Thursday, May 30, 2013

Colorful History

Shank gives us an offbeat drive down memory lane before the Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins start the Eastern Conference finals on Saturday night:
The Bruins play their next game sometime before the World Series (Saturday in Pittsburgh, to be precise), and in our effort to deliver all things Bruins-Penguins, we ask you to hop into the Jerry Trupiano Wayback Machine for some history of this rivalry and these old-timey sports cities.

■ The Penguins wore dark blue, light blue, and white as their colors when they first came into the league in 1967. They changed to black and gold in 1980, claiming it was an homage to the neighborhood champion Steelers and Pirates. Bruins boss Harry Sinden protested the change, claiming the Penguins were stealing Bruins colors.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Enough All Right, Shank

Dan Shaughnessy believes his Boston Globe readers are stupid, gullible and have short / nonexistent memories. This might be the explanation for him to write the following faux fanboy bandwagon column, presumably without the slightest hint of irony or self-awareness:
Never a doubt the Bruins were better team


Enough of John Tortorella and his annoying press conferences. Enough of the goal-challenged Rangers pretending they had a chance against the Bruins. Enough of the antics of Derek Dorsett. Enough silly talk about the Bruins blowing another 3-0 series lead.

The B’s Saturday night put the Rangers and their fans out of their misery with a 3-1 Game 5, series-clinching victory over the New Yorkers. The Bruins advance to play the Penguins in the conference finals, starting next week at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh. It’ll be Black & Gold vs. Black & Gold. Sidney Crosby is the only thing standing between the Bruins and another trip to the Stanley Cup Final.

It’s nice to have the Rangers in the rearview mirror. New York was merely an annoyance in Round 2. There was never a moment when the Rangers looked like the better team. They deserved to be swept, and were spared that indignity only because Tuukka Rask slipped on the ice at Madison Square Garden in Game 4. This led to a lot of hysteria about 2010 and the B’s collapse against the Flyers with Rask in net.
The word 'never' would apply to the columnist himself, wouldn't it? Once again, note the passive tone of 'Enough silly talk about the Bruins blowing another 3-0 series lead' and 'lot of hysteria about 2010 and the B’s collapse against the Flyers with Rask in net, as though he didn't have a damn thing to do with any of it:
But they will be reminded that three years ago — with Tuukka between the pipes — they blew a 3-0 series lead against the Flyers.

They will be reminded that they seem to have a big problem closing out playoff series.

They will be reminded that they gave away Game 4 in Madison Square Garden. Big time.
Or they’ll have to come back to New York and there will be thousand more reminders that Rask was between the pipes in 2010 when the Bruins blew a 3-0 lead against the Flyers.
Do these sentences sound like someone who supposedly never had a doubt about the Bruins winning this series? To me, it sounds like a columnist who at best takes his readers for fools and knaves, at worst openly lies to them.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Didn't See This One Coming

The Bruins lost to the New York Rangers last night, 4-3, on a series of mistakes; Tuukka Rask falling down, Zdeno Chara coughing up the puck near his own goal, and a penalty for too many men on the ice leading to three of the Rangers' goals.

Of course, Shank reminds us once again of a certain playoff series loss from three years ago:
But they will be reminded that three years ago — with Tuukka between the pipes — they blew a 3-0 series lead against the Flyers. They will be reminded that they seem to have a big problem closing out playoff series. They will be reminded that they gave away Game 4 in Madison Square Garden. Big time.
Note the use of the passive voice - 'they will be reminded'. Of course they'll be reminded - time and again, with Dan Shaughnessy leading the charge.

Just in case anyone missed the point:
They’d better win Saturday. Or they’ll have to come back to New York and there will be thousand more reminders that Rask was between the pipes in 2010 when the Bruins blew a 3-0 lead against the Flyers.
There will be reminders, all right - half of them will bear Shank's byline.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Whaddya Mean, It's Not Hockeytown?

