Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Happy 36th Birthday!

Today we wish a Happy 36th Birthday to former Red Sox favorite Gabe Kapler!

Gabe was on the Red Sox from 2003 to 2006. During that time, there are three games he was in that stand out to me.

The first game is his Red Sox debut. I’ve mentioned before that I was fortunate enough to be at, and score, that game. It was an incredible debut for a role player. 4-5, 3 RBI. Fantastic.

The second game is Game One of the 2004 World Series. Sure, all he did was pinch hit for Trot Nixon. But, how can I forget anyone who played in that fabulous World Series.

The final game is the one where he blew out his knee. He was on first when Bill Mueller hit a laser of a home run. Not able to be sure it was gone, Kapler did what he was supposed to do, and chugged around second. Unfortunately, in the process he crumpled to the ground. The thing I remember is Mueller standing just beyond second base trying to figure out how to finish his home run trot without passing Kapler. One of those things that sometimes happens in ballgames.

But, during his time in Boston he was known as a player who gave it his all. He was never able to harness his talents to become a star. But, he was the kind of player you want on your team. And, he’s a World Champion.

Happy 36th Birthday Gabe Kapler!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon

I wasn’t going to mention it. I didn’t really think I should mention it. After all, when I started this blog, I didn’t want it to be a regurgitation of information you can get anywhere else. I didn’t want to just post box scores, and winning pitchers. I wanted to offer something that you can only get here. Me. Unless I was saying something that the Boston Globe wasn’t, why on earth wouldn’t you just read the professionals? With that in mind, I have a hard time believing that anyone in Red Sox Nation is unaware that the Jimmy Fund Radio-telethon is going on. I certainly can’t believe that a fan dedicated enough to read this little blog doesn’t know the telethon is going on. So, why in the world would I mention it? After all, the link to the Jimmy Fund is a permanent addition to my sidebar. I decided that, in this case, I just didn’t need a good reason.

Frankly I’m always amazed that telethons work. I used to watch the Comic Relief telethons on HBO. I always wondered if people were just figuring out that people were hungry because they were watching the show. I’m pretty sure people know that there is cancer without watching NESN today. Somehow this seems different. For me, the big impact of this particular telethon is the talk from the doctors. To hear them speak so passionately about their research is uplifting. To hear exactly how the money that is donated has directly affected treatment opportunities is humbling. To see just how far we’ve really come in treating this disease is encouraging. These are some amazing people doing some amazing things. I can’t stop myself from helping them. Hopefully you’ll find yourself in the same situation. If you do, head over to the Jimmy Fund and do what you can.

Apparently, every little bit really does help.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Wet and Wild Weekend

Well, all things considered, that weekend wasn't exactly the bust it could have been.

Frankly, I assumed that they would just postpone the Sunday game. It would end up being one of those annoying games that were only made up if it counted in the standings. That led to an interesting potential scenario in my head. The Sox end the season one half game behind the Yankees, they both have a sixish game lead in the wild card, and the Sox lead the season series with NY. That means that the Sox would have been in the playoffs, but needed to play that last game to decide the division. I wondered how hard they would try to win that game. Would the A's try? Would it have been AAA vs AAA? Sadly, we'll never know.

But, the Sox did the smarter thing, and moved all the games up to get out of the way. I can't imagine how annoying that was to fans with tickets...but there's only so much that can be done when Mother Nature's in a bad mood. I think the Sox handled the situation wonderfully. I especially like the fact that they were so easygoing with their admission policies. Once the first game went into a long rain delay, they were running up the back of game 2. Ticket holders were there, ready to go inside. So, the Sox let them in. Why not? There was plenty of room. I'm sure there are some people out there who will say the Sox only did it to sell more beer. But, I'm willing to assume they did it to be fan friendly. I never heard what happened between games. I don't know if they bothered to clear the stands or not. I know the second game started pretty quickly.

And, then, at the end of the second game, the Sox did it again. They opened the gates, and let anyone willing to support the team come and do so. Yes, yes, those fans could buy beer too. But, it was still a gesture. And, it was the perfect one at that. Did the other teams playing in front of friends and family because of hurricane Irene do the same for their fans?

