Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The 30-Day Baseball Card Challenge: Day #15

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 #15: One of your favorite cards from the 2010’s.

Yup. Another card that was a pretty easy selection. When you attend a World Series clinching game for your team, and there's a card featuring that game...it's one of your favorite cards.

Like This one.


So, here you go. A 2014 Topps card depicting the World Series MVP David Ortiz celebrating with his teammates. A more glorious card cannot be made. 

At least until the Red Sox win their next title.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Why is Dennis Eckersley So Thin Skinned?

So, last month, word came out abut an "incident" on the Red Sox team plane involving David Price and Dennis Eckersley. There were no details of the incident itself, just that the two had words. For some reason, people immediately assumed Price was to blame. Who was he to not respect a Hall of Famer like Eckersley?

Then, yesterday the details came out. And, boy do they make Eck look bad.

It seems that Eckersley was making his way to the back of the team plane, and passed by Price. David announced Eck's presence with a snide comment "Here he is, the greatest pitcher who ever lived. This game is easy for him." He then told Eck to get the *bleep* out of here. 

That's it. That was the incident. Well, OK. Actually later in the flight, Eck for some reason tried to go down the length of the plane again, and Price again told him to get the *bleep* out. So, Price mocked Eckersley, and told him to get out.

I know. I'm shaking in my boots just hearing about it.

Why did Price do this? Apparently because he didn't like the way Eckersley reacted to a poor rehab performance from EdRo. He felt he was being too harsh on the kid.

So, why did this become a story? Is it simply the media trying to protect one of their own? I've always found it interesting that the media has been able to convince fans that the worst thing a player in any sport can do is not be nice to the media. If a player doesn't make their jobs easier, they're a bad person. I'm really amazed at how often this actually works. 

And, it worked here. People are actually taking Eck's side here. They're calling Price soft. 

Really?

Sticking up for a teammate is soft?

You know what's soft? Saying things about a player on the air, and then whining when someone calls you on it. Because Eck can't take what he dishes out, he's not going to fly on the team planes anymore. (Or, at least that was the reason given at the end of the article. But, the start of the article said he hardly ever travels with the team anyway.)

People have been pointing out that Eck is supposed to tell the truth. If a player performs poorly, he's supposed to say so. He's not supposed to sugar coat it. If a player sucks, he should say he sucks. And, that's true. Television announcers don't need to be cheerleaders. But, that doesn't mean everyone has to like him for it.  Price didn't demand that Eck be fired because he was mean. He didn't storm the NESN offices insisting it was him or Eck. He just called the guy out for the stuff he said. And the media went ballistic. 

Clearly the Boston media is just beside themselves trying to be negative about a team that has been alone in first place for quite some time. Now that they can't make fat jokes about Panda, they don't know what to do anymore. How do you know the incident is really meaningless? In the story about it, they have to go back years to find another story about another player who dislikes Eck. Jackie Bradley Jr took his own innocent jab at Eck, thanking him for supplying motivation with his negative comments. The article even included the Instagram picture from years ago. (The article didn't include the fact that JBJ apologized immediately, years ago, even though he probably didn't need to.) The fact that we generally applaud players for turning negatives into motivation was apparently missed in this case. How many times have we heard the story of Paul Pierce reciting the names of players drafted ahead of him as he took jump shots. Don't most Red Sox fans adore Pedroia for playing with a chip on his shoulder? For turning all the "you can't" in to fuel for his determination? But, in this case it was decided that motivation was a bad thing. After all, the opposite wouldn't fit the narrative.

So, half of the article about the "terrible incident" doesn't even discuss the incident. Because there's nothing there.

Why would the incident even be reported in the first place? Was it because the players insisted the media write a story about the fact that they all hate Eckersley? Or, is it more likely a push from Eck? Or, at least a desire from the media to circle the wagon around one of their own. Then again assert that being mean to them will not be tolerated. That every player must simply take whatever crap the media piles on them, and can say nothing in return. A player must treat the media with kid gloves.

