Friday, September 22, 2017

Reagan Murphy Visits Section 36!

Section 36 has another visitor! Reagan Murphy comes to us from Northern NH. She's a ukulele player, a Red Sox fan, and both the current Miss Littleton Area and Miss Berlin-Gorham! She was nice enough to visit with us to discuss those topics, and more. I’m awfully glad she did.

So, let’s see what happens when Reagan Murphy visits Section 36!

How did you celebrate being crowned Miss Littleton Area?
The very next day after I won I went to Whales Tale Water Park in Lincoln, NH with my roommate from college then we drove up to Stewartstown near Canada for the best Poutine in the state! I’m so proud to be from the North Country so I couldn’t have celebrated winning any other way other than supporting some of my favorite locally owned businesses!

As a previous Miss Littleton Area's Outstanding Teen, how does it feel to be representing the Littleton Area again?
I’m so proud that I get to represent the Littleton Area again! There are so many fun events up here that I get to attend and the community is so welcoming. Not only that, but I’ve built such a strong relationship with my director that she’s like a second mom to me. She has helped me through some really tough times in my life as her teen titleholder, and now I couldn’t be happier to get to spend so much time with her again after having a couple years away. She is honestly one of my role models.

You still hold the Miss Berlin-Gorham title. Is there something you'd like to accomplish before the end of that term?
I’m so sad I have to give away the Berlin-Gorham title! One thing I did want to do before I was no longer Miss Berlin-Gorham was host a big event to support the LGBTQ+ community in the North Country, and on October 21st that’s going to become a reality with the first ever North Country Drag Show held at the medallion opera house in Gorham!

Your talent includes playing the ukulele. What do you like most about that instrument?
Well, I started off playing the drums in middle school and was in a few bands in high school, but I really wanted something I could bring to a fire and jam out and you can’t really bring an entire drum set out to a backyard. The summer after I graduated high school I volunteered at the New Hampshire Teen Institute Summer leadership program summer camp and someone brought a bunch of ukuleles and was teaching people how to play, so I joined and fell in love! It’s such a unique instrument and I feel like it fits my personality.

What drew you to your platform “Gender, Sexual and Romantic Minority Advocacy"?
From a young age I knew that there was something different about me but it took a very long time to figure out what it was. Even when I knew that I experienced attraction for men and women, it was a very long journey to becoming comfortable with that. I needed a role model and someone to help me figure out what my identity was but no one like that existed, so I became the person that I needed when I was younger. Now I spend a lot of my time educating the youth about the gender, sexual, and romantic minority and the many identities that fall under that category, planning events to show pride in the community, and just being a friend to so many LGBTQ+ youth.

If you can't sit in Section 36, where do you, or would you, like to sit to watch a Red Sox game?
This is going to sound really lame, but my favorite place to watch a Red Sox game is on the couch in my living room next to my dad eating Cool Ranch Doritos. Actually going to the game itself would be exciting and I would honestly enjoy sitting anywhere, but nothing beats getting comfy and spending time with my family at home.

Who was/is your favorite Red Sox player growing up? Why?
This one is easy, Big Papi! I got my first and only build a bear when I was 7 and named it Papi after him, and I still have it! The T-Shirt says “World Series Champion 2004” because I got it before they won again in 2007. It’s a little piece of history to me and a huge part of my childhood.

This is the first Red Sox season in a while without David Ortiz. What’s your favorite Ortiz memory?
I remember when I was 12 I went to a summer camp and during the week was the annual home run derby, which my dad and I used to love watching together and placing bets on who would win. Since I was a die-hard Big Papi fan, I told all my friends at camp he was going to win and we even placed bets using the quarters our parents gave us for vending machines for the week. We weren’t allowed to stay up late enough to see who won, but one of the camp counselors told me the next day that the winner was David Ortiz and I won $5 in quarters! I was so happy, especially since one of the boys who bet against me was convinced that Alex Rodriguez had it that year. I got to rub it in his face!

How will the Red Sox finish up the 2017 season?
Well, I don’t want to jinx anything, but it has been a good year for Boston so I’m feeling confident!


I can definitely agree with that sentiment.

