Saturday, February 25, 2023

DHL Dan CLX - Eyes On The Prize

Back from his grueling two week trip to Fort Myers to write all of three columns on the 2023 spring training Boston Red Sox, Shank turns his attention to Celtics ace Jayson Tatum and wants him to turn his attention to...
It’s time for Jayson Tatum to focus on the prize that really matters, and other thoughts

Picked-up pieces while hoping my pipes don’t freeze and wondering why I came back from Florida …

▪ Enough with the MVP campaign, birthday parties, signature shoes, Subway sandwiches, and hunger for individual accolades.

It’s time for Jayson Tatum to step up and lead the Celtics to the NBA championship.

Tatum is clearly the most talented player on this Celtics team and is on a path to crack into the franchise’s all-time starting five (Bill Russell, Larry Bird, John Havlicek, Bob Cousy, Paul Pierce, Kevin McHale, Kevin Garnett, Sam Jones, and Dave Cowens are my top nine). He was just named All-Star MVP and has a chance to break Bird’s team record for single-season scoring average (29.9 in 1987-88).

Tatum turns 25 this coming week and is in his sixth season in the league. In Bird’s first six NBA seasons, he won two championships and two MVPs.

Monday, February 20, 2023

Red Sox Q & A Session, Without The A

Boston Red Sox owner (and also owner of the Boston Globe) John Henry was in Fort Myers today, but he wasn't there to chew the fat with the media:
With John Henry not speaking, all we have are questions and not answers

“If you could afford it, would you own a major league baseball team? I can’t imagine anything more fun … I have nothing to complain about. How could I possibly complain? Everyone in this community loves the Red Sox so much.”

— Red Sox principal owner John Henry, September 2008.

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Has owning the Red Sox stopped being fun?

This is one of the questions I wanted to ask John Henry at Fenway South Monday. Henry was there with his wife, Linda Pizzuti Henry, and Red Sox CEO Sam Kennedy for the annual ownership meeting with players and team support staff.

But he wasn’t taking questions. Not in the conventional way, at least.

From 2002-20, Henry & Co. engaged in a state-of-the-team press conference after their annual pep talk to the team at spring training. The pandemic and lockout interrupted that tradition in 2021 and 2022, but now Henry won’t take questions in a live setting. He prefers email questions, which produce careful, canned answers.
Safe to conclude John Henry no longer considers it 'fun', with recent teams underacheving and a more hostile than normal media.

Sunday, February 19, 2023


That's the moniker Shank hangs on Bobby Dalbec:
The Red Sox’ resident nomad, Bobby Dalbec, enters a pivotal spring

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Bobby Dalbec.

He’s The Beatles’ real “Nowhere Man.” Sitting in the Red Sox spring training clubhouse. Looking at his collection of fielding mitts. He knows not where he’s going to. He might be making plans for nobody.

Or Worcester. Or a new organization.

Dalbec’s going to be 28 in a few months and it feels like he’s run out of opportunities with the Red Sox. He hit .215 in 117 games last season, whiffing himself out of a spot in Alex Cora’s everyday lineup and earning a ticket to Worcester. In 273 big-league games over three seasons he’s hit 45 homers, batted .232, and struck out in 35 percent of his plate appearances.

He’s been a major league third baseman and first baseman, and now there’s talk of him in the middle infield, outfield, or even (gulp) pitching.

DHL Dan CLIX - Critical Year Ahead

With the prospects of a successful season by the Boston Red Sox seem slim, Shank's doing his best to pile on:
This is a critical year for the Red Sox and Chaim Bloom, and other thoughts

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Picked-up pieces from a correspondent’s 44th spring training …

▪ Wheeling into JetBlue Park at 7:45 a.m. on a balmy Tuesday for my first look at the 2023 Red Sox, the first person I saw was beleaguered, sweaty baseball boss Chaim Bloom doing his morning jog around the training complex.

Trust me when I tell you I never spotted Lou Gorman running around Chain O’ Lakes Park in Winter Haven.

