It seems like Dan Shaughnessy isn’t feeling the love as of late. Why else devote a whole column to trying to justify his pitiful existence?
As usual, Dan also completely misses the point, and shows repeatedly just how clueless and out of touch he really is.
I’ve sort of shied away from the Dan Shaughnessy topic for a few years, mostly because most people who come here have already tuned him out. Beating a dead horse isn’t enjoyable for anyone.
That said, his submission this morning needs to be exposed for the pathetic cry for attention that it really is.
Do you want coverage or celebration? Do you want subjective commentary and analysis, or do you just want writer/fans rooting for the local teams to win?
It is interesting to me that Dan used the word “subjective” here. It is of course, the opposite of “objective.” A subjective commentary integrates the writer’s personal perspective, feelings, beliefs, and yes, biases.
We’ll go more into this later, but I find it really curious that he talks about being the opposite of objective, but then attempts to hide behind the “rules of journalism” and so forth.
But to answer Dan’s question, and I’ve said this dozens of times before, fans don’t want the media to root for their teams. But they don’t want them to be rooting against them, either. It’s called being objective, which I’m convinced, many people in media have no idea how to be. To them, being snide, and negative is being objective.
So anyway, Dan claims that many Patriots fans came up to him down in Florida and asked Don’t you want the Patriots to win?
I call BS. If anyone knew who Shaughnessy was enough to approach and talk to him, they already know what he’s about. I just find it extremely unbelievable that legit Patriots fans would go up to Shaughnessy and ask him that.
Now that he’s got that impossible scenario set up, he unloads:
I don’t care if they win. I don’t care if they lose. I love sports. I love football. I love the story. The story can be great, win or lose. But I am not emotional about the outcome. Overall, of course, it’s better to work in a region with good teams, and Boston has more than any other city. Most of the time it’s a great story if they win. It’s even good for the city. Money flows. Strangers talk with each other. Sometimes it’s a good story even if they lose.
I’ll state this right now. Dan does not love sports. He especially does not love football. How else can you explain that 90% of his columns (that’s an unscientific measurement, by the way) are miserable trolling attempts to anger people? Even when he writes “positive” he does it in a way that is so far over-the-top that you know that he is still trolling. He’s mocking you.
I’ll give Dan a little credit, he at least makes it into the 1990’s with his pop culture reference in this column.
You’ve no doubt seen “The Fugitive” with Tommy Lee Jones and Harrison Ford. It’s a classic. There’s a scene early in the film where Jones, as Deputy US Marshal Samuel Gerard, pursues fugitive Dr. Richard Kimble (Ford) through a viaduct in a dam. In the ensuing confrontation, Kimble points a gun at Gerard and says, “I didn’t kill my wife.’’
With nary a shred of emotion, Gerard barks, “I don’t care.’’
That’s it right there, people. It’s not the marshal’s job to determine Dr. Kimble’s guilt or innocence. The marshal’s job is to bring him in.
That’s me. I write the stories. I care about the stories. But when my head hits the pillow at the end of the day it does . . . not . . . matter to me if the Patriots won or lost.
Of course Shaughnessy fancies himself the journalistic equivalent of Tommy Lee Jones’ character. Of course he does. (As noted by Craig Calcaterra, if Shaughnessy’s job is not to determine guilt or innocence, why did he write the May column accusing David Ortiz of using steroids?)
He cares about the stories. The problem is, he focuses exclusively on stories that are usually contrived controversies, innuendo, settling scores, making a splash so he can make extra money with a Jim Rome appearance, or just lazy, recycled bits that he’s written a dozen times before. Is it a “good story” if no one enjoys it?
He doesn’t care if the locals win or lose? This is the guy who put his kids through college by writing about the misery of Red Sox fans having to deal with a made-up “curse” and as long as the team kept losing, he could keep adding chapters to his book. He had a financial stake in the team losing year after year – the more painful the ending, the better.
For years, Shaughnessy’s email was email@example.com. But no, he doesn’t care if the team won or lost.
Now we get into the most ridiculous part of the column:
This is how we were trained a few decades ago. We were instructed not to root for the home team. Just deliver the story and the analysis.
That’s the way it is in other departments of a legitimate news operation. Journalists who cover politics, science, medicine, labor, and international relations are asked to put their agendas on the shelf. Tell the story. The reporter covering the Romney-Obama election is not supposed to be a fan of either candidate.
Why is it presumed to be different for us? Why do readers expect — and in some cases, demand — that sports reporters be fans of the team they cover? This amazes me. Are we supposed to suspend all rules of journalism because we cover sports?
Have you stopped laughing yet? Asked to put their agendas on the shelf. Does anyone have more agendas than Shaughnessy does? What a fraud. This is the guy who, because he was supposedly snubbed by the Kraft family at some breakfast the team put on over 15 years ago, continues to slam them every opportunity he gets.
