Sunday, May 20, 2012

Cellar Dweller

Shank would like to remind his readers one more time that the Boston Red Sox are last in the American League East.
PHILADELPHIA — They are the last-place Boston Red Sox.

It has become part of their name. They are no longer just the Red Sox. Just as the Wallendas are the Flying Wallendas, and the Bosstones are the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, the Sox are the last-place Red Sox.

Cellar dwellers. Basement boys. Bringing up the rear.

When I was a kid, we had a dumb joke about the Washington Senators. Washington was first in war, first in peace, and last in the American League.

And now the Red Sox are the bottom-feeders of the AL East. Sorry, but it’s hard to get my head around that one.

We are not talking about a tiny sample. After Sunday’s game, the Sox will have played more than one-quarter of their season. And they have been in last place every day of the season. It’s simply hard to believe.

A year ago, they were touted as a 100-win team. “Best Team Ever’’ was the infamous Herald headline. They stumbled out of the gate, then lived up to the billing, playing 40 games over .500 for four months.
I can't get my head around it, but damn, do I like writing about it! Also, remember that Shank was one of the touters.

The rest of the column wallows in its last placedness, and a few quotes from Bobby Valentine & Dustin Pedroia.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Weathervane

Shank tends to get caught up in the moment. Two days ago he all but said the Celtics will waltz into the next round; now, he's not so sure. You'd think a columnist who's been around as long as Shank would have a more tempered reaction after winning Game 3. Not anymore...
PHILADELPHIA - The tomato cans were falling down in front of the Celtics.

No Bulls. The Heat on the brink of self-immolation. The Celtics had a 2-1 series lead over the Sixers and an 18-point lead in the third quarter of Game 4. They were toying with the young bucks from Philly.

And they let it get away. They blew a golden opportunity to get an almost-free pass into the conference finals. They were beaten Friday night, 92-83.

Now the series is 2-2 and they are going to have to come back here. They might have to play seven. They might even (gulp) lose to these guys.
It's a standard Shank-style recap from that point out.

Friday, May 18, 2012


Shank writes his first picked-up pieces column in seven weeks; would you care to guess what the first subject is?
Shame on Curt Schilling

Picked-up pieces while wondering who’ll be next to be “sacked’’ by John Henry and Tom Werner . . .

■ There are parts of Rhode Island where failing to make good on million-dollar loan payments gets you more than a bloody sock. Red Sox adviser Jeremy Kapstein was out front on the 38 Studios loan scam two years ago when he ran for Rhode Island Lieutenant Governor and told WPRO-AM, “I have serious questions about the viability of that kind of offer to a company that is full of questions.’’

Kapstein was not alone. Massachusetts officials scoffed at the notion of loaning Curt Schilling’s company $75 million. The following appeared in this space in July 2010: “Hats off to the ship of fools known as the Rhode Island Economic Development Corp. The RIEDC yesterday pledged a $75 million loan guarantee to lure Curt Schilling’s game company (the one with no games) to the Ocean State. It’s the best demonstration of sports sycophants gone wild with public money since the yahoos in Connecticut promised to give Bob Kraft the world to move his team to Yo Adriaen’s Landing in Hartford.’’

RIEDC director Keith Stokes resigned yesterday.

No thinking person wants to see a company fail (unless it's the NYT - ed.). There are hundreds of jobs at stake. But it’s hard to believe that Schilling, who earned $114 million during his baseball career, can’t make a $1.1 million loan payment.

