Friday, August 31, 2007

Rambling and Meandering Incoherence

You know I could swear I read this morning's column on Wednesday morning. Alas, I looked back to Wednesday and recognized they indeed are distinct pieces but with a common thread -- Shaughnessy wanders aimlessly making one point or another, just hoping and praying that something sticks - something that in a month he can come back to and say "I told you so." There is no sense of coherence...there is no main point. He says lots of things and yet, he says nothing at all. This is Shaughnessy at his laziest....this is Shaughnessy at his best (and I don't mean that as a compliment.)

First, one of Shaughnessy's favorite tactics - his point that any encounter with the Yankees is a scene from another world - that somehow the Red Sox-Yankees series are on a different plane than any other series. Now read his first few paragraphs--and simply plug in the Tampa Bay Devil Rays - yes, those Devil Rays that have only been in existence since the last decade - and the same types of things would apply. Sure, the Red Sox and Yankees have dramatic series and lots of history--I'm not arguing that - but it is hardly unique to the Yankees and Red Sox. Shaughnessy's over-dramatization is like a warped application of the halo effect.

Second, as pointed out on BSMW this week, why do all these writers feel the need to proclaim that the race for the AL East Crown is over and we are not even in September? Hell, Shaughnessy was declaring it over weeks ago....and then he softened when the lead went down to four games....but then he grew more emboldened when the league was at 7, emphatically declaring that it was over on Wednesday ("Fear not, gentle readers. The Red Sox have won the American League East")... Today, just two losses later, he recedes ever so slightly ("Most of us still believe the race in the AL East is over")...But why even make the point at all? It's like Shaughnessy is feeding the expectation machine so that if it ever collapses, he can write another book about the greatest collapse in the history of the modern know, the "Yankees are the daddies", blah, blah, blah. It is absolutely ridiculous.

Speaking of the moronic daddy thing, Shaughnessy dusts that one off today ("If you are a Yankee fan, the better news is that the sweep established the Yanks as wild-card favorites and still Daddies of the Red Sox.") What? Are you kidding me Shaughnessy? Didn't the Sox put that one to bed in 2004---you remember that comeback don't you?. The Yankees are the "daddy" and yet you have repeatedly declared the Yankees aren't topping the Sox in the division this year? What the hell are you smoking?

Then we have the significance of the small sample size which Shaughnessy loves to latch on to...On Wednesday, he wrote...."when the Yanks are bad, they are Superbad (in their last 19 games, they have lost by scores of 15-4, 12-0, 18-9, and 16-0)." Today, he writes things such as "Meanwhile, the vaunted Yankee lineup is finally intact and ever frightful."...this statement coming only two games after the "Superbad" statement and in those two games, they scored a whopping total of 9 runs.

And, oh my favorite statement "Mariano Rivera again reminded us that he is the best there ever has been at the end of games." Rivera is great and all, but if I recall correctly, the Red Sox have had his number a few times before...Shank, do you recall the 2004 World Series?

Finally, it is hard for old Shank not to get his rips in on his old buddy "Schill"....compares him to Al Nipper and in a strange analogy, says the new Schilling is like pork being the new white meat....what???? Of course, once again, he calls him the "Big Blowhard" and makes a crack about Schilling and the Devil Rays...a crack which is sure to be a staple of future columns.

This truly was a sickening column.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Dan Likes Roger

Dan offers his observations on Roger Clemens. And you might recognize a couple from yesterday's column. If you needed more proof that yesterday's column was a meandering mess, Dan repeats Clemens' Red Sox win total and that he last pitched against the Red Sox in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

A Column About Nothing

A series of bad jokes/references ("which is tempting because when the Yanks are bad, they are Superbad"; "Boston its first look at Joba (no relation to Wilt, Wes, or Neville) Chamberlain"; "With a bad moon risin' beyond the right-field facade") strung together through a series of mostly unrelated and/or patent observations.

You have today's column.

One little factual cleanup:

Sox pitchers have used New York hitters for target practice without fear of retribution (70 Yankee batsmen hit to 49 Sox since the Pedro era began in 1998)

First, Dan, the difference is about just a little over 2 per season. Or about one every eight regular season games. Second, it has something to do with the hitters on the Yankees, like Derek Jeter and Jason Giambi who are routinely in the top ten in HBP. Third, Pedro Martinez and Tim Wakefield routinely are in the top ten for batters hit. Therefore, there is a very reasonable explanation for the relatively small difference in HBP.

