Sunday, October 31, 2010


Scared you!

Happy Halloween to everyone out there in Red Sox nation. It’s on a day like today that I really wish a couple things about the Red Sox teams of the past. Seeing Freddy Sanchez play in the World Series for San Francisco makes me remember the time he spent with the Red Sox in 2003 and 2004. He was quite the up and comer, as validated by his eventual NL batting title. It makes me wonder if the Red Sox could use him more than they used Jeff Suppan. It also makes me wish he were on the Red Sox in the late seventies. That way, if there was a rundown between third and home and Sanchez had to throw the ball to Rick Kreuger to maker a play, the play would have gone Freddy-Kreuger. As long as I’m wishing for things, I wish that Red Sox catcher Frank Owens had hung on a little bit longer with the team. A few years later, pitcher Charley Hall joined the team. Yup, that would have created the Hall-Owens battery.

OK. I’m sorry about that. I hope everyone has a great time trick-or-treating today. (Or, if you’re one of those weird places that has already done it…I hope you had fun) I wonder if Theo will dress up as the GM of a playoff team when he goes out with his son.

If anyone sees any great Red Sox themed costumes out there, feel free to send along a picture. I’m sure we’d all love to see it.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Wantlist: 2009

2009 Allen & Ginter
185 Dustin Pedroia
291 Josh Beckett
348 Justin Masterson SP

2009 Bowman

2009 Bowman Draft Pick, Prospects & WBC
BDPP18 Shannon Wilkerson
BDPW5 Dustin Pedroia

2009 Bowman Prospects
2009 Finest
15 Dustin Pedroia
18 Daisuke Matsuzaka
19 Josh Beckett
34 David Ortiz
46 Jacoby Ellsbury
64 J.D. Drew
106 Jon Lester
115 Kevin Youkilis
119 Jason Bay

2009 Topps
77 Jed Lowrie
330 Daisuke Matsuzaka
43 Joe Mauer Twins - Dustin Pedroia Red Sox - Milton Bradley Rangers LL
340 Wade Boggs SP
660 Carl Yastrzemski SP

2009 Topps 206
71 Dustin Pedroia
118 Kevin Youkilis
287 Babe Ruth

2009 Topps Heritage
54 Jonathan Papelbon
230 Mound Magicians - Josh Beckett / Jon Lester / Daisuke Matsuzaka
249 Jon Lester
280 Tim Wakefield
336 Paul Byrd
439 Daisuke Matsuzaka SP
456 Brad Mills / John Farrell / Dave Magadan CO, SP
481 Kevin Youkilis AS SP
491 Manny Ramirez AS SP
429 American League Kings - Dustin Pedroia Red sox / Ichiro Suzuki Mariners SP

2009 Topps Heritage Hi Numbers
702 Jason Bay SP

2009 Topps Ticket to Stardom
21 David Ortiz
200 Justin Masterson
220 Michael Bowden (RC)

2009 Topps Update
UH270 David Ortiz red Sox - Alex Rodriguez Yankees

Friday, October 29, 2010

Red Sox A-Z: V is for…

Varitek, as in Jason

Today I’d like to talk about the Red Sox captain, Jason Varitek. Few people have even embodied a baseball player like Varitek has. If you were picturing a catcher, chances are the person you have in your mind is Varitek. He just looks like a catcher. He calls a perfect game. He defends his plate. He leads the team. He’s a catcher. It’s that simple. He’s probably the best catcher the Red Sox have ever had. He may not make the Hall of Fame like Carlton Fisk, but he Red Sox career has been more productive.

There has been some discussion lately about just how important Varitek’s intangibles are. Is “calling a good game” more important than getting a big hit? I have no earthly idea. I have a tendency to believe the pitchers on the team. They all say that Varitek makes them better pitchers. Of course, not many pitchers say their catcher is a moron and they wish they had someone else (unless that catcher is Jorge Posada, I suppose). So, the pitchers could be blowing more smoke than throwing it. Other than, I think, Curt Schilling. Schilling was well known for being a student of the game. He kept notebooks on every hitter he’s ever faced, so he could plan the proper plan of attack. When the Red Sox acquired a former teammate of his, however, the teammate was amazed to see Schilling in the locker room before a start without the notebook. Curt had decided that Varitek could handle it. That speaks volumes, to me, about the trust level Varitek had, and the confidence that the pitchers have in him. But, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, I didn’t answer the question. Was it more important that Varitek have that trust, or get a big hit? Apparently to Josh Beckett is was. He wanted Varitek behind the plate even with a better hitting option available. I’m sure it’s probably a 50-50 type thing. If Victor Martinez, for instance, is behind the plate the Sox might score more runs. But, in theory, if Tek is behind the plate the Sox will give up more runs. I guess I’d rather have the pitcher at his best. After all, V-Mart sometimes went 0-3 in a game.

As the Sox look to the future, it’s looking more and more like it will be one without Jason Varitek in it. That’s really too bad. He really was the perfect catcher.

V is for Varitek, Jason

Thursday, October 28, 2010

List of 36: Good Things About the Red Sox NOT Making the Playoffs

1. They get a better draft pick

2. I don’t have to worry about Buchholz hurting his elbow

3. They didn’t end the ALCS with a called third strike

4. They don’t need to play in SF in October

5. I don’t have to listen to Joe Morgan

6. I can save money on World Series tickets

7. They can’t be swept in a series

8. They didn’t have to face David Price

9. I don’t have to spend money on a World Championship hat

10. I don’t need to listen to Tim McCarver

11. They didn’t have to pitch to Josh Hamilton

12. They’re more motivated in 2011

13. I can focus on the Patriots

14. They can’t lose the World Series

15. I don’t need to stay up late

16. Theo will be motivated to have a productive offseason

17. They don’t have to face Tim Lincecum

18. The Yankees aren’t winning the World Series either

19. I don’t need to listen to Tim McCarver

20. They didn’t have to face Cliff Lee

21. They get to save money on rings

22. The 2011 home opener pregame ceremony is shorter

23. I don’t need to sit outside on an October night

24. They have more time to complete improvements to Fenway Park

25. They don’t need to kill grass by painting playoff logos on it

26. They save salary by not paying out World Series MVP bonuses

27. I can focus on Liverpool FC

28. They still have the most World Series titles in the decade

29. They don’t have to fly cross-country for the World Series

30. I don’t need to listen to Tim McCarver

31. They can objectively scout Cliff Lee

32. They save electricity by not lighting World Series night games

33. I can focus on the Celtics

34. They get extra time to negotiate with free agents

35. They can’t lose a World Series game to Ramon Ramirez

36. I don’t need to listen to Tim McCarver

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Happy Sixth Anniversary!

That’s right. It was six years ago today that Edgar Redteria hit the ground ball that was stabbed by Foulke. After the underhand flip to first, the Red Sox were world champions, and our world was changed forever. I still remember the sense of satisfaction that came over me. I didn’t jump around like I did when the Diamondbacks beat the Yankees in 2001. I just sat the looking at the TV. It was completely relief. Finally, things would be different. And, they were.

