Saturday, January 31, 2015

How Deep is the Ocean?

And, how do you know when you have enough depth?

The Red Sox avoided arbitration with Daniel Nava recently by signing him to a one year deal. Now, I won’t pretend to understand everything that goes into a baseball roster and its contracts. I realize that signing Nava was probably as much a “have to” as a “want to.” But, it does highlight a topic about the 2015 Red Sox.

Where are they planning on playing this guy?

When I look at the Red Sox outfield situation, I’m not even sure where to begin. As far as I can tell, Hanley Ramirez is the only sure thing. From there, it gets a little murky. They just paid Castillo a bunch of money. Have to assume he’ll get some playing time. Where does that leave Mookie Betts? If he shifts to right, where does that leave Shane Victorino? He’s in the last year of a good sized contract. Is he going to be the fourth outfielder? Does that make Alan Craig the fifth outfielder? Daniel Nava would, therefore, be sixth? Do teams carry six outfielders? That’s not even counting Jackie Bradley Jr. While he’d be easy to stash in Pawtuckett for a year or so, his defense sure would make for a good bench guy.

What’s a team to do?

Some of the outfielders could be back-up first basemen as well. In the games that Napoli (or Ortiz, I suppose) don’t play Nava could. Or Craig. So, did the Red Sox just avoid arbitration with their sixth outfielder slash third string first baseman? Is that even possible? Is there even room for all that?

Does Ben Cherington have it all mapped out? Does he have the Red Sox starting line-up for the next six years hanging on a wall in his office? Is he planning on just getting through this jumbled mess somehow this year, and let Victorino and Napoili walk away and take their roster clogging with them? Is he just holding onto them all waiting for a desperate team to call him during the spring begging for a trade?

Is there a plan? Or is it a wait and see situation? Sure, everything cold sort itself out in Spring Training, so there no urgency to make a move before you have to. But, at some point yo have to be ready to make a decision to stick with. Which three guys do the Red Sox see as their outfield? Once you decide on that, are the other three guys expendable? What can you get for them? Where can you stash them? What’s the best move. Because you know there has to be one.


Thursday, January 29, 2015

One More Week!

Did you lose track?

Did all the snow make the time pass by too quickly?

Did you just forget?

Well, whatever the reason, you now find yourself with only one week left to enter the 2014 Section 36 Scavenger Hunt!

The bad news? That means there's not a lot of time to find some of the items. If you haven't already been to Lansdowne St, you're short on time to schedule a trip.

The good news? There's still plenty of time to find most of the items! I've said it before, but you probably have lots of items right in your house. A quick trip to the mall can knock out so many more. You can find one of the items here. If you're having trouble finding #6, you have some issues.If you can't find #35 and #36, I seriously question why (and how) you're reading this blog.

Get my drift?

So, it's time to get cracking because the end is near. But, don't be discouraged because you certainly have the time left to make a great entry.

I can't wait to see all the entries!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

I Scored!

May 19, 2000

Sometimes you never know how a game it going to turn out. For instance, I don’t remember my anticipation being all that high on my way to this epic Moehler-Fassero match-up. But, as it turned out, it was quite the pitcher’s duel. The Red Sox won it, despite only reaching base ten times. They had fewer hits than the visiting Tigers. They, apparently, just made them count.

Looking at the card itself, I can’t help but wonder why I didn’t fill out the positions for anyone except Carl Everett. I’m tempted to fill them in now, since I can pretty much tell you what they were. Offerman must have been at second. I suppose the Daubach/Stanley placement is up for some debate. Although a little research would certainly clear that all up. I could also look up Donnie Sadler’s jersey number to finish that off. But, I think I’m going to leave it all as-is.

The game itself? Look at that line from Fassero. It was Pedro-esque. Seven innings of shutout ball, giving up only six base runners, while striking out 8? Fantastic. Garces and Lowe did a great job of closing the door. As I mentioned, the offense didn’t have a great day, but a couple home runs provided all the scoring they would need.

The hero of the game? Would have to be Carl Everett. (Maybe that why I thought it was important enough to include his position in the line-up) His two-run homer gave the Sox all the runs they would need on the day.

The goat? Well, as you’d expect, four players went hitless on the day. Only half of them were 0-4, though. And of those, only Donnie Sadler didn’t even score a run. So, for that ineptitude, he gets to wear the horns.