As always, I want to give huge thanks to Reagan for doing this interview. I thought she did a fantastic job. I also want to thank her for providing the pictures to accompany the interview. Especially the one of "Papi"!

As Reagan finishes her time as Miss Berlin-Gorham, I encourage you to follow her on the official Facebook page. Also, be sure to catch up with her as she begins her time as Miss Littleton Area by checking out that Facebook page. You can even be sure to catch the entire crossover by following Reagan's personal Instagram account. That way you won't miss a thing!

And, of course, I want to wish Reagan luck when she competes again for the Miss New Hampshire crown. 

Thanks again Reagan, and good luck!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Eight is Better than Zero

The Red Sox beat the Orioles last night. That combined with the Angels loss later that evening meant that the Sox officially clinched a playoff spot.

Thankfully it happened after the team had left the park, so we don't have to deal with all the analysis today over whether they celebrated the appropriate amount. Because however much they would have, or did, whoop it up about clinching a spot...they know they're not done. Because, it's not even really a playoff spot.

It's the abomination that is the wild card. It's a coin flip playoff game to see who gets to play in a real playoff series. (Well, as real as a playoff series can be.) Nobody wants any part of that game. You don't want your hopes riding on a game with so much luck involved. Pitching match-ups. Injuries. Flukes. The Red Sox want no part in that.

And they know it. 

Which is why they'll keep trying. They're on to Cincinnati with one thing on their mind. Win as many games as they possibly can. They know if they win every series from here on out, they're World Champions.

So, it's nice to have the wild card to fall back on. Something under glass to release in an emergency. But the division is the real intermediate goal. That's the one that  lets you settle in. That's the one you need.

That's the first step towards another title. 

Monday, September 18, 2017

The 30-Day Baseball Card Challenge: Day #23

Tony, the wonderful writer of the “Off Hiatus Baseball” blog, started a fun activity based off the “30-Day Music Challenge” that Twitter users were taking. The list of challenges looks like this:

Today, we’ll continue with Challenge #23: A favorite oddball card from the 1950's.

I knew this one was going to be tough. After all, as I mentioned before, my collection isn't exactly full of cards from the 1950's. So, when there are only a handful (if that many) available to choose from, finding an oddball is a bit tricky. So, I decided to go with a card that, when you think about it, is pretty odd.

I mean, imagine being a kid in 1951. You were used to cards basically being the same sort of thing. A painting of a baseball player, portrait usually, within a simple border. Maybe the name would be on the front. It was like that during the 40's, whether it was Leaf or Bowman, or even Playball making the cards. The 1950 Bowman set certainly followed that design.

Then, along came this new issue from this "Topps" company. What on earth was this? It wasn't even really a card...was it? Is it a game piece? Even today, with the prestige awarded the 1952 Topps set, the 1951 set is destined to be a little bit...


Saturday, September 16, 2017

Morning Confusion

I'm not ashamed to admit it. I didn't make it through the entire game last night. Round about the tenth inning I decided that my comfort today was more important than seeing one more inning. I'm glad I made that decision. But, it did lead to some momentary confusion.

The first thing I did when I woke up, as usual, was to open my At Bat app, wondering if the Sox pulled it out. Looking at the line score, I was confused for a bit. 13 runs? I must have the wrong game. It was 5-5 when I left. So, what are these totals from? No, it looks like an extra inning game. But, nobody scored until...the 14th? Then how did...holy crap...the Sox scored seven runs? In the fifteenth?!?

Of course, the thought come pretty quick after that. Wow, 15 innings again! Wow, the Sox won another extra innings game. Wow, I wonder if there was a point in the fifteenth when the Rays would have gladly quit just to get the game over with.

Of course, whenever there's a crazy game like this one, there are more wonders to be found by digging a little deeper. Dustin Pedroia was 0-9 and left 13 runners on base. Yikes. Clutch as ever. 

Second base was one of those fun revolving door positions. Holt started the game, and had Sam Travis hit for him who then had Tzu-Wei Lin immediately hit for him instead. He was eventually removed when Christian Vazquez hit for him, until he was lifted for pinch runner Rajai Davis. He was then lifted defensively in favor of Deven Marrero. So, six players occupied that spot in the batting order at one point or another during the game. Gotta love September baseball.

