Monday, February 29, 2016

From the Pedro Binder

2001 Leaf Rookies and Stars Dress for Success

In 2001, game used inserts were all the rage. In just a handful of years, they had gone from rare treasures to something you expected. Those first days of Upper Deck declaring “Game Used Jersey!!!” and needing nothing else were gone.

We now had two pieces of game used memorabilia instead of just one. And, the insert needed to have a clever name as opposed to just calling it a game used card.

I bet you know where I’m going with this.

The name of the insert set is “Dress for Success” and includes a piece of a game used…bat.  Now, unless you’re considering a bat some sort of wardrobe accessory, I’m not thinking you need one to dress for success. Especially for Pedro. You know, a pitcher. His bat accounts for, roughly, 0% of his success. 

Oh, yeah. I know that a jersey piece is included on the card. And, a jersey is something you’d need to dress for success. And, if the set was titled “Things you need to be successful” I wouldn’t have nearly the problem. But, if you’re going to go through the trouble of naming the set after clothing, follow through with it. Otherwise, you’re just naming it something for the sake of naming something.

And we wouldn’t want that.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

OHB Completes Me

It was a few years ago that I made a coupe collecting decisions. I had too many collecting interests, and was accumulating too many cards I really didn’t want. So, I made two big decisions. I would only collect cards from the Topps family of brands. (So, you can imagine my relief when they were the ones who got the exclusive license a few years back.) I would also only collect Red Sox cards. 

But, that still left so many questions.

Would I collect every Topps brand? Every subset of every Topps brand? How about test issues, or stickers, or food issues with the Topps name in the corner?


How was I ever going to keep track of it all? How was I ever going to even make up wantlists for it all? How did I expect to actively pursue all those cards?

More decisions.

I wouldn’t. 

I wasn’t going to worry about hunting them all down. There was so much out there, that I was just going to do what I can, and have the cards find their way to me. I put together some easy to create wantlist for people who wanted to trade, or donate. Base sets of a few of my favorite brands. But, frankly I’d take whatever Red Sox cards people wanted to send me. Most important, I was going to be OK with the fact that this method might mean I never complete any team sets. There were so many cards from so many brands, that the chances of coming across all the cards of a specific set were slim.

Until Tony of Off Hiatus Baseball came along. He would have none of that.

He Completed Me.

A lot.

In fact, in a recent shipment, he finished off six different team sets. Six! Sets from three different decades. All now complete, thanks to this one shipment.


So, what did he send along? I’m glad you asked.

Cards from the seventies! I’ll always have a soft spot for the 1976 set, so it’s great whenever I can add one of those. Those 1977 Hall of Famers? Yup, the 1977 set is now complete!

Cards from the eighties! More Hall of Famers! The 1980 set? Now complete! 1982. Now complete! 1984? Complete! 1989? Yup. Complete. 

New shiny cards. 2014 Bowman? You guessed it. Complete!

Of course, not every card can complete a set. Some just get me a little bit closer. Here are some cards of grumpy players staring down the camera.

A Red Sox legend.

Quotes Pedroia.

It was a wonderful package, and I had a great time going through it. I had an even better time writing “Complete” on all those wantlists.

Imagine that.

Thanks Tony!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Is This the First Time People Have Seen Pablo Sandoval?

I was worried about this. I was afraid that without any real stories to discuss at camp, people would just start making things up. That’s exactly what happened.

First, people were all over Pablo Sandoval because he wasn’t as early to camp as some other players. He wasn’t late, of course. He just wasn’t as early as some others. But, he wasn’t as late as some players. (Like Dustin Pedroia, for instance.) So, because he wasn’t as late to camp as the person who apparently sets the tone for the club for hard work and work ethic, Panda was trashed for it.

But, once he did show up to camp, people found a new thing to whine about. He looked heavy.

Really? Is this the first picture they’ve seen of Panda? For crying out loud, there’s a reason his nickname isn’t “Kung Fu Meerkat.” He’s not a trim guy. He’s never been a trim guy. He’s always looked like a panda. What’s your point?

