Wednesday, July 29, 2020

The John McNamara Column - The Follow-Up

Shank actually got off his lazy ass and made some calls:
Former Red Sox manager John McNamara died Tuesday in Tennessee. McNamara last managed in Boston 32 years ago, and his worst moments happened 34 years ago. But as with Bill Buckner, Bob Stanley, Rich Gedman, and a few others, the pain of the 1986 World Series is still very fresh in the McNamara household.

I made a few calls early Wednesday after I learned Mac had passed. I spoke with Bruce Hurst, and left messages for Roger Clemens and Dwight Evans. I reached out to a funeral home in Nashville to let the McNamara family know the Globe was attempting to confirm his passing.
And he's just getting warmed up, folks:
Say “Too Many Men on the Ice” and everybody knows you are talking about Bruins-Canadiens Game 7 in 1979. It’s the same with “David Tyree,” “Bucky Dent,” “Sugar Bear Hamilton,” “Grady Little,” and “Game 6.”

“Game 6” sets off Red Sox fans of a certain age. It’s like Niagara Falls to the Three Stooges. Game 6 is when Mookie Wilson’s grounder slithered between the hobbled ankles of Buckner. Game 6 is when Steamer threw the wild pitch that should have been a passed ball. Game 6 is when we saw those Calvin Schiraldi eyes.

Game 6 is when McNamara pulled Clemens for a pinch hitter with the Red Sox leading the Mets, 3-2, in the top of the eighth. Clemens was sailing along with a four-hitter and had retired the last five Mets he faced. He was coming off his 24-4 MVP season. He was primed to deliver the Red Sox their first World Series championship in 68 years. And then he came out of the game and everything fell apart.

After the loss, when the manager of the Red Sox was asked to explain the move, McNamara answered, “My pitcher asked out of the game.”

When Clemens heard that, he had to be restrained. He has always maintained that McNamara made the decision, then lied to cover his mistake.
Am I off base for stating this is pure scumbag journalism? It's little wonder print media is on its last legs. Successful pot stirring's always been a specialty of his, and now he's got Clemens' allegiance (note the link above) in the war of words between the Rocket and McNamara over an event that happened over a third of a century ago, and McNamara can't speak for himself now because he's dead.

For the record, Roger Clemens was indicted for lying to Congress about his use of steroids and HGH; character counts in my book.

I don't believe I'm being hyperbolic in saying this might be Shank's worst column (in terms of raw scumbaggery) since this one, and the more I think about it, it just might be his all-time nadir.

The John McNamara Column

John McNamara, one-time manager of the Boston Red Sox, has passed away. Shank pays respect to the former skipper:
John McNamara, manager of the ill-fated 1986 Red Sox, died Tuesday in Tennessee at the age of 88. His death was confirmed to the Globe by his wife, Ellen McNamara of Brentwood, Tenn., and his nephew, Joe McNamara of Sacramento.

McNamara managed 19 seasons in the major leagues with the Oakland A’s, San Diego Padres, Cincinnati Reds, California Angels, Red Sox, and Cleveland Indians. His career mark was 1,160-1,233-2 (.485).

He was hired by Haywood Sullivan to replace Ralph Houk in Boston, and the 1985 Red Sox went 81-81 in McNamara’s first season in the Fenway Park dugout.

A year later, McNamara was American League Manager of the Year as the Red Sox took over first place for good in late May.
Naturally, that's not what piqued my interest - this is (emphasis mine):
He was second-guessed for pinch-hitting for Roger Clemens with the Sox leading Game 6, 3-2, in the eighth. He also was criticized for leaving a hobbled Bill Buckner on the field when the Sox led in the bottom of the 10th. Buckner’s error on Mookie Wilson’s grounder became the iconic moment of the Sox’ collapse.
The use of the passive voice by Shank is the surest sign of an attempt to deflect from the fact that Shank was a prominent second guesser and a criticizer of McNamara. I have zero doubt about this. I've asked my co-blogger Mike to weigh in on this one, since I lack his knowledge of baseball and access to the Boston Globe archives to point out the numerous examples of Shank doing just that. That said, I was able to come up with a few examples:
Sometimes cause-and-effect is obvious and immediate. In 1988, the moribund Red Sox fired miserable manager John McNamara at the All-Star break. Tollway Joe Morgan took over as "interim" skipper and the revived Sox rattled off 12 straight wins and 19 of 20 en route to the division title. The same thing happened to the Celtics after Bill Fitch ran them aground in 1983. K.C. Jones was hired and the lads won two of the next three NBA championships.
And this one:
Baseball bards and pastime poets may claim that last night’s game was lost when Sox manager John McNamara named Al Nipper to start Game 4, but Nipper did his job. He was roughed up for three runs in the fourth, but he kept his team in the game for six serviceable innings (seven hits, one walk). It was only 3-0 when Nipper left.
So far the criticism of McNamara seems pretty light and tame. We all know Grady Little was treated far more harshly by Shank.

