Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Am I Goal Oriented?

As the year winds down, it’s a popular time to look back and reflect. I know what you’re thinking. “Didn’t he just do this?” And, you’d be right. But, this is slightly different. Plus, the Red Sox are stone quiet at the moment, so here it is.

Looking back to the beginning of 2014, I posted some goals for the year. (Or were they resolutions? I’m not sure it was ever clear.) How did I do with those goals? Will I have similar goals for 2015? Let’s see.

I’m sure you’re just dying to find out!

First, I wanted to make a big dent in the remaining cards for my 1975 Topps set. Yeah, that didn’t happen. I only added one bundle of cards to this set in 2014. But, 2015 is the 40th anniversary of this classic set. That should give me enough motivation to finally get it finished off, right? After all, there’s nothing too crazy left. Just need to get my act together.

I wanted to finish up my 2013 wantlist. I didn’t actually expect to be able to finish that one, but I wanted to make a good run at it. I managed to accomplish that to some degree. The problem? I’m so far behind on the 2014 wantlist, that it isn’t even posted yet. This is a problem that needs to be fixed. I resolve to have the 2015 wantlist posted before the end of 2015!

I wanted to make more trades. This didn’t really get off the ground as much as I’d hoped. Sure, I made some deals. But, it wasn’t even once a month. It certainly wasn’t to the point where I had packaged stacked upon each other waiting to go out. I do have some currently in the works, so maybe 2015 will start out with a bang, and continue that way.

I wanted more people to like me. On Facebook, that is. At the time, 233 people “liked” the Section 36 Facebook page. At the moment, that number stands at 321. I would consider a 40% increase a resounding success. I’d love to do that again in 2015. Facebook keeps telling me that I’m close to 500 “likes.” Wouldn’t it be great to reach that number this year? Don’t “like” Section 36 yet? Take a moment to do it right now. Bring your friends.

I was hoping more people would follow my lead. On Twitter. At the time, I was at almost 950 followers. I was able to bump that up over 1000, but it’s certainly not the kind of increase the Facebook page saw. It would be great if I were able to double that number in 2015. So, if you don’t follow Section 36, go do it now.

Those were the ones from last year. A mixed bag, as far as results go. I want to add one that I’m surprised wasn’t on the list last year. I want to comment more on other blogs. Real comments. When people ask questions, I want to answer them. I don’t want to set myself up for failure with a “one comment a day” type goal. But, I don’t want to let good opportunities pass by. I know I like it when people comment on my posts. I should certainly be extending that good feeling to others.

Those are really all just a means to an end. Hopefully all of that will be mixed with a high quantity of quality posts on my part to make the Section 36 experience a positive one for as many people as possible.


Which is really the only goal.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

What a Year!

Sure, the Red Sox season wasn’t nearly as wonderful as we all hoped and expected. The Sox haven’t signed every free agent that we hoped they would. But, that didn’t mean that there hasn’t’ been a lot of interest and activity surrounding the Sox in 2014. What have people seemed the most interested in this year?

I’m glad you asked. Here’s a look at some of the most popular Section 36 posts of 2014. Well, at least the most popular posts written in 2014. For some reason, this post is always the most viewed post is every tabulation.

Just recently, I wondered “How much do Players worry about Legacies.” I think it’s an interesting question. Does being a local legend appeal to them at all? I think it would to me.

Despite of, or maybe because of, the poor season, people seemed interested to know what I enjoyed about the season, or what I was thankful for about the season. Contrary to what the EEIdiots may have you believe, apparently the readers of this blog enjoy seeing the good about this team.

I’m really glad that the Picture Pages post garnered so much interest. Seeing all the different pictures that people submit is really one of my favorite parts of the blog. I’m glad that other people agree.

People must love their coffee. The post about collecting Dunkin’ Donuts Sox items was viewed by quite a few people. Does that mean there are a lot of DD collectors out there?

The Scavenger Hunt looks to be a popular activity. Two of the most viewed post were the one announcing last year’s winner, and the one listing the items for this year’s competition. Hopefully this means I can expect a lot of entries when the contest ends in a month or so.

Readers must like baseball cards too. My post describing My First 2014 Topps Cards was another popular one. Apparently you were all as excited as I was to see the new cards firsthand.

It was also fun to go back and reread the popular “Two Big Signings” post. After almost a year had passed, would you still feel the same way I did when the post was published?

While those were the most popular posts, hopefully every post has been enjoyed by at least some of you. It’s been a lot of fun writing all the posts this year.


It would be nice if it was fun reading them as well!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

From the Pedro Binder



2001 Upper Deck

Very nice.

Very very nice.

This is almost exactly what a Pedro card should look like. Nice big picture of Pedro? Check. Company logo hidden in a corner? Check. Pedro's name facing the right way? Check. Team Logo? Position? Uniform number? Check, check, and check some more. Simple design that doesn't detract form the picture? Double-check.

Really I only have one complaint. The constant use of gold foil. Part of me understands it. It assume that they have some sort of research that shows that people like the shiny foil. But, it sure makes everything on the front of the card hard to read. If not impossible.

Oh, and the picture of Pedro isn't spectacular. But, it's certainly not enough to detract from the overall beauty of the card. I love how the element of color is introduced into the lower left without taking away from the picture at all. You hardly know it's even there. It just makes things better. That's the proof of a great design. It just feels better, even if you don't know it.

This one certainly feels better to me.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Six Weeks Left!

That's Right! There are only six more weeks left to look for items for the 2014 Section 36 Scavenge Hunt! (Ok, it's actually just under six weeks. But, I hope you'll forgive me for not posting this yesterday.)

Now that the Christmas bustle is over, you can concentrate on a very important countdown. The countdown to find items for the hunt! For everyone who has already submitted an entry (or a partial entry), thanks! You have six more weeks to try to find the rest of the items on the list! If you haven't sent in your entry yet, you have six more weeks to get it done! If you're so behind that you haven't even looked for items, then you're in luck. You still have six weeks to get off your duff and take some pictures!

Having trouble getting started? There are a few easy ways. Take a look at your old photos. Chances are you have some items in your albums already. Some of the items can be made on the spot. Many of them can be found around the house.

Many people have had great luck while they were out shipping. At the mall looking for after-Christmas deals? Stop into the sporting goods store. I bet plenty of items are just sitting there on the shelves. How much easier could it be?

However you do it, now's a great time to get started.

Go find some items!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

List of 36:

Things I wouldn’t mind finding under the tree tomorrow

1. 1909-11 American Caramel E90-1 Cy Young
2. Kevin Millar autographed ’04 World Series baseball
3. 2013 World Series used champagne bottle
4. Pedro Martinez SGA bobblehead
5. Opening Day tickets
6. Lowell Spinners Christmas sweater jersey
7. Hanley Ramirez jersey
8. Fenway Park brick
9. 1916 D350-1Standard Biscuit Larry Gardner
10. 2013 World Series DVD box set
11. Team signed 2013 World Series ball
12. Pedro Martinez autographed ’99 ASG baseball
13. 2013 World Series hat
14. Dustin Pedroia SGA bobblehead
15. 2013 World Series used champagne cork
16. Alan Embree autographed ’04 World Series baseball
17. 1904 Fan Craze Jimmy Collins
18. Shane Victorino autographed 2013 WS ball
19. 1965 Topps Rico Petrocelli
20. Pedro Martinez away 2004 WS jersey
21. 1951 Bowman Jimmy Piersall
22. 2013 ALCS  used champagne bottle
23. 1917 H801-8 Dutch Leonard
24. 1964 Topps Tony Conigliaro
25. 1949 Bowman Billy Goodman
26. Koji Uehara autographed 2013 WS ball
27. 1950 Bowman Ellis Kinder
28. 1965 Topps Jim Lonborg
29. 1955 Bowman Frank Malzone
30. 1922 E120 American Caramel Herb Pennock
31. 1959 Topps Bill Monboquette
32. 1949 Bowman Vern Stephens
33. 2013 World Series used champagne cork
34. John Lackey autographed 2013 WS ball
35. 1939 Playball Ted Williams

36. Rick Porcello player tee

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

I Scored!



July 11, 2009

What a wild one this turned out to be! After the first four innings, this one looked to be pretty well in hand. But, the Royals came right back, and made a game of it for a while there. Phew!

First off, let’s take a look at the pitchers box, because the Sox sure used a lot of them. Some of them are pretty good blasts from the past, as well. For instance, John Smoltz drew the start, and actually pitched really well. He was pulled after five innings, and only gave up a run on three hits. He even struck out seven to show flashes of his vintage Braves days. After he left the game, the wheels came off a bit. Justin Masterson couldn’t even go an inning, giving up five runs and seven base runners. I hope this doesn’t mean doom for his new stint with the Sox. After that, four relievers pitched well enough to preserve the win. But, look at that bullpen. Masterson-Delcarmen-Okajima-Bard-Saito. Those are some fan favorites that all fell off a bit before leaving town.

On offense? Interesting line-up. Ellsbury in the six hole? Seems a little weird. Almost as weird as the #46 next to his name. Speaking of unexpected, I admit that I had to look up Nick Green’s first name. The rest of them look like a pretty solid batting order to me. Apparently it did to the Royals as well.

Speaking of offense, I see some contrasting hits listed in the bottom left. David Ortiz logged his 1000th career Red Sox hit, while Bates collected his very first. Love the contrast there.

The player of the game? Naturally when you score 15 runs, there are plenty of candidates. But, Kevin Youkilis’s line looks pretty well filled in, so he’ll get the nod in this game. He went 3-4 on the day, with three runs scored and four runs driven in. His two home runs really put the exclamation mark on his day.

The Goat? There’s always one, right? I’m having a little trouble with this one. Mark Kotsay went hitless, but did draw two walks. Nick Green got a hit, but struck out twice. In the end, Green’s two RBI made him a bit more valuable, forcing Kotsay to wear the horns.

Of course, it didn’t matter. The rest of the offense more than made up for Kotsay. Even Masterson’s meltdown was more than compensated for as the Red Sox cruised to an easy victory.


And the scorecard shows how it happened.

Friday, December 19, 2014

From the Pedro Binder



2000 UD Black Diamond Diamond Gallery

Ugh.

This must have been a game of some sort. How can we make the most distracting card around?

After all, I can’t imagine why else a card company would subject collectors to this.

What was the focus here? The tiny picture of Pedro that is obscured by the diamond designs? They’re probably going for a “baseball diamond” idea, but they didn’t really get there. They have the speckles. They have the unreadable gold foil. It’s just a mess.

The one decent aspect is that the name of the insert set isn’t the most dominant part of the card. But, that’s probably because there’s so much going on that there is no dominant feature. I suppose another good feature is that Pedro’s name, team, and position are right in the middle, and facing the correct direction. But, when you distract from that with all the mess on the rest of the card, I’m not sure how many points I can give them for that.


This is just nauseating. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

How Much do Players Worry about Legacies?

It crosses my mind every time I see Carlton Fisk throw a first pitch to Luis Tiant. It happened again as i wanted Jon Lester sit there in his Cubs uniform doing his best to prove that he didn't lie to the fans.

How much do players care about the legacies they leave in a town when their playing days are over?

I thought of it with Johnny Damon. Sure, he went to the highest bidder. I can't really fault him for that. But, he was really looking for his last contract. He ended up hanging on for a few more years after that, but it was basically his last chance to be a contributor. He could have stayed in Boston, as a curse-busting idiot. He would be adored. He would be a legend. For the rest of his life he could make personal appearances. He could be given ovations when he showed up at Celtics games. He would have a life of adoration. Instead, he chose to go to NY and be yet another Yankee who never quite "earned his pinstripes." He became a hired gun playing second (or third, or fourth) fiddle to Derek Jeter. Now, he may go back to the stadium for a round of applause. And, he;s been at Fenway once or twice since then. But, his legacy would be twice what it is now in Boston compared to what it is combined in all the other cities he's played in combined.

Did he think about that?

It looked like Lester did. After all, he mentioned the prospect of finally winning a Cubs championship. He knows that if he does that, he can have free drinks in Chicago for the rest of his life (provided, I suppose, he doesn't go all Curt Schilling on them). But, what if he doesn't win? He'd just be another guy that came to the Cubs and left without a ring. Does that get you called back to Wrigley? Does that get you a free beer? Probably not. A six or seven year stint on mediocrity does nothing.

So, he needs to leave the door open just a bit in Boston. Like Fisk somehow did, and Roger Clemens wished he did, and is trying to do. After all, if he plays his cards right, Boston could be a nice little fallback legacy for him. A place to go sit in the "Legends Box" and wave to the adoring crowd. He could do that forever as a two-time champion, who just happened to have played somewhere else as well. After all, I think Fred Lynn is in that box at least once a homestand.

I wonder how much Lester thinks of that whenever someone asks him about Boston. Does he think to himself, "I may still need these guys."? "I may want a chicken stand out on Yawkey Way some day, if I can't get one on Addison."

Does the fallback plan bring comfort?

Monday, December 15, 2014

What’s the Point of a Twitter Scoop?

And, no I don’t mean “because they’re all mindless dribble.” I mean, what does it do for the person getting the scoop? What’s the advantage to all their hard work?

I remember a while ago Peter Abraham saying he didn’t know why news agencies were having their reporters report using Twitter. After all, why would they be paying someone to drive traffic to someone else’s website? So, when Ken Rosenthal tweets out a new contract, he’s encouraging me to go to twitter as often as I can. He’s not making me visit the Fox Sports website. His employer is getting no additional traffic because he’s tweeting out his scoops. So, why does he do it?

Remember the old days? When you got your news from newspapers? (Oh…so that’s why they’re called that!) They came out once, maybe twice a day. So, if you had a good reporter who out-scooped everyone else, people would buy your paper to read about it. The people you paid would directly influence your circulation. If they had the scoop, everyone would be forced to buy your paper, and only your paper, all day in order to read it. There was a clear advantage. If your reporters were known to give the best news, and have scoops most often, people might just gravitate to your paper by default. So, if people just assume that Gammons  is going to have all the scoops, just buy his paper. It’s easier that way. But, it’s not working like that anymore. Now, instead of going to FOX, or ESPN, or NESN, people go to twitter. All the details are right there. How does this help FOX? Can you imagine a headline reading: “Go read this other magazine to find out all the news!”? That would be suicide.

