Thursday, April 29, 2021

He Has His Doubts

New York Mets pitching ace Jacob deGrom came to Fenway Park last night, and Shank writes a pretty good column about him, albeit in his trademark negative style:
The vaunted Red Sox lineup will face the best pitcher in baseball Wednesday night at Citi Field in New York. It’ll be Boston’s turn to take a shot at the Mets’ Jacob deGrom, a two-time Cy Young Award winner who’ll come into the game with an ERA of 0.31 and 50 strikeouts to go with only three walks in his first 29 innings of 2021.

Reminds me of when Oakland’s 10-1, soon-to-be-anointed MVP and Cy Young winner Vida Blue faced the Red Sox at Fenway Park in May of 1971 (a year in which Blue went 24-8 with a 1.82 ERA and 301 strikeouts). J.D. Martinez better have his iPad fully charged for this one.

Acting Mets general manager Zack Scott says deGrom is the best he’s seen since Pedro Martinez. Former batting champ Keith Hernandez says deGrom is the best he’s seen since Randy Johnson.

It’s heady stuff. It’s must-see TV. And like everything in New York, it’s larger than life. Perhaps even, dare we say, a little overrated?

Don’t get me wrong, sports fans. DeGrom is on fire, and for all we know, he might no-hit the slugging Sox. But as I sift through the numbers and press clippings, I can’t get past the nagging notion that hungry-for-a-superstar New Yorkers have gotten carried away with deGrom’s meteoric start.

Saturday, April 24, 2021

DHL Dan CXXXIV - Column Template Time

Three weeks ago, Shank trashed the Red Sox for an opening day loss, then ragged on them a few more times until they ran off a bunch of wins. Now it's the New York Yankees turn:
Picked-up pieces while counting the minutes to when Bill Belichick trades down for better value …

▪ Are you taking joy in the Yankees’ horrible start? Picked to win the AL East by almost everyone, the Bronx Bombers lost 11 of their first 18, their worst start since the Stump Merrill days of the early 1990s.

The Yankees went into the weekend in last place in the AL East, ranked 13th in batting (.211) and 12th in fielding percentage. They also had the worst slugging percentage in the majors.

New York’s awful April featured shortstop Gleyber Torres jogging out ground balls, plus epic slumps by Torres, Gary Sanchez, Giancarlo Stanton, Clint Frazier, and Aaron Hicks. They also have the assorted injuries that annually make a mockery of their $210 million payroll. George Steinbrenner would have fired the entire training staff by now.
We know one person enjoying that horrible start, don't we?

Thursday, April 22, 2021

You'll Never Walk Alone

Those of you who are familiar with the Boston Red Sox know that the club is primarily owned by John Henry, who also happens to own what's left of the Boston Globe as well as Liverpool Football Club of the English Premier League. A bunch of the top clubs in the English Premier League and a few other European leagues tried to form a semi-breakaway league called the Super League, which is primarily a vehicle for these selected clubs (and only them) to play each other and rake in big bucks. It was shot down after two days due to furious fan / supporter backlash from across the pond, there were a few ceremonial firings in the process, and it wound up leaving John Henry looking like a greedy chump.

When I first spotted this column, I half thought 'Oh, boy - Shank's gonna try and talk about soccer' but soccer's the sidebar here. There is something to be said of Shank's ability to write a decent, engaging column when he's able to blowtorch the subject of the column at hand:
A huge victory for soccer fans, a huge setback for John Henry

You’ll never walk alone.

This is the anthem for the Liverpool Football Club. It speaks to fans’ hopes when all seems lost. And defiance in the face of adversity.

Red Sox/Globe owner John Henry has found great riches and success as owner of Liverpool FC since 2010, but today he walks alone at Anfield in the wake of his role in a botched attempt to form a European Super League.

Plans for the elitist, money-grabbing league were unveiled Sunday night, triggering universal condemnation and galvanizing fans against the 12 owners who proposed the tone-deaf breakaway. In Liverpool, Henry endured a fan-driven pummeling 100 times rougher than what happened in Red Sox Nation after he traded Mookie Betts.

