Tuesday, December 31, 2013

What a Year!

I know. Year-end recaps are everywhere. Frankly, it’s a pretty lazy blog post. But, when your team has the type of year the Red Sox had, and you’re still living off the high that they’ve given you, it seems odd to not at least mention it.

The number of games I made it to Fenway was a little down this year. But, I more than made up for the lack of quantity with a huge increase in quality. I saw two former MVPs at Fenway (Pedroia, Cabrera), three Cy Young award winners (Jake Peavy, David Price, Max Scherzer), and more all-stars than I care to count. I also added some of the best games a person can hope for.

Home Opening Day. Nobody quite knew what to expect from this team on opening day. I said over and over that I didn’t know what to make of a team that was better than average everywhere. I didn’t know how to predict it. I didn’t see what the team was missing that the 2012 SF Giants had. I just didn’t know. Watching them win the home opener was a wonderful thing.

Boston Strong. Little did I know when I got tickets to a Saturday game in April that I would be going to one of the most important games ever. A game you tell the grandkids about. I actually feel a little guilty adding it to the list, because talking about it on a Red Sox blog seems to diminish everything it stood for.

ALDS Game 2. As much as we like to call Boston the City of Champions, and imply that anything less than winning it all is a disappointment…playoff games are still pretty cool. Watching John Lackey take care of business was thrilling. We even got to give Will Myers an ovation when he finally caught a ball.

AL Clincher. I said at the time, I had never seen the Red Sox clinch anything in person. If you’re going to do it for the first time, might as well make it when the Sox clinch the pennant. The excitement. The anticipation. The strikeout to end it. Celebration. Trophy. It had everything.

World Series Clincher. Well, almost everything. After never seeing a clinching game, I got to two in two weeks. This one, of course, upped the ante just a little bit. I don’t think I’ve ever used my seat for less of a game. (Well, except for between innings.) You had to stand to really take in all that was happening. This was going to be it. The game everyone had been waiting for. The celebration everyone wanted to be a part of. It was it all.

Those were, of course, just the highest of the highs. There was also everything else a great season brings. Walk-off wins. Long home runs. Marquee pitching match-ups. Huge strikeouts. Great double plays. Many (although unfortunately not all) seen from the comfort of Section 36. Like I said, what a year!

What were some of your highlights?

Saturday, December 28, 2013

From The Pedro Binder

2003 UD MVP

For a card as flashy as this one it, I actually really like it.

At first glance, the thing that pops out at me is the photo selection. Pedro’s not in his wind up. He’s not staring down a batter. It looks like he’s thanking one of his fielders for a nice play. While not exactly earth shattering, it’s something a little different. My favorite part about the picture, though, is that it covers part of the MVP logo. I generally hate it when the name of the card company is the largest and most important part of the card. But, I think an exception can be mad if the picture is actually allowed to obscure the logo. So, instead of calling attention to itself, it actually makes Pedro more prominent.

The other thing that makes Pedro pop is the background color. The background of the photo is blurred with a pinkish hue to it. Even the “jersey” texture that is applied to the top of the card, while unnecessary, helps make Pedro really stand out. It also helps to make the MVP logo look like it’s a patch on a uniform. While that design element is a bit wasted on this card, it’s a nice touch.

The rest of the card is exactly as needed. Pedro’s name and position are there, but tucked out of the way on the bottom. The card name, while appearing for a second time, is the one that is in unreadable foil.

That all adds up to a card worthy of being called “MVP.”

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Happy Boxing Day!

I can’t think of a better day than one set aside to celebrate giving people things in boxes to discuss World Series DVD box sets.

As I’ve said before, one of the best (and most expensive) things about watching your team win the World Series is all the stuff you can buy to celebrate it. One of the more interesting ones is the set of DVDs showing each game of the World Series.

