Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Was Alex Cora any Good?

For some reason Alex Cora’s name has been mentioned a lot lately in Red Sox Nation. Since it’s been a while, I thought it might be fun to take this chance to dive back into the scorebooks and see how he performed in games when I was in Fenway Park.

How did he do? See for yourself.

Not too bad. Not too bad at all.

Granted, I had limited exposure to Cora games. Only nine times did he take the field while I was keeping score, and it appears that the last two were as defensive replacements at the end of games.

So, 19 at-bats isn’t exactly an appropriate sample size. But, what a sample it was! Apparently if I was in the park for every one of Cora’s starts, he’d be polishing off his Hall of Fame speech. 

Despite the fact that he went hitless in five of the nine games I saw (including the two DR games) he did well enough it the others to average out to a .421 clip. That’s not all. Even going homerless, he was able to slug over .600 while I was watching. With his 1.053 OPS, he was clearly more than a defensive guru. He should have been hitting in the middle of the order.

Obviously, I didn’t exactly catch a representative sample of Alex Cora’s career. But, that’s fine. I’m always glad to see players on the Red Sox perform well. 

Hopefully he does the same as Red Sox manager while I’m in the park. I guess we’ll find out!

How did he do with you in the park?

Friday, October 27, 2017

Happy Thirteenth Anniversary!

I think I write about this every year. But, I'm not going to go back and check. As much as I hate repeating topics, I'm going to let this one slide. Because this one is that big of a deal.

Thirteen years ago tonight, everything changed.

I'll forever be surprised by my reaction when the ball settled snugly into Doug Mientkiewicz's glove. I mean, when Luis Gonzalez's blooper dropped in to end the 2001 World Series, I was dancing around the room. Heck, I was jumping up and down when the Sox signed Manny Ramirez.

But, thirteen years ago there was no jubilation. There was no jumping. There was no screaming and running.

It was just relief.

They had actually finally friggin' done it. It was over. The Red Sox were World Champions. 

I just sat on the couch watching the celebration. Half disbelief, half exhaustion. Just enjoying the moment.

And, I probably always say, it really did change everything. It made it all so much better. The pressure was off. When the lost the next year, it was OK. They had already done it. I could handle big injuries better. It wasn't them losing their one chance to finally do it. It was already done. I could just sit back and enjoy.

I could enjoy 2007 without worry. It wasn't all about to come apart. The Sox were winning all over the place, and it was glorious.

So 2004 didn't just let me buy World Series merchandise. It let me watch baseball a whole knew way. Free and loose. 

And much more enjoyable.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

I Hate Playoffs

There's a discussion floating around about a reorganization of Major League Baseball. It centers on adding two new expansion teams, then completely resetting the league into four divisions. No more AL/NL. Just N/S/E/W. That I can probably get behind. It's the next part that bugs me. The playoffs will include the four division champs. Fine, I guess. But then there would be EIGHT wild card teams. They would have four one game play-in games to see which four will advance to play the division winners. 

Bleh, bleh, bleh, and bleh. 

Why? Because I hate playoffs!

This season is actually a pretty decent example of why. In the World Series, we have the Dodgers and Astros. Teams with two of the best three records in baseball during the regular season. It would be hard to say they didn't earn their spot. But, it almost didn't happen. The Astros who were just a game behind the best record in the AL had to win a seventh game of a playoff series to advance. Against a Yankees team who finished the regular season a whopping 10 games behind them!

So, the American League had a 162 game season to give teams the chance to prove who was better. Over that length of time, the Astros showed that they were 11% better than the Yankees. But, baseball decided to throw that away, and let the Yankees have another crack at the Astros.

How is that anywhere close to fair?

The Yankees actually finished the season in fourth place in the American league. What exactly did they do to deserve a shot at the title? They didn't even finish first among the group of teams that make up their so-called division. Even worse? They didn't have to play that team in the playoffs. So, the Yankees were a couple innings away from winning the American League pennant because they were allowed a do-over. They could have advanced by beating two better teams in a shortened fluke of a series. They could have advanced without even having to face the team that proved themselves to be the best team in their division. But, were one game away from the World Series. How?

