Sunday, June 29, 2014

From the Pedro Binder

2000 Pacific Paramount

OK. Then.

Just like last time, I like the Pacific logo. It makes it easy for me to tell what set the card is from, which is quite a problem in those years. It’s also all tucked into the corner, out of the way.

That’s where the good things about this card  end.

I always dislike when the player is cut out of the rest of the picture in order to be put on an artificial background. I understand that some variety is needed, but it doesn’t mean I have to like it. That’s especially true with this card. Why eliminate the rest of the picture just to put Pedro on a blah background? It’s one thing if there was a fancy design that related to the set somehow. But, this is just blah.

I’m not sure what’s going on with all the information on the card either. Sure, it has the name, team logo, and position. But, it’s all annoyingly in foil to make sure it’s hard to read. There are some stripes, and a home plate looking thingie. But, it simply doesn’t do it for me.

Once again, I have to assume that people complaining about the Topps monopoly aren’t thinking about this card.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Why is Everyone in a Rush to Define the Sox season?

It happened again.

“I think it’s pretty clear by now what they are.”

“They’re not a playoff team. It’s time to sell.”

“If only they were going to be in contention, maybe they could make a run at David Price.”

Why is everyone in such a rush to write them off?

They’ve been doing it all season. Have a rough opening week? A week of games is enough to be able to tell. A rough April? That’s a big enough sample size. They now are what they are.

This isn’t a new thing either. Remember the losing streak to start 2011? People were already deciding they were a bust after six games.

What is that desire?

Is it just the need for everyone to be first? If I’m the first one to say they’re going to be a crap team, and then they’re a crap team, then people will think I’m awesome. That might work if anyone remembered what anyone said. But, nobody’s going to go and give you credit for having a tweet in April saying “Sox are done this year” as some sort of clairvoyant. Heck, I wrote a whole blog post last spring saying, basically, that I saw no reason why the Sox wouldn’t win the World Series last year. Nobody’s brought it up since. So, this “me first” thing is just annoying with no purpose.

Is it contrary reporting? If I’m the only person who says the Sox will be lousy, people will read or follow me since I’m giving them something nobody else will. Like the one person who leaves Dustin Pedroia off the MVP ballot. Again, though, that assumes anyone remembers. Sure, someone might track down which one of 20 reporters did something. But, to scour twitter for someone saying bad things about the Sox? Not gonna happen. So, again, it’s jumping to conclusions with no purpose.

Is it straight trolling? Hoping that I’d write a blog post about it?

I’d understand if your early conclusion supported a pre-made assumption. If a team went 112-50 one year, and then started out 25-5, you would be allowed to jump to the conclusion that they’re going to have a good year. The evidence is supporting your assumption. But, that’s not what’s happening here. The Sox weren’t supposed to be sub-500. Sure, nobody expected 100 wins. But, they didn’t expect struggles. Why be so eager to change your mind? Was your opinion of the team going into the season so flawed that you’re willing to throw it away over nothing?
Maybe that’s the real reason. People aren’t making well thought out analysis. They’re just tossing out opinions, so they have no problem tossing out a different one. If you only thought they were going to win this year because they won the last game last year, it would be easy to say they’re going to lose this year because they lost the last game they played.

If, however, you thought they’d be good this year based on the players they had returning, and how they performed last year, you might be inclined to stick with that opinion. You’d assume that players will find their level. That slumps happen, but stars will be stars. There’d be no reason not to wait it out. As long as they’re still in contention.

At least until all the players you expected to be there are there.

Monday, June 23, 2014

36 Pix

Those of you who are very astute may have noticed a change to the Pages on the top of this here blog. Ok. Those of you who are very very astute. The "Pix from 36" page has been replaced by the "36 Pix" page.

"So what?" you might say. "You changed the title of a page. You're turning that into its own post now? How pathetic."

You may be right.

But, this is more than a  change in a page title. It's a whole reorganization. It's one I didn't want to do. I had been holding out doing it as long as I could. But, I couldn't do it any more. I just had too many pictures.

What a glorious problem to have!

See, I put all the pix on a single page. Even after only picking the best ones from each person who sent them in, I had quite a few. It was taking quite a long time to scroll through them all. That was annoying. So, I had to split them up.

Unfortunately, the best way to do that was to make a few categories, and give each category its own page. Those pages can be accessed from the main "36 Pix" page you see above you. Like I said, I didn't like it. It's an extra click before you get to the good stuff. That always felt like a "hit grab" on my end. But, like I said, I had no choice.

