Monday, April 29, 2013

Does Houston have to Leave?

I think I could handle playing the Astros for another series or two.

So, the Red Sox are going to end April with the best record in baseball. Isn’t that something? Can we draw anything from this? I’m not sure.

A month is a pretty decent sample size. Usually, when a team gets out to a hot start, people say we should all wait until they play the good teams. Then we’ll see what they’re made of. People said that during the most recent Patriots season. Wait until they face an elite quarterback. Then that defense will be their downfall. The problem with that particular argument was that there aren’t really that many elite quarterbacks out there. One of them is on the Patriots. So, who were we supposed to wait for them to face in the playoffs? I think something similar is happening here. Sure, the Sox got to feast on Houston this weekend. But, they’ve also played every other team in the East. They also played KC and Oakland. Who should we be waiting for in order to really judge them? Look at May’s schedule. I don’t see that team on it either. One series in Texas in May. Will that be enough? Philly? Or, will we be sitting at the end of May waiting for them to face the good teams to really get a sense? After 50 games? Or, is this the team the Sox have, and it’s not the competition that is making them look good?

Not that I’m saying they’ll win 110 games this season. But, maybe it’s just about their performance. If they play the way they’ve been playing, they’ll win lots of games. So, the question really should be, can they keep playing the way they’ve been playing?


But, will it hurt them?

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Lester and Buchholz will both lose some games this year. Clay’s season ERA will be over 2.00. David Ortiz will finish up with a batting average below .500. Those are pretty obvious. What does it all mean? I suppose that depends on everyone else.

If Clay pitches to a 3.00 ERA the rest of the year, can the offense score enough runs to still win games? What about a 4.00 ERA? It’ll be close. Because, while some players are vastly overachieving, some aren’t. For every Nava, there’s a Middlebrooks. For every Papi, there’s a Drew. So, you could make the case that the Sox, on average, should balance themselves out for the rest of the season. The pitchers will give up more runs, by the offense should keep its head generally above water.

It was interesting to hear the EEIdiots this morning saying that if the Sox “only go one game over .500 the rest of the way…” In the past seasons, that would have been “even if the Sox go one game over .500 the rest of the way…” Apparently, if they do that, they’ll be around 87 wins. That sounds about right. If the pitching goes on a good stretch, they’ll win some games. If the pitching has a rough time of it for a stretch, the Sox will slump. This won’t be a team thumping the other pitcher to make up for mistakes. There will be a lot of those close games that could go either way. It’s just a matter of how much of a margin for error they’re giving themselves.

So, no, the Sox aren’t the best team we’ve seen in a generation. But, it’s not like they’re a schedule fluke either. Right now, they’re in a good stretch. This good stretch just happens to have started the season. They’ll go through a rough patch at some point. (The middle of June certainly looks like a good candidate for that.) In general, they’ll be around that .500 mark. That might be good enough to make the playoffs.

Wouldn’t that be fun?

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Red Sox 1-36: 22 is for…

Terry Francona being the 22nd pick in the 1980 draft.

When I first started this list, I assigned subjects to all the numbers just to make sure I’d be able to find something worth writing about for each one. When I made the list, it didn’t occur to me that Francona might not be here by the time I got to 22. Weird.

But, the fact that he’s now in Cleveland doesn’t change the fact that he won two titles here, and many people think his draft position is the reason why.

He was a first round pick. He was a sure superstar. An all-star for years to come. Everyone knew it…and so did he. Of course, that didn’t happen. His career, thanks in large part to injuries, never materialized. He bounced around for years, hoping to just make a major league roster. He eventually just drifted away.

He credited that experience as a great background for his managerial career. He knew what it was like to be the cocky young superstar. He knew that he wasn’t about to listen to anyone. He was better than that. It gave him some insight into how to deal with hot shot rookies when he had to manage them. He also knew what it was like to be the veteran trying to hold on. He knew what it felt like to have someone start in your place. He knew what it was like to dread being called into the manager’s office, because it could mean your career just ended.

With those experiences in mind, he was able to relate to his entire roster. He might know what to say to the young rookie who knows he has talent. He might know what to say to the older player who has to step aside for the rookie to play. It’s not hard to see where he might manage differently if he was a 22nd round pick.

His draft position should also serve as a reminder to the current Red Sox front office of the volatility of any draft pick. I’m sure Montreal was thrilled to draft Francona, and it didn’t work out. Draft picks sometimes don’t work out the way you hope they do.