But, it didn’t matter. The Sox were able to squeak one out by simply scoring more runs than the other team. In the end, that’s all that counts. The Sox cruised to a nice win.

And the scorecard shows how it happened.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

From the Pedro Binder

2004 SP Authentic

I remember reading a book once about Disney World. It was a behind the scenes question and answer sort of thing. One of the questions was about a ride that had some numbers written on the wall at the end. The question was what those numbers stood for. The answer, was that they stood for nothing. They were just random numbers.

I was amazed.

Why would you put random numbers up on the wall? You're just going to select numbers with no thought to them/ No birthdays or graduation dates or street addresses? Not the number of Dwarfs or good fairies? Not the year Fantasia was released, or the number of fingers on Mickey Mouse's hand? Seriously? Where's the point in that?

Looking at this card brings back that memory for me. The card has a nice design. It's exactly what you'd expect from SP Authentic. It's clean, and modern. And, it had Pedro superimposed over a wonderful background of a baseball stadium.'s not Fenway Park!

Am I the only one who finds this odd? Why would you use a random stadium? Did they not have a picture of Fenway? Could then not get one pretty easily? Why would they not go through the trouble? Why would they not think of it?

Doesn't it just bug them?

Or, is it just me?

Because, the rest of the card, as I alluded to, really does work. I like the clean white. The graphics are crisp, without being distracting. The authentic logo is tucked away so that they real information is proudly presented front and center. But, then there's that stadium. I can't get past it.

It ruins the card for me.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

seven. Seven. SEVEN. SEVEN!


Can you believe it?

Today marks the seventh anniversary of the start of this here blog. What a ride it has been. I’m sure you’ve all heard the story. How I started this blog directly because of a blank space in my custom scorecard. I figured it would be a fun way to spend some time.

If I only knew.

Along the way, there are several cool things that have happened.

People have been reading my posts. Who would have thunk it? But, every time I check the hits, there are more than there were before. How fantastic.

More than that, people are following the blog other places. I keep gaining Twitter followers. (Another one today, in fact.) I keep getting facebook likes. (Actually, another one of those today too.) People are following the Instagram account. (Yup. Added another one of those today too.) They can’t seem to get enough.

I’m also excited to be a part of the BYBHub. It’s a great listing of baseball bloggers all in one place. How’s that for having “made” it?

I also like the people I've "met" thought the blog. Whether it's people that I talk to on twitter, or through the comments. Or, especially the card collectors who have become trading partners. The community of fans and collectors is great to be a part of.

But, the coolest thing? It’s always the pictures. The fact that people are taking the time to send me pictures is always humbling. Would you believe that nearly 90 different people have sent in pictures so far? Whether they’re pictures of themselves enjoying Section 36, or posing with Section 36, or wishing they were in Section 36. Or pictures they took from Section 36, or of Section 36. People have been sending them in so that we all can enjoy them. I know that I have loved seeing them, and they sure do spruce up the facebook page. Don’t you agree?

Hopefully all of you have been enjoying all of this as well. Hopefully all the likes and the follows mean that not only do you enjoy seeing the pictures and the tweets, but that you enjoy reading the posts as well. Hopefully the reason you’re liking and following is that you want to know as soon as you can when another great post is published.

After all, that’s kind of the whole point. Hope you’ve enjoyed the last seven years as much as I have.

Hope you enjoy the next seven even more.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Wantlist: 2014

About time I posted this, eh? As always, these are just the base cards for sets I'm "actively" working on. If you have other sets not listed, I probably want them too, so don't be afraid to ask. I also want inserts/parallels/etc but there are so many of them, it's easier to just not list them and assume the odds of getting a duplicate are pretty low.

2014 Bowman
66 Dustin Pedroia
205 Shane Victorino

2014 Bowman Platinum
43 Jon Lester
46 Dustin Pedroia
71 David Ortiz
75 Xander Bogaerts

2014 Bowman Platinum Prospects
BPP25 Henry Owens
BPP28 Matt Barnes
BPP44 Garin Cecchini

2014 Finest
29 Dustin Pedroia
55 David Ortiz
89 Xander Bogaerts RC

2014 Topps Series 1

2014 Topps Series 2

 2014 Topps Allen and Ginter

49 Felix Doubront
66 Roger Clemens
91 Clay Buchholz
166 Mike Napoli
225 Pedro Martinez
293 Manny Ramirez

 2014 Topps Archives

20 Will Middlebrooks
74 Jon Lester
93 Xander Bogaerts RC
94 Mike Napoli
218 Nomar Garciaparra
204 Manny Ramirez
238 David Ortiz
249 Pedro Martinez

