Thursday, July 31, 2014

He's Green with Envy

The CHB can't figure out the Red Sox.

I know, I know...that's funny and all given that he never could.

But in the wake of the Jon Lester and John Lackey trades, he's trying to understand what the Sox are planning for 2015.

How's this: To do better than in 2014.

Oh, and what bothers him is the money: "The one conclusion we can draw from all this is that the Sox are intent on not overpaying older players," he writes. "No more long-term deals."

That's a dumb conclusion.

For what John Henry et al have been saying is that there are huge downsides to doing such deals. That does not, however, mean they won't 1) sign players to long-term deals or 2) sign older players. But it does mean that being cautious is the coin (get it?) of the realm.

And given the outcomes of the past couple decades, is that a bad thing? In other words, how would you like to be New York right now, paying A-Rod (age 39) and CC Sabathia (33) a combined $28 million this year* -- for a total of eight games played.

The Red Sox might be a large market team -- but they aren't that large.

So "Kansas City on the Charles," Shank? I think not. When was the last time KC won three World Series in 10 years?

*Assuming they pay A-Rod the $3 million owed outside of his suspension.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Dreamed Up Drama

The CHB is stuck. Stuck on the Red Sox. Stuck on John Henry. Stuck on the ownership's "arrogance." And most of all, he's stuck on the fans, whom he is decrying -- for the third time in nine days -- for showing up for sporting events on nice summer days.

OK, we get it: The CHB don't get stats. He somehow thinks Boston should pay $140 million or so to get a pitcher who would have to defy 110-plus years of baseball truisms and pitch better in the next decade than he did in the previous one in order to justify that payday. And, of course, should Lester inevitably fail to live up to that contract, Shaughnessy will be the first to jump all over him (and the fools who trusted him with that kind of coin).

And yes, we get it: The CHB don't get entertainment. He obviously never goes to blockbuster movies, the ones where you know how they will end before you step foot in the place and yet willingly overpay for an uncomfortable seat and stale popcorn in exchange for the right to be entertained for two or three hours.

In Shank's eyes, John Henry deserves neither respect nor patience. After all, three World Series crowns are nothing compared to the clear and obvious scheme the "carpetbagger" owners dreamed up to trick Red Sox fans out of their hard-earned money!

If The CHB ever actually talked to a fan, he would know we think Fenway is an outdated piece of crap, that the ticket prices are high (but not nearly as bad as the food prices, given its awfulness), and the parking is nonexistent. But we also know that 1) the Red Sox are entertainment, and even on the worst days nothing beats the old ballpark and 2) the management, unlike Shaughnessy, shows up every day and puts in its best effort. And that's worth something.

Oh, and there's those three World Series rings. ... How many has Shaughnessy won again?

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Loud Curmudgeon

John Henry takes a shot at one of his own employees -- yep, The CHB himself -- in none other than the Boston Herald today:

“I don’t have a message because the way you play and results are what count,” Henry said. “Fans continue to sell out Fenway. They’ve suffered through some really bad games this year, but they continue to show up and the mood at the park among the fans is very positive when I walk through the stands. Before Tom, Larry and I arrived I believe fans had less patience.

“A loud curmudgeon I know accuses them of being soft, bad fans — but anyone paying attention knows the mood has changed at Fenway over the years. People expect good things from the Sox and really love being at Fenway. This team accomplished something very special last year therefore the fans aren’t about to not give them the benefit of the doubt.”

Once again, the hedge fund manager finds a way to articulate -- accurately, no less -- that which the guy with 40 years' experience writing could not.

His Column on Who's 'Best' is Like a Pile of No. 2

Years ago, I offered up my hypothesis of how The CHB prepares a column: He listens to talk radio for four or five hours, writes down the best lines, then builds a piece around that, with the central position to be 1) whatever is opposite of what the group-think is or 2) to hone in on (and attempt to bully) anyone who might possibly know more about sports than he does (which, of course, could be just about everyone).