Because they're all so thin skinned.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Section 36 Store is Having a Sale!

That's right! Now's your chance.

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, right now the store is having a limited time sale!

These are the regular prices

So, head over right now and select something that you like. But, don't delay. The sale 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 blog, Facebook, and even Instagram!

But, first you need to buy something you like. There's a lot to choose from.

What will you get?





Monday, July 17, 2017

The 30-Day Baseball Card Challenge: Day #14

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 #14: One of your favorite cards from the 2000’s.

I'll assume that this challenge refers to a card from the first decade of the century, and not the entire millennium. That actually makes it pretty easy.

After all, something very exciting happened in the first half of that decade. If it happened to be commemorated on a card, that would be a hands down winner.

Oh, lookie here!



Look at that beauty! Three wonderful photos from the clinching game four. The two key players, and the celebration afterwards. I'm not sure a better card could be made.

So, of course it's one of my favorite cards of the 2000's.

Maybe even if it's counting the entire millennium. 

Friday, July 14, 2017

Panda Express

Today the Red Sox designated Pablo Sandoval for assignment, essentially ending his time in the Red Sox organization. And, while I know I’m in the minority on this…

I don’t really get it.

Oh, sure. Sandoval was vastly underperforming his contract. I’m not going to say he’s been an all-star during his time in Boston. But, here’s the thing. Neither are any of the players replacing him. And, no, I don’t count Brock Holt.

So, you now are stuck having to pay Sandoval's contract AND another player to actually play. So, you’re paying even more to get a player at about the level Panda was playing.

Why does this make sense to anyone?

Again, if Devers is just busting his way into the line-up a la Mookie Betts, I get it. Or if Dombrowski was on the phone right now trading for Jose Ramirez, I get it. I’m not about to play anyone just because they’re getting paid a lot of money. But, I am going to play someone with a proven track record when there isn’t anyone available who’s better.

Sure, some of the fill-ins have done well in spurts. But they generally remember who they are after a time or two. So, I suppose, if you can only play guys when they’re hot, and then replace them once they start to cool down even a little, you can do that. Not exactly the best way to make it through the season though.

I’m honestly not sure what happened to Panda during his time in Boston. For some reason fans decided he was just a publicity stunt, and really never gave him a chance. Sure, he was a big guy. And fans loved making fat jokes. But the Sox have had plenty of big guys who were beloved. It’s not like we expect all Red Sox players to look like Mookie Betts. Once Panda started showing the effects of injuries, he was doomed. The Sox fans never let him recover. While I didn’t get it, I can at least see what happened.

The team, I really don’t understand. Why the Red Sox benched Sandoval to start the 2016 season will always puzzle me. Travis Shaw in no way earned the job. He didn’t outperform Panda in any measurable way. Certainly not by enough for the unproven youngster to take a job away from a veteran. Which is why I assumed that the Sox traded Shaw away in the off-season. They knew Panda was the better option. But, they kept doing it again. Marrero kept getting playing time. As a defensive replacement, of all things, as he made error after error. John Farrell said things like “Pablo will still get at-bats” like he lost his job to a guy hitting .250. It’s puzzling.

And here we are with an even more puzzling move. Cutting ties altogether.

Maybe the Red Sox have a plan. Maybe there’s a player on the roster that can actually play better than Pablo could. I don’t know who that is.


I wonder if they do.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

The Best All-Star Game. Ever.

On this date in 1999, I made an interesting discovery about myself. I have a maximum volume that I can cheer with.

Yeah, I know. Playing it kind of fast and loose with the word "interesting".

It started with the introductions before the game. It was, of course, the game where they introduced the All-Century players. Having players like Willie Mays and Hank Aaron introduced, you had to cheer for them. But, then they ended with introducing Carl Yastrzemski. Clearly he needed an even louder cheer.

Then they went and brought out Ted Williams! He needed an even louder cheer, that I didn't even have. Nomar and Pedro didnt get the reactions they probably deserved once they were announced, because I had nothing left.

Then came the actual game.

You may remember that Pedro started off the game by pitching fairly well. He struck out Barry Larkin, to a huge cheer. Then he struck out Larry Walker to an even bigger cheer! I didn't have anything left when Pedro struck out Mark McGwire to strike out the side. I had a maximum volume.

So, I had no chance when Pedro started the second inning by striking out Sammy Sosa to make it four straight strikeouts. How loud would you have to cheer for that?

It was a never ending night of even better moments. It just never stopped. A fifth strikeout. An MVP award.

I don't think I could speak normally for days. But I guess that's the price you pay when you're at the best All-Star game ever played.

You mind your maximum volume.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Play the Starters!

There has been, of course, a lot of chatter leading up to tonight's All-Star game. As with just about every conversation about baseball, many of the conversations focus on how unpopular the game has become. Well, unpopular shouldn't be the word since it's more popular than all the other All-Star games. But less popular than it once was.

One thing they pointed to this year is the lack of long-time stars. With Papi gone, there isn't that player you need to tune in to see. And, to some extent that's true. If I look at the AL starting line-up, other than Betts and Sale, I had a hard time remembering which team the players were from. 


But, there's a bigger reason.


As unfamiliar as the starters are, about a third of the way through the game all those players will be replaced by players even less well-known. Because ever since Joe Torre took it upon himself to ruin All-Star games, managers have been insisting on playing every player. So, if I'm interested in seeing the runner-up to the AL MVP last season, I don't have much chance. He's batting ninth, for some reason. He'll be out of the game after three innings and a single trip to the plate. He'll be replaced by someone who didn't finish at the top of the MVP list. By someone not as talented or exciting, just so everyone can play. What's interesting about that? How does that draw me to watch?


(True, sometimes...ok lots of times...the starter is just as undeserving. Which is why the voting needs to be eliminated when it comes to assembling teams. But, that's a story for another post.)


All this constant subbing just waters down the game. To what benefit? So that if I'm a fan of the Royals, I can wait around and see my guy take one trip to the plate? You're sacrificing the good of the game to make Royals fans happy? So, rather than using the game as it's supposed to be, to showcase the best talent the game has to offer, we're just doing a red carpet show where everyone gets a chance to smile for the cameras? Does MLB realize that the red carpet portion draws fewer viewers than the actual awards show?


Imagine a game the way it used to be. A chance to see the best players compete against the best players. Wanna know how Bryce Harper would fare against Craig Kimbrel? Not in this game. Bryce won't last that long. Shouldn't he though?


If you want people to watch the game, the first step is to make it worth watching. And that means playing the best players. Imagine a Broadway Show were the understudies take over at intermission. Or if Springsteen played two songs, and then let a tribute band finish the set. People would demand a refund.


Why doesn't MLB see that? If you want people to watch, put a good product on the field.


Make it actually be an All-Star game.

Monday, July 10, 2017

The 30-Day Baseball Card Challenge: Day #13

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 #13: One of your favorite cards from the 1990’s.

A favorite card from the 90's is starting to get trickier. There are a lot more cards to choose from in the coming decades. The nineties are the first decade where it was all spent as a "collector" trying to buy cards and complete sets. I even made it to quite a few shows for the first time.

So, I spent some time flipping through pages. It would have made sense to pick a Pedro card, but those are in another binder. My favorite player for most of the 90's was Mo Vaughn, though. So, this card made sense.


Minor league cards were always fun for me. It's neat to imagine star players back before they were even major leaguers, wearing their funny uniforms. I didn't have a lot of them, of course. A few team sets I've picked up here and there. So, I was excited when Line Drive came out with a couple minor league sets. Once set covered AA, while this card was part of the AAA set.

It's such a great card of Mo giving his famous death stare out at the pitcher. You can just see his brand peeking out from under his shirtsleeve. It's definitely Mo.

But, he's wearing the P on his hat, just to remind you that it's a minor league set. It's really just the best of both worlds. A unique Mo Vaughn.