Honestly, I run a little hot and cold on these sets. While I love the idea of having a copy of every game for posterity, I’m not sure if I really need them all. I don’t have all the Matrix movies. If I feel like watching a Matrix-type film, I’m going to watch my favorite one. Why would I watch one of the others? Same goes with most movie franchises. I don’t need to own every one. If I’m in the mood to watch a Pirates of the Caribbean movie, why would I want all four to pick from? I’ll probably only ever watch my favorite one or two. I suppose the pitching match-ups could be different for Sox games. I might feel like watching Pedro instead of Curt, or Beckett instead of Dice-K. But, do I want to watch a loss? I’m not sure how strong my desire would be so see a poorly played game. Or a game that the Sox got bludgeoned in.

In earlier years, that wasn’t such a problem. In 2004, the Sox didn’t lose a World Series game. So, I didn’t have to worry about watching a loss. They did include all seven games against the Yankees in the set. So, there were three losses in there. But, the Yankee games are different. I actually like watching Game 3, just to feel all smug when everyone is counting the Sox out. In a weird way, I enjoy the losses…knowing what’s coming. A bit of dramatic irony.

In 2007, again all the World Series games were wins. Plus, the box set included the last three victories of the ALCS. So, you have seven victories to choose from.

But, this season, the Sox lost two World Series games. Those games are included in the set. So, if I’m sitting down to get my Red Sox fix, and can pick between game 6 of the World Series (or even game 6 of the ALCS, which is included) or game 3…why would I pick the loss? Sure, I might want to check out the obstruction play. Or even replay that entire inning. But, watching the whole game might be a bit much.

Of course, that doesn’t mean I don’t want the set. What kind of Sox fan would I be if I didn’t want it? I just might not watch every disc.

Would you watch a World Series loss in its entirety? 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

List of 36: Things I wouldn’t mind seeing under the tree Christmas morning

1. MLB 2013 World Series DVD
2. 2014 Red Sox calendar
3. Shane Victorino WS Jersey-T
4. 2013 World Champions Budweiser bottle
5. World Series Champions baseball
6. 1935 Goudy Wes/Rick Ferrell
7. 2103 WSC locker room T-shirt
8. 2013 WSC key chain
9. 1952 Topps Mel Parnell
10. Koji Uehara WS Jersey-T
11. Shane Victorino auto 2013 WS baseball
12. 2013 World Series hat
13. Cork from WS celebratory champagne
14. 1949 Bowman Johnny Pesky
15. 2013 World Series Champions coasters
16. Band of Bearded Brothers DVD
17. “We Own the Parade” T-shirt
18. 2013 Topps Red Sox team set
19. 2013 WS locker room champagne bottle
20. 2013 World Series program
21. 1911 T205 Bill Carrigan
22. Red Sox wine bottle
23. Koji Uehara ALCS Oyo minifigure
24. 2013 WSC locker room hat
25. “We Own the East” T-shirt
26. Jarrod Saltalamacchia Jersey-T
27. John Lackey auto 2013 WS baseball
28. Kevin Millar auto 2004 WS baseball
29. 1916 M101-4 Duffy Lewis
30. 2013 WS lanyard
31. Alan Embree auto 2004 WS baseball
32. Shane Victorino WS Oyo minifigure
33. 2013 World Series Box Set DVDs
34. Pokey Reese auto 2004 WS baseball
35. WS Game 6 Oyo minifigure team set
36. 1960 Topps Carl Yastrzemski

Sunday, December 22, 2013

My Problem with Completing a Set

Or, “Why I’m only trying to build one set at the moment.”

I’m trying to complete the 1975 Topps set. Many people will think it’s an obvious choice. And, it probably is. Personally, there were many things that drew me to this set. It was old. No, it’s not 1956 old. But, old enough to be cool. It looks great. Those colorful borders just scream “build me!” It has a great mix of players. It has some cards of all-stars left over from the 60’s. It has cards of Hall-of-Famers from the 80’s. It has current managers as players. It has a card for a pinch runner. It has rookies of all-stars and Hall-of-Famers. Plus, it’s relatively inexpensive. These days, I’m not spending $100 on any of the cards. Especially since I’m pretty lax with my condition requirements. It’s just perfect.