UPDATE AT 6:45 PM - comments have been turned off for this column; can't imagine why!

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

The One Where Shank Shits On His Boss

John Henry is the principal owner of the Boston Red Sox and owner of what's left of the Boston Globe. The following tweet makes me wonder - does Shank have a professional death wish?

I'll give him this much - it does take balls to throw out a tweet like that.

Monday, July 27, 2020

And So It Begins

Well, that didn't take long, did it?

Sunday, July 26, 2020

The One Where John Henry Supports A Domestic Terrorist Organization

...whose members and leadership advocate the murder of white policemen and want to abolish capitalism to boot. Great way to piss off your fans, folks.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

The Unwatchable National Pastime

Shank does his best to put a positive spin on 'Opening Day':
The Red Sox annihilated the moribund Baltimore Orioles, 13-2, at empty Fenway Park on Friday. It was the Red Sox’ 120th Opening Day, and by any measure it goes down as the most unusual sporting event in our city’s history.

It was the first real game involving a Boston team since March 10, when the Bruins blanked the Flyers, 2-0, in Philadelphia and the Celtics beat the Pacers in Indianapolis. Since then, we’ve consumed grainy rebroadcasts of the Larry Bird Celtics, the Tom Brady Patriots, and the Curse-busting Red Sox of 2004.
I hope that last one hurt, bucko...
For the sake of television, the Red Sox and Orioles went though all the traditional pre-game rituals. There was red, white, and blue bunting on the upper deck facade, and four rows of cardboard-cutout fans filled the Monster Seats — it looked a little like the cover of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper album — but the official attendance was 00,000 when Nathan Eovaldi threw a 100 mile-per-hour first pitch to Baltimore center fielder Austin Hays at 7:33 p.m.
Worse than reading this pedantic column was watching the game last night; I could do it for about a minute, then I changed over to The Bourne Ultimatum. No fans and fake crowd noise - baseball in its current form is unwatchable and I still maintain the corporate suits calling the shots here are doing irreparable harm to the game.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

What Passes For Thoughts

Here's Shank penning a litany of cheap shots and complaints as 'thoughts' on the upcoming sports shitshow known as the 2020 baseball season:
Thoughts on what will be a brand-new baseball season in more ways than one

Baseball is back. No more Red Sox batting practice, intrasquad scrimmages, or exhibition games after Wednesday night. No more watching the last game of the 2000 World Series. No more painful replays of the Dent Game, the Buckner Game (“behind the bag!!!”), or the Grady Game.

Nope. This is the real thing. And as the Red Sox prepare for their season opener Friday night at Fenway Park against the Orioles, here are some thoughts, questions, and observations about the much-anticipated return of our national pastime:

▪ If you can stand the pain, tune into the Giants-Dodgers opener from Los Angeles Thursday night on ESPN at 10 and get your first look at Dodgers right fielder Mookie Betts.

It looks very much like Betts is going to be a Dodger for 10 or more seasons. The Red Sox’ inability to pony up for their best player will haunt them for years to come. Their party line will be the tired old “he wasn’t going to stay here anyway,” but he could have been a Red Sox player for life if they had been willing to pay for his services.
Must be nice being a professional asshole, lecturing other people on how to spend their money, and it's his putative boss to boot.
▪ Chaim Bloom has more meatball artists on this Sox staff than Mother Anna’s Italian restaurant in the North End. Righty Dylan Covey was added to the Wasdin stable Tuesday. Covey’s 7.98 ERA last year was 340th of 341 big league pitchers with at least 50 innings. Where is Andrew Cashner when you need him?
We've heard this one for a few weeks already and, like the above complaint about Mookie Betts, it will be a column staple for months, if not years to come.
▪ Can’t wait to see those first designated hitters in a National League game. I witnessed the first DHs in an American League game, at Fenway in April 1973. Ron Blomberg for the Yankees and Orlando Cepeda for the Red Sox.
Just for some perspective, the band Black Sabbath released their fifth studio album (Sabbath Bloody Sabbath) four months later.

