By David Scott
Boston Sports Media Watch

Something a bit different this week as we try and get a little insight into one of the decade’s most important sports (and yes, pop culture) writers, Bill Simmons of ESPN.com.

Readers of this space know Shots has not held back over the past year for what I perceived as a diminishing of the Sports Guy’s skills and resonation with his core audience (Boston folk predominantly). While I have always maintained he is an immense talent and a worthy read, I have not always understood the arc of his career and with that, the arc of his appeal.

What is presented below is the result of a lengthy email and response session that Simmons and Shots had over a 10-day period. It’s quote-heavy (from him), but that’s because Simmons says some truly revealing things. Not just about himself, but in large part about the industry as a whole and Internet media as a subdivision of that industry. It comes on the heels of Simmons own 7,000-plus word exchange with the similarly cynical and talented Chuck Klosterman at ESPN.com and as a prelude to the release of Now I Can Die in Peace, a book Simmons is promoting this weekend around town.

One programming note: Coming next week will be another Shots Self-Ombuds piece (a device I used once before after the Michael Gee story got widespread attention). I suspect there will be a lot of feedback on this story as well – in fact, some of it began last week when I offered the tease to the piece and a few readers feared I was going to be kissing Simmons’ ass and giving him even more space than he already gets. To those folks, I can only ask that you read what is presented below and THEN make your judgments.

My intention was to neither smooch his butt or skewer his body. He’s red hot right now and his book is going make him even hotter. Any attempt to skewer the guy would be seen as transparent jealousy and I don’t hold an ounce of that toward the Guy. My past (and future) assessments of his work are what I perceive from a seat “high above courtside.” The rest, as always, is for you to decide.

I hope you enjoy it and get something out of it. Simmons is a bit of mystery to some people, hopefully parts of that mystery are either cleared or clouded with the following. Either way, it’ll have you thinking. . .

The Guy

By David Scott
Boston Sports Media Watch

You have no idea what a struggle these words have become. No idea hath you.

When you do what I do on a weekly basis, at a grassroots level, with little to no income derived directly from this particular space, you discover many things about yourself.

For instance, you learn you are a “kiss-ass” for running this story at such length. So sayeth a couple of Shots readers who were put off by the very notion that I would even give Megabyte One to the “sell-out.”

It’s a predictable response from the portion of my audience that has found comfort in my pointing out of some recent slips by the Guy – which I observed from a perch similar to the one the Guy used to sit on, if we’re being honest about the whole thing.

I harpooned the cartoon. I found fault with his Event Blog of the NCAA tournament. I wondered that he’d gone too Hollywood. I got fed up with words upon words about movies and little discussion of sports. I longed, at times, for the “old days,” when I was stranded in New York and he was stuck in Boston making me feel like I was home. Maybe I longed more for being back in the hub of it all, but I definitely longed for the crispness and crassness of The BOSTON Sports Guy.

So yes, I did all those things stated above, but I also always pointed out his talent. His expanding platform. And his influence – of all sorts.

And the “assessment” resonated with a few. The same way my critiques of the Globe have resonated (more and more) with a wider (and wider) group. Similar to my Gino CapelAwful-bashing. And my Terrible Tommy tirades. And the Lou Tilley swipes (more below of those).

See, the point is, that’s what I do – I shine my little, mostly inconsequential, 10 watt flashlight on what I find mildly “offensive” or below the professional standards today’s users can demand. However, I also praise the creative, the gifted and the deserving. It’s called “media criticism” and it’s evolved into a whole new organism with the Blog Uprising we now find ourselves a part of. The Guy was way ahead of us all – but that doesn’t mean we’re all doomed. At least, it shouldn’t mean that.

And, if you must know, it’s what the Guy does too. He just happens to do it better than most and with a devoted, enraptured audience (HOUR AND A HALF WAIT in New York to get a book signed by the Guy).

