Sunday, December 31, 2023

DHL Dan CXCVI - Addition By Subtraction

Alternate headline - 'Chris Sale Traded Before Shank Runs Him Out Of Town':
End of Chris Sale Experience reason for Red Sox fans to pop cheap champagne

Picked up pieces while wondering if Taylor Swift is the Yoko Ono of the Chiefs . . .

In late September, Red Sox manager Alex Cora boldly named Chris Sale his Opening Day starter for 2024.

Guess not.

Craig Breslow traded Sale to Atlanta on Saturday for second base prospect Vaughn Grissom. Boston reportedly sent $17 million to Atlanta, which is on the hook for the remaining $10.5 million of the final year of Sale’s disastrous five-year contract.

Happy New Year, Sox fans. Boston’s Chris Sale Experience is officially over.

Monday, December 25, 2023

DHL Dan CXCV - (Un)Forgettable

That's the charitable way to describe this season's New England Patriots:
A legendary day is looming at the end of a forgettable Patriots season, and other thoughts

Picked up pieces while listening to Mitch Miller Christmas carols . . .

⋅ Sorry for looking ahead, but Sunday, Jan. 7, is shaping up as one of the most fascinating days in New England sports history.

The Patriots 2023 regular-season finale will be at Gillette against the Jets. There’s a strong possibility this will be the final day in the 24-year head coaching career of Bill Belichick in New England. It could also be the day the Patriots have a chance to secure the No. 1 overall pick in the 2024 draft . . . by losing to the Jets!

That’s right, the Jets. The Jets (5-9) are one of three sorry teams the 3-11 Pats actually beat this season, and they have flat-out quit, as evidenced by their 30-0 skunking in Miami last weekend. Bill hates the Jets more than I hate mushrooms. Could he allow himself to nudge this game into the loss column?

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

The Bitter End

That's what Shank's calling the likely last month Bill Belichick remains as the head coach of the New England Patriots:
The ending is bitter, but does it have to be like this for Bill Belichick?

There’s not a lot of dignity in these Final Days of the Belichick era.

Reporters joust hourly to declare that Bob Kraft has made his decision on Bill . . . or that Bob is still deciding. An NFL Network insider Sunday reported that the final four games of this lost season will serve as a referendum on the Kill Bill question. That seems ridiculous, but if true, Belichick seems certain to continue his quest of chasing Don Shula’s wins record (which is now feeling like the Yaz Watch) someplace other than Foxborough.

The world champion Kansas City Chiefs beat the once-great Pats, 27-17, Sunday. The moribund Patriots were competitive for a half, but ultimately fell victim to the usual hail of penalties, turnovers, and failure to convert on third down (2-12) against a superior team. New England dropped to 3-11 with three to play. The Patriots remain on course to pick second in the 2024 NFL Draft.

Saturday, December 16, 2023

DHL Dan CXCIV - No Throttle

Shank voices his displeasure with his boss Red Sox ownership saying one thing and doing, well, nothing:
So far, the Red Sox’ promised ‘full throttle’ offseason hasn’t lifted off, and other thoughts

Picked-up pieces while wondering how many games the Patriots would have won with Joe Flacco at quarterback all season . . .

▪ There are times when it feels like the Red Sox are just baiting us.

This is one of those times.

Team chairman Tom Werner promised “full throttle” for this offseason.

Pathetic. Thus far, the Sox have not lifted off the launch pad. While the Dodgers and Yankees behave like teams intent on spending to win championships (Shohei Ohtani, Juan Soto anyone?), the once-proud Red Sox continue to dumpster dive and insult their fans with feeble efforts to get involved for high-priced talent. The Red Sox are Kings of Interest, always making you think they are competing for top talent when they are not.
Can't say I share that sentiment, not since Mookie Betts left the team.

Monday, December 11, 2023

The Army-Navy Game

It looks like Shank took in the game live on Saturday:
New England gets a classic in its first shot hosting a classic: There’s a reason Army-Navy is America’s Game

FOXBOROUGH — Army’s 17-11 victory over Navy on Saturday was played in the home of the Patriots.


It was a gem. A furious late Navy drive had the Midshipmen on Army’s 2-yard line with 11 seconds to play, but Army’s rock-ribbed front held when Navy quarterback Tai Lavatai tried to pile drive into the end zone on fourth-and-goal. Lavatai was short by inches, Army took over on downs with three seconds left, and the field was soon flooded with grey-coated Cadets.

You can have Auburn-Alabama and/or Ohio State-Michigan. Or you can enjoy some “Boola Boola” and go with Harvard-Yale — nabobs call that one The Game. If you’re a New England old-timer, you may have once been fond of Boston College-Holy Cross.

No thanks to all that, sir. Sign me up for Army-Navy every time. America’s Game.

Leather helmets, anyone?


I think there might be a problem with one part of this headline:
Bill Belichick is clearly trying to win, so what if he is still coach of the Patriots next season?

It was like the good old days in Pittsburgh Thursday. Bill Belichick pantsed Mike Tomlin (the two longest-tenured NFL coaches) and the 3-10 Patriots snapped a five-game losing streak with a 21-18 win over the 7-6 Steelers. Bailey Zappe threw three first-half TD passes while frustrated Steelers fans showered their team with mock cheers and begged Tomlin to insert his third-string quarterback.

“Had a lot of guys really come through in a game that we needed,” Belichick said after the win. “We had our moments . . . obviously very good defense . . . We played competitively against them.”

No tanking in this one. The moribund Pats beat a team that’s trying to make the playoffs.

All of which got me to thinking . . . what if Belichick is still head coach of the Patriots next season?
First off, if you have three wins at this point in the season, it's not entirely clear you're trying to win. Second - Shank might have a point with that last sentence. What if the Patriots go on a winning run and Robert Kraft gets cold feet about firing Belichick? Are there things in Belichick's contract which would make firing him a problem? We'll find out next month.

Monday, December 04, 2023

DHL Dan CXCIII - The Bill Belichick Interview

Shank games out a potential (likely?) sceanario at the end of the season for the New England Patriots:
Imagine if you will a Bill Belichick job interview, and other thoughts

Picked-up pieces while predicting a Patriots win over the Chargers Sunday …

▪ The notion of Bill Belichick coaching another team next season has taken on great steam in recent weeks. After last weekend’s awful loss in the Meadowlands, when Bill was asked about a report that he’s already made a decision regarding his next destination, the coach scoffed and said, “Yeah, that’s ridiculous.”

When a followup question was asked about whether Bill could envision himself coaching anywhere else, the Hoodie said, “Just trying to do the best job I can right now. Obviously, I need to do better.”

Just for fun, let’s fast-forward to Black Monday, Jan. 8, when Bob Kraft announces an “amicable parting of the ways” between the Patriots and their head coach of 24 years. Now imagine Bill going around the country for a series of job interviews with owners of various Panthers, Chargers, Titans, and Commanders.
Whether or not an actual Bill Belichick interview went down in this manner, it'd be interesting to be a fly on the wall in one of them.

Monday, November 27, 2023

Are The Tanks Rolling In?

After yesterday's brutal loss to the New York Giants, Shank's starting to wonder whether this is bad luck or New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick tanking the team:
Are the Patriots tanking? Bill Belichick is wired to win, but this hideous loss makes us wonder




When is the last time a Patriots field goal kicker missed a 35-yard chip shot that would have sent a game into overtime?

It happened Sunday in the Meadowlands when rookie Chad Ryland hooked a 3-foot putt with three seconds remaining in a 10-7 loss to the Giants (a game that should have been flexed to April).

Wow. We haven’t seen a muffed kick like this since Baltimore’s Billy Cundiff’s 32-yard bunny sailed wide left in the 2011 AFC Championship game, delivering the once-great Patriots to yet another Super Bowl.

Was Ryland under orders to miss? Any chance the Pats, now 2-9, did not want to win to stay in position for a top-three pick in the 2024 NFL Draft?

DHL Dan CXCII - Talking To The Youk

Shank catches up with the former Red Sox player:
In a difficult time, Kevin Youkilis speaks out for unity and positivity, and other thoughts

Picked-up pieces while wondering if we’re going to see Tim Tebow or Michael Bishop playing quarterback for the Patriots Sunday …

▪ Kevin Youkilis gave the Red Sox 8½ quality seasons. He made three All-Star teams, won a Gold Glove and two World Series, and finished in the top six in MVP voting twice — ranking third in 2008 when he hit .312 with 29 homers and 115 RBIs. He is in the Red Sox Hall of Fame, owns a brewery in California, is married to Tom Brady’s sister, has three children, and spends summertime with Dave O’Brien in the NESN booth.

Oh, and he also is Jewish, which is unusual for a big league baseball player. Just more than 200 of the 23,115 men who have worn big league uniforms are/were Jewish. Youkilis never made much of it when he was playing here, and a lot of us thought he was Greek because “Moneyball” dubbed him “the Greek God of Walks.”

Monday, November 20, 2023

It's Quiz Time!

Shank does a columnin the tradition of 'dumping out the sports drawer' and he came up with an interesting local sports quiz:
If I used these old Boston sports references, would you know what I mean?

I can’t prove it, but think it all started in the 1980s when Billy Crystal (remember him?) was doing stand-up and told a joke about his young daughter asking him, “Daddy, did you know Paul McCartney was in a band before Wings?”

This is the challenge for the aging newspaper columnist.

Wait. Did I say “newspaper”?

I mean, how can we assume anyone on our digital platform knows what a newspaper is? Many of them have never handled one. It breaks my heart today when I walk into local television newsrooms and there is no newspaper to be found.