But, the Red Sox told him to lose weight during the offseason, and he blew them off! We don’t need that sort of attitude! Well, actually, they didn’t tell him to lose weight. They told him to be better conditioned. There’s a difference, of course. The Sox are satisfied with his conditioning, so why shouldn’t we be?

Because he had an off year last year! He got his contract, so now he’s just a big fat slug! He’s supposed to have dropped 100 pounds this offseason and come to camp with fire in his eyes and something to prove.


Let’s look at last season. Yes, his numbers were down. But, he was never Mike Trout. He’s not a 30 HR guy. He doesn’t hit .330. He’s a solid player who hits like the dickens in the postseason. That was his claim to fame, and why the Sox needed him.

So, last season he was down. His OBP was down about 30 points from his last season in San Francisco. His batting average was also down about 30 points. His slugging dropped about 50. But, here’s the interesting thing.

He didn’t play in as many games as he did in 2014. But if you account for that, he had about the same number of walks in 2015 as 2014. Same with strikeouts. He also had about the same number of homeruns, and even had a few more doubles in 2015 compared to 2014. 

So, he was putting roughly the same number of balls in play. He just wasn’t getting as many hits. Haven’t we all pretty much decided by now that once you put the ball in play, unless you’re hitting it over the fence, there’s not a lot you can do to get yourself a hit. It’s up to the defense. So, without a drop in homeruns, the only other explanation is either dumb luck, or the change to Fenway Park. (Well, I suppose it could be a drop in infield hits…but I’m guessing Panda didn’t beat out 20 more of those in 2014.)

So, which of those factors was a result of Panda’s attitude or work ethic? Was he unlucky last season because his attitude was poor? 

If you want to be concerned because you think Fenway was the reason, I’ll let you be concerned. But, I don’t know what Pablo is supposed to do about it. He can’t change Fenway’s dimensions. He can’t work harder to move the wall back 20 feet. It’s just the way it is.

So, it’s time we stop jumping at the low hanging fruit. Pudgy guy with history of success has bad year, and is still pudgy. Just because he doesn’t look like Mookie Betts doesn’t mean he can’t play baseball. He’s shown that he can do it over and over.

No reason to think he won’t do it again.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Today’s the Day!

It’s finally here! Today is the day that, well, nothing really happens! But, nothing really happens officially for the first time!

Today is, of course, the day pitchers and catchers need to officially report to Spring Training. Of course, most of them have been there for quite some time. So many of them have been there early, in fact, that people were actually blasting Pablo Sandoval, who is neither a pitcher nor a catcher, for not already being in camp.

So while today doesn’t actually mark the start of anything new, it is yet another check box on the way to actual baseball.

Truck Day. Check.

Pitchers and catchers report. Check.

We’re on our way!

The only problem with today? Spring Training is just awful. Nothing actually happens, especially for a team like the Red Sox. Maybe on a team full of youngsters there are some fun positional battles to look into. But, not here. I think I can already pretty well predict the Red Sox batting order on Opening Day. So, with little to report on, the media will have to just start making stuff up. Stores like Mookie rolling a golf cart into a pond take up three days of a news cycle. Clips of Hanley Ramirez fielding a ground ball are treated like they’re museum artifacts. With any luck, the media will only invent fluff pieces, as opposed to inventing controversies. But, I’m not holding out hope.

So, is there anything worth paying attention to during the Spring? Maybe a few things.

I want to see how Hanley handles first base. Yes, as I said before, he’s going to be just fine. But, how fine? Will he be able to start off running? 

How will the rotation fall together? I think we can guess who will be at the top. But, after that? Porcello and Buchholz would seem to have a slot somewhere. From there, things could get interesting. Who steps up and grabs a spot?

I’d like to see how Jackie Bradley hits. As with any Spring Training stat, I’d be more concerned with failures and I’d be pleased with success. With the level of competition he’ll be seeing, I’d hope he wouldn’t struggle. But, beyond that what does he show?

