Sunday, July 09, 2006

Juicy gossip redux

There is a big excerpt of Seth Mnookin's book in the Globe magazine this morning. It's pretty long and most of it is irrelevant, but I would like to reproduce the following portion:

Then he got a phone call alerting him to an article in that day's Boston Globe. On the front page of the paper's sports section was a Dan Shaughnessy column entitled, "Let's Iron Out Some of This Dirty Laundry." When Epstein began reading, he felt his stomach drop. After weeks during which he'd talked with Henry, Werner, and Lucchino about his unease about the organization, here was confirmation of his worst fears. In his column, Shaughnessy, who'd known Lucchino since the 1980s, when both men worked in Baltimore, chided Epstein for not properly respecting his superiors. After all, Shaughnessy wrote, it was Lucchino who'd "discovered" Epstein and "held his hand" during his first years in baseball. Now, Shaughnessy wrote, Epstein was exhibiting an "alarming . . . need to distance himself from those who helped him rise to his position of power." Epstein, according to Shaughnessy, didn't even know all that much about baseball. "It's a mistake to say [Epstein] knows more about baseball than Lucchino or anyone else in the Red Sox baseball operation," he wrote.
Duh. Okay. Most of us have seen this crap enough times already, including in the article on Friday. Sorry for repeating it . I just didn't feel like the next part flowed very well without a brief intro.

Either Lucchino or Red Sox executive vice president in charge of public affairs Charles Steinberg, Epstein felt sure, had prompted the column. Both men, after all, had been heard saying lines almost identical to some Shaughnessy had used. (About a week earlier, several sources confirm, Steinberg had a conversation with Shaughnessy and another reporter in which he said many of the things that ended up in Shaughnessy's column. Steinberg says he never "spoke ill against Theo." "Nor would I," he says, "because that's inconsistent with how I've felt about him all these years, and I still know, with the grace of God, he's destined for more greatness.")

Mystery solved. There it is, right there. We all knew CHB was a tool, right? This is all the proof you need. It's amazing how poorly done the whole job was, too. If you're going to do it right, at least make a token effort to have it seem balanced. Instead it came out like some editorial in the Pyongyang Times. So it was the Minister of Fun, eh? This was already called at the time:

FWIW the article didn't make Theo leave, but if you were gonna bet on it, I'd tell you to bet that it was the proverbial "straw" given the load of BS in it, and the 100% blatantly obvious "industry source" who uttered, OUT LOUD, some of the EXACT comments that were IN the article on Sunday, verbatim.
Curt Schilling on SoSH, ladies and gentlemen, on November 4, 2005. As a side note, I call BS on Steinberg's comments about Theo, as an acquaintance of mine worked with both of them in Baltimore and says they haven't been on the best of terms since Theo was 18 years old (1991). I wouldn't say that it was anything like what apparently happened last fall, but let's not pretend they were buddy-buddy. Steinberg is a PR guy, after all, which means that you really can't take anything at face value.

Does it seem to anyone else that by printing this excerpt of the book in the Globe, somebody may be trying to throw Shaughnessy under a bus? He comes off really, really badly here. It's one thing to talk to a source and write something based on what he says. Quite normal, actually. It's another to not even bother to investigate any possible agenda behind it and make any sort of attempt to get the other side. I know it was a column, not a news story, but let's please have some standards here. This just smacks of laziness and malevolence. I guess I shouldn't be surprised. Perhaps the 17% Globe is trying to make itself appear more objective. Or maybe they're just trying to make themselves the story again. Note to the Globe: It's not always a good thing.

If this is all the mention CHB gets in the book, rest assured that I will say as much when I finish it and post no more about it. I know some of you have to be getting tired of it. But I fully expect him to be mentioned in conjunction with Nomar and some others, so there will probably be more. Hey, it's not like you're actually being forced to read his writing, just Mnookin's and mine.


fadedredsoxhat said...


Why is the Globe exposing CHB this way?

The Chief said...

Beautiful. This may explain why we haven't seen The CHB around the Red Sox beat in so long. No doubt the Globe saw an advance copy or proofs of the book. And I would suspect that they or Dan or both have decided to lower his profile until this blows over.

Which it won't.

P.S. Minister of fun. Now that's funny!

The Chief said...

From the same article: You have to have each other's back. [Red Sox chairman] Tom [Wermer] and Larry and I, we have each other's backs. We've always felt that way, from day one." Henry told Lucchino the same thing.

Who is Tom Wermer? lol

The Chief said...

More typos:

He'd promised Henry he would no longer isolate himself in the baseball operations' basement fortress, and after more than a year of reenting Lucchino, he realized he shared responsibility for their damaged relationship.

"Reenting." Who edited this thing?

jenny said...

