Tuesday, February 28, 2017

I Did It!

That's right! This right here is my 28th post in the last 28 days!

Mush like the last time I tried this, it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. Once I made the rule, I was somehow motivated to actually write a post every day. No more "I'll wait until tomorrow, now I'll twitter." I said twitter can wait I need to post.

Now, I'll be the first to admit that not every post was worthy of a Pulitzer. OK, none of them are worthy of a Pulitzer. But, most of them were pretty darn good. 

And, just like I'd hoped, it got me rolling again. I refound a push to post. I rediscovered some different times to add writing to my day. I thought of some different angles to tackle. I asked for more visitors. It was good for me, and good for the blog.

I hope you agree.

Just don't expect a post tomorrow.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Who Should Start Opening Day?

Sorry EdRo, but there are really only three options for this question. And neither of them makes a particularly strong case. And, unfortunately, this year the Sox open the season at home. So you can't even split the honor by having one pitchers start Opening Day and having another start the home opener. So, you need to make a call.

Yes, I realize this is an awesome problem to have. It's not even because all the choices are equally bad. The problem is that they're equally strong. It means there is a decision to be made. What do you think?

The pitcher that probably seems like the most obvious choice is Rick Porcello. He's already apparently lined up to for the start. Assuming you call anything "lined up" a month away. If the Soxwanted any of the three to start, it wouldn't be too tough. But, Porcello is the reigning American League Cy Young award winner. So, that's an obvious feather in his cap. I guess for me there's still the stink of 2015 on him. He doesn't "feel" like an ace to me. But, that might be silly.

The other more obvious choice is David Price. While he didn't exactly earn the honor with his 2016 performance, he does have a Cy Young of his own on his resume. I think my bigger argument for him is that I assume he was signed to "be the ace". My assumption is that the Red Sox pitch to him when he was a free agent wasn't "Come be our number three starter." Again, it's not exactly the Red Sox's  fault that Porcello outperformed him. But, I don't remember there being a question about who would start the 2003 season after Derek Lowe's breakout 2002. It's was Pedro's role. He was the ace. Similarly, it was Price's role. Should he lose it?

The third choice, Chris Sale, really only has one thing going for him. He's the bright new shiny toy. Don't you want to show everyone your new toy as soon as you can? Don't you want to scare the rest of the league as soon as you can? He doesn't have the credentials the other two have. But, he's definitely a top starter, and would be getting the nod for just about any other team. Should he get it here?

So, who should it be? The reigning Cy Young? The hired ace? The new toy? Someone else?

Who gets your vote?

Sunday, February 26, 2017

36 Days Left

That's right! It's that magical time when there are exactly 36 days left until Opening Day!

It's actually a pretty cool timeframe, as you'd probably imagine. The full days of workouts are gone, and there are actual real live
exhibition games going on. (We're even already past the exhibition exhibition game) Rotations are falling into place a bit...ad much as anything can fall into place more than a month out. Players are starting to get into the feel of the game. Some of the stars are remembering where their grooves are. Some of the bench players are pretending they're more than bench players.

The pitchers are simulating their games,and pitching their games.

The radio has baseball on it again. Out televisions have baseball on them again. Bloggers have things to write about.

It's a wonderful time to be a baseball fan.

36 days out.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

From the Pedro Binder

2002 Flair

I honestly don't know what to make of this card. There's a lot going on. Some of it good, some of it not so good.

First, name and position in gold foil written sideways is about the worst decision a card company can make. I'm not sure it could be harder to read is it was in invisible ink. Awful. And, what's with the different fonts for the first and last name? Very strange.

I do like Pedro's number in outline. It's tucked in the corner, so it doesn't detract from the rest of the card. The rest of the shapes and stripes are, likewise, pretty well stuck to the side. I'm actually surprised how little the white stripe in the top corner and down the side bothers me. Although, all the stuff together makes it look like they're trying just a little too hard. The gold fillet in the corner seems out of place with the rest of the card. 

But, all the design elements do allow more room for the picture. Or, in this case, pictures. The two pictures give a bit of a 50's Topps feel with the large head shot, and the mini superimposed action shot. This isn't '56 Topps, but it has that element to it. I don't usually like the floating image idea, but it's not terrible in this case.

Put it all together, and I don't mind this card as much as I'd thought I would. Nothing jumps out as being great, but nothing really scares me away. It's just a different card.

And variety is usually a good thing.

Friday, February 24, 2017

I Scored: August 18, 2007

OK, what do we have here? Today I decided to flash back to a game in the fantastic season of 2007. The Sox were on their way to winning the division, finishing with the best record in the American League. This team had some skill, and the scorecard from this game shows exactly that.

