Thursday, November 28, 2013

List of 36: Things I’m Thankful for This Year

1. Blog Readers
3. Jose Iglesias’s defense
4. The return of John Lackey
5. Koji Uehara
6. Jackie Bradley Jr’s debut
7. People sending in their pics in Section 36
8. Doubront in the pen
9. John Farrell’s interviews
10. Facebook likes
11. Xander Bogaerts’s debut
12. Beards
13. Jon Lester proving he’s an ace
14. People sending in their pics with a “I’d Rather be in Section 36” sign
15. Craig Breslow’s emergence
16. Battling through injuries
17. A Duckboat Parade
18. Johnny Gomes’s attitude
19. The catching tandem
20. Twitter Followers
21. Ben Cherington
22. People sending in pics of Section 36
23. Three Little Birds
24. David Ortiz’s speech
25. Mike Napoli staying healthy
26. Watching the Sox clinch the ALCS
27. Opening Day
28. Going to an ALDS game
29. Sun in the bleachers
31. World Championship gear
32. Tazawa vs Cabrera
33. People sending in pics from Section 36
34. “Boston” home uniforms
35. Souvenir sodas
36. Watching the Sox clinch the World Series

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

From the Pedro Binder

2003 Topps Total Total Topps           

Another card with a ton of stuff going on. Believe it or not, though, there are quite a few things that work.

Obviously, the circles need to go. I’m not sure if they’re supposed to represent anything, or are just there to annoy me. They do, I suppose, make the picture of Pedro pop, but that’s not enough for them to be there.

Otherwise, the card is nicely designed. The name of the insert set is prominent without being overbearing. I understand the need for a title to be front and center. The Topps Total logo is larger than I’d like. I’d prefer it to be half that size…especially if it’s going to stay right in the middle of the card. Pedro’s name is nice and large, and the Red Sox name is included. While I usually prefer the full picture to be used on a car, the cut-out works in this case. Maybe it’s the slight shadowing effect that does it for me. It’s also nice that Pedro’s leg is the only thing that is blocked by the card design. Plus, I’m an absolute sucker for the player photo covering the border/graphic. It’s like Pedro is falling right out of the card as he delivers the pitch. I can almost feel his motion taking his left leg over the Topps Total logo as he strides.

Overall, while I would have assumed I’d dislike this card on its merits, I don’t. Somehow this card doesn’t make me cringes as much as others.

Which isn’t exactly a glowing endorsement.

Monday, November 25, 2013

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

Once again, the awards season has passed. With that, it’s time to revise the list of best players I’ve seen play live. As I’ve said, I make this list based mostly on awards. After all, my grandkids are more likely to ask me if I’ve seen a former MVP than some player who played well for a while (except for David Ortiz, I suppose). Since I’ve pretty much eliminated everyone from my top 36 who hasn’t won an Cy Young or MVP award, I’ll ignore the ROY winners. The two Cy Young winners were Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherzer. I haven’t seen Kershaw yet. But, I did get to see Scherzer in the ALCS. For the MVPs, I already have Miguel Cabrera on the list. A triple crown will do that for you. But, I don’t have Andrew McCutchen. Beyond that, I added a couple former award winners. I finally got to see Jake Peavy and his Cy Young award. I also realized that I hadn’t yet recorded former MVP Justin Morneau. Plus, I recently looked back at some older games. I knew I had been to a couple games a long time ago, but was reluctant to add any players from those games. Sure, if I saw the Sox in 1988 Jim Rice probably played. But, unless I was sure I didn’t want to jump the gun. Well, I found a couple old ticket stubs recently. A quick look at the box scores from those games allows me to add Hall of Famers Jim Rice and Kirby Puckett. I pretty much have to make room on the list for HOFers, but what about the other guys? I think an MVP is better than just a Cy Young, right? Looking at the list, it looks like I’ll have to eliminate some guys with just one Cy Young in order to fit the new HOFers and MVP. So, that pretty much means Peavy and Scherzer have no shot. It also, obviously, means that Josh Beckett is gone. Without a major award, I can’t carry him anymore. Same goes for Mike Piazza and Nomar and their measly ROY. So, the new list looks like this.

