Thursday, October 31, 2019

Old School Baseball?

That would be Shank's words, not mine:
Old-school Nationals, at last, are first

HOUSTON — They were born as the Montreal Expos in 1969 and made the playoffs only once in 36 seasons. Montreal’s best team, the 1994 Expos, might have won a World Series, but there was no World Series that year because of a work stoppage.

When the Expos became the Washington Nationals in 2005, they were wards of the state, literally owned by Major League Baseball. MLB hired their manager and general manager. Until this year, the Nats never won a playoff series. They were legitimate heirs to the old Washington Senators.

And now they are Faustian champions of the baseball world, with a team that started the season 19-31.
Shank expands on the aforementioned 'old-school' angle:
The Nationals are an homage to old-school baseball. They rely on scouts more than analytics. They still have guys in the front office who chomp on cigars and go with their instincts. General manager Mike Rizzo has a staff that includes six former scouting directors, four former managers, and two former GMs. All of Washington’s scouts played pro baseball. The operation is about people more than numbers. They’ll take a lunch over a launch angle.
The rest of it is game recappage, etc.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Shank On Game 6 Of The World Series

It's pretty much what you'd expect:
This World Series was a dud. Then Game 6 happened, and now we get a Game 7

HOUSTON — Something about Game 6.

Game 6 gave us Carlton Fisk and the home run for the ages in 1975. It gave us Don Denkinger blowing the World Series for the Cardinals with a bad call in 1985. It gave us Bill Buckner and a late Saturday nightmare in 1986. It gave us Kirby Puckett’s walkoff in the Metrodome in 1991.

Game 6 is only truly great when it gives us Game 7 and that is what we now have. Stephen Strasburg and the Washington Nationals stunned the hardball universe Tuesday, beating Justin Verlander and the Astros, 7-2, to force Game 7 at Minute Maid Park.
UPDATE - Fixed the typo in the headline - sorry!

Captain Obvious To The Rescue

Entering last night's game, the Washington Nationals are trailing the Houston Astros 3-2 in the World Series. Naturally, the Nationals need to win game 6 and stay in the series, and Shank is here to tell you again:
It’s up to Stephen Strasburg to extend the Nationals’ season

HOUSTON — Earl Weaver always said that in baseball, momentum is best defined as your next game’s starting pitcher.

This is what the underdog Washington Nationals must believe if they are to win the 115th World Series. Down three games to two after being routed three straight at home, the Nats will turn their desperate eyes to Stephen Strasburg when the Series resumes Tuesday at Minute Maid Park.
Throw in a twist on some lame lyrics from Simon & Garfunkel, and it's a fish wrap.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Shank Gets One Right

Maybe not a really tough prediction, but give some credit where it's due.

Remember him predicting Chaim Bloom's gonna be the next Red Sox baseball honcho? He nailed it:
In his introductory press conference, Chaim Bloom made it clear: his goal as chief baseball officer of the Red Sox is to “build as strong an organization as possible in all aspects so we can have sustained long-term success and so we can compete in championships year in and year out.”

Does that long-term plan include holding on to Mookie Betts or J.D. Martinez? Bloom’s not quite ready to answer that.

The Red Sox’ new chief baseball officer -- on the job for about two hours before his introductory press conference on Monday -- said there are a lot of options for the roster and it would be premature to say what direction the team will move in.
I wonder how long it'll take before Shank starts second guessing him? Probably with Bloom's first trade!

Shank On Game Five & The Rest Of The Series

Pretty good column by Shank, actually:
An Astros World Series championship sure feels inevitable

WASHINGTON — It feels like the old Senators could have done better than this.

The World Series is not over, of course. Stephen Strasburg could mow down the Astros on Tuesday and then anything could happen in a Game 7, right? That’s what Kevin Millar would say.

But a ’Stros championship feels inevitable after watching Houston sweep the Washington Nationals three straight by a 19-3 aggregate at Nationals Park. The Astros hit three two-run homers in Sunday’s 7-1 win.

The Nationals were already having a bad weekend when righthander Max Scherzer awoke Sunday morning with neck spasms and was unable to raise his pitching arm. Already reeling from back-to-back dull losses on their home field, the Nats no longer had their trusty ace available for a critical Game 5 of the World Series.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Shank Still Sucks At Math

Or we might call this one 'wishful thinking' instead:
Is Chaim Bloom the next Theo Epstein?

WASHINGTON — History tells us that the Red Sox can’t go wrong when they hire a young Jewish man from Yale to run the baseball operation.

Theo Epstein broke the mold 17 years ago when — just a few years out of Yale — he took over as the youngest general manager in baseball history. Theo won a World Series two years later. He was the first of a new generation of baseball executives — analytics-driven students of the game who did not play baseball at a high level. Baseball’s annual Winter Meetings today are overrun with bright job seekers well-versed in the topics at MIT’s Sloan Sports Analytics Conference. Everybody wants to be the next Theo Epstein.

Say hello to 36-year-old Chaim Bloom, new chief baseball officer of your Boston Red Sox.

Bloom takes over for Dave Dombrowski, who was fired in September, less than a year after winning the World Series. Dombrowski took over for Ben Cherington, who was knifed in the back less than two years after winning the 2013 World Series. Cherington succeeded Epstein, who ignited this whole geek craze back in 2002 when he was named general manager of the Red Sox at the age of 28.
Shank seems to think that one data point (hiring Theo Epstein) indicates a trend; it does not. Furthermore, the announcement hasn't been made yet, and the column doesn't indicate anything about Bloom's hiring - rumors, insider scuttlebutt, etc. It is pure speculation, which of course means Shank could wind up with egg on his face yet again. This is what happens when you nuke your bridges leading into Fenway Park.

Friday, October 25, 2019

That's Because They'll Let Anybody In

Reader responses were positive and constructive:

The Bad Old Days

If it weren't for the fact that there's always a losing team, Shank would have nothing to write about.

Is that an evergreen comment or what? While this column's of better quality than his previous one, it's because Shank writes about a theme (losing / being terrible at something) that he's eminently qualified to write about:
Looking back at the bad old days of Washington baseball

WASHINGTON — The World Series this weekend returns to our nation’s capital for the first time since 1933. Like everything else in this town, it’s complicated.

Major League Baseball in Washington is a study in failure and unrequited love. This is a city that lost two big league franchises in a span of less than a dozen years, a city that suffered through 33 summers of Baseball Prohibition after the perennial basement-dwelling expansion Senators bolted for Texas in 1972.

The expansion Senators were a punch line when I grew up in Central Massachusetts in the 1960s. The old adage about the original Senators — Washington, first in war, first in peace, last in the American League — still applied to the 1960s version. We took comfort in this in Red Sox Nation. The Senators were just about the only team annually worse than the Young Yaz Red Sox.

The Provincial Shaughnessy - A Continuing Series

Here's another column template for which Shank has based countless columns on - it's all about Boston!
HOUSTON — The Houston Astros and Washington Nationals are engaged in the 115th World Series and a lot of folks in Boston have tuned out because the games are too late, the pace is too slow and . . . in case you hadn’t noticed . . . the Red Sox are not here.

But the Sox are always here, don’t you know? Everything in life traces back to New England and the Red Sox. So here’s a clip-and-save, handy-dandy guide to how New England and the Red Sox are represented in a Astros-Nationals World Series:
And this is part of what Shaughnessy considers 'representation':
■ If the Nationals win the World Series it might help the Red Sox in their PR campaign if they have to trade Mookie Betts. Bryce Harper was The Franchise for Washington, but the Nats couldn’t re-sign him and then went out and won the National League pennant anyway. A championship for the Nats makes it easier for the Sox to justify trading their best player. They can point to Washington and say, “Look what happened after the Nationals lost Harper.” Meanwhile, if you are thinking about a logical place to trade Betts, consider the White Sox.