The Red Sox management seems unable to win when it comes to rain delays. It's dry...they should have played. It's so wet they knew they would call it...they only delayed it to sell more hot dogs. How did they play in that? But, I think this weekend they played their hand the absolute best they could. Plus, the Sox swept the doubleheader.

If anyone took any hurricane Pix from 36, send them along!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Hits for trade.

I’ll admit it. Some of these I feel a little guilty calling “hits.” But, that’s neither here nor there.  Basically I have these cards that I don’t want. It occurred to me that there are plenty of people who are team collectors or player collectors that would want these that I don’t know of. After all, imagine my surprise to find a Russell Martin player collector out there. So, if you’re a collector of a player or team associated with one of these hits, this is the post for you. If you’d like one of these cards, just let me know. What would I like in exchange? Best case, a similar card of a Red Sox player. But, I imagine I’ll be pretty flexible. Here are the cards…

Now, I have to say. Some of these have been hanging around long enough that I can’t for the life of me remember where I got them. But, the list of what players or teams have cards pictured goes something like this.

Blake Dewitt - Cubs
Jaime D’Antona - Diamondbacks
Hanley Ramirez - Marlins
Franklin Gutierrez and Juan Pierre – Mariners and White Sox
Terrence Long - A’s
Ronny Paulino - Pirates
Derrick Turnbow - Brewers
Chris Duncan - Cardinals
Frank Thomas - Blue Jays (or A’s)
Jeff Larish - Team USA
JJ Hardy - Brewers
Miguel Tejada - Orioles
Brett Hunter - Team USA
Garret Anderson - Angels
Roy Oswalt - Astros
Francisco Peguero - Giants
Adam Jones - Orioles
Ichiro Suzuki - Mariners
Brian Roberts - Orioles
Roberto Alomar - Orioles
Martin Prado - Braves
Chipper Jones - Braves
Nick Markakis – Orioles

So, if you’re an Orioles fan, watch out. There are five Orioles on the list. The Braves, Mariners, and Brewers fans should be drooling as well.

If you see something you like, let me know and stake your claim. If you know someone else who may like something, let them know two.

Happy looking!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Are the Sox Trying Too Hard for 200?

The Sox have basically said these games don’t matter. They can read the standings in the paper as well as we can. They know that a loss in these games probably won’t end their season. They admitted as much when they put Youkilis on the DL. Basically, they were prepared to lose a few games in August. So, would it be a stretch to say that getting Tim Wakefield his 200th win is a top priority?

It certainly has looked that way lately. Francona’s quick hook in Wake’s last start screamed it. Wakefield has been in rougher spots than that before, and stayed in the game. But, he had a slim lead. It sure looked like Francona was trying to save him from himself. He knows it’s possible that the knuckleball can go away quickly. If it’s just a matter of keeping a game close, he can live with that. But, in his last game, Wake had to keep the lead. He wasn’t going to be around long enough to benefit from keeping it close. So, Francona used the hook. It sure looked like the bullpen wasn’t quite ready to come into the game. Did Francona call for them sooner than he’d like? Did he call for them sooner than they’d like?

Then Francona monkeys with the rotation just a bit by inserting Andrew Miller. Sure, this could just be a way to give all the starters an extra day as we get late into the season. Sure, it could just happen to push Wakefield’s next start to Fenway. But, if adding Miller had pushed Wake’s start from Fenway to Texas, instead of the other way around, I can’t imagine it happening.

Is Wakefield pressing? I’m sure he is. But, if he’s throwing the knuckler too hard, it’s not as effective. Is he getting to the sixth inning with a lead, and just amping it up too much?

I’m sure 200 will come very soon. And, I can imagine that after that, Wakefield’s next starts will be much easier.

For Wakefield, and the Sox.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Seven hundred of anything is a lot.

Only two Red Sox managers have over 700 wins. Terry Francona and Joe Cronin.