All of which gets reinforced when the bastard tells me – early on in our 10 day email exchange – he’s peaking.

“I am just hitting my prime: 35-40 (years old),” The colossal prick even managed to sound magnanimous . “That’s when every writer peaks.”

Every writer?

Every good writer – maybe. Although it’s tough to imagine Bob Ryan being much better than he is right now. Ditto for a 50-plusser like Tony Kornheiser. And Bill Plaschke makes three.

But this Guy is none of them. Or is he all of them? And more, maybe.

And no, he’s not a colossal prick. Colossal, yes. Prick? There are many others way more deserving of that title than this Guy. You’ll have to trust me on that one.

***

This Guy, without question, has changed sports writing in many ways. Some have been to our profound benefit (witness this very week’s lengthy, yet amusing back-and-forth with Klosterman).

Some other changes he instigated, dare we say, have spawned a bunch of “unaccountable” wannabes, who figure they too can crack wise, reference White Shadow episodes and make a career of it. (Maybe Shots is even included in that bunch – but that’s an argument for another day.)

Let’s face it: this whole blogevolution – at least in the sports world – comes from the Guy’s trail blazing. Right, Guy?

“I think I was the first Internet sports columnist to have some success,” he says, harkening back to the halcyon “Digital City Boston” days (sort of his Second City TV to what is now his SNL – except when SNL wasn’t so dependant on who the guest-host was). Oh goodness – his tangentialism is contagious. . . .

“I hate the word ‘blogger’ only because I actually wrote 2-3 full-length columns a week back then, unlike just about everyone now,” he says. “(On the old BSG site, only the Daily Links was a blog-type format.) Was it an early prototype of what’s all over the place right now? Probably.

“But most of this stuff would have happened, anyway – I was just the first one. As for the guys floating around now, I can’t really comment because I don’t have the time or the interest to read them. The only three sports blogs I read are: www.sportsbybrooks.com; www.bostonsportsmedia.com; and www.deadspin.com (all for their links).” (Shots Note: The other two sites are much more than just links – go ahead and see for yourself. Brooks, in particular, has an eye for, ah, talent.)

Now “this (Guy) stuff” includes a book, Now I Can Die in Peace . It’s a debut release that works on many levels – and not just for Sox fans, although the SoSHers in our midst are really, really, gonna enjoy the crap out of it. (The rest of us, at times, are left wondering: Which game was this? What happened here?)

It is, like all things the Guy attempts, a bit out of the box. Running in the gutters throughout the 354-page collection of old (and gussied up) columns are 500 boldfaced footnotes. The Guy says he borrowed the gimmick from the unreal, genius of contemporary David Foster Wallace.

“I didn’t want to release a simple collection,” he says. “I wanted extra stuff in there that would make the book stand out. I remember that (Wallace) used it for a tennis feature that I really liked about 10 years ago, so I have always wanted to do it since.

“I liked the idea of the book being like the director’s cut of a DVD, with the footnotes as the director’s commentary. I thought that sounded cool. My editors agreed, although I would have done that gimmick regardless of what they thought. After the cartoon debacle, I’m only listening to me and me alone.”

Ah yes, the cartoon. Every relevant, worth-his-salt writer has one or two “creative differences” episodes during the first third of their careers. Simmons has definitely had one – the cartoon; and perhaps another (Jimmy Kimmel). And there’s also a third just too painful for him to really go into.

The cartoon he readily acknowledges as a bad trip.

“They (ESPN) promised me more leeway than I was receiving in my column – which, by the way, I don’t have a lot of leeway with – and I ended up getting less,” the Guy says. “That’s all I’m saying about that. But it was a good experience for me because I learned, once and forever, to trust my own instincts and not listen to anyone else with decisions about my own life.

“Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad I took the chance (with the cartoon), I learned from the experience, and that’s really all you can ask for out of life. And sure, that sounds like something Rick Pitino said after he was fired from the Celtics, but I honestly feel that way. At the same time, I’m still pissed that I didn’t trust my gut.

