Monday, February 29, 2016

Biting Thoughts on Farrell

The Red Sox have yet to play a single game this spring, but The CHB is already counting down the days to manager John Farrell's dismissal.

The "pressure is building on the 2016 Red Sox," writes the King of All Optimism. "There’s no getting around the fact that there will be inordinate pressure on manager John Farrell at the start of the season. This is what happens when you finish last two years in a row with a top-three payroll."

Actually, there is almost ZERO talk about the Red Sox right now. Two straight last place finishes (and three in four years) tends to lower expectations. Or perhaps The CHB hasn't put down his Bud Light long enough to notice? 

He then compares the current Red Sox outfield to one of the greatest of all-time, saying, "This is not Lynn, Rice, and Evans."

Well no kidding. Neither was the unit that won the 2013 World Series. Here's the OF on the Red Sox WS roster that year: Quintin Berry, Mike Carp, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jonny Gomes, Daniel Nava, Shane Victorino. Someone call Cooperstown, stat.

The Lynn, Rice, Evans trio of the 1970s and early 1980s won two MVPs (and finished in three top 5 in MVP voting nine other times), a Rookie of the Year, 12 Gold Gloves, four Silver Sluggers, and had 17 All Star appearances in Red Sox uniforms. Oh, and one is now in the Hall of Fame (and one more should be).

If that weren't enough, The CHB hypes his "Curse" book. You remember that one, right? He authored a book on why the Red Sox never win the World Series ... just a couple years before they won three in 10 seasons. Ouch!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

With The CHB, All Betts are Off

One of the hallmarks of a Shaughnessy column is his tendency to build one person up by trashing another. To that end, today's piece, on Mookie Betts, does not disappoint.

In promoting Betts, The CHB trashes Adrian Gonzalez, just one day after trashing the GM who was "irrationally protective of the trove of draft picks" and traded future All-Star 1B Anthony Rizzo for AGone. Which do you want: develop great players in-house, or sign/trade for them? Because no franchise does both consistently well.

He takes a further dig at team analyst Bill James, whose work, of course, led to the Red Sox signing players like Mookie Betts.

And he gets a basic fact about Betts wrong, writing his "career path has been seamless," ignoring that Betts was slow to hit when he first arrived in the bigs and was sent down to AAA.

On a side note, it's impossible to know what counts with The CHB, since he whines about "results" when the process doesn't work out and whines about lack of "character" when it does (2004, 2007, 2013). In today's column he claims Dave Dombrowksi is the most "accountable" Red Sox GM since the late Lou Gorman, and yet it was Gorman who traded future MVP (and Hall of Famer) Jeff Bagwell (and World Series MVP Curt Schilling) and yet never acknowledged they were stupid trades. The Red Sox are supposed to compete every year, The CHB always asserts. But remember what happened on Dombrowksi's watch the year after his Marlins won the 1997 World Series? They lost twice as many games as they won.

At the end of the day, the proof that Red Sox owner John Henry doesn't interfere in the work of his employees even when he has to suffer complete foolishness from them is this: He also owns the Globe, and The CHB still has a job.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

The New GM

Shank finds positive things to say about someone in the Red Sox organization:
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Commenting on his new president of baseball operations, Red Sox owner John Henry said this about Dave Dombrowski: “Very hands-on. He has a different style than we’re used to.’’

Amen. Dombrowski is nothing like his predecessors, Ben Cherington and Theo Epstein.
...and not so positive things to say about the last two GM's:
Ben and Theo were data-driven young guys with skinny jeans and smartphones. They ran the Red Sox from inside the basement walls of ancient Fenway. There is no need for sunscreen; one cannot get burned from the light of a laptop.

We rarely saw Ben or Theo. We didn’t see them much around the batting cage, the clubhouse, or the press box. When they did emerge from the bunker, they’d sometimes react to an approaching reporter by whipping out their cellphone for an urgent call.
...and remains hostile to anyone who can run numbers:
But now it is Dombrowski who runs the Red Sox, and we are seeing a return to the old days. Henry this week acknowledged that the Sox had became overly reliant on analytics.

