Friday, September 27, 2019

Mariluz Cook Visits Section 36!

Section 36 has a new visitor! Mariluz Cook is a Depression Awareness advocate, the current Miss South Florida Fair, and...a
Yankees fan. Even so, I was thrilled she was able to visit with us to discuss those topics, and a few more.
So let's see what happens when Mariluz Cook visits Section 36!

How did you celebrate winning the Miss South Florida Fair crown?
Winning Miss South Florida Fair was a dream that I have had pretty much my entire life. I actually competed for the title four consecutive years until I actually won, so there was a lot to celebrate when I finally did! Following the competition, a reception was held in which the South Florida Fair board, my family, friends, and candidates I competed with all attended. To be embraced by such an incredible community knowing I would have their full support leading into the Miss Florida Competition months later would mean the world to me. I spent every single day for the following two weeks at the fairgrounds. Every single day at the South Florida Fair offered a new opportunity to eat a new fair food, connect with guests, and tell a child she could accomplish whatever she set her mind to.

What has surprised you the most about your time as Miss South Florida Fair?
I feel as if I have had more unique experiences in the past nine-ish months as Miss South Florida Fair than I have had in my entire life. I led a motorcycle parade, kissed a livestock pig (a long-standing tradition for Miss South Florida Fair), milked cows, ate apple pie flavored crickets, cuddled baby goats, and won a women’s amateur food eating competition (eating corn, not crickets), but my most surprising moment came when I was attending a luncheon in which I was asked to sing the National Anthem because the scheduled singer was sick. I don’t exactly know why I, a pianist, said “yes”, but I did before I could fully think about what I had gotten myself into. It was funny because no one could genuinely say, “Wow! What a great rendition!”. I heard a lot of “Wow! You are so… brave.”. 

You finished in the top ten at the 2019 Miss Florida competition. What was that experience like?
I will never forget the feeling of hearing my name called, looking
Photo by Genie Bunton Photography
out into the audience barely able to make out the clump of people that were my family and friends waving wildly and cheering loudly for me, and then running into the arms of some of my dearest friends who had also been called as finalists. The moment was a culmination of years of hard work, sacrifice, an incredible support system, and God sustaining me through it all. I think that not making the top ten for the three years I competed at Miss Florida before this year made it all the more significant to me. It was one of the best feelings of my entire life. Most of the night was a fast-paced blur, but looking back, there are little moments in which time felt like it stood still. These moments consisted of times when I prayed for others, moments when I was prayed over, and my favorite moment where I stood with one of my best friends and fellow pianists, Aaliyah Manning, as we warmed our hands in her jacket she had brought backstage for the specific purpose of preventing cold, stiff fingers while performing our talents onstage. I could go on and on about the little moments in which I was encouraged and empowered by Miss Florida sisters that night, regardless of whether they were competing with me in the finals or not. I will never forget it. 

How did you select your social impact initiative “Depression Awareness - Lend a Helping Hand”?
Photo by Valerie Schwartz Photography
Prior to a suicide that happened in my family, I did not have a good understanding of depression or mental health in general. This suicide served as a major wake up call in my life, as I came to the realization that depression and mental illnesses do not discriminate. Anyone is susceptible to struggling. When I began competing in the Miss America Organization in 2015 and was prompted to select a social impact initiative, Depression Awareness was the clear answer for me. I am very passionate about spreading awareness of organizations that are able to help those who are struggling. I have personally been inspired by the work of the National Alliance on Mental Illness and the 211 HelpLine. I am so thankful I get to use my South Florida Fair crown to bring light to the resources these organizations offer for our communities!

As a talented pianist, what is your favorite part about performing on stage?
First off, thank you for that kind compliment! Second, performing
Photo by Genie Bunton Photography
on stage, specifically performing my Miss Florida talent piece of Malagueña by Cuban composer Ernesto Lecuona, is a way of combining my grandfather’s love for music and my Cuban heritage, as my grandfather on my father’s side of the family was a very talented musician while my mother’s side of the family is from Cuba. Performing on the Miss Florida stage in and of itself is exhilarating, as it represents the pinnacle of hundreds of hours spent at a piano in preparation for ninety seconds on stage and the unique opportunity to pay homage to my family through music.

