Monday, December 31, 2018

Year in Review: Overall

So, I've already discussed some of the exciting growth in specific areas enjoyed by Section 36 in 2018. Whether it was with titleholder interviews, or visits by other celebrities, or social media opportunities, or the Section 36 Suite itself... specific places within Section 36 had wonderful years.

But, what about just generally? How did the blog perform in 2018 at just being a blog? How did I do as a blogger? As a collector? I'm not going to pretend you actually care...but here we go anyway!

In 2018, this will be my 182nd post. That's more than I made in 2017, so that was nice to see. It also keeps right in line with my “every other day” goal. It's not a set schedule I try to keep, just a general amount of output. If it's three to four times a week, that's where I'm heading...even if those three posts are on consecutive days. As long as the posts are quality posts that people might actually enjoy!

In 2018, those posts almost always included an interview on Friday. Hopefully you've been enjoying all the visits from celebrity Red Sox fans (or, at least baseball fans). I think they're a lot of fun, and enjoy hearing input from those types of fans. If you enjoy them too, that’s wonderful. If you don't, hopefully once a week isn't too intrusive. Because, looking back, it's actually been almost once a week. With the 39 titleholders that visited, and the three New England Patriots Cheerleaders, and the three Red Sox wives/fiancé that makes a total of 45 visitors in 2018. Amazing! Out of 52 weeks, that's just about max. Especially considering I could have posted visits the last two weeks, but I didn't think it was fair to them to post the visits over those holiday weekends. So, 45 out of 50 is an amazing percentage. Hope I can keep that up.

The Section 36 store also had a great year. More people keep buying shirts, sweatshirts, tank tops, and whatever else. I'm always humbled whenever a sale goes through. Hopefully you've enjoyed all the pictures people have sent in wearing their gear. With any luck, both sales and picture submittals will increase in 2019!

Persoanlly, as a collector, 2018 saw me accomplish a long standing goal. I have been “working” on completing a 1975 Topps set for years now. Things went well in the beginning, but slowed down a bit as things tend to do. I was able to get a good jump on it buying lots off eBay. Since there hasn’t been a particularly local card shop or show that carried 1975 in a while, the Bay has been my go-to method. That worked pretty well when I was buying 100 commons at a time. The bulk rate and shipping discounts made it worthwhile. But once I got down to needing 50 or so, it got trickier. The chances of finding a single lot with multiple cads I needed were pretty low. And, the cards left were slightly more expensive. So, the idea of buying a single Lou Brock for a couple bucks and then adding a couple bucks worth of shipping for each card was annoying enough to grind me to a halt. And there is sat for way too long. Suddenly, a week or two ago I got fed up enough to just want to finish it off. So I finally checked out COMC. I wasn't really sure how it all worked, but other people spoke so highly (and often) about the site that I logged on. As I'm sure you all know, I was able to find all the cards I needed at a reasonable price (since condition barely matters for this set) and pay a flat shipping fee for them all. It was so easy and perfect that I'm ashamed it's taken so long. So, expect a “completion” post about the set in the future.

2018 was also big from the blogging perspective to help me find my voice or my place in this wide world. Sometimes I find myself wondering what exactly the point of my blogging is. Especially with all the success of the interviews. I wonder if Section 36 should do those full time, like a talk show of sorts. Would at be easier to fit them in? After all, my in depth Red Sox writing is sometimes few and far between. But, I've come to realize that I was thinking about it wrong. I am a Red Sox fan. I like talking about the team, and about collecting their memorabilia, and going to their games, and talking with their fans. All of that is what it means to be a fan of the reigning World Champs. Just because I don’t discuss WAR on a daily basis doesn't make this a bad blog. Nor does it mean that I can't discuss WAR every now and then. If the people I interview aren't exactly diehard Red Sox fans, that's ok. They can still talk about the type of fans they are. It's called a Red Sox fan blog for a reason. Because it's by a fan, about being a fan. Whatever type of fan that is.

