Friday, August 16, 2019

Aileen Auclair Visits Section 36!

Section 36 has a new visitor! Aileen Auclair is a dancer, a Red Sox fan, and the current Miss Exeter! I was thrilled she was able to visit with us to discuss those topics, and a few more.

So let's see what happens when Aileen Auclair visits Section 36!

How did you celebrate winning the Miss Exeter crown?
I celebrated winning Miss Exeter by going to my director’s house and meeting all of the other girls at a cookout. After that I came home and hung out with my family.

What did you learn about yourself at the Miss Exeter Competition that will help you at Miss New Hampshire?
At the Miss Exeter competition I learned that I am a lot braver than I thought I was. For years I have been a very shy person and public speaking was never my strong suit. At Miss Exeter I pushed myself out of my comfort zone to work on my public speaking skills and meet many new people. This will help me at Miss New Hampshire because I will go in feeling comfortable with the other titleholders and with more confidence in my public speaking abilities.

What made you decide to compete for the Miss Exeter crown?
I competed for the Miss Exeter crown to take an idea I wanted to
work on over the summer and make it something bigger. My platform, Creating a Better Environment Today for a Better Tomorrow, came from my desire to do all sorts of cleanups this summer to better our environment. I decided that as Miss Exeter I could expand this idea so much more and participate in many more activities to benefit our community. 

Speaking of your social impact initiative how did you select “Creating a Better Environment for a Better Tomorrow”?
I selected my Social Impact Initiative due to a community service day my high school had that inspired me. In around four hours, 200 students picked up over 1,200 pounds of trash. This made me realize what an issue littering is and how important each person is in creating a better environment. If every person recycled, or chose reusable options, or picked up some trash they saw, that's one less piece of trash in the ocean or polluting our environment.

As a talented dancer, what do you like most about performing on stage?
As a dancer my favorite part about performing on stage is watching
everything we have been working on for months coming together. The satisfaction of nailing a step you have been struggling with for months on stage is very hard to be matched.

You recently returned from the American Dance awards in NYC. What was that experience like?
American Dance Awards was one of my most valuable experiences of my life. There were dancers there from all over the world and the talent was unlike any competition I've been at. All of the dancers were so professional I would have paid to see them. The experience drove me to work harder and strive to be the best dancer I could be.

Who is your favorite Red Sox player? Why?
My favorite Red Sox player is currently Xander Bogaerts because not only is he a good player, he seems to be a very supportive
teammate and good person.

Is there a feature or activity at Fenway Park that you’d especially like to experience?
If I were to go to Fenway one activity I would be very interested in is trying all the different food. I've heard it is expensive but very good.

If you had an extra ticket to see the Red Sox play at Fenway, who would you take with you? Why?
If I had an extra ticket to Fenway Park I would either bring my grandmother or grandfather because they are both really big Red Sox fans.


I'm sure they'd both have a wonderful time!

As always, I want to give huge thanks to Aileen for doing this interview, and for providing the pictures to go along with it. They're all so wonderful!

As Aileen continues her time as Miss Exeter, I encourage you to follow her on the official Miss Exeter Facebook page! It's a great way to make sure you know what she's up to!

I also absolutely want to wish Aileen luck this spring as she competes for the Miss New Hampshire crown! Once again there will be several Section 36 visitors gracing the stage. It would be incredible to have her take home the title! 

Thanks again Aileen, and good luck!

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Chrome Blaster Time!

I realized that it's been a while since I did one of these posts. I think they're fun, so it's about time I do another one.

I probably should have picked a more exciting box than 2019 Topps Chrome. After all, the design is certainly nothing new that nobody's seen before. But, that's what I have. So here we go!

 It's always striking to me how empty the box itself is. Is this the contents settling like a bag of potato chips? Are there any boasters that use the majority of space available in the box? A bit surprised that companies haven't started making their blasters half sized by now to save costs.

Here's the best card in the first pack. I'm a bit confused by it, though. It sure looks like it's a “negative” parallel. But, according to the pack, those are supposed to be individually numbered. I don't see a number anywhere on the card. Anyone know what's going on?

The best card in the second pack is a Yankee that I've never heard of. That should tell you how bad the rest of the pack was. 