And in today's piece, Shank confirms my observation. He writes: "If you were driving your car and somebody flipped on the radio and you heard people debating the merits of Carl Yastrzemski and David Ortiz, regarding their relative contributions to the Red Sox, how would you feel?"

Now, understand that the question was posed to Yaz himself. But also understand that this is exactly the conversation (if we can call the perpetually hyperventilating Tony Massarotti capable of such a thing) that took place on Felger and Mazz last week. So thank you, CHB, for being so transparent and predictable.

As for the answer, The CHB just as predictably gets it all wrong. Yaz had a lifetime OPS+ of 130 and a lifetime WAR of 78.2. A terrific leftfielder the earlier part of his career, he was actually five games worse than replacement level from 1969 on. Big Papi's career OPS+ is 139. But as to who is/was the better player? There's no question. Ortiz's career offensive WAR (47.2) is one-third offset by a negative defensive WAR of -18.6. Papi is roughly the same player as Jim Rice. This if it's a race between Papi and Yaz, it's Yaz, hands down. But if we are to include all previous Red Sox players, Jimmie Foxx and Manny Ramirez would come take the No. 2 and 3 slots, with the stunningly underrated Wade Boggs in the mix for the top five as well. A wiser columnist would have known this.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Shank On 98.5 The Sports Hub

Just wanted to note that Shank was filling in for Michael Felger on the Felger / Mazz afternoon show this week. I listened for a few minutes yesterday and today, but since I was driving, I turned it off after a few minutes because I couldn't risk falling asleep while behind the wheel...

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Black and White and Dumb All Over

It was an unusual night -- two international soccer teams squaring off at Fenway Park -- but The CHB gives it his usual treatment. To wit:

1. Mock soccer
2. Mock John Henry
3. Mock Red Sox
4. Offer off-topic history lesson in which the Boston Patriots, Carl Yastrzemski and Gino Cappelletti are mentioned
5. Mock Dr. Charles Steinberg

But the point, which Shank writes yet somehow misses, is captured in this line: "This was not a baseball crossover crowd."

Henry, upon buying the Red Sox, was asked about the fate of Fenway. He immediately recognized the possibilities in generating greater revenue from the park without necessarily having to increase the costs for baseball fans. Concerts, Bruins games, fan tours and other such sidelights are generating significant monies, which should be appreciated, not mocked, because they permit his investors to pay for the Sox from Sox monies only, not underwrite the cost of capital improvements by diverting cash from the baseball operations.

Instead, The CHB only seems to care about the (low) score, forgetting -- for a night -- how much he appreciates such baseball treasures as complete game shutouts and no-hitters.

Sunday, July 20, 2014


Is Shank getting ready for retirement, or does he have an understanding with John Henry? It seems like he's hitting ownership pretty hard in the opening full paragraph:
At this hour, your Boston Red Sox enjoy a friendlier environment than almost any of the 30 teams in baseball. The Sox have a chance to finish in last place for the second time in three years, win a playoff game in only one of six seasons, and still be perceived by their fans as “perennial contenders.’’ The Sox can play nine games under .500 for the first 95 games and still have a Nation of believers thinking they can win the division, or compete for the phony second wild card. Sox owners can pare payroll ($72.5 million scheduled to come off the books for next year), stay well below the coveted luxury tax threshold, and listen to regional applause while fans pay the highest ticket prices in baseball. The Sox can get folks to buy into the notion that it’s foolish to compete in the open market for the services of their best pitcher. Sox tickets and merchandise are hotter than they were at this time last summer and Pat Moscaritolo, president of a Boston tourist group, says, “For the past 10 years that I’ve been tracking visitor spending and the economic impact of the Red Sox, it’s almost unaffected by the team’s performance.’’
The rest of the column is the typical picked up pieces fare; semi-interesting tidbits and enough stupidity (74 year old Joe Torre a 'terrific choice' for baseball commissioner?) to make you want to line your birdcage with it.

