Thursday, July 31, 2014

He's Green with Envy

The CHB can't figure out the Red Sox.

I know, I know...that's funny and all given that he never could.

But in the wake of the Jon Lester and John Lackey trades, he's trying to understand what the Sox are planning for 2015.

How's this: To do better than in 2014.

Oh, and what bothers him is the money: "The one conclusion we can draw from all this is that the Sox are intent on not overpaying older players," he writes. "No more long-term deals."

That's a dumb conclusion.

For what John Henry et al have been saying is that there are huge downsides to doing such deals. That does not, however, mean they won't 1) sign players to long-term deals or 2) sign older players. But it does mean that being cautious is the coin (get it?) of the realm.

And given the outcomes of the past couple decades, is that a bad thing? In other words, how would you like to be New York right now, paying A-Rod (age 39) and CC Sabathia (33) a combined $28 million this year* -- for a total of eight games played.

The Red Sox might be a large market team -- but they aren't that large.

So "Kansas City on the Charles," Shank? I think not. When was the last time KC won three World Series in 10 years?

*Assuming they pay A-Rod the $3 million owed outside of his suspension.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Dreamed Up Drama

The CHB is stuck. Stuck on the Red Sox. Stuck on John Henry. Stuck on the ownership's "arrogance." And most of all, he's stuck on the fans, whom he is decrying -- for the third time in nine days -- for showing up for sporting events on nice summer days.

OK, we get it: The CHB don't get stats. He somehow thinks Boston should pay $140 million or so to get a pitcher who would have to defy 110-plus years of baseball truisms and pitch better in the next decade than he did in the previous one in order to justify that payday. And, of course, should Lester inevitably fail to live up to that contract, Shaughnessy will be the first to jump all over him (and the fools who trusted him with that kind of coin).

And yes, we get it: The CHB don't get entertainment. He obviously never goes to blockbuster movies, the ones where you know how they will end before you step foot in the place and yet willingly overpay for an uncomfortable seat and stale popcorn in exchange for the right to be entertained for two or three hours.

In Shank's eyes, John Henry deserves neither respect nor patience. After all, three World Series crowns are nothing compared to the clear and obvious scheme the "carpetbagger" owners dreamed up to trick Red Sox fans out of their hard-earned money!

If The CHB ever actually talked to a fan, he would know we think Fenway is an outdated piece of crap, that the ticket prices are high (but not nearly as bad as the food prices, given its awfulness), and the parking is nonexistent. But we also know that 1) the Red Sox are entertainment, and even on the worst days nothing beats the old ballpark and 2) the management, unlike Shaughnessy, shows up every day and puts in its best effort. And that's worth something.

Oh, and there's those three World Series rings. ... How many has Shaughnessy won again?

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Loud Curmudgeon

John Henry takes a shot at one of his own employees -- yep, The CHB himself -- in none other than the Boston Herald today:

“I don’t have a message because the way you play and results are what count,” Henry said. “Fans continue to sell out Fenway. They’ve suffered through some really bad games this year, but they continue to show up and the mood at the park among the fans is very positive when I walk through the stands. Before Tom, Larry and I arrived I believe fans had less patience.

“A loud curmudgeon I know accuses them of being soft, bad fans — but anyone paying attention knows the mood has changed at Fenway over the years. People expect good things from the Sox and really love being at Fenway. This team accomplished something very special last year therefore the fans aren’t about to not give them the benefit of the doubt.”

Once again, the hedge fund manager finds a way to articulate -- accurately, no less -- that which the guy with 40 years' experience writing could not.

His Column on Who's 'Best' is Like a Pile of No. 2

Years ago, I offered up my hypothesis of how The CHB prepares a column: He listens to talk radio for four or five hours, writes down the best lines, then builds a piece around that, with the central position to be 1) whatever is opposite of what the group-think is or 2) to hone in on (and attempt to bully) anyone who might possibly know more about sports than he does (which, of course, could be just about everyone).

And in today's piece, Shank confirms my observation. He writes: "If you were driving your car and somebody flipped on the radio and you heard people debating the merits of Carl Yastrzemski and David Ortiz, regarding their relative contributions to the Red Sox, how would you feel?"

Now, understand that the question was posed to Yaz himself. But also understand that this is exactly the conversation (if we can call the perpetually hyperventilating Tony Massarotti capable of such a thing) that took place on Felger and Mazz last week. So thank you, CHB, for being so transparent and predictable.

