Number nine on the list of the biggest episodes this decade in the Boston sports media is Curt Schilling’s arrival in Boston after the Red Sox acquired in a trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Schilling immediately caused headlines when it was revealed that he had joined the Red Sox messageboard Sons of Sam Horn, even before the trade was official, and chatted with members there about Boston and the Red Sox, in order to get a feel for the city and fans.
Initially, the media thought this was a great story, until Schilling started bypassing them and going directly to the fans, answering questions on SoSH, holding chats, even starting game threads during the postseason.
The media didn’t like this. An angry Tony Massarotti declared that if Schilling was going to go directly to the unwashed masses that he and his media cronies weren’t going to help Schilling promote his charitable works – an incredibly insensitive and immature outburst from the columnist.
(Update: A message board discussion reminded me of some more details from that day – Massarotti was on the WEEI Big Show, and Ordway was saying how even if SoSH password protected the forums Schilling posted in, the media would still get to, and publish his words. Someone leaked the password to Ordway, who then read it on the air. Then the SoSH admins got smart and made Ordway’s home phone number the forum password, knowing Ordway wouldn’t dare read THAT on the air. That REALLY set Ordway off. Good times.
Now, Ordway and Schilling are chums. Such a shame.)
Schilling took things a step further in March of 2007 when he started his own blog, 38 Pitches. It gave him another platform to reach the fans directly with his thoughts and message. The media didn’t like this, either. Dan Shaughnessy in particular began taking regular shots at Schilling and his blog, and Schilling would respond. For a while it was a mano-a-mano war of typed words between the two of them. Posting entries with titles like Why the media sucks… and CHB plays the fool, again brought the blog a ton of attention, and made some in the media very uncomfortable.
Schilling initially launched the blog independently, and had it hosted on the WordPress VIP platform, joining some other huge names. Then, the curious decision was made to join the re-launched WEEI.com and make 38 Pitches a part of that. I didn’t understand it then, and don’t understand it now. He was big enough on his own – why did he need to hitch his wagon to WEEI?
In any event, the arrival of Curt Schilling shook things up for the Boston media in many ways, both on the field and off. His decision to buck the tradition media and use the internet as a way to get his own thoughts and messages out directly to the fans, bypassing the media altogether certainly shook things up for the media this decade.