Thursday, September 30, 2010

Shank On Teddy Ballgame

Shank's column from Wednesday focuses on Ted Williams, who hit a home run in his final at-bat a little over 50 years ago.

My favorite part:

I met him for the first time at Cooperstown in the late 1980s. He arrived for an interview at the Otesaga Hotel, sat down at a giant round table of scribes, and waited for a first question from the intimidated bunch. After a long, awkward pause, Ted finally said, “Scared to death, aren’t ya?’’ Ted was a man who could make “writer’’ sound like a four-letter word.
In some quarters, it is.

Excellent article by Shank.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Red Sox Post-Mortem At CNN / SI

Shank devotes this week's CNN / SI column to the 2010 Boston Red Sox, aka The Bridge Year. He cites the highlights & lowlights and wonders what's in store for next year and beyond. Quite the tame article when compared to his Sunday article, which conveniently omitted the rash of Red Sox injuries this year...

Monday, September 27, 2010

Just A Little Bit

When you start an article with a Spiro Agnew reference, there isn't too much hope for the rest of the article. However, Shank eventually delivers the goods about the newest member of the Patriots, Danny Woodhead.

It's a test of wills. Can you endure Shank's stupid nicknames and a wave of short jokes for 9 paragraphs to get to the readable part? Take the test!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Game Over, Man!

Shank comes here not to praise them, but to bury them:

Not long ago, Red Sox Elimination Day was part of the New England calendar, right there with Evacuation Day, Flag Day, Labor Day, and Columbus Day.

Elimination Day is the day when the Red Sox are officially erased from playoff contention. In most of the 1950s and 1960s, E-D (works on multiple levels, no?) usually fell sometime in the middle of September as the woeful Red Sox wrestled for seventh or eighth place alongside the likes of the Washington Senators and Kansas City Athletics. There was a lot of bad ownership and bad baseball. The Sox made it to the postseason only once between 1918 and 1967.

We are spoiled in this century. The Red Sox have made it to the postseason in six of the last seven seasons. There has been good ownership and good baseball.
Not sure when the last time he's ever praised ownership, but it's one of the few positive angles you'll find in the column. He's all over Big Papi for comments made last Wednesday, then (surprise!) calls the Red Sox 'hypocrites' for planning a day to honor retiring Red Sox player Mike Lowell. Why let consistency get in the way of a good ranting column?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Class Warfare?

Imagine my surprise at a Boston Globe columnist complaining about the types of fans that attend New England Patriots home games nowadays.


Not when Shank leads off with perhaps John Lennon's funniest comment:

“Would those of you in the cheaper seats clap your hands? And the rest of you, if you’ll just rattle your jewelry.’’
Shank then goes on to rehash Tom Brady's comments from last week concerning Patriots fans leaving early from the win over the Bengals. Anyone who has experienced the pleasure of driving Route 1 northbound after a Pats game would probably tell Tom to ride shotgun (better yet, let him take the wheel) during said drive, then ask him if his opinion's changed. According to Shank, we're all cool with Tom Brady's opinion:

Typically, most Patriots fans accepted the slap. New England football fans rarely challenge Messrs. Kraft, Belichick, or Brady on any topic.
Shank then puts a few words in Tom's mouth:

This explains why Brady can call them out as overstuffed brie-eaters who want to beat the traffic.
Way to interject yourself into the story, Shank! Brie must taste better when it's force fed down your gullet. That's how they fatten up geese, right?

Finally, Shank puts his finger on one of the reasons for Tom's comments:

They admit they are quiet. A lot of them are in a rush to get out; Route 1 on game days is a blacktop gulag. Some have complained that they are not encouraged to stand and make noise during the games. After Brady’s remarks, there were calls to talk radio from fans who said they’d been told by security that they cannot stand during the games.

