Friday, July 28, 2006

Dan Wrong Again: 'Jeter' Defects

You may recall the line The CHB penned during the World Baseball Classic: "Baseball truly is a religion in Cuba. ... Players pledge allegiance to Fidel and none has defected since José Contreras went AWOL in 2002." As we showed at the time, and the Globe eventually corrected in print, Dan's contention that "none has defected since 2002" was way wrong.

It became even more wrong today. The news just broke that Yuliesky Gourriel has fled the island. Official confirmation is pending, but several outlets have the story.

You may remember that name, too. He's the guy Dan called "the Derek Jeter of Cuba." Of course, Dan made that pronouncement just 13 days after Jack Curry of the New York Times did, but then crafting original work was never Dan's strong suit.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


I've just noticed an amazing thing: Every time The CHB writes something snide, the opposite happens.

To wit:

On July 16 he claimed the Yankees were back in the playoff chase. At that point the New York nine had climbed to within a half-game of Boston. Starting that night, Boston won 7 of 9 and stretched their lead to 2.5 games over the would-be Bombers.

On July 15, he ripped on Josh Beckett. In two starts since, Beckett has thrown 14 innings, allowing just 9 hits and 3 runs while striking out 11 and walking 2. He's given up just one homer since Dan called him "the man most likely to send you home with a souvenir if you are sitting in the Monster Seats."

On June 30, writing on the Red Sox's 12-game win streak, he claimed the "good times never seemed so good." That night they lost 5-2, to Florida, and sputtered to a 2-4 road trip in Florida.

He clearly has mystical powers. Like George Costanza, he must be realizing that whatever his gut says will happen is 180 degrees from what is destined to occur.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Whither Dan

It's been eight days since Dan published his last work. Eight days. In the meantime, the British Open came and went, as did the better part of the Tour de France. No sign of Dan. The Red Sox saw their AL East lead dwindle to a half-game, then surged again. No Dan. Paul Pierce signs a contract that by the time it's over could see him pass none other than Larry Bird on the Celtics all-time points list. No Dan.

We are seeing plenty of Bob Ryan, though. Methinks Dan is fading away, exposed for the fraud he is. Not a moment too soon.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

A steroids feature

Aside from the fact that I'm tired of hearing about steroids, this article is actually pretty good. I *gasp* enjoyed reading it. When CHB sticks to doing actual reporting, he's not half-bad. If you find something wrong with it, feel free to comment, but in general I thought it was well-done. Let's give credit where credit is due, because it might never happen again.

The Yankees are a soccer team!

Oh, man. CHB wrote two columns today. Since this one is higher up on the website, let's go there first.

The Yankees are kind of good.

For a while, it was tempting to think the Yankees might go away. Fade into the sunset. Disappear from sight altogether. The Red Sox had ripped off 12 straight wins and Yankee millionaires were falling like Italian soccer players in the path of Zinedine Zidane. The Red Sox were going to win the American League East with ease. Like Secretariat in the Belmont or some such thing . . . And now the Yankees are in the rearview mirror again, high beams blinking, grill touching your rear bumper. Increasing your paranoia.
Can I plead simile overload and go hide under my bed now? There is such a thing as a poignant use of a literary technique, and then there is beating people over the head with it. This reads like a middle school English paper with the prompt: "Using what you have learned about similes and metaphors, write a paragraph on the Red Sox and Yankees. Believability not a requirement." What a horribly written paragraph.

`We never thought they were going away," Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein said yesterday afternoon from the Sox clubhouse, where a giant flat-screen television showed the Bronx Bombers trouncing the world champion Chicago White Sox, 14-3, to pull to within one game of first place. ``They score a lot of runs and they have veteran pitchers. They deserve a lot of credit."
This really isn't that objectionable. Which I guess is the problem. This is such a duh excerpt that I don't know why he bothered including it. If you are looking for bulletin board material, Theo Epstein is not the guy to go to. He's a master of the artfully boring. "The Yankees are good. They have a good team." Thanks for the insight! Also, why are you still talking to this guy, Theo?