So, which categories did I pick? Glad you asked. Here they are, along with some of the latest examples submitted.

Pix in 36 will show pictures people took of themselves in Section 36 itself. You know, like these:

Pix With 36 will show people taking their pictures in other parts of the park, but posing with Section 36 behind them. Like these:

Rather Be in 36 Pix will show people taking their picture with a "I'd Rather Be In Section 36" sign, to voice their displeasure with being stuck somewhere else. Like these:

Pix of 36 will show pictures people took of Section 36 itself, whether they were in Section 36 at the time, or not. Like these:

Finally, Pix From 36 will show pictures people have taken of different parts of the park, while in Section 36. Like these:

So, I hope the reorganization will assist everyone in more easily enjoying all the great pictures that have been submitted. And, please keep sending it your pictures!

Like I said, it was a great problem to have!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

In The Media Guide

In my collection, I currently have every Red Sox Media Guide dating back to 1998. I love flipping through them to see what tidbits they contain. I figured that if I liked it, you might enjoy taking a look along with me. So, I had a random number generator select a page from the 2014 edition to talk about today. 

Coincidentally, it selected…


Page 236 in the 2014 Media Guide is the ninth page of David Ortiz’s entry. (Yup, as should be no surprise, Ortiz has a long entry.) This page covers Papi’s career in 2010, and some of 2009. What did the authors feel was important enough to mention?

The first thing I see is a graphic. Those are usually fun. This one shows the top five Red Sox with the most 25-HR seasons. As you should expect, Ted Williams leads the pack. Not including Ortiz, Ted has twice as many such seasons as anyone else. I have to admit that I was surprised to see Ortiz at number two. Not so much that he has nine seasons. But, that nobody else did. Yaz didn’t? In fact, Yaz isn’t even in the top five. Weird. Jim Rice makes sense on the list. As do Manny Ramirez and Mo Vaughn. Manny and Mo are only unexpected because they each only played for the Sox eight seasons. So, they hit 25 home runs in six of those eight. Pretty impressive.

What else does the page talk about? There are two facts bolded in red. Those must be important. The first one states that in 2010 Ortiz hit 30/100 for the sixth time and made his sixth all-star team. I’m guessing that those two feats are not entirely unrelated.

The other one points out that in 2009 Ortiz set the career record for home runs by a DH. As usual, I don’t like accomplishments with qualifiers. But, that’s pretty cool.

Some other things that the page points out?

Ortiz had 21 walks in June of 2010, to lead the majors.

He hit a walk-off 3-run double on 7/31/2010. Of course he did.

In 2009 the Sox went 23-4 when he homered. I have no idea what it means, but that’s a pretty good record.

Of course, there’s a lot more great stuff on the page.

Just like every page.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Red Sox 1-36: 34 is for…

34 wins by Smokey Joe Wood in 1912.

Yeah. That’s a team record.

No, it won’t be broken.

You know how you sometimes head over to baseball reference and just gawk at Pedro’s statistics? (Yeah, I do it too) Smokey Joe Wood was like that in 1912. He was 22 that year, and went 34-5, with 35 complete games. 35 complete games! Wonder what happened in the three games he didn’t finish. Of those 35 complete games, ten of them were shutouts. No wonder he had a 1.91 ERA that year. Want to go all new-fangled with the stats? His WAR was 10.4. (Pedro was 11.7 in 2000)

What happened after 1912? Wood dropped off the face of the earth. Arm problems limited him to 18 starts the following year. (Of course, he still completed twelve of them.) From accounts of his complaints at the time, people think he destroyed his rotator cuff, and was never the same again. He eventually had to come back as an outfielder to stay in the league.

Which is exactly why the Red Sox were so careful with Pedro.

But, I’ve always wondered, which is the right move? Say you went back in time, and told the Red Sox of 1912 what we know now. You went up to management and said, look if you pitch him so much, he’s going to break down. Instead of having him start 38 games, and come into five others in relief, you should just start him 32 times max. And forget about completing them. Seven innings per game is a good goal. So, cut him back from the 344 innings he’s going to pitch this year to around 210. That way he won’t break down, and you’ll have him available next year, and maybe five years from now.

What would they say?

I bet their first reaction would be, “Who am I going to pitch those other 134 innings? They won’t be as good as Wood.”

Their second reaction would be, “But, if I run Wood until he drops, I’ll win the title this year. If I don’t, I probably won’t. How is that better?”

