Wednesday, February 27, 2013


Finally, a practical use has been found for a Dan Shaughnessy column!

The Book Tour Continues

If you thought it was way too early for the unassisted triple play this baseball season, Shank pulled it off:
Dan Shaughnessy moved a few more copies of his best-selling book, “Francona: The Red Sox Years,” at a UNICEF event at Legal Sea Foods Harborside this week. (The Globe sports columnist is on the UNICEF board.) The crowd included fellow board member and Big Papi bride Tiffany Ortiz, Bill and Alli Achtmeyer, Comcast SportsNet New England’s Bill Bridgen, Jeannette Hsu-McSweeney, former Globe sportswriter Jackie MacMullan, and Legal Sea Foods boss Roger Berkowitz.
Hawk a few books, score a comped meal from Legal Seafoods and help out a charity? Livin' large...

Sunday, February 24, 2013


Look at the bright side, Mike - at least Shank is now talking about the 2013 Red Sox team and not, for example, mentioning chicken & beer nine hundred times, or John Henry's ownership of Liverpool FC, or the 2011 collapse, or half trashing Stephen Drew just because he's J.D. Drew's kid brother. I bet you didn't know this fun fact about the hick rednecks Drews' hometown :
The Drews grew up in Hahira, Ga., a town of fewer than 2,500 people. There’s an annual banjo-picking festival in Hahira.
No cheap cultural stereotyping or New England provincialism here...

The One in Which The CHB Admits to Being an Ass...

It was bound to happen.

When someone perpetually tries to take the opposite side of every perspective, they inevitably will end up contradicting themselves.

The CHB today completed the final tie of the knot by arguing that not only will Red Sox v. 2013 be lousy, but boring besides.

This after years of complaint about the home team for running out players who were surly (read: too African American), prima donnas (read: too Hispanic), media-unfriendly (Nomar, John Lackey, Josh Beckett), overpaid (read: everyone since Ted Williams) lacking in talent (David Ortiz, that "giant sack of you-know-what), drunk (Kevin Millar, Beckett), and fat (Clemens, Ortiz again, Beckett again, and every Hispanic not named Pedro Martinez).

Last year the team fielded an Opening Day lineup with no fewer than nine former All-Stars, and that wasn't enough. They were chicken-eating, beer guzzling prima donnas, and therefore they couldn't win. (Forget the record injuries.) This year, they are "good guys," but not talented enough. The saloon doors they keep a swingin'.

The CHB must believe that sweating out a mile a day is all it takes to be a professional athlete.

No, that's all it takes to be a professional ass.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

And Now For More Boston Globe Bashing - XVIII

It just gets better and better over at Boston's boring broadsheet.
Blindsided Boston Globe employees — still reeling after The New York Times Co. put the Hub paper up for sale again — are slated to come face-to-face this morning with a top Gray Lady exec for the start of what could be a messy split, including the likely demand for contract talks from the paper’s 10 unions, insiders said.
Remember this the next time, or the last time these sanctimonious pricks lecture you about the 'sanctity' of the union movement.
“People are very nervous and scared, very scared,” said one longtime Globe staffer, who requested anonymity. Another compared the paper’s pending sale to “a divorce, a bad divorce.”
As opposed to a good divorce? You Globe idiots have had nearly a decade to extricate yourselves from this morass, and in your steadfast refusal to do so, I (and the reading audience) am now supposed to take pity on you poor souls? You're main Globe cheerleader on this site, 'Objective' Bruce bailed on you five years ago, and that wasn't enough of a sell signal? Spare me, you dumb bastards...
New York Times Co. vice-chairman Michael Golden — who was openly pushing to dump the beleaguered broadsheet — is expected to join Globe publisher Chris Mayer in a series of so-called “Town Hall” gatherings with staff.
Sold down the river. Good luck to you, dickheads.

I have not one ounce of sympathy for a newspaper who, over the thirty plus years I had the unfortunate circumstance to observe, denigrate, belittle and disparage nearly every major corporation, business entity and nearly all other manners of free enterprise except themselves, and now they are finally getting, in a manner of speaking, their just desserts. Once again, for one notable exception, I have no sympathy whatsoever for anyone there losing their jobs. Good riddance.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Blame Game - II

Today's column has Shank in his element - casting blame for the performance of the 2012 Red Sox.
FORT MYERS, Fla. — The blame pie is big and heavy.