Shank's been in New York City for the past few days, following the Bruins - Rangers series as we await Game 4 any minute now. He delivers a pretty good column as he takes the pulse of the city and finds little life interest in the hometown hockey team.
NEW YORK — Hockeytown, this is not.

The New York state of mind is not focused on the neutral zone trap. It’s hard to be a Rangers fan in the city. Spike Lee and Whoopi Goldberg don’t splice Rangers footage into their films.

Sure, the Rangers have fans and sellouts and Original Six tradition, and they even won a Stanley Cup back in 1994. But I have been here since Monday and I am here to tell you that there is no buzz in this town for the New York Rangers. (closing some bars - now that's a different story! - ed.) The House of Blueshirts is the hockey house of blues.

It’s not just because the 2012-13 Rangers can’t score goals, have no power play (2 for 38 in playoffs), and are teetering on the brink of elimination. No. It was like this in the days leading up to Tuesday night’s de facto clincher by the Bruins.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Hockey Hyperbole

A week removed from Shank jumping back on the Bruins bandwagon, we have seen the Bruins win three straight games over the New York Rangers, with the latest win being last night's 2-1 road win at Madison Square Garden. Naturally, Shank overreacts to this win streak:
NEW YORK — They may never lose another game.

Maybe this is the year. Again. Maybe Dave Goucher’s Game 7 Toronto call of “Bergeron! Bergeron!’’ is destined to go into the Boston sports audio Hall of Fame, alongside Johnny Most’s “Havlicek stole the ball!’’ and Joe Castiglione’s “Can you believe it?”

On the strength of Daniel Paille’s goal with 3:31 remaining, the Bruins beat the Rangers, 2-1, Tuesday night and now hold a 3-0 series lead in their best-of-seven conference semifinal. They have been a rocket sled on Bauer blades since they stared into the face of elimination in Game 7 against the Maple Leafs.
Then throw in a mistake that hockey novices make:
Tyler Seguin got away with a stick to the face of Chris Kreider...
Tyler Seguin was shooting the puck when that happened, and the follow-through on that shot is what caused his stick to hit Kreider in the face. Might want to consult the rule book on that one, Mr. Associate Editor at the Boston Globe...

Monday, May 20, 2013

Picked Up Pablum

Shank could have used some positive, hometown themes with his most recent column; he had the opportunity to write about the Red Sox and their recent five game winning streak, or he could have chosen to get near his quota of yearly Bruins games by writing about yesterday's 5-2 thumping of the New York Rangers.

Instead, he used the guise of yet another underwhelming picked up pieces column in an attempt to justify his May 11th column all but accusing David Ortiz of using performance enhancing drugs:
Facts, not opinions: According to Major League Baseball, there have been 636 professional players suspended for violating MLB’s drug policies since 2005. Two hundred and thirty-four of those 636 are from the Dominican Republic. That’s 37 percent. Players from the Dominican Republic made up 10.4 percent (89 of 856) of Opening Day rosters in 2013. Of 38 positive tests involving major league players, 13 players (34 percent) hailed from the DR. This doesn’t mean all Dominican players use steroids. It means the steroid issue is significant in the DR. Some of you old-timers might remember a time when East German swimmers were more likely to test positive for banned substances than other swimmers. An exhaustive report from 2009 (headlined “Steroid problem reaches critical mass in the DR”) stated, “According to numbers provided by MLB, in 2004, the inaugural year of drug testing in the Dominican Summer League, 11 percent of teenage prospects signed by major league clubs tested positive.’’
I'm pretty sure the only relevant fact here is this - did David Ortiz use PED's this year? Big Papi himself reported a random drug test conducted on the same day (May 11th) of the original column. Unless Shank has some undisclosed inside information, I don't see the logic of this portion of the column, which is nothing more than a defense of the May 11th column. Since Ortiz has every motivation to shut Shank up, we'll have to wait until Big Papi's test results come out.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Back On The Bruins Bandwagon

There are sure signs of spring in Boston - the sun is out, birds are chirping, flowers are blooming, and Dan Shaughnessy climbs back on the Bruins Bandwagon after a first round playoff series win.
Thank you, Bruins, we needed that win
The Day After was almost as much fun as the Night Before.
"I mean, I had a column half written when I was going to compare Claude Julien to Grady Little and everything! That was fun too!"
You could not tend to daily business without talking or hearing about the Bruins’ Game 7 miracle comeback Monday night at the Garden.

