Thursday, March 26, 2009

Another Prospect for Dan's Hit List

I was bowled over this morning to get an e-mail from my publisher notifying me that my book, It Was Never About the Babe, which our hero, CHB, thought was "unfair" to him, had been endorsed ... in the Irish Times!

Stunned can't describe the feeling. And the author of the review, long-time Boston journalist, George Kimball, denigrates Dan's mythical thesis on decades of Red Sox failure, as well. I can't help but believe that Danny Boy's Irish eyes won't be smiling.

"Gutlon argues that the Red Sox were cursed, all right. For more than 80 years they were cursed by a policy of institutionalized racism and a mind-boggling litany of wrong-headed business decisions ...

"... although he is a professional journalist by trade, Gutlon is first and foremost a lifelong Red Sox fan, and what he brings to the table in his eminently readable new book is a comprehensive accumulation of anecdotal evidence delivered from that perspective – the winning argument, if you will, in a hypothetical bar-room debate on the subject."

And the hits just keep on coming!


Roger Bournival said...

If Shank hates it, it must be worth reading! I hope to pick up a copy soon, Jerry.

But now my blog-boy post must turn 180 degrees to report some truly heartbreaking news about the parent company of the Boston Globe:

Earlier: Along with cutting newsroom salaries 5%, the New York Times (NYT) cut 100 jobs on the business side of the company today. Here's the (stack of pink slips) memo:

Dear Colleagues,

In a note just distributed, Arthur and Janet informed us that the company, regrettably, must take even more aggressive steps to control our costs (involving tourniquets). Clearly, our course is (Bermuda Triangle bound) not getting any easier. The recession, especially the deteriorating advertising climate, is exacting a bitter toll, despite all that we have already done to reduce spending.

This morning, we notified about 100 employees on the business side of The Times that their jobs were being eliminated. We thank these dedicated colleagues for all they have contributed to The Times over the years.

Now get the fuck out!

The broader announcement today outlines a temporary (heh...) salary reduction for the remainder of the year for all non-union employees, including the top leadership of the company. It is our hope (and change!) that these cost-cutting measures will allow us to avoid further layoffs.

You wanna take that bet? Didn't think so...

The details of the salary reduction will be communicated to you shortly by your senior managers. Although employee pay will be cut by 5% for the remaining three-quarters of the year, you will be entitled to 10 additional personal days off over the nine months. Next year, we plan to return salaries to their current levels. Of course, such a decision depends on the state of our business.

In addition, we will be asking that our Guild-represented colleagues make a similar sacrifice. The Company plans to discuss this with the Guild leadership this afternoon, in a spirit of shared sacrifice and as a way to otherwise avoid layoffs in the newsroom.

Navigating this difficult passage for our business has not been easy. We need to do what we can to reduce spending in the face of falling revenues. At the same time, it is vital we do everything possible to maintain the quality and reach of the journalism that is the hallmark of The Times and to support the resourcefulness and competitive edge of the Media Group's business operations.

Decisions such as today’s underscore the scale of the challenges facing us as we confront not only the structural changes reshaping our industry but also the deepening global recession.

We honor those who will no longer work alongside us and extend our gratitude to them for their contributions. Further, we want to thank every one of you who are sacrificing a portion of your pay over the remainder of the year.


Scott, Bill, Martin & Andy

Monkeesfan said...

A mind-boggling litany of wrongheaded business decisions - want to bet Shank would not look for any Curse if he were writing about the Sullivans?

ObjectiveBruce said...

It is apparent that this blog is no longer an outlet for expressing views on a particular member of the Boston sportswriting fraternity, but is now an outlet for the selling of a book.

A "comprehensive accumulation of anecdotal evidence." Not surprising that Kimball would find that as part of a good week's work; dig out some old copies of BAD if you want to see what he considers research.

ObjectiveBruce said...

Well gee whiz. I've read the review.

Interesting that Kimball states:
"Gutlon’s book, published by Skyhorse, isn’t exactly groundbreaking in this regard. Howard Bryant’s 2002 book Shut Out: A Story of Race and Baseball , had previously addressed the racial issue"

Back on March 3, I suggested that " I'll take a look, but so far don't see much beyond what we've already seen from Howard Bryant"


It is also worthy of note that Kimball states "the book makes it abundantly clear that the Red Sox exorcised the ghosts of the past by winning the 2004 World Series."

Ghosts. Curses. Looks like the use of a device remarkably similar to that employed by Shaughnessy.