It's also easy to forget the three key innings Joe Kelly threw. Those kept the Sox in the game when they really needed it. That's a great piece to have out in the bullpen.

So, once the confusion passed, this was a great result to discover. The Sox kept pace with the Yankees, and probably really annoyed them in the process...especially if they were watching the game. They get closer to that division title we've all been waiting for. The team showed they can win a tough game when they need it. The limited the damage when they could, and exploded when given the opportunity. They can win a game when Chris Sale isn't at his best. I don't want to take too much from a single game against the Rays. But, the was a pretty good team win.

Now they just need a bunch more.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

It's a Sale Day!

No, no, no. Not that sale day. This one is even better!

That's right. Today marks the start of limited time sale prices at the Section 36 store! Today through Friday, you'll have the chance to buy the items you love at discount prices!

I know you've been looking at all the great items offered in the Section 36 store, and thought that you really should have something yourself. Well, get something now during the limited time sale!

So, head over right now and select something that you like. But, don't delay. Remember, the sale only runs through Friday! That's right only a couple days before prices go back to their regular levels.

And, as always, when you do get an item, send me a picture wearing it for me to share with the world! The blogFacebook, and even Instagram!

Like Kylee did to show off her amazing new tank top.

This tank is 27% off!

Or Holly did with her cozy new hoodie.

This hoodie is 21% off!
But, first you need to buy something you like. There's a lot to choose from.

What will you get?

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Curse You Cleveland

There was supposed to be a safety net. A "in case of emergency break glass" sort of reserve. If the Red Sox, for some reason, really needed them there were supposed to be waiting there.

Those four Houston games.

When Houston was cruising along the top of the American League, you looked at the season ending four game series against Houston as an opportunity. Surely the Astros would be resting players. The Red Sox would be facing their AAA team for at least most of those games. If the Sox needed some easy wins, they would be there waiting for them. After the Yankees handed those games to the Rays in 2012, it would be some nice irony if that same tactic came back to bite them.

Then the Indians had to go and ruin it. Their 19 game winning streak not only put them in the race for the number one put them ahead. Suddenly those fours games aren't quite the cakewalk.

Of course, it might not matter. The Sox probably won't need those games anyway. Or, maybe the Red Sox, Indians, and Astros could all decide that having home field isn't as important as, say, not pitching Chris Sale in game 162.

But, it would have been nice to use those games to put some distance between them an New York. Or, even pick up a couple games on the Indians if that was important. But that's all ruined. Cleveland went and made a game of it.

Guess the Sox will just have to take care of it all themselves now.

Monday, September 11, 2017

The 30-Day Baseball Card Challenge: Day #22

Tony, the wonderful writer of the “Off Hiatus Baseball” blog, started a fun activity based off the “30-Day Music Challenge” that Twitter users were taking. The list of challenges looks like this:

Today, we’ll continue with Challenge #22 A card of a common player that always seemed to elude you.

This particular challenge doesn't really fit my collecting style. I'm guessing that what Tony was looking for was for me to scream something like "Dang nabbit. I'm always one card away from completing my set, and am i missing Mike Trout? No, I have six on him. five Mookie Betts, and 25 Kris Bryant. Not, I'm missing friggin Eduardo Rodriguez! Again!!!"

But, yeah, that's not me. I haven't put together a hand set in quite some time. Since the glory days in the late 80's, early 90's. I don't remember any one card sticking out as being someone I needed. Frankly, those sets are all a blur.

After those, I was a player collector for quite some time. I didn't usually focus on "common" players. Unless you count Phil Plantier, I suppose.

After that, I switched to Red Sox team collecting. You might imagine that opening the doors to missing a common card. But, there are so many cards out there, and so many sets, and so many players, that I have never even dreamed I'd complete every team set. So, I've been quite content to plug along. For all I know I have 36 team sets on my wantlist that are only missing one card each. I don't know. I don't really care. Because I know that as soon as I complete one team set, there will be four more to complete.