2014 Topps Chrome
31 Clay Buchholz
47 Will Middlebrooks
121 Koji Uehara
142 Grady Sizemore
201 David Ortiz

2014 Topps Gypsy Queen
13 Xander Bogaerts RC
14 Shane Victorino
66 Jonny Gomes
85 David Ross
115 Daniel Nava
126 Pedro Martinez
143 Dustin Pedroia
166 A.J. Pierzynski
229 Jon Lester
286 John Lackey
304 Ted Williams
327 Wade Boggs
329 David Ortiz
345 Will Middlebrooks

2014 Topps Heritage Series 1

132 World Series Game 1
134 World Series Game 3
431 Jon Lester
447 Dustin Pedroia
2014 Topps Opening Day
178 Xander Bogaerts RC
194 Shane Victorino

 2014 Topps Update
US-87 Allen Craig 
US-162 Yoenis Cespedes
US-183 Kelly Johnson
US-187 Jonathan Herrera
US-202 Rubby De La Rosa
US-301 Mookie Betts

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Who Had the Best 1-2 Punch?

With all this talk about Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez’s election to the Hall of Fame, I was reminded of something.

When Curt Schilling was traded to the Diamondbacks to join Johnson in the rotation, somebody (probably ESPN) ran a poll asking what the best #1/#2 starting pitcher combination in the majors was. The first choice was, of course, the newly minted duo of Johnson and Schilling. I don’t exactly remember all the other choices, but they were the likely candidates…Clemens/Pettitte, Maddux/Glavine, probably Hudson/Mulder. The last choice was “Pedro Martinez and any other Red Sox starter.” I remember getting a chuckle out of that one. Especially since it was getting some votes. Of course, it was just a silly choice. The idea that Pedro and Jeff Fassero, for example, would be the best #1/#2 combo in the majors was good for a laugh. Although, it did speak to just how good Pedro was at the time that they even suggested it. It wasn’t “Maddux and any other Braves starter.” It wasn’t even “Johnson and anybody else.” It was telling, but obviously just a throwaway entry.

Or, was it?

Just for fun, I thought I’d see just how close those entries would have been. After all, any time spent browsing around Pedro’s baseball-reference page is time well spent. I decided to use WAR for the comparisons because, well, why not?

The top five that year for “combined WAR” between two pitching staff members, not including any Red Sox entries, were:

13.2 Randy Johnson-Curt Schilling
12.2 Kevin Brown-Chan Ho Park
12.2 Randy Johnson-Bryan Anderson
11.5 Greg Maddux-Tom Glavine
9.8 Randy Johnson-Greg Swindell

So, there you go. Obviously, Johnson’s massive 8.1 number allowed him to team with a few people to get a bigger number.

How about Pedro and his rotation-mate?

Baseball-reference lists six pitchers for the Sox that year as “starting pitchers.” Going with Pedro and ANY other starter, the worst combination is actually him and his brother. That year they combined for a WAR of 11.4. If you look at the list, that would place them fifth. Amazingly, that’s because Ramon actually had a negative WAR that year, and dragged down Pedro’s unbelievable 11.7. (Side note…Ramon finished the season with the second most starts on the Sox, behind Pedro, even with his -0.3 WAR. Imagine if the Sox had another even average starter?) On his own, Pedro would have finished fourth. So, while the combination of Pedro and “any other starter” shouldn’t have won the poll, it was clearly deserving of the mention after all.

How crazy is that?

Just for even more fun, what if we didn’t just use the worst starter on the Sox? How would “Pedro and starter X” do in the comparison? I’m glad you asked. Here’s the new major league top five, if you include Red Sox pitchers.

14.0 Pedro Martinez-Tomo Ohka
13.4 Pedro Martinez-Jeff Fassero
13.2 Randy Johnson-Curt Schilling
12.6 Pedro Martinez-Pete Schourek
12.6 Pedro Martinez-Rolando Arrojo

Are you friggin’ kidding me? So thanks to Pedro, Tomo Ohka was part of the best #1/#2 punch in the majors? Let that sink in for a minute. Jeff Fassero was part of a better #1/#2 combination than Johnson/Schilling? Pete Schourek teamed up with Pedro to beat out two first-ballot Hall of Famers?


