Friday, December 30, 2011

What’s Missing from My Collection?

Not too long ago, I mentioned that I was on the hunt for a Ted Williams card. It occurred to me that as a Red Sox fan, and baseball card collector it was an outrage that my collection didn’t have one already. You were all very helpful in steering me in the right direction. Well, now I need your help again.

What else is my collection missing? I seem to have spent so much time amassing the recent releases; I’ve ignored the quality of previous years. I have the whole team set from 2010 Bowman platinum, but don’t have a Wade Boggs rookie card. I have pages and pages of 2011 cards, but only a handful of cards from before 1975. Shouldn’t I remedy that? Where should I begin?

What’s your one card? What card makes you say, “You claim that you collect Red Sox cards, but don’t have that one?” Is it a Roger Clemens rookie? Dustin Pedroia? Bobby Doerr? Harry Hooper? Dick Radatz? Is there one card you’ve been waiting to add to your collection as well? Or is there a card you already have that you just know is the crown jewel? Is there more than one?

What card should every serious Red Sox card collector own?

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Closer Makes Sox Closer

So, we were all waiting. We wondered what the Sox would do this off-season. Why were all the other teams making deals? Why were the other teams signing free agents? Were the Sox even trying? Well, yesterday they apparently made their biggest move of the off-season.

They acquired all-star closer Andrew Bailey from the A’s. Perfect. The best part about getting a closer? It makes the rest of the pen better. Suddenly your marginal closer becomes a very good set-up guy. Your barely there set-up guy moves into the bridge role. The whole bullpen takes a better shape just by adding the one guy. It’s very handy, and a great move.

As with any trade, it’s not exactly cut and dry. The Sox had to give up talent to get talent. In this case it meant saying goodbye to Josh Reddick. He was one of the players slotted to compete for right field in Fenway next season. He’s young, and has a bright future. But, thankfully, the Sox have young right fielders to spare. So, that made Reddick expendable. Will Kalish actually end up being the better player? Who knows? But, you have to make your best choice at the time. I’d say that’s exactly what the Red Sox did. They even managed to get another guy from the A’s who could help out in right. Not a bad idea.

Bailey has also had some arm trouble in the past. Which pitcher hasn’t? Is it cause for concern? You certainly have to wonder. Of course, the Sox former closer also had some arm trouble earlier in his career. And, again, it’s not like the Sox just signed Bailey to a 5-year $55 million deal or anything. They gave up an expendable youngster. Worst case? Bailey is awful and one of the a-ballers they gave up ends up being Jeff Bagwell. If that happens, you wipe the egg off your face and move on. If that doesn’t happen, it’s a great move by the Sox.

The other thing that happened with a Red Sox reliever is that Hideki Okajima signed a minor league contract with the Yankees. It was nice that I was able to view that transaction with indifference. Back in the day, Red Sox players would go to the Yankees so they could finally get their ring. Boggs and Clemens top that list. These days? The Sox players go to the Yankees with rings. I don’t have to cringe at the sight of any of them riding the back of a police horse. They got their ring here. They’re free to move on.

Thank goodness for 2004.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Do the Marlins Need a First Baseman?

Because the Red Sox could use a shortstop. And, as luck would have it, the fact that Adrian Gonzalez is manning first base for the foreseeable future, it means the Sox have some first base prospects to spare.

The marlins are apparently trying to assume that Hanley Ramirez will be happy playing third base. There’s a varying opinions as to if this will actually work out. But, what if they traded Hanley for a third baseman that is also a multiple time all-star? Suddenly losing HanRam and his short period of team control stings a bit less. The Sox could also peddle Lars Anderson in the deal. He is the aforementioned prospect with his path to the bigs hopelessly blocked. Would that be enough? Would the Sox need to add another prospect? Let the Marlins pick one. (Other than Middlebrooks, of course. He’s filling Youk’s vacant spot this year or next) I like the idea of that.

Can Juan Pierre still run? Wouldn’t he be a fun option in right? Assuming, of course, he could throw better than my grandmother. Has there ever been more speed in an outfield than that would create? Maybe the Sox could put him in center, but play him Tris Speaker shallow. Like a short fielder in softball. Let Ells and Crawford cover for him. And, if he were batting ninth, wouldn’t that be fun if Ells and Crawford were 1-2? I know, it would never happen because it’s just silly. But, these are things my mind wanders to during the off-season.