Speaking of Renteria, I was reminded of him this week. Not just because his team has another chance for him to get another ring. But, it was the curious case of Bengie Molina. Since Molina was traded from the Giants to the Rangers midseason, he stands to earn a World Series ring no matter which team wins. That’s an interesting problem to have. I have no idea what Molina’s contract status is for next year, and I’m too lazy to look it up. But, if the Giants win the series, and Molina’s with Texas next year…how does he get his ring? Do they just hand it to him in the tunnel like Nomar did when he got his ring from ’04? Does he get a ceremony in San Francisco? Would the Rangers do something for him? Can you imagine giving him a Giants World Series championship ring in Texas next season? Do the fans applaud for him? Which brings be back to Edgar Renteria. Obviously, after the Sox beat his Cardinals for the 2004 title, he signed with the Red Sox. But, the Cardinals still owed him an NL championship ring. So, when the Sox visited St Louis, they presented it to him during an on-field ceremony. I always wondered what his new teammates said to him when he got back to the dugout. “Nice ring. Kinda small, though.” “Where are all the diamonds?” “Why don’t you get a real ring?” So Bengie Molina faces a similar issue next season. No matter what, he’ll need to get a ring of some sort. I just really wonder how he’ll get it.

Which brings us back to tonight’s game 1 of the 2010 World Series. Do I pick the San Francisco Giants, or the Texas Rangers? Sure, there are lots of things to consider. Texas beat the Yankees, so that always earns them a place in my heart. Plus, the Giants wouldn’t play the Red Sox in 1904, costing the Sox a possible World Series victory. Those are two checks on the side of the Rangers. But, the Giants have Renteria, who I always thought got a raw deal here in Boston, and the Bengie Molina story. I’m not looking forward to an entire offseason of Josh Hamilton stories. But, Brian Wilson’s beard is beyond ridiculous. The Rangers have Cliff Lee, but the Giants have Tim Lincecum. It’s back and forth. In the end, I think my curiosity over Molina is going to win out. I’ll be picking them to win the series. Not that who I pick really matters. I can’t see myself being awake for the end of any of the games anyway. But, you heard it here first…or at least most recently.

Giants in six.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

An Imperfect Game

Ok. I know that me writing about the absolute necessity for MLB to adopt replay isn’t new. I’ve mentioned it time and again. The problem is, it keeps bringing itself into the forefront again and again. Something really needs to be done about it.

I was talking to someone after the Rangers-Yankees ALCS game 4 the other day. I was asking about the Cano homerun. No, I still haven’t seen it. I listened to that particular game on the radio. (As a side note, you missed great entertainment if you didn’t hear Joe Morgan’s response to that play) But, my opinion on that particular home run is irrelevant. Video of the home run existed. They could have very easily known for sure whether it was a home run or not. They didn’t even look. The argument I heard from people? Baseball is an imperfect game. It needs to have the human element in it. We don’t want to slow the game down. And, those are all very good reasons…except for the last three.

Sure, baseball is an imperfect game. Everything is. But, why not strive for as much perfection as possible? Why is it so wrong to want a strike to be a strike according to the rules every single time? If a player hits a ball to the foul side of the pole, why is it wrong to want that to be a foul ball every single time? Why can’t a player be rewarded every time he makes the right play? What is this fascination with being wrong some of the time? I always hear you can’t complain about a bad call. You just need to overcome. How do you do that exactly? Don’t you do that my making a play, or throwing a good pitch? Didn’t you just do that…but get hosed by a bad call? Why can’t you want your great performance to count the first time? Why not at least try for perfection?

The human element? Last time I checked, there are at least eight human players in the field of play at any point during a baseball game. (There are two more just off the field of play) Isn’t that a pretty substantial human element? What’s wrong with keeping that good human element, and removing the bad element? Say you’re going to an accountant to have him do your taxes. One guy likes to keep the human element. He does all the math in his head. Sure, he makes mistakes an awful lot. But, that’s some of his charm. In the end, his mistakes will probably all even out. Then, there’s another guy who uses a calculator, and gets all the math right. Pretty boring. Which guy do you go to? Or, there’s been a bank robbery. The cops interview the teller and the witnesses. They think they have a decent description of the robber. Although, some of the description from the different people don’t match up. The bank manager comes over and hands the cop a videotape. The security camera caught the whole thing, and got a really good view of the robber. Is there any chance the cop refuses the tape in an attempt to preserve the human element? Of course not. When you have a way to get everything right, you use it. Why is baseball any different?

As for the time factor, that’s just crazy. If they have the fifth (or seventh) umpire in the booth watching the tape, the game will actually move faster. The video showed that Berkmans’ home run later in the inning was foul before Molina was even done arguing. The extra umpire could have radioed down the correct call, and even saved time. During Roy Halladay’s sacrifice bunt in game 5 of the NLCS, replays showed it was a foul ball before Halladay even made it back to the dugout. It would have taken no time at all to get him back to the plate. And, even if it was an extra ten seconds, isn’t it worth it? It’s not like that foul ball was an important call or anything, right? It only set up the game-winning RBI. I bet Giants fans would have preferred Halladay take another chance, and maybe popped the bunt up. Or, imagine if the out at third was made, resulting in a double play. Does San Francisco win that game and advance to the World Series? Would Phillies fans prefer they waste ten seconds to make that call correct? I don’t even think I have to ask. Let’s just get it right.

Every single time.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Wake Up!

Welcome to day two of the snoozefest that is the Major League Baseball Playoff Schedule. Remind me again why Game 1 of the World Series doesn’t start until Wednesday? Even if the Phillies and the Giants had played a game seven yesterday, why couldn’t the WS start tomorrow? Wait, I forgot. Television. Silly me.

When Tim Lincecum came out of the bullpen for the Giants in game six, was anyone else reminded of Pedro coming into game seven of the 2004 ALCS? I’m not sure there was much of a reason for either of them to be pitching. I’ve mentioned before that I have no idea how “throw days” work when it come to a major league pitcher. But, I’d imagine that using a regular reliever would have made more sense than putting a starting pitcher out of his element. In the case of both Pedro and Lincecum, they didn’t fare very well. Pedro allowed the crowd, if not the Yankees, to get back into the game. And Lincecum actually got into a jam that could have spelled disaster if an actual bullpen guy wasn’t there to put out the fire. Those moves really bring one recurring misconception right into the open. No matter what Yankees fans would lead you to believe, pitchers are in the bullpen because they’re not as good as starting pitchers. Otherwise, the Giants would have used one of the 36 relievers they had ready and waiting, and not squeezed in Lincecum on short rest. Otherwise, teams wouldn’t make a big deal about their starters being available during a game seven. If the best way to get three outs is to use a reliever, that wouldn’t matter. But, teams feel that the best option is to use the more skilled starting pitcher…even without any rest.

Is there a more depressing way to lose a playoff series than to have your biggest slugger look at strike three? It actually happened to both loses this year. Watching the Phillies battle in the ninth inning, I could just feel it all clicking. They had the guy they wanted at the plate with the runners they needed on the bases. I was ready to see the walk-off hit. There’s nothing like the punchout to swing the emotion from super-high to super low in an instant. Did anyone else notice that when Fox went through the pitch-by-pitch for Howard’s last at-bat, they left off the last pitch? Think they were double-checking the graphic to make sure it showed it as a strike? After a couple minutes, they finally showed the last pitch, with the very tippity top of the ball grazing the very bottom of the strike zone. Were I a conspiracy theorist, I’d call foul. If it were the NBA, I’d say they made Fox wait a minute until the computer guys could make the line thickness of the baseball and the strikezone thick enough to touch each other. Hate to have the series deciding strike be shown as a ball on TV, right? Thankfully, this wasn’t the NBA. So, I’m sure that there was no funny business going on.

