Friday, January 31, 2014

Trading the Farm

I’m not a “prospects” guy. I’m a proven talent sort of guy. I will trade prospects for proven talent any day of the week. In the right sort of deal, of course. I’m not talking about trading a young star for a middle reliever on his last legs. (Although, I will always think the Bagwell trade wasn’t nearly as bad as people have revised history to make it.) I’m talking about getting quality young talent back in exchange for potential young talent. Think Pavano and Armas for Pedro. Or Ramirez and Sanchez for Beckett. So, when I’ve been reading all the prospect rankings that various outlets have been releasing, I start to daydream a little bit. When I saw that the Sox have seven prospects in the ESPN top 100, my initial reaction was, “Woohoo! Load up the truck for Mike Trout!”

Of course, that wasn’t a realistic reaction. That trade wouldn’t happen. Or, would it?

Just for fun, let’s dive into fantasy land. The rumor is that Theo once offered the Mariners their pick of four or five player for Felix Hernandez. What if Ben Cherington called up the Angels and said, “We want Mike Trout. You can pick five players to have back in trade.”

On the ESPN list, the top five prospects (who you would assume the Angels would pick) are #2 Xander Bogaerts, #42 Henry Owens, #51 Bradley Jr, #53 Garin Cecchini, and #56 Blake Swihart.

That would leave two players left on the top 100 list, Mookie Betts, and Matt Barnes. Two players on the top 100 is a slightly below average farm system, if you assume each team should average 3. In reality, since the best teams have 5-7 players, having two would rank you pretty high. So, even after dumping the farm, you’d still be left with a decent farm.

I know what the initial reaction probably is. “You can’t touch Bogaerts!” And, I can understand that. For one thing, it would leave a physical hole at short for 2014. You’d need to sign Drew to plug the new hole. Bogaerts also has the potential to be a special player. But, you’d be getting a player back who has shown that he is a special player. I don’t think you can get too upset about that.

Owens could end up being a #2 or #3 starter. But, the rotation is pretty full at the moment, with Workman and Doubront ready to fill up some spots for the long haul. If Lester gets his extension, rotation help suddenly isn’t urgent.

Bradley could be good, but you’re getting a CF in the trade, remember? Cecchini is blocked a bit by Middlebrooks, so that wouldn’t hurt too much. Swihart could be a good catcher, but the Sox have another good catcher in the system. And, that’s it.

You’d miss Bogaerts, but have Trout and two of the top100 prospects left.

I wonder if the Angels would make that deal.

But, that’s not even the point.

That trade, where you empty the farm system, doesn’t look terrible. So, why not some lesser deals? What about trading two of them for a nice young player?

Let’s take this farm system out for a spin, and see what it can get us. This is an opportunity. Most of the other teams with good farm systems are good for a reason. The major league team is terrible, so they get lots of high draft picks. The Astros have the best system. But, they have way too many holes to start trading 4-for-1. The Sox don’t have “too many” holes. So, trimming the fat makes a lot of sense. Maybe get a star left fielder. Maybe swap three pitchers for one pitcher. Let’s focus.

And maybe give the Angels a call, just in case.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Time is Winding Down

That’s right. There’s just one week left to enter the 2013Section 36 Scavenger Hunt. (Less than that, really, since it’s after noon at the moment) You’re running out of time to find those items.

Don’t despair. I purposefully didn’t make the items hard to find. After all, this is supposed to be fun. How easy did I make it?

Well, if you’re reading this post, and can’t find item #35 or #36, I have some questions for you. Really, those should be two automatics right there. #6 is something you make on your own, and #13 is something you can just print out. #18 can be creative, if you need it to be. The same with #24.

So, that’s really six things that anyone can find without even breaking a sweat.

Now, if you consider yourself any sort of decent Red Sox fan, you probably have #9, #21, or #26 sitting in your house somewhere. Probably even #34.

I bet lots of you have #22 sitting in a closet. You may not want to admit it, but probably #16 as well.

So, really, we’re looking at twelve items most of the people reading this have right at their disposal. Some of the others might take a car trip or two. But, I bet you know where you can find them. I can think of lots of stores that have #3, #7, and #31 on the shelves right now.

This time of year, I bet #20 is on display…if you don’t already have one.