UPDATE, 7/21/2014 at 6:20 PM - Bruce Allen at Boston Sports Media Watch piles on. We will respectfully disagree with one point - Bruce says Shank forgets about the 2013 World Series win by the Red Sox. We are far less charitable here. We believe that Shank is indeed pissed that his little cottage industry of 'The Curse' has been toppled, and that it's more logical to assume that Shank deliberately ignores the success of the Red Sox (and that of other local teams, for that matter) in order to continue taking that Bud Light fueled piss on anything successful by local professional sports teams in the New England area. Just wait until the New England Patriots get revved up in a week or two as Exhibit 1,652.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

'Selig' Him Later

MLB Commissioner "[Bud] Selig is easily harpooned and mistakes have been made, but none of baseball’s other eight commissioners could possibly match his love for the game and respect for its history."

So says The CHB today, ignoring, for instance, Bart Giamatti, who when rumored to be a candidate for the presidency of Yale, responded, "The only thing I ever wanted to be president of was the American League," and who wrote several articles on baseball, including one for Harper's on Tom Seaver, and another called "Baseball and the American Character." (Moreover, unlike Selig, he actually dealt with problems that occurred on his watch.)

The CHB likes to talk about the inflated home run totals during the so-called steroid era, but ignores the fact that homers today are the same as in the 1990s on per ball in play ratio. (The only difference: more guys are striking out, thus fewer balls are put into play.) So was it the drugs, or something else? Shank doesn't know, and he doesn't care.

Shank is also still complaining about the "bag job" sale of the Red Sox to the Henry Group, even though the results has been three World Series crowns. Perhaps he's still upset over the end of his Curse of the Bambino franchise.

The only surprise? That The CHB could write a column on PEDs and not mention David Ortiz.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


I'm having trouble believing this - a balanced, decently written column by Shank without the trademark trolling questions, petty, vindictive swipes, personal insults or axe-grinding agendas.
MINNEAPOLIS — Jon Lester was in a good mood as he sat at his interview station in a grand ballroom of the downtown Hyatt Hotel on Monday afternoon. The Red Sox southpaw was barely bothered while, a few yards to his left, dozens of cameramen and reporters elbowed each other for access to Derek Jeter’s table.

If not for a few Boston scribes asking about his impending free agency, Lester might have gone unnoticed during the mandatory media session for baseball’s All-Stars.

Lester’s contract status is going to be the big story in Boston baseball for the next few months. He is the ultimate commodity: a 30-year-old power pitcher who has won two World Series, never misses a start, has demonstrated he can perform in a tough market, and is having his best overall season (9-7, 2.65 ERA, 29 walks, 134 strikeouts in 129 innings).

Saturday, July 12, 2014

What A Difference Four Years Makes

Shank devotes today's column to LeBron James, who returns home to Cleveland to once again play for the Cavaliers.
Bron-Bron is all grown up. And it shows.

Four years ago, LeBron James orchestrated one of the most selfish television events of this century, arrogantly telling the world he was taking his talents to South Beach and incurring the wrath of a nation. A No. 23 James jersey was burned on Cleveland Street, and Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert characterized LeBron’s “Decision” as a “cowardly betrayal.’’ LeBron Hate ruled the day.
Would you care to guess who one of those 'haters' was?
Gag me. Whatever happened to good old-fashioned disdain for the opposition? How good can the competition be when the alleged "rivals" are in business together or planning to join forces at a later date?

At the risk of sounding like a curmudgeon who covered the 1918 World Series (Ruth really dominated the Cubs in that 1-0 game, didn't he?), sports was better in the days before the players all loved one another.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Recycling The Absentee Complaint - II

For the second time in a week, Shank bitches about Red Sox ownership in absentia, so he'll have to settle for Larry Lucchino.
Ownership has been hard to find while the Red Sox dropped out of contention in the summer of 2014. John Henry and Tom Werner haven’t had much to say about their tied-for-last-place team.

