Saturday, June 29, 2013

Man Of The Year

Shank bags another prestigious reward:
NASHUA – While most of New England rejoiced when the Boston Bruins advanced to the Stanley Cup Final this season, Dan Shaughnessy was nervous.

Shaughnessy, a sports columnist at The Boston Globe for over 30 years, anxiously awaited the release of the Finals schedule with hope that Game 7 – which he would’ve had to work for the Globe – wouldn’t fall on June 27.

Fortunately for Shaughnessy and the Nashua Police Athletic League, it didn’t, and the worst that could happen would be Shaughnessy making a quick turnaround from Chicago to Nashua in one day to attend the PAL Sports Dinner at Conway Arena on Thursday.

However, the Bruins’ season ended Monday and Shaughnessy was in attendance to accept his 2013 PAL of the Year award.
You might be wondering what ties Shank has to the Nashua, New Hampshire area:
Shaughnessy, originally from Groton, Mass., was relatively unfamiliar with PAL when he was first offered the award. But his ties to the Nashua area – he has family in Hollis and Hudson and his brother-in-law, the late Don Marquis, was a longtime history department chairman at Nashua High School – and his appreciation for the police and youth sports made him proud to receive it.
Kind of a reach, if you ask me.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Refresh Time

"I hate to break it to everybody, but chemistry in a baseball clubhouse is way overrated. Winning requires talent, pitching, and three-run homers." - Shank, March 31, 2013



NY Yankees4236.5384.5

Tampa Bay4138.5196


Handwringing - II

Completely predictable.
Through the years, when real-world issues have visited the Sports Department, there have been some bad stories. Some of them strained the limits of believability. Others were simply sad.

Harry Agganis and Reggie Lewis died while they were in their 20s. Len Bias killed himself via cocaine intoxication before he played a game for the Celtics. The Patriots lost a Super Bowl, then revealed an in-house drug scandal. Tony Conigliaro had his career cut short by a beanball, then suffered a stroke and died at the age of 45. Rocky Marciano died in a plane crash. Ted Williams’s head was separated from his body and cryogenically frozen in the hours after his death.

More than a few of our professional athletes have landed on the police blotter. Players who were cheered at Fenway, Foxboro, and the Garden turned out to be gun-toters, wife beaters, drunks, drug abusers, thieves, and deadbeat dads.

But there has never been anything like this.
It gets better:
Please. No need piling on the franchise here. Hernandez’s associates and alleged actions are not the Patriots’ fault. But at a time when “Patriot Way” has become a sickening parody of its own mythical origins, New England’s front office needs to stop with the self-congratulation.
So, what does Shank do later on in the column? He piles on, of course!
The Hernandez saga brings up questions about the collective judgment of a conservative franchise that typically does exhaustive research before making the smallest decisions. How did the Patriots arrive at the conclusion that Hernandez was worthy of a $40 million contract extension, which included a $12.5 million signing bonus? Where were the background checks and red flags? What about Belichick’s deep roots with Hernandez’s college coach at Florida, Urban Meyer?
I know that there are a few things worse than being a raving, disingenuous hypocrite; right now, I can't think of them...

UPDATE, 6/28/2013 at 10:45 AM - From reader Walter, with a rhetorical question:

"How out of touch are the folks over on Morrissey Boulevard?

For years the readers have been subjected to articles on the editorial page and by their Metro columnists urging Boston area corporations to hire disadvantaged youths with perhaps checkered backgrounds.

And yet, Robert Kraft / Bill Belichick did just that with Aaron Hernandez and now they are being blamed for it."

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Good News, Bad News

The bad news first - the Bruins lost last night, 3-2, to the new Stanley Cup champions, the Chicago Blackhawks.

The good news? This is Shank's last Bruins' column for the next few months!
The Bruins were going back to Chicago. The New Garden was as loud as it’s ever been, the Stanley Cup was going to stay under wraps, and the greatest puck series of a generation was going to play out in a seventh game Wednesday night at the United Center.