■ The Red Sox have David Price in the middle of a seven-year contract that pays him $31 million per season. Chris Sale next year starts a five-year, $145 million deal that puts him on the threshold of Price. This series has Stephen Strasburg (seven years, $175 million), Max Scherzer (seven years, $210 million), Zack Greinke (six years, $206.5 million), and Justin Verlander (two years, $66 million). It also has Houston righty Gerrit Cole, who is a free agent and will be making more than any of them by the time spring training rolls around.
To save the reader some time, these two brief examples purporting to demonstrate how 'the Red Sox are always here' - baseless speculation and player salary comparison that amounts to a huge non sequitur, for lack of a better way to explain the useless nature of that comparison. There are other attributes of this column that make it suck like a bilge pump but you don't need me to point the rest of them out, as you may be familiar with them by now. If he was trying to make a convincing case about this series being 'the Red Sox are always here', he fails poorly.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

It's Shetland Pony Time Again - 2019 World Series Edition

As with the Antonio Brown situation, Shank gets into high dudgeon with the Houston Astros:
HOUSTON — Before the World Series even started, the Washington Nationals were America’s team.

It’s got nothing to do with the fact that the Nats play in our nation’s capital. Or that they’ve never been to a World Series.

No, the Nats are the team to root for because the Houston Astros’ organization has framed itself as arrogant, shifty, tone-deaf, stubborn, and completely unaccountable. And that is why on the night of the first World Series opener ever hosted in Houston, the Astros were dodging arrows from across America as they attempted to defend the indefensible.

A little background: On Saturday night, after the dominant ’Stros defeated the Yankees in walkoff fashion to win the American League pennant, assistant GM Brandon Taubman decided to play muscle-flexing, tough guy with three female reporters who were in the clubhouse as the perfunctory champagne celebration was winding down. The 34-year-old Taubman, out of nowhere, turned on the female reporters and started shouting.
Let's cut to the chase:
Sports Illustrated’s Stephanie Apstein was one of the three reporters targeted in Taubman’s tirade and wrote a piece about the episode Monday. After initially not commenting, the Astros furnished a statement in the wake of Apstein’s story late Monday. The statement acknowledged Taubman’s clubhouse comments, but said the team was “extremely disappointed in Sports Illustrated’s attempt to fabricate a story where one does not exist.’’
It appears to me that this 'big stink' Shank and others are making is primarily because Taubman yelled at female reporters and dropped F-bombs in the process. It also may be due to the fact that one of the reporters tweeted about domestic violence and for some reason Taubman decided to be a dick about things after the Astros won the AL pennant. Much like former president Barack Obama, criticism of a black person is somehow defined by leftists certain people as racist, criticism of gay people is now homophobic and, naturally, offending women is sexism.

Again, maybe this guy Taubman's a genuine dickhead but it seems to me that this story doesn't become as big without the female reporter angle and Shank and his fellow media parasites are going to milk this as much as possible, or make Mt. Everest out of the Blue Hills.

Monday, October 21, 2019


Presented without comment:

Shank's First Celtics 2019-2020 Column

...and it's terrible right off the bat:
The Celtics were big-time underachievers last season. Presumed front-runners to get to the NBA Finals, they feuded and fumbled all season. As they staggered into the spring, toxic Kyrie Irving told us not to worry. He told us we would see the real Kyrie and the real Celtics in the playoffs.

We did. In round 2 of the playoffs, Kyrie stunk up the gym and the Celtics got pantsed in a feeble five games against the Milwaukee Bucks.

Mud on their face . . . big disgrace . . . dishonoring championship banners all over the place.
Talk about disgraceful - if you're ever wondering how to ruin a column by the third paragraph, just use lame lyrics from a 40+ year old song. I could barely read the column after that, and that's enough Shank for this guy today, maybe all week (and it's only Monday!).

