Saturday, July 30, 2011

Patriots Glass Half Empty?

The lockout is over, the Patriots are coming off a 14 - 2 regular season and training camp has started with a flourish of free agent signings and the like. Leave it to Shank, after having used up this decade's quota of saying nice things about certain members of the Patriots organization, to mount his high horse of sanctimony and piss on the parade:
Strap yourselves in, Patriots fans. Free agent frenzy is just getting started and - given Haynesworth’s rap sheet - the Patriots have sent the message that they’ll take a chance on anyone with talent. This means there might still be room for Pacman Jones, Dave Meggett, and Manny Ramirez. Too bad The Juice is behind bars.

Once a bastion of teamwork, character, and sanctimony (remember “The Patriot Way’’?), Gillette Stadium is the new Oakland Alameda County Coliseum. The franchise that said “No’’ to Christian Peter is now the place you go to restore your tattered reputation. Ochocinco calls it “Heaven.’’

In this spirit, why don’t the Patriots expand their Misfit Haven to the front office? Anthony Weiner would make a nifty team photographer. Charlie Sheen and Mel Gibson could work in public relations, and Tiger Woods might be a good fit as director of the cheerleaders. Why not hire Hells Angels for stadium security on Sundays?
As Monkeesfan noted in a previous comment, some dumb bastard gave Shank the one and only microphone for which to ask questions of the coach during yesterday's press conference. Smart move?

The amusing thing about this article is that Shank undercuts the entire premise of his column towards the end, followed up by a gratuitous Warren Zevon lyric, which in this context is extremely lame:
Tom Brady watched Corey Dillon and Randy Moss come and go in Foxborough. For the most part, those bad dudes behaved while they were in New England. Brady is open-minded about all of his new teammates.
Knowing Shank's rooting against Haynesworth & Ochocinco is all the motivation you and I need to root for them.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

What's Wrong With Shank?

(Apologies - my internet connection was hosed for the past 45 hours)

Did you get a load of this column?
Now 70 years old, Kraft has been the face of the Patriots since Jan. 21, 1994 when he bought the franchise from James Orthwein. He went through some growing pains in the early years - announcing he was moving the team to Hartford, publicly feuding with coach Bill Parcells, and sometimes getting a little too involved with football operations. His first coaching hire was Pete Carroll. There was embarrassment when beloved Curtis Martin was pilfered by Parcells and the Jets.

But Kraft proved to be a quick study and today he’s rightfully recognized as one of the more powerful and respected owners in the NFL. In our region, he’s emerged as a latter-day Walter Brown. Trust me when I tell you there is no higher praise for a Boston sports owner.
He hasn't exactly covered himself in glory in many numerous previous columns about Kraft; I find this column very stunning. After a lot of further review, I have to say the summation of his previous venomous columns toward Robert Kraft do not offset this otherwise graceful effort. Not even close...

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Shank Says Something Nice About A Kraft

Unfortunately, it's in passing:
She was the conscience and soul of the Patriots, a woman who came to football reluctantly, through marriage, then used the currency of football fame to enhance her lifelong missions of fund-raising and philanthropy.

Myra Kraft was a wonderful wife, mother, and grandmother. She spent her life trying to make things better for everyone else. And we can pay tribute to her here on the sports pages today because by any measurement, Myra Kraft was one of the most important women in the history of New England sports.

“Without Myra Kraft, it’s quite possible we’d be going to Hartford to watch the Patriots,’’ former Globe plagiarist columnist Mike Barnicle said yesterday after it was announced that Myra succumbed to cancer at the age of 68. “Obviously, Bob Kraft has deeps roots in this area, but Myra was so much a part of this community - the larger community beyond the sports world - she was never going to allow her husband to leave.’’
I wonder why it seems that we're only hearing about Myra's philanthropy now; maybe she was just really low-key about it?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Slow News Week

Just as I was saying the best thing about Shank's picked up pieces columns was their infrequency, along comes Shank with another one.
Pardon me if I sound like Larry King, but what’s up with this Twitter madness? It strikes me as trendy, immature, and entirely unnecessary. What you had for lunch is of no interest to me. Increasingly, tweeting seems to be getting athletes in trouble.

