Thursday, November 27, 2014

List of 36: Things I’m Thankful For

1. Hanley Ramirez
2. Seeing three ring ceremonies
3. Trade bait
4. Souvenir helmets
5. Great seats
6. 160 Instagram followers, and counting
7. Hot stove season
8. Every new pic with Section 36
9. A patient GM
10. Scoring as often as possible
11. Pablo Sandoval
12. Making trades
13. The next move
14. Every new “Rather be in Section 36” pic
15. The 2015 schedule
16. 1050 Twitter followers, and counting
17. Red Sox books
18. David “The Recruiter” Ortiz
19. Championship goals
20. Every new pic In Section 36
21. Scavenger Hunt entries
22. World Series merchandise on clearance
23. Home jerseys without names on the back
24. Every new pic of Section 36
25. Vintage cards
26. Every comment on blog posts
27. Line-up discussions
28. 317 Facebook “likes”, and counting
29. Fenway statues
30. A great view
31. Souvenir cups
32. Every new Pic from Section 36
33. Team sets
34. Being an internet sensation
35. A great line-up
36. Readers

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Ben Cherington's Not Stupid

Unlike, apparently, people on twitter.

As I write this, it's the middle of the afternoon. In a few hours, it'll be dinnertime. I'm going to have to make myself something to eat. I know that. But, it's still early. The fact that I'm writing this post doesn't mean that I put writing a blog post at a higher priority that eating. In fact, I put eating at a higher priority than just about anything else. I just know that I still have some time to get other things done before I need to have dinner cooked and ready to eat. So, I can write this post. I can check the mail. I can even catch up on some reading. All things that need to get done. None of them as important as eating. None of them will prevent me from eating when dinnertime rolls around.

Sort of like pitching.

The Red Sox signed two fine hitters to add to the line-up. That's pretty exciting. Considering that last years line-up had Will Middlebrooks and Jackie Bradley Jr in it, adding Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval is a HUGE upgrade. (Pun intended.) We should be thrilled! But, what did twitter say?

"Can Hanley pitch?"

"I don't care. Get pitching!"

"They're not going to help at all if the team can't pitch!"

That's probably true. It's also true that Ben is well aware of that fact. He didn't make it to be a major league GM without realizing that there is both pitching and hitting. He also didn't make it to be a major league GM without knowing how to do two things at once. After all, didn't he just do the Hanley and Panda deals at the same time? So, why does everyone assume this is an "either/or" type thing? So, because the Red Sox signed two hitters, they aren't concerned about pitching? I'm writing this post. Does that mean I'm not concerned about eating?

Of course not. Just like I still have time to make dinner, Ben still has time to make a pitching staff. The deals for the two hitters just presented themselves, and he went for it. How annoyed would Sox fans be if the Sox signed Lester in two weeks, then announced at the press conference that they were so focused on that deal that while Lester was mulling his options, Hanley signed with NY and Pablo signed with Baltimore. Oh the outcry! You mean that while Lester was thinking it over, the Sox were just sitting there twiddling their thumbs while the other GMs were improving their team? Fire him now!

So, of course the Red Sox did the deal they could do when they could do it. It's how it works. I, for one, am pretty excited about it. Now they can move onto the next move. After all there's still time to make it. And the next one. And the one after that. When Spring Training comes, they'll have addressed all their needs.

And at dinnertime, I'll have something to eat.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

From the Pedro Binder

1999 Topps Picture Perfect?

Do you see it?

I admit. I have to give Topps come credit here. Just for a little fun, they went in a different direction with their insert set. As the question mark implies, the picture may, or may not be, perfect. In this case, it's the latter.

Do you see it?

It's a fun little activity, at least the first time you see the card. What do I like about it? The name of the set on the card is hidden. A set with the name "Picture" in the title allows the picture to be the focal point. I like that. Even the gimmicky imperfect part doesn't detract from the overall effect. It's not like they replaced Pedro's head with the Incredible Hulk's.

Do you see it?

So, it makes for a great card. It's an insert, so I don't mind that it doesn't have things like Pedro's name, position, etc. I'll let the base card take care of that stuff. There are no foil spirals or zigzags to compete for my attention. There's nothing. It's simple, and wonderful with nothing in the way.

Except, of course, for the intentional "imperfection."

Do you see it?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

What is Mookie Betts?

It’s hot stove season, which means a lot of rumors. Rumors about free agents. Rumors about players under contract. Rumors about possible trades. It’s a lot of fun.

During the trade rumors portion, Mookie Betts’s name has come up quite a bit. And, why wouldn’t he? He’s an attractive prospect that I’m sure any number of teams would like to add to their roster. It seems, though, that many in Red Sox Nation are completely opposed to letting that happen. Which brings me to one question.

Why not?

