Book publishing, 101

May 19th, 2008 → 9:50 am @

Most of the time, I’m of the feeling there should be a constitutional amendment barring the dissemination of videos online.

I’m going to make an exception, however, because I think this video posted by author Dennis Cass may very well be the funniest piece of book-publishing related satire I have ever seen. It’s also the first piece of advertising, viral or not, that actually made me go out and buy a book…which, by all appearances–manic depression, AADD, writer’s block, and the like–looks to be right up my alley. Anyone who hasn’t been involved at all in the publishing “business” but is in the very least bit curious should check this out. For anyone involved in publishing, this will likely make you spit up your coffee.

Post Categories: Boston Magazine & Dan Shaughnessy & Tom Gordon

T-3 and counting…

March 30th, 2007 → 1:40 pm @

Only one more baseball-less weekend in 2007…at least until October. And sure, opening the season in Kansas City isn’t the most exciting thing in the world, although anyone who’ll actually be in Missouri should make sure to check out Posnanski and Bryant’s. Better yet, do both at the same time.

So to help get you through that final weekend, some thoughts about spring training, the upcoming season, and what to expect going forward…

* 38pitches. It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that Curt Schilling’s recently launched blog is always interesting, often entertaining, and usually informative. Feelings about Curt tend to run hot or cold; regardless of your take on the big righthander, you need to admire a pro athlete who actually takes time to answer questions sent in by the hoi polloi.

Actually, I guess you don’t need to admire it: Shaughnessy, in one of the meaner-spirited columns I’ve read in a while, painted the whole thing as one more way for Schilling to get his ass kissed. What’s surprising here isn’t that Shaughnessy is being a dick — he’s done that before — but that he missed the mark so completely. (This will surprise some people, but I actually think Shaughnessy is a very good columnist in that he’s great at hitting a nerve and is generally pretty fearless about public’s (and his subject’s) reactions. I often don’t agree with where he’s coming from, and I abhor some of what he’s done in the past…but that’s another story.+) As Daniel Drezner writes, Shaughnessy seems to betray some sort of primal fear: if athletes join the rest of the bloggerati, will the members of the tradition-bound fourth estate continue to lose readers? (It’s worth noting that Schilling provided the first official confirmation of Papelbon’s move to the pen…)

Drezner makes a good point. In this case, I think Shaughnessy’s also worried that he’ll lose access to one of the city’s most entertaining sports personalities. Schilling’s never been shy about expressing his disdain for Dan; in face, I’ve often wondered why Schilling spoke to him at all. Maybe now, he won’t…

(Schilling had a great response to Shaughnessy’s column, in which he referred to Dan as his nom de guerre, Curly Haired Boyfriend.)

Also worth nothing: starting Opening Day, Curt will run an 11-day contest; two winners a day will get the package. All you cable subscribers, take note…

* The NESN-Red Sox highlight clips controversy. (OK, fine, mini-controversy.) This is a story that’s definitely worth following; I’m surprised local stations aren’t making more of a fuss. A recent Globe article quoted NESN VP of programming Joel Feld as saying that “there is no plan in place to charge for highlights” in the future. There’s enough wiggle room in that statement to drive a truck through; I can’t imagine what other real rationale there could possibly be. I also found Sox spokesman Charles Steinberg’s comments on the issue to be laughable. Steinberg said the Sox don’t want “reduction in Red Sox presence in the marketplace” and that the team had nothing to do with NESN’s decision. “Sometimes people miss that the Red Sox and NESN are two entirely different companies with two entirely different management staffs,” said Steinberg. “They share common ownership but are independent companies.”

I call BS on that. The Red Sox and NESN are damn symbiotic. This isn’t a Times (and, by extension, Globe)-Sox scenario. Anyway, stay tuned. Or, you know, don’t. At least if you want to see in-game highlights.

* The Sox’s payroll. Earlier this week, Tony Mazz had an article on how to decipher to team’s payroll (and MLB’s formulas for determining payroll tax, etc.). If you’re going to be talking about the team’s offseason spending, check this out. You’ll sound smarter.

* Theo’s thoughts. In case you haven’t heard, Theo isn’t much of a fan of all of the attention the team gets.+ For that reason alone, the above article on his reflections on spring training is informative, not necessarily for the actual content but for what can (and should) be read between the lines. Theo’s incredibly smart, and he thinks carefully about the effects of what he says in public. (Take note any time this season when he steps up and says he needs to accept responsibility for a rough patch the team is going through; it’ll more than likely mean he thinks some pressure needs to be taken off of the players.) When Theo says “I think the thing I liked best about the club was that there were no real egos on display, as much as any camp I’ve been around,” there’s undoubtedly some truth there. I’d bet there’s also an intended (if subliminal) message to the press: the clubhouse is a placid place. Look elsewhere for your story of the day. Even if this kind of thing doesn’t have a huge effect — and the Boston press isn’t keen on playing down even the most minor of squabbles — if it helps for even a week or two, that one statement will likely have fulfilled its purpose.