The Super League collapsed under the weight of its own greed less than 48 hours after it was introduced, and Henry posted an apology video hours later in which he said, “The project put forward was never going to stand without the support of the fans. No one ever thought differently in England. Over these 48 hours you were very clear that it would not stand. We heard you. I heard you.”
I saw one Twitter comment about that video - 'Turn the sound down - it looks like a hostage video'.

Check out the rest of the column; it's well worth it.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

The Self-Explanatory Column

Occasionally, you can figure out right away why a column was written or not:
April has been anything but cruel for the Bruins, Celtics, and Red Sox

It is April of 2021 and the pandemic is reluctant to loosen its grip, but things are looking better for three local sports teams who are in season.

Bruins. Celtics. Red Sox.

So good. So good. So good.
Since the local teams are doing well, that means Shank has fewer things to bitch about, right?
It adds up to so … much … winning. Almost as if there’s nothing to complain about. I think it has me a little off my game.

Saturday, April 17, 2021

DHL Dan CXXXIII - The Long Game

At last - some interesting material for the latest Picked Up Pieces column:
Recalling a baseball marathon and a win streak with Joe Morgan, and other thoughts

Picked-up pieces while begging for April 29 and the NFL Draft to finally get here so everyone can stop talking about it …

▪ April 18 is the 40th anniversary of the Rochester Red Wings vs. Pawtucket Red Sox 33-inning game, still the longest game in professional baseball history.

Walpole’s Joe Morgan managed a PawSox team that included Wade Boggs, Marty Barrett, Rich Gedman, Bruce Hurst, and Bobby Ojeda, all of whom later played big roles in the epic 1986 Red Sox-Mets World Series. Rochester featured a 20-year-old third baseman named Cal Ripken Jr., who would begin his streak of 2,632 consecutive big league games one year later.

The game started at 8:25 Saturday night (delayed because of a problem with the McCoy Stadium lights) and was suspended at 4:07 a.m. on Easter Sunday with the score tied, 2-2. There were 19 fans left in the stands when the game was suspended, but 5,746 (plus 140 media members) filled McCoy when the game was resumed June 23 in the middle of MLB’s 50-day work stoppage of 1981.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Shank Loves Alex Cora!

Now that the Boston Red Sox are enjoying a good recent run, here's Shank to jump on at least one bandwagon:
It’s clear that rehiring Alex Cora was the right move by the Red Sox

There are still pockets of Red Sox Nation where folks are upset that Alex Cora was brought back to manage. Cora is a convicted cheater, and I’ve heard from dozens of loyal Sox fans who are offended and outraged that the Sox rehired him after he served a one-year MLB suspension for his role in the Astros sign-stealing scandal.

Not me. I can be the pearl-clutching “get off my lawn” guy when it comes to PED users applying for admission to the Baseball Hall of Fame, or John Calipari vacating Final Four appearances, but bringing back Cora to manage was always the best move for the Sox.
A reminder - Shank also called Cora a cheater, just six months ago, and now everything's cool.

Forgive and forget, and / or just win baby?

Monday, April 12, 2021

Guilty Conscience?

Nearly two full days after it happened, Shank gets around to one of the most insincere 'congratulations' columns he's ever written, this one involving the University of Massachusetts - Amherst men's college hockey champions of 2021:
A well-deserved salute to UMass athletics and the recently crowned men’s hockey champs

Congratulations to the University of Massachusetts men’s hockey team, which won the NCAA championship, defeating St. Cloud State, 5-0, Saturday night in the final game of the Frozen Four at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh.

Congrats to coach Greg Carvel, goalie Filip Lindberg, skaters Bobby Trivigno, Anthony Del Gaizo, Zac Jones, Matthew Kessel, Matt Murray, Carson Gicewicz, Jake Gaudet, Oliver Chau, Aaron Bohlinger, Ryan Sullivan, athletic director Ryan Bamford, school president Marty Meehan, chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy and all the other players, coaches, trainers, support staff, alums, and fans of UMass hockey.
Hope you're sitting down for this next part:
Before we go any further, let me also apologize to every member of the UMass Amherst community who feels you guys never get enough coverage or credit. Through the years, hundreds of friends and correspondents from UMass have made it clear they regularly feel disrespected by the Boston sports media, particularly the Globe. We (I) have routinely mocked them as Hooterville, embarrassingly beholden to the corrupt regime of John Calipari, and in 2021 obtusely tolerant of a foolish foray into big-time college football.