What is your personal fitness routine?
It varies, as I like to switch things up to avoid getting bored, but my consistency lies in taking Sunday evenings to plan my meals and workouts for the week, as setting those intentions keeps me motivated and accountable. Typically, I strength train, often with my best friend, three to four times a week. I aim to do some form of cardio five times a week which could look like running, rewatching episodes of The Office while on the elliptical, or taking a cardio kickboxing class at my local YouFit. Currently, I am training for my first marathon, so I have been running every other day, usually with my longest runs of the week on weekends. 

While in college, you were able to work as a sideline reporter for your school baseball team. What did you learn from that position?
 Aside from learning the importance of oil blotting sheets (the
South Florida sun is no joke), I learned that there is always an opportunity to learn. As a woman working in baseball, I have heard a lot of “So… how much do you even know about baseball?” before even opening my mouth. Even more exhausting than receiving questions of that manner was constantly feeling the need to defend my baseball knowledge. About half way through the Florida Atlantic University baseball season, someone kindly taught me the terminology for two plays in baseball that I had seen countless times, but never really thought about what they might be called. They were “suicide squeeze” and “safety squeeze”. That specific interaction made me realize that my defensiveness, although often justified, and pride could tremendously hinder opportunities for development as a reporter. While I hope to see a day in which my abilities as a reporter are not put into question because of my gender, I have learned that it is perfectly okay to not know it all, as not knowing it all means that there is always going to be an opportunity for growth, whether in my career or any other facet of my life. 

As a Yankees fan, who is your favorite Red Sox player? Why?
I accidentally picked Mookie Betts first round in a fantasy baseball draft last year and was initially so mad at myself for doing so, as it felt like a form of betrayal. By the end of the season, I was so thankful I made that “mistake”, as he was the best and most consistent player on my fantasy team. I will root for him throughout his entire career. He was so much fun to watch at Fenway!

You were recently able to enjoy a game at Fenway, from Section 36. What was that trip like?
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention singing “Sweet Caroline” in a
sea of red and white. I will never forget it. The entire experience was just absolutely unreal. Although I am not a Red Sox fan, I can genuinely say that I get it now. Being a baseball fan, I have been to hundreds of baseball games at a number of different stadiums throughout my life, but there is something truly special about Fenway. In a world in which many are concerned about the relevance of baseball in the future, I left Fenway feeling so encouraged! The stadium was full and the love for America’s pastime was very much alive. 


Why would anyone "accidentally" draft Mookie Betts?!

As always, I want to thank Mariluz for doing this interview, and for sending along the amazing pictures. They really make the post much better.

As Mariluz continues her time as Miss South Florida Fair, I encourage you to follow her on her official Facebook page. You should also follow her personal twitter and Instagram accounts. They’re great ways to keep up with everything she has going on! You should also be sure to check out her sports journalist website to see all the amazing things she's done, and will do!

Thanks again Mariluz!

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Was Jose Offerman Any Good?

There's a name I hadn't thought about in a while. But while flipping through my scorebook so recently, I kept seeing his name next to some pretty nice performances. So, I thought it was time to do another one of these exercises and see how he performed in games I scored.

Take a look.

Wow, that's a lot of games. Especially for a guy who was only in Boston for 3.5 seasons. In fact, I'm not sure if you can read any of these stats. So, here's a larger view of the totals.

Can I get another wow?

How is this guy not remembered more fondly? Either he performed like garbage is all the games I didn't attend, or he's vastly under appreciated. Remember when he was signed, and everyone laughed that he would replace some of Mo Vaughn’s OBP? Not only did he absolutely live up to that in games I attended, but he did a pretty good making up for Mo’s slugging as well.

Look at those projections! If the games I attended are stretched out to a full “Derek Jeter” season, he would score 141 runs thanks to 207 hits. His three homers would help him to an OPS juuuuuuuuust under 1.000. So when I was in the park, Jose Offerman was an elite player.

Not sure I would have guessed that. 

His numbers during his all-star 1999 first season were insane, by the way. He only went hitless in three of the 23 games I saw him in that season. He batted over .500 with a 1.252 OPS. I don't know how to process that.

So, was Offerman any good? He certainly was when I was in the park.

How did he do when you were watching?

Monday, September 23, 2019

2019 Topps Archives Blaster!

Yeah, I know. I should have posted this long ago. I'm sure you've all seen as much of the Archives product as you'd care to see at this point. You certainly don't want another post about someone opening a box.

