Monday, May 31, 2021

The Knucklehead Column

Here's Shank's Game 4 recap between the Celtics and Nets:
It just gets worse.

Kyrie Irving scored 39 against the Celtics in a 141-126, Game 4 drubbing Sunday night, then stomped on the Celtic midcourt logo before leaving. When Irving exited the floor with his teammates, a fan wearing a Kevin Garnett jersey fired a water bottle at Irving, narrowly missing his head. The fan was apprehended by Boston Police and led from the lower bowl in handcuffs.

“It’s unfortunate that sports has come to this crossroads, where you are seeing a lot of old ways come up,” said Irving. “It’s been that way in history, in terms of entertainment, performers in sports, for a long period of time. Underlying racism and just treating people like they’re in a human zoo. Throwing stuff at people, saying things. There’s a certain point where it just gets to be too much. I called it out. I wanted to keep it strictly basketball. But people just feel very entitled out here . . . we’re not at the theatre. We’re not throwing tomatoes and other random stuff at the people that are performing. It’s too much.”

Sunday, May 30, 2021

DHL Dan CXXXVIII - Kyrie's Homecoming

Former Boston Celtic Kyrie Irving got a warm and loving reception on Friday night:
Boston fans didn’t cross the line with Kyrie Irving Friday night, and let’s keep it that way

Picked-up pieces while loving our return to sports played in front of full houses:

▪ Boston fans stood tall at the Garden Friday night. They booed Kyrie Irving every time he touched the basketball. They delivered harsh chants in Kyrie’s direction. But nothing went over the line. After the big Celtics win and Irving’s subpar game, even the complex and sometimes loathsome Kyrie said, “It’s basketball. I’ve been in a few environments in my life. If it’s nothing extra, I’m cool with it.’’

Good. Let’s have more of the same Sunday when the Garden is full for Game 4. Boo Irving because he lied to you about staying here and quit on your team. Just as you booed Roger Clemens when he came back here with the Yankees. Just as you would let Rick Pitino have it if he ever walked through that door on Causeway Street. But “nothing extra” please.
It almost makes you wonder - if Kyrie (and Marcus Smart, for that matter) really heard N-bomb(s) when it supposedly happened, why are we only hearing about it now?

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Head Of The Class

Shank banged this one out a bit before the other Kyrie Irving column:
Right now, Kyrie Irving in a class by himself in being hated by Boston sports fans

There are two categories when we get into athletes who are hated by Boston sports fans.

Category No. 1 includes natural-born enemies of our teams. Guys such as Bill Laimbeer, Ulf Samuelsson, Manny Machado, Alex Rodriguez, LeBron James, and Peyton Manning. Easy targets, one and all.

The second group is the house of hombres who played or coached here in New England, eventually wore out their welcome, and left a trail of bad feelings when they moved to new destinations. This group would include Roger Clemens, Bill Parcells, Carl Crawford, David Price . . . and Kyrie Irving.

Kyrie, who spent two wild and unsatisfactory seasons in Boston, made the key plays in a fourth-quarter surge and scored 29 points in a 104-93 Game 1 Brooklyn playoff victory over the Celtics Saturday. Wearing green shoes, as if to taunt Boston again, Irving combined with superstar teammates Kevin Durant (32 points) and James Harden (21) to put the .500 Celtics into the fast lane for a quick exit from the 2021 NBA playoffs.
It's a good column in part because he lets Kyrie do the talking, which leads to interesting results.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Bury Them Early - It Saves Money

I'm not saying he's wrong about the Celtics losing the series, but you'd expect Shank to pull the trigger later rather than now:
Celtics season can’t end soon enough, and now Kyrie Irving has Boston on notice

It just keeps getting worse. The Celtics’ season needs to end. The C’s were embarrassed by the Nets, 130-108, in Game 2 Tuesday.

And then Kyrie Irving lit a match and dropped an R-bomb on Boston in his postgame Zoomer.

The ever-combustible Irving will be back in Boston Friday and inflamed his visit after Game 2 when he said, “Hopefully we can just keep it strictly basketball, no belligerence or subtle racism and people yelling [expletive] from the crowd. Even if it is, it’s part of the nature of the game.”

Irving doubled down on the Boston-as-racist theme, saying, “I’m not the only one that can attest to this. The whole world knows it.”
Such a pleasant series, right? Maybe Shank's onto something here with the early burial...