1. Roberto Alomar (HOF)
2. Wade Boggs (HOF)
3. Barry Bonds (MVP)
4. Ryan Braun (MVP)
5. Miguel Cabrera (MVP, triple crown)
6. Jose Canseco (MVP)
7. Roger Clemens (Cy Young)
8. Dennis Eckersley (HOF)
9. Jason Giambi (MVP)
10. Tom Glavine (Cy Young, 300 wins)
11. Juan Gonzalez (MVP)
12. Ken Griffey Jr (All-Century Team)
13. Vladimir Guerrero (MVP)
14. Roy Halladay (Cy Young)
15. Josh Hamilton (MVP)
16. Rickey Henderson (HOF)
17. Randy Johnson (Cy Young, 300 wins)
18. Chipper Jones (MVP)
19. Greg Maddux (Cy Young, 300 wins)
20. Pedro Martinez (Cy Young)
21. Andrew McCutchen (MVP)
22. Justin Morneau (MVP)
23. Dustin Pedroia (MVP)
24. Kirby Puckett (HOF)
25. Albert Pujols (MVP)
26. Jim Rice (HOF)
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)

Who’s on your list?

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Red Sox 1-36: 29 is for…

Red Sox 1-36: 29 is for…

29 runs scored by Sox (vs StL 6/8/1950), most all-time

29 runs. That is a ton of runs. Not only was it a lot of runs, but the Sox won the game 29-4. So, I’m guessing it didn’t feel like a very close game for very long.

As a fan of the Sox, at which point would you feel that enough was enough.

I don’t mean “enough” as in stop running up the score, it’s bad sportsmanship. I mean “enough” as in stop scoring runs I’m already bored. I just want the game to be over so I can celebrate the victory.

I guess part if it would depend on how the runs were scored. Watching six straight bases loaded walks would have a much different feel than watching eight straight doubles. But, even then, once you got to 15-4, or 25-4, I think I’d start to pull for the other team to get some outs.

These days, I might also worry about the Red Sox starting pitcher. I remember one game I was at where the Sox scored 10 runs or so in the first couple innings. Great, right? Except that Pedro was on the mound. So, having the double-digit lead meant I was only going to see Pedro for the minimum five innings to save his arm. That probably wasn’t as much of a problem back then. But, a blowout these days means that all the good players are out of the game early. Even the position players would get a rest once the game reached the later innings. Pretty disappointing when you’re watching a game to see your favorites.

So, I’m certainly not going to complain about any Red Sox victory. I definitely want them to crush every opponent. I want easy victories in every game.

Just not, necessarily, that easy.

29 is for 29 runs scored in one game.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

It’s a Big Deal

Of course, any deal involving Prince Fielder is a big deal.

Is it me, or are a lot more big contracts being traded these days than they used to be? And, traded early on in the contract as well. Gonzalez and Crawford were dealt after a year and a half. Reyes lasted a year. Fielder lasted two. I know there are probably more big contracts being handed out lately, so the number is probably bigger just because of that. But, did it ever happen before. Mike Hampton? Mike Piazza? Not sure.

What does that mean? Are teams quicker to bail on mistakes? Is the news cycle shorter? Miami got all the press it could from Reyes, so they dumped him? Or, is rebuilding more acceptable? Some Red Sox fans were actually convinced trading away Crawford and Gonzalez was a good thing. Would they have ever bought that line ten years ago?

Whatever the reason, the Rangers find themselves with a new first baseman. The best part? It’s not Mike Napoli. Texas was supposed to be the main competition for the Red Sox over the bearded one’s services. Getting them out of the way is certainly a good thing for the Sox. Plus, it’s not like the Tigers find themselves with a void at first. They’ll just shift their two-time defending MVP over there to take that spot. So, even though the deal supposedly helped two AL playoff contenders, it probably works out for the Sox because it helps them out too.

The deal also increased Texas’s payroll. As one of the teams mentioned in the same sentence as Jacoby Ellsbury, that more good news for the Sox. Are the Rangers less likely to shell out the big money for Jacoby now? You’d think so. The fewer teams there are with money to spend, the more likely Ellsbury finds himself back in Boston.

Not a bad improvement from a deal the Red Sox didn’t even make.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


It comes up almost every time an umpire’s call decides the outcome of a game. The standard response from some people is that you can’t complain about the call. You should have done your job so that the call didn’t matter. That certainly has been mentioned this week after the Patriots were screwed over by the non-interference call on Monday. Well, if the Pats hadn’t fumbled earlier, it wouldn’t have mattered that the ref’s are morons. If the defense had tackled better, it wouldn’t matter that the ref’s lacked the integrity to make a tough call against the home team. If the Pats had just executed better.

