Monday, March 31, 2014

Opening Spray

The CHB lays out his road map for how he plans to attack the Red Sox this season.

The early targets:

  • A.J. Pierzynski, "a 37-year-old catcher who has been voted “most hated player in baseball.' 
  • The pitching staff: "The Red Sox have too much damn for this season. ... [F]ive established starters and more big league-ready Triple A pitchers than any team in the history of the game." 
  • John Henry, "a funny Tweeter and probably the best owner in the game." 
  • Team management, "extend[ing] contracts even when the players have no leverage." 

and of course,

  • David Ortiz, who is being paid "$48 million to make sure he’s still in the fold when he’s 42.

So here we go folks: Shank is all warmed up and in regular season bitching shape. Play ball!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

No Bite for RemDawg

The CHB takes on the Jerry Remy situation. Sort of.

Remy, of course, is under fire in some quarters after his son allegedly murdered his girlfriend.

But in his column today, the The Bravest Columnist Joe Sullivan Has Ever Seen(TM), just recounts his Q&A with Remy; he doesn't actually offer a position on whether Remy should step away from the broadcast booth.

Revelation: John Henry is quoted as saying, “I’ve told [Remy] all of us in Red Sox Nation stand behind him.’’

The CHB's obligatory shot  response asserts: "Henry’s generous statements no longer qualify as the whole truth. It is beyond dispute at this hour that not all Red Sox fans are supportive of Remy staying in the broadcast booth."

Well, OK. But one would think a guy who's been in a sportswriting gig for 30 years would have heard of a generalization.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Center Field

Shank gets shipped back to Fort Myers for a few more days, and covers the situation with the Red Sox center field position.
FORT MYERS, Fla. — So how does this all feel if you are Jackie Bradley Jr.? What’s it like when you are old news, under the radar, and suddenly almost invisible at the age of 23?

“I’m good,’’ Bradley said Wednesday morning, standing in front of his locker at JetBlue Park hours before he was scheduled to start in right field against the Baltimore Orioles.

“It’s all right. I’ve got no complaints. I’m the same guy — even going through adversity like I am right now.’’

Everybody knows the situation. Jacoby Ellsbury went to New York for a big bag of money. JBJ was anointed the new Sox center fielder. The Sox went on record and said they were comfortable turning over the position to Bradley. It was going to be Xander Bogaerts at shortstop and Bradley in center. The dawn of the rookies.
It's safe to conclude that Jackie Jr. needs time in the minors to develop as a batter; Shank's just here to point out the obvious.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Harvard Homerism - III (Fin)

Harvard's run in the NCAA Championship ended with a 80 - 73 Saturday night loss to Michigan State, and should also result in Shank's run of consecutive Harvard related columns. He continues to speculate on Harvard coach Tommy Amaker's future, conveniently summarized in this paragraph:
Obviously there’s a lot of work to be done at Boston College and Donahue was unable to bring the Ivy Magic that got him to the Sweet 16 at Cornell . . . but BC is still in the Atlantic Coast Conference and can get NBA players (remember Sean Williams?) Harvard would not touch. A 48-year-old coach with ACC roots (Amaker went to Duke) who can take over at BC without having to move his family is going to be tempted.
Former University of Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun is also interested in the job, but it doesn't appear to be a mutual interest. Maybe Shank gets this one right?

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Harvard Homerism - II

Because you can never have too many stories about the Harvard men's basketball team...
“Fight fiercely, Harvard!

“Fight, fight, fight!

“Demonstrate to them our skill.

“Albeit they possess the might.

“Nonetheless we have the will.’’

— Tom Lehrer, Harvard, 1945

SPOKANE, Wash. — It is a cute bracket entry — “Harvard” — nestled into the long left column, alongside the royalty of the sport from Florida, Syracuse, Michigan State, Connecticut, Virginia, Kansas, Villanova, and UCLA.

Harvard? For those who don’t follow college basketball, seeing Harvard in a bracket is more of a shocker than seeing the Shockers of Wichita State. It’s as if a guy named “Einstein” appeared at the NFL Combine.