There’s a giant slice for Bobby Valentine. We all know Bobby’s the reason everything went wrong with the 2012 Red Sox. Ownership gets three hefty slices. John, Tom, and Larry lost their way in the name of sellouts, bricks, and NESN ratings. Theo Epstein is a handy dartboard ornament. He gets a solid slice of blame pie. And we still love to blame Carl Crawford (“When he played against us, we hated him. When he played for us . . . we hated him”) and Adrian Gonzalez, a.k.a. “the Cooler.’’ Jon Lester and Josh Beckett are favorite punching bags. We still blame John Lackey even though he was on the disabled list all season.

Sometimes it seems that the only person who has escaped the blame is general manager Ben Cherington.

Truly amazing. Think back to the ridicule heaped on the genial and wonderful James Lou Gorman. Poor Lou was mocked from Nova Scotia to Block Island. Dan Duquette got the same treatment. We all loved it when Mo Vaughn referred to the Duke and John Harrington as “the joint chiefs of staff.’’
Anyone else out there think Shank was one of the people heaping ridicule on Gorman and Duquette?
Now we have gentle Ben, the Teflon GM. He has been with the Red Sox longer than just about anyone. He was working for the Red Sox before Theo. He was around for the world championships, and then he became GM when Theo left. His first move was overruled; Cherington tried to hire Dale Sveum as Sox manager after the 2011 collapse. Larry Lucchino insisted on Bobby Valentine, and the rest is hardball history. The Red Sox had their worst season since 1965.

And who never gets blamed?

Ben Cherington, that’s who.
I'm pretty sure that'll change, say a good four game losing streak and Shank will be all over Ben like white on rice.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

And Now For More Boston Globe Bashing - XVII

Alternate post title - FIRE SALE!!
The New York Times Co. announced today it plans to sell the Boston Globe and the rest of its New England Media Group.
Be gone!

You know how Patriots coach Bill Belichick's press conferences are often described as coach speak? Behold - corporate speak, AKA steaming hot piles of bullshit:
“Our plan to sell the New England Media Group demonstrates our commitment to concentrate our strategic focus and investment on The New York Times brand and its slanted liberal journalism,” said Mark Thompson, president and CEO of The New York Times Co. in a prepared statement.
Mr. Thompson has his own set of problems.
“The Boston Globe and the Worcester Telegram & Gazette are outstanding newspapers and they and their related digital properties are well-managed leaders in their markets with real opportunities for future development. We are very proud of our association with the Globe and the Telegram & Gazette, but given the differences between these businesses and The New York Times, we believe that a sale is in the best long-term interests of these properties and the employees who work for them as well as in the best interests of our shareholders,” he added.
'Outstanding newspapers' is debatable; what they really are, are money-losing entities, which is why they're on the chopping block.
The Times Co. says it has retained investment firm Evercore Partners to manage the sales process. Evercore spokesman Dana Gorman said the firm would not have any further comment beyond the New York Times Co. statement.
That's because they don't yet know what the deal's worth, if anything.
Martin Callaghan, president of the Boston Pressmen’s Union, the group that prints the Globe, said he has only seen the company’s statement on the potential sale and the union is hoping to get more information from Globe management in the next few days.

“It’s caused a stir in the building, especially with the number of contracts that are open now,” Callaghan said. “I can only speak to my union. We have two contracts open. That’s raising some concerns.”
Face it, Marty - once the Globe is sold, your contracts will get torn up and you're all dead meat. I trust everyone's resumes are updated, right?
The New England Media Group consists of The Boston Globe,,, The Worcester Telegram & Gazette,, GlobeDirect — the Globe’s direct mail marketing company — and the Times Co.’s 49 percent interest in Metro Boston.

It’s not the first time the Times Co. has explored a sale of the Globe. In 2009, the company threatened to close the Globe but later backed off after employee unions agreed to millions in concessions including wage and benefit cuts and bids from prospective buyers were lower than anticipated.
Which apparently did little to stem the cash flow loss, which also explains today's announcement, and the resulting shitshow was entirely predictable three short years ago, for anyone who felt like running some numbers.

The New York Times Co. bought the Globe for $1.1 billion in 1993, at the time the highest price ever paid for a U.S. newspaper.
In the long run, an entity is worth one of two things: 1) whatever the immediate sale of all assets, less contractually obligated liabilities, is worth, or 2) the discounted value of all future cash flows. Since the Globe's been losing money hand over fist for years and years, causing longtime commenter 'Objective' Bruce to end his employment with the Globe when he took the buyout back in early 2008, the value assigned to option 2) is $0.00. Option 1) depends on the fire sale value of the assets less its liabilities. Without separate balance sheets and market values of the assets of the Globe and the Gazette, I'll opine that any bid for these entities over $10 million is foolish.