So, what are we at, 16 of the items that take minimal effort? That’s almost half. I haven’t even gotten to the ones that a die-hard should have on hand. If you’re a dedicated Sox fan, but don’t have #5 or #10, #19, #26, or #29, you definitely should.

So, like I said. It’s not supposed to be a challenge. It’s supposed to be fun. Something to get out and do with some friends. (Perhaps some friends who already have some of the items) See how creative you can be. See how great your pictures can be.

There’s one week left.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Collecting the Sox: Patches

The other day I was doing one of my periodic eBay searches for Red Sox championship items. One of the items that came up included the “B Strong” patche that the Red Sox wore on their uniforms. For some reason, it was the first time that it hit me that collecting uniform patches would be a nice area to get into.

At the moment, I only have a couple patches. One from the 1999 ASG, and one celebrating the 2004 World Championship. Obviously, the 2004 version is different than the ones worn on the uniform. But it gets the idea across. I don’t know that I now have plans to expand on that, but it certainly seems like it could be fun.

The Sox have worn any number of patches on their uniform over the years. It might have been for special events like the ’99 ASG, or Fenway’s 100th birthday. Or, for participation in the postseason. That definitely allows for a lot of variety in a collection. Every patch would look a little different. There are different shapes and sizes and colors. If you wanted to focus on a specific player, you could do that. Say you loved Dustin Pedroia. You could collect different patches he would have worn, and include the ones from the All Star games he’s appeared in.

I guess my main problem with collecting patches is what to do with them. At the moment, I have one of my patches sitting on a shelf, and the other framed with a ticket stub. If you’re going to display a collection, it needs to be done better than that.

Since they’re patches, the obvious answer is to sew them on something. But what? A jersey is another obvious answer. But, I’m not sure a bunch of patches covering the front of a jersey would be the look I’d be after. You can always just sew them on a Red Sox blanket of some sort. That would look pretty sweet. But, it would be pretty large. You’d need to be able to drape it over the back of a chair or something. Perhaps a shadow box, or memo board they could be hung on the wall with. I’m not really sure. Does anyone have a great display of patches that works well?

I especially like the way patches allow you to follow history. You can see how the patches went from 75th birthday to 100th birthday. Or, remember specific events like World Series appearances. I like the idea of sitting back and looking over a collection and traveling back in time. A large group of patches would certainly accomplish that. I also like the “official” feel of it. Despite the modified ’04 patch in my possession, I like things that feel official. I imagine I’m not alone, which is why “locker room” hats and shirts sell so well. Somehow, a patch matching the one the Sox wore on jerseys makes more sense than, say, coke cans that have the same logo on them. Even if they’re just replicas, there’s a feeling that you have a piece of the game. I like that.

I may have to get more patches.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

From the Pedro Binder

2002 Upper Deck

Boy, is there a lot to like about this card.

You know me, I love pictures. If you can give me a card with a large expanse of uninterrupted picture, I’m a happy camper. That’s exactly what Upper Deck did with this design.

The best part about it? They were still able to put all the information you could want on the front of the card. You have Pedro’s name in the biggest font, along with his team name. It has his position, and even his uniform number. All of that is nicely tucked onto the bottom of the card, out of the way. That leaves about 80% of the card as clean picture.

Of course, with so much picture on the card, there’s limited space for design elements. There’re a couple bands of color, a bent line or two. It’s certainly simplistic, but it definitely works in this case.

Unfortunately, for a card so dedicated to the picture, they didn’t select a great one. I know that every card of Pedro can’t show him throwing a pitch. There needs to be some variety in there somewhere. But, stretching out his shoulders? The picture does do a great job of showing the slits Pedro made in his jersey sleeves. But, that’s really all it does for me.

The card itself, though, is almost perfection.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Two Big Signings

One made by the Red Sox, one not made by the Red Sox.

I’ll start with the latter one first, because it’s the most fun. The Yankees spent an absolute TON of money on a pitcher who has yet to throw a pitch in the major leagues. I remember being surprised that Tanaka didn’t sign Scott Boras as his agent. Obviously he wanted to get as much money as possible. He was moving to the other side of the world to a league he didn’t know. So, I assumed that secondary factors like “being closer to home” were out the window. If you’re after just cash, you sign with Boras. Apparently, though, the guy he had did just fine. Was it a good signing? How can it be?