What about catcher? Is Vazquez healthy enough to make it a real competition? What will the result of that be?

With the outfield presumably full, where does Brock Holt find at-bats? Does he finally figure out how to pitch?

While I don’t expect to find answers to any of these questions, it’ll be fun to watch and see how the questions frame themselves. If nothing else, there’s baseball stuff going on!

What are you looking forward to this spring?

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Why Hanley Ramirez Won’t Fail

Hanley Ramirez has arrived at Spring Training, and people have lost their minds. I suppose that on twitter, I should expect the occasional fool saying that they’re going to hide their eyes, or pretend it isn’t happening. But, even the media is solely focused on Hanley's play at first base. It’s like they’ve all pre-determined that this is going to be the story that they focus on all spring. Which, I suppose, is exactly what happened. 

But, why is everyone so sure that Hanley is going to be such a failure at first? Because it’s an easy joke? Because saying “Hanley will play a solid if underwhelming first base” isn’t as much of a “hot take” as screaming that "everyone better hide their children when Hanley takes the field"?

I guess the first thing we should really do is define what “failure” means at first base. Do we really know what we’re talking about here? A first baseman probably gets about nine total chances per game. Seven or eight of those are going to be receiving a throw. The other one will be an assist or pop up. So, of those nine chances…how many do you think Hanley is going to screw up? 

Let’s look at the eight putouts. Think back to a game. How many of those throws are “tough”? How many of them are one-hop ground balls to Pedroia where he throws the ball right at Hanley’s chest to get runner out by 30 feet? Or Xander? Most of them? Six? Can we assume six of the eight putouts are ones that even you could make? Honestly.

What about the other two? Can he stretch a little bit? Can he make some sort of play on a ball? Everyone seems to think Hanley was so terrible in the outfield, but he did move around a bit to make a play on the ball quite often, right? Hasn’t he been an infielder his entire career? I mean, in 2014 he had 246 assists at shortstop, for crying out loud. He’s not going to let every ball not thrown at his chest get by him. 

So, nine chances per game. Six of which there can’t be any question at all he will make. So, how many of the others do people think he’s going to miss? Is he going to have the range of some other first basemen? Maybe not. Although, again, he is a career infielder. Is he going to make a perfect throw to second to start a double play? Maybe not. Although, how often does that actually come up?

So, what are people afraid Hanley is going to do? 

I heard one person say that he was going to affect the entire infield. That Pedroia might think twice about throwing off-balance from his knees in a pathetic attempt to make a highlight reel if he doesn't think Hanley will bail him out and save him from making an error. (Or, something like that.) Seems to me that if an infielder is worried about the first baseman saving an error, it's probably a throw they shouldn't be making in the first place.

So, what's "failure"?

He's not going to make an error every game. He's not. He's probably not going to win the gold glove either...although that should be his goal. He might even be the worst defensive first baseman in the league. After all, somebody has to be. But, that doesn't mean he's a failure that is painful to watch.

Is he going to make errors? Absolutely. Will he make a dozen errors? Most likely. Will he make an error that costs the Sox a game? Sure. Lots of players do. Does that mean he's a failure at the position? Hardly. Because he's not going to be a failure. He'll be average.

Hanley's going to be just fine.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Bobby Valentine was Underrated

If you went anywhere near Facebook yesterday, you're well aware it was Valentine's Day. With the internet being the clever place it is, many people celebrated by posting or tweeting pictures or references of former manager Bobby Valentine. Unfortunately, many of those posts came with discussions of the "terrible" job he did in Boston. Saying they can't stand seeing his picture in a Sox uniform as if he was to blame for the bad season in 2012.

That's just not fair.

Did Valentine deserve some of the blame? Sure. How much? I'm not sure.