With the Sox heading out of town until after the All-Star break, I figured it would be a good time to hear from Larry Lucchino. According to Henry, Larry runs the Red Sox.
Forget baseball; second guessing is Shank's favorite pastime.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

And We Have A Bridge In Brooklyn To Sell You

Shank now claims he loves soccer, supposedly because the guys fixing his car love the game as well. Totally believable!
I gave it one more try. Mocked, ridiculed, and threatened by soccer krishnas around the globe, I pledged to give the Beautiful Game one more chance on the occasion of the World Cup semifinal featuring host country Brazil and Germany.

And it was ugly. Who knew this would end up being the equivalent of the 1940 NFL championship game that resulted in a 73-0 victory for the Chicago Bears over the Washington Redskins? Germany beat Brazil, 7-1, Tuesday. The Germans will play the winner of Wednesday’s Netherlands-Argentina match in Sunday’s World Cup final.

It does not matter. I am sorry for the disgrace of Brazil, but I now love Futbol. I love it because I have seen it through the eyes of the owners, workers, friends, and customers of J & K Auto Body, just a few feet from Oak Square in Brighton.
Liar, douchebag, hypocrite or world-class professional troll - take your pick, or just mix and match.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Sinking Ship

The 2014 Boston Red Sox are currently in last place in the A.L. East, so Shank comes out and puts a few more holes in the hull of the ship.
Identifying the low point of this train wreck season has become a parlor game throughout New England: Was it getting swept in the doubleheader at home against the Rays back in May; losing three straight to Tito’s Tribe; the 16-9 beatdown at the hands of Theo’s Cubs last Wednesday; or was it Sunday when the Sox couldn’t finish in 12 innings after rallying from five runs down against the first-place Orioles?

In good times and bad, Farrell has managed the Red Sox without creating any brushfires. He has dealt with highly paid, sometimes selfish and excuse-making players, an aggressive media, loud fans, multiple voices of ownership, in-house stat geeks, and great expectations without making things worse. He has a world championship in his pocket.
Which, of course, isn't good enough for Shank, who once again displays a gleeful attitude in his writing when a team's at its worst.

Recycling the Absentee Complaint

Here we go: Shank is setting his sights on the Red Sox "absentee" owners:

Farrell and general manager Ben Cherington are still talking about 2014. Meanwhile, we hear only the sounds of silence from ownership. John, Tom, and Larry — always around for the trophy presentations, the White House visits, and those hard-hitting sessions on NESN — have been virtually invisible while the Sox have run off the rails at the beginning of our summer.

Keep in mind he's done this before, most recently in his book (released last year), when the Red Sox were coming off their 2012 season and John Henry was looking to purchase more properties for his Fenway Sports Group. On Opening Day 2006, he declared Larry Lucchino "conspicuously absent.”

It's classic front-running CHB-speak.

And it's hard to take The CHB seriously when he's quoting as the voice of reason on free agency one Mo Vaughn, the same guy whom after he left the Red Sox was worth an aggregate -0.3 wins over replacement over the rest of his career (basically, you could have plucked anyone from the minor leagues and that player would have been more valuable than Mo). Believe it or not, Boston generally has made the right call on which players to let walk, Roger Clemens being the notable exception. Just wait until Lester pitches a couple of bad games in a row and Shank starts calling him a prima donna.*

*On second thought, that would never happen, given that Lester is white.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Great Timing, Shank!

Dan Shaughnessy, eight days ago:
When he was American League MVP in 2008, Pedroia batted .326 with 17 homers, 83 RBIs, 54 doubles, and 213 hits. But his slugging percentage has gotten lower in each of the last four seasons and he went into Friday’s game hitting .265 with an on-base percentage of .338.
Dustin's batting average over the last ten games? .433.

Ringing with Hate for the Olympics and Ryan

Check this out: Dan Shaughnessy is right about something.

He doesn't think Boston can handle the Olympics.

And we agree.

His rationale, however, like his posture, needs work. "We already are a world-class city," The CHB writes, then proceeds to list all the reasons why Boston is NOT a world-class city: bridge repair, housing, better public schools, an improved MBTA, programs for the disenfranchised, better ways to get in and out of the city. In fact, as anyone who has traveled outside of 495 knows, it is precisely that ability to function that makes a city world class. (That, or in the case of New Orleans, the 365-day Spring Break for adults.)