I hate that the questions are always, “Will he be Darvish, or Daisuke?” Why can’t he be Peavy? But, I’m going to fall into that trap anyway because it makes a better comparison. Before Dice-K came over, we heard a lot of highlight stories. His epic performance in the high school championship, for example. The highlights always mentioned this extreme number of pitches he threw in these appearances. Then, he came to the Red Sox, and people kept complaining that he couldn’t finish hitters off, threw a ton of pitches, and couldn’t stay in the game. Why were we surprised? It took him 175 pitches to beat a bunch of high schoolers. I get the same vibe with Tanaka. A lot of his highlights come from his extreme usage. What happens when that stops in NY? What happens when he’s on a pitch count? What about when he doesn’t get the superstar’s expanded strike zone. Dice-K never really adjusted to that. I think it’s a huge question mark.

Speaking of question marks, the Red Sox made a signing of their own. They signed former all-star Grady Sizemore, even though he hasn’t appeared in a game for a couple years. Why? Good question. What does he have left? An even better question. My assumption is that they brought him in almost exclusively for Jackie Bradley Jr to follow around like a little puppy. The guy was a gold glove center fielder, and an elite lead-off hitter. Anything JBJ can learn from that is a bonus. And, who knows? Maybe Sizemore can provide some speed on the bases. Apparently he’s already running in straight lines at 90%. Maybe he can be that sixth outfielder who gets some sparse playing time. It’s definitely worth a shot on short money. If he returns to all-star form, that’s OK too. The important part is that they’re not counting on him coming back to full form. Dan Duquette used to make these signings all the time. But, he always counted on them. He might sign three washed up CF on the cheap, and hope that one of them ends up making it. The difference was, that he needed at least one of them to make it, because he needed a CF. The Sox aren’t in that position. Bradley Jr is just fine. They don’t NEED Sizemore. He would be a welcome luxury. But anything they get out of him is a bonus. That’s the time to make the high risk-high reward signings.

When the risk is almost zero.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Another Anniversary!

Six years already? It’s been quite a ride!

When I started this blog, as a result of a blank space in my custom scorecard, I had no idea what it would become. I thought it might be fun to post a few thoughts here and there. I doubted anyone would actually read it. This has been more fun than I ever could have expected. Over the years, many things have happened as the blog has grown. A few of the highlights and milestones…

Followers. A quick glance to the right side of this page shows that I have over 100 people following this blog. I still remember the excitement when I saw that first one pop up. Now, it’s sitting in triple digits. Fantastic. I admit that I’m not sure that number means as much as it used to. I think there are any number of ways to follow a blog without using that feature. But, it’s still nice to have that big number sitting there. Thanks!

Trades. I’ve been lucky enough to get in contact with many baseball card bloggers out there, and work out trades. With so many people blogging, with different collecting habits, it’s natural to find matches. It’s easy to find a Phillies collector who is more than willing to part with unwanted Red Sox cards. Or any number of other teams with similar extras they’re eager to ship out. It’s one of the best parts of the last six years.

Pictures. In my first post, I had the gall to ask for your help with the content. I wanted your pictures. How dare I? Why would anyone send a picture to a blog that nobody was going to read? Well, to date, I have had more than 50 different people submit pictures, with several of them many times over! Honestly, I never would have guessed it was that many until I actually just counted them. Thank you so much! I hope you’ll agree that it adds a lot to the blog to be able to see different pictures of people enjoying Fenway’s greatest section. Hopefully the submissions keep coming.

Scavenger Hunts. Every year I’ve done a scavenger hunt contest. I always thought they were fun to do. Sometimes when you’re bored, having any reason to run to a store and look around can be a good reason. So, have a dull Saturday? Why not jump in the car and try to find an item on the list? Again, I didn’t actually know if anyone would enter. So I’ve always been excited when people actually send in entries. Especially since, admittedly, the prizes aren’t usually anything that will get people off their couch on their own. Thanks for all the entries!