My problem? I’m not done with the set, and I’ve already used up the coolness factors. I don’t know how close I am to actually completing it. I haven’t run the numbers. But, let’s say it’s 75% just to have numeric fun. That means I still have 100 or so cards to get. But, that means I already have lots of them. So, I have several hundred cards that are “old.” I have several hundred cards that are “colorful.” I have a stack of stars left over from the 60’s like Yaz and Aaron. I have some cards of future stars like Nolan Ryan. I have rookies of Hall-of-Famers like Jim Rice. I have future managers. I even have a pinch runner. So, the only things I have left are to get more cards of stuff I already have.

How do other people deal with this?

I hear people say they want to complete a set because they like the design. But, after you get 500 of them, don’t you have a pretty good collection of a great design? I even purposely haven’t gotten the Robin Yount card yet. I wanted to make that my last card. That way I wasn’t hunting around for some middle reliever from the Angels just to finish the set. I wanted my last card to be something I’d have the desire to actually chase down.

But, that doesn’t seem to be helping.

Sure, I’m still “building” the set. I just don’t have the oomph to do something about that goal. If the choice comes down to getting another old colorful card of some Tiger, or a Red Sox card from a set that I don’t have any of…I’m taking the latter.

Which might by why I haven’t completed a set since the junk wax era. For those sets, it was almost impossible not to complete it just by the amount of packs I was opening. Most of the time, it was done before the season even started. That set-less span is weird, because I’m a “set completer” in other areas of my life. I have every book written by Michael Crichton, because I needed to have them all. But, I suppose, each of those books were distinctly different. So, maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m not actually a set collector.

Or, maybe I just need a new strategy.

How do you find the motivation to complete a set?

Friday, December 20, 2013

Too Much Depth

I know what you’re thinking. The EEIdiots tell me that there’s no such thing as too much depth. As with most of the stuff they say, that’s absolute bunk.

You know why the Red Sox were never mentioned as a landing spot for Robinson Cano? Because they already have Dustin Pedroia. Nobody said they should sign Cano anyway, even though it would give the Red Sox incredible depth. That would have been too much.

Too much depth.

Of course every team and organization needs depth. If something happens to the top guy, it’s important to have someone to take their place. But, there’s a point where it becomes impracticable. Even though Pedroia takes terrible care of himself, having Cano waiting in case he got hurt would be a foolish waste of resources. The same goes for prospects on their way up. It does no good to have a case of prospects if they’ll never see an at-bat because they’re blocked by five other players.

Let’s take a look at the Red Sox prospects. Baseball America has come out with their list of the top ten Red Sox prospects for 2014. They represent the pinnacle of the Red Sox player development machine.

The top prospect is Xander Bogaerts. He’s almost more than a prospect. He should be the Red Sox Opening Day shortstop. Assuming everything goes even remotely as planned, he’ll be there for years to come. Jackie Bradley Jr comes in at number three. Again, he’s less of a prospect and more of the Sox Opening Day centerfielder. Then it gets more interesting.

Number five is Blake Swihart, a catcher. He’s young, so he’s a couple years away from Boston. That’s good, because the Sox have two catchers on the ML roster for this season. They also have a catcher, Christian Vazquez who is a bit ahead of Swihart in the system, but not quite the same prospect. How many catching prospects do you need?

Number six is Garin Cecchini. Again, he’s young…but he plays third base. If memory serves, the Red Sox already have a young third baseman. They need two?

Number seven is Mookie Betts, a second baseman. As we mentioned, the Sox are pretty well set at second for a while. Can’t move him over to short either…there’s that other guy there for quite a few years. His role will be, what exactly?

The rest of the top ten? All pitchers. Five of them. How many starters do the Sox currently have under contract? Six. Lester, Buchholz, and Doubront are here for a bit…probably. That leaves two spots for the rest of them. At what point does it get crazy?

Wouldn’t the Sox be better served by trading some of that excess for an improvement at another position? Maybe an outfielder from Miami?

I understand that cheap young talent allows the Sox to spend more to fill other holes. But, when you have twice as many young players as you do positions to plug them into, it’s getting counterproductive. It’s a waste of resources.