So, what’s the benefit?

Are they hoping that these scoops will mean more followers, and more followers mean that more people might click when they tweet out links to their articles? That might be their angle. Most of my tweets are links to different things on the blog. If I had more followers, it might mean more clicks, and more readers. But, I don’t follow Ken Rosenthal. I don’t follow Joel Sherman. Why not? Because if I followed them, I would get their scoops about 2 seconds earlier than I do now. With all the retweets and other forms of re-reporting, it would be even more cluttered if I actually bothered to follow the guy giving the scoop. So, it seems like these “inside” guys are going through a lot of effort to be the guy who first reports something two seconds before everyone else. Even if I did follow them, and got their direct scoop…it’d be about an hour before everyone else would be tweeting “I confirm Rosenthal’s report that…”That doesn’t encourage me to follow anyone. It certainly doesn’t make me more likely to go read anyone’s articles.

So, if Ken Rosenthal (or whichever 14-year old you trust the most) is the best shouldn’t he just rely on that? If I’m supposed to follow him because he always has the best most accurate information first, shouldn’t he be making me go to FOX Sports? Shouldn’t I have to constantly be checking their webpage in order to get the “real information” as soon as possible? If I knew I could only trust him, and he was always first, I shouldn’t need to go to twitter to find everything out. I should just be able to go to his website. Twitter should at best bring me to FOX’s website. That’s what I do. Hopefully twitter is a means to bring you right here. Once you’re here, hopefully I’ll convince you this should have been the place you went in the first place. At the moment, for everyone else it seems to be the other way around.

I’m not sure I see the point.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Ben’s Move(s)

Apparently Ben Cherington reads this blog.

At the end of yesterday’s post, I challenged Ben by saying it was “your move.”

He took the challenge. And then some.

Where there was none, now there are many. At the beginning of the day on Wednesday, the Sox rotation had two members. Now there are five. Not bad at all.

Are they the five that everyone would have wanted? I doubt it. But, they’re now a rotation.

Individually, they’re nothing to jump up and down about. But as a group, it starts to get interesting. There have been some twitter complaints that the Sox just filled their rotation with #3 starters. Maybe, maybe not. Porcello is probably closer to a #2, but that’s up for conversation. Assuming the Sox are done, the question comes as to whether that’s enough.

First, the Sox aren’t done. They have too many repetitive parts. Too many prospects are blocked behind immovable vets. The almost need to make a move just to clear some space. So, it’d probably be for a pitcher.

But, assuming for this post that they’re done…it might just be enough.

We remember Ben’s previous comments about the need for a staff ace. I’ve even covered the topic before. The basic theory? You don’t necessarily need an “ace.” After all, the Sox have had an ace before. They tried winning with an ace so good he makes that Kershaw guy look like an A-ball bust. When Pedro was having the best pitching stretch in…well…ever the Sox made the playoffs once, and only reached the ALCS. Clearly going with an ace and four scrubs is not the way to go. Maybe the balance makes the rotation. As I discussed previously, maybe being able to beat up on everyone else’s #5 starters is a good way to go. If Buchholz is the Sox “ace” he’ll probably lose a lot of his starts. But, Porcello matches up pretty well with other #2’s. Kelly can hold his own against other #3’s. Miley against other #4’s? I like those odds. And, I’ll take Masterson against other #5’s. It’s sort of the reverse rotation. Instead of winning games because Pedro can beat any other ace, but the #5 guy gets mopped about, the Sox could win the games started by Masterson as their “ace” struggles. And, that’s even assuming Buchholz and Masterson don’t return to all-star form after some injury trouble. If you get a quality start every outing from every member of the rotation, that’s a great way to have a rotation.

Isn’t that sort of what the Orioles and Royals did last year? Sure, the Royals had James Shields. But, the rest of them were pretty bleh. Just solid enough to get the game to the bullpen. Is this current rotation good enough to do that? Can they keep it to four runs in six innings, and let the bullpen and the offense take it from there?

They just might be able to.

Now, if the Sox do go out and get an ace, I certainly wouldn’t say “no.” A great pitcher at the top would only make everything better.


It just might not actually be necessary.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Lots on Losing Lester

I have to admit, I’m a little surprised.

Not so much that Lester went to the Cubs. It was all sort of up in the air there for a while. But, that the Sox didn’t spend the extra money.

I know. They’ve said all along that they have this thing with signing older pitchers to long deals. I get that. But, I also remember that John Henry hated the Josh Beckett trade. His theory was, when they traded for Beckett, they had to give up prospects, and then sign him to a long-term deal. He would have rather kept the prospects and just spent money on AJ Burnett. (I know the Sox won the World Series thanks to the trade, but you have to wonder what kind of trade-off Beckett/Lowell was vs Burnett/Hanley.) This was the same situation. So, I was a little surprised they didn’t just throw a ton of money at Lester rather than have to give Philly (say) prospects in order to pay Hamels almost as much. Now, if that’s what they end up doing, I’d probably agree with the move. I’m just surprised that they made it.

I’m also surprised that so many people are upset about the Spring Training Offer. Buster Olney even got in on the action by pointing out that the Sox offer was well below the $100+ million deals signed by pitchers Matt Cain, Cole Hamels, and Homer Bailey. Oddly, Olney makes the Red Sox’s argument better than they ever could. The other three pitchers he mentioned? All signed six year deals when they were 28. The Red Sox were offering Lester a four year deal when he was 30. The Cain contract? Well I don’t remember him being a hero in the World Series this season. Or, you know, in the rotation at all. Maybe that’s because the last two seasons he’s been a combined 10-17 , 4.09 ERA, 84 ERA+. Hamels? Better. A combined 17-25, 3.00, 125 or so. Bailey? The pitcher Olney refers to as a much less accomplished pitcher? He was coming off an 11-12, 3.49, 108 season when he signed his deal for a 17.5 AAV to carry him until he’s 34. So, the Sox offered Lester coming off a 15-8 3.75 110 season a contract with…wait for it…an AAV of 17.5 to carry him until he’s 34. It’s not their fault that Lester was older as he entered free agency. (Well, it is, but you get the idea.) I would certainly argue that Cain and Hamels were better pitchers than Lester when they signed their deals, not to mention younger, while he was the same pitcher as Bailey. It looks like the 4/70 was perfectly in line, especially considering he said he would be willing to take a discount. Lester turned it down. It could have bit him. After all, his 2012 ERA+ was a career low 87. If he did that again, he’d be begging the Sox for their 4/70. But, he didn’t. He went out, and his 155 ERA+ was a career high. As such, he got higher offers…including a higher offer from the Sox to reflect his new stature. The Sox didn’t blow it. They offered a fair deal, and got burned when Lester had a career walk year. Good for him.

I’m especially surprised that a self-proclaimed “grown-ass man” would voluntarily go to a team where he’d have to dress up like a nerd, or a Frozen character, or whatever other ridiculously demeaning outfit Maddon chooses that month.