Too bad. You're getting one.

After all, I have not given the definitive word on my experiences or opinions with the product. So, you'll have to just suffer through while I open this box.

Yup. There is is! Seven packs, plus coins!

 Yup. Just like they said.

So, the coins are cool and all. And I understand the vibe they're going for. But, I honestly have no idea what to do with these. Even the Red Sox ones. Are they display pieces? Am I supposed to put them in pages in a binder? Do I need to get coin collectors pages for them? Or, do they get tossed in a box? Help!

First pack in the box comes through in a big way with two Red Sox cards. For two players who didn't play their entire career in Boston, hard to imagine being more beloved than they are. World Series heroics will do that for you, I guess. I have to say that I like the '93 design more than I thought I would have. It's simple, and clean. A far cry from the bragging companies did (and still do) where their designs are intended to show off their computer graphics skills. Simple the name and some colored banners. So simple.

The 1975 Topps design is always a lot of fun. 

 The 1993 design again, with a great Yaz action shot. 

Nomar! Oh, wait. At least this one has a pretty border. Which is something you can only do if your card has borders.

This Chris Sale is a fun design as well, even if it's not exactly simply. But, for an all-star card, I think it needs to be flashy.

That pack illustrated a feeling that I had when opening the box. Lots of old players seemed to be popping up. And here in this pack there were three current players, and five retired players. Not sure if this was a goal of the Archives put old favorites in different designs, but it's a weird goal. Is the Rogers Hornsby PC community that strong? Did Jim Thome collectors have too easy of a time tracking down the 36 million of his cards produced during his playing days?  

This pic also shows one of my favorite things about Archives, the variety in the packs. I like flipping through different designs in my pack. The 90s were great for that with all their inserts. I like having that happen again.

Speaking of different designs, here's one of Eloy Jimenez.

The next Red Sox superstar, Rafael Devers, on the 1975 Topps design? Yes please.

So, overall a fun box to open. Lots of visual interest, and plenty of Red Sox stars from the past, present, and future! Not sure what else I could ask for.

How did your box go?

Friday, September 20, 2019

Victoria Muir Visits Section 36!

Section 36 has a new visitor! Victoria Muir is a STEM advocate, a Phillies fan, and the current Miss Capital. She will also mark the
third straight visitor from the state of Delaware! I was thrilled she was able to visit with us to discuss those topics, and a few more.

So let's see what happens when Victoria Muir visits Section 36!

How did you celebrate winning the Miss Capital crown?
I celebrated with my biggest role model and my best friend - my mom, Julia! My mom has been my biggest support in my Miss Delaware journey. After winning Miss Capital, I went out to dinner with my mom. We talked about how exciting it is to compete in Miss Delaware for the second time this year!

What did you learn about yourself at the Miss Capital competition that will help you at Miss Delaware?
Preparation is key in Miss America, and I think that preparation is one of my biggest strengths. I practiced interview questions for weeks leading up the competition, and I was diligent about practicing my talent performance as well. I felt more prepared for this competition than ever before, and I think my preparedness helped me succeed. 

What are you most looking forward to about your time as Miss Capital?
I have my eye on the prize this year competing in Miss Delaware, and I cannot think of a better way to prepare for the state title than getting to represent the capital of the state, Dover! I am looking forward to exploring Dover this year and partnering with Dover-based organizations to promote my social impact initiative - Celebrating Women in STEM. 

How did you select your social impact initiative “Celebrating Women in STEM”?
Science has always been my biggest passion. I am a chemical
engineer by training, and I am currently pursuing my PhD in Bioengineering at University of Pennsylvania. Women are underrepresented in science, and the lack of diversity in science stifles innovation. I strive to be a role model for young girls to show them that no matter their background, they are needed in STEM!

For your talent, you’ll be performing a science experiment. What goes into selecting the best experiment to show off?
Picking a science experiment for a Miss America talent is the most difficult yet most fun part of the entire competition prep. The science has to be 1) big enough to fill a stage, 2) quick enough to happen in less than 90 seconds, 3) affordable, and 4) easy to setup/take down. Plus, the talent can't involve fire, and I also can't have the help of anyone else. These challenges are hugely difficult to navigate in selecting a dramatic science demo, but also a super fun problem for me to think about. I can tell you this - I will be engineering something super cool for the Miss Delaware stage!