Especially this off-season.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Happy 36th Hideki Ojajima!

Today we wish a very happy 36th Birthday to former Red Sox reliever Hideki Okajima!

I’ve already talked about Okajima here. Most of it is still true. I’m still absolutely baffled by his delivery. Not so much that it works, but that nobody over the last 36 years has told him to stop doing it. How did a high school coach not bench him for not looking at the target? I’m also still in love with his entrance song. It is on a regular rotation in my ipod. It always wakes me up a little bit whenever it comes on.

Unfortunately, age eventually caught up with Okajima. He became less and less effective until he was finally cast off. But he was a favorite of many in a way few relievers ever were. That and his ring in 2007 have earned him a permanent place in Red Sox lore.

Happy 36th Birthday Hideki Okajima!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

List of 36: Things I Want Under My Tree Christmas Morning

1. 1909 T206 Tris Speaker RC
2. Johnny Damon autographed 2004 WS ball
3. Adrian Gonzalez jersey
4. Fenway Park brick
5. Fenway 100 years patch
6. Alan Embree autographed 2004 WS ball
7. Dave Roberts “The Steal” 8x10
8. 1972 Topps Carlton Fisk RC
9. Terry Francona autographed 2004 WS ball
10. Pedro Martinez signed 1999 AS ball
11. Fenway 100 years coffee table book
12. Dustin Pedroia t-shirt
13. Pokey Reese autographed 2004 WS ball
14. 1941 Playball Dom DiMaggio RC
15. Kevin Youkilis t-shirt
16. JD Drew autographed 2007 WS baseball
17. Kevin Millar autographed 2004 WS ball
18. Jon Lester t-shirt
19. 1973 Topps Dwight Evans RC
20. Kelly Clarkson autographed 2004 WS ball
21. Jarrod Saltalamacchia t-shirt
22. Fenway 100 years baseball
23. Keith Foulke autographed 2004 WS ball
24. Jacoby Ellsbury t-shirt
25. Theo Epstein autographed 2004 WS ball
26. 1940 Playball Jimmie Foxx
27. Gabe Kapler autographed 2004 WS ball
28. 1960 Topps Carl Yastrzemski RC
29. Trot Nixon autographed 2004 WS ball
30. Ted Williams t-shirt
31. 1983 Topps Wade Boggs RC
32. Stephen Tyler autographed 2004 WS ball
33. 2004 World Series press pin
34. Doug Meintkiewicz autographed 2004 WS ball
35. 1939 Playball Bobby Doerr RC
36. Johnny Pesky autographed 2004 WS ball

Friday, December 23, 2011

Where is Wake?

The Sox have been quiet this off-season. Quiet to the point of being dull. I get that. They didn’t have a lot to do. They had six members of the line-up already under contract. They resigned Scutaro and Ortiz with very little fanfare. They seem perfectly content to go young in rightfield. Why not? They have a couple promising options. The pitching staff has holes, but options. I get that. I’m just wondering where Tim Wakefield is.

Isn’t he the perfect guy for the Sox? Currently the rotation has three solid dependable guys. After that, it’s a collection of maybes. The bullpen? It has lots of pitchers, some who have roles. It’s also losing some key members to the rotation, in theory. Isn’t Time Wakefield the perfect guy to have on hand to fill whatever role become available?

Bard, Miller, and Aceves figure to fill out the final two spots in the rotation. Personally, I see Bard back in the pen. But, he could find his way into the rotation after all is said and done. But, many people have mentioned that the Sox could use a nice solid veteran to take some of the pressure off. I’ve heard Roy Oswalt’s name tossed out as a nice example. But, Oswalt would only be a starter. Couldn’t Wake really do either?

What if the Sox tossed Wake a few million to fill a yet to be determined role. He’ll come to spring training along with the rest of them. Of Bard, Aceves, Wake, Miller, Doubront, Tazawa, and whoever else is on the list, two of them make the rotation and the others are set for the pen or minors. What’s the worst thing that happens? He takes the long relief role? He’s stuck as a set-up guy?