Let’s see how you do on the Wonderlic, Einstein.
Safe to say this theme's starting to lose steam.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Harvard Homerism

With a 61 - 57 win over the Cincinnati Bearcats, Shank whips it out and shows us his Harvard hard-on.
SPOKANE, Wash. — Let’s start by dismissing the notion that Harvard’s 61-57 victory over Cincinnati Thursday was any kind of an upset.
Sure thing - #12 seeds beat #5 seeds all the time!
Sure, this was a No. 12 seed beating a No. 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament, and Cincinnati is among the 25 winningest college hoop programs in NCAA history. The Bearcats produced Oscar Robertson, won two national championships, and filled NBA rosters with rugged rebounders in the days when bag man Bob Huggins put the program on probation because of a “loss of institutional control.’’

Harvard has no such hoop history. Until 1981, the Johnnies played their games on the fourth floor of the Indoor Athletic Building (the gym was above the pool, and Princeton players complained that the Harvard players smelled like chlorine). In its first 111 years of organized basketball, Harvard appeared in only one NCAA Tournament, losing to Ohio State and NYU in 1946.
From there, you get the standard Shank wrapup - a description of the rest of the game and a few quotes from players. It might have been interesting for Shank to offer a reason or two for Harvard's recent tournament success (yesterday's column didn't discuss it either), but that would require additional work for Shank, so...

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Faking It, By Dan Shaughnessy

Last week, Shank unconvincingly pretended to care for the New England Patriots. This week, he pretends to care about college basketball (with a local angle, naturally).
SPOKANE, Wash. — This is a big bowl of awkward.

Tommy Amaker is set to coach No. 12 seed Harvard against No. 5 seed Cincinnati in the first round of the NCAA Tournament Thursday, and when the Crimson lose their next game, Amaker is gone. He’s Jacoby Ellsbury gone. Harvard’s loss will be Boston College’s gain.

This is not official, mind you. Maybe Amaker can push the Crimson all the way to the Sweet Sixteen this year. Folks at Mr. Bartley’s are hoping Amaker will still be at Harvard next year, and the year after, and the year after that. Maybe he’ll be there long enough to get his own statue in the Yard, alongside John Harvard.

But I’m betting he’s gone as soon as the Crimson lose their next game. The Boston College job opened up Tuesday when BC fired Steve Donahue, and Amaker is the odds-on favorite to be taking his talents to Chestnut Hill.
If Shank feels like stepping up his weekly column output past the single column mark, and he writes a few more columns about college basketball and the NCAA tournament, look for him to turn his firehose towards Kentucky coach John Calipari (who Shank despises) and Louisville coach Rick 'Minuteman' Pitino, who destroyed the Celtics in the 1990's.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

What Do You Mean, 'We'?

A noted hater critic of the New England Patriots suddenly changes his tune and busts out the verbal champagne over the Darrelle Revis signing by Bill Belichick & Co.
We never should have doubted the Patriots

The bloodthirsty critics (yes, me too) were ready to pounce. The Patriots would rather be right than be champions. They were more concerned with nailing the market and staying out of Cap Jail than with going for broke. They were going to settle for another Adams Division championship.

They were willing to let Aqib Talib go to the competition. They were more concerned with True Value than Lombardi Hardware.

And then, it all changed.

And Bill Belichick is a genius again. And the Krafts are right again. And the fanboys will scold those who would ever question The Patriot Way.

E Pluribus Bill.

Hours after losing their best defender to the competition, the Patriots locked up the best lockdown corner on the market on Wednesday. They got Darrelle Revis to agree to a one-year contract for $12 million.
Of course, he still needs to take a shot at Patriots ownership:
While Belichick and the High Chairs pat themselves on the back (nobody does it better), let’s not forget the added dimension of how this is going to play in New York. The Jets and their fans may never get over this. Rex Ryan is going to have to go have a bleepin’ snack. Gang Green is going to see red.
Stay classy, Shank!