Saturday, May 22, 2021


Shank leads off another Picked Up Pieces column about a dugout dustup:
Getting Dennis Eckersley’s take on the Tony La Russa flap, and other thoughts

Picked-up pieces while waiting for Fenway Park to be at full capacity next Saturday …

▪ Dennis Eckersley is the perfect baseball person to comment on Tony La Russa’s dustup with his own player in Minnesota this past week. It was a story replete with themes of old school vs. new, baseball’s “unwritten rules,” and social-media warheads bordering on ageism aimed at the 76-year-old Hall of Fame skipper.

Eck doesn’t necessarily agree with his former boss, but he thinks the barrage of criticism heaped on La Russa is rooted in the manager’s senior status.

“He’s getting killed,” said Eckersley. “I can’t help but think a lot of it is because he’s old. It’s the age we live in.”

Here’s the background: Leading, 15-4, in the top of the ninth inning of Monday’s game, White Sox manager La Russa gave the take sign to Yermin Mercedes as Mercedes prepared for a 3-and-0 pitch from position player Willians Astudillo, who’d been summoned to pitch for the Twins.

Mercedes, a 28-year-old rookie who’s batting .358, either missed the sign or ignored it, and swatted a home run. After the game, La Russa apologized to the Twins and called out his own player, saying Mercedes “made a mistake” and “there will be a consequence.”

Mercedes used the “I have to be me” defense and La Russa was buried from coast to coast, hearing complaints from players around baseball, even some White Sox (Lance Lynn and Tim Anderson).
I'm kind of surprised LaRussa's still around; of course, that might change any day now.

Thursday, May 20, 2021

The Dreaded Play-In Game

The NBA has a new way to irritate its fans:
The Celtics took care of business in the dreaded play-in game. Now? It’s Kyrie Irving and the Nets

This was like an Oscar nominee showing up at a casting call for a small part in a B-list film, then being told he or she would have to read for the part. And maybe not even get the job.

The dreaded play-in game.

Nobody wanted the Celtics season to come to this.

The good news is that the Celtics passed the audition. Jayson Tatum, who earlier in the day said, “We believe in ourselves, still,’’ exploded for 23 third-quarter points en route to a 50-point night and led the Celtics to a 118-100 victory over the Wizards to push Boston into a first-round, best-of-seven series with Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, James Harden, and the second-seeded Brooklyn Nets. The Celtics were swept by the Nets during the regular season, losing three games by an average of 17 points.
'Thank you, sir may I have another?'

Saturday, May 15, 2021

DHL Dan CXXXVI - Late Festivus

Shank says he's not too happy with the Boston Celtics, so he takes his concerns to Danny Ainge:
Airing some Celtics grievances to Danny Ainge, and other thoughts

Picked-up pieces while hoping Ed Davis can crack the case at Churchill Downs …

▪ I had an awkward conversation with Danny Ainge Friday morning. In an effort to represent what I consider a large segment of the Celtics fan base (good luck with that! - ed), I started our interview by telling Ainge that I hate the way his team plays. I can’t stand the way they come out flat, fall behind, rally to make it close, then ultimately capitulate.

I told him I don’t believe his players are doing what Brad Stevens asks them to do. Apologizing for my rudeness, I asked him if he felt we’d been too rough on the underachieving 2020-21 Celtics.

“I wish we competed out of the gate more,” the president of basketball operations acknowledged. “I wish our defensive efforts were more consistent. Absolutely. I understand all of those critiques, absolutely. So I think it’s a fair critique.”

What is his level of disappointment in this .500 team that will now have to participate in the “play-in” round just to get into the NBA playoffs?

The Payton Pritchard Column

I haven't been watching too much basketball this year; largely out of a reaction to the left-wing pro domestic terrorist hyping of the Black Lives Matter 'movement'(the organization, not the notion) where, true to form, Eric Hoffer is proven right once again. Anyways, the times I was watching them, especially earlier in the year, Pritchard was on fire with three point shooting and being a pain in the ass whenever possible. Here's Shank on that stuff:
Candid interviews with Celtics are sometimes shown on the video board during timeouts at TD Garden. At one recent game, players were naming celebrities they had been mistaken for in public. Most picked other NBA players. Some chose actors or musicians. Then the baby-faced rookie, Payton Pritchard, appeared on the screen. He was last.

“I don’t know if I’ve been mistaken for anybody,” the 6-foot-1-inch point guard said. “But when I walked into a gym sometimes, especially at Oregon, they would think that I was the manager.”

Some pro athletes would be bothered by such slights, or at least unwilling to reveal them. But Pritchard has never cared how others view his dreams. He is not here because of them.
It winds up being a pretty good story - check it out.

Bandwagon Dan Comes Alive!

