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.