Yabba Dabba Lou was a frequent target of Sox fans and media, but he never got booed by fans at a team promotional event. He never operated the Sox like a small-market team, and never finished last twice in three seasons.

Ditto for Dan Duquette, Theo Epstein, Ben Cherington, and Dave Dombrowski. They took the slings and arrows that come with the Boston Baseball Experience, but none was charged with franchise malpractice.

This 2023 season is critical in many ways for your Boston Red Sox, especially for Bloom.

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

The Chris Sale Column

Shank sits down with Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale, where the conversation starts off with concerns about weight and durbility:
Chris Sale appears thinner than usual but doesn’t sound concerned about holding up

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Chris Sale looks too thin to dominate big league hitters for a full season.

I know, I know … Sale has always been a skinny guy. Ask those hitters who couldn’t see his 100-mile-per-hour heater. Ask them if he’s too thin. Come see us in July when Sale is 10-1 and starting the All-Star Game in Seattle.

Sale threw a bullpen session Wednesday at Fenway South, then spoke with the media on the first day of pitchers-and-catchers workouts. He had the high heat. He has the great positive attitude. He plans on being Alex Cora’s Opening Day starter at Fenway against the Orioles March 30.

But he looks even thinner than usual. Gandhi-like. And though I am neither a doctor nor nutritionist, Sale’s physique makes me wonder whether his hereditary frame — the skinny gene — makes things tougher as he attempts to once again be a stud starter for the Sox.
Read on for the details, and a bonus pop culture reference not from the 1970's:
(Chris Sale, 2010 - 2012) Three seasons, $90 million, and 48⅓ innings.

The whole thing reminds me of a line from “The Town” when Ben Affleck and Jeremy Renner pose as cops and steal millions from a vault at Fenway Park.

“No one’s robbed the Sawx like that since Jack Clark!” one says to the other as they prepare to leave the park with their heist.

Book 'Em, Danno

The 2023 Boston Red Sox season starts this week, and at the same time a book comes out detailing the Houston Astros cheating from a few years ago, when now Red Sox manager Alex Cora was then (in 2017) a bench manager with the Astros. Naturally, members of the Boston sports media made Cora squirm in his first press conference of the season:
Opening press conference shows that, for Alex Cora, the book isn’t closed on 2017-18

Incorrect - the book isn't closed, for members of the Boston sports media. I'm pretty sure most normal fans don't give a rat's ass anymore.
FORT MYERS, Fla. — It’s never a pleasure cruise when you manage the Boston Red Sox. Hall of Fame-bound Terry Francona said it was the hardest baseball job he ever had, stating, “In Boston, it seemed like you were putting out brush fires every day.”

So how was Alex Cora greeted in his first 2023 picnic-table press conference at Fenway South Tuesday morning?

Hey, Alex. There’s a new book out today that details all your bad habits and cheating ways when you were with the Astros, and how you bragged to your 2018 Red Sox that ‘we stole that [2017] World Series.’ Care to comment?

OK, it wasn’t quite that harsh, but it was certainly not the way Cora wanted to launch the Chaim Bloom Celebration of Payroll Flexibility, which seems to be the theme of the basement-bound ‘23 Towne Team.

The actual first question, posed by WBZ’s Jonny Miller (who interviewed Eddie Kasko in Winter Haven in 1972), was, “Alex, first things first. Have you talked to anybody in the front office about remarks you made to Evan?”
Read on for more media grilling, and not of the good kind.

Sunday, February 12, 2023

DHL Dan CLVIII - Super Bowl LVII Coverage

Today's venue for the Super Bowl brings back memories for Shank:
This year’s Super Bowl site brings back Patriots memories, and other thoughts

Picked-up pieces while buying a Super Bowl sheet cake at Stop & Shop …

▪ There have been two Super Bowls played at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., the site of Sunday night’s matchup between the Chiefs and Eagles.

The Patriots were in both.

One good.

One bad.

Let’s go in chronological order.
Nah - Shank saves the worst for last!

Mixed Feelings

Shank takes a jump into legalized gambling:
The ship has sailed on sports wagering, but for this bettor, it’s a one-and-done proposition

I caved.

