Saturday, April 30, 2016

Well, There You Go

Just when things were looking bad, David Ortiz produced another Papi Moment.

But, we certainly wouldn't want to forget the moment that happened before that. We've come to expect these heroics for Ortiz over the years. But, Jackie Bradley Jr has not been known for his bat. So, it's ironic that in the same game where he actually misplays a ball he also ties the game with a clutch hit. It was the exact situation that buries bad teams. You're facing a starter that had given you fits all night. Get a couple guys on, and your number nine hitter strikes out. But that's not what happened. Bradley came through in that situation, tying the game, and chasing the starter. It was wonderful.

It was also a reminder that Bradley has been doing that a lot lately. A game winning RBI the other night. A home run to provide a 1-0 victory another night. A game tying double late in last night's game.   Frankly, if Bradley does nothing else at the plate, he's already added enough to his otherworldly defense to make it a productive season. But, I don't imagine he's done wowing us at the plate.

And neither is Ortiz. He never seems to care how good the Yankees bullpen is supposed to be. He didn't even wait around last night. He guessed correctly on the first pitch, and took advantage. Just like he always does.

So, if your goal is to win every series at home, the Sox are off to a great start in this series. Parcel and Price are the next two starters, so you have to like the chances of taking at least one of those. Last night's game was the wild card. And it came up Sox.

Can't wait to see what happens next!

Friday, April 29, 2016

Papi Moments

As everyone in Red Sox Nation celebrates David Ortiz’s final season, I thought it would be a good excuse to recount some of the most memorable things I’ve seen David Ortiz do.

Especially on days where I can’t think of something else to write about.

These sorts of endeavors are always tricky, which I suppose is part of their charm. Of course, anyone can put together a list of David Ortiz Highlights. But, if I’m writing it, it should probably be the most important moments to me. Sometimes those will be the same thing. Sometimes they won’t. For that reason, most of them will be games I attended. For the most part, any moment that I’m present for will trump a moment I watch on television or hear on the radio. It has that ability to transform the last few hours of my life from a crummy time to a pretty good time.

Or, in the case of this moment, even longer.

I’m going to start with Ortiz’s home run to win game four of the 2004 ALCS. I was in the ballpark for that game. Although, I’ll admit it was pure luck that kept me in the ballpark until that moment.

Usually I take the T when I go to games. But, for that game my brother was driving us, and he decided to drive in and find a lot. We found a lot not too far from the park, that included blocked parking. We were somewhat near the entrance to the lot, but by the time we left the lot, a couple cars had come to block us in. 

So, I will fully admit that as the game dragged on and on, and the hour grew later and later, there were many discussions about how long we were going to stick it out. I had already seen the Yankees celebrate an American League Championship on the Fenway grass. I wasn’t thrilled about the idea of seeing another one. But, there were a couple deciding factors. Since we drove in, we weren’t slaves to the train schedules. Beyond that, we knew we were blocked in at the lot. How foolish would we feel if we left early, only to sit in our cars until the end of the game listening to it on the radio? So, we stuck it out through the cold.

What choice did we have?

Boy am I glad we did.

You all know the story. Dave Roberts stole the base after Millar walked in the bottom of the ninth. Bill Mueller drove Roberts home to tie the game. What at the time seemed like hours later, with Manny Ramirez on base Ortiz lifted a ball into the bullpen to send us all home happy.

Again, full confession, my emotion was a mixture of relief and excitement. Thank goodness the Sox hadn’t been swept. Thank goodness the game wasn’t going to go on any longer. And, Oh My God Did We Just See That?

Of course, at the time all we knew was that the series was now 3-1. For all we knew the Sox would be eliminated the following day. (Or, the same day as it turned out.)

But, of course, they weren't eliminated. That win was the start of a run unmatched in my memory.

And it all started with this Papi Moment.

(Oh. When we got back to our car, the three people blocking us in were gone. We joked with the people waiting in the cars we were blocking it that we hoped they hadn't been waiting for long. Their response was "an hour." Exactly what we were afraid of happening to us.)

Thursday, April 28, 2016

From the Pedro Binder

2000 Skybox Metal

There is one thing that could make this card work. If it was, you know, actually metal. But, alas, it is not. 

Instead, Skybox just wants to give you the illusion that the card is a dull metallic gray. So, they took what would otherwise be a pretty decent card, and blurred it up to make it look metal.

Why on earth would you do that?

Because, look at that great design, if you could see any of it. The Skybox logo is so small that it's practically invisible. The Metal logo is almost as hidden. Pedro's name is nice and bold right across the top of the card. No tilting required to read it. His team, position, and even number are clearly written right under the name. Clear as day.

