Dr. Shaughnessy diagnoses Nomar

The Boston Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy writes an absolutely toxic column on Nomar Garciaparra, and I can’t say I disagree with all of it. But then there’s this, about the 2004 injury that contributed to his being shipped out of town several months later:

He developed Achilles’ tendinitis, allegedly after a ball hit him in the batting cage (nobody witnessed this).

There’s only one way to read that: Shaughnessy thinks Nomar might have been faking it. Why? Garciaparra was always hurt. There’s no reason to think that particular injury was any different. But Dr. Dan knows better, I guess.

“What’s the end-game there?”

Former Boston Globe columnist John Ellis, a venture capitalist who disclosed earlier this year that he’d done some work for a potential buyer, warns that things are still bad at 135 Morrissey Blvd. and likely to get worse.

“How long can the NYT afford to carry the net operating losses?” he asks. “When does it make more sense to just shut it down?”

Ellis also argues that the Globe must do everything it can to hang on to what’s left of its big-name sports talent, namely columnists Dan Shaughnessy and Bob Ryan.

I revere Ryan, who, despite his veteran status, happens to be one of the hardest-working folks at the Globe. Shaughnessy’s a good read even when he’s sending me over the edge. But the idea that management might have to shell out more money to keep its stars from jumping to the Internet is galling at a time when everyone else is being asked to sacrifice.

Which is not to say Ellis is wrong. He’s probably right.

The Blutarsky theory of Red Sox futility

Blutto_20091013If you’re like me, you probably hadn’t thought about “Animal House” for many years, even though it is the greatest movie of all time.

So what were the odds of finding two Blutto Blutarsky references following the collapse of the 2009 Red Sox?

First, on Monday, the Boston Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy informed us, “In that moment, Papelbon was working on a string of 27 consecutive scoreless postseason innings. His career playoff ERA was John Blutarsky’s grade-point average: 0.00.”

Then, today, Gerry Callahan writes in the Boston Herald: “Guerrero flared a single to center, and just like that, the previous six months of Red Sox baseball was like Blutarsky’s seven years at Faber College: down the drain.”

Must be just a coincidence. (Thanks to Media Nation reader J.M.)

Schilling hits the wall

It’s never pretty when a great athlete reaches the end. What compounds the human drama is that the very qualities that made him great cloud his ability to see reality.

Not that I’m going to try to choose among doctors. But it seems obvious that the Red Sox are hoping against hope that they might get some useful innings out of Curt Schilling this year through a conservative rehab program, whereas Schilling believes if they’d only let him have surgery, he can return to his glory days.

Neither scenario is realistic, but at least the Sox are pursuing the one route that might work to a limited degree. If Schilling has surgery, it’s likely that he’s done for the year, if not forever. If he doesn’t, well, maybe there’s a chance that Schilling’s got one good post-season run left in him.

It’s inevitable that the Boston sports media, and especially Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy, would try to turn this into a controversy. Schilling hasn’t helped, either. But it seems to me that there are really only two areas of possible controversy here, and neither hold up to inspection:

  • The course of treatment. Doctors disgree. What do we know? Nothing. End of discussion.
  • Schilling’s condition at the time of his signing. We know he took a physical and got an MRI when he signed a one-year, $8 million deal last fall. We may assume that he did not pass with flying colors. I’m sure the Red Sox were told that it was no worse than expected and that, with luck, he’d be able to pitch one more season. It didn’t happen. But to suggest that Schilling was hiding something is to assume that he could somehow fake his MRI.

Schilling says he needs surgery just to lead a normal post-retirement life. He sounds like someone who is deeply conflicted. I suspect he knows what he should do — announce his retirement, undergo surgery and forfeit the $8 million. If he feels like Josh Beckett next spring, well, he can always unretire.

But I’m sure Schilling believes he signed his contract in good faith, with both sides knowing the end was near, and that the Sox shouldn’t get a pass for refusing surgery — especially since his own surgeon seems to think he could be back by mid-season. (Let’s not forget that we’re talking about a 41-year-old who took a year and a half to recover from ankle surgery.)

The thing is, I see no evidence that the Red Sox aren’t acting in good faith, too.