If you could be any Marvel character for a week, which would it be? Why?
I would love to be Spiderman! I always loved playing on playgrounds and climbing up in trees as a kid. I think it would be so cool to swing around buildings for a day! Plus, I am fascinated by spider webs - the material that spiders make their webs out of has some amazing properties that can be used in biomedical research for wound healing and surgical glue. How cool is that!

As a Phillies fan, who is your favorite Red Sox player? Why?
I will preface by saying I am most avidly a football fan, but I grew up close to my grandpa who is a baseball history enthusiast and a Boston native. Because of his inspiration, I have done a little research into baseball history. So, I would pick Cy Young as my favorite Red Sox player of all time. He lead the Red Sox to the win the first World Series in 1903, and I think that is a pretty cool legacy to leave, along with his numerous other accomplishments!

Which Phillies player have you most enjoyed watching this season?
Of course, our entire city was ecstatic about Bryce Harper joining the Phillies this season. While it may have been a rocky start, it looks like things are picking up steam for Harper and the Phillies. I know he will be an exciting player to watch the rest of the season and many more seasons to come!

Is there a feature or aspect of a game at Fenway Park that you’d especially like to experience?
Fenway Park is rich in baseball history and American history in general. I lived in Boston for a summer, and I could feel the energy and loyalty the city has to the Red Sox and Fenway. It is on my bucket list to take my grandpa to a game at Fenway. I think that would be a magical experience for us both!


That sounds like it would be a lot of fun!

As always, I want to thank Victoria for doing this interview, and for allowing me to use the amazing pictures. They really make the post much better. I also want to wish Victoria luck when she competes for Miss Delaware! It would be so exciting to have her take home that crown.

As Victoria continues her time as Miss Capital, I encourage you to follow her on her Instagram page. It’s a great way to keep up with everything she has going on! 

Thanks again Victoria, and good luck!

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

End of Season Sale!

I know. I know. The season't not over. There are still a couple weeks left in the regular season. But, this will be the last sale during the Red Sox regular season. Isn't that enough? So, if you were looking to grab that tank top you've been looking for, now's your chance! Or, if you wanted a long sleeved shirt to get ready for a fall. Or even plan ahead and get that hoodie for the upcoming cold winter nights. The time is now! The Section 36 store is back on sale!

It's another chance for you to get some great gear at low low prices!

Today through Sunday, the Section 36 store will be on sale! Don't miss this opportunity! 

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!

Or, like Sierra 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?

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

I Scored on July 15, 2000!

Here I thought we'd go back to the turn of the century, to a game that you might remember. Let's see what happened!

As always, my first stop is in the pitchers box. Did I get a Pedro game? Well, close. This game was started by Pedro’s brother, Ramon. It looks like he had a pretty good game, tossing a quality start while striking out four. He was followed the regulars from the pen, including Derek Lowe finishing it out.

What did the lineup look like? Dear god, look at that thing. Offerman was coming off an all-star season, and Nomar was Nomar. And I love Jason Varitek, but if he's your three hole hitter, you're probably in trouble. Of course the key to the lineup is the addition of Carl Everett. He was supposed to supply the needed punch in the middle of the order. While, he didn't exactly do on this day. Because he was ejected. In this second inning. For headbutting the umpire. While I will always contend that it was more of an accidental contact than a headbutt, he was out of the game and replaced by Daubach. Which, it turns out, ended up working out just fine.

The hero of the game? The aforementioned Daubach. When the Mets walked Nomar in the sixth (and, why wouldn't you?) Dauber made them pay. His three-run homer supplied almost all the runs the Sox would need on the day.

The goat? Other than Everett? I guess it has to go to Troy O’Leary. He was the only player, other than Everett, without a hit or RBI on the day. I'm sure the Sox wanted more from their playoff hero.

But in the end, it didn't matter. The Sox scored plenty of runs, and the bullpen didn't succeed in blowing the game. It was a successful day at the ballpark.

And the scorecard shows how it happened.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Taylor Johnson Visits Section 36!

Section 36 has a new visitor! Taylor Johnson is a melanoma awareness advocate, a singer, and the current Miss Sussex County.
I was thrilled she was able to visit with us to discuss those topics, and a few more.

So let's see what happens when Taylor Johnson visits Section 36!