Sunday, October 20, 2019

DHL Dan XCI - Still Beating A Dead Horse

Tired, lacking in imagination and creativity - that's our man Shank:
Patriots’ competition continues to unravel, and other notes

Picked-up pieces while assisting Ed Davis in finding out what really happened down there in the Dominican Republic in June . . .

■ The 2019 AFC is shaping up as the Tomato Cans conference of the century. It’s in a class by itself for patsies. Leading into 2019, we figured the Kansas City Chiefs would provide the Patriots with the most resistance in the conference. Last January’s AFC Championship game was truly epic. But it’s pretty clear now that the Patriots — who have won only four road playoff games (same as Mark Sanchez) during the Belichick-Brady dynasty — are not going to have to travel in the postseason this year. We have seen the Chiefs come back to earth in the last three weeks. The Colts pushed them all over the field in Week 5, and then the Texans had their way with them last weekend. Now all-world quarterback Patrick Mahomes has a dislocated kneecap. Right on schedule if you are a Patriots fan. In the old days, the Patriots won because they were better than everybody else and overcame their rivals. Now they just sit back and watch the competition unravel. Every day in which the Patriots do not play a game, they gain ground. They are legit progeny of Sun Tzu (“The Art of War”) who wrote: “If you wait by the river long enough, the bodies of your enemies will float by.’’ It has happened again. While the Patriots were idle Thursday, Mahomes dislocated his kneecap against the Broncos. And it’s not just the KC QB injury. Like most teams that lose to the Patriots in the playoffs, the Chiefs are psychologically damaged from the AFC Championship game. They will never be the same after losing that coin flip at Arrowhead before overtime. They are toast.
How Shank 'knows' the Chiefs are 'psychologically damaged' is beyond me - it's simply an assertion, a small scale version of his 'Curse of the Bambino' minus the book sales.

Then again - aren't we all 'psychologically damaged' by reading Dan Shaughnessy columns over the decades? Maybe we should file a class action suit against him!

Of course, Shank takes yet another stabbing in print on Patriots owner Robert Kraft:
■ Bob Kraft cannot possibly be happy with Tom Brady’s participation in Paul Rudd’s Netflix series “Living With Yourself.’’ In the premier episode, Brady appears in a cameo emerging from an Asian spa in a strip mall and then ducking into a waiting limo. Now Brady is mad that the scene is being taken out of context. So let me see if I’ve got this straight: After Kraft is charged with solicitation at a strip-mall Asian massage parlor in February (Kraft hopped into a limo after the alleged crime), Brady went ahead with a video shoot in which he emerges from a strip-mall Asian “Top Happy Spa” and ducks into a limo. Timothy Greenberg, creator of the show, has told reporters that he could not believe Brady agreed to do the shoot in the wake of the Kraft arrest, and now Brady is telling us that he can’t believe the “blame and shame” media would take all this “out of context.’’ And the Patriot media cartel rushes to Tom’s defense. Please. We were not born yesterday. It’s OK, Tom. It’s a funny scene. You are a grown-up. You knew what you were doing. It’s a shot at Bob Kraft. Just don’t pretend to be surprised and outraged when this video is “taken out of context.’’ No thinking person could view it any other way.
Anything to fan the flames...

Nothing says predictable like reusing a joke:
■ If you are a Celtics fan and you’ve seen five minutes of any of those interminable Democratic presidential debates, you have noticed that South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg is a dead ringer for Celtics coach Brad Stevens.
...and from early July of this year:
■ If Mayor Pete Buttigieg gets sick and can’t make it to the next debate, he can send Brad Stevens in his place and no one will know the difference.
It was funny the first time but like any schlock 'Top-40' radio station that plays the same song over and over every four hours for weeks on end, this one's already beaten to death after its second use.

From there, you know the drill - oddball subjects and a silly quiz. I'll save you some time - your time's better spent watching the paint dry.