Only one Red Sox player has played in 700 consecutive games. Everett Scott.

The Red Sox haven’t had their 700th consecutive sellout…yet.

Yup. 700 is a lot.

Which is why it was so cool to discover that this is my 700th blog post.

Yay Section 36!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Sorry About That, Los Angeles

Last night’s game between the Red Sox and the Rangers was perfect example of two of the problems MLB has. Not enough parity, and an unbalanced schedule.

Let’s say you’re the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim California. You’re in second place in your division, 4.5 games back, halfway through August. You’re running out of time to make your move. You look at your remaining schedule. You have two more series with Texas, and one with the Yankees. The rest of the games look very winnable. Perfect. Then, you look at the Rangers remaining schedule. They don’t play the Yankees…but they do have a series against Tampa. And, TWO series against the Red Sox. When the Rangers have to play the best team in baseball, you should have a chance to make your move. Other than that, you can’t see a team on their schedule good enough to cause them to lose ground. There are only the two other good teams in the AL after all. Beyond that, it’s hard to expect losses to pile up. And, then, they look at last night’s game. The Sox are missing three all-stars. The Rangers get to use up one of their remaining games against a good team playing the AAA version. Not fair at all.

It’s the biggest problem the lack of a salary cap presents. The distance between the good and the bad makes things a lot more luck-based than they ought to be. It not only affects the big markets themselves, but every other race as well. The Rays are sunk because they have to play in the same division as NY and Boston. But, LAA is in trouble as well, and they play out west.

If there are only as couple decent teams, it makes the whole race a crapshoot. I say it every year. I know the Sox are better than the Yankees. But, there aren’t enough other good teams out there to make enough of a difference. They both should win most of the games they play against other teams. It just comes down to the head-to-head and a little bit of luck. And, that’s really too bad.

The unbalanced schedule certainly doesn’t help matters. The Angels have to concede that the Sox will play the Rangers more this year. But, 70% of those games are in Texas. The Angels are 50-50. How does that work out? So, in the few games the Rangers have to play against a decent team…a schedule fluke gives them most of the games at home? And the Angels still have to compete with them like it’s an even playing field?

Who decided that was a good idea?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Game Six, By: Mark Frost

Every game has a story. It goes deeper than what you see in the
park or on your television. Every action has a reason, and an explanation behind it. This book gives those explanations for what many consider the greatest game ever played. As the title tells you, this book focuses on Game Six of the 1975 World Series between the Boston Red Sox and the Cincinnati Reds. But it was more than that. It was Sparky Anderson vs. Darrell Johnson. Luis Tiant vs. Pete Rose. Carlton Fisk vs. Johnny Bench. What was the back-story that made this one game the pinnacle sports? What does the viewer need to know that it doesn’t?

I had a bit of a problem when I was reading this book. When it started, I thought it was going to be in the same style as Steve Ketteman’s landmark book One Day at Fenway. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t a wonderful book. It just took me a little while to get over it. Game Six uses a popular technique of following the play-by-play of a game, but interjecting outside information into it. So, it is like reading a series of short biographies, set into the flow of the game. The trick with that style is not interrupting the flow of the game itself with a story about Carlton Fisk. Frost does a good job of that. I never felt like the book was getting too far away from the action. Frost also did a good job of keeping the side stories relevant to the game action. It usually seemed like the story being told had a direct relationship to the game situation the player was in. It was wonderfully twirled. It also helped that I didn’t know as much about the 1975 team as I do others. Sure, I had already read The Long Ball. But, that was about it. So, the information in the book wasn’t as stale as if it were about, say, Game 4 of the 2004 World Series. That all made for a wonderful read. It makes me want to pick up Frost’s other books…even if they’re about golf.

Rating: 3 Bases

Friday, August 19, 2011

What Exactly is Going on Here?

It’s been a bit of a ridiculous week here in Red Sox Nation. Things are getting a little turned all around and upside down by the day.

