BSMW Group Project – Worst Boston Sports Columns

Before I left on vacation at the beginning of the month, Jim Donaldson of the Providence Journal wrote a column that was simply staggering in its stupidity. The column was titled Has marriage cost Tom Brady his competitive edge? 

It got me thinking…where does that column rank in the annuals of just bad, absurd, off-base Boston sports columns of the last few years?

There are no shortage of candidates. You’ve got Tony Massarotti’s column while at the Herald last year (“Nobody Wins This One – 5/15/08)  in which he called New England “the official home of yahoos, hero worshipers and gutless suck-ups.”

There’s Gerry Callahan’s over-the-top farewell to Manny Ramirez on August 1, 2008, (“No Dodging it: Manny Ramirez just a bad, bad man”) which can be summarized as “Manny hates kids with cancer.”

We can go with Bob Ryan’s claim that the Celtics might just barely be a playoff team after aquiring Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett. (Title for Celtics far from a done deal – 8/2/07) “That’s it? Someone actually thinks this Celtics team will win the East and contend for the championship? Really?” The column ends with “They might even make the playoffs.” The only player the Celtics added before the season started was James Posey.

Going back a little further, we’ve got the column Dan Shaughnessy wrote which essentially caused Theo Epstein to quit – Let’s iron out some of this dirty laundry (10/30/05)

That’s without touching anything from Bill Burt, Ron Borges, Steve Buckley, Nick Cafardo, Peter May, Bill Reynolds, Jeff Jacobs or even Buddy Thomas.

John Tomase’s Rams Walkthrough Tape report doesn’t really fit here, as it was reported as news, not an opinion column, so it doesn’t fit here. We’re looking for columns only here. Let’s keep it fairly recent, maybe the last 10 years or so.

Your assignment is to submit further columns – with links and excerpts if possible, and post them in the comment section below.

There will be prizes given away as part of this project. Everyone who submits a comment suggesting a column or voting on a suggested column will be entered in a giveaway for one of two AX MEN (Mondays 10:00pm on HISTORY) roadside kitsclick here for a photo of the prize – they’re pretty sweet.

You need to enter a valid email address in the comment form email field (won’t be displayed to others) to be eligible for the prize.

We’ll leave this open through the end of the week, and then we’ll publish a list of the top columns as suggested and put them to a formal vote.


  1. Fred West Lynn says

    In the “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” line of thinking, I’d have to say nearly any Shaughnessy column on Schilling, although in regard to that subject, where Shank really shows his petulant snarkiness is in the frequent drive-bys where he would haul Schilling into a passing (negative) reference unrelated to the main topic just to engage in “neener-neener” schiit-stirring. Kinda like Callahan’s Manny Ramirez fixation/Tourette’s at present.

    However, for sheer awfulness I have to tout the immortal Shank homage to Barbara Walters: “If Tom Brady was…” column. I suspect that Shank and his handlers thought it was a witty parody of the (then-) unchallengeable affection that New England had for its heroic 3-time SB winner. As with so many things Shaughnessy, the “you don’t get it — it’s supposed to be funny” (aka the Rupert Pupkin Defense) is just that: a defensive and indignant lashing out because the writing is not funny or even high-school level competent.

    What IS true is that this piece encompassed all of Dan’s stylistic tics. References/Comparisons pulled out of the ‘ sock puppet drawer of the Sports Mind’; Brief observations that are intended to be tart but are instead fetid; no evidence at all of there being either an assignment editor or a copy editor that was aware of what he was writing; and, best of all, taking an extremely thin idea and pounding it like cheap veal until it is paper-thin and tasteless. I personally know of elementary and middle school children who break into convulsive (and derisive) laughter just at the mention of “If Tom Brady was…” (is was it ‘were’?). Glorious self-indulgence! “If Tom Brady was a tree…” “If Tom Brady was an ice cream flavor…” It could go on forever, and it certainly felt like it did.


  2. Rich says

    I would include any of Buckley’s “if you don’t like it, LEAVE!” columns, where he bashes athletes for having an opinion. Foremost among these is the article where he ripped Mike Lowell for thoughtfully expressing an honest opinion about how he felt watching the Sox drool after Teixeira. From Lowell’s quotes, he did this matter-of-factly and without either malice or hand-wringing, but Guardian Buckley still took the chance to get a hatchet job in.


  3. Juan Genge says

    Way back when Callahan wrote for SI and before McGwire/Sosa, Gerry wrote a love letter to Manny saying how great he was for Cleveland and he would be the one to break the record.
    I can’t find the link but he also spent months on the show (back when it was 2 hours) Giving Manny a giant wet kiss on the mouth.


  4. Dan Riley says

    To give ballast to this little exercise, here’s something from Kristoff in the NYT yesterday:
    “So what about a system to evaluate us prognosticators? Professor Tetlock suggests that various foundations might try to create a “trans-ideological Consumer Reports for punditry,” monitoring and evaluating the records of various experts and pundits as a public service. I agree: Hold us accountable!”

    So, Bruce you’re doing the Lord’s work here.

    BTW, the column that still makes my head spin–Ryan’s on the state of Connecticut when Kraft was doing his let’s take the Pats to Hartford thing (full disclosure here–I was born in Mass but raised in the Nutmeg state). The article would have been fine if he’d stuck to the political and financial shenanigans, but he spun it into this wildly insane anti-Connecticut tirade. You’d think he was writing about North Korea. To make matters worse, it was at a time when the only respectable sports of any kind being played in all of New England was in Podunk, Connecticut.


    • Angry Old Bastard says

      what I remember most about that time period was Eddie Andelman SCREAMING every 2 minutes, “IT’S NOTHING MORE THAN A BIG TIME MONEY GRAB,DALE!..IT’S NOTHING MORE THAN A BIG TIME MONEY GRAB!!!!!….Andelman also repeated again and again how, “IF THEY MOVE TO CONNECTICUT I’LL NO LONGER BE A PATRIOTS FAN!…..why not Eddie? ..wouldn’t they still be the NEW ENGLAND Patriots?… of the few thing WEEI ever did right was can that pompous ass