Monday, July 29, 2019


So close. So very close to a perfect weekend. While you're crazy to ever expect a four game sweep, there are just too many oddities in baseball, the Sox put those hopes in our head this weekend. After winning the first three games of the series, the Sox nearly did it.

But, that's no matter. Sure the extra two game swing in the standings would have been nice. But a series win was really as much as we were looking for. It allowed the Sox to pick up two games on the Yankees, as well as the rest of their competition. In fact, it lowered their magic number to clinch the division all the way to 66! The number to make the playoffs is a very manageable 56. The Yankees lead is under ten again, and things are rolling for the Sox as they won their second straight series against teams ahead of them in the standings. With two more of those coming up, that's a good sign.

Beyond the mathematical reasons this was a big series, there were the secondary ones. First, the Sox certainly don't seem to fear the Yankees. If they face each other in the playoffs, I would have no nervousness whatsoever. I suspect the players would feel the same way. Second? The Sox apparently couldn't care less about facing the Yankees closer. Once again a pinstriped closer that is supposed to dominate looks pretty average against the Sox.

That confidence won't just help against the Yankees. When the 2004 team was on their run to the playoffs, Pedro made a comment that they felt they could beat anyone with the way they were playing at that moment. That swagger is important. It's stops you from pressing. It stops you from doing foolish things and taking chances. There's not the desperation to take advantage of a situation, because there's the confidence that another chance will present itself.

Which is great, because there's still plenty of time.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Packing For Fenway

When you go to a game at Fenway, or wherever you go to watch your games, do you have a standard packing list? Are there things
you always wear? Things you always bring? Things you wish you'd always bring?

I have one that evolved over the years. I wonder how closely it matches yours.

What I wear is pretty basic. Red Sox hat, obviously, and Red Sox jersey. I have a few to choose from, so they rotate in and out. What's under the jersey depends on the weather, anything from a Red Sox tee shirt to a long sleeved shirt to sweatshirt. I even have a super large jersey that can fit over a winder coat. So, that's the preferred combo for those  cold April/October games. I always bring sunglasses, even on cloudy days. The rest of the outfit is just standard weather-appropriate clothing. I don't have crazy Red Sox pants that I always wear or anything like that. I don't even have red socks to wear, which is almost criminal.

I've also established a regular bag of gear I always bring. It's just a simple drawstring backpack with some essentials. First off is my scorebook inside its own plastic bag. This is basically the entire reason I bring the backpack. If I have to carry the scorebook around with me anyway, I'd just as soon have it in a bag over my shoulder. Since I have the bag, might as well use it then, right? So the bag has spare pens for scoring, and a sharpie in case I find myself with an autograph opportunity. The bag always has a tube of sunscreen, since you never know when the sun will surprise you. It also has a pair of stretchy Red Sox gloves. I could probably take those out in the summer, but it's better to leave them in there as opposed to risking forgetting them. There are also some Section 36 stickers and business cards, just in case I need them. Those are the staples. If I’m positive that I'll be having an autograph someone in autograph alley that I don't already have, I might also bring an item to be signed. I also sometimes throw in a camera (yup, and actual camera and not my phone), especially if it's an important game like a ring ceremony. 

Otherwise, that's about it. I find that coves most of my needs. 

What about you?

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

It's Sale Time!

That's right! It's time for the July sale at the Section 36 Store! I know you won't want to miss that.

It's summer! It's hot out. I mean really hot. Like, summer hot...oddly enough. So, be prepared! And, that means having the proper wardrobe! It's time to go shopping!

Thankfully, Section 36 is here to help!

Today through Sunday, the Section 36 store will be on sale! Don't miss this opportunity to show your support for the blog all season long! 

So, head over right now and select something that you like. But, don't delay. Remember, the sale only runs through Sunday! That's right...only a few 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! Not only would it be a great way to show the world your amazing outfit, but if you have a business or cause that needs promotion, it's an easy way to get a mention on Section 36!

Like Bridget did! (With some help from K. Garcia Productions)

This sweatshirt is on sale!

Or, like Bernadette did to show off how amazing this tank top looks on her.

This tank is on sale!

Or Phil did.