Try this: Here are 17 notes, quotes, names, sites, and numbers unique to the 20th century Boston sports experience. How many require an explanation?

1. “Six, two, and even.”

2. Ben Dreith.

3. “Too late!”

4. “We’ll win more than we lose.”

5. Rene Rancourt.

6. 13,909.

7. “Mercy.”

8. .406.

9. “Curly-haired boyfriend.”

10. Sherm Feller.

11. McFilthy and McNasty.

12. Margo Adams.

13. The Iron Horse.

14. The Can’s Film Festival.

15. The Victory Tour.

16. “Pumped and jacked.”

17. Eliot Lounge.


DHL Dan CXCI - To Tank Or Not To Tank?

There's been plenty of talk about whether the New England Patriots should start tanking games in order to get a higher draft pick, but Shank says that's not how head coach Bill Belichick rolls:
It’s not in Bill Belichick’s interest to tank this season, and other thoughts

Picked-up pieces while wondering if Bob Kraft brought the Costanza Gore-Tex coat back from Germany …

▪ Let’s talk tanking, shall we? It’s bye week for the 2-8 Patriots, and if the 2024 NFL Draft were held today, they would have the No. 3 overall pick, trailing only the 1-8 Panthers and the 2-8 Giants.

It looks as if the Patriots need another quarterback, and top prospects include Southern Cal’s Caleb Williams, North Carolina’s Drake Maye, Washington’s Michael Penix, Oregon’s Bo Nix, and Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy.

Would Bill Belichick tank to secure any of these guys?


Forget about the notion of Belichick playing to lose (although we did wonder when there was nobody back to receive that punt in Germany last weekend). It is antithetical to everything Bill believes. He coaches to win the game.

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

A Question You Don't Expect From Shank

The New England Patriots' record currently stands at 2-8. For the past quarter century Shank would've been blowtorching this team from every angle - players, coach, ownership, even the concession stands; all of it was on the table and more.

Is this Shank version 2.0 or something?
Aren’t we being a little too rough on Mac Jones around here?

Forgive me for not piling on this time, but I kind of feel sorry for Mac Jones.


Why the vitriol? Why the exaggeration? Why the demonization of this 25-year-old quarterback?

It’s not as though Mac invented a cryptocurrency scheme and stole everybody’s money. He hasn’t said that New England foliage is overrated, or that he hates Dunkin’ Donuts. He hasn’t complained about his contract, doesn’t appear to be juicing, and never tried to embarrass Dennis Eckersley in front of his teammates.

He hasn’t stomped on the Pat Patriot logo or burned sage around the Gillette Stadium sideline.

He hasn’t even complained about the Green Line. Not once.

Jones seems to be doing the best he can. And it hasn’t been great of late. It’s been pretty terrible. A headline Monday read, “Mac Jones’s performance was the worst in Patriots history.” On, the headline was “Mac Jones’s performance was the worst I have seen by a Patriots quarterback.”
Read on for a bit of revisionist history, which tends to reveal what Shank's doing here (and - also after Shank listening to Felger & Mazz say the same thing for the better part of four hours yesterday):
That’s the kind of coaching malpractice that has turned Jones into a puddle in his third pro season after being the 15th overall pick of the 2021 draft. The nadir came Sunday when Jones — clearly afraid to throw the ball in the red zone after getting taken to the woodshed by offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien — missed a wide-open Mike Gesicki in the end zone with a short, soft toss that landed in the arms of Colts defensive back Julian Blackmon.
'Coaching malpractice' will translate into 'it was Belichick's fault' in the upcoming months.

Saturday, November 11, 2023

DHL Dan CXC - Checking In With Marv Levy

Shank talks to the legendary Buffalo Bills coach and naturally compares his last coaching days to Bill Belichick's:
Marv Levy can relate to Bill Belichick’s situation, and other thoughts

Picked-up pieces while wondering if the player-control, payroll-flexibility Red Sox will finally make a splash to show fans they are back in the business of winning …

▪ Marv Levy knows how Bill Belichick feels. Buffalo’s Hall of Fame coach worked for a veteran loyal owner (Ralph Wilson), took the Bills to four straight Super Bowls, stayed on the sideline until he was 72, then stepped down after going 6-10 in 1997.

Today Levy is 98, sharper than anybody running for president, and wistful about his final days as an NFL head coach.

“After the good run we’d had, we’d fallen back a bit and I just felt it was time,” Levy said from his Chicago home this past week. “Ralph tried to talk me out of it. He didn’t want me to retire.

“But after going to those four Super Bowls, we began to regress. We were bouncing back, but I just felt the time had come to go on vacation in Palm Springs and stuff like that. A year or two later, I regretted it and wanted to come back.”

Belichick and his Patriots are playing the Colts in Germany Sunday. A 3,600-mile trip across the ocean is a good thing for New England’s 71-year-old coach at this hour. The Patriots are 2-7 and some fans are leaning on Bob Kraft to make a coaching change. The unthinkable has suddenly become a real possibility.
And Shank's already got that column half written, doesn't he?

Perfect Record

Here's Shank's semi-annual local sports story:
Watertown and coach Eileen Donahue have basically perfected the sport of field hockey

There is perfection.

And then there is Watertown field hockey. Which is something more.

Eileen Donahue’s Raiders play Dennis-Yarmouth in a Division 3 quarterfinal game at aptly named Victory Field Saturday at 11 a.m.

Watertown is seeking a third straight state title. And things look pretty good for the Raiders. They are 19-0 and have scored 128 goals while allowing zero.

That’s right. Folks around the team estimate that Watertown goalie Ava Husson has stopped only about 10 shots this season. Husson could study for the SATs while guarding the net. The ball is almost never down at her end of the field.

Tuesday, November 07, 2023

Talk Talk

Shank has an interesting take on new Red Sox general manager Craig Breslow's opening press conference:
New Red Sox chief baseball officer Craig Breslow sure can talk a good game

“It is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.”

— Winston Churchill describing Russia

Craig Breslow, the Red Sox’ new chief baseball officer, is in Arizona this week at the General Managers Meetings. This will be his first chance for face-to-face meetings with his counterparts from other big league teams. Hope the Sox don’t need to provide an interpreter (they have one for Masataka Yoshida, why not Breslow?). Breslow’s language can be a little … lofty.

Perhaps you were busy working or having an early lunch when the Sox introduced Breslow at Fenway Park last week.

His kickoff press conference was a doozy. The guy is … wicked smaaaart. Good Will Hunting Smart. Oppenheimer Smart. He had me scratching my head and reaching for a thesaurus. There were moments that reminded me of when the Scarecrow gets his diploma in “The Wizard of Oz,” and instantly says, “The sum of the square roots of any two sides of an isosceles triangle is equal to the square root of the remaining side.”

When Breslow was asked about maybe hiring a general manager/lieutenant, he answered, “I think over time, the right profile, the right thought partner will avail itself.”

Wow. Thought partner? Sounds like Gwyneth Paltrow talking about her marital breakup as “conscious uncoupling” instead of plain old “divorced.”

Breslow’s cerebral speaking style had me longing for olden days of straight-talking sports — back when an assistant GM was a back-slappin’ drinking buddy rather than a “thought partner.”
I hear shit like that and think 'That's nice- you graduated from Buzzword College!' Color me skeptical.

Sunday, November 05, 2023

DHL Dan CLXXXIX - Leaving The Stage

In this week's version of the Picked Up Pieces column, Shank pretends to feel sorry for New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, in the midst of a losing season:
It’s getting tough to watch Bill Belichick go through this, and other thoughts

Picked-up pieces while wondering if Bob Kraft plans to trade Bill Belichick to the Commanders at halftime Sunday …

▪ Red Auerbach had it right. He retired from the bench after winning his eighth straight championship, his ninth in 10 years, in 1966. Red was 48 years old. He settled into a better life as a cigar-smoking, deal-making, opponent-baiting general manager, building two more Celtics dynasties on the way out the door. His legacy has never been challenged.

Belichick? Not so much. A long time ago, he said he didn’t want to end up like Buffalo’s Marv Levy, coaching into his 70s. Today Belichick is 71 years old, has the worst team in the AFC, and is 4-11 in his last 15 games — 27-32 since Tom Brady left.

And he’s taking heat from every corner of Patriot Nation.

Has Belichick simply stayed too long? Has the NFL game passed him by? Should Bill have walked away when Brady went to Tampa four years ago?

The death of Bobby Knight Wednesday brought some of this to mind. It got me to thinking about Knight’s final days at Indiana.
I was thinking this column would be another semi-hatchet job by one of the Boston Globe's finest butchers, but the recent passing of The General, unfortunately, brings another interesting parallel to the question - how long is too long to stick around?

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Lame World Series?

That's what Shank thinks, at least with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Texas Rangers in this World Series:
This World Series threatens to take apathy toward baseball to an even lower level

If a World Series falls in the Arizona desert … does it make a sound?

I love October baseball. I love the World Series. In October of 1962, I was the kid speeding home from school on my red Rollfast to catch the early innings of Yankees vs. Giants on our black-and-white Zenith. That Fall Classic featured Mickey Mantle vs. Willie Mays, Whitey Ford vs. Willie McCovey, Juan Marichal vs. Yogi Berra. The final out of a 1-0, Game 7 Yankee win was immortalized in a “Peanuts” cartoon when Charles Schulz had Charlie Brown asking, “Why couldn’t McCovey have hit the ball just three feet higher?”

I can tell you the winners and losers of every World Series from 2022 going back to 1953. Sometimes when jogging, I do this in my head as a kind of weird memory exercise. I have a couple of friends (Bob Ryan is one), who can recite every World Series matchup going back to the first one in 1903 when the Boston Americans beat the Pittsburgh Pirates without the help of a single analytics employee.

