Friday, April 21, 2017

Sherene Iskander Visits Section 36!

Sherene Iskander is a Red Sox fan, a world traveler, and the current Miss Cranberry Country. With all those topics to discuss, I thought
it would be fun if Sherene visited with us. Thankfully, even though she’s busily getting ready for the Miss Massachusetts competition in July, she agreed. 

So let’s see what happens when Sherene Iskander visits Section 36!

How did you celebrate being crowned Miss Cranberry Country?
The first thing I did was Facetime my parents. They live in Oklahoma, so they were unable to attend, but they were so excited to see me with the crown on my head! After that, I went out to
dinner with a few of my friends and had a giant piece of chocolate cake! Definitely my weakness!

What lesson did you learn at the Miss Cranberry Country competition that you can bring with you to the Miss Massachusetts competition?
I’m a pianist and during the talent portion I decided that my goal that day was to have fun with my Liberace-style Chopsticks because it is truly a fun piece to play! The audience could clearly tell I was enjoying myself because they started clapping along, which in turn helped me perform better! So the lesson I took away is to be in the moment and have fun and to not worry about “messing up”, because I’ll perform better if I’m having fun!

What is a goal you'd like to accomplish during your time as Miss Cranberry Country?

Well obviously one goal is to become the next Miss Massachusetts and compete at Miss America! This is my last year of eligibility to compete in the Miss America Organization, so my main goal is to take away everything from this experience that I possibly can and truly enjoy it and make a difference by spreading awareness of my Platform “The Gift of Giving”.

What made you interested in "The Gift of Giving"?
When I was growing up my parents taught me to always appreciate what I had and give back however I could to those around me. But, it never really clicked why, it was just something I was taught. However, in 2013 I was a volunteer at the Boston Marathon Finish Line. The horrible tragedy that happened that day truly showed me the importance of a community and how when we come together and support each other we are stronger. I realized that giving back is really just a way to support others in our community. The whole purpose of “The Gift of Giving” is to show the various ways we can
give back. Not everyone has money to donate or time to volunteer, but everyone can give every single day in some way. It’s about smiling at the person on the T who looks like they’re having a rough day, or helping a classmate understand something. The Gift of Giving is about giving in whatever way one can to create a better community in every aspect.

You've been able to visit all seven continents. What was the trip to Antarctica like?
I love to travel and fortunately when I was growing up, my parents saw the value that travel provided. It opened my eyes to the world and helped me understand the importance of diversity and understanding that differences are to be celebrated, not condemned. When I was 16 I was able to travel to Antarctica, which was no easy task. But, the experience was unlike any other I had while traveling. To go somewhere few have gone and realize how incredibly small I am compared to the world was an eye-opening experience. We even got to go swimming in a volcano... The sand about 8 inches down is incredibly hot, so we dug holes in the sand that when the waves came up and filled them, it would create a “hot tub”. But, the agreement was that if we wanted to enjoy the hot tub, we had to run into the cold ocean water first. Brrrr. I can’t put into words how that trip changed my life, but I am so grateful that my parents were willing to give in to my persistence and trust that I could handle a difficult trip at such a young age. Thanks mom and dad, I owe ya!

You've competed in several "Run Disney" events. What do you like about those races?
Sherene and Alissa
The first Run Disney event I ever ran was the Disney Princess Glass Slipper Challenge in February of 2016. The “challenge” involved running a 10k on Saturday and a half marathon on Sunday. I actually decided to participate because the presenting charity was Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, which is the national platform for Miss America! I even ran as a charity runner for CMNH and raised $1,200. It was such an incredible weekend because I was able to meet several miracle children and even Miss America, and of course, go to all the Disney parks! The race courses even run through the parks, and there’s no experience like running through the Magic Kingdom castle or around the World Showcase at Epcot. Plus, everyone is dressed as Disney characters and princesses, so it definitely makes the miles seem to go by faster. And as a fair warning to anyone reading this, once you run one, you’ll be back! 

The Red Sox are playing this season without David Ortiz for the first time in a while. What's your favorite Ortiz memory?
Absolutely, without a doubt, his speech at the first home game back after the Marathon bombing in 2013. Boston is a strong city and that speech proved to anyone with doubt that this city would recover and be more resilient than ever. This city is and forever will be Boston Strong. 

What do you remember about your last trip to Fenway Park?
My last trip to Fenway Park was amazing (as they always are)! I graduated from Northeastern University last May and one of our events during Senior Week was a Red Sox game! It was such a blast because the entire section was filled with Northeastern students celebrating our graduation! We also beat the Yankees 8-0 that night, so what’s not to love, right?

