May 23, 2014, 8:55 AM EST
Look, I know Dan Shaughnessy sucks. I know not reading him is a life hack with absolutely zero downside and oodles of benefits. I know that taking a single thing he says with even a modicum of seriousness is about as smart as exfoliating your T-zone with a belt sander. It’s painful and there’s utterly no point.
But dudes, on some level you have to appreciate artistry, even if you don’t like the art. Would I buy the product of a performance artist who hurls her own feces at cork board while singing GG Allin songs? Never. But I am capable of acknowledging the commitment, no matter what it leads to. The phrase “go hard or go home” means something to me, man.
For Shaughnessy it’s “troll hard or go home,” and for all of his years of work and all of what I presume to be gobs of money he has, Danny Boy has never rested on his trolling laurels. Sure, he’ll phone in 80% of his work, but when it comes to the serious business of explaining why and how much Boston teams suck, even when they really don’t — heck, especially when they don’t — the man still has the instincts and drive of a master in his prime.
Take today’s column which, at the outset, notes that the Red Sox aren’t doing too well. Hey, they’re not, so that’s fair, and that’s where most Boston columnists have decided to stop these past couple of days. Not Shaughnessy. He’s content to take a mediocre season start — they’re five games behind the surprising Blue Jays — and use it as a springboard for claiming that it’s not just a poor start, it’s a poor era that is not as good as everyone likes to say it is:
In the early part of the 21st century, the Sox truly were a powerhouse, annually winning 95 games and making it to the World Series or the seventh game of the ALCS four times in six years. Those days are over.
The Sox won a World Series last year, but 2013 looks more and more like an outlier season. If the Sox fail to make the playoffs this year, it will mark the fourth time in five seasons they have failed to make the postseason. It would mark the fifth time in six years that they have failed to win a postseason game.
That’s the reigning World Series champs he’s talking about. Which, yes, had a crappy season in 2012 and a couple of bad weeks at the end of 2011, but which still have had one losing record, three-sub 90-win seasons and three World Series titles in the past 12 years. And just when you think he’s made the most manipulative sounding point of analysis possible, he whips this out:
This is bad. The 20-26 Sox are looking like worst-to-first-to-worst candidates. Only two American League teams have more losses than Boston. The Bobby Valentine Sox were 23-23 after 46 games in 2012.
I don’t know how the Sox will do this year. I still think it’s a really talented team that has had a rough early go of it and which has as good if not a better chance than winning the AL East than any of the other guys. But sure, they could never get back on track and finish third or whatever. It’s baseball and stuff like that happens all the time.
But no matter what happens, I’m pretty sure that only someone as uniquely gifted as Dan Shaughnessy can characterize the Sox’ start in such a way as to cast doubt and negativity on the franchise and its recent history as a whole. And to do it, as most masters do, in such a way as to make the work appear effortless.
Bravo, Dan. Bravo.
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