But, in this case, I’m glad it didn’t work out for Francona. Otherwise, we might be looking at a 95 year drought.

22 is for Terry Francona’s draft position.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

When the Hammer Comes Back…

What do the Sox do about the closer’s role?

Isn’t that a wonderful problem to have?

Andrew Bailey has done a wonderful job filling in while Joel Hanrahan has been injured. It’s not really a surprise. The Bailey’s an all-star closer. So, maybe that’s that makes this a non-issue. The Sox started the season with Hanrahan as the closer, knowing full well that Bailey was as least as good, if not better, in the role. So, can’t imagine why they wouldn’t make the same decision again.

My first thought was that maybe you let Bailey keep the closer’s role until Hanrahan is fully back. Let him have a few “get into the flow” games before having him close. But, I realized that I wasn’t sure when those opportunities would be. Do you bring him in for mop-up duty? I doubt that’s helping anybody. Do you have him set-up while he gets his feet wet? That would assume two things. One, that set-up opportunities are less important than closing. They’re not. After all, if Hanrahan blows a one-run lead in the eighth, you don’t need a closer. The other assumption is that Hanrahan would pitch well in the set-up role. Some closers just can’t do that. We all know that all too well. Bailey might be the exception to that. Which is also one strike against him in this case.

Bailey has shown all year that he can be an effective set-up guy. A very effective one at that. The Sox would be silly to play with things when they have a known entity on their hands.

But, that wouldn’t change the fact that your bullpen would have two pitchers very capable of closing. How do you use that bullpen? Do you make it as simple as Bailey setting up for Hanrahan? Do you turn Bailey into a true fireman? If you need outs in the sixth inning, bring him in then? You still have your closer waiting. Can you use Bailey in tie games, or games where the Sox are a run behind?

I’ve often wondered if you can have two complete bullpens. Can you have Tazawa set up for Bailey, and Uehara set up for Hanrahan? Would they get enough work in if you alternated those two?

John Farrell could get very creative with this, or very boring.

Can’t wait to find out.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Best Around

So, here we sit three full weeks into the season, and the Red Sox find themselves with the best record in the American league.


How did they get there?

I was the first to admit that I didn’t know what to think of the 2013 Red Sox. They aren’t as good as the 2011 or 2012 teams. But, were they good enough? I tried to figure out what, exactly, the 2012 Orioles or Giants had that the 2013 Red Sox did not. So far, it doesn’t look like they had anything. But, I still don’t know what to do with “good enough.” As they Sox have shown, if you get good pitching and good hitting, you can score more runs than your opponents. So far, the Sox have had stellar pitching, which is why the games have tilted into their favor so dramatically.

Will it continue?

I have no idea. Well, that’s not exactly true. I have some idea. Of course it’s not going to continue. The Sox aren’t going to finish the season with 100 wins. There’s just too much mediocrity on the team for that. Buchholz will probably see his ERA go over 1.00 this season. Chances are that Mike Napoli doesn’t drive in 120 runs. Things will balance out for a while. Things will dip the other way for a while. Will the Sox still win?

Depends on luck.

Look at the Orioles last year and their stellar record in one run games. Are we supposed to assume that they did something special that led to that? No. But, when you average 5 runs scored a game, and give up an average of 5 runs a game, you’re going to have a lot of close games. Sometimes you end up on top, sometimes you don’t. There are going to be a lot of frustrating games for the Sox, like the two on Sunday. There are going to be a lot of great games for the Sox like Saturday. It’s going to be a constant give and take this season. Do the Sox get that one hit that makes the difference in the game? Do they give it up? There was a season a few years ago when it seemed that the Sox would win a game 10-1, and then lose the next night 3-2. All the time. That’s what this season will be like. If Jon Lester matched up against the other team’s number five guy? 10-1. If Ryan Dempster matches up against the other team’s number two? 3-2. It’s going to be a lot of back and forth. Give and take.

We can only hope there’s more give than take.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

I Scored!

August 5, 2001

Seems like a simple enough game. It was late in what was a lost season for the Red Sox. New addition Manny Ramirez was supposed to join with Nomar Garciaparra and Pedro Martinez to give the Red Sox three of the best players in the league. Unfortunately, Nomar injured his wrist, needed surgery, and only returned to the team about a week before. So, while Nomar was still a new story, the rest of the game is pretty mundane.