“And just for the record, I quit the cartoon – everyone else wanted to keep going. The numbers were actually pretty good.”

On the Kimmel dalliance, he pleads it was a logical move to a potentially ridiculously, lucrative career path. And it still may prove to be that. But Kimmel isn’t exactly Letterman and I suggest as much to the Guy. It gets to him a bit, I sense.

“Honestly? I was burned out on my column. I had spent four years killing myself trying to get to a visible place, and then another 12 months going overboard and pumping out an inordinate amount of columns trying to build a mainstream audience,” the Guy says. “I was just burned out. I needed a change. And I had spent 10 years in Boston, and Jimmy and I got along great, and I had always dreamed of writing for a talk show, so I rolled the dice with it.

“You might find this hard to believe, but it was the best move I ever made – great experience, great people, great friends, more memories and laughs than you can possibly imagine, and I desperately needed a change of scenery. I would absolutely do it again. And just for the record, the show is still on the air, and the ratings are pretty good. You act like I wrote for the Chevy Chase Show or something.”

Yeah, but Kimmel? His cousin Sal? His Uncle? It’s never been right from this viewpoint. Whatever. Different time, different place.

Any way, that’s not the Guy’s biggest heartbreak. Not by a longshot:

“I do want to write scripts though – that’s why I’m out here (living in LA with wife, Kari; infant, Zoe and dogs, Rufus and Dooze). I wrote a movie last summer that ended up getting buried by the studio that hired me to do it, even though everyone loved the script and Chris Moore and Live Planet were the producers,” he says. “I wish I could tell you more, but it’s a horrible story and I will get pissed if I go into it and possibly end up committing a homicide. But it was, unquestionably, the most disappointing and inexplicable experience of my professional career. It will take decades before I get over it. Not years. Decades.”

*****

In a former life – before Holy Cross, before BU (for grad school) and way before he got the clout to do rambling correspondences with guys like Klosterman (and Ralph Wiley before him), the Guy was William J. Simmons III. A self-described “Love Child of the Impossible Dream,” the Guy lived from birth to 13 in Marlboro and Brookline. When his parents divorced, he moved to southern Connecticut but “I took the train to see my Dad every other weekend and for any big Celtics games in May and June,” he recalls. “I wrote in the book about the only time NY sports swayed me was for Gooden’s 84 and 85 seasons – although my love for Boston sports was completely over the top. You should have seen my room back then.”

A student at Greenwich Country Day School [he startlingly shares an alma mater with BOTH the elder George Bush (GCDS) and the aging Dan Shaughnessy (Holy Cross)] the Guy admits to being “more of a wise guy and sports freak who played everything well and nothing great.

“Plus I could always write,” he reminds us.

At Holy Cross he had his own column from the beginning of sophomore year onward, was a sports editor and dabbled in some college-level electronic media. And he re-started the school’s parody newspaper (big surprise there, eh?) and, “I also started an underground magazine about the people on my freshman hall called “The Velvet Edge” that was handwritten and like 12-14 pages an issue. . . great way to rank on everybody and post embarrassing photos.”

Hmmmmm. Sounds like a lot of the Internet today, eh?

It was while getting his masters at BU (ironically in print journalism) that the Guy got introduced to “The Man,” as it were.

“I started working at the (Boston) Herald the following September, answering phones and doing shit work, organizing food runs, working on the Sunday football scores section,” he says. “What a miserable place. I thought it was just me, but I have gotten emails from people since who had similarly horrible experiences there.

“Some of the copy editors were the meanest, most unhappy people I have ever been around. . .I mean, it was unbelievable. I had never seen anything like it. That was the most discouraging environment imaginable for someone who dreamt of becoming a columnist some day. What I really hated was that, eventually, you turn into those people – you start slamming everyone else behind their backs. Man, I hated that place.

