Wednesday, September 24, 2008

That's Not Rain on the Red Sox Parade

Old Man Shaughnessy has a lecture today for all you young whippersnappers, those of you who don't know what it was like to suffer like him.

It starts off celebratory:

Five playoffs in six years. Not bad. Not bad at all.

Then he feels the need to provide us with a math lesson, for those of you too dense to realize what has happened in sports over the last few decades.

There was a time (as late as 1968) when only one of 10 teams in each league qualified for postseason play. That's two of 20. Today, it's eight of 30 making the playoffs - not quite like the old NHL, which took 16 of 21, but it's considerably easier than it was in the old days.

Then he has to tell us what it really was like to suffer.

Those of us who grew up in the 1950s and '60s remember the hungry years.

And reminds us of one of the great sports cliches.

So we are careful not to be too casual about this.

Yes, Dan. We all need to be reminded that the Celtics can have the third worst record in the NBA, that the Patriots can go 5-11, and that the Red Sox can be a dysfunctional mess under stagnant ownership and a weak general manager.

So Dan has established his moral authority over us. Now it's time to look down his nose at the players.

Having said all that, does anybody else find these early-accomplishment celebrations a little overdone?

The Red Sox have baseball's fourth-highest payroll. They had seven players in this year's All-Star Game. Do they really need to cover the lockers with plastic wrap and spray one another with champagne because they have officially qualified as one of the final eight teams in this year's tournament?

But Dan Dan does a quick 180 degree turn, quoting Terry Francona:

"Just because we've had success in prior years, I don't see why this group shouldn't celebrate what they've accomplished. We know we have more baseball to play."

To recap:

- Five playoffs in six years is good
- But it isn't all that special because it is easier to get in the playoffs
- You don't know what it is like to suffer like I do
- Still, others team don't come close to doing what the Red Sox have done
- The players shouldn't celebrate because they should have won
- The players should celebrate because Tito said so

I think there is a medical diagnosis for this type of behavior.

Monday, September 22, 2008


Dan has a column about the rout in Foxborough yesterday. Not as smug as you would think, but some cliched digs. A reference to the CBS Scene (get over it, Dan) and a ludicrous claim:

It's been well-documented that Belichick's genius seemed to start around the same time Brady became his quarterback.

Dan is just about a decade off. Belichick was the man behind the defense that shut down the Jim Kelly led Bills.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Tuna

As the Miami Dolphins make their way to Foxborough today, Shaughnessy uses his space to discuss Bill Parcells and his latest reclamation project. For the first couple of paragraphs, it seems like Dan might play it straight and talk about Parcells and the Dolphins going forward but then it devolves into a somewhat angry look backward about Parcells, the Krafts, BB (the former HC of the NYJ), etc.

Since Parcells won't talk to him (or apparently to anyone in the media), Shaughnessy retraces well worn steps. One sentence up front immediately made me laugh:

He makes $4 million per year. He does whatever he wants and the owner leaves him alone. Pretty good work, if you can get it.

Revise the salary, change "owner" to "publisher" and Shaughnessy could be writing an autobiographical sketch.

Shaughnessy gets several digs in on the Krafts including a nasty little zinger where he asks if the Krafts are sitting on phone books when they watch the games. He also says it is conveniently ignored that it was James Orthwein who started the renaissance of the Patriots and not the Krafts. By whom?

After a string of a couple of nice articles here and there, Shaughnessy reverts to form....bitter and lazy but raking in a nice paycheck all the while. Pretty good work, if you can get it.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Holliston High

Shaughnessy writes about the heart-wrenching grief faced by the Holliston HIgh School football team after the very recent deaths of one of their players (who died after a scrimmage) and one of their honorary team members (a 10 year old who died of leukemia). It is a touching story and worth a read. Fortunately, he once against shows restraint and does not get on his soapbox. He will sometimes use stories like this to remind us about what's really important in life and how it puts the daily ups and downs of the Red Sox and Patriots into perspective. Thankfully he resists that temptation and it is worth a read as a result.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Sunshine and Bliss on Yawkey Way

Dan is getting the word out: Everybody in the Red Sox front office is getting along just fine.

Dan is just like a poodle on Lucchino's leash. He barks when Larry tells hims to and sits when told. No "Theo and his minions" or snide remarks about age and how Theo owes everything to Lucchino in this article. I guess Lucchino wants to make sure that this contract renewal goes smoother than the last one.

Friday, September 12, 2008


Dan writes about Mat Cassel’s long standing role as second fiddle to a three-time Super Bowl winner and two separate Heisman trophy winners. It is a decent look at Cassel and the road that has led him to his first start in a meaningful game in a decade.