The other reason to have young talent is to trade it for older proven talent. It’s time for the Sox to start trimming that roster a bit.

Use those chips!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

From the Pedro Binder

2004 Topps AL Strikeout Leaders

First off, I have no idea what my scanner thinks. I understand if it doesn’t know where the white border of a card begins or ends. But, why it can’t at least follow the little red line is beyond me. Rest assured, in real life the card has a bottom.

I don’t know why, by I always seem to forget how good Pedro was after 2002. I don’t know why my mind mentally keeps ending his greatness with that should-have-been Cy Young year. That’s why it’s nice for me to see cards like this one reminding me that he was still pretty darn good in 2003. In fact, he finished second in the league in strikeouts. Not bad at all. Maybe it’s the fact that he didn’t lead the league by 50% that has me discounting his season. Much like I have a hard time treating Jon Lester like an ace because he isn’t Pedro, maybe I do the same thing to Pedro himself.

Anyway. About the card.

Yeah. There’s not much special here. I find myself wondering what I expect from league leader cards. There’s really only so many ways you can get three guys on once card and make it interesting. Unless you happen to have all three guys in one pic. I do wish they had put the strikeout totals on the front of the card. I think that’s pretty important when you’re talking about league leaders. I’m also not sure why the AL logo needed to be bigger than Pedro’s head. Maybe, instead of an enormous logo, they should put the picture of the all-time leader in the category? That might make the cards more interesting. Then we could see how Loaiza’s total matched up to Ryan. Or, maybe the active leader. Would also be a way for Topps to get another star onto the card.

But, that’s really all I have. It’s a card that serves its purpose, and works under the constraints it has.

Would have been better if Pedro were on the top.

Monday, December 16, 2013

I Scored!

April 17, 2011

Looking over this scorecard, this is about as close as the Red Sox got to the team they were supposed to have to run away with the rest of the league.

Start down at the pitcher’s spot. Lester threw six strong innings. He was pulled as much for having a huge lead as for any struggles he was having. Bard came in, and put out the fire with a strong inning. The rest of the bullpen just mopped things up. Just the way it was drawn up before the game.

The line-up was stacked, and it showed.  Even with the top two spots in the order doing absolutely nothing, the Sox put up eight runs. Just look at the second inning. That’s where the Sox pretty much won the game, and the only people who got hits were numbers 6-9 in the order. They all reached base, and all scored. That’s what you need if you want your team to succeed.

The hero of the game? It would be easy to go with Ellsbury and his three-run bomb from the nine spot. But, Saltalamacchia also had three RBI, and he spread them out a bit. So, I’m going to give him the nod for having more good at-bats.

The goat? Can I split it and give one horn each to Crawford and Pedroia? You can say that Crawford was more disappointing with that contract. But, Pedroia is the one with the MVP award on his shelf. In either case, having your top two hitters go 0-8 combined is not going to win you a lot of ballgames.

But, it did in this case. The pitching was everything they needed it to be, and the rest of the offense picked up the slack. The Sox cruised to a fairly ho-hum victory, which would happen a lot that season. Especially when the team was constructed the way it was on this day.

And the scorecard shows how it happened.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Collecting the Sox: Yard Sales

One of the more rewarding ways to Collect the Sox is though yard sales. Or, garage sales, or tag sales, or whetever else you want to call them. The Red Sox call theirs a Yard Sale, so let’s go with that. Even, though I’m not really talking about their sale. (Sure, it’s a great way to grab Red Sox stuff. I also can’t believe I haven’t been able to go yet. But, their sale is just too easy.)

There are two things about regular yard sales that make them so much fun. You never know what you’ll find, and the opportunities are everywhere.

The first reason really drives most people to yard sales. What will you find? Where will you find it? I don’t even mean the treasure hunting. Sure, you may find the occasional Ted Williams autographed baseball in a bag of used backyard playthings, or a Tris Speaker rookie card in the pages of an old dictionary. That’s not what gets you up on a Saturday. But, it’s the fact that Red Sox collectibles have infiltrated themselves to such a degree that they can pop up almost anywhere. If you’re looking for furniture, you can do a drive by viewing of a sale. Or, if you want baby clothes, you can fairly quickly see the general age group of a sale and be on your way. Not so with Red Sox collectibles. You can find them in homes of people with kids or grandkids. Couples just starting out, or ones who have amassed clutter for years. You can’t ignore any sale. Who knows who might have an old scorebook from a game they went to years ago. Or a souvenir cup they got on one of their trips to McDonalds. You have to look it all over. It’s part of the hunt.

But, that’s ok, because the volume of stuff out there is so great. With the number of yard sales every weekend, and that quantity of merchandise, you have a high chance of being rewarded for your efforts. And, some of it you really can’t get anywhere else. Sure, you can find anything online these days. But, are you really going to pay to ship a Red Sox drinking glass that you paid a quarter for? Of course not. But, you can grab one at a yard sale. Or a huge framed picture. Or a stuffed animal. Or stuff that doesn’t have enough demand to make it worth listing online, but would still be pretty cool. Even with ebay at your fingertips, the chances of getting some items just aren’t very high.

You’re also not going to break the piggy bank scoping out yard sales. Economical variety. What could be better?

Which makes me wish I went to yard sales more than I do. I love the adventure of it. Walking up the driveway, looking left and right for some red sox peeking out from behind a silverware tray. Anticipation leading to celebration is always a good time.

What’s your favorite Red Sox yard sale purchase?

Thursday, December 12, 2013

How do you know the best group?

With the recent Yankees addition of Jacoby Ellsbury, some people are wondering if Gardner-Ellsbury-Ichiro could be the best defensive outfield ever. Whether it is, or not, it got me wondering what it means to have the best group.

I'm reminded of when Curt Schilling was traded to the Diamondbacks. People wondered if he and Randy Johnson were the best pitching tandem in baseball. ESPN even put out a poll. You could choose between them, or a couple of the Yankees starters, and probably a couple Braves starters. The one that got a lot of votes was "Pedro and any other Boston pitcher." the theory being that Pedro was so great, he carried whichever guy he was paired with to the top. And, he probably would have. But, does that make a good duo?

Or another example that has popped up recently when you talk about all the championships Boston has seen lately. Is this the best stretch ever? Well, not if you just count rings. After all, the Celtics of the 60's have that beat just on their own. But, do you have to somehow take into account the breadth of greatness? That all four teams have rings? Does there have to be some sort of standard deviation involved?

Back to the outfield. How do you pick the greatest outfield of all time? How about just the greatest Red Sox outfield? Do you just take one with Ted Williams or Babe Ruth in it, and call it a day? Or, would a more well-rounded version be better? Sure, if you add up the WAR for a Rice-Lynn-Evans outfield, you might not even reach Ted's WAR on his own. But, does the fact that they're all equally contributing have to count? Do you have to go look at the Golden Outfield with two future Hall-of-Famers on it? Is Williams+2 still better?

So, what do you think? Is the best outfield the one with the highest average member?

Or is it the one with the best outfielder?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

2013 Scavenger Hunt

I don’t know about you, but I didn’t really want this season to end. That’s why this has taken so long to start up again. Basking in the glow a little bit longer. Less excited about turning the page. Plus, everyone waits until the last minute to do these things anyway, right? But, I think we’re ready. It’s time for the Sixth Annual Section 36 Scavenger Hunt! You remember how it works. Below, you’ll find a list of 36 items for you to try and find. When you find an item, take a picture of it and send it along to me in an e-mail. Whoever sends me pictures of the most items wins. Pretty simple, eh? We’ll make the end of the hunt be 12:36 PM eastern time on February 5, 2014. This both gives enough time to find the stuff, and fills the time right up to pitchers and catchers reporting to Spring Training. Sound like fun? What do you win if you find the most items? Worldwide fame and admiration! I will post the winner’s name (and picture if one is provided) on this very site and hail them as the 2013 Scavenger Hunt Champion! I’m sure that Kayla has found her worldwide fame to be quite an honor this past year. If you actually want a prize you can hold in your hand, I’ll award a paperback copy of Mike Vaccaro’s fabulous book The First Fall Classic. I’m also including 200 different Red Sox baseball cards for the winner (Yes, there will be all-stars and Hall-of-Famers included). Not too bad, right? Ready to get started? Here is this year’s list of items to get pictures of:

1. Red Sox car magnet
2. Ticket to World Series game played by the Red Sox
3. Bob Marley CD
4. Official Program from 1999 All-Star game
5. “Sports Illustrated” magazine with Red Sox player on cover
6. Homemade “I’d Rather Be in Section 36” t-shirt
7. Red Sox rug
8. Wine bottle featuring Red Sox player
9. Red Sox pennant
10. Red Sox ice-cream carton
11. Red Sox player
12. Daniel Nava baseball card
13. Used official Section 36 scorecard
14. 2004 World Series baseball
15. Cy Young Statue
16. Jacoby Ellsbury replica jersey
17. 2006 Red Sox Media Guide
18. Red Sox paperweight
19. Autograph of member of 2009 Red Sox
20. Red Sox bikini
21. 2013 World Championship item
22. Mike Napoli t-shirt
23. Harry Hooper Hall of Fame plaque postcard
24. Red Sox coaster
25. Ticket stub from Section 36
26. Red Sox Coca-Cola item
27. Condiment with a picture of Red Sox player on it
28. Red Sox bat
29. Lansdowne St
30. 2007 World Championship banner
31. Red Sox license plate holder
32. Biography of Red Sox player
33. “Fenway Park 100 Seasons” baseball
34. Hallmark Ornament of Red Sox player
35. Female Red Sox fan
36. Male Red Sox fan

A quick clarification. Unless it says otherwise, “Red Sox Player” refers to anyone who ever played for the Sox in a regular season game. That counts even if the player isn’t depicted as a Red Sox player in the picture. So, Jim would be able to use anything from his Phillies Room depicting players like Curt Schilling and Jonathan Papelbon, even if they’re in their Phillies garb.

Now, since I want this to be a scavenger hunt, and not a google search, I’ll need a way to make sure you actually find these items yourself. So, in order to qualify any picture must have any one of these three things in it.

  1. You. This might be the easiest way. If you’re in the picture, I can be pretty sure you actually found the item. This has one advantage in that it doesn’t have to be a new picture. If you went to Fenway last summer and took a picture on Lansdowne St, that would work. Or,
  2. The Section 36 logo. Just have it showing somewhere in the picture. Or,
  3. The address of this blog, “www.section-36.blogspot.com” , written somewhere in the picture. Either write it out on a piece of paper, on a sidewalk with chalk, on someone’s leg, whatever. (Just don’t vandalize anything).

That make sense? So, send in your pictures to me, section36 at gmail dot com (I bet you know which parts to replace with symbols) It would be nice if you told me which items you thought were in each picture. If there’s a tie between people who have the same number of found items, the tiebreaker will be the person who did it with the fewest number of pictures. If you get a picture of a Female Red Sox fan, wearing a Mike Napoli t-shirt, while holding a Red Sox bat, it would be 3 items in one picture. That’s a great start, although I’m sure you can do better. One year, Jere had over 20 items in a single photo! (If I need a second tiebreaker, I’ll have a vote to decide the best pictures.)

I think that covers everything! It’s now up to you to start sending me your pictures. I’ll keep reminding you as the months go by.

Good Luck!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

From the Pedro Binder

2000 UD Prime Performers

Once again I find myself not minding a card that I probably should hate.

In its never-ending pursuit of a way to get star cards into its set in as many ways as possible, Upper Deck came up with the Prime Performers insert set. Good idea. Pedro certainly qualified for that set based on the season he had in 1999. Like many insert sets of the period, the card is just cluttered with stuff. But, it all seems to have a reason, and works for me.