There’s nothing original about “death of baseball” sports columns. I wrote one from Houston last year, and that was a pretty good Series. Baseball’s October narrative is no longer followed by most American sports fans. In 2023, football is king. Television is king. Baseball is a quaint pastime from ancient days of transistor radios and a weekly Sporting News in the mailbox.

But the 2023 World Series threatens to take MLB apathy to an even lower level because the two contestants have almost zero star power and play in markets with little hardball tradition.
Also - add in the fact that the first three games were competing with various other sports happening at the same time - Celtics, Bruins, and of course the NFL last night, which is what I was watching instead of last night's Game 3. With Game 4 tonight you won't see these other teams / games crowding out this game, but Shank's not optimistic about this World Series in its entirety setting the world on fire.

Sunday, October 29, 2023

DHL Dan CLXXXVIII - Fingerprints

The Boston Red Sox finally hired a general manager (or whatever his title's going to be) who was by my count the 12th pick in that draft:
Theo Epstein’s fingerprints are all over the Craig Breslow hire, and other thoughts

Picked-up pieces while wondering how Craig Breslow feels about his former Yale teammate Ron DeSantis …

▪ Perhaps the best news about Breslow is that Theo Epstein’s fingerprints are all over this important Red Sox hire.

Theo is the one who first brought Breslow to the Red Sox in 2006. Breslow pitched in 88 games at Pawtucket over two seasons and got into 13 with the Sox before Epstein let him go on waivers during spring training 2008. Breslow returned in 2012 and was part of the 2013 World Series winners.

While Breslow continued his 12-year big league career, Theo moved on to Chicago, enhancing his Hall of Fame résumé by winning another curse-busting World Series with the Cubs in 2016. All the while, Theo never forgot about his fellow Yale prodigy.
Funny how Shank has newfound respect for Theo Epstein; that was definitely not the case back in 2005, AKA the infamous 'Dirty Laundry' column, the original link which is now 404'd on the original website. That story's conveniently buried like a turncoat mobster associate in the end zone of Giants Stadium.

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Carry That Weight

Shank talks to Celtics head basketball guy Brad Stevens and the expectations for the upcoming season:
Brad Stevens is fine with the pressure of being a favorite: ‘The weight of expectations is a good thing’

Brad Stevens is 47 now and the Celtics are his team, the way they were Red Auerbach’s team in the golden days, and the way they were Danny Ainge’s team the last time they won an NBA championship in 2008.

Since the Celtics lost Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals May 29, Stevens has traded Marcus Smart, Robert Williams III, and Malcolm Brogdon, and said goodbye to Grant Williams while acquiring 7-foot-3-inch Kristaps Porzingis and All-Star Jrue Holiday to join veteran superstars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.

Those big, bold moves — coupled with the sagging fortunes of New England’s once-vaunted Patriots and Red Sox — have pushed Green Team expectations through the banner-festooned Garden roof on the eve of this new NBA season.

What do you say, Brad? Can you live with the championship-or-failure mentality that blankets the region at this critical hour?

“I know what’s coming,” says the ever-flatline president of Celtic basketball operations. “The weight of expectations is a good thing. The responsibility of putting on a Celtic uniform is part of it here. It’s something we’re more excited about than not. I’d rather people think we’re really good heading into a season. That means we’ve got some good things going.”
So now that massive expectations are out there, how many losses will it take before Shank starts ragging on the team?

Monday, October 23, 2023

The Picks Are In

The Boston Globe sportswriters make their predictions for the upcoming Boston Celtics' season. While there's additional detail about regular season records and each playoff series, Shank says Celtics win in seven over the Lakers. Gary Washburn and Chad finn also say the Celtics will win it all but Adam Himmelsbach says they lose to the Denver Nuggets in six games. It should be an interesting season.

Palace Intrigue

It was reported yesterday that New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick signed a new contract or a contract extension this past offseason. Shank smells a rat:
A reported new contract for Bill Belichick raises questions: Who planted it, and why was it leaked now?

Hours before the Patriots beat the Bills in a 29-25, last-minute thriller at Gillette Stadium, Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reported that (according to “sources”), New England’s ownership signed Bill Belichick to a “lucrative multi-year new contract’' during the offseason.

Say what?

Media folks and fans never know anything about Belichick’s contract status. Within the walls of Fort Foxborough, Bill’s deal is guarded like the nuclear codes. A gameday thunderclap about his new contract predictably triggered rampant speculation regarding the timing and motivation of this news.

Which camp dropped the dime? Belichick’s or Bob Kraft’s?

At first glance, this news bomb seemed to be a Belichick plant. Why would ownership want this out there in the storm of a 1-5 start with Bill taking fire from every corner of the NFL universe?
More at the link and it's interesting reading of you're into contract stuff like this one.

DHL Dan CLXXXVII - Lost Season?

Before yesterday's Patriots win over the Buffalo Bills, Shank was throwing dirt on the 2023 New England Patriots:
The Patriots are on to 2024, with Bill Belichick the Lion in Winter, and other thoughts

Picked-up pieces while returning a call from the Red Sox to inform them I have no interest in replacing Chaim Bloom …

“We’re on to Buffalo.”

“We’re on to Cincinnati.”

Actually, as we sit here waiting for Game 7 of the 2023 Patriots season, “We’re on to 2024.”

Just a month and a half into the ‘23 NFL docket, the Patriots are already playing for next year. They have reached a critical mass.

Who would have thought it would ever come to this? After two decades of mocking assorted Jets, Bills, and Dolphins, our once-proud New England Patriots have become the Tomato Cans. While Detroit sits atop the NFC with a 5-1 record, here in New England we have become the Lions.
While the likelihood of a losing season's there, the 1995 Patriots started 1-5 as well and wound up 6-10. The slate of remaining opponents leaves some reason for optimism, emphasis on some.

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Radioactive Job

Shank has some fun with the Red Sox' search for a new general manager:
The Red Sox seem to be hearing, ‘No thanks,’ from a lot of prospective candidates

According to well-sourced, hard-working baseball scribes, Mike Hazen (D-Backs), Amiel Sawdaye (D-Backs), Brandon Gomes (Dodgers), Sam Fuld (Phillies), Derek Falvey (Twins), Michael Hill (Marlins), Jon Daniels (Rays, Rangers), Raquel Ferreira (Red Sox), and James Click (Blue Jays, Astros) are among those not interested in becoming the next head of baseball operations for the Boston Red Sox.

It makes one think that maybe this job’s not as great as the Sox think it is.

In this spirit, I’ve done a little recon of my own and discovered things are actually worse than they appear.

It turns out that the list of those not interested in replacing Chaim Bloom is quite a bit longer.

Representative George Santos also said no to the Sox. As did Matt Patricia, Mike Lindell, Ime Udoka, Adam Gase, J.T. Watkins, Jimmy “Hotfingers” McNally, Keyser Soze, Sam Bankman-Fried, Ed Davis, Judge Richard Berman, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, plus Peter Gammons.
Read on for more snark & wiseassery from someone who's clearly enjoying this.

Saturday, October 14, 2023

DHL Dan CLXXXVI - Shank Wants Answers

With the 2023 New England Patriots off to a truly horrible start this season, Shank finally piles on the team and especially owner Robert Kraft (of course):
It would be nice if Patriots fans could hear from Bob Kraft, and other thoughts

Picked-up pieces while wondering if the Patriots will resort to “Barbie Night” at Gillette before this season is over …

▪ It’s time we heard from Bob Kraft regarding the sad state of the Patriots. Is Bill Belichick Patriot King for Life?

There’s rampant speculation regarding Belichick’s status in Foxborough. Same with quarterback Mac Jones.

What about the owner? How much of this is his fault? Could he have stepped in and kept Tom Brady? Can he abandon Foxborough’s “value first” philosophy and spend more on player payroll? Kraft apologized to fans at the end of last season and pledged that things would improve. So where is he now?
Shank conveniently omits recent statements such as this one in order to attempt to make Robert Kraft look like Mr. Magoo, but that would defeat the premise of his column.

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

The Priesthood

Here's an interesting column by Shank:
The Celtics draft pick who chose the priesthood over the NBA

WORCESTER — Earle Markey was Holy Cross’s basketball captain after Bob Cousy, before Tommy Heinsohn. He was a 1,000-point-scoring guard and an honorable mention Associated Press All-American. In his final game with the Crusaders, he battled future NBA legend Bob Pettit, scoring 16 points in an 81-73 Elite Eight loss in the NCAA Tournament.

A few weeks after that game, Markey was selected by Celtics general manager/coach Red Auerbach in the fourth round of the 1953 NBA draft.

But he never gave pro ball a shot.

Instead, Markey became a Jesuit priest.

“I didn’t have knowledge of whether Earle wanted to just save the team or save the world,” Cousy said this week from his Worcester home. “But he was clearly impacted by the Jesuit experience at Holy Cross.”

Sunday, October 08, 2023

DHL Dan CLXXXV - The Next Red Sox GM

Shank's gonna get a lot of columns out of this situation, isn't he?
This Red Sox job comes with some curious conditions, and other thoughts

Picked-up pieces while thinking that this might not be the best time for the Red Sox to be raising ticket prices …

Given the confusion, indecision, and inverted manner in which the Red Sox’ search for a new chief baseball officer is unfolding, here’s a clip-and-save “help wanted ad” detailing what is required to land the job, and what is expected of the new CBO.




General requirements and duties:

Highly motivated candidate with strong inerpersonal skills, collaborative team skills, and ability to deal with ambiguity.

