Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Color Him Wrong

In his assessment of the NBA's decision to ban Clippers owner Donald Sterling for making racist remarks, The CHB compares rookie NBA commissioner Adam Silver to that legendary MLB head Kenesaw Mountain Landis.

Ironically in a column about judges and judgments, Shank gets both the spirit and the facts wrong.

CHB: "Critics of Silver and the NBA raise legitimate questions about the NBA being late to the party in disciplining Sterling. ... Without the proverbial smoking gun, the NBA was neither encouraged nor empowered to remove Sterling."

Wrong. The NBA began fining Sterling for his various transgressions as far back as 1982, and in November 2009, Sterling agreed to a fine of $2.73 million, plus another $5 million in court and legal costs, to settle federal and local charges of housing discrimination. And that doesn't include the alleged witness intimidation charges leveled by police after Sterling's then-teenage son shot a friend in a dispute over a girl. The gun, it appears, was literally smoking. The bigger issue is whether the NBA wants to be in the business of firing its owners, a move that assuredly will diminish the allure of the franchises, since that it takes an already rare combination of huge egos and huge wallets to even get in the game, and those who attain both are not generally open to being told what to do.

But let's look at the comparison of Commissioner Silver and Judge Landis. Silver, and the NBA in general, have been the hands-down leader in racial integration and acceptance. The first all-black starting lineup? NBA. First black head coach? NBA. First black general manager? NBA. First black majority owner of a professional sports team? NBA. Silver is inheriting a long tradition of embracing minorities in every role.

Landis, by contrast, is probably the single most responsible person for perpetuating the unwritten ban on minorities in major league baseball. Even those critics who argue Landis was not a racist tend to agree that he did nothing to try to change the status quo. All Landis has in common with his NBA brethren, it would seem, is a title.

Given The CHB's well-documented stance on minorities -- "prima donnas" -- it is apropos he wrote this column. Given his track record, however, we're surprised he is taking Silver's side.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Compare And Contrast

Boston Globe sports columnist Dan Shaughnessy, 60, one mile per day on the treadmill.

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, 62, half marathon in 2:36:46.


I'm kind of surprised that Shank didn't pile on with the release of the recent Donald Sterling tapes. Isn't Shank's occasional talent (I'll use that term loosely) for self-righteousness tailor made for a story like that?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Rewriting History - IV

The New York Yankees arrived yesterday to play a three game series against the Red Sox. Our Man Shank was there to focus on former Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury:
Let’s play Sports Jeopardy.

Answer: Johnny Damon, Adam Vinatieri, Ray Allen . . . Jacoby Ellsbury.

Question: Name four Boston athletes who performed admirably in championship seasons, then were booed by Hub fans because they returned to Boston wearing the wrong laundry.

Ellsbury’s handsome head was added to the Rushmore of Fan Stupidity Tuesday night when the majority of Red Sox fans in attendance gave him the old Bronx cheer when he came to bat against former teammate Jon Lester leading off the first inning at Fenway.
This guy says they were 'kinda sorta', 'half-assed' boos, so I'm inclined to believe that Shank's exaggerating here.

What's halfway interesting about this column is Shank's newfound appreciation for Ellsbury:
And in the distance, I could swear I heard Bob Lobel ask, “Why can’t we get players like that?’’


He’s never going to tell us if he harbors any bad feelings about his medical treatment from the Sox staff or the team’s indifference when he became a free agent last winter. It’s kind of admirable.
I wonder if he's ever going to tell us if he harbors any bad feelings about certain Boston Globe sports columnists?

Monday, April 21, 2014

Bunkered Down

The CHB is presented with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity -- Red Sox players spending the night at Fenway Park -- and, as usual, he whiffs, mightily.

It's a column filled with cliche -- "Buchholz pitched like a guy who should have stayed at a Holiday Inn Express"; "These are guys who give 'safe at home' a whole new meaning"; a tortured pun on Hotel California -- and the almost obligatory snark about John Lackey's weight and the upper bunk.

That's really the best he come with?  Fat jokes?


Shank writes a column on the Bruins 4 - 1 win over the Red Wings that, while not exactly contradicting Saturday's column, is most definitely a 180 degree turn from it:
Did anyone seriously think the Bruins could lose this game, in this city, on this weekend?
It wasn't Shank, at least not before the game.
Our team. Our town. Our holiday.