The Tampa Bay Rays finished the regular season 13 games behind the Red Sox in the East. Imagine if they said "Yeah, we know we were way behind the Red Sox after 162 games. But, how about we play them in a five game series for the division title? We're going to ignore the Yankees, though. It's just going to be us and the Sox, five games for the division."

I hope they'd be laughed out of town.

As they should. Why would they deserve a do-over? It's like a "double or nothing" bet. I know you beat me...how about another chance?

If you're going to let the Yankees do it, though, why not the Rays? Why have the regular season at all? Why not just have a bunch of five game series? (Better yet, use the idea I've mentioned before.)

I get it in some other sports. College football has 100+ teams playing each other. It'd be hard to determine over 11 games who really is better. A playoff of sorts can help. But, MLB has 162 games over six months. There are games at home, games on the road. Games in the sun, the rain, the snow. The heat, the cool. Heathy games, and games dealing with injuries. After all of that, it's pretty easy to see which are the best teams. In the American League, the Astros and Indians showed they were 10% better than every other team in the league. That's pretty significant.

So, why would any other team get the chance to win the American League pennant?

Or the World Championship?

Monday, October 23, 2017

Looks Like it's Official

The Red Sox had a small window. Major League Baseball likes to keep the World Series pure and clean. (Aside from naming rights, apparently.) So they prefer teams don't make any major announcements during the Series. That makes sense. It's their premier event. You don't need anyone taking away from the moment by, say, announcing that they're opting out of a contract during the deciding game. So if the Red Sox wanted to name a new manager, it was now or never. After all, it seems that other teams were poking around their guy. How awkward would it be if while the Sox were politely waiting for the Series to end, the Mets made their guy an offer twice the size of theirs? So get it over with.

Which is why the Red Sox officially announced that they had hired Alex Cora as their new manager. They used that short window right after the ALCS ended but before the World Series began. It worked real slick.

But, was it the correct choice?

I'm pretty sure I have absolutely no idea. I know that the media is really high on him. But, that might just be because he used to be one of them. It also scares me a bit when the media longs for a guy. Is it because he's good for the Sox, or good for the articles. They're the ones that always say they "don't root for a team, they root for the story". They were all real excited about the stories Bobby Valantine would bring too. They are also excited about what Cora will bring to the clubhouse. Of course, most of them felt that John Farrell had a problem dealing with the clubhouse. I didn't see that, so I have a hard time giving Cora a "plus" for that. They like to mention that he's bilingual. That it'll help communicating, again in the clubhouse. I have to assume that's true. Although, again, Bobby Valentine was bilingual too.

So is Cora a good choice?

Yeah. Sure. Whatever.

He's a fresh start. He's something different. I don't think he'll sink the team to the second division or anything. But, it's not like I expect him to come down from on high and deliver a 110 win season. I will mention, though, that two of the last three managers of the Red Sox won the World Series in their first years. 

He's worked under and played under some pretty good managers over his years in the game. I have no doubt that he can put together a lineup. I bet he knows where the bullpen phone is.

So I'm ready to see it in action. Let's see what he can do with the reigning division champs.

What do you think?

Friday, October 20, 2017

Aaron Judge is the New Derek Jeter

As a Red Sox fan, I was always fearful when Derek Jeter strode to the plate, especially in anything resembling a clutch or otherwise important situation. I feared him getting a hit with every pitch. Not because I though he had a particularly good chance of getting a hit, of course. Certainly no better than any other member of the Yankees line-up. But I know that if he somehow did…if that slapped groundball somehow dribbled by a Red Sox fielder…I’d never hear the end of it.

After all, the clouds parted if Jeter made even a routine play. Catch a shallow pop fly, for instance, in fair territory and then take several more steps before oddly jumping into the stands instead of taking a right hand turn. My gosh, how many frigging times have I been forced to see that play while announcers insist he dove into the stands in order to make a catch. On a fair ball.

Or, what if there’s a throw from the right fielder in a playoff game that is quite clearly on line and in time to nab a runner at the plate. What if Jeter then needlessly inserts himself into the play, grabs the ball halfway to first base, take several steps into foul territory with it, slowly underhand flips the ball to the catcher who now has to catch the ball all the way to the first base dugout side of the plate and swipe the tag all the way back. (Jeter’s darn lucky the umpire blew the call and called the runner out.) How many times am I forced to endure the torture of seeing that play?

So, imagine how nausea inducing it is when he actually does something worthy of praise. My god, you’d think he’s the only player to ever hit a home run in a World Series game. Or hit a double in the playoffs. It’s simply maddening.

And now we have Aaron Judge making baseball unwatchable by doing the same thing. If he takes a couple steps to catch a fly ball and then keeps running until he crashes into the wall before awkwardly falling over? Oh my gosh, “HE CAN DO MORE THAN HIT!” Never mind the fact that Mookie Betts would be camped under that ball and make the catch flat footed. Never mind that it was actually a poor decision to needlessly crash into the wall. Never mind that it was a clear example of lack of athletic ability when he fell down after crashing. Oh, no. I’m forced to hear about the great defensive play. Over and over.

Or, what if he’s struggling at the plate? I mean, epic struggles. Setting strikeout record after strikeout record. Then, hits a meaningless home run to turn a 5-0 lead into an 8-0 lead? Oh my gosh. “ALL RISE!!! THE FACE OF BASEBALL DOES IT AGAIN!” Yup, once again he gets a meaningless hit. But, once again, I can’t escape the hype.

So, yes. When he’s at the plate in something resembling a clutch situation, I’m scared to death. If he happens to catch a mistake and do something worth celebrating. Well…I don’t even like to think about it.

Which is really too bad. Usually I’d enjoy watching baseball. Even a Yankees game if that’s all that I have. But, I don’t like feeling nauseated.

And that’s what happens every time Judge steps to the plate.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The 30-Day Baseball Card Challenge: Day #26

Tony, the wonderful writer of the “Off Hiatus Baseball” blog, started a fun activity based off the “30-Day Music Challenge” that Twitter users were taking. The list of challenges looks like this:

Today, we’ll continue with Challenge #26: A favorite oddball card from the 1980's.

I was waiting for this post. As I struggled through trying to find an oddball from the 50's, 60's, and 70's I knew this was coming. The 80's. My prime collecting years and, of course, prime territory for some odd stuff. 

So, when I flipped through my binders, I had plenty of choices. The Coca-Cola cards from the first couple years of the decade are favorites of mine, since I love Coke. But, I never actually pulled any of those myself. I had to rely on trades. There were, of course, numerous boxed sets to choose from. But, there were so many I was overwhelmed with choices. 

Then I came to this beauty.

Baseball cards you can get in a loaf of bread! How awesome is that? And, not just any card. In this case, it's a card of the greatest hitter that ever lived! As a J.J. Nissen spokesman, he was added to the set along with current superstars. So you can make a sandwich, and get a card of the Kid at the same time.

These cards I remember actively chasing. Buying the bread, and seeing who was inside. They're nice cards too. Well done on the design, even if the printing quality isn't exactly out of this world. Especially with Ted, the fact that they didn't have logos wasn't such a big deal. 

They're just so much fun!

Friday, October 13, 2017

Amanda Ledoux Visits Section 36!

Photo by Katrina
Bernard Photography
Section 36 has another visitor! Amanda Ledoux is a dancer, a Red Sox fan, and the current Miss Winnipesaukee! With all that going on, she was nice enough to visit with us to discuss those topics, and more. I’m sure you’ll be glad she did.

So, let’s see what happens when Amanda Ledoux visits Section 36!

What made you decide to compete for Miss Winnipesaukee?
Being a part of the Miss NH program was always something in the depths of my mind, I had many friends tell me how great their experience in the program was, but I never saw myself in that role. It was always a dream of mine, but never one I thought would come to fruition. After graduating with my degree in May, I knew I needed a new adventure, something to commit my newly found free time and efforts to. Seeing our amazing Miss NH Lauren Percy represent the state and witnessing the success and happiness of so many other young women in the program ignited something in me. I quickly decided to begin competing in June and just one short month later, on July 9th, I was crowned the 93rd Miss Winnipesaukee. Now I know it sounds cheesy, but I can honestly say that deciding to join the Miss NH organization was the best thing that has ever happened to me and I only wish I realized this dream of mine sooner!