And then it melted like a snowcone on Causeway Street on the hottest day of the new summer. Before you could say Grady Little or David Tyree, the Chicago Blackhawks had their own Miracle On Ice and captain Jonathan Toews was hoisting the Stanley Cup over his head.
Because we all know the impact Grady Little and David Tyree had on the outcome of the game. What garbage...

Monday, June 24, 2013

A Master Of The Obvious - II

Shank's Sunday column was so underwhelming, none of us wanted to post on it. Guess I drew the the shortest straw...
CHICAGO — Five games of blood and thunder. Three overtime contests and five overtime periods. Three wins for Chicago, two for Boston. An aggregate score of 14-13. Heavy hits and breathless action that raises the hair on your forearms. Midnight confessions after each game.

Is this the best Stanley Cup Final in the history of the National Hockey League?

“This is as good as I’ve seen,’’ said Hall of Fame hockey play-by-play announcer Mike “Doc” Emrick. “I can’t remember any better than this. The play has been at such a high level. You think there is nothing left for these guys, and then they keep coming back with more.’’

The Blackhawks beat the Bruins in Game 5 Saturday night, 3-1 (empty-net goal in the final, furious seconds) and will have a chance to win the Stanley Cup Monday night at TD Garden.

Don’t count on it. This thing has to go seven. And maybe a few more overtimes. Then it can be the best ever.

We live in an age of hyperbole and absolutes. Nothing can be simply great. It has to be the best of the best. There is a rush to anoint the latest as the best.

Adele is the best singer of all time. “Mad Men” is the best television show ever. Floyd Mayweather Jr. claims he’s the greatest fighter of all time, and Tiger Woods was on his way to being the best golfer ever.
LeBron James has two championships, so now he’s better than Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, and Michael Jordan. He’s the best of all time.

Just like Bruins-Blackhawks, 2013.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Early Football Season For Shank

Never let an opportunity to bash the Krafts go to waste.
Traditionally, the Patriots take the field to the tune of “Crazy Train” by Ozzy Osbourne. It’s part of all-important game presentation.

Might be time to switch to Warren Zevon’s “Lawyers, Guns, and Money.’’

The Patriots are a football team. They are all about winning football games. Nothing more. The deadly serious Aaron Hernandez situation is the latest reminder of this hard fact.

Bob and Jonathan Kraft need to stop trying to make us think the Patriots are different from all those bad boys in the NFL. You know, all those guys who only care about winning.
Generally speaking, that's what separates successful sports franchises from the others. It looks to me that the Patriots have been better at this sort of thing than, for instance, the Cincinnati Bengals.
“If you’re going to be a part of this organization, there’s a responsibility and a sense of obligation that comes with it, because in my family’s mind, you’re carrying our last name as well,’’ Jonathan Kraft said after the Patriots signed Albert Haynesworth in 2011. “We just want [them] to understand what it means to be a Patriot and that there are certain things that are as important to us, and in some cases, more important to us, than winning.’’

No. The Patriots are no different than any other team. They’ll take a chance on trouble, which apparently is what they did when they drafted Hernandez in the fourth round in 2010.

Hernandez slipped in the draft because of maturity issues and failed drug tests while at the University of Florida. A lot of teams passed on him, but the Patriots took a shot. And so he came here and he played well. In August of 2012, the Patriots broke from standard operating procedure and rewarded Hernandez with a $37 million contract extension, which included a $12.5 million signing bonus. When Hernandez immediately gave $50,000 to the Myra Kraft Giving Back Fund, Bob Kraft called it, “one of the touching moments since I’ve owned the team.’’
I do recall Shank bringing up the issue of character with respect to the Patriots bringing in Haynesworth; memory and research both indicate that character was not an issue for Shank when Hernandez was drafted. To paraphrase a comment to Shank's article, when Mother Teresa lines up at tight end, consider the problem resolved.

UPDATE at 1:48 PM = Deadspin piles on.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

A Tale Of Two Columns

Dan Shaughnessy, June 18th, 2013:
Before this Stanley Cup Final is over, the Bruins will be our Boys of Summer — on skates. And at this hour they are a feel-good team on a par with the 1967 Red Sox, the 1970 Bruins, and the 2001-02 Patriots.