The Sox jumped out to an early lead on the back of Manny’s first inning homerun. They kept piling it on until they had too big a lead for Texas to come back.

But, wait. What’s that notation after the line-up? “Everett EJ B7” Looks like Everett was ejected after a called third strike in the seventh inning.

Oooh. That game.

This is, of course, the game where Crazy Carl finally snapped. If I remember correctly, this was when the home plate umpire had been on him over not being in the batter’s box fast enough. This really annoyed Carl. (In his defense, the umpire was trying to enforce a rule that didn’t exist.) When he was called out looking, he went off. He screamed at the umpire. He got in the umpire’s face. And, his head made contact with the umpire. (I’m still not willing to call it a “head-butt”) That was that. Everett was ejected, suspended, and gone.

The rest of the game was fairly anti-climactic. The player of the game? Looks like it could be a toss-up between Manny Ramirez and Doug Mirabelli. Doug drove in more runs, without making an out. But, Manny’s initial homer is hard to ignore.

The goat? Everett’s too easy. Going hitless before being ejected isn’t exactly having a great game. Other than him? Chris Stynes in the lead-off spot is a good option. One for five doesn’t exactly say “setting the table.”

But, the Sox didn’t need him. They made their early lead stick, despite some bullpen issues. The Sox were able to overcome the distraction, and come out on top.

And the scorecard shows how it happened.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Would the Sox still be “likable” if they were 4-11?

It’s all anyone mentions when the EEIdiots talk about the Red Sox this season. “They’re so likeable.” “I could enjoy watching this team.” “These players make me want to watch them.”


Could it have anything to do with the fact that they’re on top of the division with an 11-4 record?

The main players are still the same. The ace, Jon Lester, is the same guy who was so “unwatchable” last year. Get a decent defense behind him, and suddenly he’s a great guy again? Clay Buchholz was soft last year. You couldn’t depend on him being healthy. Get his ERA under 1.00, though, and he’s a great teammate? Fun to watch? Isn’t Ellsbury the guy who was such a problem last year because he was milking his injury? Isn’t Pedroia the same guy who started all the Valentine problems by telling him, “that’s not how we do things here” when everyone “knew” the team needed a change? Now he’s back to being fun and gritty?

Just because they’re winning.

No, no, no, you may say. They brought in all those “great clubhouse” guys. That’s why they’re so much fun to watch. So, if I’m sitting in Section 36 watching the game, it’s more fun to watch if players are having fun in the clubhouse? How do I even know what they’re doing in the clubhouse?

It’s the winning. Winning is more fun that losing. It’s really that simple. It’s not about the characters they have on the team. It’s not that they may or may not get along more. They’re winning, so it’s more fun.

So, let’s stop all this talk about them being a better bunch of guys than last year. They’re the same players. They’re just healthy and playing well.

That’s fun.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

From the Pedro Binder

2000 Topps Combos

Stars drive baseball card sets. Well, maybe stars and rookies. But, the more big names you can get into a set, the better. Companies have known this for years. That’s why all-stars started having their own cards. If one card of Carlton Fisk was good, a second card was even better. Right? The inclusions of insert sets gave another boost to this theory. Suddenly you could have a set that included all the players on the rosters, for a complete record, and have the insert sets there to add in extra stars. What could be better? Yup. Having two stars on the one card.

Which brings us to this “mound marksmen” card. I don’t know how much thought went into the pairing, but they did a really good job. (Even down to the fact that they both wore number 45.) I never got to see Bob Gibson pitch, but I get the feeling it was a lot like Pedro. Both were dominant right-handers, who weren’t afraid to let the batter know who owned the plate.

What about the card itself? It’s obviously a created shot. Pedro didn’t travel back in time to pose with Gibson. But, it’s done well. The “painting” of the photo lets it look more natural. I’m not sure if the background is supposed to reflect an actual spot, or not, but it adds a quaintness to the image. All the important information is tucked onto the bottom of the card, which is nice. A lot of insert cards seem to think that the most important part of the card is the name of the insert set. This card doesn’t fall into that trap. Name, team logo, simple text. It works nicely as a package.

A very nice card.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Second Fiddle

Not long ago, my local planetarium was having an event. Buzz Aldrin was rumored to be one of the speakers. That was pretty neat, I thought to myself. It’s not every day you can hear from, and possibly meet, a man who once walked on the moon.


He walked on the moon, right?