Now the Sox just need a next move. I’ve always said that the problem with not overpaying for players is that you don’t get the players. Everyone will agree that the Yankees gave Jacoby Ellsbury a terrible contract last offseason. They’ll regret it tenfold in a few years. The Sox were right to not overpay for him. But…he sure would have been handy last year. He might even be useful next year. So, it’s great that the Sox didn’t overpay for him. But, they needed to replace him. They face the same thing with Lester. No, he’s not worth the contract the Cubs gave him. In six years, they’ll be paying the equivalent of Jake Peavy $25 million. But, next year they have their ace. The Sox don’t.

Your move, Ben.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

From the Pedro Binder



2003 Fleer Platinum

Someone at the Fleer design offices had a brainstorm. They remembered that in the late 80s, Fleer has produced a lot of small box sets of cards. Everyone thought they were pretty corny, and they didn’t sell very well. So, it made logical sense to this person for Fleer to design a set based on those boxed sets. After all, if something doesn’t sell well the first time, it makes perfect sense to revive it. Like “A Christmas Story” I guess.

Maybe the theory was that the bold design of the box set would be something that stood out from the other sets that year. They were right.

To be fair, I don’t think the design is terrible, on its own. The stripes actually almost work for me. If Topps had done it, I don’t think I’d mind it nearly as much, because they wouldn’t be trying to copy the feelings of a previous failure.

It does have all the makings of a good card. Name, position, and team right there on the front and east to read. Nothing is written sideways or in foil. They even stop the stripe design to make Pedro’s name easier to read. It would have been easier to read if Fleer had swapped the team name and the player name. That’s a big empty yellow oval with a very short team name in it. While the brand logo is wild, it is at least tucked into a corner out of the way of the picture. And, at least the picture is a full picture, as cropped as it is to fit in the small window.

Like I said, though, it almost works. But, it just doesn’t quite do it for me.


What do you think?

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Problem with Lester

Oh, no, there’s nothing wrong with Lester himself. It’s this pursuit of him. It’s such a minute by minute stresser that I sometime forget that he won’t actually improve the team.

He’ll just get it back to where it was.

Oh, sure. It’ll be a better team than the one that played game 162 in 2014. But, that team didn’t count. The Sox gave away a couple months there to help prepare for the future. No, I’m talking about the one that finished 2013. Or, even the one that was supposed to start 2014. Those teams had Lester as a main piece of the puzzle. So, signing him would just keep that piece where it always was. All that work and angst, just to get back to where we were. It’s a little depressing sometimes.

Now, of course I know that signing Lester won’t be their last move. Remember, Ben Cherington’s not stupid. It’s just a little bit tricky to mentally prepare to keep the status quo after so much work.

It helps to know that the Sox are already improved in several areas. I think Hanley Ramirez has to be better than the Gomes/Nava combo in left. And, while I’m sure many of us hoped for more out of Middlebrooks than what Sandoval will actually give, I think it’s safe to say that’s an improvement.

So, take a look at the team that started (or was supposed to start) 2014. Ramirez-Castillo-Victorino vs Gomes-Sizemore-Victorino. I think that’s better. Sandoval-Bogaerts-Pedroia-Napoli vs Middlebrooks-Bogaerts-Pedroia-Napoli. I’m good with that switch too. At catcher? I’ll take Vazquez over either of the last two catchers…if for no other reason than it’s easier to spell his name.

Which means that while saying put in the rotation is a little disheartening, it’s really the way to go. Replace Lester, Lackey, and Peavy with similar pitchers (or, the exact same pitcher) should be just enough.


It just starts with Lester.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

I Scored!


Boy, does this card bring a trip down memory lane, or what?

First, look at the pitcher's box. A great start by John lackey. Of course, that was the year he performed so terribly before we all knew that his arm was simply being dragged along for fun. Nice to see a good one here. Speaking of good performances by lousy pitchers...is that 1.1 great important innings from Daniel Bard? Remember when he used to throw those? And, remember when Jonathan Papelbon used to come in and close the door? It seems like so long ago.

Speaking of which, check out that line-up. This was back when they were still instilling fear in the rest of the American League. Hard to remember a better top five in the order. Ellsbury was in the middle of an MVP caliber season. So was Adrian Gonzalez (How soon we forget.) David Ortiz was all the way down at fifth in the order, and rightly so. My goodness.

The player of the game? I have to give it to the clean-up hitter. Kevin Youkilis showed why he was batting right where he should be. 3-4 or the day with two RBI and a run scored. Exactly the production you need from him. 

The goat? Well, remember how I said the top five in the order were fearsome? The bottom third? Not so much. On the day they went 0-12. But, only JD Drew added the two strikeouts to really drag down the day. He gets to wear the horns.

But, obviously, it didn't matter. Things were still good in Red Sox Nation as the top of the order carried the Sox to an easy victory. Ellsbury and Pedroia set the table, and Youkilis and Reddick drove them in Just like they drew it up in Spring Training. Or, something like that.

And the scorecard shows how it happened.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

List of 36: Things I’m Thankful For

1. Hanley Ramirez
2. Seeing three ring ceremonies
3. Trade bait
4. Souvenir helmets
5. Great seats
6. 160 Instagram followers, and counting
7. Hot stove season
8. Every new pic with Section 36
9. A patient GM
10. Scoring as often as possible
11. Pablo Sandoval
12. Making trades
13. The next move
14. Every new “Rather be in Section 36” pic
15. The 2015 schedule
16. 1050 Twitter followers, and counting
17. Red Sox books
18. David “The Recruiter” Ortiz
19. Championship goals
20. Every new pic In Section 36
21. Scavenger Hunt entries
22. World Series merchandise on clearance
23. Home jerseys without names on the back
24. Every new pic of Section 36
25. Vintage cards
26. Every comment on blog posts
27. Line-up discussions
28. 317 Facebook “likes”, and counting
29. Fenway statues
30. A great view
31. Souvenir cups
32. Every new Pic from Section 36
33. Team sets
34. Being an internet sensation
35. A great line-up
36. Readers

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Ben Cherington's Not Stupid

Unlike, apparently, people on twitter.

As I write this, it's the middle of the afternoon. In a few hours, it'll be dinnertime. I'm going to have to make myself something to eat. I know that. But, it's still early. The fact that I'm writing this post doesn't mean that I put writing a blog post at a higher priority that eating. In fact, I put eating at a higher priority than just about anything else. I just know that I still have some time to get other things done before I need to have dinner cooked and ready to eat. So, I can write this post. I can check the mail. I can even catch up on some reading. All things that need to get done. None of them as important as eating. None of them will prevent me from eating when dinnertime rolls around.

Sort of like pitching.

The Red Sox signed two fine hitters to add to the line-up. That's pretty exciting. Considering that last years line-up had Will Middlebrooks and Jackie Bradley Jr in it, adding Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval is a HUGE upgrade. (Pun intended.) We should be thrilled! But, what did twitter say?

"Can Hanley pitch?"

"I don't care. Get pitching!"

"They're not going to help at all if the team can't pitch!"

That's probably true. It's also true that Ben is well aware of that fact. He didn't make it to be a major league GM without realizing that there is both pitching and hitting. He also didn't make it to be a major league GM without knowing how to do two things at once. After all, didn't he just do the Hanley and Panda deals at the same time? So, why does everyone assume this is an "either/or" type thing? So, because the Red Sox signed two hitters, they aren't concerned about pitching? I'm writing this post. Does that mean I'm not concerned about eating?