Hope that's OK with you.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Year in Review: Social Media

Of course, these days a blog just can’t be a blog. Well, I mean, it can...but it’s not as easy or as much fun. After all, how can I be sure you’ll read my posts if I don’t inundate you with reminders about them all the time? If the blog’s name isn’t something you see every thirty seconds, will you forget about me?

Probably.

Which is why Section 36 needs to have a social media presence. OK. It’s why I want Section 36 to have a social media presence. Even on the sites where i have no idea what’s going on. So, I know you’ve been dying to find out...where are some other places you can follow the blogs that make up the Section 36 Suite? How have those social media sites gotten even better in 2018?

I’m glad you asked.

Instagram is probably the place I’ve seen the most movement in the past year. It’s been great connecting with fans and visitors through that site. For Section 36, in the past I have posted exclusively pictures I have taken. It’s a way to enjoy different views from a Red Sox fan. In 2018, I also started adding pictures people have submitted of themselves holding a “I’d Rather be in Section 36” sign, or pictures of themselves with Section 36 gear. (So, if you were wondering how you could appear on the Section 36 account, that’s how.) It’s been a great way to add variety to the feed, and publicize some great pictures people have submitted. And the best part? In 2018, it crossed the 1000 follower threshold! If you’re one of the followers, thanks! If you’re not, what’s keeping you? Section 36 Pageants also has an Instagram account. I use that account to post any and all pictures that have been submitted by my interview guests. Maybe they were pictures that went along with their interviews, or that couldn’t fit with the interview. Or, they’re pictures that have been submitted after visiting. Whatever the case, I post them and remind people of their visit. It’s fun because it adds a lot of different content to the feed. That account also had a big 2018, as it passed 450 followers! New to the Suite in 2018, Section 36 Music also has an Instagram account! It’s a little slow to get started. But, again it posts any pictures that my visitors have submitted that are musical in nature. Whether they’re singing, or playing an instrument. It’s another way to celebrate visitors with musical talents! While the follower count is low at the moment, it can only go up from here!

Twitter is still the old standby. I find that it’s a great way to spread the word about new posts to the blogs. The Section 36 account will tweet out links to posts here on Section 36. It will also converse with fans, especially during Red Sox games. At over 1200 followers, it’s a fun group to be involved with. There’s also a Twitter account for Section 36 Sports. It’s a blog/account that is really a compilation of all the the Section 36 sports teams blogs. So, this account will tweet links to all the posts from those blogs, and converse with fans about non-Red Sox sports. It’s sort of a catch-all to avoid having four twitter accounts. I’m excited to say it passed 1500 followers in 2018. Of course, Section 36 Pageants also has an account. It will tweet out links to titleholder interviews. It also passes along tweets/announcements from visitors. That account also went over 1200 followers in 2018, which is fantastic. Section 36 Music also got in on the twitter fun. As you’d expect, it tweets out music related posts made by the other blogs, or any posts on the Music blog itself. It also passes along info from music-related visitors. At just over 30 followers, it’s just a baby...but growing every day!

Facebook provides fun opportunities. I find it’s a nice combination between twitter and instagram. It can post links and pictures with ease, and has the ability to allow sharing with friends. The Section 36 page will post links to every post here on Section 36. Facebook is also great for pictures, so it posts pictures that I’ve taken. It’s also a prime spot to post pictures submitted by others. So almost every picture someone submits of themselves with Section 36 behind them, or in Section 36, or holding a “I’d rather be in Section 36” sign, or with Section 36 gear gets posted there. In 2018, Section 36 passed 450 likes which is great! As I’m sure you guessed, Section 36 Pageants also has a Facebook page. It again posts links to titleholder interviews, as well as any pictures former visitors have submitted. It has also started posting pictures of any titleholders with Section 36 gear, whether they’ve visited or not. That page passed 30 likes in 2018. Love to get ten times that many in 2019.

Beyond that? Section 36 also has a presence on Snapchat and Pinterest, although I honestly have no idea why. Hopefully in 2019 I’ll figure something out. Feel free to follow/add to see the progress! In fact, follow all of Section 36 on all social media accounts.