Do they think his attitude is that bad? Is the whole “the fans deserve to see me break the record” thing an actual issue? I know that I’ve said that one of the factors to last season’s poor showing was Wake’s chase for 200. The Sox changed the way they played in order to get him that win. Are they afraid of doing that again? I’d like to think they’ve learned from that. I like to think the contract proposal would include telling him flat out that any wins he gets would be accidental. He has to be prepared to end up one win short if that’s what the team’s flow dictates. I don’t know why he wouldn’t agree to that. He needs 7 wins? He got that many last year. Aceves got 10, mostly out of the pen. He has to jump at that chance, right? Doesn’t it make too much sense for both sides for this not to have happened already?

Or am I missing something?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Red Sox May Have Interest in Prince Fielder

See what I just did there? I just learned from the professionals how to drag people in with junk headlines. You see things like that all over the place these days as rumor mills keep churning. When people are desperate for the latest hot tips, things like that can really draw attention.

The best part? It’s true enough that I can defend it if things get really sticky and someone calls me on it. First of all, I threw in the word “may” just as a catchall. I don’t need it to make the headline true, but it’s a nice safety valve. After all, of course the rest of it is true. The Red Sox have interest in Prince Fielder. Why wouldn’t they? They guy can hit a ton. What team wouldn’t want a guy with 50 home run power? Are they interested in paying him the amount of money he’ll be looking for? Of course not. Although, I guess I don’t that for sure. They “may.” But, if Fielder came to them tomorrow and said, “I love Boston. I’ve always wanted to play here. I’ll sign for a three-year contract at $3 million a year. I don’t care if I’m just the back-up DH.” The Sox have interest.

It’s also nice because I don’t need to do any real research to write a story about how the Red Sox may have interest in Prince Fielder. That’s a real time-saver when it comes to cranking out a post. It’s just opinion, written to look like new information. I bet Ben Cherington has said something in the past about Fielder that I could quote now, pretending it was a recent quote. Something like, “We’re exploring many options at this point.” If I put that into an article about the Sox wanting Fielder, it’s practically confirmation. The jackpot would, of course, be if Ben ever used Fielder’s name. Maybe he mentioned something during the home-run derby last year. Something like, “Ortiz’s team looks strong but a team with Fielder on it would be tough to beat.” Just truncate that, and it practically confirms that Ben made an offer. That was easy. Plus, if by some freak of the cosmos the Sox sign Fielder, I look like a genius. It’s a compete win for me and my scoop.

Which is what drives me nuts about reading about the Sox this time of year. Almost all of the “articles” are this nonsense. The Red Sox have contacted the agent for Francisco Cordero. No kidding. A team in need of a closer called the agent for an available closer? Color me surprised. The Red Sox have Roy Oswalt in their radar. Really? A team in need of a couple starters is aware of a free agent starter? You must be joking.

It means very little. But, it fills column inches.

Just like it did for me.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

One Pitch From Glory, By Lou Gorman

Lou Gorman was the general manager of the Red Sox for a decade. During his watch, the Sox came closer to winning the World Series than they had in decades. Unfortunately, he wasn’t quite able to get it done. He presided over several playoff teams, and several truly awful teams. This book discusses both with equal candor, and looks to give a behind the scenes look at those seasons.

My one regret when reading this book is that I didn’t remember enough about the teams Gorman was discussing. He did a great job of saying why he made the moves that he made. I just wish I knew more of the other side of the coin. When he says that he acquired Danny Darwin because he thought he would help the club, I don’t know enough to say, “But you passed on so-and-so!” Which is really an important part of it. Was Frank Viola the best pitcher available? Or, did Gorman misread the market, or gloss over another player? Even with that drawback this was a wonderful read. It sometimes has a feeling of an apology. Or, at least an explanation. Why he did the Bagwell trade. Why injuries killed the team. Things like that. It was great to see the behind the scenes inter-workings of a GM. How did the signing of Jack Clark come to be? It’s also interesting to read this now, after watching Theo and Company for so many years. Gorman was certainly from an older generation of GMs. He was much more people orientated than business. He also gave his all every season to win that championship. He didn’t talk much about building an organization. He talked an awful lot, though, about winning for Jean Yawkey. It’s an obvious difference, and makes for a great read.