Where were you when they fell behind the Maple Leafs, 4-1, in the third? Did you (gulp) leave the game? Did you turn off the TV and go to bed? Did you sit up with new hope when Nathan Horton scored to cut it to 4-2 with 11:22 left? Did you wake your kids when the Bruins tied it with two goals in 31 seconds in the final 1:22? Did you have trouble getting to sleep after the epic comeback? Did you get calls, texts, and e-mails from friends and relatives around the country?

Everyone, it seemed, had a story. Everyone had an opinion. Everyone had hope. Everyone was buoyed by the Bruins.
The words 'we' and 'us' are used conspicuously throughout the article, which is your surest sign that Shank's back on board, at least until next week. Other than Shank's shameless bandwagon hijacking, it's a decent column. Better get those leaf springs checked out!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


There is no doubt whatsoever that Mike's excerpt below is precisely what Shank wanted to write after Game 7 of the Leafs - Bruins series. Actual events have a nasty habit of upsetting the apple cart:
It was only a first-round series, against a team that hasn’t won a playoff series in nine years.

It was not Bobby Orr scoring to win a Stanley Cup championship. Or Adam Vinatieri splitting the uprights at the Superdome. Or coming back from a 3-0 deficit against the Yankees.

But it was one of the great moments in Boston sports history. In a pulsating Game 7 against the Toronto Maple Leafs Monday night, the Bruins trailed, 4-1, with 11 minutes left, but rallied to tie the game (two goals in the final 1:22 of regulation), then beat the Maple Leafs, 5-4, in overtime on a goal by Patrice Bergeron. Bergeron’s follow-up shot in the sixth minute of OT pushed the Black and Gold to a second-round series against the New York Rangers.
And what's a column about the Bruins without yet another comparison to the Red Sox?
The Bruins were done. They were Toronto toast. They were going down hard. They were going to be scorned. Julien was going to be Grady Little (there's still time for that one, Shank! - ed) and the Bruins were going to be the Manila Folders of ice. They were going to exit from the playoffs in a seventh game for the fifth time in six seasons. They were going to blow a 3-1 series lead. We were going to have the sounds of silence at TD Garden.
That's Our Man Shank - rooting for the loss!


Dan Shaughnessy, typing away with 2:30 left in the Bruins game last night:

"Here in the Stub of Hockey, they are Wrong Ways on Causeway, the Not so Fleet on Center Ice. Claude (as in "Clod") Julien may never have to buy a drink in this town again, but that's a good thing since he will be looking for a new job come Wednesday. Can we say another 40 years between Cups?"

Dan Shaughnessy, at 6:05 of overtime in the Bruins game last night:

"Oh crap."

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Anything But Quiet

Confirming Shank's presence at Fenway yesterday, we are treated to a column that was predictably written as the Red Sox have lost seven of their previous ten games.

In case there's any doubt that he's pissed off his last ally in the Red Sox organization, here's Shank on Tom Werner, who once got Shank's daughter an internship in Werner's TV production company, a favor long forgotten:
Red Sox “Chairman” Tom Werner (third-most-famous Chairman, trailing only Mao and Frank Sinatra) was not provoked to write another missive summoning the spirit of Jackie Robinson and complaining that the Globe and other media outlets are being unfair to Sox players.
It's a compliment to be compared to a communist dictator responsible for millions of deaths, isn't it?

