Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Question Immediately Answered

Shank takes hundreds of words today to answer a straightforward question:
Are the Red Sox any good this year?

... but nobody really knows anything about what’s going to happen to the Red Sox in 2015.
From there it's three paragraphs of positives for the Sox, quickly followed by the usual Shank / Red Jheri Curl nitpicking & complaining - Sox have spent a lot of money, no ace pitcher, reminders of worst to first & won-loss records, etc., and more lukewarm / cold shoulder from Dustin Pedrioa when Shank asks him a few questions.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Armed and Dangerous ... to Logic

Ironic, isn't it, that a day after The CHB goes after David Ortiz for defying Father Time (and, by implication, drug testers), he pontificates about a possible arm injury suffered by Red Sox backstop Christian Vazquez?

We say ironic, because here's The CHB's take on the injury is to quote ex-Sox manager Joe Morgan, who reportedly said, “You almost never see a catcher with a sore arm."

Skipping, for the moment, any supporting data for such a statement, The CHB immediately agrees: "Joe’s right. It’s rare. Morgan makes this point to demonstrate the value of throwing all the time. He thinks modern pitchers baby their arms. Joe’s logic is that, the more you throw, the stronger your arm will be. The rarity of the sore-armed catcher makes his point."

Well then!

Modern medicine would probably love to know what Capt. Morgan's been putting in his coffee. Ligaments, like any muscles, tendons or bones, are susceptible to injury from overuse. You only have so many bullets in the revolver. This has been known since Ted Williams was at his peak. And oh by the way, the rise of year-round baseball, coupled with the specialization at early ages many athletes are forced into, are feeding the overstress.

But, and here's where the irony kicks in, there is a strong correlation between steroid use and ligament damage: "That damage may stem from their cartilage adapting slowly (or not enough) to the increased muscle growth and force generated by the drugs, or from the greater mass and stress exerted on their ligaments and cartilage."

But Christian Vazquez isn't Big Papi. He's young and, to The CHB, unsullied by time and arrogance. So naturally he's above suspicion. Would that Ortiz be given the same consideration.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

A New Nickname, but Same Old Dan

The CHB has a new nickname!

Yes, it seems every generation of baseball player gifts Shank with a pet name. Back in 2000 Carl Everett coined the Curly Haired Boyfriend. And David Ortiz has now pegged him with a new one: "the reporter with the red jheri curl from the Boston Globe."


This shows up in today's ready, fire, aim column in which The CHB (sorry, the RJC) attacks Ortiz for having the temerity to complain about the dark cloud of suspicion that follows him ever since his name showed up on the Mitchell Report.

The CHB (sorry, old habits die hard!), of course, insists that, despite a lack of proof, that Big Papi must be cheating, because no man that is so beloved in Boston could possibly be on the level.

In a classic moment of irony, Shank writes that Ortiz's observations on the color and nature of The CHB's CH are incorrect and yet "these are not the errors or details that are bothersome in your essay."

The CHB cares about accuracy? Who knew?

The rest is a rehash of perhaps every conversation Shank ever had with Papi. In reading it (don't bother), one comes away with the impression that The RJC has been watching too much Court TV.

Larry Bird watch! (That's twice in three columns.)

Friday, March 27, 2015

Name That Columnist!

Boston Red Sox DH David Ortiz is not too happy with past and present efforts to label him a cheater with respect to performance enhancing drugs (PED's). This being the age of the Internet, he fires back.

Further down the column he describes an encounter with a 'reporter' two years ago. It doesn't take Albert Einstein to figure out who the 'reporter' is (with an awesome new nickname for You Know Who):
In 2013, I came off the DL and started hot. My first 20 games I was hitting like .400. And the reporter with the red jheri curl from The Boston Globe comes into the locker room says, “You’re from the Dominican. You’re older. You fit the profile of a steroid user. Don’t you think you’re a prime suspect?”

He’s saying this with a straight face. I had taken like 70 at-bats. Anybody can get hot and hit .400 with 70 at-bats. I was stunned. I’m like, I’m Dominican? I fit the profile? Are you kidding me?

I wanted to kill this guy. But you can’t react. That’s what they want. They want you to get angry so they can bury you. So I just smiled at him and asked for his address.