Let’s start with the pitcher box. This box sums up this gave very well. Curt Schilling struggled out of the gate, only being able to go six innings while giving up five runs. But, the rest of the bullpen was able to shut things down to allow the Sox to stay in the game. In fact, that pitcher succession would be seen again in the World Series, simple removing the need for Timlin. This game was also closer than the final score would indicate, because of the Sox scoring so many runs in the eighty. When Timlin and Oki were in there, they were in a hold situation. Then the offense did their thing.

Speaking of the offense, Wow. Just look at it go. As always with these old cards, the names are fun to look at. Julio Lugo leading off? Alex Cora at second base? 

I love the Manny Ramirez line. Could there be a more “Manny” outcome? He started with four swinging strikeouts. But in the eighth he followed an intentional walk by driving in two huge insurance runs with a double. With that double, the Ortiz-Manny combo ended up with fantastic number, driving in six on the ten runs (thanks to an Ortiz grand slam) and scoring three of their own.

The hero of the game? Have to give that to Ortiz. His go-head grand slam in the fifth was enormous. Clutch, you might say. 

The goat? I usually give the horns to a batter. But, the only starter who didn’t score at least one run was Varitek, and he went 2-5 with an RBI. So, I’m going to hang them on Curt Schilling. Five runs in six innings is just not what you’re looking for. He’s lucky the offense bailed him out, of it would have been a disaster.

But, the offense did bail him out. JD Drew collected his 1000th career hit on the way to an eventual blowout.

And the scorecard shows you how it happened. 

Thursday, February 23, 2017

How to Maximize Ad Revenue on Your Blog

I promise you. This is eventually a baseball post. It just requires a slight diversion first. 

I have some ads on my blog. Hopefully there aren’t so many that they’re distracting or annoying. (If they are, let me know.) But they’re there in case they interest you. It’s just a little way for me to try and see if I can get this blog to be self-sufficient and see if that will allow me to do more fun things.

So, like most people, when I added the ads I did a little bit of research into how to make the ads as effective as they can be. Naturally, this being the internet, there are plenty of people out there giving you tips and tricks on how to get people to view your blog so they will view your ads. Some ideas?

You can use pictures. Pictures attract people’s attention. If they see a picture in a thumbnail, they might be more likely to click to your blog looking for more. Pictures also show up in image searches, which gives you yet another way for people to stumble upon your blog.

Linking to other posts in your blog is another great tip. If someone is reading a post including a recent interview with Miss Bay State, it stands to reason that they’d be interested in an interview with Miss Cambridge. Or even Miss Vermont. So, adding links to capitalize on those thoughts brings along even more hits for your site.

There are timing ideas. Posting in the morning allows your fresh post to show up all day. But, posting in the evening has it show up when people are apt to be home from work. 

Social media helps. Posting a link to you blog on its Facebook page, or especially your personal Facebook page gets more exposure for your post. Tweeting a link on Twitter. Including a photo with a link on Instagram. Snapping a picture of your post. Pinning the post to Pinterest. All those places offer ways to get more people’s eyes on your posts. The more eyes are on it, the more likely there is engagement. 

You can write clever titles to hopefully pique someone’s interest? “How to maximize revenue” is probably better than “My views on MLB.” 

I’m sure there are even more. But, all these tips seem to ignore the best way to increase revenue. Write lots of quality posts. If you do that, people will seek you out. They’ll tell their friends about you. Sure, you can tweet a link to your 1000 followers. But, what if 100 people loved your post so much they tweeted it to their 100 followers to say how awesome the post was? Or 100 people tweeting to 1000 followers? Those are numbers that are much harder to reach on your own. 

So, why do people talk about all the other tips? They’re much easier. You don’t need any talent to tweet out a link 1000 times. It takes a different talent to write a catchy headline than it does to write a 5000 word post that people want to read. It doesn’t matter what you post if you’re just posting it when people happen to be online reading any post they find. It’s a whole different skill set.

Which is why it always bothers me when MLB does it. 

(See? Told you I’d tie it in.)

I’m assuming that MLB has some pretty smart people working for it. They know how television and entertainment is supposed to work. But, they still keep taking the easy way out. When should we hold World Series Games? How about at night when people are flipping channels anyway. Certainly not at a time when kids can see them. We don’t want to build our brand. We want to have people fall into us by mistake. We don’t want to be Seinfeld. We want to be the show after it that people watch just because.

It happened again with the intentional walk. They wanted to pretend that the game was improving. Look! We made a change to cut down on game times. Come watch us! You know what else would cut down on game times? Dropping an ad or two from the between inning break. Instead of cutting 20 seconds a game, it would be more like ten minutes. That’s significant.

