Saturday, October 31, 2009

You Dirty Rat

Shank pads his expense account via TD Garden and examines the latest accusations by Tim Donaghy that NBA games aren't on the up and up.


There is probably some truth in Donaghy’s new charges. The ref rat claims stars get special treatment - not exactly a “stop the presses’’ bulletin.

It’s not hard to imagine refs playing parlor games regarding who might make the first call of the night. Maybe a guy did T-up Rasheed Wallace in order to make his fellow refs responsible for tipping the ball boys. Some refs don’t like some players. It’s only human.

But fixing games and gambling on games is another matter. Making sure a series goes seven games is corrupt. Helping the Celtics and Lakers at the expense of the Cavaliers and Spurs is consumer fraud. It’s criminal.

And I’m not buying it.

Donaghy is a crook and a rat. He’s also broke and back in prison. And he’s trying to make a buck. His claims got some traction yesterday on the local talk shows. The unsubstantiated charges make great Internet fodder. And I am writing about it because, well, people are talking about it.

But I simply refuse to believe that the games we watch are not on the level.

Call me naive. It won’t be the first time. Certainly those of us who bought into the Sosa-McGwire home run chase of 1998 were snookered. I never thought Pete Rose would have bet on baseball while he was managing the Reds. If I’d covered the 1919 World Series, I’d have probably written at great length about the White Sox choking and underperforming.

But tanking?

Say it ain’t so.

I went to the Garden last night to watch the Celtics and the Bulls. I kept my eyes on Tom Washington, Eric Lewis, and Zach Zarba. I saw nothing suspicious. There are going to be bad calls, suspect calls. I just don’t think the refs are in the bag.

Of course you saw nothing suspicious! If you know you're being looked at, especially after resolving contentious labor issues, are you going to be calling games in an exemplary manner, or not?

If someone was snookered once by taking a position before all the facts are available, why would someone be willing to take a similar position again, given the examples cited? If Shank wants to possibly get snooked again, fine. The wiser position is no position. We don't have all the facts at this time, so we'll see how it plays out.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Baby Bird

Shank pens a pretty interesting comparison of the treatment of Glen Davis' recent brawl and the bar fight Larry Bird was involved in back in 1985 during the playoffs with the Sixers. I very vaguely remember that brawl, largely attributed to the lack of local coverage thereof. Shank brings it up not necessarily to draw comparisons between the two but rather to highlight that late night brawls involving athletes isn't exactly a standing headline (i.e., Arson suspected in Lawrence fire).

Interested readers can find a few more details of the Larry Bird fight here.

Bird didn’t speak to me for seven months after I wrote the Chelsea’s story in 1985.

You have a way with people, Dan!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Hands On

There's one last dispatch from London from Shank, focusing on wide receivers Sam Aiken and Brandon Tate. The column is free of all the usual problems associated with a Shank column, and based on yesterday's woefully hideous column, I discover why at the end:

Christopher L. Gasper of the Globe staff contributed to this report.

I don't know about you, but I'm psyched to check out the other new receiver for the Patriots:
Along with Aiken, Tate has a shot at being the Patriots’ third receiver behind Randy Moss and Wes Walker.

Get me rewrite!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Bloody Awful, Bloody Useless

That's my reaction to Shank's third and hopefully last column on the Patriots game at Wembley Stadium. He's obviously bored writing it, and has a massively patronizing tone towards the fans who attended the game. There's far too much nonsense in this column to point out on a case by case basis. The lack of effort put forth for this column is glaring by the third paragraph.

In the wake of the Titans slaughter, the Patriots were once again Pinball Wizards. With no distractions, hearing no buzzers and bells, New England led, 21-0, with 11 minutes to go in the first half.

How do you think he does it?
I don't know...
What makes Shank so bad?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Inside Track?

Our second London dispatch reads a lot like the inane gossip served up by these two broads at the Boston Herald. The brave may click on the link for the full drivel, but I will spare you and only offer a brief sample of Shank's man-crush on Tom Terrific:

LONDON - Tom Brady, international icon?

Not quite.

Tom’s wife is internationally famous. Gisele is a goddess in Europe and just about everywhere else on the planet. Tom is not even an international man of mystery.

