Saturday, June 29, 2013

From the Pedro Binder

2002 Donruss

There’s a lot to like about this card.

First, the company information is hidden. It’s tucked up onto the top border. It’s also in foil, which helps it blend in even more. On this set, Donruss decided that their name wasn’t the most important part. The rest of the information, by contrast, is very important. The player’s name and position in prominently displayed on the card. The fact that it’s on a floating banner allows it to still be subtle, even if it’s right in front of you. The floating tam logo does the same thing. It’s tucked there floating on the picture.

I like the partial border too. The full bleed on the sides allows the picture to roam free. The little baseball diamonds in the corners really finish the design off.

The picture itself is nice, if not overly exciting. That looks like a 100th anniversary patch on Pedro’s sleeve, so it was a shot from the previous season. It’s a basic shot of Pedro getting ready to fire a pitch. Not a lot of action, but a nice portrait shot.

Looking it over, I’m not sure there’s a part of this card that I don’t like. Everything I need to know is right there, and easy to read. Nothing that I don’t need gets in the way. Simplicity at its best.

Nicely done.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Happy 36th!

Today we wish a very happy 36th birthday to Juan Pena!

I’m sure I’ve mentioned Pena on this blog before. I had the good fortune of seeing his major league debut with the Sox in 1999.

I remember first hearing his name on the radio on the way down to the game. I’m not sure who I was expecting to start the game, but the announcement of Pena threw me for a loop. I had never heard of the guy. My buddy and I looked at each other with confusion, and disappointment. Some nobody was making his debut. That didn’t bode well for a Red Sox victory.

Boy were we wrong! Pena struck out eight batters on the day, giving up just a run. Wowsers! Not sure you can ask for a much better debut than that one. To see the beginning of stardom is always fantastic.

Of course, stardom never came to Juan Pena. He only pitched for the Sox in that one year. But, he sure treated fans to one magical day.

Happy 36th Juan Pena!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Getting’ Jiggy with Iggy

The Red Sox have made a change on the left side of their infield, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. I hated to see Will Middlebrooks go down to Pawtucket. But, it was a necessary evil. Because, after all, nothing says “high trade value” quite the same as “starting third baseman for first place club.”

And that’s really what this has to be about. Right? This is basically giving Jose Iglesias one month to convince the rest of the teams that he might not be a fluke. But, he’s not part of the Red Sox plans. Correct? Will Middlebrooks has shown that he can play third base well enough, and can hit more than well enough. Xander Bogaerts is the future at short…as early as next year. Sure, I suppose, you could put Bogaerts at first or some other position. But, I’m guessing the Sox would have done that by now if that was in their plans. So, is appears Iglesias is expendable. Expendable players hitting over .400 for the season are great chips to have.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t have a problem with Iglesias. Until recently, I would have insisted upon trading Bogaerts and keeping Iglesias. I figured Bogaerts would have more trade value based upon his potential, and Iglesias would be more than just a consolation prize. But, I think Iglesias’s performance has thrown a wrench into that idea. He has now shown he “can” hit in the bigs. Obviously, other teams aren’t going to think he can hit .400 forever. But, people always said that if he can hit .250, his glove would make him a star. I bet the Sox could convince other teams he can hit .250 at this point. So, the Sox just might have the opportunity to deal the lighter hitting glove prospect, while keeping the power hitting prospect. And, if another team thinks the opposite…the Sox can feel a lot better about that move too.

Whichever way they go, the Sox find themselves with the opportunity to be a major player at the deadline if there’s a deal worth making.

Which could make for an interesting month.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Still in First!

Ok. That wasn’t the world’s best weekend. For any of the Boston sports teams, really. But, it seems to me the most important thing for the Red Sox is that they came out of it still in first place.

Let me say that again. They’re still in first place.

Sure, it would have been nice if Bailey hadn’t imploded. It would have been nice if Nava had held onto the ball until he threw it. It would have been nice if any number of things had happened. But, the key is still that the Sox are in first place.

We knew this was going to be a tricky June. They played what might have been the toughest month’s schedule they’ll see. This was the do or die month. And, while there’s still a week left, the Sox have come out of it OK. Not sure there’s a lot more you can ask than that.