Friday, August 24, 2007

A look at the new BC Football Coach

Shaughnessy gives us a profile of Jeff Jagodzinski, the new head football coach of the BC foootball team. Some interesting stuff with the main themes being that 1) BC has risen to elite academic status and is no longer an academic "safety" school; 2) the expectations for the football team have also increased--fans want something more than than a car parts bowl game; 3) the new coach has a balanced view of the world and will not be sleeping in his office to sacrifice family life--which I think is pretty cool.

Shaughnessy will inevitably get a dig in on someone or in this case some place - this time, taking a swipe at hee-haw towns like Clemson, SC and Morgantown, WVa implying that these schools have lower academic standards and a backwards way of life as compared to BC. As someone who grew up within an hour of Clemson, I can tell you Shaughnessy's characterization is so provincially myopic, it's not even funnny--and it is one of the things that lie at the core of my distaste for Shaughnessy--his penchant for making off-handed, baseless and yet arrogant comments. Makes me bristle.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Another Boring Piece About Something He Knows Nothing About

Dan is usually lost when he writes about anything other than Larry Bird and the Red Sox. Today is no exception. Writing about Laurence Maroney, Dan has nothing to offer except for a bunch of quotations and some jibes at the way things are kept quiet down in Foxboro. No swipes at Bob Kraft, though.

(Sorry for the delay. blogger was down most of the morning.)

Monday, August 20, 2007

The Return of Sybil

Dan's Sybil-like tendencies have been pointed out before. Today, though, he puts those tendencies to good use with a debate between glass half empty guy and glass half full guy.

Dan effectively describes both sides of the issues (We have lost 10 games to the Yankees in three months, but there are 16 games left versus the Orioles and Devil Rays.) It is well done, but you are left wondering where Joe Sullivan's bravest sportswriter is.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Sentimental Dan

Sentimental Dan emerges Sunday. This is one of Dan's "There are more important things in the world than professional sports" columns but fortunately for us, he is more subtle than usual and resists the temptation to preach.

Shaughnessy juxtaposes this weekend's reunion of the 67 Red Sox with Friday's night's National Anthem performer, Jordan Leandre, a 7=year old Jimmy Fund patient...Jordan has sung the anthem a few times in the past--but this time was different because Jordan followed his singing by running the bases--something he had never been able to do because he was so weakened by cancer. I do like Shaughnessy's description of Jordan's trip around the bases esp. as Jordan crosses the plate.

Overall, a nice column but one annoying Shaughnessy trait crops up yet again--I will call it the "exaggeration of the current". This is where he makes over the top statements about the particular person or event he is discussing. One recent example is when in the aftermath of the Garnett trade, he said there was never a better time to be a fan of New Rngland's sport teams. He has a couple in today's column...for example, he calls the 67 Sox the most important in team history. I understand his point but it us very much a debatable one.

On a side issue, Ive recently moved and my new job impairs my ability to do the weekend (Fri-Sun) shift here. Anyone interested in taking on my role?

Friday, August 17, 2007

Shaughnessy Flunked Economics Class

Shaughnessy must have had a tough time with Econ 101 in school. Trampling all over basic econ theory, Shaughnessy criticizes the fans who will make their way to the Patriots preseason game and calls the game a fraud since the regulars won't be playing.

Where is the fraud, you idiot? Every single fan at the stadium tonight knows full well what to expect and what not to expect. It's no secret; there is no fraud. NFL teams don't play their starters for very long in preseason ganes. These fans, acting on their free will, decide to wait in traffic and attend the game nonetheless. No one is forcing them to go. De gustibus no est disputandum.

On the flip side, the Patriots would not charge full price unless the market would bear it. And obviously, the market will bear it as Shaughnessy himself points out (There are plenty of people on the waiting list, right Dan?) It's not fraud. As Guido Sarducci says, it's all about supply and demand.

Shaughnessy not only flunks econ, he takes a few swipes at the fans in the process, calling them suckers. (I wonder if these are the same suckers who think you are a good sportswriter?)

Of course, Shank can't stand Belichick--almost as much as he hates the old Blowhard Schilling, but for the exact opposite reason. According to the gospel of Shank, Schilling doesn't shut up; Belichick doesn't say anything. He dogs Belichick for not providing any insight on whether the preseason is too long or too short. I am not a big fan of the old Coach classic "It is what it is", but I agree with Belichick on this one. It is what it is - the NFL establishes a framework of rules and schedules and Belichick works brilliantly within the structure that is established. What does he really care if the preseason is two games, four games or six games? He deals with it and doesnt waste time debating things of which he has little control. But bitter little Shaughnessy can't seem to let it go - guess he will have plenty to stew about as he waits in traffic for tonight's game.