How did you celebrate being crowned?
The night I was crowned was a whirlwind! I can honestly say that I had no idea that I would be walking away with the title, let alone the many new friends and sisters I had suddenly gained. After packing up the gowns, heels, and makeup, I piled in the car, crown still firmly planted on my head and headed straight for Wendy’s (the only establishment open in Tilton at that hour!). Believe me, something about a sparkly crown makes a frosty taste extra sweet, I highly recommend trying it sometime!

How did you become interested in your platform, S.A.A.S-Staying Active at all Ages and Stages?
Growing up as an avid dancer, I was fortunate to have always had a way to stay active. I quickly fell in love with the benefits and mechanics of exercise. So when it came time to decide my college major I knew Exercise Physiology was the perfect fit. It allowed me to pursue an interest that I have always loved while learning how to share that with others. Through my time in college I learned that it is possible for people of any age or physical fitness ability to experience these benefits. Too often we see the typical fitness types and think “I could never do what they do”. But the point is that anyone can do something! Through my platform I hope to raise awareness and provide opportunities for those who may not think physical activity is attainable for them, while encouraging those of all ages and stages to come together to enjoy the benefits of staying active!

Is there a specific goal you’d like to accomplish during your time as Miss Winnipesaukee?
There are so many things I’d like to accomplish during my year, so finding just one is not an easy task! I really just want to take my year and live every minute of it to the fullest. Participating in as many events as possible, supporting my Miss NH sisters, raising awareness for my personal platform, and of course preparing for Miss NH in April! One particular goal I have set for myself is to participate in one Miss Winni related event per week, whether that be our Miss Winnipesaukee Bingo at Funspot, attending the many local competitions to support my sisters, or anything else I might be able to fit in. I am proud to say that so far I have kept up with this goal and hope to continue as my year goes on!

Your talent is Jazz Dance. What do you like most about dancing onstage?
Dancing onstage is an experience like no other. As a dancer, I have always felt comfortable onstage. Now, that’s not to say that there haven’t been times that I have been nervous because oh my goodness, let me tell you, there have been plenty of those! But when stepping on the stage, I have always felt at home. Dancing makes me feel at home. I don’t think I ever fully realized this until college, when I did not have the opportunity to perform as often. Onstage I can tell a story, entertain, or simply move to the music, all the while sharing that experience with the audience. For those moments, for both me and the audience, it feels as though there is nothing else to worry about or focus on and I love that about the arts. Being onstage is so special to me and I wouldn’t trade the feeling for anything.

If you can’t sit in Section 36, where do you (or where would you) like to sit to watch a Red Sox game?
I would have to say behind home plate. There is something about being right in the action and experiencing the heat of the game up close. Nothing like it!

Which young Red Sox player are you most excited about?
I would have to say I am most excited about Benintendi. At all of the games I’ve been to he has had some amazing hits and plays. Being only a year older than myself, playing on the Sox is a pretty great accomplishment!

Who was your favorite Red Sox player growing up?
My favorite Red Sox player growing up had to be Nomar
Garciaparra. He was the first real jersey that my grandfather gifted to me (the pick one, obviously), one of the first players I could recognize on the field and I loved watching him play. Going to Fenway was a tradition my Grandfather introduced me to at a very young age. He would bring my brother and I to games and answer every question an excited kid might have, and I mean every question, without hesitation. ( “Who’s at bat? Was that a strike? What inning is it?” “Does that mean we win?!?”)  I will always remember the hustle before the game, finding your way through the turnstiles on Yawkey Way, and finally getting settled in your seat with a Fenway Frank ready to watch the Sox throw that first pitch.  I credit all my baseball love to him and am thankful to this day that we can always bond over a Sox game. Thanks Bumpa! 

The Red Sox just finished their first season in a while without David Ortiz. What’s your favorite Ortiz memory?
Oh my! Ortiz has been a part of my Red Sox experience as long as I can remember. He has brought home many wins, and many memories for Sox fans. I would have to say that my favorite memory of Ortiz isn’t one of his baseball accomplishments, but rather the day he walked out on the field days after the tragic Boston Marathon bombings and declared his gratitude and love for the city of Boston. In a time where we were unsure, scared, and looking for hope, Ortiz did what he does best and gave Boston a reason to smile. I will always remember what he did, on and off the field, for Sox fans!