Returning to the age of scouting is a clear concession to Dombrowski, who first learned about major league baseball while working for Hemond, a Cooperstown-worthy baseball man who succeeded in the majors long before the invention of Bill James.

Dombrowski is about winning NOW. He is not irrationally protective of the trove of draft picks assembled by Theo and Ben. Dombrowski has retained Mike Hazen and the basement boys of Boston’s baseball ops, but by Henry’s own admission, the Sox are no longer slaves to WAR, UZR, or the inestimable tonnage of skull-imploding numbers and projections assembled by men and boys who never played the game.
"Now get off my lawn!"

Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Joke's on Shank

John Henry just played an early April Fool's joke on the Boston media. Not surprisingly, The CHB fell for it like he was on a high dive overlooking a vat of Budweiser.

To recap, the Red Sox owner said the team has been overly reliant on statistical analysis and that it would attempt to restore some "balance."

To this, the Globe's Great White Whale writes: "While silos gently wept in Lawrence, Kan. — home of smarter-than-everybody stat guru Bill James — Henry acknowledged that his ball club had lost its way in a sea of analytics and needs to get back to some old-school thinking in regards to talent evaluation and performance expectations."

However ... what Shank fails to note is that Henry also said the team is not shrinking its analytics staff. Moreover, it was the stats guys who pointed out that Hanley, Kung Fu Panda, Carl Crawford and many of the other pickups of late were high risks and bad buys -- yet moves The CHB himself applauded. And that's why the Sox have a new GM -- the old ones kept spending big money on the wrong guys.

Yes, indeed, the joke's on The CHB. The question is, when will he realize it?

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Freaking Home Run!

Shank writes an effusively positive column about David Ortiz (perhaps the only one you'll see all year) and inadvertently describes the relationship between media people and the players they cover:
FORT MYERS, Fla. — There was a temporary cease-fire at JetBlue Park Tuesday morning. A gentle rain fell over the Red Sox spring training complex, and everybody took a break from the goofy disclosures and see-no-evil management responses of the first few days of camp. (This was moments before chairman Tom Werner said everything was just swell with Pablo Sandoval and then completely contradicted himself when he went on WEEI.) It was the day before the first official workout for the full squad, and the only news was the opening farewell speech of David Ortiz.

Big Papi, who already is in the conversation as perhaps the second-greatest Red Sox player of all time (sorry, young people, Ted Williams will always be No. 1), carried the day as he engaged in a thoughtful and thoroughly noncontroversial 34-minute press conference with the hungry wolves who’ve been delivering provocative dispatches and photos from amp.
Dated Beatles reference? Check:
Ortiz is 40. He has pledged to retire at the end of this season. It will be a Yaz-like, Jeter-like tour de force. It might be something akin to the Beatles’ last show at Candlestick Park in 1966.
Dated baseball movie reference? Check:
Papi went all James Earl Jones on us Tuesday. He reminded us of everything that’s great about Boston baseball. And how everything could be great again.
Overwrought praise? Checkmate:
Bingo. That’s it right there. Red Sox owners should take the preceding paragraphs and stencil them onto the left field wall at Fenway Park. Speaking in his second language, in a tone none of us have been able to summon, Ortiz put words to the love affair between himself and Boston. It was Churchillian.
Well, there is that possibility that Shank heard a live Churchill speech in his formative years. Still a little over the top!

Cheap predictions - the next column will be about Clay Buchholz, and it won't be as positive as this one.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Flat and Crappy

The Red Sox are "fat and happy" [and] "for some reason it feels like somebody needs to yell at these guys."

That's Shank's take after not quite a week in camp. Remember that pitchers and catchers reported on Feb. 18 and the first full squad practice isn't until Feb. 24 and yet everyone is already here except Joe Kelly, whose wife just gave birth.