A few thoughts (yes, I'm commenting on my own post under a different name. Sue me):

1)I don't think the Globe higher-ups realized how direct the links were with the Dentist, CHB, and Theo's reaction. That has to be a blow, especially if they were in denial. To put it in primitive terms: Theo read, Theo get mad, Theo quit. Even I didn't think it was quite that simple. He was ready to sign, read the column, and did a complete 180. Cause, effect.

2)"It's a mistake to say [Epstein] knows more about baseball than Lucchino or anyone else in the Red Sox baseball operation" is the most retarded sentence ever penned by CHB.

3)Lucchino is incredibly paranoid. Every bad little thing in the press makes him think someone is out to get him. How did he ever get so far with such thin skin?

4)Henry is oblivious. "Theo has looked exhausted and miserable all year and is exhibiting many of the signs of clinical depression. Therefore, I should wait until October to ask him if he's okay." "Theo hates media leaks, therefore I should be surprised and shocked when they upset him as much as they do." "The newspapers say he wants $2.5 million a year. I should believe them and get mad instead of asking." "Larry knows what he's doing. So despite the fact that waiting 3 days sounds incredibly stupid to me, I should do that anyway."

Come on, Mr. Henry. Sack up and deal with stuff.

fadedredsoxhat said...

Where is damagecontrolbruce when you need him? C'mon Bruce, I want your take on this.

Objectivebruce said...

Still waiting for someone, anyone, to come up with a single aspect to this legendary column that's false or not based on reporting. You may not like the reporting, sycophants rarely like anything that casts a negative eye on that which they adore, but it was reporting. If the anonymous sources cited in this excerpt from a book are correct, Shaughnessy talked to people who expressed a point of view. That's part of column-writing, believe it or not. Good columnists are good reporters first, something that is often forgotten, or more accurately, ignored, by shoot-from-the-hip bloggers who ruminate over observations from afar and the reporting of others.

Welcome to the real world, boys and girls.

There is still not a shred of evidence to indicate that Shaughnessy was told what to write by the Red Sox, or that he didn't filter the comments of people he spoke with through his own experience and knowledge. And if he attaches more credibility to the comments of someone he has known for decades, as opposed to a wunderkind he has covered for two years, then he is entitled, based on experience and judgment to draw conclusions from his conversations.

Who was misquoted? What fact presented in the column wasn't true?

Lucchino paranoid? Absolutely, the owners of the club are control freaks, intent on converting a ball club into a "brand," to use the marketing nomenclature of the times. But Lucchino doesn't storm off in a huff because he doesn't like a newspaper column, that sort of reaction is reserved for St. Theo.

That Epstein didn't like the column? and went running home speaks more to Epstein than it does to Shaughnessy.

Stop treating Epstein with kid gloves. In the fall of 2005, he tried a power grab. It didn't work. If he saw the column as reflecting the reality that the power grab was doomed, so be it, he joins politicians, industrialists and, yes, sports executives, on a very long list of people who learn a very simple rule of life:

When you shoot at kings, you must kill them.

fadedredsoxhat said...

"There is still not a shred of evidence to indicate that Shaughnessy was told what to write by the Red Sox, or that he didn't filter the comments of people he spoke with through his own experience and knowledge. And if he attaches more credibility to the comments of someone he has known for decades, as opposed to a wunderkind he has covered for two years, then he is entitled, based on experience and judgment to draw conclusions from his conversations."

I agree with you on this, Bruce. He may not have been told what to write, but he wrote what he was told. Larry did not want Theo back. According to the book, they could have had a signed contract a few days before Halloween. Larry said, "Let's wait". Thats when he and Dr. Steinberg talked to thier favorite columnist in a last ditch effort to get Theo gone. Why would they think it would work?

The Globe, by re-printing CHB-related exerpts, are making CHB look like Larry's dildo. Why is CHB getting thrown under his own bus?

The Chief said...

It is clear that Shaughnessy was used by LL to take down Theo. And it is equally clear that Shaughnessy didn't consider the impact of what he was writing -- or even recognize that he was being used -- when he delivered his body-slam on Theo.

There was no reason for him to write that column. It was an opinion, sure, but the "facts" as they were were obvisouly distorted in order to trash Theo and pump up Larry.

Writing that column reflected poor judgment. That The CHB could not recognize that he was being used, however, reflects a startling lack of insight, particularly for a journalist who's been around for a million years.

His response to Steinberg should have been, "Wanna send a message? Buy an ad."

Objectivebruce said...

Uh-huh. No reason to write a column about the general manager when the general manager's existing contract was expiring and negotiations for a new contract were the big Sox story of the week.


The Chief said...

Well Bruce, if that's what The CHB wrote about I wouldn't have a problem. But as we all know, that's not what he did.