Saturday, December 31, 2016

We are '16 going on '17

It's time for a very clever idea. It's the end of the year recap post!

Looking back, this makes my 167th post of the year. That's my most posts since 2013, and hold pretty close to the "every other day" routine that I pretend to stick to. That seems like a good number.

Along with that, this last month has been pretty epic. December 2016 is about to have more pageviews than any other month in this blog's a factor of two! Whatever the reasons for that increase, it's a spectacular performance this month, and I'm excited to see that continue into 2017.

One possible reason for this increase could be my amped up social media presence. In 2016 the Section_36 twitter account went over 1200 followers. It's fun to have that much interaction. Likewise, the Section36 Facebook page crossed 400 likes! It's been climbing at a slower pace, so it's great to see another milestone crossed. The Section36 Instagram page is nearing 700 followers! It'll be fun to see it cross that threshold, hopefully in January. In the last few weeks, I've really increased my activity on the section36 Snapchat account. I've also actually started using the Section36 Pinterest account. With boards featuring all the great things about being a Red Sox fan. You should go follow it! 

I did an order of blog tank tops earlier this year. I don't know about you, but I think they came out great! Hope I can do it again in 2017.

Section 36 even expanded its empire to include blogs for the other Boston Sports, with a main home for all of them at Section 36 Sports.

2016 was definitely a year of growth!

But, my favorite thing is that 2016 was a year of visitors! I was fortunate enough to have five different people visit the blog for interviews this year, and it was a blast! People seem to like them too. After all, this post started out as a "top five posts of the year" recap, but all those posts ended up being visitor posts! My virst visitor ended up being my most popular post of the year. I was able to interview Alissa Musto just after she won the Miss Cambridge crown. After that, she advanced to Miss Massachusetts, and finished in the top 15 at Miss America. It was so much fun to follow along with her journey! Rylee Field is one of Alissa's Miss America Classmates. I was able to interview her after she was crowned Miss Vermont. As with Alissa, following her year has been a great time. I actually met Kailee Dunn at Fenway when I recognized one of the Fenway Ambassadors as the former Miss Washington. What a great happenstance. Thankfully she agreed to talk to the blog about her experiences. I can't believe it took me so long to interview Samantha Russo. I started following her on twitter when she was Miss NH 2013. Since then she's gone on to create a fine radio and television career. Josh Berube wrote a great Red Sox season preview for AOSN. Thankfully he agreed to expand on his thoughts for the blog.

They were all wonderful interviews, and I can't wait to see if 2017 brings even more visitors. I sure hope it does!

On to 2017!

Friday, December 30, 2016

Clay Buchholz Live

With Clay Buchholz's trade to the Philadelphia Phillies a few weeks ago, my guess is this ends my chances of seeing him pitch in Fenway again. Oh, sure. The Phillies come to Fenway every now and then, but I figure the chances of both me being at the game and Clay pitching are dwindling. So, I thought it would be fun to see how Clay fared in games I scored during his career. 

Here we go.

The first thing I noticed is that I didn't see many Buchholz starts. Sure seems like I was seeing him every other time I went to Fenway. But, there is is in black and white. A mere seven games.

How did he do in those seven games? About how you'd expect Clay to do. The enigma that was Clay Buchholz displayed in seven games. He dominated one game. Got lit up in two. Was "meh" in the other four. That led to an ERA over six in games I scored, while giving up almost two baserunners an inning. Not exactly Pedro-esque.

Which is, I suppose, why he's in Philadelphia right now. Not as many shutouts as he should have had with all his talent. Too many starts of less than five innings.

But boy, that April 8th start was something.

How did Clay Buchholz do in games you attended?

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Twitter: Section 36 Feeling Social

Continuing the series of different way you can connect with Section 36, today I thought I’d touch on Twitter

I’m sure everyone knows what Twitter is. You’re probably also aware that you can find Section_36 there.

