Friday, April 28, 2023

A Tale Of Two Columns

Shank on Tuesday, after the Boston Celtics lost Game 5 of their first round series against the Atlanta Hawks on an incredible shot by Trae Young:
The Celtics may still win it all, but this loss was about as bad as it gets

Perhaps as soon as Thursday, Boston fans will be able to look back and laugh. Maybe in six weeks we’ll remember this one as the night the immature, still-without-rings Celtics finally woke up and realized they’re not as good as they think they are. Maybe this will prove to be the epiphany — the moment in which the Celtics finally understood something so simple and so huge.

But this is not that moment. Right now, in real time, this can only be described as one of the greatest gag jobs in Boston sports history. Call it Atlanta’s revenge for 28-3. It was a collapse worthy of the pre-2004 Red Sox. At this moment, the 2023 Celtics are Parquet Posers.

Graced with the presence of the Tomato Can Hawks (41-41), the mighty Celtics — Vegas favorites to win the NBA championship — Tuesday coughed up a 13-point lead (at home!) in the final six minutes of a potential Game 5 clincher and lost to the undermanned Hawks, 119-117. Trae Young’s calm, 30-foot pull-up with 1.8 seconds left stunned the Celtics and NBA America. The unraveling Celtics never got another shot off.
Pretty strong words, eh?

Shank, last night when the Celtics finally buried the Hawks:
The Celtics finished the job and beat the Hawks, so now everybody can relax — until Monday

Everybody can calm down now. The Celtics have advanced to the second round of the NBA playoffs and will open the conference semifinals Monday on Causeway Street against their time-tested rivals, the Philadelphia 76ers.

This did not come easily. The widely-mocked Hawks beat the Celtics twice in the first round, including a dramatic Game 5 comeback at the Garden.

Celtic Nation was somewhat demoralized by that fourth-quarter fold, but the Green Team rallied Thursday in Atlanta, breaking open a tight game with a 11-0 run, clinching a 128-120 Game 6 victory. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, the two Jays who folded late in Game 5, took control of a frenetic clincher — a game that featured 15 ties and 22 lead changes.

“I thought our guys did a great job at the end of just locking in,” said Boston’s rookie coach-under-seige (sic - Ed.), Joe Mazzulla. " . . . Definitely different from Game 5.”
Gotta love it - the Boston Globe's 'ace' sports columnist unironically calling the Atlanta Hawks 'widely mocked' while not telling you (or hoping you don't remember) he was one of the ones doing the mocking. This is one of the constant critiques of Shank here and elsewhere once blogging took off back in the early 2000's. And - he's completely shameless, like someone's not gonna figure this out.

Do you have any doubts as to which sports columnist just might be laying siege (correct spelling) to the current head coach of the Celtics? Yes, that's a rhetorical question.

Monday, April 24, 2023

Tres Hombres

Shank writes about yesterday's clean sweep for Boston sports teams:
Celtics make it a clean sweep on Boston’s tripleheader road-show Sunday

ATLANTA — Sunday sweep.

A Hub hoop-hockey-hardball hat trick.

The Celtics beat the Hawks, 129-121, in Game 4 at State Farm Arena.

The Bruins beat the Florida Panthers, 6-2, in Game 4 at Sunrise, Fla.

And the Red Sox pummeled the Brewers at Milwaukee, 12-5.

I am told this is only the third time in history that the C’s, and B’s both won playoff road games on the same day the Sox won a regular-season roadie, according to Boston Sports Info. That’s three times in the 74 springs the teams have co-existed in Boston. Pretty good.

This could be a great week on Causeway Street. The Celts can eliminate the hungry, young Hawks Tuesday at the Garden and the Spoked-B’s can send the Panthers home for the summer Wednesday. There’ll be closeout sales all around. It’s still early in this playoff spring, but both teams have a golden opportunity to make it to the Finals in June.
The column's mostly about the Celtics, with only a single Shankism mentioned (The sons of Danny Ainge and Brad Stephens...).

Saturday, April 22, 2023

Quiz Time!

The Boston Bruins won last night against the Florida Panthers, 4 - 2.

The Boston Celtics lost last night to the Atlanta Hawks, 130 - 122.

Which game do you think Shank did a column on? Of course he wrote about the losing team!
While you weren’t watching, Celtics get stunned by Hawks in Game 3, and they deserved to lose

ATLANTA — While most of you were watching the Bruins and national hoop pundits seemed to ignore this series altogether, the forever .500 Hawks (41-41 this year) beat the Celtics, 130-122, Friday in Game 3 of their heretofore ho-hum first-round playoff series.

Begging the question: If a Tree Rollins falls in the NBA forest, and nobody is watching, does it make a sound?