“After three years I knew I needed to get out, and I knew it would be years before I ever got a chance. Plus, I never clicked with the new sports editor (Mark Torpey) after Bob Sales was fired. In retrospect, I should have gone to JJ Foley’s on Thursday nights and laughed at his jokes like Mike Felger did, but I didn’t know to do that at the time.

“We just never got along. So I gave my two weeks notice and thought I could make a living freelancing. Within three months, I was broke and started bartending. [The Guy refuses to name the bar because of a distrust he now has of the owners.]

“A year later, I gave it one more whirl and badgered Digital City Boston into giving me a column. That five-year span from college to 1997 was really frustrating for me, I always felt I should have a column and had no outlet because the internet hadn’t taken off yet. And then, once I finally had an outlet, it took another three-four years for most people to develop enough Internet savvy to even find someone like me. I guess it worked out, but I still feel like I had a few extra years in there that I could have done some quality stuff.”

Not that he’s getting nostalgic for those days – not now anyway. Not with a book that is already at No. 1 in Sports (No. 30 overall) on Amazon before the official release date of Saturday. Not with a web site within ESPN.com that draws, according to the book’s publicity sheet, 2.5 million page views per month.

Yet, we still had to ask: In your heart of hearts, do you know that it will never be what it was when it started?

“You’re right, I wish I could go back to the days when I had 5,000 readers and no money. That was great.”

The sarcasm drips through the inbox of my PowerBook G4. My 3,000 readers probably laugh at the thought. And no money? How about negative money?

“You forget,” the Guy implores. “I TRIED to do this conventionally. I spent three years at the Herald and even tried to make my mark at the Phoenix . The bottom line is that newspaper unions have killed this business – writers stay too long and never leave, and young writers who would kill to have their jobs never have a chance. Quick, how many Boston columnists have been hired in the past 10 years at one of the two papers? Here’s your answer – Howard Bryant and Jackie MacMullan. [Shots adds in Michael Holley, who did, despite some flip-flopping, have a column at the Globe.]

“So when someone like (Dan) Shaughnessy is bitching behind the scenes that I (or any other internet columnist) ‘never go in the clubhouse,’ well, you know what? I would have loved to have gotten a column that way. But all the dead weight was blocking my way.

“Clearly, I was good enough to do this for a living, but there was no way I was every getting a chance doing it conventionally. That’s what pisses me off. I never even had a real chance. I mean, this is the only industry where companies PAY PEOPLE TO LEAVE. Look at what just happened at the Herald [now at the Globe, too] – they had to spend four years worth of salaries to dump all their dead weight. This is a good system? If I suck for the next two years, you know what happens? ESPN doesn’t renew my contract and I’m unemployed. With newspapers, you could basically hand in scribble for 20 years and they have to keep paying you. It’s bad business. That’s why so many newspapers will be going under soon, if they aren’t already.

“And by the way, when was the last time Glenn Ordway ventured into a locker room? Why can’t there be different ways to write/talk about sports? Isn’t the ultimate goal to be entertaining and make the games more fun to follow? Who cares how you do it?”

(Although during his Klosterman exchange this week, the Guy did vent a bit himself about this very same accountability issue.
To Klosterman he seemed to be complaining and dissing the “Blog Revolution” asking: “What does that even mean?. . . what’s the point of writing about people who write about sports/movies/politics/music if you’re not backing up your words with your own columns or features? How do you have credibility then? I could write for a living, I just choose to rip everyone else. What? How does that make sense? What’s the ultimate goal there? Why not come up with your own material, angles and thoughts? Wouldn’t that be more rewarding? How do you get better? That’s what I don’t understand.”
I wonder if Shots is the only one who sees a disconnect between his own “non conventional” path and the variations of that path that some bloggers are now starting to take? I know, I know – as is so often the case, I am alone in my singular thoughts.)
The Guy’s point is solid for sure because his own tactic has worked brilliantly: Often times it’s the perspective that Simmons has from NOT being in the locker rooms that gives him his oomph – his joie de vivre. If that’s perceived as hiding behind a keyboard, so be it. The formula has been proven to attract readers, not to mention buyers. And that’s what the game is all about, whether the ink-stained wretches understand it or not.