The action photo of Pedro, while being really small, pops off the card. It’s the only thing in full color, so it really magnifies its importance. The monochromatic headshot of Pedro adds quite a bit to the feel, without distracting the viewer. If that shot was is color, I would hate it. But, this way, it works. There are a bunch of statistics cluttering the bottom of the card too. But, they are Pedro’s stats. And, they’re completely relevant to his status as a “prime performer.” It’s also nice because every time I look at Pedro’s numbers from 1999-2000, I can’t help but smile.

So, while this card has a lot going on, it does it in an amazingly subtle way. It doesn’t add a lot of stuff that doesn’t need to be there. It highlights the important stuff, but still lets you clearly see everything you’d be looking for. I’m even willing to overlook the overall “dark” feel to the card.

That makes for a nice insert card.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Picture Pages

If you “like” the Section 36 facebook page (And, really, why wouldn’t you?) you know that lots of pictures get posted. At least one a day. Pictures of people in Section 36. Pictures of Section 36. Pictures from Section 36. It’s that last category that has created a bit of a problem at the moment. When you take a picture from Section 36, lots of times you get the centerfielder. Or, should I say, the ex-centerfielder. That means I have a stockpile of pictures ready to post with Jacoby Ellsbury in them. While I don’t mind posting pictures of him (As I mentioned, I’m not angry), I feel weird flooding the page with pictures of the new Yankees centerfielder. I’d like to spread it out a bit, at least. That means I need your help.

I need more pictures!

Now, I assume that if you have pictures of Section 36, or from Section 36, or of you in Section 36, you’ve already sent them in. If you somehow forgot, go ahead and do it now. That leaves the final category you can help with now…pictures of you wishing you were in Section 36!

So, that’s now your challenge. Make up a sign that says, “I’d Rather Be in Section 36.” Any size will do. Take your picture with it, and send it along to me. E-mails (section36 at gmail dot com) or tweets work just fine. Then, I can have some more pictures on hand to let me space out the Jacobys just a bit.

Do it now.

Be creative.

Have fun with it.

Need some inspiration? Check out these fine pics that people have already sent in.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


So, how’s everyone doing?

Personally, I find myself both confused and surprised by my reaction to Ellsbury’s defection. I’m not angry. I’m not depressed. I’m more annoyed than anything else.

Hard to be angry. He didn’t do anything particularly bad. He went to the team that offered him the most money. By reports I’ve seen, 50% more money. That’s not nothing. And I’m certainly not going to complain about that “loyalty” garbage that’s being tossed about. He gave the Sox his best years. Not sure what else he owes them. They certainly aren’t in the habit of needlessly paying players just to be loyal. Just ask David Ortiz.

Hard to be depressed. Did anyone really think he was coming back? He was a Boras client. The Red Sox have been on a youth movement. The Sox have a young center fielder. There was that rib thing a couple years ago. So, unless the market for Ells completely dried up to the point where the Sox somehow made the best offer, he was gone. Now he’s gone. That’s the way it is. Even for someone who has called Ellsbury my favorite player on the Sox. This wasn’t Nomar or Manny being traded. Or Gonzalez. This was expected, and accepted long ago.

No, I’m just annoyed that he went to the Yankees. Not even, really, because he makes their team better…which he does. But, now I have to hear about it for a week, and a week leading up to each and every series with the Yankees. Will he get booed? Cheered? He stole three bases on the Sox! Will he steal four bases against the Sox? If he had followed Salty to Miami, I get none of that. I get an hour of saying goodbye, and it’s onto the next thing.

I never considered Ellsbury someone the Sox had to keep. He’s a great player, and a fantastic lead-off hitter. But, I think his skill set is more conducive to a gradual replacement than some others. It’s one thing to replace 45 home runs. It’s another to replace a .350 OBP. You can get a guy who gets on base pretty well easier than a power hitter. A lot of the reaction to this departure depends on the next move. Do the Sox go with Victorino-Bradley Jr-Nava in the outfield? Do they get Beltran? Does this mean Napoli’s signed by Friday?