But, it wouldn’t be easy. Because it would seem to cut down on revenue. Fewer ads equal fewer dollars.

But, they’re not looking at the long term. Fewer ads mean shorter games. Shorter games mean more viewers. More viewers mean more viewers tweeting that they’re watching games. That leads to even more people watching the games. That means you can increase the ad prices for the ads you have left. 


You’ve now compensated for the loss in revenue from dropping one ad per inning break. And, you’ve increased your viewership. And, it’s not just viewers tricked into watching. They’re viewers who want to watch. Who want to watch again. They’re viewers who will follow you anywhere.

They’ll watch a daytime World Series game with their kids. They’ll buy your merchandise. They’ll spread your word.

You can’t do all that by following the “top ten ways to get more blog hits” lessons. You can only do it by “producing quality content.” I know it’s harder. I’m not even saying that I’m capable of doing it myself.

But you’d think MLB could.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Intentionally Stupid

So, Major League Baseball came out with a rule change yesterday. Instead of making a pitcher throw four balls during an intentional walk, the manager will simply signal the umpire to have the batter take his base.

Honestly? The idea doesn’t really bother me. There’s probably no good reason to make a pitcher actually go through the motions of throwing four balls high and away. I’m not sure it will affect the game beyond the “That’s the way it’s always been” argument. That’s always a terrible argument, so I feel OK ignoring it.

There are some complaints about it floating around. And, they do have some merit. Some people point out the times that a player has swung at an intentional walk pitch. Or, the times a pitcher has thrown a wild intentional walk pitch. Or, when a team has faked an intentional walk in order to strike a batter out. If the intentional walk becomes automatic, those plays will never happen again.

That’s absolutely true.

Problem is, they never really happened before. Not that often, at least. I saw a list online (so it must be true) saying that around a dozen times in baseball history a player has gotten a hit off an intentional walk. (I swear Mike Greenwell knocked a double off the Wall on an attempted intentional walk…but that wasn’t on the list.) Whether they had a comprehensive list or not, that seems about right. It’s not like it happens even once a year. And the fake intentional walk? I can think of two. Johnny Bench in the World Series, and Jimy Williams trying it against Chipper Jones. Now, it’s possible there were more that we can’t research because it just goes in the books as a strikeout (or in the case of Jones, an attempted strikeout. He wasn’t fooled.) But, the facts are, it’s not a lot. Again, way less than once a year.

Now, a pitcher throwing a wild pitch? That probably happens more often. But, I guess I’m OK with that. I fall back to wanting the better team to win. And, yes you could say that the better team is the one that doesn’t throw a ball to the backstop. But, that just seems more like “chance” to me. It’s not like you draft a guy knowing he “makes good intentional walk pitches” or a team should know not to have a guy try to intentionally walk someone. So, I feel that it’s different than, say, fumbling a ball in the super bowl. The Patriots made a play to cause a fumble. Conversely, if they lost the game by fumbling a kick, after having trouble with that all year, that’s something they should have coached. If, however, Brady just takes his three step drop, and just drops the ball untouched for who knows why…that’s a whole different thing. Isn’t it?

Which is a long way of saying that I don’t like fluke plays deciding games. So, if the only reason to keep the four pitch intentional walk is because once a year the ball might slip out of a pitcher’s hand, I say get rid of it.

My problem with the change? The reason they gave behind it. Pace of play. Seriously? Of all the changes they could have made, they make a fundamental change to the rules in order to save, on average, 20 seconds a game? We’re still going to allow managers to visit the mound just to stall in order to give their reliever time to warm up, but we’re changing a rule to remove a walk. Managers still stand at the top step of the dugout waiting for a review before challenging a play. But, to save time we’re changing the walk. We still have a million ads being shown between each half inning. But, instead MLB changes a long-time rule.

That’s the part that bothers me.

Sure, twenty seconds are twenty seconds. And it’s an easy twenty seconds to cut. But, there are other ways to trim the game that don’t affect core rules. Even core rules that don’t amount to anything. That’s the part that bothers me. Go ahead and do it. Don’t do it for a stupid reason.

Especially to speed up games.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Monique Vacon Visits Section 36!

Section 36 has another visitor! Monique Vacon is a New England sports fan, and the current Miss Bay Sate. You may remember her
from the fantastic picture she submitted posing with Section 36. I waited far too long to ask her, but thankfully she was nice enough to visit with us to discuss the Red Sox, herself, and her time as Miss Bay State. So, let's see what happens when Monique Vacon visits Section 36!