The NFL schedule came out a few days ago. Shank once again rips off the Felger & Mazz show from Thursday and gives us this column:
We’ve known that this moment was coming. Now we know exactly when.

Tom Brady and the Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be in Foxborough Sunday night, Oct. 3, to play the Patriots on NBC’s “Sunday Night Football.”

Save-the-date cards are in the mail. Oct. 3 is circled on every New England calendar. Alerts are set on cellphones. Days off from work are being scheduled for Monday, Oct. 4. Game tickets are going for one million dollars. Steve Burton and Dan Roche are planning to live in a trailer on Patriot Place for the week leading up to the game, delivering live “Tom is Back” updates three times per hour.
You know the rest - more forced 'jokes', inane comparisons with other local sporting events, etc. The only things missing are 'Sons of Bill Belichick' and an Elvis / Larry Bird reference.

Monday, May 10, 2021

When Unlikables Collide

After a loss to a potential playoff rival, Shank throws a proverbial monkey wrench at the Boston Celtics:
These Celtics have emerged as one of the truly unlikable teams in Boston sports lore

Only the 2020-21 Celtics could take a nice idea like “Tommy Heinsohn Day” and turn it into “Rick Pitino Day” or “Sidney Wicks Day” with a disgraceful effort on national television in the most important game of the season.

In a game with vital playoff seeding at stake, Boston’s entitled AAU Warriors came out sleepwalking and allowed the hungry Miami Heat to score 79 first-half points Sunday afternoon. The Boston Celtics have been around since 1946 and had never allowed that many points in the first half at home. Boston lost, 130-124.

With 68 regular-season games in the books and four left (including Tuesday night at home again with Miami), these Celtics have emerged as one of the truly unlikable teams in Boston sports lore. And now it turns out that Jaylen Brown, probably their best player, needs season-ending wrist surgery. Yeesh.
I felt like blowing this column off as the usual pre-burial of a local pro sports team before their eventual short and early playoff demise, but he says something interesting, or at least notable:
The team has stars, but no leadership. Players push back when they get criticized and say they don’t listen to their critics. Former Celtic champion Kendrick Perkins says maybe these players should start listening to the critics. Because the criticism is legit.
I'm not too keen on this 'play-in' system for the playoffs, but we'll see how it all sorts out.

Thursday, May 06, 2021

On The Road Again?

Shank's wondering about the availability of the Boston Red Sox TV broadcasting crew (NESN) when they're on the road:
You watch the Red Sox on TV and hear the commentators, and it warms you knowing that Dave O’Brien, Jerry Remy, and Dennis Eckersley are ensconced in the broadcast booth at Fenway Park, describing what is unfolding on the great green lawn below. In the tradition of Curt Gowdy, Ned Martin, Ken Coleman, Dick Stockton, Sean McDonough, and Don Orsillo, they are your eyes and ears. They are your boots on the ground at Fenway.

Except during the COVID-19 era, when the Sox broadcasters have been bunkered in Watertown, watching monitors, trying to describe the action unfolding at Fenway or in Fort Myers, Baltimore, and Arlington, Texas.
Summary - it's awkward, the game still sucks with nearly empty stadiums, and they'll be doing road games from the Watertown studios for a while.

Remember - we read him so you won't have to!

Wednesday, May 05, 2021

The First 60 Point Game By A Member Of The Celtics

Jayson Tatum scored 60 points against the San Antonio Spurs last week, which also capped off a 32 point comeback. This amazing feat ties the Boston Celtics' record of sixty points, set by Shank's buddy, Larry Bird:
Unstoppable and unforgettable: Recalling Larry Bird’s 60-point night in 1985

It was March 12, 1985. Lakefront Arena on the campus of the University of New Orleans. The night Larry Bird scored 60 points in a single game for the Celtics.

Kevin McHale was there. Nine days earlier, he had scored 56 against the Pistons in a Sunday matinee at the old Boston Garden. When McHale went to the bench with a few ticks still left on the clock, Bird urged him to stay on the court. The record might not last long, Larry insisted.

“We had a lot of guys on that team who could get hot like that,” McHale said from his home in Arizona this week. “Max. Tiny. Robert. Larry. And when a guy got hot, we’d get him the ball. That’s what Larry did for me when I set the record, and we were all helping him that night in New Orleans.”
Interesting side note to the story - Bird only hit one three-point shot in that game.