I couldn’t remember. I was pretty sure. But, not positive. So, I asked someone else. They couldn’t be sure. I asked another half-dozen people. None of them were sure. Of course, the answer is that he did, in fact, walk on the moon. He was the second person to walk there. About an hour after the first guy.

If I asked anyone if Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, would anybody be unsure? What does that say about people? The first guy gets all the accolades. Aldrin missed out…by hours.

Which is why today, I think of Larry Doby. Today is Jackie Robinson Day in major league baseball. Every player in uniform will wear his number “42.” A number which, otherwise, would be retired by every team. A movie just came out chronicling Robinson’s career. He has had honor after honor bestowed upon him (and rightly so) because he broke the color barrier. He was the first.

Larry Doby was the second. He joined the Indians in July of 1947. Three months later. That’s it. Because he was three months after Robinson, I bet lots of people haven’t even heard of him. And, that’s too bad.

Again, I don’t mean to take anything away from Robinson. He was the one who did it first. If his “experiment” went terribly wrong, maybe Doby doesn’t get that chance. Plus, I bet Robinson would tell me that those were an awfully long three months. Maybe Robinson made it just a bit easier for Doby when his turn came.

But, do you think Doby wonders what might have been if he had signed just a little earlier? I bet Aldrin wonders what would have happened if his seat was on the other side of the cockpit.

So, Happy Jackie Robinson Day! Let’s all celebrate one of the most important days of the 20th century. Let’s remember Jackie Robinson, and all he did.

But, let’s also remember Larry Doby, and everyone who came after the two of them.

And, while we’re at it, let’s remember that Buzz Aldrin once walked on the moon.

Saturday, April 13, 2013


The Red Sox consecutive sellout streak ended on Tuesday. Notice that’s all I said. I didn’t say “finally ended” or “officially ended.” I said “ended.” I’m not sure why so many people have needed to add the qualifiers when they talk about it.

The “finally” one is odd. I don’t understand why people would be rooting for the streak to end. How can you not like a streak? It’s not distracting. It’s not annoying. It’s just going on in the background. The only time it’s really brought up is when they announce the attendance at a game, and mention which number it is. That’s a problem for people? Why?

But, the one that grates on me is the “officially” qualifier. The implication, of course, is that the streak has been over for some time, and the Red Sox are just finally admitting it. That’s just not true. Up until Tuesday night, the Sox had sold more tickets than they had available to see for almost 800 games. That’s not up for debate. Major League baseball has guidelines for what teams can call a sellout, and the Red Sox have followed that. They didn’t start closing sections towards the end so they wouldn’t have to sell those seats. They didn’t give away 10,000 seats out of the blue just to extend the streak. It was just business as usual.

People like to point out that there were a lot of empty seats at the end of last year. Yup. There were. But, the tickets were sold. That’s why they call it a sellout. If they had to count every seat being filled, no team would ever have a sellout. There’s always going to be someone who has a ticket, but doesn’t show. Heck, I’ll be willing to bet that Justin Bieber has a ticket holder or two not show up for a concert. They still call them sellouts. I’m sorry that some people think every seat needs to be filled for it to be called a sellout. But it’s pretty clear that it would be ridiculous.

So, you say, what difference does it make? If all it means that 10,000 scalpers bought tickets and then could or couldn’t resell them, what does it mean?

Good question.

Did having the streak last year mean the Sox were as popular as ever? Of course not. Does the streak ending mean that the Sox are unpopular? Of course not. They may be popular, they may not. A streak doesn’t define that. I’m the first one to tell you that streaks aren’t nearly as impressive as people make them out to be. Hitting in 56 straight games is a statistical fluke, not a great accomplishment. But, I’m not going to argue that DiMaggio didn’t actually hit in 56 straight (even if there was some funny business going on to extend the streak). It happened. The sellout streak happened.

And, now it’s over.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

List of 36:

