Friday, January 27, 2017

Was Derek Lowe Any Good?

I thought it was about time to flip through the scorebooks once again and see how a Red Sox favorite performed while I was keeping score. Today I chose Derek Lowe. 

Lowe was, of course, part of one of the most lopsided trades in Red Sox history when he joined the team along with Jason Varitek. He started out as many young pitchers do with a mixed role in the bullpen. From there, he set himself up to be an all-star closer before finishing his Red Sox career as an all-star starter. With all those roles, his scorecards had a lot of variety in them, which you can see in his career totals. 

So, was he an all star when I was watching? As a reliever? As a starter? See for yourself.

Wow. Wow. And then wow some more. He was really just great at everything, apparently. As far as pitchers I've scored so far...those are approaching Pedro numbers!

No, he's not Pedro.

His career stats as a reliever are hurt, as far as saves are concerned, because a lot of his games are before his time as a close. And, his starter stats are skewed a bit because one of his eight starts was a no-hitter. But, I don't want to take anything away from those performances.

He projects to be a 20-game winner when I saw him as a starting pitcher. I guessing his ERA would lead any league where Pedro wasn't pitching. As a closer he's, again, a bit short on the saves projection. But, I'll take that ERA and WHIP any day of the week. Well done, Mister Lowe. Well done.

How did he do when you were watching?

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

A Numbers Game

During the recent Red Sox Winter Weekend, at least three players debuted new numbers on their backs. All three went back to the numbers they wore in college, and they're all interesting in their own way.

First up is Chris Sale. He switched from the 49 he wore with the White Sox to the number 41 he wore in college. It's interesting because the White Sox do not currently have a #41 on their roster. So, if Sale really wanted to have some continuity with the number he had in college, he could have done that pretty easily I'm guessing. (Maybe cut up every other number 41 jersey until they assign it to him.) He said he did it in deference to Tim Wakefield. Did the Red Sox tell him to do that? Are they retiring Wake's number? Did I miss an announcement? Or, has Sale always wanted to do this (really) but just never saw the opportunity? It's interesting.

Jackie Bradley Jr also switched back to the number 19 he wore in
college. This is interesting because it's the third number Bradley has worn with the Sox. He started with number 44, but graciously gave it to Jake Peavy when he joined the team. No wonder he gave it up so easily. Clearly he was just waiting until Koji left the team and he could grab 19. 

Andrew Benintendi is more surprising. He also switched to his college number, 16. It's interesting because Benintendi just joined the team, and was given number 40. I guess that he's now an established player, and can rip number 16 away from Devin Marrero. But, I wonder if the Sox are annoyed about sales of his #40 merchandise? Lots of people probably have brand new gear of the super-rookie. At least some people with a Jackie Bradley #25 have had it for a couple years now. The 'Tendi stuff is a few months old at a max. Of course, from my perspective, the ability to buy jerseys of current players on clearance is a wonderful opportunity. 

So, clearly, the uniform number is important to players. But, it always surprises me just how much. It wasn't enough of an impression for 'Tendi to keep the first uniform number he wore at Fenway Park? Or, for Bradley to keep the number he wore on his back as he established himself as a star player? I think if it were me, those numbers would be the important ones. But, Bradley was willing to wait it out for years for his number. Benintendi took the first opportunity he had. They made a different call than I think I would have made.

But, I guess I'm not a major league player. 

What would you have done?

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Revised List of 36: The Best Players I've Seen Play in Person

With the Hall of Fame results announced last week, it's time to once again update my list. The Hall of Fame results are usually less of an update than other awards. Chances are if they're good enough to be in the Hall of Fame, they're already on the list. But, last year Mike Piazza was able to make the jump. So there's always a chance.

It didn't happen this year, though.

I've never seen Tim Raines play live. So, he doesn't make the list. I have seen Ivan Rodriguez play, but he was already on the list. All that happened was changing his credentials from "MVP" to "HOF". No big deal there.

Jeff Bagwell brings up a dilemma I've been tossing around for a while. I never saw Bagwell play in an actual game. But, I did see him play in the 1999 All Star game. I haven't been including players i say play in that game in this list up til now. When I started, I went with the theory that I didn't see the "real" player if it was just an exhibition game. I'm starting to wonder about that decision. If I started adding them to the list, it would include a few more Hall of Famers that aren't on there now. I can't decide. What do you think?

For now, I'm leaving them off. So, I present the barely updated list of the 36 best players I've seen play in person.