Tuesday, May 04, 2021

Mystery Solved

I was trying to figure out why Shank tweeted out an ancient column about Ernie Adams, the Patriots' director of football research: That's because he's now the Patriots' former director of football research:
Longtime Patriots director of football research Ernie Adams announced his retirement from the organization in a brief statement Monday night. Here’s how the statement reads, via ESPN’s Mike Reiss on Twitter:

“The last 21 seasons with the New England Patriots have been extraordinary for me. I am fortunate to have been part of a team with Bill Belichick, outstanding colleagues, patient owners, and a lot of great players. It is time for me to stop working and join the many wonderful fans who have been here for this run.”

Adams’ first job in the NFL came in New England as an administrative assistant from 1975-78. A longtime colleague and friend of Belichick’s, he served in various roles under Belichick for the New York Giants and Cleveland Browns before heading back to the Patriots as Belichick’s football research director in 2000. Belichick announced on Saturday that the 2021 NFL Draft was Adams’ final one with the team, and allowed him to make the team’s seventh-round selection, Central Florida wide receiver Tre Nixon.

Known for his mysterious nature and football intelligence, Adams was described as a “mythical creature” by Patriots center David Andrews on Tuesday. Belichick heavily credited Adams with having a major role in the Patriots’ draft process over the years.

Saturday, May 01, 2021

DHL Dan CXXXV - Making An Obvious Point?

$10 says Shank picked this one up from Felger & Mazz's radio show yesterday:
Expect Bill Belichick to stubbornly stand by Cam Newton, and other thoughts

Picked-up pieces while shedding a tear and closing the book on Jimmy G …

▪ It took Bill Belichick less than a minute to kill the great buzz that accompanied his fortunate and meaningful selection of Alabama quarterback Mac Jones in the first round of Thursday night’s draft.

Before he was even asked a question, Belichick made it clear that “Cam’s our quarterback.”

So here we go. After 10 billion words about Garoppolo, Zach Wilson, Justin Fields, Trey Lance, Mac Jones, Mac Davis, Zac Efron, Teddy Bridgewater, Bridgewater State University, and Mrs. Fields Cookies, prepare yourselves for obtuse and obstinate repetitions of “Cam’s our quarterback” for the next six or eight months.

It will not matter if Jones arrives with the skill sets of Bart Starr, Joe Namath, and Tom Brady. It will not matter if Cam Newton takes the Patriots to a 1-3 start, throwing passes that die in the dirt or get run back for touchdowns by assorted Bills and Dolphins. It will not matter if Rodney Harrison goes on TV and again says that Newton can no longer play in the NFL.
Hold that thought for a minute...
One of the reporters tried, following up on Bill’s unsolicited declaration of love for Newton Thursday night:

Q. “Going back to your comments off the top, you said that ‘Cam’s our quarterback.’ What exactly does that mean?” (Wow. Talk about walking into one.)

A. “Just what I said.”

The battered, intrepid reporter came back with, “How long does that last for?”

“I don’t know,” said Belichick. “Somebody would have to play better than he does.”
Isn't there a contradiction with this last sentence and Shank trying to tell us Cam Newton would still be the starting quarterback if they went 1-3 in their first four games?

On This Day In History

Shank commemorates the 20 strikeout game by Roger Clemens 35 years ago:
It was 35 years ago, April 29, 1986, and the big story of the day/night was Celtics vs. Hawks at the old Boston Garden in the second round of the playoffs. Those Bird-Walton-Parish-McHale Celtics were en route to a 50-1 home record (including playoffs), qualifying as perhaps the greatest basketball team of all time.

The Celtics-Hawks playoff game started hours after the first round of the NFL Draft, in which the defending AFC champion Patriots selected SMU running back Reggie Dupard. New England’s selection of Dupard was not preceded by one million hours of useless sports radio commentary by fantasy geeks and wannabe GMs. Nobody had ever heard of Jimmy G.
That's because he wasn't born yet, asshole...
Boston’s “minor” sports story of April 29, 1986, figured to be the baseball game at Fenway Park, where the mediocre John McNamara Red Sox (81-81 in 1985) were playing the moribund Seattle Mariners on Yawkey Way before it was haunted. Social distancing was no issue at Fenway that night, as only 13,414 turned out for Sox-Mariners. Because of a conflict with the Celtics broadcast, the Sox game could not be found on AM radio.

While most of this newspaper’s sports staff focused on the Celtics and the draft, I was the Globe’s only reporter at Fenway that night. No photographer was assigned. Everybody was at the Garden. Globe baseball scribe Larry Whiteside had the night off, scored a ticket for the Celtics game, and — in the tradition of all great baseball writers — stopped by Fenway for a free meal on his way to North Station. Sides even stuck around to watch 23-year-old Roger Clemens pitch a couple of innings.