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The most hated man in Boston

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You've got to give the Boston Globe's Dan Shaughnessy some credit. Two years ago, when I wrote about the close ties between the New York Times, the Boston Globe, and the Red Sox, Shaughnessy was more than willing to speak with me, candidly and on the record. (That's more than I can say for Tony Massarotti and Michael Holley, who didn't return my calls.)

As Shaughnessy told me at the time:

The [Globe's] link with the Sox through the Times Company "puts everyone in somewhat of an awkward position. All we can do is write what we believe, and think and trust that the readers will see that we’re independent of any financial conflicts or overlaps." Shaughnessy doesn’t perceive any benefit for the Globe from the connections, "but I understand that it does raise eyebrows. It would make me wonder if I was at the other paper."

Of course, as something of a Bigfoot at the Globe, Shaughnessy has more latitude than some in speaking out. And as Adam Reilly writes this week in the Boston Phoenix, the man widely known as the CHB (curly-haired boyfriend) has quite a share of haters: 

Two days later, sitting in his Globe cube, Shaughnessy offered his take — warily at first — on why some people dislike him so much. “A measure of this comes with the territory,” he began. “We are in the business of writing things about people, and being critical at times, so we are going to be criticized. So I accept that as part of the deal.”

That answer verged on pro-athlete-style pabulum — the kind Shaughnessy might rip if it were handed to him — but he soon grew more candid. “I think it’s hard to know why one is singled out, or why one attracts a particular amount of venom,” he continued. “But I think The Curse of the Bambino had a lot to do with it. People think that meant I’d either invented the dark history of the Red Sox or was hoping they would lose to keep it going.” (By 2004, he assured me, there was “no more money to be made” off royalties from the book.)

Now Shaughnessy’s wariness was gone. Over the next few minutes, he played media theorist. (The Internet, he said, has emboldened angry fans and increased homer-ism.) He insisted that Ramirez did, in fact, bail on the team in 2006. (“It doesn’t make him a bad guy; it makes him a bad teammate. The belief in that clubhouse to a man is that he quit.”) He claimed he doesn’t care if players freeze him out. (“I covered the Celtics with Larry Bird not talking to me for a year. He’d been in a barroom fight; I found the guy. . . . What was I supposed to do?”) And he pegged the ongoing feud between the Globe and sports-radio behemoth WEEI, where he used to be a host, as another factor (“pretty much 24-7, they pound the Globe and me and others here”).

The most telling part of the conversation, though, came when I asked Shaughnessy about complaints that he’s indifferent or downright hostile to Boston teams. “I root for the story,” he replied. “I don’t think people covering the 2004 presidential campaign should be rooting for John Kerry; I don’t want to read a post-election story where a guy’s disappointed that John Kerry didn’t win. That’s not what that guy’s hired to do."

. . . .

Maybe, in the end, Shaughnessy’s situation says as much about Boston as it does about the man himself. In case you haven’t noticed, this can be an angry town. For the better part of a century, the Sox’ internal and external enemies (Bucky Dent, Bill Buckner, Grady Little, etc.) simultaneously stoked and released that anger. But then — after the Patriots’ Super Bowl championships destabilized this dependable equation — the Sox’ 2004 Series win destroyed it forever.

Unmoored, Boston’s collective rage could have latched on to the woeful Celtics or Bruins. Instead — with some encouragement from the man himself — it’s glommed on to the Curly-Haired Boyfriend. Whomever you blame, the outcome isn’t pretty.

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