Friday, February 27, 2015

Is it a Pace of Game Problem, or a PR Problem?

Now, let’s get it out of the way right off the bat. There are any number of things that baseball can do to make the games shorter. They’re easy, and they’re not doing them. But, the real question is…

Should they have to?

People think baseball moves slow. They think people don’t watch it because of that. Who’s telling us this? Major League Baseball. I’ve never seen an organization tell everyone how badly their doing more than MLB. They can’t wait to tell people how low the ratings are for the World Series, while ignoring the fact that they’re higher than any number of other program options. They keep telling us that they need to schedule games for times people are already watching TV in order to get ratings, instead of just scheduling them when they work best and letting people find them. And, now they’re doing it again. Games are too long and slow so we need to institute new rules.

Maybe they can just stop telling people the games are slow.

Have you ever watched other sports? There’s quite a bit of dead time in those too. I think it’s football that really get to me. The NFL is wildly popular, and its games are just as long and slow as baseball is. After every play they stop the action and everyone gets together and talks the next play over for 20 to 30 seconds. Sometimes, they even get to the line, and stay there for five to ten seconds just sitting there. Peyton Manning is the king of this. He gets praised over and over for just standing and the line and calling out signals. Sometimes he steps back, and everyone sort of resets themselves. It’s lauded as outsmarting the defense. If a baseball catcher sat there giving signals for 15 seconds before the pitcher steps off and starts over, they’re both booed. Do it twice and the fans may riot.

What’s the difference?


The NFL doesn’t tell people how slow their games are. Their reporters don’t tell you how slow the game is. They tell everyone it’s strategy.

That’s exactly what David Ortiz tried to do the other day. He’s not just stalling when he steps out of the box. He’s thinking. He’s planning. He’s deciding. Because of that, he’s being called selfish. Thinking he’s above the game.

Peyton Manning is called a genius.

He has better PR

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Collecting the Sox: Disney Crossovers

In addition to my (very healthy) obsession with the Boston Red Sox, I am also a bit of a Disney freak. (Again, it’s very healthy) More than just the movies or the characters, I’m obsessed with the company itself. The way they built themselves such a dominating empire is fascinating to me. I mean, I walked into a Toys R Us recently. There are around ten aisles with toys in them. One was all Disney owned Star Wars stuff. One was Disney owned Marvel. One was Disney owned Pixar. One was Disney Princess merchandise. One was Legos, of which about half were Disney themes. And those were just the dedicated aisles. How can you not be amazed that half the toy store is dominated by one company?

So, imagine how excited I get when the two obsessions are able to overlap! (And, how excited I was when Disney sold the Angels!)

Thankfully, again since Disney is so huge, it happens quite a bit. And, it’s wonderful. It allows me the chance to add a lot of variety to my collection. That’s really the appeal of any crossover collection. My Red Sox collection is able to branch out into other areas and pick the best portions of other collecting opportunities. Really, it’s applying a focus to the collection, which helps things from getting too large. In my case, I don’t need to add on an extra room to house both a Red Sox collection AND a Disney collection. I can sneak the Disney stuff into the Red Sox. Perfect.

Like I said, it’s easy to do.

The Red Sox team store even sells Disney items. How easy is that? I’ve seen a stuffed Mickey Mouse wearing a Red Sox uniform. There were some great 8x10 pictures of Mickey, Donald Duck, and Goofy playing baseball in Fenway wearing their Sox uniform. I’ve seen pins of Mickey wearing Sox gear. There’s even a Mickey Mouse statue in Fenway Park moved there from the All-Star game in Anaheim. Of course, you can buy miniature versions of the statue to put on your desk.

It also goes the other way. I’ve mentioned before that I saw Red Sox clothes being sold in EPCOT. Disney also sells collectable statues called Vinylmations. One of those depicts the Red Sox.

So, whether it’s Disney trying to harness the collectability of the Red Sox, or the Red Sox hitching their star to Walt Disney, there are plenty of opportunities to build both collections at once. You could practically devote an entire shelf in your Red Sox room to Disney. It makes both collections even more fun.

Which is really the point of any collection.

Do you have a favorite Disney Red Sox (or baseball) collectable?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

From the Pedro Binder

2003 SP Authentic

This card seems very “SP Authentic” to me. If you had to use a card to explain what the brand is about, this would be a good one to choose. Very deliberate, almost mechanical, designs. Lots of clean white (or, at least light) space. If Apple had to design a card, it would design SP Authentic.