What has been your favorite thing about being Miss Bay State?
I am a New England girl so to have the opportunity to represent my home for a year has been an absolute dream. My favorite thing about being Miss Bay State has been sharing my crown and sash with all of the kiddos.

Is there something left that you'd like to accomplish before the end of your reign?
Honestly, I have had the most amazing year but I hope that we can surpass our goal of $343,377 at the 2017 94.7 WMAS Baystate Children’s Hospital Radiothon.

How did you celebrate winning the Miss Bay State crown?
After the pageant, I did not want to take my crown off so I wore it to the Boston Tavern in Middleboro and had dinner with my family and friends.

How do we get more youth involved in volunteerism?
Volunteering has always been an invaluable part of my life ever since I was a kid. Teaching children about empathy is crucial in order to promote volunteerism. I teach my own students that helping others in need can be such a gratifying experience. Through my platform, Wish for a Miracle: Education Youth in Volunteerism, my students have made cards for children in local hospitals, raise money for Make-A- Wish, create their own fundraising projects and donated clothing to homeless shelters.

What are your plans after your reign is over?
I will continue my Master of Education degree and I will be the new business manager for the lucky young woman who wins Miss Bay State 2017.

What do you remember about your last trip to Fenway Park?
My last trip to Fenway Park I was introduced on the field, said “play ball” and watched the game with my entire family. It was by far one of my favorite appearances and the Red Sox won that night!

This is the first Red Sox season in a while without David Ortiz. What your favorite Ortiz memory?
There are so many memorable moments in Ortiz's career especially his hilarious Dunkin Donuts commercials. My favorite memory was when his daughter sang the national anthem. His reaction was so genuine and heartfelt.

What were you doing when the Red Sox won the 2013 World Series?
I believe I was in my living room watching the game with my family.

What are you most looking forward to about the Red Sox in 2017?

The addition of Chris Sale and the rest of the loaded pitching staff!

How will the Red Sox finish the 2017 season?
Obviously, the Indians are going to be contending in the AL again but I think the Red Sox will be right there at the end of the season and go deep into the playoffs.


Hard to argue with that. Hope they go very deep into the playoffs. 

I want to give Monique a huge thank you for taking the time to visit with us. I also want to thank her for sending in such a large assortment of pictures to go along with the interview. Pictures definitely make the post more appealing. 

If you want to find out more about Monique, you should definitely check out her website: Miss Vacon. It's a great way to follow along with her on her Miss Bay State journey. 

I wish Monique luck as she completes her year as Miss Bay Sate. And, maybe when she's working with her successor she'll mention the best section in Fenway.

Thanks again Monique!

Monday, February 20, 2017

What do Presidents Really Do?

I find it interesting, because every time there's a new one the credit and the blame seem to be put in different places. Either on him or others. I can't really find a good reason for the shifts. So, is it personality? The media? The results?

Take the first president for this current regime, Larry Lucchino. He was the team president and, I presume, ran things at Fenway Park. Underneath him, he had a general manager, Theo Epstein. Generally, it was assumed that Theo was making most of the decisions when it came to the team. The "general managing" if you will. I didn't hear many people give Lucchino credit when things went well. He really only got slammed when things went really wrong. But, I think it was pretty clear that Theo ran the team, and Larry ran everything else.

Then Theo left for the Cubs to become their team president. Chicago was all excited. Theo was coming to change the team, and get them back to winning. At the time, that seemed odd to me. After all, he was going there as president. There was a general manager. Why wasn't he going to be getting the credit? If the team president was really that important, wouldn't Chicago want Lucchino? He's the one who had been team president for multiple World Series winners. Not Theo. I was confused.

Back in Boston, Lucchino went right on being team president over Ben Cherington. Again, Ben got most of the credit, with Lucchino really only ever getting the blame. It was all his decision to hire Bobby Valentine, but all Cherington's decision to sign all the players leading to the 2013 title. It was annoying, but pretty typical. Just like a field manager gets blame but little credit. 

So, maybe that's just a difference between Chicago and Boston? Maybe Boston gave the GM more power over personnel than Chicago did.

But, then came Dave Dombrowski. When Lucchino stepped back from his role, the Red Sox created a new position. They gave Lucchino's President title to Sam Kennedy. Made sense. he was an up and comer in FSG. Then they created a new position, President of Baseball Ops and gave that to Dombrowski. Huh. A new president? Cherington saw the writing on the wall, and went on his merry way soon after the signing. The Red Sox hired Mike Hazen as their GM, and I think that was the last time I've heard his name. Basically every move since then has been credited exclusively to Dombrowski. Whether it was an unpopular one like trading away a top pitching prospect, or a popular one like bringing in a new ace. Twice. 