1. Roberto Alomar (HOF)
2. Wade Boggs (HOF)
3. Barry Bonds (MVP)
4. Ryan Braun (ROY, MVP)
5. Miguel Cabrera (MVP, triple crown)
6. Jose Canseco (ROY, MVP)
7. Roger Clemens (MVP, CYA)
8. Josh Donaldson (MVP)
9. Dennis Eckersley (HOF)
10. Jason Giambi (MVP)
11. Tom Glavine (HOF)
12. Juan Gonzalez (MVP)
13. Ken Griffey Jr (All-Century Team)
14. Vladimir Guerrero (MVP)
15. Josh Hamilton (MVP)
16. Bryce Harper (ROY, MVP)
17. Rickey Henderson (HOF)
18. Matt Holliday (MVP)
19. Randy Johnson (HOF)
20. Chipper Jones (MVP)
21. Greg Maddux (HOF)
22. Pedro Martinez (HOF)
23. Andrew McCutchen (MVP)
24. Justin Morneau (MVP)
25. Dustin Pedroia (ROY, MVP)
26. Mike Piazza (HOF)
27. Kirby Puckett (HOF)
28. Albert Pujols (MVP)
29. Jim Rice (HOF)
30. Cal Ripken (HOF)
30. Alex Rodriguez (MVP)
31. Ivan Rodriguez (HOF)
32. John Smoltz (HOF)
33. Ichiro Suzuki (ROY, MVP)
34. Frank Thomas (HOF)
35. Mike Trout (MVP)
36. Mo Vaughn (MVP)

There's my list. Who’s on your list?

Saturday, January 21, 2017

The Voters Got Me Down

I didn't do a "My Hall of Fame Ballot" post this year. I started it a couple times, but never did it. I just wasn't feeling it this year. Mostly, I think, because I didn't really see a candidate that jumped out at me. There was no Ken Griffey or Pedro Martinez that I could automatically put in the Hall. And, my motto usually is, "If you have to think about it, they're not a Hall of Famer."

But, now that the results are in, what do I think of them? I know I'm even a little late to go over this, but here are my brief thoughts.

I've mentioned Tim Raines before. I assumed he should be in the Hall of Fame. But, he was outside my years of solid fandom, so I was willing to defer to people who really saw him play in his prime to say he he wasn't good enough. I guess they changed their mind. So, I really can't complain.

For a long time it seemed obvious that Ivan Rodriguez would be in the Hall of Fame. The most dominant catcher of his era. But, he really dropped off there towards the end, and his journeyman status really soured him a bit in my eyes. Especially since his drop happened to line up with other interesting baseball events. I suppose I would have voted for him, but it would have taken more thought than I would have liked.

Bagwell I'm surprised got in. I'm not really sure why it took Jim Rice so long to get in, but Bagwell took about 1/3 of the time, despite the hint of PED surrounding him. (Admittedly, I have no idea where that hint came from but it was there to, I assume, cut him at least a couple votes short.) I've said before that Bagwell joins Curt Schilling in my Hall of Very Good.

As for the people who didn't get in? The one that confuses me the most is Trevor Hoffman. Oh, sure, I wouldn't vote for him either. But I've heard forever that Mariano Rivera is this lock first ballot guy. And Hoffman still can't get in? What am I missing? Vladimir Guerrero probably deserves to be in. Although, I always thought he was a SOSH type player. When everyone else was saying Griffey was the best player in the game, people thought they looked smart by saying it was Guerrero. "I'm smart and pay attention, so I can bring up an obscure star from Canada. I'm a better fan than you." Sort of a "so underrated he's overrated" type of guy. I'm also confused by the steroid boys. How do Bonds and Clemens get a different number of votes? Either you are willing to overlook the taint and vote in the most dominant player of his time, or not. Right? Are people willing to look over the suspicions, but don't feel Clemens is worthy? I thought Manny Ramirez would get more support. Especially since voters are suddenly willing to overlook the PED questions. Again, some inconsistency there that I don't really understand. Glad to see Curt Schilling come back to the 50% level he probably deserves, right alongside Mike Mussina. I'm a little surprised that Jason Varitek didn't get more support, especially when compared to Jorge Posada. Tek was a much better catcher than Posada ever was. 

Everyone else was a pretty clear explanation. They didn't get voted in because they didn't deserve to be voted in. 

At least in my opinion.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Rogue One and the Red Sox Rotation

So, I finally saw Rogue One today. I know. I know. What in the world took me so long? And, of course it was amazing film. But, that's not the point of this post.

Going into the movie, I had one hope. I hoped that I'd see the "real" Darth Vader. See, I always felt we were cheated. Darth Vader is supposed to be the best Jedi ever, right? Better than Yoda, I recall. But, we never saw that. We never saw him go house on a bunch of rebels. I always assumed that his clunky costume in the 70's made it impossible. And, when they did the prequels with the technology that would allow it, he wasn't Darth Vader yet. I thought we were going to get it at the end of Episode II when Ben tossed Anakin the second light saber. "Here we go" I though. But, no. The duel ended in no time. We did, however, get to see the real "Yoda" finally. But, where was Darth?