Schilling is the man who railed about government spending, then had his hand out for corporate welfare, and now asks for more help from the confederacy of dunces in Rhode Island. This is not the Rhode Island Enron, and Schill is not Jeffrey Skilling, but it is bad, and it was avoidable if not for public officials losing all common sense in the aura of a baseball player who delivered on a promise to bring us a championship.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Takin' Care Of Business

Shank states the self-evident in today's column.
PHILADELPHIA - At halftime of Game 2 at TD Garden Monday night, Charles Barkley said on TNT, “It’s 100 percent clear to me that the Celtics have zero respect for the 76ers.’’
I’ll second that.
Everybody knows the Celtics are better than the Sixers. And that includes the Celtics. It’s easy to see why the Celtics might be taking their opponents lightly.
The Celtics throttled the Sixers, 107-91, at the Wells Fargo Center Wednesday night to take a 2-1 series lead in this Eastern Conference semifinal.
Philadelphia coach Doug Collins acknowledged that the Celtics are already looking ahead to the next round.
“I think they are looking at that other series [Miami-Indiana] a little bit,’’ said Collins. “I think they see Chris Bosh being out. They see a tremendous opportunity for themselves.’’
A series can’t be any closer than 2-1 after three games, but I am inclined to agree with Sir Charles and Collins. The Celtics are toying with the Sixers. It got them in trouble in Game 2 in Boston and it can get them in trouble again. But not Wednesday night.
The Sixers are younger and more athletic than the Celtics, but they are also a No. 8 seed. They staggered at the end of the regular season and barely made the playoffs. By the admission of Collins, they lose just about every close game.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Swing And A Miss

I missed a blue moon event on Sunday - the rare second Shank column in the same day.
The Celtics are everybody’s favorite team in Boston in the spring of 2012, and they won another pulsating playoff game Saturday night, beating the Philadelphia 76ers, 92-91, in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series. But it’s hard to get too excited about a series against these Sixers, who are just so young and . . . anonymous. Really. How much energy can you manufacture for this round? Seen anybody wearing a “Iguodala Sucks’’ T-shirt lately?
Now that the Celtics lost Game 2, I guess now is a good a time as any to get excited.

By the way, when does Shank write his next Curt Schilling column? If you're Shank, you generally need someone else to take the first shot at Schilling, then Shank is usually third man in to try to finish him off. Or is this article enough cover fire for Shank to go after Curt's flank?

Sunday, May 13, 2012

He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not

Shank had a lot of fun writing this column in which he compares and contrasts the Celtics and the Red Sox' differing fortunes this year. And last year as well - the 7-20 record from September 2011 is mentioned, as well as two mentions of chicken & beer, and Josh Beckett golfing.
This came two weeks after the Sox were routed, 15-9, after taking a 9-0 lead in a nationally televised game against the Yankees. According to Valentine, that was supposed to be “rock bottom.’’
Maybe not.
Friday’s Boston sports pages and radio shows offered a stunning juxtaposition of the two local teams. Headlines touting Garnett’s remarkable 28-point, 14-rebound effort in a series-clinching, 3-point win against the Hawks ran alongside Beckett’s poor performance and tone-deaf postgame remarks (“My off day is my off day. . . . We get 18 off days a year’’).
Beckett makes $17 million annually and starts approximately 35 games in a healthy season. Garnett makes $21 million per year, but knows enough not be seen at the Leo J. Martin Golf Course when he’s sitting out with an injury. While Beckett alienated fans with his stubborn and dismissive attitude, Garnett was saying: “I put a lot of work into my craft. I take it seriously.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Beating A Dead Horse?

It's looking like Shank feels that wayabout the Celtics, doesn't it?
ATLANTA - This is a series that needs to be put out of its misery.
The Atlanta Hawks, the no-pride, embarrassing Hawks who stood around and fell behind by 37 points at the Garden Sunday . . . stood tall and beat the Celtics at Philips Arena, 87-86, Tuesday night.
Rajon Rondo stole an inbounds pass in the closing nine seconds, but he dribbled to nowhere and the Celtics never got a shot off. Paul Pierce missed a layup and chucked an airball in the final minute. The Celtics lost track of the foul situation and did not have a timeout after Rondo stole the ball.
“I didn’t like our execution down the stretch,’’ said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. “Overall, they played harder. They played better.’’
So now the series returns to Boston, where the Jurassic Park Green Teamers will try to eliminate the Hawks Thursday night at the Garden. Boston’s 3-1 series lead is now 3-2. These Celtics can’t seem to do anything the easy way, but no Celtics team ever has coughed up a 3-1 series lead.
“They’ve got confidence and momentum,’’ said Pierce with a sigh. “We have to go home and get the job done.’’
Ugh. More uglyball. The Celtics couldn’t hold an 11-point lead in Atlanta in Game 2. They had to go into overtime to win Game 3 at home against a depleted Hawks team that was ready to bring back Sly Williams. The blowout Sunday seemed like Atlanta’s concession speech, but Tuesday night the Celtics couldn’t close it out.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Late Post

I kind of skipped this one Shank column from yesterday, probably because it made a lot of sense and I'm still in shock over that fact.
So, where are we going with this?