Shank also quotes the former Baltimore manager Earl Weaver, who for whatever reason Shank did not write anything about when Weaver passed on earlier this year:
What we are seeing is market correction from the 20-8 start. It was Earl Weaver who said “you are never as good as you look when you win or as bad as you look when you lose’’ and the 2013 Red Sox are a good example of this. They have come back to the pack but let’s not get greedy. There is every indication that they are in this race to stay and that is a good thing after what the Nation endured in 2012.
Seven weeks ago, Shank had the Red Sox battling for last place in the AL East race:
The question now is, “Who are you going to pick to finish in last place — the Red Sox or the Yankees?’’
Shank then uses the remaining part of his column to write about himself and the Ortiz kerfuffle of his own making. Way to make some headlines, Shank!

Making Friends

Check out Shank's latest trip to the Red Sox clubhouse:
As David Ortiz prepared to leave the Red Sox clubhouse after the team’s 3-2 loss to the Blue Jays, he did a double-take. The sight of Dan Shaughnessy, the Boston Globe columnist who confronted the slugger directly with suspicions about the possibility of his use of steroids, standing with a group of reporters, caught Ortiz’s attention.

“Look who it is,” Ortiz said.

He paused for a moment, then noted — loudly enough that all in the clubhouse were party to his address — that on the very day on which Shaughnessy interviewed him, he took a test for PEDs. Ortiz said he would be sure to pass along results of that test to the columnist. Ortiz became slightly more animated as he noted that he’d taken 40 tests administered by Major League Baseball.

“I’ve never tested positive,” Ortiz told the columnist, who had referenced the fact that the New York Times discovered in 2009 that the slugger had tested positive for a performance-enhancer in 2003 (at a time when a) there were no penalties for positive tests and b) test results were supposed to be anonymous).

When the report surfaced four years ago, Ortiz disputed that he had ever knowingly used PEDs, something that he mentioned anew to Shaughnessy as he walked towards the clubhouse door.

“By the way,” Ortiz said, “let me know what I tested positive for in 2003.”

As he spoke, while Ortiz was clearly upset, his tone remained relatively measured. He did not seek a response from Shaughnessy, nor did the columnist say anything while Ortiz spoke, though he did position himself to speak to Ortiz if the slugger wanted to do so.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Long March

Shank's first column on the Boston Bruins in two months, naturally, comes after a loss. Would it be fair to question whether Shank's been advised by his boss not to write about the Red Sox for a few weeks?
We should know by now that the Bruins never, ever do it the easy way. They rarely get the job done in five games. It’s usually seven.

And so the Bruins must return to Toronto to give the emboldened Maple Leafs another shot Sunday night.

With a chance to close out the desperate Leafs, the Bruins dropped a 2-1, Game 5 decision on Causeway Street Friday night and now must go back across the border before they can advance to the second round of the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs.

Careful, B’s. The Maple Leafs are to the NHL what the Red Sox were to the American League before 2004. They are an Original Six team in a hockey-crazed town and they haven’t won a Cup since the Dave Keon team of 1967. When you get ahead of them, three games to one, it’s a good idea to put them away. The Bruins couldn’t do that and you know the good folks of Toronto will go all Kevin Millar on us. They’ve got Phil (rhymes with Schill) Kessel in Game 6 and anything can happen in Game 7.
This column irritates in so many ways. In addition to the negative timing & angle (as this column comes after a lackluster loss, we expect no less from Shank!), he is compelled once again to make numerous references to the Red Sox, which no Shank column should be without, provides (if that is the right word) a paint-by-numbers recap of the game (better read elsewhere) and offers little in the realm of substantive analysis. Like last night's game, this is a half-assed effort by the home team.