* Manny and Roger. SI had a squib the other day about possible Manny-Ichiro trade discussions; it got virtually no attention…but I don’t think we’ll get through a season without a Manny flare-up. And, of course, when Roger decides he is, indeed, going to come back for one more season, the Sox will be in the hunt…

+ There is, of course, lots about Shaughnessy’s weird and wooly relationship with the Sox and the roots of Theo’s press and publicity aversion in Feeding the Monster, which is available from Amazon for only $17.16 (cheap!). And don’t forget: free signed and personalized bookplates are here for the asking. How else are you going to get ready for Opening Day?

Post Categories: Dan Shaughnessy & Manny Ramirez & NESN & Roger Clemens & Theo Epstein

But seriously, folks

February 2nd, 2007 → 10:50 am @

Speaking of Shaughnessy, lord knows he and I are not the best of friends. I called him out in Feeding the Monster; he called me something along the lines of a two-bit, gutless coward. (My standard and stupid quip about this when asked is that “I don’t think the Shaughnessys are going to invite me over for Thanksgiving dinner anytime soon.” Seriously. Listen the next time I’m asked about Dan on the radio.)

That said, there are things I respect enormously about Shaughnessy. One is his fearlessness and his consistency in showing up to take his lumps after coming down hard on a player. (Unlike, say, Jay Mariotti.) Another is his (not quite as consistent) proclivity to go out and actually ask questions when mailing in a snide column would be far easier route.

Today’s piece on Schilling’s contract ultimatum is a perfect example. Schilling doesn’t get along with Shaughnessy. Shaughnessy knew that Schilling knew that Shaughnessy was going to get on him about his “sign me before the season starts” bit. And he called to get comment, and in doing so, got some gems.


Is Schilling negotiating through the media?

“That’s the way everything happens in this town, but they know I’m not doing that. Perception outside of the Red Sox and myself is uncontrollable for us. I’ve talked to Mr. Henry and Theo and we talked on this before it got public. We’re all in a good place.”

I call BS on that one; there’s nothing uncontrollable about telling people you need to be signed before the season starts, just as there’s nothing uncontrollable about telling WEEI that you’re going to play in ’08. For an example of how contract extensions can be done without media attention, take a look at Ortiz, David, circa 2006.

There’s also this gem:

“The media is the hardest part of this. There’s so much of it and there’s a lot of bitterness and jealousy here that doesn’t exist in other places. You guys have an immense impact on the ebb and flow of the fans and their take on things. It’s an ingrained part of culture here.”

I agree; the media is one of the hardest parts about playing in Boston. But it doesn’t seem to me that Curt is someone who shrinks from that spotlight. (Seriously, how did he keep a straight face while saying, “I don’t enjoy talking to the media. I don’t look forward to being in front of you guys . . .”?)

I love watching Curt pitch. (Most of the time; I didn’t love watching him come in as the newly annointed closer in ’05 to the strains of Guns ‘n’ Roses immadiately after a red-eye flight from California (necessitated because of an appearance on an ESPN awards show) only to get tattooed by the Yankees. But I digress.) His performance in the ’04 playoffs is rightly celebrated as one of the greatest of all time. I also think that it was totally unnecessary, and totally predictable, to cause this kind of mini-firestorm. Curt is too smart not to know this was going to be the result of his going public; to claim differently is disingenuous.

Post Categories: Curt Schilling & Dan Shaughnessy

If this blog had musical accompaniment, Paul Schaffer would be singing right now: Reader mail.

December 16th, 2006 → 12:57 pm @

It takes much more time to drive around suburban Boston to sign book stock than you might think. Which is why I ended up spending about nine hours in the car yesterday. (Having not been to Watertown’s Arsenal Mall since around 7th grade, I was saddened to see that I can no longer buy my checked shirts and skinny ties at Chess Kind. I can’t buy elaborate fark jokes at Spencer Gifts, either. Other than that, though, it felt very much the same.)

On the plus side, that gave me all day to listen to ‘EEI. (More on that later.) On the downside, that gave me all day to listen to ‘EEI. (More on that later too.)

Anyway, before I head out to Braintree, I wanted to answer some questions that have come up in your all’s comments. Without further ado…

“Seth: When you have a free moment after your whirwind tour of area bookstores, maybe you could weigh in on what Shaughnessy hinted at in his column today (maybe others have hinted at this, too); namely, that the JD Drew deal went down partly as a result of the Sox wanting to sweeten Boras up for the Dice-K deal. If so, does a spoonful of Dice-K make Drew more palatable, even to the doubters?”