Not today.

Today we toast all that is good about UMass sports. We salute UMass’s national champions, skaters who are part of a program that won a Division 2 championship in 1972, was disbanded in 1979, and did not resurface until the Mullins Center opened in 1993. Until this weekend, goalie Jonathan Quick was UMass’s greatest contribution to the sport.
What a fucking gutless weasel. Shank has indeed spent many a column over a great length of time trashing John Calipari (and by extension the University) and he attempts to absolve himself with the use of a single letter (I).It's entirely possible Shank has done the majority or all of the 'disrespecting' of that university in his newspaper. For that, I'd need to a) give a shit about other Globies and b) waste time reading them to know for sure.

My final point - you and I know that at some point down the road, say when Calipari steps in some dog crap again, he'll go right back to 'disrespecting' the school. It's tough to teach an old dog new tricks.

UPDATE at 6:05 PM - Opening sentence was clunky, threw in some words to make it clearer.

Friday, April 09, 2021

DHL Dan CXXXII - Go Through The Motions Much?

Oh, look - Shank bangs out another Picked up Pieces column. How original!
Quinn Buckner of the NCAA’s last perfect men’s basketball team wasn’t rooting against Gonzaga, and other thoughts

Picked-up pieces while outfitting the entire family in yellow and blue City Connect Red Sox uniforms . . .

▪ Former Celtics guard Quinn Buckner was cocaptain of Bobby Knight’s 1976 Indiana Hoosiers, the last NCAA team to run the table. Buckner started alongside Scott May, Kent Benson, Bobby Wilkerson, and Tom Abernathy, all of whom went on to NBA careers. Two others players on the Indiana team were drafted by NBA teams. When undefeated Gonzaga took on Baylor in the NCAA championship game Monday, I wondered if Buckner and his teammates are like Mercury Morris and the 1972 Miami Dolphins, openly rooting against any team with a chance to go undefeated.

“I don’t know how my teammates feel about it, but I would have been OK with Gonzaga winning,’’ said Buckner, who works as a color commentator for Indiana Pacers broadcasts these days. “But I will tell you that I have family members who were pulling hard for Baylor to win. Not me. Gonzaga winning wouldn’t change anything for us. We would no longer be the last team to do it, but it’s still there.’'
I don't have the patience to read this garbage - proceed at your own peril.

Definitely A Glass Is Half Empty Guy

The Red Sox have won four games in a row. Here comes Shank to nonetheless take a piss on them:
Red Sox go worst to first? Great! Let’s see where they stand down the road

How could we ever have doubted them?

Worst-to-first. In four short days.

We were ready to run the Red Sox out of New England after they were swept by the Orioles. Drubbed, 11-3, Sunday at Fenway. Before playing their fourth game of the season, the Sox walked a line between ridicule and irrelevance, losing three to the Zer-O’s by an aggregate 18-5.

Thursday afternoon at Camden Yards, the Sons of Alex Cora beat those same Orioles, 7-3, to move into a first-place tie with them in the American League East. The Red Sox have won four straight, which did not happen once in their embarrassing 2020 season.
Shank's been trying to 'run them out of New England' ever since the first pitch was thrown in spring training. Dishonest barely begins to describe this bullshit.

Thursday, April 08, 2021

Straight Daddy Ball

Shank's doing what Shank does best - writing a Celtics column after a loss:
Larry Bird vs. Dr. J this is not; Celtics-76ers rivalry is now one-sided

Boston vs. Philadelphia has given us Bill Russell vs. Wilt Chamberlain and Larry Bird vs. Julius Erving. Tuesday at the Garden we got Tacko Fall vs. Joel Embiid. Yikes.