First the great Red Sox lose a series to the Seattle Mariners. I know, it was in Seattle. But, still. The Seadogs shouldn’t lose a series to the Mariners. Then, they follow it up by losing a series at home. Yes, it was to Tampa. But, really? I know double headers are a bit of a crapshoot. I don’t care. That was not the plan. Nor was it the plan to lose David Ortiz to an injury. Losing Youkilis to the DL certainly wasn’t something I had mapped out either. So, where in tarnation are we? Second place. Second best record in the AL. By a half game. Third best record in baseball. Ok. Breathe.

Should I worry? Maybe. Probably not. I think the Sox are doing everything right. They know their record. They no that a playoff spot is virtually assured. If giving Ortiz an extra couple days to rest his heel costs them the division, they’re OK with that. A healthy David Ortiz will do more for them in October then home field ever would. Same goes for Youkilis. If putting him on the DL means he won’t even try to ruin his back for October, I’m fine with that too. Might it cost them in the division race? Maybe. Maybe not. I don’t want to face Verlander in a short series anyway.

Heard someone on the radio today mention that the Sox were still looking for a reliable third starter. I think the reaction to that comment should be a fairly common question. Isn’t everybody? If a third starter were reliable, why would he be a third starter? Does anyone have a reliable third starter? I can appreciate the goal of having a Hall-of-Famer at ever position on the team. But, there aren’t that many Hall-of-Famers to go around. I heard another comment a week ago about the Pirates collapse. The reason given for it was that the Pirates didn’t have a true ace. They didn’t have CC Sabathia or Justin Verlander. That’s great. Of course, six teams will make the playoffs this year without CC Sabathia or Justin Verlander. There’s a difference between a wish and a need. I wish the Red Sox had a starting rotation of Beckett-Lester-Verlander-Weaver-Halladay. Good for me. That would certainly give the Sox the reliable third starter mentioned on the radio. But, it’s not exactly realistic. Every team has holes. That’s the fun. So, am I going to lose sleep over a lack of an ace at number three? Not really. Frankly, John Lackey is a fantastic third starter. I know people hate his interviews. They hate his body language. They hate his contract. But, he’s still a quality pitcher. Same goes for Erik Bedard. Either one of them would be a wonderful third starter in a playoff game. Especially with a full and healthy line-up backing them up. I can’t stress over not having a reliable third guy.

Nobody else has one either.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Card of the Week

2003 Topps Heritage #349 Derek Lowe

The Heritage lines are a lot of fun. Really, any chance to add some variety to a collection is OK in my book. It’s also pretty neat to see newer players in classic designs that I’ve seen for years on older cards. So, this Derek Lowe card is a nice one to have. This design follows the 1954 Topps design, and it’s a nice one. It’s clean, crisp, and colorful. It works well.

The 2003 Derek Lowe is also great because of the stats on the back. Following the lead of the 1954 originals, there is only one year of stats on the back, along with career totals. In Lowe’s case, the 2002 stat line was a great one. It was the year he finished third in the Cy Young voting. So, the stats show his 21 wins, and his sparkling 2.58 ERA. It’s nice that the single line really makes that year stick out. The 1954 Topps also had cartoons on the back. In Lowe’s case, all three cartoons focus on one thing. His no-hitter. So, the back of this one card amplifies his two greatest career achievements. Perfect. It’s also nice for me since, as I may have mentioned, I was at that no-hitter. Anything mentioning that day is just great in my book.

A nice looking card.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

I Scored!

April 16, 2001

The top of this card tells you that once again this will be an exciting game. An early April game against New York can only mean one thing. The Yankees are in town! Who do the Red Sox have one the mound in this epic battle? Yup. Frank Castillo. Oh well. It was a nice try. Wait. What? The Sox won? How did they do that?

It looks like they did it by slowly annoying the visitors to death. The Sox scored one run in four different innings. They had just over a hit per inning of the game. There were no major scoring threats. They didn’t bat around. They just scored more runs than the Yankees.