While that might sounds like a defeated attitude, I prefer to call it freeing. It's now a never ending quest. I can always find more cards. If someone wants to trade with me, they can probably always find something I don't have. There will always be options. There will always be something to chase.

So, sure, three of my Red Sox team sets from 2004 are missing Jerome Gamble. But, I didn't know that until I just looked. I haven't been stressing over it. It's fine. I have some cards, I don't have others. (Although, I'm willing to bet I don't have a lot of cards of Jerome Gamble.) At some point I assume I'll get one. Or not.

But, when I get my next Jerome Gamble, you can bet I'll remember this post.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Oh, There She Is!

Tomorrow night is a very big night. Especially for 51 amazing women in Atlantic City who will be competing for their dream job.

That's right. Tomorrow night once again brings us the Miss America Competition. Section 36 is once again honored to have two visitors who will be on stage competing for that prestigious title!

Miss Vermont Erin Connor was the more recent of the two. She visited with us just under a month ago. We talked about her Miss America talent, and the fact that she wasn't really nervous about the upcoming competition. I wonder if she feels the same way tonight, 24 hours away!

Miss Rhode Island Nicolette Peloquin visited with us back in June. She was most excited to about the interview portion of the competition. She was also switching her talent this year back to a tumbling routine. Let's hope it was a good switch!

Naturally, I want to wish both of them the best of luck tomorrow. Hopefully they can join Alissa Musto who made it to the top 15 last year, and Lauren Kuhn who made top five. And maybe, this year Miss America will rather be in Section 36!

How exciting would that be?

Good luck Erin and Nicolette! We'll be pulling for you!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Was Curt Schilling Any Good?

It’s been a while, so I thought it would be fun to dive back into the scorebooks and see how people performed with my watchful eye peering down on them.

Today I chose Curt Schilling. He had some good years with the Sox. He had some lost years with the Sox. How would that play out of games I scored? Let's see.

Wow. Pretty well I'd say.

First, I'm surprised I didn't see Schilling more. But, I guess he wasn't with the Sox as long as I was imagining. But, scoring six games of his is a decent sample. Especially when those two October starts were pretty important.

In the six games, Schilling had a 5-0 record. Not too shabby at all there. He also struck out 29 opposing batters under my watchful eye.

How did his performance project out to an entire season? My fictional Schilling season would see him win 27 games. But, to be honest, his other numbers are really less than spectacular. Sure, a 3.35 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP aren't exactly "bad". But, it's not like he was Pedro out there on the mound. Which, I suppose, means I saw the essence of Curt Schilling. Good in the Playoffs. Above average the rest of the time.

And, certainly not Pedro.

Monday, September 4, 2017

The 30-Day Baseball Card Challenge: Day #21

Tony, the wonderful writer of the “Off Hiatus Baseball” blog, started a fun activity based off the “30-Day Music Challenge” that Twitter users were taking. The list of challenges looks like this:

Today, we’ll continue with Challenge #21 A Card of a Rookie you thought you were Investing in.

I'm happy to admit that this didn't happen very often. I didn't usually buy anything specifically to invest in. Sure, I hung onto my 1987 Topps Pete Incaviglia cards because they were going to be worth a fortune some day. But, I didn't actively seek them out. I did buy a bunch of 1990 Score Mo Vaughn, but he was a favorite player of mine. So, I just wanted a lot. I also bought a certain Phil Plantier card before the $17 price tag doubled. Or more. But, again, that wasn't o much to resell after investing it. It was just getting my copy before prices went crazy.

No, the only card I can remember buying a bunch of with the specific intention of making money on the resale was this card.

Yeah. I know what you're thinking. Good thing I only did this once.

(Actually, twice. My one and only home shopping network purchase was the 1991 Classic minor league set because it had an exclusive Sele card. Yup.)

But, this one was a slam dunk. Sele was the Sox first round draft pick. He was going to be a stud pitcher to team with Roger Clemens to make an amazing 1-2 punch. 

Of course, that didn't happen. But, in illustrating one of the main problems with prospecting, it wasn't really that far off. It's one thing to say you should see the red flags and not invest in some top pick that goes bust. But, Sele did have a pretty long 15 year career. He made a couple all-star games. Finished in the top five of Cy Young voting, and won just about 150 games. That's a pretty solid resume. You can see how it would be hard to notice the difference between that type of player and, say, Greg Maddux. Sometimes you just never know. Which is what's tricky. Unless I'm going to say to myself, "I'm going to buy a dozen of every Red Sox rookie. If one makes it I'll sell them. Maybe those will cover the costs of the ones that don't. But either way I'm happy to have Red Sox cards." But that could be hard to do, which is why it's so appealing to pick and choose.

Just choose better than I did.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Meghan Rubadou Visits Section 36!

Section 36 has another visitor! Meg Rubadou is a singer, artist, Red Sox fan, and the current Miss Central Massachusetts. She also recently launched her own personal website. Even with all that going on, she was nice enough to visit with us to discuss those topics, and a few more. I’m sure you’ll be glad she did.

So, let’s see what happens when Meg Rubadou visits Section 36!

What has been your favorite part of your time as Miss Central Massachusetts?
My favorite part? That’s a tough one. One thing that sets the Miss Central Mass title apart from other Massachusetts titles is that includes the entire heart of the state. Holding a title that’s so far reaching has allowed me to serve a community across several towns as opposed to just one town and that has been a huge blessing. My favorite appearance with this title was Miracle Treat Day. My Business Manager, Cheryl and I toured Central Massachusetts and made stops at 5 different Dairy Queens to thank the managers and staff for their hard work and efforts in raising money for the Children’s Miracle Network. We even stopped at a farmers’ market that just happened to be open that day and I got to feed an alpaca!

You’ve been a short-term missionary in Guatemala. What has that experience been like?
I’ve been doing missions in Guatemala since I was 14 and every time I return to Zacapa, the experience is better. I’ve had the honor of being involved in 2 total village transformations and watching families in the poorest villages in the country come together and rise above to learn, build, and grow has been incredible. I’ve made so many life-long friends both young and old, even despite the language barrier. It is always mind-blowing to see God
orchestrating every single element of those trips so clearly. On my most recent trip, 5 minutes before a baby rescue team of 7 left the Hope of Life International (HOL) campus, at the perfect time, I asked the HOL founder if there was a chance that I could be a part of a baby rescue that day. In 30 seconds, I was on a bus headed to Honduras to rescue a two-month-old boy named Ismael and a 14-day-old little girl named Yoselin who were both extremely malnourished. I will never forget that day.

As a self-proclaimed Disney addict, which Disney character is the most like you?
I like to think I’m a cross between Rapunzel from Tangled and Anna from Frozen; quirky, strong, and always up for an adventure. Both of those characters surprise themselves with their own strengths and I find myself constantly surprising myself with the things that I am capable of accomplishing that I never imagined to be possible.

You recently started your own website. How did come to be?
Initially, I was reading a blog post written by Miss Massachusetts
2016, Alissa Musto. It was titled, 7 Things You Can Do in Under 7 Minutes to Promote Yourself. One of the tips in that blog post was to purchase your own domain name. Owning a website is a great way to showcase what you have to offer the world. Whether I’m blogging about fitness, food, lifestyle, pageants, or art, my hope is that my site will be a hub for people who are interested in trying new things. I also wanted to further my successes with my Creative Cure project. To know what that’s all about, you’ll just have to visit the site and see!

What drew you to your platform “A Creative Cure: Combatting Stress with Art?
I am going to school for Child Life, a career in which creativity and play are requirements. Fun requirements, of course! Since I began volunteering at Boston Children’s Hospital, I have come to understand the value of art in the context of stress relief, specifically within a pediatric hospital setting. During my volunteer shifts when I was in high school, I would sometimes struggle with finding activities for a diverse range of children- boys, girls, younger, older, some who don’t speak English, and some who are experiencing the stress of inpatient care. As I continued my work there, I quickly discovered that regardless of who I was working with, regardless of age, gender, etc., if I entered a room holding paints, brushes, and a wooden birdhouse, there would be nothing but smiles in that room. Art brings people together, it relieves stress and anxiety, and it gives everyone the ability to create something that is uniquely theirs. I created my platform to raise awareness of how art can be used to relieve stress and to encourage people to utilize it in that context.