I know. The Sox have some holes. Buchholz is still on the DL. Lester hasn’t exactly been picking up the slack. Will Middlebrooks forgot how to hit over the winter. There’s a bit of a closer issue is the bullpen. I get that. But, here it is again. The Sox are still in first place.

It would be one thing if the Sox were in the Yankees position. The Yanks can look at the team and say they have some injuries and underperformers. If everything snaps together they can try to make up some ground. But, they have ground to make up. The Sox are on the other end. All this terrible stuff has happened, and they’re still in first. They still lead the only division in which every team has a winning record. Almost halfway through the season, they’re on pace for 93 wins.

So, I’m not going to fret over losing the Tigers series. Really, going into the weekend and the pitching involved, two wins would have been the best case scenario anyway. I’m not going to stress over the closer’s spot. Even with Bailey giving up games left and right, the Sox have a two-game lead. Are we afraid that his replacement will be even worse? The Sox haven’t missed Middlebrooks. Lester hasn’t killed them.

While it would have been nice if all those things hadn’t happened, don’t we have to assume something else would have? If Bailey didn’t blow a single save this year, and Lester were 12-0. The Sox would be an elite team. This collection of guys? Elite? Hardly. Do we want to sound the golfer who finishes his round by saying, ‘I would have made par if I had just sunk those four puts.” There’s a reason you missed those puts. You’re not a scratch golfer.

Just like the Sox aren’t the 1908 Cubs. 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Red Sox 1-36: 24 is for…

24 Different Red Sox players to HR in 2009

I have to admit. When I first saw this number, I thought, “So?” After all, there are 25 guys on a team. So, what was the big deal? Then I remembered that ten of the guys on the roster are usually pitchers. So, that makes the 24 a slightly more impressive number.

Although, I’m still not sure that impressive is the right word. What does it mean when you have 24 players hit a home run? Is it an example of great depth? Of bad luck? Fluky circumstances? As with lots of state, it’s a little bit of all of it.

In order to have 24 different players hit a home run, you need to have at least 24 players come to the plate. It means ten guys who weren’t on the opening day roster had to take their cuts. It also means that ten batters who were on the roster had to not be on the roster for one reason or another. Sent down, traded, DLed, etc. So, the Sox had to be hit by a bit of bad luck in 2009 in order to need that much player movement.

I’d love to say that the 24 home run hitters show some sort of great depth the Sox had. I’d love it if I could point at the number and claim a victory for the organization. Look at how easily the Sox could fill holes. But, in reality, a home run isn’t an amazing accomplishment. Well, it’d be amazing if I did it. But, for a professional baseball player it’s less so. So, really, just having enough guys come to the plate should do it. It’s not like the Sox needed to have this storage room full of all-stars in order to pull the feat off. They just needed players.

Which leads me to believe that the accomplishment of having 24 different guys hit a home run isn’t really an accomplishment. I don’t think it’s anything Theo can put in his cap. I think it just arose from a weird set of circumstances. More of a, “the Sox needed to use so many guys, they even had 24 of them hit a home run.” It’s a piece of evidence to back up another story. It’s not a story on its own.

But, it’s an interesting factoid.

24 is for the 24 different Red Sox players to homer in 2009

Thursday, June 20, 2013

From the Pedro Binder

2005 Topps AL Strikeout leaders

I just talked about what a great idea it is for the card companies to make League Leaders cards. This is certainly a clear example of that. Topps got to make a card with Johan Santana, Pedro Martinez, and Curt Schilling on it. Not sure there were bigger names in the pitching arena in 2005. Of course, the bittersweet part for me is that Pedro was no longer a Red Sox by the time this card came out.

But, I like this card, because sometimes I forget how good Pedro still was in 2004. He certainly wasn’t up to Pedro standards. And, there was a championship and a new guy in Curt Schilling who was taking up some of the attention. Some people even being foolish to suggest Curt was the new “ace” of the Sox. So, sometimes I forget that Pedro was still one of the top pitchers. As this card clearly shows, only one pitcher struck out more guys than he did in 2004.