Rating: 3 bases

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Red Sox 1-36: 4 is for…

Number 4, Joe Cronin.

As I mentioned when I did Bobby Doerr, this list won’t be all about uniform numbers. But, when the Sox see it fit to retire your number, who am I to argue against your importance. So, who was this Joe Cronin guy?

I’ll be honest; I don’t know all that much about Joe Cronin. I know that either he or Nomar was the best shortstop in Red Sox history. That’s a pretty good start. He also managed and won more games than anyone else in Red Sox history. Nice addition. From there he went on to be the Red Sox general manager. Quite a trifecta there. After that, he moved to the American League front offices becoming the AL President, and Chairman of the Board. Of course, all that got him elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

That’s quite a career. I wonder if anyone else has done so much so well for the Red Sox, or Major League baseball. He could almost be in the Hall-of-Fame three times. (Doesn’t the NBA do that?) He could go in as a superstar player, a wonderful manager, or a long-time league executive.

Cronin’s number 4 was retired by the Red Sox in 1984, the same day as Ted Williams. They were the first two players to have their number retired by the Sox. I’ve always wondered what took so long. Obviously, teams had been retiring numbers since the 30’s. Williams and Cronin were about as good candidates as you’re ever going to get. I wonder why they waited, and what made them change their minds.

4 is for number 4, Joe Cronin.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Tim Tebow, Pitching, and Defense

This week, there’s been a little bit of talk about the New England Patriots game against the Denver Broncos on Sunday. Much of it has been centered on Tim Tebow, and whether he’s a good quarterback or not. It’s the Derek Jeter argument of intangibles vs. talent. But, it’s also the argument of offense vs. pitching and defense.

You remember that mantra, right? The Sox were going to build a defensive team. It was suddenly all about run prevention. Most people weren’t buying it. And, it ended up not working out very well, for a number of reasons. But, what Tebow is showing is that there can be more than one way to skin a cat. As long as the end result is the same.

The point in any game is for your team to score more than the other team. How you do it is irrelevant. You can go 162-0 and only score 162 runs, as long as you keep the other teams scoreless every game. Or, you can go undefeated while giving up 1000 runs, as long as you score 1162. Or, something in the middle. The only thing that is important is that you score once more than the other guy. Which is why it always bugged me when I heard things like, “How could the Sox expect to make the playoffs last season with such a terrible team ERA?” Easy. They expected to score more than 4.2 runs a game. Which, they did. They scored the most runs in baseball. They just didn’t space them out as well as they needed to. But, there’s nothing wrong with planning on giving up 4 runs every game, if you’re planning on scoring 5. Just like there’s no reason you can’t win scoring 2 runs a game, if you only give up 1. Which is how the Phillies ended up with the best record in baseball, despite scoring 150 fewer runs than the Sox.

It also makes it hard during an offseason like this to figure out what you need. The answer really is, whatever you can get. If there are pitchers to be had, go for it. If there are only bats out there, get those. Either one will help you win. You can’t get too caught up in filling traditional roles. You mold the roles once you have the parts, no matter what Bill Parcells thinks. Look at the QB’s in Sunday’s game. Imagine the Pats traded Brady for Tebow tonight. Could Tebow win trying to run the Pat’s pass-happy offense? Absolutely not. Could Tom Brady win running the option like Tebow? Doubt it. But, both teams would eventually adjust their game plans to suit their strengths. Just like the Red Sox will do. They have two lead-off hitters. Ok, use that speed as a strength. They don’t have a fifth starter. Get the bats they need to cover that up. Be flexible. You can have a strong starting staff that goes 8 innings every game to eliminate the need for a middle relief. Or, you can stock up on middle relievers, and only get a starting staff that goes 6 innings. Whatever you can find out there.

There are any number of ways to win.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Who Cares Who?

The recent mega-deal signed by Albert Pujols has, naturally, generated a lot of discussion. Red Sox fans have been spared to some degree. The move didn’t affect the Sox directly. They weren’t getting Pujols, since they already have a first baseman. The Yankees didn’t get him either. So, the signing was a marginal issue at best. But, it doesn’t mean the national shows weren’t all over it.

