Monday, March 30, 2015

From the Pedro Binder

2001 Fleer Genuine

Looks like this is the base version of the previously mentioned “@LG” set. This one is simply “genuine.” Genuine what? I have no idea. Since it was the name of the set, and not an insert or subset, it clearly applies to every player. So, it’s not like Pedro is a “genuine ace,” although he is. It’s something genuine that is universal. But, if it’s universal, do you need to specify genuine?

Weird name aside, I actually like this card. I have no earthly idea why. The team name is in that awful script, and tilted on its side. Pedro’s name is in that awful foil, and tilted on its side. Pedro’s position (which my scanner apparently decided wasn’t worth showing) is also, tilted on its side. Pedro’s missing his right leg. It’s everything I usually list off that I hate about the card.

But it still works.


I like how close the picture of Pedro is cropped. I like how the contract between him and the background image in enhanced. I like how there is, in fact, a background image. The shaded border gives a splash of color without being distracting. And, of course, I’m always a sucker for the image extending over the border. That’s especially nice in this case, since the words on the left are on top of Pedro. It gives the illusion that he is striding into an area between a floating frame. Like when people hold up wooden frames for a selfie.

So, I guess this shows that there is no checklist to appeal. If there were, this card would have missed all the marks. But it somehow works.


Friday, March 27, 2015

It's My Fantasy

Today's the day I'm sure many of you have been waiting for. It's the day I pretend you care about my fantasy baseball team!

Now, why would you care, exactly? I'm not really sure. But, it's baseball talk while we're still more than a week from Opening Day. So, that has to be a good thing. Right?

Just to set you up, I'm in a ten team league. 5x5 with pretty big rosters. For the first time, this year, we have 2 keepers held over from last year. They replaced the draft pick in the round they were originally taken. I had the third overall pick in a wraparound draft. Got it? Ready to see the team? Think I got any Red Sox?

C  Yadier Molina
1B Mike Napoli
2B Dustin Pedroia
3B Pablo Sandoval
SS Hanley Ramirez
CI Ryan Zimmerman
MI Xander Bogaerts
OF Mike Trout
OF Ben Revere
OF Mark Trumbo
OF Leonys Martin
U David Ortiz
U Jean Segura
U Khris Davis

SP Stephen Strasburg
SP Adam Wainwright
SP Alex Wood
RP Santiago Casilla
RP Addison Reed
P  Jon Lester
P Rick Porcello
P Matt Shoemaker

B Christian Vazquez C
B Shane Victorino OF
B Joe Kelly P
B Wade Miley P
B Clay Buchholz P

So, there you have it. What do you think?

What do I think? I goofed a bit, but I think OK otherwise. After all,  I got twelve Red Sox! Mike Trout was one of my keepers, so I used my first round pick on him. Jon Lester was the other keeper, but I only had to use my thirteenth round pick on him. So, I thought that was a good use of the keeper. (It would have been even better if it meant he was my thirteenth Red Sox, but that's another story.) And, before we go any further, I know I have too much of the Red Sox rotation. Kelly, Miley, and Buchholz were literally my last three picks. I knew I was just picking bench guys, and knew I wanted pitchers. For some reason, I completely forgot about getting more relief pitchers. Nine starters are going to use up all my innings by the ASG, and not leave any for the top guys. So, I'll probably drop one or two of them and get a couple quality set-up guys who don't pitch as much, but have great numbers when they do.

Which ones should I drop?

Otherwise, I like the balance. I like the Sox players, obviously. I love that Hanley still counts as a SS. He should also be OF eligible in just a matter of time. I may start Vazquez over Molina, just for fun. Especially with the unpredictability in catcher's days off, I like starting a Red Sox catcher so I should know when they'll be.


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Winning with Aces

There has been a lot of discussion this off-season about aces. Specifically, about the Red Sox lacking one. You need one if you’re going to compete, they say. Especially in the playoffs, you need that true ace to lead the way. Which, admittedly, is a valid point. It sure is handy if you have a true ace. If you can count those games as automatic wins, it makes it easier on your other starters. So, I wondered. How many Cy Young winners were also World Champions? How many pitchers added the award to their mantle the same year they added a ring to their finger? Well, the last time that happened was Randy Johnson with the Diamondbacks. In 2001. Before that? Greg Maddux with the 1995 Braves. Those are the only two that I could come up with since the strike. So, it’s never happened with an AL team since then.