No matter. Let's instead return to what The CHB was pitching (get it?) just six months ago:

"They are a house of change and fear, and it’s making them play a little better. No one knows what’s going to happen. People have lost their jobs. People are afraid they are going to lose their jobs. The only certainty is uncertainty. And that is a good thing." ... [Dave] Dombrowski is a great hire and there should be more accountability on and off the field at Yawkey Way."

So in late August the roster was filled with players about their jobs and today he's deriding those same players for being "fat and happy"? Huh. What changed? If Shank knows, he ain't telling.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

This Should Be Epic!

Guess who are going to do a podcast together?

Reader reaction was positive and supportive:

The only question I'd like to ask him - why didn't you do a column on Earl Weaver when he passed away?

Train Wreck?

Shank's coming out of the spring training gate strong, with his fourth column in as many days.

Let's take a trip down memory lane, shall we?
I promise never to rip Sandoval for being out of shape or going on the disabled list.
You know that's bullshit, right?
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Pablo Sandoval arrived at Red Sox spring training camp Sunday morning, looking exactly the same as he looked when he arrived last spring. Plus-size.
I looked everywhere for him Saturday night. I check the deli counter at Publix and the popular Two Meatballs in the Kitchen restaurant off Daniels Highway. I even went to the Regal Cinemas Belltower 20 to see if he might be taking in the late show of “Kung Fu Panda 3” but . . . no luck. Meanwhile, Sandoval was taking a beating on social media.

At 7:30 a.m. Sunday, the Wait gave way to The Weight as Panda strolled into the clubhouse for the first time in 2016. Video crews from Comcast and NESN were there to record the moment.
We thought he’d look different. And the Red Sox should have prepared him better.

The optics on this are bad and some of the words are likely to stick.
We know Shank will do his part to make sure things stick, won't he?

The bigger point with this story - the Red Sox asked Pablo to lose weight and he didn't, giving Shank a great storyline. Indeed, he's in mid-season form already.

Culture Shock

Shank showed up in Ft. Myers, FL on Friday and runs into new Red Sox pitcher David Price:
FORT MYERS, Fla. — David Price was in a good mood Friday morning as he dressed in front of his locker for his first official workout with the Boston Red Sox. It was the first day on the job since he signed a seven-year, $217 million contract.

I wanted him to feel welcome. I wanted to make sure he didn’t believe all those nasty things his former Tampa Bay teammate Carl Crawford said about the Boston baseball experience. I wanted to tell him that Sox fans love him and that folks in the “carnivorous” Boston media are actually nice guys and gals.

“Don’t believe everything you hear,’’ I told him.
Especially anything coming out of Shank's mouth!

Note to David Price - this is why.

A few days ago, Shank was wondering whether, now as teammates. Price and David Ortiz would continue to hold a grudge about some name-calling between the two a few years ago. In this column, Shank does what Shank does - write about it again in order to keep it going:
David Ortiz is not in camp yet (position players are not required to report until Tuesday), so Price and Papi have not yet had a chance to kiss and make up after their public spat that played out over the last two years.

Price took exception when Ortiz pimped after a playoff homer at Fenway in 2013, and the episode was followed by two years of pointed remarks and one memorable purpose pitch when Price plunked Papi on the backside.

Price said Ortiz thinks he’s bigger than the game and Ortiz said he had no respect for Price and that the tall lefty was “a little girl.’’ They eventually resolved things over the phone, but have yet to connect as teammates.

“I’m done with that,’’ said Price. “I’m waiting for him to get here. I’m ready to get to know him.’’
If I were David Price, I'd recommend getting to know Shank as well, in the 'keep your friends close and your enemies closer' kind of way.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Once Again, The CHB is Not Very Hanley

Hyperbole reigns today.

Writing on Hanley Ramirez, The CHB asserts: "In a single season he made himself New England sports public enemy No. 1. He vaulted past the ghosts of Grady Little, Carl Everett, Jose Canseco, and Carl Crawford and took a seat alongside despised Boston opponents like Matt Cook, Alex Rodriguez, and Roger Goodell."