Facebook. I decided to add a Facebook page to help spread the word and post more pictures. The one thing I didn’t like about the Pix in 36 page is the lack of organization. They’re just in a long string of pictures. The only way to really fix that was to break it into even more pages. While that might still happen down the road, I wasn’t thrilled with that solution. So, I created a Facebook page as the first addition to Section 36. To date, it has 233 “likes.” Are you one of them? If you are, thank you! Those people not only get to see when I post something new to the blog, they get to see lots of pictures too. While the best pictures get posted to the blog first, the Facebook page is a way to see them again, and see even more. Usually about one a day! So, if you don’t like the page already, go do it now!

Book Reviews. I love books. I love Red Sox books. So, it seemed natural to tell anyone who read this blog what I think of the Red Sox books I’ve read. Amazingly, that’s led to two different publishers sending me their books to review. (here and here) What an honor! It was certainly different reading a book with the review in mind the whole time. But, I hope to be able to do it again.

Twitter. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t really get Twitter. I guess it’s like a big chat room, where you can’t say very much at once. My complaint with Facebook was always that I don’t really care what my friends had for dinner, or that they’re at the mall. Twitter seems to be even more of that, but less interesting. But, apparently, many people do like Twitter. They also seem to like following Section 36 on Twitter. For that, I am very grateful. It’s yet another way for people to know when I post something new on the blog. It also seems to be an easy way for people to share pictures of Section 36, since a great number of the pictures that appear on the blog and Facebook page were tweeted to me originally. So, again, if you’re following Section 36, thanks! If you’re not, go ahead and do it now!

Pinterest. Ok, seriously…why do people go on Pinterest? I haven’t figured it out. But, if you’re going to be a worldwide internet sensation, you should try everything. So, feel free to check Section 36 out…and let me know why you did.

Instagram. Pictures are cool! As an offshoot of the picture collecting and sharing capabilities of Facebook, Section 36 is now on Instagram! Even more chances to share even more pictures. That’s not bad, right? If you follow Section 36, thank you! You’ll see some new pictures, as well as some old favorites. If not, go for it!

Yup. Section 36 is everywhere. It’s still amazing to me. If you’re still reading this, thank you. It’s been more fun than I could ever imagine. I can’t wait to see what the next six years bring.

Or, maybe the next 30?

Sunday, January 19, 2014

1975 Mailday!

I recently received an e-mail from loyal blog reader Mark. How do I know he’s a loyal reader? Because his e-mail referenced two of my recent blog posts.

Just before the new year, I whined a bit about my 1975 Topps set. I hadn’t completed it, and was having a little trouble finding the motivation to complete it. Then, after the new year, I made one of my resolutions be to just complete the dang thing and be done with it. So, Mark was kind enough to try and help be become a better person. What a guy!

He said he had some 1975 Topps cards I needed, and just wanted an address to send them along to me. (Showing the same generosity he recently showed to a certain Phillies collector.) I complied, and a stack of beauties found their way into my mailbox. Here is a little selection of them.

Really, this sample shows everything that got me excited about the set in the first place. (Ignoring, of course, the two Yankees and Joe Torre.) It has Hall of Famers, rookies, former MVPs, Future MVPs, all-rookie trophies, and more.

The MVP subset is a fun one. It gives the chance to have a “card” of stars from the past. Sure, it’s not exactly the same as having a 1959 Ernie Banks. But, at least I get to look at the card as I flip through the binder. The World Series highlights cards are fun too. A match-up between the Dodgers and A’s doesn’t do much for me. But, being able to live through it with the cards is a nice diversion from the other cards in the set. I mentioned players who would become managers. This selection has three of those in HOFer Joe Torre, Larry Bowa,  and Mike Hargrove. It even has the overlap of stars from the past and the future. You see the very early Mike Schmidt card right next to a very late Frank Robinson card. This allows the set to really span several generations from 1956 when Robinson debuted to 1989 when Schmidt called it quits. (Plus, I know 33 years isn’t even the longest span in the set. I wonder what the longest one is. I wonder which set has the longest span ever. Night Owl?) The 4-player rookie cards are also fun. I was surprised to see the Hernandez, since I had it mislabeled on my wantlist and didn’t know I needed it. Thankfully Mark knew better. The trophy on Bill Matlock’s card and the star on Larry Bowa harken back to earlier times. Sure, they show up on cards today, but something about the look of these just scream “classic.” The league leaders cards are another way to have cards of even more stars. They’re especially fun to look at and ask yourself, “Buzz Capra led the league in something?”