I then looked at World Series winners who even had a former Cy Young winner on the team. The problem with that is teams like the Giants and Red Sox the last three years who had pitchers like Peavy, Lincecum, and Zito on the team. They weren’t exactly pitching like an ace as they won their rings. Best I could tell, the last former Cy Young winner to lead his team to a ring was Sabathia with the 2009 Yankees. But, that might be up for debate.

What does that mean? Not a ton, obviously. After all, just because a player didn’t win the Cy Young Award, it doesn’t mean they weren’t a damn fine pitcher. Heck, Josh Beckett probably should have won the award in 2007 on his way to a ring. But, it does mean that in 18 of the last 20 years, the World Series Champion didn’t have the best pitcher in the league.

I’m also not suggesting that adding the Cy Young winner to any of the teams that won would have been a bad thing. All things being equal, replacing Jake Peavy with Clayton Kershaw last year would not have made the Giants any worse. (OK. Maybe Kershaw is a bad example.) But, I think it speaks to the balance that you need to have in a roster. After all, even with a true ace, you need 24 other guys as well. If you can’t get quality guys in those spots, it doesn’t matter how good the ace is. (See 1999-00 Pedro Martinez.)

Because, even with an ace, a couple things can happen. He can actually lose the games he pitches. Sometimes even an MVP like Kershaw gets lit up in a game, and the team loses. Then that win you were counting on goes away, and the rest of your scrubs have a much taller order. Or, the specifics of the playoffs come into play. Take Pedro in 1999. He won every game he pitched in the ALCS. But, because he needed to pitch game five of the ALDS, he only appeared in one ALCS game. The rest of the rotation couldn’t get him to a second start.

So, one way around that is to add more aces. After all, even Johnson had Schilling in 2001. And, the Braves #2 and #3 starters in 1995 weren’t exactly John Wasdin. Then you’re not relying on the single ace. You have multiple aces to fall back on.

But, then again, didn’t the Tigers just have a rotation with the three previous Cy Young winners in it? Didn’t they lose to an aceless Orioles team?

Or, you go the other way. I’ve laid it out here before. I always wondered if it was a better move to concede a game against Pedro in the playoffs. Throw a bullpen guy against him, and save your ace to win game two. Which is almost like what the Sox are looking at. Throw game one, but compete in all the others. Instead of winning the battle of the aces, win the battle of the #4.

That might just work as well as any other plan.

The Cy Young plan doesn’t work.

Monday, March 23, 2015

From the Pedro Binder

2002 SPx

Yeah. I know.

Somebody has to like these cards.

I feel like I have to apologize every time one of these come up. I know that card designs don’t need to appeal to 100% of the collecting world. If they did, they’d only need to make one set and we’d all gobble it up. But, that’s not possible. So companies have to throw out some variety. Some people will like some. Some will like others. Some may like them all.

I’m not one of those.

This is the kind of card that makes me wonder what collecting is all about. What am I collecting, exactly? Am I after anything that somebody slapped a picture of Pedro on that meets some approximate dimensions? If that’s the case, this seems to fit the bill.

There’s a picture of Pedro stuck on there. Although, the cropping (or is it shading?) eliminates any of the background. Honestly, I can’t even tell if the little background I can see is part of the actual picture, or not. But, I see the big SPX logo splashed in the back. I see it again in the corner. The design doesn’t seem especially imaginative, or interesting. It’s just sort of there. Again, I know there are limits to what you can do with a piece of cardboard design-wise. If the card companies know that, you wonder why they keep pumping out so many every year. You think they’d save some to have later.

But, here we are. A card with Pedro on it. It’s now in the binder.

Color me underwhelmed.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Kevin Youkilis Live

When I wished Kevin Youkilis a happy 36th birthday a few days ago, I admitted that I was never a big fan of his. It’s not like I disliked him or anything. He just never really did anything for me. I don’t really know why. I was wondering if he didn’t perform very well when I was at Fenway. That might have been enough to leave a bad taste in my mouth.

Looks like it’s time to dive into the scorecards again.