How do you think the Red Sox will finish the 2017 season?
Obviously they’re going to win it all!

--------
Oh, obviously!

As always, I want to send out a huge thank you to Sherene for doing this interview. These visits are always very popular, and I have no doubt that here will continue that trend. Also, a big thanks for providing the pictures to accompany the interview. She did a great job of providing shots that matched up with the questions.

As Sherene continues her reign as Miss Cranberry Country, I encourage you to follow her on the official Facebook page, and Instagram. Also, please consider joining in on the “Gift of Giving” by visiting Sherene’s personal Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals donation page. Every little bit helps! 

And, of course, I want to wish Sherene luck in July as she competes for the Miss Massachusetts crown. It would be fantastic for another Section 36 visitor to claim that title.


Thanks again Sherene, and good luck!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

From the Pedro Binder



2000 HoloGrFx

Yup. It's another HoloGrfx card, which means there is a ton of sizzle. And, I mean a TON!

But, really, why is it there? Just to be shiny? Just because it can be? The card is actually pretty dull. It's a fairly solid red card, with a tiny picture of Pedro. They even shoved the picture as far to one side as they could, apparently to leave even more room for the red.

The information? Yup. It's as tiny as humanly possible. Who cares what the player's name is? Or their team? Or what position they play? Who cares about that when we can give you this shiny red card!?!

Blech.

Monday, April 17, 2017

The 30-Day Baseball Card Challenge: Day #2

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 have Challenge #2: A card with more than one player on it.

Here I am on my second challenge, and I'm wondering if I'm the wrong person to be doing these. Oh, don't get me wrong. They're fun, and I can't wait to do them all. But, I think I take things a little too seriously.

I'm not generally a person who answers "favorite" questions very well. Favorite color? Well, I like some shades of red. But, a good deep blue is wonderful. Or a dark forest green. They all have good sides. Favorite Pixar movie? Well, Toy Story 3 and Cars made me cry, but Up made me laugh. Wall-E was powerful, and Bugs Life was just fun.

So, it was with this attitude that I went into this challenge. A card i liked with more than one player. "A" card. Not, "A dozen cards that all have redeeming qualities." So, I grabbed my binders, and started flipping. After a while, I had several candidates and was analyzing the pros and cons of each, while wondering if there was one I had forgotten somewhere that was even better.

Finally I told myself to just stop it. This was supposed to be a fun post, not a doctoral thesis. So, I went back to the first card that came to mind.


Frankly, this should have been pretty obvious all along.

This is the team card from the 2004 Topps Red Sox World Champions set. Really, is there a better card in all the world? This card has it all. It had the scoreboard in the background thanking the team for breaking the curse. It has the Foil on the top of the card declaring the team the 2004 World Champions. Then it goes ahead and pictures every freakin' member of that 2004 team. (give or take)

So, if I'm going to pick a card with more than one player on it, it really has to be this one. It's the card of the team that changed everything as a Red Sox fan. The players on this card changed the world.

Not many cards can say that.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Sara Achorn Visits Section 36!

Section 36 has another visitor! Sara Achorn is a Red Sox fan, and the current Miss Plymouth County. She's getting ready to compete
for the Miss Massachusetts crown in just a couple months. Thankfully she was nice enough to take time out of her busy schedule and visit with us to discuss her time as Miss Plymouth County, the Red Sox, and more. 

So, let's see what happens when Sara Achorn visits Section 36!


What made you decide to compete for Miss Plymouth County?
Well of course, the crown is beautiful but it's everything that comes along with the crown. I love to give back to the community and people love having queens help out at different events!

Your platform is “Imperfection: Pushing the Importance of Body Positivity in Today’s Youth” Why is that important?
Body positivity is so important because we live in a very judgmental world and I was lacking support growing up and dealing with the way I looked. I want to be the girl I needed when I was a young girl.

You have a background performing in the theater. How did that experience help you in the Miss Plymouth County competition?
My theatre was definitely one of the most helpful things I could have done to prepare for this pageant. My theatre director is very big on thinking on your toes and going with the flow which is really helpful in interviews because you have to think on your toes and be prepared for anything that might get thrown your way.