That's the most up to date pop-culture reference as we're likely to see from Shank. Bravo!

Over here, he’s just a good-looking American football player who occasionally shows up on ads for Nike, Glaceau Smartwater, Stetson cologne, Visa, and Netjets.

London Fog?

That account belongs to Gisele. She’s famous like Jacko and Bono.

Tom? He’s not David Beckham, Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, Lance Armstrong, Roger Federer, Kobe Bryant, or LeBron James. Over here, he’s not even Serena Williams.

I’ve been checking for three days. Haven’t seen a poster of Tom. Haven’t seen Tom’s photo on the cover of any local newspa pers or magazines. Went to Waterstone’s bookstore in Piccadilly Circus Friday night and there wasn’t a single copy of Charles Pierce’s “Moving The Chains.’’ For that matter, there wasn’t any book regarding American football, though I did see the Beckham bio in which the uber-star rips the Braintree Sheraton.

Only two Shank signatures are detected here - the headline of the article, quoting from the Beatles, naturally, and in the next paragraph, his barely concealed contempt for Patriots fans that he refers to as yahoos.

Shank-on-Thames then goes on to lament the lack of Brady coverage in the London papers. The fact that Tom Brady cannot generate even a decent amount of coverage the day before playing at Wembley reinforces his point he made yesterday that NFL expansion overseas is a dumb idea. If you're having trouble getting an NFL team in the second largest U.S. market, you'd think that would be telling.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Great Moments In Philadelphia Sports Fan History

I expect no less from the city whose fans booed Santa Claus. Stay classy, guys!


We have our first London dispatch from Shank, which focuses mainly on the recent attempt to export the NFL overseas. Shank thinks this is a dumb idea, and I agree with him almost entirely. Anyone remember NFL Europe? It didn't have a lot of staying power, did it? You're also going up against Premier League soccer, which runs in the fall just as the NFL does. I don't think Brits will give up their soccer to watch / attend, for instance, Detroit vs. Oakland.

I tried looking for some prior attendance numbers at Wembley and / or NFL Europe and came across this article which stated one game for the NFL Europe's London Monarchs had an attendance figure of 6,000. The notion of trying it again has bad idea written all over it.

LONDON - The city is beautiful. The people seem to like us again.

"They like me. They really like me!" Either that, or they're just patting you on the back before they lift your wallet...


Playing NFL games in London is just a bad idea. It’s not necessary. Patriots fans know I am right. Tomorrow’s joust is a “home’’ game for the Bucs. Imagine how you’d feel if this Wembley whim cost the team one of their precious eight dates at Gillette? Imagine how much Bill Belichick likes flying six hours across the ocean and getting his team into town around 5:30 a.m. two days before a game that counts.

Armed with all this skepticism and negativity,

That's our Danny boy!

I had a chance to talk to Roger Goodell. The Commish got into town Thursday, went to Winston Churchill’s war museum with Kraft Thursday night, and spoke with a handful of reporters in his downtown London digs yesterday.

“This is a way to expand our game on a global basis and to broaden the interest in our game,’’ Goodell started. “Every time we’ve played or brought our game, they take to it in a very positive way. They find it exciting. They’re intrigued by the strategy and certain aspects of the game and the hot cheerleaders pageantry. Every time we’ve done it, it’s created more excitement.’’

Sorry. Not buying. This is the league’s worst idea since somebody decided it would be great to play a Super Bowl in Jacksonville.

I'm not buying it, either, and I doubt many Brits will.

UPDATE at 6:59 PM - Barstool Sports piles on.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Multimedia Shank - III

I just caught Shank on the local Comcast Sports Network channel, whch included a lack of support for Adalius Thomas. No argument against that position, but the pre-London trip talk was amusing (I'll look for video and post it if it's available).

Pieces Picked Up

When you run out of major subjects for a column, write about a bunch of little ones instead. One would think Shank would cover the baseball playoffs in their entirety, but when you're jet setting across the globe, who has time for that?

Picked-up pieces while packing for London and wondering how Schill got overlooked by the Nobel Committee . . .

Looks like a few Patriots / Buccaneers columns are in our future and a gratuitous swipe at the Big Lug, all in the first sentence. Shouldn't there be an expiration date on cheap shots aimed at former Boston athletes?