Twitter can do a lot of things. It's great at sharing information quickly. What it's not so good at is keeping information handy. It has a tendency to have information scroll past people very quickly. But, to get a burst of something out to a bunch of people, I find that Twitter is a handy way to go.

I have more people following the blog on Twitter than on any other social media site. That's great. Especially when considering the quick flashes I mentioned before.

So, what will you find if you follow Section 36 on twitter? First and foremost, you'll know when something new is posted. After I post something on the blog, the first thing I do is tweet out a link. So, followers on twitter get first crack at new material.

But, because of the quick timeline scrolls, I'm happy to remind followers of posts as well. So, I'll tweet out links to popular posts that day. Whether that's a new post, or one that's suddenly popular five years later. I'll also post links to posts that I think are relevant to the events of the day. The Sox trade for Chris Sale? Might be a good time to remind Twitter followers of a Sale post I may have done.  All that means that there's a good stream of reminders of great Section 36 posts you may want to check out.

Of course, it's not all just links! I'll tweet out any comments I may have about just about anything Red Sox related. Especially during games, or big events. I'll even sometimes toss out a comment about the other sports as well. (Although, most of those go here.)

I haven't used twitter for pictures very much. Maybe just for special occasions. But, that's something I plan to do more. Hopefully twitter will evolve to include a little bit of everything.

Which makes it more fun for everyone. Hope you agree.

Go follow Section_36 on Twitter now! 

(And, don't forget the blasted underscore.)

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Instagram: Section 36 Feeling Social

Continuing the series of different way you can connect with Section
36, today I thought I’d touch on Instagram.

I’m sure everyone knows what Instagram is. You’re probably also aware that you can find Section 36 there.

Instagram is pretty appealing to me because, as I’ve often said, I love pictures. I love seeing pictures. I love taking pictures. So, a photo sharing app is just about perfect.

Section 36 uses Instagram in a few different ways. I don’t believe I’ve ever posted a reader submission on Instagram. All the pictures have been taken by me. Mostly I use Instagram for “I’d Rather be in Section 36” pictures. It’s a way I introduce some variety to the blog. I could post a picture of a beach, or a covered bridge, or a national monument. It’s a fun way to take the blog all over the world, and bring my followers along with me. It also means that if you like the blog’s Facebook page and follow along on Instagram, you won’t see very many pictures duplicated. So you have to do both if you want to enjoy the whole experience!

I’ll also post pictures from games, although hardly ever in real time. The “Insta” portion is pretty much wasted when it comes to Section 36. But, that still means there are plenty of pictures posted from Fenway’s best section.

Pictures don’t get posted on Instagram as often as Facebook, so your feed won’t be too cluttered if you follow along. It also gives yet another form of communication between you and the blog. Picures can be liked or commented on, and messages can be sent. Once again, communication is a wonderful thing.

Which makes it more fun for everyone. Hope you agree.

Go follow Section 36 on Instagram now!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Facebook: Section 36 Feeling Social

I’ve probably mentioned this before. OK. I know I’ve mentioned it before. But, I thought the end of the year would be a fun time to explore the different ways you can interact with Section 36 throughout the world of social media. After all, the world of Section 36 extends beyond this here blog, and I’m sure you don’t want to miss any of it.

Today, I thought I’d discuss Facebook. I’m sure you’re all aware that Section 36 has its very own Facebook Page

Why would you want to “like” it?

Well, it brings everything that is great about the blog and deposits it right onto your timeline. And, it brings a little more as well!

I always share a link to a new blog post on Facebook. So, you’ll get first notice of anything going on with the blog. Sometimes other pages talk about Section 36, and I’ll share those to the page as well.

But, beyond that, the meat of the Facebook page is the pictures! As you know, I love pictures. There are pages on the blog displaying wonderful pictures people have submitted. I also share all of those on the Facebook page as well. But, there’s more! 