Besides, they wouldn’t have rigged it to eliminate Philladelphia anyway.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Wantlist: 2008

2008 Bowman
2008 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects
BDPP25 Christian Vazquez DP
BDPP35 Tim Federowicz DP
BDPP57 Kyle Weiland DP

2008 Bowman Gold Draft Picks & Prospects
BDP12 Chris Carter (RC)
BDP38 Jonathan Van Every RC
BDPP25 Christian Vazquez DP
BDPP35 Tim Federowicz DP
BDPP57 Kyle Weiland DP

2008 Bowman Prospects
2008 Finest
14 Mike Lowell
37 David Ortiz
45 Manny Ramirez
52 Curt Schilling
76 Josh Beckett

2008 Stadium Club
21 Jacoby Ellsbury
63 Kevin Youkilis
82 Manny Ramirez
84 Daisuke Matsuzaka
138 Justin Masterson RC
139 Jayson Nix (RC)

2008 Topps
586 Coco Crisp

2008 Topps Update
UH20 Justin Masterson
UH46 Kevin Youkilis
UH68 Jonathan Papelbon
UH107 Jason Varitek
UH150 Jon Lester
UH195 Chris Carter
UH216 Jason Bay
UH264 David Ortiz
UH99 Hanley Ramirez Marlins & David Ortiz Red Sox

2008 Topps Allen & Ginter
130 Tim Wakefield
204 Julio Lugo
348 Justin Masterson
350 Kevin Youkilis

2008 Topps Heritage
409 Jon Lester SP
477 Julio Lugo SP
486 Mike Lowell AS SP

2008 Topps Heritage High Numbers
2008 Topps Opening Day

Friday, October 22, 2010

Long Overdue Thank You!

I’m ashamed that it has taken me this long to post about this wonderful package I received from John over at Johngy’s Beat. A while back, John e-mailed me saying he had some cards from my wantlist for me. He didn’t want anything in return. He simply wanted to help out. Is that amazing, or what? Let’s take a look at a small sample of what John sent over.

The great part about this package is that it had quite of few “Traded” cards that I needed. I wasn’t a frequent Traded Set buyer, so those sets are the reason behind many holes in my collection. John was able to completely fill several of those gaping holes.

I really like the 1976 Tom house. I like the way they made the traded card have the headline on the front. It was a great way to show that by having that card, you were getting the latest, most up to date example that you could. I like the look of the 1981 Topps cards. I may have to try putting that set together at some point. In the case of Carney Lansford, he would win the 1981 batting title. After that, he would be pushed out of his position by some hotshot rookie named Wade Boggs. So, being expendable, Lansford was traded away for…Tony Armas. Which, is why Armas appears in the 1983 Traded set with the Red Sox. Armas would be a big bopper for the Sox during his time in Boston. Not only were Rich Gale and Mike Easler both in the 1984 Traded set as Red Sox, they both were on the coaching staff of the 1993 Red Sox. Easler didn’t stay in Boston too long. He was actually traded to the Yankees (imagine that!) for Don Baylor in time for Baylor to star for the 1986 team. John McNamara also played a key role on that 1986 team. Obviously, it was his decision to leave Bill Bucker in the game at first that haunted Red Sox fans for years.

So, I want to thank John both for his generosity, and for the trip down memory lane.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Collecting the Sox: Ornaments

As we get closer to the Holiday season, things like ornaments start to enter people’s minds. And, if you’re anything like me, thinking about ornaments makes you think about Red Sox ornaments. Whether you hang them on a tree or just around your house, ornaments can be a great addition to a collection.

As with any great collectable, ornaments can fit into just about any collecting goal. There are ornaments devoted to the team itself. There are ornaments celebrating specific games or events. There are ornaments depicting particular players. Even within those groupings, there’s plenty of variety. They have ball ornaments. Figurine ornaments. Candy canes. Blown glass. The list goes on and on. Hallmark even has a series of ornaments that depicts a different baseball player every year. I can think of two or three Red Sox players included over the years. David Ortiz, Ted Williams, and Nomar Garciaparra come to mind. What more can you as for?

Ornaments are also nice because they come at most any price level. ten to fifteen dollars is probably the most you’d be looking to spend on a Red Sox ornament. Although, if you want to go crazy, there are nicely done versions out there that probably go for a little bit more. So, it would be easy to fill your tree, or wall, with ornaments without taking out a loan.

Which reminds me of another great factor about ornaments. They’re easy to store and display. A couple nails in the wall give ample places to hang an ornament. They’re small enough that putting a large collection on your wall won’t take too much room. They look nice hanging from a support beam in your house, or the edge of a bookshelf. I found myself a mini-tree that I use to hang ornaments on in a festive display. It’s a lot of fun.

So, start looking for Red Sox ornaments. You’ll be seeing them all over the place in not too long. Even better? Wait until January when you should be able to get quite a few on the cheap. It’ll be a great time to start, or add to, a Red Sox ornament collection.

How do you plan to display them?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wantlist: 2007

2007 Topps Allen and Ginter
35 J.D. Drew
100 David Ortiz
107 Jason Varitek SP
118 Coco Crisp
126 Curt Schilling
161 Manny Ramirez
210 Daisuke Matsuzaka
294 Julio Lugo
297 Josh Beckett

2007 Bowman
46 Josh Beckett
65 Manny Ramirez
113 Kevin Youkilis
134 Curt Schilling
209 David Murphy (RC)
219 Hideki Okajima RC

2007 Bowman's Best
22 Manny Ramirez
64 Daisuke Matsuzaka RC

2007 Bowman Draft Picks
BDPP69 Clay Buchholz
BDPP105 Jacoby Ellsbury

2007 Bowman Chrome Draft Picks
BDPP105 Jacoby Ellsbury
BDPP69 Clay Buchholz

2007 Bowman Heritage
37 J.D. Drew
41 Josh Beckett
157 Jason Varitek
243a Hideki Okajima RC
243b Hideki Okajima SP
250a Daisuke Matsuzaka RC
250b Daisuke Matsuzaka SP

2007 Bowman Heritage Prospects
BHP72 Thomas Hottovy

2007 Bowman Prospects
BP16 Yahmed Yema
BP45 John Otness
BP53 Thomas Hottovy
BP69 Matt Goodson
BP93 Andrew Dobies

2007 Finest
25 Manny Ramirez
36 Josh Beckett
51 Curt Schilling
59 David Ortiz
92 Mike Lowell
94 Jason Varitek
96 Mark Loretta

2007 Topps

2007 Topps Heritage
18 Josh Beckett
130 Manny Ramirez SP
167 Brian Stokes SP (RC)
361 Jonathan Papelbon
410 Francisco Rodriguez SP

2007 Topps Opening Day
135 David Ortiz

2007 Topps Turkey Red

2007 Topps Update
89 Doug Mirabelli

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

CC, or Not CC?

That is the question. Naturally, it doesn’t have an easy answer.

Leo Durocher once said, “You don’t save a pitcher for tomorrow. Tomorrow it may rain.” And, since he won about 3700 games in his career, maybe he knew a thing or two. Or maybe he never had to manage in Texas, where it never rains. It’s probably not that simple.

The Yankees find themselves down 2-1 in the series. They have Cliff lee looming on regular rest for a game seven. So, it would be in their best interest to not get to the seventh game. It makes sense to try to win the next three games, and avoid the issue. Tonight’s scheduled starter is AJ Burnett. To say he’s not a guy you can depend on in a situation like this is putting it lightly. There were some who were saying he shouldn’t have been scheduled to start in the first place. The Yankees do, of course, have another option. CC Sabathia could go on short rest. So, does it help the Yankees? Maybe.