Certainly there’s been lots of speculation about this. As I’ve said before, I think the Drew signing was a good one (as do lots of other people, including SI‘s Tom Verducci, although I can’t find that item online). What’s more, signing one of Boras’s free agents with the expectation that that will help grease the way to signing another isn’t part of the Red Sox’s MO — making decisions regarding a player’s value and sticking to that* — and Boras certainly is not the type of agent who would give a team a break because of a deal he’d made with another one of his clients.

With that answer, I’ll anticipate a follow-up question: why the big contract when the Sox appeared to be bidding against themselves? The answer is I think that’s a simplistic way of looking at things: when you look at the type of free-agent contracts that have been handed out, take into consideration that there are basically no more impact bats available, and realize that there’s still more than three months until position players report for spring training, it seems like a team that makes a trade or two and begins to feel like they have a shot but also have some offensive holes will very likely want whomever they can get their hands on. (Who’s to say the Cubs won’t find another $100 million to throw around?) And, as I pointed out in a Dice-K post, that $14 mil contract actually ages pretty well…assuming Drew does, too.

* Two caveats: obviously there are incidents where part of the Red Sox’s thinking takes into consideration a player’s overall worth (and not just his on-field worth), resulting in a contract that might exceed what they think he’s worth in pure baseball terms. See: Varitek, Jason. Also, while I don’t think for a moment the Sox are overpaying some Boras clients to have a better shot at landing others, the Sox, despite it all, have been able to craft an ongoing working relationship with Boras.


Speaking of Boras and his relationship with the Sox’s front office…

“but i guess i’m a little confused as to why. why wouldn’t boras take the yanks offer [to Damon] back to the sox to see if they’d beat it? was it the time pressure? were the yanks johnny’s real first choice?”

There are a couple of theories I get into in varying levels of detail in the book. (And if you anticipated this, you guessed right: Signed copies available at a store near you! Personalized, inscribed bookplates too! Have I mentioned it makes a great holiday gift?) So briefly: there’s a chance Johnny, for whatever reason — the slammin’ nightlife, Michelle thinking she could be a celebrity on a bigger stage, whatever — actually wanted to go to New York. (It’s true: sometimes players want to leave Boston.) There’s also a chance — and I personally think this is more likely — that Boras wanted to prove he could take one of the most popular players on the most popular team in Red Sox history and have him jump ship to the Yankees; if he can get the two richest teams in baseball to bid against each other’s free agents, that’s only going to raise salaries.


shawn.orourke wants to know if there’s any chance Wily Mo will be used as trade bait. Sure, there’s a definite chance. The Sox need a closer, they have (a bit) of a surplus in the outfield, and WMP would, you’d imagine, get decent value in return. With the obvious exceptions of this year’s new signings, the only people who are really untouchable are Schilling, Papi, Papelbon, and Tek, so it’s possible that anyone could get traded. One of the reasons this front office has been so determined to be frugal about trading away their prospects/young players is so they have those players available if and when they have a hole that needs to be filled. It’s the same thing with the pitchers – MDC, Hansen, et al. — is so they have a surplus of young arms when there’s a need for that last puzzle piece. From a personal standpoint, I hope they don’t trade Wily Mo; he’s one of those players that’s simply fun to watch, and as Bill James once told me, that’s sometimes as good a reason to keep a player around as any. But I’d bet his name has come up in discussions. (Speaking of pitchers, yesterday’s bullpen pickups — Donnelley and Romero — mean it’s even more likely there’s more action on the way with the team’s pitching staff.)


Finally, michaelmc and dbvader are having a debate over whether J.D. Drew’s history shows he’s a chronic injury risk or a player who has gotten over the bulk of his physical problems. The answer, I think, is a little of both. If you go to the link for the graphic titled “Drew’s been hurtin’ for certain” in this Nick Cafardo piece, you’ll see a somewhat frightening run-down of Drew’s medical history. However, if you take a look at the last three years, pretty much every “injury” has been more along the times of a couple of days off for some normal wear and tear: with the exception of a broken wrist bone that resulted from getting nailed with a pitch, Drew’s time off since the start of the ’04 season has been limited to three games (stiff neck), five games (hamstring), three games (quad), and five games (knee). That doesn’t worry me too much; unlike, say, Nomar or Trot, those three years look pretty normal to me…

Post Categories: 2006 Playoffs & Dan Shaughnessy & J.D. Drew & Johnny Damon & Q&A time & Scott Boras & Wily Mo Pena

