Thanks to Jfromta for the link to Sons of Sam Horn (SOSH). One of the noteworthy media related phenomena of Curt Schilling's tenure in Boston has been Schilling's active participation in various Boston media, including as a caller to WEEI, the New England region's most popular sports talk radio station, and as a poster at the aformentioned SOSH, a VERY popular Red Sox website.
There's been much discussion in recent days of Schilling's stated intention to test free agency after the 2007 season. And, on Friday, here's what Shaughnessy wrote about that situation:
At 7:30 a.m., Curt Schilling went on his user-friendly radio program to announce that contract extension talks had broken off and he'll be a free agent after the season. Two-and-a-half hours later, owner John W. Henry said Schilling's announcement was news to him, but at lunchtime general manager Theo Epstein confirmed the breach and demonstrated the bloodlessness of a young Bill Belichick.
Shaughnessy and Schilling don't like each other, which is clear from Shaughnessy's references to Schilling as "the Big Blowhard," as in the following:
But the Big Blowhard roared back into the headline-hogging lead early yesterday with another bombshell on his paid radio gig. This marked the second time in a month that Schill took to the airwaves to shock Sox Nation (wonder if he'll go on WEEI to declare his candidacy for the Senate?). On Jan. 29, he announced plans to pitch in 2008. This contradicted what he'd been saying for the last year, but fans were happy to hear that the big lug was going to keep pitching. Then he declared that if the Sox didn't sign him by the end of spring training, he would test the free agent waters.
The Sox front office was shocked when Schilling went on the radio with this announcement and his gun-to-the-temple timetable was not well received by Messrs. Henry, Lucchino, and Epstein.
As I've written before, we're in a new era of accountability for media, including sports media. It's somewhat novel that the player in question would, himself, exact that accountability, but such is the nature of the age in which we live. Schilling responded Friday on SOSH (CHB is how posters on SOSH refer to Shaughnessy. If you want to know why, go here):
Can you guys imagine if we were actually pissed at each other? This could get ugly fast? Now we'll just have to let hacks and idiots like CHB stir up something that does not exist.
John Henry and I had a very comfortable discussion walking across the field yesterday. I have nothing but the utmost respect for him, and think he feels the same way about me.
Theo and I had a very comfortable discussion the last two days as well.
The Red Sox knew I was doing the morning radio show on WEEI and contrary to what Hemingway wrote in the Globe it's not a 'paid appearance' and never has been. THe money raised on EEI is for ALS and always has been.
The Red Sox knew, and we spoke at length prior to, this going public in January. We both knew that someone in the media had found out from someone other than Theo or I about the discussions and that person was going to write about it, with what would have been incorrect facts. No one was blindsided and no one really cared about the perception of it going public other than to want the facts to get reported.
I know CHB finds it hard to believe, which is understandable, but the 'gun to the head' approach was never a factor here, both sides knew this.
I'd love to tell you I look like Gabe Kapler with my shirt off, I don't. However I weigh 243 pounds right now, which is exactly 2 pounds under what I weighed in at at seasons end last year. The clothes make me look fat.......
Am I disappointed? Yep. Am I surprised? Nope. Is everyone but the parties involved making way too much out of this? Yep.
I've forever needed baseball a whole hell of a lot more than it needs me, I've always known that. I have also always known that it is a business, even when you don't want it to be.
Please trust me when I say, and have said, this will have zero bearing on my preperation or performance this season. I don't pitch for contracts, never have. My three best years were in the first year of new contracts. I pitch to win, just like most of the other guys in this game do.
One of the lines CHB failed to put into the article he wrote a few weeks back was me, on the phone, calling him an asshole. He knows as sure as he's reading this right now that I think he's a giant sphincter.
At some point soon he'll realize that the dislike for him here is not because he's the guy always taking the 'other side' while trying to illicit opinions and responses from readers, but rather he's disliked because he treats people like shit.
Writers like him, and there are others I can assure you, are the reason athletes come to despise members of the media. They aren't all like that but it's just hard to figure out who's who sometimes.