So, a big thanks to Mark. Not just for the additional cards. But for resparking my interest in the set. This shipment reminded me of all the fun elements to the set. It also means that I’m only about 30 cards from finishing the set. I had no idea it was so close. So, I have a new-found dedication to get it finished. It’s within reach, and I want to grab it.

Thanks Mark!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Play it Again!

Major League baseball officially adopted expanded instant replay. As you can imagine (since I’ve said it
many times before) I’m all for it. I can’t think of any case in life where being wrong is better than being right. Can you?

That being said, I HATE the fact that coaches need to issue a challenge. Why does correct application of the rules need to be a coaching decision? Tony La Russa and Joe Torre, who were on the committee, hinted that it’s just like any other managerial decision. When to use that challenge is just like when to use a pinch hitter. But, we’re talking about the rules. It’s a coaching decision to decide when the rules should actually be the rules?

“Whoops, the umps just gave the other team an extra out. But, the bases are still empty. Do I challenge that, and run the risk of having them screw me even worse next inning? Or do I get them to make the correct call and hope they don’t do it again.”

Why can’t we just agree that if the umps make a terrible call, it should just be fixed? Dealing with bad calls shouldn’t be a strategy. Bill Belichick shouldn’t have needed to save a timeout, just in case the refs hosed him on a fourth and two call. The wrong call should just have been fixed. Can’t we learn from that?

The other part of the ruling from MLB is that teams will be able to show replays of every play on the scoreboard. While this is interesting, I’m not sure it’s the “big” change it’s being made out to be. I don’t get the feeling that I was missing anything by not having those plays shown. Sometimes they’d show the start of a play, and you knew they’d cut out before the end because it was a close play. I didn’t get too worked up by it. It was just the way it was. It’s not going to make me go to any more games because of it. I’m not sure that making being at the park more like watching the game on tv should be the goal. It’s different being there. That’s understood. Otherwise I’d be watching the game in a movie theater.

Even with the many faults, I’m glad to see this step in the right direction. Hopefully with not too much time, they’ll refine this process so we can get all the wrong calls out of the way.

Until then, this is a great start.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Three Weeks!

That’s right. There are only three short weeks left to enter the 2013 Section 36 Scavenger hunt!

It’s time to get a move on. With three weeks left, you’re running out of time to get to some of the harder to reach items.

Sure, you can still try and get a picture of a Cy Young statue. But, you might start running into weather issues if you wait much longer. You don’t want to skip anymore sunny days.

You can still go out and buy a white t-shirt to create your own Section 36 shirt. There’s even still time to have fun and be creative. Wait much longer, and you’re going to have to just tape a printout of the blog homepage to the front of a shirt. But, we all know you want to, and can, do better than that.

Get out there and visit the local mall. Take pictures of all the items you find there. Go visit your friends with huge Red Sox collections and scour for items. (Be sure to pretend you’re there to actually visit with them.) Do whatever you need to do.

Take those pictures now!

Monday, January 13, 2014

From the Pedro Binder

2003 UD Standing O

(Once again, scanner issues. What was it thinking?)

Boy, companies were just pumping out sets in those days, weren’t they?

I can see the design meeting for this one. Maybe it wasn’t even a meeting. Just something a couple people talked about in the elevation.

“We need another set. What should it look like?”


“Yes…a baseball set. Wait, that’s brilliant. We’ll put a big baseball on it.”

“Or a bat.”

“No, a ball is better. Unless…yes…we’ll put the ball on a bat!”

“What about the rest of the stuff?”

“I dunno. We’ll let graphics just use the basic black, white, and gray. Once you get the bat and ball, the rest doesn’t even matter.”

And they ended up with the card you see above you. Pedro’s picture in set inside a big baseball. The baseball is put on a woodgrain section. The border is left a basic gray. Pedro’s name in in black and white, along with his team name and position. Even the UD name gets the bland look.

The picture actually works with the design. It wouldn’t work if Pedro was, say, a second baseman turning a double play. Or, even if he was in his full wind-up. But, him standing there staring down another batter just works. And, I look how both the Upper Deck name and “Standing O” logo are practically invisible. So, a design concept that probably took five minutes turned out just great.