The Bruins defeated the estimable Detroit Red Wings, 4-1, on Easter Sunday, squaring their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series, 1-1. Playing in front of the customary 17,565 — some of whom probably gave up swearing, drinking, and/or fighting for Lent — the Bruins came out in smash-mouth mode and took it to the visitors, erasing any ridiculous possibility that this would be the final home game of a dominant 2013-14 season.
Is this 'possibility' an answer to a question no one has asked?

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Behind The 8 Ball

Well, the title of this post makes as much sense as Shank writing about Boston Bruins hockey, which is why it's done with such infrequency.

Shank took advantage of the Bruins' 1 - 0 loss to Detroit on Friday night to accentuate the positive things about this year's Bruins team and their run into the playoffs:
You knew it wasn’t going to be easy.

It doesn’t matter that the Bruins won the Presidents’ Trophy. That might as well be the James Polk Trophy.

It doesn’t matter that the Bruins lost only four times in regulation over the final 36 games of the regular season.

It doesn’t matter that Boston scored 84 more goals than its opponents, winning 54 games in a season that was mildly reminiscent of the 1970-71 campaign when the Bruins dominated hockey, then lost in the first round to a Montreal Canadiens team with a young goalie named Ken Dryden.

No. These Bruins don’t do it the easy way and the NHL — unlike other sports — makes it possible for you to play a tough team in the first round even after you dominate the field during the regular season.
I think it's called scheduling, actually.

And now with the Bruins tying the series with this afternoon's 4 - 1 win over the Red Wings, do we get a Shank column about the Bruins on Monday that completely contradicts what he wrote on Saturday? Stay tuned!


Aw for chrissakes! (It's Easter; just had to get that in.)

The CHB thinks no one outside Boston had heard or -- or cared about -- the Boston Marathon prior to last year's bombing.

Friends and relatives in other parts of the country could never be expected to understand any of it. We were the only ones who acknowledged Patriots Day and found nothing odd about a major league baseball game starting annually at 11 a.m. on the third Monday of April. We were the only ones who knew Clarence DeMar, Johnny Kelley, Billy Rodgers, the Hoyts, and Heartbreak Hill.


Has he not heard the names of the past winners? Lelisa Desisa BentiWesley KorirGeoffrey Mutai? How many of these folks grew up with the O'Learys and the O'Malleys down on Center St in Rozzie?

The last time an American won the women's division was 1985; the men's was 1983, or about the last time The CHB went to the can without a cocktail in hand. This is a major international race, watched all over the world, the first leg (get it?) of the Marathon Grand Slam.

And no, contrary to Shank's melodramatic prose, the Marathon does not stand as "a symbol of American freedom and a population refusing to cower to terrorism." That would be the Freedom Tower.

No, the Marathon is an event, not a monument. And healing will come when overwrought sportswriters describe it for what it is, and nothing more.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Rewriting History - III

Shank, as is his usual Tuesday gig, appeared on the Gresh & Zo radio show to deliver this absolute whopper:
“This start is somewhat predictable,” Shaughnessy said. “As I keep reminding everybody, they weren’t that good last year. They weren’t this dominant team that just steamrolled everybody. They were really good, they won 97, everything came together, they got super hot at the end.”
While I must note that Shank was careful in the wording of those statements, and with the possible exception of this February '14 column, I find no written evidence of Shank actually predicting, or mentioning, or hinting of a slow start prior to his Sunday column, and making what amounts to ex post facto statements of a slow Red Sox start renders the point moot, doesn't it?

As a matter of fact, Shank declared "Everything is Awesome" twelve days ago, and a glorious day for Boston the next day. He only started saying this stuff on Sunday, when the Red Sox were well into racking up more losses than wins. Once again, are you really standing on firm ground when, in typical Shank fashion, you jump on or off a bandwagon and make self-serving (and demonstrably misleading) statements two days later? Consistency has never been his strong suit.