Of course not. Just like I still have time to make dinner, Ben still has time to make a pitching staff. The deals for the two hitters just presented themselves, and he went for it. How annoyed would Sox fans be if the Sox signed Lester in two weeks, then announced at the press conference that they were so focused on that deal that while Lester was mulling his options, Hanley signed with NY and Pablo signed with Baltimore. Oh the outcry! You mean that while Lester was thinking it over, the Sox were just sitting there twiddling their thumbs while the other GMs were improving their team? Fire him now!

So, of course the Red Sox did the deal they could do when they could do it. It's how it works. I, for one, am pretty excited about it. Now they can move onto the next move. After all there's still time to make it. And the next one. And the one after that. When Spring Training comes, they'll have addressed all their needs.

And at dinnertime, I'll have something to eat.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

From the Pedro Binder


1999 Topps Picture Perfect?

Do you see it?

I admit. I have to give Topps come credit here. Just for a little fun, they went in a different direction with their insert set. As the question mark implies, the picture may, or may not be, perfect. In this case, it's the latter.

Do you see it?

It's a fun little activity, at least the first time you see the card. What do I like about it? The name of the set on the card is hidden. A set with the name "Picture" in the title allows the picture to be the focal point. I like that. Even the gimmicky imperfect part doesn't detract from the overall effect. It's not like they replaced Pedro's head with the Incredible Hulk's.

Do you see it?

So, it makes for a great card. It's an insert, so I don't mind that it doesn't have things like Pedro's name, position, etc. I'll let the base card take care of that stuff. There are no foil spirals or zigzags to compete for my attention. There's nothing. It's simple, and wonderful with nothing in the way.

Except, of course, for the intentional "imperfection."

Do you see it?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

What is Mookie Betts?

It’s hot stove season, which means a lot of rumors. Rumors about free agents. Rumors about players under contract. Rumors about possible trades. It’s a lot of fun.

During the trade rumors portion, Mookie Betts’s name has come up quite a bit. And, why wouldn’t he? He’s an attractive prospect that I’m sure any number of teams would like to add to their roster. It seems, though, that many in Red Sox Nation are completely opposed to letting that happen. Which brings me to one question.

Why not?

Oh, sure. I know you’re aware that I consider every player to be potential trade bait in the right deal. There are no names on the roster that another team could include that would stop me from at least reading the entire trade offer. Obviously, if the first three names are Ortiz, Pedroia, Bogaerts…the name at the end better be Trout. But, at least I’d read and see what it said.

But, this is even beyond that. Frankly, I think the Sox should be actively trying to sell “high” on Betts. After all, what is he? What’s the best you expect out of him? I’m not even talking about this season. What’s the best you expect out of Mookie Betts, ever? I’m guessing it’s not 2004 Manny Ramirez. I’m guessing it’s not 2011 Jacoby Ellsbury either. 2008 Dustin Pedroia? Maybe. 2013 Jacoby Ellsbury? More likely.

Isn’t that really what we’re looking at as a peak for Betts? Especially the next handful of years? .285-15-70? Why is that untouchable? After all, we just had a guy do that, and we couldn’t let him leave for the big contract elsewhere fast enough. Good riddance. We can replace you with Jackie Bradley Jr.

Now that guy is untouchable?

Sure, Mookie was fun last season. He was exactly what the team needed at the end of a lost, dreary season. He was a blast of excitement. He was something enjoy as he showed us all what he could do.

But, it’s not like he was having Phil Plantier’s September call-up. So, why would we guard him with an iron shield? Heck, the Sox don’t even have a position open for him at the moment.

Shouldn’t he be the first name on the offer sheet to Philadelphia? Shouldn’t he be the exact chip that you’d use to get a proven top of the rotation lefty with a great postseason resume? Shouldn’t he be the guy that Philly overvalues from afar? Instead, people are actually willing to stop a deal for Cole Hamels, or anyone else for that matter, if Mookie’s name in brought up. It’s unbelievable.

Am I wrong with Mookie’s assessment? Do people think he is, in fact, going to be 2005 David Ortiz? Or, are people confusing “fun” with “productive”? (Maybe it’s an infielder thing. They certainly confuse the two when it comes to the second baseman)


What is Mookie Betts?

Monday, November 17, 2014

Happy 36th Darnell McDonald!

Today we wish a very Happy Birthday to former outfielder and fan favorite Darnell McDonald!

McDonald was an outfielder on the forgettable 2010 to 2012 Sox teams. He had a little bit of Daniel Nava in him. He had a better pedigree than Nava, being a former first round pick. But, in the decade since then, he had appeared in less than 100 games. So, there was an “off the scrap heap” feeling to him. When he started performing well, the fans fell in love with the story. He played a couple hundred games for the Sox, before leaving town.

I saw McDonald play live five times in 2010, and he started four of those games. In those games, he hit a couple homers, and scored a couple runs. All the while playing a solid outfield.

The addition of Carl Crawford in 2011 spelled the basic end of McDonald’s playing time. He only appeared in one more game I was at the rest of his time in Boston.

But, he was still a popular player while he was here. He did a great job filling in when the Mike Cameron experiment failed miserably. That’s really all you can ask out of a player.


Happy 36th Darnell McDonald!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

2014 Scavenger Hunt

It’s time for the Seventh Annual Section 36 Scavenger Hunt! I’m sure you remember how it works. If not, I’ll remind you. Below, you’ll find a list of 36 items for you to try and find. When you find an item, take a picture of it and send it along to me. Whoever sends me pictures of the most items wins. Pretty simple, right? We’ll make the end of the hunt be 12:36 PM eastern time on February 5, 2015. This both gives enough time to find the stuff, and fills the time almost right up to pitchers and catchers reporting to Spring Training. Sound like fun? What do you win if you find the most items? Worldwide fame and admiration! I will post the winner’s name (and picture if one is provided) on this very site and hail them as the 2014 Scavenger Hunt Champion! I’m sure that Bryanne has found her worldwide fame to be quite an honor this past year. If you actually want a prize you can hold in your hand, I’ll award a scorebook made up of the Section 36 official scorecards, bound together to allow you to score twenty games! Not too bad, right? If I come up with something else between now and then, maybe I'll add it on. Ready to get started? Here is this year’s list of items to get pictures of:

1. Red Sox car magnet
2. Ticket to World Series game played by the Red Sox
3. Red Sox retired number
4. Official Program from 1999 All-Star game
5. “Sports Illustrated” magazine with Red Sox player on cover
6. Homemade “I’d Rather Be in Section 36” t-shirt
7. Red Sox rug
8. Wine bottle featuring Red Sox player
9. Red Sox pennant
10. Red Sox ice-cream carton
11. Red Sox player
12. Xander Bogaerts baseball card
13. Used official Section 36 scorecard
14. 2013 World Series baseball
15. Cy Young Statue
16. Jon Lester replica jersey
17. 2009 Red Sox Media Guide
18. Red Sox paperweight
19. Autograph of member of 2012 Red Sox
20. Red Sox bikini
21. 2007 World Championship item
22. Shane Victorino t-shirt
23. Jim Rice Hall of Fame plaque postcard
24. Red Sox coaster
25. Ticket stub from Section 36
26. Red Sox Dunkin’ Donuts item
27. Condiment with a picture of Red Sox player on it
28. 36 of something
29. Lansdowne St
30. 2013 World Championship banner
31. Red Sox license plate holder
32. Biography of Red Sox player
33. “Fenway Park 100 Seasons” baseball
34. Hallmark Ornament of Red Sox player
35. Female Red Sox fan
36. Male Red Sox fan