Friday, October 18, 2019

The Predictable Shaughnessy, A Continuing Series

We've read at least three dozen variations of this one in recent years:

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

A Big Bowl Of Bad / Still On The Outs

What a surprise - Shank's ripping the Red Sox again:
We interrupt your regularly scheduled programming of Patriots, Bruins, Celtics, and well-deserved LeBron bashing to remind you that the stove glows dimly on Jersey Street.
As the baseball playoffs keep reminding us, the Red Sox — despite having the top payroll in baseball — are not part of October ball for the first time since 2015.
In the absence of postseason games, bad news seems to visit Fenway Park regularly. Ticket prices are up. NESN ratings are way down. And nobody seems to want the once-coveted job of Red Sox general manager.
OK, maybe ripping is too strong a word but note that the column is a fair amount larger than his normal / on average column. This is a general indication that he's engaged with the subject matter, and this is when it's more or less worth it to go read the whole thing. In that sense that it's a longer column, that's kind of ripping the team, isn't it?

Anyway, here's the parts that jumped out for me (made me laugh, actually):
Red Sox CEO Sam Kennedy insists that the Sox have yet to formally reach out to any candidate, but I am of the opinion that several veteran baseball men have been approached through back channels. And no one has bitten.
I love this shit - Shank's been persona non grata in the Red Sox inner circle ever since he did his infamous 'Dirty Laundry' column fourteen years ago where he threw former GM Theo Epstein right under the freakin' Greyhound.

But wait - there's more!
Try to imagine a conversation in Cleveland when Tribe GM Antonetti stopped by Tito Francona’s office and asked, “Hey, got a minute? Do you think it’s a good idea for me to talk to the Red Sox about their GM job?’’
I don't know Shank - you wrote a book with him. Why don't you give him a god damned phone call and ask him? This isn't difficult or time-consuming.

As far as others in baseball are concerned, he either a) was too flippin' lazy to make a few calls and see if he can at least pick up a vibe / pattern from talking to some people, or b) everyone else in baseball thinks Shank's an asshole and won't return his calls.

One other thing - general manager or the team manager, whatever - Shank will get the vapors and bitch about the process / time length whenever the Red Sox go looking for managerial talent. It's just another part of his schtick.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

The Blame Game

If it weren't for the fact that there's always a losing team, Shank would have nothing to write about.

Damn straight, prescient commenter - this is a constant refrain in these parts. It also helps a lot to pin blame on one guy, Bill Buckner style:
It was a holiday festival at the Garden Monday. It’s not every day the home team wins and you see a guy score four goals in one game.

With lots of families on hand for the Columbus Day matinee, David Pastrnak found the back of the net four times and the Bruins improved to 5-1-0 with a 4-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks. Brad Marchand, the goat of Game 7 in June, had assists on two of the goals and seems to be on a mission to get back to the Cup Finals. Marchand has five assists and four goals in the last five games.
How big of a goat is he, Shank?
And then it all went away in the final seconds of the first period when Marchand, after making a faint effort to check Blues winger Jaden Schwartz, inexplicably skated to the bench in the closing seconds of the period. This left the Bruins shorthanded, and Alex Pietrangelo took a pass from Schwartz, skated free toward the net, and potted a backhand past a defenseless Tuukka Rask.
My hockey buddy John mentioned this one salient fact - St. Louis physically beat the shit out of the Bruins in that series. I did pick up on that when I was watching it, but John's assessment makes it official. Yes, it's another ill-informed Bruins column that he manages to whiff on.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Waxing Nostalgic, New York Giants Edition

With the New England Patriots on TV tonight, Shank gives us another walk down memory lane.
The Giants, remember, are a big part of New England football history

The New York Giants, who will play the 5-0 Patriots Thursday night at Gillette Stadium, are a big part of New England’s football history. Your awareness of Patriots-Giants linkage depends on your age.