Less then two weeks ago, the Red Sox held a four-game lead over the Steinbrenner AC.
The soccer analogy can die now. And this isn't even grammatically correct. It would be "AC Steinbrenner." It's not "Milan AC," it's "AC Milan." And soccer standings are computed by points, not games, because they can have ties in soccer, so this analogy just really doesn't work on any level, OK, Dan? Even the Zidane headbutt thing, while that was amusing to watch, really doesn't work. Just drop it.

So once again we are in a New York state of mind. Even though it's July 16. Even though the Sox don't play the Yankees again until the third week of August.
Was there some point in time at which Red Sox fans were not in a New York state of mind? That would be a story. Not this.

Following this are a series of quotes from Jason Varitek, Trot Nixon, and Mark Loretta, respectively, demonstrating that no, they never forgot about the Yankees. What exactly is Dan's point here?

The stakes may be higher this year. Boston managed to get into the playoffs despite finishing second to the Yankees in each of the last three seasons. That may not be good enough this time.
Everyone has been talking about this since May. There's no need to mention it again. It's common knowledge.

One thing that may have changed is the idea that the Red Sox are the more obsessed rival. Baseball stories in New York newspapers have become increasingly Boston-centric. Yesterday's Post insisted that pitcher Sidney Ponson ``snubbed" the Sox when he signed with the Yankees Friday.

``Not true," said Epstein. ``We had no interest in him. None. And you can quote me."


I'm not sure if the first sentence is true. One example of support does not a hypothesis prove. But I quoted it anyway because I hate Sidney Ponson, and it's good to hear they weren't considering him. Although it's amusing to think that they faked it to get the Yankees to quickly sign a violent drunk.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

The CHB Returns

It's been 2-1/2 weeks since The CHB penned a piece on the Red Sox. Dan, we hardly missed ye!

But he returns in full force this weekend, blowing into Fenway and blowing hot air the direction of the same player to whom he only months ago was blowing ... wet kisses at.

Josh Beckett, who has run hot and cold this season, is the latest focus of Dan's poison pen.

In Shaughnessy speak, Beckett becomes "Way Back," the "Bridgemaster" and "Bombino."

It's a shocking turnabout (lover's quarrel?). You will recall, of course, that on April 5 The CHB called Beckett a "stud starter," and on Nov. 29, he felt Boston management should be jailed for theft for the trade that brought Beckett to Beantown. On Nov. 27, he drooled so much on his keyboard he probably shorted electrical circuits all over Newton:

* "Young righthander Josh Beckett is coming to town, and he's the just the guy to don the jersey that hasn't been worn since Roger Clemens cleaned out his locker in the last week of September 1996."

* "... a 25-year-old stud righty. An heir to Clemens."

* "There he is, ladies and gentlemen, your new stopper. The torch has been passed from Clemens to Pedro to Schilling to Beckett. Time to pass along No. 21 now."


Bill James watch: "Time for Theo and the Minions to get Beckett a Bill James printout. The big righty's strategy is not working." Dan's antipathy toward those who know more about baseball than he does continues.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The Book

Okay, I read it. 5 hours. It's very, very good. Quick impressions: John Henry comes off really well. So does Tom Werner, who is a lot more likeable than I first imagined him. Larry Lucchino, not so much, though the portrait is pretty balanced. It's clear that Mnookin appreciates what he is, even if that includes being kind of a shit on occasion. He is incredibly sensitive. Theo Epstein is also represented quite well, but appears to have the unfortunate tendency to deal with everything but his own issues until he goes crazy. Kevin Millar comes off as a total ass, as does Nomar, who is paranoid beyond belief.

And CHB? You know you were all waiting for it. Well, here it is: I did not believe I could think any worse of him than I did before.

I was wrong.

I assume Mnookin probably has some pre-formed bias against him, also being a member of the media, which he habitually manages to discredit, but. . .wow, just wow. CHB comes off the worst of any character in the book, by far, even though he doesn't actually get all that much mention. It's a total of maybe 5 pages, although I guess if you consider that he's just a columnist, that's kind of a lot. I don't want to reproduce stuff here, because it's probably a copyright violation, so I will try to summarize the stuff that was not in the free excerpts.