That leaves plenty of room for the picture to come front and center. Sure, the picture is pretty basic. But it's well cropped, and has everything you'd want in a picture of Pedro delivering a strike.

Then they had to go muck it up my making the card look metallic.

And it's not even metal.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Family Friendliness

I went to a minor league baseball game a week or so ago. Like many minor league teams, the games were being advertised as “family” friendly. It seemed to work, because the stands were full of families with kids. 
But, it didn’t seem to be all that friendly to them.

Most of the kids I heard were complaining that they wanted food. Or something to drink. Most of the requests, though, were to go to the playground area behind the grandstand. There was one kid, though, seven or eight, happily scoring the game. He wasn’t complaining. After all, he had something to do.

Now, I’ll admit that scoring a baseball game isn’t something every kid would like to do. Heck, I’ll happily admit that it’s not something every adult would want to do. But, it struck me that there was something different about the scoring activity, and the activity that the other kids wanted to do.

Scoring kept the kid in the stands watching the game.

It occurred to me that it was a pretty obvious idea. When you go to a restaurant, with a kid, they often have “kids menus.” They sometimes have coloring pages, or mazes on them. Some pizza places hand out pizza dough to play with. Or other toys or activities to use while at the table. You know what they don’t do? They don’t provide activities in another building to do instead of sitting at the table. They’ve realized that just as important as the kids enjoying the outing is the idea of the kids enjoying their time at the table. After all, that’s what will bring them back to the restaurant.

If a kid thinks he’s having a great time at a minor league game because he loves going in the bounce house, is he really enjoying the game? Are they going to want to go back when the bounce house loses its appeal? Aren’t these minor league teams actually creating playground fans instead of baseball fans?

The Red Sox do this too. They have a time for kids to go and meet Wally. But, that happens in the middle of the game. So, again, rather than the kids learning how to enjoy themselves at the game itself, they take them somewhere else.  Why not just play Zootopia on a big screen under the bleachers? 

The minor league game did have some “in seat” entertainment. Major league teams have those too, like sausage races. But, they also took advantage of the video scoreboard more than Fenway does. Things like appropriate video clips. The one that stuck out was the “Monster’s Inc. clip of the “2319” alert that they played during a pitching change. It was clever, and appropriate. Again, Fenway does some of this when Josh Kantor plays a song with an appropriate title at an appropriate time. Would purists get upset if movie clips showed up on the video screen during a pitching change? I’m not sure. But, they already show news clips, or baseball bloopers. Why not more things that will make a kid smile. Something simple and subtle could make a kid want to stay in their seat the whole game.

Which will teach them that being in your seat is the best part about being at a game.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

It’s not the Money

As the Red Sox play their very short series in Altanta, I can’t stop thinking about money. Specifically, money the Red Sox have spent. And, beyond that, money other people don’t think they should have spent.

Some of it is because Rick Porcello pitched last night. As I discussed last week, people seem to have all sorts of problems with his contract. Not only when the Sox signed him to it, but how much money it involved. Then people remember that the Sox have Allen Craig and Rusney Castillo in Pawtucket at the moment. Both of them have pretty large contracts. When Pablo Sandoval eventually makes a rehab start in RI, it’s possible that team will have a higher payroll than many MLB teams. People yell and scream that they signed these terrible contracts and how much it has screwed the team.

Then I remember who is pitching for the Red Sox tonight.

David Price.

That’s when I feel I need to remind people that this is baseball, not football. There’s no salary cap. Signing one player doesn’t mean you automatically can’t sign another player. 

So, we need to change the question. It’s not about being overpaid or underpaid. It’s whether the player adds any value, and whether he prevents you from signing another player. 

Since David Price got his $200 million, I’m assuming the Pawtucket payroll isn’t hurting the Sox any. Now, I suppose you could argue that Craig and Castillo aren’t adding a whole lot of value. But, a former major league player isn’t a bad thing to have at the ready. And, Castillo has some skills that could be useful. As long as he’s not hurting you.

That thought process works even better in Boston. Sandoval is paid a ton to, oddly, ride the bench. But, there are worse things to have on the bench than a proven clutch performer. Hanley makes a ton, but he can play three or four positions for you, and seems to be doing a damn fine job at first base. 

If you hadn’t overpaid Rick Porcello two years ago, you wouldn’t have your best pitcher thus far this year. Which is the risk you run when trying to live up to an imaginary budget. You might miss out on players. You might miss out on players you need. All in the name of saving money.