Candidate will report to team’s principal owner, team chairman, and team president/CEO. Candidate will be expected to provide public explanation for team decisions.
Let's cut to the chase:

Question: Exactly what is this new baseball boss supposed to do now that the last-place Sox seem to have everything set?

“If you want to run a baseball organization, this is where you want to be,” said Kennedy. “You want to be in Boston. Why? Because it matters here more than anywhere else. So if you’re not up for that challenge, thanks but no thanks.”

Wow. Everybody’s already in place. You don’t get to spend like the Sox spent in the old days. You have a gaggle of potential second-guessers already in place. But you will take all the blame while ownership is busy broadening the Fenway Sports Group portfolio.

Who wouldn’t want to come here?

Shank's Golden Anniversary

I suppose 'golden' is a relative term:
Unpacking 50 years worth of memories from covering the sports scene

Boston sports.

So many stories. Sometimes all at once.

The Globe keeps track of stories you like to read. There’s a “most read on” feature on our digital site. On Sunday and Monday, there were times when nine of the 10 most-read Globe articles were sports-related.

Wednesday, Oct. 4, marks the 50th anniversary of my first Boston Globe byline. It was a feature filed from Worcester (not sure how — dictation? US Mail? carrier pigeon?) in which I wrote about a Holy Cross receiver who was prepping for a game at Dartmouth. My little HC football story was not one of the 10 “most read” that day, but it was a big moment for a 20-year-old college junior who grew up reading Ray Fitzgerald, Clif Keane, Bud Collins, and Will McDonough.

Everything is quantifiable in 2023, and with this golden anniversary approaching, I reached out to the Globe library to see if they could tell me how many bylines followed that first one. Jerry in our library replied almost immediately and reported there have been 9,197 Shaughnessy stories since ‘73. That’s a lot of tomato cans.

Tuesday, October 03, 2023

The Tim Wakefield Column

Red Sox great Tim Wakefield passed away over the weekend. Shank delivers his eulogy:
Always more than a baseball player, Tim Wakefield was a hero, on and off the field, for the Red Sox

Tim Wakefield died Sunday morning.

It is at once shocking and impossibly sad. Just a few days ago, it seems, we were watching Wakefield’s friendly face on NESN, promoting the annual Jimmy Fund telethon. Always the Jimmy Fund with Wake. Then came the shocking news — released against his wishes — that the former Red Sox pitcher was battling brain cancer.

He died at the age of 57.

And so Oct. 1, 2023, goes down as one of the saddest days in the 123-year history of Boston’s American League baseball franchise.

Wakefield, a knuckleballer, won 186 regular-season games in parts of 17 seasons with the Red Sox. Overall, he won 200 in the big leagues. He was a crucial part of the 2004 Red Sox, winning 12 regular-season games and another one against the Yankees in the ALCS. His willingness to step forward and take the ball in the 19-8 Game 3 slaughter was the selfless moment that enabled the Sox to forge their biblical comeback against the Bronx Bombers.

Saturday, September 30, 2023

DHL Dan CLXXXIV - An Ode To Terry Francona

Take it away, Shank:
Terry Francona gets to leave baseball on his own terms, and other thoughts

Picked-up pieces while waiting for Patriots-Cowboys . . .

▪ Terry “Tito” Francona managed the Red Sox for eight seasons, averaged 93 wins, made it to the playoffs five times, and won two World Series. A future Hall of Famer, he is the greatest manager in Boston baseball history, and Sunday is the last day of his 36th and final major league campaign.

Raised in big league clubhouses — son of the original Tito, who played 15 seasons (.363 in 1959) — Francona is retiring after 11 years in the Cleveland dugout. The 64-year-old skipper has endured more than 40 surgeries throughout his career, and faces more this winter.

“I’ve taken pride in doing what I think is right, and I think this is right,” Francona said. “I don’t have the energy to do the job the way I want to do it. Rather than hang around for the wrong reasons, I’d rather just go out on my own terms. Not many people get to do that.”
Solid column by Shank.

Thursday, September 28, 2023

Lives Of The Rich And Famous

It's Robin Leach, filling in for the apparently vacationing Shank:
With Travis Kelce and Taylor Swift, the stars seem to be aligning again

Travis Kelce and Taylor Swift.

Imagine the small talk on their first date.

Taylor: “Travis. You’re so big and strong. Tell me, what it’s like to play in a Super Bowl?”

Travis: “There’s nothing like it, Taylor. Millions of people watching all around the world. Tremendous pressure. Let me tell you, when you come home to Kansas City and hold up that Lombardi Trophy for your fans at the parade … I mean, you’ve never heard such cheering.”

Taylor: “Yes, I have.”

This conversation, or something just like it, actually took place between Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe when they honeymooned in Japan in 1954. Marilyn made a side trip to entertain US troops in Korea, performing 10 shows in four days before more than 100,000 American soldiers.
Gag me with a spoon, and put thius crap on Page Six or something.

The rest of the column does recover from that insipid exchange, so check it out if you're so inclined.

Monday, September 25, 2023

Telegraphing Your Punch

Longtime readers of this site are well aware of Shank's antipathy towards the New England Patriots, in particular with coach Bill Belichick and owner Robert Kraft. Do you think Shank wanted to take a monster shit on all of them if they lost yesterday's game to the New York Jets? Wonder no more:
The Patriots should be thankful they can count on one thing — beating the Jets

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The walls were closing in.

Bill Belichick was 0-2 for the first time in 22 years. A third loss would have ended all playoff hope, and put Bill at 0-3 for the first time since 2000, when he started 0-4 and finished 5-11.

“In Bill We Trust” was no longer rolling off the tongues of Patriot fans. New England’s 71-year-old coach was taking sports talk fire from morning drive through dinner hour with Felger and Mazz.

A few card-carrying Fellowship of the Miserables believed we might be watching the end of Bill. Some foolishly envisioned Bob Kraft relieving Bill of his command, like when President Harry Truman fired General Douglas MacArthur in 1951. Was Belichick going to be forced out in Nixonian fashion, flashing one last victory sign, then stepping into a helicopter on the South Lawn of Gillette? A Woody Hayes flameout, perhaps? Something akin to Colonel Nathan Jessup having his rights read to him by Kevin Bacon?
Maybe next time, Shank!

DHL Dan CLXXXIII - A Must Win Game

In the runup to yesterday's game between the Patriots and Jets, Shank states the obvious:
Yes, Week 3 is a genuine must-win game for the Patriots, and other thoughts

PIcked-up pieces en route to Exit 16W, somewhere in the swamps of Jersey …

▪ It’s hard to believe, but here we are: It’s Week 3 of the NFL season and Bill Belichick’s once-mighty Patriots face a must-win game against the hated New York Jets.

Week 3. How did it ever come to this?

The bad news is that the Patriots are 0-2 for the first time since 2001 and have yet to hold a lead for a single minute. They have turned the ball over and fallen behind (16-0, then 10-0) against their first two opponents, both at Gillette Stadium. They have played good defense and put themselves in position to win games, but failed at the finish. Third-year quarterback Mac Jones has run a popgun offense and failed to rally the Patriots for game-winning or game-tying touchdowns in the final minutes.

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Cellar Dwellers

As the 2023 Boston Red Sox wind down their season, Shank pretends to lament their potential last place finish in the American League East:
A sinking feeling that the Red Sox could finish in the basement again

“The last-place Red Sox.”

Rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it? Like “the inimitable Bill Lee.” Or “the ubiquitous David Ortiz.”

Maybe NESN can come up with a new series, featuring lowlights of the 2020, 2022, and 2023 last-place Sox seasons. They could make it an homage to Bob Dylan and The Band and call it “The Basement Tapes.”

The last-place Sox are in Texas this week, playing out the string of another throwaway season. Hardly anyone in Boston is watching.

I pay attention. The Sox and once-vaunted New York Yankees are in a steel-cage match to see who will finish last in the American League East. It is Bizarro World. The standings that we used to know have been turned upside-down.

Monday, September 18, 2023

The Not So Optimistic Column

Funny how a game can change Shank's outlook, isn't it?
This one had the makings of a Strange finish, but instead we’re left to wonder what to make of these Patriots


No fun.

No fun at all.

The Patriots lost to the Dolphins, 24-17, Sunday night at Gillette Stadium, a loss especially frustrating because we almost saw a dramatic comeback.

Bob Kraft’s new 22-story lighthouse is not exactly a good luck charm. The Patriots are 0-2 All Along The Watchtower. A Bill Belichick team is 0-2 for the first time in 22 years. Like the moribund Red Sox, the Patriots have secured sole possession of last place in their division.

“Not too much to say about this one,” said Belichick. “Tough loss.”

This one had the makings of one of those goofy Patriots-vs.-Dolphins finishes; like prison inmate Mark Henderson snowplowing a spot for a Patriots’ game-winning field goal in 1982; or like the hideous Miracle-in-Miami double-lateral play that crushed the Patriots in the closing seconds of a late-season game in 2018.

DHL Dan CLXXXII - The Optimistic Column

Shank had some (rare) positive thoughts before last night's Patriots / Dolphins game:
Staying optimistic that the Patriots will beat the Dolphins, and other thoughts

Picked-up pieces while wondering what becomes of the Bloominati . . .

▪ I am glass-half-full on the Patriots Sunday night. I am hopping on the Channel 4 Belichick Bandwagon and going Full Rochie. Wall to wall. All is swell.

The Patriots did the impossible last week. They played a terrible first quarter. They missed a couple of late-game chances to pull out a victory. They dropped to 0-1. And yet, somehow, almost everyone walked out of Gillette Stadium feeling good about the hometown team.