Wrong. So much went south with the Sox in 2015, it would be irresponsible, let alone false, to claim fans held Hanley to blame more than anyone else. In fact The CHB himself spent far more time mocking John Henry than he did any of the players, saying his payroll management was turning the Sox into Kansas City-on-the-Charles, a move that backfired -- "Royally," shall we say? -- when KC won the World Series. In the wake of this, Ramirez was an afterthought.

But pretenders must pretend, right?

So now, per Shank, Hanley -- and keep in mind, he's a minority -- dogged it on the field (conveniently ignoring he hit 19 HRs and slugged nearly .500 for the first half of the season before badly injuring his shoulder), and the Red Sox played "respectable baseball" once Ramirez was shelved for good (conveniently ignoring that just a few months back The CHB was discounting it as a "lost summer of meaningless games").

Here are the questions The CHB intimates he asks Ramirez:

  • "Why do you think folks believe you don’t care?" 
  • "Why does everyone blame you?"

Straw man arguments, one and all. It's Day 3 of Spring Training and The CHB is already in mid-season form.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Familiar Subject For Shank

Shank's arrival at Red Sox spring training is imminent, so he starts out with a familiar theme, stirring the pot before he even gets into the kitchen:
When the Red Sox signed pitcher David Price to a seven-year, $217 million contract during the offseason, both he and his new teammate, David Ortiz, were quick to say the bad blood between them was a thing of the past.

But is it?

Dan Shaughnessy can’t help but wonder, especially now that Price is already at spring training and Ortiz is due to arrive soon.

“There will be a lot of polite dialogue,” says Shaughnessy. “Don’t necessarily believe it. This stuff lingers, they do hold grudges.
Like with the Kraft family, for instance?

Video at the first link.

News Flash - Shank Doesn't Like Bill Simmons

With Bill Simmons about to open his new website, Shank gives his opinion on the matter:

Lots of comments ensued, of an overwhelmingly negative nature.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Rehash Radio - III

Any guesses on Shank's intended radio subject matter this morning? Anybody? Ferris?

Monday, February 15, 2016

Living In The Past - Part Infinity

For the second time in less than a week, Shank wrote a column that was based in large part on his previous 'work' of his. This time around, he samples from many of his 2014 Red Sox columns instead:
Feb. 20 (me): “Edward Mujica is playing long toss and Hanley Ramirez is taking balls off the faux Green Monster in JetBlue Park and suddenly there is hope again. There is a reason to live. Things will get better.’’

Feb. 20 (John Farrell): “I like our rotation. Some people might view it as lacking, but I think this is going to be a very good pitching staff.’’
On and on it goes, until we get to the last paragraph, which contains this hot, hot take:
It will be fun to follow. But nobody really knows what is going to happen in the upcoming season.

That's why he gets the big bucks, folks - to sample from his previous columns and give a solid non-opinion. At least we know what he'll be talking about tomorrow morning on 98.5 The Sports Hub...

And Now For More Boston Globe Bashing - XXXIII

...and Shank bashing as well!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Shank Memory

Now that Cam Newton crapped the bed in Super Bowl 50, then ducked out of the press conference after, Hanley Ramirez is suddenly become a good guy.

Confused? If so, you're not alone, since The CHB has apparently lost his last marble trying to connect the wayward Boston outfielder to the NFL MVP. (Think it's because they are both black? Nah!!!)

Regarding Ramirez, The CHB today says "The Red Sox have had bigger busts."

Have they? On a WAR basis, Hanley was worth -1.3 wins, which was about half-a-game worse than Pablo Sandoval. So for 2015 at least, he was.

Just looking at recent history, Edgar Renteria, he of the million or so E-6s in 2005, was actually 1.4 games above replacement, and was easily jettisoned in the off-season. Julio Lugo put up an aggregate half-win over the course of 266 games in 3 seasons, all for the cost of $36 million. Matt Young completely shit the bed in 1991 but eked out a positive WAR.

In 2011, Mike Cameron was -1.0 in just 38 games. He sustained a major head injury in 2005 and it's unclear whether the effects still lingered six years later. On a per game basis, he was actually worse than Hanley. For the price, however, it's hard to say any player has been worse, at least in Year 1.