You’ve sung at various venues, including the TD Garden. How is that different than singing for the talent portion of a competition?
If I'm being truly honest, it's not much different at all. I sang the
national Anthem at TD Garden for my high school basketball team's state championship game so I was in front of all of my peers. It's scary doing things in front of the people you go to school with because lets face it, high school kids are judgmental. In pageants, the judges are judging you in a positive way and are looking to help you improve so that would be the only difference. I'm still nervous as ever in both instances though!

What do you hope to accomplish during your time as Miss Plymouth County?
I am hoping to do lots and lots of appearances but on top of that I want to raise $2000 for the Children's Miracle Network. I am already at $1000 so I don't have far to go. I will be holding fundraisers in order to reach this goal. I really want to hold a Fenway Frank hotdog eating contest this summer before Miss Massachusetts in July because who doesn't love hodogs?!

The Red Sox just opened their season for the first time in a long time without David Ortiz on the roster. What’s your favorite Ortiz memory?
I know most people would talk about the very passionate speech he gave after the Boston Marathon bombing with his slightly vulgar language but no one pays attention to all of the charity work he does. He loves kids and loves to help other people. I love his passion about working with New England and Dominican Republic children's hospitals. He runs an organization called, "The David Ortiz Children’s Fund". It's things like this that we as the American people need to focus on with our celebrities.

Who is your favorite current Red Sox player? Why?
I really like Dustin Pedroia because he makes sure that he is a positive role model for his young fans. Some famous people make really dumb choices and don't give any kids reasons to look up to them but they do anyways. That's one of the reasons we have so many kids making bad decisions. They see their favorite pro doing it. You never hear about Pedroia doing things like that. Aside from that of course, he's a very good team player and works really hard at his craft. 

Is the Benintendi-Bradley-Betts trio the best outfield you’ve ever seen?
If I'm being quite honest, I don't pay attention THAT much to baseball but I asked my dad who is a huge fan and he said Rice-Lynn-Evans was the best he's ever seen.

How will the Red Sox finish the 2017 season?

Growing up in a house where the Red Sox is practically a religion, I'd be a disgrace if I didn't say I hope we win another World Series.

---

I agree, she'd definitely be a disgrace! Glad Sara had the right answer.

As always, I want to send a huge thank you to Sara for taking the time to visit with us. I hope you enjoyed it. Another big thanks for supplying so many great pictures to go along with the interview. They really make the interview much better than it would be otherwise.

If you'd like to keep up with Sara during her time as Miss Plymouth County, check out her official FacebookInstagram, and Twitter accounts. Really, you should.

And, of course, I want to wish Sara luck at the Miss Massachusetts competition in July! Hopefully another former Section 36 visitor will bring home that crown.


Thanks again Sara, and good luck!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

So, That’s Where the Offense Was

Every time the Red Sox have some trouble scoring runs, the questions come out. No matter how many runs they score the game before, or how many runs they’ve scored over the season. Whenever a game like Monday’s comes around, when they get a great pitching performance in a loss, there are questions.

And, I get that. It’s frustrating. Chris Sale was brilliant. He was everything we hoped he would be, and a couple things we didn’t dare hope we would be. But, he lost the game 2-1, to drop his record on the season to 0-1. That’s not how it’s supposed to go. Thankfully, in this case, there was a very simple answer to the question. Where was the offense?

In Boston.

Unfortunately for the Red Sox, while the Red Sox were trying to battle Justin Verlander in Detroit, Hanley Ramirez was in Boston sick. Xander Bogaerts was in Boston after his flight from Aruba was cancelled following bereavement leave. Those are your #4 and #6 hitters from Opening Day. Jackie Bradley Jr was out, and on the DL. There’s, now, a third of your preferred line-up sitting this one out. That would be enough to make a dent in any team’s offensive output.

But, it got worse. Mookie Betts was in his second game back following a bout with the flu. Think he was 100%? I doubt it. Andrew Benintendi didn’t miss any time after losing his lunch mid-game a couple games ago. But, I’m guessing he wasn’t in top form either. So, if you’re scoring at home…from your Opening Day line-up, the #2 and #3 hitters were less than 100%, the #4, #6, and #7 hitters were missing.

I’m amazed they managed to score one run. On the road. Against Justin Verlander.

Because, while I always agreed with Jimy Williams that his team was “all major leaguers” I always disagreed with the idea that this made them interchangeable. If you’re missing more than half of your expected line-up, there’s really not a lot you’re going to be able to do about it.

And, the Red Sox certainly suggested that was exactly the case. Once they added Xander and Hanley back in, and got the others another day healthier, the bats “suddenly” showed up. They scored a bunch of runs, and took advantage of opportunities. While in Detroit, the Sox couldn’t really take advantage of a fluke bases loaded situation, last night the Sox made the Orioles pay for every mistake. They showed everything we expected to see at the beginning of the season.