It’s that “executed” term that I always focus on. The Patriots certainly use it all the time. The Red Sox do too. I’ve heard many Sox players reference executing the game plan against a certain hitter or pitcher. It’s all about execution.

Whenever that term is used, it’s implied that all a team need to do in order to win is execute the plan. Which, I suppose, is true. If the plan is to strike out Miguel Cabrera by pitching him away, and Tazawa does that, then he got him out by executing properly. But, when players and coaches talk about execution, it’s also implied that perfect execution is possible. Do they really think it is?

Another football example. A Detroit Lions coach once was talking about drawing up running plays for Barry Sanders. Sometimes, they’d create the play, and realize that there was one defender that wasn’t accounted for in the blocking scheme. They decided that that was the guy that Barry needed to make miss the tackle. So, if Sanders executed the play properly, he would fake that one guy out of his shoes, and everyone else would be blocked.

But, can you assume perfect execution on a play?

Obviously, teams don’t assume perfect execution when they set up all procedures. After all, on a groundball to the infield, the catcher is supposed to run down the baseline to back up the play at first. So, the catcher needs to execute the play in case the infielder doesn’t execute. If all the infielder needed to do was execute the play, there would be no need for a back-up. Same thing with a play at the plate. The pitcher goes and backs up the throw home. There’s a system in place to account for a lack of execution.

What about other plays? Take the pick-off play that ended game four of the World Series. The Sox were mocked by just about everyone for holding the runner on at first. But, apparently, they felt they saw something that could allow them to pick the runner off. So, if Koji could execute the play, they could get the out. But, if Koji couldn’t make a good move and put the throw where it needed to be, it would all be for naught. They would have left a gaping hole on the right side with nothing to show for it.

How much slop in execution is expected?

I assume there has to be some allowance for talent when it comes to a game plan. They don’t say that Jon Lester and Felix Doubront are both lefties, so they both get the same game plan. All they need to do is both execute it. Obviously, Lester’s ability to hit the exact spot needed to get the out is different than Doubront's. Right? They don’t just put the pressure on Doubront to figure out how to properly execute it, right? When they say to throw a fastball on the outside corner, do they assume the fastball will be right where they need it to be? Do they assume it will work if the ball is a half inch off? An inch? Is that the job of the catcher? To only call a pitch that he knows the pitcher can execute? Is that why the pitcher shakes the catcher off? Because he knows he can’t execute that pitch, but could execute another option? What if he can’t execute any of them?

Where does the need for proper execution of a plan stop, and talent present in a human being take over? Do you need an ability to execute factor?

When did my ability to properly execute a decent blog post end and my ability to write something worth reading come into play?

Monday, November 18, 2013

I’m Confused By Drew

There’s been a lot of talk back and forth lately about Stephen Drew. First he’s not coming back to Boston. Then, it’s still possible he could come back to Boston. Then, both sides are still interested in each other.

I’m just not sure why the Sox would want him back.

Not that I don’t see his value as a player. He’s an above average shortstop who can certainly hit well enough to add value to the team. Which is exactly why they signed him in the first place.

But, they only signed him to a one-year deal for a reason too. Right?

Wasn’t he just the stop gap for Xander Bogaerts? They didn’t sign a shortstop to a three year deal entering this season because he would be overkill by the end of the deal. Frankly, thanks to Iggy, Drew was almost overkill this year.

So, what’s changed?

I don’t think that Bogaerts has shown anything that would change that plan. Has he? Does anyone have a problem handing him the starting job next season? Isn’t a season very similar to the one Drew gave us a reasonable expectation for Xander? So, why sign a guy to block his path? Especially to the multi-year deal that some are talking about?

Is Middlebrooks the problem? Is he not holding up his end of the plan? Do they not trust him to start at third? If that’s the problem, why wouldn’t the Sox get a replacement third baseman? Rather than shift Bogaerts from the position he’s going to be playing for the rest of  his career to fill in, just grab Drew’s comp at third? Even if Middlebrooks needs another year, isn’t it still XB-WMB on the left side for the six years after that?