Bruce Allen over at Boston Sports Media Watch must have lost a bet recently. He decided (or he was possessed by demons) to examine Shank's 100 most recent columns, the result being further support of the point made above - that Shank turned on a dime, wrote one column on Sunday pointing out the shortcomings of the 2014 Red Sox, then goes on local sports talk radio and basically misleads the audience with the barest mention of the timeframe in which Shank now draws this 'conclusion' of his. I sure hope some of the callers pointed this out while he was still in the radio booth.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Baseball's Instant Replay System

... is not currently in favor with Red Sox manager John Farrell:
NEW YORK — Those of us who remember watching Jack Nicholson Five-Star Nutties by Earl Weaver and Billy Martin feared those days might be over with the introduction of manager’s challenges and video replays in 2014.

Not so fast. Red Sox manager John Farrell got into it with first base umpire Bob Davidson Sunday night and was ejected for arguing a reversed call that went against the Sox. The disputed play provided the Yankees with the deciding run in a nationally televised 3-2 victory over the reeling (losers of seven of 10), last-place Red Sox.

Lip readers were pretty sure that Farrell told Davidson to do something anatomically impossible with the MLB replay system.
I have much the same reaction after reading certain Dan Shaughnessy columns...

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Abject Nonsense

Today we are treated to Shank's conversation with himself over the merits of the Red Sox, some 13 games into the 2014 Championship Season.

It's a column filled in equal parts with the patently obvious -- "it’s very early ... put baseball on the shelf and check back to see where the Sox are in mid-June when the Stanley Cup playoffs are finally over" and plain old "duhs" -- "with each day that passes we are reminded just how hard it is to win 97 games and just how unlikely that championship ride was last October."

But there's also lots of crazy projections from the man who wouldn't know a sample size if the urologist dumped it on his head: "They don’t have a leadoff hitter. They don’t hit with runners in scoring position. They are running into outs, don’t have much depth, and a lot of the career-year heroes of 2013 ... have come back to earth."

And he perverts the English language with a phrase -- "abject genius" -- to describe the Red Sox front office (yes, that's the same group that put together last year's World Series winners), a description that is as confounding as it is ill-suited. 

Peppered throughout the piece are references to Simon & Garfunkel and the theme song from The Lego Movie. Perhaps The CHB should start channeling that song from Frozen: "Let It Go." 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Day Late, Column Short

Shank's Saturday column recaps the Thursday night usage of a 'foreign substance' by Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda:
NEW YORK — The problem is . . . everybody does it. Including the Red Sox. This is why Sox manager John Farrell was in no position to cry foul when the whole world saw the pine tar-stained hand of Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda in Thursday’s 4-1 victory over Boston.

Pineda was not “doctoring” the baseball. He was not using pine tar to make the ball do funny things. He was using pine tar to maintain his grip of a slippery baseball on a chilly night. Hitters actually don’t mind. There’s some comfort in knowing that a 6-foot-7-inch, 95-m.p.h.-throwing righthander has some control over where the ball is going.
Generally, you'd write about these things in a more timely manner, wouldn't you? Why not swap Friday's Ellsbury column with this one, or run the Ellsbury column before this series started? The Ellsbury column is one more suited to moving around, but the Pineda column looks to me like one you need to run sooner rather than later.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Rewriting History - II

Shank's Friday column takes a look at Jacoby Ellsbury, now a member of the New York Yankees. Now that the Boston Globe has finally dropped their paywall, you once again have the pleasure of reading Shaughnessy's unabridged works of art in their entirety. I'll just highlight the more amusing part(s):
Still, it would be great to have Dr. Charles Steinberg roll out an Ellsbury video montage when the Bombers come to Fenway. We’d love another look at his electrifying steal of home at Fenway against a stunned Andy Pettitte. We could watch all those homers (32) from 2011 when Ellsbury was runner-up for the American League MVP Award. Maybe we’d get another look at his four-hit World Series game against the Rockies when he was a Xander Bogaerts-like call-up at the end of the 2007 season.
Compare and contrast this seemingly affectionate tone about Ellsbury to that of a mere nineteen months ago:
Ellsbury has three homers in 62 games this year. He is hitting .268. Ellsbury is the greatest flight risk since Whitey Bulger, and the Sox are not going to contend next year with him in center field.