That doesn’t mean I have to like it.

Sure, I don’t NOT like it. There’s not much to dislike about it. I’ll always prefer a full picture as opposed to the cut-outs. But, that’s not going to be possible on every card. I get that. And, I appreciate how the Authentic logo and the 10th Anniversary logo are hidden in the corner. The 10th Anniversary one is especially pleasing. That’s the sort of thing you could almost forgive them for plastering all over the card every place they could. But, they held back. They were restrained. Which is in keeping with the rest of the design.

I like the splash of color. The red stripe doesn’t seem to have a reason or a purpose, but it makes the card feel a little less clinical. The weird zoomed in rectangle serves the same purpose, while having the same lack of reason. Color for the sake of color, I suppose.

I will always appreciate a player’s name written horizontally. I will always not appreciate when it is placed in the middle of the card, blocking some of the picture. I don’t really understand that.

I’m going to have to decide that I don’t like the card, but I understand it. Companies need different brands to attract buyers. I can certainly see how this could appeal to any number of people. I just don’t happen to be one of them.

Are you?

Monday, February 23, 2015

Moncada Makes More

As if the Red Sox roster wasn’t confusing enough, the Red Sox apparently got top Cuban prospect Yoan Moncada today. And, things got a little bit more crowded.

Initially, I figured the fact that Moncada was only 19 mean he was a super-long range type thing. A replacement for Panda when his contract was up sort of long term. But, I’m hearing things like he’ll be in Boston in two years tops. Which is wonderful.

Because, the Sox already had no idea where to play Betts. What’s another player to jumble around?

Now, I get the idea of stockpiling prospects. You never know what’s going to happen. You never know what you’ll need. You never know who will pan out. (It’s that latter point that leads me to usually beg to trade prospects for proven talent any day of the week.) But, I understand it. You need players. With the size of the farm system, there’s plenty of space to save a player for a rainy day. Or the perfect deal. But, there’s one difference here.

Prospects are usually cheap.

Isn’t that the whole point? Draft well, and you get the players while they’re young and then let them walk or trade them when they start earning real money. Like they did with Ellsbury and Lester, and should have done with Pedroia. It makes sense to collect prospects. After all, if they don’t pan out, they don’t cost you much. So hoard them, and see what happens.

But, Moncada isn’t cheap. He’s costing over $60 million once you count fees and other bookkeeping that I don’t pretend to understand. What does that mean?

Again, I’m not worried about the money. I’ve always said that John Henry is allowed to waste as much of his money as he’d like. As long as it didn’t affect other areas. So, if he wants to pay Pedroa way more than he should, go right ahead. But don’t dare say we couldn’t sign Lester because of it. The same applies here. I doubt that the Sox didn’t get Lester or Scherzer because the Sox were saving money for Moncada. But, will this put a wrinkle in a Hamels deal? Or another ace? Does this tie the purse strings at all? I sure hope not.

Beyond the “throwing money away” aspect, does the amount they spent on him mean they expect Moncada to make a sooner impression? Are they going to spend $30/60 million on a guy to sit in the minors for four years? If they’re also on the 1-2 year max timeframe, the roster juggling gets a lot more interesting. Suddenly you now need to think about what happens with people. Does this now suggest Panda moves to first at some point after next season to clear a spot at third? Does this make Betts all the more expendable?

The collection of talent I get. Having talent is NEVER a bad thing. But, at some point it’s going to become cumbersome. If the Sox are expecting quick movement from him, and Betts, and Swihart…they’re going to need to start clearing some space for everyone sooner or later. Since the Sox could use an ace, I certainly hope it’s sooner.

I wonder what the plan is.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Which Images Make Your Grid of Champions?

You may have heard that the Patriots are world champions once again. Really. It was just a few weeks ago. That gave Boston sports teams nine world championships this century. That’s pretty amazing, isn’t it? This has led to lots of people posting pictures on social media commemorating the nine titles. Maybe with pictures of all the logos, or players, or magazines. The great part about it is that since there are now nine, they fit into a nice 3x3 grid. A Grid of Champions.

