- A recent anecdote
- A recounting of the player's baseball career
- A quote from the player and one or two other players/coaches/related personnel.
It may be dry in Florida, so I guess we shouldn't be surprised The CHB's commentary is bordering on arid.
FORT MYERS, Fla. — A.J. Pierzynski. The Most Hated Player In Baseball.We're not really surprised by this revelation, are we?
I couldn’t wait to talk to this guy.
According to a 2012 Men’s Journal poll, Pierzynski is the Most Hated Player in Baseball.As an aside, Shank's better columns tend to be the ones when he gets to focus on the overwhelming negative aspects of a team, player or situation. It's pretty obvious what his motivation is with this column.
“I just laugh at it,’’ he said. “I think it’s cool. I’ve won it a bunch of years in a row. They just change the title around. They change a couple of words.’’
True. In various other polls, Pierzynski has been cited as “Player You Would Most Like To See Beaned” and “Meanest Player’’ in baseball.
“I think I’ve won it before so it’s just an easy answer,’’ he added. “But I think A-Rod took over for me this year.’’
Is there a trophy that comes with the coveted “most hated” distinction — something that gets passed along from year to year like the Stanley Cup?
“No,’’ said Pierzynski. “You just get awkward questions by media people every day.’’
FORT MYERS, Fla. — The first look was . . .I'm surprised to read that last part; it's really shocking for Shank to bring up negative things about the Red Sox's previous seasons...
Jackie Bradley Jr. knows. He knows there are doubts about his ability to be a solid everyday hitter in the big leagues. He made it to The Show last year on the strength of a spectacular spring training (.419 in 28 games).
While the Red Sox were trying to dig out from the disgrace of last place and Bobby Valentine, JBJ became the smooth, sweet face of the franchise. He was the unwashed phenomenon — the antidote to chicken-and-beer and the train wreck of 2012.
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Red Sox hitting coach Greg Colbrunn doesn’t have a recipe for a new leadoff hitter. What he knows is that this powerful lineup that produced a league-best 853 runs in 2013 will look different, but not necessarily worse.Shank didn't seem terribly concerned in 2010, when Ellsbury wasn't in the lineup.
He can’t mix Shane Victorino with Dustin Pedroia and a little Grady Sizemore and come up with another Jacoby Ellsbury. Not possible. The speed, the disruptive nature of Ellsbury’s game, that’s gone.
Ellsbury accounted for 92 of those 853 runs, fifth among leadoff hitters. But the excitement he brings, the pressure on the pitcher, and his defense are gone.Dan was definitely excited the last time Ellsbury was gone from the lineup for an extended period:
It’s impossible and unfair to measure another man’s pain. Some professional ballplayers play hurt, while others wait until they are 100 percent before they step on the field. Jacoby Ellsbury broke five ribs back in April and he’s the only person who knows the extent of his pain at this hour.The only thing Shank will miss about Ellsbury is having a target.
But the situation with the Red Sox and Ellsbury has become absurd. The Sox are falling fast against mediocre competition and Ellsbury is still on the disabled list even though he’s played five games of minor league ball, and Sunday went 2 for 5, almost jumping out of McCoy Stadium in pursuit of a Durham Bull home run.
FORT MYERS, Fla. — How good was Grady Sizemore?A series of injuries later, he winds up on the Red Sox and his anticipated role will likely be sharing center field duties with Jackie Bradley Jr. Sizemore hasn't played baseball since the fall of 2011.
“He’s without a doubt one of the greatest players of our generation,’’ Cleveland general manager Mark Shapiro told Sports Illustrated in 2007.
“The best player in our league,’’ added White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen.
Sizemore was going to be the Next Big Thing. He was a center fielder with speed and power. He was a three-time All Star.
He has not played a game of big league baseball since the fall of 2011, during the chicken and beer final days of Tito and Theo in Boston.I almost forgot about that! Thanks for refreshing my memory, Shank!
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Red Sox ownership completed its three-day media blitz at JetBlue Park Friday with Larry Lucchino playing the role of closer.A firing squad that included Our Man Shank:
Asked about his Yankee enemies, Larry said, “I can’t say I wish them well.’’ He also playfully suggested that 79-year-old Bud Selig is not really going to retire, admitted baseball needs to speed up its games, and expressed delight with Jon Lester’s willingness to take a hometown discount.
It was the complete opposite of Lucchino’s introductory press conference last year when Larry morphed into Jack Nicholson playing Colonel Nathan Jessup on the witness stand in “A Few Good Men.’’
