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The Most Hated Man in Boston

What is it about The Globe ’s Dan Shaughnessy that makes ordinary, peaceable people want to kick his ass?
By ADAM REILLY  |  July 10, 2007



MAY 13, 2007 “The SS Red Sox keeps rolling on a (Charles) river. With any luck the Sox soon will overtake the Milwaukee Brewers juggernaut and own the best record in baseball. To use a time-tested analogy, the Sox are making the American League East look like Secretariat in the Belmont.”

APRIL 22, 2007 “Evil Empire Falls? Revenge of the Jed-I Hoyer? Sweep Surrender? Sure, it’s April, and we know that through the years the springs and summers have often belonged to Boston, only to have autumns owned by New York. But there’s smug satisfaction here in the Hub this morning.”

APRIL 6, 2007 “Dice-K was Ice K. He was also 10 K. And Special K. Maybe even a Japanese Pedro. Or a Pocket Rocket.”

APRIL 3, 2007 “Worse than Ellen DeGeneres’s first night hosting the Oscars. Worse than Arsenio Hall’s first shot at late-night television. Worse than Patriots coach Clive Rush’s first press conference, when he was nearly electrocuted. The much-anticipated Red Sox baseball season of 2007 kicked off yesterday afternoon at Kauffman Stadium, and Curt Schilling and the Boston Nine were thrashed, 7-1, by the Kansas City Royals.”


To understand the tortured tango that binds Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy and his detractors, consider his March 25 item about Red Sox ace Curt Schilling’s personal blog, 38 Pitches. The conceit was simple: Shaughnessy, who’s also a Globe associate editor, fabricated an exchange between Schilling and six pathetic, ass-kissing bloggers. (“Loser38”: “I used to go to Star Trek conventions and comic-book trade shows. No more. Now this blog is my life.”) Schilling didn’t fare much better: in Shaughnessy’s rendering, the Sox ace was an egotistical, self-pitying hypocrite. Near the end — just in case the gist wasn’t clear — a Shaughnessy surrogate materialized and asked “Schilling”: “What do you say to those media morons who contend that you are a self-important blowhard with an ill-informed opinion about everything and an insatiable need to be worshiped by sheep-like fans and late-night blog boys who live in Ma’s basement?”

Since Shaughnessy’s alleged crimes include relying on clichés and hating the Red Sox, this column had a little something special for all his detractors. “It makes me wonder what might be spewed forth from his whiney [sic], bitchy little mind in the near future,” read one comment at Dan Shaughnessy Watch, a blog devoted to Shaughnessy deconstruction. A reader offered this: “Saying all bloggers live at home with Mom and Dad . . . is like saying every newspaper writer is a self-absorbed, sensitive, out-of-touch-with-the-times piece of garbage like [Shaughnessy].” And a member of Sons of Sam Horn, the invite-only Red Sox site, made the following suggestion: “If you see him, punch him in the face and keep on walking.”

Whatever you may think of Shaughnessy — as a journalist or as a human being — that’s pretty nasty stuff. But when I asked him about this particular piece, he couldn’t stifle a smirk. “I thought the column was hilarious,” he said. “I was very happy with it.”

All of which raises two questions: why, exactly, do Shaughnessy’s critics loathe him as much as they do? And why does the man in the fright wig seem to enjoy egging them on?

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.