Looking them over, it appears that I saw Youk play in 30 games at Fenway. (Again, at least I scored 30 games Youk played in.) How did he do?

In 103 AB, Youk batted .437 with 7 HR and 30 RBI. Wow. Doesn’t look like he performed that poorly.

In fact, if you project those totals over a 660 AB season, he would have hit 45 HR, and driven in 179 runs. Damn. He walked a lot too. During those 30 games, his OBP was 0.521. Add that to his 0.748 SLG, and he had an OPS in games I attended of 1.268.

Yeah, those are MVP type numbers.

I saw Youk over a pretty good cross section too. From once in 2005, to twice in 2012. You’d expect that, after all, for a position player. I probably saw him most of the time I went to the park.

Clearly, it wasn’t his performance while I was there that didn’t draw me to Youkilis. I guess it’s still a mystery. After all, with that performance during games I attended, I should be idolizing the guy. Huh.

How did Youk do in games you attended?

Friday, March 20, 2015

Happy Spring!

Yup. No matter what the world looks like outside your window, today is the official first day of spring! Of course, this day means different things to different people. It might be the day they start looking for flowers to begin poking through the snow. Or, the day they wear all their pastel colored clothes. Here at Section 36, the first day of spring means that we’re one day closer to the start of real baseball! Of course, the Sox have been having Spring Training for a bit now. But, every day brings us one day closer to the real season.

Spring also means a lot more baseball has been showing up on social media. If you look through Instagram, or Twitter, or Facebook, you’ll see people posting baseball pictures everywhere. Naturally, the recent ones show people at Spring Training games. But, lots of people have been taking Fenway tours while getting ready for the season. Not to mention that thanks to things like “throwback Thursdays” or “flashback Fridays” or even simple “latergrams” there have also been plenty of pictures of people enjoying Fenway and its best section. Some people have even been gracious enough to share them with me! If you regularly check out the “Pix with 36” page, you’re aware of the rush of new and amazing photos over the last week or so. For those of you who haven’t learned to check out that page all the time, I thought I’d share the newest crop with you. Maybe this will convince you to check out that page more often. Or, maybe, to send in some pics of your own! As it happens, these pictures have also all made their way to the Facebook pg. Another great reason to make sure you “like” Section 36!

We’ll start with Samantha. This is a great pic of her with Section 36 while she was serving a Miss NH. She had the good sense to make sure Section 36 was in the shot as she sang God Bless America. Presently, you can find her by looking for a Pretty Sporty Girl.

Next we have Melissa. She was tossed a ball during batting practice. Of course, the best way to celebrate that is to pose for a picture with the ball, and Section 36.

Next we have Nicole. I like how this pic pairs a Sox fan and a Cub fan into one great image. Obviously, they both knew Section 36 was very important to get into the shot.

Here we have Hanna who definitely went above and beyond (literally) normal effort to make sure she got a pic with Section 36. I’ve asked if this is the best selfie with Section 36 ever. What do you think?

Hannah was one of the people I mentioned taking advantage of a Fenway tour in order to get ready for the season. If you take a tour of Fenway, but don’t take your picture with Section 36, you’re doing it wrong.

Finally, Vanessa provided an obvious throwback. Once again, a perfect shot posing with the best section in Fenway.

So, while those are some of the most recent submissions, they’re certainly not all of them. That’s why you should remember to check out the Pix with 36 page often. And, even more pics are posted to the Section 36 facebook pg. So, make sure you’re tuned into Section 36 no matter where you go.

It’s an internet sensation.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

From the Pedro Binder

2005 Topps Opening Day

Since I bought my first blaster of 2015 Topps Opening Day this afternoon, this seemed like a good card to look at today. Of course, any review of Opening Day cards has to start with the base set. Many years, including 2005 (and 2015, for that matter) the only difference between the base and the Opening Day is an extra logo. Sometimes they use different pictures too. I don’t know if that was the case for this card, or not. But, since I haven’t talked about the regular 2005 Topps card yet, let’s jump right into it.