All that said, I think there’s something to what John Henry told Shaughnessy today — that Schilling’s surgeon has created considerable doubt in the pitcher’s mind as to whether rehab will work. Might a compromise be possible? How about letting Schilling go ahead with the surgery, but not letting him collect the $8 million if he’s not back by, say, Aug. 1?

It’s worth asking him. Then again, maybe they already have.

Photo (cc) by guano, and republished here under a Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.

Shaughnessy’s odd premise

No doubt plenty of jerks get in Terry Francona’s face. But the central premise of Boston Globe reporter/columnist Dan Shaughnessy’s profile of the Red Sox manager today strikes me as odd. Shaughnessy writes:

Despite getting swept in New York last week, the Sox have the best record in the major leagues and a six-game lead in the American League East. They are likely going to the playoffs for the fourth time in five seasons. They even won a World Series three years ago, and yet Francona — the fourth-year manager who delivered Boston’s first baseball championship in 86 years in 2004 — has an ever-expanding legion of critics. He enjoys none of the public reverence and worship that washes over Bill Belichick in Foxborough.

Really? Maybe my circle is too small, but among people I talk baseball with, Francona is seen as the Sox’ best manager in our lifetime. The only worry I hear is that Tito’s health problems may force him to retire early.

Joe Morgan, also a good manager, was more entertaining, and Dick Williams will be forever revered because of 1967. But Francona’s the man.

“Dan-Haters” hit a new low

Either Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy’s daughter did something she’ll regret, or he’s being done in by some Internet fakery.

According to the sports blog Deadspin, Shaughnessy’s daughter Kate recently sent an e-mail to family and friends asking them to pump up Dad’s Amazon.com ratings for his most recent book, “Senior Year: A Father, A Son, and High School Baseball.” The idea, she writes (if she did), is to counter the “Dan-Haters.”

The result — and do you really have to ask? — is that “Senior Year” is now getting absolutely hammered on Amazon.

I considered not writing this item. Deadspin offers zero evidence that the e-mail is genuine, and, thus, its scooplet doesn’t meet even minimal journalistic standards. (If Deadspin has vetted its information in some credible way, it should say so — and I’ll be happy to make that clear.) But Deadspin is part of the well-known Gawker gossip network (Wonkette, Gawker, Defamer, et al.), and, according to Technorati, is ranked 81st in the top 100. It would be ridiculous to pretend that it doesn’t exist.

So, regardless of the e-mail’s authenticity, think of this as a bit of online cultural anthropology: “Dan-Haters” are using Shaughnessy’s daughter in an attempt to run down his book, whether she actually wrote the e-mail or not.

I’m inclined to think the e-mail is genuine. Besides, it’s the sort of thing I’d like to think one of my kids would write if I were in the same situation.

I count myself neither as a “Dan-Hater” nor as a Shaughnessy fan (shouldn’t the Globe’s lead sports columnist, you know, like sports?). But this is just vicious — and, sadly, characteristic of some of Shaughnessy’s more unhinged online detractors. (Via Universal Hub.)

Dr. Shaughnessy is in

Why does he do this? In his Globe column today, Dan Shaughnessy insinuates that the Red Sox were lying — or at least blowing smoke — about what was really wrong with Josh Beckett between May 13, when he hurt his finger, and last night, when he made a successful return. Writes Shank:

He appeared to be bound for a start in the All-Star Game in San Francisco before suffering an “avulsion” on his right middle finger while throwing a pitch against the Orioles in what turned out to be the most memorable game of this young season (a.k.a. the “Mother’s Day Miracle”). Remember, boys and girls, this was not a blister — it was an avulsion.

Shaughnessy, of course, presents no evidence. But reports have been pretty consistent that Beckett did not get a blister, a problem that plagued him pretty consistently when he was younger. For instance, here is what the Globe’s Amalie Benjamin reported on May 17:

Beckett suffered an avulsion — a torn piece of skin below the pad on his right middle finger — in the fourth inning Sunday against the Orioles. He has experienced similar skin problems in the past, though the Sox are careful not to characterize the injury as akin to the blisters he developed with the Marlins.

Medline Plus defines “avulsion” as “a tearing away of a body part accidentally or surgically.” That doesn’t sound like a blister, either.

A small matter, obviously. You just wonder what’s rattling around Shaughnessy’s brain when he types this stuff.