Wednesday, October 29, 2014

He Apparently Found the Daisy's of KC

The CHB shows off his knee-jerk reactionism in today's column, yet another that pretends to be on the World Series but is really just a series of shots at the Red Sox.

Let's begin!

  • "Having watched the Giants in October of 2014, does Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington still think a team can win a World Series without an ace?"

  • This suggests Cherington said something along those lines, which he didn't. What Shank is referring to is the Red Sox' trade of Jon Lester last July. What Shank ignores is that 1) the Red Sox were going nowhere and 2) Lester is a free-agent to be and was set to walk.

    What Shank could have noted is that 1) the Royals are one game away from winning the WS without an ace and 2) if the Giants win, it will extend a streak whereby the WS winner was the team with the home runs during the regular season -- a place the Red Sox are much better position for with Yoenis Cespides (the player received in exchange for Lester) than without. But that ruins Shank's argument.

    • Who should the Red Sox sign: James Shields or Pablo Sandoval? Probably not Shields, based on the Series performance.

    Yes, Shields has shit the bed in the post-season. And yes, Sandoval is hitting up a storm (.360 through Game 6). So naturally we should make $100 million decisions based on a handful of games, right? Guess who is hitting just 10 points less than Panda? The immortal Brandon Crawford. Perhaps we can make it a package deal.

    • Did you know that Back Bay watering hole Daisy Buchanan's is closing? 

    Where is The CHB going to get his pre- and post-game drink on now? My guess is he's not allowed in Sonsie.

    Tuesday, October 28, 2014

    Today's Secret Ingredient Is - Free Food!

    Alternate title - Comic Relief!

    Some of you may know that the 'Top Chef' show has been in the Boston area in recent months. At some point, they held court at Fenway Park, where one of the judges is none other than Our Man Shank!

    If it's free, it's for me!
    The e-mail arrived in my in-box in the middle of May. A fellow named Chris wanted to know if I could join the “Top Chef” judges for a lunchtime taping at Fenway Park over the weekend. They already had booked Dennis Eckersley and they were looking for another person familiar with Boston baseball.

    I can do that, I figured.

    I know all about Fenway.

    I know how to eat.
    That's what we hear, Mr. One Mile Run...
    I checked with my 28-year-old daughter Kate, a high school English teacher who is something of a reality TV buff. A couple of weeks earlier, Kate had mentioned that “Top Chef” might be shooting its upcoming season in Boston. This seemed to be a very big deal to her. When I casually mentioned the invitation, my smart, mature daughter reacted as if I’d been asked to join the Rolling Stones on stage at their next concert.
    Ahhh, still dating ourselves, are we?
    “Are you kidding me?’’ asked Kate. “You have to do that! That’s the coolest thing ever! Tell them ‘yes’ and then find out who is going to be there!’’

    OK. I called Chris and told him I could tape the show. I asked him who was going to be at the table with Eck and me and he started rattling off names. Padma. Tom. Hugh. Ming. Blais. The names meant nothing to me, but when I relayed them to Kate it had the effect of someone telling me they were going to sing with Mick, Keith, John, Paul, and Janis. Clearly, these “Top Chef” judges are the rock stars of food tasting.
    Except these 'rock stars' aren't dead or collecting Social Security cheques.
    On Sunday, May 25, Kate and her husband accompanied me to the show’s taping at Fenway.

    “Top Chef” is top secret. Show representatives repeatedly reminded us that we couldn’t talk about anything until the episode aired (Oct. 29 at 10 p.m. on Bravo). There was to be no tweeting, no Facebooking, and no casual conversation of this day. We had to sign a confidentiality agreement; any breach would put us at risk of paying a Dr. Evil-esque penalty of “ONE MILLION DOLLARS.’’
    Forget the million bucks; missing out on free food would probably make Shank wire his own mouth shut.

    We met the big shot judges and they were all very nice. Tom is from New Jersey and knows a lot about sports. Hugh is a Montreal Canadiens fan and wanted to know where he could safely watch a Habs playoff game on TV in Boston. (nowhere! - ed.) I recommended Post 390, because it has great food and it was near his hotel. Padma was tall and friendly. She had a lot of questions about sports and said she’d been asked on dates by a couple of the New York Yankees.

    “Jeter? A-Rod?’’ I wondered.