I bet you know my big problem with the design. Why do I need to turn my head in order to read Pedro’s name? How annoying is that? But, that’s not even the worst part. The Red Sox name? It’s turned the complete opposite way? So, in order to get all the information, I need to twist my wrist this way and that. I’ll get carpal tunnel by the time I’m done flipping through a team set. Sure, the team name is also right there on the bottom of the card. But, if I’m supposed to get my information from there, why is the team name on the side at all? To take up space? Likewise, Pedro’s last name it sitting in big letter at the top of the card. But, it’s just a last name. Again, that’s obviously not enough, or they wouldn’t have put the name on the side too.

I like the rest of the card. The crisscrossing stripes add something subtle to the design. You might not even notice that the bands cross unless you really look at it. But, it just seems more pleasing that way.

The photo is a standard shot of Pedro ready to fire away. I love the look of concentration.

I also love the big photo. It could be bigger if Topps didn’t put all the information on the card twice. But, it’s still a significant portion of the card.

Overall, it’s a design that works for me.

Glad they got to use it twice.

Monday, March 16, 2015

What if Hanley had Stayed?

Whenever people are discussing trading prospects, I always come down on the side of doing it. (Within reason, of course.) I figure if you can trade potential talent for actual talent, why wouldn’t you do it? To help my case, I usually fall back on two examples.

The first is the Pedro Martinez trade. In that move, the Sox gave up Carl Pavano and Tony Armas Jr. They were both highly touted pitching prospects. Pavano was probably the best the Sox had. But, they gave them up to acquire Pedro. And it worked. Even though both Pavano and Armas went on to have decent major league careers, nobody could possibly argue that the Sox didn’t make the right decision in grabbing Pedro.

The other example I use is the Josh Beckett deal. In this case the deal was, basically, Beckett for Hanley Ramirez. This is probably the most extreme case I can think of. Hanley was a rare talent. People knew he was going to be good. And, as it turns out, they were absolutely right. You could argue that he ended up being every bit of the player they expected him to be. A perennial MVP candidate. Even in that case…do the Sox win the championship in 2007 without Beckett? I don’t think so. So, even in the case where the prospect the Sox traded away lived up to everything he was hyped to be, trading him away was the right move.

Or, was it?

Watching Hanley back in Town this spring has made me wonder. Watching him with David Ortiz makes me know he would have fit in here. (Imagine the Ortiz-Ramirez-Ramirez trio both on and off the field) But, should the Sox have kept him after all? It’s an interesting question in that there aren’t a lot of “ifs” that you need to take into account. Basically the Sox had a revolving door at short since he left, so it’s not like “If they kept Hanley, they wouldn’t have had this guy at short.” So, did Hanley do better than the stiffs the Sox replaced him with?

Of course.

Since he was traded, Hanley has had a (b-r) WAR of 36.4. Those stiffs? 14.5. So, clearly, Hanley would have been the better choice at short…by a factor of two. But, of course, the Sox added someone when they got rid of Hanley. Josh Beckett contributed a bit to the Sox, as I mentioned. During his time with the Sox, he put up a 22.6 WAR of his own. So, Beckett and the stiffs combined to 37.1. (Yes, I know Mike Lowell was part of the deal. But, his success was such a surprise, I find it hard to use him as part of the argument…even though it helps my case. I’m also not including Alvarez or Sanchez even though I probably should. The fill in pieces are too random to be used in an argument.)

So, the trade worked. 37.1 to 36.4. There you go.

I will add in one “what if” into the comparison, though. At the time of the trade, John Henry said he was against it. He’d rather have kept the prospects and just signed AJ Burnett in the offseason. In that case, he would just be spending money. (A similar argument is being used against a potential Cole Hamels deal. Why trade prospects AND spend money if you can just sign a guy this off-season, and just spend money.) So, what if the Sox had done that? AJ Burnett, since the trade has a 12.7 WAR. So, Hanley plus AJ is 49.1, while Beckett and the stiffs were 37.1. About a game less per season. So, IF the Sox had done that, it might have worked out better.

Of course, that includes a big if, in that they actually signed AJ. And that he stayed with them. (It also ignores the fact that nothing was preventing them from signing both Beckett and AJ.)

I also have to look at 2007. Beckett had a 6.4 WAR that year (and Julio Lugo added in 0.6 of his own). Hanley and Burnett combined to a 6.7. So, you could argue that the Sox would have finished with the same record with either pair. But, do the Sox win the ALCS with Burnett as the ace instead of Beckett?