Generally, I only post one picture from each group of pictures submitted on the blog. So, if a person sends in 15 pictures from their visit to Section 36 (which has happened) I don’t put them all on the blog. That saves you from scrolling down a long roll of pictures. But, the Facebok page doesn’t have that problem. So, I’ll post every (appropriate) picture submitted on the Facebook page at some point! I try to limit the number of pictures posted to one or two a day. So, there may be a backlog. But eventually you’ll be able to see them all. So, people who get the Section 36 page on their timeline will keep seeing great pictures above and beyond what you’ll see on the blog.

The Facebook page also provides another way for me to interact with readers. It’s wonderful to get feedback through likes, or shares, or comments, or messages. It’s an easy way for me to see what people like, and want to see more (or less) of.

Basically, it’s a lot of fun. Any chance to get everyone involved in Section 36 is a good idea to me. Hopefully you’ll agree.

And like Section 36 on Facebook now!

Friday, December 23, 2016

List of 36: Airing of Grievances

1. Section 36 doesn’t have air conditioning
2. I didn’t get a GiftofSox
3. I don’t have 10,000 Twitter followers yet
4. David Ortiz retired
5. Opening Day isn’t until April
6. A vintage Babe Ruth Red Sox card is expensive
7. Clay Buchholz never showed us everything he had
8. People don’t like John Farrell
9. They Retired Wade Boggs’s number
10. I have writer’s block
11. I don’t have 1000 Instagram followers yet
12. I don’t have a Pedro Martinez jersey
13. The Red Sox haven’t won a championship in three years
14. I’ve never watched a game from the Monster seats
15. Koji Left
16. I can’t decide if Betts or Bogaerts is better
17. I didn’t get a 2016 media guide.
18. I haven’t completed my 2016 Topps Red Sox team set
19. Ted Williams autographs are expensive
20. I need to send more trade packages
21. The Yankees exist
22. I don’t have 1000 Facebook likes yet
23. Dustin Pedroia won’t stop talking
24. I’m out of t-shirts
25. My 1975 Topps set has made no progress
26. Betts didn’t win the MVP
27. I’m slacking on my scavenger hunt.
28. Spring training is far away
29. I don’t know who the fifth starter will be
30. I don’t like electronic tickets
31. I need more Snapchat friends
32. I need more stickers
33. David Price didn’t pitch well this season
34. I haven’t had a new visitor in a while
35. The Sox didn’t sign Mike Napoli
36. The Red Sox were swept out of the playoffs

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Clay Motion

The Clay Buchholz Era officially ended in Boston today when he was dealt to the Philadelphia Phillies. While many say this move coming, or at least one like it, I'm still a little surprised by it.

For starters, I was never as down on Clay as many others were. Sure, it was frustrating at times when he was injured. But, everyone gets injured. Dustin Pedroia has missed huge chinks of time before. It happens. Sure, he sometimes had rough games. But, he also had really good games. Some people didn't care for his post game interviews. I didn't really care about them. Telling the truth is never a bad thing in my book. 

But, even beyond my personal feelings, I thought the Red Sox liked Clay. Especially at his contract. His number on the field have almost always been better than the numbers on his contract. I always thought that was a good thing. Exactly the sort of value the Red Sox would be looking for. Especially since they just picked up his option not that long ago.

So, to see them send him off in a salary dump for a 24-year old guy in A-ball seemed weird. Now, maybe things have changed since they picked up the option. Maybe if they had to do it all over again knowing what they now know, they would have just passed in the first place. Maybe they figure getting a warm body is better than not. Maybe the luxury tax thing is a huge deal to them, instead of a minor annoyance. 


But, it also seems to me that the Sox could still use Clay. For one thing, he looked like a pretty good option out of the pen last season.That could be a weapon if developed properly. Or, who knows when you'll need another experienced pitcher for a spot start. I didn't think that his contract was big enough to stop the Red Sox from keeping him around for uses like that.

