Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Wrestling with the CHB

Another year, another CHB column extolling the Hall virtues of NESN "analyst" and erstwhile Red Sox leftfielder Jim Rice.

This is followed by two extraordinary takedowns, one by EPSN's Rob Neyer and another by Patrick Sullivan at Baseball Analysts.

Some highlights:

From Sullivan: "[S]ticking to his guns in the face of well reasoned dissent, Shaughnessy simply asserts 'Guess you had to be there,' a statement so bankrupt, so lacking in creativity or thought that [Bill] James was able to respond to it 23 years earlier."

From Neyer: "If you do read that Rice was "feared" and you don't read anything (substantive) about his defense or the significant advantage he gained from playing half his games in Fenway Park, then what you're reading is not serious. What you're reading is propaganda."

Enjoy, and Happy New Year!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Boston has a pro hockey team?

Dan heard through the grapevine that the Bruins are doing well so he thought it might be a good idea to get back to the Garden, Joni Mitchell references in hand. (The song was written by Mitchell but sung by CSN&Y). What a week…Jethro Tull followed by Joni Mitchell. Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison must be pining for some Shank love. He ups his hipness quotient however with a Five for Fighting reference.

It is quite a statement that we are this far into the season before the Shank took notice of the Bruins' success. Must be too busy sucking money from the Globe’s travel accounts traveling with the Patriots. In a part game recap/part reflection of the glory days of the early 1970s, Dan looks at last night Bruins' game. For those of you who only follow the Red Sox, he compares Vesa Toskala stint in goal last night to a Time Wakefield start. Gee, thanks Dan. It is amazing that he was able to get through the column without comparing Julien to Belichick. I wonder if Julien ever utters the phrase “C’est que c’est”?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Lazy, Thy Name is Dan Shaughnessy

Dan must read Deadspin, or any other number of websites that aggregate sports news. When will he learn that his picked up pieces bit is a dinosaur in the internet age.

If he's not mentioning something that has been all over the internet, he is writing drivel like this:

Nice day for Newton North basketball alums last Saturday. Corey Lowe (now a 1,000-point scorer) went for 19 in Boston University's narrow loss to 12th-ranked Notre Dame, while Anthony Gurley played 27 minutes and scored 5 points in UMass's upset of defending national champion Kansas. Lex Mongo is also on the UMass roster. Lowe, Gurley, and Mongo were teammates on the North squad that won back-to-back state championships (53-1) in 2005 and '06...

Word games: The Patriots have Jarvis Green, and BenJarvus Green-Ellis. The Bruins sometimes have Johnny Boychuk. Boychuk's last name is an anagram for Oh Bucyk. So, he's Johnny Oh Bucyk.

EDIT: And I forgot the unwarranted attack on Bob Kraft:

Patriots in London next October? New England in Olde England? What a ghastly idea. Wonder if Oxford has a lightweight football team.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Annotated Dan Shaughnessy

Just in case you are under the age of 45, this is what the cover of Aqualung looks like:

Nothing connects better with readers than references to almost 40 year old album covers.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Cassel, Father and Sons

Dan writes that Matt Cassel will be playing with a heavy heart today, just a few days after the death of his father. It is a sentimental piece that talks about the relationship between fathers and sons. On one level, it is the type of writing that Dan typically excels at. When Dan put aways his petty jealousies of professional athletes and focuses on the human dimension and what he refers to as the "universal truths", he writes well and dare I say sometimes compelling fare? (I am one in the minority who really enjoyed Shaughnessy's book about his own relationship with his son) you would figure I would love today's you would be wrong.

What do I found so problematic? To use a sports analogy, Dan is guilty of forcing the ball into triple coverage. Dan relies heavily on Bob Hohler's story about Cassel's father's history to provide a backdrop of the interesting life Cassel's father lived. Then Dan launches into an idealized portrait of the relationship between fathers and sons, intimating that this Rockwellian bond existed between Cassel and his Dad. It's a great way to think about it but we just don't know if that bond Shaughnessy himself leads the column, "We don't really know Matt Cassel."

There is no doubt that a strong bond likely existed between father and son but we don't know to what extent...there are so many extenuating circumstances and questions...why was the Dad living in a trouble in what seems almost like a pauper's existence--was he too proud to accept help from his kids? Did the kids offer to help? We don't know. And Shaughnessy doesn't know that either but that doesn't stop him from talking about trips to Dairy Queen and playing Nerf football with the kids.

In contrast, when Belichick's father died, the relationship with his Dad was very well chronicled and you had a strong sense of bond between father and son. In Cassel's case, the picture is just not complete. Shaughnessy tries to complete it ...and he may have hit it right on but again, he may have been totally off. And think I it is irresponsible for him to paint this idealized picture without knowing more, no matter how touching the piece may come across.

Call me a scrooge and call me a cynic but I think this column reflects Shaughnessy's laziness...a touching piece on one level but problematic on many others because "We don't really know Matt Cassel."

Friday, December 12, 2008

Dan Hates People Who Use Numbers

Dan Shaughnessy has his annual appeal for Jim Rice in the Hall of Fame. It was the same last year.

And I have the same opinion.

Rice had a few great years in a career that was short in comparison to the greats. His greatness in no way approaches the greatness of Koufax, which sent him into the Hall.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Dan recaps yesterday game, putting it in perspective of the whole season.

Good effort, although the snide attacks on Belichick almost overwhelm it.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Seattle Sucks

After a string of happy columns about the prosperity of local Boston teams and players, Dan taps the Globe's travel accounts to go all the way to Seattle to tell us that the situation in Seattle stinks. From NFL football to NBA basketball (no more) to college football to MLB baseball, Seattle fans have it rough.

Whenever Dan writes about Seattle, he can't resist Sleepless in Seattle references (you could look it up). Dan also gives us references to Starbucks, grunge, and Fraser Crane. Dan is a pretty hip feller. Unfortunately, he can't even take credit for the best line in the column:

"It's so bad around here that people turn from sports to financial pages to cheer up," wrote Art Thiel, the estimable Seattle Post-Intelligencer columnist.

At least he was smart enough to throw it in there...

Friday, December 05, 2008

BC Oranges

Dan tells us that the Boston College football team will advance to the Orange Bowl if they beat Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship Game and that would be pretty nifty and rare for a New England area college football team.

As a writer, Dan has become so masterful in setting the bar so low that when he writes something that is not over-the-top incendiary, he has quite often lulled me into occasionally concluding “Well, that was not such a bad piece.” No more. This piece was relatively innocuous (as many of his pieces have been lately – the rare times when he actually seems to write) but it was also relatively bad.

First, let’s bring in the tired Belichick reference:
“They are trained in Belichickian ways and we know it's a mistake to look past your next game.”

First of all, is Belichick a consultant for the BC football team? (That would be big news) And why is focusing solely on the next game and refusing to talk about the implications of a win or loss “Belichickian.” Come on…this is one of the oldest clich├ęs in the athletes’ book. What’s funny is that Shaughnessy closes the piece with a quote from one of the players:

"Every young player in high school - they want to go to a BCS bowl. We were close last year. We want to get there this year."
I guess this kid missed the Belichick lecture series?

Two other complaints

- Is this an article about BC getting to the Orange Bowl? Or is it a piece about the history of New England colleges getting into major bowl games? Shaughnessy wanders aimlessly between the two themes. It's a writer's laziness feeding a lack of writing coherence.

- Speaking of meandering. How about this paragraph?

All they have to do is beat a team they've already handled this season. The Eagles defeated Virginia Tech, 28-23, at Chestnut Hill in mid-October, despite turning the ball over five times. Now the Eagles go at the Hokies with a novice quarterback (redshirt sophomore Dominique Davis will be making his second start
in place of the injured Chris Crane) and a top-10 defense (three shutouts) led by junior linebacker Mark Herzlich, the ACC defensive player of the year.

Very odd paragraph when you think about it, esp the part about the novice quarterback. The tone of the paragraph is that this is going to be easy –“All they have to do” sets that tone. He talks about the defense being phenomenal but he strangely packages this around the fact that the team is missing their starting quarterback and replacing him with a guy who has one previous start….as if to imply this is a good thing?

It’s poor writing, pure and simple.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Dan's Latest Prediction

It's that the Celtics are even better this year. Their opponents had their chances last year in a few playoff close calls, but that has only made them a harder team to beat.

I think he may be ripping off bits:

He combines the talent of Russell (Bill, not Jeff) with the work ethic of Rudy (Ruettiger, not LaRusso).