“Why do you want my address?” he said. (that would be 58 Elmhurst Rd. in Newton - ed.)

“Because I just got tested two days ago.” I said. “I’ll mail you the f****ing results.”

This is a reporter from my own city coming to my locker and telling me I’m too good, that I must be on some shit. I’m sitting there thinking, Man, I get tested 10 times a year and I’ve helped win this town two World Series titles in 2004 and 2007 and this guy who has never played a game of professional baseball in his life is telling me I’m a suspect.

My test was clean just like the other 8 or 9 tests that season. My batting average settled down to .300, because of course it did. I hit like 30 home runs and we won the World Series. Was that acceptable for the reporter? Were my numbers too high for a player from the Dominican? Should I have taken another blood test before popping the damn champagne?

He never apologized.
Don't hold your breath waiting for one, Big Papi. You're definitely not the first guy he's tried to bury, and you won't be the last...

Thursday, March 26, 2015

To the Victorino Goes the Spoiler

In every big transaction, there is a magic moment during which a man has surrendered a treasure, and during which the man who is due to receive it has not yet done so. An alert lawyer will make that moment his own, possessing the treasure for a magic microsecond, taking a little of it, passing it on. If the man who is to receive the treasure is unused to wealth, has an inferiority complex and shapeless feelings of guilt, as most people do, the lawyer can often take as much as half the bundle, and still receive the recipient’s blubbering thanks. 
So says Leech, the professor who schools the scheming family trust lawyer Norman Mushari in Kurt Vonnegut's novel God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater.

Similarly, our boy Dan knows that in every big (or little) conversation, there is a magic moment during which a man a surrendered a thought, and during which the sportswriter can make that moment his own, possessing the thought long enough to make a controversy out of it, and eventually, a paycheck.

And that's what The CHB does today, highlighting -- though not offering any wisdom, insight, or funny jokes -- the imagined dispute between Red Sox outfielders Shane Victorino and Mookie Betts, and the real (and senseless) opportunism by his radio facsimilies Michael Felger and Tony Massarotti, who are trying to make something out of nothing.

And why would a guy with nothing to add to the situation even bother reporting on it? A spring training where the focus is on baseball simply isn't good enough for Shank the Spoiler.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Chili-Fest Short on Good Taste

This we know: The CHB can't praise one person without putting someone else down.

Which is why today's love letter to Chili Davis rips new ones for Ted Williams, Maury Wills and Joe Kerrigan.

But there's those pesky details.

The CHB says Williams "could never understand why his young hitters had difficulty with Teddy Ballgame’s Science of Hitting."

Fact? The data say no.

When Williams managed the 1969  Washington Senators, they finished fourth in the AL (12 teams) in batting average and OBP, and five of their top seven hitters were 27 years of age or less.

The next year, they finished last in average and 7th in OBP with only two of their top seven hitters aged 27 or less. And in 1971 they finished second-to-last in average and seventh in OBP, again with two of their top hitters aged 27 or less.

What I love about this is how The CHB rambles on and on about Chili Davis'communication skills, yet there's this garbled line: "I talk to our hitters about my failures more than my sucesses [sic]," he said. “I talk about why I sturggled [sic] and how I got out of my struggles."

Wow. In a column about quality, you'd think they'd get the little details right.

Bonus: Larry Bird Watch!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Swing And A Miss / A Column About Nothing

So Shank goes back to Ft. Myers for more spring training stories and asks the hard-hitting questions:
What’s with all the odd baseball ailments springing up?

FORT MYERS, Fla. — I couldn’t wait to get back to Florida, back to baseball. I had to find out what was going on with all the small, strange injuries plaguing the men who play this glorious game.

Reading the paper back in Boston last week, I was stunned to learn that David Ortiz could not play spring training games because of “dehydration.’’ I wanted to rush down here with a case of Poland Spring for Big Papi, but then Sox manager John Farrell said there were a couple of other things going on with the star DH.

It turned out that Papi had the flu. He had “general soreness.’’ He has played in only six of 16 spring games and might be back by Thursday. Ortiz looked game-ready during batting practice before the Sox played the Cardinals at JetBlue Park Monday.
So, the premise of the column is that 'all the odd baseball ailments' this spring are some sort of aberration. After talking to athletes from baseball and other sports, Shank reaches this conclusion:
Dehydration. Dead arm. Obliques. These are things that are going to happen.