Because, sure fans were tired of him. Sure fans can irrationally harp on the weirdest things sometimes. Sure they can go on and on about trust issues, or performance anxiety. But, the Sox don't usually care about that. 

So, if the Sox had gotten a prospect back, that would be one thing. Something to restock their cache of prospects they lost in the other deals. Even if that meant eating some of the salary. That was the move I was expecting. Or, adding him to a package to get a better deal. That's where I saw him going.

But, just as a flat out 100% salary dump? That one surprises me. 

Now, if you tell me that the salary dump is a really important move? If this trade frees you up to do all sorts of things this year and/or in the future? If you mean it? I can go along with ridding the team of someone who didn't have a real role in order to do it.

But, on the surface, I think the Red Sox would have been a better team with Clay around than they are without him.

The move was a bit of a surprise.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Favorite Card of 2016

With the end of the year fast approaching, it's a great time to look back at the best parts of 2016. I'm sure there are some. 

To that end, P-Town Tom, the wonderful author of the Eamus Catuli blog (who had PLENTY to celebrate this year) suggested a contest. All you had to do was select your favorite card of the year, and write a post about it. That sounded easy enough.

He didn't clarify if it was supposed to be a card you own, but it didn't matter. I knew exactly which card I wanted, and I knew I had it. It was a spectacular card of Jackie Bradley Jr in a full out dive catching a ball in the tip of his glove. Might be the best card ever. I just needed to grab it out of the binder...

Where was it?

Oh, here it is.

Yup. No wonder I couldn't find it. It's not from 2016. Now what? Which card should I choose?

Looking through my 2016 cards, I found a couple options. I considered this card for a while.

If you wanted a card that captured the excitement of being a Red Sox fan, this would be it. The three young stars that will be the future of the Red Sox dynasty all having a great time playing baseball. It's just about perfect.

But, 2016 was the year of David Ortiz, so I really HAD to go with an Ortiz card. This one seemed like the clear choice.

The 2016 Topps AL team set David Ortiz, showing Ortiz tipping his cap to the fans. I went with the AL team set version of his card because it's cropped much tighter on Ortiz than his base card issue. The card really says it all, and sums up the 2016 Red Sox season quite nicely.

So, it has to be my favorite card of 2016.

Monday, December 12, 2016

From the Pedro Binder

1999 Topps Stars

Yup. It was the nineties.

A simple picture of the best pitcher in at least a generation would't do. It had to have pizzaz! It had to have flair. There would need to be foil stamping. Lots of it! There would need to be some sort of alteration to the picture. Maybe ever an gold glow around Pedro himself. (OK. That part is pretty cool.) Because, why would anyone buy a baseball card that was just a baseball card?

Once again, I get it. Topps had the base set. That's where people get a clean picture on a simple border. They also had Stadium Club. In that set, the picture is everything. The rest of the card is almost designed to just get out of the way. So, I understand that those sets cover the basics. Sets like Topps Stars are their chance to have a little fun. To go after a different audience.

I hope that audience liked this card. Because, as you might expect, it doesn't do much for me.

It's a card like this that makes me wonder what a card collector is. People who just amass any piece of cardboard with a player pictured on it? Because this card doesn't even list Pedro's team on the front. It's a completely computer created picture that does very little to capture the essence of Pedro.

Is that all we're after? If it is, this card probably has a niche. But, it makes me feel a bit dirty about my collection.

I really will buy anything, eh?

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Tim Wakefield Live!

With the Red Sox making a huge trade to acquire a #49 (you may have heard) it made me wonder. What about the other #49? What about Tim Wakefield? How did he do while I was scoring the game? I figured his would be interesting. He played for a long time, in many roles. How did he do? Well, let’s see.

Right away I saw I was going to have to change things up. Since Wake pitched as both a starter and a reliever, my projections would be off. My totals too, for that matter. His lack of wins per appearance makes more sense when you realize he was a middle reliever for a lot of those. In fact, check out his games in May of 1999. On the 9th, he comes in for a regular one-inning save. Then, on the 22nd he gets the start and goes 8.1 innings for the win. This is not typical behavior.