Pedro was good.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Three Weeks!

Three weeks isn’t a lot of time.

You can’t earn a college degree in three weeks. You can’t play a baseball season in three weeks. You probably can’t even write the great American novel in three weeks.

But, in three weeks you still have time to enter the 2014Section 36 Scavenger Hunt!

You just need to get a move on, that’s all.

I keep telling you that it’s easy to do, and I still mean it. There are any number of items that just about everyone should be able to find in almost no time at all. Only a few of them may take the kind of effort and scheduling luck to take the rest of the three weeks.

If you can’t find five items in less than a half an hour, I question your fanhood. You can probably knock off five or ten more with a standard trip to your local shopping mall. They won’t even be hard.

What else are you going to do with your cold winter weekends?

So, look around your house!  Look around your office! Look around during your next shopping trip! Get those items found!

There’s only three weeks left!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

From the Pedro Binder

2003 Topps Heritage

Heritage is an interesting line of cards. It takes current players, and puts them in designs from the past. When they first came out, the idea of seeing today’s stars in the design of the classic 1952 Topps set was pretty fantastic. It was a novel concept that really appealed to a lot of people. But, now that we’re several years into the concept, is it really any different than any other card design? Do I look at this card any differently than some of the Fleer designs that mimicked classic design elements?

Do people buy this card because they like the design, or because they like 1954 Topps?

Assuming my scanner knew what the edges of a card looked like, this is a nice little card. Obviously the side of me that loves photos is severely disappointed. But, the rest of it is there. Pedro’s name is written nice and clearly on the top of the card, and I don’t need to turn my head to read it. (I promise, it’s all there on the actual card.) It has a color team logo…even if this one appears to be scratched somehow. I’ll have to go double check the card itself at some point, because if the scratch is really there, I missed it until now. It has Pedro position, and team name. The Topps Heritage logo is nicely hidden in the corner, and even more obscured by being an opaque watermark type of image. Wonderful.

I do like the artistic design of the card too. It’s colorful, which is always a plus. Especially when it’s not colorful to the point of distraction. I like the large head shot, with the smaller full body post. It makes for a nice contrast in the images. I even like the facsimile signature, even though it makes it distracting if you get the card autographed. That’s actually too bad because otherwise, the bold green background would present a signature very well.

It’s a nice design, and I enjoy it. But, do I enjoy it because it’s a nice design? Or do I like it because it reminds me of 1954?

Or is it a little of both?

Monday, January 12, 2015

What do you Collect?

I’ve brought it up before. But, sometimes I feel guilty holding onto certain cards. A numbered parallel of a Diamondbacks player, for instance. I always imagine that there must be someone who can give a card like that a better home than I can. (Which, it turns out, there was.)

I feel even guiltier during my  annual purge of cards that have been in my collection the maximum ten years. There are certainly people who can give them a better home than handing them out at random, or simply throwing them out. (I know, see?)

The problem that arrives is how to know what else to do with them. Sure, I know where to send the Phillies cards that would otherwise be part of the purge. But, I don’t have a similar location for the other teams out there. I know what to do if I come across a Tim Wallach card. But, have no idea what to do if I pull a 1/1 parallel of the back-up Marlins catcher. Surely all of these other cards must have places to go. I just can’t seem to recall those locations when I need them. Who collects team USA again? Who’s that Royals collector?

So, after toying with the idea, I’ve decided to finally make a list. Who knows, maybe I’ll even make it a page on the blog so I always have it at the ready. I want to make a list of what other people collect so I can quickly look and see before I do the wrong thing with a card.

So, I need your help. I need you to tell me what you collect, so I can add it to the list. You know, the “If you ever get any of these, keep me in mind” sort of collections. Not, “Here’s my wantlist of 2012 Topps base cards”. For instance, I would say something like “Pedro Martinez cards, Red Sox’Topps family’ cards, other Red Sox cards…in that order.”

Sure, I could just visit every blog on my roll, and put the list together myself. But, there are two issues with that. First, it makes me do all the work. That’s much less fun for me. Plus, I like the idea of rewarding people who actually read the blog. At some point I probably will add all the other blogs to the list, but the readers who play along first would get some sort of priority.