If you really think about it, this makes no sense. The Patriots are 25-27 (including playoffs) with no postseason wins since Tom Brady left. Third-year quarterback Mac Jones has only one career fourth-quarter comeback win and is 0-12 when the opponent scores 25 points. The Patriots are consensus picks to finish last in the AFC East and are 3-point underdogs at home against the Fins.

So why is everyone bullish on the Patriots around here?

Saturday, September 16, 2023

The Blame Game, A Continuing Series

What do you do when things go south? Start pointing fingers at everybody!
Chaim Bloom is not the only guy to blame for this Red Sox mess

What will we do now that we don’t have Chaim Bloom to kick around anymore?

Bloom, a good and decent man who was neither ready nor equipped to run a big-market baseball team, was fired by the Red Sox before Thursday’s day-night doubleheader with the Yankees. The record will show that the Red Sox finished last in two of Bloom’s three full seasons and were tied for last on the day he was fired.

Bloom was asked to do the impossible when the Red Sox hired him from Tampa Bay in October of 2019. Ownership wanted him to win at the major league level, but also wanted him to cut payroll (get the team under the luxury-tax threshold) and rebuild a deteriorating farm system.


Red Sox owner John Henry and chairman Tom Werner fired Bloom in a face-to-face meeting at Fenway Thursday morning. The Sox released a statement at 12:27 p.m. announcing the “departure” of Bloom, then made CEO Sam Kennedy available for questions at Fenway at 12:45. This gave NESN a television exclusive.

“There’s blame to go around,” Kennedy acknowledged. “There’s blame on me. Our ownership. The on-field staff deserves blame. I’m sure some of the players would say they haven’t performed up to expectations. We all fell short of our collective goal, so there’s a lot of blame to go around.”

Borrowed Line?

Shank describes the injury to Aaron Rodgers, who got injured on the fourth play of his first game as a Jet, with this phrasing:
Aaron Rodgers’s season-ending injury is the Most Jets Thing Ever

Take it from one who knows about sports curses: This Jets thing is real.

As you all know by now, Jets quarterback/savior Aaron Rodgers suffered a torn Achilles’ tendon in the opening minutes of “Monday Night Football” and is lost for the season.

The Most Jets Thing Ever.
I think I've seen that phrase before!

Monday, September 11, 2023

It's Good To Be The King

Here's Shank's annual take on the state of the local pro sports teams:
The Patriots may no longer be dominant, but football remains king, and that’s all that matters

Happy New Year, Boston sports fans.

The Patriots at long last play their first game Sunday afternoon at Gillette against the defending NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles.

There was a time, not so long ago, when April’s Red Sox home opener represented the first day of our annual sports calendar. That was when baseball was king and the Sox were an irresistible 12-month soap opera. That was before the Sox rendered so many Septembers meaningless and before the mighty NFL emerged as America’s inarguable national pastime.

That was before Tom Brady . . . who returns Sunday to remind New England and the football world of how everything changed after the turn of the century. Brady will be in the house Sunday, evoking memories of all that was once great about Bill Belichick and the Super Bowl champion Patriots. Our Sports New Year appropriately comes one weekend after Allston Christmas, another cherished Boston custom.

Wednesday, September 06, 2023

In The Air Tonight

Shank gets the warm & fuzzies for a renewed college football 'rivlary':
Nostalgia will be in the air as Holy Cross takes on Boston College in football again

Nobody loves tradition and nostalgia more than yours truly.

I have scrapbooks with every story from when I covered the BNBL for the Globe in the 1970s. I see photos of myself from the ‘90s and realize those old shirts are still in my closet. I long for “The Ed Sullivan Show” Sunday nights on CBS at 8 p.m.

Trust me when I tell you that I know and love the old Boston College-Holy Cross football rivalry.

My dad went to BC with Tip O’Neill, Class of ‘36. When I applied to Holy Cross in 1970, the application asked, “How did you first hear of Holy Cross?” The answer was, “As the son of a BC grad, I have been aware of Holy Cross since my earliest days.”

But it may be time to pray for My Old School. The Crusaders, national contenders in the Football Championship Subdivision, are playing at BC Saturday and there’s concern that it won’t be competitive. The former rivals — who have taken separate paths athletically — have played only once since 1986, and that was a 62-14 BC rout five years ago.
I'm not able to get a point spread from the normal betting sites as of this writing but I'm sure it'll be something in the range of four touchdowns, maybe more. It stands to reason this series was stopped because of the lopsided nature of the last bunch of the games, and a 62-14 loss more than qualifies.

Guess Again

The Boston Globe sportswriters weigh in with their predictions for the 2023 NFL season. Shank says the Detroit Lions will win the Super Bowl, beating the New York Jets. I think cold fusion will be invented before that matchup ever happens.

DHL Dan CLXXXI - The Surrender Column

The Red Sox had an embarrassing loss last week. Naturally, Shank is there to fire a full spread of photon torpedoes:
An embarrassing surrender showed everything you need to know about the Red Sox’ season, and other thoughts

Picked-up pieces while finally watching football again . . .

▪ It’s been several days and we still have no acceptable explanation for the Red Sox front office/dugout quitting in mid-game at Fenway Monday while NESN’s Baghdad Bob barkers were still breathlessly promoting the Sox’ chances in the “wild-card race.”

Here’s what happened: With the Sox sitting 4½ games out of the final AL wild-card spot, Boston took a 4-3 lead into the top of the sixth against Houston — the team holding the final wild-card spot. Righthander Kyle Barraclough, a 33-year-old journeyman who pitched for the High Point Rockers earlier this season, was on the mound for the Sox in relief of Chris Sale.

Barraclough walked the first two batters in the sixth, then gave up a two-run triple to Jose Altuve. Boston trailed, 5-4.

Nobody warming in the bullpen.

When Barraclough hit the next batter, there was still nobody throwing in the Sox pen. Manager Alex Cora had no lefthander in his bullpen, so Barraclough pitched to mighty Yordan Alvarez, who cranked a three-run homer.


The blame lies with a front office that gave Cora an unwinnable hand in a game the Sox had to win. Because of medical evaluations and analytics, Cora was told he had to get through this game with four pitchers: Sale, Barraclough, Chris Martin, and Kenley Jensen. He had no lefty in the pen and did not want to go to specialists Martin or Jensen too soon after Sale left. So he showed the world what he had, effectively holding up a sign that read, “This is all they’re giving me, folks.”
That game was a total tank job, so Shank's right on that one. What's also right - I'm sure we'll get a few more columns with this tone as the month proceeds.

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

What's In A Number?

Shank picks up on a theme after the attempt by Democrats to pervert the rule of law in order to jail their political opponents. To wit: President Donald Trump is booked for allegedly violating RICO laws in the state of Georgia, where...
Turns out Donald Trump is built just like a lot of famous athletes. Or is he?

According to booking records released by Georgia authorities, former president Donald Trump is 6 feet 3 inches and weighs a self-reported 215 pounds.

This makes Trump the physical twin of Patriots wide receiver DeVante Parker, also listed at 6-3, 215. Turns out Trump also could be a body double for San Diego Padres sluggers Manny Machado (6-3, 218) and Fernando Tatis Jr. (6-3, 217).

Truly amazing. The 77-year-old Trump at this hour is the exact same height and weight as Muhammad Ali was when he boxed Joe Frazier as a 29-year-old in the Fight of the Century at Madison Square Garden in 1971.

What a specimen!
Trump is 6' 3" but I doubt the weight of 215; more like 240 at a minimum.
,,, This is where I must ask everybody to calm down for a second and take a deep breath. This is not a political statement, nor is it about body shaming. In pro sports, being in top shape is part of the job. This has nothing to do with serious lies and issues that impact our lives and/or democracy.

This is about vanity and selling a narrative that makes one feel better about oneself. Who among us has not done that? I’m told it sometimes even happens on dating apps.
Read on for more examples of not being totally precise.

Monday, August 28, 2023

DHL Dan CLXXX - Big Returns

With Mookie Betts having returned to Boston this weekend, Shank looks back at other former Boston athletes who've come back to Boston on another team:
Recalling some memorable Boston ‘comebacks,’ and other thoughts

Picked-up pieces while trying to navigate Apple TV+ …

▪ With Mookie Betts in town for the weekend, it’s fun to look back at other celebrated returns to Boston.

The legendary Babe Ruth, who was sold to the Yankees 100 years before Betts was salary-dumped to the Dodgers, launched the greatest dynasty in the history of American sports for New York City … but he didn’t hurt the Red Sox when he first returned to Fenway. Playing center field and batting cleanup in April of 1920, the Bambino went a tepid 3 for 12 with two singles and a double in three losses at Fenway.

Unlike Ruth, Tom Brady, Roger Clemens, and Carlton Fisk got revenge in their first trips home.

In October of 2021, the much-decorated Brady — who was allowed to walk by Bob Kraft and Bill Belichick — triumphantly returned to Foxborough as Super Bowl champion quarterback of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Brady was cheered with gusto when he ran the length of the Gillette Stadium field (his signature entrance in the glory days here) before the start of the game.

Sunday, August 27, 2023

The Mookie Betts Columns

Shank's here to painfully remind you about the trade that sent Mookie to the Dodgers and, of course, the state of both teams:
This Mookie Betts appearance is a painful reminder of the contrasting fortunes of the Dodgers and Red Sox

Mookie Betts will be at Fenway Park Friday for the first time since he was dealt from Boston in 2020. His mere presence reminds us of an epic Red Sox blunder. It’s a little bit like Babe Ruth returning to Fenway for the first time after Sox owner Harry Frazee sold him to the Yankees in the winter of 1919-20.