“We don’t have a policy that you can’t stand,’’ Patriots publicist Stacey James said. “If there are multiple complaints about someone standing the entire game, then sometimes an usher will try to mediate and ask people to sit. But it’s got to be multiple complaints.’’
Interesting remarks: "most Patriots fans accepted the slap", doesn't quite square with "there were calls to talk radio from fans who said they’d been told by security that they cannot stand during the games" unless specific numbers are involved, does it? So who's lying, the fans or the publicist? I'll go with the publicist. Can't be Shank lying to us...

The other reason for the lack of noise: Gillette Stadium is basically open on one end, which makes it quite different from, say, Arrowhead Stadium, which Shank touches upon later in the column.

One more Shank oddity coming up:

Brady’s words won’t change anything. Ours is not a football culture.
But what did you tell us a mere eight days ago, Shank?

All football all the time. Nothing else matters.
Dan Shaughnessy, the Ultimate Weathervane.

UPDATE at 7:30 PM - It may have been Shank who coined the phrase 'pink hats' to describe recent (post-2004) Red Sox bandwagon converts; we need something equally condescending for recent Patriots converts!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Mojo Is Back

That's Shank's basic description of the New York Jets after Sunday's win over the Patriots. As is the case with most of his CNN / SI articles, it is a good article and does not 'sample' from other written Shank articles.

I wonder how this incident will affect the Jets' mojo.

Monday, September 20, 2010


A good first half for the Patriots, followed by a bad second half, results in a 28-14 loss to the New York Jets yesterday afternoon. Shank is all over the Patriots loss, chock full of lame metaphors, dumb cliches and choppy, disjointed writing. I was expecting a little more (ok, a lot more) nastiness in this article, but a little nastiness goes a long way (say, over the next five columns or so).

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Hype Not Believed

Shank goes out on a limb today:

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — What would be sweeter than beating the Jets today?

The Jets have it coming. They’ve been talking trash for months, and now the larger forces are coming back to bite them in the glutes.


New England won eight of the last nine games it played against the Jets in Giants Stadium. Most of those games were played in the glare of massive media hype — back in the days when neutral fans rooted for the Jets to beat the blue meanies from New England.

Not now. Against the Jets today, the Patriots are America’s Team.
America's Team? Give me a break. What Shank's doing is obvious - if the Patriots win, he can pat himself on the back. If they lose (or tie), he can continue shitting on them for another week. Disingenuous to the extreme.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Pitiful Performance

That's Shank's description of the Jets' game last week. It also serves to describe the effort (lack thereof) put into this column. Third sentence in, we are welcomed once again to the cleverness of Dan Shaughnessy:

Yesterday, Brady Gaga softened his stance a little.
Soon thereafter, the column looks a lot like Shank's CNN / SI column from August 30. Shank keeps the professional tone intact by referring to Bill Belichick as 'Hoodie' and
Old Laughing Boy didn’t like that one, not one bit. He’s best served when surrounded by doubters and lightweights buying into the myth of Jet supremacy.
Compare that last sentence to what Shank wrote 2 weeks ago - not a hint of doubt about the myth of Jet supremacy. "I was for the Jets, before I was against them!"

Shank finishes with trademark mockery:

Division opponent. I love that one. It’s so understated. The Jets are a divisional opponent the way the Yankees are a divisional opponent.
Can his columns get any more derisive of the Patriots? Stay tuned!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Nothing Else Matters

This week's CNN / SI column focuses on the NFL and how it crowds out other sports this time of the year. The early portion of the column exhibits Shank's continuing man crush on Tom Brady, and there's also some 'sampling' from an earlier Shank column, which doubles as a sorry excuse for rapier wit:

In this century, Brady is New England's Michael Jackson. He is Brady Gaga.
There are fewer things more pathetic than being pleased with your own cleverness; I just can't think of them right now...

Monday, September 13, 2010

Mountain... Molehill

Randy Moss plays right into Shank's hands with his post-game press conference.