The best card in pack three is a quality card. A very shiny insert of young superstar Ronald Acuna Jr. I like the 1984 Topps style.

The fourth pack didn't exactly jump off the table. But this Matt Chapman is at least an all star with an interesting picture. As you could probably guess, I'm a sucker for his foot extending over the border. Still not sure how they decided which cards to use that technique on.

Finally a Red Sox card! Two Red Sox players even. While the insert set itself is fairly mundane and uninspired, at least the player selection on this card is top notch. 

A nice card of Clayton Kershaw. Going back to the Chapman card, I notice that all of this card is contained within the border. Kershaw’s left hand would seem like a perfect chance to extend beyond the border. But, this time Topps decided against it. I think that would have worked even better than Chapman’s foot. Agree?

Then we came to the extra special super bonus pack of sepia inserts. Another dud of a pack. But here's a rookie of a guy in Cleveland.

So, as you can see, not the greatest results. One Red Sox cards is not what I'm looking for. Hopefully the next packs are better.

Have you opened any of this yet?

Friday, August 9, 2019

Amanda Shoopman Visits Section 36!

Section 36 has a new visitor! Amanda Shoopman is a singer, a baseball fan, and the current Miss Florida Everglades. This makes
her the first visitor to Section 36 from the state of Florida! I was thrilled she was able to visit with us to discuss those topics, and a few more.

So let's see what happens when Amanda Shoopman visits Section 36!

How did you celebrate winning the Miss Florida Everglades crown?
As cliché as it is, I celebrated by going to Everglades National Park the next day! I absolutely love spending any free time I have there, so it was the obvious choice to put on my new crown and sash and visit the River of Grass!

What was your favorite part of the recent Miss Florida competition?
My favorite part was the Onstage Interview portion! I had the opportunity to discuss the importance of the Everglades when the judges asked me, “What would you say to lawmakers to convince them the importance of the Everglades?” It was so amazing to be able to share with not only the judges but also the Miss Florida audience, something that I’m so passionate about.

Is there a specific goal you’d like to accomplish during your remaining time as Miss Florida Everglades?
As I’ll be moving to Northern Virginia to attend school at George Mason University, I’m hoping to take my title to Capitol Hill! Using my title of Miss Florida Everglades, I plan to join Florida lawmakers in lobbying for further protection of the vital River of Grass.

What is your social impact initiative, and how did you select it?
My Social Impact Initiative is Get Back to Nature – Connecting Our Youth to Our Public Lands. It is about the importance of encouraging our youth to get outdoors and experience all of the beauty nature has to offer. I chose this as my impact initiative because I wanted my initiative to reflect something I’m truly passionate about. I am an Environmental and Sustainability Studies major, I have over 245 volunteer hours with the National Park Service, and I hope to one day become Secretary of the Interior. I truly have a deep passion for educating our youth on the importance of our lands, and I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to have a national platform to share what I care about with everyone else. 

As a talented singer, what types of songs are your favorite to sing?
I do not know if I have a favorite type of song! I love to sing just about anything, from Carole King to show tunes! 

What is your personal fitness routine?
I’d love to tell you all about my gym routine and how healthy I eat, but that would be too far from the truth! I tried the traditional workouts, gym visits, and watching everything I ate, but I found that it was creating an unhealthy mindset within. I absolutely dreaded going to the gym, and I was miserably craving sweets that I didn’t even normally eat. I knew I had to change my mindset to live a happier and healthier life.  Now, I love to be active outdoors, hiking, fishing, and the occasional run. I try to watch what I eat, but I never restrict myself when I’m having a sweet tooth craving. 

As a fan of the Nationals and Marlins, who’s your favorite Red Sox player? Why?
After texting my friends from Boston, they told me the ONLY correct answer is Mookie Betts! I followed up polling my friends with some research of my own, and I will say he seems to be pretty amazing! 

Last year you attended the congressional baseball game at Nats Park. What was that like?
It was an absolute blast! During my summer in D.C., I developed a sort of fascination with Nats Park, due to the fact that it is SO different from Marlins Park! I love going to Nats Park because it’s so cool to go to a “traditional” baseball field, as opposed to the more “modern” one we have down here in SoFlo. 