No one could handle the truth.
Remember last year? On Valentine’s Day, 2013, Lucchino faced the firing squad that assembled in Fort Myers to demand an explanation for the Red Sox’ worst season in 47 years. That was the day Larry admitted that the Sox’ phony sellout streak would officially end early in the 2013 season. Never smiling, snapping off a couple of terse “no comments,” Lucchino said, “we sense the frustration fans feel . . . maybe to everybody we have something to prove . . . We’re just scrappy underdogs trying to win for our franchise and fans.’’
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.If Shank puckers his lips anymore, he's going to look like a blowfish.
"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.
FORT MYERS, Fla. — When you really start to think about it, the 2014 Red Sox are a lot like “The Lego Movie.’’Obsessed with Patriots owner Robert Kraft much?
Everything is awesome.
Thursday was the much-anticipated first full-squad workout, and the entire Sox organization gathered for the first time since they all came down off the duck boats last November. The Sox released a photo of owners John Henry, Tom Werner, Larry Lucchino, plus Sam Kennedy, Jonathan Gilula, and Dr. Charles Steinberg sitting in Kraft-like high chairs, while general manager Ben Cherington addressed the defending world champs behind closed doors.
We’ve had executives on parade this week at JetBlue. John (William Randolph) Henry had his turn at the bench WednesdayNow, is Shank lauding (falsely, of course) John Henry as the latest & greatest newspaper magnate, or the scumbag who defamed Annie Oakley with a false story just over a century ago?
While Tom was talking, Mr. Henry, the beloved owner of the Red Sox and the Globe, walked from the clubhouse wearing a black sportcoat, holding an umbrella over his head. It was hard not to think of Gene Kelly, Mary Poppins, or Ray Flynn in the Vatican, but Henry will get the last laugh when the rest of us are peeling sunburned skin off our necks.And now, let's read about a product so profoundly awful it has to be given away:
The big boss no doubt was pleased at the sight of free Globes for everyone. Snowbirds from New England have been denied the pleasure of reading our vaunted broadsheet in Fort Myers in recent years, but this spring the paper is being printed at a site in Southwest Florida. Globe representatives are literally papering the house at JetBlue. Free Abraham and Cafardo for everyone.Maybe the locals were lining their birdcages with something else the whole time?
FORT MYERS, Fla. — David Ortiz sees haters. And it motivates him.Throw in some trademark Shaughnessy overstatement & hyperbole:
Everybody can use a little motivation. Some folks do their best work in the name of love. Some do it out of fear. David Ortiz is driven by a notion that folks want him to fail. He reads something in the paper or hears a radio talk show host saying that he should keep quiet about his request for a contract extension, and he spins it into a regional repudiation of everything he has achieved in Boston.
Ortiz, a Boston sports legend perhaps on a par with Bobby Orr and Tom Brady, wants another year tacked on to his contract and this has resulted in some criticism.It's good to note that some people have learned at least one lesson from The Godfather:
I’ve been critical of the big fella since he went public with his request and when Ortiz plopped himself down next to me for the start of Wednesday’s presser, he said, “Good to have my friends close and my enemy even closer.’’
FORT MYERS, Fla. — In those final days of the 2013 baseball season, the Red Sox were the greatest thing since sliced Yaz Bread.Shank goes on to recount that Series, Victorino's contract signing and Shane's likely use in the field & lineup in 2014.
David Ortiz was the guy who hit the season-changing grand slam, then batted .688 in the World Series. Koji Uehara was the indomitable closer, better than anyone who ever finished games in the big leagues. Jon Lester was the playoff ace, John Lackey was Mr. Redemption, and phenom Xander Bogaerts was playing with the poise of a young man bound for Cooperstown.
But Shane Victorino was as good, and as popular, as any of the players who produced the magical postseason run of 2013.
Victorino is the one who hit the grand slam off Jose Veras to defeat the Tigers in the ALCS and Victorino is the one who broke open the final game of the World Series at Fenway Park on that amazing October night.
Victorino's Fenway walkup music, Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds,’’ forever will be part of the Boston baseball memory of 2013.Damn - off by one column!
Audience participation peaked during the playoffs when Victorino would walk to the plate to “don’t worry about a thing,’’ and then step into the batter’s box while the crowd joined in with “every little thing gonna be all right.’’