I got the same feeling with Harry Potter. We never saw him as the dominant wizard. Sure, he had courage and dedication and other great qualities. Blah, blah, blah. But, in the very first book Olivander says he expects "great" things from Harry. Voldemort level things. So I kept waiting for Harry to show that potential. To have that battle where he went all Neo on Voldemort. Where was that? I felt cheated.

What does this have to do with the Red Sox?

I have this feeling with the Red Sox rotation. By goodness it is stacked. The three at the top should be something really special to see. They could be Darth Vader-Yoda-Harry Potter type skills. But, will we get to see them all perform like we want? Will they ever just control the other team like putty in their hands?

Like Pedro did?

I know. I've said it before. It's not fair to compare anyone else to Pedro. But, he did it. He was Darth Vader in his prime with Harry Potter helping him. He didn't get hitters out. He embarrassed them. He could have just struck them out, sure. But he instead struck them out by making them fall down in failure. He toyed with them. He shamed them. He proved he was better than they could ever hope to handle. Then he calmly walked off the mound disgusted that the batter even wasted the time of making Pedro throw three pitches.

So, that's my fear going into this season. I have no fear that the rotation will be bad. I'm afraid that they won't be historic. Because I want that. I want to see the three of them in the top five in Cy Young voting. I want to see them simply dominate.

More than I want to see Darth Vader force push a guy to the ceiling during a battle.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Was Manny Ramirez Any Good?

There’s been a lot of talk about Manny Ramirez’s career lately. That will happen when you’re on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time. Even more so when your candidacy is a bit controversial. 

Of course, as these conversations often do, it made me wonder how Manny Ramirez performed in games I scored. Was he a Hall-of-Famer in my books? Well, see for yourself.

I’d certainly say so!

I apparently scored about a third of a season’s worth of games for Manny. In those games, just look at that slash line. While those aren’t the highest numbers I’ve ever scored, they’re probably the highest ones with any sort of legitimate sample size. While I was there, Manny hit to a .344 batting average, got on base 45% of the time he came to the plate, and slugged 0.617. Fantastic. That also means that so far Manny has the most home runs on my scorecards, with 16. David Ortiz was the previous high with 15. Obviously, I haven’t tabulated everyone’s career statistics yet. But, offhand, having trouble thinking of someone who will challenge him. 

How do those numbers project to a full season? Very very well. Give Manny 660 at-bats, and he would have hit 47 home runs, driven in 150 runs, and scored 142 of his own. Exactly what you’d expect from one of the best hitters in baseball history. 

Whenever I do these totals, it’s always nice to see that I was watching the “real” player in my games. I got to see a good sample of what it meant to watch Manny Ramirez. I wasn’t short-changed. Nor do I think I was especially lucky. 

I just saw Manny being Manny.

How did he do when you were watching?

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

From the Pedro Binder: 2000 Victory

I can't decide of Upper Deck got lucky with this one.

There are a number of things I don't like about this card. Basically, taken on their own, I hate most everything about this card. I hate using an entire corner as a black box to display information. I hate the repeat of the main picture as the corner picture. I hate the jarring red tone to the corner picture. 

But, I like how the main picture is a nice tall image. Set apart from the rest of the card, it seems to work. An image that wasn't so lanky would have trouble standing out in the layout it was doomed into. But this one, this great picture of Pedro ready to deliver hell on earth, just works. I also like the border paint treatment given to the image. It gives it a quality that I just can't put my finger on, but enjoy.

I don't know how they do it. But, I don't hate this card. Oh, I don't love it. Don't get me wrong. But, it's not all bad.

I guess they got lucky.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

2017 Scavenger Hunt

I did it! I mentioned the possibility last year, but decided to just go for it this year. I felt that the hunt was running too long. While I liked the idea of having something to do stretching from the World Series to Spring Training, it just wasn’t practical. Of course nobody did anything on it until the last minute. So, it was just wasting time. With that in mind, I cut the time down. Unfortunately, that meant moving the start date into the next year. So, it’s pretty hard for me to call this the “2016 Scavenger Hunt” when it takes place entirely in 2017! So, I’m rolling with it. There will be no “2016 Scavenger Hunt” champion on the sidebar. We’re just going to have to all know that there was still a winner every year. You cool with that? Good.