Or you could look at things another way - as noted above, the New York Times paid 1.1 billion for this 'asset', in which the best wet dream sale price for this 'asset' in 2013 might fetch $100 million from a sap purchaser too fucking stupid to figure out there's nothing of value here in the long run, unless he gets a bid accepted for far lower than that price, then converts 135 Morrissey Boulevard into dormitories for UMass-Boston, dumps the other assets and shitcans every Globe employee in the process, for which with one single exception I have no problem with whatsoever. The NYT then realizes a $1 billion loss, and we're supposed to expect the next guy to keep things running and actually turn a nickel on this piece of shit when it hasn't happened in a two decade timespan? It's not happening. Do not catch a falling knife. For you pro-union guys out there, read this, then we'll talk...

The Blame Game

Seems like Shank's stirring the pot again with his latest column, in which everything that has gone wrong and will go wrong will be blamed on former Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine.
FORT MYERS, Fla. — A meteor exploded over Russia last Friday.

I’m pretty sure it was Bobby Valentine’s fault.

Blaming Bobby is the new parlor game here in southwest Florida. It’s all the rage. Alfredo Aceves pulls a nutty? Bobby was too easy on him last year. New relay drills? They have to fix what Bobby broke. If anyone gets into a fender-bender on Route 41, it’s probably Bobby Valentine’s fault.

David Ortiz kick-started the Bobby bashing last week (“Guys were not comfortable with the manager”) and soon was joined by Daniel Bard, who said he was more comfortable with “ . . . having a guy who I feel like I can trust.”

“I don’t pay any attention to that,’’ Valentine said Monday from somewhere in Vermont. “I’m a big boy. I don’t need that nonsense, nor do I need your article being a controversial situation with me making stupid comments.’’
It's a fairly common phenomenon - when things go wrong in any organization, blame it on the person you just canned, so this article isn't surprising. This, however, is:
Clay Buchholz has been singing the same song. Lester didn’t take the bait, but we all know he was done with Bobby after Valentine left Lester on the mound to take a beating at the hands of the Blue Jays July 22.
'Take the bait' - turn of the phrase, or a tacit admission that Shank's just trying to rile people up?

Monday, February 18, 2013

You're Outta Here!

Shank's favorite Red Sox whipping post, Jacoby Ellsbury, is in the final year of his contract. Shank's 100 percent sure Ellsbury will test the free agent market when the 2013 season's over. So sure, in fact...
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Jacoby Ellsbury is the greatest flight risk in the history of baseball. There is no way he will be playing for the Red Sox next spring.

I’d bet my hair on it.

I tell him so in the clubhouse at JetBlue Park.

“Everybody knows you are gone,’’ I say. “If you’re still here next year, I’ll shave my head.’’

“Go for it,’’ says Ellsbury.

No problem. My hair is safe. Like everybody else around here, I know there is no chance Ellsbury will be with the Red Sox next year.

Nothing wrong with that. It’s just a fact.

Ellsbury is polite, but he’s weary of the contract question. It must be weird to go into a season when you know . . . and your teammates know . . . and all of the fans know that you are gone at the end of the year.
I don't quite buy these assertions, but Ellsbury's agent is Scott Boras, who's known for playing hardball and testing the free agent market (this is mentioned later in the column).
We know the negatives. Ellsbury gets hurt and he’s slow to come back from injuries. He missed 144 games with broken ribs in 2010. He injured his shoulder and missed 88 games last year. Both injuries were results of collisions from playing hard, but he’s stuck with the image of a pampered baseball softy.
It's difficult to understand exactly how Jacoby Ellsbury got stuck with the label of a pampered baseball softy. A complete mystery...

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Francona: The Red Sox Years: A Book Review

I was a regular contributor to the Dan Shaughnessy Watch website several years ago.  Before I became a contributor, I had always been entertained by Mike B’s takes on Shaughnessy’s writing and was happy I had found a kindred spirit in decrying Shaughnessy’s laziness, hyperbole, position-shifting, and failed logic.  I detested Shaughnessy’s constant desire to become a part of the story as well as his penchant for isolating certain characters (e.g., Curt Schilling, Bill James etc) for mean-spirited personal attacks.  I was fortunate to become a contributor to this site for several years.  I think I was motivated by my own illogical desire – that somehow either Globe editors or Shaughnessy himself would come to see what fools they were for thinking that Shaughnessy’s writing was thoughtfully provocative, profoundly revelatory, and brave.  I finally realized that my attempts were quixotic and I decided to move on.  Fortunately, this site persists thanks to the terrific efforts of Roger and Mike.  While I can’t speak to their motivations, my hunch is that they simply derive a sense of satisfaction from poking back—they provide a venue for those who believe that Shaughnessy’s rule as the king of the Boston sports media is hollow.  Roger and Mike continue to point out that the emperor is wearing no clothes.  I appreciate them giving me a chance to be a guest writer for today.

