Friday, November 30, 2007

The Knicks Stink

Shaughnessy directs his criticism at a new target - the New York Knicks. He says they are a joke of an organization and I have to agree that he is right although this is not a startling relevation. It is amazing to me that Thomas still has a job. And thank goodness Dolan is not the owner of the Red Sox. I am shocked that Shaughnessy did not bring up Isiah Thomas' (in)famous line about Larry Bird..where Thomas claimed that if Bird was black that he would be just another good player.

You know it is easy to carp away at Shaughnessy's style. Perhaps I need to channel Belichick and realize that "It is what it is". Nevertheless, Shank does some things over and over again and you have to wonder if he has any new tricks up his sleeve...yet, it is obvious he doesn't. Some of these annoyances include:

- Multiple Red Sox and Patriots references to benchmark the success of the Celtics (the win against the Knicks was Belichickian) -- he cant resist bringing in the other local teams

- A backhanded compliment of Theo (Danny Ainge is almost as smart as Epstein)

- A continued lack of appreciation of basic economics. Calls the NFL Network "hideous". I realize many were angry about not being able to see the game last night but as an economist, I see this as a simple case of economic forces actively at work. Shaughnessy calling the NFL Network hideous is very much a childish/ignorant reaction in my humble opinion

Friday, November 23, 2007

High Scool Football

For the past couple of days, Dan has been taking on high school sports. Today's article focuses on the complex tie breaking rules in the Dual County League in which Lincoln-Sudbury, Acton-Boxboro and Wayland finished in a three-way tie but only Wayland advances because of a perverse tie-breaking system which gives incentive to running up the score in the first half. Not living in the local area, I am admittedly removed from the ins and outs of local high school football but I tend to agree that the system as Dan describes it needs to be changed. That being said, what were league officials thinking in the first place when they approved such a rule set in the first place?

If you haven't read the article but I give you the hint above that these high rules give incentive to run up the score, can you guess which point of reference Shaughnessy will introduce? You betcha - let's take a few swipes at Belichick and the Patriots. Shaughnessy does not disappoint here. By the way, I think Shaughnessy is convinced that Belichick originated and is almost the exclusive user of the phrase "It is what it is" ...I dont know Shank but I hear that phrase used all the time.

Finally, Shaughnessy brings up a reference to game is an odd reference in that he says "if you have theory...." (then you might be able to understand the tiebreaker system). My point: You dont memorize game theory, you comprehend it.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

An Open Letter to Objective Bruce

Dear Objective Bruce

You are always welcome to post comments on this webpage. You definitely bring a different point of view and we appreciate that. Yet, you sometimes make points which are either flawed logically or are otherwise erroneous. In so doing, you often make disparaging comments about this page’s bloggers. We often call you on these points but you inevitably fail to respond. Let’s look at two recent examples:

  1. DBVader has repeatedly called on you to admit your error regarding a recent column in which you claimed a reference did not exist but DB showed definitively that it did. He has asked you about this repeatedly and you have not responded.
  2. On this past Sunday’s blog entry, I claimed that Shaughnessy was being hypocritical in criticizing Schiling’s Cy Young contract clause while at the same time Shaughnessy pushed the work of his fellow Globe writers. You claimed that this was a poor comparison and you called me na├»ve and you called my agenda silly.
Specifically, you said:

How incredibly naive.

No, Schilling isn't going to share his million dollar bonus with a sportswriter who throws him a vote. But with a million on the table, can it be said that Schilling won't be friendly toward a sportswriter who could give him a vote? Doesn't giving a sportswriter the opportunity to single-handedly increase someone's income by a million dollars also give that sports writer greater access and give the player an incentive for giving information to that writer -- and not just information about the team but, oh say maybe information about what happened in a close-door clubhouse meeting?

The conflict of interest could not be more clear. It is truly naive if you can't see the difference between placing a reporter in a position where he can make someone that he covers a million dollars richer and praising a book by a colleague.

Now, I started to break your statement down in the blog response section but since you generally don’t respond to those, let’s do some detailed analysis of the absolute absurdity of your comment above and let’s do it on the front page.