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The Most Hated Man in Boston
I think Shaughnessy-haters need to grow some balls and quit whining about how "mean" he is. The fact is: Schilling is an ego-maniac, Republican asshole and Manny probably did quit at the end of 2005. As for his writing style: in these times when Americans can't seem to remember what happened yesterday, Shaughnessy makes reference to things that happened throughout the entire history of baseball. Baseball is a game of tradition; the attention given to the numbers and records of the game are testament to that. The people who designed the "kick Shaghnessy's ass" game probably do live in their mother's basement. And to make fun of someone because he's not pretty is childish and lame. His columns are smart and funny and I always look forward to the next one.
By on 06/21/2007 at 11:47:03
The Most Hated Man in Boston
"Maybe, in the end, Shaughnessy's situation says as much about Boston as it does about the man himself." Pish posh. No city likes a hot-dogging, malicious columnist who sees it as his mission to antagonize players and fans. He wants to be the center of attention, and he realized, like a two year old, that it's really easy to get attention by acting up. This is a truth universally acknowledged, not something that only happens inside Route 128. There was a fine, well-grounded discussion of his anti-Schilling column at the blog Fire Joe Morgan: //
By IBMcGinty on 06/21/2007 at 1:14:49
The Most Hated Man in Boston
I'm tired of all of this Dan bashing as well. I look forward to read Dan's column but I don't have time to maintain a blog to discuss it - I have a life.
By Marcy Snow on 06/21/2007 at 2:54:22
The Most Hated Man in Boston
Boston fans want their columnists to be cheerleaders, just like the fanboys with the favorite bloggers. Like his columns or not, he is by far the gutsiest columnist out there. Doesn't care if what he writes pisses off players, managers the front office or fans. I'll take that any day over the jock-sniffing bloggers who rave on about their buddies Schill, Youk, Wake, etc.
By BigYaz on 06/21/2007 at 3:51:39
The Most Hated Man in Boston
Oh man! I forgot to mention his column the morning after Reggie Lewis had died. Everyone was upset and in shock... except Dan. He was super pissed. At the Celtics. On page one, he demanded, "Where was teflon CEO Dave Gavitt?," although Reggie had chosen different doctors than did the Celts. Dan's little act got him onto Nightline that night. By that point, he had climbed down a bit from his initial, "Why did Chris Ford murder Reggie?" take on it to a "this raises serious questions" pose. It really showed that his instinct-- even in a deeply upsetting tragedy-- is to go nuclear, act accusatory and outraged, and gin up a controversy. Facts be damned. Hmmm... doing a few minutes of Googling, I see he regrets that column, which is to his credit... but it's without acknowledging that he was bizarrely off-base: "If I could pull that one back, I would ‘cause people didn’t have time to absorb the impact of it."
By IBMcGinty on 06/24/2007 at 6:38:46
The Most Hated Man in Boston
It would appear that Mr. Reilly is offended at the Shaughnessy-detractors for their use of offensive language; he quotes two of them as calling him, among other things, a "piece of garbage". It is obvious that Reilly does not recognize why they both chose the same phrase: Shaughnessy used this very phrase in an out-of-bounds attack on former Red Sox player Jose Offerman. WBZ sportscaster Steve Burton even gave him an opportunity in an on-air segment to back down a bit from what he had written, but Shaughnessy refused. And yet Reilly wonders why people don't like him! Note to Reilly: Don't be writing articles about subjects that you know not well.
By mgladstone77 on 06/24/2007 at 8:10:44
The Most Hated Man in Boston
Adam; I don't know how you could possibly write a story about "Why Dan Shaughnessy is the biggest asshole in Boston!" and not include his pervasive, personal, elitist, vendetta against UMass. Dan-o not only took joy in trying to run John Calipari out of town, he can't stomach any UMass Athletic success. His snobbish opinion permeates the breadth of all of his writing about the University. Furthermore, his ceaseless support of the Boston Globe when it wrote its indefensible "Investigative piece" regarding the grades of the UMass Basketball team in 1995, which I might remind all were splashed all over the front page of the Boston Globe, is as sickening as it is legendary. Notice you've never seen an article regarding the grades of any other Boston area nationally competitive NCAA program by Dan-o! Just the program he despises! Adam, Do your homework before you sit at your keyboard to write in the future. 250,000 UMass Alumni living in Massachusetts are collectively wondering after they read your article; "How could he have missed that?" Otherwise, you aricle is pretty good and I agree with the premise; "Dan-o is the biggest Asshole in Boston!" MCD
By Michael DeMattia on 06/26/2007 at 5:30:39

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