Hard to say that they do. But, who knows? Maybe Hanley’s bat would have made Burnett’s pitching enough. Maybe not. Does it matter?

If the best case you can make against trading a prospect is that maybe they might have been a little better if everything else worked out to plan…is that really a case in your favor?

Should Hanley have stayed?

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Happy 36th!

Today we wish a very Happy 36th Birthday to Kevin Youkilis!

While watching some Super Bowl highlights recently, I remember seeing Youk on the sidelines waiting to celebrate. It reminded me that he married Tom Brady's sister. So, he was waiting with his in-laws, ready to celebrate his brother-in-law's championship. Weird. Makes me wonder, though. Do they have big family birthday parties in the Brady family? Is there a party going on right now where Youk, Tom Brady, and Gisele Bundchen are sitting around wearing funny hats and eating ice cream? How do you get an invite to that party?

Of course, to Red Sox fans, Youk is more than Tom Brady's brother-in-law. He's a two-time World Series champion, and a fan favorite. (Although, to be honest, he never really did anything for me. But, that's fine.) So, to celebrate, I thought I'd look at some of my favorite Youkilis baseball cards over the years. OK...favorite might be a stretch. But, they were the ones that were sitting around and easy to find.

The rookie card is a great place to start. He looks like quite the athlete in this picture, eh? Not exactly a Greek God. And, what's with the grin in the portrait shot? Creepy.

You had to guess that I'd include a Stadium Club card. If you've read anything From the Pedro Binder, you know that I think these cards epitomize what a card should be. The wonderful shot of Youk dropping his bat as he looks to the distance is enhanced by everyone in the crowd looking out there too. Wonder where it went.

 This is a nice looking card. The black border really adds something to it. The canvas feel to the image helps out too. I'm not generally a fan of card design so obviously built around a relic. But, this one somehow makes it work.

This would be the opposite example. Clearly this card was not designed around the relic. It was added in later. It's still very well done. Another picture of Youk looking into the distance to follow the flight of a ball. He must have done that a lot.

What a beautiful card. Just look at that logo in the lower right. I could stare at that all day. (No, not the Topps logo...the one above that.) And those words on the left side? The ones that are written SIDEWAYS. Not just sideways, but the opposite was as Youk's name. I still don't mind turning the card as often as I need to in order to read those.

Another fond memory. This time, Youk didn't ride any coattails to a ring. He earned this one. He was a key contributor to a team that dominated the rest of the league. Because of that, he got another card with a wonderful logo.

There we have it. Some great Kevin Youkilis cards to celebrate his birthday. Do you have a different favorite?

Happy Birthday Kevin!

Friday, March 13, 2015

She Scored!

You may remember that part of Kristen's epic Section 36 Scavenger Hunt victory was a completed scorecard. As I always do when someone send in a pic of a completed scorecard (hint, hint, hint) I wanted to feature it here. Here it is!

As you can see, Kristen decided to score the fantastic Game 5 of the 1999 ALDS. Not a bad game to pick at all. Before we get into the game itself, let's check out Kristen's scoring style, shall we?

First, take a look at the pitcher's box. You'll notice that those aren't Red Sox pitchers. Those are the Indians pitchers. While it never would have occurred to me to put the opposing pitchers on the Red Sox card, I've seen it before and can definitely see the benefits. For one thing, it makes totaling up the pitcher's stats much easier! I also see that she added a column for HR in the pitcher's box. not a bad addition at all.

Admittedly, I was having trouble reading the card at first. Who scored? Who drove in the runs? Thankfully, I remembered that in this case, there was a way to find out. So...she uses the line method of scoring. One line for a single, two for a double, etc. It's another method. Personally I'm too visual for that one, but it clearly works for her. (Once again, if you haven't come up with a scoring style that works best for you, you're doing it wrong.) I also see that she tracks the balls and strikes. I admire people who can do that. For me, whenever I start, it falls apart quickly. Also, much like Melissa did, I see a small diagonal line that represents a change in inning. God bless people who can use this simple method and not make mistakes. Again, whenever I try, confusion ensues. Overall, this is a great example of a scorecard that does things almost completely differently than I do, but reaches the same goal. When Kristen picks up this card, she (I hope) can recount and remember the game. Which, after all, is the whole point.