Monday, March 10, 2014


Shank's first column in a week focuses on the Boston Celtics, who are looking for a high lottery pick this year.
The Celtics beat the once-great Pistons, 118-111, at the Garden Sunday night in front of a hearty sellout crowd.

Yowza. In Tankville parlance, we’d call this a 4-point game — in reverse. The Celtics move further away from the basement of the NBA and the Pistons inch closer to Boston among the bottom feeders.

And here’s a little fun fact to go along with the perverse thinking in the spring of 2014. Sitting on the Detroit bench Sunday night, inactive because of left knee surgery, No. 1 in your program, Mr. Chauncey Billups.

That name ring a bell? Billups represents all that can go wrong with tanking games.

Remember the Great Tank of 1996-97? M.L. Carr drove the Celtics right into the ground. They finished 15-67 (.183), easily the worst season in franchise history. And there was nothing subtle about it.

“M.L. meant business,’’ recalled Cedric Maxwell (No. 31 in the rafters). “He was the master. ‘You make a couple of baskets, young man? You are out of here. We are going down in flames.’ ’’

The Celtics went into the lottery with the best shot at getting the No. 1 pick. The target was Wake Forest center Tim Duncan, the best collegian in the land, a true franchise player. But instead of the No. 1 pick, the Celtics came away with the No. 3 pick. Instead of Duncan, they came away with Chauncey Billups. And that was the beginning and the end of Rick Pitino in Boston.
Losing for a purpose, dredging up past tankapalooza efforts, and mention of the two worst Celtics coaches (and one of their worst trades) in history - subject matter right up Shank's alley, because everything sucks!

Tuesday, March 04, 2014


Looks like the new pattern for Shank's picked-up pieces column is once a month, and it looks like Shank's still pissed off at stat geeks:
Picked-up pieces while unpacking from two weeks in Fort Myers . . .

■ Information is good. Every sports team can benefit from data. But why do I feel like there are people who want to erase all scouting and experience from sports? The eighth annual MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference was held at the Hynes Convention Center last week and drew a raft of A-listers from the world of sports. Owners, general managers, and even some ballplayers and ex-ballplayers are knee-deep in the data.

But can we just stop the madness and acknowledge that there are some things in sports that never will be quantifiable? And I’m not just talking about heart, character, makeup, leadership, and ability to play hurt and perform under pressure.

Hockey analytics? Really? Calgary hockey boss Brian Burke told the Globe’s Fluto Shinzawa, “I think it’s still an eyeballs business,’’ while explaining that he has yet to see a worthwhile numbers-based system for evaluating hockey players.

You know why he hasn’t seen it? Because it’s impossible to evaluate hockey players with data!
Yes, you heard that right - impossible. Goals, assists, ice time, plus / minus ratings - balderdash!

The rest of the column is just as insipid. Read at your own risk...

Sunday, March 02, 2014


Every now and then, Shank feels the need to lecture someone or some group. Today, we get such a column:
This is for you, coach. You know who you are.

As you advance in the tournament this winter, or as you prepare for spring sports, find a way to play everybody on your team. At one time or another. You know how to get it done. It needn’t be done at the expense of winning. If the score’s not close, empty the bench at the end of the game. Put those kids on the floor, on the ice, or on the field. They are working as hard as the stars and the starters and you have the power to support them . . . or to demoralize them. Do not abuse this power just because you can.
Dan Shaughnessy - master of the obvious!
Most of our winter sports teams have finished for the season. Only the best of the best are still playing, but the themes never change. Coaches have the power. Smart, caring, sensitive coaches . . . most coaches . . . know what to do. Unfortunately, there are still coaches who don’t get it. They are the ones to keep some kids chained to the bench for the entire season. These men and women are at best, clueless. But their methods can also be rooted in power-tripping, petty thinking, or in the worst cases, revenge.
Petty thinking and a thirst for revenge - does that remind you of anyone?