For the Yankees, the move makes some sense, under one condition. If the printing press they used to have in the front office is back up and running and printing out money like the good old days. People in Boston are laughing saying they’ll regret this signing in three years. Well, that means they won’t regret it for the next three. Plus, they regret most of their contracts right now. They just spent more money to compensate. If they’re going to keep doing that, might as well sign the best players you can. It also means Gardner is expendable. They couldn’t find a good pitcher on the free agent market. Maybe now they can trade for one.

I’ll need to take a wait and see for this one. I’d prefer the Sox still had Ells, but I’m OK going on without him. It’s all about the next move.

Just wish it wasn’t the Yankees.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Pierzynski in, Saltalamacchia out

Well, filling out a scorecard didn’t get any easier.
Finally the Sox addressed one of their glaring holes. And, it was a little bit surprising.
The Sox have four holes left by free agents. Not holes in the sense that they are impossible to fill, or are top priorities necessarily. But, when the Sox take the field next April, they need players at catcher, first, short, and outfield. If the Sox simply signed the players who played those positions last year that would be fine. Or, a suitable replacement would not be impossible to find for any of them. The Sox took the latter route for at least one of them.
A.J. Pierzynski was signed to a one year deal, apparently, to catch for the Sox next year. On the surface, it’s a “meh” signing. A veteran signed to a one-year stopgap deal is a very common thing. The Sox sign a few of those every year. But, start peeling the onion, and things get more interesting.
I would rather have Saltalamacchia on the team next year. He’s almost ten years younger than Pierzynski, and at worst a comparable player. Plus, he’s a known entity that just helped the Sox win a World Series. But, because of those things, he’d need a bigger contract. Boston didn’t like that idea. Instead, the Sox are willing to place their faith in a couple of up and coming catchers in their system. They consider that a better move than holding onto a catcher who led the team in home runs two years ago. It’s not a choice I would have made. It’s also a little odd, considering how slow they seem to be taking it with their other prospects. After taking their sweet time with Xander Bogaerts, they’re basing their roster on having a young catcher ready to start in 2015.
It’s also an odd move because both Pierzynski and David Ross are 37. You don’t see a lot of 37-year old catching tandems. Usually, if you have an older catcher, you have a younger one too to take the load off. Much like Salty and Ross did this season. Granted Pierzynski has apparently been pretty durable, but it’s strange not to have a contingency plan.
That being said, Pierzynski fills a hole. The first pitch by the Sox next spring will not go skipping to the backstop. There’s a competent player in the line-up, whose presence may open the door for other additions. Let’s see where this all leads.
I just wish I didn’t have to spell Pierzynski.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Life of a Vintage Card

When I first heard that Magic Johnson was retiring, I was flipping through baseball cards on the floor while watching TV. I have no earthly idea why I remember that. I can't imagine that was one of the signature moments of my life, or anything. But, I remember the cards. It's one of the things I always think of when looking at vintage cards. What events have they witnessed during their life?

Have you ever watched a show like Antiques Roadshow, and have them show off some trinket that's a few hundred years old and wonder, what made someone decide to save that and pass that down? I think of that when I see vintage cards too.

Do you ever do that?

Ever look at a beat-up card from 100 years ago and wonder what stories it would have to tell? Or, why it was still around?

That Tris Speaker T206 card with a pinhole in it. What wall was it pinned to? For how long? Was it suck on a wall as someone was reading about the start of WWI? WWII? Was it in a kid's room? A kitchen? A parlor? What has it been looking down on for the last 100 years?

And, why on earth has it been around for 100 years? It has a pinhole in it. It's got one corner folded over. And some scuffing on the front. I understand the last few years. Even the last 30. It was a rare collectible by then. But, what about in 1919? Or 1949? Who decided not to throw away a card with a pinhole and a fold that was free in the first place? If my father tried to give me a beat up playing card that he had stuck to his wall, I can't imagine why I'd take it.

Were all of the beat-up vintage cards just lost for 50 years? In a drawer, or a book, or an attic? Did nobody know they were passing them down until they became valuable again?

Maybe all these vintage cards haven't witnessed history at all? Maybe they've been hidden away for decades? In their own private jail?

What's their story?

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