Otherwise, the card is really nothing special. It features the twisted ribbon design common with all 2005 Topps cards. It lines up the three players in a format that become all too familiar with the recent LL cards. The card should be centered properly. My scanner, for some reason, disagreed. So, there isn’t even any creativity from that.

But, the card is all that it’s made out to me. It gets three stars on one card. It celebrates the best strikeout pitchers in the league. It has two Red Sox players on it.

And it has Pedro.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Suspiciously Superstitious

So, I was listening to the Bruins game last night, while keeping an eye on my Twitter feed. I was taken by how many references people were making to their superstitious actions during the game. Maybe they were wearing their lucky shirt, or lucky hat. Maybe they left the room because they were bad luck, or stayed in the room because they were good luck. Maybe they weren’t even sure what they needed to do, but whatever they were doing must be working. And, no, I wasn’t immune to that. After all, I wasn’t wearing my unlucky jersey.

But, I was reminded of some of the superstitious acts that people go through for the Red Sox. They were especially prevalent before the 2004 championship as everyone had a new method to “break the curse.” I think my favorite being the theory that dragging Babe Ruth’s old piano from the bottom of a lake would somehow do it. I remember reading somewhere that there were millions of Red Sox fans, and every one of them is sure that the Red Sox won in ’04 because of something they did.

Which brings me to the most interesting thing about baseball superstitions. We do so many of them, with absolutely no reason to believe they actually work.

I understand the reason we, as fans, do these things. We don’t have a bat or glove in our hands. We aren’t calling the plays. We’re just sitting back and watching. That’s exasperating. How can we be expected to just sit there and do nothing? We HAVE to do SOMETHING. So, we come up with things. Wear a lucky shirt. Or eat the same breakfast on game day.

But, like I said, we have no reason to be sure these things work. But we do them anyway. People wear rally caps to help the team score runs. I’ve even had people in the stands yell at others to put on a rally cap. But, don’t people put on rally caps every time a team gets behind? Do they rally every time? Didn’t think so. So, why do we continue to assume the caps are helping? Again, I’m not immune to this. I didn’t wear my unlucky Bruins jersey last night because the Bruins are 1-2 in games that I’ve worn it. So, they did win a game, despite me shoving the jersey in their face. (Although, they only won because they scored two goals right after I took the jersey off.)

But, we keep at it. The Sox scored a run when I was I the bathroom, so I’ll watch the rest of the game from the bathroom. Ignoring all the runs the Sox have scored in their history when I wasn’t in the bathroom. I’m going to talk about the potential no-hitter that the other team is throwing, because that will break it up. Ignoring the fact that no-hitters are rare because most of them are broken up at some point. I wasn’t talking about all of them. But, it makes us feel better. We’re not sitting idly by. We’re helping. We’re doing our part. No matter how crazy it is to think it’s helping.

What are some superstitious things you’ve done to help your team?

Sunday, June 16, 2013

I Scored!

September 21, 2000

I hate boring games where nothing happens. Don’t you? Thankfully this certainly doesn’t look like one of them.

It really looked like two different games. The first three innings, and then the last six. Just look at those first three. Arrojo couldn’t get out of the first inning, giving up seven runs. Just flat out depressing. But at least the Red Sox came back and got two runs in the bottom of the first to at least keep a little hope alive. That hope was more than alive when the Sox put up six of their own in the third inning.

So there the game sits, 8-7 after three innings. Can anyone say “slugfest?” But, then there’s that final score of 9-8. So, 15 runs in three innings, and then two runs in the next six. Nice job by both bullpens. The Sox certainly used plenty of pitchers to get through their innings. But, for 8.1 innings, they only gave up one run.

Who swung the big bat for the Sox? Besides just about everyone? Well, everyone in the top of the order at least. I have to give the nod to Troy O’Leary. Not only did he drive in four runs, but they were four pretty important runs. He drove in the second run of the first inning with two outs, making sure they didn’t squander a chance to get back in it. Then, he followed that with a 3-run bomb in the third to tie the game. What a performance.