In 1998, the Red Sox had a similar choice to make, although it was slightly direr. Pedro Martinez had, of course, won game one of the five game ALDS against the Indians. The Sox had, unfortunately, dropped the next two. So, there was a choice to be made. Do you pitch Pedro on short rest to assure yourself of a victory in game four? From there, you hope anything can happen in a game five. Of course, the Red Sox decided that since Pedro couldn’t pitch both games four and five, it made more sense to save him. Hope to win game four, and bring out a well-rested Pedro as a game five hammer. It almost worked. The Sox lost game four in a heartbreaker.

Another similar situation happened the following year, against the same team, in the five-game ALDS. The Sox were ahead in the series 1-2 (apparently) since Pedro was looming for the game five clincher. Even with the lead in the series, the Indians didn’t want to get to Pedro and an obvious Red Sox victory. So, they pitched Bartolo Colon on short rest in game four. They knew it would be a waste of Colon to have him face Pedro and lose. Unfortunately, that didn’t work either. Colon got lit up, and the Sox moved easily to game five. In game five, of course, Pedro’s amazing performance moved the Sox to the ALCS.

So, the Yankees can certainly look to the Red Sox past for help in their decision. CC can’t win the next three games on his own. So, other starters HAVE to pitch. Does it make sense to give everyone the chance to pitch on their regular rest and be at their best? Perhaps. Or, do they need to fear Lee like the Indians feared Pedro? Should they bypass AJ, and go with CC-Hughes-Pettitte all on short rest, and still have CC again for game seven? I guess I need the answer to another question. If CC pitches in game five, can he do anything for you in game seven? I’d be tempted to flip CC and AJ. Send CC out tonight. Save AJ for game five. That way, CC would be available to pitch as much of game seven as you wanted. He could either start, or be warming up as soon as the game starts to get Pettitte out at the first hint of trouble. That gives you some more options.

The flaw? If CC loses tonight. In that case, you are forced to either pitch everyone on short rest the rest of the way, or have AJ Burnett as your starter down 3-1 in a series. That’s not very attractive. Although, if CC loses his next start, whenever it is, the Yankees are in a heap of trouble anyway. So, maybe that’s not a big deal.

Yup. That’s my plan. I’d pitch CC tonight. Have AJ ready to go tomorrow, and pitch everyone else on their regular rest. Then you have CC ready to save the day in game seven if he needs to.

Of course, the Yankees didn’t ask me.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Pitching and Defense

Ok. Quick disclaimer. I have watched exactly zero SF Giants games until the NLCS. I watched about half of game 1, and about the same of game 2. So, all you Giants fans out there can tell me I’m full of it. But, it certainly looks like they are what Theo had in mind when he talked about pitching and defense.

I look at the Phillies line-up, and I have heard of a lot of those guys. And, not just because they were in the World Series the last two years. Howard, Utley, and Rollins are certainly household names, well known for their batting prowess. (Speaking of Howard. After watching David Ortiz for so long, I’m always amazed at how relatively tiny Howard is) Add in the rest of the group, most of who would star on other teams, and you have a mighty fine offense. But, when I look at the Giants line-up, the only reason I know any of their names is because they used to be something. Edgar Renteria used to be a great shortstop, until he came to Boston. Freddy Sanchez used to be a batting champion. Ok, he’s still a champion…but not a current one. Aubrey Huff used to be the underrated star of the Devil Rays. Pat Burrell used to be the rising star of the Phillies. These days, they’re simply solid additions to a line-up. What the Giants do have, obviously, is pitching. They have the horses at the top of the rotation that would be the envy of almost any team. They have the bullpen arms that will save most of their leads. They don’t need to score many runs. They’re not going to give up many runs. And, it would appear, that system can lead to success. There really is more than one way to build a team and win games. Imagine that.

If the Red Sox rotation had performed up to their capabilities, or Theo had remembered he needed a bullpen, the pitching and defense angle would have worked. It’s too bad really. Just because it didn’t work, doesn’t mean it wasn’t a good idea.

And, just because it does work doesn’t mean it was a good idea.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Lads From Liverpool

News that John Henry, or at least the New England Sports Ventures Company, wanted to buy The Liverpool Football Club has raised some questions here in Red Sox Nation. Most important, what does this mean for the Red Sox. Anything? Some have wondered if the Red Sox are now owned by a large corporation, and not a guy who loves baseball. And that’s a valid point. With so many “toys” will John Henry get tired of playing with the Red Sox? With two titles under his belt, will he divert funds to his racing or soccer team to help them succeed as well? I, obviously, have no idea. I know that the bookkeeping done inside a large corporation can make just about anything look they way they want it to look. So, will money that used to go to the Red Sox go to Liverpool? Maybe. But, I’d think this would also be a huge opportunity for the entire NESV family.

Not too long ago, the Yankees entered into an agreement with Manchester United. Obviously, it was a partnership between two of the biggest names in sports, worldwide. If I remember correctly, the agreement was fairly basic. They both agreed to promote each other, and sell each other’s merchandise in their fan shops. Not a big burden. But, I can only imagine, one that benefited each club. It’s especially interesting from the Yankees standpoint. They don’t get the money directly from every Yankees hat sold. It is filtered somehow through MLB. So, there wasn’t even the direct monetary bump. But, they both entered the deal, and I can only assume, have profited from it. What if the Red Sox now did a similar thing?

When I think of large corporations that “get it,” I think of two. Martha Stewart, and Walt Disney. Martha Stewart knew exactly how to cross-promote her businesses to the maximum profit. Her magazine promoted her clothing line, which was sold in a store that sold her magazine, which promoted her TV show, which promoted her clothing line and magazine. It was an amazing cycle. And, she earned billions from it. The Walt Disney Company is just as good at that. They’re even better, really, because they own more. So, their television station can have a show that advertises their theme park, which promotes their movies, which sell their books, which are sold in their retail stores, which sell cruise tickets, and on, and on, and on. (It’s amazing really. Take a look sometime at all the stuff the Walt Disney Company owns.)

So, now, does the NESV get to do things like that? When the Bruins played the Winter Classic at Fenway, suddenly you could buy Bruins garb at the Park. Now, things can get interesting. I know that a lot of this stuff is technically under different company names…but I think it all points to John Henry at some point. So, NESN can now promote the racing team, the baseball team, and the soccer team. Why not devote a rack at the Red Sox team store to Liverpool garb? Does Liverpool play in the next soccer game at Fenway? Does it become an annual event? Do the Red Sox or LFC find their logo on a racecar? Do the Red Sox sponsor the Liverpool, and get their name on the jerseys? Do the concerts at Fenway promote the various teams? Do cd’s put out by Fenway music end up in Liverpool stores now? The possibilities are endless.

I guess, as a Red Sox fan, I think it could all be a lot of fun as long as the Sox don’t suffer. Since John Henry is such a lifelong baseball fan, I feel confident that the Sox will remain his first love. As long as the control of all the clubs doesn’t fall to a board of directors at some point, that is only interested in profits. Otherwise, bring on the cross-promotion.

Although, it would be nice if it was subtle.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Team Sets: 1992 Stadium Club

Players Included: Wade Boggs, Tom Bolton, Tom Brunansky, Ellis Burks, Jack Clark, Roger Clemens, Scott Cooper, Danny Darwin, John Dopson, Tony Fossas, Jeff Gray, Mike Greenwell, Greg Harris, Wayne Housie, Josias Manzanillo, John Marzano, Kevin Morton, Jeff Plympton, Carlos Quintana, Luis Rivera, Mo Vaughn

Best Picture: Mike Greenwell. Here we see the leftfielder expertly playing the famed left field wall. Greenwell has gone back as far as he can, and needs to take a leap. I’m noticing two things. He’s not in the right spot. The ball looks to be headed just to his left. He also has his eyes shut tight, so he has no idea. He’s just stuck his glove up there, and is hoping for the best. I’m guessing it was at least a double.