On Jan. 10, 2020, less than a month before Betts was dealt, Red Sox owner John Henry, overseeing the top payroll in baseball, returned an email from yours truly and stated, “We are focused on competitiveness over the next 5 years.”
Looks like someone lost some focus!

He then asks Sam Kennedy (Red Sox CEO) about the Red Sox AppleTV + games on this and other nights:
Loyal NESN subscribers who follow the Red Sox all year may be in for a surprise when they attempt to watch the Sox at Fenway Friday night in Mookie Betts’s first Boston appearance since the Sox dealt him to the Dodgers in 2020. The game will not be on NESN. It will be broadcast on Apple TV+.

MLB is in its second year of a seven-year, $85 million-per-year deal to stream Friday night games on Apple TV+.

“We always like to have our games on NESN,” said Red Sox CEO Sam Kennedy. “But we also recognize that we are part of a broader ecosystem, so having our games shown outside of the territory is good for baseball and for the Red Sox.
I'm not going to lose sleep over a missed Red Sox game here and there.

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Q & A Time With Bill Belichick

Shank took a trip to Gillette Stadium to get a bunch of grunts and half-answers from the affable Patriots head coach:
Bill Belichick knows how to work the clock, even in a preseason press conference

FOXBOROUGH — MLB has the highly effective “pitch clock.” Colleague Bob Ryan suggests a universal “anthem clock” to curtail unnecessarily lengthy renditions of “The Star-Spangled Banner” before ballgames.

Monday at Gillette … for the 24th consecutive season, we again experienced Bill Belichick’s time-tested “interview clock.’’

We arrived at the coach’s coveted media availability armed with a list of questions. With the Patriots scheduled to fly to Wisconsin Tuesday, then on to Nashville for back-to-back road preseason games, Monday represented the local press corps’s last chance to talk to Bill at Gillette for almost two weeks.

Driving down Route 1, I’d heard sports-radio patter about undrafted rookie Malik Cunningham (in camp as a wide receiver) becoming one of the greatest sports stories of all time by unseating Mac Jones as the Patriots’ starting quarterback. Cunningham quarterbacked New England’s lone touchdown drive in the exhibition opener against Houston and is all the rage of a largely dull camp.

DHL Dan CLXXIX - Happy 70th, Shank!

Shank has a few thoughts on turning 70 years old:
Reflections of a sports columnist upon turning 70, and other thoughts

Picked-up pieces while wondering if Bob Lobel gets to throw out a ceremonial first pitch when Mookie Betts and the first-place Dodgers come to Fenway in two weeks …

▪ Bill Belichick turned 70 in the spring of 2022, and at this time last year, I reminded him of something he said to NFL Films when he was still only 57.

“I won’t be like Marv Levy and coaching in my 70s,” “young” Bill said in 2009.

Belichick was 70 when he coached last season. He is 71 now, still calling the shots in Foxborough, suddenly hearing that he is too old and that the game has passed him by.

Now it’s my turn. You are reading the words of a 70-year-old columnist.

There’s no getting around 70. We can kid ourselves about 40 being the new 30, and 50 being the new 40. Blah, blah. There is no hiding 70. It’s bloody old.
That's our Shank - always the optimist!

Wednesday, August 09, 2023

Connection Made

Or - A Tale of Two Grand Slams:
A tale of two grand slams: Mookie Betts, Pablo Reyes, and the direction of Chaim Bloom’s Red Sox

Mookie Betts and Pablo Reyes both hit grand slams Monday.

Betts’s blast powered the first-place Dodgers (65-46) to a 13-7 win over the Padres. Reyes’s walkoff granny gave the Red Sox a 6-2 win over the moribund Royals (36-78), vaulting your Towne Team out of last place for a few hours.

How are these things connected?

Chaim Bloom, that’s how.

Bloom’s first big moment as Boston’s baseball boss came in February of 2020 when he traded the face of the franchise and likely Hall of Famer Betts to the Dodgers for Alex Verdugo, Connor Wong, and Jeter Downs.

The Dodgers are going to be at Fenway two weeks from Friday, and it’ll be Mookie’s first appearance since that awful deal. And it got me wondering whether poor Chaim will still be on the job when Betts comes to town.
Wondering? I bet Shank's rooting for it.

Sunday, August 06, 2023

DHL Dan CLXXVIII - Piling On The Red Sox

In keeping with the summetime tradition of constant criticism of the 2023 Boston Red Sox, Shank hires a hitman to take some shots:
Dan Duquette knows what it’s like on the hot seat in the Red Sox front office, and other thoughts

Picked-up pieces while covering Syracuse’s dugout TVs with shatterproof glass in case things don’t go well for Chris Sale in his Sunday rehab start …

▪ Dan Duquette is one of the few folks in the world who knows exactly what it feels like to be Chaim Bloom. Like Bloom, the Duke took over as baseball boss of the Red Sox when he was 36 and incurred the wrath of Boston fans and local media when things didn’t go well.

“There was one point in time when I had to park my car in center field so that I could get safely in and out of the ballpark,” Duquette said from his new home in Wilmington, N.C. “It’s a very passionate and emotional fan base. You need to make sure you’re all-in to understand how they feel.”

Don't Stop Not Believing

Red Sox GM Chaim Bloom basically sat on his hands as baseball's trading deadline passed earlier this week, which is great news for Shank:
The Red Sox’ Chaim Bloom showed at the trade deadline that he doesn’t believe in his own team

In the end, Chaim Bloom decided this team is not worth an additional investment. He did not listen to Rafael Devers, Alex Cora, or a sizable segment of Red Sox Nation calling for reinforcements at the trade deadline. After weeks of debate about “buy or sell,” we got a still life painting of a bowl of oranges.

Bupkis. Nothing. Nada.

(Sorry, bringing on Luis Urías, a 26-year-old Triple A utility infielder who batted .145 for the Brewers this year does not count.)

Do you believe in this surprising Sox team that has played the best ball in the majors since June 30?

Saturday, July 29, 2023

DHL Dan CLXXVII - Is This A Jedi Mind Trick?

I think it is - I can't believe what I'm reading!
Here’s a vote of confidence for Bill Belichick, and other hot summer thoughts

Picked-up pieces while waiting to see what Chaim Bloom does between now and Tuesday’s trade deadline . . .

▪ Bill Belichick is still the greatest NFL coach of all time. In my book, he gets the biggest slice of credit pie for those six Patriot Super Bowl trophies. He’s still at the top of his game, fearless, tanned, fit, and ready to lead the Patriots deep into the playoffs.

There. I said it. I am in the Still Bill Club.

It is not easy to reside in this club today. It makes me feel like Japanese intelligence officer Hiroo Onoda, who was found in a jungle in the Philippines in 1974, still fighting World War II, almost 30 years after Japan had surrendered. (One of my readers suggests that Onoda is the ultimate Do Your Job guy.)
Of course this praising of Belichick goes right into the dumpster with the Patriot's first loss.

Sell, Mortimer - Sell!

Shank's not buying the recent hot streak the Red Sox are on:
The Red Sox are the hottest team in baseball, but they still should be sellers at the deadline

The Boston Red Sox, the hottest team in baseball, open a West Coast trip in San Francisco against the Giants Friday night.

Baseball boss Chaim Bloom plans to be back in Boston from now through Tuesday’s trade deadline (when the team will be in Seattle), and he’s in a pretty odd position.

What do you think? Should the Sox be buyers or sellers? Are they contenders or is the recent success fool’s gold?

Beats the heck out of me. I’ve been ready to bury these guys since the first sunflower seed was spit in Fort Myers, but they’ve won 15 of 20 and just swept the best team in baseball, recovering from a 3-0 deficit in the sixth inning Wednesday in a nationally televised 5-3 win over the estimable Braves.
Shank's been buyring this team for a lot longer than that. For years he's complained about ownership's lack of interest in winning and focusing on the bottom line, so if ownership does decide to become sellers at the deadline, it'll be Shank leading the charge against them. That trick never gets old!

Monday, July 24, 2023

A Weekend In Upstate New York

Shank went to Cooperstown over the weekend and he has a few interesting stories to tell, like this one:
Danny Ainge almost returned to baseball after the Celtics traded him, and other discoveries from a weekend at the Hall of Fame

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. — Lingering thoughts after three days at the Baseball Hall of Fame on induction weekend ...

▪ Danny Ainge considered returning to the Toronto Blue Jays after Red Auerbach traded him from the Celtics to the Sacramento Kings in February of 1989.

Former Blue Jays general manager Pat Gillick broke this news to me at a large reception in the Hall’s sacred Plaque Gallery Saturday evening.

“Bet you didn’t know that Danny Ainge called me about coming back to baseball after Red traded him,” Gillick said. “I thought it was going to happen.”

“I considered it,” Ainge said Sunday over the phone from Utah. “I was intrigued because I really thought I could have succeeded in baseball.”
Read on for a few more tidbits like that one.

DHL Dan CLXXVI - Baseball Hall of Fame Musings

Shank's not too thrilled with the slate of recent inductees into Cooperstown:
Looking forward to voting for some slam-dunk Baseball Hall of Fame candidates in the coming years, and other thoughts

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. — Picked-up pieces while fondly remembering not-so-long-ago days when Red Sox and Patriots owners seemed to care more about winning than making money . . .

▪ Fred McGriff and Scott Rolen will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday.