Interesting Things I read in the 2013 Red Sox Media Guide

1. Torey Lovullo’s father was a producer on Hee-Haw
2. Johnny Gomes wears “707” on his glove and shoes to honor the area code of his hometown
3. Alfredo Aceves was traded from Toronto to the Mexican League in 2002
4. Andrew Miller graduated from Buchholz High School
5. Franklin Morales signed with the Rockies at 16
6. Ass GM Brian O’Halloran is fluent in Russian and Georgian
7. David Ross and Dustin Pedroia both have a son names Cole
8. Todd Claus is the Red Sox International Crosschecker
9. Craig Breslow has degrees from Yale in molecular biophysics and biochemistry
10. The Red Sox radio affiliate for Wyoming is KSGT 93.3 FM
11. VP Sarah McKenna has won two Emmys
12. Ben Cherington’s dughter is named Adwen
13. VP Richard Bresciani is the team historian
14. Will Middlebrooks ranked as the No 36 draft prospect by BA
15. SVP Larry Cancro has a degree in psychology
16. EVP Charles Steinberg has 5 championship rings
17. Terry Doyle is substitute teacher in RI during the offseason
18. EVP Ed Weiss is a graduate of Harvard College and Penn Law
19. Andrew Bailey was the 6th Oakland rookie to be an all-star
20. John Farrell was a second round draft pick
21. SVP David Friedman won the World Universities Debating Championship while at Harvard
22. VP Tim Zue has a BS in Mechanical Engineering from MIT
23. EVP Jonathan Gilula was twice the captain of the Princeton tennis team
24. Daniel Bard won his first ML game on 8/26/2009
25. Xander Bogaerts and his twin brother Jair signed with the Sox on the same day
26. Brian Butterfield managed 6 seasons in the Yankees organization
27. The Red Sox radio affiliate for New Mexico is KDEF 1150 AM
28. Clay Buchholz was selected with the compensation pick from Pedro Martinez
29. Rich Gedman is the Portland hitting coach
30. Greg Colbrunn hit for they cycle on 8/18/92
31. SVP Larry Cancro created Wally the Green Monster
32. Pedro Ciriaco was a defensive replacement in the 2010 AS Futures game
33. SVP Troup Parkinson has a degree in sociology
34. Ryan Dempster led the Marlins in K’s in 1999
35. COO Sam Kennedy has a degree in American Studies
36. Junichi Tazawa received a decision in his first five Red Sox appearances

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Opening Up

Quite the way to start the home season!

I’ve said it many times, that there’s nothing quite the same as opening day. When you walk around the park before the game, it just feels new. Fresh and clean. There’s the excitement of looking for changes. There’s the comfort of falling into old routines. There’s just nothing like it.

Add to that the Opening Day ceremony itself. This year, it was nice to be able to welcome the players who have been playing so well up to now. They’ve been better than we expected.

But, the ceremony itself, this year, was a bit of a dud.

When you build a team with no talent, and no stars…announcing line-ups is a bit of a downer. I though it was a tad hokey to announce loudly the “all-new coaching staff.” I mean, this was the organization that hired the former coaching staff, right? They also tried to make a much bigger deal out of some weird connections. Is “The Pride of Orono, Maine” really something that goes in an introduction? Or, “On the staff of the 2004 Red Sox.” or “Welcome back David Ross.” After such a glorious stint with the Sox the first time, I know that I couldn’t wait to welcome him back. If they wanted to come up with bizarre ways to get a reaction from the crowd, they just needed to introduce Pedro. If they can trot out the visitor’s clubhouse manager, they can’t find a way to give the Special Assistant to the General Manager an intro? They did manage to bring him out for the “Play Ball!” So, at least they had him out there at some point. Just thought they’d use him more. The introduction of Jackie Bradley got too much of a cheer from the crowd. Sure, rookies often get unwarranted applause. Sort of encouraging a youngster early on to build a good relationship. But, it really speaks to the power of the media that “future legend” Jackie Bradley Jr got a larger ovation than “frail” Jacoby Ellsbury.

The game itself was, obviously, fantastic. After arriving early for the ceremony, having the game go less than three hours was a welcome treat. The Red Sox hitters ran into a bit of a buzz saw. But, Buchholz was more than up to the task. I know it’s early, but looking up and seeing his 0.64 season ERA is just great. Once the Red Sox got the lead, it was time for the bullpen. This year, the ‘pen had been phenomenal. I wondered earlier if the Sox were planning on using the bullpen to be a half-starter. From the looks of things, that’s exactly what they got. Bailey showed us everything we were missing last year. And, while Hanrahan didn’t exactly bring down the hammer, he got the job done. Speaking of which, what was up with Hanrahan’s entrance song? They started it off with a few notes of Shipping Up To Boston, but then stopped it. The park went quiet for a bit, before blasting a bunch of noise pretending to be a song. Was that planned? A mistake in accidentally calling up Pap’s song? A tease for those of us in the stands? Hopefully he goes another direction with his music. What happened yesterday just didn’t work.

I know. My complaints form yesterday focus on the ceremony, and the entrance music for the new closer. Nothing about the actual game.