Some of the common media storylines say Valentine was practically a clubhouse cancer. He lost control of the team. Players wouldn't play for him. He was a punchline. Of course, the media was saying that from the day he was hired. For some reason, the second he was named as the next manager, the media went into overdrive. He was going to be nuts. They were drooling over the potential stories. They rarely touched on his successes (or even failures) as a manager. They were just excited to have a circus atmosphere in town. They were waiting for the easy stories. As the season progressed, it seemed like they had all the stories pre-written and were just releasing them as time went on. He was crazy. The players don't respect him. He doesn't know what going on with his clubhouse. He's lost control. The team just won't play for him. But, check out what the New York Times had to say halfway through that season. I assume that the NYT is probably pretty impartial in this case. And they were glowing over the fight the Red Sox had. A whole article about how anyone would forgive them for folding it up after all the injuries they had, but they keep battling back. They'd risen as a team to overcome so many obstacles. They pointed out that on July 7, the Sox were only a couple games out of the playoffs.

Sound like a guy who's lost control of the team to you? Yeah. Me neither.

What happened after that? Well the article mentions that the Sox just lost Pedroia to yet another injury a few day prior. A week or so later they lost Ortiz for, basically, the season. Will Middlebrooks would go down a month later. Then, you may remember, the Sox made a trade getting rid of what little talent that wasn't on the disabled list (and some talent that was). Of course, at that point what little chance the Sox had of winning went right on over to LA.

Valentine was criticized for saying the team he had in September was the worst one in the history of the game, or something like that. Maybe he shouldn't have said it out loud. But, was he wrong? I didn't hear anyone criticizing him on the merits of the comment. I mean look at this line-up for the September 23rd game against Baltimore. Podsednik-Ciriaco-Pedroia-Ross-Loney-Saltalamacchia-Valencia-Nava-Iglesias. Yeah. Exactly. So, with that roster, the team spiraled down to the last place finish at the end. Not sure I can really blame Valentine for that one.

So, once again the laziness of the media perpetuated a storyline that was easy, but not exactly accurate. The team, when he had a team, actually fought hard for Valentine. They didn't give up until their bodies did. Bobby Valentine didn't curse the team to finish last. He did a pretty good job when he had players to manage. And, even sometimes when he didn't.

After all, the Sox won that September 23rd game.

Friday, February 12, 2016

2016 Topps is in Section 36!

That’s right. Finally my grubby little hands are wrapped around the brand new 2016 Topps baseball cards!

I know what you’re all thinking. What does Section 36 think of the cards? The design? The pictures? It’s been eating you up inside for weeks, right? How could you be expected to get on with your life without knowing what I thought?

Well, fear not. Just in time to enjoy the long weekend, I give you my thoughts on my very first blaster of cards! 

Well, at least my thoughts on the Red Sox cards. But, you probably suspected that.

Shall we?

The first Red Sox card of 2016? This wonderful Carl Yastrzemski card!

OK. “Wonderfull” is officially a stretch. I’m certainly never going to complain about getting a Yaz card to add to my collection. But, “Amazing Milestones”? I feel like we’ve been doing that for a while. I feel like we’ve been looking at this card design for a while. Not to mention that a “milestone” is something that marks a change or stage in development. This card celebrates Yaz’s 1967 Triple Crown. I suppose that’s a change from being a “non-winner” to a winner…or the stage where he now has “one” crown. But, I don’t think it really qualifies as a “milestone” the way “3000 hits” or “400 HR” would be. So, we’re basically starting off with “meh.”

Next up we find this Henry Owens card. Now we’re talking. An honest to goodness base card! Now I can see what I’m dealing with here. First off, I forget sometimes how young Owens is. He’s been hyped for so long, that I almost consider him a bust already. But, here he is with that RC logo on his card. The rest of the card? I really like it. I like the retro 1993 Donruss feel of it. I like the clouds. Yup. I like the clouds. I like the fact that they obscure the background of the picture, but the player goes over them. As someone who’s always been a sucker when it comes to pictures extending over borders, this hit me right in the feels. Sure, it’s not giving the picture the full attention that I usually enjoy. But, it’s more of an old-time 50’s feel where they player was cut out and placed on a background. It’s almost like it’s a ’54 Topps card with clouds instead of colors.

Hey, I said “almost.”

Next up was this Pedroia. I notice that the design is flipped for no apparent reason. Unfortunately, with he hanging Sox design, I think this direction is definitely a step back. I'm sure with some team logos it doesn't matter at all. But, for the Sox it does.

We'll wrap things up with Ted Williams. Again, never will I complain about adding a Williams card. Even in a "meh" design. I should point out again, though, that this doesn't really celebrate a milestone. It talks about Ted's .406 season in 1941. Unless you're calling it a milestone on the way to ten .400 seasons, this one doesn't really qualify. I'd almost rather they selected some obscure 500 total bases in Yankee Stadium...than ignore the title of the subset to once again talk about Ted's 1941 season.

So, there you have it. All the Red Sox cards from the blaster. I'm excited about the design of the base cards, and can't wait to get the rest of them!

What do you think?

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

It’s Truck Day

That’s right. The next milestone on the way to honest to goodness baseball is upon us. The truck has been loaded with gear, and is on its way to Florida!

I know I probably ask this every year, but I still don’t have a good answer. Why does there need to be a truck? I know that these days the Sox have turned it into an even, and good for them for doing so. But, do they really need the actual vehicle?

According to the Sox, there are 20,400 baseballs on their way to Florida. I assume those are 840 clean fresh cases of balls? They aren’t leftover batting practice balls from the 2015 season, are they? If so, why are they in Fenway to begin with? Why have 840 cases delivered from Rawlings to a place where they’re not needed? Why not just have them go directly to Fenway South? After all, some players are there now. Don’t they need some balls? Did they have to bring their own? So, why not store the baseballs where they’re needed? Even if they’re actually using leftover 2015 baseballs, what about the ones used last Spring? Can’t they just stay in Florida to be used this year? How about bats? The Sox loaded 1100 of them onto the truck. Don’t players get a new shipment of bats every few weeks? Can’t they just have them delivered to Florida? Or batting gloves. The Sox loaded 200 of them to be on their way. Are they used gloves from last year? Are they recycling the same batting helmets from the 2015 season? Aren’t they new? Why are they sitting in the wrong location all winter?

It’s really confusing to me.

But, whatever the reason, the truck is on its way. 


We’ve had the end to the Section 36 Scavenger Hunt. Now we’ve had truck day. Official Pitcher and Catcher reporting day is almost here. Then there will be workouts. On green grass. Then games. Then, we get to see real stuff!

Sure, there’s the garbage of actual Spring Training in the way. But it’s always nice to know progress is being made. We’re going to start to see how things will sort themselves out. Who’s going to fill out the rotation? Where are people going to work themselves into the line-up? How is the team going to look on Opening Day? It’s going to be a lot of fun.

And it all started today.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Newton and the Media

I know I've said it before. But, with it being an election year, I have a new example.

People have been suggesting that where you get your campaign money from will influence how a person will act as president. Bernie Sanders will apparently fight for the little people because his donations have come in little amounts. Hillary Clinton will apparently side with Wall Street because she gets money from them. That's the base assumption, and the candidates have to fight for, or against, that assumption.

So, I find it interesting that nobody thinks the media is swayed by the people that contribute to them. 

Of course they are.

Cam Newton is bing blasted for being a baby. Or a sore loser. Why? Because he walked out of a press conference. So, because he wouldn't answer questions about losing asked by people with no involvement in the game, he's a sore loser. The fact that he congratulated Peyton Manning, who was actually involved in the game, and was very humble in that exchange is no matter. He was short with the media! He needs to learn how to act. Apparently, he needs to learn to help the media do their jobs for them.