The hero of the game? That’s a tough one. No player scored more than one run. Nobody had more than two hits. But, Darren Lewis was the only player with both two hits, a run scored, and a run driven in. So, he gets the game ball for this game. The goat? The obvious choice is Trot Nixon. He was the only starter without a hit. He also hit into a double play. But, he did get that RBI. So, the game wasn’t a total loss. Maybe Shea Hillenbrand and his one-hit RBI-less day can share in some of the blame.

The pitching? It was actually stellar. Castillo held the Yankees completely at bay. To say he had a qhality start is an understatement. Tim Wakefield and Rod beck tossed scoreless outings of their own. What an effort.

So, the Sox did just enough to win. The offense made the most of every opportunity. The pitching made sure every run counted. The Red Sox beat the Yankees. What could be better?

And the scorecard shows how it happened.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Lots of Pix!

Loyal reader, and frequent contributor, Bryanne attended a game with her friend Leah a few weeks ago. As she always does, she sent along pictures from the game. Unfortunately, their seats were all the way over in section 33. (That’s the orange from the Gulf sign behind them in the picture.) The 100-degree heat that night prevented them from making the trek the length of the seating area to Section 36. So, they did the next best thing. Bryanne took pictures of Section 36 from section 33. It was a great view from over there. Be sure to head over to Pix from 36 to see the selection Bryanne sent, as well as other recent additions from other readers.

Bryanne also sent over several other pictures of things that weren’t Section 36. Be on the lookout for them as I use them in future posts.

As always, thanks to Bryanne for the wonderful pictures!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Baseball’s Next Playoff Structure

There was a lot of talk this past weekend about the way MLB does its playoffs. The series between the Red Sox and the Yankees was given as the perfect example of why the system needs revamping. I agree, the system needs work. I’ve already given my idea of how to fix it. Since I have offered my own idea, I’m allowed to pick apart everyone else’s. So, here it goes.

The idea that has been tossed out as almost a certainty is to add another Wild Card spot. The two wild cards would then play each other as a play-in game of sorts. Whether it would be a single game play-in or a series is up for debate. The reasons given for it? It will increase excitement and give more weight to winning the division. That’s why this Red Sox- Yankees series seemed to be the perfect example. The two teams were a game apart in the division, but a comfortable distance ahead of everyone else for the Wild Card. So, this series meant very little since both teams looked to have very secure playoff chances. Terry Francona even stated that he didn’t think going for the division was worth not having a set pitching rotation come playoff time. So, those in favor of the new system went crazy. “See?” they cried. We need to make winning the division worth more. So, we need to change it so that they won’t have to play that extra round. “See?” they yelled. We need more wild card slots so that more teams and their fans will have the excitement of a playoff hunt.


You want to make winning the division more important? Eliminate the wild card. Don’t add more. If only the division winners made the playoffs, wouldn’t that make winning the division pretty important? The rest of it is just a phony attempt to make it look like they care about competition, but really just want a way to make more money.

As for adding more excitement, that’s not true either. Tampa Bay won the division last year. How many sell-outs have the Rays had in a row? Boston missed the playoffs last year. How many sell-outs have the Red Sox had in a row? You want to know what makes baseball exciting? Quality teams. At the very least, even teams. You know what adding anther Wild Card will do? Give one more opportunity to not bother fielding a quality team and still make the playoffs. It’s an excuse to keep the status quo, and not have to worry about it. Will a mid-market team even try to improve its club if it can still make the playoffs six years in a row? Why make the effort?

If your actual concern is to get more teams and fans involved in the playoffs, then follow my idea. No matter how many playoff slots you give, there’s always going to be someone who was close to getting one, but didn’t. There’s always going to be a year where the top five teams are comfortably ahead of that sixth team. There’s always a line, and always someone on either side of it.

You really want to add excitement to baseball and it’s playoffs? The answer is a salary cap of some form. The only way to make every team exciting is to make them all even. That’s the only way to make sure that everyone is included in the hunt. MLB seems satisfied to just make the hunt include everyone.

What if it went to that extreme, just to illustrate? What if all 30 teams made the playoffs. Would there really be excitement as the teams battled it out to see who lost to the Red Sox? Is that exciting? Aren’t there always going to be only a couple superior teams that everyone knows should win? No matter how man wild card teams they create?