Suddenly, the Sox had the Chicago mindset. The president was, apparently, making all the moves. The GM was just there to write out the contracts, I guess. Why the shift?

I'd be tempted to say it was because of the talent of Dave Dombrowski. But, Larry Lucchino was no slouch. He should have had a resume plenty long enough to warrant decision making ability. Was he too busy with the Fenway Park improvements to worry about personnel decisions? Did he just not enjoy that aspect of it? Why the change? Was it Theo? Did he grab more of the spotlight than other GMs get? Was it a combination? Was Dombrowski really brought in as GM, but needed to be given the president title to make the hiring work? Would it have looked to bad to fire Cherington, so they massaged the organization by adding a president of baseball ops? How did it happen?

And why?

Sunday, February 19, 2017


I don't know what it was. Usually my local Target is pretty good about getting the new stuff out on time. In fact, it's pretty regularly getting things on the shelf before they're released. Not the opposite.

So, it was frustrating when trip after trip turned up empty. I'm not even usually the type of guy that needs to have new things the second they come out. I mean, I waited three days to see The Force Awakens. I first saw The Avengers on DVD. So, it wasn't that I was desperate to get my hands on some 2017 Topps cards. It was just the fact that they weren't there when they should be. Where were they? What was going on.

So, I know I'm late to the party, but I was finally able to get my hands on the new product! I know you're all beyond curios to see what I got. The highlights of my blaster.

Or the lowlights. Would you believe that these are the first two cards in the very first pack of 2017 Topps I opened? Seriously? What is wrong with Topps? What's wrong with the universe?

But, at least that first pack was able to produce a Red Sox card. And, a darn good one at that. Hopefully Mookie is able to pick up right were he left off last season.

This is probably a good point to talk about the design. I'm sorry, but I like it. I actually really like it. It was surprising because I definitely thought I'd be one of those "Get your gosh darn computer graphics off my base set!" people. But, once I got them in hand, they really appeal to me. It calls me back to the classic Stadium Club feel. Simple graphics with full bleed photos. Everything tucked away at the bottom. I have a hard time finding a fault. 

Weird, I know.

Oh, and I know I'm not alone in being glad that the league leaders are getting their own cards. Too many cards in my collection with the same three guys crammed into too small a space. Plus, it limits the Yankees sneaking into my Red Sox binder.

Ok, onto the next pack. The first card in the next pack was...

Very funny universe.

Looks to me like Jacoby jumped too early on this one. 

The rest of the packs were much better. Here are some of the highlights.

This fantastic '87 Topps style rookie card of Red Sox phenom Andrew Benintendi. That's a great looking card.

One more card of old friend David Ortiz. The dark colors on the award winners inserts take up too much room for my liking. I think there are some color schemes that work. This one doesn't. Perhaps if the red and blue were reversed.

And a collection of the young superstars on the Red Sox. Bogaerts gives a look at the design in the horizontal format. It doesn't work as well, but it's still pretty fantastic. The Betts inserts are better than the Ortiz. The design is simple, but you still get the point that they're special cards. I wish you could see the 42 on Betts's back...but I guess a set of people's backs would be a bit annoying. The Father's Day card works better, since you can tell he's wearing the Father's Day blue.

So, there we have it. My first blaster of 2017 Topps. Hopefully the first of many. 

And maybe more of them will be chock full of Mookie Betts.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Don't Forget the #BYBHub!

As baseball season nears, it's time to remind you all about the wonder that is the BYB Hub!

Yeah, you've probably heard me talk about it before. It's that linked box on the left over there. The Hub is especially great this time of year. You see, the best part about the Hub is that it combines bloggers from all over the baseball world into one easy to find location. That's a wonderful thing any time of the year. But, especially in Spring Training, there's a lot of stuff happening in other camps that might not cross a Red Sox fan's radar right away.

Take the arbitration mess with Dellin Betances and the Yankees. Red Sox writes might be busy with their own storylines. But, in the Hub, there are several Yankees bloggers just waiting to tell you what a mess the Yankees organization is. Maybe. Or, perhaps you just want to keep an eye on the Yankees in general. Or their minor league teams? 

Of course, it's not just the Yankees either. How about Rangers farm teams? They're there too. And, of course, yours truly is there to give the best insight into Red Sox Nation.

So go check the BYB Hub every day.

Right after you come here.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Opening Day Celebrations!

I know I’ve talked about this before. But, the very fact that I have the chance to keep talking about it shows how incredible it is that I can keep talking about it.

Did that make any sense?