As for the answer, The CHB just as predictably gets it all wrong. Yaz had a lifetime OPS+ of 130 and a lifetime WAR of 78.2. A terrific leftfielder the earlier part of his career, he was actually five games worse than replacement level from 1969 on. Big Papi's career OPS+ is 139. But as to who is/was the better player? There's no question. Ortiz's career offensive WAR (47.2) is one-third offset by a negative defensive WAR of -18.6. Papi is roughly the same player as Jim Rice. This if it's a race between Papi and Yaz, it's Yaz, hands down. But if we are to include all previous Red Sox players, Jimmie Foxx and Manny Ramirez would come take the No. 2 and 3 slots, with the stunningly underrated Wade Boggs in the mix for the top five as well. A wiser columnist would have known this.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Shank On 98.5 The Sports Hub

Just wanted to note that Shank was filling in for Michael Felger on the Felger / Mazz afternoon show this week. I listened for a few minutes yesterday and today, but since I was driving, I turned it off after a few minutes because I couldn't risk falling asleep while behind the wheel...

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Black and White and Dumb All Over

It was an unusual night -- two international soccer teams squaring off at Fenway Park -- but The CHB gives it his usual treatment. To wit:

1. Mock soccer
2. Mock John Henry
3. Mock Red Sox
4. Offer off-topic history lesson in which the Boston Patriots, Carl Yastrzemski and Gino Cappelletti are mentioned
5. Mock Dr. Charles Steinberg

But the point, which Shank writes yet somehow misses, is captured in this line: "This was not a baseball crossover crowd."

Henry, upon buying the Red Sox, was asked about the fate of Fenway. He immediately recognized the possibilities in generating greater revenue from the park without necessarily having to increase the costs for baseball fans. Concerts, Bruins games, fan tours and other such sidelights are generating significant monies, which should be appreciated, not mocked, because they permit his investors to pay for the Sox from Sox monies only, not underwrite the cost of capital improvements by diverting cash from the baseball operations.

Instead, The CHB only seems to care about the (low) score, forgetting -- for a night -- how much he appreciates such baseball treasures as complete game shutouts and no-hitters.

Sunday, July 20, 2014


Is Shank getting ready for retirement, or does he have an understanding with John Henry? It seems like he's hitting ownership pretty hard in the opening full paragraph:
At this hour, your Boston Red Sox enjoy a friendlier environment than almost any of the 30 teams in baseball. The Sox have a chance to finish in last place for the second time in three years, win a playoff game in only one of six seasons, and still be perceived by their fans as “perennial contenders.’’ The Sox can play nine games under .500 for the first 95 games and still have a Nation of believers thinking they can win the division, or compete for the phony second wild card. Sox owners can pare payroll ($72.5 million scheduled to come off the books for next year), stay well below the coveted luxury tax threshold, and listen to regional applause while fans pay the highest ticket prices in baseball. The Sox can get folks to buy into the notion that it’s foolish to compete in the open market for the services of their best pitcher. Sox tickets and merchandise are hotter than they were at this time last summer and Pat Moscaritolo, president of a Boston tourist group, says, “For the past 10 years that I’ve been tracking visitor spending and the economic impact of the Red Sox, it’s almost unaffected by the team’s performance.’’
The rest of the column is the typical picked up pieces fare; semi-interesting tidbits and enough stupidity (74 year old Joe Torre a 'terrific choice' for baseball commissioner?) to make you want to line your birdcage with it.

UPDATE, 7/21/2014 at 6:20 PM - Bruce Allen at Boston Sports Media Watch piles on. We will respectfully disagree with one point - Bruce says Shank forgets about the 2013 World Series win by the Red Sox. We are far less charitable here. We believe that Shank is indeed pissed that his little cottage industry of 'The Curse' has been toppled, and that it's more logical to assume that Shank deliberately ignores the success of the Red Sox (and that of other local teams, for that matter) in order to continue taking that Bud Light fueled piss on anything successful by local professional sports teams in the New England area. Just wait until the New England Patriots get revved up in a week or two as Exhibit 1,652.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

'Selig' Him Later

MLB Commissioner "[Bud] Selig is easily harpooned and mistakes have been made, but none of baseball’s other eight commissioners could possibly match his love for the game and respect for its history."

So says The CHB today, ignoring, for instance, Bart Giamatti, who when rumored to be a candidate for the presidency of Yale, responded, "The only thing I ever wanted to be president of was the American League," and who wrote several articles on baseball, including one for Harper's on Tom Seaver, and another called "Baseball and the American Character." (Moreover, unlike Selig, he actually dealt with problems that occurred on his watch.)

The CHB likes to talk about the inflated home run totals during the so-called steroid era, but ignores the fact that homers today are the same as in the 1990s on per ball in play ratio. (The only difference: more guys are striking out, thus fewer balls are put into play.) So was it the drugs, or something else? Shank doesn't know, and he doesn't care.

Shank is also still complaining about the "bag job" sale of the Red Sox to the Henry Group, even though the results has been three World Series crowns. Perhaps he's still upset over the end of his Curse of the Bambino franchise.

The only surprise? That The CHB could write a column on PEDs and not mention David Ortiz.