I heard one show the other day discussing how it affected the Cubs. Sure, it was great to have Pujols leave the division. But, should the Cubs have gotten him themselves? The general feeling was a “Trust in Theo” mentality. They were willing to believe that Theo has a plan, and that even if it didn’t make sense to them, it would produce results. That seemed reasonable. When Theo was the Boston GM that certainly was often the case. Fans may not have completely agreed with his moves, but often gave him some slack. He has two rings as a GM. He must know something. Then it hit me. Theo’s not the GM in Chicago. He’s the team president. Not once in these discussions did Jed Hoyer’s name come up. His plan was never mentioned. The GM seemed irrelevant. It was all about Theo. I found it interesting.

The Red Sox team president is, of course, Larry Lucchino. I see story after story about how he needs to butt out of things. How Ben Cherington needs to assert his control. How awful it was that he might have been overruled in the manager hunt. Was it a blow to his credibility? Is he the GM, or not? I saw a story mention that Lucchino may have stayed away from the winter meetings, just as a symbol that Ben’s in charge. So, Theo’s GM is completely ignored in any discussion of the Cubs but Larry’s GM needs to be the only person in the room? Why the difference?

And, really, if anyone’s GM should be ignored, shouldn’t it be Larry’s? He’s the one with the longer track record of success. He’s been the president of eight playoff teams. Theo hasn’t been the president of any. Theo was the GM of only six. Larry is the owner of three World Series Championship rings. Theo, two. Still, the Cubs fans are willing to follow Theo blindly into battle, and we want Larry to stay away.

Why don’t we want Lucchino even more involved than he is?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Card of the Week: 2009 Topps Ticket to Stardom Daisuke Matsuzaka #124

I’ve said it before. There’s only so much you can do with a rectangular piece of cardboard with a picture on it. A border, no border. A color? A stripe? That’s pretty much it. So, I like it when a company goes out on a limb a bit.

No, this isn’t a huge design stretch. A white border, a foil stripe. But, I like the idea of the “ticket” theme. It’s something a little different. So, there’s a little barcode on the top. (Has anyone tried to scan it?) The important information is set up like a ticket stub. Design-wise it has the feel of a Red Sox ticket. That’s pretty cool. Not earth shattering, but cool. In this case, it may not have chosen the most flattering picture of Matsuzaka to portray. But, it is a nice view of him about to deliver a pitch.

Can’t find much to complain about with this card.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Soccer, and Albert Pujols

I was listening to a presentation the other day from someone from England. He mentioned preparations for a soccer tournament somewhere. He kidded that we probably all cared about football, but he really liked soccer. I couldn’t help but wonder why.

No, not that I wondered why on earth he liked soccer. People like things I don’t, and that’s fine. But, soccer is weird to me. It is SO popular EVERYWHERE else, but yawned at in the United States. How can that be? It clearly has universal appeal. People from big cities love it as much as rural farmers. Developed countries get as crazy as the developing ones. Each hemisphere of the globe just lives and breathes soccer. But, not the USA. We’re people too, right? Things that appeal to other people should appeal to us, right? How can a sport that is found thrilling and wonderful by billions of people be so ignored by this country? Is a sport interesting, or not? Is it fun to watch, or not? Is it exciting, or not? What is it?

That leads me to think; maybe it’s not soccer. Maybe it’s just the upbringing. Maybe people in Europe are excited about soccer because their parents like soccer. Because their newspapers report on soccer. Because nobody thinks they look weird with their face painted red.

Which leads me to Albert Pujols.

He’s now a member of the LA Angels of A. My first thought when I heard about that is that he’s going to see a pretty drastic change in environment. St Louis is pretty well knows as a rabid fan base. LA is pretty well known as a place where it’s sunny. So, similar to the soccer question, why is that? Is someone the talent of Albert Pujols enough to change that? Is it all about the quality of the product, or is it just a general feeling in the area? If Pujols has enough talent to draw fans in other towns, will he draw them in LA? Is Pujols fun to watch, or will baseball fans just watch anything put in front of them? Are baseball fans in Boston, NY, or St Louis just like European soccer fans? Wildly fanatic just because they always have been?