But, you probably remember that the Patriots won the Super Bowl a couple weeks ago. As new champions, they’ve been doing their victory tours. Visits to Disney World. Championship parades. The talk show circuit. Autograph appearances. Those are all ways to bask in the glory that comes with winning it all.

The appearances that I love the most are when they get to visit other Boston sports teams for pre-game celebrations. Just the other day, the Patriots visited the Bruins for the ceremonial puck drop. It gives them another chance for Boston fans to adore them.

Of course, the appearance I’m most interested in is the visit to Fenway Park. The timing of the baseball seasons means that they can wait a bit before having a ceremony for the Pats, allowing the celebrations to stretch out a bit. That means I fully expect a ceremony on Opening Day.

Nobody does a celebration like the Red Sox, and they’ve had plenty of chances to practice when it comes to inviting other teams to their party. This would, as we know, be the fifth time the Pats have made the visit. From the first time when just about every member of the team surprised us be coming out from under the giant flag in left, to the most recent time when the four member of the organization with four rings came to say hello. I’m sure the Sox are working on something special.

What’s interesting to me is that the Sox probably had some sort of ceremony in mind for David Ortiz. With this being his first year of retirement, I’d be amazed if the Sox weren’t already planning on having him at least throw out the first pitch. So, will the Sox add him to the Patriots party? Have Brady throw the first pitch to Ortiz again? Will they just have Ortiz come to home game two in order to spread the wealth?

However they do it, I’m sure it will be a memorable occasion. I can’t wait to see what they come up with.

How do you think it will go?

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Everyone's Here

As we have arrived at the official reporting date for Red Sox position players, everyone is finally in camp. Thankfully, everyone made it on time. That means we don't have any of that made up "late to camp" storyline. As if missing a day of workouts is going to affect performance eight weeks later. But, this year we're all set. In fact, most players have been here at least a few days early. That's always interesting to me.

Especially for married players.

Now, usually I hate it when people try to compare celebrities to regular people. The "I have to go to work with a stiff neck, so Clay Buchholz should have to too" is one of the most ridiculous arguments ever. But, I'm going to do it here anyway. I'm trying to imagine that I work in a job that has me on the road for eight months at a time. Or, at least for significant amounts of those eight months. That means I have four months to spend at home with my wife and family. Sixteen weeks or so to kick back, enjoy time with my kids. Make up for lost time with my wife.

Only, instead, I decide to head to Florida a week early. So I can play catch with some other guys. Guys I'm going to see every day for the next eight months.

Just because.

There's no real benefit to showing up early. As wonderful as the facilities are in camp, I'm guessing the players have pretty sweet set-up os their own. So, it doesn't do anything for them.

Except cut family time short.

Now, I'll freely admit that it might be OK with everyone. I'm not calling them bad people or anything. Just wondering what Kelly's reaction is when Dustin Pedroia says he's taking off. Is she already sick of him and counting down the days to camp? Several of the players have new babies in the house. Does that cause any issues? Do all the wives and families go to Florida with them to make this a moot point? Or, is that just the way life works when you're a baseball player?

How does that conversation go?

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Five Things I’ll be Watching During Spring Training

I’ll admit, it was tough to come up with five. That’s what happens when you have one of the best teams in the league. The questions are kept to a minimum. If everything goes as planned, I’m pretty sure I can fill out the opening Day line-up right now. I might not now the batting order, be I think we all know who will be in which positions. (OK. Starting pitcher is a guess…but it’s one of three guys, right?). Hopefully it’s a pretty stress-free couple few weeks as we wait for the season to start. So, what will I be keeping my eye on?

1. Health. Yeah, it’s probably an obvious one. But the only wrinkle in the whole team this year is the “as planned” portion that I mentioned above. If Dustin Pedroia isn’t the starting second baseman on Opening Day, there’s only one reason for it. So, I’ll be watching, nervously, to make sure that everyone stays healthy. That may be as simple as not playing them as often, which is a benefit of having the roster pretty set. No need to overplay guys since you know what you’ll have in them.

2. Pablo Sandoval. He’s one of the only real question marks on the team. But, not a question with any other answers. If he’s healthy enough to play, he’ll be at third base against the Pirates. But, how much will his health affect his play? That’s the question. If he’s back to the Panda the Sox thought they were signing, that will be a huge lift to the team. If he’s something less than that, then the Sox will need to look elsewhere to help replace David Ortiz’s lost production.

3. Blake Swihart. What are they going to do with him? Do the Sox see ham as a future catcher? Conventional wisdom is that the “plan” is for him to start in the minors. He’s the only catcher with options left. So if he’s a catcher, that’s where he’ll be. Or, do the Sox think he’s never going to fit in behind the plate? Do they have him play some in left field? At third base? Do they trade him? It will be interesting to see what the spring holds for him.