Remember Rashard Mendenhall on Osama Bin Laden? The Raiders and Steelers on Hines Ward? All those players ripping Jay Cutler after the loss to the Packers? It’s just too easy to rip off an inane message of 140 characters and hit the “send’’ button.
Or rip off (so to speak) an inane message of a thousand or so words, send it to your editor and call it a column. Besides, Shank's already tweeting!

The last part of this column is rich with irony / hypocrisy as it involves Jacoby Ellsbury:
Q and A with agent Scott Boras from the All-Star Game. On the public relations beating the Red Sox’ Jacoby Ellsbury took in Boston last season:
This S.O.B. led the charge against Ellsbury in print and on the radio, and now he has the nerve to present the situation in the passive tense, as though he had nothing to do with it? For a newspaper columnist, he's got balls...
Was Ellsbury hurt by the criticism?
Translation - did I get to him?
Did Boras ever think Ellsbury and the Sox would have to part company after the wasted year of 2010?
Any talks regarding a contract extension for Ellsbury:
Translation - did my trashing of your client get to you?

This guy really knows how to hold a grudge, doesn't he? Throw in the shot earlier in the column at the Krafts, and that point's a big 10 - 4.

Monday, July 18, 2011

A Winning Combination

With this week's CNN / SI column, Shank combines his two favorite things - baseball and himself.
Football and basketball are still locked out. The Women's World Cup, the British Open and Nathan's Hog Dog Eating Contest have all come and gone. The Roger Clemens trial was over before it started.

All we have is baseball. God bless the summer game.
Well, there is a bike race going on in France...
How many of you remember playing summer baseball? Who remembers when your next baseball game was the only thing that mattered?

Growing up in Central Massachusetts, I played all the traditional programs of pre-college baseball -- Little League, Pony League, Babe Ruth and high school. Little League and high school ball were highly structured and the season was always over by early June. Pony League and Babe Ruth were different. There was less structure, fewer rules; not as many coaches and parents getting in the way of our fun. We played when it was hot outside. Summer ball was always the most fun.
A nice piece of youthful nostalgia, or self-indulgent baby boomer claptrap? You make the call!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Another Bandwagon For Shank To Jump On

Not exactly a news flash, but still:
The tipping point for me came Thursday morning when my friend Ken Nigro called from Florida. We covered baseball together in Baltimore a million years ago. Ken is over 70, still reads seven newspapers per day (actual newspapers, my friends),
Finally - we found a Boston Globe subscriber!
He wanted to know if I was going to be in Tampa to watch the Red Sox this weekend. I told him, ‘No.’ Then he switched topics.

“Forget about baseball,’’ said Nigro. “This week I saw the greatest sporting event I’ve ever seen.’’
Loudon, NH?
“Brazil, right?,’’ I asked.

“Yeah,’’ he replied. “That women’s soccer game was the greatest game ever. I’ve never been a soccer fan, but I gotta admit, this is pretty good.’’
Shank then proceeds to bore the hell out of anyone reading the column. You've been warned!

Friday, July 15, 2011


Shank reacts to yesterday's mistrial of Roger Clemens.
You should be infuriated. I am. A lot of sports fans were opposed to this trial on the grounds that it was a waste of money. You know the argument - “who cares if Roger cheated and lied? That was a long time ago. He’s a baseball player. He’s not a threat to society.’’
Did anyone see a hint of this infuriation in Shank's previous article about Clemens? How about this recent one? Yeah, me neither.
I was in the other corner, defending the feds. I wanted to see Clemens stand trial and try to explain how he could stand on front of Congress with such defiance in the face of so much contrary evidence.
What a crock of shit - Shank couldn't have been more firmly planted on the middle of the fence in case something like this happened. Again - read his last two offerings, much like his stances on a number of issues, he deftly straddled the fence so he can have it both ways.

