The Ringer — When you go to Fenway Park with Dan Shaughnessy, the first thing you notice is that he acts like he has a right to be there. It’s distinct from having the right to tweak Red Sox management or to wonder what’s wrong with David Price. That’s power we all assume. No, Shaughnessy acts like he has the right to literally stand on that field, surrounded by players he has feuded with and execs who wish he was off tormenting the Krafts.
That’s old media power. Power carried over from the golden age of newspapers. I didn’t catch a game with the Boston Globe columnist to romanticize such power. But I wanted to see what it was like before it disappears forever. …
Shaughnessy’s nonpartisanship is portrayed (by him) as a stand against the “fanboys” of the internet: Bill Simmons, Barstool’s David Portnoy, etc. …
Shaughnessy’s defenders see his style as a necessary corrective to two things. It’s often said that Shaughnessy feasted on Boston’s misery. It’s rarely said that other writers exploited Boston’s overexuberance in its age of champions.
As one of the “fanboys” that Dan Shaughnessy has taken “a stand” against, let’s get a few things straight. Because the entire Boston old media machine has gone into revisionist history mode over the last couple of years. And then they held down the LT + A buttons on the controller to kick it into turbo once he got into Cooperstown. But the case with Shank remains the same.
Left unsaid in this column and all the other hagiographies of Shaughnessy is his utter contempt for his audience. He has zero respect for the sports fans of New England and makes no attempt to hide it. For a couple of generations, he peddled this idiotic stereotype of us being a mindless, superstitious collection of hapless, pessimistic morons, believing in curses and always reveling in our own suffering.
Even in the 21st century, an era of unprecedented success for the teams his readers are invested in, he’s continued to create this dumb-ass, sophomoric straw man. A Strawfan. Only he had to flip the script because the old, dour, sad-sack, “Calvinist” bogeyman he invented couldn’t possibly exist. So then we became the 180-degree opposite. Shameless fanboys who aren’t sophisticated enough to appreciate that we don’t have it as good as we think we do. Stupid frat boys who’d rather celebrate the best coach in the history of his sport and cheer every time he verbally slaps a media member instead of respecting that men like Shank are holding him accountable.
Not to mention that we’re so blinded by nine championships in 15 years, one from each team, and a seemingly endless loop of duck boats circumnavigating the city that we’re delusional about the important things like the cheating football team and the DH whose name once appeared on a list having something to do with a pee test. Once again, we are dopes and Dan is wise.
Which brings me to the other case against the Curly-Haired Boyfriend. His utter disgust at new media. Thanks to the Internet, the greatest cultural advancement in the history of man, those fanboys he’s always hated have a voice. And he hates it. He has said so himself. Twitter is people telling you what they’re having for lunch. When Houston Texans fans cheered a Matt Cassel injury, he said it was the evil-doing of bloggers. Sports talk radio is for losers and shut-ins. That is until he does a paid weekly appearance, then it’s OK.
Information and opinion have become more democratic than they’ve ever been. If you post things on the Internet that are stupid or boring, eventually no one will come back. If you’re good, you’ll find an audience. Period. But Shaughnessy openly longs for the days when information was power, and it was in the hands of an elite few. Because he was one of them. He made his career in an age when the conversation was one way, from the handful of columnists and local sports anchors who were lucky enough to get hired down to the great unwashed masses. He would never have made it in a media age like we have now. And he resents the success of everyone who has.
And finally, he is the one thing no Boston guy should ever be. Someone who can dish it out but not take it. He can make a nice living out of ripping successful franchises, owners, coaches and players — and the public who cares enough to provide him with that living — but he’ll go to the management of a radio station whining because a part-time fill-in host said something mean about him in a blog written on an irreverent bro website. Believe me, I speak from experience.
So go ahead and love Dan Shaughnessy all you want. When I was a kid, I loved dinosaurs, too.