And can you even imagine what a Guy Phenomenon might have done for the currently dueling down-sizers at the Globe and the Herald.

“I will never fully get over the fact that I didn’t get a column at the Globe – it was my lifelong dream and it’s never going to happen. On a much, much, MUCH smaller scale, I feel like Letterman and how he didn’t get the Tonight Show – sure, he has his own 11:30 show on a major network, and it’s gone great, but it’s not the Tonight Show.

“And I feel the same way about ESPN, even though they exposed me to 10 times as many readers as the Globe would have. I just feel like a newspaper column, when it’s done correctly, can resonate with an entire region. I know (Leigh) Montville and (Ray) Fitzgerald and even (Peter) Gammons had that effect on the city and the region when I was growing up – I still remember when Montville left for Sports Illustrated, I felt like my best friend was moving away. I’m not sure an internet column can have the same affect, and only because I’m appealing to a national audience instead of a local one, so I had to make my style broader to pull that off.

“Ideally, the best possible situation for me would have been a joint website/newspaper deal at the Globe or Herald, followed by an eventual landing at ESPN. Now it’s too late – I would never work for a newspaper. People are leaving newspapers to write for Internet sites or host radio shows, not vice-versa.

“When my BSG site had some buzz in 2000 and 2001, they could have hired me dirt-cheap for Boston.com – which was in absolute shambles at the time – only they didn’t have the balls because they didn’t want to ruffle any feathers with the writers who allegedly didn’t like me over there. They finally contacted me in June, 2001 long after I had decided to move to ESPN. I did have extensive talks with the Herald and their website, and there was even a time when it looked like something might work out. But ESPN was the best move for me.”

Of course it was. Your goal is always to be with the industry leader. Those four letters represent THE industry leader. He got called to the Bigs and no one ever says: “Nah. I like it here in Single A. Maybe next year.”

No. You jump at the chance and embrace it.

But you change too. You evolve, in a sense.

And yes, you become one of “them.” The them you used to poke fun and gently jab at.

And maybe you even know as much.

“When I came to ESPN, I could have gone 1 of 2 ways,” the Guy says. “Either I could continue keeping the safe distance and writing from the fan’s perspective, or I could cross the line and travel, write features, go into the clubhouses and all that stuff. But I couldn’t do both. So I decided to keep that fan’s perspective, and keep my distance, because it was different than anything that anyone else was doing. Did I make the right move? You tell me.

“(Random tangent: I remember doing a radio show once with a Boston Globe writer, and we were talking during a break, and I asked him who his favorite football team was. He looked at me like I had three heads and said that he stopped rooting for teams about 20 years before. That’s when I knew that I had made the right choice. It’s nearly impossible to keep that fan’s edge when you’re dealing with this guys every day, mainly because many of them are assholes. I think it jades most of these guys, which makes Bob Ryan’s career even more incredible.)”

****

And now the book – and the crossover into Klosterman’s world perhaps. More books for sure. But he knows to be careful. Or so he says.

“If I made a mistake over the past two years, it was taking on too many side projects and overextending myself,” he says. “Now, I have finally figured out how to balance the ‘More Cowbell’ blog with the actual columns, and since my life has settled down – baby out of the way, house out of the way, book out of the way – I feel like I can be consistently good on the website, week after week, for as long as I’m motivated.

“My biggest obstacle has been writing for a Disney website in the post-Janet Jackson Era – if something is going to sidetrack me ultimately, it will be that,” he says. “There’s going to be a point where it will no longer be worthwhile creatively for me to write my column for them, and that point is coming sooner than anyone realizes. Including them.”