That's enough Shank intake for this guy.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Monday, July 20, 2020

Tough Circumstances

Maybe that's a bit of an understatement with respect to the 2020 Boston Red Sox and new skipper Ron Roenicke:
Ron Roenicke couldn’t be starting his term as Red Sox manager under tougher circumstances

He is 63 years old and has been in professional baseball since the mid 1970s. He has 29 years of coaching and managing experience. He was manager of the Milwaukee Brewers for four-plus seasons from 2011-15. He has three World Series championship rings — one from his playing days with the 1981 Dodgers, one from coaching with the 2002 Angels, and another from his bench coach work with the 2018 streamroller Red Sox.

Ron Roenicke is smart, tough, and stoic. He doesn’t want or need anybody feeling sorry for him.

But I do anyway. The poor guy had no idea it was going to be like this when he was elevated to the position of manager of the Red Sox after Alex Cora was fired. He’s working on a one-year contract, and that “year” is going to be a 60-game regular season in the summer of COVID-19.
I'm getting the feeling that the 2020 baseball season's going to be a complete shitshow, and I think this is too easy a prediction to make - we're one half of a COVID infected clubhouse or two away from the baseball suits curling up into the fetal position and declare the season over.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

DHL Dan CVII - Now With More Recycling

In the sense of going with certain well-worn column templates:
It looks like a long year at Fenway Park, and other thoughts while waiting for baseball to begin

Picked-up pieces while waiting to watch the Yankees and Nationals on Thursday night . . .

▪ Do the once-proud Boston Red Sox have the worst starting pitching in baseball? It’s certainly the worst in my lifetime, and I go back to the not-so-golden early 1960s, when the Sox regularly finished eighth or ninth in a 10-team league but at least had guys such as Bill Monbouquette, Earl Wilson, and Gene Conley in their rotation.

At this hour, Sox fans can expect Nate Eovaldi, Martin Perez, Ryan Weber, and Brian Johnson as the Sox’ top four starters with a cast of unknowns slated as “openers” for the fifth spot. Wow.

Eovaldi last year won two games with a 5.99 ERA. Perez is a grade-A meatball artist who’s 12-14 with a 5.49 ERA over the last two seasons. Weber is a career 3-9 with a 5.04 ERA, and Johnson was 1-3 with a 6.02 ERA in 2019. To think that in 2004, Terry Francona rolled out Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling, Derek Lowe, Tim Wakefield, and Bronson Arroyo.
At least Shank's in fine form with the hyperbolic negativity; knock yourselves out with the rest of it.

Happy Anniversary!

How did I miss this one from five years ago?

Friday, July 17, 2020

Recycled Columns

Shank's written variations of this column at least three times now...
Picking Paul Pierce first in an all-time Celtics draft is an easy second-guess

It was a great idea in the middle of our gameless, COVID-19 spring/summer. Globe Celtics beat guy Adam Himmelsbach suggested we produce an all-time Celtics draft. Choosing from 75 years of a franchise that produced 17 championships and more than two dozen Hall of Famers, five Globe scribes had a chance to assemble their own teams. Himmelsbach, NBA columnist Gary Washburn, self-described Celtics honk Chad Finn, de facto NBA commissioner Bob Ryan, and yours truly had a chance to build our own teams in a Zoom draft.

We Zoom-gathered on the evening of Monday, June 29. We’d had a week to study the rules and prepare our depth charts. But we did not yet know the draft order.

After our official Globe Draft Ping-Pong balls fell into place, our commissioner, deputy sports editor Scott Thurston, informed us that Wash would be picking first. Then me. Then Chad. Followed by Himmel and Ryan. It was a snake draft, so Ryan would get picks 5 and 6.


Knowing I was going to pick second made it easy. Wash would of course select Bill Russell or Larry Bird, and then I would start my team with the one he didn’t take. I was hoping he’d go for Bird. Russell was clearly king of the hill, cream of the crop, top of the heap, and A-number one.

And then it happened. With the first pick in the Globe’s 2020 all-time Celtic draft, Gary Washburn selected . . . Paul Pierce.
You know the rest, don't you?