4. EdRo. Will Eduardo Rodriguez be able to make the back end of the rotation? Will his knee allow him to perform? If he can’t, then the Sox need to find someone else. If he can’t, and Steven Wright can’t, then that means the Sox need two replacements. Being able to see EdRo pitch from the mound in games…even if it’s not exactly a string of shutdown performances…would be huge.

5. The Bullpen. Much of this has to do with number four above. Who will be in the rotation? Who does that mean will be in the pen? Who will be the bridge to Kimbrel? Will they need much of a bridge with their rotation? By the end of camp, who will the Sox have that comfort level with moving forward? It’s easily the biggest question of the camp, and the one with the most answers.

So, that’s what I’ll be paying attention to.

What will draw your attention?

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Getting to Second Base

Seemed like an appropriate post topic for Valentine’s Day.

Recently Major League Baseball has announced that it is toying with the idea of starting extra innings with a man at second base. In fact, they’re looking at giving it a trial run in the minor leagues.

Along with many other people, my initial reaction was “Get your stupid gimmicky plays the hell out of my game.”

My problem is, I’m not sure what my real issue with it is. In fact, the more I try to answer that question to myself, the more I think I might actually like the idea.

First, I don’t know how the logistics will work out. I haven’t read that much about it. I don’t know who picks the runner, or which innings. I don’t know if driving in a man who starts at second still gets you an RBI, or if the pitcher still gets an earned run. But, the concept is starting to be interesting.

Because, I hate extra innings. Well, tenth innings aren’t bad. But, the sixteenth? That’s too long for a game to go one. And, not because I think the actual time of the game is too long. It is, but I’m not going to change rules just because exciting baseball is going too long. (Nor am I going to change rules just to add excitement. I’m looking at you stupid Wild Card play-in game.) No, my issue is that the longer a game goes, the more prone to fluke occurrences it becomes. The better team starts to lose its advantage, and dumb luck comes into play. 

Which team had an off day the day before, so has a fresher bullpen? Which ball takes a funny bounce off the wall away from a defender? Which bad umpire call changes the make-up of an inning? Which team had a position player that happens to get three ground outs instead of three ground ball singles?

I know that the solution to all of these problems is to just win the game in nine innings. But, we’ve already passed that point. We have two evenly matched teams that need to decide a winner.

So, maybe starting them both off with a runner as a way to actually make it about baseball isn’t a bad thing. It’s not a coin flip. It’s not a home run derby. In order to score the runner, you still need to make a baseball play. You still need to execute. In order to prevent the runner, you still need to make plays. You need to make managerial decisions. 

It’s better than deciding a game on penalty kicks. Those are flukes. Or a shootout. Same thing. It’s better than making it easier to score by taking away a defender. Or adding an out. Those are altering the game itself. How it’s played. 

Of course, it’s also possible that it won’t solve the problem. Perhaps games that used to have scoreless extra innings will now have 1-1 extra innings. That’s the sort of thing that the trial in the minor leagues could sort out.

And maybe it should only come into play late in extra innings. Say, starting in the thirteenth. By then you’ve about reached your limit of true competition anyway. If a ball hitting the second base bag is going to decide the game, why not a guy starting at second? At least this way is fair to both teams.

It’s really starting to grow on me.

How about you?

Monday, February 13, 2017

Pitchers, Catchers, and Sunshine

Most years today is somewhat annoying. We all spend months counting down until the day when pitchers and catchers finally report to Spring Training. The Red Sox tweet out the new number daily. We all wain anxiously for...well...nothing.

Because, the official start of Spring Training doesn't really mean anything. The pitchers and catchers are all mostly already in Florida. Heck, several of the positional players are already there. They're already doing workouts, and will keep on having them. We're still weeks and weeks away from real games. From what we're all really waiting for.

But. This year. As I'm digging out from the foot of snow dumped on me last night.

I sure do enjoy seeing all the video of baseball being played in the sunshine. Of the signs of summer being right around the corner. The promise that people will be wearing tank tops again before you know it.

Sure, it doesn't mean anything as far as the Red Sox are concerned. Sure, it just means I'll be worried about someone getting hurt for the next couple months. Sure, it just means hour by hour updates of nothing going on are going to fill my timelines.

But, it sure is nice to see.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Was Jason Varitek Any Good?

Ok. It's time to once again to look back through my scorecards and see how a Red Sox favorite performed while I was keeping score. Did he perform up to his expectations? Or beyond? Or was I a bad luck charm?