Janet Marie Smith’s departure from Fenway is a big bowl of wrong. With John Henry’s money and Larry Lucchino’s vision, Smith polished Fenway into the jewel that it is today. She found space where there was no space. There are always going to be things about the park that do not work (hello, Sections 3-9), but Smith did more for the park than anyone since Tom Yawkey rebuilt Fenway in 1934. Her departure speaks to new tension inside the walls on Yawkey Way. If you care about the future of the ball club, this is a warning shot.

It's good to know Shank is reporting news instead of spreading rumours and innuendo...

Brady coming out of Sunday’s game early reminded some of the night in Utah when Larry Bird sat down even though he was one steal removed from a quadruple-double.

No article is complete without the random Larry Bird reference!

Here's a good reason to like the Coors commercials:

The idiotic, ubiquitous beer commercials with the doofus kids asking questions of NFL coaches make me want to blast my flat-screen with a shotgun.


Jim Zorn might just as well put a sign on his forehead that reads, “Fire me!’’ He’s reminding us of Clive Rush in the final days.

I have Tom Cable of the Raiders as the first NFL coach to get fired this year. Zorn's making that bet look pretty bad, kind of like this 'effort' by Shank...

Sunday, October 18, 2009


Shank recounts his trip to the World Series in San Francisco twenty years ago this week. His column demonstrates 1) another good column and 2) how being through an earthquake sharpens the mind to many details of a natural disaster and its aftermath.

A few asides:

It was 20 years ago yesterday.

I can't believe he punted on a Sgt. Pepper's reference...

“I was combing my hair in the clubhouse bathroom when it happened,’’ said A’s closer Dennis Eckersley. “I got out of there."

Why am I not surprised?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Hot Stove Is Fired Up Early

Not just because of all the great weather we've been having, but Shank gets things rolling about who's likely to be off the team by spring training:

Only four survivors remain from the Red Sox’ greatest season: Kevin Youkilis, Tim Wakefield, David Ortiz, and Jason Varitek. By this time next year, it might just be Youk.

The Greek God of Walks was in the Sox clubhouse at noon yesterday, packing things in the wake of Sunday’s cataclysmic collapse against the Angels. I asked him about Wakefield, Ortiz, and Varitek, none of whom is guaranteed to be back next year.

I think Shank overstates his case by describing the Sox's three game sweep as cataclysmic. I saw a team that had trouble hitting on the road. If that was accompanied by bad starting pitching and poor defense and stupid baserunning and a bullpen that's completely shot, then it would be cataclysmic.

Varitek, Wakefield, and Ortiz are all going to be subject to hot stove rumors.

Starting right here...

Monday, October 12, 2009

Gloom And Doom Dan

Shank delivers the post mortem on the 2008 Boston Red Sox. Shank also manages to work in an Animal House and a Creedence Clearwater Revival reference in a straight-forward column.

I only watched one half of an inning, the top of the ninth. I sure know how to pick 'em.

Speaking of picking 'em...

Saturday, October 10, 2009


If only!

Shank recaps last night's 4-1 loss to the Angels. Now that the Sox are down two games to none, they have become...

Your beloved Red Sox are reeling.

At least he's consistent...

Friday, October 09, 2009

Happy 55th, Bruce!

Just wanted to say 'Happy Birthday!' to the Dan Shaughnessy Watch's resident Globeophile. Write soon!

Tables Turned

The Boston Red Sox lost last night to the Angels, 5-0. Shank gives a vintage recap of the game:

ANAHEIM, Calif. - The Angels hate the Red Sox.

You would, too, if you had to listen to what the Angels have heard for the last couple of weeks.

The Sox are in your head. You will choke in the playoffs against Boston. They beat you with Manny Ramírez and Curt Schilling and now they will beat you with Jon Lester and Jason Bay.

Which is halfway hypocritical, since Shank was one of the sports writers saying these very things. You might admire his use of the passive voice attempting to deflect any blame on his part.

Other Shankisms are deployed throughout the column: The Halos are used on a couple of occasions, a thirty-seven year old Billy Joel song reference is trotted out (Piano Man - killed by massive overplay on commercial radio), and, since we're in the vicinity of the La Brea Tar Pits, we have the pièce de résistance of Shankisms:

After getting one out, the big galoot gave the ball to Darren Oliver, a man once traded to Boston for Jurassic Carl Everett.