I’ve raged against the betting machine for decades. I supported Bart Giamatti when he banned Pete Rose for betting on games in the 1980s. I believe betting corrupts sports. It makes normally sane folks spit on referees and umpires. Betting has never aligned with my love of the games we watch.

I feel badly for those who have a gambling addiction, but in five decades as a sports scribe, I have largely steered clear of the betting underworld. No bookies, no cry.
'Largely', of course, includes the time Larry Bird beat his ass in a free throw contest with an injured hand, losing $160 in the process, then laying the tab on the Boston Globe for 'unreimbursed employee business expenses'.
Today sports gambling is mainstream. And state-sanctioned. It’s almost everywhere. Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred — who runs a sport that once banished Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays for merely shaking hands as casino greeters — loves gambling more than I love ice cream. Roger Goodell — who runs a sport that once suspended Paul Hornung and Alex Karras for a season for betting on games in the early 1960s — loves gambling more than Dan Shaughnessy loves chocolate chip.
It actually does get better from there, but in the end Shank's not a fan.

Sunday, February 05, 2023

DHL Dan CLVII - The Hunt For Number Eighteen

Shank asks three veteran Celtics on the chances for this year's team to win it all:
Three Celtics champs — Bob Cousy, Dave Cowens, and M.L. Carr — weigh in on the chances for Banner 18, and other thoughts

Picked-up pieces while monitoring the southbound Red Sox equipment truck with my GPS tracking device …

▪ The Celtics have played almost two-thirds of their regular season, have the best record in the NBA, and are consensus favorites to win the NBA championship. We just saw them beat Brooklyn by 43 points, and they have a “big” game with Joel Embiid and the 76ers Wednesday on Causeway Street.

What do members of the Celtic family see when they watch this team run toward a possible record-breaking 18th banner?

Paul Pierce was here last weekend for Celtics-Lakers (LeBron James just finished crying about not getting a call at the end of regulation) and casually told our Gary Washburn that Jayson Tatum “could be the greatest Celtic to ever play.”


Get back, Loretta.

With this in mind, we rounded up Bob Cousy, Dave Cowens, and M.L. Carr to discuss these Celtics. Cousy and Cowens are two of only four Celtics ever named NBA MVP (Bill Russell and Larry Bird, who combined for eight MVPS, are the others). Cooz, Cowens, and Carr won a combined 10 championships. Cowens and Carr both coached the team, and M.L. was the boss of basketball operations a decade before Danny Ainge built the team that delivered the most recent banner in 2008.

Keep On Truckin'

Shank kicks off the unofficial start to the 2023 Boston Red Sox season like he's at a morgue:
Not much is expected of the Red Sox in 2023, but Truck Day rolls on nonetheless

Truck Day is Friday.

That’s right. Truck Day.

Even with five last-place finishes in 11 seasons and an angry fan base that booed Red Sox ownership/management at the club’s “Winter Weekend” in Springfield, Truck Day goes on. It’s kind of like playing “Sweet Caroline” after the Sox bullpen surrenders nine runs in the top of the eighth inning.

In this spirit, Wally the Green Monster, his sister Tessie, and a bunch of fresh-faced Red Sox ambassadors are expected to be on Van Ness Street around noon Friday, tossing soft baseballs into the “crowd” as a large truck carrying bats, mitts, and rosin bags departs for Fort Myers, Fla.

Tom Brady's Retirement

Thoughts about Tom's second retirement from the Shankster:
This time, we believe him: Tom Brady is done, and the moment is right

Tom Brady has retired.


This time, for sure.

I know we went through this last year. And then Tom un-retired 40 days after he retired. He came back and played another season, and we know there are still plenty of owners and coaches who would hire Brady to come back from this retirement.

But this time I believe him. That short, stunning Twitter video that interrupted our breakfast Wednesday looked genuine. Sincere. Heartfelt. Tom presented as a gaunt superstar in distress, resolving a midlife crisis that’s been eating at him while he has stopped eating. Tom looked very much like a man who needs to shut it down.
I hope that stays the case; I don't want to go through the Breet Favre routine again.