Readers don’t expect, much less demand that sports reporters be fans. That’s utter nonsense. The real reason Shaughnessy is hated goes right over his head. Rational people are not upset that he doesn’t’ root for the home team. They object to the manner in which he continually attacks certain home teams and players.
Remember earlier Dan asked if we wanted “subjective” analysis? Wouldn’t that go against these “rules of journalism?”
OK, some might say “He’s a columnist, he’s supposed to give his opinion, and be controversial.” I’m not the one citing “rules of journalism” here and attempting to hide behind them as some an excuse for his work. Is a columnist exempt from these “rules of journalism?” If so, why is he then citing them? Is it against the rules of journalism to use the people you supposedly cover to also get your children jobs and internships?
Trust me when I tell you this whole thing has changed. When I came into this business in the 1970s, it was OK for sports reporters to be skeptical and critical. It was not a crime against humanity if you suggested the Patriots or Red Sox might not win the championship, or perhaps might not be serving the best interests of their fans. It was OK to occasionally poke fun at Haywood Sullivan or Billy Sullivan.
I’ll take Dan’s word for it. I know there were plenty of critical sports writers in those days. I also know there were columnists like Ray Fitzgerald, who wrote columns that are still enjoyable to read today. 30 years from now, what will people think if they look back and read Shaughnessy? Why was he so miserable? Leigh Montville shows that a columnist doesn’t have to be constantly bashing the locals in order to be successful.
But if you also read Howard Bryant’s Shut Out, you know that there were plenty of sportswriters in the 70’s who covered the Red Sox and ignored the team’s racist practices. So I’m not sure his claim that they were so critical holds up very well there.
I love the phrase ‘crime against humanity’ slipped in there – isn’t that what Dan and his buds usually accuse Bill Belichick of on a regular basis? Also they could “occasionally poke fun at” ownership. Does anyone with half a brain think that Shaughnessy is “poking fun” at Robert Kraft when he takes his shots?
Naturally, the Internet is a good source of explanation for this new dynamic. The web gives fans an infinite forum. Fans have a place to read like-minded people. It’s like one giant sports-talk show with no hosts interrupting. It turns out that fans love reading other fans. And, naturally, they all love their teams. What a surprise. Now they expect everyone else to love a team. It’s the wild west of fanboys.
Stupid “fanboys” reference. Check.
But not everything is always great and it’s OK to point this out now and then. Opinions about sports don’t impact important issues that touch our lives. This isn’t about taxes, abortion, gun control, or health care. It’s about first-round byes and Cover 2 defenses. If we have differing opinions about Wes Welker, it doesn’t mean we can’t get along with one another.
In this spirit, I submit that the 2013 Patriots are headed to an unfortunate ending this season. Please don’t take this as negativity. It’s just an opinion. I may be wrong. But it really won’t matter if I’m right or wrong. It’s sports. It’s entertainment. It’s fun. And it’s not going to change your life or mine, one way or another.
Wait, so the entire point of this column was to tell us that the Patriots are headed to an unfortunate ending this season. Was it only eight days ago you wrote a ridiculous, over-the-top piece about how the Patriots were going to win the Super Bowl? (By the way, I don’t think the Patriots win the Super Bowl this season, but that’s not going to stop me from enjoying the remaining games.)
Setting that aside for the moment, Dan is telling us that sports doesn’t matter. It’s unimportant. It’s not life or death. It’s not death, taxes or politics.
OK, granted. Then why all the references to the vaunted rules of journalism above? Isn’t this a contradiction? He has to follow these rules (which he doesn’t) but the subject of sports doesn’t compare to politics or actual news reporting. If we’re talking apples and oranges here, why does it matter? He says it doesn’t. So what is the point here?
I have no problem with pointing out problems on the local teams. I have a problem with him being a totally biased, agenda-riddled prick while doing it, and then hiding behind some “rules of journalism” which he flaunts by being “subjective” when he pretends to be “objective.”
Dan – It’s OK to have your opinion. But you need to own it, not hide behind some “rules of journalism.”
Going back to Dan’s Fugitive reference, does he know how the movie closed out?
Dr. Richard Kimble: I thought you didn’t care?
Deputy Marshal Samuel Gerard: I don’t.
Deputy Marshal Samuel Gerard: Don’t tell anybody, OK?
Shaughnessy cares. Much more than he’ll ever admit. He just wants you to think he doesn’t.
Do you know why he cares? Because he’s a dinosaur. Even Carl Everett would admit this. He’s rapidly approaching extinction. In 1993 his employer was purchased by the New York Times for $1.1 billion. It was sold this fall for $70 million, or less than half what the Yankees will be paying Jacoby Ellsbury over the next seven years.
The Globe has to ‘double count’ subscribers in order to even seem respectable. Shaughnessy is behind a paywall, meaning fewer and fewer people are reading him, which means he has to try harder to get attention.
No Dan, we don’t want you to root for the local teams. We just want you to go away.