Shank can't resist one chest-thumper, though:

Josh Beckett - Boston’s Mr. October in 2007 - gets the ball tonight. Not to be an I-told-you-so, but some of us wanted Beckett to pitch Game 1.

Um, don't the Sox have to score at least one run for this to make a difference?

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Going Soft, Shank?

That's what I conclude after reading today's column on Sox captain Jason Varitek. It's not often that we see Shank pen articles that are sympathetic towards an athlete, as this one is. Along with last month's Richard Seymour trade, I think Shank is showing one of three things: 1) he's become rather sentimental of late; 2) he's atoning for past columns where he rips an athlete a new bunghole; or 3) it's a natural ebb in his writing biorhythym, and we'll be reading good old piss & vinegar columns once this phase passes.

One quibble:
Does he feel slighted by fans and media who have turned against him?

I'm pretty sure there's a difference between turning against an athlete (an art where Shank is a sixth-degree black belt) and recognizing that a player is simply too old to be playing effectively at a major league level.

Shank concludes that Varitek has one more start in him. Varitek is quoted as saying, "... but the fact of the matter is that we need to put our best lineup out there". One of these notions is wrong.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

What I Did On My Fall Vacation

I think Shank got out to Anaheim a little too early. Today it appears he actually talked to more athletes, specifically Red Sox players, and their memories of postseasons past.

While the article itself is decent, I'm left wondering if there might have been something else to write about. Since this isn't an obvious rehash of a column from last year, or before that, the answer must be no.

Some of them know a lot about baseball history. Most know less than the average fan. Just because you are good enough to make it to the big leagues does not mean you spent your childhood memorizing the batting averages of the 1977 Seattle Mariners.

I suppose that's because they're more interested at being good at playing the game instead of being the next Peter Gammons.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Daniel Milhous Nixon

Today Shank strolls down memory lane and recites the highlights (or lowlights, if you're an Angels fan) of the Sox-Angels playoff series. Among other things, the column lets Shank relive his two favourite decades, the 1960's and 1970's. He also chronicles former president Richard Nixon, longtime baseball & Angels fan. Overall, the column's a good effort of blending the past and the present.

I thought this part was pretty funny:

Before the first pitch is thrown, the Globe’s staff of crack baseball writers will dissect and analyze the strengths and weaknesses of both ball clubs.

I wonder if they're getting the all expense paid Anaheim trip as well?

Sunday, October 04, 2009

The Mini Curse

Looks like I was a little off base in the prior post. This week Shank gets an all-expense paid trip to California to piss off the Angels and remind them of the previous three playoff series, all of which the Angels lost.

What makes this column special? He actually talks to an athlete!

ANAHEIM, Calif. - I am having a moment with John Lackey.

Lackey has just made his last regular-season start of 2009, and he has been coy about which game he will pitch against the Red Sox. Standing in front of his locker while his teammates pack and dress for a final weekend in Oakland, the big righty handles all questions professionally, occasionally smiling and making a joke. But there’s an edge to the proceedings because there’s a guy from Boston in the group.


And he knows. He knows that I know that he knows. He knows that, deep down, the Angels are incredibly frustrated by the Red Sox. He knows that I know the Sox think they can beat the Angels just by showing up.

Shoot yourself in the foot? Lackey knows that the Angels have blown toes off their feet in the playoffs against Boston. They have run themselves out of innings, thrown stupid pitches, and made ridiculous errors. They have lost nine playoff games in 10 tries against the Sox since 2004. And Lackey has seen it all.

Me, too.

So it’s awkward to ask the questions. But that’s what we do.

“Does it tick you off the way Boston has dominated you?’’ I start.

“I really got nothing to say to that,’’ he says, shaking his head. “What else can I say, you know?’’

I do know. I know the Angels are a ball of frustration when it comes to the Red Sox. They hate the Red Sox. They hate coming to Fenway Park, just as the Magic Johnson/Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Lakers hated coming to Old Boston Garden.

Even an oft-used Celtics / Lakers reference doesn't detract from yet another decent article from Shank. Enjoy the run while it lasts...