Is there something you’d like to accomplish before your time as Miss Central Massachusetts ends?
I am hoping to reach my goal of raising $1000 for the Children’s Miracle Network this year. I recently held a fundraiser for CMN that brought me halfway to that goal. This November, I will hopefully be holding one more fundraiser- one that includes visual arts! I don’t want to give too much away, but donating to that fundraiser will make your Christmas shopping a little easier!

Who was/is your favorite Red Sox player growing up? Why?
Truth be told, my family isn’t big on baseball. We’re more of a
football family. But my favorite Red Sox player growing up was Coco Crisp. My 5th grade math teacher was a big Red Sox fan and she had pictures of all the players on the team that year (2008) hanging on a bulletin board in our classroom. I always loved that Coco Crisp shared the name of one of my favorite sugary cereals.

This is the first Red Sox season in a while without David Ortiz. What’s your favorite Ortiz memory?
The Boston bombing took place two years before I started college in Boston. I remember watching the news surrounding the attacks for weeks after they occurred in complete disbelief that it was my city. At that point in my life, my dream was to move to Boston and go to Wheelock College (I’m living it now!) and I was devastated that my dream city was wounded from that attack. Ortiz’s speech at Fenway Park fueled not only the people of Boston, but the people of Massachusetts, with a new hope, a new strength, and a new pride that we hold being from the best city in the world. As Miss Massachusetts 2017, Carly Fisher said at the national teen pageant this year, “in Massachusetts, Boston Strong isn’t just a saying. It’s a way of life.”

How will the Red Sox finish up the 2017 season?

Regardless of how they finish, the iconic team will make our city proud! It would be fabulous to have another excuse to run through the streets of Fenway again (like when the Pats won the Super Bowl) if they take the World Series!


I agree! That sounds like it would be fun!

As always, I want to give huge thanks to Meg for doing this interview. She did a wonderful job. I also want to thank her for providing the amazing pictures to accompany the interview. I especially like the effort she put into her "I'd Rather be in Section 36" sign!

As Meg continues her time as Miss Central Massachusetts, I encourage you to follow her on the official Facebook page. You should also definitely check out her personal website to catch up on all the great information posted there.

And, how about if we help her reach her goal of $1000 raised for the Children's Miracle Network? I bet we can do that!

Thanks again Meg!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

A Few Days Can Seem Like Forever

Remember Monday?

The Red Sox had just been swept at home by the Orioles. It was their fourth straight loss. They were manhandled the entire series. To make matters worse, the Yankees were playing well, and had closed the gap. The lead in the American League East had dropped to 2.5 games. Not only that, but the Red Sox were about to head off on a long road trip, including a stop in New York.


But, here we sit waiting for the New York series to start under completely different circumstances. The Red Sox swept their series on the road, while the Yankees were swept at home. The lead has extended all the way back to 5.5 games, which is huge for a couple reasons.

The Yankees, and more importantly their fans, know that they can't catch the Red Sox in this series. A series sweep still has the Sox leaving town with a 1.5 game lead. And, that's if the Yankees sweep. If the Red Sox win even one game, they're leaving town up at least 3.5 games.

That's not a good feeling.

Which is one reason I wish I felt better about the game tonight. A win in the series opener would be crushing. But, for some reason the Sox always have trouble with Sabathia, and EdRo doesn't exactly scream "automatic win" these days. On the other hand the Yankees did have to play a double header yesterday. So, who knows? Because the sooner the Sox can come away with a win, the more pressure will be put on the Yankees. After all, a Red Sox series win might just end the whole race. The Yankees can't let that happen.

I can't wait to see how it all plays out!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The 30-Day Baseball Card Challenge: Day #20

Tony, the wonderful writer of the “Off Hiatus Baseball” blog, started a fun activity based off the “30-Day Music Challenge” that Twitter users were taking. The list of challenges looks like this:

Today, we’ll continue with Challenge #20 Your favorite parallel card based on the parallel, not the player.