So, leave a comment andlet me know what you collect. No promises that I do, or ever will, have something that interests you. But, at least I’ll be able to say to someone “I have a bunch of 2005 UD Mariners cards. Are you interested, before I threw them out?” or “I just pulled a Brandon Belt numbered to 25…interested?” Maybe something comes of it, maybe not. But, I like the idea of having a place to start. And don't worry about duplicating collecting goals with a previous comment. Maybe I'll have enough Rays cards to split. 

Let me know!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Pedro Live

With Pedro Martinez’s election to the Baseball Hall of Fame, I thought it would be fun to take out my scorebooks and, like I did for Derek Jeter, see how he performed in games I attended. Or, as it turns out, at least in games I scored. I didn’t score every game I went to in 1998, so it’s possible I missed a Pedro game in there. I also didn’t always score playoff games, so I know I missed one there. But, how about in all the other games I went to?

I found scorecards for 25 Pedro games in my collection.

I’m going to stop right there for a second. 25 Pedro games? I had no idea it was going to be that many. How lucky was I to be able to get to that many games started by the best pitcher in at least a generation? You know how Peter Abraham  lists “Springsteen Shows: 118” on his twitter profile? I think I should add “Pedro Games Attended: 25” to mine. It’s like a badge of honor.

Anyway, how did Pedro do with me there personally cheering him on?

In those 25 games, he went 16-5 with a 2.61 ERA, and a 0.93 WHIP. In 172.1 innings, he struck out 238 batters, while walking 31.

Those numbers are pretty dang good, eh? I would have expected nothing less. But, that’s just the numbers for 25 starts. What if we extrapolated them out to a full 32 start season? I’m glad you asked.

In a 32 start season, Pedro would have gone 20-6 with the same 2.61 ERA and 0.93 WHIP.  In 220.2 innings, he would have struck out 305 hitters, while walking 40.

Pedro Martinez, ladies and gentlemen.

Want to get really crazy? Let’s have some fun. As luck (or lack thereof) would have it, I saw Pedro pitch three absolute stinkers. With such a small sample size, those skew the results a bit. Now, I hate it when people say “If you throw out all his bad games, he did very well.” But in this case, if you do throw out those three games, you get the numbers for the Pedro Martinez that pitched 90% of the time I saw him. Those numbers over a full season? 23-6, 1.72 ERA, 0.78 WHIP. 332 K. That would be an epic season. That’s the Pedro Martinez I saw nine out of every ten times I saw him pitch. That was the assumption. Amazing.

Even if I just take out his worst game. Now we’re getting to the 96% of the time Pedro.
Those stats would equate to a full season of 21-7, 2.29 ERA, 0.87 WHIP and 313 K’s. That’s why everyone always expected great things from Pedro. Just about every time I went to one of his games, that’s exactly what he delivered.

One more fun stat. I saw Pedro lose five games. (I know, I was amazed too.) If those five games were a full season, he would have a 4.36 ERA, a 1.12 WHIP, and strike out 307 batters. Which members of the 2015 Red Sox rotation do you expect to pitch better than that?

No wonder I enjoyed going to his games so much.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

From the (HOFer!) Pedro Binder

2000 Upper Deck

First, a big congrats to Pedro Martinez for being elected to the Hall of Fame today!

Second, I absolutely love this card!

It really has everything I’ve always said I love about cards. Look at the size of that picture! It takes up the whole card, if you count the translucent portion at the bottom. It has Pedro’s name facing the right way. His last name is in foil, but I’ll let that slide this once. It has the Boston Red Sox name, in foil, facing the right way. The Upper Deck logo is nicely hidden in the upper corner. And, it’s in foil to make it even more hidden.

The picture is simple, but great. Pedro in the home whites, getting ready to embarrass yet another hitter.

But, that’s not my favorite part of the card. My favorite part appears in two places. Once, prominently displayed on Pedro’s sleeve. Then again larger than life in gold foil on the left.

The 1999 All-Star Game logo. I can never be reminded enough of that game. Easily the best game I’ve ever been to that didn’t count for anything. Even counting playoff games and other real contests, it’s definitely top-five. Pedro’s performance in that game is easily 50% of the meaning of that game. If not more. So, while I never did quite collect the entire set of players with the ASG logo, having Pedro is probably enough. I don’t need to remind you of how he completely dominated the best the National League could offer. Home run kings? MVP? Future Hall-of-Famers? He struck out five of six. It was Pedro at his best.

