I really don’t want to dwell on this too much, but yesterday marked the 10th anniversary of the very first post on Boston Sports Media Watch. That first post, composed on a new service called Blogger, mentioned Dan Shaughnessy, Tommy Heinsohn, Dick Harter and Drew Bledsoe.
Things have come a long way since then. Originally, my idea was to somehow be able to write a sports TV column for a small local newspaper. After talking with a couple of editors, they let me know they just didn’t have the space for such a column, and were unsure of the interest something of that nature would draw. I had some conversations with Bill Griffith, then the sports media columnist for the Boston Globe, and he was very helpful. I sent him some samples, and he gave me some good feedback.
I realized I needed to practice if I was going to do anything with this idea, so I thought of the idea of a website, though I had no idea what was involved in setting one up. Then I came across Blogger. It was a relatively new service, as was the concept of a blog. I signed up for an account, and started posted. I’m not sure how people found it originally, though I did post the address in a few Usenet groups I frequented at the time, and in fact, that was were I had made my first online comments about sports media. Eventually I acquired the current domain name, and moved the site to it, though the background publishing software has changed from Blogger to Movable Type to WordPress.
A few months into my postings on Blogger, Griffith mentioned the site and gave the address in one of his Sunday media notes columns, and things really took off from there. There are still people who tell me that is how they first learned of the site.
In April, 2002, the Patriots were coming off their first Super Bowl title, and since then, the site has seen championships from the 2003 and 2004 Patriots, the 2004 and 2007 Red Sox, the 2008 Celtics and the 2011 Bruins. Quite a run.
A big part of the reward of doing the site has been sort of “discovering” writers from small local papers, and introducing them to a larger audience. I enjoyed reading the likes of Mike Reiss (MetroWest Daily News) Rob Bradford (Lowell Sun) John Tomase (Lawrence Eagle-Tribune) Chad Finn (Concord Monitor) and Albert Breer (MetroWest Daily News) before they became the everyday presence on the Boston (and national) sports media scene that they currently are.
I’ve enjoyed chatting and trading emails with some of the veterans on the scene, who, may not be the “stars” of the local media, but who have been around forever, and have seen everything. Mike Fine, Michael Gee and Mark Farinella fall into that category. There have been contentious emails (and phone calls) from a few people, but for the most part, feedback is positive. Getting random emails from people I respect and admire, (as I did recently from Bob Ryan and Steve Bulpett) is always a thrill.
Bill Simmons gave me some very good early advice, telling me I needed to have my name on the site, and contact information, if I wanted to have any sort of credibility. Michael Felger encouraged me to be critical, to take shots when warranted. Frank Shorr and Roy Reiss and Griffith have provided opportunity and insight into the business. Dan Shaughnessy once called me to take issue with something I wrote, and explain the situation I was referencing, and after that, we actually had a pretty pleasant exchange remembering the 1980’s Celtics.
WEEI is still a monster on the local media scene, but shockingly is now second fiddle as 98.5 FM came on the airwaves three years ago and toppled the Entercom entity. 98.5 was the third competitor to attempt to challenge WEEI as 1510 the Zone and ESPN 890 Boston both came and went locally.
Now, as in 2002, Bob Ryan is a must-read, no matter if the topic is the Celtics or an indoor track meet at Northeastern University. The Globe will sorely miss him when he retires this year, and even though he is expected to continue a regular column, replacing him will be impossible. No offense to Chris Gasper, who is expected to be named a sports columnist when Ryan retires, but it’s a big step down from Bob Ryan to anyone.
Even though I am a rank amateur at this, I’ve attempted to behave as a professional. I attempt not to get into name-calling and insult-swapping in this medium. I land barbs here and there, of course, but in many ways, my spirit in originally starting the site was to sort of give some in the media a taste of their own medicine when it came to how they were covered. Many think nothing of questioning the manhood and insulting the subjects they cover, yet when I write something negative about them, I get an angry, expletive-filled email. Those are always fun. If someone has respectful, constructive criticism, I am happy to take it under advisement and reply with my own thoughts on the matter.
What does the future hold for BSMW? I hinted last year that I might consider closing things up at the 10 year mark. I don’t think I’m ready to do that. However, there will likely be changes as my family continues to grow. (Son #3 arrives next month.) I’m not sure what those changes might be, but I think the posting frequency could be involved. Unless someone or a few people wanted to come in and keep doing links every single day, I think those may go away, and be replaced by a regular rotation of more traditional sports media news, columns and notebooks. I haven’t worked it out yet, but BSMW will remain.
I’d like to thank everyone who has come to this site over the last 10 years. For a website, especially a blog, 10 years is a lifetime, and eternity. I’m proud to have gone this long in doing this. The feedback, via email, comments and on the BSMW messageboard has been entertaining and informative. I’d especially like to acknowledge and thank the regulars on the messageboard, who never fail to provide humor, insight, and support even as they vociferously tear apart some of their favorite targets.
I want to also thank the guys at Patriots Football Weekly for giving me a legitimate, print platform to write in. Through them I’ve had the opportunity to interview the likes of Lesley Visser, Michael Silver, Fran Charles, Michael Lombardi, Andrew Brandt, Pete Prisco, Mike Freeman and many other national NFL media figures. It’s been a great opportunity and experience.
It has been a blast, and I look forward to seeing what happens next. I dropped way too many names in this column, and went way longer than I intended to. For that, I apologize. I’ll try to stay focused on media matters the rest of the week.
Thanks again to all who have made this enjoyable.