That got me thinking. How cool would it look to have a matted display of pictures of the championships in that 3x3 grid. If you used 8x10 pictures, for instance, you could lay them out, and the final piece would probably only need to be about 3’x3’ (or, as I like to call it 36”x36”). That’s not a ton of wall space when you think about it. That would be fun.

But the big question. Which images would you pick?

I’d want them to specifically represent the championships. I don’t want a picture of Tom Brady playing against the Bengals. I could pick some sort of collage photo showing all the players from the various teams. But, I don’t particularly like those. I thought about using the last play of each game. That would work pretty well for the Red Sox titles…Foulke tossing it to first or Koji striking out Carpenter. It even works for the first two Pats championships. Vinatieri jumpining for joy. But, what about the last Pats championship? Brady taking a knee? Or the Bruins…there isn’t even a last play really. So, that wouldn’t work. I thought of the pig pile pictures, but the sports other than baseball don’t really do those. First pitch/puck drop/kickoff/tipoff? Not a bad idea, but they’d look pretty bland since they’d all be pretty similar.

Then I thought of that great picture of Butler’s interception. You know the one. Butler has the ball, and both he and the intended receiver are falling to the ground. What about a picture of the seminal play of each championship? That has promise. But, what images to choose.

Some of them might be listed above. Hard to argue with the two Vinatieri kicks from the Super Bowls. But, would a “tuck rule” picture be even more iconic? Would that be OK? Would you put in a picture of Roberts stealing second over any specific image from  the 2004 World Series? Tough call. Personally, since I was at one game of each of the Red Sox championships, I’d tend to gravitate to images from those games. But, if I had to make choices, what would I go with?

For the first two Patriots titles, I think it would be the final kicks. Closely cropped, right before the kick. For 2004 I think I’d stick with Foulke about to underhand it to Mientkiewicz. That was such a fantastic moment. The third Patriots title? I’m going to be honest with you. I can’t think of a single play that stands out in my mind. Maybe a nice picture of a Branch catch.  For the 2007 Series? A Beckett pic? How about a shot of Lowell diving head first into third? Good choices. But, I think I’ll have to go with Papelbon jumping in the air after striking out the final batter. For the Celtics title? Unfortunately, the image that stands out the most is Paul Pierce coming off the court with the injury…or his triumphant return. But, that seems like a morbid thing to celebrate. It would have to be the GAP threesome. There has to be a shot of the three of them together somewhere. I’ll use that. For the Bruins? I’m tempted to go with the pre-game shot squirting Boston water on the ice. But, that’s another weird shot that would break up the feel of the grid. So, maybe a great shot of a Thomas save, or him raising his arms in triumph. The 2013 Red Sox? I like the shot of the three Red Sox players all making the “safe” sign as Gomes scored the third run. And, the last Patriots title gets the Butler interception picture that started this all.

That’s what I’d go with. At least for now. I’m still tempted by earlier rounds shots like the Roberts steal, or Torii Hunter’s tumble, or the Edelman touchdown pass. They weren’t in the championship round, but they were pretty iconic.

Would you put them in your grid?

Which nine pictures would you pick?

Friday, February 20, 2015

Pitchers and Catchers!

Today is the day! Pitchers and catchers are officially reporting to Spring Training! Oh, sure most of them are already there. Heck, they might all be there already for all I know. But, that doesn’t really matter. It’s not the activity of the day as much as it is the counting of the day. We’re one day closer to the start of baseball! One day closer to being able to sit in the sun out in Section 36 watching a great ballgame.

So, while Spring Training doesn’t mean the same as it used to, it still means a lot. Back in the day, it was the day players started getting ready to play again. They’d start their workouts, and get ready for Opening Day. Of course, these days most of the players have been working out since the season ended. They probably even have significant workout routines approved by the team. But, this is the day it all gets official. The whole team will start preparing to win another championship.

Which is what we’re doing here at the blog. I’m getting posts ready. I’m coming up with ideas for future posts. I’m trying to come up with regular features, or new topics, or other things to make Section 36 the best it can be in order to be ready for the season. Hopefully you’ll think it is all worth it and enjoy the season right along with me. Hopefully I’ll use the Spring Training time wisely.

And, you should too. Spring Training is the perfect time to make sure that you’re prepared to enjoy Section 36 the entire season without missing a thing. You wouldn’t want to feel left out when everyone else is talking about something, would you?

What can you do?