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

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

  1. You. This might be the easiest way. If you’re in the picture, I can be pretty sure you actually found the item. This has one advantage in that it doesn’t have to be a new picture. If you went to Fenway last summer and took a picture on Lansdowne St, that would work. Or,
  2. The Section 36 logo. Just have it showing somewhere in the picture. Or,
  3. The address of this blog, “www.section-36.blogspot.com” , written somewhere in the picture. Write it out on a piece of paper, on a sidewalk with chalk, on someone’s leg, whatever. (Just don’t vandalize anything).

That make sense? So, send in your pictures to me, section36 at gmail dot com (I bet you know which parts to replace with symbols) You can even tweet it to me, or use a facebook msg. Whatever works for you! It would be nice if you told me which items you thought were in each picture. If there’s a tie between people who have the same number of found items, the tiebreaker will be the person who did it with the fewest number of pictures. If you get a picture of a Female Red Sox fan, wearing a Shane Victorno t-shirt, while holding a Red Sox coaster, it would be 3 items in one picture. That’s a great start, although I’m sure you can do better. One year, Jere had over 20 items in a single photo! (If I need a second tiebreaker, I’ll have a vote to decide the best pictures.)

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


Good Luck!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

What Makes a Player Valuable?

It’s an important question. After all, if I don’t know what player is “valuable” how can I ever hope to decide who the Most Valuable Player is?

So, what is value?

People are very eager to point out that Major League Baseball isn’t giving out a “Player of the Year” award today. It’s a Most Valuable Player Award. Apparently that’s different.

How, exactly?

Valuable means giving the most value to his team. But, that’s somehow different than putting up the best stats. Could it mean the player that best fits the needs of the team he’s on? Take the 2013 Red Sox. Jacoby Ellsbury was pretty valuable.The Sox really needed a speedy guy to get on base a lot in front of Pedroia, Ortiz, and Napoli. Ells was perfect. He was on base all the time, and his legs attracted a lot of attention. That was pretty valuable. But, if he was on the Astros, without the bats behind him, that might not have mattered as much. Or, at all. A guy at second is of no value if nobody drives him in. Someone like Mike Napoli might have been more valuable to the Astros because he can drive himself in more often. Napoli might have been more valuable to the Astros than he was to the Red Sox, who also had Pedroia and Ortiz to fall back on.

Does that mean Ellsbury was more valuable than Napoli, just because of the team they played on? That’s weird. Shouldn’t the most valuable player in the league be the most valuable to every team? That would make sense.

That’s where I have trouble with the whole “MVP needs to come from a playoff team” argument. A valuable player should be a valuable player, right? Frankly, as I’ve said before, a good player might be even more valuable to a lousy team than a playoff team.

Say I have a baseball card collection…which I do. Say I have a Ted Williams rookie card in my collection…which I don’t. That right there makes my collection as a whole pretty impressive. That would be a pretty valuable card to my collection. Without it, the Jim Rice rookie led collection isn’t all that great. But, what if Keith Olberman had the Ted Williams rookie…which he might. He also has the T-206 Wagner card, and any number of fantastic cards. The Williams rookie might be a throwaway card to him, and not valuable at all. So, the decent card is more valuable to a lesser collection.

Isn’t the same true for a player? If the Giants had Giancarlo Stanton, would they have performed any better this season? Hard to see how. But, the Marlins were only is even marginal contention because they had Stanton. Isn’t that pretty valuable?

So, what should the voters be looking at when they vote for “most valuable”? They player who happens to fill his specific team’s specific needs? Is that value? Or, the player that would add the most to any team he was on? Is Mike Trout just as valuable to the Angels as he would be to the Red Sox? Is that important?


Is that “valuable”?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

In the Media Guide

In my collection, I currently have every Red Sox Media Guide dating back to 1998. I love flipping through them to see what tidbits they contain. I figured that if I liked it, you might enjoy taking a look along with me. So, I had a not-so- random number generator select a page from the 2011 edition to talk about today.

It selected page 8



Page 8 talks about the Red Sox foundation. One of the unusual aspects of the sale of the Red Sox to the Henry group was that the Yawkey Foundation was a charitable organization. As the sale was finalized, this led to the creation of the Red Sox Foundation to offset any charitable losses as a result of the sale. Since then, the Foundation has grown and grown.

The page talks about the Foundation being involved in five main programs, including the Red Sox Scholars, Rookie and RBI Youth Baseball Leagues, and the Home Base Program. Of particular interest today, the Home Base program provides evaluations, support services and care for veterans with PTSD and TBI. The Run to Home Base is a 9K fundraising run ending at home plate in Fenway. In 2010 the run raised $2.5 million. 

Interested in donating? Click the links to reach the Red Sox Foundation, or the Run to Home Base specifically.

Of course, all that information can be found on the Media Guide page, along with lots of other great information.

Just like every page.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Section 36 and the #BYBHub

If you've looked at the sidebar of this here blog recently, you noticed a new graphic for the "BYB Hub"

"What on earth is that?" you may have asked.

I'm glad you did.

BYB Hub is the brainchild of Robert Casey, the fine creator of the "Bleeding Yankee Blue" blog. (I know. It's OK. Really) His idea was to create a spot where baseball blogs could all be listed so that people could be exposed to them at one shot. So, after you read this blog and enjoy it thoroughly, but want to see other great blogs to read, click on the picture in the sidebar, and check out some of the blogs listed on the BYB Hub.

(Unless, of course, you've already been to the BYB Hub, and that's how you got here in the first place. In that case, "Welcome!" I'm glad you decided to visit. Enjoy your stay, and check out all the great things Section 36 has to offer! Did you see the pix or the scorecard? Don't forget to like me, and follow me, and follow me so you don't miss anything.)

About that one word that's been such an elephant in the room. Yeah, I was a little nervous too when a Yankees blog asked me to participate in the Hub. But, Bleeding Yankees Blue is a good read. Plus, there's that saying about keeping your friends close, but your enemies closer. So, I figure there's a benefit from giving the Hub an alternate voice. Don't you? Besides, he plans on adding blogs from all baseball angles eventually. Plus, it's not like the Hub has a pinstripe motif, or anything. (Have to admit I was a bit worried about that when I first opened the graphic)

So, I certainly hope you'll be visiting Section 36 every day. After you do, check out BYB Hub to find something else to read.

And then come back here when you're done.

Friday, November 7, 2014

How Long do you Wait for a Prospect?