Hall of Famers: Wade Boggs

Future Hall of Famers: Roger Clemens

Reason to Buy the Set: Stadium Club was known for the quality of the cards, and the quality of the photography. This is the cream of the crop when it comes to 1992 team sets.

Overall Reaction: I love the set. I’ve always been a fan of Stadium Club. The full bleed pictures really add a spectacular element to the set. The player selection is on the weak side. But, as a Red Sox fan, you get what you get. The teams in the early nineties were pretty sad. But, they were the Red Sox.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Wantlist: 2006

2006 Topps Allen & Ginter
32 Wily Mo Pena
54 David Ortiz SP
104 Roger Clemens
113 Coco Crisp
114 Matt Clement
153 Curt Schilling SP
154 Manny Ramirez SP
193 Mark Loretta
229 Jonathan Papelbon
246 Josh Beckett
277 Carl Yastrzemski
278 Johnny Pesky
284 Ted Williams
287 Bobby Doerr
292 Terry Francona MG

2006 Bowman
10 Curt Schilling
113 Josh Beckett
130 Wily Mo Pena
132 David Ortiz
155 Tim Wakefield

2006 Bowman Draft Picks
BDP12 David Pauley
BDP22 Jon Lester
DP5 Jason Place
DP27 Jon Still
DP30 Zack Daeges
FG17 Edgar Martinez

2006 Bowman Prospects
BC69 Chris Turner
BC78 Mike Rozier
BC82 Tony Granadillo

2006 Bowman Chrome Prospects
BC69 Chris Turner
BC78 Mike Rozier
BC82 Tony Granadillo

2006 Bowman Chrome
10 Curt Schilling
34 Kevin Youkilis
113 Josh Beckett
130 Wily Mo Pena
132 David Ortiz
155 Tim Wakefield
168 Manny Ramirez
171 Mark Loretta
190 Coco Crisp
206 Jonathan Papelbon (RC)
220 Craig Hansen RC

2006 Bowman Chrome Draft Picks
BDF12 David Pauley (RC)
BDF22 Jon Lester RC
DP5 Jason Place
DP12 Justin Masterson
DP27 Jon Still
DP30 Zack Daeges
DP35 Dustin Richardson
FG17 Edgar Martinez

2006 Bowman Heritage
60 Josh Beckett
79 Mark Loretta
115 Curt Schilling
171 Coco Crisp
175 David Ortiz
179 Kevin Youkilis
221 Craig Hansen RC
246 Jon Lester SP RC
253 Manny Ramirez
276 Jonathan Papelbon SP (RC)

2006 Finest
5 Manny Ramirez
6 Curt Schilling
44 Josh Beckett
95 David Ortiz
111 Mark Loretta
140 Craig Hansen RC

2006 Topps
76 Tony Graffanino
146 Matt Clement

2006 Topps Heritage
1 David Ortiz SP
282 Jonathan Papelbon SP
320 Edgar Renteria SP
322 Boston Red Sox TC SP
333 David Wells SP

2006 Topps Opening Day
2006 Topps Turkey Red
330 Manny Ramirez
362 Mark Loretta
378 Coco Crisp
416 Josh Beckett SP
430A David Ortiz SP
463 Mike Lowell
519 Wily Mo Pena
608 Jonathan Papelbon (RC)

2006 Topps Update and Highlights
107 Kevin Jarvis
149 Jon Lester RC
159 David Pauley (RC)
221 David Ortiz AS

Thursday, October 14, 2010


Hello? Major League Baseball? Are you out there? Anywhere? Isn’t this the playoffs? Isn’t this the most exciting time of the year? Were you planning on actually playing any games? Soon?

This scheduling is driving me crazy. Why do the playoff series need so many days off? (I mean, I know why…but why does that get to be a reason?) It seems like last season since there’s been a game on. And, I could cut the league a little slack if all the series were sweeps, and they had two or three days where there might have been games. But, one series went four games, and ended Monday! Even the series that went five games ended on Tuesday night. Why aren’t there any games yet? As a side note, how bummed must MLB be that the only game five was between Tampa and Texas? Were more people in Tampa watching the situation on the mound between Lee and Price, or watching The Situation get eliminated from Dancing With the Stars?

So, what’s the reason for the snooze fest at the most exciting time of the year? TV. It’s always TV. But, it’s not really TV. It’s greed showing itself through TV. It’s laziness showing itself through TV. It’s lack of confidence showing itself through TV. It’s lack of patience showing itself through TV.

Why is it greed? The money, obviously. Television broadcasters give MLB a lot of money. They get their money from advertisers. Advertisers pay more money if more people watch. So, TV tells MLB to only play games when people are watching TV. And, only play one game at a time, so as not to divert viewers. So, that’s what baseball does. Sure they could tell television that they’re scheduling the games when they make sense, and not when it’s better for TV. But, they might lose money. So, we see series starting on the weekends. It makes for better TV. The lack of confidence shows itself by scheduling games when people are already watching TV. They assume nobody will turn on a TV with the express purpose of watching a baseball game. So, they don’t make them. They assume that the only people who watch baseball games happen to be flipping through the channels and stumble upon a game. The lack of patience? If they just scheduled games for when it made the product better, they’d grow fans. How does a ten-year old become a fan if during the most exciting time, he has to wait forever for a game? Make the product better, and you’d gain fans. More fans, means more people turning on a TV just to watch a baseball game, and the circle goes on from there. But, that takes time. Baseball isn’t that patient. Do you think Sunday afternoons were a hotbed of television activity before the NFL? Nope. But, they played them then. They grew their fan base. Now, everyone tunes in just to watch NFL games. It works, if you give it a chance.

Basically, Game 1 of the ALCS should have been Wednesday. I’d allow Thursday, since the home park wasn’t decided until Tuesday night. But, really, there should have been fewer off days in the ALDS, which would have allowed a Wednesday start. But, Friday? And the NLCS not until Saturday? They can’t both be Friday? Or Thursday? It’s crazy. Play the playoffs like the regular season. Every other sport does it. Why can’t baseball?

Hello? Hello?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Final Four

You know those NCAA brackets that everyone fills out come March? Sure you do. You put down the teams you think will win each round, and whoever gets the most winners right, wins. I knew somebody who thought they had a trick up their sleeve. They would have one of the favorites lose early. But, they would have them as a winner in a later round. I guess the rules never say that your winner has to be one of the teams you think will be playing. So, if Duke were the favorite, he’d have them be upset in the second round. But, he’d have them also playing in the national championship game. I guess he figured he might get an extra point or two by picking an upset, but wouldn’t lose many points if they ended up winning it all. I still don’t understand it.

What’s my point? Do I need a point? I guess it’s this. Wouldn’t it be cool if you could do that in real life? Sure, the Red Sox didn’t make the elite eight. But what if we could insert them into the championship game anyway? That would be a lot of fun. Especially since sometimes, the match-ups work better against a team that may have advanced farther than you did. Just one of the annoyances of the playoffs. Would the Twins match up better against the Rangers than they did against the Yankees? Would the Red Sox match up better than either of them?

So, now that we have the match-ups for the championship series, I feel like I can brag a little bit. Did you notice that I predicted both of the NL Divisional Series down to the number of games? Pretty impressive! Of course, I’m going to ignore the fact that I had the wrong winner in both of the AL series. But, apparently, I know my stuff when it comes to the senior circuit. Which should make Jim happy, since I am again going to pick his Phillies to win.