“I would never change it,’’ Victorino said. “It’s going to be around. Pretty much my whole career in Philly, I came up to ‘Buffalo Soldiers’ [another Marley tune]. Day one before [last year’s] All-Star break, I changed it to ‘Three Little Birds’ and by my third at-bat, I could hear little sections of the crowd singing it and then it just carried on.’’
Almost like “Sweet Caroline”?
Red Sox owner John Henry will soon sell The Boston Globe’s sprawling, 16-acre newsroom on Morrissey Boulevard and move the broadsheet into a smaller facility, according to a report posted today on Boston Magazine’s website.The next obvious step - shitcanning some deadweight!
Henry told the magazine the sale of the property “will provide us with the ability to move into a smaller, more efficient and modern facility in the heart of the city. We believe that there is enough excess value there to fund very important investments in our long-term future, if the community supports development of the property.”
He mentioned no timetable or specific area in the city where he might move the Globe.
The resale value of the property — located close to the Southeast Expressway — long has been regarded as the Globe’s most lucrative asset. Henry purchased the New England Media Group from The New York Times for $70 million last year.
Some staff members have begun to chafe at their boss’s impatience and inexperience, though. After Henry bought Liverpool FC in 2010, Globe sports columnist Dan Shaughnessy made a habit in his column of asking whether he was spread too thin to effectively run the Red Sox (which was three years before John Henry bought the freaking Globe! - Ed.) (in case you’re wondering, McGrory says Shaughnessy has “the safest job in New England”). Now Henry has the Red Sox, Liverpool, and the Globe.Is anyone convinced of that, except delusional Boston Globe employees like Brian McGrory who now kiss John Henry's ass so they're not the first ones on the chopping block?
There are several million “what would have been?’’ thoughts attached to the notion of A-Rod coming to the Red Sox and Ramirez going to the Rangers. It means the 2004 Sox season would have been a whole lot different. We never would have seen Ramirez win World Series MVP, and the Sox would have been the ones strapped with the shameful legacy of A-Rod.Shank also wonders whether Lester was being truthful when he said he'd take the home team discount if the Red Sox choose to extend his contract:
Nomar Garciaparra would have been traded for Magglio Ordonez. There would have been no “Tessie,’’ no “Fever Pitch,’’ and no image of Ramirez diving and cutting off a Johnny Damon relay throw that was bound for the infield.
A-Rod and his purple lips would have set up house on the left side of the Fenway infield and we’d probably never have seen Orlando Cabrera, Edgar Renteria, Julio Lugo, or Stephen Drew. Cameron Diaz and Madonna would have come to Fenway Park. Biogenesis would have made deliveries to the Back Bay.
And Jon Lester would have pitched for the Texas Rangers.
“I’m not going to go back on what I said,’’ Lester said Monday. “I said what I said from the heart. I mean it. We’ll see where it goes from there. We still got a long way to go.Any bets on the obligatory John Farrell column for tomorrow?
“It’s going to be a tough process. That’s why I tell those guys, ‘Call me when you got something.’ I don’t want to hear about the day-to-day of it. I’ve got to worry about the field. I can’t worry about that other stuff. It will take care of itself.’’
FORT MYERS, Fla. — He’s 30 years old now. He’s the de facto captain of the Red Sox. He’s what Derek Jeter has been with the Yankees for the last two decades. He’s the everyday leader.I'm sure he'll work in something from "Sweet Caroline" in the next column...
Most important, Dustin Pedroia is healthy again. Pedroia had surgery to repair the ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb last November, and Sunday he made his first appearance in the Red Sox clubhouse.
“Everything went good with the surgery,’’ said Pedroia. “They put a pin in it for four weeks, but now the pin is gone. I kind of got a late start, but the rehab was great. I feel healthy. No setbacks. Everything’s great.’’
Pedroia has seen fire and rain in his seven-plus seasons in Boston. He was a rookie when the Sox won the 2007 World Series. He was Most Valuable Player of the American League when the Sox got to the seventh game of the ALCS one year later. (“A huge letdown. We were four or five innings away. You don’t want that feeling. Once you win, you want to stay there and be on top all the time. It gives us something to push for.’’) He lived through the final days of Terry Francona, the clown show of Bobby Valentine, and the worst-to-first redemption tour of 2013.
As the Sox’ pitchers and catchers report for duty in defense of the 2013 championship season, we look back at the last five seasons after the magic years in which the Red Sox made it to the World Series.Shank then proceeds to chronicle the other Red Sox teams (1976, 1987, 2005 and 2008) that followed postseason success. It's noteworthy that Shank put a great deal of effort into this column, since the focus is on player injuries, losing streaks / seasons and general lack of success.