Even though you could still go out and sign your ace.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Reviewing Reviewing

During the Red Sox game last night, the Red Sox won a challenge when it was ruled the Astros fielder took his foot off the second base bag just slightly before actually receiving the throw. Pete Abraham tweeted out that while he’s a fan of replay, he hated that review since Ortiz was about 15 feet from the bag at the time. 

I responded that the fielder should have had plenty of time, then, to actually touch the bag.

But it’s, obviously, more complex than that. 

I am completely in favor of replay. Why not actually get the calls right? In fact, I think it should happen on every play, not just when the coach asks for it. (It will forever bug me that getting a call on the field correct needs to be a coach’s decision.)

But, I can ALMOST understand Abraham’s point. I think the replays are getting bogged down on the frame by frame analysis. If we’re talking 1/16th of a second, maybe it’s best to just drop it. If you can’t overturn it in, say, ten seconds, then let the play stand.

I also understand the idea of not getting all technical on some plays. First base is one instance. Sometimes when a first baseman fields a throw, he takes his foot off the bag almost immediately. He doesn’t want to run the risk of getting it stepped on. That makes sense to me. Sometimes, I’m sure, he actually takes that foot off a nanosecond before the ball is actually in his glove. But, as with Ortiz, if the runner is clearly out and he’s just doing it for safety, I don’t have a big problem. The first baseman doesn’t gain anything by getting his foot off the bag. That’s the big difference last night, and with other instances of the “neighborhood” play. In that case, the fielder is trying to turn a double play. He not only wants to get out of the way of the runner, but also wants extra time to make the throw to first. So, he’s getting an advantage by skimping a bit on actually touching the bag. In that case, the rule outweighs safety in my book. If you’re worried about getting hurt, then just make the play at first. If an outfielder is worried about running into the wall, he pulls back and plays the ball on a bounce. He doesn’t say that even though he didn’t really catch it, the batter should be out because it’s safer. Same thing here. You shouldn’t get to skirt the rules to your advantage just to feel safer. 

That’s why I didn’t mind the review last night. While I’m still not a fan of over-analysis, the fact that Ortiz was out by a mile doesn’t matter. It was Hanley that was important. The fielder left the bag early in order to try and make another play. That shouldn’t be allowed. If that same play happened, and it was a potential inning ending force out, I would agree that reviewing it would be crazy. If he had the ball at the bag ten feet before Ortiz, just getting the heck out of the way is advised. He’s not gaining anything by not stopping on the bag. If his foot came off one nanosecond before the ball was in his glove, I’m not going to worry about it.

But, when you’re trying to make another play, you need to make the first one first.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

I'll Lead. You Follow.

It wasn't that long ago that I suggested that everyone really should like me.

Of course, that's not the only way to keep track of everything that is happening here in Section 36. Can you think of two more?

Twitter might be the easiest option other than Facebook. (although, it's a little tricky since you need to follow Section_36, with the underscore.) Not only to I always post a link to my newest posts, but I also remind you of links to other posts that are popular that day. Or other posts that are particularly relevant. It's a great way to make sure you never miss anything here at Section 36. I don't usually post pictures on twitter, but...

If it's pictures you like, you need to follow Section 36 on Instagram. After all, it was made for pictures...right? I post pictures on there periodically. People seem to enjoy them, so I hope you will  as well. They can be anything from random shots with "I'd Rather be in Section 36" signs, to pictures from Fenway itself. It's a fun mix.

And, honestly, if you don't like and follow Section 36, you're missing out. You want to make sure you get the full experience. Everything Section 36 has to offer.

Why would you want to miss out on such great stuff?

Do you already follow Section 36?

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Favorite Font from Favorite Players

I don’t know how closely you’ve been paying attention, but I’ve made a change to the font the last couple posts. I got a new laptop not too long ago with a smaller screen than I was used to. It made the print on the blog seem really small. I didn’t know if other people were having the same problem, but figured that I should try to fix it. The problem is, blogger doesn’t seem to give you a lot of choices when it comes to font sizes. (Or, I’m clueless when it comes to figuring out font sizes on blogger. Both explanations are equally possible.) I had been using the “normal” sized font. For the last few posts, I switched to the “large” font. Of course, now, in comparison the font just looks enormous! I feel a little bit like the kid using the biggest font he can find so it’s easier to write his one page book report. But, I don’t know. Maybe the larger size works for people.

So, I need your help. I’m going to write this post using a different font/size combination for each paragraph. Maybe the different sizes work better with the different fonts. If you can let me know which one you like, and or any other comments you have on font size, it would be appreciated. As content for this post, I’m going to talk about the evolution of my favorite Red Sox player by decade.