Which is why it's one of my favorite cards of the 90's.

Friday, July 7, 2017

June Klemmer Visits Section 36!

Photo by Peter Camyre
Section 36 has another visitor! June Klemmer is an avid traveler and the current Miss Bay State. She just finished competing for the Miss Massachusetts crown, but was nice enough to take some time out of competition weekend to visit with us to discuss those topics along with the Red Sox. I’m sure glad she did.

So, let’s see what happens when June Klemmer visits Section 36!

What made you decide to compete for Miss Bay State?
I always grew up watching Miss America on TV, but never knew what it took to be one of those girls. When I was in 7th grade, we had an "alternative career day" and a pageant queen came in. After speaking to her, and learning more about pageants, I immediately decided to compete. Through the process (it took about two years for me to actually enter the Miss America Organization) I worked with her and her mother, as her mother worked at my school. Fast forward to my first local as an Outstanding Teen, and that same girl crowned me as her mother sat in the audience in tears. It was truly a memory I will never forget, and is one that keeps me going at every competition, as it was truly a crowning moment for me. 
As for the title Miss Bay State itself, I knew that if I didn't try just one last time this season, I was going to regret it. I couldn't through over five years of hard work down the drain in my pursuit for the Miss Massachusetts crown. 

Your business manager is also your predecessor as Miss Baty State, Monique Vacon. How has she helped you prepare for the upcoming Miss Massachusetts competition?
Monique has truly been a blessing to me as Miss Bay State. Last year we competed together at Miss Massachusetts, and have been competing together for years. As my schedule is insanely busy at the moment, she has found ways to squeeze appearances in, and practically packed for me as I prepared for Miss Massachusetts. Without her, I am not sure that I would have felt so strongly prepared for the pageant. 

What part of the Miss Massachusetts pageant are you most looking forward to?
Although I just compete in the preliminary portion of Miss Massachusetts, just being here for the week is my favorite part. All of the energy and excitement that surrounds you as you stand with the other amazing girls competing is so hard to describe, as everyone is so happy to be there, and has worked so hard to get

there. 

How did you decide on your platform, "Learn Something new! Encouraging a Higher Education."?
I originally chose my platform because I was an education major. As I moved away from education, I stuck with my platform because I now plan to work in alternative high schools as a social worker, and wanted to emphasize how we generally do not encourage at-risk youth to pursue a higher education. 

What has surprised you about your limited time as Miss Bay State?
Honestly, it is so hard to surprise me now in the pageant world. But, after having not one but two talent costumes fail me for Miss

Massachusetts (the first one never arrived, and the second tore during rehearsal) I learned that I can take those unexpected bumps fairly well. It is always fun to learn something about yourself and surprise yourself like that. 

You’ve done quite a bit of traveling in your life. Where is someplace that you haven’t been, but would like to visit?
I would love to explore more of this country, with a focus on California and that sates surrounding it. At this point that is the only part of the country I have not visited, and my goal is to reach all 50 states.


Growing up in North Carolina, you were pretty far removed from Major League Baseball. What’s something you have noticed about Red Sox fans now that you’re immersed in Red Sox Nation?
Oh. My. Goodness. Y'all are crazy with baseball. As someone who didn't really grow up with the sport, its crazy to me. Personally baseball is something I do not follow (or any sports for that matter) but I do not think i have ever seen so many people wearing shirts for a team like they do for the Red Sox! 


If you had two tickets to watch the Red Sox in Section 36, who would you bring to the game with you?
I would most likely bring my boyfriend with me, as I am sure he would be thrilled to go to my 1st major league baseball game with me.

How do you think the Red Sox will finish the 2017 season?
To be honest with you, I don't even know how they are doing now. But I hope they finish well! It seems like everyone is just slightly happier when their favorite team wins. 

---

Hard to argue with that plan! Love how she can so easily see Red Sox nation in full force!

As always, I want to send a huge thank you to June for taking the time to visit with us, especially at such a busy time! I hope you enjoyed the visit as much as I did. Another big thanks for supplying the pictures included with the interview. They really make the interview much better than it would be otherwise. 