I do think we (Roger, Mike, other contributors to this site, and I) have collectively always tried to be somewhat reasonable.  There are occasions where Shaughnessy pens a thoughtful and insightful column and the efforts, though rare, are acknowledged.  I personally think that his new book, co-written with Terry Francona, is one of those efforts.  It’s a great read and I had a hard time putting it down because I found it so enjoyable.

The weekend before The Red Sox Years was released, there was an advance article in the Sunday Globe Magazine about how it came to be that Terry Francona would collaborate with Shaughnessy on a book about his Red Sox tenure.  It was fairly obvious that Francona, in his tenure as Sox manager, had developed little regard for Shaughnessy.  Francona would complain that Shaughnessy would get stories wrong (there’s a surprise).  Francona, who operates upon a strong belief system that there is a right way to do things, found that Shaughnessy’s writing in the Globe violated Francona’s sense of propriety.  Apparently, Francona’s desire to tell his story about his Red Sox years trumped any bad feelings that Francona previously held and he gave it a go with Shaughnessy.  But their collaboration did take time to evolve.  Francona and Shaughnessy reached an understanding that Francona’s voice had to trump Shaughnessy’s.  This meant that Shaughnessy had to step back from his typical level of vitriol (“snarkiness” may be more apt term here) and help Francona tell the story in his own voice.  The result is a wonderfully crafted story about a man’s love affair with baseball.

Francona grew up as the son of a major leaguer.  The book fondly recounts how Francona would tag along with his father on road trips and this fostered in young Terry a strong sense of baseball protocol and clubhouse dynamics—lessons that he would carry through with him for life as a player, coach and manager.  Francona appreciates the power of baseball statistics on some level (although perhaps not as much as fans were led to believe after Grady Little was fired and Francona was hired) but he also was acutely aware of player psyches.  To Theo Epstein, it may have been the case of recommending that Francona sit a player one day because another had better stats against the scheduled starter.  Francona saw such things as part of a larger tapestry—Francona was the one who had to deal with the personalities…there were times that the “right” statistical play would have caused more headaches than they would have helped.   Many anecdotes about Manny Ramirez and Pedro Martinez, amongst others, illustrate the challenge that Francona had grappling with personalities.

There is a Lincoln-ian quality about Francona’s leadership style.  This is best illustrated by how Francona would pick and choose his battles to provide feedback to players.  Francona’s venue was frequently the late night airplane card games – where Francona would tactfully suggest critiques—players were more receptive as they were less-guarded than they would otherwise be in the immediate emotional aftermath of a tough game.  (His approach would seem in stark contrast to that followed by his successor Bobby Valentine—it’s not that Valentine’s approach is inherently wrong but it may explain why players had such a hard time in adapting to Valentine as their approaches were so different.) 

I also enjoyed the smaller details – the fact that Francona would bristle when called “Coach”.  He was the manager and baseball protocol dictates that he be referred to as the manager and not a coach.  There are a host of similar examples of the “inside baseball” nature of the clubhouse.  While baseball statistics have become increasingly entrenched as the guiding principle of how teams are constructed and managed, there is clearly a place (a prominent one at that) for taking personalities into account and teams are wise not to ignore this important facet.  Francona is very tuned into this dimension.

Two criticisms…Francona so clearly and strongly subscribes to the power and sanctity of the clubhouse and so it would seem at odds that he would be okay with publishing some of these stories.  In his interview on a recent Bill Simmons podcast, Francona said that in the writing of this story, Shaughnessy would assume the role of intermediary and clear the stories with the principal players to make sure they had no objections.  Well, that is great but I have a hard time believing anyone clearing anything with Manny Ramirez and Manny is a frequent target in the book of Francona’s ire and frustration. 

Also, we now hear statements from Theo Epstein and Ben Cherington about how the team got away from the core way that it had built the 2004 and 2007 World Series winners.  Ostensibly, they must be referring to the trade for Adrian Gonzalez and the free agent signing of Carl Crawford.  I think they are guilty of ex post criticism here…because Adrian Gonzalez had been someone they had targeted for years and (according to this book itself) Crawford is someone that both Epstein and Francona seemed to be giddy about signing.  I think that trade and signing were things that simply did not work out and it is grossly unfair for them to be (implicitly) portrayed as a meddlesome mandate from baseball ownership to baseball management.