There was a rainbow over Causeway Street when fans filed into the West End ice palace before Game 3 Monday night. By the end of the evening, Garden legions were thinking about the silver chalice that is the pot of gold in the National Hockey League.

On the latest date an NHL game has ever been played in Boston, the Bruins defeated the Chicago Blackhawks, 2-0, to take a 2-1 series lead in the Cup Final, which resumes Wednesday night at the Garden. If the Bruins win Game 4, they will have a chance to hoist the Stanley Cup on the ice of the United Center in Chicago Saturday night. Call JetBlue and American Airlines ASAP.

OK, that would be getting ahead of ourselves. But it’s easy to get swept away by the Black-and-Gold tide washing over New England in the spring/soon-to-be-summer of 2013. The Bruins are the team you love to love.
Dan Shaughnessy, two days later:
If you really want to know the truth, we were getting a little greedy about the whole thing.

It wasn’t a matter of if the Bruins would win the Stanley Cup. It was all about when. And where.

Would the Bruins win it in five in Chicago Saturday night? Or would they win it in six back at home on Causeway Street?

Six would be nice, we reasoned. The Bruins haven’t won the Stanley Cup on home ice since Mother’s Day 1970, when Bobby Orr flew through the air.

The parade route was another hot topic. Down Boylston Street seemed like a good idea. That would certainly be a triumphant moment after everything that’s happened this spring.

And who was the favorite for the Conn Smythe Trophy — Tuukka Rask or Patrice Bergeron?

So many premature questions. So many premature thoughts.
So, who was it getting ahead of ourselves, again?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Number 4

Shank interviews Bobby Orr, who played for both the Bruins and Blackhawks. It's an excellent column, because Bobby Orr does most of the talking.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

False Expectations

Shaughnessy doesn't really get sports, does he?

Today he calls the Bruins a feel-good team on the level of the '67 Red Sox, the 1970 Bruins or 2001-02 Patriots.

For anyone who was watching, there's a big difference. The 1966 Red Sox finished 9th in the American League, 26 games behind the World Series winning Orioles. They has not been to the World Series since 1946 and were not expected to break that streak in 1967.

The 2000-01 Patriots finished 5-11 and in last place in the AFC East. They had missed the playoffs the year before as well, and had never won a Super Bowl.

The 1970 Bruins, on the other hand, were coming off one of the best seasons in club history, having set a franchise record 100 points and making it to the Eastern Division finals. They did not sneak up on anyone.

As for the 2011-12 Bruins, they won the Northeast Division with 102 points. They were the defending Stanley Cup Champions. They did not sneak up on anyone either.

The Red Sox and Patriots teams were utter surprises. The two Bruins teams are just doing what we expected them to do.

Look away.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Working Overtime

The Boston Bruins won the second game of the Stanley Cup final in Chicago, 2 - 1. Since the Bruins did not lose, Shank can't bring up the Finals loss to Edmonton in 1990 or the playoff loss to the Flyers three years ago, so instead we get a column about Tyler Seguin:
CHICAGO — Tyler Seguin is 21 years old. He can skate all night and stay up late and bounce back the next day. He might be the poster boy for this closing time, 2013 Stanley Cup Final.

Don’t make any plans for Tuesday or Thursday mornings this week. The Bruins and Blackhawks are coming to Boston and can’t settle things in three regulation periods of hockey.

Powered by Seguin’s best game of the playoffs, the B’s beat the Hawks, 2-1, in overtime late Saturday on a wrist shot from the left circle by Daniel Paille after a pinpoint cross-ice feed from Seguin.

Taking care of business and working overtime. That is the theme song of this Cup Final. And the later it goes, the better Seguin gets. He is Boston’s midnight rambler.
Nothing says hip & modern like quoting lyrics that are four decades old!

When you're doing a column on Tyler Seguin and the Bruins, you just have to mention other local sports teams:
Sometimes we give up too early on a player. Remember Chauncey Billups? Celtics coach Rick Pitino grabbed him with the third pick in the entire draft (small consolation for not getting Tim Duncan), then traded Billups three-quarters of the way through his first season.