Now, for the game itself? I bet you don't need me to tell you much about it. It's all part of Red Sox lore. Lots of runs made up for a lack of least until a certain future hall of Famer entered the game. Troy O'Leary of all people made the Indians regret walking Nomar Garciaparra. What a great game.

The hero? Has to be the aforementioned Troy O'Leary. When Nomar homered in the first, the Indians rightly decided that they better walk the batting champ whenever they could. O'Leary twice made them pay be following the intentional walk with a homer. Can't foil a plan any better than than.

The goat? I was tempted to go with Varitek. But with three strikeouts, Mike Stanley gets the horns, despite his lone walk. With O'Leary absolutely going off on the Indians, it's disappointing that the guy batting behind him was so useless.

Of course, none of that mattered. Pedro's pitching saved the day, and the Red Sox advanced to the American League Championship Series.

And the scorecard shows how it happened.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

How Long Can a Player Last on His Reputation?

A thought occurred to me as people have been discussing the Darrelle Revis defection. The people who are saying it is just fine for the Pats to let him go (a camp I happen to be in) sometimes point to his eventual erosion of skills (a camp I do not reside in). They say that the Jets overpaid because he is older and his skills will decline, and he won’t be worth the money by the end of his contract. I agree with that. I just wonder…when will you know?

For Revis especially. He’s an elite cornerback. Other teams know this, so they simply don’t throw to his receiver. It’s possible that they look at his guy first every play, and pick someone else when they see that he has him covered. But, I get the impression that the quarterback doesn’t even bother to look over. If that’s the case, when do you know if he doesn’t have it? Say Revis loses a step this summer and shows up as an average cornerback. Isn’t the team that first week still going to avoid him all game? They don’t know he’s lost a step. Then the second game, isn’t the team still going to avoid him? Even if the first team completer the only pass it threw at his receiver? Then you get to the third game. Maybe he’s sitting at two targets, 2 completions. Or three and two. Still going to be avoiding him, right? How much film does it take before the other teams decide, “Hey…you know what? He’s not actually covering that other guy very well. We should start targeting him.” Two games? Four? Eight? How long can he live off just his name?

Which leads me to the Red Sox and some of their aging players. How long is David Ortiz, David Ortiz, just because he’s David Ortiz? How long does he get to be pitched around just because other teams are still scared of him? So, if you sign an older player, how much of his time can you assume is going to be just fine, even if he’s not?

In Steve Ketteman’s landmark book One Day at Fenway, he mentioned the game where Manny Ramirez was out with a sore throat. I’ve mentioned this segment before. Joe Torre wanted to make a pitching change, but was reluctant to. He feared that, even though he was out sick, Manny might come in to pinch hit. Even though Manny was sick and definitely not the real Manny, Joe Torre feared the name. The name was enough to dictate decisions.

How long would that last?

We got a taste of that, of course, when Ortiz started slowly a few years ago. I know it took the Red Sox a lot longer than fans though it should to admit he wasn’t Ortiz and sit him down. Or pinch hit for him. A lot of that had to do with respect for a player though.

When did other teams start treating him like Daniel Nava. If the game is on the line, how long will he have before other teams start pitching to him?

How long will he still be David Ortiz?

Monday, March 9, 2015

From the Pedro Binder

2000 Victory Big Play Makers

OK. What exactly is this thing?

I like inserts. Actually, I like subsets a little bit more. But, I like the variety inserts add to a pack. I don’t really care if they’re seeded at a rate different that other cards, or not. But, I like the variety.

I do, however, feel that if you’re going to create an insert (or sub) set, that you should have a reason for it. I know that the reason for every insert set is “to get more cards of stars into packs.” But, you don’t need to be obvious about it. “Mound Stars” or “Super Sluggers” at least implies that there’s some thought behind it. Heck, even “League Leaders” implies that there’s a reason for a card to be there.

But, “Big Play Makers”? Seriously?

Could there be a less thoughtful insert set? Why not just call it “Cards of players we thought you’d spend money to get.” (Although, wouldn’t that be an incredible honest inset set?)

