Look, I know going after Shaughnessy is a losing effort, and I know even Peter Gammons has nice things to say about the work that got him into the Hall of Fame (that's not technically correct - ed.). I can't speak to that, and I generally avoid him as part of my bespoke Red Sox media diet, but the dynamics at play here are transparent and unbecoming of any adult that doesn't live halfway up his own curls.I wouldn't be holding my breath waiting for that to happen.
Here's what happened: The Red Sox had two huge wins in a three-day span, and Dan got bored. Ticked off. He felt, more acutely than usual, the uncomfortable feeling that accompanies ostentatious celebrations in the game of failure. The first one hadn't cleared from his memory by the time the second one happened, and a lightbulb went on: There's a narrative on which to buy low.
Everyone knows scoring runs is good. What his theory presupposed is... maybe it isn't? So he slapped a "front-runners" label on the entire team, punishing them for punishing the baseball. Nevermind the team's obvious problems with starting pitching and injuries: The problem is that this young, dynamic squad has a bad attitude, full stop.
It took less than 24 hours for this narrative to disintegrate, because it was printed on toilet paper to begin with. Monday's win was the exact opposite of everything Shaughnessy described. Aside from -- or because of -- eighth and ninth inning hiccups, it was a crisp win that showed exactly how this team can still do some real damage this season. Will they? I don't know. I'm in the business of analysis, not truthiness. Shaughnessy is in the business of what feels true, not what is true, and his job is to get ahead of the gut feelings of Red Sox fans and give voice to them.
He is a front-runner, and the attacks he makes on his opponents are really just descriptions of himself. I've spent too much time in the real world not to see through this nonsense; as Michael Bloomberg said, a New Yorker knows a con when he sees one. This is the three-card monte of sports columns: The only winning move is not to play.
But I did, and now I'm spinning my wheels trying to disprove his negative assessment. It's impossible by design. He is impossible by design. It's by no means unique among columnists of a certain age and stature, but it's always disappointing. Everyone deserves better than this, even him. He doesn’t need to be judged by his worst moments, but at least the Hall of Fame voters were honest in assessing his best ones.
If only he’d return the favor.
Tuesday, August 16, 2016
The Distilled Shaughnessy - III
Bryan Joiner at the Over The Monster blog takes a nice warm piss on Shank's latest column: