Thursday, July 2, 2015

From the Pedro Binder

2001 UD Ovation

This card blows my mind for one simple reason. Look at that foil usage!

This might be the first time in the history of metallic foil that it is used in the correct places. Pedro’s name? Wonderfully clean and unfoiled. Pedro’s position? Right there clear as day. The team Pedro plays for? Crisp and prominent. The card company logo? Beautifully obscured in impossible to read foil. The card’s brand name? Also hidden away unless you tilt the card 36 times in the light. It’s amazing.

Oh, sure the Red Sox name is in foil, but as repeated information that’s just fine. Pedro’s number is also in foil. But, in this case, it’s printed right next to the picture displaying a very large #45. For this card, that works out perfectly.

The rest of the card is about what you’d expect from Ovation. There’s the baseball textured background. Ovation sure loves to incorporate a baseball into its cards. There’s the clean what to contrast with the smaller picture. That contrast sure does make Pedro pop out of the card. I actually like the semi-circular sepia for that very reason. It makes it look like Pedro is pitching in front of a brown disk. It allows the card to have some depth that is lacking in most other offerings.

All that comes together to form a very nice card. Even if my scanner seems to think that the right edge is nothing impressive. We all know better. Well done, Upper Deck.

I don’t get to say that very often.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Hanley or De Aza?

Last night, I got in a little bit of a Twitter discussion about the left field situation for the Red Sox.

Jared Carrabis tweeted out that De Aza should be playing left field. He never wanted to see Hanley there again, and he didn’t care about Hanley’s bat.

I responded that it sounded like a foolish plan, and that Hanley’s defensive woes were vastly overrated.

The response from Mr. Carrabis? That he could think of four or five plays in the game last night that De Aza made that Hanley wouldn’t have made.

That’s not an uncommon response. People are under the impression that Hanley’s defense is killing the Sox in left. That if even an average outfielder were out there, the Sox would be winning a lot more games. As you know if you visit here a lot, I think defense is generally overrated. I would expect that an adequate athlete should get to most balls. Sure, the superior defenders get to more. But, they don’t get to enough to make up for any loss of production at the plate. Basically, Hanley’s bat makes up for the few balls he can’t get to in left. If that weren’t the case, Jackie Bradley Jr would be the Sox starting center fielder. Would have been for quite some time. But, even his superb defense couldn’t make up for his lack of hitting. And, he only had to make up the difference between himself and Brock Holt. Or, Rusney Castillo. If he can’t bridge that gap with a once in forever type glove, why can De Aza make up an even bigger difference with his glove?

It was the four-five plays in last night’s game that really stuck with me. People really think there’s that much of a gap? Let’s take a look. I checked out the MLB summary to see how much action Alejandro De Aza got out in left field.

Bot 2: Pillar doubles to left with two outs. Martin out at “home” 7-6-5
Bot 5: Martin flies out softly to left with one out.
Bot 6: Reyes flies out to left with one out.
Bot 6: Donaldson doubles to left, scoring a run.
Bot 6: Bautista flies out to left center ending the inning.
Bot 7: Colabello grounds a single to left with one out.
Bot 9: Donaldson flies out to left with one out.

That’s it. Seven plays. Which four or five do you not think Hanley would have made? Can we agree that Hanley would have fielded the groundball single in the seventh? The others?

You could maybe argue that only De Aza makes the play to nab Martin. Maybe. Although, I could argue that Bogaerts probably nails him at home, instead of third. Maybe you could say he doesn’t get to Bautista’s flyball to the gap…although Mookie looked like he’d be in pretty good position if he knew that Hanley would have been there. Maybe you could say that Hanley doesn’t reach Donaldson’s flyball, and it falls for a double. Although, in the bot of the ninth in a two run game, De Aza is probably in there for defense anyway.

So, really. Look at the plays the left fielder had to make last night. Which ones get by Hanley? Do you think De Aza stopped Donaldson from getting a triple in the 6th? Doubt it. Are there 4 or 5 plays? 2 or 3?

Any that cost the Sox the game?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that Hanley is a great defender. I’m not that crazy. I definitely think De Aza is a better one. That’s why I’d have him in left for the ninth. I’m just saying Hanley’s offense more than makes up for the plays he may not make in the field.

Otherwise Jackie Bradley Jr would be your AL MVP.

Monday, June 29, 2015


I keep saying it. I love looking at pictures! Don't you? That's why I keep asking people to send in pics for the 36 Pix page and all its features. I add new pictures all the time! But, are you still not checking those pages regularly? Here's a quick look at some of the great stuff you've been missing!

As you know, the Pix in 36 page shows people enjoying themselves in the greatest section in Fenway. Here are some of the most recent examples!

This one is from Elle
Matt sent in this great group photo
Another great group shot. This on from Anna.
Even Blue Jays fans know where the best seats are. Jane sent in this pic.
Some of my favorites are the Pix with 36. Since they can be taken from anywhere in the park, they offer a lot of variety! Here are some of the newer ones!
Here's one from Kimberly
Erin celebrated a big birthday by posing with the best Section
Here's one from the lovely Alicia with Section 36 just behind her!
Christina's back with another great pic, just in front of Section 36

Here's Lauren with a great angle on Section 36
Once again, even visitors know where to pose. Brad made sure to catch the best shot.
As always, I appreciate each and every pic that is sent in. So keep sending them! And, don't forget, that this isn't all the pics that are submitted. There are even more on the 36 Pix page, and even more than that are posted on the Section 36 Facebook pg.

Check them out!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Panda Hats

It started almost as soon as it looked like Pablo Sandoval was going to be leaving San Francisco. The kidding began. “I bet the Sox are drooling over being able to sell Panda hats.” “I bet Tom Werner is already grabbing stock footage of pandas for all his new TV shows!”

Of course, it showed up tenfold once they signed him. “That’s a big contract…hope they sell lots of hats.” It was a lot of fun. And, of course, the Sox did quite a bit of that. There was a panda (Or, at least I think it was a panda…might have been a lemur) at Pablo’s introductory press conference. His player tees can be found with “Panda” on the back. And, I think I’ve even seen a panda hat or two showing up at Fenway.

But, the more Pablo has struggled, the more people have been commenting that they can’t believe they signed this slug just to sell hats.

Saying it like they believe that’s what happened.

That the Red Sox signed a guy to a five year deal to sell a few thousand hats.

Don’t they see how ridiculous that is?

First of all, Tom Werner isn’t a complete moron. He didn’t make all his money and win all his awards because he was stupid. Even he knows that a show or marketing campaign based on a bad player won’t sell, even if he’s cute and cuddly.

The rest of the Sox know that too. They know that even with Pablo on the team, the most marketable players on the Sox are still Ortiz and Pedroia. They’re still the best ones to build a television show around. Ortiz’s player tees have “Papi” on the back. Heck, you can even get them with “Mookie” on the back. Besides, if the Sox wanted a readymade line of merchandise, there are plenty of cheaper players with fun nicknames. People think the Sox chose Pablo over Josh Donaldson because he was Panda. But, Donaldson goes by “BringerofRain” on twitter. You don’t think the Sox could come up with a way to sell some t-shirts based on that nickname? After all, this is the same organization that built a whole line of shirts and hats and everything else based on beards. Beards, for crying out loud.

So, why would they see the need to weaken the team in order to lock themselves into a fun name?

A fun name they can’t even trademark.

I promise you, they’re not that stupid.

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Negativity in this Town…

Really. I’m actually curious.

I happened to turn on the EEIdiots this afternoon to see if, perchance, there was an interesting interview or something. So, I caught the beginning of the noontime hour of M-F-B. The first thing they said was, essentially, “We know the Sox had a big win yesterday, but we’re going to go to two talking points from Saturday’s loss” They wanted to ignore the good performance by Miley, and the barrage of hits. They wanted to ignore the bats waking up, if even for just a game, and talk about Porcello’s struggles on Saturday, and Papi’s ejection. So, ignore the good performance from a new acquisition and go back to a bad one. Ignore the good day Ortiz had, and go back to his bad one.

What is that?

What is the compulsion to focus on the bad? I know some of it is the headache that is talk radio. For some reason they’ve decided that negativity sells. But, it’s popping up other places as well.

I know that social media is the last place you should go to see how people really feel. If there was ever a place where people went for shock value, it’s twitter. But, they only ever seem to go for the negative shock. If the Sox are up 13-0, the tweets are all, “I can’t wait to see how they blow this.” Going for the shock. But, if the Sox are down 13-0, there’s never a “I can’t wait to see how they come back from this” tweet. Wouldn’t it have the same shock value? What is the disconnect?

It shows up on the broadcasts too. It’s one thing to say things like “If this score holds, the Sox will drop a game” after the team ahead of them wins. It’s stating a fact, and passing along information. It’s another to say after the Sox go down by a run in the fifth that the “Sox are looking at their third straight loss” or whatever it is at the time. That’s not a fact. It’s a projection. And, they’re always a bad projection. If they go down by a run, they never say “the Sox are looking at their fifth comeback of the year.” It also comes up when the Sox have the lead. Say a pitcher loads the bases with two outs and a six run lead. The comments isn’t “The Sox are one out from being out of the jam.” It’s “A home run here would make it a two-run game.” Or, “A home run here would put the tying run on deck.” So, the guy not only has to hit a grand slam, but the next two guys need to also score before an out is made…and this is the direction they choose to report?