This tank is also on sale!

Or Holly did with her cozy new hoodie.

This hoodie is on sale!

Or Nicolette did with her great t-shirt!

This t-shirt is on sale!

Or like Allison did!

This t-shirt is on sale!
But, first you need to buy something you like. There's a lot to choose from.

What will you get?

Thursday, July 11, 2019

How it Should Have Been Done

Previously I commented on how the All-Star game appears to have lost its focus. It has drifted away from a showcase of the game’s best talent, and turned into a...well, I'm not really even sure. But it's not showcasing the best talent.

Some of that has come from the fan voting. It's a sure fire way to make sure that the best players are ignored in favor of popular or well-promoted players. Which is too bad. Even if fans think they want to watch a game played by popular Instagrammers, imagine if they actually watched a game played by super-talented players.

Which is why we can't vote. You have to use stats.

Now, which ones to use is the tricky part. The last time I posted this, and wrote a letter to Bud Selig about it, I suggested using stats over the previous two seasons. But, I'm trying to figure out how much the 2019 season should influence the 2019 all stars. On the one hand, I don't like the idea of selecting a two month fluke to the team. But, I also don't like the idea of selecting a guy who's missed the season with injury just because he was good last year. So, I think my ever-evolving opinion has found a compromise.

Here we go.

Set rosters at 30 players. To select the starters, look at WAR over the previous 24 months. So, for the 2019 game, look at stats from June 1, 2017 - June 1, 2019. The player with the highest WAR over that timeframe at each position is the starter. For the NL, select the eight positional starters, then select the next best hitter at any position to be DH. Do the same for the pitcher, but select the top five highest WARs in each league.

As for the reserves, change the timeframe. Look at WAR from the previous twelve months. In this case, from June 1, 2018 - June 1, 2019. Select the player with the highest WAR at each position to be the reserve. Do the same for the back-up NL DH, and select another five pitchers in each league. This allows some sort of bias for the recently talented crew, but not enough to bypass an established star. 

That should give you 18 position players, and ten pitchers on each team.

What about the other two slots? This is where I cave to the social media crowd. Those two slots in each league would be open to a vote. This is where fans can select an aging star that they need to see again. CC Sabathia might have been a selection this season. Or, maybe a young stud that they need to see right away. Someone like Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Or, a popular star that has fallen on some rough times. Maybe someone like Bryce Harper. Those two slots would give MLB the chance to involve the fans in the same way they do now, but still assemble two quality teams of players.

And there it is. A 30-man roster of the best players the league has to offer. It gives the chance for MLB to introduce fans to players they might not otherwise follow. It's the way to grow the game.

Why wouldn't they implement this for next season?

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Why Would They Ask Him That?

With the all-star game, the players have been meeting with the media. Whether this offers chances to talk that the media doesn't usually get, or if it just for a wider spread of media members I'm not sure. But, at any rate the Red Sox contingent has been doing their duty and answering questions.

Some of them have been about contract status.

I don't really understand the constant nagging of players about their contracts. I mean, I understand it...the media is just trying to fill column inches. But, why does anyone find value in it?

People asked JD Martinez about his contract. He is a year and a half into a five year deal, but has the chance to opt out after the season. So, the media is asking him to confirm his plans several months earlier than he needs to, and without all the information he needs to make that decision. Which would be fine if it was a passing comment sort of thing that was treated like a casual comment. But, they asked about his pending option. He gave a pretty decent answer. He said he's always wanted to play for the Sox, and would love to finish his career in Boston, but that it's not up to him. Perfectly honest and correct answer. But, of course, that's not the way the EEIDiots took it. Of course it's up to him...he has the options! Which is true, if you think his career is only going to last three more years. But, if he'd like to play for six more, he's going to need he Sox to agree with him. Really the only way he could have it be completely his call is if he signed a perpetual player option contract. But, good luck with the Sox going along with that. So he was correct and honest, and people are picking it apart.

But, at least he has a contract decision coming up.

Xander Bogaerts was asked about a contract he just signed, and whether he would sign it again if given the chance.