Are the Boston, NY, and Philly fans so into sports because their talent is better? Is the talent better because the fans are really into sports? Can more talent bring more fans? Can Albert Pujols make baseball matter in LA?

David Beckham couldn’t do it with soccer.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Revised List of 36: Best Players I’ve Seen Play In Person

I realized today that Ryan Braun won the NL MVP this year. Well, I realized it the day they announced it. Today, I realized that it might have also given him a far greater honor. Since he previously won a Rookie of the Year award, that combination might have pushed him into the list of top 36 players I’ve seen live in a non-all-star game. And, it looks like that’s exactly what it did. Unfortunately, that means someone had to be dropped from the list to make room. For this list, I consider major awards to be very important. I figure that’s the sort of honor that people will care about years from now. My grandkids will ask me if I saw a certain MVP winner play live before they ask me if I saw a 200-game winner live. I looked to see if anyone on my list was without a major award, and eliminated Todd Helton and his measly batting title. I also realized a major omission. I made this list by looking through past scorecards. It was raining during game 1 of the 2004 World Series, so I didn’t keep score. That made me foolishly forget about Albert Pujols. I added him to the list, but had to sacrifice Josh Beckett. So, here is my updated list of top 36 players I’ve seen live. How does it stack up to your list?

1. Roberto Alomar (Hall of Famer)
2. Wade Boggs (HOF)
3. Barry Bonds (MVP)
4. Ryan Braun (MVP)
5. Jose Canseco (MVP)
6. Roger Clemens (Cy Young)
7. Bartolo Colon (Cy Young)
8. Dennis Eckersley (HOF)
9. Eric Gagne (Cy Young)
10. Nomar Garciaparra (ROY)
11. Jason Giambi (MVP)
12. Tom Glavine (Cy Young)
13. Juan Gonzalez (MVP)
14. Ken Griffey Jr (All-Century Team)
15. Vladimir Guerrero (MVP)
16. Roy Halladay (Cy Young)
17. Josh Hamilton (MVP)
18. Rickey Henderson (HOF)
19. Randy Johnson (Cy Young)
20. Chipper Jones (MVP)
21. Cliff Lee (Cy Young)
22. Greg Maddux (Cy Young)
23. Pedro Martinez (Cy Young)
24. Dustin Pedroia (MVP)
25. Mike Piazza (ROY)
26. Albert Pujols (MVP)
27. Cal Ripken (HOF)
28. Alex Rodriguez (MVP)
29. Ivan Rodriguez (MVP)
30. CC Sabathia (Cy Young)
31. Bret Saberhagen (Cy Young)
32. John Smoltz (Cy Young)
33. Ichiro Suzuki (MVP)
34. Miguel Tejada (MVP)
35. Frank Thomas (MVP)
36. Mo Vaughn (MVP)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Big Moves, and Bard

What did the Red Sox really need to do this off-season? On the surface, not a whole lot. I’ve said it here before. But, a couple tweaks here and there, find a suitable replacement here and there, and they’re good to go. So, a slow week at the winter meetings is certainly to be expected. That’s not to say that there aren’t a few minor moves to be made.

The Sox resigned Andrew Miller. Perfect idea. He comes cheap, and has the same high upside he had when they acquired him last year. Better really, since he certainly showed signs of putting it together. So, why not give him another shot? The rotation doesn’t need a big name. It needs some back end help. Beckett was great last year, and should have a lot to prove this season. Same goes for Lester. Everyone will be watching him to bounce back and become the Cy Young winner everyone knows he can be. Clay Buchholz should be ready to go for another fantastic season. Beyond that, they just need bodies to fill out the rest. Having Andrew Miller sitting there and looking to prove himself is a great option. 26-year old former number one draft picks are nice to have. They don’t often lose it completely. There’s talent there. Three teams have thought so. It’s about time for it to come out in bunches. At worst, he’s a spot starter for doubleheaders and injuries.

Same theory applies to Daniel Bard. Why not make him a starter? He obviously has talent. He’s shown signs of learning how to pitch, instead of throw. He’s ready to break out. Give him a shot. He should be able to give out some quality innings.