So, I think you really need to give the Sox a pass for the entire Detroit series. Honestly, going into the series, a split on the road is a decent goal. Winning one game instead of two wasn’t really that terrible of a performance. Especially when Verlander is pitching one of the games. In Detroit.


While your offense was in Boston.

Monday, April 10, 2017

The 30-Day Baseball Card Challenge: Day #1

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 idea was to take a list of challenges, and find cards that meet those challenges. Along the lines of a scavenger hunt. You know I like scavenger hunts! The list of challenges looks like this:


Thankfully, Tony said the challenge didn’t have to be completed in 30 days. That might be a bit much for me to take on. (Plus, I’m already several days behind.) But, being able to take my time is very appealing. I’ve done long-term lists before like A-Z and 1-36, so this one should be fun. I’ll take a shot at doing these once a week, but we’ll see how that goes.

Today, we start with Challenge #1: A card from the current year with a photo you like.

Interesting. I don’t see where Tony said whether you need to personally own the cards, or not. But, I’m going to assume it needs to be a card in my collection. So, I went to my 2017 binder to find a card with a picture I like. Right away, I saw a problem.

I didn’t know how to define “like.”

Two cards came immediately to the forefront. The one that many people would pick is the Mookie Betts card shown below.



It’s a fabulous shot of Mookie doing everything he can to make a catch. You can even see the ball nestled in his glove. My issue was that as great a picture of a catch it is, it’s not like it’s the best picture of a diving catch ever. Which means there wasn’t really anything special about it. Even though I “liked” it.

Then I saw this card.



Now, I really “like” this picture. After all, as a Red Sox fan, was there a single part of the off-season that was better than learning that the Red Sox traded for Chris Sale? Not to me. Chris Sale would be pitching in Boston, and here’s the proof. Here’s Sale mid-windup showing off that Red Sox uniform he will eventually wear. 

What’s not to like?

But, obviously, this is not a remarkable picture at all. If this card showed Rick Porcello, or Tyler Thornburg, or Pedro Martinez it would be easily overlooked. But, it doesn’t show those pitchers. It shows hope. It shows expectation. It shows the path to the World Series.


I really like that.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Samantha Mackes Visits Section 36!

Section 36 has another visitor! Samantha Mackes is a Red Sox fan, and the current Miss Exeter. She's getting ready to compete for the Miss New Hampshire crown in just a couple short weeks. Thankfully she was nice enough to take time out of her busy schedule and visit with us to discuss her time as Miss Exeter, the Red Sox, and more. 

So, let's see what happens when Samantha Mackes visits Section 36!

You've been involved in the Miss NH organization for a while. What do you like most about being a titleholder?
I really love the volunteerism part of being a titleholder! Getting dressed up is great, but I love having the ability and the opportunity to go out into the community and make a change. Seeing kid’s faces when you walk into the room wearing a crown isn’t half bad either!

What lessons from previous pageants can you use at this year's Miss NH competition?
To make every moment count and to give it your all, to never feel like you wish you could change something.  

You made a memorable volunteering trip to Africa. What do you remember most from that experience?
There is so much from that trip that I will never forget. I worked in an orphanage for a week with a group of students and we spent time with the kids and worked around the orphanage. I think the most memorable however would be building a library and a sustainable garden – two things that have had a lasting impact for them. Spending the time to create a library and a garden from nothing really makes you appreciate what you have.

What can you tell me about your platform, "Fighting for their dreams: Nurturing their future"?
My platform revolves around mentoring! I spend a lot of time
working with many different organizations as a mentor, and even created my own program to help encourage peer mentoring in schools!  I work with Strong Women, Strong Girls; Big Sister’s Association of Boston; Mission Hill After School Program; and the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. The program I created is called WRITES, which stands for Writing Relationships in the Education System. It is a peer based mentoring program that involves students in grades 1-4 being matched with a mentor in grades 5-8, whom they exchange letters with once a week! The program aims to combine a mentoring relationship with a writing relationship to help not only with social skills, but with writing skills as well. My goal is for every child to have a mentor, someone who is always there for them, outside of their family. 

With all the titles you've held in the past, has anything surprised you about your time as Miss Exeter?
How welcoming the community is! This is my 4th title, but with all of my others, the community hasn’t always been so accepting. In one case, I didn’t have any specific area because I was Miss Granite State! Exeter has really welcomed me in and made me feel welcome. I’m actually part of their Chamber Children’s Fund, which is a great honor! My year as Miss Exeter has been my favorite so far!

