Dan Shaughnessy

Not a bad time to go to pieces

By Dan Shaughnessy
Globe Columnist / July 10, 2011

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Picked-up pieces while mourning the losses of Don Buddin, Dick Williams, and George Kimball . . .

A few parallels between the 2011 Bruins and 2004 Red Sox. The Sox won for the first time in 86 years, the Bruins in 39 years. In both cases, the season before the championship ended in abject calamity: the Sox with Grady leaving Pedro on the mound in New York, and the Bruins blowing the 3-0 series lead, and 3-0 Game 7 lead (at home) against the Flyers. Both championship rosters were partially assembled by locally bred GMs (Dan Duquette and Mike O’Connell) who were exiled before the ultimate victory. Both championships were won on the night of a lunar eclipse.

Memo to Orioles: If you want to complain about guys pimping homers and not playing the game correctly, don’t give up eight homers and 20 runs in two games and lose a million games every year. Memo to David Ortiz: Style at your own risk. Old-schoolers like me believe it’s not the way you play the game. Act like you’ve been there before. If you’re going to admire homers, stare at a guy who throws a first pitch a little inside, swing at 3-0 pitch with a 10-3 lead in the eighth, and fail to run out your popups and grounders, somebody might call you on it. We all applauded madly when Carlton Fisk called Deion Sanders a “piece of [expletive]’’ and told him to run out a popup. How is this different?

A favorite Dick Williams moment came in the 1972 World Series. As manager of the A’s, he went to the mound to talk to Rollie Fingers, who had a 3-2 count on Johnny Bench. Williams pretended to order an intentional walk. Oakland catcher Gene Tenace stood up, gave the intentional walk signal, then went back into position as Fingers buzzed strike three past an embarrassed Bench. Bill Belichick must have been watching.

Can’t wait to see Bill Buckner on “Curb Your Enthusiasm.’’

Leave it to the wildly talented Tom Verducci (Sports Illustrated) to tell us that Derek Jeter has used the same model bat (Louisville Slugger P72) for every one of his professional at-bats since 1992.

Blocking the plate is great when Jason Varitek sticks his leg across the dish and keeps Edwin Encarnacion from scoring the tying run. But when Scott Cousins demolishes Buster Posey, scores the run, and Posey is lost for the season, blocking the plate is a bad thing and home-plate collisions should be outlawed. Varitek is a brave guy. But if I’m a big league manager, I teach my players to go through the catcher if he’s willing to stand in the path. Backstops beware. You block the plate at the risk of your career. Put it this way: Frank Robinson would have scored the tying run at Fenway Tuesday night.

With Tom “Satch’’ Sanders finally enshrined, you can count 11 Hall of Famers in the 1962-63 Celtics team photo (nine players, owner Walter Brown, Red Auerbach). Pretty safe to say that’ll never be duplicated or topped.

Longtime Phoenix and Herald scribe Kimball will be missed. George was a huge part of the Bill Lee, Peter Gammons, Clark Booth, Eliot Lounge sports culture around here when the Sox captured the town in the autumn of 1975.

You can buy Whitey Bulger T-shirts at Sonny McLean’s at Wilshire and 26th in Santa Monica. Sonny’s was Red Sox West when the Sox won the World Series in 2004 and ’07. The World Series trophy made an appearance at Sonny’s after the Sox won, and owner Grant Woods is hoping the Stanley Cup follows the path to Santa Monica.

There are a million great stories regarding the travels of the Cup, and we’ll be hearing dozens more as the Bruins take their tours this summer. One favorite: While family and friends of the Avalanche were celebrating the Cup clincher at the Denver ChopHouse in June of 2001 a few hours after the game, Colorado’s Shjon Podein appeared at the party, with the Cup - still dressed in his uniform, still wearing his skates. “One of the greatest things I have ever seen,’’ says Stockyard owner Mark Manning, who was in Denver to watch his son-in-law, Chris Drury, win the Cup.

The Wall Street Journal reminds us that Josh Beckett’s 2011 renaissance is akin to Lefty Grove’s comeback season with the Sox in 1935. Grove had an ERA of 6.50 in 1934, then led the American League with a 2.70 ERA in ’35.

This is what Big Baby said to the Globe’s Julian Benbow before the lockout: “I just want to make sure I’m Glen Davis wherever I’m at. I think I can be Glen Davis wherever. It just depends on the system, the people around the system, who’s going to let Glen Davis be Glen Davis, not make Glen Davis something they think he should be.’’

Check out Dick Perez’s impressive “The Immortals - An Art Collection of Baseball’s Best’’ (Brilliant Graphics). Prefacing the massive tome, Tom Seaver calls it “one of the best representations yet presented of the game’s past.’’ Elsewhere in the bookstore, if you want dirt on Joe Kerrigan’s days with the Red Sox, read Jim Leyritz’s “Catching Heat,’’ a 234-page self-defense of the troubled life and times of the journeyman catcher. Leyritz wrote it with considerable help from brothers Douglas and Jeffrey Lyons (well-known film critic and Sox fan).

Still wondering why Belichick didn’t address the pass rush with his top picks. Mike Wright led the Patriots with 5 1/2 sacks last year.

Based on the New York Times sale of more than half of its 17 percent investment in the Red Sox, it looks as if John Henry’s investment in the team has almost tripled in value since he bought it in December 2001. So let’s not weep about payroll and luxury tax. The Sox are swimming in cash.

The late, great Will McDonough grew up in South Boston with the Bulger boys and visited Whitey in Leavenworth when the Patriots went to Kansas City to play the Chiefs in the 1960s.

Anybody still wearing their playoff beard?

The Hoops for Hope three-on-three basketball classic to benefit the Jimmy Fund will be held at Curry College Aug. 6-7. Contact Andy McLean at for more information.

Bruce Springsteen’s sidekick sax man and soul mate, Clarence Clemons, died June 18 at the age of 69. The Big Man blocked for Jets running back Emerson Boozer when the two played at Maryland State College in the mid ’60s. The 6-foot-4-inch Clemons wore No. 50 and tipped the scales at 235 in his college football days. Hope the Boss retires “Jungleland’’ from live shows. It would not be the same without the Big Man.

It has been suggested by some, including the estimable Jim Rome, that this would be a good time for some of us in the Boston sports media to walk away on top. We’ve covered the grand slam: Super Bowl, World Series, NBA Finals, Stanley Cup. “It’s the perfect walkoff moment,’’ said Rome. Sorry, fanboys. Not happening.

Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at

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