FOXBOROUGH — It would be overstating things to claim that we’ve never heard or seen anything like this before. We have, after all, seen Tom Cruise jumping on Oprah’s couch, and there was the night in Miami when Billy Sullivan yanked coach Chuck Fairbanks off the field before the start of a game. We watched Roger Clemens set himself on fire in Oakland and Don Zimmer make a bull rush for Pedro Martinez.
The only thing that's overstated is Shank's reaction to it. To compare this presser to Tom Cruise jumping on a couch is absurd, as are the Oil Can Boyd / Manny Ramirez comparison. The column drips with lame metaphors and subtle (and not so subtle) digs at the Patriots organization. I cannot take this column as seriously as Shank would like us to. His agenda is pretty obvious.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Glass Is Half Empty

Leave it to Shank to commemorate the 2010 - 2011 New England Patriots in the most negative light possible:

The last memory is a bad one.

For every team in town.

The moribund Red Sox came into this season still smarting from Jonathan Papelbon setting himself on fire on the Fenway Park mound and melting in the ninth inning of Game 3 of the 2009 Division Series.

The Celtics will go into their new season looking at champagne bottles that never were popped at the Staples Center, still wondering whether Kendrick Perkins could have made a difference in Game 7.

The Bruins want to burn the tapes and make fans swallow amnesia pills. The 2010 spring hockey choke in the Hub was as bad as any wound the Red Sox ever inflicted, and the Sons of Claude cannot start soon enough to make us forget the Flyer debacle.

Now say hello to your 2010 New England Patriots.

Our last memory of the Patriots at Gillette Stadium is no better than the nightmare finishes furnished by other local teams. Eight months ago, we watched Ray Rice run 83 yards without being touched (it was Gump-like) as the Ravens bolted to a 24-0 first-quarter lead in a playoff game against the once-unbeatable-at-Gillette Patriots.
Shank dumps on all four professional franchises, hitting for the cycle...

Bumpy Column

When Shank starts off like this:

Tom Brady is our Beatle. He is our Jacko. He is Brady Gaga.
...there isn't much need to read further. A simply awful column, even by Shank's standards.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Show And Don't Tell

Shank is not a fan of New England Patroits press conferences. His disdain for coach Bill Belichick is on full display in today's column, which is more 'standing headline' than anything else. It's no secret that Belichick keeps his cards close to his chest and says next to nothing at these press conferences, but Shank inevitably writes one such column every year in order to generate some faux outrage in over-the-top prose worthy of an Al Pacino movie:

But the Patriots are not the Jets. The Patriots are the Nixon White House of sports. They see demons everywhere. They bash dissent, deny the obvious, and rely on a silent majority of loyalists (including some credentialed media) to pledge allegiance.

The Patriots have a Kremlinesque video camera trained on the assembled media during Bill Belichick’s press conferences. (Think they’d send me a highlight tape of myself eating cookies and asking keen questions over the last 10 years?) I’ve always wondered whether there is some in-house lackey responsible for logging the tapes and identifying enemies.
I think you'd have to go back 10 years, or more, to find an example of Shank asking a keen question. I will agree that the Patriots training a camera on the press pool is creepy and, yes, Kremlinesque.

Throw in a Red Sox reference in a column ostensibly about the Patriots, and you have another of Shank's templated columns.

UPDATE at 2:25 PM - Tom Brady doesn't want to talk about his contract extension, either. Soviet Premier Belichickov got to comrade Bradovsky somehow...

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

But When Did He Take A Leak, Shank?

Shank covers the last round of the Deutsche Bank Championship yesterday and strangely devotes nary a word of the column to Charley Hoffman, the winner by five shots. Instead, he writes his entire column about Tiger Woods, who finished in 11th place. In what may be termed a bipolar column, Shank shows half man-crush, half Shank throughout. He throws in a few half-clever sexual double entendres, reuses a stock explanation ("His is not a comeback to be equated with a guy returning from major surgery or major leaguers who came back from World War II to play baseball in 1946.") and summarizes Tiger's post tournament interview while weaving in a comparison to Wade Boggs.