It’ll be a lot of fun.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Year in Review: The Section 36 Suite

Section 36 is a Red Sox fan blog. Hopefully that's been clear to you up to this point. The blog started as my way to talk about my views on the Red Sox with as many people as possible. That hasn't changed.


But, over time, I've realized that there are other things that I'd like to talk about every now and then. As with most Red Sox fans, I'm also a fan of the other Boston sports. So, sometimes I have things I'd like to get off my chest about those teams too. So, you've probably noticed that Section 36 has blogs for the Celtics, Bruins, and Patriots as well. There was never an intention to post there regularly, but to have them there waiting when I wanted them. As luck would have it, all three of those blogs saw some unexpected posts in 2018.  

The Celtics blog was fortunate enough to post a few guest blogs from Joshua. Those posts were well received and added some much needed quality content to the blog. I hope those guests posts will continue as the Celtics march their way to the NBA finals.

The other two blogs were actually lucky enough to host their own visitors!

The Bruins blog featured an interview with Taylor Higgins. Taylor was promoting her new book, and as a former Bruins Ice Girl, we found a home for her interview on that blog. (You can find my review of her book here on Section 36) It was exciting to be able to try something new with that blog.

Similarly, the Patriots blog was able to post an interview with a rookie member of the New England Patriots Cheerleaders, Jonet Nichelle. It was such a great experience to add her to the Section 36 family, and was glad to have a way to do it.


While I still don't intend to focus on those blogs, I'd love the chance to continue providing them with great content like that in 2019.


More recently, I added a non-sports blog to the suite in 2017. With the huge increase in visits from titleholders (remember the post from the other day?) I found myself wanting to have a home for them. A simple page on Section 36 didn't seem like enough. So, Section 36 Pageants was created as a way to display the titleholders in their own environment. They can dominate the sidebars. There can be photographer pages. That sort of thing. Like the other sports blogs, the intention was never to focus on creating content for that blog. It was just going to be for spillover posts from here. But, that changed a bit in 2018, as it had a couple exciting posts of its own. First, forever Miss Rhode Island Allison Rogers wrote a wonderful guest blog about her struggles with migraine disorder. I was flattered that I was able to provide a place to publish that important post. Then, following her first runner up finish at Miss America, Bridget Oei wrote a series of guest blogs talking about here experiences in Atlantic City. She's already submitted several posts, and hopefully she'll come up with a few more. I'm honored to have her contributing to the blog. Again, it was exciting to see the Pageants blog grow on its own in 2018. I certainly hope to have more exclusive content over there in 2019.

Which brings me to the newest member of the Suite. Once again, I found that many of my visitors had something in common that deserved to be celebrated. Enter Section 36 Music! A place to celebrate all the musicians and singers who have visited or contributed to Section 36. While it hasn't been around long enough to have the sort of content as the others, I like the future to come. Like the others, it should have plenty of "accidental" content to augment any exclusive posts. That's something for 2019 to bring!

So, I am thrilled by the progress made by all the blogs in the Section 36 Suite during 2018. There's a lot to build on going forward. I may even start posting more links on the other blogs back to relevant content here on Section 36. It's all in flux, but very exciting!

I can't wait for 2019!

Friday, December 28, 2018

Year in Review: More Visitors

Yesterday we talked about the number of titleholder interviews Section 36 conducted in 2018. It was a banner year, and something I'm really excited about. But, it was an even bigger year for visitors besides the increased number of titleholders. In 2018, Section 36 was able to interview a few new groups of Red Sox fan celebrities. I hope you think they added as much fun to the blog as I do.

For instance, I was able to interview my first professional singer.

Emily Luther 11-16

I was also honored to have been able to interview three New England Patriots Cheerleaders in 2018. It's an unexpected way to combine two Boston sports into a single interview. Definitely a fun addition.


Talia Laurito 12-14

To top that all off, I had the privilege of interviewing three Red Sox player wives. It was a wonderful and surprising way to add some behind the scenes insight to the blog. I couldn't be more pleased.