Sometimes we wait too long on a player. Remember Laurence Maroney? The Patriots used their first-round pick on the running back from Minnesota and waited four years before dumping him. Bill Belchick’s patience with Maroney reminded me of Earl Weaver’s explanation for sticking with aging ace Mike Cuellar. Weaver said, “I gave Cuellar more chances than my first wife.’’
And then there's this:
He has not been “The Next One.’’ We don’t know exactly what he is. We’re not even certain if he’s a center or a winger.
Might want to confirm that he's a center with one of your colleagues, Shank...

Friday, June 14, 2013

Cold as Ice

Shaughnessy on hockey is like nails on a chalkboard, except nails do have their place in a classroom while The CHB has no business anywhere near anything with ice, except maybe a scotch glass.

All it took was one loss for Shank to roll out those tired tropes about bad bounces from-- get this -- 1990. Let's just forget that those Bruins were facing modern hockey's equivalent of the
'27 Yankees, while this year's edition won the Stanley Cup just two seasons ago.

And thank god the B's won in 2011, lest we be treated to a new CHB money grab: The Curse of the Zamboni.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The One Where Dan Goes to the Stanley Cup and Reports on a Baseball Game

It was a game about nothing.

That's the takeaway from The CHB's recap of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup. Comparisons abound to the Red Sox in 2004 and 2007, the Patriots-Bears Super Bowl in 1986 (when Mike Ditka was a coach!) and the 1918 World Series.

Oh yeah, and a Larry Bird mention. What more could we ask for in a column about hockey?

Thursday, June 06, 2013

The Midnight Hour

Shank stayed up late last night to give us a pretty good column on the Bruins' double overtime win over the Pittsburgh Penguins:
This was a Wilson Pickett Special. Wait Till The Midnight Hour. That’s when your love comes tumblin’ down.

The Bruins took a commanding 3-0 lead in the Eastern Conference finals at 12:13 a.m. Thursday when Patrice Bergeron slipped the puck past Penguins goalie Tomas Vokoun in the 16th minute of the second overtime to give Boston a 2-1 victory.

“We found a way,” said Bergeron. “It wasn’t necessarily our best effort in the first 60, but we regrouped in overtime. We are pretty tired, but it’s rewarding when you get results.”

Some of Boston’s most memorable sports moments have transpired in the midnight hour. Carlton Fisk’s moonshot off the foul pole in 1975 was struck at 12:34 a.m. David Ortiz’s Game 4 ALCS walkoff against the Yankees was hit even later. Adam Vinatieri’s overtime kick against the Raiders in the final game at snowy old Foxboro Stadium was a midnight-hour special. The Bruins and Edmonton Oilers went three overtimes in the Stanley Cup Final here in 1990.
Surprisingly, Shank does not mention a previous Bruins' 3 - 0 series lead that evaporated. Instead:
It’s the midnight hour for the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Bruins are going to the Final and the once-dominant Penguins are just trying to avoid the indignity of being swept.
Of course, Shank's trademark optimism is subject to change...

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Flopping Column

You know you're expecting a terrible Shank column about Game 3 of the Bruins / Penguins series when it starts out like this:
“We were not just beating this team. We were destroying it. As much as I wanted to win that championship, I remember being disappointed that the Lakers were not playing better.’’

— Bill Russell, recalling a 1965 title-clinching game in which the Celtics scored 20 consecutive points, running to a 36-point lead over Los Angeles.

Welcome to Boston, you Pittsburgh Penguins.
This is just another irritating example of Shaughnessy having to interject some other sport into a given column; in this instance, it may well have to do about his, um, lack of expertise in the area.

Because we read him so you don't have to, he redeems himself later in the column, since he has a chance to take a dump on someone:
All eyes will certainly be on Sidney Crosby. Now that LeBron James has rescued the Heat in a Game 7, Crosby is the sports star with the most to prove in the spring of 2013. His reputation has taken a massive hit in the first two games of this series and he risks morphing into a Wilt Chamberlain/A-Rod pinata if he continues to pout and put up zeroes.