This was a fun, although challenging, topic. Oc course, if it wasn't challenging, it wouldn't be called a "challenge" right? But, the idea of liking a card because of the design as opposed to the player was an interesting concept. And, in this case not even the design. But, a parallel of that design. I couldn't think of a time where I chased a card because of the parallel and not because of it being a Red Sox card. Not a chrome version. Or a purple version. Maybe a snowflake parallel. That was close, but still not right. But, that didn't mean I couldn't come up with a "favorite" of all the parallels I happened to get.

That's when this card came to mind.

Anyone collecting in the nineties remembers these beauties. In 1992 Topps came up with a great parallel. A few few of the cards would be produced with gold covering the name and team banners on the bottom of the card. I don't remember the insert rate, but it was pretty low (or is it high?) even by today's standards. But, you had an additional way to get the cards. Packs had scratch tickets in them. If your ticket was a winner, you'd get one (some?) of the gold cards. But, a problem came from that. The scratch cards were thin. A flashlight was all you needed to see through the foil and know where the winners were. So, Topps was seeing all kinds of winners. Not only was that a supply problem, but it was weakening the appeal of the hard-earned gold cards pulled from packs. The solution? Cards from the scratch tickets would be marked with the additional "winner" designation. Sort of a shiny gold scarlet letter. It would tell the world that this card was somehow inferior to the regular gold cards. So, it was an unintended parallel of a parallel.

I don't remember sending away for any of these cards. I do remember getting a bunch at a yard sale at some point. I assume that's where this one came from. B then, I think the "winner" designation had the opposite of the desired effect. Instead of making them "inferior" I think they were making them "neato." It was something a little unique, and a swell story.

That's pretty cool, and a good reason to love this parallel. 

Even if I don't care for the player on the card.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Rajai Davis Makes me Happy!

One of the best things the Red Sox have done in the last week or so is the signing of Rajai Davis. (Yeah, I know. Not hard to be the Red Sox highlight of the last week or so.) It's not even because I like the player, or what he can do on the baseball field...even though I do. But, I'm happy with what he represents.


During this weekend sweep, reactionary members of Red Sox Nation have been talking about a collapse. Some are outright calling it. Some are doing the safety move of saying "I hope this isn't a collapse" to hedge their bets a bit. But in either case, the word is out there. Rajai Davis is the reason I'm so sure it won't happen.

People keep pointing to the last "collapse" by the Red Sox in 2011. Even though the only reason people call it a collapse is that they got swept up in the "chicken and beer" nonsense. Like they lost those games because they weren't trying. That wasn't it at all. They lost the games because they were injured. More specifically, they were injured, and Theo thought they could still just ride it out. So when Youkilis went down, they didn't trade for a replacement. They rested him and let their large lead take a hit. When they needed a starting pitcher, they didn't trade for one. They let Kyle Weiland go 0-3 for the team. With every game, it seemed, being a September loss to the Rays. Theo made a calculated decision that he didn't want to touch the club he had assembled, and they would just weather the storm. And, he almost made it. One more fluke win. One more Papelbon save. One more game where the Yankees didn't hand a game to the Rays. It would have worked.

The Red Sox are trying that this time though. When Jackie Bradley went down, they didn't try to wait it out. They didn't decide to just let it slide and wait for him to come back. They didn't call up someone from the minors who wasn't ready to be here. They accelerated the trade process, and brought in a competent replacement.

They went and got Davis.

So, they're not resting. They're going after it. Sure, they hit a bump in the road this weekend as their line-up adjusted to the missing bats and jumbled order. But every team goes through that. Even the Dodgers just lost a series. Everything will be fine.

They got Rajai Davis.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Who’s a Better Manager than Farrell?

After all, he knew enough to leave Fister in the game last night.

For some reason, once again, people are down on Farrell. I think it had something to do with Monday’s bullpen implosion in Cleveland. Once again, Farrell made the tragic error of not putting in the pitchers who would pitch well. For whatever reason, instead of putting in a pitcher who would strike every batter out, he went with the guys who would walk everyone. Odd strategy for sure. The EEIdiots even ran a poll wondering where Farrell would rank among MLB managers. Last I saw, most people had him rated “Middle of the pack” while a pretty large percentage had him as “bottom five.”