I don’t see how the Giants keep up with the Phillies on either side of the ball. The Giants certainly have a nice one-two punch. But, I think the Phillies are better. They also have the offense that can take care of any opposing team’s staff. I’m going with Phillies in six.

For the American League, I just don’t like the Rangers chances. But, this will be a good test of something I’ve always wondered about. When the other team has an ace, is it better not to pitch your ace against him. It doesn’t look like CC and Cliff Lee will be matching up this series…unless there’s some messing around to be done. So, instead of having them cancel each other out, they can each get a win. Imagine if the Rays had skipped David Price, and had him go in game 2? They still would have lost game 1. But, would they have won game two with Price on the mound? We’ll have to see how it plays out. I haven’t seen a rotation yet. But, if Lee goes in games four and seven, would those not be against CC? So, if the Rangers win those two games, they take the series? I’ll go with that, then. The home field tips the scales to the Rangers, and they win in seven games. Yeah, I know. I just can’t pick those other guys though.

Besides, they’ll both lose to the Phillies in the World Series anyway.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Happy Columbus Day!

In Fourteen-Hundred and ninety-two

The history books all say

Columbus sailed the ocean blue

And discovered Americay

Today we celebrate the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus. Well, he didn’t actually discover it. There were, like, already people living here. But he discovered it for Europeans. Although, the Vikings had been here about 500 years before him. So, he discovered it for Europeans who wrote things down neatly in well-kept books. Except, he actually landed in the Bahamas. OK. So, today we celebrate Christopher Columbus landing in the Bahamas! But, that’s not the real important part. What’s even more important is that during his stay, he snuck over and (re)discovered Hispaniola. That, of course, is the island that currently houses the Dominican Republic. And that is very important to Red Sox fans. The DR is the birthplace of the greatest pitcher in Red Sox (if not all) history, Pedro Martinez. The greatest right-handed hitter in Red Sox (if not all) history, Manny Ramirez. The greatest clutch hitter in Red Sox (if not all) history, David Ortiz. It was also the birthplace of current Red Sox star Adrian Beltre. Not a bad collection of talent there. So, thank you Christopher Columbus for alerting us to a fantastic hotbed of baseball abilities.

In related news, (I’m sure it’s related in some way) the Giants eliminated the Braves in four games. Yup. Another series went exactly as I predicted. I am just on fire this year. But, the Braves elimination meant the end of the managerial career of Bobby Cox. He received a fantastic round of applause from the fans. The Giants players even halted their celebration to stand and applaud for him. (If the Yankees had done that, it would have been the lead headline today. “Classy Yankees Join in Honoring Opposing Manager”) I guess the real question is, can I count managers in my list of great players I have seen live? I saw Bobby Cox manage the Braves a couple times in Fenway. I should be able to add him to a list somehow, right? He’ll be a Hall-of-Famer eventually. I should get some credit for that, I think.

Go Rays!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Randy Moss and the Red Sox

When Bill Simmons created his book, Now I Can Die in Peace, he made it a collection of several years worth of Red Sox articles he had written. He also included an article about the Patriots 2001 Super Bowl championship. His reasoning? That victory allowed the Boston fan base to picture themselves as champions. It changed the whole mental outlook of the region. After the Patriots traded Randy Moss to the Minnesota Vikings, I realized it should also have been included for another reason. The two teams handle themselves almost exactly the same, whether it’s good or bad. With the Moss trade, it’s the bad way. (Although, it’s nice that it puts Moss in Minnesota in time for the Monday Night game against the NY Jets and a certain gimpy hamstring.)

Both Bill Belichick and Theo Epstein have the same opinion of themselves. They both had some success early in their reigns, which has led them to believe the hype. They both feel they can do no wrong. They don’t need a hall-of-fame wide receiver, or left fielder. After all, any loser they pick up off the scrap heap will instantly become a superstar. They can build their teams on the cheap, and look like geniuses in the process. Of course, the Patriots haven’t won a title since the 2004 season, and the Sox since 2007. But, that’s beside the point. They can do whatever they want with their golden touch.

They both think they can have more success with teams full of interchangeable parts. Who needs actual talent on your team when you can have a bunch of mediocre guys all playing the same positions? Now, I have to give the Patriots a little slack in that area. They have a salary cap to deal with. They have to try to save money when it makes sense. Theo only tries to save money because he thinks it makes him look smarter.

In either case, the two teams have become really dull for their fans. When the Pirates keep trading away their players, everyone mentions how awful it is for their fans. They could only keep Jason Bay so long before he became too expensive. The Indians couldn’t afford to keep Victor Martinez. How awful for their fans that they can’t enjoy these great stars for longer than that. Of course, they both played longer in those cities than they did in Boston. Why would fans create attachment to teams or players when the parts keep leaving in exchange for another, often less talented, part? Why would I watch either team? Take Adrian Beltre. The Sox signed him to a one-year deal. One of two things could have happened. He could have been lousy. In that case, he wouldn’t have deserved my attention. Or, as actually happened, he could have a great year. In that case, you know the Sox will let him walk rather than pay him. Why would I invest my attention into a player only around for one year? In the Patriots case, I know I had little interest in watching the Patriots games before Randy Moss arrived. Now that he’s been swapped out for a generic part? I don’t imagine I’ll watch many games in the future. Five-yard dumps are only exciting for so long.

So, both the Red Sox and Patriots seem to make decisions for the same reasons. Both covet draft picks. Both seem to think the future is more important than the present. Both are intent on creating a balanced organization, as opposed to a talented one. Both don’t want to have many long-tem contracts on the team, for fear of being bogged down.

I just can’t decide if either team wants to win a championship.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Wantlist: 2005

2005 Bowman
55 Johnny Damon
78 David Ortiz
103 Curt Schilling
130 Manny Ramirez
133 Edgar Renteria
153 David Murphy
173 Jeremy West FY
183 Jose Vaquedano FY
185 Ian Bladergroen FY
218 Matt Van Der Bosch FY
282 Stefan Bailie FY
314 Willy Mota FY
328 Mike Garber FY

2005 Bowman Chrome
42 Kevin Millar
55 Johnny Damon
78 David Ortiz
103 Curt Schilling
130 Manny Ramirez
133 Edgar Renteria
153 David Murphy
173 Jeremy West RC
183 Jose Vaquedano RC
185 Ian Bladergroen RC
218 Matt Van Der Bosch RC
254 Claudio Arias RC
282 Stefan Bailie RC
314 Willy Mota RC
328 Mike Garber RC

2005 Bowman Chrome Draft Picks
61 Michael Bowden FY RC
70 Reid Engel FY RC
76 Scott Blue FY RC
81 Clay Buchholz FY RC
93 Jed Lowrie FY RC
96 Jon Egan FY RC
153 Hanley Ramirez PROS

2005 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects
61 Michael Bowden FY RC
70 Reid Engel FY RC
76 Scott Blue FY RC
93 Jed Lowrie FY RC
96 Jon Egan FY RC
153 Hanley Ramirez PROS

2005 Bowman Heritage
15 Edgar Renteria
16 David Wells
39 Tim Wakefield
62 David Ortiz
92 Curt Schilling
128 Johnny Damon
129 Trot Nixon
169 Matt Clement
212 Jeremy West FY RC
213 Ian Bladergroen FY RC
287 Scott Blue FY RC
307 Manny Ramirez SP
337 Jacoby Ellsbury FY SP RC
346 Jed Lowrie FY SP RC

2005 Bowman's Best
3 Manny Ramirez
14 David Ortiz
26 Curt Schilling
78 Ian Bladergroen FY RC
91 Matt Van Der Bosch FY RC
123 Willy Mota FY AU RC