But, overall, how did he do? A 3.54 ERA is about what I would have expected. Solid, if not spectacular. Just like Wake. He also performed better as a starter than as a reliever while I was watching. No wonder I was always a bit nervous with him as a close.

I find it really interesting that I apparently missed seeing him for the last seven years or so of his career. How odd that he didn’t pop up once or twice after 2005.

As for the projections? Meh. As a starter, a ten win season with a mid-tree ERA. As a reliever, 25 saves with an ERA over four.

But, the numbers were never the whole story with Wakefield. It was his ability to do whatever you needed, and do it well. From closer to starter to mop-up. All in one month if that’s what the team needed. 

That’s pretty valuable.

How did Wake do while you were watching?

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Where to Begin

After all, I started writing three different blogs today, on three different topics. All had to be scrapped when the Red Sox made ANOTHER huge deal that needed to be discussed.

So, where to begin? How about the beginning.

The first deal was one I love. The Red Sox acquired Tyler Thornburg from the Milwaukee Brewers. They had to give up Travis Shaw, Mauricio Dubon, and Josh Pennington. I'll admit that Shaw was the only one I was all that familiar with. But, Dubon and Pennington look to be top 25 type prospects. The first thing that I thought was humorous was the reaction to losing Shaw. I know he was highly overrated his entire time with the Sox. But, if anything should tell you his value, it's the fact that the Sox had to add two more players (plus a PTBNL) to the deal along with Shaw just to get back a middle reliever. Perhaps the people who were considering him a star in the making were overreaching a wee bit? But, of course, the Sox didn't just get back a middle reliever. They got back an elite arm. Throw him in a bullpen with Kimbrel, Kelly and a healthy Smith? The Sox are going to be closing out some games in style, no matter who the starter is. If you can get a key addition to the major league club for a back-up third baseman and a couple kids, I have to love that. 

Oh, and speaking of starters, the Sox got one of those too. The best one they could. The Sox added Chris Sale to the tip of the rotation. (Or, heck, second or third maybe.) Of course, he didn't come cheap. Anywhere close to cheap. But, again, they didn't give away anything from the big club. Of course, you're not getting Chris Sale with a package headlined by Henry Owens. So, the Sox had to part with top prospect Yoan Moncada. It had to hurt a little, right? But, his name doesn't start with a "B" so I'm cool. The Sox also threw in Michael Kopech and his 105 MPH fastball, Luis Alexander Basabe, and Victor Diaz. Yup. Like I said, it needed to hurt. But, again, these were all minor leaguers, and in return the Sox got one of the best pitchers in the game.

Yes, the farm system is less stacked than it was before. But, you now the main reason the farm was a little thin? All the studs are in Boston. Benintendi, Betts, Bradley, Bogaerts, Vazquez are all in Boston. There's your youth. There's your future. Those guys are starring in Boston for the next few years. Why do you need more guys in the farm? You know what you needed? Another starter in Boston. So, trade what you don't need to get what you do. Sounds like the perfect plan to me. And, remember, not every prospect pans out. You know who does pan out? People who already have.

So, sure. Reliever are quirky as a group. And Sale can be a bit of a nut case. But, they've proven they can play at a very high level. And, now they're on the Red Sox. How does that not make you excited.





Heck, where were you putting the kids anyway? Isn't it better to take that potential talent for a spin and see what it gets you? After all, it just might get you an ace.

Or even another one.

Friday, December 2, 2016

My Problems with the New World Series Home Field Advantage

By all accounts, Major League Baseball has changed the way it determines home field advantage for the World Series. For years, they used to simply alternate between leagues. Then, they changed it to the league that won the All-Star game. Now it appears that home field advantage will be given to the team with the best regular season record.

I have a couple problems with this.