The eighties were really my first decade of fandom, although it’s probably only the second half. Even still, my favorite players at the time were carryovers from the seventies. When I wanted the Red Sox, I was a big fan of Jim Rice and Dwight Evans. Probably not a huge surprise. They were pretty much the best players on the team in their prime years. Each of them had a special player collection in my baseball card binder. For some reason I never grabbed onto Boggs or Clemens, despite their obvious appeal. (Arial Normal)

The nineties saw a change. Rice and Evans were gone, and I was in need of someone new. Thankfully, the Red Sox had two promising rookies come right in to take their place. Mo Vaughn and Phil Plantier. Both of them became my favorite players because of what they did at the plate. Phil Planter, of course had that squatting batting stance. You knew it was him at the plate just by seeing that. Of course, he also burst onto the scene with one of the best Septembers I can remember. He was my guy. Player card collection number two. Unfortunately, he didn't stick around very long before heading to San Diego. Mo, on the other hand, stayed a bit longer. His batting stance was all intimidation. He just looked t the pitcher over his shoulder like he knew he was going to hit the ball really hard. And, he usually did. It didn't take much to make Mo my newest player collection. (Arial Large)

By the end of the nineties, Mo was gone too. Thankfully, the Red Sox had another player come and take his place. Nomar. he was everything. He could hit for power. He could hit for average. He did that crazy thing with his gloves in the batters box. What more could you want? Nomar would be come my largest player collection yet. Along with Nomar, the Red Sox added Pedro Martinez. My standard answer at the time to who my favorite Red Sox player was, "Nomar, unless Pedro's pitching." I doubt I was alone in that. There's never been anything like Pedro, and there's really nothing more I can saw. If you don't know, then i can't explain it to you. At the moment, Pedro is my only "active" player collection. After all, it's Pedro. (Times normal)

At the turn of the century, I liked Manny Ramirez in Cleveland. When I saw that he signed with the Red Sox, I was beyond elated. Still am. He created a nice Red Sox favorite "trinity" if you will. My standard answer changed a bit to "Manny and Nomar. Unless Pedro's pitching." Oddly, I never started a Manny player collection. Maybe because he overlapped the Pedro and Nomar so much. But, he outlasted the two of them, and for three years, Manny stood along as my favorite. Possibly the only time that's happened. (Times Large)

Which brings us to the 2010's. And, I really don't know what to say. Since Manny left in 2008, I've been a little bit in Limbo. Papelbon was fun for a while. But, can a closer be a favorite? I never really attached to Lester or Beckett. Looking back at the moment, I can't think of one player that has grabbed me. Yes, I know. Ortiz has been on the team that whole time. While I can't deny he's an amazing player, there's always been "something" about him. I've just never latched on as a "favorite player" type thing. I liked Adrian Gonzalez a lot, but that didn't last long. I always knew Ellsbury was leaving soon. Sure, I loved the 2013 team. But, as a team. None of the players had that certain draw. No idea why. (Georgia normal)

Going forward? I think like most people, I'm enjoying the youngsters. Love Xander Bogaerts and Mookie Betts. I know. Going out on a limb there. But, they'd definitely be the ones that I'd pick, with the slight edge to Xander if I had to give one. Either way, it looks like I'm set for a couple more years, at least. Hopefully for much longer than that. (Georgia large)

So, what do you think? Does one of the fonts work better for you? Leave a comment with your favorite. Or, with another helpful suggestion. Or, a comment on to content of the post itself. Or, heck, all three!

Thanks for the help!

Friday, April 22, 2016

List of 36: Recycled Red Sox

Players with more than one stint with the Red Sox

1. Fred Anderson
2. Tom Brunansky
3. Dennis Eckersley
4. Alex Gonzalez
5. Michael Coleman
6. Bill Haselman
7. Jim Atkins
8. Steve Lyons
9. Bill Buckner
10. Jeff Frye
11. Brian Daubach
12. Pete Schourek
13. Jim Bagby
14. Sam Mele
15. Ellis Burks
16. Rheal Cormier
17. Mike Stanton
18. Dick Drago
19. Jack Barry
20. Buddy Hunter
21. John Leister
22. Steve Crawford
23. Jeff Suppan
24. Juan Beniquez
25. Junichi Tazawa
26. Ricky Trlicek
27. Midre Cummings
28. Chico Walker
29. Galen Cisco
30. Sam Bowen
31. Eric Wedge
32. Rick Miller
33. Earl Wilson
34. Craig Breslow
35. Daniel Nava
36. Dick Brodowski

Thursday, April 21, 2016

From the Pedro Binder

2003 Playoff Absolute Memorabilia


There is just so much going on here.