I'm a father of 4 incredible kids, the husband to a woman who turned her bout with cancer into a life saving organization, the boss of a man who drives an hour each day to work, both ways, in my company, that is dying from ALS, and the Lord has blessed me with the ability to spend 21 years playing professional baseball.
I guess what I am saying is that the sun came up today, life is good. If it's meant to be that I come back here then it will happen. If not then I sure as hell will relish in the fact that I got to be here and experience something I couldn't have dreamed up.
Now move along people, talk about something like my career OPS, or can Papi hit 60 this year? Don't let the media make you waste time on issues that just aren't issues to anyone but them.
They can hate the fact that I talk on EEI, or write in these forums, hell he's done it for 4 years, but it's still going to happen and at the end of the day he's still going to be the most misinformed guy in this group when it comes to the Sox and their fans.
While futzing around in the course of writing this post, I came across a website devoted exclusively to ripping on Shaughnessy. Like many other websites dedicated to deconstructing a particular writer or media source, this one assumes the form of "We read (fill-in-the-blank) so you don't have to. And, boy, do they have it in for Shaughnessy.
In a particularly apt post about a Shaughnessy column concerning a recent act of heroism by Boston-area firefighters, DBVADER writes:
Dan uses this opportunity to remind us dimwitted readers that sports stars are not heroes, that heroes are people like firefighter Andrew Lee. Thanks Dan. This statement must be one of the biggest cliches in sportswriting. Weren't we reminded of this by Dan's colleagues after 9/11? And doesn't some local columnist always trot out this angle after every example of heroism by police or firefighter?
Its not that these heroes shouldn't be praised, but we don't need to be reminded that the real heroes are not on the field. We get it. And most well adjusted, semi-bright 16-year olds have figured it out. At some point in our lives we realize that there are more important things than sports and we are disabused of any notion that sports stars are infallible or worthy of any special respect. It doesn't mean we can't still enjoy following our favorite teams and players.
But Dan thinks that a passion for sports is evidence of a warped personality and a lack of perspective; or in Dan's lexicon, you are a "fanboy."
A fan's passion for sports does not preclude other interests or a full and rich life. Indeed, it adds to it. It is what we have in common. But in Dan's world, if you don't have a detached, cynical take on things, you are a childlike idiot.
If you've ever seen or heard Shaughnessy, you know he comes across as one of the most dour power people on the planet, taking the I'm-so-tired-from-having-to-cover-all-these-awful-characters affectation to a whole new level. A few weeks back, I mentioned a blurb for a book I'd ordered, by George Castle, titled Baseball and the Media: How Fans Lose in Today's Coverage of the Game. I just got the book the other day and am working my way through it, but one of Castle's concerns is that columnists (who now have the prized, and more remunerative jobs at newspapers), away from a regular beat, don't take the time to cultivate relationships with players the way beat writers do, resulting in detached and, Castle believes, less well-informed analysis of the game. Castle has a larger critique of the entire industry of baseball coverage, which I'll get to in a future post, and his discussion of the columnist/beat writer split is only a small part of it. And, Shaughnessy's been around a long time and obviously does have plenty of contacts, including access to ownership. But, this particular Shaughnessy-Schilling episode is another reminder of the extent to which celebrity journalism necessarily entails the celebrity-journalists injecting themselves into their stories. Some do it in more obvious and direct ways than others, but when you make a good living by merely stating your opinions, and grinding your own axes, it would appear to be particularly tempting to get lazy about your job, in some respects. It's easier to write about back-and-forths in the media, to speculate about contract squabbles than it is to double-check quotes, substantiate facts, and learn anew how the state of the art may have changed concerning analysis of the games you've long followed. And, since the culture of sports opinion is so off-the-cuff anyway, why bother with all the heavy lifting when there's always something easy about which to opine.
I have no doubt that Shaughnessy would have a response to every one of Schilling's claims above, and I don't presume to know whether everything Schilling says accurately represents the situation under discussion. But, Schilling and the Shaughnessy Watch guys have it right here: if you're going to write about sports, either talk about the games on the field, or (as Dave Zirin does) talk about how sports relates to matters of real significance off of it. The incessant, trivial tempests in a teapot to which fans are subject is not where the conversation needs to be.