During the playoffs this year, Peter Abraham tweeted out something along the lines of “Mike Moustakas is why the Red Sox are reluctant to give up on Will Middlebrooks.” I didn’t quite get the reference, since it doesn’t appear that Moustakas is really something you’d want to wait for. But, that’s irrelevant. He suggested that there’s a reason to wait. At the time I thought, that’s a good idea…but how long should you wait for someone to emerge?

Then, the other day Buster Olney tossed out a scenario in which the Orioles should consider trading Manny Machado. The basic premise is that as he returns from injuries the Orioles would probably be reluctant to sign him to an extension until he proves he can stay healthy for a year or two. By the time that happens, Machado might be close enough to free agency that he may decide it’s worth it just to wait for that, as opposed to signing an extension. If all that’s the case, maybe the Orioles should cut their losses and trade Machado now.

Which is similar to the scenario the Sox find themselves in with Will Middlebrooks. I think we can all agree that he has talent. I also think we all agree that he hasn’t put it all together yet. The only real discussion is the probability of that word, “yet.” Will yet come this year? Next year? In five years? Can the Sox wait around?

This isn’t forty years ago. When Carl Yastrzemski struggled his rookie year, I bet there was no thought to cutting their losses and dealing him away. After all, there was a benefit to waiting. Even if it took him a year or two or five to develop, the payback was too great. Even if they waited five years, if their expectations were correct, they’d have a hall of fame caliber player on their roster for 18 years after that. I’d tread water for 5 years if I get that sort of return on the investment.

But, this isn’t forty years ago. As the Machado example illustrates, there isn’t the plan that the Sox will have someone one their roster for the next 23 years. It’s more like a ten year max. Jacoby Ellsbury but up one MVP season, but was let go after seven seasons. Even after signing a team friendly extension, John Lester was dealt after 8.5 seasons. Even the incredibly too long albatross of a contract they gave Dustin Pedroia only assures he’ll be in Boston 15 seasons.

So, if that’s your cap…how much can you afford to wait for a prospect to develop?

Middlebrooks has been with the Sox for parts of three seasons this far. Some parts really good. Some parts, not so much. If the Sox were thinking about signing him to an extension, wouldn’t they want at least one good season out of him? Heck, Ellsbury did that, and the Sox still didn’t sign him. (Admittedly, that was as much Ellsbury’s decision as theirs.) So, would the Sox need two good seasons in order to commit? Sox, if Middlebrooks puts it all together this season, and makes the all-star team…do they wait for another year to prove it? If that’s the case, they’d be right up on his impending free agency. At that point, he’d be wise to wait, and hit the market coming off three good years. If that’s the case, he’s probably gone and the Sox will be onto the next prospect.

So, can the Sox wait?

In some ways, they have to. You can’t keep turning over your young players and sticking in the next batch. If that were the case, what about Bogaerts? Does he only get another year to prove himself? Bradley? Where does it end?

It really has to come down to opportunity. Obviously, if Middlebrooks can be used as a chip to get a proven major leaguer, go for it. That’s the same for any young player. If they can get great proven talent in a trade, move them. Beyond that, the Sox don’t need a bat at third if they have one everywhere else. They can afford to wait a bit, and see what happens. If Middlebrooks get to free agency, and the Sox decide at that point he’s not going to be what they hoped, let him walk.


Until then, it just doesn’t make sense.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Voters Got it Wrong!

How in the name of Tris Speaker did Jackie Bradley, Jr not win the Gold Glove award?

How bad were the voters? How lazy were the voters? How stupid were the voters?

Normally, I could almost understand the under appreciation of a rookie from the voters. After all,
with a defensive award, there’s some amount of subjectivity to it. It’s possible that a rookie might not have the cache that a previous winner has. It would be hard to give the edge to an unknown like that.

But, that’s not really the case here.



If you’re any sort of baseball person, how could you not be aware of the defensive merits of Jackie Bradley, Jr? The defending World Champion Red Sox elected to let their star centerfielder go to free agency, in part because their rookie centerfielder was such a defensive whiz, he could make up for the loss. They were talking about it all off-season. Then, the rookie centerfielder for the defending World Champion Red Sox struggled at the plate, but was kept in the solely for his defensive wizardry. How did baseball people not know that? He had the requisite highlight reel catches. He had the youtube gimmick where he threw a ball over the fence from home plate. When the Sox traded for Cespedes, the discussion of the two cannon arms in the Sox outfield was widespread. Isn’t that the kind of publicity that gets you votes?

To make it even easier, Jones didn’t exactly run away with the award. He wasn’t Willie Mays out there. Bradley had better numbers. He had fewer errors than Jones did. He beat him in most of the other stats as well. Considering the fact that metrics are supposed to be a quarter of the vote total, the actual voters must have been especially lazy.

Or especially stupid.

Or both.

You could say that his brief demotion was a factor. But, he still played more games in center than the Ortiz-like number that Rafael Palmiero played when he won. Some people are saying that the fact that he didn’t hit well oddly hurt him in the voting for a defensive awards. But, his hitting was soooo bad, that shouldn’t it have helped him? How amazing must his defense have been to for the Red Sox to keep trotting him up to the plate three times a game? He was so good, he couldn’t even be saved as a defensive replacement. He needed to be the field as much as possible…even if it meant an automatic out every trip to the plate.

His defense was that good.

Didn’t the opposing managers and coaches see that? Didn’t they wonder why this schmuck batting .200 was in the line-up against them? Didn’t they see his first amazing catch and find their answer?

What were they thinking?


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

I Scored!



April 19, 2003

This is an early look at the 2003 Red Sox. The team that would have a great regular season, only to crush us all at the end. How early in the season was it? Take a look at the number 8 batter. Yup. Giambi. This is before David Ortiz would make his presence in the line-up permanent. Ortiz would hit 31 HR in 2003. But, Giambi got the nod on this day.

Other than Giambi, though, this line-up looks a lot like the one that would be a mainstay for the championship team. Damon, Millar, Ramirez, Nixon, Mueller, and Varitek would all gets rings in 2004. (OK, Nomar got a ring too…but you know what I mean.) So, it probably should be a surprise that the second time through the line-up, this team just pounced.

Before I go any further, I have to point out the pitcher’s box. Want to know a big reason why I started printing my own scorecards? There’s a bit one. Three spots for pitchers. Three! Oh sure, that’s all I needed in this game…but in any of the others? The Blue Jays used five in this game. That’s much closer to the norm. I needed a new card, just to list pitchers.

The player of the game for the Sox? It’s a tough call. Both Walker and Nixon went 2-4. Both had 2 RBI. Both walked. I’ll have to give it to Nixon though, by virtue of his triple.

The goat? Two players went 0-4 on the day. But, Nomar didn’t even score a run. When you’re third in the order, in front of Manny Ramirez, you’re counted on to get a hit.

But, of course, in the end it didn’t matter. The Sox piled it on in a big third inning, and rode it out from there. It was a total team effort, which led to a great early season win.


And the scorecard shows how it happened.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

From the Pedro Binder

2001 Fleer Showcase

OK. first of all, lets pretend that my scanner didn't catch this card just before it spun out of control into a nearby tree.