First, the name of the set is terrible. It has nothing to do with memorabilia. There isn’t a piece of anything in the card. The picture doesn’t feature a specific piece of Pedro’s memorabilia. It’s just a name in order to be a name. Terrible.

Beyond that, I don’t know what to make of the front of the card. ‘ve been staring at the blurry splotches in the background for a little bit too long trying to decide if they’re supposed to be something. A crowd shot, perhaps. But, I can’t come up with anything They’re just splotches.

To be fair, the card does have a nice shine that doesn’t show up at all in the scan. So, those bizarre rectangles all over the place aren’t quite as noticeable. But, they’re still noticeable.

And still pointless.

Apparently Playoff really wanted us to know that card was from 2003. That’s nice of them, really, since with the 36,000 brands that were produced around then, it’s almost impossible to keep track of which design goes with which year. But, isn’t it enough to have the year in the logo? Does it need to be right in the middle of the card as well?

Why is Pedro’s name tucked on the side facing out? 

The actual picture of Pedro is actually a nice one. Pedro getting ready to deal another blow to a batter’s ego. But, there’s so much other stuff going on, you can barely notice.

So confusing.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

You Don’t Have to Pay Anyone

Rick Porcello takes the mound for the Red Sox tonight. Of course, we’ll all be hoping for a performance at least as solid as his last time out. Naturally, if he doesn’t perform up to those expectations, people will be angry. They’ll most likely point out his enormous contract again. Usually the next words out of their mouths are ‘And they didn’t have to give it to him.”

After all when the Red Sox traded for Porcello, there was still a year left on his existing contract. The Red Sox could have just let him play out that contract and see what happens. But they didn’t, and people haven’t been happy about it. After all, the Sox decided to give him a huge contract when they didn’t need to, and before he had even thrown a single pitch for the Red Sox.

You know. Just like they did for David Price.

Because, they’re right. The Sox didn’t have to pay Porcello the money. They don’t have to pay anybody the money. It just means you risk not having that person play on your team.

After all, it was just that year that there was another pitcher that the Red Sox didn’t have to pay money to. He too still had a year left on his contract. The Sox made him a contract offer that was declined, and the season was allowed to finish. Of course, Jon Lester has the season of his career that season, which priced him right out of the Red Sox price range. 

People were livid.

How could the Sox not have signed him the year before? They had him all to themselves. All they had to do was give him the huge contract, and he never would have even gotten to free agency. He’d still be on the team!

Then, the Red Sox go and do exactly that, and people are upset. I guess some people are just never happy.

It would be easy to toss out the cliché that you can’t have it both ways. But, in reality you can. And, more important, you should. You should make that kind of decision as each situation presents itself, and not just make a blanket policy of “no signing anyone unless we have to.” It depends on the player. The Red Sox would routinely pick up the option on Pedro Martinez’s contract even though they “didn’t have to.”  But, he was Pedro. So, why risk letting him become a free agent if you “didn’t have to.” (Pedro, by the way is another player they extended the contract on even though they didn’t have to, and before he had even thrown a pitch in Boston.)

So, the Red Sox made a calculated decision. They felt letting Porcello pitch that final year of his contract would make him even more costly when they tried to re-sign him. Sometimes, like when they did it with Pedro, that strategy works. Sometimes, like with Dustin Pedroia, it doesn’t work. 

Every time you sign a player, there’s a risk involved. The best you can hope to do is minimize that risk the best you can and do what you think is best for the team.

Whether you have to, or not.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Overreacting Is Not a Source of Pride

It started almost right away. After the second game of the season. (Although, it probably started even before that.) 

If the Sox don't fix that, they're doomed. Whatever "that" was, it was impending terror. 

Sometimes they were smart enough to qualify it. "I know it's just the second game of the season, but..."

The EEIdiots were actually calling it a good thing. After all, they'd trade dedication for apathy any day of the week.

And, I agree with that part. I'd much prefer dedication. The problem with their statement is that overreaction is not the same as dedication. It's also not the opposite of apathy.

You can be dedicated and not overreact to everything. You can follow every pitch. You can be elated when they win. You can be nervous when they're losing. Heck, you can have your whole day ruined when the lose. That's all about being dedicated.