I’m not saying everyone should be sunbeams and rainbows. But, shouldn’t it be evenly split?

I remember during the 2007 World Series, the Rockies had a “one pitch away” slogan. No matter how bad things looked, the pitcher was always one pitch away from getting out of it. There were “one pitch away” chants in the stands. Why isn’t there ever any of that here? More often than not, a runner on base doesn’t score. Why do we always assume the Sox pitchers will allow theirs to come around? Why don’t we assume they just need one more sinker to get the groundball?

That’s usually what they do.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Blame Ben?

Ben Cherington fell on the sword a little bit yesterday when asked about the state of the team. He correctly pointed out that it wasn’t just one thing, or one player, that has dragged down the season to this point. He said it was a number of things all going wrong at once. So, if you needed one person to blame for wide sweeping failures, it would be him.

But what, exactly can we blame him for in regards to the first few months of the 2015 season?

After all, if we’re talking about this current team and its struggles, we can’t talk about overpaying for a guy, or signing him to a long term deal. So, you can think that Hanley Ramirez isn’t worth $20 million, or that they shouldn’t have signed Porcello before he threw a pitch. You’d be wrong anyway. But, those would at least be valid complaints if we’re three years from now and were saying that Hanley hasn’t help up to be productive in his fourth year, or Porcello didn’t develop into an ace when he was thirty. But, neither of those would affect April, May, or June of the 2015 season.

So, which mistake did he make that is affecting this current situation?

Should he have known that Pablo would perform so much worse than he had over his career, or last year? Should he have known that Porcello would be worse than he’d ever been? Should he have known that Craig, and Castillo, and Nava would all be terrible after Victorino got hurt?

Which ace was he supposed to sign? Have you seen Lester’s numbers in the NL? Should he have given up Betts and Swihart for Hamels? Would that have helped? Or would the Sox be in last place, without two top prospects.

You could complain that he didn’t get much for John Lackey, apparently, in the trade last year. But, really, Kelly was a 25-year old starter, with a World Series start under his belt. How much better did you want him to do for an older pitcher who may have been a two month rental in some team’s eyes? You could argue that they should have gotten more for Lester. But, the clean-up hitter for the team with the best record in the league? That’s a pretty good haul for someone you weren’t going to have in a couple months. Then, they traded that for a young starter…basically Lester four years earlier. So, they traded Lester for a younger version of himself. Not bad.

No, Porcello-Buchholz wasn’t Pedro-Schilling. So, maybe the blame can go to assuming the offense could score five runs a game to make up for the runs the staff gave up. But, who didn’t think this offense would score runs? Were there any signs that every player on the team would stink? Napoli was finally healthy, was he supposed to forget how to hit? Was he supposed to know that heart of the order would all play significantly below their career levels? Or even last year’s levels?

What was he supposed to know? What was he supposed to do?

Which specific mistake did he make?

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

From the Pedro Binder

2002 Topps 206

Topps is a big fan of its history. It has flooded the market recently with cards using designs or themes from their past. It might be reprints, or new pictures on old designs, or new players on old designs. However they could do it, they’ve celebrated their past. And, they should. For one thing, they have the most history compared to the other companies out there. Second, it makes for some variety in their card sets…even if its variety through similarity.

But, even their vast history only goes back to 1951. If they want even more designs, they’ll have to go back farther and use other companies. They’ve done that quite well with several brands, including T-206.

Of course, T-206 isn’t so much a brand as a catalog designation. Which makes things a bit more challenging when compared to, say Heritage, where each year a new design is available to copy. With T-206, there’s really just the one design. So, if Topps wants to carry on the line for more than one ear, they have to get creative. They need to come up with designs in the style of T-206.

Thankfully, in this case, they were able to hold pretty true to the standard set by T-206, except for one thing. I hate the clouds.

Sure, I know that some T-206 cards had different backgrounds. But, I always picture the solid color behind the players. Maybe that’s because the care I see most often, Honus Wagner, has a simple solid color. (And, by “see” I mean “See pictures of.” I of course don’t mean “see when flipping through me binder.”)  To me the addition of the clouds not only makes it seem like a cheap knock-off, but it somehow calls attention to the lack of quality in the Pedro image. It looks so fake and computerized. Definitely not what I’m looking for when I’m trying to replicate a set from almost 100 years earlier.

So, while this is a nice simple card of Pedro, it loses a lot of points for me by not holding true to the form of the original set.

If Topps wanted to make a modern version, they didn’t need to call it 206.