It's nothing new, of course. Think back on the Red Sox to players who were "grumpy" or "aloof" or "not fit for Boston." JD Drew. Daisuke Matsuzaka. What was their fault? They didn't fill reporter's notebooks with easy quotes. They didn't make the stories write themselves. So, they were blasted for it. Why can Dustin Pedroia do no wrong even though his selfishness has hurt the team over and over? Because he's free flowing with as many quotes as reporters would like.

Why do we stand for this? 

Why don't we insist that people reporting on the Sox distance themselves from the players. After all, it's not like we need quotes to read a story. I can see that the Red Sox lost a game by looking at the score. A reporter can probably tell me why they lost without a player saying they need to "do better" next time. So, why not cut them off completely? 

Why do we continue to let the media insist that people who treat them better are somehow the type of players we need? If Cam Newton's teammates and opponents think he's a professional, why do we let the media say otherwise based solely on how he treats them? They are not the most important thing in sports.

No matter what they say.

Monday, February 8, 2016

I Scored!

July 27, 2002

Two pretty remarkable things happened on this scorecard, and both of them on the lower half.

First, check out the number nine spot. I see #26 was playing. Clearly the only #26 that I can think of is Wade Boggs. So, he must have been playing in that game. Oh. Wait. Lou Merloni wore that number. Never would have guessed. Anyway, there was still a pretty remarkable thing that happened in that nine slot. See? Right there. Merloni hit a home run! What a rare honor to be in the park when that happened.

You need to keep travelling down the card to see another remarkable event. All the way down to the Pitchers Box. See all the names listed there? See how there’s only one? See how the only one name listed was John Burkett? Yes. John Burkett threw a complete game four-hit shutout. On the same day that Lou Merloni hit a home run. The odds of that ever happening at the same time must be staggering!

What about the rest of the game? Burkett didn’t require much run support in this game, and he didn’t get a ton of it. Four runs, though, was plenty. A couple more oddities? Tro Nixon was on base for two passed balls, and Shea Hillenbrand grounded into two double plays. OK. Maybe the last one wasn’t all that odd. Definitely a weird day!

The player of the game on the day? Was tempted to give it to Merloni for the sheer shock value. But, Manny Ramirez had two hits, and scored two runs. Hard to argue with that on this day.

The goat? Was going to give it to Nomar until I saw Johnny Damon on top of the order. 0-4 with two strikeouts would be plenty. But, the one time he did reach base he got caught stealing. Really not what you’re looking for from your leadoff hitter.

But, as we know, it didn’t matter. John Burkett made sure that those issues would not haunt the Sox. He shut the door on the Orioles, and Boston was able to cruise to an easy victory.

And the scorecard shows how it happened.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Oops, She Did it Again

History has been made!

For the first time in the existence of the Section 36 Scavenger Hunt, someone has successfully defended their title!

That's right. This year's winner is none other than Kristen!

She becomes just the second person with two titles, joining Jere in that honor. But, as I mentioned, she's the first to ever g back-to-back!

Congratulations Kristen!

Let's take a look at some of the items she found, shall we?

Showing off one of the many things I tell people about the hunt...they don't need to be new pictures! This wasn't a trip that Kristen made specifically for the hunt. So, remember, sometimes the "hunt" portion can be "hunting" through your camera roll!

Love how she went above and beyond with this picture. The item was just for salsa. She decided to go for three different kinds!

More extra effort! She didn't have a used Section 36 scorecard she re-scored a game! She even did both sides of the card!

Another thing I remind people during the hunt is that you don't need to own the items! A simple trip to the store next to Fenway Park (or, any number of stores) can reveal several this one!

I guess when you have something like this, finding autographs of specific players can be easy!

When I listed "2013 World Championship Item" I was expecting something fairly routine. Maybe a commemorative magnet, or bobblehead. Of course, Kristen had to go ahead and post a picture of her holding the actual 2013 World Series trophy. I'd say that counts!

The hunt requested a bobblehead. Above and beyond and beyond.

Again, the hunt was looking for a male and a female Red Sox fan. That wasn't good enough for Kristen. How about a half dozen of each?