Is Middlebrooks not coming back next year? Do they plan on sending him off as the big chip in a big prize? That would make moving Bogaerts to third more reasonable. Maybe even make the move permanent. Then, you can sign Drew for a few years while the Sox shop around for a replacement.

Are the Sox just driving the price up for everyone else? Might as well pretend you’re interested. Anything you can do to make other teams spend money has to help you. (For the same reason, I think Pedroia should just randomly tweet that he’d be open to moving back to shortstop if it would help the team free up a spot for another player.)

Or, are the Sox just staying in on Drew so they have options for as long as they can? Keep the conversation going just in case Miami calls tomorrow dangling outfielders. Hate to officially pass on Drew, someone you know can play well here, and then have an offer come in the next day of a stud that required Middlebrooks in return.

What’s the motivation?

Saturday, November 16, 2013

From the Pedro Binder

2003 Topps League Leaders: AL Strikeouts

Sweet Mary, what an awful card.

I’ve mentioned before that the danger with putting more than on league leader on a single card is ending up with undesirable combinations. This is certainly one of those.

If we ignore the obvious defect, the card is a bit bland, but understandable. It uses the same style found on all the 2003 Topps cards. The blue borders. The thick colored band. The picture with both sharp and rounded corners. In converting that to a three-player card, it ended up a little blah. While I don’t think I’d want Topps completely redefining the look of the League Leaders cards, there must have been something they could have done. This looks like they’re just sticking the three pictures on the card.

Then, there’s the big problem. My Pedro card has been soiled by the presence of not one, but two Yankees! The horror. Not just any Yankees, either. The big lying cheat, and the wuss. Clemens, who went to Toronto because it was closer to Houston, and Mussina who went to NY because he didn’t feel like the Sox would win him a ring. (Who knows, he might be right. Maybe with him, the Sox wouldn’t have won in 2004) So, I have to stare at those two mugs every time I flip through the Pedro binder. Topps doesn’t even point out that Pedro was the league leader. Unless you assume it goes right to left, you’d have no idea that Pedro bested those other two slugs. In the old days, a kid probably would have cut the card to remove the offending elements.

That’s not a terrible idea in this case.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Fenway Playlist

I don’t know about you, but after the excitement of the World Series I can’t seem to get "Three Little Birds” out of my head. I’m still humming it to myself. I’m constantly looking for it on my ipod. It won’t go away. When I’m not humming that song, I cue up “Sandstorm” so I can remember what it was like to see Koji running towards the mound to close it out. Eventually I got tired of searching for those songs, and figured I should just put together a Fenway Playlist. That would make it easier. But, which songs to put on it?

Sure, I could just go online and get the complete list of Red Sox walk-up/entrance songs. But, that’s not really what I wanted. Some of the songs just weren’t memorable to me. Pedroia had a song. But, not only do I not know the name of it, I can’t even remember how it goes. Clearly it didn’t have an effect on me. Some songs I just don’t like. Johnny Gomes walks up to “Boys are Back.” I like that one line that plays when he walks up, but really dislike the rest of the song. Can’t imagine putting it on a playlist. Plus, there are other songs that are played at Fenway that aren’t associated with a player. Yes, like “Sweet Caroline” that would just need to be included. So, I went through my collection and came up with the following list of songs that I felt needed to be on the list.

“I’m Shipping Up to Boston” – Dropkick Murphys. Is there a better entrance song in the history of closers? Didn’t think so. The way it started slow and worked into a frenzy was just perfect. Even now, when it was used before playoff games to start the crowd off on the right foot, it’s fantastic. It was a no-brainer.

“Three little Birds” – Bob Marley. Did you ever imagine that you’d hear every person in Fenway scream as loud as they could, “Every little thing gonna be alright”? If that’s not symbolic of how far the Red Sox have come, I don’t know what is.

“Boys ‘Round Here” – Blake Shelton. This might be the only other walk-up song that I can remember distinctly. When I hear it, I can just picture Salty walking to the plate.

“Take Me Out To The Ballgame” – Boston Pops Orchestra. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard the Pops play this song live. I know I’ve been at Fenway a couple times when they’ve been there, but not sure if they ever played this one. But, it was as close to an organ rendition that I had.

“Sweet Caroline” – Neil Diamond. Whether you love the sing-along or hate it, this song needs to be on the playlist.

