Shank

 

Shaughnessy in the GlobeSo after 40 years and 12 books and thousands of columns and millions of words, I have just one question for you gentle readers of sports coverage and commentary . . . 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? The older I get, the longer I work, the more I wonder. .. 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. 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… Patriots at Ravens Sunday is a good example. If the living-on-the-edge Patriots win, it’s off to the playoffs. If they lose to the surging, cocky world champs, the pressure mounts. It’s a good story either way. The game is suddenly bigger than it was. I can’t wait for the game. And I don’t care who wins…

Trust me when I tell you this whole thing has changed… 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.

 

So after 8 years and dozens of columns in the old Boston paper edition of the Stool and hundreds of blogs and trillions of words (I write long blogs!) and two (one, two) radio confrontations, for once I am NOT going to rip the Curly Haired Boyfriend for this. Quite the contrary; I’m here to applaud him. This is a demonstration of self-awareness and understanding of the modern world beyond anything I thought he was capable of. And he shows a degree of honesty he deserves credit for. It can’t be easy after 40 years to finally come out of the closet and admit you don’t care about the market you cover. Or to acknowledge publicly you’re completely out of touch with your own readership. I mean, I could have told Shank this 25 years ago, but if he’s just figuring it out now, who am I to argue?

But still, even when the CHB is right, he has to be wrong. This just wouldn’t have been a Shaughnessy piece if he didn’t make us all sound like a collection of ignorant yahoos. To paint us like a bunch of podunk college town twats who hate him because he’s not cheering in the press box or blowing an airhorn or calling the Patriots “we.” That might fly in State College, PA or wherever. But a guy who tried that here wouldn’t last a week before we laughed him out of the market. We don’t need media types who root; but we do expect them to care. To understand  winning and losing is everything to the people they’re writing for. And that any time a Boston team wins it’s a pure good.  Shank’s problem is just what he says: He doesn’t care about anything except stories. About controversies. Dramas. Soap operas. Whether they exist or not. So when his supposed readership loves a guy like Gronk because he’s an amazing athlete who plays his ass off and has fun, Shank has to make him out like he’s an idiot party boy. When Nomar is a fan favorite because all he ever did was work hard and appreciate the fans, Shaughnessy carried on personal vendettas over red lines in the clubhouse or some such nonsense. Mr. Kraft is a hero around here because he saved the franchise and built a dynasty. But Dan’s Commodore 64 has gigabytes of columns about what a greedy egomaniac he is.

I could go on and cite a hundred other examples, but I won’t. Instead I’ll just agree with his premise that sports media people like him are the reason sites like Barstool exist. Fans DO want to read other fans, instead of being preached to by agenda-driven insiders who don’t care who wins as long as they have axes to grind. Not one of us in the entire Barstool empire passes himself off as an expert at anything (except smut… but then who isn’t?), but people come here because they want to read someone who cares as much as they do. Who’s proud to live and die with the teams they care about. I’d rather read a blog from a barely literate ignoramus who’s emotionally invested in the Patriots-Ravens game than some 40 year veteran who admits he couldn’t care less. I guess that’s why you’re reading this and I wouldn’t have known Shaughnessy even wrote this if a comedian buddy of mine hadn’t sent it to me. @JerryThornton1