Dan Shaughnessy plays the Bobby V card in describing the 2014 Red Sox

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Look, I know Dan Shaughnessy sucks. I know not reading him is a life hack with absolutely zero downside and oodles of benefits. I know that taking a single thing he says with even a modicum of seriousness is about as smart as exfoliating your T-zone with a belt sander. It’s painful and there’s utterly no point.

But dudes, on some level you have to appreciate artistry, even if you don’t like the art. Would I buy the product of a performance artist who hurls her own feces at cork board while singing GG Allin songs? Never. But I am capable of acknowledging the commitment, no matter what it leads to. The phrase “go hard or go home” means something to me, man.

For Shaughnessy it’s “troll hard or go home,” and for all of his years of work and all of what I presume to be gobs of money he has, Danny Boy has never rested on his trolling laurels. Sure, he’ll phone in 80% of his work, but when it comes to the serious business of explaining why and how much Boston teams suck, even when they really don’t — heck, especially when they don’t — the man still has the instincts and drive of a master in his prime.

Take today’s column which, at the outset, notes that the Red Sox aren’t doing too well. Hey, they’re not, so that’s fair, and that’s where most Boston columnists have decided to stop these past couple of days. Not Shaughnessy. He’s content to take a mediocre season start — they’re five games behind the surprising Blue Jays — and use it as a springboard for claiming that it’s not just a poor start, it’s a poor era that is not as good as everyone likes to say it is:

In the early part of the 21st century, the Sox truly were a powerhouse, annually winning 95 games and making it to the World Series or the seventh game of the ALCS four times in six years. Those days are over.

The Sox won a World Series last year, but 2013 looks more and more like an outlier season. If the Sox fail to make the playoffs this year, it will mark the fourth time in five seasons they have failed to make the postseason. It would mark the fifth time in six years that they have failed to win a postseason game.

That’s the reigning World Series champs he’s talking about. Which, yes, had a crappy season in 2012 and a couple of bad weeks at the end of 2011, but which still have had one losing record, three-sub 90-win seasons and three World Series titles in the past 12 years. And just when you think he’s made the most manipulative sounding point of analysis possible, he whips this out:

This is bad. The 20-26 Sox are looking like worst-to-first-to-worst candidates. Only two American League teams have more losses than Boston. The Bobby Valentine Sox were 23-23 after 46 games in 2012.

Bam!

I don’t know how the Sox will do this year. I still think it’s a really talented team that has had a rough early go of it and which has as good if not a better chance than winning the AL East than any of the other guys. But sure, they could never get back on track and finish third or whatever. It’s baseball and stuff like that happens all the time.

But no matter what happens, I’m pretty sure that only someone as uniquely gifted as Dan Shaughnessy can characterize the Sox’ start in such a way as to cast doubt and negativity on the franchise and its recent history as a whole. And to do it, as most masters do, in such a way as to make the work appear effortless.

Bravo, Dan. Bravo.

The Yankees set up “The Judge’s Chambers” cheering section for Aaron Judge

New York Yankees
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The Yankees aren’t well-known for going all-in on goofy, fan-friendly fun. While some organizations are happy to jump on new and even silly or ephemeral trends for the yuks of it, the Yankees have tended to keep things rather businesslike when it comes to promotions and things. They’ve always played the long game, assuming — not always unreasonably — that their brand is best defined by the club’s history and greatness and quiet dignity and stuff.

Aaron Judge and his breakout rookie season is changing things. His fast start has caused fans to dress up in judge’s robes and stuff, so the team is having fun with it. They’ve set up a special section called “The Judge’s Chambers,” complete with a jury box vibe:

 

Fans will be selected to sit in the special section, which is in section 104 in right field, right behind where Judge plays, and will be handed foam gavels with “All Rise” written on them. To be selected at the moment it’d help if you wear one of those judicial robes with Judge’s number 99 on the back or his jersey or an English judge-style powdered wig. Going forward, the Yankees will also use the section for groups and charity events and stuff.

Judge is on a 58-homer pace right now. It’s unlikely he’ll keep that up, but he certainly looks like the real deal. And, for the Yankees and their fans, he’s giving them the chance for some real fun.

And That Happened: Monday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Twins 14, Orioles 7: Baltimore jumped out to a 5-0 lead and led 6-2 after four but then the Twins started bashing. Actually, it wasn’t so much bashing as the ten runs they scored between the fifth and sixth innings all came without the benefit of a homer. Max Kepler and Miguel Sano did homer at other times in the game, however. Kepler drove in four. Sano and Eduardo Escobar each knocked in three. Minnesota even scored on a balk. This game had a bit of everything. Adam Jones hit a homer. It was his 125th dinger at Camden Yards, giving him the all-time lead in that park. The old record holder: Rafael Palmeiro.

Yankees 4, Royals 2: Brett Gardner, Didi Gregorius and Chris Carter all went deep as the Yankees beat Jason Vargas. Vargas had a 1.01 ERA through his first seven starts. In his last two he’s allowed nine runs on 11 hits in ten innings. Both of those games have come against the Yankees, though, so maybe it’s more them having his number than him turning into a pumpkin.

Rockies 8, Phillies 1: Top prospect Jeff Hoffman got called up for a spot start and struck out seven over seven three-hit, one-run innings. Nolan Arenado hit a two-run homer. Philly has lost 18 of 22.

Reds 5, Indians 1: The Battle for Ohio Begins. With the loss, Cleveland is in the early lead to be stuck with Ohio. OK, I kid — I’m an Ohioan, I can do that — but I don’t know for sure what the winner gets. It’s either some cup or a trophy or maybe they get to cut in line at Cedar Point or something. Anyway, Scott Feldman was sharp, allowing one run and striking out nine in six innings, and Scott Schebler homered for the third straight game. Great Scott.

Angels 3, Rays 2: J.C. Ramirez outdueled Jake Odorizzi and the Angels broke a 2-2 tie on a Jumbo Diaz wild pitch in the seventh. Five total runs scored and 12 hits between the teams over nine innings yet this game went three hours and thirty seven minutes. Eleven walks and 20 strikeouts is the likely culprit. Sounds like a slog.

Braves 5, Pirates 2: Welcome to Atlanta Matt Adams. The newest Brave hit a two-run homer in his second start since being acquired from the Cardinals and Brandon Phillips hit his 200th career homer. Center fielder Ender Inciarte had a career-high five hits for the Braves who were not fooled at all by Gerrit Cole. Meanwhile, Mike Foltynewicz and four relievers held the Buccos in check.

Giants 6, Cubs 4: Joe Panik homered to lead off the game and doubled twice. Not to lead off the game, though. It’d be impossible to do all of that in one plate appearance. Brandon Belt and Justin Ruggiano homered as well, also in their own distinct at bats. There are rules here.

Astros 1, Tigers 0: A combined one-hitter in a bullpen game. The bullpen game was necessitated by a pinched nerve in Dallas Keuchel‘s neck. Brad Peacock got the start and allowed only one hit and two walks with eight strikeouts over four and a third. Chris Devenski, Will Harris and Ken Giles went the rest of the way for a combined four and two-thirds perfect innings. Michael Fulmer only made one mistake in walking George Springer to lead off the game and then giving up an RBI double to Jose Altuve. Otherwise he scattered eight hits and allowed only that one run in seven innings. That, however, was enough to lose the game.

Diamondbacks 5, White Sox 1: Zack Greinke struck out a season-high 12, allowing only one run in eight and two-thirds. Daniel Descalso hit a three-run homer in the fourth that provided all of the cushion Greinke needed.