Oh, sure. I know you’re aware that I consider every player to be potential trade bait in the right deal. There are no names on the roster that another team could include that would stop me from at least reading the entire trade offer. Obviously, if the first three names are Ortiz, Pedroia, Bogaerts…the name at the end better be Trout. But, at least I’d read and see what it said.

But, this is even beyond that. Frankly, I think the Sox should be actively trying to sell “high” on Betts. After all, what is he? What’s the best you expect out of him? I’m not even talking about this season. What’s the best you expect out of Mookie Betts, ever? I’m guessing it’s not 2004 Manny Ramirez. I’m guessing it’s not 2011 Jacoby Ellsbury either. 2008 Dustin Pedroia? Maybe. 2013 Jacoby Ellsbury? More likely.

Isn’t that really what we’re looking at as a peak for Betts? Especially the next handful of years? .285-15-70? Why is that untouchable? After all, we just had a guy do that, and we couldn’t let him leave for the big contract elsewhere fast enough. Good riddance. We can replace you with Jackie Bradley Jr.

Now that guy is untouchable?

Sure, Mookie was fun last season. He was exactly what the team needed at the end of a lost, dreary season. He was a blast of excitement. He was something enjoy as he showed us all what he could do.

But, it’s not like he was having Phil Plantier’s September call-up. So, why would we guard him with an iron shield? Heck, the Sox don’t even have a position open for him at the moment.

Shouldn’t he be the first name on the offer sheet to Philadelphia? Shouldn’t he be the exact chip that you’d use to get a proven top of the rotation lefty with a great postseason resume? Shouldn’t he be the guy that Philly overvalues from afar? Instead, people are actually willing to stop a deal for Cole Hamels, or anyone else for that matter, if Mookie’s name in brought up. It’s unbelievable.

Am I wrong with Mookie’s assessment? Do people think he is, in fact, going to be 2005 David Ortiz? Or, are people confusing “fun” with “productive”? (Maybe it’s an infielder thing. They certainly confuse the two when it comes to the second baseman)

What is Mookie Betts?

Monday, November 17, 2014

Happy 36th Darnell McDonald!

Today we wish a very Happy Birthday to former outfielder and fan favorite Darnell McDonald!

McDonald was an outfielder on the forgettable 2010 to 2012 Sox teams. He had a little bit of Daniel Nava in him. He had a better pedigree than Nava, being a former first round pick. But, in the decade since then, he had appeared in less than 100 games. So, there was an “off the scrap heap” feeling to him. When he started performing well, the fans fell in love with the story. He played a couple hundred games for the Sox, before leaving town.

I saw McDonald play live five times in 2010, and he started four of those games. In those games, he hit a couple homers, and scored a couple runs. All the while playing a solid outfield.

The addition of Carl Crawford in 2011 spelled the basic end of McDonald’s playing time. He only appeared in one more game I was at the rest of his time in Boston.

But, he was still a popular player while he was here. He did a great job filling in when the Mike Cameron experiment failed miserably. That’s really all you can ask out of a player.

Happy 36th Darnell McDonald!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

2014 Scavenger Hunt

It’s time for the Seventh Annual Section 36 Scavenger Hunt! I’m sure you remember how it works. If not, I’ll remind you. Below, you’ll find a list of 36 items for you to try and find. When you find an item, take a picture of it and send it along to me. Whoever sends me pictures of the most items wins. Pretty simple, right? We’ll make the end of the hunt be 12:36 PM eastern time on February 5, 2015. This both gives enough time to find the stuff, and fills the time almost right up to pitchers and catchers reporting to Spring Training. Sound like fun? What do you win if you find the most items? Worldwide fame and admiration! I will post the winner’s name (and picture if one is provided) on this very site and hail them as the 2014 Scavenger Hunt Champion! I’m sure that Bryanne has found her worldwide fame to be quite an honor this past year. If you actually want a prize you can hold in your hand, I’ll award a scorebook made up of the Section 36 official scorecards, bound together to allow you to score twenty games! Not too bad, right? If I come up with something else between now and then, maybe I'll add it on. Ready to get started? Here is this year’s list of items to get pictures of:

1. Red Sox car magnet
2. Ticket to World Series game played by the Red Sox
3. Red Sox retired number
4. Official Program from 1999 All-Star game
5. “Sports Illustrated” magazine with Red Sox player on cover
6. Homemade “I’d Rather Be in Section 36” t-shirt
7. Red Sox rug
8. Wine bottle featuring Red Sox player
9. Red Sox pennant
10. Red Sox ice-cream carton
11. Red Sox player
12. Xander Bogaerts baseball card
13. Used official Section 36 scorecard
14. 2013 World Series baseball
15. Cy Young Statue
16. Jon Lester replica jersey
17. 2009 Red Sox Media Guide
18. Red Sox paperweight
19. Autograph of member of 2012 Red Sox
20. Red Sox bikini
21. 2007 World Championship item
22. Shane Victorino t-shirt
23. Jim Rice Hall of Fame plaque postcard
24. Red Sox coaster
25. Ticket stub from Section 36
26. Red Sox Dunkin’ Donuts item
27. Condiment with a picture of Red Sox player on it
28. 36 of something
29. Lansdowne St
30. 2013 World Championship banner
31. Red Sox license plate holder
32. Biography of Red Sox player
33. “Fenway Park 100 Seasons” baseball
34. Hallmark Ornament of Red Sox player
35. Female Red Sox fan
36. Male Red Sox fan

