Thursday, May 9, 2013

Dan Shaughnessy rejects talk of blackmail*

*All interviews and subjects in this article are completely fictional and fabricated, even those based on real people. This is in response to his interview with David Ortiz on May 8, 2013 where he blatantly accuses him of cheating without any evidence. I won't link to the article so you will have to find it on the Net.

"Were you abused as a child, scared to smile, they called you ugly?"
Nas, "Ether"

Writing is not this difficult. Writers don't have to get worse as they age (Peter Gammons still going strong). Baseball writing has been peppered with awful writers for the last 20 years. The bad writers always seem to get more press than the good writers. A number of writers from the Boston Globe have been accused of plagiarizing. Continued employment despite lack of skills is often tied to blackmailing. It is not natural for someone with that face to appear so frequently on TV.

So Dan Shaugnessy knows. He knows he is untalented. He knows the majority of people who read him think he is a hack. His name appears frequently on sites like Awful Announcing and Fire Joe Morgan. And what he just did to David Ortiz should be the final straw.

When you blackmail people for personal gain they tell you to not try to shoot for the absolute top of the pantheon to make it look less fishy. Shaughnessy can't even seem to do that. He just keeps appearing on all of Boston's beloved sports media (Globe, 98.5, NESN) spewing false bile. Shaughnessy extended his streak of awfulness and borderline libel (his only true talent seems to be not going so far as to get sued in his baseless accusations) with his column about Ortiz and steroid use on May 8.

This is a ridiculous and fake topic, and since I can't get face to face out of both a lack of access and fear of turning to stone, I made up an interview with Shaughnessy to discuss his years of blackmailing people in power to get where he is. I told him he looks ugly.

Do you read the comments and emails saying you must have "naked pictures of all your superiors performing Un-Christian acts"?

"No, not really," Shaughnessy said. "Why?"

Because there is no other explanation for why you have a job let alone three of them.

"I have editors that review my columns some of the time," he said. "They make me change about 90% of what I try to write when they actually read my stuff. Luckily, this year I'd say I've only been edited about 5 times, so most of my good stuff gets out there untarnished. They don't warn you when they'll review you though. They just edit."

What does it feel like to have everyone know you have no talent and for them to tell you that?

"I don't think I have no talent," he said. "Nobody comes to me and tells me, 'You have no talent and the world would be better off if you just locked yourself in a tower for the rest of time and never communicated with the public ever again.'"

But they do. Bloggers write entire posts about you. I have emailed you to tell you that in so many words. You work for the Boston Globe where a lot of bad writers and plagiarists have worked. You are an older writer getting worse as you age like Murray Chass. You've written columns consistent with libel. You show up on all these sites about horrible writing. You fit all the formulas.

"Shit, I'm a human being like everyone else (ed. note: no you aren't)," said Shaughnessy. "You can blackmail or you can get fired. One or the other."

But in 2009 you plagiarized your own bad writing. Now this baseless accusation of Ortiz. You are like baseball writing's Freddy Krueger. What's the difference?

"Well in 2009 I didn't really understand the breadth of the internet," he said. "In 2009 I thought I could get away with just repeating the same old bullshit that I did years earlier. Once I learned my lesson, I remembered that to keep my job I would have to blackmail people and write the most outrageous shit that popped into my poorly sculpted skull. It's not like this is the first time I've written such an awful attack piece and gotten away with it."

But it's like at some point with this much awful writing and lack of TV or Radio presence you have to start getting fired from jobs you have no right holding.

"Where are you trying to go with this? That's my question. If you've held a job for over 30 years aren't you just supposed to be able to keep it no matter how terrible you are?"

No, people get fired or let go all the time even holding jobs for more than 30 years. Teachers, factory workers, CEO's, policemen all lose their jobs if they aren't performing or blatantly walking the tightrope with the law no matter how long they've been entrenched.

"Real jobs that actually benefit people aren't the same," said Shaughnessy. "I don't forget about causing outrage. I go up there," - he points to the Globe's head Sports Editor's office - "and show him all those naked pictures I have of him. Every other day. If I don't do it, he might forget that he should fire me for my incompetence, and I don't want to have to release the pictures if I can avoid it."

"I don't like to talk about this blackmail thing because then people know my secret of career immortality."

But how can your professional opportunities continue to grow when all you do is get worse? How do you do that?

"I don't get worse," he said. "My writing has been this destructive since the day I got here."

"I just don't want this blackmail thing getting out there, cause I have pictures of you and I don't want to have to use those either."

But writing is really not that hard, how can you be so awful at it? You've been doing this for over 30 years. You write for one of the most renowned sports sections in the country.

"It isn't hard, bro. But getting every person to know your name is. On my good day I enrage millions of people in print, on the radio and on TV. It's pretty easy. It just happens."

"I work consistently to get my name on the lips of other people (ed. note: gross). I don't write a scathing column weekly, I don't accuse people from afar, I don't remind my bosses of the naked pictures to be a good writer. If I want to be a good writer, or not hated, then I could actually learn more about the sports I cover and write interesting things breaking down what happens on the field and write compelling stories about how the top athletes in the world have persevered to reach the tops of their industries."

"No, I write sludge every time out and I go on TV and make it worse. One day I'll die, probably, and then I'll stop, probably."

Do you understand why people hate what you do?

"I don't care what people think, bro, only that they know my name. People don't feed my ego. I feed my ego."

"I am never going to be a good writer, bro. That's the bottom line. If I write something nice and fair, it's bad. If I write something scathing, factually inaccurate and borderline illegal, it's bad, too."

"I don't care. I've got something to hide, bro. Firing is not my problem. Being fired - I write stuff that begs to get me fired. I got no problem with that. I can't screw anything up with my career because I have what it takes to keep my job, naked pictures. That's not gonna happen."

"If I don't want to keep pissing people off and falsely accusing good people? I go home. But not because I got fired for being unethical."

"I guarantee you that later, you are not going to find out that I was fired for gross incompetence. It's not happening. Guaranteed. Guaranteed. Because I have naked pictures of all my bosses."

Again, can't stress enough, this was a made up interview.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother

October 20, 2007. Game 6. Boston. The Boston Red Sox are now down 3-2 in the ALCS to the Cleveland Indians after winning Game 5. The Sox need to win Game 6 to extend their season and capture their second World Series Championship in 4 years.

It is the bottom of the first inning and the first three batters reach base against Fausto Carmona (now known as Roberto Hernandez). Fausto had a dominant 2007 in his first full season as a starter finishing in 4th place in the Cy Young voting. But in the first inning of this game he was already in trouble. The next batter was Manny Ramirez, but Fausto struck him out. He was followed by eventual World Series MVP Mike Lowell, but Fausto got him to fly out weakly enough where the runner on third could not score.

Next up was Boston's favorite whipping boy, J.D. "Nancy" Drew. The majority of Red Sox fans hated Drew because he was paid a lot of money, had a lot of injuries (though over his first 4 years in Boston played more games than the "gritty" Kevin Youkilis), didn't hit for a high average or with a lot of power, took a lot of walks and a lot of strike outs looking, was such a great and effortless defender that it looked like he was dogging it, and basically played completely even keeled so it looked like he didn't care. He never cheated. He never assaulted a woman. He never got a DUI. And yet, he was completely hated. And here he was with a golden opportunity to erase that hatred. As he was known to do, Drew worked a 3-1 count, a true hitter's count. The next pitch he deposited deep into the center field seats for what would become the $14 million grand slam.

This was all I could think about last night when J.D.'s younger brother, Stephen went 4-5 with the game tying home run and the walk-off base hit against the Minnesota Twins. Stephen has spent the majority of his time trying to distinguish himself from his brother. Despite similar plate approaches, quiet demeanors, sharing the same last name, batting from the left side, starting slowly, and wearing the same freaking number, ya, J.D. and Stephen are nothing alike. Regardless, Stephen wanted us all to know he wasn't his brother.

Stephen has had an awful start to his season. He missed the first week suffering post concussion symptoms and almost got Wally Pipped by Jose Iglesias. He then hit .154 with a .517 OPS in April with no home runs and 17 strikeouts. His defense was strong as always, but when you don't hit, fans rarely notice your defensive contributions (or managers for that matter; check out past Gold Glove winners and almost all of them had a great offensive season in the years they won the award). Then on May 1 he hit his first home run and his first multi-hit game. Finally, last night he hit the $9.5 million home run and walk-off.

The other star of the night was Clayton Mortensen, the current long reliever for the Sox. With Clay Buchholz leaving too many pitches in the zone, and short starts in the Texas series from every starting pitcher, the bullpen was taxed. They really only had 5 available pitchers and when the ninth inning rolled around they were down to just 2 with a one run lead. The way last night's game slogged along you just knew Joel Hanrahan was not going to protect this lead.

Just a quick aside. Hanrahan clearly did not have it last night and has not had it for most of the season. This is not entirely different from what he did last year though when he walked 5.4 per nine innings. What bothers me is he seems like a guy who makes excuses. This is now the second time he has come up with an injury after a bad outing despite there being no visual evidence. I hate hate hate it when writers call out athletes for not playing through injuries so I guess I am being a major hypocrite here. But we have all played sports with that guy who is having a bad day and then comes up with a mysterious hamstring injury while running out a ground ball so he can just give up or give himself an excuse. I should not be calling Hanrahan out for this, but I can't help but think of "that guy" when I watch him.

Any way, with Hanrahan leaving the game already giving up the tying run, the last man standing was Mortensen. Morensen is a pretty unremarkable pitcher. He doesn't have great stuff, not even averaging 90 MPH on his fastball. He's tall and gangly and has an odd delivery. He has a career 100 ERA+ (meaning his ERA is exactly average over his career). He was a strong addition to the team last year because he could be sent back and forth from Pawtucket when needed, but he does not have that option this year so I suspect he is only on the team until the rest of the bullpen is healthy. But last night he was the man and gave the Sox a chance to win. He got out of the ninth without further damage and then pitched two more scoreless innings working around 2 walks and a single. Then Stephen Drew did his work and Mortensen picked up the W.

It was an ugly game that lasted almost 5 hours and saw the top of the Red Sox lineup hit into 4 killer double plays. Buch scuffled after a week of cheating rumors. Pedro Ciriaco was thrown out trying to steal third with 2 outs in the 8th. Tuesday's starter Ryan Dempster almost had to come into the game in extra innings. But one of the great things about this team and what separates it from the last two years is its depth. Last night the number 9 hitter and the 12th man in the pen took care of business. Just like Ben Cherington drew (no pun intended) it up.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Thoughts I Think: Papi Hot, The Pitching Not

Since last night was one of the rare times where I'm not drinking beer during a Red Sox game, the title of today's post is "Thoughts I Think." I stole this from my talented girlfriend Sadie, who uses this "catch phrase" after she says something...profound about the world. If she ever starts a site where she shares these thoughts with the rest of you then she can have it back.

The Sox lost a rough one yesterday to the struggling Toronto Blue Jays, 9-7. Let's start with some positives though.

  • David Ortiz is out of his mind right now. Let's first remember that he is 37 years old and he just came back ten days ago from TWO injured heels. The first couple games back you could kind of tell he wasn't fully right as he wasn't really driving the ball, instead looking to get on base and help the team any way he can. But around his 4th game he started absolutely destroying baseballs and he hasn't stopped. He has hit safely in all 9 games this year. He has had at least 2 hits in 7 of the 9 games, and in the two he didn't he at least hit a double in one and a home run in the other. If RBI are your thing (they are certainly not mine), he already has 15 on the season, placing him 23rd in the AL in just 36 at bats. Travis Hafner has the next fewest at bats in the top 23, with 66. The home run he hit last night was an absolute bomb and if possible I think he actually hit that bases clearing double even harder. Papi shoulda been the hero last night.
  • Jon Lester wasn't actually that terrible last night. His pitches looked good and hard. He got some key strikeouts when he needed them. When he missed, he missed low for the most part. Even the home run to Encarnacion was a cutter that he just didn't quite get inside far enough. What really did him in was some bad luck finally catching up with him in the form of allowing runners on base to score (and Salty, but I'll get to him later). I pointed this out to Joe Black yesterday, but I read this sentence somewhere that said "Lester, Lackey and Buchholz, who have struggled at times with men on base, have set career highs this season while stranding (leaving men on base at the end of innings) 81, 86 and 90 percent of their baserunners respectively." Stranding baserunners is generally not a skill as most pitchers basically strand between 70 and 75 percent of baserunners over the course of the season. When you see that someone is setting a career high in something that is not a skill in April, you can expect them to regress towards that average. Last night, Lester regressed, allowing 6 out of 9 baserunners to score for a 33% strand rate.
  • Jacoby and Dustin had strong games last night, and though Daniel Nava didn't do much, those three guys are the real reason that Ortiz and Mike Napoli are both in the top 25 in the AL for RBI this year (23rd and 3rd, respectively). RBI is a context based stat and unless you are Justin Upton (12 home runs and 19 RBI) you need runners on base in front of you to accrue RBI. If the Sox had Stephen Drew and Will Middlebrooks batting 1 and 2, neither Papi nor Napoli would be racking up the RBI like they are because Drew and Big Willie don't get on base enough so far.
  • I love it when a platoon comes together! Mike Carp (lefty) started the game in left field with the right handed Brandon Morrow on the mound. In his second at bat he abused a Morrow slider to deep right field for his first home run of the year. Then in the 6th, Blue Jays manager John Gibbons brought in lefty reliever Aaron Loup so Farrell, recognizing that every at bat was important from here on with a 3 run deficit, countered by bringing in Jonny Gomes (righty) for Carp. Gomes crushed a fastball to deep left center for his first home run of the year. Platoons, when used right, can be a beautiful thing.
    • Gibbons horribly mismanaged his bullpen last night despite the victory. First he pulled Morrow after only 96 pitches and 5 innings. I understand pitch counts, but to that point he had already struck out Mike Napoli twice and he was the first batter in the sixth inning. He could have at least sent him out for one more batter.
    • Then he brought in a side arming lefty to face the righty Napoli. Also, besides Carp, there were no lefty hitters coming up again until the number 9 hitter, Stephen Drew. Loup was able to get through 7 batters before being pulled after his short stop committed an error to put men on first and third with one out in the 7th and a two run lead.
    • So Gibbons then brought in a right handed reliever Steve Delabar to face Pedroia and Ortiz. Delabar at that point had 12 walks in just over 14 innings, so he's not really a great candidate to put into a game with runners on base and less than 2 outs. Shockingly he walked Pedroia and then Ortiz crushed the double.
    • Finally, Gibbons brought in a second lefty specialist, the immortal Darren Oliver, in the 8th to face the bottom of the Red Sox order. If he had a second lefty specialist, why didn't he bring him in to face Ortiz with the bases loaded in the 7th inning when it really mattered?
    • One other ridiculous move Gibbons made was pinch hitting for Rajai Davis in the 7th inning after he had been on base 3 times in the game and had wreaked havoc on the base paths. Adam Lind, his replacement, struck out.
  • I love watching Morrow pitch. He doesn't really know where the ball is going, but he throws it really frigging hard and with a ton of movement. People have been waiting for him to emerge as an ace for years, but he just can't control his amazing stuff. His matchup against Ortiz in the 5th was a thing of beauty. After getting lucky with throwing a high changeup/splitter for a ball on the first pitch, he came back with two filthy splitters down in the zone that Ortiz swung through. Then on the last pitch he threw a 90 MPH slider in the same location but with the opposite break, completely fooling the hottest hitter on the planet. For a baseball geek it was like Princess Leia in a bikini.
  • Jarrod Saltalamacchia. I will not mention how beautiful I think your swing is anymore unless you stop throwing the ball to first to pick off runners. You can barely throw to second or the pitcher for that matter, stop snap throwing to first. You have done this a few times this year already and luckily come away unscathed, but finally you were scathed hard last night and you deserved it. Stop it right now. I used to be a lefty catcher and it was always really hard for me to try and throw runners out at third because I would have to catch the pitch then awkwardly pivot my body. It's the same thing with a righty throwing to first. Unless you magically ingested the soul of Ivan Rodriguez, just stop.
  • Tough night for Junichi Tazawa. Still have lots of faith in him, but homers for him and Koji Uehara could prove to be a problem this year.
  • Joel Hanrahan, sucking my hat (that's what SMH means right? I seriously only know what LOL and BRB mean as far as computer talk goes).
  • Finally, Will Middlebrooks needs a rest. Or a hug. Or a sip from Jobu's rum. Poor guy is so lost right now. It's probably the wrist and a lack of plate discipline, but it just looks sad.