Sunday, March 29, 2015

Armed and Dangerous ... to Logic

Ironic, isn't it, that a day after The CHB goes after David Ortiz for defying Father Time (and, by implication, drug testers), he pontificates about a possible arm injury suffered by Red Sox backstop Christian Vazquez?

We say ironic, because here's The CHB's take on the injury is to quote ex-Sox manager Joe Morgan, who reportedly said, “You almost never see a catcher with a sore arm."

Skipping, for the moment, any supporting data for such a statement, The CHB immediately agrees: "Joe’s right. It’s rare. Morgan makes this point to demonstrate the value of throwing all the time. He thinks modern pitchers baby their arms. Joe’s logic is that, the more you throw, the stronger your arm will be. The rarity of the sore-armed catcher makes his point."

Well then!

Modern medicine would probably love to know what Capt. Morgan's been putting in his coffee. Ligaments, like any muscles, tendons or bones, are susceptible to injury from overuse. You only have so many bullets in the revolver. This has been known since Ted Williams was at his peak. And oh by the way, the rise of year-round baseball, coupled with the specialization at early ages many athletes are forced into, are feeding the overstress.

But, and here's where the irony kicks in, there is a strong correlation between steroid use and ligament damage: "That damage may stem from their cartilage adapting slowly (or not enough) to the increased muscle growth and force generated by the drugs, or from the greater mass and stress exerted on their ligaments and cartilage."

But Christian Vazquez isn't Big Papi. He's young and, to The CHB, unsullied by time and arrogance. So naturally he's above suspicion. Would that Ortiz be given the same consideration.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

A New Nickname, but Same Old Dan

The CHB has a new nickname!

Yes, it seems every generation of baseball player gifts Shank with a pet name. Back in 2000 Carl Everett coined the Curly Haired Boyfriend. And David Ortiz has now pegged him with a new one: "the reporter with the red jheri curl from the Boston Globe."


This shows up in today's ready, fire, aim column in which The CHB (sorry, the RJC) attacks Ortiz for having the temerity to complain about the dark cloud of suspicion that follows him ever since his name showed up on the Mitchell Report.

The CHB (sorry, old habits die hard!), of course, insists that, despite a lack of proof, that Big Papi must be cheating, because no man that is so beloved in Boston could possibly be on the level.

In a classic moment of irony, Shank writes that Ortiz's observations on the color and nature of The CHB's CH are incorrect and yet "these are not the errors or details that are bothersome in your essay."

The CHB cares about accuracy? Who knew?

The rest is a rehash of perhaps every conversation Shank ever had with Papi. In reading it (don't bother), one comes away with the impression that The RJC has been watching too much Court TV.

Larry Bird watch! (That's twice in three columns.)

Friday, March 27, 2015

Name That Columnist!

Boston Red Sox DH David Ortiz is not too happy with past and present efforts to label him a cheater with respect to performance enhancing drugs (PED's). This being the age of the Internet, he fires back.

Further down the column he describes an encounter with a 'reporter' two years ago. It doesn't take Albert Einstein to figure out who the 'reporter' is (with an awesome new nickname for You Know Who):
In 2013, I came off the DL and started hot. My first 20 games I was hitting like .400. And the reporter with the red jheri curl from The Boston Globe comes into the locker room says, “You’re from the Dominican. You’re older. You fit the profile of a steroid user. Don’t you think you’re a prime suspect?”

He’s saying this with a straight face. I had taken like 70 at-bats. Anybody can get hot and hit .400 with 70 at-bats. I was stunned. I’m like, I’m Dominican? I fit the profile? Are you kidding me?

I wanted to kill this guy. But you can’t react. That’s what they want. They want you to get angry so they can bury you. So I just smiled at him and asked for his address.

“Why do you want my address?” he said. (that would be 58 Elmhurst Rd. in Newton - ed.)

“Because I just got tested two days ago.” I said. “I’ll mail you the f****ing results.”

This is a reporter from my own city coming to my locker and telling me I’m too good, that I must be on some shit. I’m sitting there thinking, Man, I get tested 10 times a year and I’ve helped win this town two World Series titles in 2004 and 2007 and this guy who has never played a game of professional baseball in his life is telling me I’m a suspect.

My test was clean just like the other 8 or 9 tests that season. My batting average settled down to .300, because of course it did. I hit like 30 home runs and we won the World Series. Was that acceptable for the reporter? Were my numbers too high for a player from the Dominican? Should I have taken another blood test before popping the damn champagne?

He never apologized.
Don't hold your breath waiting for one, Big Papi. You're definitely not the first guy he's tried to bury, and you won't be the last...