The goat of the day? Amazingly enough, I’m going with Brian Daubach. He followed O’Leary in the order that day. But, none of the magic was left over by the time he got to the plate. He was the only person on the Sox who came to the plate that day and didn’t get a hit. That’s just not going to do it. I’m also going to have to give a special goat award to Arrojo. It doesn’t show up on the scan, but here’s how his first inning went. Strikeout-groundout to get two quick outs. Then it went BB-BB-BB-2B-2B-BB-S. What on earth happened?

But, the Sox were able to overcome that debacle of an inning. They didn’t give up, and exploded on their own. A great win.

And the scorecard shows how it happened.

Friday, June 14, 2013

From the Pedro Binder

2001 Stadium Club Capture the Action

I loved Stadium Club. I know I’m not alone in that feeling. To me, they just made cards the way they should be made. They focus in the picture, and not the noise around it. Even on an insert set like this one, they still keep the picture front and center.

The Stadium Club logo and player name are tucked onto a colored border on the bottom. In fact, if you look closely enough, you realize that it’s not even a colored border. The red is translucent, so you can see what’s going on behind it. Even when Stadium Club is forced to obscure the picture, they make sure they don’t really do it. The name of the set is stuck out of the way at the top. It’s not scrawled in gold foil across the middle of the card. It’s not printed four times in various sizes all around the card. It’s just there, so you know which set it’s from. They put it inside a pennant because, hey, it’s baseball. Like the red on the bottom, the pennant feature allows as much of the picture to be seen as possible. Almost the entire top can be full bleed. Fantastic.

My only slight problem is with the picture selection. For a set named “Capture the Action” there’s not a lot of action in the shot. Sure, Pedro’s in the middle of his delivery, but the shot doesn’t scream movement to me. Pedro’s base card in both the 1999 and 2000 Stadium Club sets both suggest more “action” to me than this one, even though they are just shots of different points in his delivery. I get that there aren’t a lot of times a pitcher is truly active. He’s not leaping to make a catch, or avoiding a runner as he turns a double play. But, I think they could have done slightly better with this one.

If that’s my only complaint, it must be a good card.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Lester’s Lacking Lately

I know it. You know it. Jon Lester knows it. His start last night was the exact opposite of the start the Red Sox needed from him. The bigger question, as always, is what that bad start means.

Maybe he got caught in a buzz saw. After all, the Rays had managed to put up some runs the night before. Maybe he just couldn’t feel it last night. Maybe he’s hurt. Maybe he just choked. Maybe it’s all of those things. Maybe it’s just the sort of thing you should expect from an ace that’s not Pedro Martinez.

Lester currently sits at 6-3. Project it out, and you’re looking somewhere around 14-16 wins. That’s about where he’s been his whole career. Sure it’s maddening that he started 6-0, and has been 0-3 since. But, with all the people screaming about Jose Iglesias’s small sample size, everyone seems ready to jump on Lester for five mediocre starts. Lester has also hit a stretch where the teams he’s facing are better than not. Sure, an ace is supposed to beat the good teams. But, he’s not necessarily supposed to dominate them. He’s supposed to dominate the weaker teams to offset his numbers from the better teams. It’s just the way it works.

Are we just still unsure of Lester? It amazes me when the guy gives up a run in the first inning, Twitter goes crazy. “There he goes again!” “Why is he so inconsistent?” So, now the guy’s not allowed to give up a run? I’ve said it before. I’ll take it as a very good sign that people are so upset over giving up a run. It must mean he’s pretty good.

So, I seem to say this a lot, but I’m not going to get crazy over a little slump. Lester may have to work out some mechanical problems he has at the moment. But, he’s obviously shown he’s capable of doing just that. He’s shown that recently.

When does Lester get the benefit of the doubt?

Monday, June 10, 2013

Collecting the Sox: Office Supplies

You work in an office. All day long, you sit at your desk computing, or drawing, or reconfiguring data. Your desk and cubicle is where you spend most of your waking hours. You certainly need that space to reflect your love and adoration of the Red Sox. But, how do you do that? Can you cover your desk with action figures? Jars of salsa? Maybe not. So, how do you promote your favorite team, while keeping that professional appearance?

Office Supplies.