As for the cases of Lucchino, Henry, and Werner…this book was definitely not the first time that I had heard Lucchino could be extremely difficult; that Henry is an oddball wacko; and that Werner seems to be driven by a Hollywood mindset.  What the book does do is provide a deeper context (through anecdotes) that would cement these descriptions in the reader’s mind.  By the way, Francona is somewhat careful not to blast them for their desire to make money from every facet of the Red Sox operations; but Francona clearly does lament that the product of baseball had become but one variable amongst many in the packaging of an entertainment option to consumers.  Francona, the passionate baseball-lifer, understandably finds this shameful.  I do think Theo Epstein is portrayed in a positive light – Theo effectively played the role of go-between between Francona and ownership and he apparently did it well.  Francona placed tremendous value in his relationship with Epstein and he gives Epstein due credit for the organizational success.

Werner is the only one of the three principal owners to have acknowledged reading the book and he has denounced it as fiction.  I find his conclusion problematic because I do not think Francona and Shaughnessy are espousing lies.  I do think this is a case of a story being told through the subjective lens of Francona (and to a lesser extent Shaughnessy) and I think the story honestly captures how they saw things.  It is entirely possible that Werner witnessed similar things but simply had a different interpretation.  To call the book fiction as Werner does or to give Shaughnessy the cold shoulder as does Lucchino (who has not read the book) borders on pettiness.  I am inclined to give the benefit of doubt to Francona who seems to be widely respected, if not beloved, throughout baseball.  Wouldn’t it be funny if Shaughnessy now teamed up with the ownership trio to tell their side? 

As for Shaughnessy, he does have talent.  The stories in this book flow so well and there is a refreshing absence of the typical hallmarks from Shaughnessy’s columns.  I do think Shaughnessy has become so complacent in his column writing and his entrenchment at the Globe that he feels comfortable in pawning off whatever he lazily can to the readers of the Globe sports pages.  But, when we writes a book such as this, he actually has to make an effort because he does not have the automatic captive audience—he has to sell books.  But, for today, I did not come here to bury Shaughnessy.  I am willing to give him credit.  He and Francona have done a fine job.

Shank's Mike Napoli Column

We have a depressing column from Shank today, and not for the usual reasons (generally, due to authorship).
FORT MYERS, Fla. — He was a catcher, now he is a first baseman. He had a three-year, $39 million contract, now he has a one-year, $5 million contract. He was a 31-year-old athlete with more fortune and glory ahead of him. Now he hopes to be able to walk when he is 50.

Say hello to Red Sox free agent acquisition Mike Napoli.

Two months ago, after Napoli agreed to a whopper contract with the Red Sox, he was diagnosed with avascular necrosis of the hips. It’s the disease that ended the football/baseball career of Bo Jackson. It’s a lack of blood flow that can result in bone death. It could mean a couple of hip replacements for Napoli someday. Or worse.

This is not a good situation. For anybody. The Sox are looking for lineup protection for David Ortiz. They were willing to commit almost $40 million to Napoli. Now everything has changed. Napoli is damaged goods. And, like any normal human being, he is thinking about how this will affect him long after his playing days are over.

Looking like the world’s oldest 31-year-old man, Napoli sat in front of his locker at JetBlue Park Saturday morning and said, “I have to look at my life. I want to be able to walk when I am older and be able to play with my kids.’’

Wow. This can’t be what Ben Cherington had in mind when he sought Napoli in the free agent market after Boston’s disastrous 2012 season.
Can't emphasize that last point enough, can we?

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Bostoned Out - II

Today's column features two former Red Sox players, Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez, traded to the L.A. Dodgers last year. Fitting that a column that looks to the past contains a Beatles refernce, isn't it?
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Thousands of miles to the west, in the middle of the desert, Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez still haunt the Red Sox.

Crawford and A-Gon are still crying about the blue meanies of Boston. Who knew that Josh Beckett would be the stand-up guy who takes his lumps and keeps quiet?

First we heard from Crawford in Wednesday’s Los Angeles Times. He described the Boston baseball environment as “toxic.’’

“I knew with the struggles I was having, it would never get better for me,’’ cried Crawford. “It puts you in a kind of a depression stage. You just don’t see a way out.’’

Naturally, things are better now that he’s with the Dodgers.

A day later, Gonzalez brought out the big lumber in USA Today.