To top it off...even though Kristen sent pictures wonderfully displaying each item on its own, she knew that the tiebreaker was to get as many items into a single picture as possible. So, she did that too. Here's a picture containing just about everything she found. Well done!

So, let's have a big round of applause for Kristen as she cruised to another victory. Hopefully everyone who entered had a lot of fun looking for items, even if it didn't lead to a victory. There's always next year. 

Congratulations again Kristen!

Friday, February 5, 2016

Time's Up!!!

The buzzer has sounded. The clock has struck. The sirens are wailing. It's over.

You are out of time to enter the 2015 Section 36 Scavenger Hunt!

Did you get an entry in on time? Was it a good one?

Keep looking back at this blog so you don't miss the announcement of the winner.

Who will it be?

Thursday, February 4, 2016

From the Pedro Binder

2001 Fleer Ultra

I can’t decide what to make of this card.

The whole point of Fleer Ultra is supposed to be competition for Stadium Club and its amazing photography. So, Fleer went to the full bleed design with minimal graphics. Then, they went with this picture.

Is this the type of picture that you want to focus on? Nobody’s throwing a ball. Nobody’s diving to catch a ball. Nobody’s braking up a double play. It’s just Pedro sitting alone in a dugout. 

Talk about a Clay Buchholz sized waste.

You’re giving me the full bleed on the picture, but then using up most of it with the green dugout step? On purpose? Maybe I could understand it if the graphics were reversed. If they used the green dugout step as something to hide behind Pedro’s name, I could let it be. But, instead they leave that part front and center, while covering up Pedro with his name.

It’s so bizarre. 

It’s not even Pedro being characteristically goofy in the dugout. He’s not wearing a Yoda mask, or being taped to a dugout pole. It’s about as subdued as Pedro gets when he’s sitting in the dugout. And this is what they choose to celebrate on a card meant to show off a great picture? It’s shameful.

And such a waste.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Groundhog Predictions

Saw an article online wondering how accurate groundhog weather predictions were. I didn’t read the article, but it struck me as an odd concept. 

How would you know?

I mean, it’s not like the groundhog is making predictions down to tenths of degrees. “Six more weeks of winter” is a pretty arbitrary concept. On March 15, what conditions would qualify as “winter”? Snow on the ground? Temps below freezing? Similarly, how do you define “early spring”? I assume it has to mean earlier than six weeks, right? So in, say four weeks, how do I know if I’ve reached spring? Is there a temperature threshold somewhere? It makes me wonder why anyone ever found those predictions useful, or why they bother.

Then I realized, we make these kinds of predictions all the time this time of year when it comes to the Red Sox. It seems to be what the pre-Spring Training days are for.

How will the young outfield do? How will the Hanley Ramirez experiment at first go? How will the rotation be?

None of those have defined answers. But, that doesn't stop us from debating the questions. What's a "success" for Ramirez at first? Fewer than ten errors? Is there a fielding percentage we have in mind? Or, for the outfield. Is there a number of runs saved we're thinking about? Or a number of runs scored? What defines "good"?

I know. That's the very reason these discussions are so popular. You can't really be wrong. Even when you try to work some number into predictions, there's always wiggle room.

I remember an interview with some baseball insider prior to the 2013 season. There were some questions asked. Would the Red Sox finish above .500? Absolutely. Would the Sox be a playoff team? No.

So, the Sox would absolutely win 83 games to finish above .500. But, not win the 89 games it'd probably take to make the Wild Card? Obviously, the Sox did make the playoffs. But, how wrong was the insider, really? There's always some wiggle room.

As we get closer to actual baseball, we'll keep trying to decide if different aspect of the Red Sox will be "good" or not in the 2016 season. Then we'll all wait to see how right we were.

For the record, I think the Hanley experiment will be a "success." The rotation and the young outfield will be "good" and the Sox will "meet or exceed expectations."

Whatever any of that really means.

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