The sub-headline in Sports Illustrated’s May 13 cover story on Crosby reads, “You can’t keep Sidney Crosby down. You can only marvel at how hockey’s best player keeps coming back even better than when he left.’’

Well, the Bruins certainly have kept him down for two games. And the only thing to “marvel” about is the new notion that Crosby is a baby and a no-show on the big stage. He’s supposed to be the face of the NHL and the successor to Gordie Howe, Bobby Orr, Wayne Gretzky, and Mario Lemieux, but thus far in this series, he’s not nearly as good as Torey Krug. And let’s not embarrass him with the numbers about his faceoff failures against Patrice Bergeron.
And the coup de grace:
When an infant was heard crying on a JetBlue flight out of Pittsburgh Tuesday, the pilot asked whether it was Crosby crying in the back of the plane. This is not the image you want to take into Game 3 when your highly favored team was just outscored, 9-1, in the first two games of the conference finals.
A mixed bag, indeed.

Monday, June 03, 2013

Master Of The Obvious

Nothing gets past Shank:
NEW YORK — Clay Buchholz at this hour is the best pitcher in baseball.

Care to argue? Go ahead. Whom do you like better? Justin Verlander? Clayton Kershaw? Felix Hernandez? Stephen Strasburg? Matt Moore? Patrick Corbin?

Buchholz has outpitched all of them this year. He shut out the Yankees for five innings in Sunday night’s rain-shortened 3-0 victory, lowering his ERA to a major league-best 1.62. The Red Sox led in the sixth when the hard rains fell and the game was eventually called after a pair of delays. Buchholz improved his record to 8-0.

He hasn’t had a bad game. Not one. He pitched at least six innings in his first 10 starts and went only five Sunday night because the rains came while the Sox were hitting in the top of the sixth. There was no way manager John Farrell was sending Buchholz back to the mound after a 37-minute rain delay, especially given the fact that Buchholz missed his last start with stiffness in his throwing shoulder.
That's why Shank gets the big bucks - to tell you what you already know...

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Rip Job?

Shank can't seem to write a story about positive things, like the Bruins' 3 - 0 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins last night, so instead he returns to beating the crap out of Jacoby Ellsbury. The reader is tipped off almost immediately:
This is not a rip job on Ellsbury. There’s no calling into question Ellsbury’s toughness or willingness to play hurt.
Then Shank proceeds to rip Ellsbury:
No need for columnist Tom Werner to run to the keyboard and defend his player. Ellsbury missed the first two games of the Yankee showdown this weekend, but he’s played in 54 of 57 games in 2013. He’s practically been Cal Ripken Jr. Let’s call him Iron Man Ellsbury. Everyday Ells.
Nope, no rip job here!

Saturday, June 01, 2013

The Boo Birds

Dan Shaughnessy, a man not exactly known for his civility, would like to inform you on manners at the ballpark:

This is not about Boo Radley, Boo Weekley, Honey Boo Boo, Boo Williams, Boo Ellis, Halloween, or Yogi Bear’s partner in picnic basket thievery.

This is about the noise fans make when they are displeased. This is about the nightly referendum at professional sports contests.

Whom do you cheer? Whom do you boo? And why?

This week, Jonathan Papelbon became the latest former Boston sports star to feel the wrath of fans who once worshipped at his size-13 feet. Pap returned to Fenway with the Philadelphia Phillies and was roughed up by Hub fans when he came out of the bullpen to face the Red Sox in the ninth.

Emotionally, this makes sense. I guess.

Being a fan is an emotional experience. It does not require reason or common sense. Cheering and jeering is all about laundry, right? Booing is on the fans’ Bill of Rights.

Still, booing Papelbon seems too dumb for words. It’s sort of like booing Johnny Damon when he came to town with the Yankees or booing Adam Vinatieri when he lines up for a field goal while wearing a Colts uniform.
It's unintentionally funny for him to acknowledge booing as not rational, then have him lecture us on who should be booed and who should not. You'd also think that a Boston Globe columnist who's infamous for writing the occasional nasty column about local athletes ought to have a level of awareness when he writes an ironic column such as this one.