You all know about the Dirty Laundry stuff. I mentioned it in a previous post. Nothing really new to add there, except that the Red Sox conducted an internal investigation to determine Steinberg's role in the leak, and he was effectively muzzled from there on out. Jeremy Kapstein, whose most notable feature seems to be wearing the same windbreaker 24/7 and stealing people's sandwiches (no joke), also seems suspicious.

The kicker, though, is the stuff Mnookin writes on CHB's Jan. 20 column. You know, the one where he says Theo is holding the Red Sox "hostage" and that Henry should tell him to "get lost."

Apparently, CHB went to Henry before he ran the column to tell him what was in it, at which time Henry told him Theo was coming back and they were just waiting to announce it until they talked with the limited partners over the weekend. So CHB told him tough shit, the column was running the next day. Here, I will write one quote:

"He was going to write things that were nasty," says Tom Werner. "And false."

So the Red Sox rushed the announcement because Henry was worried that Theo would get upset again. Here, Mnookin writes that, "Shaughnessy seemed to take the announcement as a personal affront." At which point we got an amended version that called Theo "at best immature and at worst duplicitous."

I'm sorry, the Globe needs to fire this guy. He's gone from being a relentless negativist to actually causing harm to the subjects he writes about. If a scientist is performing an experiment and starts interfering with the results, he doesn't have a job much longer, because he sucks at it. The same thing should apply here, I think. It is not a columnist's job to be the news or to cause the news. It is to react to the news. In the span of 3 months, we have CHB publishing deliberately crafted cartel propaganda that causes a high-ranking executive to quit, and we have him publishing his own falsified crap to try to sabotage the return of this executive out of spite. Such a personality clearly isn't cut out to be a columnist, much less in Boston. Get him out of there before he does something worse. I'm absolutely disgusted.

Other tidbits from the book:

-On the afternoon of Oct. 31, Lucchino apparently came storming down to the basement and started yelling hysterically at Theo about the PR mess he was causing right in front of the entire baseball operations department. I imagine watching everybody try to shrink into the wall would have been extremely fun.

-Manny Ramirez sticks his cell phone camera down his pants and takes pictures of his. . .you know.

-There is an extremely funny anecdote in there about the Curt Schilling saga that involves Jed Hoyer coming down with a stomach virus on the last day of the negotiations and projectile vomiting all over Theo's hotel room merely after drinking Gatorade. Sounds like he threw up in a suitcase. Charming.

In conclusion: CHB is a turd. Buy the book.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Dirty Laundry Redux

I was debating whether or not to do this, but since the column was being discussed in the comments of the last post anyway, I figured why not. Let's take another look at that column. I have nothing else to do right now. CHB appears to be on vacation and has not published any crap for awhile. It's probably going to be re-analyzed everywhere else anyway, now that we have new information. So, in honor of a frequent CHB technique...regurgitation, ladies and gentlemen!

The first few paragraphs consist of vague ballwasheries (look, a neologism!) and some fluff about the Bible that doesn't seem to make me recall any biblical stories I know, but perhaps I'm just forgetting one. Skip all that. It's not worth your time. Here's where the bullshit starts:

Larry taught Theo too well and now he is looking in the mirror as he tries to hammer out a deal with the GM he made in his own image. Both are merely doing what they are trained to do. In Theo's case, he's doing what Larry trained him to do.
"Made in his own image." I know where that is in the Bible. Genesis! Larry is God. Theo is Adam. Who is Eve in all this? Who caused Theo to sin and fall out of favor? I'll arbitrarily attach the label to, um....okay, never mind. This whole thing is bunk anyway. CHB is acting like Theo is some toddler who needs his personality formed by his parents, like both of them are the result of some Pavlovian conditioning experiment in which they're "trained to act" in a certain way. That is the stupidest thing I've ever heard.

What is alarming -- for the future of the Sox franchise -- is Theo's sudden need to distance himself from those who helped him rise to his position of power. Lucchino and Dr. Charles Steinberg are a pair of Red Sox executives who ''discovered" Theo when he was a student at Yale. They picked him out of thousands of wannabe interns. They hired him in Baltimore and then took him to San Diego with them. They held his hand and drove him places during his Wonder Years. They urged him to get his law degree. And when they set up stakes at Fenway Park, they fought vigorously to bring him home. A year later, when Billy Beane got cold feet, Lucchino turned to 28-year-old Theo and made him the (then) youngest GM in the history of baseball.
This absolutely has Steinberg and Lucchino written all over it. It's so badly done that all you can do is laugh at how crude the parrot job is. I'm fairly sure that this is the first thing that set Theo off, the second thing coming shortly after. "Held his hand?" "Wonder Years?" Again, let's please not commit the logical fallacy of making him seem like a precocious toddler, Dan, because everybody and their brother absolutely knows that's not true. If you want to do a rip job, you have to at least make it seem believable.

And now Theo ''bristles at the notion of Steinberg and Lucchino taking credit for his success."
The problem with this is? Why do they get to take credit for it? If somebody took the credit for my success, I'd be pretty pissed off. It wasn't their success, it was his. Astonishing.

That was in March. And now we are in October. And a considerable amount of misinformation has been spilled.
"And I'm going to add to the cesspool."

Let's start with Theo being a ''baseball guy" while Larry is a lawyer with a lofty title (CEO). Granted, Epstein is a student of the game, but it's a mistake to say he knows more about baseball than Lucchino or anyone else in the Red Sox baseball operation. Theo is 31 years old and did not play baseball past high school. He spent four years at Yale and three years at law school. That hardly leaves time for much more than rotisserie league scouting.
Let's start with this being a pile of absolute horseshit. What is Lucchino's background in player evaluation? Oh, that's right, he doesn't have any. Yes, actually, Dan, Theo does know more about baseball than Lucchino. Maybe not the business side, but the playing side? Sure he does. Being born in 1973 does not logically lead to the conclusion that he doesn't know anything. You can know a lot at 31. Also, those 3 years in law school? Ran concurrently with a full-time BASEBALL OPERATIONS job with the Padres. You wrote that in your own goddamned book, you moron.

Lucchino was a good high school baseball player and made it to the NCAA Final Four with Princeton's basketball team. He came to baseball as an executive in 1979, when Theo was 5 years old. That doesn't make him George Digby or Ray Boone, but he's not Les Otten, either.
This makes absolutely no sense. He bashes Theo for not playing baseball past high school, and then he never mentions that Lucchino didn't, either! A "good high school baseball player." And then he played BASKETBALL in college. Which has absolutely no relationship whatsoever to baseball except that the words have some of the same letters. Good God. And there's the whole, "Larry is older than Theo" angle. So are you, Dan. It doesn't make you any less of a shit.

Lucchino-bashers, and they are legion, maintain that he repeatedly has undermined Theo and on occasion killed deals made by Epstein and the minions. There was one, for sure. When Theo's assistant Josh Byrnes (hired by Arizona as GM Friday) made a deal with Colorado, Epstein thought he had a better deal with another club and requested that Lucchino fall on the sword and invoke the ownership approval clause to kill the Rockies deal. Accustomed to people hating him, Lucchino took the fall, killing the deal and saving Epstein.
I would guess this is the paragraph that pushed Theo over the edge. There's only one place CHB could have gotten that info. And, FWIW, it's wrong. John Henry killed that deal. He wanted to send money instead of prospects and wasn't aware that Colorado had made a deal in anticipation of that one being rubber-stamped. Why he then let Josh Byrnes and Theo take the blame, I have no clue. But the above version is wrong And it probably came from Steinberg. And if CHB had stopped to think about it, he would realize that it makes no sense. Read the quotes after the trade, Dan. Lucchino didn't fall on his sword for anybody, and doing so would be completely out of character. Instead, he threw Josh Byrnes under the bus, forcing Theo to come out and accept blame for something he probably didn't have much to do with, given all the Manny shit at the time. Have we forgotten this? And if the Epstein-Lucchino relationship was in as bad shape as Mnookin claims it to be, it is absolutely unfathomable that Theo would ask Lucchino to do such a thing. That, and he's not a weasel.

It was charged last week that Sox management conducted a ''smear campaign" against Epstein. How? Where's the campaign?
Right here, retard.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Juicy gossip redux

There is a big excerpt of Seth Mnookin's book in the Globe magazine this morning. It's pretty long and most of it is irrelevant, but I would like to reproduce the following portion:

Then he got a phone call alerting him to an article in that day's Boston Globe. On the front page of the paper's sports section was a Dan Shaughnessy column entitled, "Let's Iron Out Some of This Dirty Laundry." When Epstein began reading, he felt his stomach drop. After weeks during which he'd talked with Henry, Werner, and Lucchino about his unease about the organization, here was confirmation of his worst fears. In his column, Shaughnessy, who'd known Lucchino since the 1980s, when both men worked in Baltimore, chided Epstein for not properly respecting his superiors. After all, Shaughnessy wrote, it was Lucchino who'd "discovered" Epstein and "held his hand" during his first years in baseball. Now, Shaughnessy wrote, Epstein was exhibiting an "alarming . . . need to distance himself from those who helped him rise to his position of power." Epstein, according to Shaughnessy, didn't even know all that much about baseball. "It's a mistake to say [Epstein] knows more about baseball than Lucchino or anyone else in the Red Sox baseball operation," he wrote.
Duh. Okay. Most of us have seen this crap enough times already, including in the article on Friday. Sorry for repeating it . I just didn't feel like the next part flowed very well without a brief intro.

Either Lucchino or Red Sox executive vice president in charge of public affairs Charles Steinberg, Epstein felt sure, had prompted the column. Both men, after all, had been heard saying lines almost identical to some Shaughnessy had used. (About a week earlier, several sources confirm, Steinberg had a conversation with Shaughnessy and another reporter in which he said many of the things that ended up in Shaughnessy's column. Steinberg says he never "spoke ill against Theo." "Nor would I," he says, "because that's inconsistent with how I've felt about him all these years, and I still know, with the grace of God, he's destined for more greatness.")

Mystery solved. There it is, right there. We all knew CHB was a tool, right? This is all the proof you need. It's amazing how poorly done the whole job was, too. If you're going to do it right, at least make a token effort to have it seem balanced. Instead it came out like some editorial in the Pyongyang Times. So it was the Minister of Fun, eh? This was already called at the time:

FWIW the article didn't make Theo leave, but if you were gonna bet on it, I'd tell you to bet that it was the proverbial "straw" given the load of BS in it, and the 100% blatantly obvious "industry source" who uttered, OUT LOUD, some of the EXACT comments that were IN the article on Sunday, verbatim.
Curt Schilling on SoSH, ladies and gentlemen, on November 4, 2005. As a side note, I call BS on Steinberg's comments about Theo, as an acquaintance of mine worked with both of them in Baltimore and says they haven't been on the best of terms since Theo was 18 years old (1991). I wouldn't say that it was anything like what apparently happened last fall, but let's not pretend they were buddy-buddy. Steinberg is a PR guy, after all, which means that you really can't take anything at face value.

Does it seem to anyone else that by printing this excerpt of the book in the Globe, somebody may be trying to throw Shaughnessy under a bus? He comes off really, really badly here. It's one thing to talk to a source and write something based on what he says. Quite normal, actually. It's another to not even bother to investigate any possible agenda behind it and make any sort of attempt to get the other side. I know it was a column, not a news story, but let's please have some standards here. This just smacks of laziness and malevolence. I guess I shouldn't be surprised. Perhaps the 17% Globe is trying to make itself appear more objective. Or maybe they're just trying to make themselves the story again. Note to the Globe: It's not always a good thing.

If this is all the mention CHB gets in the book, rest assured that I will say as much when I finish it and post no more about it. I know some of you have to be getting tired of it. But I fully expect him to be mentioned in conjunction with Nomar and some others, so there will probably be more. Hey, it's not like you're actually being forced to read his writing, just Mnookin's and mine.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Juicy gossip

I'd like to address this article by Gordon Edes, which, along with its subject matter, is going to be pretty controversial.

Seth Mnookin, a columnist for various papers, is coming out with a book about the Sox FO called "Feeding the Monster" on July 11. Being a Red Sox-obsessed geek, I've pre-ordered a copy and can't wait to read it. That didn't change at all after today's column on it, but I have to admit I was a little repelled, which is not my normal reaction to Edes.

What he does here is give us a little smattering of material in the book. That's well and good. I've seen some of it already on Mnookin's website. But Edes focuses almost entirely on the events of last Halloween. The book is 450 freaking pages, there is a lot more in it than that. Everyone's going to read it anyway, but why did the Globe have to highlight it? Given their ambiguous ties with the Red Sox and all the media shit that hit the fan last year, you'd think they might want to be a little more cautious.

CHB watch: Of course, our favorite columnist is also mentioned. Here's the excerpt:

And Epstein, despite his ``bitterness" over leaks about the negotiations, ``was at peace" with his decision to return, until reading an Oct. 30 column in the Globe by Dan Shaughnessy, headlined ``Let's iron out some of this dirty laundry," that was critical of Epstein. Convinced that either Lucchino or his longtime lieutenant, Dr. Charles Steinberg, was the source of the column, Epstein e-mailed Henry with his intentions to resign the next day, according to the book.

``I have a huge pit in my stomach," Epstein wrote, ``but it's nowhere near as big a pit as I'd have if I'd already signed a contract."
So there you have it, clear as day. This has long been what I suspected, and what CHB couldn't seem to get through his thick skull. The column in and of itself did not cause any sort of huge about-face. It just pushed Theo over the edge. CHB never seemed to understand that it wasn't the words themselves that did it, but what they were symbolic of: a breach of trust. And since he wrote the damned thing, he's complicit. Let's not pretend he's the only one that would have written the thing, because journalists are journalists (read: turdballs) but his poison pen is unique.

I'm not quite sure why the paper would want this published. It's publicity, but I don't subscribe to the adage that any publicity is good publicity. They had enough egg on their face when that "Epstein signs 3-year contract" story (written by Edes, incidentally) turned out to be wrong, and then when it turned out that another one of their columnists was a reason why it was wrong, the egg became an omelet. Nobody trusts the Globe any more. I personally know dozens of people who called in and cancelled their subscriptions on Nov. 1. And yet here they are, broadcasting clear as day what people suspected already, and even linking to the stupid column! I just don't get it.

And one more thing: After reading what I've read, I have to say that anybody in the Sox FO who was surprised when Theo resigned is an oblivious idiot. There were multiple openings to stop that train wreck. It was coming from a mile away.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

A shot of sanity

As you can tell by the title, I am not talking about a CHB column today. Instead, how about a little change of pace toward the positive? Bob Ryan has written a really excellent column today. Basically, he voices the incredulity many of us feel at watching half the fan base alternatively jump on and off the bandwagon based on whether or not the Red Sox have won or lost 2 games in a row, and tells these people to stop getting their panties in a bunch. After all, come on, guys, we're not Yankees fans.

So Bob Ryan, I salute you, and I wish you would give your colleague lessons.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Hitting Bottom

Forget the life preserver. Dan has struck bottom and I don't think he's coming back up.

The Red Sox finish their demolition of the National League, going 16 and 2. The NBA draft just ended and Celtics have all sorts of tricks up their sleeves (we hope). The Bruins have a new GM, a new coach and a new star defenseman. Wimbledon! The World Cup! Locusts!

And there's The Bravest Columnist Joe Sullivan Has Ever Seen(TM), the star of the Boston Globe sports pages, writing on ... women's golf.

And not just writing on it; he's outright rooting. "You can take Annika Sorenstam. I'm going with Pat Hurst.

"ESPN and the gin-drinking Nick Carraways and Jordan Bakers on the porch at the stately Newport clubhouse no doubt will be rooting for Annika. It makes for a much better story line. Not me. I'm pulling for the working mom who sits on her golf bag between shots."

What happened to "I root for the story?" Sounds good, but in truth it's just D.S.

Anchor's away!