This strikes me as more about Shank being contrarian than him really thinking -- let alone believing -- what he writes to be true. Nothing new there.

The CHB only writes a couple of more lines to prove my thesis: "Folks around here pile on LeBron James and Peyton Manning. Neither ever embarrassed himself in a big game like Newton."

Hahaha. Really? What about the AFC Championship in 2004, when Manning threw 4 INTs in a 24-14 loss to the Patriots? Heck, just a week ago he passed for all of 141 yards, no TDs, 1 pick and a rating of 56.6 in Super Bowl 50. That's the 46th worst performance among the 50 winning Super Bowl QBs. Pathetic.

Manning actually posted perhaps the all-time worst QB game score in history in a division matchup against the Chiefs this year: 20 attempts, 5 completions, 3 INTs. Studly.

Let's not even mention the two suits he has lost (to date) -- and sorry, but when the accused party pays out hundreds of thousands of dollars, that's a loss -- for harassing and possibly assaulting a female trainer at UT. Oops!

The CHB's Peyton love is starting to remind me of his similar feting of Barry Bonds. Let's keep in mind how that one turned out, shall we?

Finally, it's clear no one remembers how LeBron did against the Mavericks in his first NBA Finals. No one, except me, I suppose. After averaging 26.7 ppg in the regular season, which was second in the league, and leading the NBA in field goals, he dropped to 17.8 in the finals that year, good for third on the team. Moreover, he scored all of 8 (not a typo) points in the crucial Game 4, an 86-83 Mavs win to tie the series 2-2. The Mavs swept the final two games for the NBA crown.

Nice memories there, Shank. Maybe it's time to ask Cameron for his neurologist's phone number.

Shank's Next Column?

Safe to say Mookie Betts won't be in the Daytona 500 next week with driving skills like this.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Meet The New Recycling King!

No - that would not be Our Man Shank. Courtesy of Walter R., the Kansas City Star’s Lee Judge shows you how it's done.

Note to Shank - this is a cautionary tale, not a how-to guide...

UPDATE, 2/14/2016 AT 7:35 PM - Bruce Allen at Boston Sports Media Watch piles on:

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Asking The Tough Questions

Shank's latest column features one of his staple of lazy column themes:
Is Paul Pierce one of the top five Celtics of all time?

Your all-time top five Celtics?

In my book, the first four are easy: Bill Russell, Larry Bird, Bob Cousy, and John Havlicek.

Then it gets tricky. Do you go with Kevin McHale or . . . Paul Pierce?

I have gone down this path before,
So Shank's recycling yet another column? Why, yes he is!
Is it time to put Paul Pierce in the starting five for the all-time Celtics team?

I’m starting to think so. And my man, Bob Cousy, sounds almost ready to elevate Pierce to the Hub’s Fab Five.

“I certainly think he’s a viable candidate now for that position,’’ the 83-year-old Cooz said Wednesday before leaving his house for a round of 18.

Many of you perhaps already have Paul in your Parquet Pantheon. Not me. I’m a holdout. But Pierce’s one-man demolition of the Hawks Tuesday night reminds me that I’m one of the many who have never appreciated Pierce’s true greatness. We all know that Pierce has never gotten his due from the national media - not even when he was MVP of the NBA Finals in a series (2008) that included Kobe Bryant.

Look up the Celtics’ career stat leaders, and it is clear Pierce belongs. He ranks third in games, third in minutes, second in points, and second in points per game.
Absolutely pathetic. Not only does Shank rewrite another of his columns, he went from maybe to maybe on that Paul Pierce question in that time span.

Formulaic, lazy and indecisive - that's Shank's latest 'effort'. His body might not be in winter hibernation but his brain sure is.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Off By 24 Hours

Shank delayed his weekly appearance on 98.5 The Sports Hub by a day, and he wasn't there to rehash his latest column for a change:

Shank ripping professional athletes? I'm shocked!

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Addition By Subtraction?