That was definitely a powerful memory for all of us. I also enjoyed Amanda's vivid recollections of Red Sox games with her grandfather. What great moments.

As always, I want to give huge thanks to Amanda for doing this interview. She did a wonderful job. I also want to thank her for sending along the pictures to accompany the interview. They definitely spruce up the post. I love the fact that one of them included Section 36!

As Amanda continues her time as Miss Winnipesaukee, I encourage you to follow her on her official Facebook page, as well as on Instagram. The Miss Winnipesaukee organization also has a Facebook page you should definitely check out.

And, of course, I want to wish Amanda luck in April as she competes for the Miss New Hampshire crown. Will she be the first Section 36 visitor to go on and win that crown?

Thanks again Amanda, and good luck!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

What's so Great about Alex Cora?

Well, as we all know by now, the Red Sox went ahead and did it yesterday. For no particular reason, they fired the manager that just led them to two consecutive division titles. Since that moment, much of the discussion has centered on one thing.

Who's next?

A few names have been tossed around. Brad Ausmus used to work for Dombrowski in Detroit, and is a local boy. So, he's a choice. Ron Gardenhire was fired by the Twins, so he's a name. Jason Varitek is always mentioned. Gabe Kapler managed in the Red Sox organization, maybe him.

But, frankly, most of the choices have been met with a collective "meh". Now, that could be because there was no particular reason to fire Farrell. So, you can't say "I need a guy who works a bullpen better, and this guy is amazing at bullpen usage!" The Sox made a change just to make a change, and now really just need a warm body. 

Which makes my wonder why everyone seems to circle back to Alex Cora. I'm really not sure why. Now, that's no knock on Cora. He could very well do a fantastic job. But, what exactly are the qualifications that make him above everyone else? People mention that people always said he'd be a good manager. But, people said that about Jason Varitek too. (And, I imagine, they said that about Farrell.) He's been a bench coach in Houston for a couple seasons. So, I guess that gives him an edge over Varitek. People mention that he's young. Which I guess is his advantage over Ausmus and Gardenhire? But, that's the goal here? To hire a guy who has two years of coaching just because people said he'd be a good manager? Maybe he will be, but maybe not. Just not sure that's a reason for the hunt to start and end with him.

The guy I wondered about is Portland Sea Dogs manager Carlos Febles. I seem to remember him being a real up and coming manager prospect. He's young too. Younger than Cora even. He's even been a coach or manger in the Red Sox organization for 10 years. He started as a hitting coach, and then managed at four levels in the organization. In that time he managed players like Mookie Betts, Andrew Menintendi, and Rafael Devers. So, if you're looking for a guy who can manage the kids...I'd say you're looking at him. I'm guessing he's also well versed in the "Red Sox Way" of doing things. Using statistics, and the like. He seems to have an awful lot going for him. 

I'm not saying he'd clearly be a better choice than Cora. I don't know how either would handle being the manager in Boston. I'm just saying he has a pretty decent resume.

Which is why I wonder why everyone thinks Cora is such an obvious choice.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Shopping can be Therapeutic

Which is great news for you, because this week the Section 36 store is having a sale!

That's right. Today marks the start of limited time sale prices at the Section 36 store! Today through Friday, you'll have the chance to buy the items you love at discount prices!

I know you've been looking at all the great items offered in the Section 36 store, and thought that you really should have something yourself. Well, get something now during the limited time sale!

So, head over right now and select something that you like. But, don't delay. Remember, the sale only runs through Friday! That's right only a couple days before prices go back to their regular levels.

And, as always, when you do get an item, send me a picture wearing it for me to share with the world! The blogFacebook, and even Instagram!

Like Kylee did to show off her amazing new tank top.

This tank is 27% off!

Or Holly did with her cozy new hoodie.

This hoodie is 21% off!

Or Nicolette did with her great t-shirt!

This t-shirt is 30% off!

But, first you need to buy something you like. There's a lot to choose from.

What will you get?

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Farrell's Future

With the end of the 2017 Red Sox season comes a time for reflection. There comes a time for looking ahead. There comes a time to spend an entire offseason overanalyzing every little stupid detail. Trust me, we'll be doing plenty of that here at Section 36. Starting with one topic that seems to be on everyone's minds at the moment.