A quick clarification. Unless it says otherwise, “Red Sox Player” refers to anyone who ever played for the Sox in a regular season game. That counts even if the player isn’t depicted as a Red Sox player in the picture. So, Jim would be able to use anything from his Phillies Room depicting players like Curt Schilling and Jonathan Papelbon, even if they’re in their Phillies garb.

Now, since I want this to be a scavenger hunt, and not a google search, I’ll need a way to make sure you actually find these items yourself. So, in order to qualify any picture must have any one of these three things in it.

  1. You. This might be the easiest way. If you’re in the picture, I can be pretty sure you actually found the item. This has one advantage in that it doesn’t have to be a new picture. If you went to Fenway last summer and took a picture on Lansdowne St, that would work. Or,
  2. The Section 36 logo. Just have it showing somewhere in the picture. Or,
  3. The address of this blog, “” , written somewhere in the picture. Write it out on a piece of paper, on a sidewalk with chalk, on someone’s leg, whatever. (Just don’t vandalize anything).

That make sense? So, send in your pictures to me, section36 at gmail dot com (I bet you know which parts to replace with symbols) You can even tweet it to me, or use a facebook msg. Whatever works for you! It would be nice if you told me which items you thought were in each picture. If there’s a tie between people who have the same number of found items, the tiebreaker will be the person who did it with the fewest number of pictures. If you get a picture of a Female Red Sox fan, wearing a Shane Victorno t-shirt, while holding a Red Sox coaster, it would be 3 items in one picture. That’s a great start, although I’m sure you can do better. One year, Jere had over 20 items in a single photo! (If I need a second tiebreaker, I’ll have a vote to decide the best pictures.)

I think that covers everything! It’s now up to you to start sending me your pictures. I’ll keep reminding you as the months go by.

Good Luck!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

What Makes a Player Valuable?

It’s an important question. After all, if I don’t know what player is “valuable” how can I ever hope to decide who the Most Valuable Player is?

So, what is value?

People are very eager to point out that Major League Baseball isn’t giving out a “Player of the Year” award today. It’s a Most Valuable Player Award. Apparently that’s different.

How, exactly?

Valuable means giving the most value to his team. But, that’s somehow different than putting up the best stats. Could it mean the player that best fits the needs of the team he’s on? Take the 2013 Red Sox. Jacoby Ellsbury was pretty valuable.The Sox really needed a speedy guy to get on base a lot in front of Pedroia, Ortiz, and Napoli. Ells was perfect. He was on base all the time, and his legs attracted a lot of attention. That was pretty valuable. But, if he was on the Astros, without the bats behind him, that might not have mattered as much. Or, at all. A guy at second is of no value if nobody drives him in. Someone like Mike Napoli might have been more valuable to the Astros because he can drive himself in more often. Napoli might have been more valuable to the Astros than he was to the Red Sox, who also had Pedroia and Ortiz to fall back on.

Does that mean Ellsbury was more valuable than Napoli, just because of the team they played on? That’s weird. Shouldn’t the most valuable player in the league be the most valuable to every team? That would make sense.

That’s where I have trouble with the whole “MVP needs to come from a playoff team” argument. A valuable player should be a valuable player, right? Frankly, as I’ve said before, a good player might be even more valuable to a lousy team than a playoff team.

Say I have a baseball card collection…which I do. Say I have a Ted Williams rookie card in my collection…which I don’t. That right there makes my collection as a whole pretty impressive. That would be a pretty valuable card to my collection. Without it, the Jim Rice rookie led collection isn’t all that great. But, what if Keith Olberman had the Ted Williams rookie…which he might. He also has the T-206 Wagner card, and any number of fantastic cards. The Williams rookie might be a throwaway card to him, and not valuable at all. So, the decent card is more valuable to a lesser collection.

Isn’t the same true for a player? If the Giants had Giancarlo Stanton, would they have performed any better this season? Hard to see how. But, the Marlins were only is even marginal contention because they had Stanton. Isn’t that pretty valuable?

So, what should the voters be looking at when they vote for “most valuable”? They player who happens to fill his specific team’s specific needs? Is that value? Or, the player that would add the most to any team he was on? Is Mike Trout just as valuable to the Angels as he would be to the Red Sox? Is that important?

Is that “valuable”?