If you are a Gen X or Millennial Patriots fan, you know that the Giants ruined the greatest season in franchise history, beating the undefeated Patriots in Glendale, Ariz., in February 2008. You know they beat the Patriots in another Super Bowl four years later in Indianapolis. This makes you hate Eli Manning, and curse the lucky catches of David Tyree and Mario Manningham.

Maybe you have read some history and are aware that Bill Belichick coached with the Giants for 12 seasons and won his first two Super Bowls in the Meadowlands.
Quite a few times, Shank!

Monday, October 07, 2019

DHL Dan XC - Painfully Uninformed

...and that might be a big understatement:
Why we can’t tell how good the Patriots are, and other thoughts

Picked-up pieces while watching the gluten-free, Red Sox-free baseball playoffs . . .

■ It is impossible to tell how good the Patriots are because of the historically bad level of the teams they have played. Truly unbelievable. The aggregate record of the Patriots’ five opponents thus far is 5-18. There are only four winless teams in the NFL, and the Patriots have played three of them in the first five weeks.

Patriots fans, ever-sensitive and protective of The Wall, don’t like the Tomato Can narrative, but it has never been more applicable. In five weeks, the Patriots have faced the wretched of the wretched. Terrible coaches and quarterbacks. Every week.
Actually, there are a number of indicators, the first one being the Patriots are the only 5 - 0 team in the NFL. The Patriots have scored 155 points so far this season, second only to the Ravens with 161. Conversely, the Patriots have allowed a total of 34 points this season. The next two closest teams to that mark are the 49ers (3 games played, 54 points allowed) with the Buffalo Bills next (4 games, 70 points) and the lowest total for a five-game team are the Titans at 76. I'd say that's sufficient to answer Shank's question - they're the best team in the NFL as it stands now but somehow that doesn't seem to register at all with him. As a wise man once said, 'you are what your record says you are'.

Secondly, I'll say this - I don't believe Shank has watched much of the Patriots this year. My observation over the years about Shank's engagement with the Patriots can be determined by two things - game day tweets and columns about Patriots games. To this point in the year he's only done game day tweets last week (Pats at Bills) and he's written no columns about a Patriots game this year. Way to shed that label of being lazy prick!

The rest of the Picked-Up Pieces column shows a heavy interest in baseball and the Red Sox and the usual odd tidbits here and there.

And now for the piece de resistance - if you still have doubts about Shank being an asshole, I can remove that doubt with one sentence:
■ November’s Vanity Fair has an excellent lengthy feature on Bob Kraft’s visits to Orchids of Asia before last year’s AFC Championship game.
Like I said - what possible motive would Shank have to write that sentence other than to stab Bob Kraft yet again in print? What are the odds of the Boston Globe or Shaughnessy mentioning this effete snob magazine's 'excellent lengthy feature' at least a few more times over the next couple of weeks?

Oh - almost forgot one:
■ Brad Stevens knows we all want Tacko Fall to be the 12th man on the Celtics roster. “Everybody wants Tacko,’’ said the coach. “My kids are the same way.” Tacko has to be better than Greg Kite, right?
Who wants to tell Shank that current NBA rosters now have fifteen players and have been for quite some time?

Saturday, October 05, 2019

Even His Stories Are Old

Shank hasn't written a column in over a week (for which we should be thankful); might as well tell some old war stories, right?

Friday, October 04, 2019

And Now For Some Print Media Bashing

Shank's former employer for one year (2010 - 2011), Sports Illustrated, has announced the sacking of half of its staff:
Things at Sports Illustrated are getting ugly.

Thursday has been a tumultuous day at the company, starting with initial layoff meetings earlier this morning postponed minutes before they were supposed to begin. Hours later, SI’s staff put out a statement of support for each other and against any potential layoffs at the company. Shortly after that statement was released, the layoffs began.
Shank, of course, was himself shown the door by Sports Illustrated back in October / November 2011 when it became obvious that he started mailing in columns and rehashing his Globe columns into CNN / SI columns halfway through that one year stretch.