Do you “like” the Section 36 facebook page yet? If not, go do that. Along with links to all the great articles here on the blog, I post at least one picture a day there. Pictures from Section 36, or with, or in, or from Section 36. All wonderful. Many of them submitted by readers just like you. Many of these are pictures you can’t see anywhere else. You wouldn’t want to miss any of those, would you? Is there anything better than looking at great pictures of the best section in Fenway?

The same goes for Instagram. I post pictures there all the time. Not as often as the facebook page, but they’re almost always pictures unique to Instagram. So you’ll want to make sure you’re getting both. I wouldn’t want you to miss out on any of the fun as we get to the start of the season.

Or Twitter? Do you follow Section 36 on Twitter yet? More people are following all the time because they want to know everything the blog has to offer. It’s not just another way to make sure you’re alerted to new post here on the blog. The witty comments are well worth the follow. Over 1000 people already think so. Shouldn’t you? Before the season starts? Don’t miss out.

I’m guessing you don’t want any of your friends to miss out on any of this stuff either. Tell them. Remind them. Good friends don’t let their friends be unprepared.

This way we can all enjoy the season together. This looks to be a fun year for the Red Sox, so I’m looking forward to a fun year here on the blog. I can’t wait to share all of the experiences with all of you in so many different ways.

Are you ready for the season to start?

Thursday, February 19, 2015

I Scored!

October 5, 2013

Here we are with another exciting scorecard to take a look at. I wonder what we’ll find.

What stands out almost immediately? The little notation in the “notes” box. This game was, of course, Game 2 of the 2013 American League Divisional Series. I’d say that makes it a pretty big game. Eh? John Lackey vs. David Price. Not sure it gets bigger than that. After taking game one, the pressure is really on the home team to also take game two to preserve home field advantage. Looks like that’s exactly what the Red Sox did. They scored runs early, and often. The pitchers box shows a great job by the bullpen to preserve the lead. That would, of course, end up being a common theme throughout the 2013 playoffs. Lackey turned over a 6-4 game, and the bullpen made it stick.

The player of the game? Lots of choices on this one. It looks like three players stand out. Ellsbury kept getting on base and scoring runs. If that’s not what you need from your lead-off hitter, I don’t know what it. Dustin Pedroia also filled his role nicely. When your number three hitter has three RBI, he’s doing his job. Much like David Ortiz did from the clean-up spot. Two home runs is exactly what he’s paid to do. I’m tempted to give the nod to Ortiz. After all, his two home runs off a tough lefty ace were probably more important than the two runs they accounted for. They really set a tone for the series…and the rest of the playoffs. But, in the end I have to give the nod to Ellsbury over Ortiz’s two solo shots and Pedroia’s one hit.

How about the goat? Looks like only one hitter went hitless on the day. Mike Napoli turned that trick. But, he did walk twice. Because of that, I’ll have to give the horns to Will Middlebrooks. He did get the one hit, but it was a meaningless one in the last inning. Hard to call that very helpful.

Of course, in the end it didn’t matter. The top of the order carried the team to a well-earned victory. The Sox went to Tampa (Ok, St Pete.) with the 2-0 series lead, and were able to close it out down there. They were on a roll.

And the scorecard shows how it happened.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Don’t Forget about the #BYBHub!

If you’re anything like me, you’re getting pretty excited. (And, let’s face it….if you weren’t anything like me, you wouldn’t be reading this right now.) Pitchers and Catchers report in just two days!

I know that I’ve said in the past that there’s nothing that annoys me more than Spring Training. I hate the mindless dribble coming from Florida. The media is stretching to fill reporting space out of nothing. But, it’s still a significant marker along the way to summer. It’s truck day increased tenfold. It means that actual baseball games will be played sooner rather than later.

Already there have been pictures and videos of real baseball players going through real activities on real grass wearing real short sleeved shirts. There’s so much wonderfulness, that, right now, I know you want to gobble up as much as you can. Once the season starts, that insatiable appetite will only increase.

In which case, I’m glad you’re here! Thanks for choosing Section 36 to help get your baseball fix. I know this will be a great season here in Section 36, and hope that you’ll be along for the ride to enjoy every single post.

But, once you’ve sampled everything that there is to see here, what next? Why not check out the BYB Hub. I’ve mentioned it's the logo on the sidebar over there. It’s a site showing a collection of great baseball blogs for you to look at. You’re almost assured of finding another one worth reading. (After you come here every day, of course.) New blogs are added all the time, so if for some reason you don’t find a favorite (well, second favorite) right away, keep looking. There will be one there soon.

After all, we’ll all want to read as much baseball as we can from as many different places as we can. Differing viewpoints are what make baseball reading so much fun. The BYB Hub is certainly a perfect place to find those different views.

Of course, there’s also a link to Section 36 on the BYB Hub. So, once you get there, you may find yourself coming right back here.

Which would be just fine with me.

Monday, February 16, 2015

List of 36: Red Sox with Presidential Names

1. Bob Adams
2. Terry Adams
3. Reggie Jefferson
4. Conor Jackson
5. Ron Jackson
6. Jermaine Van Buren
7. Harry Taylor
8. Scott Taylor
9. Jeff Pierce
10. Rankin Johnson
11. Bob Johnson
12. Deron Johnson
13. Earl Johnson
14. Hank Johnson
15. Jason Johnson
16. John Henry Johnson
17. Roy Johnson
18. Vic Johnson
19. Frankie Hayes
20. Reggie Cleveland
21. Alex Wilson
22. Archie Wilson
23. Duane Wilson
24. Ealr Wilson
25. Gary Wilson
26. Jack Wilson
27. Jim Wilson
28. John Wilson
29. Les Wilson
30. Squanto Wilson
31. John Kennedy
32. Russ Nixon
33. Trot Nixon
34. Chris Carter
35. Lu Clinton
36. Joe Bush

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Paul Konerko Live

It’s time to take another dip into the scorebooks, and see how certain players did during games I attended.

This time, let’s check out recently retired White Sox star, Paul Konerko.

I was initially surprised when I looked back over the scorecards to see how few games I saw in which Konerko played. After all, if you remember, I saw Derek Jeter play live a whopping 24 times. Sure, the Yankees played the Red Sox more than the White Sox did, thanks to unbalanced schedules. But, I still would have expected a higher number. As it turns out, I saw Konerko play in Fenway eight times. Not exactly the sample size I was hoping for. But, it is what it is.

How did Konerko do in those eight games?

Absolutely terrible.

In those eight games, I saw Konerko come to the plate 29 times. I saw him reach base five times. Two singles, a double, and two walks. That’s it. That’s works out to a 0.111 batting average. That’s not good.

Extrapolate those 27 at-bats over a 660 at-bat season? Yuck. 73 hits. 49 walks, to go along with 220 strikeouts. His OBP of 0.172 would combine with his SLG of 0.148 to give him a robust OPS of 0.321. Guys with those numbers don’t have long careers.

Obviously, he was cursed by a small sample size. He’s a better player than that.

On the flip side, from a fan point of view, eight games is a lot. It’s weird that I never saw a player of Konerko’s caliber have a good game. He didn’t have a multi-hit game when I was in the park. Heck, he never reached base more than once. It’s too bad, really, that I was robbed of the Paul Konerko experience, even after all those tries. I managed to capture the true Pedro Martinez while I was there. I was even able to grasp the essence of Derek Jeter. Konerko? Not so much. It’s too bad really. Even though a poor performance by Konerko probably means a good day for the Red Sox…

I feel cheated.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

From the Pedro Binder

2002 Upper Deck Diamond Connection

(It’s the card I had with the most red on it! Happy Valentine’s Day!)

Another throwaway card. The “Diamond Connection” name is just sort of there. It’s baseball, so let’s name it after a diamond. Not that every name has to have something to do with the design, obviously. “Topps” rarely has anything to do with the design. But, that’s a base set. If you’re going to make an additional set, and give it a clever name, at least make the clever name relevant.

I actually like the design. I like the layering effect of the graphics and the picture. It gives the impression that Pedro is trying to throw the ball out from between two red walls. I’m a sucker for that.

The name being in foil is, of course, annoying as all get out. Especially on a black background. Why wouldn’t we want to read the player’s name easily? The Diamond Connection logo being in foil is just fane. I have no need to read that easily.

The pitcher’s “p” is oddly enlarged. But, it actually almost makes it look like a design as opposed to a letter. That helps out a bit.

I also like pictures that clearly show Pedro’s torn sleeves. I’ll never quite understand the point, when he was wearing a tight-fitting long sleeved shirt underneath his jersey. But, who am I to argue with Pedro?