Sure, you could use Red Sox pens or pencils at your desk. That would be a nice start. But, there are so many other places you can go with it. What about a pencil holder? You can either get one specifically made for the purpose, or convert another Red Sox item like a mug or ice cream carton. How about a mouse pad? Those are starting to go the way of bookshelves. But, while they’re around, those can have a Red Sox flair to them too. Need a place on your desk to put a picture of your family? Might as well use a Red Sox picture frame.

The point is, there are any number of things you can get for your desk that will add to your Red Sox collection. Like any good collectable, they have variety both in look and price points. You can try and collect as many different mouse pads as you can. Or, you can see how close to a complete desk you can get. Can you find a mouse pad, stapler, pencil holder, clock, frame, and on and on. You can try and focus on a favorite player. Or, pick one of the championship seasons and work with those.

Whether it’s a home office, or an office office, there are plenty of Red Sox collectables out there that can spruce up a workspace.

Which Red Sox items do you have on your desk? 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Is Striking Out a Bad Thing?

The Red Sox currently have a few high strikeout guys. That has caused quite a bit of angst in the Nation. Especially when one of them strikes out in a key situation.

“Get the bat on the ball!”

The Sox broadcasters like to complain about strikeouts because they “don’t move the runners along” in contrast to some opinions that a strikeout is “just another out.” That theory states that the damage the hitters do when they don’t strike out makes it worth putting up with the frequent K’s.

So, which is it? If you have two men on base with one out, is Mike Napoli someone you want at the plate?

Should Napoli adjust himself when he’s at the plate to avoid the strikeout? Should he go all Ty Cobb, choke up, separate his hands, and slap at the ball so he puts it in play? The tricky question is when Napoli should do that. If there’s a runner on first with one out? Bases loaded with no outs? That’s a big question because if you’re having Napoli do that, you’re almost giving up on getting a hit. Sure, if he slaps a grounder it might squeak through, but I wouldn’t count on it. So, we need to be willing to take a sure out and advance a runner just to avoid the chance of striking out. How many times does that really happen? And, in how many of those times is advancing the runner ALL you’re really wanting? Runner on third with none out in the bottom of the ninth in a tie game? Isn’t that it? And, really, since the infield is probably playing in at that point, not sure it’s a great idea then. So, all these people complaining must be talking about other situations. Like, runner on second trailing by a run with none out in the seventh. In that case, a ground ball to second would be better than a K. But, a base hit would be better than either of them, right? So, let’s look at that situation. Let’s use some numbers from Mike Napoli’s 2012 season. A normal 2012 Napoli struck out 30% of the time. So, let’s assume he’d strikeout 30% of the time with a guy at second and none out. But, using the same 2012 stats, he’d get a hit 20% of the time. And, he’d get a walk 13% of the time. The other 34% of the time he makes another kind of out. By sheer luck, some percentage of those would be productive, right? Half of them? A third? Let’s go with a third, just to pick a number.

So, to recap, a regular 2012 Mike Napoli at-bat with a runner on second would strike out 30% of the time. So, 30% of the time it would have been better to have just slapped the ball to second to get the runner to third. But, you’d be limiting yourself. After all, on his own Napoli would do something at least that good 44% of the time. And that’s the number that sticks out to me. You can have Napoli give himself up, and ground out to second. But, almost as often as not, that would be the wrong call. And, sometimes a really wrong call. After all, 5% of the time, Napoli would homer.

People who complain about strikeouts also fall into the same trap as people who like the sacrifice bunt. (After all, I suppose, it’s really the same maneuver.) Moving the runner over is a good thing. After all, it’s easier to score from third than it is from second. That’s true, depending on your definition of “easier.” There are certainly more way to score from third. A sac fly, or a wild pitch for instance. But, are we basing a strategy upon the pitcher throwing a wild pitch to the next batter? Does that make sense? Even the sac fly. Once we get Napoli to ground out to second, we now need the guy after him to hit a deep flyball. So, now we’re basically asking two straight guys to do their best to try to make an out. Does that seem weird to anyone else? What if we just told Napoli to take his rips? He may get a hit. Even a home run. That’s way better than simply moving the runner along. Of course, he may strike out. But, then maybe the next guy will get a hit. If the guy after him gets a hit, the guy scores from second anyway. So, the Sox didn’t lose anything from letting Napoli loose. What if Napoli slaps the ball to second, moving the guy to third and the next guy singles? He would have scored from second anyway. So, you just wasted Napoli. Why would you do that?