Sometimes bland is beautiful.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Red Sox 1-36: 30 is for…

30 RBI Jason Bay had in May 2009

I admit that I sometimes give Jason Bay a bit of a raw deal. It’s not his fault that he wasn’t Manny Ramirez. It wasn’t his fault that he was the bag of balls the Sox got back in their worst trade in four years. He didn’t ask for any of it…as far as I know. So, it’s too bad.

Because, while he wasn’t Manny, he wasn’t terrible either. After all, he had a pretty Manny-like May there in 2009. In fact, the whole 2009 season was fairly Manny-like with the 36 home runs, and almost 120 RBI.

But, those 30 RBI in May really stuck out. After all, that was Manny’s bread and butter, right? His ability to sniff out an RBI was what made him the superstar he was. And, then Bay came and had more of them in a month than Manny ever had with the Sox. In fact, more than any Red Sox player had in a month up until that point. Only when Adrian Gonzalez had 31 a couple Mays later did anyone hit more.

Oh, sure RBI is mostly about opportunity. If you’re batting behind the pitcher you’re going to have fewer chances to bat with men on base. And, if you’re batting behind David Ortiz, he’ll take care of quite a few of the baserunners for you. But, having a lot of RBI is still better than not having any. While it certainly doesn’t mean it was a good trade, it shows that Bay wasn’t completely useless either. It’s interesting, too, that I don’t have a better memory of Bay as a result. That was a big month early in a pretty good season. I should remember him fondly, and not as the guy who couldn’t bring us to the 2008 World Series. He wasn’t a waste of a position.

At least not in May

30 is for the 30 RBI Jason Bay had in May of 2009.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

You Can’t Become a Hall of Famer

You know what question really annoys me? Any of the variations of a question that goes, “If Player X plays two more seasons, and gets Y number of hits, do we need to start thinking of him as a Hall of Famer?”


Just by having to ask the question, the answer is “no.”

If a player is a Hall of Famer, you already know it. You know it because of the prolonged dominance. You don’t realize it after you see he got a certain number of some stat. Frank Thomas didn’t become a Hall of Famer when he hit his 500th home run. He became a Hall of Famer when he dominated the American League for ten years. When you focused on him whenever you were playing the White Sox. Greg Maddux didn’t become a Hall of Famer when he won his 300th game. He became a Hall of Famer when he was the best pitcher in the league for five to ten years and you breathed a sigh of relief if you missed him when the Braves were on your schedule.

Which is why Craig Biggio didn’t become a Hall of Famer when he reached 3000 hits. Which is why Mike Piazza didn’t become a Hall of Famer when he hit more home runs as a catcher than anyone else. You can’t look back and go, “Huh…maybe they were Hall of Famers after all.” You have to already know it.

I’ve mentioned my personal qualifications to reach the Hall many times. I need ten years of all-star caliber play. I don’t need actual election to the team. Especially since Joe Torre, the selection of the team has very little to do with ability. But, if I asked you who should be on the all-star team, the guy’s name should come up at some point. Or, when you look at the stat line you should assume that he was on the team that year. Of those ten, I need five otherworldly years. I need five years where if you’re talking about the best player in the game (or at least at his position) his name leaps immediately to mind. Beyond those ten years, I’m not giving you much additional credit. Just don’t embarrass yourself.

It’s that second category that most of the borderline guys are missing. I don’t get those five years when I look at Biggio, or Schilling. I don’t care that they played for a long time and piled up numbers. Being pretty good for a long time is not what it takes to get into the Hall of Fame. It’s for elite players. The best of the best. It doesn’t mean the people who don’t make the cut are bad players. There’s no shame in just being a multiple all-star. It just means you weren’t the next level.

Which is why I was bothered yesterday by the discussion over Craig Biggio. Immediately after the announcement, the hosts on MLB were mentioning that he’ll get in next year. It was practically a certainty that he would pick up those two votes. They didn’t even leave it up for a question. So I’ll ask it.

Why will he pick up those two votes?

Were there two people who would have voted for him, but used up all ten of their slots on someone else? Or, are they assuming that Biggio would become a Hall of Famer in the eyes of at least two voters? How? Are his stats going to go up? Is he going to move up on any career rankings? Is he going to win any championships? Is he going to do anything that two people base their votes on? Not that I can see. So, is he a Hall of Famer, or not? The voters should have known the answer to that question at least ten years ago.