If it’s December 10th…

December 10th, 2006 → 9:53 am @

“Amazing team, these Red Sox. We’re busy digging out from yesterday’s snow, the Patriots will probably clinch the division title tomorrow, and our winter sports teams are struggling below .500, but everywhere you go folks are talking about the local baseball team. Never out of season, the Sox have produced a staggering amount of news and speculation, and fans are scratching their heads trying to figure out who’s coming and who’s going. … The hot stove has never been hotter.”
“This Team is Never Out of Season”
By Dan Shaughnessy
December 10, 2005

“Hot stove? It’s a scalding griddle for young Theo Epstein. He could get burned. … It is Dec. 10 and the local football team is possibly bound for its fourth Super Bowl in six years. The Bruins are on the rise, the Boston College football coach bolted with a bowl game still on the calendar (Chuck Fairbanks-like), UMass is playing for a national championship in football . . . and we’re still wall-to-wall Red Sox. 24/7. … [The Red Sox are] never, ever, out of season.”
Hits of Errors for G.M.
By Dan Shaughnessy
December 10, 2006

Post Categories: 2006 Hot Stove Season & Boston Globe & Dan Shaughnessy

You say yes, I say no: the ballad of Larry and Theo

December 2nd, 2006 → 1:05 pm @

If I was, say, a beat writer looking for something to write about, this might be one place to start:

“‘Media availability,’ which results in a coach or general manager saying nothing about everything, is a waste of everyone’s time. Bill Belichick is the master of the genre (except for those times when he lets his guard down and seems to enjoy teaching a little football) and Theo Epstein is the latest local practitioner. Congrats to Bob Ryan for calling Theo out on this earlier this week.”
Piecing it all together
By Dan Shaughnessy
The Boston Globe
December 2, 2006

“Back from his fact-finding/Matsuzaka-signing mission in Japan, Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino sat down at Fenway Park last night and discussed three pivotal team issues in the winter of 2006-07.”
Lucchino Hits on Three Hot Topics
by Dan Shaughnessy
The Boston Globe
December 2, 2006

“There was no airing of company secrets by Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein on the conference call he held yesterday in advance of his trip Sunday to Orlando, Fla., for the winter meetings, not that there should have been any expectations Epstein would use such a forum to do so.”
Epstein Mum on Sox Deals
By Gordon Edes
The Boston Globe
December 2, 2006

So let’s review:

* A year after Theo Epstein left the Red Sox in no small part because of his sense of the team’s (and Larry Lucchino’s) inability to stay out of the media — a sense which was epitomized by a Dan Shaughnessy column deriding Epstein — Shaughnessy writes a column dering Epstein. For not talking to him.

* That same day, Shaugnessy writes another story in which Larry offers up some sound bites about Matsuzaka, J.D. Drew, and Manny — innocuous soundbites, to be sure — but soundbites all the same.

* At virtually the same time, Theo was on a conference call “refusing to comment on trade talks involving Manny Ramirez or the impending signing of free agent outfielder J.D. Drew.”

Could Shaughnessy just be stirring up trouble? Sure. Could this be an early sign of another fault line in what’s already being described by club officials and top executives as an uneasy truce? Absolutely.

Yeah, it should be an interesting offseason.

Post Categories: 2006 Playoffs & Dan Shaughnessy & Larry Lucchino & Oblique references to Beatles songs & Theo Epstein

Dan, Dan, he’s our man, if he can’t do it, no one can!

October 21st, 2006 → 10:46 am @

Tonight is Game 1 of the World Series. The Tigers, several years removed from one of the most futile campaigns in the history of baseball, are the prohibitive favorites. Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa is trying to prove he doesn’t always get swept in October. Jim Leyland, LaRussa’s chain-smoking former protege, is the toast of the sports world.

You’d think it’d be tough to find a way to twist this story so that it focuses on taking random potshots at the Sox. But then you’d be underestimating Dan Shaughnessy. Take a moment and savor these paragraph’s from his column this morning, titled “Smoke and Fire: Leyland has lit up Tigers by taking team back to the top.”

“There’s no computer on his desk. Jim Leyland doesn’t spend a lot of time looking at spreadsheets and percentages. He is not a numbers cruncher and he probably wouldn’t last long in a room with Bill James, Billy Beane, and Theo Epstein. He’d be gone even quicker if they were gathered in a non-smoking room. Leyland’s got to have his Marlboros. …

“There’s nothing political about Leyland. He wasn’t afraid to stand up to Barry Bonds when he managed the Pirates and he’s not worried about hurting players’ feelings when he makes decisions with the 2006 Tigers. He doesn’t have a Francona bone in his body. He’s a manager, not a baby sitter. If Manny Ramírez quit on him, he’d call him out. Or he’d quit himself.”

Ahh, yes. See? There’s no reason to wait until spring training for your daily dose of crystalized negativity.

Post Categories: 2006 Playoffs & Dan Shaughnessy