And Shank, as has been mentioned before, continues to dwell on the Bruins' loss to the Flyers three freakin' years ago:
“We played good in the second half of the game,’’ said Rask, who was goalie when the Bruins blew a 3-0 series lead to the Flyers three years ago. “We have to take that with us and start the game up there like we finished here. We have to learn from it.’’
Other than the obvious point that Shank just loves beating up on the home team when they lose, I fail to see any reason whatsoever why this needs to be brought up time and time again.

Last Red Sox Bridge Burned

... or was it nuked? When Tom Werner, Red Sox chairman, feels compelled to respond to Shank's column on Wednesday all but accusing David Ortiz of using performance enhancing drugs, you're pretty much blacklisted.
Wednesday, the Boston Globe's Dan Shaughnessy suggested that David Ortiz might be using performance-enhancers because "it is not natural for a guy to hit .426 out of the gate."

He said that David's 27-game hitting streak was suspect, in part, because older players "do not get better" and, most disturbing to me, because he is from the Dominican Republic.

The story soon became Topic A on talk shows, on and on NESN. In fact, Wednesday night, Tim Wakefield was drawn into the conversation and tried to restore order by saying, "I'm tired of people pointing fingers because somebody is doing well. David is producing because he is a great hitter."

The swirling story prompted Ortiz, after going 0-for-5, to tweet, "End of my hitting streak tonight, the season still going and I hope Dan Shaughnessy is a happy man now. ... Not more .426 enjoy it."

Earlier last week, a Toronto radio host accused Clay Buchholz of doctoring pitches. He made this claim despite the fact that no Major League player that Buchholz faced this April had made any such suggestion regarding how Clay had pitched this year. Instead of Boston celebrating Buchholz's 1.60 ERA, we had to read and hear these charges, which went viral. Clay was naturally frustrated and had to issue this comment, "To have somebody say that I'm out there cheating is doing me an injustice."

I fully acknowledge the right the media has to ask difficult questions and to express controversial opinions. Freedom of the press is fundamental in our culture.

They had the right, but was it right?

We're in a new media world, and fact-less accusations stick.

Those who publicly ask questions must take responsibility for their words.
Don't hold your breath waiting for that...

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Asking The Tough Questions

Our man Shank talks to David Ortiz about his performance thus far in 2013.
“How do you think he does it? I don’t know! What makes him so good?’’

Pete Townshend, “Pinball Wizard”

Hitting is not this easy. Athletes do not get better as they mature into their late 30s. Baseball has been peppered with performance-enhancing drugs for the last 20 years. The cheaters are always ahead of the testers. A number of players from the Dominican Republic have tested positive for steroids. Injuries to the Achilles’ tendon are consistent with steroid use. It is not natural for a guy to hit .426 out of the gate without the benefit of any spring training.

So David Ortiz knows. He knows he is a suspect. He knows there are people out there who think he’s cheating. His name appeared on a list of players who tested positive for PEDs in 2003. And what he is doing now just doesn’t look possible.

When you cheat at cards, they tell you to lose a couple of hands to make it look good. Ortiz can’t even seem to do that. He just keeps raking. Ortiz Tuesday night extended his hitting streak to 27 games, dating to last July, before he got hurt.

‘My bat speed has been the same since the first day I got here.’

This is an uncomfortable topic, but it’s preferable to question a man face-to-face than to tarnish him by whisper and innuendo (how about in print, Shank? - ed.). I went to Ortiz Tuesday afternoon in the Sox clubhouse and put some hard questions to him. I told him he looks dirty.
Big Papi's been down this road before. Nice to see the scales finally fall from Shank's eyes, isn't it?

Monday, May 06, 2013

And Now For More Boston Globe Bashing - XX

LeBron James won his fourth MVP award in the past five seasons, garnering 120 of 121 first place votes. From this, a minor controversy arose - why wasn't LeBron a unanimous selection, and who was the lone idiot holdout?

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe!

Saturday, May 04, 2013

The End Has Arrived

The New York Knicks won their first playoff series with Carmelo Anthony, beating the Celtics, 88-80.
Last call on Causeway Street.