Once again MLB seems determined to treat the symptoms instead of the disease. And it won’t work. You want to know how I know? Because they tried this already when they added the first Wild Card. It was going to increase fan interest. It was going to save the game.

Then why are we doing it again?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Stay on Target!

Ok, by a show of hands. Who saw visions of Eric Gagne as Erik Bedard was walking the world last night? Didn’t it just seem about right? The Sox settle on a guy as the best they can do, only to have him completely implode. As, by the way, Rich Harden was pitching his butt off. Of course that’s the way it would work.

But, that’s not how it worked. Bedard stopped walking everyone he saw. (You could say he finally found the target at Target Field…but that would be pretty lame.) It was really a remarkable performance. Anyone can pitch well when everything is clicking for him. But, Bedard managed to correct whatever was wrong that first inning. He was pitching worse than me for an inning, and then pitched like an all-star. Amazing.

Just as amazing is the rest of the team. They didn’t fall asleep tin the top of the first. They didn’t give in. The stood there and fought back. Really, how easy would it have been to pack it in? To simply look at the way the top of the very first inning was going and decide it just wasn’t their night. Just cruise through the game, and try again next time. But, they didn’t. Once again the Sox won a game they had every right to lose. It was another in a long line of wins that you’ll look back on and say, “That’s why the 2011 Red Sox were so great.” Hopefully it’s one of the wins we’ll look back on and say, “That’s why the 2011 Red Sox were World Champions.”

It’s also amazing that the Yankees didn’t keep pace last night. So, a winning streak matched with a losing streak turned a one game deficit on Saturday into a 2.5 game lead on Tuesday. Things sure can change in a hurry.

This sure looks like the start of a fantastic road trip for the Sox. They have already won the series in Minnesota. You have to expect them to win the series in Seattle. Then it’s back home for a quick stop. (What is it with the schedule? A three-game road trip last week, a two-game homestand next week.) This certainly looks like a chance for the Sox to make some ground. Hopefully they take this 2.5 game lead, and never look back.

It’s more fun that way.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Sabathia? Rivera? What else you got?

The Yankees rotation is a cobbled together collection of pitchers, to say the least. The mainstay is CC Sabathia. He’s a true ace, and will cover up for any other weaknesses once the playoffs come around. At least that’s what the Yankees fans have been saying. Sabathia pitching two or three times in a playoff series tilts the Yankees into favorites. He’s an automatic two wins in a series. Unless, apparently, they play the Red Sox.

What about the rest of the rotation? They can scrape by. They don’t need starters who go the distance. They have a great bullpen, anchored by Mariano Rivera. That’s a clear advantage in any playoff series. Unless, apparently, they play the Red Sox.

Yes, I know. It’s just one series. It doesn’t mean everything. But, the Yankees fans have been crowing for quite some time about their unhittable ace, and unstoppable closer. What happens if they are actually hittable and stoppable? Shouldn’t that be cause for concern?

OK. This isn’t a Yankees blog. So, maybe the conversation should be reversed. How confident can the Sox afford to be right now? The only team that anyone gives a chance of beating them in the American League apparently can’t beat them. That’s a pretty nice feeling. This was a series where the Yankees were really trying too. Joe Girardi said he wanted to win this series. In last night’s game, he didn’t try to string along the bullpen. He brought in Phil Hughes in the tenth inning. Like it was a playoff game or something. The Red Sox still won the series. The Red Sox won a series against the Yankees in which the only Red Sox starter to earn the victory was John Lackey. Go ahead, read that sentence again.

How confident should the Red Sox be knowing, it would seem, that Girardi has a knife to his back insisting that he play Derek Jeter? How telling was the Scutaro infield single last night? A slow grounder up the middle. Jeter takes the scenic route to the ball. Cano has to come all the way to the other side of the bag to try and make the play IN FRONT of Jeter. We’re talking about serious issues. The Sox get to spend the season being chased by a team starting a statue at shortstop. Very comforting.