We’re talking about the back end of the rotation here. It’s the back end for a reason. You have two spots to squeeze bodies in, and see if any make it. So, throw Miller, Bard, Wake, and Aceves into a room, and see if two of them come out on top. The other two are there when needed. Add the return of Dice, and that’s a lot of options. It’s a good way to go.

The bullpen will work itself out. It always does. Every year there’s a scrapheap reliever who returns to form. Or a rookie who can excel for a season. That will happen again. It’s another case of loading up in spring training, and seeing who pitches well enough to come north.

It’s not sexy, but it the way to win.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Find Your Dirt Yet?

This is your monthly reminder that the 2011 Section 36 Scavenger Hunt is currently underway!

I want to thank everyone who has already submitted entries. It’s most certainly allowed to submit entries, and then add to them as you can until time runs out on February 5. That way, you know you have something to enter and don’t forget at the last minute.

To help things along I’ve decided to sweeten the pot a bit. Just like last year, I’ll give the winner a Section 36 scorebook. It will be a book of my custom scorecards, bound to give you the ability to score 20 games! That’s in addition to the 400 different Red Sox baseball cards mentioned in the original post! What a prize package.

So, get out there and collect those pictures, and keep sending them in!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Why do Teams Sell Stadium Naming Rights?

Another one of those things that I just don’t get. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against the idea of selling a naming rights. I don’t really care what a stadium is named, as long as it rolls off the tongue well. Frankly, I think Petco Park or Safeco Field are nicer names than Oriole Park at Camden Yards. And, if the Sox ever play at Leonard P Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Park, I’ll choke on my Fenway Frank. So, that’s not the problem. To be honest, I have a little trouble figuring out when a stadium has sold the naming rights or not. Is Wrigley Field named after a swell owner, or a chewing gum company? Is Fenway Park named after a neighborhood, or a realty company? Is Yankee Stadium named after the team, or a baseball company? So, I’m not bothered that they do it, I just don’t know why.

I know that the short answer is probably because they don’t pay for the stadiums. They make the cities provide them with the place to play. So, the cities take the chance to sell the naming rights. Even if that’s the case, why doesn’t the team just buy the rights?

I’m thinking back to my trip to Pittsburgh. I’ve mentioned before that while I was there I bought a pierogi magnet. I also bought a baseball. It has painting of PNC Park on it. It has the name of PNC Park on it. It has a slogan for PNC Park. What doesn’t it have? Any mention of the Pirates. So, I went to see the Pirates play. They won in exciting fashion. I bought two things while I was there to remember the game. Neither one of them mentions the Pirates on them. What gives?

Talk about a missed opportunity. Another time where a conversation could be about the team, but ends up being about a bank. Imagine if it were Pirates Park instead? Or even something cleverer. Then, every baseball would have the Pirates name on it. Every magazine article about the team would say “Pirates” over and over. It would get the name out there. What about other events that happen to take place at or around the park? Shouldn’t local restaurants advertise that they’re close to Pirates Park, instead of a bank? Or other events that are held in the Park. Shouldn’t those tickets all advertise the team? Shouldn’t these teams that aren’t drawing well be doing whatever they can to get their name and logo out to the masses? Why would they want to share that exposure with a bank, or a pet store? There’s a reason that companies are willing to spend money on naming rights.

Why aren’t the teams?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Card of the Week: 2009 Topps Allen & Ginter’s #300 David Ortiz

When the Allen & Ginter’s line was introduced by Topps a few years ago, it was very well received. There had been a move for quite a while towards classic designs on cards. The flash and flair of the 90’s was giving way to the more refined looks. The trick is to copy a design style over and over without getting stale. Topps has done a good job with that with this set.

The paintings give the cards a nice look. They’re well done realistic depictions of the players. In this case, it’s a great shot of Ortiz giving a Papi grin. The posed shots work with the style. The blue clouds behind him make Ortiz stand out, without detracting from the main focus. The playful pointing of the bad just adds to the appeal.

As I said, these cards were well received, and still are. I wonder what the shelf-life for this particular brand is. At some point, pretty pictures on colored backgrounds will run their course.

Not yet, though.

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