(I deleted my post from this morning--it was meant as a placeholder...I have recently switched jobs and the new schedule is overbearing. I regret that the timing and depth of my posts have not been the

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

A Look Back at Gagne's Big Inning

Dan writes up last night's game as a feel good piece, but for Eric Gagne, while avoiding more Lester talk.

Dan goes a little over board when he calls Gagne "one of the greatest relief pitchers in the history of baseball." He had one of the greatest runs as a closer, but that doesn't put him anywhere near Mariano Rivera or Trevor Hoffman. He isn't even in the same league as the relief aces of the 70's and 80's.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

The Road is Paved With Hot Issues

and boring commentary.

Dan (again) talks about Barry Bonds. Dan (again) has nothing to offer. (Did you know Barry Bonds went to the same high school as Tom Brady? Or that Barry's middle name is "Lamar"? You cannot get this insight anywhere else, people).

Dan then moves closer to home to talk about the Red Sox division lead. He assumes that people must be panicking and is glad that he is away from it all. In all the fear mongering Dan misses out on some key points. The Red Sox have been playing well lately while the Yankees picked up two games by going 5-1 against KC and Toronto. Also, the Yankees schedule changes dramatically starting Friday when they open up in Cleveland. Lets see where the lead is at the end of August when the Red Sox and Yankees meet again.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Playoff Preview

Despite the lead shrinking to five games and numerous cautions from those involved, Dan writes about what may have been a playoff preview. Pretty standard stuff. Surprising for the lack of handwringing regarding the shrinking lead and poor play.

One huge mistake, though:

They rank third in the American League in hitting and pitching.

No, Dan. They are fifth in hitting (OBP is the best measure of hitting, not BA) and fifth in RA (or fourth in ERA).

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Dan is Confused

Dan cannot seem to decide whether to rip Schilling or praise him in today's piece. He starts by writing:

"The Red Sox strengthened their roster more than any contender in the week after the trading deadline. And we are not talking about the expensive acquisition of Eric Gagne."

But by the end, Dan isn't so sure:

"But he's been hit pretty hard over the last 12 months. Unable to win consistently, Schilling has given up 212 hits (22 homers) in his last 170 innings."

What is it Dan?

- Dan once again uses the adjective "immortal" to describe an average player. Another in a long line of tired bits from Dan.

Monday, August 06, 2007

More of the Same

Dan submits another in a string of boring columns. And just to make sure you get his point, he includes another rip on Schilling the blogger ("Blogboy Blowhard Curt"). Just move on.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Lester/Cancer Angle

Shaughnessy has a special affinity for the Jon Lester story. Shaughnessy's own daughter is a cancer survivor and so the Lester story seems to particularly pull at his heart strings. It is nice to see Shaughnessy's "sensitive side" as he offers a nice look at Lester's start in front of his hometown in Seattle.

Overall, a pleasant enough story with a few particulars to note

- Shaughnessy once again shows restraint and does not mention that his daughter is a cancer survivor. (He has shown this restraint in his past few columns about Lester) It's refreshing that Shaughnessy does not make the column about himself as he often does

- On the flip side, Lester has repeatedly said that he wants to go on with his life and Shaughnessy seems unwilling to let this angle go. Shaughnessy says Lester has now closed the circle with this start in front of hometown friends. Hyperbole, Dan? Why wasn't the circle closed when he made his first minor league start or when he made his major league return in Cleveland? Yes, it's a great story and all but are we going to get another full circle story when he returns to Fenway? (Reminiscent of his spring obsession with Daisuke M--we had "Dice-K's first" stories for what seemed like a month)

- Minor point...Dan refers to the "immortal Yuniesky Betancourt " and the "maniacal Jose Guillen"...the one-word adjectives are over the top

- Finally, Shaughnessy closes with the whole shtick about Lester always being the "guy who came back from cancer". Perhaps/perhaps not. (Do people still always refer to Mike Lowell as the "guy who came back from cancer?") Again, I agree it is an awesome story but given Lester's desire to move on with it, you would think Shaughnessy would do his best to let him.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

A Day to Celebrate

That is the theme of Dan's column today, one day after the Celtics announced the acquisition of Kevin Garnett and the Red Sox traded for Eric Gagne to pitch the 7th or 8th inning.

Dan puts it all together in perspective and concludes the Celtics are the Eastern Conference favorites and the Red Sox are World Series favorites. Dan finishes with a list of all the star athletes playing in this town now, and it is very impressive. There are, by my count, at least four Hall of Famers in their respective sports playing in Boston right now. Two of those are in football, a notoriously elite Hall of Fame. Enjoy it while you can. Hopefully, in twenty years you will be telling your kids about what happened in 2007-2008.