It’s really not a bad article overall, but I would take issue with a few points:

- For the umpteenth time this week, I have heard that Matt Cassel has not started since high school. Shaughnessy’s statement today is that “The last time he started a football game was Nov. 24, 1999, when he quarterbacked Chatsworth High to a 49-42 loss to Palisades Charter High School in the third round of the Los Angeles City Invitational playoffs.” This is not completely true – he has started some preseason games. Granted I get the point but he may want to couch his statements better.

- Dan perpetuates the whole shtick about Belichick’s unwavering faith in the system when he writes “The Patriots believe the system is bigger than any player and that is why Cassel is the QB rather than an experienced backup from the NFL scrap heap.” This is another oft-repeated claim and I don’t buy it. I do think it is true that they won’t transform their approach to a player who would not fit (Culpepper?) but I think Cassel has stuck with the team and is now the starter because he is talented. The fact that he knows the playbook after three years also goes a long way. It’s not like they pulled a high schooler off the streets because they believe he "fits the system"

- If Shaughnessy is going to write an article like this, a fresh perspective would be to interview his college coaches to get their perspective on his talent. Was there a significant difference between him and Palmer and Leinart? Or was it more slight? Would have been a good angle to explore

- Finally, he ends the column with a "string the quotes together" technique

Again, not a bad article but could have been better
(Edit: Corrected link, Thanks DB!)
(Edit 2: When I wrote this critique Friday, I said this column could have been better and this is what I had in mind:...Bob Hohler's piece is an excellent read this morning about Cassel)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A Good Effort

Dan writes an good piece today, with a novel concept and some pertinent points.

Dan weaves the obsessive Tom Brady coverage (i.e. breathless news reporters breaking the news that Brady walked into Gillette) into a discussion of the Rays-Red Sox. His best point was the about Curt Schilling:

Did you hear? Schill ripped into New York fans' treatment of the Brady injury and somehow got himself on the cover of the Daily News - talking about Brady and New York fans.

I don't agree with Dan about Schilling most of the time, but this time I have to. Why is somebody who threw his last pitch for the Red Sox eleven months ago talking about football and New York Jets fans? This guy doesn't know when to let go.

Sounds like somebody I know. Maybe Dan and Curt are too much alike to get along.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Dan, Telling Us What We Feel

Dan likes to portray New England fans as little more than infantile sycophants with a lack of perspective. He does it again today with these prominent early sentences:

New England sports fans are lost boys and lost girls. They have lost their leader and their mojo. They have lost their way.

Yes, Dan. A guy I have never met and who has no bearing on my life is my leader.

Dan recovers from his condescending tripe to give a nice recap of the events of the last 48 hours that changed the Patriots season. Of course, it had to come with gratuitous swipes at Patriot Place (and by extension, the Kraft family) and a Bruce Springsteen reference.

Monday, September 08, 2008

What Will He Write?

Whenever big news happens, I like to invite the readers to guess what Dan will write. So with a day to ponder it, what will Dan have to say about Brady's injury? What will be the oh so clever nickname? What curse will Dan dream up? Tell us in the comments section.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Boston College's Old Freshman

Shaughnessy writes about Chris Crane, Boston College's 5th year freshman who led the Eagles to a frustrating loss yesterday. For the past four years, Crane has pretty much stayed on the sidelines as Matt Ryan has led BC. Crane get his real first shot as a started and did not have a good game. The article offers a fair recap and it was a reasonable angle for Shaughnessy to take.

There is one true Shankism when he writes, "Coach Jags can say it's not just one guy, but we know better." How ironic it is that Shaughnessy rails against his readership so often but then he employs the "we" technique as if he and the world are in perfect harmony and he is our spokesman.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Thanks for the. . .

kick in the nuts, Dan.

Dan regales us with what life would be like if the Patriots had won Super Bowl XLII. A lot of indigestion and angry commuters this morning thanks the Miserable One.

However you feel about the topic, though, Dan did manage some good lines:

"Mercury Morris would be harder to find than Whitey Bulger."

"Seventeen Greater Boston television and radio stations would have paid for the rights to be the "official station of the World Champion Patriots.''"

"The Bruins would be very, very lonely."

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

A Littile Bit of This, A Little Bit of That

And you have yourself a column. Well, you do if your Dan Shaughnessy. Find a topic, preferably negative. Then write about it for a bit, padding your column with obvious information. When that well runs dry, further pad with quotations, ignoring any attempt to make it all flow. You just gotta fill those column inches.