Are the Sox really just that much better than the Yankees? It sure seems that way. Why aren’t the Red Sox running away with the division then? If they’re dominating the Yanks, they must be slacking against everyone else. Why is that? Is it luck? Maybe kinda sorta. The Red Sox have had their own troubles with the rotation. They have a few mediocre guys trying to fill a few spots at the back end. They haven’t exactly been setting the world on fire. So, the Sox are losing games here and there to the Royals and Orioles that they should win. But, those match-ups haven’t been an issue with the Yankees. It could be the luck of the rotation that the back-end hasn’t faced the Yanks much. Or, it could be a strategy by Francona to use those pitchers elsewhere. Much like this weekend. So, maybe the Yankees games are the best example of the fully operational Red Sox. These series are the ones where the Sox bring out their regulars. This is the true glimpse. And that’s a wonderful thing. The Sox look prepared to try things out when they’re facing other teams. They can lose one of those here and there. If it means losing the division, that’s OK. They can handle the wild card. They don’t need home field.

The Yankees can’t beat them anywhere.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Happy 36th!

Today we wish a very happy 36th birthday to Edgar Renteria! Yes, I said a happy birthday.

Edgar Renteria enjoyed one of the weirdest and misunderstood tenures in recent Red Sox history. He was signed to much fanfare as the replacement for Nomar Garciaparra, and was never really given a chance in Boston. Renteria came to the Sox advertised as a gold glove shortstop with a superb bat. He was given a four-year deal that was supposed to solidify the shortstop position for the near future. The size of his contract, and the size of his expectations, eventually led him to be run out of town after only one unfortunate season. I never really understood it.

There were questions about Renteria almost right away. Tony LaRussa played into the opinion that some people just can’t play in Boston, saying the Renteria just wasn’t a good fit. So, the question was instantly in the back of people’s minds. Then, went Renteria got off to a slow start, people started to assume it was true. He wasn’t hitting as well as the media thought he should. He was making more errors than the media thought he should. So, the normal adjustment period was ignored. It was suddenly a fact. Renteria was too soft to play in Boston. The fact that his name fit easily into the “Rent-a-Wreck” moniker was an unfortunate coincidence. After a year of abuse, Renteria was shipped off for spare parts even with the Sox covering most of his remaining salary. That’s the part that always bugged me. If they were paying him anyway, he wasn’t a bad option at short. Just ask the Giants. He just needed a minute to get his bearings.

So, unfortunately, Edgar Renteria will be remembered in Boston for two things. For his wasted 2005 season, and for making the last out of the 2004 World Series. And that’s just too bad. The least I can do is wish him a happy Birthday.

Happy 36th Birthday Edgar Renteria!

Friday, August 5, 2011

List of 36

Things you can do with the Section 36 logo:

1. Print it on a t-shirt
2. Print it on a magnet
3. Print it on a poster
4. Bring it to Fenway Park
5. Sew it on a jacket
6. Make it a coloring page for your kids
7. Put it on a coffee mug
8. Print it on bookmarks
9. Make it your desktop background
10. Put it on a lunchbox
11. Make it your Facebook profile picture
12. Bring it to Yankee Stadium
13. Make it into a button
14. Make it out of Christmas lights
15. Have it autographed
16. Print it on a bumper sticker
17. Shave it into your hair
18. Sew it onto an apron
19. Put it on a keychain
20. Bring it to the beach
21. Put it on a birthday cake
22. Put it on a holiday card
23. Put it on a beverage holder
24. Draw it on your driveway
25. Sew it on a backpack
26. Make it a tattoo
27. Stick it on your scorebook
28. E-mail it to your friends
29. Put it on a postcard
30. Put it on your wall
31. Post it on your blog
32. Bring it to the grocery store
33. Put it on underwear
34. Hand copies out to family members
35. Paint it on your chest
36. Put it on playing cards

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Making Things Interesting

Blowouts are so dull. You can only have so many of those before you start to lose interest. What you really need is to toss in a walk-off victory now and then to keep the juices flowing. I’m pretty sure that’s why Carl Crawford stranded those two runners last night. He knew it would be a whole lot more exciting if the Sox did it in the bottom of the ninth, as opposed to the eighth.