What it comes down to is, yes, a strikeout is bad. In a single situation, it looks really bad. But, overall it’s worth the chance since the alternative is so much more.

If you play for one run, that’s usually all you get.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

From the Pedro Binder

2001 Topps League Leaders (Strikeouts)

I love the idea of this card. I can see it being an absolute slam dunk in the design meetings.

Card companies know where their bread is buttered. They know that star cards drive the set, so they need to get as many of them in the set as possible. League Leaders cards are an easy way to accomplish that. But, there are only so many cards in a set. So, rather than give each league leader a whole other card in the set, they usually combine them. Either the leader from each league, or the top finishers from each league. The appeal is obvious. With just one card Topps can have both a Pedro card, and a Randy Johnson card. Instant appeal to two different groups of collectors. But, what if the pairings aren’t so wonderful? What if, like last time, Pedro finished first, and Roger Clemens finished second. Now they have to put Pedro and Roger on the same card. I want very little to do with a Roger Clemens card with the Yankees. Similarly, a Yankees fan would probably spit on a Pedro card. Now, instead of appealing to two different groups, you’ve driven away all the groups. In 2001, Topps had a great solution. Put one league on the front, and the other on the back. Then, you can have both groups going after the card again. I look at this card, and all I see is Pedro. Sitting in my binder, I don’t know if the other side has Randy Johnson or Roger Clemens. It’s just a Pedro card. Perfect!

Except for one thing.

There’s a whole bunch of mumbo jumbo that is usually hidden on the back of the card. Unfortunately, that means it’s right on the front of my Pedro card. There’s the card number stuck in the corner. Actually, they did a pretty good job of incorporating that into the design. But, it’s still right there looking at me. There are also some logos, for Topps, MLB, and the MLBPA. Ick. Worst of all is the fine print. Bleh. I don’t need copyright information cluttering up my Pedro card.

So, while this is a great concept, I can’t endorse it. This might be one of the few times I could get behind an intentional variation. What if Topps made half the cards with Johnson on the front and half with Pedro on the front? Then, maybe, I could find a clean Pedro card. Because this way, it just looks second fiddle.

No matter how well Topps did to try and hide it.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Time to Trade Iglesias?

I keep hearing that the Red Sox farm system is stacked. Apparently there are boatloads of players just begging to be brought up to Boston so they can star for years. As luck would have it, a few of these players play shortstop. That could make for some interesting decisions.

As you’re probably well aware, I always advocate trading prospects. I will trade potential for actual talent every single time. So, when I hear that the Sox have a top-rated power hitting shortstop in their system, my mouth waters. The last time the Sox had one of those, they were able to package him in a deal to get an ace pitcher and star third baseman, leading to a World Series title. Perfect. Shop him now. This was especially appetizing because the Sox had another shortstop in their system. He was a no-hit, all-glove prospect. He’d be able to fill the position nicely. It was fantastic.

But, now things have changed slightly. Now the wizard-like fielder has shown the ability to hit. Now, nobody believes that Jose Iglesias is going to be a .400 hitter. Probably even not a .300 hitter. But, he seems to be showing signs that he might not be a .200 hitter either. And, that’s pretty good. A stellar defensive shortstop can work, as long as he’s not an automatic out. If he can hit .250, his defense might be enough to make him a great fit. So, are other teams starting to think Jose can do just that? Suddenly their image of him isn’t of being overmatched by any fastball. The image is of him beating out hit after hit.

Could that make him almost as valuable in the trade market as Xander Bogaerts? After all, Bogaerts is still all potential. We all assume he can hit in the big leagues. We’ve all assumed lots of players could hit in the big leagues. What if he can’t? What if he’s an above average shortstop, who hits 15 home runs? Where does that rank in value compared to a phenomenal defensive shortstop who hits 5 home runs? Maybe the Sox can be win-win with this? Trade Iglesias now, and stick with Drew for the rest of the year until Bogaerts is ready.

It’s also interesting that I’m not sure what is out there on the market. Assuming that Stanton really is staying in Miami…what’s out there that you would want to spend Bogaerts on? Wouldn’t Iglesias be a better fit for a trade?

