Friday, January 6, 2023

A Star Stays Put So Let's Revive A Blog Series!

2022 was not a good year for us Red Sox fans. A myriad of issues on the field and in the main offices contributed to a last place finish. An off season that saw little talent coming in and arguably the greatest shortstop in franchise history packing his bags for San Diego. (As an aside, as upsetting as it was to see Xander Bogaerts go, giving him an 11 year contract is madness and I'm glad the Red Sox didn't go there.) Things had gotten so glum that it seemed everyone was resigned to the idea that Rafael Devers would be the next star to depart.

News this week that the Red Sox have signed Raffy to the 6th largest contract in MLB history was not only a welcome relief from the off-season's negativity, but also established that a well loved franchise player will be part of the team for most of his career.

I'm so excited that I decided to bring back a blog series that I haven't done in years. I used to do a series of posts based off the "6 degrees of Kevin Bacon" game, where I used the TCDB feature of randomly selecting a card in my collection, and then connecting both the player and set to former Red Sox All-Star Mookie Betts. It was a fun and interesting exercise, but once Mookie was traded to the Dodgers, I lost interest in doing any more.
Now that I have faith that Devers tenure in Boston could potentially outlast this very blog, I'm happy to bring back this series with a little rebrand.. 

Welcome to 6 Degrees Of Raffy!

We'll start with a randomly generated card from my collection:

Random TCDB Card: 

1982 Topps #568 Joe Pettini


For our first challenge, we have Pettini, a utility infielder who spent parts of four seasons with the Giants in the early 80's. There are two ways I can go about finding a connection. has a nifty little frivolity called the Oracle of Baseball that does all the heavy lifting for me. Because I've added the challenge of matching players within team sets, I still have check to see if any two players appeared as teammates with set. My second option of course is to just look at the team set and see if I recognize any future Red Sox players in it (In the case of 1982 Topps, I saw Jack Clark as an option).

Since it's been awhile since I have done one of these, and especially since I wanted to get this post done pronto, I opted to use the Oracle. This one took awhile - lots potential matches, but also a lot of instances where two players didn't appear in the same set. (For example, Devers technically played with Chris Young on the Red Sox in 2017, but Devers rookie card isn't until the 2018 set came out.) After a bit of trial and error, I did manage to find my chain:

Teammates in the 1982 Topps set
#680 Ellis Burks
#17 Darrell Evans

When finding links in a chain, guy who played in 3 different decades like Evans can be life-savers!

Teammates in the 1990 Upper Deck set
#143 Darrell Evans
#535 John Smoltz

Another life-saver - sunset cards! Evans appeared in numerous 1990 sets despite 1989 being his final year. I didn't need his sunset card to match him with Smoltz, but I wanted to highlight the usefulness of getting a "bonus year" out of a player.

Teammates in the 2009 Topps set
#355 John Smoltz
#350 Dustin Pedroia
Veteran players who bounce around towards the end of their careers is another thing I look for when making a link in the chain. Smoltz spent less than one forgettable season with the Red Sox, which was all I needed.

Teammates in the 2019 Topps set
#440 Dustin Pedoia
#228 Rafael Devers

Our final link connects a former lifetime Red Sox great with potentially the next one. Chances are as I do more of these, you'll see quite a bit of the Laser Show as well. It bodes well to have someone at the tail end of their career overlap with the start of Rafael's!

Degrees of Raffy: 4


  1. This is a fun idea for a series!

  2. Love these posts! Also impressed by the layout.. I have no idea how to make tables like that in blogger.

  3. This is great. Love that Baseball Reference tool.

  4. Very cool. Smoltz in a Red Sox uniform will always be weird.

  5. Love reading 6 degree posts. Completely forgot Smoltz was in Boston.

  6. I just looked up that contract, and wow! When you read things like that, it's not hard to see why people are starting to feel such a disconnect from the players.