So, the guy signs a long term deal and then mere months later the media is asking him if he regrets it? Has he done anything to suggest he regrets it? No. The media is just asking. My guess? They'll keep asking. And then, if he changes his answer from “I love plying in Boston” to “I'm enjoying my time here” they'll get to discuss why he doesn't “love” it anymore. They'll keep asking him until asking about it creates the story. It won't produce anything worthwhile, of course, but they'll be able to go back and forth and create story after story. It'll be a mess.

Really, the MLBPA needs to nip it in the bud. They need to release a statement saying that from now on any question about contracts will be answered with “On advice from the MLBPA I will simply say that I look forward to playing during my entire current contract and exploring all options when my contract expires.”

Then, every player just sticks to that, and eliminates that entire distraction.

And, as a fan, I would be much happier.

Monday, July 8, 2019

What is the Purpose of the All-Star Game?

Because, with the game tomorrow night, I'm really starting to wonder if I have it all wrong.

I always thought it was a game played by teams made up from a collection of the best talent in each league, who would play one game to “determine” which league was better. It certainly seemed to be the way the league, and it's players, treated the game. Hall of Fame plaques would mention all-star appearances as evidence of their superior abilities.

At least until Joe Torre came along. 

Torre decided that the All-Star game was a showcase for his Yankees players. He selected them to the teams as a “reward for winning the World Series”. His words, not mine. He also made sure that those Yankees who weren't good enough to start got into the game as soon as they could. In 1999, he even pulled a stunt where he sent Nomar out to his position only to have Derek Jeter trot out onto the Fenway infield to relieve him. After the game, Torre admitted that was the only way he could think of to “get [his] guy into the game without getting booed.” So, it suddenly wasn't about showcasing talent. It was about stuffing Yankees down everyone's throat. That morphed into an “everyone plays” deal where the best players, the starters, were long gone by the fifth inning. 

That was the first change.

Because, even though Torre monkeyed with the bench and playing time, mostly the best players were making the team. Sure, there were plenty of popularity contests, as there are with any voting results. But, I at least always felt that MLB hoped for the best players to make the teams.

But I'm not sure of that anymore.

They seem to revel in the fact that it is turning 100% into a popularity contest. Ever since another Yankee won the vote for the final roster spot, and MLB admitted it was because of his social media presence. They celebrated that fact, when they should have hidden it. One time, fan voting was taken away because it was deemed too rely on ballot stuffing. Now MLB is encouraging it. So, when Xander Bogaerts wasn't originally selected to the team, people shouted that complaining Red Sox fans had no one to blame but themselves. They should have voted more. Forget the fact that it shouldn't matter. Forget the fact that the shortstop leading the league in just about every statistical category should be an automatic bid. No. It was because more impartial Cleveland fans voted than impartial Red Sox fans. Is that really the goal here?

Because, if it is...then what is the selection to the game for? It's no longer a stat of honor that belongs on a Hall of Fame plaques. It's no longer a collection of the greatest talent the league has to offer. It's a team made up of popular players whose fan bases spend the most time in front of a computer.

Is that what we’re celebrating? 

If that's what it is...why do we have them play a baseball game? Seems silly. They already break the game broadcasts up with pathetic in-game interviews, even with players actually on the field. Clearly they're not interested in even pretending it's a baseball game. The broadcasters have decided it's non-competitive fluff. So, why put on the sham? If we're not selecting teams based on baseball skill, shouldn't they compete in social media events? Selfie contests? Instagram post races?

Or maybe we could go back to the way the game was created. select the best players from each league, and have them play an actual baseball game.

What a concept.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Making Nathan Eovaldi the Closer is a Great Idea!

Before I tell you why, I'm going to make two health-related assumptions. One, since so many other teams have eased injured starters back by using them in the bullpen, I assume it's a healthy way to do it. There's some discussion as to whether throwing 100 pitches one day then resting four is better than throwing 30 pitches every other day. I'm going to assume that everyone has decided that the bullpen is at least equal to starting when it comes to recovery. I'm also going to decide that closing is better, health wise, for him. I'd much prefer he just be another arm in the closer by committee. But I can imagine that telling him he just needs to warm up for the ninth as opposed to getting him up and warm quickly if there's a jam is better for everyone.

