Defending Shaughnessy (No, really. I can’t believe I’m doing this.)
There are few writers in town, it seems, more universally loathed than Globe sports columnist Dan Shaughnessy. So I’m sure there was no shortage of rueful laughter at the end of last week when the Boston Business Journal’s Tim McLaughlin picked up on the fact that old Shank’s story on the Bruins’ Stanley Cup victory was pretty much a dead ringer for his write-up of the Red Sox’ 2004 championship. In fact, I know there was plenty of rueful laughter because, after McLaughlin’s post was picked up on Romenesko, I got a bunch of emails about it and it whizzed all around the bloggo and twittospheres. McLaughlin wrote:
Here’s what Dinosaur Dan wrote after the Bruins beat the Vancouver Canucks:
“They won it for every New England mom and dad who ever woke up to drive kids to the rink at 6 a.m., and drank hot chocolate while they waited in the cold. They won it for the Revere girls with the big hair and O’Reilly sweaters; or the shot-and-beer guys who pour every dollar of expendable income into the hockey budget. They won it to avenge losing Bobby Orr to Chicago, too many men on the ice in Montreal, free agents never signed, trades that went bad, unspeakable injuries, and Game 7 disappointments.
“They won it for you.”
And here is what Shaughnessy wrote in October 2004 after the Red Sox beat the St. Louis Cardinals for their first World Series championship in 86 years:
“They did it for the old folks in Presque Isle, Maine, and White River Junction, Vt. They did it for the baby boomers in North Conway, New Hampshire, and Groton, Mass. They did it for the kids in Central Falls, Rhode Island, and Putnam, Connecticut.
OK, now I’m going to do the unimaginable: I am going to defend Dan Shaughnessy. Yes, his columns can be self-aggrandizing, and I’d rather spend three days hanging upside-down from the Garden rafters than read any opinions he’s written involving the words “Curt” or “Schilling.” But, if there’s one thing the Curly Haired Boyfriend (as former Red Sox dinosaur denier Carl Everett famously labeled him) is good at, it’s writing game stories for big games, particularly ones where a Boston teams clinches a championship.
The Globe has made that his official duty over the last several years, and nobody is better at striking just the right tone for the after-glow of victory: old-timey and tinged with nostalgia and sentiment without verging into purple. Yes, he can be a bit predictable, but isn’t that what you want the day after a championship? You watched the game already, you know what happened. You just want to feel good about it. The point of reading those stories the next day is to let you relive your team’s triumph, but without the angst. It’s like the sports equivalent of wrapping yourself in a nice warm blanket.
So there it is, I’ve defended Dan Shaughnessy. I can’t wait to read his game story the next time a Boston team wins a championship. The way the Red Sox are looking, thankfully, I may not have to wait that long.