I’m not sure I have a good argument for them. What if the Sox had done that with Pedro in 1999-2000? What if they said, I don’t care if he’s still a decent pitcher in 2009 or not. I have the best pitcher ever, in his prime. I’m using those innings right now. If he blows out five years early, so be it.

What if teams treated every pitcher like that? Pitchers will never perform as well as they do when they’re in their 20’s, no matter how much rest they get. So, use those innings then. Some, like Smokey Joe, won’t be able to handle it. You’ll get their best, and then they’ll be gone. Others, like Cy Young, will just keep right on pitching 300 innings a year for 20 years. You’ll never know which one you’ve got until you try. But, in either case, you’ll get the most out of the best they have to offer. And, maybe a title to go along with it.

Just like the Sox got from Smokey Joe Wood.

34 is for Smokey Joe Wood’s 34 wins in 1912.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

From the Pedro Binder

2000 Pacific Crown Collection

Boy, there’s a lot to like about this card.

There are two things I like about the Pacific logo. I know, weird place to start. But, see where it is? Tucked into the corner? It almost gets lost in the crowd. Just like a logo is supposed to. I also like that they put the year in the logo. Let’s be honest, in the 80’s or 90’ you could probably name the year and brand of a card on first glance. By the time 2000 came along, there was no chance. Which one of the 36 million sets issued is this from? I’d have no idea if they didn’t tell me. Point for them.

The rest of the important information is also tucked out of the way. Pedro’s name and team are on the bottom, in some dead space in the picture. Perfect. I’d like to see his position listed, but I can’t have everything. They managed to add some design elements to the card as well. Sure, wavy lines, arrows, and shading aren’t exactly innovative. But they add some visual interest, without distracting from the picture.

And, what about the picture? It’s great. It’s a different shot for Pedro, which is always a treat. Sure, he’s throwing a ball. But, he’s throwing the ball to first. That mixes it up just enough to get me to notice. They even got the ball in flight, which is great. The fact that the designs don’t obstruct Pedro make this a borderline perfect picture.

What a great effort.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Sox are Turning Every Opposing Pitcher into Dice-K

Yeah, you remember Dice-K, right? Wouldn’t stop nibbling? Couldn’t throw strikes? Walked the park every inning. Somehow managed to go 18-3 one year with a 2.90 ERA but a 1.32 WHIP?

People called it maddening. Frustrating. Terrible.

I always wondered if it was genius.

After all, it wasn’t anything new. He threw a TON of pitches while he was a legend in Japan. Heck, it took him like 200 pitches to beat high schoolers.

What if it was all part of a master plan? What if he sat down before a game, looked over the opposing line-up, and circled the ones he knew he couldn’t get out, and crossed off the ones he knew he could easily get out. If he found 5 guys in the line-up he knew he could strike out, he was all set. The rest of the guys could get on base, but they wouldn’t score if the other guys made outs. He had amazing numbers with the bases loaded. Took him forever one year before he gave up his first hit in that situation. Think back to the number of times you remember him walking the bases loaded, but striking out the side without a run scoring.

Maddening, or genius?

Sound a little bit like the 2014 Red Sox? They’re near the top of the league in OBP, but near the bottom of the league in runs scored. Why? Because the opposing teams are like Daisuke.

Injuries have caused quite a few players to have more important roles than the Sox ever expected. It was supposed to be Bradley or Sizemore…not both. And neither one of them was ever supposed to be protection for Ortiz. Ever. But, that’s what has had to happen. Other teams have apparently figured out how to take advantage of it.

They’re following Daisuke’s plan. Sure, the top four batters have a pretty good chance to get one base, but they can probably make their way around the rest. So, if Xander gets a double, and Pedroia grounds out to advance him to third, just walk Ortiz. Then, you are pretty much assured of striking out Sizemore. Then, you just need to get the next guy. They gave up two baserunners, but no runs. Just like Dice-K did.

Which is why it’s so easy to have hope for this season. When everyone is back healthy, those automatic outs won’t be there. Even if they don’t return to peak form. Victorino doesn’t need to be an all-star. He needs to hit .270. He needs to make contact in order to drive in that guy from third. The team was supposed to have one automatic out in it. If everyone else is at least average, it makes everything different. Balls start finding holes. Herrera doesn’t strike out in key points. While every hitter isn’t exactly dangerous, he’s at least competent. Suddenly, keeping Bradley in just for his defense isn’t such a problem anymore. A pitcher can’t pitch around eight guys to get to one.

He can pitch around four to get to five.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Buyers or Sellers?

That seems to be a hot topic lately. Should the Red Sox be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline? That question really makes me ask two questions of my own.

Why do we need to decide now? Why on earth would we have to decide how the Sox should act on a date two months from now? A lot can happen in two month. Heck, the season is only two months old. I mean, I know why they’re asking. It makes for better controversy. People can make definitive statements, and those always play well. “The season’s over! They should sell!” “No, they’ll come back. They should buy!” Each statement begs for calls to the radio station or comments on the website. And they didn’t even need to report anything worthwhile or do any research. It’s genius. But, of course, there’s no reason to even start thinking about it now. It’s just stuff to fill space.

(Yeah, I see the irony)

The other question, that actually has merit, is why can’t they be both? Why does it have to be one or the other? (Yup. I know. The answer can be found a couple paragraphs ago.) But, the Sox seem to be perfectly set up to be both buyers and sellers at this deadline. They have some older spare parts that might make good chips for future talent. They also have some youngsters that could land the big fish they want. How would that work? Well, a large scale example would be something like a trade for Giancarlo Stanton. They could put a package of prospects together, and be buyers on him. Then, that would produce some extra parts. Then, maybe they could sell on Jonny Gomes and move his intangibles to another contender.

Or something smaller? Maybe they buy on a veteran outfielder, but sell on a veteran catcher? Sell on Peavy, and assume that a youngster can replace him, but buy on depth.

I can’t sit here and say the Sox don’t have needs. Even when everyone is back and healthy, there’s a spot or two that could use some help. There’s also a spot or two where there’s an excess. Can’t the Sox use one area to help the other?

Can’t they sell in order to buy?

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Do Players Have to Answer to their Wives when they get Fined?

I think about weird things sometimes.

Take Brandon Workman. I actually don’t think he’s married. But, what if he was. Can you imagine the discussion when he gets home after being fined?

“I was fined today”


“Someone was mean to David.”

“So you got fined? And Mr. Moneybags didn’t?”


“He damn well better be sending you a big check as a thank you!”

Now, I know that the monetary scales are off a bit. But, it’s still a chunk of change right? Even if it’s the equivalent of someone making $50 grand a year being fined $50, isn’t that a big fine for something stupid?

Jonathan Papelbon was once fined $10 grand or so because he didn’t get from the bullpen to the mound quickly enough. A delay of game sort of thing. He had to go home and tell Ashley that. Was she ticked?

Can you imagine coming home from work and telling your wife you were fined $50 because you walked too slow when you were called somewhere?

What would the reaction be?

Even if they make so much money that the fine’s not exactly taking food off the table. It’s costing something, right? A new sweater? New car? Extra vacation?

Isn’t that annoying to them?

Especially for a young kid like Workman?

Friday, June 6, 2014

Collecting the Sox: Dunkin’ Donuts

Happy Donut Day!

I’m going to start this off with a question. People collect items dealing with corporations all the time. Coca-Cola collections and Ford Motor Company collections are everywhere. You even get to say you collect “Disneyana” if you collect things dealing with a certain company.

Why did I find it odd to think people would collect Dunkin’ Donuts items?

To be fair to myself, I’m not sure that anyone actually does collect them. But, it really shouldn’t seem weird to me. Maybe it’s because I don’t see all that much merchandise around very often.

But, that doesn’t mean you can’t collect it. Even your Red Sox collection can have a “Dunkin’ Donuts” theme.


I’ve talked about collecting Red Sox magnet schedules. Just about every one that I’ve seen has proudly displayed the “Dunkin’ Donuts” logo. Thankfully it’s not the focus of the magnet. But, if you collect the Sox and DD, there’s an item for you.

In 2004, they even printed a special magnet that retold the playoff results for the new World Champions. Naturally, their logo was right there on front.

I remember them handing out posters one year. They were very well done. I have the Jonathan Papelbon one hanging on my ceiling.

Their cups have been known to feature the Red Sox as well. I’m sure there are many other items that you could go after as well. In store promotional items perhaps?

They also have a fairly prominent sign in Fenway. What if you collected pictures, or baseball cards, that showed that sign? That would definitely add focus.

Clearly, if you love the Red Sox and you run on Dunkin’, there’s a collection just waiting for you. Most of these items are pretty cheap. The ones I’ve talked about were given away, as a matter of fact. Variety is certainly there. Since many of these items will be “in the moment” it also naturally has that “traveling through time” aspect that I require from any collection. Heck, I can travel back to any year I want by looking at the Dunkin’ Donuts magnet schedule. What a great collection.