The future of the manager, John Farrell.

Now, I've been saying for quite some time that I don't really understand all the anti-Farrell sentiment. It seems that every time the Red Sox lose more than two games in a row, people want his head on the chopping block. Maybe that's just lazy reporters. Team losing? Fire the manager! Maybe people actually think they have reasons for it. I just don't see them.

I've heard some people say he overthinks things. Maybe. But I re-watched "Do Your Job 2" last night. Apparently the Patriots just won the Super Bowl because they called a play based on the tendencies of an opposing team, their offensive line, the officiating crew, and a specific official. After that, I'm not sure "Hits well against lefties" is overthinking it. That's not to say that you can't misuse statistics. Jimy Williams was always taking out Nomar and replacing him with some guy who was 2 for 4 against a pitcher, so had better numbers than Nomar who was 36 for 100. The sample size didn't seem to jive. But, I don't think that's the case with Farrell. He'll sometimes make a move where the most immediate stat seems backwards but I tend to think he has other stats he's using.

Which is another complaint. That he doesn't seem to manage by the book. Or, he's inconsistent. Again, it may seem that way when he uses Kimbrel for four outs one day, but then says he can't go four another day. The WEEIdiots certainly harped on that one. But, the truth is, he did manage by the book. It was just a much larger book. When Kimbrel was used for four outs, it was an important game when he hadn't pitched in a few days and there was an off day following and all the batters fared poorly against Craig. When he didn't use him for four outs, it was following two appearances the previous three days, and there was another game the next day, and all the batters hit Kimbrel relatively well. Hypothetically speaking, of course. So, sure, there's some gut involved. And a complete analysis of the situation. But, it's not like he's flipping a coin out there.

Does he have some faults? Sure. All managers do. He tends to play favorites a bit. He pulls his starters too soon in the postseason. But, all managers do goofy things sometimes. 

So, I don't see how you can fire Farrell. If you do that, you're making a move for the sake of making a move. You can't expect it to make any real improvement. Your'e just hoping different is better. Somehow three division titles (including a World Series title) in five years will be improved just by chance. 

That's kind of a big risk, isn't it? Is that the way you want to run a ball club? Making random moves on the off chance that they work? 

Should they trade Chris Sale just in case a new guy does even better?

Monday, October 9, 2017

Well, That's That

The Red Sox season came to an abrupt end this afternoon when their game against the Houston Astros slipped away. While I'll have many more mosts in the coming days and weeks discussing the past season, I wanted to take this opportunity to spew out some quick thoughts.

I have an odd feeling. It's not quite disappointment. I think it's the realization that this was a good team that happened to run inot a slightly better one. It's not like I can absolutely hang my hat on a particular fault or flaw, at the moment. Nothing is gnawing at me like leaving Pedro in or anything. It just didn't work out.

From the final game, my only question is Chris Sale. I don't know if Farrell has given any explanation for his usage in today's game. So I don't know if I agree with it. But, I don't understand what the point of his was today. When the Red Sox won game five of the 2004 ALCS, many people questioned Torre's use of Mariano Rivera. Torre had said he wasn't available for two innings that night. So, with a two run lead in the eighth, he brought in Tom Gordon. A homer to Ortiz made it a one run lead, and in came Rivera, for what ended up being two innings. So, was he available for two, or not? Similarly, Sale wasn't starting this game today. He was being saved for game 5. I can't really argue with that sentiment. But, he was available in the bullpen. That's not completely unusual. Starters are often available on their throw days in the playoffs. So, I assumed this was something similar. He was under glass, but could give them an inning or two if needed in an emergency. The Sox decided that emergency was the fourth inning. Again, that was too soon to pull the starter...a problem Farrell seems to have in the playoffs. But once he was in, I guess it was ok to get the inning or two out of him right then. Sale was wonderful. He got through his two innings with ease. Then a third. Then a fourth. He did it. He was the bridge to a well rested Reed and Kimbrel. The Sox got their dream. A lead in the eighth to be handed off to their strength. But, they didn't do that. The sent Sale out to start the eighth. So, what was the plan? Did they decide they needed to use Sale the rest of the way? Had they given up on his game 5 start? Why? Once they blew his next start, did they figure they would just use him up completely? It was such a departure from the usual bullpen usage that it made me curious. What was the plan?

