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 St. Louis Cardinals announce their first Pride Night

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The St. Louis Cardinals announced today that they will hold their first Pride Night on August 25th.

A lot of teams have Pride Nights, but it’s worth noting that the Cardinals are holding one given some bad press — some fair, some unfair — they have received in recent years when it comes to matters of diversity and inclusion.

Earlier this month the club received criticism from the LGBT community due to Lance Berkman’s presence for the team’s annual Christian Day, given his past comments about transgender people and his participation in a Houston political campaign over access to public restrooms. Recently, a former Cardinals minor league player claimed he left baseball after enduring anti-gay comments from his coaches and teammates.

As club president Bill DeWitt III noted in the official announcement however, the Cardinals have hosted LGBT groups in the past. He says that the club is eager to “remind fans that everyone is welcome at Busch Stadium.” He notes that the event will raise money for the PrideSTL Scholarship Fund which, in DeWitt’s words, “help courageous students in our community.”

Nice move, Cardinals.

Johnny Cueto expected to opt-out of his deal after the season

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Johnny Cueto signed a six-year $130 million deal with the Giants prior to the 2016 season. In his first season he went 18-5 with a 2.79 ERA and 198 strikeouts in 219.2 innings, helping lead the Giants to the playoffs. This season has been rocky for Cueto — he’s got a a 4.42 ERA in 15 starts and has battled blisters — but they’ve been far rockier for the Giants overall, as they sit in last place in the NL West and have the second worst record in baseball.

Many suspect that the Giants will either rebuild or, at the very least, restructure some in response to this nightmare year. If so, they’re likely going to be doing it with Cueto, who Jon Heyman reports is going to opt-out of his deal:

San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Johnny Cueto is planning to opt out of his contract at the end of the year, but he would listen to any extension offer . . . Cueto has $84 million to go over four years. It would probably take an injury or major slump for Cueto not to opt out. But it makes sense that he will.

Heyman says the Giants are not inclined to give him an extension, so expect to see Cueto on the free agent market three days after the World Series ends, which is the deadline for him to exercise his opt-out rights.