    She wouldn’t say.
    Of course it's Jeter! Come on, will ya?
    It didn’t matter to me. Even if Padma dished about the famous Yankees, I couldn’t write about it because of . . . ONE MILLION DOLLARS.

    Just before noon, we started our taping in the third base dugout. We paraded up the steps and strode toward our elegant table on the warning track, directly in front of the Green Monster. We had assigned seats — mine was across from Tom and next to Padma. Color me happy. A little nervous with the cameras rolling, I neglected to pull out Padma’s chair when we seated ourselves.
    Such an inconsiderate cad. No Padma date for you!

    Now here's the really funny part:
    Then came the parade of chefs from the visitors dugout. Three at a time. Carrying all forms of meatballs, peanut sauces, ribs, duck, and pork bellies. They all seemed pretty nervous.

    Tom, Hugh, Ming, Blais, and Padma were pretty rough on the contestants.

    Not me.

    I couldn’t bring myself to insult the anxious young chefs. Call me crazy, but ripping professional ballplayers comes easily compared with this. Who accepts a dinner invitation, then insults the host or hostess?
    Because they're professional food assholes. Shank's a professional sports asshole. That's the difference.

    Tune into Bravo tomorrow night at 10:00, everybody!

    Monday, October 27, 2014

    His Brain's Still In Boston

    Shank finally gets around to writing about a baseball game while on his mini-vacation assignment to cover the World Series in San Francisco. In an otherwise respectable column, Shank's occasional foray into snotty, elitist Boston provincialism raises its head again:
    SAN FRANCISCO — Which Bay Area bard will compose “The Ballad of Madison Bumgarner’’ when this World Series is over?

    Is this big lefty from Hudson, N.C., (population, 2,800) really only 25 years old? Did he really give his high school sweetheart a 5-day-old bull calf as a wedding present when they were married on Valentine’s Day in 2010? Where does he rank on the list of best postseason pitchers in the history of baseball?
    Probably right down there with his neighbors:
    Bumgarner is from the land of the goobers.
    Stay classy, Shank!

    Sunday, October 26, 2014

    Leaving His Heart In San Francisco

    Only a columnist of Shank's legendary miserableness and negativity can travel to San Francisco, ostensibly to cover the World Series, and use the trip to take a shit on Fenway Park.
    SAN FRANCISCO — The World Series said goodbye to this baseball palace Sunday night. The San Francisco Giants and Kansas City Royals will resume their nifty joust Tuesday night at Kauffman Stadium.


    But I am here to tell you that AT&T Park might be the perfect baseball stadium. Most of you have a soft spot in your hearts for the old bandbox near Kenmore Square, but if you have made the trip west to watch the Giants at home you know that what I’m telling you is true: AT&T Park is a better ballpark than Fenway Park.

    Let us count the ways:
    I see the logic of a newly built stadium that cost $357 million having better amenities than a stadium that's well over a century old, but does anyone seriously believe that this column isn't written as the thousandth shot from Shank at the Red Sox organization? That, coupled with the fact that he hasn't written a single column about the World Series games themselves while he's been in San Francisco, basically proves the point.

    Turned Off by World Series Column Errors

    So watching TV has changed since 1962, eh? Who knew?

    Because that's the essence of The CHB's column today. Perhaps the World Series isn't what it used to be (according to today's headline), but in truth, this piece is not so much about baseball as it is watching it on the tube.

    The problem with Shank's column is that, while he runs down a litany of reasons why today's product isn't as good as yesteryear's, he lists the wrong reasons.

    To wit, he cites bottomed-out interest because there are no college scholarships for baseball players: "The game has also lost most of its appeal in America’s inner cities owed to fallout from NCAA scholarship regulations — baseball is a non-revenue college sport that provides few scholarships — as much as anything." Well, as we've noted here before, we are sure it would come as a surprise to a non-athlete like Shank to learn that DI and DII baseball offers a grand total of one less scholarship per team than does basketball, which, we hear, is thriving in urban areas. Moreover, JCs, where a tremendous number of baseball players end up, can offer nine more free rides than their basketball brethren.

    Scholarship Stats puts the chances of a high school baseball player competing in college at 11.2%, nearly twice the likelihood a hoops player will make the grade.

    So much for research.

    Shank also compares baseball to well-worn (or worn out) symbols such as "The Ed Sullivan Show" and "Peanuts," relying as always on vapid cliches like "your father's Oldsmobile" (block that metaphor!).

    He complains that the average age of a baseball viewer is nearly 55, but fails to note that the start time of games (8:07 pm Eastern) means that, for one-third of the country, an entire generation of potential new fans is going to bed as the first pitch is being thrown. You can't watch what you can't watch.

    It's not baseball that is obsolete, it's over-the-hill mediocrities like Dan Shaughnessy.

    Saturday, October 25, 2014

    Sandoval Signing Will Beget Major Hissy Fits

    Funny the headline over The CHB today uses the word "fit" to describe the hypothetical match between the Red Sox and current Giants 3B Pable Sandoval.

    Funnier still, The CHB's proclamations and assertions that he "promise(s)" never to rip Sandoval for being out of shape or going on the disabled list."

    This is the guy who mocked Dustin Pedroia (future MVP and Rookie of the Year) for being small and no good, David Ortiz (two time playoff MVP and six time Silver Slugger winner) for being fat and no good, Pedro Martinez for being sensitive and injured (3 Cy Youngs; future Hall of Famer), Roger Clemens for being fat and good (7 Cy Youngs), and Curt Schilling (3 Cy Young runner-ups) for being injured and talking too much?

    And those guys are total studs. So do we really think Shank is going to sheath the daggers for a middle of the pack infielder who is already on the wrong side of 27 and has had three straight years of diminishing performance?

    "Promises" are made to be broken.

    Friday, October 24, 2014

    And Now For More Boston Globe Bashing - XXIII

    This author hasn't taken a crap on Dan's employer in well over a year, more or less coinciding with John Henry's purchase of all that fine Morrissey Boulevard real estate the Boston Globe newspaper company. If this report is any indication, the migration to online sales and the related advertising revenue won't be enough to save that sinking ship (or any other newspaper, for that matter).

    That, and it's pretty straightforward to defeat the Globe's paywall, so they're getting skinned to a degree in their online subscriptions to boot. So where's the revenue going to come from again?
    "...putting newspapers online has not remotely restored their profitability..."

    "Now, however, in the first years of the 21st century, accelerating technological transformation has undermined the business models that kept American news media afloat, raising the possibility that the great institutions on which we have depended for news of the world around us may not survive."
    Depends on how you define 'news', doesn't it?

    (link via Zero Hedge)

    Better Late Than Never

    It may or may not be news to you that the World Series hasn't been terribly popular TV viewing this year, although the numbers for Game 2 showed some improvement. This general apathy may or may not explain Shank's own absence in covering the World Series.

    But find a Red Sox angle to tonight's Game 3? Shank's on it!
    SAN FRANCISCO — Remember Tim Hudson, Red Sox fans?

    Hudson was part of a dominant pitching staff that Billy Beane assembled in Oakland in the early part of this century. Hudson averaged 17 wins per season with the A’s from 2000-03.

    In the first game of the 2003 American League Division Series, Hudson won a duel with Pedro Martinez in Oakland. The A’s took a 2-0 series lead and were perched to eliminate the Cowboy Up Red Sox in swift fashion.

    When the Series shifted to Boston, Hudson was involved in an altercation at a bar near Faneuil Hall. Two days later, he was Ken Macha’s starting pitching for Game 4 at Fenway and was lifted after one inning because of a muscle strain in his left side. At that time, it was the shortest outing of Hudson’s career. The Red Sox won, 5-4, and a day later, the Sox went to Oakland and won the Series in five games. It was one of four consecutive Game 5 eliminations for the Moneyball A’s.
    Now that Shank's in San Francisco for the next three games, we can look forward to a few more baseball columns, that is, if 'look forward' is the right choice of words...

    Tuesday, October 21, 2014

    Shank On The World Series

    After writing a few columns during the past fortnight about the American and National League championship series', Shank sits down, analyzes the strengths & weaknesses of both the Kansas City Royals and the San Francisco Giants, offers a few opinions, and puts all of that into a thoughtful, concise and timely column.

    Almost had you there for a second!

    Seriously, if Shank can be bothered to churn out a few columns during the championship series of both leagues, why not do a column before the series starts? If he can do the trite 'compare & contrast' type of columns like this one, why not do a similar / some sort of column on those two teams before the World Series starts? Is he on vacation? Is that too much work? Inquiring minds want to know!