Embiid (35 points) and the conference-leading Sixers beat the Fool’s Gold Celtics, 106-96, at the Garden Tuesday to sweep the season series from the overrated, back-under-.500 Green Team. There was talk of a Celtic “winning streak” after victories over horrible Houston and depleted Charlotte, but we should all know not to take the cheese on the Brad Stevens Five.

Robert Williams got the start vs. Embiid (115 points in three games vs. Boston this year) and his foul trouble led to Celtic trouble in the first half. With Williams on the pine and poor Luke Kornet getting rag-dolled by Embiid, Philly went on a 21-2 run and Stevens called for Tacko to guard Philadelphia’s behemoth center. It’s never a good sign when it’s Tacko Time in the first half against a team with a 35-16 record. The Sixers are legit now that Doc Rivers is calling the shots from the bench. And Embiid is Philly’s new Chamberlain. Boston’s Time Lord scored 4 points and fouled out in 14 minutes.
Read on if you want to read about Celtics - Sixers from previous decades.

Sunday, April 04, 2021

DHL Dan CXXXI - Want Some Politics With Your Baseball?

The state house in Georgia passed a bill this week designed to prevent Democrats from stealing future elections in that state. Major League Baseball has responded by pulling this year's All-Star game from the host city of Atlanta, and Shank's on board with it:
Baseball surprisingly acted quickly in pulling All-Star Game out of Atlanta, and other thoughts

Picked-up pieces while filling out an expense account for the first time in 13 months . . .

Major League Baseball’s decision to pull this summer’s All-Star Game out of Atlanta — a swift reaction to Georgia’s new voting law that many view as voter suppression targeting minorities — was stunning. MLB traditionally moves slower than other professional sports leagues regarding issues of politics and controversy. Not this time. After lobbying by civil rights groups and the MLB Players Association, commissioner Rob Manfred acted quickly.

It’s risky business for a commissioner who rarely takes risks. The decision is bound to offend a portion of baseball’s dwindling fan base — a group older, whiter, and likely more conservative than the fan bases of the NFL and NBA. Corporate pressures will be another matter altogether. Delta Air Lines and Coca-Cola voiced displeasure to Georgia’s legislation, but not until after the law was changed.
I'll bet it's a fair bit bigger than a mere 'portion'; at some point everybody gets sick of politics in sports. Any of these commissioners that think viewership (say, in the NBA and especially in MLB) will magically rebound any time soon is misreading their fan base, and now they just threw some more gas on the fire.
Political backlash was immediate. Accusing Manfred of succumbing to “cancel culture and woke political activists,’’ Georgia’s governor, Brian Kemp, stated, “Major League Baseball caved to fear, political opportunism, and liberal lies.’’ The Braves issued a statement (embossed with their tomahawk logo) in which they said they were “deeply disappointed’’ the All-Star Game was being pulled from Atlanta. Saturday’s Wall Street Journal featured an editorial headlined “The Biden Baseball League,’' stating that MLB “has smeared Georgia’s elected majority as racist and anti-democratic,’’ concluding, “Welcome to the Democratic Baseball League.’’

So, here we go. Manfred and MLB have jumped feetfirst into America’s raging political divide. It’s going to be tough sledding from here on in. There’s a voting law bill on deck in Texas. You know Florida can’t be far behind.
Welcome to the political arena, MLB! Hope you get it, good and hard.

From there, it's the usual grab bag of semi-useless tidbit sized bullshit.

Saturday, April 03, 2021

The Obligatory Red Sox Opening Day Column

You knew Shank would trash the team after an Opening Day loss, didn't you?
Baseball. Fans. Sunshine. Peanuts. Beer. Masks. “Sweet Caroline.” Abundances of caution … and another day at the bottom of the American League East for your Boston Red Sox.

On the heels of their last-place disgrace of 2020, the Sox returned to frosty Fenway (37 degrees at game time) and kicked off their 121st big league season Friday with a 3-0 loss to the moribund Baltimore Orioles in front of 4,452 Hub hardball enthusiasts.

Alex Cora’s return to the dugout as manager was spoiled by a lineup power outage (two hits) and shaky defense that betrayed Nate Eovaldi and broke open a scoreless duel in the sixth.
From there it's the expanded game recap, sprinkled with sarcasm.