Isn’t that just wonderful?

Monday, April 8, 2013

From the Pedro Binder

2002 Topps Opening Day

I’m trying to decide.

When I’ve mentioned the Topps Opening Day sets before, I’ve said that Topps decided to make the OD sets different in two different ways. Sometimes the changed the border color, and added a logo. Sometimes, they just added the logo.

I can’t decide which I like better.

This is one of the latter examples. This card is the spitting image of the base Topps card, with the Opening Day logo added. Part of me likes the cleaner look this provides, as opposed to making a gold logo bright green. But, on the other hand, hard to really call this a whole different card set when it’s just a little extra foil.

Of course, it’s not just a little extra foil, is it? That’s one heck of a logo they slapped on there. The year, the 3-D stadium effect with the ball. That took some serious effort.

And, I think it kills the card.

The rest of it is fine. I like the gold borders…or bronze, or whatever color that actually is. I love the important information nestled in flowing banners. I can even handle the picture of Pedro with that hideous grimace. That’s just Pedro getting ready to unleash his fire.

But, that tacky, gaudy foil logo just destroys everything for me. I just can’t seem to get past it.

That’s really too bad.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Collecting the Sox: Mugs

When I was growing up, one of my neighbors had a great mug collection. He hung them from pegs on his kitchen wall. There were probably 30 of them, and I always thought they were neat to look at. Thinking back, I can’t remember what kinds of mugs they were. I don’t remember if they were souvenir mugs declaring, “I got boned at the Natural History Museum” or if they were simply colorful mugs used for a display. Which probably brings up a question as to whether it was a collection, or not. You wouldn’t say you have a collection of dishes, right? You just have a service for eight. People collect spoons, but not flatware. Maybe it’s a case of where and how they are kept. Mugs displayed on a shelf in the den are a collection. Mugs kept in a kitchen cabinet are just what you drink your coffee out of.

Does anyone still drink coffee out of a coffee mug?

In any event, mugs are a nice collectable for Red Sox fans. The best part is the size. They don’t take up a lot of room on a shelf, or hanging on a wall. They can be scattered about to bring a little bit of the Red Sox wherever you need it. You can even use them for other displays. If you have a bunch of Red Sox pens, stick them in a Red Sox coffee mug. That would look great sitting on your desk.

I also like the variety you can find in mugs. They come in slightly different shapes and sizes. They certainly come it different colors and patterns. You can also find them most anywhere. So, it’s a nice thing to have from different places you’ve been…like the Natural History Museum, or PNC Park. And, they’re functional. I know I just said that it blurs the line of collecting, but you can certainly use your Red Sox mugs. If you have a bunch of them, you can cycle though them day by day, or week by week. It makes for a very obvious way to enjoy your collection all the time.

Which is really the point of any collection. 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Well, This Has been Fun

Two Games. Two Red Sox wins. Two Yankee losses.

Does it get better than that?

Clearly, it’s only two games, so making long-range extrapolations is ridiculous. I’m not ready to declare Lester and Buchholz Cy Young winners quite yet. But, I’d rather they did what they did than what the Yankees starters did. That’s good enough for me.

I’m also pretty sure that Jose Iglesias is not winning the batting title this season. But, if you’re forced to play a light-hitting rookie in order to fill in for an injury, it’s nicer when he helps out with a bunch of hits. It also allows the Sox to be a little bit more cautious with Drew. If there’s anything you don’t want to play “through” if you don’t have to, it’s a concussion. This gives the Sox a two-game cushion before people start clamoring for Drew to get back in there. If Iglesias is 0-9 with 7 K’s at this point, Drew is probably on a slightly faster track. It’s really nice to have that extra time to make sure he’s right.

What about the phenom? Jackie Bradley Jr has done his thing so far. Again, still not ready to call him Willie Mays. But, I was impressed with his first at bat. Remember that one? Major league debut, Opening Day, Yankee Stadium, CC on the mound, two runners on. He knows the situation. Half the fan base is expecting him to walk on water. The other half is pretty sure he should be in AAA. Was there ever a better time to prove everyone wrong? Was there ever a better time to be aggressive? To go outside yourself to make something happen? Take that big cut, and put three runs on the board. Make a splash. But, he didn’t do that. He got down 0-2, and took a close pitch for a ball. He didn’t flail at the pitch trying to make an immediate impact. He took it. And, then he did it again. He worked the walk. Some people are trying to say it ignited the rally, and caused the win. I’m not ready to go that far. But, if you’re looking for an example of a kids maturity in a big spot, that’s a pretty telling one. Even if he should be in AAA.