What we are more curious about is what prompted the long-running lover's quarrel with Bob Ryan, the latest installment of which continues in today's papers.

Today, Ryan says he likes the World Cup. While basically the same column he wrote a couple weeks ago, this is notable because he calls out -- in his lede, no less -- the "xenophobic, American-Sports-Are-The-Only-Sports party poopers" [read: The CHB] who are "ecstatic" because the US lost.

This is a direct response to The CHB's June 23 column in which he happily claims to be done with the World Cup, , assailing the "Futbol Moonies" who call him "an aging, unhip, xenophobic, uncultured dolt." Well, who said he can't be all of that AND a soccer hater?

The ongoing catfight between Tweedledum and Tweedledee is like watching a couple of sickly vagabonds argue over a few crusts of moldy bread. There's literally nothing at stake, but you can't wait to see how it all plays out.

Friday, July 04, 2014


Consistent with July 4th being a holiday, Shank takes another day off and mails in another column.
Picked-up pieces while sorting through vicious messages from those gentle, progressive, inclusive, oh-so-tolerant fans of “The Beautiful Game” . . .
Isn't that rich - Shank lecturing other people on tolerance!

With this riff on the Red Sox, is Shank falling into his old habits, perhaps aware that John Henry won't shitcan him?
In the wake of Theo’s Revenge, the Red Sox are nine games under .500. They are 38-47 and went into Thursday’s day off just one game ahead of the last-place Rays. The Bobby Valentine Red Sox — who turned out to be the worst Sox team in 47 years — were 43-42 at this same juncture. Worst-to-first-to-worst is certainly doable. Barring a miracle, the Sox will fail to win a playoff game for the fifth time in the last six seasons. Think about that while you are paying the highest ticket prices in baseball. Your team, which has made the luxury-tax threshold a hard salary cap for itself, will go without a playoff win in five of six seasons. The Sox brass know you are SO GRATEFUL for last year’s championship. So what’s up with this team we are watching? Is everything still awesome?
And what's a Picked Up Pieces column without a shot at the Krafts?
Amazing to hear Jonathan Kraft — whose family fortune was made on paper product — telling The SportsHub, “We all know what is happening to print publications, they don’t matter anymore,’’ after an unflattering portrayal of the Krafts’ Revolution ownership in Boston Magazine.
Not amazing at all, Shank - The Kraft Group has a paper & packaging division, which, last time I checked, is quite different from what Jonathan Kraft was referring to. But hey, deliberate misrepresentation is fine as long as you can use it to take a shot at the Krafts, right?

The rest of the 'column' is the usual jumble of disjointed random thoughts & subjects - par for the course.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

World Cup Ignored

Shank takes another piss on the game of soccer:
It was almost 9 p.m. Tuesday when I finally realized why I was at Fenway on the same day that the US World Cup team played the most important American soccer game of all time.

It came to me when a young man in the Fenway elevator asked if there was any score in the sixth inning of the Red Sox-Cubs game.

“No,’’ I told him. “It’s nil-nil.’’

There it was. The overrated sport of soccer and the overpaid/overhyped Boston Red Sox have one thing in common:


And they both lost, 2-1, on Tuesday.

These are your Red Sox. There are your American Futbolers. They should be captained by Nils Lofgren and Zero Mostel. They should endorse Coke Zero. They should star in “Zero Dark Thirty” and promote the Zero-Sum game.
Noted - Dan Shaughnessy hates soccer, except for that one time he didn't (hat tip - Awful Announcing):
That seals it. Soccer has arrived. The Worldwide Leader is right again. Like millions of other Americans, Ken Nigro is setting his Old School Timex to watch today’s women’s World Cup final, featuring the United States and Japan, in Frankfurt.

Count me as one of the last holdouts. I’m one of those ugly Americans who’d normally prefer to stick needles in my eyes than watch soccer. Parental duties required days on the soccer sideline when my kids were little, but that was different. Watching grown-ups play soccer on television has forever been a chore.
So much for consistency!