number 34

Big Papi.

I wish my age would catch up with me as well as his seems to. Once again, it’s popular to say that Ortiz is on the decline. That’s true. He’s not going to hit 50 home runs this year. It’s popular to say he’s washed up. That’s not true. It’s popular to say he can’t hit lefties. That might not be true anymore. So, what is true?

What is true is that everything is relative. Most of the talk of Papi’s decline comes around contract time. Don’t give him a long-term deal, they say. He’s only going to get worse. He’s not the old David Ortiz. But, look at the numbers. The last three seasons he’s hit 28, 32, and 29 home runs. Not too bad at all. His average took a hit in 2010, which led to much of the doomsday scenarios. But, he came back with a vengeance last year. Was that a fluke? Maybe. Was it really Adrian Gonzalez teaching him how to hit lefties? Probably. Will the fact that Bobby V apparently wants Ortiz to bunt more help? Definitely.

I’m not worried about Ortiz at all. He should have a fine season, and help the Sox get back to the top. What kind of numbers? Let’s see…

BA: .301
R: 90
HR: 30
RBI: 98
SB: 1
OBP: .395

How good is the Red Sox line-up that these are the numbers expected from the sixth spot?

Monday, April 2, 2012

April Contest

You may have heard that 2012 includes the 100th birthday of Fenway Park. Really. It’s in all the papers. 2012 also marks the 100th anniversary of the 1912 World Championship Red Sox season. This World Series was wonderfully brought to life in Mike Vaccaro’s book The First Fall Classic. I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate both anniversaries than by giving away hardcover copies of that book during the season. It's a great book whether you're a Sox fan, a Giants fan, or a Dodgers fan (After all, SPOILER ALERT the Giants lose). April’s contest marks your first chance to win.

What do you have to do to win? Not too much. Something you probably do anyway. I want you to score a game using the official Section 36 scorecard. Then, e-mail me a copy of it to section36 at gmail dot com. Every person who sends me a scorecard before the end of the month will be entered in a random drawing for a copy of the book. Wow. That’s easy.

So, you have this month to score a game. It doesn’t have to be a Red Sox game, either. It can be a Yankees-Blue Jays game. A Phillies-Dodgers game. A minor league game. A high school game. You can score it live. Score it from the radio. Score it from the TV. Score it from a DVD. Copy an old scorecard onto one of mine. Whatever you’ve got. Entries will be accepted until 12:36 PM on April 30, 2012.

So get out there and score!

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