The Sox must trade Ellsbury this winter. Scott Boras thinks Ellsbury is a $20 million-per-year player. Maybe last year. But Ellsbury has missed 1½ of the last three seasons and is going the wrong way. He’s not even Carl Crawford this season. Trade the dude.
Back to today's column:
Ellsbury was a terrific player for the Red Sox any time he was on the field. The only problem was the slow healing and the long stretches when he was on the shelf. But let the record show that he played with a broken bone in his foot in the 2013 playoffs. And his major injuries came as the result of hard play — the collision with Adrian Beltre in 2010, and the shoulder-crushing play at second base in the home opener in 2012.
Jacoby Ellsbury, the terrific player in 2013:
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.
And when Ellsbury's not on the field?
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!
Today's column is nothing more than Shank weakly trying to airbrush his previous columns on Ellsbury. I am becoming more convinced that Shank's being asked or told what to write, and in what tone to write it, when he does columns about the Red Sox. I believe his future columns this season will bear this theory out.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Opening Day

Shank's been unusually positive and upbeat in his past two columns:
Even in defeat, a glorious day for Boston

By Dan Shaughnessy

Living here is not easy. Sometimes it seems as though everything is a contest. It’s too expensive, traffic is unbearable, there’s no parking, and the interminable winter of 2013-14 makes every sane person wonder whether it’s really worth all the trouble.

And then we get a day like Friday and we are reminded why this is the greatest city in America. Even when the Red Sox lose.

Boston is a Hub of institutions, and a bunch of them intersected on the great green lawn at the corner of Yawkey Way and Brookline Ave. Friday.

Gathered in historic, heartfelt harmony, we had the Boston Fire Department, the Boston Marathon, Boston City Hall, the Boston Pops, the Boston Bruins, the Boston Celtics, the New England Patriots, the Dropkick Murphys, Irish stepdancers, the Boston Red Sox, and Fenway Park.

Oh, and we also had David Ortiz, a.k.a. Big Papi. The Man. The Myth. The Legend. Another Boston institution.
David Ortiz - a person Shank once called a "sad sack of you-know-what". Anyone think he's under orders this year to write one non-negative column every week or two?

Friday, April 04, 2014

Weathervane - II

Two days removed from declaring the second freaking game of the season as a 'Must Win' game, Shank does what he does best - turns on a dime, conveniently forgets every word he wrote in his previous column and declares everything's just hunky-dory in Red Sox Nation.
The beautiful noise never stopped, and Friday we celebrate 2013 one more time.

In our (expletive) city, before the Red Sox turn the (expletive) page.

The worst-to-first Red Sox won the World Series at Fenway Park on Wednesday night, Oct. 30, triggering a five-month baseball bacchanal that will finally wrap when the bearded brethren get their rings before the 114th home opener.

We haven’t seen these Red Sox in Boston since the eve of Halloween, when champagne flowed on the Fenway lawn and Bob Marley’s lyrics, “Every little thing gonna be all right,’’ blared out of the loudspeakers. It was quite possibly the loudest night in the history of the 102-year-old ballpark.

“There’s no way it can be that loud again,’’ said Friday’s starting pitcher, Jake Peavy. “No way.’’
Impressive hyperbole, from beginning to end.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

The Must Win Game

... was won by the Red Sox last night, 6 - 2. Does Shank bother to mention this fact in his column, dated today?

Of course not - that would ruin the narrative, the narrative being - minimize good things about the Red Sox, maximize / overstate the negative things about them, all while walking that fine line in order to avoid being shitcanned by John Henry.
BALTIMORE — Enough with Selfiegate, Jenny Dell joining Red Sox wives on the White House lawn, and Jonny Gomes’s star-spangled sportscoat.

Let’s get back to baseball. What’s up with the Baltimore Orioles and why do the Red Sox seem to have trouble beating them?
Looks like the Red Sox didn't have any trouble beating them last night. It's more than obvious Shank had this column written well in advance of last night's outcome. Nice job, Shank!

Tuesday, April 01, 2014


The 2013 Boston Red Sox lost on Opening Day yesterday, 2-1, to the Baltimore Orioles. How does Shank characterize their next game against the Orioles?
Wednesday night, however, just became a Must Win for the Olde Town Team.
Just a little over the top, isn't it?