“Chemistry is something you need among the ballplayers, but also with the owners, the coaches, and the front office,’’ said Gonzalez. “In Boston, we had great chemistry among the players — we were together — but that was only among the players. It wasn’t there with the rest. That’s why the team didn’t win. It needs to be an organization-wide thing.’’

“It’s hard to me to interpret what he was saying,’’ said Sox CEO Larry Lucchino. “It sounded pretty general. He could have been referring to managers, coaches, front office people. I’m not going to comment on the possibilities. I really don’t know. I have fond feelings for him and I wish him good luck where he is, so I don’t see it as an overall accusation against the franchise.’’

Right. As dumb and dysfunctional as the Sox were last year, Gonzo is a fraud. And Crawford sounds like a wimp. Please. These guys were paid tens of millions of dollars and managed only to fail. They were part of the worst September collapse in baseball history. Then they were part of the trainwreck of 2012.
What's interesting about this column is what Shank chose not to write. Shank just helped Terry Francona write a book about his tenure as manager of the Red Sox, where there was a certain level of criticism directed at Larry Lucchino, the man in charge of the management structure / the front office and, presumably, criticism of other parts of the organization to one extent or another. The tension between players and certain members of the management structure (Bobby Valentine in particular) was front page news last year. It is safe to say that Adrian Gonzalez's main point in the above paragraphs largely supports one of the themes of the Francona book, namely organizational dysfunction, which Shank not only co-wrote but had a certain level of influence on. Is there anyone out there who thinks Shank would not use this to his advantage and keep bashing Red Sox management & ownership?

So why did Shank respond to Crawford & Gonzalez like he did? Did he just reflexively trash former Boston athletes as the 'frauds' and 'wimps' they are, failing to live up to the hype and their multi-million dollar contracts, or

...did he not want to use the opportunity to trumpet Gonzalez's statement about organizational dysfunction and keep taking shots at management (read - Lucchino) because someone told him / he decided that he needs to be nice to Lucchino for a while and let things cool down, lest Lucchino hire some black hats and has Shank taken out Bulgarian style? I can't bring myself to give Shank credit for being clever enough to come up with this latter option, but it's perfect cover if you buy the former option. My head is spinning on this one...

Friday, February 15, 2013

Shank's Half-Assed Non-Apology

I'm not sure the word 'apology' is fitting here, but Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino flipped Shank off in yesterday's sitdown with reporters in Fort Myers (two posts down from this one). With many years, numerous negative columns and gallons of bad blood bewtween them, Shank's current column pretends to like Larry Luccino.
FORT MYERS, Fla. — How much do I love Larry Lucchino? Let me count the ways. I may not be able to come up with 100, but there’s a lot to love about the Red Sox CEO.

■ He played basketball at Princeton with Bill Bradley.

■ He built Camden Yards, the ballpark that changed everything about the way ballparks are built over the last two decades.

■ The late George Steinbrenner hated Lucchino.

■ It was Lucchino who oversaw the spectacular renovation of Fenway Park.

■ Lucchino dated Maria Shriver.

■ Larry changed the Culture Of No at Fenway Park. He came to Boston in 2001 and announced that the Red Sox were “in the Yes Business.’’

■ Larry was a star baseball player at Allderdice High School in Pittsburgh. It’s the same high school that produced Curtis Martin.

■ Lucchino is the only man on the planet with a Final Four ring, a Super Bowl ring, and a World Series ring.
The last point is where Shank gives the game away:
■ In Earl Weaver style, Lucchino loves a good argument, has thick skin, and doesn’t take things personally.
I think the logical conclusion here is this column is just Shank saying, 'Back at ya, Larry!'

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Bostoned Out?

Shank sits down with Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester and asks him a few questions.
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Grim. Glum. Red Sox lefthander Jon Lester last year looked like a 50-year-old coal miner who was falling behind on his child-support payments. He was joyless and angry. He was Ralph Nader. He was Bill Belichick. Lester was the personification of abject unhappiness.
What's a Shank column about the Red Sox without a gratuitous mention of Bill Belichick?
He looked like Nomar Garciaparra during his final days at Fenway in 2004. He looked like a guy who was “Bostoned out.’’ Lester went 9-14 with a 4.82 ERA for the last-place Red Sox. He hated pitching for Bobby Valentine, a hideous skipper who left him on the mound to take an 11-run beating against the Blue Jays at Fenway in July. Lester looked like he’d rather be a scuba diver for Roto-Rooter.