“Mogura no Uta” – Express. The fantastic entrance song for Junichi Tazawa. I can’t understand a word of it, but the beat just gets me ready to see something special. Hearing that song during the playoffs meant that a really good hitter was about to strike out.

“Sandstorm” – Darude. Hear this song? The Sox are about to win the game.

“Dirty Water” – The Standells. If you hear this song, the Red Sox just won. It means that you just had a pretty good few hours. Even when I’m not at Fenway, the Pavlov effect of hearing this song puts me in a good mood.

“Joy to the World” – Three Dog Night. I honestly don’t know if this song was played all the time at Fenway, or not. But, I do know it was played after the Sox clinched the World Championship. Something about being there with everyone else and belting out that song at the top of my lungs imprints that feeling on me.

“Livin’ On a Prayer” – Bon Jovi. Another song that may be unique to game six. But, after screaming that we were “Halfway there!” during the game, hearing this song always takes me back.

There are also some older songs that, while they might not still be played at the park, always bring me back.

“Kryptonite” – 3 Doors Down. The walk-up song for Jason Varitek was a constant at Fenway for years. I still expect to hear him being announced whenever I hear the song.

“Low Rider” – War. If this wasn’t the first entrance song, it’s definitely the first one that I remember. Those first few notes were all that were needed to know that Derek Lowe was on his way in to save the game. I always wondered if he picked this song, or if someone was just being clever.

“Okajima Oki-Doki” – Tatami. Corny. Obnoxious. Fantastic. I don’t know many middle relievers with a themes song written for them. But, if the idea of an entrance song is to get the crowd worked up, this one certainly does its job.

“AllStar” – Smashmouth. They performed this song live before the 1999 All-Star game. Whenever I hear the song, it’s still all I can think of. Pedro absolutely dominating the best the National League had to offer.

“Mambo No. 5” – Lou Bega. I’ve mentioned this song before. During the 1999 ALCS, they played this song. The Sox were making a game of it in the late innings, and Pedro made his way to the bullpen. As he reached the pen, they played this song. He took off his jacket, and danced along to this song as only Pedro could while he started to get loose. The Sox were trailing in the game, and the series, but while that song was playing, things were certainly looking up.

So, those are the songs that made my Fenway Playlist. They all take me right to Fenway whenever I hear them. What do you think?

Which songs would be on your playlist for Fenway (or whichever Park you call home)?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Managers Decision

What makes a good manager?

No, I'm not talking about a healthy upbringing and life experiences. I'm wondering how you know if a manager is good, or not.

Today, MLB gives its answer to who they feel is the best manager this year. But, I'm not sure how you know.

The obvious choice around these parts is John Farrell. Clearly, his job taking the Sox from last place to the World Championship shows how good he was. But, how much of it was him, and how much of it was his players? After all, last year's Red Sox didn't have Victorino on it. Or Mike Napoli. Or Johnny Gomes. It was missing David Ortiz most of the year. No John Lackey. No Koji. In fact, the team was rebuilt so well from last year, that Ben Cherington won GM of the year. So, how much credit do we give to the cook, and how much to the guy who buys the groceries?

Granted, in this case, one of the moves Cherington made was to hire Farrell. So, you could say he won the award, in part, because he hired the best manager. Maybe.

Bobby Valentine said recently that he'd like to think that if he was the manager this year, they would have won the championship too. Of course he said that, and he was rightly laughed at. Another case of Valentine self-promotion. But, really, how far off would he have been? Wasn't the whole theme this year that the team really liked each other? They liked playing baseball. They were fun to watch. Would Valentine change that? Everyone loves to point at the "everyone hates each other" line from last year, and point out how that changed this year. But, weren't at least half of the players this year on the team last year? So, John Farrell made other players like Pedroia? Or Saltalamacchia? John Farrell made Johnny Gomes love to play baseball?

What, exactly, did Farrell do?

I've never been in a baseball clubhouse. (Well, I've never been in a clubhouse when there were players in it.) So, I have no idea about the "clubhouse culture." But, I do know that the manager's office is set apart from the rest of the clubhouse. Makes me wonder what influence he had. I'm also reminded of a line Terry Francona used during an interview for the 2004 World Series DVD. He said he was dying for the team to get a "team identity" and that the goofy hair thing ended up being it. He didn't say he was trying to form an identity. He didn't instruct the players to get an identity. He was just hoping it would happen. Just like it wasn't Farrell that started the "beard" thing. In fact, he flatly refused to play along and grow one of his own. It was all on the players.