Kimball also points out that he first met Gutlon back at Graham Jr. College (which, sadly, passed out of existence 30 years ago) and that he had been interviewed extensively for the book. That doesn't mean that he can't like the final product or that he can't write about it, or that the author can't trumpet (or "blurb") the praise, but somewhere along the line it ought to be mentioned that the person using to commend the book was also a source.

Now Kimball does state that "what he brings to the table in his eminently readable new book is a comprehensive accumulation of anecdotal evidence delivered from that perspective – the winning argument, if you will, in a hypothetical bar-room debate on the subject."

I would never dispute that racism was a major factor in the poor performance of the postwar Red Sox. They had opportunities to break the color line and didn't. In the years prior to Robinson, though, the racist policies followed locally cannot be given full blame for the Sawx being at at a competitive disadvantage (viz. other teams) since no club before Rickey, Veeck and the vastly underappreciated Chandler broke the color line was doing anything about signing black ballplayers.

But the history of the club through the 20s and 30s is as indelibly stamped with Frazee's mark of incompetence as the team of the 40s, 50s and 60s bears the Yawkey brand of racism. Frazee sold players for cash and did not reinvest in the team -- to the extent that he took a club that had won 101 games the year he bought it and made it a 91-game loser the year he sold out. Would the team have been such easy pickings for Yawkey had Frazee not run the most successful franchise in baseball into one of the three worst?

Ruth was the biggest single example of the Frazee mismanagement that plunged the team into decline from which it took decades to recover. The Ruth deal stands today symbol of what went wrong.

Ironically, the complaints we hear about Shaughnessy's "curse" are that it is used with a profit motive, yet Gutlon uses the "curse" for much the same reason; treating Shaughnessy's use of a symbolic device as something meant literally in order to attack a paper tiger and promote his book.

The fact is, the reason the Red Sox didn't win a world championship for 86 years lies as much in Frazee's mismanagement and squandering of talent without reinvestment as in the Yawkey record of racism. However, Yawkey did spend, and put up cash for some pretty good ballplayers in his first dozen years, such names as Grove, Foxx and Cronin were as illustrous as acquisitions as made by any club in that era of Commissioner Landis throwing a body block in support of the color line. After building the team in to a contender in the mid 40s, Organized Baseball's color line was broken and Yawkey presided over the decline of the franchise through the 50s, when black ballplayers better than any he had on the field became stars for other clubs while locally the . That decline continued until O'Connell's second (look it up) term as general manager.

And it all started when the biggest legend in the history of the sport was peddled for satchels of loot.

Guess I gotta buy the book now.

Anonymous said...



LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Awesome, bunky!

Your pal,


Jerry Gutlon said...

Obtuse Bruce...

I finally figured it out!

You suffer from PMC ... perpetual menstrual cycle!


JERRY G said...


Now, while I'm at it ...

First, Kimball acknowledges our connections back in 1973 while I was at Grahm (that's G-r-a-h-m, mind you), as well as the fact that I picked his brain while putting together my book.

By the way, Shank ignored my repeated requests for comments ... then whined because I was "unfair" to him. (And, while I think of it, if Shaughnessy is such a stellar reporter, why has he allowed the misinformation in his book to remain uncorrected through 21 printings? For example, Marvin Williamson???)

Bryant's book concentrated solely upon the racial aspects of the Yawkey regime.

And Frazee sold the club in 1923, so how can you brand him as the source of the Sox woes throughout the 1920s and 1930s.

Also, Frazee's options were limited because he was slandered by Ban Johnson, who believed Frazee was Jewish. The Yankees were the only club that would deal with him. Likewise, Big Harry did obtain players during that time who simply got hurt or who bottomed out after going to the Sox.

Shank appropriated George Vecsey's allusion to a curse and ran with it all the way to the bank. I've never stated that I believed Shaughnessy actually believed there was a curse. What I objected to was his insistence in perpetuating that myth.

JERRY G said...

Oh, and OB ...

Frazee knew his time as Red Sox owner was limited because of Johnson's vendetta against him so he deliberately sold off his best assetts, i.e., players, to hmastring whomever Johnson chose as the new owner(s).

redsock said...

It is apparent that this blog is no longer an outlet for expressing views on a particular member of the Boston sportswriting fraternity, but is now an outlet for the selling of a book.

A writer using his personal blog for whatever he feels like writing?

The nerve!

ObjectiveBruce said...

Thank you for admitting that Frazee's actions wrecked the franchise.

Now, could we please get an explanation as to how he managed to make deals with Washington, St. Louis, Detroit, Philadelphia, Chicago and Cleveland in addition to New York in the American League (my goodness, that's the entire league) and with Brooklyn and Boston in the National League (n those days of restrictive interleague trading) despite the conspiracy against him.