So, for a pointless card that looks like it was thrown together from scraps of other cards, the finished result isn’t bad at all. It would never make a top ten list. But, I don’t have to flip the page quickly to avoid it.

That’s not nothing.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

What’s the Point of Truck Day?

Every year I see media coverage today, and ask the same question. What exactly is the point of it all supposed to be?

To be clear, I understand that there’s a difference between “Truck Day” and “truck day”. I actually understand the point of capital-T capital-D more than the other one. Truck Day has become an event. A way for the Red Sox to steal some headlines from other area teams in a slow sports landscape. They realized that there were a handful of fans that hung around looking at the truck being loaded, and decided to turn it into a thing. They got a sponsor. They had Larry Lucchino bring out a tray of hot chocolate. Bingo. Twitter mentions all over the place. Instagram pictures pop up like the plague. You’d think everyone in the world except you was down there watching the truck being loaded. A quick segment on the regular news outlets. Add it all up, and the Sox have hijacked a news cycle. Plus, it's good fun.

I get that.

But, now, it’s the “truck day” part that has me puzzled.

Why do the Sox need to load up a truck with equipment and other items, and drive it down to Florida?

What’s on that truck that isn’t already in Florida? After all, they play baseball at Jet Blue Park all the time, right? The Gulf Coast League Sox play a 70 or so game season based out of there. Don’t they have equipment for them stored at the park? Do the Sox need to bring towels from Fenway down to Florida? That seems odd. What happened to the towels they used last year? Did they bring them back up to Boston before the season? The Sox are a multi-million dollar organization, and they can’t afford a second set of towels to leave in Florida? 20,000 baseballs? Aren’t half the players there already? What are they using? Balled up newspapers and cardboard boxes?

Or, food? Things like sunflower seeds or bubble gum are on the truck. Did the Sox just run down to Market Basket to buy that stuff? I assume it was ordered in bulk. Maybe even directly from the company. Why did they have the stuff delivered to Fenway? They don’t have delivery services in Florida? When they call Tootsie Roll to order 75 cases of Dubble Bubble, can’t they just give the Jet Blue Park delivery address in the first place? Or have Rawlings ship the fresh cases of baseballs there? Skip the middle man?

They’re bringing down uniforms and t-shirts. But, again, aren’t they special Spring Training uniforms? Why are they at Fenway in the first place? And t-shirts? I’ve seen players down there working out…they’re not topless. Obviously they have clothing stores in Florida.

Sometimes I see player’s stuff on the truck. Like Pedroia’s albatross of a contract wasn’t enough of a gift, the Sox are also stuck lugging his stuff to Florida so he can avoid a $50 extra bag charge on his flight? Seriously?

What’s on that truck that isn’t, or shouldn’t be, already available at Jet Blue Park? What’s on that truck that can’t just be purchased in Florida? Or delivered there in the first place?

What’s the point?

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

2015 Topps is here!

I know. You’re not under a rock. Thanks to the internet, all kinds of events are heralded like they’re the arrival of the gods. Pi day. Talk like a pirate day. Truck day. 2015 Topps release day.

Not that release day isn’t an important day. But, before blogs and twitter, I know I certainly didn’t know when it was. In the 80’s or 90’s? Cards just suddenly showed up at stress. I don’t remember counting down.

It’s also funny how nobody seems to have the same release date. Sure, there’s the date Topps gives you. But, stores seem to have a rather loose interpretation of that. Odd that when the new Pixar movie comes out on DVD, stores all seem to know the exact date to put them on the shelves. But, it doesn’t seem to work the same with baseball cards. Some stores seemed to have the cards on the shelves days before the date. Others, not until days later. How could they not simply put them out on the day they’re supposed to? Unfortunately, my local Target was one of the late ones. Took me a couple days to find them on the shelf. But, when I did, I grabbed a couple blasters. How did I do?

Glad you asked. (Even if you didn’t.)

The first Red Sox card I opened in 2015? Presenting…

Dustin Pedroia!

OK, wouldn’t have been my first choice. But, a Red Sox card is a Red Sox card. I suppose now is as good a time as any to discuss the design. I’m a fan. The colored borders are a great change of pace. I even thought that when I thought they were just colorful. But, upon closer inspection, they’re actually almost collages. There’s a lot going on in the borders. But, there’s SO much, that it actually becomes less distracting. I like that. The fact that the colors match the team colors is fantastic. The best part? I agree with almost everyone I’ve heard so far. NO FOIL NAMES! I can actually read Pedroia’s name without having to tilt the card 36 different ways. Fantastic.

