Monday, October 23, 2006

Polar Bear Award

When I first read the title of today's column, I thought it was going to be yet another rant about how terrible it is that playoff games start so late at night. This is a valid complaint, and I wish MLB would fix it. They are not doing their job in attracting younger fans by putting the biggest games of the season on TV at a time when said fans are supposed to be in bed. This needs to be addressed in the next network deal.

But no, that is not the purpose of today's column. Today, Dan has discovered an essential truth of life:

A) Playoff baseball is played in October.
B) In many northern cities, it tends to get kind of cold in October.
C) Therefore, playoff baseball is kind of cold.

For Dan and others who may be interested, here is a basic scientific explanation of what causes the seasons on the NOAA website, and thus, why it is cold in Detroit in October, when playoff baseball is played.

I'm betting Dan got the idea for this column when he became chilled during the brief walk from the hotel lobby to his taxi. "Gee, it's cold! I'll write a column about how cold it is." And today's effort was born.

Despite perhaps ten paragraphs of complaining, no solution to the problem of this cold, if it really is a problem, is ever proposed. Do we shorten the season? Spend billions of dollars to make all stadiums enclosed and with climate control? Learn to deal with nature as humans have been doing for thousands of years? So many options!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Car Wreck

Enjoy the game from the bar, Dan? Because this trip down Nostalgia Lane that you are trying to pass off as a column was in the can long before Game 1 started.

And yes, there are many '67 Red Sox references sprinkled in, for no apparent reason.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Jim Leyland Appreciation Week

The World Series starts tonight, and so this morning, Dan delivers his customary "human interest" piece on a character associated with said World Series. Ladies and gentlemen, prepare to learn about Tigers manager Jim Leyland!
There's no computer on his desk. Jim Leyland doesn't spend a lot of time looking at spreadsheets and percentages. He is not a numbers cruncher and he probably wouldn't last long in a room with Bill James, Billy Beane, and Theo Epstein.
If this article doesn't show up on Fire Joe Morgan sometime in the next day or two, I'll think those guys have fallen asleep at the switch. This is the kind of stuff they live for. "Jim Leyland doesn't like numbers! Computers are evil! He's nothing like those stathead dorks Billy Beane and Theo Epstein, who actually know how to turn on a computer and operate Microsoft Excel! What a waste of time!"

I have no problem with the fact that Leyland isn't a stats guy. He's a successful manager who's gotten more public compliments from his players in the last few days than I can remember any other manager getting. And, to use what seems to be a favorite expression of the Red Sox FO, "there's more than one way to skin a cat."

What I do have a problem with is Dan's derisive tone. He's probably been saving that snarky line since the A's were eliminated. I'm surprised he managed to restrain himself until today.
He'd be gone even quicker if they were gathered in a non-smoking room. Leyland's got to have his Marlboros.
Time for me to climb up on my soap box. There is nothing folksy and charming about chain smoking, Dan, so stop writing about it as if it's some kind of running joke. I keep seeing this line about Marlboros in pretty much every article about Leyland, and I don't know why the media is treating it as if it's something really cute and quirky. Chain smoking is a sad and disgusting addiction. Leyland's need to constantly smoke is not only terrible for his own health, but is polluting the air around him and putting others at risk. I'm sure that in this hypothetical meeting Dan speaks of, Theo and the two Bills would be quite grateful if Leyland takes his Marlboros elsewhere so they don't get cancer from the secondhand smoke.

End of sanctimonious nitpick. Back to the article.
He doesn't have a Francona bone in his body. He's a manager, not a baby sitter. If Manny Ramírez quit on him, he'd call him out. Or he'd quit himself.
I know exactly where this dislike of Francona came from: it's a nasty comment Tito made about Dan in Seth Mnookin's book in which he told Dan he'd lost all respect for him. You and me both, Tito, although I don't know if I ever had any respect to lose in the first place.

Also, once again, Dan makes insulting generalizations without all the facts. How does he have any idea what the dynamic between Francona and the players is? Does he really think Francona is a glorified baby-sitter? And what is this assumption that Manny quit on people? I keep seeing this thrown around (mostly in the Globe, it's important to note) and I haven't seen a single shred of substantive proof for any of it.
He's a little uncomfortable in the eye of the storm. Earlier in the week, when the Tigers were waiting for the Cardinals and Mets to finish their National League Championship Series, Leyland said, "I don't photograph very well. I'm tired of everybody saying I'm craggy, Marlboro man and all that [expletive]. My wife thinks I'm good-looking. When I look in the mirror, I think I look a lot younger than in my pictures [he's 61]. You guys are doing a horse-[expletive] job."
This is a great quote. Especially the last sentence.
He's had the golden touch throughout this postseason. Rookie pitchers in big games? No problem. Alexis Gomez as DH? The guy hit a homer and knocked in four runs. Pulling a starter in the middle of a count? Tough toenails. This isn't about tiptoeing around egos of big-league ballplayers.
Another indirect shot at Manny and Francona. I'm already dreading the end of the World Series, when the offseason really kicks into high gear and we're forced to read pages upon pages of pure speculation as to what teams are going to do because the media really has no clue. I can already see what the theme of the Globe coverage is going to be.
It was a high school moment on a big-league stage, rare in this cynical century.
The phrase "cynical century" as uttered by Dan Shaughnessy is so ironic it's making me nauseous.
His Tigers swept the Cardinals in three games in June, outscoring the Redbirds, 21-13. Naturally, he says that means nothing.
It doesn't. It's called a "small sample size." It means "this data set is not good to use in predicting future outcomes, because it could be the product of random chance." Perhaps that's too geeky, though.
Leyland's brother, Tom, is a Catholic priest. His wife, Katie, is well versed in Red Sox lore. His teenage daughter, Kellie, toured Boston College when the Tigers played at Fenway in August and Leyland might be at The Heights for parents weekend in a few years. But right now there's a World Series to be won for a town that deserves something good.
First of all, where's the mention of this son that was brought up a few paragraphs ago? You know, the one whose baseball team Leyland used to coach? And second, what in the world does the last sentence of the paragraph have to do with the first three?
At this hour, Jim Leyland and the 2006 Tigers are the best story in baseball.
Yeah, they are, and I'm rooting for them tonight. But I'm tired of hearing about what a great story they are. Last year, Ozzie Guillen and the White Sox were a great story. The year before that, the "cursed" Red Sox were everybody's favorite. The year before that. . .okay, you get my point.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Kill Bill vol. 2

Sorry, I couldn't resist. Today's hack job is merely one volume in Dan's ongoing tome, "How to Gratuitously Slander Popular Public Figures Out of Personal Pettiness." It will be put next to Dale Carnegie's "How to Win Friends and Influence People" in the self-help section of your local bookstore, just as a good way to show Carnegie buyers what NOT to do. Anyway, onto the column:
I was shelling peanuts and hardly paying attention as Tony La Russa delivered a rambling answer to a pregame question regarding the expanded format of today's baseball playoffs.
We learn two things from this line. First, Dan doesn't listen to his interview subjects. This should hardly surprise anyone, since he misquotes them and takes them out of context so often. Second, he appears not to like Tony La Russa. Add another successful well-known figure to the list of people Dan doesn't like. Anyone see a pattern developing here? How snobby of you, Dan. Why would you brag that you don't listen when other people are talking? That's appallingly rude, especially for a guy who's PAID to listen.

(For the record, I don't like Tony La Russa, either. He's whiny and he wears sunglasses in the dark. That bothers me, and I'm not joking. Plus he tends to throw his injured players under the bus. See Rolen, Scott and Edmonds, Jim.)
Whoa. It is what it is. That got my attention. Brought me back to Gillette Stadium. It is what it is is the ultimate Bill Belichick phrase. When Belichick is rightfully honored with his image on a silver dollar, It is what it is will replace E Pluribus Unum. It is the mantra of the Church of Belichick. It explains everything and it explains nothing (try it out on your wife or boss next time you're in trouble), which makes it the perfect Belichick answer.
"Image on a silver dollar?" "Church of Belichick?" I don't even know what to do with this paragraph, that is how awful it is. Seriously, Dan, what is your problem with Belichick? He's not good for soundbites? His sense of fashion offends you? He's, I don't know, smart and successful, sort of like Theo Epstein? Cut the sarcastic deification before I throw up. It's a tired act and nobody's actually absorbing any of your point of view. Of course, maybe that's why you keep trying to beat us all over the head with it.
Standing behind the batting cage, the two gods of game-calling talked for a solid hour while the Cardinals took batting practice. Had they been joined by pompous Phil Jackson, we'd have had a sports Yalta -- the greatest collection of coaching geniuses ever assembled -- with the obvious exception of anyplace Red Auerbach ever went.
For the record, "pompous" Phil Jackson is not on the same level as Belichick and Auerbach. I don't think La Russa really is, either, but I guess that's debatable.

Also, "sports Yalta?" I guess I'm more insulting the readership here, but I'd bet a significant amount of money that the percentage of readers who know what the Yalta conference was and who was there is below 40.

(It was a 1945 conference between FDR, Stalin, and Churchill where they agreed upon how to deal with Nazi Germany after its surrender and Stalin agreed to help the US in Japan after the war in Europe was over, by the way.)
Belichick acknowledges knowing little about baseball.
Yeah, and I'd bet another significant amount of money that Belichick's slight knowledge of baseball is a lot more than other people's slight knowledge of baseball.
Belichick wore a La Russa jersey to his press conference Tuesday at Gillette Stadium. He looked like one of those 54-year-old goobers you see wearing Curt Schilling shirts to Fenway.
Ladies and gentlemen, Dan Shaughnessy. So verbose and creative that he resorts to calling people "goobers." Are you kidding me, Dan? And what in the world is wrong with 54-year-old men wearing Schilling jerseys? At what arbitrary point does that start to offend you? I have a Big Papi t-shirt, is that also gooberish? Grow up. "Goobers?" Seriously.
The Patriots coach gave up baseball for lacrosse at an early age. He's got square eyes from watching so much football film, which leaves little time for baseball viewing.
I don't even know what the last sentence means. "Square eyes?" Huh? I'll assume it's an insult, since it usually is.
``I really don't understand it that well," he said after his hour with the Cardinals hardball master. ``I was in the dugout with him in spring training and I couldn't believe how much was involved. He calls every pitch. Every pitch! He's involved with the pitcher stepping off the rubber and moving guys in the outfield, figuring out whether they're going to steal, whether they're going to squeeze. It was fascinating."
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think Tony La Russa is the exception here, not the rule. Most managers let their catchers call the majority of the pitches, and the pitcher decides whether he wants to step off the rubber. This just furthers my impression that La Russa is a whiny, micro-managing control freak, but perhaps I'm biased.
Whatever you say, Coach. I mean . . . it is what it is.
This column is a piece of rubbish. I mean. . .it is what it is.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Cory Lidle

Not much to say about today's column. I could pick on alleged factual inaccuracies, but looking around at other newspaper accounts of the crash, it seems that no two papers have the same story, so I'll leave it alone.

It's ironic, though, don't you think? Why does Dan continually write columns indirectly complaining about the media? You ARE the media, Dan, in case you hadn't noticed. You've committed every sin you rail about.

Here is the column, in a nutshell: "A plane crashed into a building. The news got all frantic and treated it like terrorism. It turned out to be Cory Lidle. The story deflated."

OK. So?
Suddenly, a lot of television watchers switched from CNN to ESPN. The international news story was becoming a sad sports story.
ESPN was the last station I thought of turning to. I had CNN Headline on all afternoon. Why would I want to listen to Steve Phillips talk about this?

And why isn't this still an international news story? A plane flew into the side of a building. Yes, it was a known athlete piloting it, but it was still a plane crashing into a building. That shouldn't happen. What went wrong? This doesn't have to be a sports story.

I don't want to pick at this too badly because of the nature of the subject matter. There's really nothing tasteless in here except for the fact that he's Dan Shaughnessy and therefore everything is inherently tasteless.

Thoughts and prayers go out to the Lidle family and the families of the flight instructor and the injured firefighters. A horrible, random tragedy.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Want Some Cheese with that Whine?

Thanks to an attentive reader, we bring you this tasty Dan quote, courtesy of the Denver Post:

"Now every team has a handler who is there to limit everything we do," says Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy, who began covering professional baseball in the 1970s. "It's a stupid game we have to play. Every day, our access is shrinking."


"It's preposterous," Shaughnessy says. "The self-importance today is off the charts."

Actually, the irony is off the charts. He could be talking about himself. And if reporters' access is shrinking, so-called writers like Shaughnessy who exist solely to do hatchet jobs on athletes deserve nothing more.

Day of celebration

Like many Red Sox fans, I spent all of yesterday partying. Before someone calls me pathetic, it was also my birthday, so that was kind of an excuse. But what better present could I get than the Yankees being eliminated from the playoffs?

We got to watch a $200 million choke job. Every year it's more expensive. And every year, it's the same result.

Dan, as you all knew he would, chimes in this morning. Not much here, folks. Well, okay, there's this:
But today we come to celebrate the colossal flop of the 2006 Pinstripes.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't Dan spend much of the last 6 weeks saying how stupid the Red Sox were and how they should be more like the Yankees, who were probably going to go all the way? Hmmm. Now it turns out their net advantage was exactly 4 extra games, for a nice sum of $80 million. We sucked, too, and we did it for less!
Red Sox fans are still licking their wounds from the five-game disgrace at Fenway Park in August, but if you love to hate the Yankees, it doesn't get any better than what went down the last three days in New York and Detroit.
Anybody here still bemoaning that series? Honestly, I got over it weeks ago. Maybe I'm the only one.
Brian Cashman has to trade him now (assuming A-Rod waives his no-trade, and why wouldn't he?).
I keep seeing this, and I don't buy it. Torre batted him 8th, sure, but there's news that Torre may be fired. Why does Cashman have to trade him? Until November, he's the reigning AL MVP. And with Texas picking up no small portion of his salary, he's not exactly a huge hit to the Yankee checkbook, no more so than any of the other overpaid geezers they have on that team.

As a side note, I think the expression on Brian Cashman's face as he watched from the box seats yesterday is now my new favorite expression, narrowly edging out the "deer in the headlights" look Peyton Manning gets during playoff games.
The numbers are numbing. Six straight years of playoff failure. A $200 million payroll going home after only one round. It should make some of you smile to realize that since the end of the 2000 season, George Steinbrenner has spent $1.2 billion in player salaries (plus luxury taxes) and he's 0 for 6 in championships. The Yankees were 3-1 favorites to beat the Tigers in the first round, then got swept three straight after winning the first game.
I printed this because it makes me laugh. It's all right there in front of you. The Yankees, ladies and gentlemen. $1.2 billion and 0 for 6. Keep doing what you're doing, George!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Back to the Future

So this is how it's going to be. One month worth of columns on the Major League Baseball playoffs, none of them more than lists of names of players who used to play for Boston.

Yesterday's column on Derek Jeter featured a strange sidetrack on Nomar Garciaparra. Today's piece, which had more to do with commuting and Red Sox past than baseball present, mentioned no less than seven former Boston employees. In order:

* Derek Lowe
* Grady Little
* Bill Mueller
* Dave Jauss
* Nomar Garciaparra
* Dennis Eckersley
* Lowe (again)
* Cliff Floyd
* Nomar (again)
* Nomar (again) .

The CHB also managed to work in references to the Red Sox World Series' teams of 1946 and 1967, Fenway Park and the CITGO sign.

Meet the new CHB. Same as the old CHB.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Revisionist History

Think Shaughnessy can write a column on Derek Jeter without mentioning Nomar Garciaparra?

It's been more than two years since "Nomie" was the regular Red Sox SS, yet The CHB recalls those happy times like they were yesterday -- and never forgets to mention how Garciaparra watched while Jeter carelessly threw himself into the Boston stands chasing a popup.

"That was the play that ultimately made Boston realize that Nomar Garciaparra (he was sulking on the bench when Jeter put himself in the hospital) had to go," asserts The CHB. Revisionist history aside, that would be the same Garciaparra who finished in the top 11 of the MVP race six times; the same Garciaparra who was hitting .321 and slugging .500 when he was traded; the same Garciaparra who was clearly hurt that season (he was on the DL three times all told) and has spent a career fighting injuries both major and nagging; the same Garciaparra about whom Nick Carfado presciently wrote in June 2004:

Nomar Garciaparra just wants to play. Boston's All-Star shortstop is tired of the stories -- some new, others that have been around for years -- that always seem to crop up when his name is mentioned.

Some of those tales include whether Garciaparra purposely delayed his return from a recent Achilles' injury as a message to management, either in response to not receiving a contract extension or lingering bitterness over the offseason pursuit of Alex Rodriguez. He's tired of people speculating about property he's thinking of buying or selling.
Overall, it's quintessential CHB, overrating the significance of a single game in order to back up a dubious hypothesis. Who's next up for the CHB Love Machine? Brian Doyle?

Monday, October 02, 2006

Decisions, decisions!

We should all feel very sorry for Dan today. He was faced with a difficult choice--the Patriots' post-game festivities were going on at the same time as Theo Epstein's press conference! What to do, what to do? Cincinnati or Boston? On the one hand, the opportunity to take shots at Theo, accuse him of being arrogant and incompetent, and ask snarky questions about whether he's going to quit again. On the other hand, the opportunity to take shots at Belichick, accuse him of being arrogant and incompetent, and ask snarky questions about whether he thinks it might be a good idea to have a wide receiver on the roster.

In other words, same poo, different day.

Apparently, Cincinnati is nice this time of year, because he chose to completely flip-flop on his stance from last week and start being positive about the Patriots again. With a 38-13 victory, that's not so hard, is it, Dan? Sort of like the guy who only believes in God when it's sunny and 75 out.
National television commentators talked about it. Scribes wrote about it. Fans looked at the game films after the Denver debacle and dissected Brady's every gesture. Nonstop nuance. Forget about body surfing, body painting, body politic, body by BALCO, and Jesse ``The Body" Ventura -- we were immersed in Brady's body language.
You know, I keep hearing about what a good writer Shaughnessy is, even if the content is sometimes bothersome, but I really don't see it. The metaphors and allusions to pop culture are awkward and forced. The parallel structure isn't parallel. The diction is lazy. It's like he doesn't even try.

``How's your body language now?" we asked him.

``The word of the week, right there," he said with a grin. ``Even my dad was like, `Tell me about your body language', and I'm like, `Are you kidding me? Dad, not you, too!' I think instead of talking about concentrating on how you're walking or all that, I think worrying about how I'm passing the ball and how we're executing and converting on third down and converting in the red zone -- I think that's the reason why we won the game."

I was about to say that those reporters asked him one of the silliest questions I've heard in awhile, but I think that award goes to Brady's dad. Congratulations, sir!
At the same time there were multiple theories on Brady's sub-par performance: He wasn't getting the help he needed. He was frustrated because the Patriots let his top two receivers go. He was upset because he took less dough to stay in New England and management wasn't holding up its end. He was injured. His receivers were running the wrong routes. He couldn't remember what he was doing after popping an Ambien. On and on it went.
Uh, the first three theories are the exact same theory written three different ways, Dan. Simply put, "he didn't have the personnel and was frustrated about it." But I guess you have to get to a certain word count.

And what's up with the Ambien theory? Is it just random rubbish or is it a joke about Terrell Owens? How funny! Not.
Turns out he was right. The Patriots yesterday were firing on all cylinders.
Hear that? That's the sound of Dan vomiting on his keyboard as he types this compliment.
Indeed, Patriots fans have come to expect to see Bill Belichick outsmart the other team, and that's what we saw yesterday.
Anyone know the Heimlich? I think he's choking! He just had to say something nice about Belichick!
His only interception came on a ball tipped by Doug Gabriel, who looked remarkably like Wily Mo Peña running back on a long fly ball in Fenway's right field.
Ah, there it is. Heaven forbid we get through a football column without a cheap shot at the baseball team.

I guess we'll get the Red Sox post-mortem tomorrow. I've set the over/unders as follows:
  • bad song lyrics: 2
  • references to "young Theo": 5
  • references to "minions": 3
  • "Manny being Manny" insults: 2
  • gorilla jokes: 2
  • Casablanca references: 1
  • incorrect/misleading statistics: 8
  • rational, measured responses to the season: 0