What’s in your Dunkin’ Donuts collection?

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Sizing Up Sizemore

The Red Sox outfield hasn’t been performing well lately.

To be kind.

There are arguments as to whether it’s the worst outfield in ten years, or fifty years. Some of that is due to injury. Some of that is due to underperforming. And, some of that is due to Grady Sizemore.

Since the Sox signed him, he’s been a question mark. Could he be healthy? Could he still play? Could he contribute? Could he help the team? So many questions.

When do we need the answers?

At what point do the Sox decide that he’s just another player hitting .220, and not formerly one of the best players in the game? Many people have pointed out that if the names were erased, he’d be the one who had to spend time in Pawtucket, not Nava.

Can you erase the names?

Probably not. All things being equal, don’t you have to give the guy who’s shown the ability to do it before the chance to do it again? Yes, I know that Nava had a great season last year. But, Sizemore had several elite seasons before. What the Sox need to do is decide if he can do it again.

Is he still hurt? Doesn’t look like it. Although, they know better than I. Is he rusty? I’m sure he is. I bet those first few weeks were just luck, or the fact that he saw a lot of fastballs in spring training. Or, something along those lines. Can someone come back from 2 years off to regain their form? Why not? People come back after missing a year all the time. Look at John Lackey. Sure Sizemore’s older than he used to be. But, he’s not old. He’s only 31, which is still in his prime. This isn’t Manny trying to come back after a year off. If he’s healthy, he should be able to return to some resemblance if his old self.

If the Sox can wait for it.

Right now, they don’t have much choice. It’s not like they’re benching an all-star waiting for the real Grady to show up. All the outfielders are playing terribly right now. Might as well keep trying Sizemore to see if it all clicks. Because if it does, it will be completely worth the wait.

Especially since there’s no real downside at the moment.

Monday, June 2, 2014

That Answers That

I guess I have an answer to my previous question.

Obviously, the Sox weren’t as bad as the ten-game losing streak would suggest. Nor do I imagine there’s as good as a seven-game winning streak would suggest. But, it certainly changes the conversations.

After all, they’re still leaving runners on base. It’s still a function of the fact that they’re getting runners on base. We just don’t mind so much because they’re driving more of the runners home first. The pitchers are also giving up runs. But, they happen to be doing it in amounts that don’t exceed the number the Sox score. It’s all falling together nicely.

What does the future hold? For this week, for instance?

We’ll have to see

I like what the winning streak will do for the confidence levels of the team. Think Bogaerts will worry if he goes 0-3 tonight? Not when he can look back on the tear he’s been on over the last week or so.

The other thing that the winning streak did was get everyone past the injuries a little bit more. Victorino and Napoli have been able to heal without costing the team victories.

Losing also affects things like the bullpen. Naturally, during the losing streak, they were worked a little harder than they were over the last ten games. So, even possessing the knowledge that the Sox will, in fact, lose a game at some point, I feel that they’re in a better position than they were.

I wonder how long the ride will be.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

From the Pedro Binder

2000 Upper Deck Checklist

I’ve said it before. Card companies aren’t completely stupid. They know that stars drive the product. Even a product like the 2000 base set. While they know they’re supposed to have cards of every reasonable player in the league, they know that’s not what gets people to buy the packs. They need cards of the superstars. At some point, they realized that checklist cards are a great way to do that.

I have to admit, the old style checklists cards confuse me. Who thought it was a good idea to commit a card from the regular set just to be a checklist? Do other things do that? If you’re collecting bobbleheads, they don’t make one that just has a checklist of all the other bobbleheads. Why do it for card sets? What a waste? I’m glad that they now have moved to just having the checklists being “inserts” in packs, like junk mail. If you want a checklist, here it is. But, you’re not missing out on a card of a back-up catcher because of it.

This is another way to go. Make it an opportunity to get another Pedro card into the set. Even better. It probably means that there are more checklist cards than there would have been, since you can only use one side of the card. But, it makes the cards worth getting. I’m sure that there are some player collectors who would balk at having to collect a Pedro card that wasn’t really a Pedro card. But, I’m not one of them.

This is a simple card, naturally following the base Upper Deck design. It has everything I’d want to see on a card. Name, team, position. It even tucks the Upper Deck logo off in the corner. All of that leaves plenty of room for a nice big picture. All that adds up to a great card.

Especially when it’s an “extra” Pedro in the set.

What people are reading this week