I don't know where the blog goes from here with new visitors. (Although, I'm open to suggestions.) But I'm thrilled at the visitors I've had, and certainly hope it continues in 2019.

Thanks to all my visitors!

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Year in Review: Titleholder Visits

As we look back at the year in Section 36, I wanted to touch on visitors! 2018 has absolutely been a banner year for interviewing titleholders here at Section 36. Last year at this time I was over the moon excited that the number of interviews had increased from four in 2016 to 25 in 2017. This year? I completely blew that out of the water. Check out the list of titleholders who visited Section 36 in 2018:


Miss Red Rose City Jenna Martorana 11-30

Yup. That's an unbelievable 39 titleholders that visited! Those visitors covered two organizations, and ten states! From the heart of Red Sox Nation to the depth of Dodgers Country, and a few in-between. Five interviewees graced the stage at Miss America, where two finished in the top five, and Bridget Oei finished first runner up! What a magical year.

I could not be more flattered that so many titleholders have been willing to visit with us. I hope you've enjoyed them as much as I have. I'd like to say that a goal for 2019 is to have even more, but I'm not sure that's even possible. I'm certainly willing to give it a try though.

So, thanks so much to all these visitors.

I can't wit to see what next year brings.

Monday, December 24, 2018

List of 36: Things I'd Like to See Under my Tree Tomorrow Morning

1. Star Wars Night tickets
2. Jim Rice 1975 throwback jersey
3. 1909 Philadelphia Caramel Ed Cicotte
4. 2018 World Series Parade shirt
5. Terry Francona autographed 2004 World Series baseball
6. 2018 World Series Program
7. Nathan Eovaldi autographed 2018 World Series baseball
8. 2018 World Series locker room shirt
9. Section 36 t-shirt
10. Fenway used bunting
11. Pedro Martinez away jersey
12. Dustin Pedroia autographed 2013 World Series baseball
13. 1954 Bowman Ted Williams
14. Fenway used locker room chair
15. 2018 World Series parade hat
16. Kelly Clarkson autographed 2004 World Series baseball
17. ToppsNOW Sale/Price WS Card
18. David Price home jersey
19. 2018 World Series locker room hat
20. Fenway used base
21. 2018 Red Sox media guide
22. 2018 World Series DVD
23. 2018 Topps Holiday Red Sox team set
24. Carl Yastrzemski SGA replica statue
25. Rick Porcello shirt
26. 1904 Fan Craze Jimmy Collins
27. Fenway dirt
28. 2018 World Series baseball
29. Steve Pearce autographed 2018 World Series baseball
30. John Henry autographed 2004 World Series baseball
31. Alex Cora autographed 8x10
32. Rafael Devers autographed jersey
33. Red Sox Lego minifigure
34. "Splash" SGA bobblehead set
35. Oyo Red Sox World Champions Press Conference set
36. Autographed baseballs of Section 36 visitors

What's on your list?

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Happy Festivus!

That’s right, today’s the day! As you can see, I’ve set out my aluminum pole and am ready for the festivities to begin!



While it’s kinda hard to do feats of strength on a blog, we can certainly air some grievances! I’ve even started with the first one. I would definitely rather be in Section 36 right now!

Now it’s your turn. I’m taking this opportunity to allow you to air your blog-related grievances! That’s right. Leave a comment telling me things you don’t like about the blog and its content!

Is the font too small? Too big? Are the sidebars too plain? Too cluttered? Do I write about a topic too much? Do you wish I wrote about a topic more? At all? All with no hard feelings on my part. This is your chance!

I know. Allowing the internet to complain about you can be scary. But, maybe I’ll be able to respond to the grievances and make the blog better for everyone!

One thing by way of rules, this is Section 36 asking for grievances. So, keep them to things about the blog and its content...not blog post subjects. So if you want to complain and say I write about Chris Sale too much, or too little, that’s fine. If you complain and tell me Chris Sale sucks, that’s not fine and I may delete your comment. In this particular post, that’s not really what I’m going for.

Sound reasonable? Ok then. Let’s hear it.