That’s baseball.
Never mind!

UPDATE, 3/25/15 at 6:41 PM - Title corrected to fix the typo.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Grinding The Ax

The Kentucky Wildcats won their first two games of this year's NCAA tournament. As sure as the sun rising every day, you can count on Shank to take another shit on coach John Calipari.
Kentucky wins. Again and again.

I love this story. I love to poke fun at coach John Calipari, Kentucky superfan Ashley Judd, and citizens of BBN (Big Blue Nation, didn’t you know?).
No you don't - you just like taking steaming dumps on Calipari. You have yet to say a word either way about Ashley Judd, and anything you say about Big Blue Nation is simply cover fire for taking shots at the coach.
I love the idea that we have a team in the NCAA Tournament that is 36-0, with a maximum of four games remaining. If the Wildcats run the table they will be the eighth NCAA men’s team to finish undefeated, and the first in 39 years. No team has ever finished 40-0.
From there it's a long, drawn out discussion of perfect NCAA teams, Shank noting that Calipari's suit was 'right out of "Goodfellas"', and that there "may be more NCAA Tournament vacancies in Calipari’s future". No shot too cheap for this columnist.

Friday, March 20, 2015

That Was A Close One

Shank writes a follow-up column on Northeastern's loss to Notre Dame on Thursday:
PITTSBURGH — Sometimes it feels as though we are on the outside of this magical American three-week hoop holiday. It’s like the Miss America pageant, the national Mickey Rourke Tanning Championships, or a competition to see who can make the best chicken fried steak.

Technically, our quaint little Boston schools are eligible, and usually one or two earn an invitation to the Big Dance, but nobody really takes us seriously. We are spectators in this Bracket Bonanza, like folks in Miami watching the Winter Olympics.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Obligatory 'NU In The Big Dance' Column

Taking a break from ripping the local professional sports teams, Shank writes a decent column about Northeastern University's athletic director, Peter Roby.
PITTSBURGH — Athletic director Peter Roby is not with the Northeastern Huskies at the Consol Energy Center this week. Roby was in Dayton for NCAA first-round games Tuesday and Wednesday, then drove to Columbus to oversee the NCAA subregional at Nationwide Arena in the heart of Buckeye Nation. He says he’ll watch the Huskies’ NCAA Tournament game vs. Notre Dame on television or his iPad Thursday.

Roby wears a lot of hats. In addition to being Northeastern’s AD, he’s also in the middle of a five-year term as a member of the NCAA’s tournament selection committee, and the latter role supersedes his job as Husky sports boss during this first week of the tournament.

UPDATE at 2:25 PM - Well, that sucked - #14 Northeastern loses a close one to #3 Notre Dame, 69-65.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Insulting Tweets, By Dan Shaughnessy

The former Baltimore Orioles beat writer from 1977 to 1981, during the first reign of manager Earl Weaver, who somehow neglected or blew off an obituary on one of the more interesting and colorful baseball managers of all time, now has the balls to cite him in another passive-aggressive shot at Patriots coach Bill Belichick:

Everything Shank Isn't

Shank's former fellow sports columnist, Bob Ryan, wins an award for 'a significant contribution to sports journalism':
“I’m looking at the list of names [who’ve won the Red Smith Award], and it’s thrilling and humbling to be included among them,’’ said Ryan. “It’s everything I would ever have wanted to do in this business, to think I’d have my name associated with those people.

“There were two particular inspirations in Jim Murray and Frank Deford. And I’m thrilled to be joining a beloved colleague in Bud Collins, of course.’’

Ryan’s list of accomplishments is long. He has covered 21 NBA Finals, 29 Final Fours and 11 Olympics (six Summer, five Winter); 11 World Series and innumerable baseball playoff series; 11 Super Bowls, five BCS championship games, eight US Open championships, six British Opens, four Ryder Cups, three Masters, two PGAs, the World Basketball Championships in Toronto, Athens, Indianapolis and Tokyo and numerous major college football bowl games. He was the only person to cover the one-and-only Dream Team from the first bounce of the ball in La Jolla to the medal ceremony in Barcelona.
Shank makes a brief appearance as well:
‘’For 44 years Bob was the ultimate superstar and teammate at the Globe,’’ said his fellow Globe columnist, Dan Shaughnessy. “More than any of us, he retained his youthful passion for the games we love.