How did you celebrate winning the Miss Sussex County crown?
I celebrated winning Miss Sussex County with my sorority, Phi Mu! I initially had plans to hang out with sisters anyways but whenever I saw a sister that night, they congratulated me and I wasn’t expecting it! I was just hoping to have a fun night with my sisters, I wasn’t concerned about anyone recognizing my win.

What has surprised you the most about your time as Miss Sussex County? 
What surprised me the most about my time as Miss Sussex County actually just happened! I had received a few messages from sisters, and there’s a photo of my mom and I at Salisbury University’s Relay for Life which was held in April. That photo is being used as an advertisement to get students involved in campus activities and organizations. My mom and I are at the front of the line, and I’m wearing my Miss Sussex County sash. I was so touched and started crying. Not only will my legacy be documented for the next few years at SU, but there’s a more important reason to why I was so touched. Keep reading to find out!

You won a non-finalist award at the last Miss Delaware competition. What was that experience like?
I thought I was dreaming! After not making top 5 during a year I
really believed I had a shot, I thought I was aging out with no progress from my first year. And as a “veteran”, that is heartbreaking. But during the brunch the next day they handed out some awards and announced I won non-finalist on stage interview. I was floored. The best part was that my question had to do with my sorority and hazing, topics I am super passionate about. I had a wonderful time in Phi Mu at SU because I had a non-hazing experience.

What can you tell me about your social impact initiative “Protect the skin you’re in - melanoma awareness”?
Protect the Skin You’re In - Melanoma Awareness is in memory of my mom, who was a stage 3 melanoma skin cancer survivor, which has a 60% survival rate.The best way to summarize it is it’s about the dangers of indoor and outdoor tanning, and the side effects that you would never see coming. Side effects that weakened my mom, and ultimately took her life last month. In my social impact statement, I talk about how UV radiation builds up over time and doesn’t show up until later in life. For years, I have had people tell me “You have to die from something,” and now my comeback will consist of “Have you thought about the people you will be leaving behind then, and how they will feel?”. Skin Cancer isn’t just something you can cut out and be done with, and my mom learned that the hard way. I’m 25 and I don’t have a mom now because of melanoma. We need to start taking it seriously, because it is on the rise because of tanning ignorance. That’s why that photo at my alma mater means so much to me. SU had no clue what had happened, and they put that photo up eight days after she passed. It’s a sign that she’s still with me.

As a talented singer, what is your favorite part about performing on stage?
My favorite part would have to be is finding the perfect song and
nailing it. My talent for my final Miss Delaware pageant was “Journey to the Past” from Anastasia and so many people said it was my best performance. The last 40 seconds of the song you truly see my love for this piece come to life, and I wish I could show you! I almost cried, that’s how powerful it felt, and that has never happened before. The stage has been my home since I was 14, and it always will be.

What is your personal fitness routine?
Crossfit is how I’ve been working out the past three years. I haven’t been able to go since graduating in May, with everything that has been going on the past few months, but I miss it so much! My first few months I lost 10-15 pounds, so I swear by it. It’s the only thing that works for me.

Who is your favorite current Red Sox player? Why?
Andrew Benintendi, and please don’t judge me, but my reason why is because he’s my baseball crush. I saw that he retweeted a tweet, someone’s grandmother has his bobblehead, watches all his games and cuts out all his photos and he thought it was pretty cool. Some people could get weirded out about that stuff, but he was so sweet about it and I think that says a lot about his character.

Is there a feature or activity at Fenway Park that you’d especially like to experience?
I would love to do the Take Me to Fenway tour! I like being in control, and the words exclusive and private sold it to me (I’m a Virgo, and those words are my kryptonite). Fenway Park holds so much history, and it’s such an iconic park, getting to visit would be such an honor.

If you had an extra ticket to see the Red Sox play at Fenway, who would you bring with you? Why?
I’d probably bring one of my fellow titleholders, Danielle Taylor (Miss First State) with me! I always have a blast with her, and she makes me laugh easily. Just my car rides with her are memorable, so a day trip like that I could never forget.


That sounds like it would be a lot of fun!

As always, I want to thank Taylor for doing this interview, and for allowing me to use the amazing pictures. They really make the post much better.

As Taylor continues her time as Miss Sussex County, I encourage you to follow her on her official Miss Sussex County Facebook page and Instagram page. You should also be sure to follow her personal Instagram account as well. It’s a great way to keep up with everything she has going on! 

Thanks again Taylor!

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