What are your Section 36 related grievances?

Friday, December 21, 2018

Is it Time to Revive the Closer by Committee?

Yes.

Look at that. Two posts in a row that should really only be one word long. But, two posts in a row where I'm going to keep expanding. Really milking this blogging thing.

But, of course the answer is yes. There's no need to have one guy assigned as “closer” and have him always pitch in save situations. When you do that, all you're really doing is allowing him to collect this made up “save” stat so that he will cost you more moeny later. Why would you do that?

The argument for the closer by committee is pretty simple, and multi-pronged.

First of all, there's been some growing sentiment that the ninth inning isn't always when you want your “best” pitcher. How many times did the Sox have a one (or three) run lead in the eighth or ninth inning, have Kimbrel start warming, and then see the Sox score three runs in the inning? Then the Sox would bring him into a five run game because he was already warm. What if he had pitched the eighth inning, instead, when he was needed more? Let him hold the lead in the eighth, and let anyone you want pitch the ninth with a five run cushion?

Not having a true closer also lets you use your bullpen without worrying about roles or egos. I've talked many times about the idea that a team without stars can be easier to win with. It was the theory tossed out to explain why Tampa Bay was able to perform well without all-stars everywhere. The theory is that the Red Sox have to start Mookie every day, and lead him off. Even if the numbers might suggest he's not the best option. Maybe he hits poorly against a pitcher, or in a certain park, or after two games in a row. Maybe Brock Holt happens to hit the pitcher well, or hits well in that park. The Red Sox would never sit Mookie and say Holt is the better option. But, the Rays could. They start whichever nine guys happen to give the best options on a given day. The Dodgers did a similar thing. The Patriots do it too. They don't worry about getting Gronk the ball. If the team they're facing is poor agains the run, or slot receivers, Gronk’s not getting the ball that day. It seems to work for them.

So, imagine giving Cora that freedom to run his bullpen. We really got a good glimpse of how that might work from this last postseason. Imagine if he simply warmed up whichever pitcher happened to be the best option against the next few guys in the order? Maybe Barnes has really good numbers against them, so he gets the ninth. Or, the next game he gets one key out in the seventh against a guy he has owned for his career? Maybe Brasier is dominant in night games in New York. He's closing that day.

We know Cora is willing to manage like this, at least to an extent. He's said that he's left pitchers in who appeared to be struggling because he was still their best matchup for the next couple guys in the batting order. I bet he'd love to use three guys in the ninth inning if he felt that gave him the best chance to win the game.

So, by not using the traditional closer role, the Red Sox can save money AND give Cora the flexibility to win games however he can. That seems like a no-brainer to me.

What's the downside?

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Should the Red Sox sign Craig Kimbrel?

Remember a few years ago (well, a lot of years ago at this point) when there was this theory that Elvis didn't die of a drug overdose in the seventies. That he was still alive, and living in hiding. It was a weird little theory that people had some fun with for a while. Around that time I was in a bookstore, and saw a book titled “Is Elvis Alive?”. I went to check it hoping for the off chance that it was a book with 200 blank pages following a page that simply said “No, you idiot!”

I feel that way with this post. I wanted to address the subject by simply having a post that said “no”. But, what kind of blogger would I be if I did that?

Besides, it's not entirely true. The Red Sox do need another competent reliever, and Kimbrel is certainly one of those. In fact, in the list of the top four or five free agent pitchers, he's head and shoulders better than everyone else. So, they probably should, in fact, sign him.

So, what this post should really say is “not at that price.”

Because his skill set is not something that you should pay a lot of money for. The ability to get three outs without giving up three runs is not exactly setting the bar particularly high. I mean, pitching three outs and giving up even one run gets you a 9.00 ERA. Pretty much every pitcher in baseball has an ERA better than that. So, every pitcher in baseball should be able to pitch an inning while “saving” a three run lead. It's not exactly something that is worth shelling out the big bucks. (and it's sure as hell not a skill that should get you elected to the Hall of Fame, but that's another story for another day)

Now, is it nice to have a guy who comes in and strikes out the first three batters he faces, like Kimbrel sometimes does? Sure. As a fan, that's more fun. It's also easier to watch than a guy whose inning goes single-fielders choice-fly ball-walk-HBP-groundout. But they both get the job done.