If you want to find out more about June, you should definitely check out her official Facebook page. It's a great way to follow along with her on her Miss Bay State journey. 

And good luck to June as she finishes her time as Miss Bay State!


Thanks again June!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

From The Pedro Binder


2001 Donruss Class of 2001

I don't know what to think.

My first impression is that the card looks choppy. It feels like it's broken into a bunch of pieces. The picture. The red arc on the left. The white arc on the bottom right. The red arc in the corner. The baseball on the bottom. Nothing seems to flow together. It's all visually disjointed.

It's not really my cup of tea.

But, Donruss probably didn't care about that. This was just a set to be put out at the very end of the year to try and capture some hot rookies in another card set. And, of course, they tossed in some start to make it worth out while. Like Pedro here.

Because there is nothing special about this card. It could be any other card made that year. It's just a way to pump out as many cards as humanly possible.

So, I suppose they succeeded. I have this card now.

But it's not a great one.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

So, He's Human

That could have gone very poorly. The Red Sox, on the road, had built up a decent lead. Rick Porcello pitched decently, into the seventh. He left the game with the lead, following a quality start. Not quite Pedro Martinez out there, or even 2016 Rick Porcello, but we'll take it.

Then the Rangers scored a run in the eighth. No big deal. All you need to do is get the game into Kimbrel's hands. Get to the ninth holding the lead and everything will be fine.

They did.

But it wasn't.

Kimbrel actually blew the save. Suddenly all the bad thoughts creep into your head. Why couldn't the offense just score one more run? How did that inherited runner score? Why couldn't the Red Sox have just done one more thing right. It's easy to see how that would become mentally deflating for the team.

Not for this team.

Hembree did his job following Kimbrel. He kept the Rangers scoreless in the tenth to match the Sox. Then, the offense took over, scoring two runs to put the game away. 

It was the sort of thing that could have fallen apart. "Well, the winning streak was nice while it lasted." "Tough game on the road, what whatcha gonna do?"

Whenever the Red Sox lose a tough game, people seem to mark it down. If a starter stays in the game one batter too long, and the Sox lose the game. Or there's a miscue in the outfield allowing the winning run to score. People say it. "Remember this game in September when they're down two in the division with three to play. Every loss is noted so that it can come back to haunt them.

But, why not mark this game down? "July 3. Won a game they could have easily lost." Let's remember this game when they're first in the division come September. Because wins can be remembered too. This one let the Red Sox keep their current three game lead.

That's pretty important.

Monday, July 3, 2017

The 30-Day Baseball Card Challenge: Day #12

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 #12: One of your favorite cards from the 1980’s.

I figured this would be a fun topic when I got to it. Like many of us, the 1980's hit the wheelhouse of my collecting. It was when i really started to make card collecting something more than just buying a pack or two a year. They started being a pack or two a trip. I knew that two 35 cent packs totaled 70 cents, we did it so often. I started collecting sets. I started selling doubles to my local card shop. I bought pages. I traded with friends. I became a collector.

Which is why I was a little surprised I picked a card from earlier in the decade. 



But, this card reminds me not only of my time as a card collector, but as a Red Sox fan. I may have mentioned before, i just missed the Yastrzemski era. By the time I was actually watching games, he was "that old looking guy" on the team. I knew nothing of the Impossible Dream. I knew nothing of the 3000 hits, or games. He was the old guy who had that retirement ceremony when he ran around the field.

So this card always stuck out to me. Here was a card celebrating that old guy. Along with a couple other old guys. It was a card that harkened back to days long gone. Back when people knew who these guys were.

Of course, I know who Carl Yastrzemski is today. (He's the old guy who keeps showing up at ceremonies in Fenway and won't wear a hat.) I know all about the 1967 team. I know about his Hall of Fame career. I even have a nice little collection of his cards.

So it's nice to be reminded of a time when I didn't.

When he was just another old guy on that card.

What people are reading this week