Your Thoughts Exactly: Feeding the Monster Bullshit

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


Feeding the Monster Bullshit

I read "Feeding the Monster," by Seth Mnookin, a former New Yorker writer who followed Red Sox management around for a few years (03-05ish) and wrote a tome on them.

While Mnookin does have some interesting insights on the Red Sox, this is one of the worst pieces of non-fiction I have read about the Sox. As a non-fiction writer, the goal should be to take a broad view, understanding that in profiling something as large as an organization, there are going to be different individual views as to how things happened. In something as that garners as much media coverage, opinionizing, and rumor-mongering as the Red Sox, this is definitely going to be the case.

Unfortunately, this "insider's" perspective reads as a PR piece put out by Red Sox brass. Mnookin, rewards ownership for the amount of access given to him by taking their line in every single major conflict. His lack of reporting skill is especially evident in his inability to get the player's side of the story. Granted, getting interviews with Manny Ramirez can be a challenge, but answering such a challenge is necessary if you are going to write about the man.

Mnookin consistently labels the players as "greedy," consistently pointing out the large salaries they make while referencing their complaints in order to make them look spoiled. No mention then, of the penny-pinching done by ownership, rather according to how Mnookin portrays it, the Red Sox are struggling to make money what with revenue sharing etc. (Mnookin places the caveat that revenues from NESN arent counted, total garbage because the Sox moved all their games to NESN after buying the network, cable packages then added NESN to extended basic and charged ALL New England consumers extra, whether they are Red Sox fans or not.) Who does he think he's fooling? The Sox have by far the most expensive tickets and fuck their fans over for money in a ton of ways. Don't look to me for pity.

Worse then this portrayal however is the misrepresentation of truth. Two examples come to mind.

The first is Mnookin calling out Dan Shaugnessy for glossing over the Red Sox racist history in his book "The Curse of the Bambino." The Shank is a total putz, and the city will be a better place when he retires, but I've got to back him on this one. I've read the book and his account of the Jackie Robinson tryout (with the famous "get these niggers off the field," from the owners box) the Willie Mays tryout, the racism of Pinky Higgins, and the de facto limit on minorities through the 80s are all covered in Dan's book. He even floats a theory that there is a twin curse of Ruth and Robinson, tying Boston's futility to their racist attitudes. Mnookin's statement is slanderous.

A second comes in backing the Red Sox decisions and buying the party line as truth. Mnookin claims that, in signing David Wells and Matt Clement over Derek Lowe and Pedro Martinez, the Sox managed to get a better combination of pitchers for 8 million dollars less. Of course at the end of 2005, Pedro and Lowe had a combined VORP of 86 while Clement and Wells were at 50. Whoops.

The 2004 Red Sox were a great team both as the game of baseball and in terms of the confluence of personalities. Shame that out of such a team, no one has written a definitive profile. Skip Mnookin's for sure, Johnny Damon's bio will probably provide more level-headed insight

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