Thursday, March 20, 2008

Night Flights

After a week's hiatus, Dan is back and rested. Watch out--I imagine, we will get a steady of stream of Tokyo Dan over the next couple of weeks.

Tonight (or is it this morning?), Dan presents us a detailed-laden blow by blow account of the Sox flight to Japan. I have got to say I am torn over this one. On the one hand Dan provides a light-hearted look at the trip:

- He offers some pleasant enough anecdotes
- He spares us the bitching and moaning of the long trip
- He touches upon yesterday's near boycott without going to Jackie MacMullan extremes (She details yesterday's "extraordinary" events. I am sorry but that whole drama was incredibly self-serving on part of the Red Sox players. I am probably in the minority here but spare me this crap. Getting paid $40K on top of your salary to take a trip to Japan? )
- In general, it is an entertaining look.

On the flip side, does Dan not appreciate the irony of this column? He frequently rails against the hero worship of athletes, as personified by 50 year olds wearing Curt Schilling jerseys... Does he not realize that he is committing the journalistic equivalence of wearing a Schilling jersey? Columns like this (and he has done this before) feed the frenzy. We get that behind the scenes look - players gathering in the cockpit to see the Northern Lights...players clutching their favorite pillows, etc. While I find this interesting on some level, I frankly don't need to know all these details. And I am not suggesting that Dan is fawning over the players - he is not. Yet when he describes every nitty gritty detail, he is essentially stoking the flames of hero worship. (Not sure if I am articulating this point very well but hope you appreciate where I am coming from)

Finally, we have the strangely abrupt finish of this article with the Varitek pillow story. What is up with that? Is Dan the victim of bad editing? Or are we the victims (again) of his poor writing?


Monkeesfan said...

I'm not sure what to make of a piece like that. I think I see your point on the seeming contradiction of Shaughnessy criticizing fans who hero-worship athletes then providing ammunition to justify their hero-worship.

Anonymous said...

Funny he couldn't be bothered to write a niece piece complimenting the players on their stand for the coaches.
He'd rather write inane observations than anything positive about the players...

Dave M said...

Monkee - thanks for the note. I think what I am getting at is that when I read a column like this, I fee l like I am reading the "VIP notes" in US Weekly or the gossip notes in Star Magazine. It is not direct hero worship per se but this type of writing contributes to the notion that even the mundaneness in these athletes' lives are worthy of the exacting attention of a major sports columnist. In that respect, it is putting them on a pedestal--a pedestal that Shaughnessy is trying to constantly knock them off!

Dave M said...

Anon 3:39 AM: You make a valid point. I dont know if you remember this but in the aftermath of 9/11, Dan made a continued stink about how Red Sox players could not be bothered to pass the hat for donations. So when they do unite, he seemingly shakes it off.

That being said, I know I am in the minority but that whole episode really left a bad taste in my mouth. As I mentioned in the original blog entry, it just seemed self-serving. I am an economist and I don't begrudge players and coaches whatsoever for their salaries - whatever the market will bear is a pretty good guideline. But the notion that these guys (players or coaches) should be paid $40K for making this trip just seems ludicrous. The whole boycott thing smacked of "Look how magnanimous we are...aren't you proud of us for sticking together?" Maybe it is my inner Shank coming out (God forbid) but I thought the whole thing was silly especially Jackie M's breathtaking coverage.

Am I in the minority? Anyone else feel differently? Just curious--I am ready to be flamed :)

Carl said...

Dave -

I don't think you're in the minority -- and even if you were, you'd at least be on the side of reason. The players held out so their coaches could essentially get a really early Christmas bonus for going on a business trip. If it wasn't for the MLBPA and its ridiculous sense of self-importance, this whole episode could have been avoided. Why should baseball players who make several hundred thousand-to-several million dollars a year get $40 thousand dollars for a road trip?

I know people who work for the Red Sox front office and I know that they are rewarded well for the extremely hard work they put in over the course of a season (and pre-season, for that matter), but $40K is absurd and the fact that this reward was in jeopardy for some of the staff should not generate any sympathy from Red Sox fandom whatsoever.