Championship banner No. 18? Probably not. But in a year in which the NBA is without a truly elite team (go ahead, count the Heat if you must), the Celtics might as well make a run at the conference finals.

First, they must beat these Atlanta Hawks. And that’s proving to be a little harder than it should be.

The Celtics needed overtime to prevail, 90-84, at the Garden Friday night. They needed overtime to beat a mix-and-match team that was significantly shorthanded. They needed overtime to beat a team that was relying on Tracy McGrady and Erick Dampier. (If Artis Gilmore showed up, Atlanta coach Larry Drew would have put him in the game.)
I think that's been the pattern with the Hawks in recent years - perennial first round playoff opponent, easy for the Celtics on paper, tougher matchups than anticipated when you actually play the games, and the Celtics wind up winning a hard fought series in six or seven games.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Indecision 2012

I'm not talking about the upcoming elections; I'm talking about Shank's latest column, asking if Paul Pierce belongs on the Boston Celtic's all-time starting lineup:
Is it time to put Paul Pierce in the starting five for the all-time Celtics team?

I’m starting to think so.


Many of you perhaps already have Paul in your Parquet Pantheon. Not me. I’m a holdout.


Hmmmm. Good point. So maybe it should be Pierce alongside Russell, Bird, Havlicek, and Cousy.
On and on it goes, but in the end Shank is there, firmly straddling the fence. And also in the need for the copy desk to get its act together:
Pierce probably belongs. Sure, he has had his moments of immaturity. He played on a lot of bad teams and has only one championship in his pocket. He plays an inelegant game. Some would call it uglyball. But he is the greatest scorer in Celtic history. He has emerged as a leader. And he might be the toughest non-hockey player in the history of our town.
Funny - I thought John Havlicek was the greatest scorer in Celtics history:
John Havlicek is the Celtics all-time leader in points and games played, scoring 26,395 points (20.8 points per game, 11th all-time in points scored in the NBA), and playing in 1,270 games (17th all-time).
Get me rewrite!

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Sowing The Seeds Of Doubt

Shank finally does a column on a Red Sox win, but in true Shank fashion, only sees the dark cloud instead of the silver lining.
Clay Buchholz Monday night became the first Red Sox pitcher to give up five or more earned runs in five consecutive starts in 72 years. He also improved his record to 3-1.

Amazing. The guy with the winningest record on the Red Sox has an ERA of 8.69.

The Oakland A’s are the Oakland F’s when it comes to hitting. The not-so-great grandsons of Charles O. Finley came to Fenway with a robust team batting average of .205 in 23 games, easily the lowest in the majors. You’re usually in trouble when your whole team is hitting 5 points north of the Mendoza Line. Where are Brad Pitt and Philip Seymour Hoffman when you really need them?
Guess I'll see Moneyball eventually; maybe that comes with a Globe paywall subscription?
What’s up with Buchholz? He’s put 57 men on base in 29 innings. He’s given up five earned runs three times, six Monday night, and seven in his first start of the season in Detroit. On a lot of teams, this would get you sent to the bullpen or the minors.

Not here. Manager Bobby Valentine said Monday’s outing was “something to build on.’’

Buchholz, in a postgame news conference that bordered on delusional, said, “I felt like it was my most positive outing, except for the line. I walked five guys, but I had my mind made up I wasn’t giving in to guys. I’ll take five walks. That’s how I felt I needed to pitch.’’
Negativity aside, or maybe because of it, this is one of the better Shank articles in a while, which isn't the highest bar to clear.