These are good dudes with impressive résumés, but theirs are not names that come to mind when fans talk about baseball immortality. Rolen is a career .281 hitter who had only one top-10 MVP season in a 17-year career and went hitless in the 2004 World Series against the Red Sox. He was voted in by the BBWAA in his sixth appearance on the ballot. McGriff was overlooked in 10 tries with the writers, never cracking 40 percent of the ballots (75 percent is required) before gaining admission via the Contemporary Baseball Era Committee.

McGriff and Rolen were very good players but not first-round slam dunks of recent vintage such as Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Jim Thome, Chipper Jones, Ken Griffey Jr., Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Greg Maddux, and John Smoltz.
It looks like the attitude was 'well, we have to induct somebody, so here they are.'

This part was amusing, at least for me:

▪ When New York Post sports reporter Howie Kussoy sat down to interview Mets outfielder Tommy Pham, the former Red Sox pulled out his cellphone and recorded the interview right along with Kussoy. I’ve had this happen only once. When I interviewed Larry Lucchino and Tom Werner for a book I wrote with Terry Francona, the Sox officials brought Dr. Charles Steinberg so they’d have their own recording of the session. Dueling recordings. It felt like the Nixon White House.
I talked to Shank a few years ago over the phone. The first thing he asked me was whether I was recording the conversation. I told him I was not, but I'm going to take a few notes if he didn't mind, and he didn't. Someone's got the Nixon thing down pat, all right.

Monday, July 10, 2023

DHL Dan CLXXV - Exit Stage Left

Shank wonders aloud who will be the next Boston athlete to be shown the door:
Wondering which Boston athlete will be the next to leave, and other thoughts

Picked-up pieces while wondering which of our local athletes will be next to go . . .

▪ Marcus Smart. Tyler Bertuzzi. Nathan Eovaldi. Devin McCourty. Grant Williams. Taylor Hall. Xander Bogaerts. J.D. Martinez. Jakobi Meyers.

All gone.

Who’s next? Patrice Bergeron? David Krejci? Malcolm Brogdon? Trent Brown? Kendrick Bourne? James Paxton? Lawrence Guy? Kenley Jansen?

RELATED: Chad Finn: I understand trading Marcus Smart and letting Grant Williams get his payday elsewhere. But I cannot bring myself to like it. It’s the circle of life in professional sports. Fans invest their passions and dollars in favorite players, then get stuck with a Celtics No. 36 jersey hanging in their closet.

It’s been an emotional stretch here in the Hub of sports, with several popular players saying goodbye since the beginning of 2023. Bruins fans are upset to see Bertuzzi sign a one-year deal with Toronto, and some Green Teamers love Smart more than they love their own families. The retirement of McCourty hit hard, and hearing All-Star Eovaldi say how much he wanted to stay at Fenway was a gut punch to Red Sox Nation.
He's on the sidelines now, but Shank used to take a much more active interest in the departure of Boston athletes.

Sunday, July 02, 2023

DHL Dan CLXXIV - Something To Cheer About

I remember Ted Williams for, among other things, being more than cantankerous, especially towards members of the press. Thus my surprise at reading this headline:
Ted Williams would be rooting for Luis Arraez to hit .400, and other thoughts

Picked-up pieces while waiting for a Fenway official scorer to give somebody an error …

▪ Ted Williams would be rooting for Miami Marlins star Luis Arraez to hit .400. Ted supported Rod Carew when Carew batted .388 in 1977, boosted George Brett when Brett finished at .390 in 1980, and cheered for Tony Gwynn when San Diego’s hit machine closed at .394 in the strike-shortened season of 1994.

Williams had zero old-guy bitterness toward players of any new generation. He once told me, “That [Paul] Molitor kid in Milwaukee reminds me of Joe DiMaggio. He’ll be in the Hall of Fame someday.”

Teddy Ballgame remains the last big leaguer to hit .400 (.406 in 1941), and he’d be encouraging Arraez in 2023.

Arraez was in Boston this past week and I couldn’t resist the opportunity to speak with a kid with a chance to be baseball’s first .400 hitter in 82 years. The Marlins have played more than half their season and Arraez left Fenway batting .392.
And if you think Shank's still ripping off / 'sampling' from Felger & Mazz, you'd be right:
▪ A reader points out that the Boston Red Sox have become the Minnesota Twins. Middle-market team. Middle-market payroll. Little star power. Forever .500 or worse. Chaim Bloom’s anonymous roster didn’t register a blip in All-Star fan voting.

Sunday, June 25, 2023

Rumor Mill - Is The End Near?

Check out this tweet: I'll update accordingly.

UPDATE, 11:24 AM - False alarm; here's the tweet that Cullinane was referencing:

Saturday, June 24, 2023

DHL Dan CLXXIII - The Cooz On The Celtics

Every couple of months Shank rings up Boston Celtics legend Bob Cousy and gets his take on the current Celtics. Here he is talking about the Marcus Smart trade, and some other stuff:
Getting Bob Cousy’s take on a busy week for the Celtics, and other thoughts

Picked-up pieces while thinking about Marcus Smart’s place in Celtics history …

▪ Smart played 581 regular-season games in his nine seasons in the Boston backcourt. Other than Don Chaney, every Celtics guard who played more games than Smart has his number hanging over the parquet floor.

One of the above is 94-year-old Bob Cousy, who won six championships and was the NBA’s MVP in 1956-57. I reached out to the Cooz after Smart was dealt to the Grizzlies in a midnight deal late Wednesday.

Like just about every Celtics fan, Cousy has mixed feelings about Smart.

“I liked Smart,” said Mr. Basketball. “I didn’t like some of the things he did. He thought he was a point guard when he was not. His mind was more to create opportunities for himself. In my judgment, point guards have to come across midcourt thinking, ‘How am I going to set one of the other guys up?’ That was never his thing.
It bears repeating - less Shank, more Cooz = better column!

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Who Got To Shank?

It's a legitimate question, isn't it?
Was the Red Sox’ doubleheader sweep more about their impending turnaround or the toothless Yankees?

Is this it?

Have the Red Sox finally returned to the “good times never seemed so good” days?

There were positive vibes all over the ballyard when the Sox pantsed the Yankees, 15-5, Friday. After Saturday’s rainout, I suspended my chronic skepticism and returned to Fenway for Sunday’s day-night doubleheader with the once-vaunted Bronx Bombers.

And the Red Sox won both, taking the day game, 6-2, then winning at night, 4-1 — both after falling behind in the first inning. These last-place Red Sox have come from behind in 23 of their 37 victories.

They have five straight wins after Monday night’s 9-3 rout of the Twins and have beaten the Yankees five out of six times. They are suddenly within a half-game of vaulting out of their American League East basement apartment. If George Steinbrenner were still alive, he’d have fired Aaron Boone for what the Sox did to the Yanks the last two weekends.
This is a marked turnaround from Shank's unrelenting criticisms from the previous months. I think it's a feint and I'm not buying it. What do you think his next Red Sox column's going to be about after a three game losing streak? Back to business as usual, that's what.

Monday, June 19, 2023

DHL Dan CLXXII - What Could Have Been

Alternate title - Shank finds a way to milk another column from the playoff exits of the Boston Bruins and Boston Celtics:
For Boston sports fans, this weekend is one huge what-could-have-been, and other thoughts

Picked-up pieces while thinking about the prospect of DeAndre Hopkins with the Patriots …

▪ This should have been the mother of all Father’s Day weekends.

I know the mature thing is to acknowledge that the Celtics and Bruins have work to do and simply celebrate the Denver Nuggets and Vegas Golden Knights. But we are sports people and we are not mature and I can’t get the thought out of my head:

The Celtics and Bruins were favored to win the championship in their respective sports.

Which is why we should be getting ready for Game 7 of the NBA Finals at the Garden Sunday night, wondering whether Joe Mazzulla can figure out a defense to stop Nikola Jokic. The Celtics should be getting ready to raise Banner No. 18 over the parquet floor.

Game 7 was supposed to be on Causeway Street on Father’s Day night. And the Celtics would have been favored. Just as they were heavily favored in Game 7 against the Miami Heat … before Jayson Tatum turned into a pumpkin and Jaylen Brown a turnover machine.

Ah, and the Bruins? If all had gone according to plan, they’d have played Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final in Vegas Friday, squaring their series, 3-3. Game 7 would have been at the Garden Monday night — after the bull gang packed away the parquet for the summer and cleaned Celtic confetti from the lower bowl.

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Back From Vacation

There's a reason Shank hasn't done a column for over a week, and he returns triumphant from his European vacation to tell us stuff we already know about the sorry state of the Boston Red Sox:
Taking a close look at the Red Sox after a little break — and the picture is not pretty

Celtics playoffs and a European vacation took me away from the Red Sox for many weeks (happy to report that not a single person in Milan asked me about Kiké Hernández), but the Internet and dreaded Fubo enabled me to keep an eye on the Local Nine, so I thought I’d share a few thoughts as the Sox get ready for their “big” weekend rematch with the Yankees at Fenway Park starting Friday.

Other than Baghdad Bob NESN talents, all of us who watched this team’s 21-14 start knew it was fool’s gold. Predictably, the Sox lost 21 of their next 33 (7-15 since May 20) and secured their now-traditional spot at the bottom of their division, a whopping 14 games out of first place.

Let’s not try to soften the reality by citing the strength of the AL East or crying, “They’d be one game out in the Central.” Your team plays in the American League East and when this year is over likely will have finished last three times in four years, and six times in 12 seasons.
If Shank's not happy with the state of the Red Sox, he could always bring it up with his boss, John Henry.

Tuesday, June 06, 2023

Not With You Guys Here

Mazz led off this afternoon's show by saying "Shaughnessy had an interesting tweet today". You be the judge: What, exactly, are the camera crew guys supposed to do, not show the stands? Should the Red Sox put a few hundred cardboard cutouts of people in the stands? Yeah, that'll fix it!