The first is pretty minor. This is inconvenient for fans. As it is, fans are asked to buy tickets to earlier round games before they know when they are. Like last season. The Sox didn’t know if they were going to be the second or third seed for quite some time. That would determine whether they would host games one and two, or three and four. It almost came down to Sunday before they found out if they would play on Wednesday or not. So, if you’re a fan buying a ticket to Home Game 1, is that mid-week? Is it late week? That’s annoying. At least you knew when the World Series was. If you bought game 1 tickets, you knew the date of the game. The only question you had was if it would be played or not. You didn’t need to clear your schedule on two potential days. Now, even World Series games would be up in the air, potentially until just a couple days ahead of time. That’s really annoying.

My other complaint is on a larger scale. Go back in time to 1903 and the first modern World Series. There were two pretty distinct leagues, the AL and NH. Each league crowned a champion, like it had always done. But, which league’s champion was better? Only way to find out is to have them play. So they did. For the pride of the league. As the Series became a regular thing, swapping home field advantage seemed as fair as any other. Then, they decided to fix it to the all-star game. That made sense. Which league got to host the World Series? Why, the league that was the best, of course. After all, the Cubs weren’t in the World Series because they were the best team in Chicago. No, they were in the Series because the NL decided they were the best team in their league.

But, making home field based on regular season record takes the league right out of it. Now it’s determined by how teams perform against a selection of teams. Not even the same selection of teams. So, it’s not an award to the League. It’s an award to the team. That seems wrong. 

Bob Costas has been known to refer to the World Series as the “MLB Finals.” After all, with all these playoff rounds, it’s not a series between leagues. It’s a tournament. This is one more step towards that. It takes the league element completely out of it.

At this point, why bother with the two leagues? Why not take the sixteen teams with the best records, no matter which league? Better yet, do what I suggested to do years ago.

This is just one more step towards sanitizing the whole thing. It’s getting farther and farther from the original intent. It’s losing the charm. It’s losing the meaning.

It’s just another tournament now.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

I Scored!

September 19, 1999

Let’s go quite a few years back, and check out a game from a playoff stretch run. This game is from late September1999, a year that the Red Sox would win the Wild Card, and make it to the ALCS before Pedro could carry them no farther. Let’s see how this one played out!

My favorite part about this card is the pitchers box. Check out Derek Lowe doing his best Andrew Miller impression. He entered the game in the sixth inning, and finished the game from there. He struck out three, while only allowing one baserunner. Not a bad performance at all.

The second thing I notice is the number three hole in the line-up. Not only is it weird to see Jason Varitek in that spot, it’s weird to see him wearing #33. Well, weird at the time. This is the first game I scored where Varitek wasn’t wearing #47. Does that make this card more valuable?

I know I say it every time I do a 1999 game, but I still can’t get over the rest of the line-up. Pedro really did carry this team all by himself, didn’t he? Damon Buford in the two-hole? Scott Hatteberg at DH? Wow.

But it worked, because the Sox had one inning big enough to seal the deal. The four-spot in the second was all the pitching would require in this game. The Sox added on three more just for fun to make sure Tim Wakefield could cruise until Lowe finished it off. 

The player of the game? Tempted to go with Wilton Veras and his key bases loaded single. But, I’m giving the nod to Nomar Garciaparra and his insurance two-run homer. The Tigers had just inched their way closer by scoring a run in the fourth when Nomar got it right back. 

The Goat? Everyone on the Red Sox got a hit in this game, so there’s nothing super-obvious. But, the aforementioned Damon Buford was the only player not to drive in or score a run. His 1-5 in the second spot wasn’t the sort of production you’re looking for. His strikeout in the second was particularly annoying because the first six batters in the inning had reached base before him.

But, of course, it didn’t matter. The Sox pounded out seven runs despite his best efforts to the contrary. The pitching did its job to seal the deal. Another convincing win from the hometown boys.

And the scorecard shows how it happened.

What people are reading this week