Today I decided to look at the Captain, Jason Varitek. I saw a large number of TEK games over the years. How did he perform? Let's find out!

Told you I saw a lot of his games!

How did he do? Pretty damn good, if I do say so myself.

Looks like I saw over half a season worth of games from Varitek. That's quite a sample size. In those games, he batted over .300 with an OPS over .900! Those are all-star numbers at least.

How do his projections work out? Over a 660 at-bat season, I'd see Varitek hit 21 home runs, and drive in over 100. 

Which is great. It means I saw Varitek as he should have been seen. I saw all the quality that he provided in every game. I was glad I got to see it. 

How did he do when you were in the park?

Saturday, February 11, 2017

It's Not a Red Sox Collectible, But...

It's definitely a baseball!

My uncle lives in the Philadelphia area, and came up to visit recently for the first time in a while. He, obviously, knew I was a baseball fan, so he brought me something. A cool Phillies baseball. Now, while it wasn't a Red Sox baseball, I do collect baseballs from other places, whether it's from Disney World or the Statue of Liberty. So, I was thrilled to add a Phillies baseball from Philadelphia to the collection.

As I got closer, though, I realized this baseball had writing on it. Who's signature was that?

It turns out that while the Democratic National Convention was in Philly, my uncle worked as a driver. One of the people he chauffeured around town was Sannie Overly. According to Wikipedia, not only was Ms. Overly a delegate to the convention,  but she's the Democratic Caucus Chair of the Kentucky House of Representatives. In fact, she's the first woman to hold a leadership role in the Kentucky House. Pretty impressive.

The best part is that this isn't the first political baseball in my collection. While my uncle didn't know, I also have autographed balls from two former state governors, and a current state senator. So, adding a caucus chair makes for a pretty well rounded collection, if I do say so myself. It's always fun to add interesting items like this. So a big thanks to my uncle for this incredible addition!

Now, if he could just bump into President Obama, I could have a full set.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Who Gets Added to a Multiple Signature Item?

At one point this summer I was at Fenway for a game. Unusually, I was early enough to take advantage of the Autograph Alley. It was Billy Conigliaro, so I was looking for something for him to sign. I didn't want to have him just sign the free picture. Something more creative would be needed...but I didn't really have anything. Except for the souvenir popcorn helmet I was holding. Hmm.

Not bad. It's one of the red ones, so it holds and displays an autograph really well. I think it looks great.

A time later I was going to another game, and knew I would be getting there early enough to visit the Alley. It was Lenny DiNardo this time (I checked ahead.) I thought it would be fun to bring along the same helmet from before, and add DiNardo to it. He actually joked at the time that he wasn't sure he was worthy of adding his name to the helmet, so added his number so I'd remember it was him.

With that, I managed to create a fun little multiple signed helmet of former Red Sox players. I always imagined that if I knew I was going to be at a game in time, I'd keep bringing the helmet to add more. But, I've wondered...like DiNardo wondered...if everyone would be "worthy" of signing. Or, could they be "too worthy"?

Sure, guests in the Alley are usually the same level of player. Some are fan favorites, some are role players, hardly any are real stars. So, adding them to a generic "Past Red Sox Players" helmet is a nice way to collect them all in one place. But, what if I'm at a game with the helmet, and Dave Dombrowski walks by. Would I get him to sign the helmet? Or is it just for players? Or, what if Pedro Martinez happened to be standing around. Would I add him to a helmet with a collection of role players? Sure, he's a former player too. But, doesn't he deserve his own item to make him stand out? 

Or, what about an autograph I pay for? I see several Patriots players are doing local signings. I guess they won some football game or something. If I had a Patriots helmet collecting random signatures, would I pay $70 to just add another on to the pile? Would I fork over $100 to add Kevin Millar to my helmet?

It would be one thing if the helmet were a more specific collection. If I was collecting the 2004 World Series team on a helmet, for instance, I don't think I'd think twice about adding Pedro or Millar. But, where it's just "former Red Sox" I think I'd make sure I had a baseball of their own to sign. Unless, of course, it was literally "Hey there's Pedro! Quick, shove something, anything, in front of him to sign!" But, with any sort of planning available, I think I'd go another way.

But, I see lots of other collectors out there that seem to be amassing team autograph collections. (Seat backs seem to be popular.) They don't seem to hesitate to add anyone and everyone they come across. Unless it just seems that way to me. 

So, what would you do? If you had a helmet with Conigliaro and DiNardo on it, would you add Pedro? What if the helmet had Pokey Reese and Make Bellhorn? What if it had Ortiz? Are some players too good to add to a multiple item? Or, do the good players add some cache to whatever item they're added to?

What's your call?

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