Dan Shaughnessy – By now, maybe you’ve seen… the hometown fans who cheered when Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel was knocked unconscious…It’s an issue about civility in America today. It’s about accountability. It is about angry fantasy football players who do not know how to look someone in the eye, or hold a face-to-face conversation. It is about fanboy bloggers who kill everyone and everything under the brave cloak of anonymity. It’s about instant tweets fired from the safety of your basement. It is about anonymous bullying with the World Wide Web serving as the new bathroom wall. Those of us who write stories and do talk shows are not blameless… I’ve certainly done my share of tweaking and exposing professional athletes or organizations who don’t give an honest effort to live up to their contracts or fulfill the team-fan accord. In print, on TV and radio, we contribute to a climate of anger in the stands. But at least you know who we are. The fan-player dynamic went off the rails when reporters and fans stopped seeing the players as human beings… This is what the Internet guarantees. Cyberspace is the 21st-century crank phone call. Be as vicious as you want. Let it all out. Cheer the plight of the struggling quarterback while he lies motionless on the field. No one will ever know it’s you.
Sorry to be a day late on this but until someone brought it to my attention, I’d forgotten the Curly Haired Boyfriend still writes for the Globe. And that there’s still a Globe, for that matter. But it’s fun every once in a while to revisit Shank, just to get a measure of how much the world has passed him by. And going by this, the answer is: A lot. Miles. Kilometers. Astronomical units. Light years by him. The guy who once prided himself on being a world class pain-in-the-ass to ballplayers, coaches and owners has lapsed into total self-parody. He’s basically just doing Andy Rooney now. Playing the old crank sitting behind his desk grousing about the modern world he doesn’t get for the delight of the octogenarian newspaper-reader crowd. And now he’s reduced to making a straw man to argue with: The angry fantasy football player/ fanboy blogger.
Yup. He sure nailed it. If Chiefs fans cheer for Matt Cassel getting his bell rung it’s our fault. We’re responsible. Not the actual people who did the actual cheering. Because in the days before the internet, paying customers were always polite, respectful and considerate. Just ask Jackie Robinson or Sandy Koufax, who I’m sure got treated swell wherever they went. Because fan behavior Dan Shaughnessy doesn’t approve of didn’t exist back when all information and opinion went through a handful of guys like Dan Shaughnessy. Because if I call Peyton Manning say, a thumb-headed goober that I can’t stand, I’m scrawling hate speech on the bathroom wall under the brave cloak of anonymity. But when the Shanks of the world call Bill Belichick “duplicitous pond scum,” say Tom Brady is some kind of a pussy for having a private moment by the pool with his wife on vacation or make Nomar out to be a liar, a quitter and phony? That’s just “tweaking.” So what happens if the next ballplayer Shaughnessy rips on a regular basis gets hurt and the fans cheer? Is he going to say it’s OK because his name is on the column? Or is he going to blame himself for all his “bullying”? This circus clown can hate bloggers and Twitterers like the anachronism he is. But if he’s looking for the reason the fan-player dynamic went off the rails he can look in the mirror. @JerryThornton1
UPDATE: Both Rear Admiral and I taped anti-Shaughnessy rants for Toucher and Rich that they played for him live on the air this morning. Click here for the audio and Shank’s reaction. Like I said, I just wish Pat Chung could backpedal as fast as he did.