Now, you could say that Farrell allowed the beard thing to take over. Maybe another manager would have insisted his players stay clean shaven. Maybe he would have forbidden players from taking extra workouts, for fear that they would wear themselves out. Maybe that's what a good manager does. Knows when to step in, and when to back off. Is that it?

Is it in-game stuff? Hard to imagine that one manager really distinguishes himself in game management. Really, how often is there a decision that comes up that's a puzzler?

Maybe it's just one of those things that can't really be measured. Maybe Farrell just didn't blow it? Maybe he got out of the way when the players were bonding, and didn't really screw up the game management? Is it just about being the right fit for the team? Valentine somehow didn't fit last year. Maybe Buck Showalter wouldn't work. I have to assume that Joe Maddon and his ridiculous themed road trips would be laughed off the bus. So, maybe it's just being the right guy in the right place. Is that what it takes to be manager of the year?

Sure hope it is.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

I Scored!

October 30, 2013

OK. Let’s check out this scorecard and see if anything interesting is going on.

Why, look at the “Game Notes” section. What do we have here? It seems this scorecard is from Game 6 of the 2013 World Series. I’m guessing this was a pretty big game. Hope you don’t mind reliving it again. I know I don’t.

You probably don’t even need to look at the card at this point to remember what happened, but let’s do it anyway. Check out the pitcher’s box. We can see another fantastic start from John Lackey. How many times did you think you’d ever say that? But, there we were saying it over and over again this postseason. Even better was the bullpen. 2.1 hitless innings, including Tazawa throwing what might have been the most important third of an inning in Red Sox history. Wish I could give him a save for that performance.

What about the batters? Again, some of it you’ll remember. Shane Victorino had a great game. Mike Napoli did not. My favorite line is probably David Ortiz. I’m surprised Mike Matheney hasn’t had that line enlarged and printed in every newspaper in the country. After practically being begged to never throw Ortiz a strike, he gave in. He walked him intentionally three times. He scored twice following one of those walks. Doesn’t look like the strategy worked all that well.

I’m disappointed by one thing that isn’t on the scorecard. Since Jacoby Ellsbury made it back to first base after getting out of a pickle, it shows up as a non-play on the card. It’s like it never happened. Which, I suppose, saved me from recording a 1-3-6-3-4-1 out…if that’s even how it went.

The hero of the game? We all know it’s Shane Victorino. His three run double ended up being all the runs the Sox would need on the night. For good measure he added another RBI the next inning to close out the scoring.

The goat? I was amazed to see how poorly Mike Napoli played. I guess it was lost in the celebration, and the fact that he did squeeze out an RBI. While I could go with either Ross or Bogaerts since they both went hitless, they weren’t protecting David Ortiz. I think what makes the “walking Ortiz” strategy look even worse is that the guy behind him struck out four times on the night, and Ortiz still scored twice. The Sox wanted more out of their clean-up hitter.

But, of course, it didn’t matter. The Sox piled up the runs, and the pitching made them stick. Koji Uehara used his one strikeout to clinch the World Championship in front of the home crowd.

And the scorecard shows how it happened.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

It’s Been One Week

While the honeymoon isn’t over, and I certainly don’t want it to be over, I can understand that the Sox need to move on to other things. They can’t bask in the glow of their World Championship forever. I can. They can’t. So, they need to move to create the team that will take home next year’s championship.

How are they going to do that?

They find themselves in a fortunate situation, where they probably don’t HAVE to do anything. Let’s start with that. What if Ben decided to take the next few months off? He doesn’t sign any new free agents, make any trades, or resign any of his own free agents. That would leave the Red Sox with this starting line-up.

Victorino RF
Nava 1B
Pedroia 2B
Ortiz DH
Gomes LF
Middlebrooks 3B
Bogaerts SS
Lavarnway/Ross C
Bradley Jr CF



Honestly? That’s not terrible. Obviously, it’s a little thin on depth. But, just for something to talk about, you get the idea. Plus, I wouldn’t be shocked if Drew accepts the qualifying offer, and allows a little bit of infield flexibility.