■ 1968. 86-76. Fourth place in the 10-team American League, 17 games behind the first-place Tigers.
Some picked-up pieces while watching every movie that Philip Seymour Hoffman ever made . . .Because when you want a movie review, always turn to Dan Shaughnessy!
Count me as one who would have honored Pedro Martinez and Roger Clemens separately for the Red Sox Hall of Fame. Nomar Garciaparra also probably deserves his own night. That said, the anti-Clemens backlash around here always has been over the top. In his pre-roids days, Clemens was a great pitcher for the Red Sox, winning 192 games in a Boston uniform, tied for first with Cy Young. He was also a charitable and giving member of our community. There is no measurement for giving back, but a few of our worshiped athletes got in and out of Boston with stellar reputations and did not do one-10th of the charity work done by Roger Clemens.Interesting, Shank. Is this part of the 'over the top' backlash around here (December 14, 2007)?
Or this, a mere five days later?There was much gum-flapping after the release of the report, and debate will rage forever. No one will be satisfied, but here in Boston and across Baseball America, we know the biggest loser of Dec. 13, 2007, was Roger Clemens.
The Rocket's résumé was flushed down the toilet yesterday when he was dimed out by a report that relies heavily on witnesses of questionable credibility. The report holds that Clemens was a steroid guy, starting in 1998 and continuing through two years with the Yankees (2000-01). The juicy disclosure might not hold up in court...
Fast forward to August 24, 2010, when Shank fell for Clemens' now much vaunted 'acts' of charity, disguised as an act contrition:"The walls were closing in. Roger Clemens had to do something. Going all McGwire on us wasn't going to get him out of this one.
Fraud. Cheat. Liar. Hypocrite. Juicer. Clemens in the last week emerged as the five-tool player of the Mitchell Report.
First he was dimed out by Brian McNamee, a former trainer who had nothing to gain and much to lose (prison time) by lying to George Mitchell....
It's more than Mark McGwire ever did, but it's hardly a threat to sue the pants off Mitchell and McNamee. We are left to wonder when, precisely, comes "the appropriate time" for Clemens to answer questions. Will that be when O.J. starts looking for the real killer?"
So if Shank ever decides to lecture his readers about the meaning of 'charity begins at home', or why Roger Clemens is now such a great guy in his eyes, you'll know his definition of the phrase, and you'll also know why the about face on his opinion of The Rocket. I'm not buying his bullshit on this issue, and neither should you.Let me tell you the story of Clementine.
Clementine is a 6-foot-tall white teddy bear that sits in a shed behind my house. Clementine is 16 years old and a little worn around the edges. The big bear is dirty, moth-ridden, and has duct tape covering holes where stuffing would come out.
Clementine came to our house in a giant cardboard box delivered in a UPS truck in the winter of 1993-94. When the driver and I discovered that the return address was “Katy, Texas,’’ we checked to see if the thing was ticking. Roger Clemens was no friend of mine, and I was concerned the box might contain a Trojan Horse or some other mayhem maker.
No. It contained a get-well gift for 8-year-old Kate Shaughnessy, who’d just been diagnosed with leukemia. There was an autographed baseball from Clemens and the big white bear. Kate smiled and named him/her Clementine. And Clementine stayed in her room until she graduated from college.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — All year long it was about Peyton Manning. Leading the highest-scoring team in the history of the league, he threw an NFL-record 55 touchdown passes. It was suggested that he enjoyed the best year in the history of the quarterback position. He was Sports Illustrated’s “Sportsman of the Year,’’ and garnered 49 of 50 first-place votes in MVP balloting.
And so we came to New Jersey for the first outdoor Super Bowl in a cold-weather climate and all the talk was about Manning. Again. Super Bowl XLVIII was going to cement Manning’s legacy as the greatest quarterback ever.
No. Manning gave us Make Way For Ducklings. He was crushed, smothered, and shredded by Pete Carroll’s defense as the Seattle Seahawks demolished the Denver Broncos, 43-8, in the 48th Super Bowl. Manning completed a Super Bowl-record 34 passes for 280 yards, but it was like watching Carmelo Anthony score 41 in a 30-point loss. Empty, garbage-time numbers.