This season, the Red Sox have a changing of the guard. David Ortiz is gone, leaving the team with the young kids. Which of the four B's (Betts, Benintendi, Bradley, and Bogaerts) are you most excited about?
I am most interested in seeing what Benintendi can do! The others
have had their shot to show us what they are capable of. 

Speaking of David Ortiz, what’s your favorite Ortiz memory?
Personally, my favorite memory was seeing my first home run! But in the history of the Red Sox, I’d have to say it’s his first walk-off homer against the Yankees that started their comeback! 

What was your first trip to Fenway like?
It was a great experience! I had only ever been to Fisher Cats games, so I was amazed at how big the stadium is in comparison. I also loved all of the food, because let’s be honest, pageant girls eat a lot! I went with my family for my brother’s birthday, so it definitely has a special place in my heart. 

How will the Red Sox do in 2017?
As someone who is going to school in the city, I love the big celebrations after any major win, so I’m hoping for another World Series win! I’m confident that with some hard work, we can do it, even without Ortiz.

---

Hard to argue with that analysis! I hope she gets to go to a parade in the fall.


As always, I want to send a huge thank you to Sam for taking the time to visit with us. I hope you enjoyed it. Another big thanks for supplying so many great pictures to go along with the interview. They really make the interview much better than it would be otherwise.

If you'd like to keep up with Sam during her time as Miss Exeter, check out her official Facebook and Instagram accounts. You really should do both.

And, of course, I'd like to wish Sam luck at the Miss New Hampshire competition starting on the 27th. Maybe her next visit will be as Miss New Hampshire! 


Thanks again Sam, and good luck!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Chris Sale is Simply…

Filthy. Nasty. Incredible. Sick.

Well, maybe I shouldn’t say “sick” when talking about the Red Sox right now.

But, that leaves me with one big question.

How did I not see this coming?

Oh, sure. I knew he was a great pitcher. I knew he was one of the best pitchers in the league. I know he was a pitcher worth giving up the top prospect in baseball for. I didn’t know that I was getting a guy who was going to embarrass batters for seven innings.

I mean, I like to consider myself a fairly dedicated baseball fan. I like to think I educate myself on the game and its players. But I didn’t know this.

Because there are different ways a pitcher can win games. There’s the Greg Maddux “keep the hitter off balance and mix it up” type. There’s the Derek Lowe “use the sinker to get a million ground balls” type. There’s the Justin Verlander “bet you can’t hit my fastball” type. There’s the Randy Johnson “you can swing if you want, but the ball is already at your ankle” type. And, there’s the Pedro Martinez “just sit down…you have no idea how to hit any of this” type. 

I didn’t know the Sox were getting Randy Johnson.

How did this guy lose ten games last year?

Now, I know. One game on a freezing cold April night does not a season make. There’s a reason he didn’t throw a shutout every start last year. But, better hitters don’t change that slider. I don’t care how warm it is, you can’t hit that.

So, how did I miss this? East Coast bias? Was he hidden on an underperforming team? Was I just not paying attention?

I’m glad I get to make up for lost time by seeing him every fifth game from now on.


This is going to be a lot of fun.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Chris Sale Is Pitching Tonight

For the Boston Red Sox.

That is all.

Well, no, of course that's not all. But, my goodness, is this the most anticipated Red Sox debut since...since...Pedro? 

Even Pedro had to make his debut on the road. On the West Coast even. His Fenway debut was in his second start. But, he performed amazingly. He gave us all a taste of what was to come as he completely dominated the game. Little did we know at the time that that was just the beginning. 

Another off-season acquisition that made a big Fenway debut was Manny Ramirez. I was at that game too. You all know how it turned out. The Red Sox fell immediately behind 3-0 in the top of the first inning. It was the kind of hole you never expected the Sox to climb out of. The previous season, the game would have already been all but over. But, somehow the first two runners in the bottom of the first reached. Then, Manny put the first pitch he saw into the netting for a game-tying three run home run. That's a way to make an entrance. People were chanting "First pitch homer" in the bathroom after the game. (That's seems a little odd, looking back.)

So, will Chris Sale deliver one of those performances tonight? Will he live up to, or even exceed, our expectations? Will he assure us all that everything is going to be OK. That he is exactly what we're all hoping we got?

I sure hope so. Because, that will be something special.

