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Friday, February 23, 2018

The Obligatory David Price Column

Shank continues to heap praise on the embattled pitcher, but that will change sometime this year.
All he is saying is give Price a chance
What never changes - lame and extremely dated song lyric references!
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Despite all the noise and nonsense — and even though I thought he lost his mind and his manners and blew up the Red Sox season last year — I am a big believer in David Price’s talent. I think he could be Boston’s best pitcher this year. I think he could have a Cy Young season. I think he could win back the fans.

Perhaps this demonstrates some character flaw, but I just can’t quit on Price. I thought Boston folks were too tough on him when he was characterized as a failure after winning 17 games and leading the majors in innings in 2016. I was still in Price’s camp early last summer, right up until he ambushed Dennis Eckersley on the team charter, creating a loser culture of tension and joylessness.
I'm not entirely sold on the above premise that Shank's fully self-aware. I'm also not entirely sold on this on again, off again fake love affair with Price. If and when it becomes news that Price is opting out of his contract later this year (I think it's going to be when, not if), Shank will turn on the afterburners and write two successive columns with the sole purpose of running David Price out of town. The only thing that will stop that from happening is his boss, John Henry, nixing the columns, which we're certain has already happened a number of times since Henry bought the Globe years ago.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Is There A J.D. Martinez Problem?

Shank, stirring things up as always:
...or maybe Martinez flunked the physical?

Says The Newspaper With Sexual Harrassment Problems

The Shaughnessy Extrapolation

Here's the column where Shank tells J.D. Martinez how bad the Boston sports media abuse will be when he gets to his first four-game hitless streak.
FORT MYERS, Fla. — There was great energy in the Red Sox clubhouse at JetBlue Park Wednesday morning. J.D. Martinez was in the house, getting a physical and waiting for Scott Boras to arrive. The locker room was positively buoyant as David Price and his Richie Havens beard held court in one corner while other players chatted in front of their stalls.
Enough bullshit - let's cut to the chase:
In this spirit, I hereby submit my own humble advice to J.D. Martinez: Clip and save. Here are the dos and don’ts of playing in Boston.

■ Remove all radios from your home and automobile. No sports talk radio for you. Ever. From now on, it’s Kenny G, Katy Perry, and Beyonce.
Missing from the list - 'Avoid Dan Shaughnessy like the plague'.
■ Blame yourself when things go wrong. Be harder on yourself than any wiseguy columnist or radio shock jock. The late Dennis Johnson was the master of this. He’d rip himself after shooting 2 for 10. Ditto for Bill Walton. After Walton’s first game as a Celtic (a loss in New Jersey), Walton said, “I was a disgrace to the game of basketball.’’ This disarms the media and the fans. How are we going to rip somebody when they’ve already scorched the earth?
And that's Shank, again not even trying to hide it anymore.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Shank Recycles Another Column

He's not even trying to hide it anymore.
You be the judge.

Seven hours before it was announced that the Red Sox signed free agent slugger J.D. Martinez, Sox owner John Henry (also owner of the Globe) and chairman Tom Werner took questions from the New England media at JetBlue Park Monday morning in a remarkable 18-minute session highlighted when Henry said, “I don’t think we need to be popular. We need to win.’’

In what is traditionally his only public press session each year, Henry pushed back on the notion that the Red Sox haven’t changed much since last year (the roster was effectively identical before Martinez signed). The owner, now in his 17th season, insisted there had been significant changes and blamed any perceived problems with the 2017 Sox on the coaching staff, which was entirely replaced (excepting Dana LeVangie) in the offseason. The problem, Henry said was all in “the approach.’’
Shank already wrote a column about this media session yesterday. It seems pointless to rehash it again, unless the purpose is just to be an asshole.

The Obligatory J.D. Martinez Column

After bitching about the lack of roster moves by the Red Sox, Shank feigns interest in the J.D. Martinez signing.
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Slugger J.D. Martinez is a now a member of the 2018 Boston Red Sox. I haven’t been this excited about a Sox acquisition since Jack Clark was brought on board back in 1991.

Anybody remember Jack Clark? He was the big-money, big-ticket righty slugger who was going to hit 50 homers over the Green Monster. Unfortunately, he hit 28 in his first season, then five in his second season, went bankrupt, and was out of baseball after playing only 221 games with the Red Sox.

Seriously, I love the Martinez signing. What’s not to love? It’s not our $110 million the Sox just committed over the next five seasons. The Sox need homers and Martinez hits homers. He hit 45 last year in a mere 119 games (432 at-bats) with the Tigers and Diamondbacks. Who cares that he is working with his fourth team at the age of 30? There’s no need to be alarmed at the fact that he was released by the Astros in 2014, or traded by the Tigers last summer. He is a certified slugger and brings badly needed home run power to the team that finished last in the American League in homers in 2017.

Monday, February 19, 2018

The One Where Shank Tries To Get Fired

While Shank continues to criticize the Red Sox for not making sufficient trades in the offseason (and which isn't exactly news at this point, beating a dead horse is what's going on here), Shank gives his boss a hard time at today's press conference:
Me: Could you explain to fans your objection to the Yawkey Way street name?