I was glad to see the offense wake up. They scored in the first, fifth, and ninth. They scored big runs. They were clearly trying. Hopefully the games at Fenway put to rest the tired notion that they hadn't wanted it enough. They wanted it. They just didn't get it.

Hanley doesn't get enough credit for his October performances. Sure, his Red Sox teams are 1-6 in the postseason. But, that hasn't exactly been his fault.

Like I said, I break this all down further as the days go buy. But, those are some things I wanted to get off my chest.

What are your immediate thoughts?

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Yes, They're trying.

Apparently Major League Baseball is plagued by an utter lack of effort. The Yankees: Not trying. The Diamondbacks: Not trying. The Red Sox: Not trying. The Cubs: Only try in every other game. Same goes for the Nationals. It's just pathetic.

Wait, only the Red Sox aren't trying? Every other team is giving their best effort, even in a loss? Even the Yankees and Diamondbacks who, like the Red Sox, have lost two straight games on the road in a higher seeded team's park? Girardi and Lovullo are getting their teams all ready to play even though they toss out stinker after stinker?


Why are the Red Sox the only ones being blasted for lack of effort? Yankees fans are over there tipping their caps to the Indians for a well-played game, and Sox fans are quitting on their effortless team. I don't get it.

I blame some of it on Bill Belichick. He's gotten many Boston area fans to buy into the myth of "doing their job". While it's a wonderful slogan, and correct in so many ways, it leaves out one big part. It should really read, "Do your job...if you're capable of doing it." As I always say, if my job is to block JJ Watt, I promise you that it's not going to be done. The flaw isn't that I didn't do my job. The flaw was drawing up a blocking scheme that doesn't listen to physics. So, yes, if Xander Bogaerts would just play to a .400 OBP from the leadoff spot, he'd be doing his job. But, just because he doesn't, it doesn't mean he's not trying. Because, believe it or not, the other team is actually trying to prevent him from doing his job. 

I also blame the media a bit. They love negative stories. I think the main reason is that they're safer. After all, the odds are that the Red Sox, in a given year, won't win the World Series. Only 1 in 30 teams will. Even the Patriots, in the middle of one of the most dominant runs in sports history only won the Super Bowl five times in the last sixteen years. So, if you wrote every article saying they wouldn't win this year for some reason, you'd have been right twice as often as you were wrong. Even with them. So, Red Sox writers needed something negative. But, how do you find negative things about a team that has pretty much never questioned its playoff position? You question their likability. Or their effort. "If they're so good...how come they lost that game? Huh? Not trying again?" They drilled it into people's heads. It was the best they could do.

Those two factors have helped Red Sox fans decide that the only reason a team loses a game is if they aren't trying. If they just put the effort in, and ran out a ground ball, they would win every game. The only reason they're not 162-0 is a lack of effort in those 70 games they lost. They could have clinched the division a week earlier if only they had wanted to. 

Which brings us to this series. Yes, the pitchers struggled against one of the best offenses in baseball, in their park. The hitters had a little bit of trouble facing a couple former Cy Young Award winners, in their park. Just like any team would.

It's certainly too bad.

But it's not a sign that they're not trying.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Even Though I'm Still on Track

I can't say that I'm a big fan.

Oh, sure. I know that losing Game One on the road isn't exactly a death sentence. I know that the Sox only need to win on of three in Houston. I know that the way the series is set up, the lower seed actually has an advantage by having games 3-4 in their park. I know thatDrew Pomeranz beat the Astros just last week.

But that was still annoying.

I would have much preferred Chris Sale go out there and be Chris Sale. I would have preferred the offense to have kicked into high gear right out of the gates. I would have preferred a shutdown effort from the bullpen to really set the tone.

But that didn't happen.

So, the Red Sox will just have to go ahead and win three of the next four games. They can do that. They can do that after losing big. 

All they need to do is string a few more hits together. They need Drew to be Drew. They need Hanley to be Hanley. They need Pedroia to actually show up. They just need to do what they can do.