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Noted But Not Missed

Shank / the Boston Globe posted some bullshit last week that is unreadable with normal desktop browsers.

Like we're going to a game anytime soon...

Bob Cousy On The (Not Gonna Happen) 2020 NBA Season

Shank talks to the great Boston Celtics guard, who weighs in on the unlikelihood of something resembling a basketball season:
He will be 92 next month. He has his daughter and son-in-law living with him at his home in Worcester and like the rest of us, he’s been watching TV, and staying alive.

Bob Cousy came back from his annual Florida winter stay in early May and, as ever, he’s on top of the news. Cousy’s not confident the NBA will be able to carry out its plan to resume games in the Orlando bubble next month and crown a 2020 champion in October.

“My guess is that nothing is going to happen,” Cousy said over the phone Monday. “I think everything is going to shut down. They’re going to continue having cases pop up where it’s going to be simply not viable to hold a season. I hope I’m wrong. What the hell do I know? I’m sitting here in Worcester.”
I'm so disgusted with this overreaction, I'm one of a fair number who will severely intake further sports viewing; complete league-wide shutdowns that, in certain sports, did not even happen during World War II.

Wednesday, July 08, 2020

Throwing In The Towel

Shank doesn't think college sports should be played this year:
Colleges should follow the Ivy League, again, and shut down sports this year

Laugh at the Ivy League all you want, you tailgate-lovin', rib-eatin', under-the-table payin', FBS-series-playin’ college football towns across America. You’ve got All-Americans, spring games that draw 100,000 fans, and a legitimate shot at a national championship. You know who you are. We’re talking to you, Big Ten, SEC, Big 12, ACC, and Pac-12.

But never forget that the Ivy League is where today’s big-time college football started. And take these next couple of days to ask yourself if you really want your young men congregating and sweating and tackling one another with hopes of starting a college football season around Labor Day.

It’s over for this year, people. The Ivy League just told you so. Listen to them. And give it up for this year.

The Ivy League announced Wednesday that there will be no varsity sports this fall. The league will perhaps attempt to play its football season next spring. No sooner.
I'm for this - colleges overall are churning out way too many idjits nowadays and this will result in a price mechanism fix in the other direction. Who wants to go to college under current conditions? The sports ban will only make it worse.

Monday, July 06, 2020

Bandwagon Dan / Double Standards

Shank comes out (again) as a cancel culture warrior:
This one really isn’t very difficult.

The Washington Redskins need to change their name. Today.

It’s been obvious for such a long time.

This is not a new thought, or an idea owed to the challenge flag thrown regarding US history. I’ll spare you the discussions about the Cleveland Indians, Atlanta Braves, Kansas City Chiefs, Golden State Warriors, and Florida State Seminoles.

Knock yourselves out arguing which nickname is an honor and which one is an insult. I admit I have never been insulted by the mascot of the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. Or the Celtics’ leprechaun. Others are welcome to be offended.
So if you're a pasty white Irishman like Shank is, you can fuck off about changing those nicknames. These nicknames for people of a lessor pallor, however, must be changed.

He's mentioned this one in the past but it seems to have a new urgency now. I wonder why that is? Let me know when you want to start burning some Seminole game programs, Shank.

Saturday, July 04, 2020

The Eck Weighs In On The 2020 Season

Shank mails in a column just before the start of the July 4th weekend:
Dennis Eckersley is not sure what to expect in this oddest of baseball seasons
To be fair, I don't think any of us know what to expect, except for empty stadiums that make the game less watchable than it already is.
He’s a Hall of Famer with an MVP and a Cy Young trophy in his den. He pitched 24 big league seasons and has been broadcasting Red Sox games for NESN since 2003. But at this hour, Dennis Eckersley doesn’t know much more about the 2020 Red Sox than anybody else. Eck never made it to Florida for any spring training games (the Sox played 21) and admits he has some catching up to do.

“[Expletive], I haven’t even thought about that team,” Eck said with a chuckle. “Seriously. I really haven’t thought about them. I was just about to join them in Florida when all this happened.”

Eckersley has been in California since the baseball world shut down along with everything else in mid-March. He’s planning to return to Greater Boston this coming week and hopes to be broadcasting all 60 Red Sox games along with Jerry Remy and Dave O’Brien when the season begins later this month.
These guys will be doing the games from NESN's headquarters, just to make the games a bit more awkward. Good luck with all this, Red Sox and Major League Baseball.