“With Bob, it was always about hyperbole. Larry Bird was the ‘absolute greatest.’ Elvin Hayes was ‘absolute worst.’ In this spirit, it is easy to look at Bob and his body of work and surmise, ‘Bob is the absolute best sportswriter of all time.’ ”
Irony's not dead yet!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Bereaved Over Revis - II / Plaigarism Alert

Dan Shaughnessy, March 9, 2015:
I have given up challenging the Patriots for anything they do in the offseason. They are always ready to go with a younger, cheaper model (Julian Edelman instead of Wes Welker, Ryan Allen instead of Zoltan Mesko) and they are invariably right.
Dan Shaughnessy, breaking that pledge for the second time this week:
Really. When it comes to the Patriots, our traditionally cynical, hard-edged, ever-suspicious constituency turns to butter. The Patriots at this hour are very much like the Wildcats of Lexington, Ky. Around the country, there is hatred and jealousy of our juggernaut. Back home, it’s boola-boola 24/7. It’s like Jermaine Wiggins said at the pep rally before the Super Bowl: “They hate us because they ain’t us!’’

In this spirit, we have suddenly come to discover that it was universally understood that cornerback Darrelle Revis was a one-year rental. He was like one of those Kentucky one-and-dones. Thanks for playing. Thanks for the championship ring. No hard feelings.

Silly me, I didn’t realize this when Revis was here. There was considerable talk about the possibility of the Patriots locking him up with a long-term contract. We were told that Revis liked it here. He liked winning. He liked Bill Belichick. Why would he not want to stay here?

Now that dialogue has dissolved. Now the Patriots knew all along. The same people who told us Revis liked it here are telling us that — all things being equal — Revis was going to go back to the Jets no matter what. And everybody’s buying it, because, well, the Patriots just won the Super Bowl and everything they do is part of a master plan that is unmatched in American sports today.

Baloney. Revis is in New York because the Jets guaranteed him the most money. The Patriots elected to pass when the guaranteed dough got into the upper $30 million range. That doesn’t make them wrong, or evil, but it’s hilarious how toady Patriots fans are suddenly rationalizing their club’s bottom-line decision.

Suddenly, Revis is an “old” 30. Now it’s mentioned that he had only two interceptions last year and wasn’t involved in that many plays.

Oh, and the big whopper. Revis said his decision to go to the Jets wasn’t about money. He’s “going home.’’

What a crock. Revis misses the Statue of Liberty. He likes the New Jersey Turnpike more than he likes Route 1.

No. Revis is not here because the Patriots would not pay him what the Jets would pay him. And that’s OK. But please don’t try to make it something else. That’s what the Krafts and the Patriots always do. Winning is never enough. They have to be more special and smarter than the competition. The need to be loved and admired for “The Patriot Way.’’

Now, go to this link, listen to the audio link at the March 12th - Hour 1 section, and listen from 21:21 to 35:00. I took a ride to Norwell at this time yesterday afternoon, so I already heard the audio. And then, I read it again this morning!

Imagine that - a column that reads like a segment of a Felger & Mazz broadcast...

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Bereaved Over Revis

Refresh my memory: Who won the Super Bowl this year?

If you know the answer, please send an email to The CHB c/o Boston Globe, and let him know. The champagne probably isn't even dry on the Rozelle Trophy, yet here's Shank whining that Bill Belichick thinks he's smarter than the rest of us.

One problem with The CHB's stance: When it comes to football, Belichick is smarter. So let Darrelle Revis head south. Or doesn't four championships in 14 years mean anything any more?

One more irony: When will Shank awaken and realize that Belichick is the Billy Beane of the NFL (only with the hardware)? (Answer: Never.)

Monday, March 09, 2015

DHL Dan - XL

Fresh off his dump on John Calipari, Shank keeps the theme going in the first part of his periodic Picked Up Pieces column.