Which makes for a fantastic card.

Monday, January 5, 2015

One Month! That’s it!

Ok. The Holiday Season is over. We’ve all welcomed the new year, and are ready to get 2015 rolling.  What better way to start the year off right than to work on that entry for the 2014 Section 36 scavenger hunt? Forget what the items are that you need to look for? Just check out the side of this here blog. There’s a link to the list right there.

I’ve mentioned before that some of the items are really easy, just to get you started. Just by reading this post, I know you’ve found at least one of the items.

The homemade shirt? I bet you can do that. Does it say “Really well done and artfully illustrated”? No, it does not. So, give it a shot. There’s one more item for you with very little effort.

Once you get those down, it should be easy to get the ball rolling from there. Do you have a collection of World Series items? There’s probably an item in there. Do you post every second of your life to Instagram? If you’ve been to Fenway, there’s a good chance an item or two is already captured on film.

Most of all, have fun with it. Look around the house. Look around the mall. Look around while you’re out with friends. Just don’t look around too long.

There’s only a month left!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

The 2015 Hall of Fame Ballot

It's that time of year again. It's time for the Baseball Hall of Fame to announce its Hall of Fame election results. These have been more fun for me recently, since I've started to be old enough to have really experienced the players involved. I feel like I can make a more informative opinion on who should, or shouldn't be, elected. I bet you're just dying to know who I would vote for if I had a ballot, aren't you?

Too bad. I'm going to do it anyway. Well, at least I'm going to tell you which former Red Sox players I would vote for. That makes this a much shorter, more manageable post, after all. Shall we get on with it?

First of all, what's a Hall of Famer? I've said it before, but once again, here's how I answer that question. The Hall of fame requires a ten year career. This is how they eliminate flashes in the pan. It makes sense to have some sort of minimum, and ten years seems about right. So, I figure, if you only play ten years, they better all be "All-Star" years. I don't mean actually being an all-star, since those team elections are jokes. But, I mean years where people would consider you all-star caliber. As luck would have it, baseball-reference actually puts a number to it. They call a WAR above 5 an all-star season. While I would never use a stat like that as an absolute, it's a handy way to think about things. So, above and beyond having ten all-star seasons, if you want me to call you a Hall of Famer, five of those years better be elite years. I'm not looking for long-time mediocrity. I want superstars. (This requirement, BTW is where players like Tim Raines and Craig Biggio fall off my ballot. Lots of all-star years, but not enough elite seasons) Baseball-reference to the rescue once again. They call a WAR of 8 to be an MVP season. Again, that's a great guideline to keep in mind. Now, if you played more than ten years, I don't give you much credit for it. You just can make a fool of yourself out there. (Again, sorry Biggio...I don't care if you hung on long enough to reach those 3000 hits everyone gets so excited about. I mean, you never even won a batting title.)

So, know that, what would my Red Sox ballot look like? Glad you asked.

Tony Clark. An easy one off that bat. I like Tony Clark a lot. Not that I know him personally. Never actually met him. (Met his wife once, but that's a different story.) He seemed like a nice enough guy. But, his career doesn't even warrant further discussion. Fine player, not a Hall of Famer.

Roger Clemens. Interestingly, for a guy with seven Cy Youngs, he only had six seasons with 8+ WAR. Not that his resume is really the question here. It's all those PEDs he kept using in order to establish the resume. My hunch is that if you can keep Joe Jackson out of the hall for something he wasn't found guilty of, you can do the same for Clemens. Is it fair? No. Is it fair that Jackson is banned but Ty Cobb and Tris Speaker were two of the first six Hall of Famers? No. Sorry.

Cliff Floyd. A long major league career is something to be proud of. Playing in the league for 17 years is quite an accomplishment. There's no shame in having a career that long that isn't good enough for the Hall of Fame. Hope Floyd feels the same way.

Nomar Garciaparra. At first, I thought this one was going to be tougher. After all, he was a monster when he was healthy in Boston. Plus, he made that all-star team in LA. I thought, maybe, He'd squeak in. It pains me to no end that he didn't. He just didn't have the years. I could make a case that his had the five years I need. He never had a WAR over 8, but he was pretty steadily a valuable player. He had six seasons over 6, including two over 7, in Boston. I could almost stretch it. But, that was all he had. He had nothing after Boston. Even the actual all-star year was under 3. Damn.