So, from there it’s all gravy. There’s no huge hole that HAS to be filled. Sure, they’re not all-star at catcher. But, if they couldn’t sign Salty and ended up with that tandum, I bet they could make it work.

What does that mean? The Sox can pick and choose. This isn’t after ’04 when they had KEY players who could leave, and absolutely needed to resign at least one of them. Or, in ’07 when letting Mike Lowell go would have killed the team. The Sox can see which one of their free agents wants to return on their terms. If they all do, that’s great. If none of them do, the Sox can survive. If they want to find other replacements for those who might leave, they can do that too. If they love McCann, they can get him (although they shouldn’t). If they think Trumbo is a better option than Napoli, that’s fine. Either way.

What a luxury. Boras can’t hold Ellsbury over their heads. The Sox can take him or leave him. If Miami wants too much for Giancarlo Stanton, that’s fine. The Sox can pass. But, if the Sox want to pay the ransom for Ells, they have the money to do so because they don’t HAVE to spend it anywhere else. Any move can be made or not made, and covered for by other moves. It’s both interesting, and exciting to see what will come of it. Do they spend the money they’ve saved on a center fielder? Do they let signing Drew make Middlebrooks go to Miami? Or Seattle? Do they bring everybody back for old time’s sake?

All the doors are open.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Collecting the Sox: 2013 World Series

Yeah, this will sound terrible to other fans. But, all these Boston World Championships are starting to get expensive!

I talked about this a few years ago, but it’s worth mentioning again. Collecting things from a Red Sox World Championship might be the most fun aspect of Collecting the Sox.

There’s just so much out there to collect. Both in quantity, and variety. I’ve already purchased as many different newspapers as I can get my hands on proclaiming the World Championship. I’m searching for that perfect photo to hang on the wall. I already bought my commemorative can of Coke. I’m on the hunt for a fantastic baseball.

But, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

What about DVDs? There’s a ton to choose from. MLB will release its official World Series DVD. How can you not want that? NESN will come out with its own version, recapping the season. You really need both in order to relive the entire season in all its glory. Of course, you also need the DVD box set for the World Series. Who wouldn’t want to have copies of every game of the Series?

Or t-shirts? The official championship shirt is actually half decent this year. I'd consider wearing it. Or, there are tons of less official ones out there. Have a ball!

You like hats? Again, the official locker room version isn't nearly as outlandish as they usually are. But, of course, manufactures have come to your aid if your tastes land elsewhere. 

And that's just the beginning. Keep your eyes open for cereal boxes, magazines, Christmas ornaments, and more! It could go on forever.

The best part of all this? Just about every time you turn around, you're reminded that the Red Sox are the World Champions. It wasn't a dream. Obviously, it really happened. I can't go to a gas station, or book store, or supermarket without all this gear reminding me of that great night. It's like I've been totally immersed in the Red Sox for the week. People keep asking me if my feet have hit the floor yet. How could they, if all these collectibles keep lifting me up again? And, that's what collecting the Sox is all about, right? Reminding you how much fun it is to be a Red Sox fan.

How can that not be a wonderful thing?

What have you picked up already? What are you looking for?

Sunday, November 3, 2013

From the Pedro Binder

2004 Topps World Series Champions

Once again, I need to start off by saying that this card does, in fact, have all four borders. I also need to start with a question. Is Busch Stadium? It looks like the style, but I can't find a pic of the stadium with that arch thing in it. This arch shows up a couple times on Topps cards, and I can't see any world Series logos on either of them. But, in neither case would I expect to. Pedro's hair looks a bit off too. If it's a shot from the World Series, good move by Topps. If not, poor form.

The rest of the card is just fine. It uses the 2005 Topps design, which is still weird. Obviously, the use of the World Series logo is a wonderful touch. I also like how they added "2004 World Series Champions" on the side instead of the team name. It's like they're one in the same. Which, I suppose, they are.

I'll also admit that as weird as it seems, the 2005 design works better for this set than the 2004 would have. In the 2004 set, the team name is the large name across the top. Since this set is all Red Sox, that didn't need to be so prominent. The 2005 design, however, does the exact opposite. It has the players name right up top in big letters. It makes is great when flipping through the set in a binder to see the listing of Champions.

As I've mentioned, a card company can't screw up a set with the World Series logo in it. Topps certainly didn't in this case...other than photo choice.

Can't wait for the 2013 set.

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