How's Clementine doing, Shank?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Back To Back

Shank's making up for lost time this week - with a column on Yo, Adrian Gonzalez (nope, that'll never get old) and, courtesy of an all expenses paid trip by the Boston Globe, an exciting press conference with the commissioner of baseball:
PHOENIX - Old School was on parade late yesterday morning in a conference room on the second floor of the downtown Sheraton here. Seventy-six-year-old Commissioner Bud Selig, on the job almost 20 years, was on hand to answer questions for the Baseball Writers of America and it felt like we were all stuck in the 1950s.
Only two decades away from paradise, Shank...

Sunday, July 10, 2011

DHL Dan - IX

Shank subjects us to a picked up pieces column. The great thing about these columns is their infrequency.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Dick Williams, RIP

I first got the news when Shank appeared on Comcast Sports New England last night, and I knew he'd write a column about him. If you caught Shank last night, this column's a repeat, so you won't need to read it. If not, check it out, as it's a good a column as Shank's written for the globe in a while, Beatles & Wizard of Oz references aside.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Shank's Kind of Eulogy

Apparently back from vacation *, Shank's Thursday Globe column is on former Red Sox Don Buddin.
It’s hard for young people to fathom, but the Red Sox of the late ’50s and early ’60s were noncontenders, hardly relevant. In Buddin’s last two seasons with the Sox, they finished 32 and 33 games out of first place. They didn’t draw many fans (well under a million in ’59 and ’61). Buddin became the poster boy for bad times.

If John Lackey thinks he’s got it bad now, he should have talked with Don Buddin. Buddin was the early-day Julio Lugo. And the nasty stuff from the stands sounds louder when there are only 8,000 people in the ballpark. You hear everything.

“It was bad,’’ recalls Frank Malzone, who played third base next to Buddin for four long seasons. “He got off to a bad start and the fans gave him a hard time when he came to the ballpark. I played right next to him. Hearing all these guys hooting and hollering at him, I was thinking, ‘Better him than me.’ I would hate to walk out there and hear that every day.’’

* = Some 'vacation' - two appearances on 'The Baseball Insiders' and two CNN / SI columns, and that's not including any other TV appearances I didn't catch.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Now Batting For Number 21, Shank Shaughnessy

After a three week hiatus from his Boston Globe perch (a.k.a. 'addition by subtraction'), Shank goes to bat for Roger Clemens.

Roger Clemens goes on trial at a federal courthouse in Washington today. He could wind up in prison.

It’s a sad situation for the Rocket. Against the advice of just about everyone, stubborn Clemens insisted on going before Congress (in February 2008) to defend his name after he showed up 82 times in the Mitchell Report, which investigated the use of steroids in baseball.

Clemens’s appearance on Capitol Hill was preposterous. He told one whopper after another. In the face of considerable evidence, he told his delusional version of the truth, and now the feds are hitting him with a bunch of perjury raps.

This didn’t have to happen. No one demanded Clemens take the oath and submit his version of events. This was Roger being Roger. This was the same intransigent Clemens who never could admit a mistake. He never could take the blame. He couldn’t have an off day and tell us that he just didn’t have it. It was always, “I guess I hit his bat,’’ or “My hamstring was a little tight.’’
Amazing how one stuffed doll can change your perspective of an athlete, after savaging the Rocket for over a decade.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

I Thought He Was Dead!

Shank gets his one mile run in with his weekly CNN / SI article. It's about what you'd expect from him concerning owner / player disputes:
Dueling lockouts. Call me when they're over.

My strategy with sports labor stories is pretty simple: ignore, ignore, ignore. Back in the days when I was a baseball beat reporter I spent far too much time speaking with Marvin Miller, Ray Grebey, Donald Fehr, Gene Orza, Ken Moffett, Mark Belanger and anyone else with a sabre to rattle.

I remember the long hot baseball strike of 1981, and the NFL playing games with replacement players in 1987. I remember baseball's charade of replacement teams in spring training in 1995. I remember management and players' reps trying to manipulate the message and all the bad reporting that's done when sportswriters wander into labor issues.

Fans hate sports labor stories and you know what? Same goes for those of us who write about sports. We didn't get into this business to spend time dealing with the National Labor Relations Board.
I hope his strike / lockout from the Boston Globe takes the same amount of time to resolve...