Say you’re a team with a chip the Sox want. Wouldn’t it be appealing to get a guy who’s only 23, but can apparently be put in the line-up right now? I think that Ben needs to be actively making calls.

After all, the value for Jose Iglesias may never be higher.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Wet Wonderful Weekend

I had several favorite parts about the games in NY this weekend. The one that jumps to mind first? The Sox won the games in the right order. It always seemed that if they played the Yankees over a weekend where two of the games were nationally televised, the Sox would dominate on Friday night, and get blown out Saturday and Sunday with the country watching.

That didn’t happen this time. Naturally, winning all three games is the preference. But, if they had to lose one, I’m glad it was Friday. Then they went out and smoked the Yankees Saturday on Fox, and Clay dominated them Sunday night on ESPN. Very nice.

The interesting part is that the Sox managed to do it while missing their starting third baseman, center fielder, and right fielder. Again, that’s the advantage of not having any superstars. It’s easier to replace Shane Victorino’s production than it was to replace Manny’s. Depth suddenly becomes something you can accomplish. That being said, hopefully those guys can return sooner rather than later.

The rain shortened game last night came at a great time too. When the best pitcher on your staff is having a little shoulder issue, it’s nice to be able to keep his workload down without sacrificing innings like that. Although, he certainly didn’t look like he was suffering from any discomfort. It was nice that the rain also let him pitch long enough to qualify for the win. Would have been really annoying if the 45 minute dry delay to start the game had robbed Clay of a decision. Or, even worse, robbed the Sox of a victory. (If I didn’t know any better, I’d think that might have been the Yankees plan all along.)

The rain also helped the bullpen. With the off day today, they were able to get two full days off for all of them. And, really, since Saturday’s game was an afternoon, and Tuesday is a night game…there’s even more than just two days.

So, the Sox come home for a tough fight against Texas. I forgave the Sox for being swept by the Rangers in Texas. Now that they’re home they really need to get a couple of these wins. This is a big month for the Sox. They quality of their opponents is probably the highest of any month of the season. They really need to tread water, at the very least, for this month.

Which is why taking two of three in NY is even sweeter.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

What Were You Doing in 1971?

Today I’d like to continue my stroll through the box of cards my neighbor had asked me to look though. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, check out my initial post here. To see what I found from the 1970 Topps set, check here.

By far, the most cards in the box were from 1971 Topps. That, of course, left ample opportunity to find some cool stuff. Did I find any? Let’s find out.

Of course, there were lots of checklists. Some were marked, some weren’t. It looks like there’s a full set of marked ones, and the rest were left unblemished. Amazingly the unmarked ones weren’t simply tossed out. There are even several copies of the coins checklist, which was an unexpected find.

Bill Mazeroski always makes me smile. I wonder why.

One of the things I love about baseball cards is the ability to go back in time. Here is Red Sox World Series hero Luis Tiant from his Twins days.

Time travels the other way too.

Shudder. Shudder.

Spoiler alert. This is probably the best card I found. Unfortunately, the scanner didn’t crop it too badly.

Unlike the 1970 cards, there were a lot more Hall-of-Famer’s base cards in the set. Of course, they weren’t names Ryan or Celmente. But, they’re still in the Hall.

Of course, there were also plenty of Hall of Famers on the League Leaders cards. The format of the cards is so simple, but I still like it. Plus, the opportunity to get three hall of Famers on one card is hard to beat. For some reason, the number of Johnny Bench cards is just excessive.

More Hall of Famers who led their league in something. Almost as interesting as the cards full of Hall of Famers, are the ones with just the one. How did Alex Johnson sneak by Carl Yastrzemski? I also like how Topps used different pictures each time a player showed up on a card. Lots better than seeing the same card over and over.

Of course, the highlight of the stack is the pile of Red Sox cards. No Yaz, but I guess that’s OK. I wonder what happened to him.

So, much like the 1970 set, there’s nothing to retire on. Lots of great stuff though. Just looking back and enjoying all the great players from that year was well worth the time it took to flip through the box.

I wonder what will happen in 1972.

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