If you had two tickets in Section 36 to see the Marlins play the Red Sox, who would you take with you? Why?
I would take my Miss Florida sister, Miss Osceola, Kylie! During Miss Florida Orientation Week, Visit Central Florida took all of us candidates to a Lakeland Tigers baseball game, and it was such a blast sitting with her watching the game! It’s certainly something we plan on doing again, so if you want to give us the tickets, we’ll be there! 


Sounds like a great way to watch a game!

As always, I want to thank Amanda for doing this interview, and for sending along the amazing pictures. They really make the post much better.

As Amanda continues her time as Miss Florida Everglades, I encourage you to follow her on her personal Instagram account. It’s a great way to keep up with everything she has going on! 

Thanks again Amanda!

Monday, July 29, 2019


So close. So very close to a perfect weekend. While you're crazy to ever expect a four game sweep, there are just too many oddities in baseball, the Sox put those hopes in our head this weekend. After winning the first three games of the series, the Sox nearly did it.

But, that's no matter. Sure the extra two game swing in the standings would have been nice. But a series win was really as much as we were looking for. It allowed the Sox to pick up two games on the Yankees, as well as the rest of their competition. In fact, it lowered their magic number to clinch the division all the way to 66! The number to make the playoffs is a very manageable 56. The Yankees lead is under ten again, and things are rolling for the Sox as they won their second straight series against teams ahead of them in the standings. With two more of those coming up, that's a good sign.

Beyond the mathematical reasons this was a big series, there were the secondary ones. First, the Sox certainly don't seem to fear the Yankees. If they face each other in the playoffs, I would have no nervousness whatsoever. I suspect the players would feel the same way. Second? The Sox apparently couldn't care less about facing the Yankees closer. Once again a pinstriped closer that is supposed to dominate looks pretty average against the Sox.

That confidence won't just help against the Yankees. When the 2004 team was on their run to the playoffs, Pedro made a comment that they felt they could beat anyone with the way they were playing at that moment. That swagger is important. It's stops you from pressing. It stops you from doing foolish things and taking chances. There's not the desperation to take advantage of a situation, because there's the confidence that another chance will present itself.

Which is great, because there's still plenty of time.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Packing For Fenway

When you go to a game at Fenway, or wherever you go to watch your games, do you have a standard packing list? Are there things
you always wear? Things you always bring? Things you wish you'd always bring?

I have one that evolved over the years. I wonder how closely it matches yours.

What I wear is pretty basic. Red Sox hat, obviously, and Red Sox jersey. I have a few to choose from, so they rotate in and out. What's under the jersey depends on the weather, anything from a Red Sox tee shirt to a long sleeved shirt to sweatshirt. I even have a super large jersey that can fit over a winder coat. So, that's the preferred combo for those  cold April/October games. I always bring sunglasses, even on cloudy days. The rest of the outfit is just standard weather-appropriate clothing. I don't have crazy Red Sox pants that I always wear or anything like that. I don't even have red socks to wear, which is almost criminal.

I've also established a regular bag of gear I always bring. It's just a simple drawstring backpack with some essentials. First off is my scorebook inside its own plastic bag. This is basically the entire reason I bring the backpack. If I have to carry the scorebook around with me anyway, I'd just as soon have it in a bag over my shoulder. Since I have the bag, might as well use it then, right? So the bag has spare pens for scoring, and a sharpie in case I find myself with an autograph opportunity. The bag always has a tube of sunscreen, since you never know when the sun will surprise you. It also has a pair of stretchy Red Sox gloves. I could probably take those out in the summer, but it's better to leave them in there as opposed to risking forgetting them. There are also some Section 36 stickers and business cards, just in case I need them. Those are the staples. If I’m positive that I'll be having an autograph someone in autograph alley that I don't already have, I might also bring an item to be signed. I also sometimes throw in a camera (yup, and actual camera and not my phone), especially if it's an important game like a ring ceremony. 

Otherwise, that's about it. I find that coves most of my needs. 

What about you?

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

It's Sale Time!

That's right! It's time for the July sale at the Section 36 Store! I know you won't want to miss that.