Now that that is out of the way, let’s get down to the hunt itself! Are you ready? I’m sure you remember how it works. If not, I’ll remind you. Below, you’ll find a list of 36 items for you to try and find. When you find an item, take a picture of it and send it along to me. Whoever sends me pictures of the most items wins. Pretty simple, right? We’ll make the end of the hunt be 12:36 PM eastern time on February 5, 2017. This gives enough time to find the stuff, and fills the time almost right up to pitchers and catchers reporting to Spring Training. Sound like fun? Of course it does. What do you win if you find the most items? Worldwide fame and admiration! I will post the winner’s name (and picture if one is provided) on this very site and hail them as the 2017 Scavenger Hunt Champion! I’m sure that Kristen has found her worldwide fame to be quite an honor this past year. (Well, past two years in her case!) If you actually want a prize you can hold in your hand, I’ll award a scorebook made up of the Section 36 official scorecards, bound together to allow you to score twenty games! I’ll also include the collection of SWAG shown with the scorebook in the picture: a magnet, a window cling, and some stickers.. Not too bad, right? If I come up with anything else to add to the pile in the next month, I’ll do that. Ready to get started? Here is this year’s list of items to get pictures of:

1. Red Sox dog leash
2. Ticket to 2013 World Series game
3. Red Sox table
4. Official Program from 2007 World Series
5. “Time” magazine with Red Sox player on cover
6. Section 36 shirt
7. Red Sox barstool
8. David Ortiz “final season” item
9. Chris Sale t-shirt
10. Stuffed Wally
11. Red Sox player
12. Andrew Benintendi baseball card
13. Used official Section 36 scorecard
14. Red Sox socks
15. Cy Young Statue
16. Koji Uehara replica jersey
17. 2016 Red Sox Media Guide
18. Red Sox DVD
19. Autograph of member of 2015 Red Sox
20. Red Sox bikini
21. Pedro Martinez book
22. Pablo Sandoval t-shirt
23. Bobby Doerr Hall of Fame plaque
24. Red Sox earrings
25. Ticket stub from Section 36
26. Red Sox foam finger
27. Wine bottle with Red Sox player on it
28. 36 of something
29. Van Ness St
30. Tessie item
31. Red Sox bumper sticker
32. Red Sox puzzle
33. “Retired Number” hat
34. Red Sox office supply
35. Female Red Sox fan
36. Male Red Sox fan

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

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

1. You. This might be the easiest way. If you’re in the picture, I can be pretty sure you actually found the item. This has one advantage in that it doesn’t have to be a new picture. If you went to Fenway last summer and took a picture on Lansdowne St, that would work. Or,

2. The Section 36 logo. Just have it showing somewhere in the picture. Or,

3. The address of this blog, “” , written somewhere in the picture. Write it out on a piece of paper, on a sidewalk with chalk, on someone’s leg, whatever. (Just don’t vandalize anything). 

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

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

Good Luck!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Pinterest: Section 36 Feeling Social

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

Section 36 has had a Pinterest account for about 3 years now. Did you know that? I wouldn't be surprised if you didn't. I've said that I understood why people might use Snapchat, but I didn't understand why a blog would until recently. For Pinterest, I'm still not sure why anyone would use it. (Seriously...what's the point?) But, that doesn't mean that I shouldn't allow people to follow Section 36,

and to see something useful when they do! 

To that end, I added some boards to the Section 36 account for you to check out and, hopefully, follow. I'll be adding for pins to them as we move along so they'll be something you'll enjoy watching grow.

So, I'll pin my book reviews, or interviews, or other fun ideas that I come across.

So, head to Pinterest and join in on all the fun we'll be having!

But, only if you follow Section 36 first!

Monday, January 2, 2017

Snapchat: Section 36 Feeling Social

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

About a year ago, I announced that Section 36 was finally on Snapchat. I also said that I wasn't really sure why it was. I still assumed that Snapchat was just for sending dirty pictures. But, when I noticed that the Red Sox had an account, I assumed it had some appropriate use. It's honestly taken me from then to now to even remotely figure it out. And I know I'm not even close.
Others have helped
get the word out too!

But, I've been talking to and spying on other bloggers who use Snapchat well (like One Busy Bee and Escape with Jess) to get some ideas. And I've started to use it more. I've snapped contests. I've snapped questions. I've snapped pictures. I've had more people add me. Hopefully it's been a fun experience for them.

Of course, the purpose I stated in the first place still holds true. I'm finding Snapchat useful as a communication tool for readers. Whether it's seeing another Red Sox snap from someone I follow, or having pictures submitted as a snap, or just answering questions,
Snapchat has had a purpose.

So, hopefully you'll decide that being part of the Section 36 Snapchat evolution is something you want to be a part of. We can all explore it together, and hopefully have a lot of fun along the way!

But, only if you add Section 36 first!

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