How about the rest of the cards? Well, here’s the First Red Sox rookie card…

Edwin Escobar. It’s no Mookie Betts or anything, but it’ll do.

The first Red Sox insert card…

Another Pedroia? Is someone playing a joke on me? Couldn’t it be someone I actually like? Geez. I do like the “1st home run” subject. It allows Topps to get some older pictures into the set, while still having a purpose. Good job.

First Red Sox card of a player traded away for a #2 starter…

Yoenis Cespedes was on the team for about 36 minutes. But, he still gets to be included, apparently, in the long history of great Red Sox left fielders. Good for him. Not sure how “inspired” he was by Jim Rice. But, I guess you need to call the insert set something.

First Red Sox double…

Daniel Nava. I like this picture. It’s cropped will, without missing the detail of the bat in mid-drop. It’s the best of both worlds. As a rule, the pictures on the cards are cropped to closely for my liking. If you look at my family photos, you see a lot of background. I like to know where people are when they’re having their picture taken. In Nava’s case, it’s cropped about as much as I would allow…if not just a bit too far.

That’s it. Those were the Red Sox cards from the blasters. Not a bad start at all for the 2015 collecting season.

Now to get the rest of them.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Is this the Best time to be a Boston Sports Fan?

Or, you know, a sports fan of any city? Ever?

It would have to be, right? After all, with the Patriots victory last week Boston teams have won (at least) nine titles in fourteen calendar years. That's staggering. They reached the final game another four times in that span. Amazing. Everyone I've seen has been tweeting about the most dominant run in sports history. We were all joking that we had to endure 15 LONG months between parades. We we had almost forgotten how to celebrate. Winning had become so commonplace, it was the butt of jokes!

Best period ever!

Unless you're Bill Russell. I wonder if he's sitting back and chuckling.

Because, of course this isn't the most dominant period of Boston sports. In thirteen calendar years, the Celtics won eleven of their own. Eleven! You want a decade of dominance? Try the sixties, when the Celtics DIDN'T win the title once. Forget having to wait fifteen months. Russell's Celtics hardly ever made you wait more than twelve.

But. this recent feeling of euphoria has to be different, right? After all, you can't usually celebrate any modern accomplishment without someone pointing out that things were better "back in the day." But, I don't remember hearing any of that. Even when people are displaying those graphics showing all the banners Boston teams have ever won, nobody ever points out the swath of green in the middle.

What's the difference?

Is it the all-inclusive feeling of it? Maybe. I do remember that when the Red Sox won their title in the middle of the two Patriots ones, there was a lot of talk of having a reigning Super Bowl and World Series title in the same city. The fact that you didn't have to wait for the patriots to win was a big draw. But, at that point, it was just the Pats and Sox. Looking back, the Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 1970 and 1972. so, add those to the end of the Celtics run,and now you've got a pretty dominant stretch involving two teams. Just like 2002-2007.

Is it really that it includes all the teams? Is it the sense that every year, one of the teams could win it all? Even though that's really how the early Red Sox teams were. Since they were the only game in town, every Boston team had a chance to win every year from, say, 1903-1918.

Or, is it the modern sports teams? Sure the Celtics won all those titles. But, ti's not like the NBA was a real sport at the time? I mean, were's not counting the Revolution in any of these counts, even though they make the finals last year. We're talking about real teams that real people care about. Those teams have been winning at an amazing clip. Not those teams from the sixties when Red could draft three Hall-of-Famers on one day. Is that it?

Is it just the media, and social media, coverage? I wonder what twitter would have been like when Russell was finishing up his eleventh. Are we just reacting to the explosion of tweets and newspapers and magazines and videos and EVERYTHING that is thrust upon us these days? Is it so much more a part of our lives, that it makes even the lesser accomplishments better? I bet I'm able to enjoy last weekend's win more than a Celtics fan enjoyed the sixties in total because of all the different way to enjoy it.

Or, is it something else? It has to be more than just "recent things are more important and impressive." Like I said, there doesn't seem to be a dissenting argument out there. I'm just having trouble putting my finger on what exactly is making this time period so special. can you help me out?

