Check out the new photoset [slideshow] I posted on Flickr from the July 4th Red Sox game. I coincidentally ended up selecting 76 photos to post. I swear. It was serendipity yet again. First 33 for Varitek and now this.

Anyway, these were taken from the really good lower box seats that are owned by Noelle’s company. Ed couldn’t make the game so I was called in from the bullpen. He’d been begging to see a game from there for years and when it is finally his turn, he can’t take it. He’s likely to never see them now! 😉

Did you watch the HR Derby the other night? I didn’t and I guess I didn’t miss anything… Rios vs. Vlad for the final? Puh-leaze. They need to work something out there and I have read a lot of agreement on that this week. I guess the game itself wasn’t very good either, and also had some low ratings, which if I’m not mistaken has been a trend. I did happen to be tuned in to see Ichiro hit the inside-the-parker, the first in All-star game history, so that was pretty cool, and obviously the highlight.

Checked out Peter Gammons’ blog today and he had this funny blurb about Manny:

This is really true: When Manny Ramirez gets custom-made clothing at a chic Boston store, when the tailor embroiders Ramirez’s monogram, instead of his actual initials, Manny has “MBM” sewn into his shirts and jackets. Yup. Manny Being Manny.

So, I was then catching up on some recent entries and he has an interesting nugget about the decreasing count of African-Americans in baseball. You may remember that I was posting about this when Sheffield was shooting his mouth off. Well, it looks like he’s backing up his talk and doing something about it. Good for him and good for the game. I guess it is okay to like the guy again now that he’s not a Yankee anymore. Anyway, here’s the blurb so that you don’t have to parse the entire thing:

Gary Sheffield and Torii Hunter earlier this season raised eyebrows concerning comments each made about the decline of African-Americans in baseball. As usual, Sheffield and Hunter, ever sincere, touched live-wire truths, and to Bud Selig‘s credit, he noticed. Last weekend, Frank Robinson sat down with Sheffield, and when they finished, Robinson promised that he, Sheffield and other players will have a full and what Sheffield calls a “promising” audience with the commissioner, who has been a realist when it comes to the decline of African-American participation in the game.

Sheffield has already tabbed Hunter, who has suggested C.C. Sabathia and Jimmy Rollins join the committee, a group of players humorously nicknamed “The Militants” because there are elements in the business who do not want such issues raised by paid employees.

Hunter, who grew up on the mean streets of Pine Bluff, Ark. — and by his own admission overcame gangs and drive-by shootings (and having his signing bonus and truck stolen by his father because of a drug problem) to become one of baseball’s most respected spokespersons — is evangelical not only in his attempts to raise money to encourage kids to play baseball but also in helping young players who are struggling to overcome their own issues.

For instance, Hunter talks to Tampa Bay outfielder Elijah Dukes “two or three times a week” to try to offer counsel and advice.

Hunter knows that throwing around the race card does nothing to deal with larger socioeconomic issues. One Bay Area columnist charged the Athletics with racism for trading Milton Bradley. Ignored was the face that as of July 3, the A’s had as many African-Americans on their active 25-man roster (two) as the Astros, Yankees and Red Sox … combined.

Lastly, check out Curtis Granderson’s blog on ESPN. Here’s a kid who could probably help in that Sheffield effort. Kinda cool to get a young guy’s perspective on the game, you know, besides guys like Schilling or Todd Jones writing their blog or column respectively.