Count this veteran observer as one who did not think the Hawks would win a single game against the mighty Celtics in this early round. The Green led by 32 in Game 1 and by 22 in Game 2 and didn’t trail after the first quarter of either game.

But you know the only saying: an NBA playoff series doesn’t start until the road team wins a game.

Now the Celtics will have to wait until Sunday (or later) for that. And they’ve guaranteed that there will be a Game 5 in Boston Tuesday night. Boo.
He sounds really shook up about it...

Friday, April 21, 2023

DHL Dan CLXVII - No Excuses

A rather predictable stance from Shank on the 2022-2023 Boston Celtics:
No excuses for Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown this time, and other thoughts

ATLANTA — Picked-up pieces while asking Peachtree People if they still remember 28-3 …

▪ It’s time for Boston’s Basketball Jays to step up and win an NBA championship.

The path is clear. The Celtics have more good players than any other NBA team, and a lot of contenders are dealing with playoff injuries. In old Patriot-like fashion, all the worthy opponents are falling down in front of the Celtics.

Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have lived charmed lives here in Boston. Fans love them unconditionally, forgive all missteps, and honor them with the same reverence they bestow on the likes of Pedro Martinez, David Ortiz, Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Patrice Bergeron, and Brad Marchand. Boston’s twin Jays get the big bucks, shoe deals, and Subway sandwiches. They have local media folks openly campaigning for them for things like MVP and All-NBA.

Anytime the Jays come up short — like last year in the Finals — we are reminded that they are really young.

That is ridiculous.
What's just as ridiculous, probably more so, is this time-honored tactic of Shank's to impose the absolute highest standard for Boston athletes and sports teams (championship or else) time and fucking time again and if that standard is not achieved, the season is a failure and we'll read about it for the next fortnight with numerous withering negative columns. And - last I checked I've never seen either Celtic in a Subway commercial. I had a sub there once, about ten years ago and I've never been back.

Thursday, April 20, 2023

Toys In The Attic

Game 2 of the first round series between the Atlanta Hawks and the Boston Celtics is proceeding as expected, with the Celtics winning the first two games. Shank and Cedric Maxwell think it's all too easy:
Celtics dismantle Hawks again in what is becoming the very definition of toying with your opponent

Cedric Maxwell, now part of the Celtics’ broadcast team, has plans when the Celts play Games 3 and 4 against the Hawks in Atlanta this weekend.

“Going to visit with my old friend Dominique [Wilkins],” Max said early Tuesday evening. “I’ll probably go to my favorite shoe store, Friedman’s. Oh, and on Saturday I might have to go to the hardware store to buy a broom.’’

Ah yes. In the event of a sweep, one certainly needs a broom.

The Celtics built another big lead (22 points) and beat the Hawks, 119-106, at TD Garden Tuesday in Game 2 of their first-round, ho-hum playoff series. Derrick White scored 26 for the Green and Jayson Tatum was good for 29. Games 3 and 4 are Friday and Sunday at State Farm Arena in Atlanta. If form holds, Boston’s next home game will be Game 1 of the conference semifinals, probably against Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers.
While not as obvious as in previous years, you can sense that Shank is setting up expectations that the Celtics can't live up to, so he can take a monster shit on them if / when they lose a series.

Rained Out

On Marathon Monday, Shank wove a few sports together and called it a column:
Two of sport’s best — Eliud Kipchoge and Shohei Ohtani — were in town, but rain fell on their parade

One can make a case that the world’s two greatest athletes were both in Boston Monday, performing less than a half-mile from one another.

But our sloppy spring weather was the ultimate winner. New England’s April remains undefeated.

Kenyan superstar Eliud Kipchoge, the undisputed greatest marathoner of all-time, finished a disappointing sixth in the 127th Boston Marathon, logging the worst time (2:09:23) of his epic career. His countryman Evans Chebet was the winner for the second straight year.

Meanwhile, over at ancient Fenway Park (forever 15 years younger than our Marathon), Shohei Ohtani, the Babe Ruth of the 21st century, pitched two hitless innings and cracked a couple of singles but his mound start was cut short by car-wash rains that repeatedly stalled play in a 5-4 Angels victory over the Red Sox.

Sunday, April 16, 2023

Resistance Is Futile

So sayeth The Shankster about the Boston Celtics' first-round matchup with the Atlanta Hawks:
We’ll resist the temptation to declare this Celtics-Hawks series over, but . . .

The Celtics toyed with the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday, bolting to a 32-point, third-quarter lead, then cruising to a 112-99 victory in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series.

This is where we resist the temptation to declare the series over in a four game sweep.

I was sitting on press row (courtside in the old days!) on Memorial Day in 1985 when the defending world champion Celtics beat the Lakers, 148-114, in Game 1 of the Finals. Scott Wedman came off the bench to make 11 of 11 shots and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar looked about 147 years old. I’m pretty sure I compared Kareem to an over-the-hill Willie Mays flopping around Shea Stadium in the 1973 World Series.