I know I did.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Four Weeks!

That’s right. There are only four short weeks left to enter the 2013 Section 36 Scavenger hunt!

This is a great time to get going on the hunt. The deadline is close enough that you should feel motivated to get moving on thing. But, it’s not so far away that you can’t take the time to find most items.

There’s still time to schedule a trip to Lansdowne St. You can still look around for the closest Cy Young statue. You can print out a Section 36 scorecard, and use it to score a game. Perhaps one of the World Series game from your 2013 World Champions box set (which would be another item!).

You still have time to visit your nearest sporting goods story, or collectibles shop. They should have all the shirts and bats and balls you’d need.

So get out there! Snap those pictures. I see all the garbage pictures people keep posting. Won’t it be nice to be able to take a picture, and have a good reason to take it? Winning a contest!

Take those pictures now!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Happy 36th!

Today we wish a very happy 36th birthday to Casey Fossum!

Fossum was one of the top Red Sox pitching prospects at the turn of the century. He was with the big club from 2001-2003, and was starting to hold his own on the pitching staff. While he never made his mark in Boston, he did play a huge part in finally bringing a World Championship to Fenway.

I was lucky enough to see Fossum pitch several times. How did he do in those games? I’m glad you asked.

On July 28, 2001 Fossum pitched the ninth inning of a 3-1 loss to the White Sox. Casey pitched a 1-2-3 inning, despite giving up a hit since that runner was out when he tried to stretch a single into a double.

On August 18, 2001 Fossum got the start against the Orioles. He went 4.2 innings, without giving up a run. He was pulled after a HBP, single, and walk loaded the bases. He didn’t make it quite far enough to qualify for the win.

On April 1, 2002 Fossum pitched the eighth inning on Opening Day. Pedro started the game, and was rocked. Fossum pitched a scoreless inning to keep the Sox close before Urbina blew it in the ninth.

On April 14, 2002 Fossum pitched the ninth inning of a 6-2 loss to the Yankees. Again, he didn’t give up a run as he retired Derek Jeter, Nick Johnson, and Bernie Williams in order.

On May 25, 2002 Casey pitched the final three innings in another loss to New York. Once again, Fossum didn’t allow a run while giving up two hits. He even struck out three in a row at one point.

Finally, on September 7, 2002 Fossum got the start against the Blue Jays. He went six innings, but gave up the only run I saw him surrender, on the way to the win.

Those games would seem to sum up Fossum’s career pretty well. He pitched fantastically. But, was both a reliever and a starter because he didn’t quite have everything he needed. Couldn’t put it together all the time. But, the one run over 16.2 innings certainly showed the potential he had.

It was that potential that allowed Fossum to make his biggest contribution to the team. He was included in the package that brought Curt Schilling to Boston. The rest, as they say, was history. I think helping bring a championship to Boston warrants birthday wishes!

Happy 36th Birthday Casey Fossum!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

From the Pedro Binder

1998 Stadium Club Transactions

Could there be a more significant card in Sox history? This card commemorates the trade that brought the best pitcher in at least a generation to Boston.

The card itself is surprisingly mundane for such a flashy look. It doesn’t scan very well, but the surface has that not-quite-chrome shimmer that was popular in many insert sets of the time. But, it was very low on other pizzazz.

The two team logos are there. The team Pedro went to is slightly more prominent than the one he left. That makes sense. Pedro’s name is clear, although written annoyingly on the side. The set name is also on the side, which in that case is just fine. The picture is pretty standard. Just Pedro ready to let it fly towards the plate.

All in all, a card that ranks much higher in historical importance than in overall appeal. Not that I need to be reminded that Pedro was traded to the Red Sox, but it’s nice to have a card to shout it from the rooftops.

It was definitely a worthy “transaction.”

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Can a Goal be a Resolution?

Lots of people make resolutions. Most of them are under the complete control of the person making the resolution. “I want to run one mile every day.” That’s something you can control. It’s up to you, and only you, to find the time to run one mile every day. But, what if your resolution was to “make up with my sister?” Doesn’t that require some help from the sister? Can you count that as a resolution?

As I started writing down what I wanted to accomplish as a blog this year, I found a couple of each of those. Some I could just do, and some I needed some help with. The latter are nice, because I gave myself an out if I don’t accomplish them. Want to read what I have? Too bad, you’re going to anyway.

