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Sunday, May 12, 2013

Werner strikes out after Ortiz given chance to dispel rumors

Alan Greenwood

Floating down a lonesome stream of consciousness, wondering how many pitchers will have to take potentially lethal line drives off their noggins before baseball does something meaningful to protect them …

Over the 11-year tenure of the current Red Sox ownership regime, it has long been thought in this little corner that John Henry is the brains, Larry Lucchino is the bureaucratic brawn and Tom Werner is something akin to the court jester, with shallow baseball knowledge and, as an attack dog, sounding more like a squeak toy. ...

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Floating down a lonesome stream of consciousness, wondering how many pitchers will have to take potentially lethal line drives off their noggins before baseball does something meaningful to protect them …

Over the 11-year tenure of the current Red Sox ownership regime, it has long been thought in this little corner that John Henry is the brains, Larry Lucchino is the bureaucratic brawn and Tom Werner is something akin to the court jester, with shallow baseball knowledge and, as an attack dog, sounding more like a squeak toy.

Werner’s most recent yelp came in response to a column by the Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy, who asked David Ortiz if he would respond to whispers that his remarkable start to the 2013 season has been fueled by performance-enhancing drugs. Since failing a drug test a decade ago, it is hardly the first time that Ortiz’s honor has been scrutinized.

Like a smarmy politician who refuses to acknowledge between questions and accusations, Werner lit into the Boston media generally and Shaughnessy specifically for having the sheer gall to offer Ortiz a platform from which he could give his perspective on the rumors. Like any other veteran Hollywood stooge, Werner sniped at the very idea of someone giving volume to others’ whispers.

With a blotch on his MLB sheet, Ortiz is destined to inspire evil rumors each time he goes on a hot streak. The rumors may be wholly baseless, but they will never end. Such is the world of Twitter, Facebook and 24/7 blog cycles in which we live. Something that never changes is the ease with which the intellectually unarmed attack the messengers.

Ultimately, all Werner did was extend the column’s shelf life by offering his cowardly blather Friday.

Speaking of Shaughnessy

While Werner typically lets his wayward arrows fly from a safe distance, Nashuans will have a special opportunity to let Shaughnessy know directly how they feel on any and all issues on June 27, when New England’s senior sports columnist will be honored at the annual Police Athletic League sports dinner at Conway Arena. Tickets are $75 ($500 for a table of eight) and can be purchased at Conway or by phone at 595-2400.

Shaughnessy will be available to autograph copies of the best-selling book he produced this year with former Red Sox manager Terry Francona, or any of the others he has produced over the years.

Feeling underpaid, gov?

A colleague forwarded a Deadspin infographic outlining the highest paid state employees throughout the country. All but nine states boast a head football or basketball coach as its most handsomely rewarded public servant. Those nine include Massachusetts (medical school chancellor), Maine (law school dean), Vermont (college president) and New York (medical school department chairman).

New Hampshire has the only hockey coach atop the state employee pecking order, UNH’s Dick Umile. Clearly, our priorities need no tinkering, even if in-state students have to pay off their college loans deep into the twilight years.

That might be good enough to let us disown our egghead elitist neighbors, presuming citizens of the good ol’ boy states know what a hockey puck is.

Another scary moment

When Toronto pitcher J.A. Happ took Desmond Jennings’ line drive off the head last week, no doubt many New Englanders’ thoughts flashed back to Sept. 8, 2000, when Bryce Florie got hit in the face by a shot off the bat of the Yankees’ Ryan Thompson.

The sickening sound of line drive meeting flesh and bone could be heard five floors up in the Fenway Park press box.

Before one of these awful moments morphs into sheer tragedy, perhaps Major League Baseball can make a true attempt to dial back the game’s decades-long inclination to, at every turn, tilt the scales toward hitters. Vigorously keeping batters from hanging into the strike zone and giving pitchers back the inside half of the plate are a reasonable start. Spending whatever it takes to develop some sort of headgear for pitchers is even better.

Most likely, the words of Nationals manager Davey Johnson – pitchers got to learn to react better – will guide MLB’s typically glacial-like efforts at enacting any sort of change.

Alan Greenwood can be reached at 594-6427 or agreenwood@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Greenwood on Twitter (@Telegraph_AlanG).