Shank's conclusion:

What else is there to say? It was awesome.
What a fanboy...

Monday, September 06, 2010

Who Cares About College Football?

According to Shank, it's not us. Although college football was "practically invented in the northeast", Shank assures us that we are a professional sports town. It's not the first time Shank has expressed such an opinion (I'm unable to locate previous articles stating this sentiment with respect to college football), and Shank also throws in the seeming disinterest in local college basketball and hockey to bolster this argument.

While it may be difficult to actually gauge or quantify levels of interest between college and pro sports in this neck of the woods, Shank provides many examples of the past popularity of college football (roughly dating from 1920 to the Flutie-era BC Eagle football teams) and the more recent dearth of college sports coverage in print and radio. It's likely that shift is attributable in part or in whole to the likes of Yaz, Orr, Bird & Brady. I don't agree with him on the John Calipari era UMass teams, probably because this is where I started following college basketball. While I follow college and pro sports (currently half-watching the Navy - Maryland football game), I think there are more occasions where the pro games (of all types) seem to be bigger events, and perhaps more numerous, than their college counterparts. For example, (end of September - early October) even with the Red Sox out of playoff contention, the Red Sox - Yankees series will always draw like a magnet, or the Patriots playing a division rival. To quote Shank,

That's just the way it goes. We are a professional sports town.
A reasonable statement; I'm just not entirely convinced.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

I Wonder What Took Him So Long?

Manny Ramirez, newest member of the Chicago White Sox, comes to Boston on Friday. Shank waits until today to unload on Manny, leaving virtually no stone unturned. It's one of Shank's better vindictive pieces. I can't do it justice with excerpts; go forth with pinched nose and read it all, for it is classic Shank...

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Pick Up The Pieces

Maybe the recent string of 90+ degree days in the Boston area has something to do with it, but Shank trots out another edition of the Picked Up Pieces column, normally a disjointed pile of rambling twaddle with a few interesting nuggets thrown in so as to prevent us from shaking our heads throughout the entire column. This month's edition is no different, and, practically in midseason form, starts off with Take A Dump On Bob Kraft Day:

The once-great Channel 4 has officially sold its news soul to the New England Patriots. “All Access’’ is one thing, and here on Morrissey Boulevard we are compromised because of the awkward New York Times 17 percent stake in the Red Sox (hence, our court-mandated NESN appearances). But WBZ-TV has officially morphed into a 24/7 Patriot infomercial for Bob Kraft enterprises. These preseason home broadcasts have become outright ridiculous. Channel 4 feeds us nonstop promotions on the owner, Patriot Place, and the CBS Scene.

For the Rams game, Kraft insisted that the “talent’’ wear red shirts with Patriot logos. This was done in the interest of promoting the Patriot “brand.’’ Affable Steve Burton plays along, calling the diminutive Kraft “Mr. Big.’’ What’s next for Burton and Dan Roche — propeller beanies with Flying Elvises and Pat Patriots? Pom-poms, megaphones, and Patriot letter sweaters?

It’s one thing to insist that broadcasters spread the gospel of the team, but when you make them wear team garb, you’re telling the world that the station is in the bag. “All Access’’ becomes All Suck-Up. The station can’t be trusted to report anything real or remotely negative about the team. Channel 4 is deeper in the tank with the Patriots than WEEI is — no small achievement.
I wonder what's worse - a TV station that has a pro-Patriots reporting slant, or a Globe sports columnist who criticizes a Red Sox player by stating
"Ellsbury has played only nine games all season and is clearly at odds with the Sox management, medical staff and teammates. And he's getting carved up on Boston's sports talk programs."
...who fails to disclose the fact that he's one of the carvees? You make the call!

P.S. Hey, Danny Boy, you gonna watch Tiger Woods take a leak this weekend?