“There’s a little bit of a chip there,’’ Lester acknowledged Wednesday afternoon after the Sox’ second official workout for pitchers and catchers. “I want to prove that last year was a fluke and not have it happen again.

“I don’t think it’s a matter of talking about last year. You can just see it in some guys. We’ve never had a season like that. We’ve never got our ass kicked that bad. It’s frustrating and it’s humbling. Nobody wants to be that team.

“It was miserable.’’

Are you happy playing baseball in Boston?

“I love baseball,’’ Lester answered. “I love Boston. People don’t see me other than the fifth day and when I’m out there, but I’m not out there to kid around. I’m not out there to joke around with hitters.

“At the same time, I’m having fun. It may not look like it, but I’m having fun. I love to pitch, I love everything that there is to pitching. I take everything I do very serious. I want my game to go the way it should be. If it doesn’t, I’m going to be [upset].’’
Without a hint of irony, Shank then drops this one on Lester:
Is he Bostoned out?

“Yeah, sometimes,’’ he said. “Sometimes I want to strangle myself. It can be intimidating, especially when you have seasons like last year. It’s tough. You know [you’re bad] and your teammates are trying to pick you up and everybody else knows [you’re bad] and you’re trying to break even on the whole deal. You try to live with it and move on.

“If you can play in Boston and survive and do good, I think you can play anywhere.’’
So, the columnist arguably the most responsible for contributing to an athlete's feeling of being 'Bostoned out', asks that question of Jon Lester with a straight face? Who said irony is dead?


Reader Melissa was kind enough to point out Larry Lucchino's interview with reporters today. It covers a lot of topics and is worth the read, but you guys (and gals!) come here for the Shank bashing, don't you?
Lucchino claimed he has not read the new book by former Red Sox manager Terry Francona and Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy. "Francona, the Red Sox Years" has several unflattering references to Lucchino and his style of management.

"I haven't [read the book]. I know some people find that hard to believe. But it seems logical to me. I want to look forward, not back," he said. "I'm afraid if I do read it, I will find in it inaccuracies and things that will cause me to react to it in a way that would divert me and cause some kind of sideshow instead of dealing with the here and now. It seems perfectly logical to me not to read it. I don't feel any great compulsion to. I may get around to it sooner or later."

However Lucchino gave a terse "no comment" to two questions posed by Shaughnessy during his 31-minute press conference. He then answered the exact same questions posed by other reporters
I'm pretty sure 'no comment' translates easily to 'drop dead, Shank', right?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Redemption Tour

The Boston Red Sox officially started the 2013 campaign yesterday as pitchers and catchers started spring training.
FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox know you’ve lost that lovin’ feeling. They aim to win back the hearts of disgruntled fans.

Welcome to JetBlue Park in sunny southwest Florida, the first stop on the Red Sox Redemption Tour of 2013.

The Sox assembled at JetBlue Tuesday for the first workout of pitchers and catchers. Manager John “True Grit” Farrell put the fellows through a grueling two-hour workout, and nobody texted Adrian Gonzalez to suggest a clubhouse coup d’etat.

It’s all good this year. Come on down and take a long look at John Lackey. He’s a fatty no more. Say hello to new shortstop Stephen “I’m no J.D.” Drew. And while you’re at it, check out Dustin Pedroia, who says, “They didn’t have to spend $100,000 on that focus group to find out I’m a sexy guy. I could have told them that for free!’’

The Sox were New England’s top dogs for a long time, dominating the local sports landscape and spreading their brand globally. Major League Baseball sent the Centerfold Sox to Japan in 2008. ESPN and Fox insisted on placing the Sox in prime time, knowing the Carmine Hose would boost national ratings. Every Fenway game was a legitimate sellout.
The rest of the column is about as forced and cliched as the above collection of new Shankisms indicates. I think Shank's columns could use a bit of spring training as well, including yesterday's 'effort' on Red Sox owner John Henry, with Shank taking his customary place in the back of the room, writing down the Q & A of the other reporters & Mr. Henry and passing off the regurgitation as a column.

Monday, February 04, 2013


A lot of people watched yesterday's Super Bowl. Shank was apparently one of them.
NEW ORLEANS — Where do we start?

Where do we finish?

Super Bowl XLVII was one for the ages.

It started with Baltimore coach John Harbaugh putting his arm around his daughter, Alison, while kids from Sandy Hook Elementary School sang “America The Beautiful.”

It ended with Ray Lewis, looking like an ancient Joe Hardy turning into a 70-year-old man, crying, praising the Lord, and holding the Lombardi Trophy.

