Thanks to Objective Bruce for pointing out a second piece from Shaughnessy this AM - a commentary about how today's athletes have a different relationship with reporters than 20 or years ago. Our friend OB said the commentary "is an excellent look at the level of access and familiarity of journalists to and with players."
When I first read it, I thought it was intriguing on one level but problematic on several other levels. I then read the column by Pat Jordan which inspired Shaughnessy's effort and it reenforced my belief of what a shallow writer Shaughnessy has become. And I conclude that the column is problematic on pretty much all levels.
Shaughnessy quickly acknowledges that his commentary was inspired by Jordan's article and another article by Mitch Albom. If you have the time, read Jordan's piece and then read Shaughnessy. First off, Shaughnessy is nothing but a copy cat here -- there s no original thought. He jumps on Jordan's bandwagon and simply says "Hey, I feel the same way too." but his analysis is not nearly as sound as Jordan's. Whereas Shaughnessy bemoans the lack of access, he offers no insight as to why this has occurred. Jordan does and does it reasonably well.
In either case, does it not occur to Shaughnessy and Jordan that there is a line between a journalist and the people they cover? Both appear to have crossed it. Jordan admits that Seaver wanted to be portrayed in a certain light...is it possible that Jordan was a pawn as Seaver invited him in and treated him warmly? Shaughnessy meanwhile longs for the days when athletes and reporters rode to the airport together for road trips. It is subtle and perhaps not a big deal in the grand scheme of things but can a reporter really maintain objectivity when he has these buddy-buddy relationships? (Thanks to Mike B1 for hammering this point home)
On another level, I think Shaughnessy is guilty of waxing too poetic about the good ole days. Is it really that much different now? We still get stories about Dustin Pedroia and his card games with Francona. Shaughnessy talks about player's nicknames from the 80's but I am sure he could reel through the nicknames on this team as well. On his Japan trip, Shaughnessy also gave some personal glimpses into the different players as they prepared for the long road trip. Really not much different than the kinds of examples he gives from those good ole days.
On yet another level, Shaughnessy is hypocritical. In his past work, he comes across very hard against the fans who engage in hero worship of these athletes. He is sharply critical of men who wear jerseys with player's names on them. Yet he concludes this little piece with "ultimately, it erodes the connection between sports fans and their heroes." So why does he care so much about feeding this hero worship with one hand and ripping it apart with another? It is
Finally Shaughnessy does come across as a bitter and even jealous. He talks about his colleague Marc Spears who has more access than others and speculates that this is because he was a former player himself. He also hints that Spears works hard at it. Can Shaughnessy fathom the possibility that it is not the publicists to blame and that it may be case of a generational and/or racial divide? Shaughnessy can't be bothered with thinking about this because as usual, his analysis is weak. As a result, his commentary does come across as whiney on yet another level.
So Objective Bruce, I disagree that this commentary was excellent. I can call it copy cat; I can call it hypocrtitical; I can call it shallow; I can call it illustrative of an ethical breach; and I can say it is borne from jealousy but I can't call it excellent. Sorry.