Funny how yesterday it was all Calipari's fault, right?
How college athletes handle opportunity important

Picked-up pieces while waiting to hear that Jane Swift, Vinnie Piro, and Billy Bulger have been hired by Boston 2024 . . .

■ As we wade into conference tournament week and prepare for Selection Sunday, let’s pause to consider the popular notion that NCAA athletes should be paid because they are being exploited by colleges and universities. It’s an easy argument. And it’s certainly true that “revenue” sports at big institutions make bundles of TV money off the labors of “student-athletes,’’ who officially receive nothing more than a free education. But the real exploitation comes when said college “programs” fail to educate student-athletes who will not play professionally. According to the Wall Street Journal, “only about 2 percent of athletic-scholarship recipients are drafted.’’ Every draftee does not enjoy a professional career. Meanwhile, “a bachelor’s degree adds about $1 million to lifetime earnings,’’ according to the Journal. Relative to other students, scholarship athletes are richly rewarded for their efforts. Most of the ballplayers will not play professionally, so it’s up to them (and dare we say, their coaches?) to make sure they take advantage of the quality education that represents a tremendous financial burden for most American families.
And... a once in a blue moon moment:
■ I have given up challenging the Patriots for anything they do in the offseason. They are always ready to go with a younger, cheaper model (Julian Edelman instead of Wes Welker, Ryan Allen instead of Zoltan Mesko) and they are invariably right.
He'll just wait until training camp opens up in August to 'challenge' the Patriots again.

Sunday, March 08, 2015

Low Hanging Fruit

The more wins John Calipari racks up with the Kentucky Wildcats, the more chances Shank gets to take a dump on the guy, this being the second one of the year:
Here we are. Kentucky, the No. 1-ranked team in the country — coached by John Calipari — is on the cusp of NCAA history, 31-0 after Saturday’s win over Florida. Meanwhile, the folks at UMass have decided to retire Coach Cal’s “number,” and this weekend marks the 20th anniversary of him refusing to allow a Globe reporter to visit his home for Selection Sunday (nope, no animosity here! - ed).

Sometimes there is not enough space in our newspaper to articulate all the thoughts, and state all the points, that need to be made.

Let’s start with this: John Calipari is a magnetic figure, undoubtedly the greatest college basketball recruiter of the 21st century. He works the NCAA’s cesspool system better than any man alive. He is charismatic. He came to Amherst more than a quarter of a century ago as a Rick Pitino wannabe, but now he has vaulted over Pitino, and created the Brand of Cal. He is probably going to win a second national championship with Kentucky this year and is no doubt a swell dancer and would make for a fine dinner companion.

But as a Massachusetts taxpayer, I have a problem with UMass “retiring” Coach Cal’s number.
The only time Shank pretends to give a rat's ass about sports at UMass is when he can use it to take shots at John Calipari. That said, there's little to debate with respect to Calipari's tenure at both UMass and Memphis, where he and / or the team were hit with NCAA sanctions both times. He's not exactly Coach K in the ethics department.

What's interesting here is the italicized part above. When the New England Patriots played in their second Super Bowl in 1997, the Patriots threw a party and Shank was not invited. We believe this to be the point where Shank became a lifelong bĂȘte noire of the Patriots. If he disliked the Patriots at that point (or, more specifically, owner Robert Kraft), this snub was the proverbial nail in the coffin.

In much the same manner, if Shank disliked Calipari in 1995, this snub of a fellow Boston Globe reporter pretty much sealed the deal from that point until now.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Pete Frates

I was not fully aware of who Pete Frates was until I read tonight's column by Shank. Go forth and read it, for it is good.

This is the kind of column that brings out the 'once in a blue moon' best from Shank.

Monday, March 02, 2015

The Obligatory Justin Masterson Column

Shank continues his spring training vacation in Fort Myers with a column on Red Sox starting pitcher Justin Masterson.

By the way, did you know that the Red Sox spent a lot of money on players this year? Here's Shank, for the third consecutive column, making it a sub-theme of this column as well:
FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox threw bags of money at “professional” hitters over the last six months. They have assembled a lineup that should be one of the best in baseball.
Nope, he's not setting up any angles for future columns, is he?