So I’m not going to pay Kimbrel $17 million per year when Joe Kelly would have only cost $8 million per. You can get a couple good arms for the money Kimbrel is apparently asking for. You can get about a dozen arms that can do the job for that sort of money.

So, unless he drops to one of those prove-it one year deals, I'm a pass. I'll work with one of the other options that will do the job.

And spend my money elsewhere.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Talia Laurito Visits Section 36!

Section 36 has another visitor! Talia Laurito is a wellness coach, a talented dancer, and a current member of the New England Patriots
Cheerleaders! She's also a...let's just say...fan of a team that's not the Red Sox. But, with recent events being what they are, I thought it would be fun to hear her views on this recent postseason. So, I'm excited that she was willing to take some time out of her schedule to talk with us about those topics, and a few more. I know you'll love reading what she had to say.

So, let’s see what happens when Talia Laurito visits Section 36!


What made you decide to try out to be a New England Patriots Cheerleader?
Photo by Dwight Darian
I’ve danced my whole life so this has always been something I thought about doing. I never really planned on auditioning because I was so busy dancing and choreographing but my good friend was trying out so I decided to give it a shot! I loved the idea of being able to perform again, that was something I was really missing.


How did you celebrate making the squad?
I celebrated with my family and close friends! Everyone was so excited for me it was very special!

This is your second season with the team. How has it been different than last year?
My first season with the pats was nothing short of amazing but I

will say being a 2nd year is definitely less stressful. You know what  to expect and you can just enjoy the whole experience a little bit more. Also you make so many friends on the team its always awesome coming back to them for year two!

You major in dance at Rhode Island College. What is your favorite part about performing?
I loved being able to study dance while in college. It gave me the opportunity to continue doing what loved which was performing, I just love being on stage, its my happy place. It took my mind off of the everyday college stress. Performing was always something I looked forward to.

You are also a certified Health and Wellness Coach. What do you like about that field?

I love helping people, that’s really why I got into the health and wellness field.  I’ve always been a dance teacher and I loved teaching young dancers and as I got older I wanted to be able to help adults too. I love helping my clients feel good about themselves and helping them build confidence and work through road blocks in their lives.

You recently partnered with fellow NEPC Isabella to offer a workout program starting in the new year. What can you tell me about that program?
We are so excited to launch our New You NOW program! Its an

online fitness and wellness program. Full video workouts created by Bella and I. Meal plan samples, grocery lists, advice and tips from us, and of course coaching and check-ins throughout the program!

How did the partnership with Isabella begin?
Bella and I have been friends since we made the team and we are both personal trainers so we thought a little collab would be perfect!

As a Yankees fan, did you watch any of the 2018 World Series?
I did watch bits and pieces of the World Series! I’m a huge sports fan and I enjoy watching the games. I was happy to see the Sox win even though I’m not a sox fan!

What do you remember about your first trip to Fenway Park?

I love Fenway! I lived In Boston for a few years and I always enjoyed going to baseball games at Fenway! I remember enjoying all the happy fans and exciting things happening . I also remember comparing it to Yankees Stadium. :)

Can the Yankees catch the Red Sox next season?
Don’t ever underestimate the Yanks!!!!



-----

I guess we'll have to see!

As always, I want to thank Talia for visiting with us. It was a lot of fun! I also want to thank her for letting me use the pictures along with the interview. They really spruce things up.

As a way to follow along with Talia, I suggest you visit her New England Patriots Cheerleaders bio page. It's full of great information and pictures. It's a fantastic way to follow her journey through the season, and hopefully the Super Bowl!

You should also absolutely try to take part in the January fitness program she's running! It looks like the perfect way to make sure that you keep that New Year's resolution this year. If you hurry, you might even be able to get the early bird pricing!


Thanks again for the visit Talia, and Go Pats!

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