The end of a game.

The end of a season.

The end of an era.

The Celtics came back from a 26-point deficit in the fourth quarter — cutting the margin to 4 — but could not catch the Knicks in Game 6 Friday night. Overrated ball hog Carmelo Anthony scored 7 straight points, snapped a string of 19 consecutive 3-point misses, and led the Knicks to an 88-80 victory over the gritty, graying Celtics.
Shank, in a pretty good column, then discusses the future of the Celtics, with the obligatory comparison to the other local teams:
Clearly, it is time to break up the old gang that brought one championship and multiple playoff wins since the start of the 2007-08 season. The Celtics have become the local team with the least amount of hope. Would anyone dispute the notion that the Patriots, Bruins, and Red Sox (yes, even them) are closer to a championship than the Celtics?
Would anyone dispute the notion that Shank will be raising similar issues, and conveniently forget what he wrote here, when the Bruins end their playoff run, or with the first three game losing streak by the Red Sox, or when he starts writing about the Patriots & trashing Bill Belichick in the process?

Friday, May 03, 2013

And Now For More Boston Globe Bashing - XIX

Alternate title - can't wait for the New York Times' 10-K, if this article is an accurate leading indicator of performance in the industry.
The Washington Post Co. on Friday reported bad news for its newspaper division, with revenue totaling $127.3 million for the first quarter of this year — down four percent from 2012 — and an operating loss of $34.5 million.

Overall, the company posted a profit of just $4.7 million, an 85 percent drop in earnings from the net income of $31 million for the first quarter of last year.

In the newspaper division, daily and Sunday circulation at the Post dropped 7.2 and 7.7 percent, respectively, compared to 2012. Average daily circulation totaled 457,100 copies, with Sundays at 659,500. The report also noted that in January of this year, the Post increased the paper’s price for daily home delivery and daily and Sunday single copies. And print advertising revenue at the Post in the first quarter of 2013 dropped 8 percent to $48.6 million, down from $52.7 million in the first quarter of 2012.
Every dark, dark cloud has it's silver lining:
As for online — primarily and Slate — the company had better news to report. Revenue generated by the company’s online publishing increased 8 percent to $25.8 million for the first quarter of 2013, compared to $23.9 million for the first quarter of 2012. The company also posted a 16 percent increase in online display advertising, although online classified advertising revenue on fell 6 percent for the first quarter of 2013.

The company, meanwhile, has announced plans for a paywall this summer.
I wonder how that's working out for the Boston Globe? We'll find out when the 10-K comes out, which should be in the very near future. Astute observers of this site will note this has not been an issue here in quite a few months; it's amazing what can happen when you put your mind towards solving a problem and trading notes with others.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

The End Was Near

The Celtics have staved off elimination in the NBA playoffs in two successive games, with yesterday's win coming at New York, 92 to 86. Shank's Thursday column is one of the few times a Red Sox reference is fitting.
NEW YORK — Perfect.

The Knicks are choking. They haven’t won a playoff series since 2000 and now they have a chance to be the first team in NBA history to blow a 3-0 series lead in a best-of-seven playoff. The wait of 13 years has become the weight of the basketball world.

Suddenly, Celtics-Knicks has morphed into Red Sox-Yankees, circa 2004. Carmelo Anthony is Alex Rodriguez. James Dolan is George Steinbrenner. Jason Terry is Dave Roberts, and Doc Rivers is Terry Francona. We’re not quite sure who’ll get to play Curt Schilling with the bloody sock. Game 6 is Friday night on Causeway Street and the Knicks are certain to be tighter than Kevin Brown before Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS.

No team in baseball ever came back from 3-0 . . . until the 2004 Red Sox did it against the Yankees. Now the Celtics have a chance to do the same thing . . . to the Knicks.
Throw in some good old-fashioned trash talking, and now you have an interesting and entertaining series.