Shank is a no-show on 98.5 The sports Hub during his normal Tuesday 11 - 1 slot with Scott Zolak & Marc Bertrand. I can't help but wonder if this is CBS Sports Boston management finally realizing how little Shank adds to the show. If that's the case, good riddance.

Monday, February 08, 2016

Second Guessing, Ad Infinitum

Looks like that earlier call of Shank not being able to criticize the Patriots anymore was a bit premature:

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Super Bowl Shank

Just kidding - Shank's column is about... Shank:
Nineteen eighty-six. Thirty years ago. The first Boston Sports Renaissance.

Those were heady days here in the Globe sports department. And in the Shaughnessy household.

I got to cover, and travel with, two of the most exciting teams in the history of our town. Every day. The 1985-86 world champion Boston Celtics, a.k.a. the greatest NBA team of all time; and the 1986 Red Sox, the team that came closer than any team in baseball history to winning a World Series without actually winning the World Series.

I’m the dope who quit the Celtics beat and opted to follow the Red Sox instead. And I owe it all to Hall of Famers Peter Gammons and Bob Ryan, the two greatest baseball and basketball writers, respectively, who ever lived.
I can't wait to hear this column again Tuesday morning on 98.5 The Sports Hub - riveting radio!

Friday, February 05, 2016

Shank At Springsteen?

Eagle-eyed reader Walter R. sends along this link about last night's Bruce Springsteen concert. The story centers on Governors Charlie Baker and Chris Christie being in attendance, but Walter points out a (possible) certain Boston Globe sports columnist, sitting behind the guy in the blue shirt in the upper right corner.

Two columns a week, a radio appearance, grueling one mile runs, going to concerts - how does he maintain this frantic pace?


Looks like Shank was indeed there:

Thursday, February 04, 2016


I'm checking out Deadspin this afternoon and read the weekly football column by Drew Magary. Drew's not exactly a fan of things Boston, and that includes Our Man Shank:
Sunday Afternoon Movie Of The Week For Browns Fans

Spotlight, which is a good movie EXCEPT for a scene at the beginning where Michael Keaton sees that Liev Schreiber is reading Shank’s Curse of the Bambino because Schreiber is new to Boston and is trying to UNDERSTAND THE CULCHAH OF SAWXLAND NATION. And then Keaton is like, “Hey, that’s a great fackin’ book!” Bullshit. All lies. How can I trust the rest of the movie when it starts out like that? Also, by law, any movie set in Boston must include the words THIS TOWN spoken by at least nine different characters. THIS TOWN… it’s nawt like othah fackin’ towns!
Shank's Curse of the Bambino - still winning rave reviews after all these years!

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Change Of Pace Offered

Maybe Shank just became aware that he can't shit on the Patriots for three more weeks until spring training starts for the Red Sox, so now we get one of the local high school basketball stories, set in a time long ago, designed to not make Shank look like an asshole.
High school basketball tournaments start later this month. Championships will be won and lost. Memories to last a lifetime — good and bad memories — will be made.

This is about a championship lost. And a bad moment for a good kid.

Let’s go back to the 1970s, and Larry Bird and his high school teammate, Beezer Carnes. Beezer’s missed free throws knocked Spring Valley out of the prestigious Indiana high school basketball tournament 42 years ago. In a conversation with Dan Patrick last year, Bird said, “The dream was to be good enough to play against the big schools. Unfortunately, I played with a kid who kept missing free throws and we didn’t get there.’’

When Patrick followed by asking, “You’re not over it, are you?,’’ Bird snapped, “Never. It was a big loss. I was at a party about two years ago and this lady in her 70s looked at my friend and said, ‘What are you doing here? After missing those free throws back in ’74, you shouldn’t even show your face.’ ’’

Which brings us to Steve Hazard, my former Groton High School teammate who made a mistake in a big game 43 years ago and was never the same after it happened.
What Shank basketball column isn't complete without a Larry Bird sighting?

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Luck Of The Irish?

Here's a new one, folks!

Rehash Radio - II

That was a difficult prediction...

What's Old Is New Again - II

Why is Shank constantly looking backward?