But, why does having one day ruined have to mean the rest of them will be ruined? Why do you have to make a big deal out of every detail? Out of every belt buckle. Because overreacting to everything isn't a badge of honor. It's not as simple as why "Boston is such a tough place to play." Why do we as sports fans feel that harping on a mistake makes Boston any better of a place than anywhere else? Being irrational shouldn't be a good thing.

So we should certainly strive to follow the team. We should follow them closely. Every game. Go to Fenway every night. Fill the place. But, keep it all in check. A loss isn't the end of the world. A win doesn't mean they should plan the parade route. 

But, it does mean that they've had a pretty good few hours.

And that's probably enough.

Monday, April 18, 2016

And Then, Not So Much

Well, if everything went according to plan Saturday, that same plan blew up in everyone's face today.

Maybe it was the fact that it was the exact same plan?

Perhaps Koji has had a bit of a stretch of use lately. the early game wasn't really the same as giving him those two days between games. Whatever the reason, he wasn't himself.

But, is anyone worried about Koji having another inning where he walks to guys and hits another? Yeah, me neither. Is anyone concerned that Kimbrel is going to walk another batter with the bases loaded? Nope. Not really.

So, I think it's pretty easy to chalk today's loss, as annoying as it is, to a couple fluke things that happened to happen at the wrong time.

Which is unfortunate, because the rest of the game was just fantastic. For eight of the nine innings, everything was just rolling along. Clay Buchholz was the "Good Clay" pitching into the seventh inning. Hanley Ramirez is hitting, and driving in runs. There's so so so much more good about today;s game, that it's really too bad they lost. That would have been a good win to sit back on and ponder for a while.

Because while the bad stuff was flukish, you wouldn't think the good stuff is. Sure, Clay can be ff and on. But we all know he has talent. Is Vazquez the guy to harness it? We all know Hanley can hit. Is he starting to show that he not only "can" but "will"? Because if those things are both true, this will be a very good sign for the Red Sox.

And make a loss actually be a very good day.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

That's More Like It

So, that's how it's all supposed to work!

When we all drew it up over the winter, that's exactly what we had in mind. David Price was going to pitch seven strong innings (at least). Kofi was going to pitch a scoreless inning, and Kimbrel was going to come in and strike out the side. Even if it's against the heart of the opposing order. 


But, even beyond that, you can see how a pitching performance is exactly what was missing last year. In 2015, the pitchers went through a slump. None of them were going deep into games. It wore on the bullpen. That turned it into a cyclical problem. Once the bullpen was worn out, they couldn't even hold leads when they were handed them. They were wiped out.

That had been happening the last turn or so this reason as well. But, Porvello managed to pitch into the seventh, so Tazawa only had to pitch a short inning. Then, with Price's game yesterday, Taz didn't even have to pitch. So, now the Sox have gone two games (and three days) without out using anyone other than those three in the bullpen. So, if the next guys can't quite go the distance, the Sox have some arms rested and ready. 

Exactly when they need them.

Price provides the resting spot to add on to anything else the others can give. Last year, after a performance like Porcello's, the next guy would have probably only gone five innings, and the rest would be gone. Now, everyone should be ready to go.

Exactly as the Sox planned.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Jorge Posada Live

It’s been a while since I dipped into the scorebooks, so I thought it was a good time to do it again. Over the years I’ve seen lots and lots of Yankees games, so their players are often more fun than others. This time I decided to go with Jorge Posada.

I was never a big Posada fan, beyond the obvious reasons. It always bugged me that he was considered an all-star type catcher when the “catcher” portion was in name only. It always bugged me that he was the only catcher I saw throw the ball down when a 3-2 count with two outs and a man on first was called a ball. Most catchers would hold the ball in that case, knowing the runner could have second at that point. I always felt it was bush league to throw the ball down and try to trick the runner, and make him risk injury. I thought so even more after he tricked the umpire once into calling Manny Ramirez out.

I also found it annoying that he was called a “patient” hitter. He wasn’t patient, he just didn’t swing. There’s a difference. I always felt he just put the bat on his shoulder and was almost as likely to take a called third strike as a ball four. 

So, do the games I was in the park for account for any of that bias?

Looks like it just might have.

Take a look at that BB/K ratio. While I was watching, Posada struck out almost twice as often as he walked. Sure, that resulted in a decent on base percentage. But, you get the impression that it had more to do with the pitchers missing their spots than anything he was doing. After all, he only hit .215. His .800 OPS wasn’t exactly setting the world on fire either.

So, I guess that’s where my impression of Posada was formed. Just watching the guy stand there, and then accomplish very little. No wonder Red Sox-Yankees games took forever.

At least while I was in the park.

How did Posada perform with you in the park?

Friday, April 15, 2016

Biggio Got Me Thinking

I had a need to open some packs of cards the other day. Since I was looking for mass quantity, I went for the repack boxes. If you just want to rip packs to scratch an itch, there’s probably nothing better.

This particular box had packs of 1990 Fleer. That was a pleasant surprise, since I really opened about as much triple play as I can stand right now. In one of those packs was a Craig Biggio. It’s always nice to open a pack with a Hall of Famer in it, whether he deserves to be or not. As a classmate of Pedro Martinez, I was exposed to a lot of Biggio during my last trip to Cooprstown. So, I was able to remember something about Biggio’s Hall of Fame plaque. Specifically, his many positions.

Here’s a line straight from Biggio’s plaque. “Transitioned from All-Star catcher to Gold Glove second baseman to everyday outfielder…”

Craig Biggio played in the major leagues for 20 years. When looking for highlights to engrave for everyone to see for eternity, they chose that one. That Biggio was able to transition from a Gold Glove infielder to an everyday outfielder.

Notice that they used the term “everyday” to describe the outfielder. No more Gold Glove. He was simply good enough to play there every day. 

And they put it on his Hall of Fame plaque.

That would certainly suggest to me that they don’t consider switching from the infield to the outfield an easy thing to do. Certainly not something that would be expected. To the contrary, it’s one of the few most important accomplishments of a Hall of Famer.

So, why does everyone assume Hanley Ramirez didn’t try to be an outfielder?

If becoming an above average outfielder was simply a matter of putting in some extra work, would it be worthy of putting on a HOF plaque? Does not doing it mean that the player is lazy or uninterested?

Why should we assume that Hanley is only performing well as a first baseman because he’s “interested” or “engaged.”? Why is all about his effort level?

How about, Hanley is playing well in the infield because he’s an infielder? Maybe he wasn’t performing as well in the outfield because he’s an infielder.

Maybe we need to stop knocking Hanley because he’s awkward in left field. Maybe we need to realize that playing well isn’t just a matter of wanting to. Playing a different position is a big deal.

Big enough to put on a Hall of Fame plaque.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Is Dave Dombrowski Stupid?

No. No, he’s not.

At least I certainly assume he’s not. He’s been around too long to be stupid.

So, when he came to the Red Sox at the end of last season, I assume he knew what he was doing. He was watching the games. He was talking to scouts. He was talking to others within the organization. Where he saw holes, he filled them during the off-season. Where he saw excess, he dealt from it. He built a complete team ready to take the field on Opening Day.

So, I can only imagine he’s pissed that John Farrell is screwing it all up.

One of the things that Dombrowski felt the team needed was a fourth outfielder. So, he went out and got Chris Young. Told him he’d be starting against lefties. The move made perfect sense. It made for a complete team. You had the Castillo-Bradley-Betts starting outfield, with Young there as a back-up. 

That outfield was available because Hanley Ramirez was moving to the infield to take over first base. That allowed Pedroia, Bogaerts, and Sandoval to fill out the rest of the diamond. He even made sure he had back-ups at the ready. Travis Shaw was able to use his elevated September numbers to secure the back-up corner infielder job. Brock Holt would be the back-up middle infielder, and all around utility guy. So, Shaw would spell Panda every once in a while, and Hanley every once in a while. Holt would give Pedroia and Xander a rest when needed. He could also help out in the outfield if there was a reason to rest or replace two starters in one game. It was all aligned the way you’d want a team to be aligned.

Then Farrell decided to save himself.

Farrell decided that Castillio’s not an all-star at the plate quite yet. But, he can’t wait. So, what does he do? He takes his back-up middle infielder and all-around utility guy, and makes him his starting left fielder. Then he decides, for whatever reason, that he doesn’t like Sandoval. He, in this lone instance, decides that the statistics from last September are the most important and makes his back-up middle infielder the starting third baseman. These two moves cripple the bench. Now he’s without a back-up middle infielder, since Castillo is an outfielder. He also has a third baseman on his bench that doesn’t play first.

Then, he has the nerve to go on the radio and agree that the roster is constructed oddly, in that it doesn’t have a back-up middle infielder.

I wonder if Dombrowski called Farrell into his office after that to yell, ‘You have one! You’re starting him in left field, you fool!!”

So, I wonder if the moves the Sox made yesterday, sending down Castillo and DLing Panda, are Dombrowski’s way of giving Farrell just enough rope. Here you go John. You don’t want to start the right players? I’m going to take them away from you. Then, I’m going to let them go to the minors. Let’s see how everyone feels when Shaw’s hitting .270, but Panda’s hitting .310 in AAA. You better hope you win, because you only have until May Day.