2005 Finest
4 Curt Schilling
40 David Ortiz
68 Edgar Renteria
71 Johnny Damon
89 Manny Ramirez

2005 Topps
5 Johnny Damon
179 Bill Mueller
271 Terry Francona MG
368 Red Sox Celebrate - Manny Ramirez - Derek Lowe
390 Manny Ramirez
428 John Halama
571 Keith Foulke
576 Matt Clement
616 Jay Payton
733 World Series Game 3 Manny Ramirez - Pedro Martinez
339 Manny Ramirez Red Sox - Paul Konerko White Sox - David Ortiz red SoxLL
342 Johan Santana Twins - Pedro Martinez Red Sox - Curt Schilling Red Sox LL

2005 Topps Chrome Update
34 John Olerud
64 Tony Graffanino
74 Edgar Renteria
75 Mike Myers
104 David Murphy PROS
157 Stefan Bailie FY RC
164 Willy Mota FY RC
202 Jacoby Ellsbury FY RC

2005 Topps Heritage
44 Jay Payton
54 Byung-Hyun Kim
111 Boston Red Sox TC
205 Keith Foulke
283 Jeremy West RC
307 Kevin Millar
308 Matt Clement
326 Johnny Damon
398 Derek Lowe SP
424 Jose Vaquedano SP RC
429 Pedro Martinez SP
443 Bill Mueller SP
445 Brandon Moss SP RC

2005 Topps Opening Day

2005 Topps Turkey Red
65 David Ortiz
95 Matt Clement
124 Kevin Millar
165 Boomer Wells
182 Johnny Damon
292 Ian Bladergroen RC

2005 Topps Update
35 John Olerud
109 David Murphy PROS
151 Johnny Damon AS
154 David Ortiz AS
177 David Ortiz AS
178 Manny Ramirez AS
317 Jacoby Ellsbury DP RC

Saturday, October 9, 2010

I Scored! April 7, 2009

With the finish of the 2010 season fresh in our minds, this is an interesting scorecard to look at. It wasn’t from very long ago, but it makes me long for that year gone by.

Picture in your mind the line-up that started that final game against the Yankees this season. Then, look at the line-up listed on the left side of this scorecard. Makes you a little weepy, doesn’t it? Want to really start the tears flowing? Check out the lines in the pitchers box. Why can’t the Sox get pitchers like that?

As the “notes” box clearly states, this was Opening Day at Fenway for the 2009 season. The game had been rained out the day before, so the Sox had to take advantage of the standard off day following the opener. Just look at that line-up. Ellsbury-Pedroia-Ortiz started things off with a flourish. Youkils-Drew-Bay made up an actual heart of the order. Lowell-Lowrie-Varitek rounded out an amazing bottom of the order. The best player this day? I’ll have to go with Dustin Pedroia. His home run filled out his batting line nicely. The goat? Has to be Ellsbury. 0-4 isn’t what you’re looking for from your exciting leadoff hitter. Despite that, the Sox were able to put up five runs, and hold off a late charge by the defending AL Champs.

I know it was painful the first time, but look at that pitchers box again. Josh Beckett got the nod. He went seven innings, giving up one earned run! Not only that, but he struck out ten guys in those seven innings. If most of his 2010 starts were like that, the Sox might have overcome all the injuries. Same goes for Mr. Papelbon. One inning pitched, and two strikeouts. Not even a single base runner. A few more outings like that in 2010, and things would have been different.

But, after this game, the Sox were off and running. They had pitching. They had offense. They had it all. Justin Masterson would use his outing today to help prove he was worth shipping off for Victor Martinez. It was a great start.

And the scorecard shows how it happened.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Quite the Halladay

I don’t know much about college football. I don’t follow it. I never quite got the idea of cheering for a team when you know the players are only there for four years, at the most. (Which is probably why Theo drives me so crazy.) But, a few years ago I was driving somewhere, and listening to the radio as they discussed a conference championship game of some sort. One team was favored, and they were discussing what the underdog would need to do in order to win the game. They had a list of things that, if the underdog did well, would lead to a victory. After that discussion I got out of my car to do whatever it is I was doing. Afterwards, I got back into the car to realize that the game was over, and the favored team had won with a score something like 69-0. Apparently, the underdog didn’t do anything on that list. Or, the announcers were just trying to create hype for a game they knew would be a lopsided mess.

Fast forward to yesterday afternoon. In the car, I hear a preview of the Reds-Phillies game. The hosts were talking about all the things the Reds could do to win the series. They were an athletic team. They could go first to third, or score from first on a double. Their pitching was capable of spinning a gem. They could claw and peck their way into the series. They agreed, though, that the first game would be very telling.

We all know how that worked out. Apparently base runners have trouble going from first to third if they’re not on first to begin with. Pitchers can pitch as well as they like. It doesn’t much matter when Roy Halladay tosses another no-hitter. Imagine if the Phillies had kept Cliff Lee for game 2?

I think it’s great that Halladay pitched his no-no in his first career playoff start. People like to talk about having playoff experience. Well, Yankees fans like to talk about having playoff experience. They like to tell you that the playoffs require a higher mental ability. It’s a rare person that can perform well in the postseason. The first time on the stage naturally turns players to jelly. I guess not in this case. Nobody ever remembers that just because you’ve never does something doesn’t mean you can’t. Much like the idea of a “clutch” hitter, it’s often ex players who promote the idea through their broadcasting roles. They have a vested interest in making people believe that aside from being lucky enough to have great physical gifts, they’re tougher mentally as well. They’re better people. When it comes down to it, most players perform in the playoffs about the same as they perform in the regular season. The only difference is the sample size. Take David Ortiz, the MVP of the 2004 ALCS. In that series, he hit .387 (12 hits in 31 AB). Pretty good. In the 2004 season, he batted .301. The difference between .387 and .301 when you’re talking about 31 AB? 2 hits. In 2007, David Ortiz hit .292 in the ALCS (7 hits in 24 AB), compared to .332 for the season. The difference between the two with 24 AB? 1 hit. So, Ortiz, the greatest clutch hitter in the history of sports who carried his team on his back through the 2004 ALCS, was within a couple hits of the performance you’d usually expect from him. How about Ortiz’s very first ALCS? With Minnesota in 2002 he had 16 ALCS AB’s and collected 5 hits, for a .313 average. For the regular season? He hit .272. The difference over 16 AB’s? Less than a hit. So, even in his first trip to the ALCS, he performed right where you’d expect him to. Playoff experience? It’s just something announcers like to talk about.

Otherwise they’d have to research stuff.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Playoff Preview

Yeah, I know the Sox aren’t playing baseball anymore. It’s not a lot of fun watching other teams duke it out for the top prize. But, if I don’t give my predictions, I can’t talk about how I was right all along on the off chance that I actually get one right. And, really, with four series to predict, I have to at least get one right? Then, if I crow about that one enough, maybe everyone will forget the three I get wrong. Isn’t that how the pros do it? So, while it pains me not to put “Red Sox” next to any of the winners, here’s how I see the divisional series playing out.

New York Yankees at Minnesota Twins

Frankly, even if the Yankees rotation consisted of Cy Young, Sandy Koufax, and Pedro Martinez, I doubt I’d be able to bring myself to predict a victory for them. Thankfully, the rotation doesn’t have any of those guys. In 1999, the Red Sox were able to beat the mighty Cleveland Indians with a rotation of Pedro Martinez and five other guys who threw the ball. The Yankees will try to do the same this season. Frankly, the divisional series is their best chance to pull it off. But, I still can’t see it. I think the rest of the Yankees pitchers are so bad, that it’ll be hard to win the other game they need. God forbid, if Liriano should out-pitch Sabathia, it will be over quickly. I’m going to go with the slow and stead route. I’m thinking a Twins victory in game five will make Those Girls mighty happy.