After that, I'm not sure what to make of this card. On paper, it meets the checklist of things I like pretty well, but they all have qualifiers. I like how small the Showcase logo is. But, they cut a box in the middle of the design to help it stand out. Pedro's name is in nice block letters. But, they're gold, sideways, and partially obscured by his hand. I like the picture having the ball in mid-flight. But, it's right in front of Pedro's face. I like how the color scheme lets Pedro pop. But, the square graphics are a little distracting.

What does that mean? I guess, much like the color scheme, I'm pretty neutral. I can't really get excited about it either way. I can't hate it, But, if I'm ranking my favorite Pedro cards, it would take a while to get to this one.

I wonder how Fleer would feel about that. With so many sets, were they just aiming to not turn collectors away? Sure, the best idea is a design that would actually draw collectors to the set. But, really, what are the odds of that? Maybe the best they're hoping for is "adequate"? If they're making ten different sets, as long as I'm willing to buy all ten, that might be a win for them.

It certainly seems to be their goal sometimes.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

One Year Ago!

It’s hard to believe that the best Red Sox game I’ve ever been to was just one year ago!

So much has happened since then, including the Sox falling back to the bottom off the division. In some ways that championship feels so long ago.

But, it so many others, it seems like it was only yesterday. There are so many reminders of that wonderful night all around me. Even though they didn’t perform as well, most of the key players were still in Boston this season. Living proof that the championship actually happened. There are videos of it on youtube all over the place. Ways to see the game over and over.

Of course, my house is packed to the gills with championship memorabilia. Every time I see a piece of it, I’m brought back to that game six. Especially one picture. Like everyone else at the game, I had the camera in heavy use the entire ninth inning. During the final at-bat, it was even more rapid fire trying to catch a memorable image. Every time Koji wound up, the clicks went off. Once the game was over, the clicks went crazy again. I really wanted a pig pile picture for the wall, after all. In all the excitement and bouncing around, I never got one that didn’t look like everyone was underwater. I’m actually glad I didn’t. If I had taken the time and made the effort to get a really good shot, I would have missed out on the celebration of the moment. All that emotion would have been hidden away. That would have been a shame.

Besides, I was able to get a better shot.

As luck would have it, my little camera caught the very final swing of the series. Pedroia is airborne as he completes his pre-pitch hop. Koji is in the follow-though. The bat is a blur just over the blur of the pitch crossing the plate. The exact moment of the strike out. Sure, it’s not a professional pic. It even takes a bit to realize that you can see the ball and the bat. But, it’s the moment. The exact moment it became the best game I’d ever been to.

How can I not look at that every day, and smile?


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

One Last Day

Yup. Today is the final day this season that the Red Sox will be reigning World Champions.

It a little sad, and a little exciting. Sure, it’s sad because you’d prefer they were still “defending” World Champions. But, alas, a title defense was not in the cards. Things never seemed to get going the way they needed to. We all kept waiting for everything to click into place, but it never did. Once the team was sure of that, they threw in the towel. Hit the do-over button and cut their losses. While it was a smart move, it did not make for exciting September baseball. Which means it’s been a while since the Red Sox have been playing games that mean anything. I definitely preferred the last World Series to this one, for that very reason.

It’s also very exciting. Although by the end of the night they will have lost their crown, they can finally start the process of getting it back. Since we all now know that going from worst to first is possible, it’s exciting to be able to get to see them try again.

What will they do? Who will they sign? Who will they trade? Who will be left? What will the team look like?

All those questions can start to be answered as soon as the World Series concludes. Red Sox fans can stop slogging through a lost season, and start ramping up for the next one. With so many spare parts, this has to be one of the most interesting off-seasons in recent memory. The have to make at least one big trade, just to clear room on the roster. They’ll need to sign a free agent or two, just to fill holes.

They’ll need to decide on a direction for the team. Is this a full-blown youth movements with all the warts that come with it? They could certainly do that. Start a rookie or second year player at about six starting positions, and trade away some veterans. There may be some bumps along the way, but it could be interesting. Or, trade away most of the youth for a veteran team that would be very competitive right now, if not for the long haul. Or a combination of the two with so youth, and experience combined into a single unit.

I can’t wait to see which direction they choose. And it all starts after game seven is over.

Go Royals!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Ten Years!

It’s still unbelievable, even if looking back it shouldn’t have been. Do you remember how you felt when that flip landed safely in Mientkiewicz’s glove? My reaction was a little surprising to me. After all, when Luis Gonzalez’s single reached the outfield grass in 2001, I jumped up and danced around the room. That wasn’t even the Sox winning. But, this time, while everyone else was jumping up and down on screen?

I exhaled.

That’s all. I gave out a “phew” and just sat there. Sat there and felt the relief. Sat there watching. Sat there as everything changed around me. Sat there and enjoyed every second of it.

And, everything really did change. I’m not usually one to relate events on a sports field to real life. I get that Curt Schilling wasn’t a “hero.” Being at a no-hitter shouldn’t be the best moment of my life. But, this was different. This was life-altering.

No, not in the “what do I do now?” way that some people actually suggested. I wasn’t once worried about what I would do without the misery of cheering for a loser. I was very happy to transfer into cheering for a Champion. When they did it again a few years later, I knew exactly how to enjoy that one as well. I seamlessly switched to cheering for the top dog, as opposed to the underdog. That wasn’t it.

It was everyone else. Some people thought Boston fans were weird for putting all this stock in a supposed “curse.” We didn’t. Sure, we might have had some fun with it every now and then. But it was everyone else that kept making it a “thing.” After Foulke flipped it to Meintkiewicz, that all had to stop. Yankees fans had to stop that annoying “1918” chant. I never really understood it. Either you were the defending champs, or you weren’t. Everything else was just extra. I guess other than Yankees fans themselves where past success matters. But, for everyone else it didn’t matter how long it had been. Once it got to a few years, it was all the same. But, that was over. They would at least have to come up with a new annoying chant now. Or a new way to hang “K” signs instead of using Babe’s face.

And the networks. Maybe I could watch a nationally televised game again without them harping all over how much bread cost in 1918. How much had that become the easy way out when it came to a Sox broadcast? FOX actually tried to resurrect it last season by making up this streak of not clinching a championship at home since 1918. They already had the stories and the graphics, they just needed a way to work them into the broadcast. Because that’s how long it had been since a home clinch. Get my point? At least they had to try harder now, and be a little bit creative. It all changed.

It was stuff like that, and all the other stuff too. The world was a different place. No more curse of Ruth. No more Buckner replays, like that was in game seven or something. The Red Sox, and me as their fan, had to be treated like every other team and every other teams’ fan. I didn’t once feel like I lost an identity. I felt like I gained a new, better one.

The aforementioned 2007 championship was the perfect example of that. When the Sox went up 3-0 on the Cardinals, I admit that a SMALL part of me had a thought. Wouldn’t it be just like them to be the first MLB team to ever come back from being down 0-3, just to become the second team to ever blow a 3-0 lead, in the very next series! But, I had none of that in 2007. The Sox were down 1-3 to Cleveland, and it was OK. Of course Beckett would be overpowering the next game. He wasn’t going to pitch well during the season only to give it up at the end. Why would he? He’s not Clemens. The past had nothing to do with it. It was all about that team, and what they could do. It was wonderful. It was freeing. It was different.

It was life changing.

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