Why is this the best time to be a Boston sports fan?

Friday, February 6, 2015

And the winner is...

First, a big thank you, and congratulations, to everyone who entered. I believe we had a record number of entries, including a record number of first-time entries. I love to see that, and hope it's something that will continue to increase next year.

But, that's for the future. Right now we have to unfortunately announce the end of Bryanne's reign as champion. Who is the new winner?

I'm pleased, and honored, to announce that the winner of the 2014 Section 36 Scavenger Hunt is...



I knew as soon as she tweeted me to say that she was working on her entry she was going to make it tough on the rest of the entrants. The legendary creator of, I assumed, had a pretty good collection of Red Sox stuff lying around the house. I was NOT mistaken. I always say that most of the readers can probably find most of the items just lying around. I'm betting that most readers can't find 29! But, that's what Kristen did. Amazing! How about some more of the items she was able to find? Let's take a look.

Car Magnet
Fantastic paperweight. (Should award extra points for the papers it's weighting)
Love the top pennant
Wonder if she has the other two Pedro Salsa's
Great scorecard. May need to blog about it someday
Look at this shirt! I always thought about getting Section 36 t-shirts made. Not sure I could do better than this. Hope it makes into her regular rotation.
An autographed picture of Section 36? That should be, like, a million bonus points.
Like I said, you can probably come up with a good entry...
...when your website is mentioned in SI
A big collection of the entries all in one spot.
So, again, a huge congratulations to Kristen! (It also means that women have claimed the top spot in the last three Scavenger Hunts! Way to go ladies.) Hopefully Kristen will enjoy her year of fame and wear her crown with pride! (I should get a crown, or something, eh?) One last time, a huge round of applause!

Congratulations Kristen!!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Tomorrow! It's Tomorrow!

That's right. Tomorrow is the end of the 2014 Section 36 Scavenger Hunt!


How did that happen? Less than 24 hours until it's over? It can't be!

It's scramble time! All those well laid plans better have been accomplished. It's time to rack up the easy ones. Forget to find a Sox fan yet? Have a t-shirt to convert into a Section 36 one? Have 36 of something, anything, lying around the house?

Go use the Section 36 scorecard.

Make a quick run to a sporting goods store.

Or the mall.

Or, anyplace, probably.

You can still find lots of items. It's a mad dash, but it\'ll be worth it if you're crowned champion!

Give it your best shot!

Good Luck!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Congratulations Patriots!

Once again, Boston is the "City of Champions."

Once again, we're all reminded of how that really is the case.

Remember when the patriots won in 2002? (By the way, can we talk about how annoying it is that the 2001 season champs are crowned in 2002?) The Red Sox had the team come to Fenway for an Opening Day visit. The Red Sox were introduced as a team, as an homage, and the team itself burst out from behind the American flag to a huge cheer. It was a nice moment. But, slightly sad. It was the Red Sox needing to celebrate someone else's championship. Not quite as sad as giving Ray Bourque a parade for winning a Cup in Colorado, but close. "We haven't won in 80-something years, but now we can celebrate someone who did!" When the Patriots did it again in 2004, and the Red Sox again had them back, it was almost worse. "Sure, we lost in crushing fashion in the ALCS, but these guys didn't! Let's remember that instead!"

Then the Red Sox won one themselves in 2004. Along with everything else that changed, the Sox were on more equal footing. The 2005 Opening day was a ring ceremony! Oh, and the Patriots won again too. But, the Sox weren't hitching their wagon to a winner anymore. They were a winner too. Suddenly, it was a mutual celebration. A shared experience. That was so much better.

Then. everyone else got in on the act. Everyone celebrated the Celtics victory. The Bruins showed up everywhere after they won too. The City of Champions was out in full force.

So, when the Bruins skated with Patriots hats the other day, it wasn't sad. It wasn't trying to get some publicity off another team's success. (OK, it might have been that too...) But, it was actual support for a fellow local champion. Even the Celtics, who are now the farthest removed from their most recent championship, and apparently the farthest from getting a new one, can have the Patriots celebrate with them and simply be a mutual celebration. It's amazing. Is there another city where tweets like these would have the same feel to them?

They really have a feel of "We're all in this together" instead of "Glad at least one of us is good."

How lucky are we all?

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