Texas Rangers at Tampa Bay Rays

One of these years, the Rangers will win a playoff series, right? Unfortunately, it won’t be this year. The Rays are just too balanced. They have a well-rounded offense, and a fantastic pitching staff. The Rangers have Cliff Lee, who will prevent a sweep. But, much like his former teammate, the single ace won’t be enough this time. With David Price there to cancel him out, the Rangers will have a hard time. A Rays series victory in four games will make Jessica over at Her Rays glad to be a Tampa Bay fan.

Atlanta Braves at San Francisco Giants

I’ve decided that one ace isn’t enough to advance in a playoff series. Luckily, the Giants have two. With Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain, the Giants are the 2001 D-backs of this year’s playoffs. If you have to face one of those two guys at least three times, that’s a big problem. Sending Bobby Cox off to retirement with a World Championship would be a great story, for sure. But, unfortunately, Disney isn’t writing this year’s playoffs. I see the Giants prevailing in four games, making A Giants Blog forget the days when everyone actually cheered Barry Bonds.

Cincinnati Reds at Philadelphia Phillies

I wish I had better news for Nachos Grande. But, remember how I said the Giants two aces made them favorites? Yeah, well, the Phillies have another ace on top of that. Oh, and an amazing offense to back them all up. You may beat on of the Bermuda Triangle otherwise knows as Halladay-Hamels-Oswalt. But, two? Three? Nope. Not going to happen. I hate to predict a sweep since anything can happen in any game. But, I can’t see how the Reds even keep this one close. Jim should have no trouble in adding a NLDS Championship t-shirt to his Phillies Room. Although, he should probably just wait for the World Championship version in a few weeks.

I wonder if I’ll get any right.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Wantlist: 2004

2004 Bowman
15 Kevin Millar
17 David Ortiz
52 Trot Nixon
102 Johnny Damon
141 Bill Mueller
156 Mickey Hall
205 David Murphy
232 Harvey Garcia
257 Jerome Gamble
285 Juan Cedeno
304 Jon DeVries
305 Sheldon Fulse
312 Kenny Perez

2004 Bowman Chrome
4 Curt Schilling
7 Manny Ramirez
15 Kevin Millar
17 David Ortiz
25 Nomar Garciaparra
52 Trot Nixon
102 Johnny Damon
141 Bill Mueller
156 Mickey Hall
179 Charlie Zink RC
205 David Murphy RC
232 Harvey Garcia RC
257 Jerome Gamble RC
304 Jon DeVries RC
312 Kenny Perez RC
339 Juan Cedeno AU RC

2004 Bowman Draft Picks
16 Kevin Youkilis

2004 Bowman heritage
any Sox

2004 Bowman's Best
CMS Curt Schilling
MAR Manny Ramirez

2004 Finest
14 Billl Mueller
52 Curt Schilling
78 Manny Ramirez
80 Johnny Damon
95 David Ortiz

2004 Topps
405 Pedro Martinez
454 Scott Williamson
541 Ellis Burks
589 Mike Timlin
591 Tony Womack
623 David Ortiz
642 Boston Red Sox TC
2004 Topps Chrome
5 Tim Wakefield
17 Kevin Millar
22 Manny Ramirez
47 Trot Nixon
82 Johnny Damon
106 Ramiro Mendoza
164 Bill Mueller
194 Derek Lowe
198 Byung-Hyun Kim
200 Nomar Garciaparra
213 David Murphy FY RC
314 Mark Bellhorn
331 Mike Timlin
333 Tony Womack
355 David Ortiz
360 Keith Foulke
405 Pedro Martinez
454 Scott Williamson

2004 Topps Heritage
2 Nomar Garciaparra SP
104 Todd Walker
150 Grady Little MGR
180B Manny Ramirez Old Logo SP
258 Tim Wakefield
397 Mike Timlin
399 Byung-Hyun Kim SP
406 David Ortiz SP
407 Pedro Martinez SP
428 David Murphy SP RC
462 Kevin Millar SP

2004 Topps Heritage Chrome
THC2 Nomar Garciaparra
THC22 Pedro Martinez
THC42 Curt Schilling
THC64 David Murphy
THC83 Kenny Perez

2004 Topps Opening Day
70 Nomar Garciaparra

2004 Topps Traded
T1 Pokey Reese
T8 Doug Mientkiewicz
T47 Orlando Cabrera Sox
T60 Curt Schilling
T66 Terry Francona MG
T100 Kevin Youkilis PROS
T129 Jamie Brown FY RC
T156 Charlie Zink FY RC
T175 Juan Cedeno FY RC
T206 Jerome Gamble FY RC
T218 Jon de Vries FY RC

Monday, October 4, 2010

That’ll Do It.

The Red Sox season came to an end yesterday, in about the best way it could. The Sox went out with a win, which ended the Yankees hopes of another division title. So, in the last four years, the Rays have more division titles than the Yankees do. The Sox were also able to thank several players who might not be with the team next year, although I’m sure a couple of them will. There were a few things that stood out for me about this weekend, and especially yesterday’s game.

Adrian Beltre wasn’t at the park this weekend. He was home with his wife, who was expecting their child. Good for him. Can you imagine, though, if those games meant something?

Ryan Kalish stole home, on the back end of a double steal. It wasn’t Ellsbury’s straight steal, but it was yet another theft of home against the Yankees. The Ellsbury/Kalish connection got me to thinking though. When the Sox signed Mike Cameron, they inserted him in center field, and shifted Ellsbury to left. I thought that was a crazy move. Sure, it’s possible that Cameron is marginally better in center than Jacoby. But, it wasn’t enough to make a difference. If Ellsbury is the centerfielder of the future, you keep him in there to get two more years of experience in center. You don’t keep switching him around. It just hit me though. Ellsbury isn’t the centerfielder of the future. Ryan Kalish is. That’s why they didn’t mind shifting Ellsbury over. They were going to do it in 2012 for Kalish anyhow. It is all falling into place. Theo signs the old guy for two seasons, waiting for Kalish. After 2011, Drew and Cameron will be gone (or Drew will DH). Theo can start his all-farmhand outfield of Ellsbury, Kalish, and Reddick. He can pat himself on the back all year for having an all-draft pick outfield. That’s it!

David Ortiz finally listened to me. For years I’ve been begging the guy to bunt more. It will help with the shift, I insisted. He should do it every game or two until they ease it up. So, he finally does it…on his last at-bat of the season! Of course, it worked. He got his base hit. He was then removed from the game, to a rousing ovation. The Sox will be crazy not to bring him back. Without Victor or Beltre, the Sox will need runs to come from somewhere.

Jason Varitek also got a nice curtain call. I like the defensive replacement as a final good-bye move. It allows for a nice moment. But, I would guess Varitek will be back. The idea of him backing up Salty sounds too reasonable not to be something Theo goes for. I don’t think Tek will have many options. And, he’d be valuable as an active coach for Saltalamacchia. Really, the only downside to that arrangement is that I have to try and fit “Saltalamacchia” into my scorecard every game. But, I doubt Theo cares about that.

So, the Sox prepare for the offseason. There will be plenty of moves to be made. People will come (hopefully) and people will go (unfortunately). But, those will be discussions for another time. Stay tuned.

Go Twins!

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