Manning was intercepted twice and lost a fumble. He didn’t get the Broncos on the board until the final minute of the third quarter, when it was 36-0.
Bottom line: The Broncos were annihilated. They were the embodiment of the Tomato Can Conference that was the AFC in 2013.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Welcome to Exit 16W off the New Jersey Turnpike; where the polar vortex was supposed to meet the Roman numeral; where sideline seats cost $100,000 and a 20-ounce cup of beer goes for $14; where you can’t be sure if gameday traffic might be caused by an angry governor.Don't waste your time with the rest of this garbage, unless you're a masochist. Anyone paying even scant attention to football already knows just about everything Shank talks about, and I don't see a single interesting thing in this column, which is the biggest offence a columnist can commit.
Maybe you’ve heard, they are playing the Super Bowl outdoors at MetLife Stadium this year. They’re playing the game at the home of the New York Giants and Jets, in the state that gave us Frank Sinatra, Bruce Springsteen, and Tony Soprano.
It’s a nice matchup. We have the NFL’s best offense against the league’s best defense. The Denver Broncos vs. the Seattle Seahawks. The Broncos have been in six other Super Bowls, winning twice when John Elway was an old quarterback. Now Elway serves the Broncos the way Cam Neely serves the Boston Bruins and the old quarterback for the Broncos is Peyton Manning.
Red Sox owner John Henry named himself publisher of The Boston Globe yesterday and former Hill Holliday head Mike Sheehan as chief executive officer — a move that demonstrates Henry’s day-to-day focus on the broadsheet, Sheehan told the Herald.I don't care how rich you are - while I haven't studied John Henry's career in great detail, it should be self-evident that anyone who buys a company wants that company to make money in order (in accounting and auditing terms) to continue as a going concern. Based on a ignominious $1 billion loss and cumulative twenty-year record of financial failure in that area, I would trust that Mr. Henry has a plan that does not rely on the delivery of the dead-tree news model to affect a return to profitability.
“He’s going to be very active in the strategic direction overall at the Globe, which he’s eminently capable of doing,” said Sheehan. “It’s a reflection that he is going to be active. ... This is not a hobby.”
Sheehan, like Henry, stressed the importance of the Hub remaining a two-newspaper town.I'm not so sure about that. The only difference between the two newspapers has been the rate of loss, in financial terms, market share, or circulation numbers. I do not claim to be a businessman on Mr. Henry's level, but I have some thoughts on this matter and I would rather be mauled by Great White sharks in Wollaston Harbor than reveal them to management and ownership of the Boston Globe. That's just how I roll...
“I believe the stronger the Herald is, the stronger the Globe is,” said Sheehan, “and the stronger Boston is.”
Sheehan is also the treasurer of The One Fund Boston, the charity that raises money for Boston Marathon victims.
Henry declined comment to the Herald yesterday through a spokeswoman, but said in a statement: “My main role as publisher is to ensure that the Globe has the right management and that management has the resources to accomplish its mission.”
NEW YORK — Boola boola. Yahoo. Pumped and jacked. Pete the Poodle Carroll is in the Super Bowl.Except that this lovefest wasn't always the case:
I absolutely love this. Everybody loves this. We all love Pete and we will never forget his place in New England sports history.
It took less than four years, but the hubris and blundering of Messrs. Kraft, Carroll, and Bobby Grier have created a team that can lose to the new Cleveland Browns by a hideous count of 19-11. …Slightly less hideous:
As they stumble through a nightmarish middle season (four losses in five games, five in seven games) and we face the ugly, heretofore unthinkable prospect that the defending AFC champs might not even make the playoffs, coach Pete Carroll and quarterback Drew Bledsoe have emerged as favorite whipping boys for Patriot Nation.For the past seventeen years, Shank has absolutely hated Patriot owner Bob Kraft, which I've never really understood, and Shank just wants to take a few more cheap shots:
Pete Carroll forever will be the Other Guy who coached the Patriots. He was the bridge (1997-99) from Bill Parcells to Bill Belichick. He was the one with the whistle around his neck when silly Bob Kraft (in the pre-Hugh Hefner days) was walking around with a stopwatch, talking about drafting “press corners’’ and interfering with his head coach.
It was the age of Amos Alonzo Kraft, and Carroll was the victim of the Patriot owner’s learning curve. The Patriots let Curtis Martin go to the Jets. Kraft turned player personnel over to Bobby Grier. The Krafts stuck their noses into the football operation and poor Pete was powerless to make things right.