Tom Gordon. As much as I like the fact that he wore #36 for a lot of his career, and all he did for the Sox in 2004...I can't do it. The numbers just aren't there.

Pedro Martinez. Remember when I said I wouldn't use the 8+ WAR as an absolute? This here is why. Pedro Martinez is the type of pitcher you create a Hall of Fame for. But, he only had four seasons of 8+ WAR. One of the years he didn't was 2001. That year he had a 5 WAR in half a season. That's also the season that he made the all-star team as a special inclusion. While the manager/coaches of the team realized that his season didn't warrant it, they couldn't imagine an all-star team without Pedro Martinez on it. So, they added a roster spot just for him. That's really all you need to know about his career. They changed the rules of the all-star game just for him. He gets a vote as fast as possible.

Curt Schilling. I have to admit, he was closer than I thought he would be. Looking at the numbers strictly, I see two seasons with a WAR over 8, with another at 7.9. Then, I see five other seasons over a 5.0, with a 4.9 and 4.8. So, he's a bit short on the peak years, and stretching it on the overall excellence. But, as I mentioned with Pedro, these aren't "chiseled in stone" type requirements. So, can I give him anything to help push him over the edge? Four times he finished fourth or better in Cy Young voting, but never won one. He was pitcher of the month four times. Never in the top nine for MVP. Led the league in wins twice, and WHIP twice. I also notice that he was a much better pitcher playing second fiddle as a #2 man in the rotation. No idea what that means, but it's something. Like I said, it was closer than I though, but I can't see a way I would vote for him.

Lee Smith. I can't imagine voting for a modern closer. I certainly can't imagine doing it for an old-time one. A top WAR of 4.8 for his career? Pass.

John Smoltz. Much like Nomar, I thought this might be a close one. Once I looked at the numbers, though, I don't get it. His highest WAR was 7.3, and only two other times was he over 5. People keep talking like he's a shoe in. But those numbers certainly don't scream at me. Even "classic" stats don't seem to help. He won twenty games once. Saved 40 games three times. I look at Pedro's career stats, and am just in awe of all the bold numbers. I look at Smoltz, and I feel "eh." I'm not saying that any team wouldn't be thrilled to have him. But, I don't elect "eh" to the Hall of Fame.

So, there you go. Looks like I would only vote for one former Red Sox player. I guess that makes sense.

It's supposed to be hard to get in the Hall of Fame.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Collecting the Sox: How do You Display Autographed Books?

This year, Santa brought me a couple autographed books. None of them happened to be Red Sox books (although, Scribe by Bob Ryan might be close). But, it brought up an interesting dilemma. What do I do with these books? How should I display them?

I do have a couple autographed Red Sox books. One is Jerry Remy's Watching Baseball. This one I had signed during a Remy Appearance as Red Sox Nation president. It wasn't a book signing, it just happened to be the best Remy item I had for an autograph. So, I was just thrusting the book in front of him as he moved down the crowd. He hesitated just a bit before he went ahead and just signed the cover of the book. That book displays nicely, just like an autographed picture of Remy would. But, that hesitation is what causes the display problems with other books. They're all signed inside the book.

That's the case with the other Red Sox autographed book I have. When I received a copy of Fenway Fever to review, the author was kind enough to sign it. But, it's on the inside, like all other book autographs. You don't know it's any different until you open it. So, sitting on my shelf, it could be any book. The only way to see the signature is to display it propped open to the title page. Not only is this a little hard to do, but it makes the item less attractive to look at. A black and white title page is much less visually appealing that a colorful binding or dust jacket.

My newest additions may have some assistance along those lines. They weren't signed at a book signing. They were purchased pre-signed. As I assume many bookstores do, my local Books-a-Million has several such titles pre-signed by the author. In these cases a sticker is placed on the front of the book signifying it as an "Autographed Copy." So, I could display the books with the front cover showing, and you could tell it was something special by the presence of the sticker. It's not quite the same as displaying an autograph, though. It's sort of like displaying an autographed baseball in its box, but just writing who signed it on the box. Sure, you know it;s something different, but there's still not the great display. I like my collectibles to have great display value.

But, that might be the best I can do. I don't want a bunch of propped-open books on my shelf. But, I do want it to look different than other books in my collection. So, at the moment displaying the front cover will be the way I go.

Unless you have another idea...

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