We’ve also gotten a glimpse of how the bullpen could work. Again, it’s only two games. But, I said before that I wondered if the plan was to have the bullpen cover for poor starters. That’s exactly what happened on Monday. Lester had a short outing. It was more because it was April than because of ineffectiveness, but still. They needed the pen to go four innings, and that’s exactly what they did. Is that going to be the game plan from here on out? I don’t see why not. Sure, it would be better if the starters could go seven, like Buchholz did last night. But, maybe they don’t need to. Maybe Miller-Tazawa-Bailey-Hanrahan can be the second half of games. That could be a powerful weapon.

Can’t wait to find out.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Shirt on My Back

I was recently contacted by Dress United with an offer of a custom t-shirt to review on the blog. I have off
 and on thought that it might be fun to have an official Section 36 t-shirt. This seemed like a good opportunity to see how it might all work out. So I gladly accepted.

The first step was to go onto Dress United’s website. From there, it was practically impossible not to get right started. The home page had easy to find places to select the type of t-shirt I wanted. Then, it was on to the customization.

Customizing was almost foolproof. There was a large visual preview of the shirt so that I could see my progress. The website made sure I kept my design in an appropriate location on the shirt. I was originally concerned that in my desire to get the text as big as I could, I’d end up having it run right around the side of the shirt. The site made sure that this wasn’t possible. The text could be changed to different sizes, fonts, and colors with a click of a mouse. In addition to the text, I could have added a graphic. The site has several to choose from, and had the option of importing your own. If you want, there’s a feature to add a name and number to the back of the shirt, to make it look like a jersey tee. This feature wasn’t quite ready for the website yet, but was apparently only a phone call away.

I really like the fact that you could have the cost of the shirt displayed as you make it. I could see as soon as I did it that adding text to the back was an added cost, and decide if it was worth it or not. I wouldn’t get to the end, have an expensive shirt, and just scrap the whole thing. I can make informed decisions as I go along.

You can save your design, so I can go back and reorder, or revisit the design. If I decide I want another one (or if any of you do…) I don’t need to reinvent the wheel. I can just click on the link they sent me to get right back to where I was.

The site offers a few grades of unisex t-shirts, and I went with the high-end version. (They also offer women's t-shirt styles, sweatshirts, and hoodies.)  I was very happy with the quality of shirt that got me. The text on the front was slightly smaller than I envisioned. But, looking back I realize I got what I asked for. I wasn’t accounting for the depth of the model on the shirt in the preview. Just something to keep in mind.

Overall, I was very pleased with the whole process. The ordering was a snap, and I think I got a great final product. I’m looking forward to wearing the shirt as often as I can. I will certainly go back to this website if I want shirts in the future.

I suggest you check them out for yourself!

Monday, April 1, 2013

From the Pedro Binder

1999 Topps Opening Day

The Opening Day sets from Topps confuse me a little bit. It would be cool if it were a set of cards including players in opening day line-ups. Or, even cards of players on opening day rosters. I’m pretty sure that’s what Donruss did with their set in 1987. That’s a cool idea. Instead, the Topps versions seem to be a cheaper version of their base sets. Sometimes they have a simple logo to differentiate them. Sometimes it’s a different colored border. It’s really a parallel set that you have to buy separately.

In 1999, Topps went the “different colored border” route. Instead of the golden color on the base set, they went with silver for Opening Day. On the bright side, that carried that theme all the way through. The logo is silver foil, the name is in silver foil, and the line going around the corner of the picture is silver. It ties it all in together. On the not so bright side, all that foil is still a pain to read.

With the Pedro card, the fact that he’s in his away uniform actually helps with the silver look to the card. It might have been more startling if he was in his home white. The picture of Pedro is great. His eyes are on the target. He’s ready to unleash another one of his Bugs Bunny change-ups to a helpless batter. As always, I like the floating logos and design elements. They allow the picture even more room to be seen. Pedro is right there for everyone to see. Again, the mound creates a nice place to hide all the information, while also proving contrast to make it easier to read. The location of the name along the left hand side makes flipping through a stack annoying. But, I’ll cut Topps a little slack.

Overall, it’s a nice card. I like the Opening Day version better than the regular design, despite the few issues.

It just works.

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