Two weeks later, the Lakers beat the Celtics by 11 points in Game 6 to win the NBA championship in Boston Garden. Kareem was named Finals MVP.
Lesson learned, then!

DHL Dan CLXVI - Springtime In Boston

The snow's all melted (!), the flowers are blooming and Shank writes what looks and feels like his annual springtime column:
This is the best time of the Boston sports year, and other thoughts

Picked-up pieces while reminding ourselves yet again that this truly is the greatest sports town in America …

▪ What was your preference this weekend? Celtics-Hawks in playoff Game 1 Saturday afternoon at the Garden? Sunday afternoon’s celebration of the Boston Strong 2013 World Series champs at Fenway? How about Boston sports’s Magic Monday?

On Monday morning, you can watch Babe Ruth/Shohei Ohtani pitch against the Sox at Fenway (where Babe actually pitched!). After the game, you can walk down to Kenmore Square and watch thousands of runners in the 127th Boston Marathon. Then, you can waltz through the Back Bay and finish your day on Causeway Street, watching the historic 2023 Bruins launch their playoff run against the Florida Panthers.

It’s the best time of our sports year. Let’s just hope the Sox don’t get eliminated before the Celtics or Bruins.
If that happens, we'll be reading three dozen columns on how bad the 2023 Red Sox are.

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

The Injured Reserve List

Shank takes note of Boston Celtic forward Jaylen Brown's lack of a green thumb:
When Jaylen Brown evokes anecdotes about Vaughn Eshelman and Irving Fryar, it is not a good sign

The Celtics start their playoff run this week, and we expect them to push past Miami or Atlanta in the first round. Celtic Nation hopes All-Star Jaylen Brown returns after missing the last two games of the regular season after suffering a five-stitch cut on his right hand.

“I was watering my plant and ended up knocking over a glass vase that was next to it,” Brown said Friday. “Picked it up, set it on the ground, realized you probably shouldn’t set glass on the ground. Reached down and picked it back up, and it got me.”

There’s certainly a possibility that this is true. But fact or fiction, Brown’s mysterious cut joins a long list of domestic and recreational mishaps that have sidelined Boston athletes over the years.

Some were more serious than others. Some were barely worth mentioning. But all became part of local sports folklore.

Where do we even start?
You can start right from there, and it's a real good column, until it gets to this point:
In that same decade, Larry Bird showed up with a bruised hand in the middle of the 1985 Eastern Conference final series with the Philadelphia 76ers. Bird claimed the swollen hand was the result of a game injury, but we couldn’t find game footage of any unusual moment, and it turned out that Larry’s busted hand came in a bar altercation with a former Colgate football player.

Bird didn’t miss any games, and the Celtics advanced to the Finals, but lost to the Lakers in six. The injury may have been costly. Bird shot 52.2 percent during his 1984-85 MVP season, but only 43.5 percent in the nine playoff games after the fight. He missed 17 shots in the elimination loss to the Lakers at the Garden.
Left out of that tidbit - Shank was the first reporter who disclosed the bar fight angle, after which Bird didn't speak to him for about six months.

DHL Dan CLXV - Bruins Playoff Run Column

Shank calls his old pal Harry Sinden to get his take on this year's Boston Bruins:
What Harry Sinden thinks of these record-setting Bruins, and other thoughts

Picked-up pieces while wondering if the Red Sox are in need of a Chaim-lich maneuver . . .

▪ The Bruins are favorites to win the Stanley Cup. They have four regular-season games remaining and a shot at the NHL’s all-time records for wins and points. They have a chance to go down in history as the greatest NHL team of all time.

Time to check in with Harry Sinden.

Harry is the Bear in Winter, the godfather of the Spoked-B, a man who came to the Bruins in 1961. He was Bruins head coach when 18-year-old, wiffle-haired Bobby Orr first played in Boston in 1966. Together, they won the Cup in 1970.

Harry will turn 91 in September, has been married to Eleanor for 70 years, and is still on the Bruins’ masthead as “Senior Advisor to the Owner and Alternate Governor.” He is the man who drafted Don Sweeney in 1984, and traded for Cam Neely two years later.

Tuesday, April 04, 2023

Now Get Off My Lawn!

Shank steps into the 'old man yelling at clouds' part of his professional career:
Have celebrations in sports gone too far or are they simply a sign of the times?

Waiting for the Bruins and Celtics to start the playoffs, wondering what the Red Sox will look like when they play good teams, I find myself thinking about sportsmanship, taunting, celebrations, and getting old.

Getting old comes first in this sports story because it colors the way one thinks about sportsmanship, taunting, and celebrations.