The Baltimore Ravens defeated the San Francisco 49ers, 34-31, Sunday night in the Superdome. Baltimore’s much-maligned quarterback, Joe Flacco, was named MVP for his 22-for-33, three-touchdown performance. In the 2013 playoffs, Flacco had 11 touchdown passes and zero interceptions. He outplayed Peyton Manning and Tom Brady and was Super Bowl MVP.
The column is your standard game recap; anyone who watched the game, some pre-game programs and the box score doesn't need to read this column.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Theme Beaten To Death

In case you haven't heard by now, tonight's Super Bowl teams are being coached by the Harbaugh brothers. Shank's right there to give us one more of the four thousand stories written about Jim & John Harbaugh the past two weeks.
NEW ORLEANS — We’re talking brothers.

It’s the theme of this Super Bowl.

John Harbaugh coaches the Baltimore Ravens and his younger brother Jim Harbaugh coaches the San Francisco 49ers. Super Bowl XLVII in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome is where the sibling bedroom brawl goes global.

Not many folks outside of football were aware of the Harbaugh brothers before this week. Sunday night, everything changes.

John and Jim Harbaugh move into the Brothers Hall of Fame alongside the DiMaggio brothers, the Wright brothers, the Alou brothers, the Kennedy brothers, the Ripken brothers, the Smith brothers, the Bulger brothers, Ringling Bros., the Smothers Brothers, Big Brother and the Holding Company, and the Brothers Karamazov.


Shank's column from Saturday takes a parochial turn; because when you're at the Super Bowl, it's all about the Patriots.
NEW ORLEANS — Bob Kraft is the benevolent, all-powerful NFL owner, overseeing an infinite string of sellouts and success. Bill Belichick is the strategic mastermind, drawing comparisons with Vince Lombardi. Tom Brady is one of the best quarterbacks in the history of the league.

They are the holy trinity of New England football.

But they did not invent the winning culture of the New England Patriots.

It was Bill Parcells.

Friday, February 01, 2013

A Trip Down Memory Lane

Keeping with the 'not exactly an original column' theme, Shank recounts his last trip to New Orleans.
NEW ORLEANS — It’s weird to be back here.

So many memories.

Much has happened since the last time we were here, since the night Adam Vinatieri converted the clock-beating field goal to beat the St. Louis Rams.

The Patriots won the Super Bowl at the Superdome in New Orleans on Feb. 3, 2002. It was in the first months after the 9/11 attacks and America was just getting back on its feet.

There was tremendous security for Super Bowl XXXVI. Paul McCartney entertained before the game and he was the “B” act. The big show at intermission was performed by U2, and the hair on your forearms stood up when when Bono sang “Where The Streets Have No Name” while names of 9/11 victims unfurled on the stage behind him.

The Patriots won. You probably remember Varitek splitting the uprights (right, Mr. Mayor?). It was the first time the Patriots ever won a Super Bowl, and it was the first time any Boston team won a championship since the 1986 Celtics beat the Houston Rockets (Houston, too close to New Orleans).
Lame lyric quote aside, this was a better effort than his previous column, notably for the few extra funny comments:
I walk through the lobby of my hotel on Poydras Street and remember that this is where the St. Louis Rams stayed before they were stunned by the Patriots in 2002. The Baltimore Ravens are in this same hotel this week. The 49ers are just a couple of blocks down Canal Street. Both Super Bowl teams are living in the middle of the party. The Giants did the same thing last year when they bunked a couple of blocks from the media center in downtown Indianapolis.

Bill Belichick would never allow this today. The Patriots generally find housing at some industrial park or nuclear-test site miles from the site of their upcoming game. The notion of the Patriots sharing living space with reporters is preposterous.


With thousands of media members in New Orleans this week to cover the Super Bowl, it's sometimes difficult to come up with original things to write about. Yesterday's Shank column does not disappoint in this area.
NEW ORLEANS — He is an athletic savant, the guy who can do anything on any field or court.

In his senior year of high school, Colin Kaepernick was nominated for all-state in basketball, baseball, and football. That’s in California, where there are several good scholastic athletes.

As a hoopster, Kaepernick scored 34 points in a state tournament playoff game. Baseball? He threw 92 miles per hour and was drafted by the Chicago Cubs. But he really loved football. So he went to the University of Nevada, where he ran the “Pistol Formation” and starred for the Wolf Pack of the Western Athletic Conference.

Kaepernick was a second-round draft pick (36th overall) in 2011 and didn’t start a game in the NFL until last Nov. 19. He has started only nine games.

Sunday night, he will call the shots for the favored San Francisco 49ers against the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII.