(Note: Saturday’s CHB column offered more of the same on Daisuke Matsuzaka and so I have chosen a different topic for today’s column)
An anonymous student posed the question of why the bloggers on this site have so much disdain for Dan Shaughnessy. I can’t speak for the others but I would imagine that our reasons overlap to a large extent. I am happy to offer my perspective and I am curious as to what others might say. Here are a few thoughts:
1) Shaughnessy is both a columnist and a reporter. As a columnist, he is given editorial license and is given liberty to inject his opinion. First and foremost, I believe he fails as a columnist. As a reporter, he should stick with the facts; however, I believe he often blurs the line when he “reports” and uses too much editorial license that other reporters would not get away with.
He fails as a columnist because he has misinterpreted the role. In my opinion, a columnist can take license but still has the responsibility to back it up with careful analysis and logic. All too often, Shaughnessy offers his opinion but does a woeful job in backing it up. That is why we get a constant barrage of statements like “Manny quit last year” or “Nomar wants out of town” but little or no proof is ever offered. Friday’s column about Matsuzaka is another example of his extreme laziness—he offers a position but there is simply no depth to the story at all. It is inane. He hides behind this editorial license as a shield from having to do hard work and ultimately to justify his positions.
When he does game reports, he should stick with the facts but it seems impossible for him to refrain from editorializing. In a recent game report, he took a pot shot at Schilling’s blogging. (Contrary to what Objective Bruce might think, the bloggers here are not Schilling “fanboys” – I personally do not idolize athletes in general or Schilling in particular.) At any rate, I don’t care for the pot shots when I am reading a game report. Unfortunately, Shaughnessy does not know when to stop.
2) Shaughnessy is vindictive. He seems to hold grudges against certain people and it further clouds his writing. If you read him long enough, his contempt of Theo Epstein is blatantly obvious as well as his dislike for Schilling and Ramirez to name a few. He has every right to criticize players and management but when it becomes so personal, it undermines any shred of credibility he might have. Frankly, I think we deserve better from a major newspaper writer.
3) Shaughnessy loves to inject himself into the story…the phone call to Schilling to stir up some of the bad blood between the two; the dinner with John Henry and the details of how he brought Henry one of his autographed books; the phone call to Jon Lester’s parents about cancer; the story of tasting Larry Bird’s wine. Some of this can be interesting and is okay—he has that discretion as a columnist . All too often, however it is over the top because there is the tendency to make it all about him.
4) Shaughnessy blows with the wind and he is an annoying revisionist. Most recent example is his take on the 2006 season. In April of last year, he said the Red Sox would finally win the division because they had great pitching and defense. Within the past month, he called the 2006 team a poorly constructed and flawed team. That’s all well and good but it’s a surprising statement when he had “bought in” to this flawed team a year earlier.
5) Shaughnessy thinks he speaks for all Red Sox fans as he says “We believe this” or “We don’t buy that” etc. . His one comment about Keith Fouke (something like “We all rejoiced when Foulke retired”) still annoys the crap out of me when I look back on it. Coco Crisp is the guy “we love to boo”. Shaughnessy does not represent me and I resent his use of “we” in such a consistent and pervasive way.
6) Shaughnessy loves to comment that “Only in Boston would you see this” as if Boston has an unrealistic fixation on sports. The irony is that Shaughnessy is the one that often fans the flames. His reporting of Matsuzaka this spring is a classic example. On the one hand, he mocks the press coverage that the story has received. On the other hand, he has contributed column after meaningless column about Matsuzaka.
7) Invoking DBVader’s classic line, “Dan hates you and thinks you are stupid.” He likes to tell us what and how to think. He likes to remind us that we take too sports seriously so he feels the occasional responsibility to get on his preachy pulpit and repeat stories about heroic firefighters that really belong in the metro section. I really don’t appreciate the preachiness.
8) Shaughnessy often get his facts wrong. See any number of the Chief’s posts to this end. It is sad.
9) Shaughnessy trots out the same old tired phrases again and again. “Sons of Tito”; “Theo and the minions”; “Mo likes the Foxy Lady”, etc. It’s not fresh and in fact it’s very stale.
I have a few more points but this column is already too long but I hope it gives you a sense of things. It is funny how many people come to this site and remark, “Wow, I can’t believe I’m not the only one who dislikes Shaughnessy so much.” The reason is simple, with Shaughnessy, there are many things not to like.