Thursday, March 26, 2015

To the Victorino Goes the Spoiler

In every big transaction, there is a magic moment during which a man has surrendered a treasure, and during which the man who is due to receive it has not yet done so. An alert lawyer will make that moment his own, possessing the treasure for a magic microsecond, taking a little of it, passing it on. If the man who is to receive the treasure is unused to wealth, has an inferiority complex and shapeless feelings of guilt, as most people do, the lawyer can often take as much as half the bundle, and still receive the recipient’s blubbering thanks. 
So says Leech, the professor who schools the scheming family trust lawyer Norman Mushari in Kurt Vonnegut's novel God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater.

Similarly, our boy Dan knows that in every big (or little) conversation, there is a magic moment during which a man a surrendered a thought, and during which the sportswriter can make that moment his own, possessing the thought long enough to make a controversy out of it, and eventually, a paycheck.

And that's what The CHB does today, highlighting -- though not offering any wisdom, insight, or funny jokes -- the imagined dispute between Red Sox outfielders Shane Victorino and Mookie Betts, and the real (and senseless) opportunism by his radio facsimilies Michael Felger and Tony Massarotti, who are trying to make something out of nothing.

And why would a guy with nothing to add to the situation even bother reporting on it? A spring training where the focus is on baseball simply isn't good enough for Shank the Spoiler.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Chili-Fest Short on Good Taste

This we know: The CHB can't praise one person without putting someone else down.

Which is why today's love letter to Chili Davis rips new ones for Ted Williams, Maury Wills and Joe Kerrigan.

But there's those pesky details.

The CHB says Williams "could never understand why his young hitters had difficulty with Teddy Ballgame’s Science of Hitting."

Fact? The data say no.

When Williams managed the 1969  Washington Senators, they finished fourth in the AL (12 teams) in batting average and OBP, and five of their top seven hitters were 27 years of age or less.

The next year, they finished last in average and 7th in OBP with only two of their top seven hitters aged 27 or less. And in 1971 they finished second-to-last in average and seventh in OBP, again with two of their top hitters aged 27 or less.

What I love about this is how The CHB rambles on and on about Chili Davis'communication skills, yet there's this garbled line: "I talk to our hitters about my failures more than my sucesses [sic]," he said. “I talk about why I sturggled [sic] and how I got out of my struggles."

Wow. In a column about quality, you'd think they'd get the little details right.

Bonus: Larry Bird Watch!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Swing And A Miss / A Column About Nothing

So Shank goes back to Ft. Myers for more spring training stories and asks the hard-hitting questions:
What’s with all the odd baseball ailments springing up?

FORT MYERS, Fla. — I couldn’t wait to get back to Florida, back to baseball. I had to find out what was going on with all the small, strange injuries plaguing the men who play this glorious game.

Reading the paper back in Boston last week, I was stunned to learn that David Ortiz could not play spring training games because of “dehydration.’’ I wanted to rush down here with a case of Poland Spring for Big Papi, but then Sox manager John Farrell said there were a couple of other things going on with the star DH.

It turned out that Papi had the flu. He had “general soreness.’’ He has played in only six of 16 spring games and might be back by Thursday. Ortiz looked game-ready during batting practice before the Sox played the Cardinals at JetBlue Park Monday.
So, the premise of the column is that 'all the odd baseball ailments' this spring are some sort of aberration. After talking to athletes from baseball and other sports, Shank reaches this conclusion:
Dehydration. Dead arm. Obliques. These are things that are going to happen.

That’s baseball.
Never mind!

UPDATE, 3/25/15 at 6:41 PM - Title corrected to fix the typo.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Grinding The Ax

The Kentucky Wildcats won their first two games of this year's NCAA tournament. As sure as the sun rising every day, you can count on Shank to take another shit on coach John Calipari.
Kentucky wins. Again and again.

I love this story. I love to poke fun at coach John Calipari, Kentucky superfan Ashley Judd, and citizens of BBN (Big Blue Nation, didn’t you know?).
No you don't - you just like taking steaming dumps on Calipari. You have yet to say a word either way about Ashley Judd, and anything you say about Big Blue Nation is simply cover fire for taking shots at the coach.
I love the idea that we have a team in the NCAA Tournament that is 36-0, with a maximum of four games remaining. If the Wildcats run the table they will be the eighth NCAA men’s team to finish undefeated, and the first in 39 years. No team has ever finished 40-0.
From there it's a long, drawn out discussion of perfect NCAA teams, Shank noting that Calipari's suit was 'right out of "Goodfellas"', and that there "may be more NCAA Tournament vacancies in Calipari’s future". No shot too cheap for this columnist.