Sunday, June 04, 2023

Who Said Irony Is Dead?

Presented without comment (as if it's necessary):

Saturday, June 03, 2023

DHL Dan CLXXI - Danny Ainge On The Celtics

After Shank's rip job on the 2022-2023 Boston Celtics (right below), where he called the team 'posers' and 'front-running frauds', we get a more sober and reasonable analysis of the team from the former Celtics player and general manager:
Danny Ainge, the principal architect of this Celtics team, has some thoughts on their playoff run

Picked-up pieces after six weeks of Celtics playoffs …

▪ I had a couple of conversations with Danny Ainge over the last two weeks. We spoke after the Celtics went down, 0-3, to the Heat and again after Monday’s disastrous Game 7 at the Garden.

Ainge, who has been gone from Boston for two seasons and now is CEO of basketball for the Utah Jazz, was the principal architect of this Celtics team that has underachieved despite getting to five conference finals in seven seasons. Ainge’s son, Austin, is director of player personnel for the Celtics, and Danny still speaks regularly with Green Teamers.

“I work for another company now, but I’m trying to defend my friends,” said Ainge. “I know Joe [Mazzulla]. I hired Joe four or five years ago to work in our G League. I still cheer for my friends.

“I don’t think the team quit on Joe. There was pretty good evidence they did not quit on the coach. I just think they weren’t playing well. The team’s overall confidence struggled after the comeback wins against Philly, which was really the highlight of the season.

“No coach can go through a series and not make mistakes, just like players make mistakes, but we saw some patterns of isolation basketball and going through stretches of not making threes. That’s not just with this group; we’ve seen this throughout the NBA. Teams go on these long 3-point droughts. Their energy level is higher when they make shots, and the Celtics are not unique in that aspect.

“I understand something’s got to change, but knowing every one of the players like I do, it’s hard to identify. They need to do some imaging. You’ve got to find out what went wrong, and nobody is certain if they’re not there every day. If you asked each player and each coach, they would all have a different reason. And it’s Brad [Stevens’s] job to really find out what needs to be changed.
Makes you wonder who the real fraud and poser is, doesn't it? Shank continues with the name calling of the Celtics, using descriptors as chokers and (again) front-runners. Keep it classy!

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Finished Business

The 2023 Boston Celtics lost Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals last night in painful fashion. When a local sports team exits the playoffs, Shank is all over them and this one is no exception:
Celtics’ loss to Heat in Game 7 was a meltdown of epic proportions in Boston sports

There have been some stink bombs detonated by Boston teams in big games throughout the decades.

This may have been the most foul of all.

On a postcard-perfect Memorial Day, with the entire region braced for an 0-3 comeback that would mirror what those Curse-busting Red Sox did 19 years ago, the poser Celtics submitted a woeful Game 7 effort in the Eastern Conference finals and were thrashed by the so-much-mentally-tougher, eighth-seeded Miami Heat, 103-84, Monday night at the Garden.

So there. The Green Team’s spring of “Unfinished Business” is officially finished. And, sadly, the only takeaway is that your 2022-23 Celtics were front-running frauds. I mean, did they really deserve another trip to the Finals after the way they played with their food all year?

Don’t take it from me. Listen to NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley. At halftime of this embarrassment, Chuck told the TNT audience, “Watching these dumbass Celtics play is making my head hurt … It’s so bad to watch them play. There’s no ball movement, there’s no body movement, and its frustrating watching a team with this much talent just play stupid.’’
You can always tell one thing by the way this column starts out - when a local pro sports team is at its worst, Shank's at his best.

A Rip Job In The Making

Spotted at the Boston Garden last night:

Friday, May 26, 2023

Two Ways To Make History

Sounds like Shank's about to hop back on the bandwagon, doesn't it?
Instead of being history, the Celtics have a real chance to make history after dominating Heat in Game 5

It’s been building since they took back the night in the second half of Game 4 in Miami, and now it feels very real. The Boston Celtics are halfway home to a return to the NBA Finals.

One hundred and fifty NBA teams have tried, and 150 have failed, but your Celtics think they can become the first team in league history to recover from a 3-0 playoff deficit. The Celtics blew the roof off the Causeway Street gym Thursday, bolting to a 17-point first-quarter lead, pushing it to 24 in the fourth, and running the Heat out of town in with a wire-to-wire 110-97 Game 5 victory.
Shank's very familiar with the concept of running things out of town.

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Anything Can Happen

The Boston Celtics won Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals last night to give them some hope. Naturally, Shank brings up an event from nine years ago:
Celtics got their first win over Heat, and Kevin Millar knows anything can happen now

MIAMI — What now? Does Kevin Millar come to the Garden Thursday with a bottle of Jack Daniel’s?

It’s only one game, but the Celtics crawled out of a hole Tuesday and finally beat the Heat, 116-99, to stay alive in their Eastern Conference final series. Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez were at the game and I’m hoping some wiseguy asked The Captain if he believes a team from Boston can win four straight after trailing, three games to none.

Between now and Thursday, the Celtics and their fans will be reminding everyone that the Red Sox turned that trick against the Yankees in 2004.
They shouldn't, but they just might do so.
When the Celtics were annihilated in Game 3 Sunday, Millar knew his phone was going to blow up.

“I get requests for hockey teams, high school teams, you name it,” he said Monday. “I had to do one for Chad Bradford [Millar’s teammate with the Sox in ‘05] the other day. He called me and said, ‘Hey, buddy, haven’t seen you in a while. Need you to make a call for me to inspire a team I’m coaching. Can you send ‘em a message?’

“Until somebody else does it, that clip lives forever and it gets used for any team that gets down, 3-0.”
And now for the fun part:

“That clip” refers to Millar’s maniacal message of optimism that was beautifully captured in ESPN’s 30 for 30 documentary, “Four Days in October."

Millar was wired for sound as he bounced around Fenway in the hours before Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS. The Sox had been savaged, 19-8, at Fenway one night earlier and trailed in the series, 3-0. But Millar was upbeat, telling everyone, “Don’t let us win this game. Don’t count the Sox out. It never happened in the history of baseball, but if there’s a group of idiots that can do it, it’s us."

He was eager to talk with me that night because I’d written that the Sox were in danger of being remembered as a “pack of frauds” if they got broomed by the Yankees.

Monday, May 22, 2023


That's the rather harsh word Shank uses to describe last night's 'effort' by the Boston Celtics:
Game 3 was a disgraceful performance by the once-proud Celtics. Even though it’s not over, don’t you want it to be?

MIAMI — A lifetime of incorrect predictions has taught me that it’s dangerous to prematurely state that any series is over. Yogi Berra was right. It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.

But man, oh, man. Don’t you just want this Celtics season to be over?

In another hail of turnovers, technicals, airballs, matador defenses, and nonstop complaints to the officials, the once-proud Boston Celtics were defeated yet again by the estimable, eighth-seeded Miami Heat Sunday, 128-102. Miami led by 8 after one, by 15 at the half, and stretched it to 33 midway through the third. At that point, it felt as if the Celtics had simply quit.

And yet poor coach Joe Mazzulla still will not say anything bad about his rollover players.

“I just didn’t have ‘em ready to play,’’ said the kid coach. “I should have . . . Whatever it was, I have to get them in a better place. That’s on me . . . I think they’re doing everything they can . . . I just didn’t execute the proper game plan. It’s on me to be better so they can play better.’’

Sunday, May 21, 2023

DHL Dan CLXX - Put Up Or Shut Up

Alternate title - Shank's off the bandwagon:
It’s put up or shut up time for Celtics stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, and other thoughts

MIAMI — Picked-up pieces while noting the loss of Jim Brown, the greatest football player who ever lived …

▪ The shocked and chagrinned Celtics have taken their significant talents to South Beach after metaphorical victory cigars exploded in their faces in two games at the Garden.

The eighth-seeded Miami Heat outhustled and outplayed your not-as-good-as-they-think-they-are Celtics and now the Eastern Conference finals move to Miami for Game 3 Sunday night at Kaseya Center.

It’s put up or shut up for Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, who were named two of the league’s top 10 players in 2022-23. Tatum and Brown carry themselves as if they have won multiple championships. By Boston Celtic standards, they have won nothing. And this is supposed to be their time.

The two Jays were no-show, turnover machines in crunch time of the stunning losses (the C’s are 4-5 at home in these playoffs). Boston blew a 13-point lead in Game 1, and led by 12 in the first minute of the fourth on Friday. Tatum did not record a basket in the fourth quarter of either loss. Brown on Friday was ineffective at both ends, scoring a mere 16 points and getting torched by the undrafted likes of Caleb Martin and Duncan Robinson.

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Can't Trust 'Em

With Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals in the books, Shank's now singing a different tune about the Boston Celtics:
It’s only Game 1, but after a dysfunctional loss to the Heat, how can we trust these Celtics?

How can we ever trust these Boston Celtics?

ESPN Analytics said the Celtics have a 97 percent chance of beating the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference finals. The Green were 8-point favorites going into Game 1 at home Wednesday.

Jayson Tatum and Co. led by 13 in the first half, and 9 at intermission.

But they lost, 123-116.


Bill Belichick watched upstairs with Boston basketball boss Brad Stevens. At some point, the Hoodie must have turned to his suite mate and asked, “How come your young coach never calls time out?’’

The tough, undrafted, underdogs from Miami outscored the Celtics, 46-25, in the third quarter. And Boston’s rookie coach Joe Mazzulla never called time during the Heat-induced meltdown. He just stood back and let it all be. It was a stunner.