My problem with ranking managers is that I find it hard to do from afar. It’s sort of like ranking meteorologists. You probably heard that meteorologists themselves claim that they are correct a large percentage of the time. This is probably true. Looking out the window at today’s sunshine, they correctly said it would be sunny today. But, I’m thinking I could have guessed that an August day would be sunny…especially if I didn’t see any clouds to the east. So, yes, they correctly predicted the day, but I don’t give them much credit for it. I barely notice. But, if I have tickets in Section 36 for a game, and they say it’ll be sunny but it ends up rainy, I’m annoyed. I remember that. Damn local forecast made me ruin my scorecard. 

This is the same for managers. The vast majority of Farrell’s decisions are right on. He starts Chris Sale every fifth day. He plays Mookie Betts as often as he can. But, we don’t give him credit for those. Any idiot would start Chris Sale. Even though it’s possible that someone might try to pitch him every four days, or every six. We don’t count those decisions in our mental scorecards. What do we count? When he screws up. Or, more correctly, when his decisions don’t work out. When he brings in a reliever who gives up the lead, we remember that. He should have known Kelly was going to be shaky that night. We remember every decision that doesn’t go his way, and gloss over all the ones that do.

This makes us underrate him when compared to others. Just like the local meteorologist that doesn’t seem to predict the weather as well as the national average, Farrell doesn’t seem to manage as well as those “other guys”. 

But, how do we know? Who’s better?

Some people point to other managers with winning teams. See? They know what they’re doing. Of course, that’s ignoring the fact that the Sox themselves are comfortably in first place. Joe Maddon used to get a lot of credit for “doing more with less” in Tampa. That’s a pretty sweet situation for a manager. He didn’t have to actually win, just be perceived to do better than his talent would indicate. Of course, his magic apparently wore off this year in Chicago. Maybe dressing up like a nerd doesn’t actually translate to wins on the field? Buck Showalter’s name comes up a lot. He has those mad “in-game” skills. Until he left his all-world closer sitting on the bench during an elimination game. My guess is that if you look over his full season, you’ll see a lot of bonehead moves like that. Joe Girardi certainly makes plenty, according to my twitter feed. It’s funny to see the Yankees fans I follow making almost the exact same complaints as the Red Sox fans. “Joe waited one pitch too long.” “Joe mishandled Chapman there.” And so on. 

Maybe, just maybe, hating the manager is just a “grass is always greener” sort of thing. For the same reason you can’t fully appreciate JBJ’s defense unless you see him every day, maybe you can’t properly evaluate another manager unless you see him manage all the time too. Or the opposite, you can’t fairly evaluate your own manager because you see all of his perceived faults. Maybe that’s clouding your thoughts.

Maybe Farrell’s a good manager after all.

Monday, August 21, 2017

The 30-Day Baseball Card Challenge: Day #19

Tony, the wonderful writer of the “Off Hiatus Baseball” blog, started a fun activity based off the “30-Day Music Challenge” that Twitter users were taking. The list of challenges looks like this:

Today, we’ll continue with Challenge #19 A favorite card from a country other than the United States.

I wish I had a really cool card for this challenge. I wish I had a card from some really obscure country that you didn't even know printed cards. Or, even, if I had grabbed a Daisuke Matsuzaka card from Japan when I was thinking about it. But, they were too expensive when I wanted one, and now that they're cheap I don't really need one. So, I had to go pretty local with the challenge, and pick this card.

Yes. It's yet another card from my almost entirely stagnant Phil Plantier player collection. (In fact, this whole exercise has me thinking that I should get that PC up and running again. I bet it could be fun.)

I like this card, as I did at the time, because it helps work towards the 1992 Topps rainbow...even though I didn't know it at the time. But, I did always know this card looked pretty neat on the page with the regular Topps and the Topps Gold. (Oddly, I don't have the "winner" variety...yet.) Made you do a double take when you realized that the cards weren't all the same.

Which definitely qualifies this as one of my favorite cards from another country.

Still should hunt down a Dice-K, though.

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