Seven things they hate about you
Ask an avowed Shaughnessy hater to explain his or her feelings, and you won’t get a succinct, dispassionate response. Instead, you’ll receive a lengthy catalogue of distinct but complementary grievances, poured forth with a speed and intensity that suggest they’ve been causing acute distress for years.
In any given conversation, these tidal waves of bile can be hard to process. Talk to enough people, though, and a few central themes surface time and again. The main charges against Shaughnessy — a/k/a “Shank,” “Shaughnasty,” and the “Curly-Haired Boyfriend” or “CHB” (see “CHB vs. Jurassic Carl”) — run as follows:
1) HE’S A HACK If you’ve read one Shaughnessy column, critics charge, you’ve read pretty much all of them, given his reliance on clichés, stock phrases, and tired rhetorical devices. Earlier this year, Barstool Sports writer Jerry Thornton offered an eight-step guide to writing your own Shaughnessy column, including 1) “Always Begin with a Cliché”; 3) “Stereotype (‘All Midwesterners are decent, corn-fed, salt-of-the-Earth types. All Californians are laid back’)”; and 5) “Talk About Pop Culture (but not about anything that happened after 1984).” This past year, meanwhile, Dan Shaughnessy Watch catalogued its favorite phrases/references: standouts included “Young Theo” (16 times in four years) and “Grey Poupon” (13 times in 14 years). The problem isn’t Shaughnessy’s native talent, say most Shaughnessy haters; instead, it’s his reliance on a formulaic template.
2) HE’S A MACHIAVELLIAN MANIPULATOR According to the haters, Shaughnessy isn’t content to chronicle the local sports scene; instead, he wants to be a player in that scene, on par with the athletes and owners. The classic example here is Shaughnessy’s role in the Theo Epstein saga of 2005. On October 30, the Globe published a Shaughnessy column that analyzed tensions between Epstein, who was poised to sign a new contract, and Sox president Larry Lucchino. The next day, Epstein announced he was leaving the team, then snuck out of Fenway in a gorilla suit. Shaughnessy haters subsequently accused their nemesis of doing Lucchino’s dirty work and helping drive Epstein out the door. (“Young Theo” rejoined the team in January 2006.) See also: Shaughnessy’s ongoing spat with Schilling, which predated and postdates the aforementioned column; and Shaughnessy’s close friendship with Ted Williams and family, which led an official at Manhattan’s Cornell Medical Center to direct reporters’ calls to Shaughnessy when Williams underwent heart surgery there in 2001.
3) HE’S A VINDICTIVE BULLY When Shaughnessy sours on a player, he hammers them relentlessly and in damning the most terms. Take his allegation this past August that Sox slugger/space cadet Manny Ramirez, a favorite target, had fabricated a hamstring injury to get out of playing: “[W]hen it comes to tweaked hamstrings, only the patient truly knows how he’s feeling. It’s the athlete’s equivalent of the fourth-grade boy who won’t go to school because he has a headache. There are no grounds for a challenge even if you have suspicions.”
“He’s constantly sniping at Schilling, at people like Manny Ramirez — it’s almost pathological,” gripes Adam Gaffin, who writes the Universal Hub blog. Haters see this vindictiveness directed at readers as well as athletes: there’s a whole body of lore involving testy exchanges between Shaughnessy and his detractors — including one celebrated case in which Shaughnessy called an online critic’s boss to point out how the employee was spending his working hours. (In an online video game at BarstoolSports.com, players are invited to literally kick Shaughnessy’s ass — and send him flying through the air. When he lands with a thud, he looks up and says, “I’m gonna call your boss!!”