Because, no, Dombrowski’s not stupid.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Why is Farrell lying about Shaw?

John Farrell keeps pinch hitting for Travis Shaw. That on its own isn’t exactly shocking. But, the fact that’s he’s doing it so early is.

For some reason, Farrell named Shaw his starting third baseman out of Spring Training. It’s was the wrong move, but he made it anyway. He also has Shaw batting sixth in the order. 

So, why on earth are you pinch hitting for your number six hitter in the sixth inning?

I mean, is he one of your best hitters, or not? 

Like I said, bringing in a pinch hitter is fine. If it’s a tight game in the eighth inning, and the match-up isn’t great. That’s a time to use your bench to your advantage. But, the sixth inning? At that point the substitute is seeing as much action as the starter. What gives?

Someone finally asked Farrell about it. He responded that he needed to get Chris Young some at-bats. He has Shaw and Holt back to back as lefties, he thought it’d make sense to put Shaw in for one of them when a lefty reliever came in. But, if he took out Holt, then Holt couldn’t play the infield on a switch. So, he takes out Shaw.

Of course, that’s a lie. Because, if he took out Holt, he wouldn’t need Holt to play the infield. The infield would still have all the starters in it. (As a side note, I think it’s funny that’s he’s using the fact that he’s starting his utility player in the outfield as an excuse to make another bad decision.) 

So, what’s going on here?

He’s covering for Shaw.

He knows he needs Shaw to perform well. He made a huge move by starting Shaw as a way to save his job. Shaw can’t come out and hit .190. So, he needs to limit Shaw’s chances to make outs. If someone brings in a lefty reliever get him out of there. Even if it’s leading off the sixth. He needs to limit damage. After all, people are already wondering on Twitter what happened to Shaw’s supposed power. He can’t afford to have the average drop as well. Otherwise, people are really going to (correctly) wonder why Panda’s sitting there on the bench. After all, when talking about Young, Farrell points out that over his long career he's been a better hitter against lefties than Shaw. It doesn't matter that Shaw hit lefties slightly better last year. People are going to wonder why Panda didn't get the same treatment.

He made the move to try and save his job. Now he has to stick with it.

And it’s all about damage control.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Welcome to the Jungle

Well, that didn’t exactly go as planned, did it?

The Red Sox had it all scripted. The rain in Cleveland allowed them to monkey with the rotation just a little bit. They could slide David Price just enough to allow him to start the Home Opener. After his seven strong innings, the Sox could shift to Koji and Kimbrel to close the door.

Yup. That’s what happens when you make plans.

Basically, things couldn’t have gone worse for those thoughts. Price only went five innings giving up five runs. (Geez. Even Porcello went six innings.) Thankfully the Sox offense held things together enough to keep the game tied. That did allow Tazawa and Koji to come in and show their stuff. It also allowed Craig Kimbrel to come in. So, the Sox did win there. We were all able to witness the first of many entrances by our new closer. Music blared. Flaming graphics filled the park. The fans were sufficiently excited. 

Then Kimbrel walked two guys and gave up a three-run bomb.


Even then, it almost worked out even better for the Sox. With the Sox down three, Mookie homered to start the ninth. The next two guys reached, bringing up Papi representing the winning run. On his final home opener. On what was basically “his” day, the greatest clutch hitter in Red Sox history could win the game with a home run. He could completely change the story of the game with one swing.

Instead he grounded into a double play. 

Even now I’m not completely sure how to process that result.

But, it happened. Disappointing to be sure. On the bright side, at least it was a good game right up until the end. The tying run was at the plate. Other than a victory, can’t ask for much more than that.

One thing about Kimbrel and his entrance. I loved the graphics. They were able to have his name in flames on every video board around the park. However, I’m not a fan of “Welcome to the Jungle” as an entrance. While I understand the idea, due to the name of the song, I’m not sure the actual song itself fits. I’ve always thought that “I’m Shipping Up To Boston” was the best entrance song ever. I loved the way it started slow and distinctive, and then built itself into a frenzy as the song went along. “Sandstorm” does the same sort of thing. As Koji got closer to the mound, the song got more excited and brought the crowd along with it. “Welcome to the Jungle” feels more constant. I’m having trouble imagining the song getting me on my feet. I know that the situation is supposed to do that without the help of music. But, everyone on their feet cheering is a different feel than everyone cheering along to a song. The song helps keep everyone in the park together to an even greater effect.

I guess Kimbrel will just have to do that on his own.

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