Beyond that, what’s with the yellow? And, while I know to know what team Pedro plays for by looking at the card, I really don’t need to see it six times. I’m also confused by the UD Profile on the bottom of the card. What is that supposed to be? While I agree that Pedro is the “King of the Hill”, it seems a bit out of place.

I do like the large head shot of Pedro. The Action shot isn’t a terrible idea either. Sort of gives it a “1956 Topps” feel to it.

I said “sort of.”

Because, obviously, this is not a 1956 Topps card. This is some monstrosity put out by Upper Deck.

No wonder they lost their license. 

Friday, March 6, 2015

Are Dogs Smarter Than Cats?

I don’t know about all of them, but this particular dog obviously had a good head on her shoulders!

Introducing Lola Grace. By the looks of things, she might be the smartest thing out there without opposable thumbs. How do I know this? Check out the photo below.

That’s right. She may not be able to talk, but she’s perfectly capable of expressing her adoration of the greatest section in Fenway! Obviously, she'd "rather be in Section 36!"

As it happens, Lola has a very popular Instagram account (@lola_grace_the_boxer_ ) with more followers than mine does. Yikes! With such a following, it’s nice to see that she has this record of making great decisions. So, if you want to follow the smartest animal I know, you’ll want to go do that now. Of course, I also strongly suggest that you first go follow the best blog around. I need more followers to help catch up to Lola. (Is it sad that I’m jealous of a dog?)

Thanks, Lola, for the great pic!

You wouldn’t get one like that from a cat.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Let The Games Begin!

Did you hear it?

Did you see it?

Yup. That was actual real live baseball you heard on the radio. Those pics you saw on twitter weren’t (all) from last season. The Red Sox are playing baseball again!

That’s one more milestone down. Just one more to go.

Opening Day.

That’s the most important part of games starting. It means there’s nothing else to wait for until they start playing the games for real. It’s so close I bet you can almost taste it.

So, while we watch and listen we get to dream of the coming season. Sure, the games don’t actually mean anything. I don’t really care if Rick Porcello struck out every batter he faced today, or gave up a home run to all of them. Coming out healthy and prepared is the only thing that matters.

I sometimes wonder what spring training is like for other teams where several positions are potentially up for grabs. In the Red Sox line-up, I can think of one. Who will play center field. Betts or Castillo. Other than that, maybe last man in the bullpen? Last bench guy? I wonder if there were two or three positional competitions if the media would be less annoying about them. With just the one, they have to go into overdrive. Betts started the first game with the other regulars. Does that mean he’s in the lead for the position? As of the very first spring training game? That’s worse than reporting which team is “in the lead” for a free agent acquisition. Let’s just let it sort itself out.

Which always makes me wonder how these battles are supposed to play out. Just like last year with the Sizemore-Bradley Jr competition. Is a better batting average against college players really going to decide their fate? A better batting average over three weeks? Or, is it going to be about options, flexibility, depth, or whichever factor the Sox feel is important? Is it really going to be a .320 average vs a .290 one? Heck, even .410 vs .250?

But, it’ll all play out somehow. In that specific case, I’m not sure there’s a wrong answer. So, I’m free to just sit back and enjoy the action. Enjoy seeing players pitch and run and hit again. Enjoy the fact that baseball is being played somewhere right now.

And hope that nobody gets hurt.

Monday, March 2, 2015

From the Pedro Binder

2002 Stadium Club

What a great card.

If you’ve read anything I’ve had to say about cards from the Pedro Binder, then you probably expect that I’d enjoy the Stadium Club sets.

You’d be absolutely correct.

What’s not to love? The borderless cards allow the picture to take up as much room as possible on the card. The graphics floating over the picture are always tucked away as to not interfere with the photo. And, of course, the photos are magnificent.

This is certainly noexception.

Look at that photo. I always thought Pedro had a bit of a stunted follow through. His final leg kick gave the impression that he was trying to stop halfway through. This picture shows that perfectly. I love how the background is clean. Nothing is distracting from Pedro. This picture would look great, enlarged on the wall.

As always, the Stadium Club logo is as far out of the way as it can be. Perfect. Perdro’s name and position is floating over the photo. But, not just floating. Floating in a spot with absolutely no action. It’s just covering some of the mound. Your eye is allowed to skip right over the graphic to still enjoy the photo.

I wouldn’t have expected anything less.

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