You question the wisdom of giving a sportswriter the opportunity to single-handedly increase someone’s income by a million dollars. First of all, I would suggest that this goes on all of the time but it is not in such a direct form. I am certain that athletes give certain reporters access that they don’t give to others. What is the payoff? Favorable coverage of course. Favorable coverage translates into improved public relations perceptions of that player which means things such as more lucrative endorsements which means lots of dollars. I imagine certain players are absolute masters of this. Can you refute this Bruce?

Bruce, you talk about players giving reporters insight into the team behind closed doors. You imply this is a bad thing. Please complete this sentence, Bruce: “This is bad because….”

In my line of thinking, it is bad if 1) if the reporter does not provide a fair assessment of that player –in other words, he gives him an unjustified free pass or 2) if the reporter blatantly does something like provide an unjustified Cy Young vote to a player who clearly does not deserve it. We already discussed the fact that 1) probably happens to some degree—whether it is a deliberate act by the reporter or if the reporter does not even realize that he or she is being a pawn. I would sincerely hope that a reporter would not be so weak as to be manipulated like this—but I guess I would not be surprised either. After all,I do recall Shaughnessy's review of Larry Bird’s new line of wine a while back – Bruce, do you think that little column increased sales of Bird’s wines? What's the difference here, Bruce?

The second case (casting an unjustified Cy Young vote as a form of payback) is much more blatant – and because it is so blatant, it would play out in the court of public opinion. The reporter would likely be revealed and censured – his integrity would be under attack. Why risk this? The player would also come off incredibly poorly—would it really be worth it to the player being portrayed as manipulative to cash in on a contract clause that has marginal impact on his salary? At any rate, things have a way of self corrrecting when they are made public like this – it is the power of the market of public opinion.

What is Shaughnessy’s solution? “Let’s take the vote away from the writers.” That is pure brilliance. Does Shaughnessy really have such little faith in his fellow sportswriters to think they need to be saved from their collective incompetence? Look around Bruce…people all around the world are in positions of power – in these positions of power , they are often in a position to be bribed. By logical extension, Shaughnessy would have you believe that the solution to this would be to remove them from their positions of power. I can hear it now, “Sorry Congressman, we need to remove you from your position because you might get bribed.” If this were the solution, would anything in the world get done? Shaughnessy’s solution is absurd to its very core and it is also a slap in the face of his fellow sportswriters.

Switching gears here, let’s look at the old cronyism in the sportswriting profession in which someone like Shaughnessy endorses the work of his fellow employees at the Globe. I am perhaps guilty of hyperbole in suggesting that these guys are sharing royalties but I am trying to make a point. What if instead, there is a tacit agreement between the writers “I will give you a favorable push if you return the favor down the road.” This is intellectually dishonest especially when it is the case that a particular writer’s work doesn’t merit a push. I, as a reader, may be deceived because a given columnist (who I thought I trusted) did not provide an intellectually honest opinion about a fellow journalist because he is engaging in tit for tat endorsements. I would suggest this is just as bad as the abuses that can play out in the athlete/sportswriter relationship discussed earlier. Why doesn’t Shaughnessy suggest the ban of these endorsements? Because he's too busy doing it and does not realize the utter hypocrisy of it all.

Our agenda is not silly. Shaughnessy is paid big dollars to write for a major newspaper. His work is often fundamentally flawed and we have every right to call him on that. The readers of the Boston Globe deserve much better than Dan Shaughnessy’s mindless drivel.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Did Shaughnessy take over Bob Ryan's blog?

I think Shank is jealous of bloggers and he staged a covert operation to take over Bob Ryan's blog...see this post about Schilling

Sounds a lot like this recent blast from the past from Shank himself

Ryan even calls him a big lug and blowhard.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Hypocrisy and other nonsense

Today, Shank meets his quarterly requirement to have a picked up pieces column

With the Celtics doing well and with a roster of what seem to be “good guys”, I was wondering what angle Shank would take with the Celts to spew sarcasm…would it be a litany of “thanksdad” references? Rick Pitino hits? Or how about even Jesus Shuttlesworth mentions? Well, today, he uses one of his favorite techniques,,,,the “Let’s make travel dates for the XXX [insert league] finals” line…of course, this is dripping with sarcasm and a poke at the Celts euphoria since the Celts are but five games into the season.

Shaughnessy slams the provision in Schilling’s contract that gives him a $1 million bonus if he gets a single Cy Young vote. He claims that it will be easy for there to be collusion between Schilling and any particular sportswriter. He concludes that the BBWA should give up the vote because of the “blatant conflict” with clauses such as this. I guess this is to protect the sanctity of the sportswriting fraternity? Frankly, I don’t get the logic here. What is the conflict? It’s not like Schilling is going to share the money with the sportswriter, is he? That is not going to happen. If anything, I can see a NY based writer giving Schiling a vote to drive up the Sox payroll. If so, I think that would be pretty clever. In which case, I think economic market forces takes care of this issue – the Sox will realize the foolishness of such a clause and would not include it in future contracts. Problem solved.

So, while Shank gets on his high horse about “blatant conflicts”, he happily shills for a book by fellow Globe writer Neil Swidey-- a “tome” about Charlestown High School basketball. Hmmm, is there a conflict here Shank? You guys sharing royalties? Maybe it’s time for sportswriters to give up using their columns to push the work of fellow sportswriters? You are such a hypocrite.

More on conflicts, Shank rails against the fact that George Mitchell is heading the steroids probe while still being on the board of the Red Sox. This is a fair criticism except for the timing. Shank, Mitchell has been doing this probe for what, over a year now? And you are just now making this connection? Why are you just mentioning this now? My guess is that Shank is simply setting himself up for when the report comes out in January…if there are no Red Sox named, he can say “See I told you so.”

There are a few more annoyances in this disgraceful column. Read for yourself if you can stand it.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Sucking Lemon

"One thing we know they agree on is Schilling: thanks for the clutch work, big fella, now don't let the door hit you on the way out."

Speak for yourself CHB.

With the announcement that Schilling would be back another year, Dan has to suck on a lemon.

But Dan is happy to have his ignorance of the front office's inner workings exposed to be able to write about Schilling for another year.

"Love him or hate him, things are a lot more interesting and fun with the Big Blowhard around. Without Schill, we'd miss the blog, the nonstop promotion of his new company, the hard-hitting interviews/infomercials on WEEI, the butting into everyone else's business, the retraction of statements made about other people, and the eight or nine wins he's brought to the table in two of the last three seasons."

Because that is all that it is about. Picking on somebody you do not like for personal reasons. The sport is only secondary.

Also, notice the use of misleading statistics at the end. Dan overlooks the 200+ IP in 2006, doesn't mention that Dan was coming off of a severe injury in 2005, and ignores the fact that Schilling doesn't get paid in 2008 unless he hits the IP incentives. Facts are not Dan's strong point; invective is.

There are also some "cover his ass" bits, where Dan assumes certain things about the front office in order to make the signing more congruous with Dan's earlier statements. The Red Sox were "stunned by this development" and "played hardball and won." None of the accounts of the negotiations suggest either of these claims are true, but if they make Shank feel better.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Dan is trying hard

Day Two for Dan swearing off random mentions of the Red Sox in Patriots columns.

Otherwise, a piece about Belichick downplaying the significance of the game with a very special paragraph that contains a an obscure phrase ("take the apple") and a groan inducing pun.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Now on to the Pats

Now that the Sox season is over, Shaughnessy takes his worn out shtick to the Patriots.

Shaughnessy doesn't disappoint--this column comes replete with Celtics references and the dissing of Belichick's wardrobe (multiple hoodie references of course) and Belichick's favorite lines (It is what it is).

Of course, there is not a lot of insight. Key highlights

- Compares Brady/Manning to Russell/Chamberlain. But now that Manning has a SB and three straight wins over the Pats and Brady is putting up gaudy numbers, Russell has become Chamberlain and Chamerlain has become Russell. This is typical Shaughnessy hyperbole - Brady still has 3 SB wins, Shank and Manning only has 1

- Says that the image of the Pats has been forever altered by "spygate". They are no longer the darlings of high school coaches everywhere. Shank loves this storyline and he will continue to perpetuate it for many years.

- The Patriots are bad sports - they are on a mission to run up the score on everyone

All in all, we have classic Shank -- has he made any points that you havent heard multiple times elsewhere? His one "interesting" insight (Brady has become Chamerlain) is a stretch. Just for once, I would love for him to take a contrarian view and then back it up with strong facts. Just doesn't happen.

The one missing element - no Red Sox references - what gives?