It's summer! It's hot out. I mean really hot. Like, summer hot...oddly enough. So, be prepared! And, that means having the proper wardrobe! It's time to go shopping!

Thankfully, Section 36 is here to help!

Today through Sunday, the Section 36 store will be on sale! Don't miss this opportunity to show your support for the blog all season long! 

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

And, as always, when you do get an item, send me a picture wearing it for me to share with the world! The blogFacebook, and even Instagram! Not only would it be a great way to show the world your amazing outfit, but if you have a business or cause that needs promotion, it's an easy way to get a mention on Section 36!

Like Bridget did! (With some help from K. Garcia Productions)

This sweatshirt is on sale!

Or, like Bernadette did to show off how amazing this tank top looks on her.

This tank is on sale!

Or Phil did.

This tank is also on sale!

Or Holly did with her cozy new hoodie.

This hoodie is on sale!

Or Nicolette did with her great t-shirt!

This t-shirt is on sale!

Or like Allison did!

This t-shirt is on sale!
But, first you need to buy something you like. There's a lot to choose from.

What will you get?

Thursday, July 11, 2019

How it Should Have Been Done

Previously I commented on how the All-Star game appears to have lost its focus. It has drifted away from a showcase of the game’s best talent, and turned into a...well, I'm not really even sure. But it's not showcasing the best talent.

Some of that has come from the fan voting. It's a sure fire way to make sure that the best players are ignored in favor of popular or well-promoted players. Which is too bad. Even if fans think they want to watch a game played by popular Instagrammers, imagine if they actually watched a game played by super-talented players.

Which is why we can't vote. You have to use stats.

Now, which ones to use is the tricky part. The last time I posted this, and wrote a letter to Bud Selig about it, I suggested using stats over the previous two seasons. But, I'm trying to figure out how much the 2019 season should influence the 2019 all stars. On the one hand, I don't like the idea of selecting a two month fluke to the team. But, I also don't like the idea of selecting a guy who's missed the season with injury just because he was good last year. So, I think my ever-evolving opinion has found a compromise.

Here we go.

Set rosters at 30 players. To select the starters, look at WAR over the previous 24 months. So, for the 2019 game, look at stats from June 1, 2017 - June 1, 2019. The player with the highest WAR over that timeframe at each position is the starter. For the NL, select the eight positional starters, then select the next best hitter at any position to be DH. Do the same for the pitcher, but select the top five highest WARs in each league.

As for the reserves, change the timeframe. Look at WAR from the previous twelve months. In this case, from June 1, 2018 - June 1, 2019. Select the player with the highest WAR at each position to be the reserve. Do the same for the back-up NL DH, and select another five pitchers in each league. This allows some sort of bias for the recently talented crew, but not enough to bypass an established star. 

That should give you 18 position players, and ten pitchers on each team.

What about the other two slots? This is where I cave to the social media crowd. Those two slots in each league would be open to a vote. This is where fans can select an aging star that they need to see again. CC Sabathia might have been a selection this season. Or, maybe a young stud that they need to see right away. Someone like Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Or, a popular star that has fallen on some rough times. Maybe someone like Bryce Harper. Those two slots would give MLB the chance to involve the fans in the same way they do now, but still assemble two quality teams of players.

And there it is. A 30-man roster of the best players the league has to offer. It gives the chance for MLB to introduce fans to players they might not otherwise follow. It's the way to grow the game.

Why wouldn't they implement this for next season?

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Why Would They Ask Him That?

With the all-star game, the players have been meeting with the media. Whether this offers chances to talk that the media doesn't usually get, or if it just for a wider spread of media members I'm not sure. But, at any rate the Red Sox contingent has been doing their duty and answering questions.

Some of them have been about contract status.

I don't really understand the constant nagging of players about their contracts. I mean, I understand it...the media is just trying to fill column inches. But, why does anyone find value in it?

People asked JD Martinez about his contract. He is a year and a half into a five year deal, but has the chance to opt out after the season. So, the media is asking him to confirm his plans several months earlier than he needs to, and without all the information he needs to make that decision. Which would be fine if it was a passing comment sort of thing that was treated like a casual comment. But, they asked about his pending option. He gave a pretty decent answer. He said he's always wanted to play for the Sox, and would love to finish his career in Boston, but that it's not up to him. Perfectly honest and correct answer. But, of course, that's not the way the EEIDiots took it. Of course it's up to him...he has the options! Which is true, if you think his career is only going to last three more years. But, if he'd like to play for six more, he's going to need he Sox to agree with him. Really the only way he could have it be completely his call is if he signed a perpetual player option contract. But, good luck with the Sox going along with that. So he was correct and honest, and people are picking it apart.

But, at least he has a contract decision coming up.

Xander Bogaerts was asked about a contract he just signed, and whether he would sign it again if given the chance.


So, the guy signs a long term deal and then mere months later the media is asking him if he regrets it? Has he done anything to suggest he regrets it? No. The media is just asking. My guess? They'll keep asking. And then, if he changes his answer from “I love plying in Boston” to “I'm enjoying my time here” they'll get to discuss why he doesn't “love” it anymore. They'll keep asking him until asking about it creates the story. It won't produce anything worthwhile, of course, but they'll be able to go back and forth and create story after story. It'll be a mess.

Really, the MLBPA needs to nip it in the bud. They need to release a statement saying that from now on any question about contracts will be answered with “On advice from the MLBPA I will simply say that I look forward to playing during my entire current contract and exploring all options when my contract expires.”

Then, every player just sticks to that, and eliminates that entire distraction.

And, as a fan, I would be much happier.

Monday, July 8, 2019

What is the Purpose of the All-Star Game?

Because, with the game tomorrow night, I'm really starting to wonder if I have it all wrong.

I always thought it was a game played by teams made up from a collection of the best talent in each league, who would play one game to “determine” which league was better. It certainly seemed to be the way the league, and it's players, treated the game. Hall of Fame plaques would mention all-star appearances as evidence of their superior abilities.

At least until Joe Torre came along. 

Torre decided that the All-Star game was a showcase for his Yankees players. He selected them to the teams as a “reward for winning the World Series”. His words, not mine. He also made sure that those Yankees who weren't good enough to start got into the game as soon as they could. In 1999, he even pulled a stunt where he sent Nomar out to his position only to have Derek Jeter trot out onto the Fenway infield to relieve him. After the game, Torre admitted that was the only way he could think of to “get [his] guy into the game without getting booed.” So, it suddenly wasn't about showcasing talent. It was about stuffing Yankees down everyone's throat. That morphed into an “everyone plays” deal where the best players, the starters, were long gone by the fifth inning. 

That was the first change.

Because, even though Torre monkeyed with the bench and playing time, mostly the best players were making the team. Sure, there were plenty of popularity contests, as there are with any voting results. But, I at least always felt that MLB hoped for the best players to make the teams.

But I'm not sure of that anymore.

They seem to revel in the fact that it is turning 100% into a popularity contest. Ever since another Yankee won the vote for the final roster spot, and MLB admitted it was because of his social media presence. They celebrated that fact, when they should have hidden it. One time, fan voting was taken away because it was deemed too rely on ballot stuffing. Now MLB is encouraging it. So, when Xander Bogaerts wasn't originally selected to the team, people shouted that complaining Red Sox fans had no one to blame but themselves. They should have voted more. Forget the fact that it shouldn't matter. Forget the fact that the shortstop leading the league in just about every statistical category should be an automatic bid. No. It was because more impartial Cleveland fans voted than impartial Red Sox fans. Is that really the goal here?

Because, if it is...then what is the selection to the game for? It's no longer a stat of honor that belongs on a Hall of Fame plaques. It's no longer a collection of the greatest talent the league has to offer. It's a team made up of popular players whose fan bases spend the most time in front of a computer.

Is that what we’re celebrating? 

If that's what it is...why do we have them play a baseball game? Seems silly. They already break the game broadcasts up with pathetic in-game interviews, even with players actually on the field. Clearly they're not interested in even pretending it's a baseball game. The broadcasters have decided it's non-competitive fluff. So, why put on the sham? If we're not selecting teams based on baseball skill, shouldn't they compete in social media events? Selfie contests? Instagram post races?

Or maybe we could go back to the way the game was created. select the best players from each league, and have them play an actual baseball game.

What a concept.

What people are reading this week