With that out of the way, this is a great idea. For a few reasons, really.

First, the bullpen could use an extra arm. He's an extra arm. That's pretty self-explanatory. 

Second, I assume because he's recovering from injury he'll be limited in the number of innings he can pitch, at least for a while. So if he's going to be a starter not going deep into games, that going to hurt the bullpen even more. Hurting instead of helping is never a good idea. I know what you're thinking. Just have Wright ready to go whenever Eovaldi pitches to pick up the slack. Which would be fine. But, if you're going to plan on Wright pitching several innings during every Eovaldi start, why not just start Wright and use Eovaldi in more useful situations?

I also much prefer Eovaldi in the closer/relief ace role than I do Wright. So if it’s a choice of Wright starting with Eovaldi closing or Eovaldi starting with Wright closing, I'm going with option A every time.

Plus, Eovaldi has shown he can pitch out of the pen. Sure, he's never closed. But, he's pitched some pretty pressure-filled relief innings. Those turned out it OK. This isn't going to be a guy with some mental hitch preventing him from pitching in the bullpen. He'll adjust just fine.

So, this seems to fix a need, while not sacrificing anything. I'm not really sure why anyone would be against this move.

What do you think?

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

I Scored on May 21, 1999!

I know I do it a lot. But, when I look at cards from the 1999 season, I'm always stunned that this team made it to the ALCS. How Pedro didn't win the MVP that season is beyond me. But, more on that later. Let's look at the card, shall we?

I always like to start looking at scorecards by checking out the pitchers box. What high powered match-up did I get to see this day?

Pat Rapp. 

Yes, it was the rare Escobar-Rapp showdown. Rapp was followed by Lowe, Corsi, and Gordon. In a game the Red Sox won. Seriously. Rapp even pitched pretty well, striking out seven over six innings for a quality start.

So, how did the lineup fare? I use the term “lineup” loosely. Look at those names. No mar was the lone star, and he actually went hitless on this day. (I guess Varitek became a star, but he certainly wasn't one when he was wearing #47.) How did they win? One big inning contained two walks and three hits. That accounted for four Red Sox runs, and was the difference in the ballgame.

The hero on the day? Has to be Darren Lewis. He went 2-3 from the lead off spot, scoring a run and driving in two others. That would account for all the runs the Sox needed.

The goat? Let's go with the aforementioned Nomar. The 3-6 batters all went hitless on the day, but you really expect and need more from Garciaparra. He has to come through.

But, the Sox were able to work around it on that day. The offense did just enough to support a pitching staff that did just enough. That's all it takes sometimes.

And the scorecard shows how it happened.

Monday, July 1, 2019

Turning the Page

Yeah, that weekend wasn't a lot of fun. It's really annoying that MLB makes teams go through that garbage. It's one thing to completely discount the regular season by addin g all the rediculous playoff spots. It's another to then turn the regular season games themselves into a carnival. Why not just turn MLB into a 30-team tournament and a six month barnstorming tour?

So it's good that today is the first of July. Turning the page on the calendar allows the team to turn the page on the season. The first three months weren't what we had hoped. It's time to make the second three months what we all know they can be.

Of course, the main part of that will be getting everyone healthy, especially the pitchers. With injuries, the bullpen has been taxed almost beyond repair. Too many times Cora has had to run to his big guns when injuries sapped his other options. Those guns are now in desperate need of a reload. Barns and Brasier have not only been pitching more than the Sox would like, but they've been pitching in tougher spots. They haven't been able to rest like a true closer would, and come into a game only need to pitch one inning without giving up three runs. They're coming into games with men on, or one run leads. Not only does that make their numbers look worse than they might be (easier to blow a one run save facing the 3-4-5 guys than a three run lead facing 7-8-9), but it wears on you. 

From there, maybe everyone can work into their groove a bit. Adding a fresh arm could help, if there's one available. Even just a warm body type of addition to just eat up some of the innings. 

It's time for the run into the home stretch. There's still plenty of time. After all, at the halfway point, the 2019 team had the same record as the 2004 team that went on to win 98 games. For comparison? The 2013 team was four games better, but ended up with one fewer win. Anything can happen from here on out.

Let's go get that division!

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