Anyone else tired of the rain? I really wish it would either not rain, or just rain the dang game out. These constant repeated delays are just driving me nuts. They’re terrible for the fans, having to sit in the rain for hours and hours in the soggy night. They’re terrible for people watching at home, having to watch rain delay programming. It’s just a mess. But, they’re worst for the starting pitchers. How could Josh Beckett be expected to pitch true to form when he has to start and stop his whole routine every twenty minutes? Frankly, he did an amazing job giving Sox fans what he gave last night.

Have I mentioned lately how much I hate national broadcasts? I was watching the ESPN broadcast of Monday night’s game, and was constantly reminded of why I can’t watch NFL games. At one point, they showed Marco Scutaro at the plate with runners at first and third. (I believe. At the very least, a guy was on third.) They had him on camera asking Tim Bogar to go through the signs one more time. I chuckled to myself. After missing the squeeze sign a few games ago, I surprised Scutaro doesn’t walk down to Bogar to get it directly. But, the national guys missed it. They went on and on about how silly it was to be looking for signs. Francona never calls for anything. They were just amazed. Not once did they mention the pretty significant incident of missing the squeeze. Instead they went on forever in the wrong direction. It was painful.

It popped up again on the video replay home run call. They went on for a while discussing all the different things that the ball could have hit in order to bounce back into play. Handrails. Lips. Backboards. Finally, Sean McDonough managed to put an end to it. Thankfully he knew that Fenway didn’t have any of that stuff down in the corner, and they should stop discussing options. Phew.

Would it be so tough to get some local flavor into the national broadcasts? They already have three guys in the booth. How about a national play by play, but the color guy from each of the teams? That just helps everyone. I would be spared the mindless drivel. The fan in Milwaukee would get to learn why, exactly, Scutaro was making dang sure he knew what the sign was. What’s the downside? It wouldn’t even need to be Remy all the time. One of the radio announcers would work. Or, even a NESN studio guy. This has to be done.

Before I’m forced to listen to Tim McCarver again.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Interesting Decisions

I have said over and over that I have no idea what goes on behind the scenes when any deals are made. I don’t know how you find out which players are available, and which are untouchable. I don’t know how much you believe from past knowledge, and what needs to be up to the minute. But, I still find the Red Sox actions this weekend a little puzzling.

The Red Sox apparently had a deal in place for frustrating starter Rich Harden. Why is he frustrating? Because he has all the talent in the world, but can’t stay on the field long enough to always show it. I know that. You know that. Every baseball fan knows that. Why didn’t Theo? He must have, right? So, he made the deal and then took a look at the medical records. After seeing just how bad it really was, he pulled the plug? I’m not complaining that he did. He shouldn’t trade for a player he’s not sure can help the club. But, how bad could the new information really have been? He put in all that time and effort on a player he knew was a health risk right from the start, and then killed it because he was a health risk. Strange. Like I said, I’m OK with it. Just strange. And, you know Theo is praying for Harden to make a trip to the DL in September.

What’s even stranger is what did end up happening. Erik Bedard is now in Boston. He was a huge acquisition for Seattle, but has been a disappointment mostly due to…wait for it…injuries. In fact, he just came off a lengthy DL stint. And, his triumphant return didn’t exactly exude confidence. So, this health risk was OK, but the other one wasn’t. Fascinating.

In the end, I don’t have a problem with getting Bedard. He’s a quality lefty who can help the club. It will be too bad if this hurts Wakefield and his quest for 200 and 192. But, from the Sox standpoint, a good starting pitcher at the end of the rotation is a great thing. He’s excelled pitching for an AL east team in the past, so that’s always a good sign. It’s not like he’s a product of a weak division. I said last week that the Sox didn’t need to make a major move. This looks like a great way to go.

It’s certainly better than what the Yankees did at the deadline.

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