Henry: No, I think I’ve already covered that.

Me: I don’t remember you ever talking about it.

Henry: I was quoted in the other newspaper.

Me: Could you share it with all of us?

Henry: What my objections are? No, I’d really rather talk about baseball and spring training.
Not Shank, though:
Me: But this is the only chance we get to talk to you. Is that [changing the name] something the club is actively engaged in?

Henry: It is something the club is engaged in.
Is this Shank's way of filing for early retirement?

UPDATE AT 6:35 PM - John Henry just threw Shank a bone:
FORT MYERS -- The Red Sox appear to have finally replaced the offensive void left by David Ortiz.

Free agent J.D. Martinez and the Red Sox are in agreement on a five-year contract that would bring the slugger to Boston, according to a source.

Martinez can opt out after the second and third years of the deal, a source said.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

The Obligatory Rafael Devers Column

You ever get the feeling that Shank just goes through the motions when he covers Red Sox spring training?
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Vitilla has been very good to Boston baseball.

The Dominican Republic gave the Red Sox Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz, Pedro Martinez, Hanley Ramirez, and now Rafael Devers. And all of them honed their skills playing vitilla (pronounced vee-TEE-ya), the broomstick/bottle cap baseball game children play in the Dominican Republic.

“You go to the Dominican and as soon as you land and go outside the airport, you are gonna see kids playing vitilla all over the place,’’ said Hanley Ramirez. “Every backyard. That’s all we do.’’
And what Red Sox spring training column by Shank isn't complete without a forty year-old story?
The description reminded me of a conversation I had with 21-year-old Eddie Murray four decades ago at Bobby Maduro Stadium in Miami.
Surprisingly, he hasn't reused that chestnut a shitload of times - maybe he's not going through the motions?

UPDATE AT 5:40 PM - Just to note of the five Dominican players mentioned above, Shank did his best to run the first three out of town and will do so to the other two when the opportunity presents itself.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

The Obligatory Jackie Bradley Jr. Column

Is Shank in Fort Myers to report on the 2018 Boston Red Sox or is he there to 'report' on everything else except the 2018 Boston Red Sox ?
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Despite coming off back-to-back division titles, these 2018 Red Sox seem to inspire inordinate doubt and skepticism. Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Dustin Pedroia, and David Price have alternately talked about leadership, handling things better, and the joylessness of the 2017 season. On Saturday, Price was spotted wearing a white hoodie with “We Need Leaders” printed on the back.

And then there’s Jackie Bradley Jr., the spectacular center fielder who is the second-longest-tenured Red Sox player behind Pedroia.

Anyone remember Bradley’s spring training in 2013? He was the only positive thing the Sox had going into that season. They were still reeling from the 2012 Bobby Valentine train wreck, which had come on the heels of the 2011 chicken-and-beer collapse, after which a lot of people either left or got fired. In the spring of ’13, the Sox had no hope, other than a Double A outfielder who batted .419 in Florida and made himself the Sox’ youngest Opening Day starter since Dwight Evans.
...
There is a slight weariness to him. He’s learned that in Boston the highs are higher and the lows are lower. He’s experienced plenty of both.

Bradley was on the Lou Merloni Pawtucket Shuttle in 2013, 2014, and 2015. He had his breakout year in 2016, when he started the All-Star Game and finished with 26 homers, a .267 average, and 87 RBIs. But last year he slumped to .245 with 17 homers and 63 RBIs in 133 games — a season he characterizes as “subpar”.
Eventually he'll do columns on the 2018 team. When that happens is anybody's guess.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

If You Dig Deep Enough You'll Hit Some Rocks

He really is a relentlessly negative asshole, isn't he?
FORT MYERS, Fla. — So there. It’s all true. We weren’t making it up last summer/fall when we told you that the first-place 2017 Red Sox were sour, unhappy, dysfunctional, and headed for a fall. A couple of Sox everyday stalwarts gave voice to it Thursday morning at JetBlue Park before the second official workout for pitchers and catchers.

“We had a lot of stuff going on last year,’’ acknowledged Xander Bogaerts, a veteran of the 2013 world champion Red Sox.

Could he be a little more specific?

“I mean, we all know,’’ Bogaerts said. “We all know what was going on. I don’t think I want to get into details, but that’s what I said.

The quicker we move on, the better for all of us. We should look forward to this year. It’s a new year. We should try to reach the playoffs again and get over that first round.’’
The problem right now is that Shank will not move on, until John Henry calls Shank into his office and tells him to knock this shit off.

There's Nothing Going On In Fort Myers

That's how Shank sums up the offseason & the start of spring training for the Red Sox:
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Dave Dombrowski looks tanned and rested. Which makes sense. He hasn’t done much of anything since the Red Sox were knocked out of the first round of the playoffs last October. Dombrowski just presided over the quietest offseason in Red Sox history.

This was the baseball winter in which Dombro didn’t trade any boatloads of prospects for proven talents. He didn’t sign anyone to a $217 million contract. He didn’t acquire any long relievers destined to spend the season on the disabled list. He didn’t do much of anything.