This is the sports fans’ circle of life.
I will swear on a stack of bibles I did not read any of this column before going with my opening comments. The title of the column is all that's required.
Old-timers want things to stay the way they were. There’s a (misguided, no doubt) notion that the games, athletes, and traditions were better and more classy in the old days. Guys who hit homers put their heads down and acknowledged their achievement with a polite, Harvard Club handshake as they crossed home plate. Running backs went across the goal line, then turned and pitched the ball back to the official. Our games had a DiMaggio/Barry Sanders dignity. Heroes “acted like they’d been there before.”

In 2023, young fans want action, color, noise, and “look at me” chest-thumping. This is sports. It’s supposed to be fun. There’s nothing wrong with a little celebration — even if that means mocking your opponent. And anybody who doesn’t like it is either Clint Eastwood grumbling “Get off my lawn!” or Abe Simpson yelling at clouds (I’d prefer to be Mick Jagger singing “Get Off Of My Cloud,” but that’s never happening).
Read on for more of the same. I'll make a couple of notes that'll nuke Shank's whole premise and document yet again his hypocrisy on the matter. First - Shank doesn't mind the concept of 'trash talk', as long as it's directed at someone or a team he doesn't like, like the 2015 New York Jets, Arian Foster of the Houston Texans, or even when noted local columnist Jon Keller was defending him for Shank's use of 'trash talk' (i.e., his usual MO of antagonizing fans) with harsh columns.

Second - for anyone who watched the 1980's Boston Celtics, there is no greater trash talker then or now than Larry Bird. Kevin Garnett gives him a good run for his money but let's just focus on Bird for a moment. Does anyone out there think Shank would, for instance, direct this kind of column's critiques toward the Hick from French Lick? Hell would freeze over first.

Third - here's an old gem from the archives, the third and final nail in the proverbial coffin. Shank's also fine with 'trash talk' when it helps him write a column. The salient part:
Further into the column, Shank demonstrates his hypocrisy (We never would have known about it in the genteel good old days.):
“You could not print all the things we said,’’ said Cedric Maxwell, Ainge’s teammate from the 1980s and a Hall of Fame trash talker. “You could not write it all down. The families. The moms. Didn’t make any difference. We didn’t have to be politically correct. We could be asinine.

“I remember one guy, before the start of a playoff series, saying, ‘No way that bitch is getting 40 points off of me.’ Somebody wrote that down and it actually got in the paper.’’

I know. Because Max said it about Bernard King, and I wrote it down, and it appeared in the Sunday Globe on the day of the first game of the 1984 Eastern Conference semifinals between the Celtics and Knicks. King refused to shake Max’s hand before the game. King didn’t get his 40 until Game 3, but the Celtics won the series.
Does anyone seriously think this (or the 1984) column get written if Larry Bird was the trash talker in question?
Some questions are evergreen, and answer themselves.

He might have a point about the obnoxious celebrations (a light show during a Red Sox game is indeed WTF territory) were it not for most of the aforementioned faux lamenting of modern-day trash talk when he's been fine with it for decades.

Saturday, April 01, 2023

DHL Dan CLXIV - Haunted

Thre's always one player or manager on the Red Sox that's in Shank's doghouse - Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez, Nomar Garciaparra, Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Grady Little, Manny Ramirez, Theo Epstein, Josh Beckett and John Lackey (the 'chicken & beer' guys), Bobby Valentine, Jacoby Ellsbury, David Ortiz and a host of others. This year's scapegoat is hard-luck pitcher Chris Sale, who has yet to pitch for the Sox this year. Why let a mere detail like that get in the way of a good rip job?
The Chris Sale contract continues to haunt the Red Sox, and other thoughts

Picked-up pieces while waiting for Reese McGuire to make a throw when an Oriole is stealing a base …

▪ At this moment, Chris Sale’s contract extension — inked in the sugar-high spring of 2019 when the Red Sox could have waited to measure his health — is the worst signing in Boston sports history.

It’s worse than deals given to Rusney Castillo or Pablo Sandoval. Worse than Carl Crawford or Matt Young. Way worse than David Price or Daisuke Matsuzaka. Worse than Vin Baker, Pervis Ellison, Antoine Walker, or even Rick Pitino. Worse than Kevin Stevens, Marty Lapointe, or Adalius Thomas.
Them's fighting words - there was never a worse signing than Rick Pitino, whose awful reign was the equivalent of burning the Celtics to its foundations, then salting the earth where the dying embers lay. I'm also deducting a style point for Shank not mentioning Curt Schilling's last contract.
Sale delivered in his first two seasons in Boston and got the final out of the 2018 World Series. This isn’t about that. This is about the non-yield since the Sox went out of their way to lock him up in that fateful spring.
This is also the eight time Shank's mentioned / complained about Sale's contract 'since that fateful spring', a pinata of Shank's which always delivers a few treats whenever he whacks it.