What do you think we'll see tonight?

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Well, That Went Well

I'm not really sure what more you could expect from the start of the season. It was a beautiful day snuck in the middle of a pretty terrible stretch of weather. Your ace, the reigning Cy Young Award
winner, got the win. Your rookie sensation went deep. Your defensive whiz made a fantastic catch. Your championship football team made an appearance. What else is there?

I'm sure that by now you've all either seen the game itself, or enough of the highlights. But, beyond the box score, there were a few things that I took away from the game.

-In the stands before the game, we were all discussing the first pitch ceremony. Obviously the Patriots would be involved. But, who would we "rate" this time? Would we get Brady again, or a lesser tier star like Dion Lewis? Well, we apparently rated pretty high, because the Patriots sent everything but the kitchen sink. Not only the high and the low, but a couple guys in-between. I think it speaks to the level of respect between the organizations that the Patriots sent the best they had. And, not only did they send the best, but they made up a little skit. (At least I assume they had that pre-arranged. Guess I can't be sure with Gronk.) The only thing missing was a giant "6" on Brady's shirt. 

-Following my visit from Amanda Debus not too long ago, I was excited to see Chad Kuhl's pregame introduction. Making your MLB debut is an amazing feeling. But I assume this was his first announcement at a major league field. That gotta be another special moment.

-Chris Sale got a well-deserve ovation. As the biggest off-season acquisition by the Sox in a while, he deserved to be recognized for what we all hope will be a fantastic partnership.

-I was surprised that Rick Porcello stayed in the game as long as he did. I know he was pretty much in control until it got away from him. And, in September I would expect things to play out exactly like they did. But, on Opening Day with a five-run lead I would have expected a quicker hook. I guess you need to start him in the seventh, but maybe just allow him a baserunner. That would have both kept his pitch count a bit lower in the first game of the season, and allowed him to start the year on the right foot. 6.1 innings of one run ball is a better feeling than 6.1 and three runs.

-Craig Kimbrel needs a new entrance song. A song needs to start slow and build the excitement as the closer reaches the mound until the crowd is at a frenzy by the time warm-ups are over. He's practically got a ballad out there. Not what you want at all.

-Speaking of needing something new, the Win Dance Repeat needs some better execution. I think the whole thing has gotten away from them a little bit. What started as a really clever way to have some fun and honor a good performance has become a little forced. Unless the multi-dancing was just for Opening Day. But, they really should revert to the original.

I guess the Sox will just need to win the game tomorrow too to see if they do something new.

What did you notice yesterday?

Monday, April 3, 2017

It's Here!

It's finally here!

All the waiting. All the anticipation. All the boredom. It all ends today, because Red Sox baseball is back!

The bad news? The Sox are already in second place. The good news? They're still ahead of the Yankees.

The even better news? The Red Sox have the reigning Cy Young award winner on the mound for them today. I think the expectations were too low on Rick Porcello entering last season, and they'll probably be a little high for him this season. But, it will be exciting to see what he can produce now that his good year in Detroit wasn't the "fluke."

Pablo Sandoval will also be back. I see no reason not to think he'll have a bounce back year. (I think I got all the negatives to work out there...) It will be fun to see what he can produce with a healthy season. Especially since I think most fans have washed their hands of him, so the pressure will be off. Anything we get will be enough for most.

And, it's the low expectations at some positions that I think will save the Sox this season. Yes, David Ortiz is gone. Yes, David Price is hurt. But, compare the team to last year. Does subtracting Price and adding Sale make the rotation better? Yes. Does subtracting Buchholz help? Sure. Might Porcello slide back a bit? Sure. But I think we can agree, compared to Opening Day last year, this is an upgrade. 

But, will the Sox score runs without Ortiz?

I don't see why not.

Sure, they'll take a hit with (essentially) Mitch Moreland taking Papi's place in the line-up. But, it more than that. A healthy Sandoval takes the place of the hot mess at third base last year. That's an improvement. Anyone think that Andrew Benintendi won't be an improvement over what the Sox got out of left field last season? When the Sox had to force Swihart out there for crying out loud?

So, yes, I think the Sox offense can make up for the loss of Ortiz. No, you can't replace him straight up. But, you can make smaller improvements elsewhere. Which is just what the Sox did. 

So, let's see how it all plays out. Mother Nature has decided to hold of on the snow for a day to allow the Sox to open in the sunshine. Even she is excited to get things started. She wants to make sure everyone gets a good start to the day. And the season.

162-0?

What people are reading this week