If they do that, they win Game Two.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Here's What Will Happen

Predictions are tricky, especially for a short series. There isn’t as much time for “everything to even out” before the results come in. Over the course of an entire season, it’s easier to say “they’re a 90-win team” and predict something close to that. You just assume that they’re going to face a certain number of the opposing team’s aces, and a number of their number five guys. The Sox would blow a couple game, and have a couple handed to them.

But, this isn’t like that anymore. This is more like predicting a Patriots season. Sure, you can say the Pats are a 10-win team. But, there’re only 16 games to look at. So you should also look at it game by game. Which six games do you actually think they’ll lose? Which ten will they win?

That’s where we are with a five-game series. It would be easy to look at the series and say something like, “It’ll be a close series, but the Astros are slightly better. So, Astros in five.” Or something like, “The Sox bullpen gives them a slight edge, so Sox in five.” But, that’s assuming there’s time for water to find its own level. That all the little plusses and minuses will work themselves out.

But there’s not.

Which is why it all comes down to Chris Sale.

If this was 1999 or 2000, picking the Sox would be a no-brainer. I don’t care who the opposing team was. The Red Sox had Pedro Martinez who was going to win two games in a five game series. So, now it was a matter of the Sox pulling out one of the other three games. That seemed reasonable. Even if it meant Pedro coming out of the bullpen to win game five.

So, will Chris Sale do that? Can we assume Sale will win his two games, and just worry about the other two? How about Drew Pomeranz? Because for the Astros to win the series, they have to win at least one game started by one of them. The Astros won the four-game series to end the season, but they didn’t win the Pomeranz start. If the Sox only use three starters, that means the Astros have to win two games they start. I’m not willing to discount it, but that’s a pretty tall order.

In a short series, the little things also come into play. Like base running. Years ago, I remember an Angels-Yankees series where the Angels decided they were going to take an extra base on any ball hit to Bernie Williams and his noodle arm. It was embarrassing. They went first to third on every hit. They turned singles into doubles. It was so easy. Now, while I don’t think the Astros have a Williams equivalent, I think the Red Sox aggressiveness on the base paths will help them here. When one run can make all the difference, their ability to steal a run with aggressive base running is very important.

As is their defense. It’s the opposite of aggressive base running. They have the ability to stop the Astros in their tracks. The Red Sox catchers are good at stopping base stealers, and the outfield will gun you down if you chance it. If doubles are turned into singles, or outs, that’s huge game by game.

With those opposing qualities both favoring the Sox, it becomes much more clear. I can see the Astros taking one game in Houston, really just because. But, I don’t think they win a game in Fenway. 

Which is why I’m picking the Red Sox to win in four games.

Monday, October 2, 2017

The 30-Day Baseball Card Challenge: Day #25

Tony, the wonderful writer of the “Off Hiatus Baseball” blog, started a fun activity based off the “30-Day Music Challenge” that Twitter users were taking. The list of challenges looks like this:

Today, we’ll continue with Challenge #25: A favorite oddball card from the 1970's.

I thought I'd have an easier time with this one. After all, we're getting closer to my collecting wheelhouse. But, I have a feeling that I'm still stretching the rules a bit for this post.

See, I'm not exactly sure what qualifies as an "oddball". Is it a food issue? A department store? What about a test issue? What about something that's just not really mainstream? My guess is that it would require a logo other than "Topps" to appear on the front of the card. So, I'm not sure if this counts...

No, not the Jim Rice rookie on the left. The other gold dust twin on the right. That is, of course, a 1975 Topps mini of Red Sox legend Fred Lynn. I wish i had the regular Lynn card for a direct comparison. But, the reason I have the card is that I thought I was buying the regular card for my 1975 Topps set. Imagine my surprise when this little thing showed up. 

It's certainly "odd". Just not sure it's "oddball".

The thing that struck me when I put the two crds next to each other for the picture is just how large the "mini" is. We're not talking "Ginter Mini" size or anything. Frankly, it hardly seems worth the effort. Unless the goal was to see if consumers would accept a replacement size that saved a small percentage of raw materials. Apparently consumers wouldn't accept it. 

But, I'm glad I have one. I could be tempted to add the Rice one as well if it's not too difficult. But, it's not going to be a set I try to complete or anything.

I'm always willing to add variety to my collection, though. So, this was definitely a happy accident.

Even if it's quite odd.

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