Thursday, August 05, 2004

MEA CULPA. Globe sports columnist Dan Shaughnessy on Wednesday wrote that he wanted to make it clear he'd never referred to Nomar Garciaparra as a "cancer" on the Red Sox: "Nowhere in this space was Garciaparra characterized as a 'cancer' in the Sox clubhouse. The word 'polluted' was used (which admittedly may be harsher for some), but you won't find 'cancer' tossed about casually here."

Now, I have no idea whether Shaughnessy is a Media Log reader. But on Monday, I did refer to columns written by him and the Herald's Gerry Callahan as concluding that Garciaparra "had become a cancer on the team." I did not directly attribute the word "cancer" to either one of them; rather, I meant it as a summary of what they had written. (And, in fact, neither actually used the word.)

Nevertheless, it was sloppy and insensitive of me, especially given that Shaughnessy's daughter, Kate, is a leukemia survivor. Referring to someone who's a negative influence as a "cancer" is pretty common usage, dating back at least to John Dean's warning to Richard Nixon. It's also a lousy expression, and I'll try not to use it again.

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