Make a dent in my 1975 Topps set completion. I know. I just talked about this. It’s been sitting there, and I’ve done nothing with it. So, I figure the easiest way to deal with a set I can’t get motivated to complete is to complete it and be done with it. I’d like to just go for it, and move on. (Did you sense all the excitement in that?)

Finish up the 2013 wantlist. I know, I didn’t post a wantlist for 2013. That’s because I’ve been buying the complete sets for the most part. When I get some extra money in the card fund, I look at the sets I need, and grab them. But, in my efforts to let the prices die down after release, I’ve lost track of a couple. I need to go back and make sure I don’t have any holes.

Make more trades. This is one of those that isn’t really up to me. In order to make a true trade, I need a trade partner. So, I guess what I really need to do is make the effort to make more trades. Start looking over posted wantlists. Start making offers. Then just hope it results in more trading. After all, I love making trades. It’s one of the best parts of the blog.

Get more people to like me. Yeah, this one is almost entirely up to others. But, the Section 36 Facebook page had quite a 2013, and I’d like it to continue. At the moment, 233 people “like” the page. That’s up 200 from last January. I don’t dare attempt to hope for that many new likes again. But, getting to 300 sure would be nice. Admittedly, I’m absolutely going to need help. If you don’t like the page yet, go do it now. If you do like it, thanks! Please, tell all your friends that they should like it too. I’ll do my best to make the page worth liking.

Lead more who follow. Once again, not up to me. But, the Section 36 Twitter account has 948 followers at the moment. 1000 would be fantastic. 2000 would be incredible. So, again, help would be appreciated. Go follow me, if you haven’t already. And, tell your friends to follow me if you have. Once again, I’ll have to try and make you not regret doing it.

More exposure. Hopefully the previous two will help out a lot with this one. But, I want to get more people stopping by here, and leaving comments, or sending pictures, or participating in scavenger hunts, or whatever else. I know the best thing I can do for that is to write things that make people want to visit over and over. To have people stopping by enough that they want to join in. Some of that will be through sheer numbers. If enough people can see the blog, the more likely one of them has enough spare time to get involved. But, it’s also about having the type of site that people want to come to and want to be a part of. So, that’s a goal for me.

Q & Q. Which brings me to the last resolution/goal that I always have. To find the balance between the quantity of posts for people to read, and the quality of posts to make them want to read. There’s some benefit to just flinging out posts just to keep in people’s minds. But, there’s also something to having the quality stuff that would make readers come back after breaks. Like everyone, I need to find the best way to do both.

OK, maybe I have one more. Fun. If this isn’t fun, why do it? I still like writing posts. I still get a burst of joy at a new comment, or page like, or follow. It’s not a chore, but something I want to do. I just need to keep it what way.

Hopefully this will be quite the year.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year!

Have you made any resolutions yet? Naturally, I have a couple. But, I’m not going to talk about those yet. Today, I’m talking about your resolutions. If you haven’t thought of one, here’s one for you.

But, don’t just enter. Put forth a great effort. Look for those items. Prove to yourself you can work at something, and accomplish a goal. After all, isn’t that what resolutions are supposed to be for?

This one is nice, too, because it has a definite end point. The end of the contest is only FIVE weeks away! So, you only need to keep at your resolution for a month or so. (In fact, if you found every item this weekend, you’d be done in days!)

So, you can make yourself a better person, and work towards a goal. And, let’s be honest, this isn’t a very hard one to do.

After all, if you’re reading this right now, I know you’ve found one item. Another one is almost assured. Looking around the room you’re in most likely gets you another one. There’s three, right off the bat. Some of them you can make yourself. How hard can that be to find? Just grab a camera and start snapping pictures.

Sure, some of them are going to take some work. And, a couple of them you’re not going to be able to get. But, you can put together a strong entry, and feel a lot better about yourself.

Unlike those annoying resolutions that require you to eat less or exercise more, this one is actually fun! What could be a better way to pass the time than looking around your house for Red Sox items? Or your local Target, or shopping mall? Bring along a friend to help. Make a day of it!

So get out there. Look around.

Actually keep at least one resolution this year.

What people are reading this week