That might hint of a “Howard Stern leaves over-the-air radio for Satellite radio” scenario for Simmons, but it’s hard to imagine a better setting than ESPN. But for a while there, Nomar was untouchable in these parts. There’s always offers they couldn’t refuse.

For now, of course, it’s pretty damn good to be the colossal prick know as the Guy. Pretty damn good indeed.

***
More, More Cowbell (Sponsored by Scott’s Shots)

NICDIP Trivia
The girl in the Halloween picture leading into the prologue of the book is “Jamie something. . . can’t remember her last name,” says the Guy, who was in his Fred Lynn costume. The Princess-masked gal next to him has Lil Billy by about a full kid-sized head.

Guy Trivia
In addition to sports duties at the Herald, the Guy also dabbled in other areas of the paper (before actually appearing in the Track Gals in the past week). “I probably wrote 6-7 OpEd pieces and book reviews for the Herald, the best one was about Mike Tyson, they were all serious, none of them were funny. I wrote a “Fab Five” review (the Mitch Albom book) that I remember was good. It was a long time ago, I have them all in a scrapbook that’s buried in my garage.”

NICDIP Trivia:

In the end-of-book acknowledgements, Simmons takes another swipe at Torpey and writes, “. . . I’m autographing a copy of this book and sending it to you with some sort of Lou Gorman/Jeff Bagwell joke.”

Shots asked if the Guy had sent that special copy out yet: “Haven’t sent a copy yet – since he’s currently unemployed, I don’t have his address. Maybe I should send it to JJ Foley’s.”

Guy Trivia:
On Page 63, in a column from April 18, 2000, the Guy refers to not being able to “find a good seat without connections” at Fenway.

We wanted to know if now, five-plus years later, he has those connections?

“I definitely have more connections than I did when I was a bartender, but you can never have too many,” he says. “I certainly don’t have enough connections to get season tix. Here’s a scoop for you, Dave Scott. ‘Simmons promises to come home if he can somehow get season tix for the Sox.’ I’m not even kidding.”

Now is when we find out if Doc Chuck Steinberg reads the entire Shots, or if he just has a minion skim for his boldfaced name like all the other haters (including Birthday Boy, My Buddy Paulie Brookline).

It also marks the first time an LA Clipper season ticket holder has been bold enough to put himself on the free-agent market and pledge his loyalty to a World Champion team, somehow thinking they’d need the boost in attention (or good luck) that his daily presence might bring. That sound you heard is Bobby Simmons crying, “No Sim – don’t leave me. . . DON’T . . . LEAVE. . . ME. . .”

The Guy on The Guy:
Shots asked how much of his success was based on good timing. He answered:

“You make me sound like I’m Tom Vu. But I would say zero percent. I’ve had terrible timing, if anything – I came along about five years too early. If the internet was around in the mid-90′s, my life would have been much easier. As it was, I still had to practically kill myself with the BSG site just to get a break.”

The Guy on the art of the tangent:

“I don’t know how it happens, it’s just something I have always been able to do. But that’s the most frustrating thing about my ESPN Mag column – since it’s only 800 words, I don’t have room to go on those tangents, so I have to play them straight. Nobody could possibly imagine how tough it is to make a coherent, entertaining point in 800 words. (SI’s Rick) Reilly and (Steve) Rushin get 950, the newspaper guys get 1200. . . I get 800. I’m really proud of my magazine columns. They couldn’t be harder to write.”

NICDIP Trivia:
The Guy’s fave from the collection?

“At this point, I have gone over them and fine-tuned them so many times that I hate all of them. But the one column that still makes me laugh is the one about the ‘Outside the Lines’ show about the Manny (Ramirez) signing, because (Dan) Duquette’s cameos were so bizarre. . . I mean, that was one of those rare columns that wrote itself. I’m really happy that somebody wrote that column. It’s the best documented proof we have that Duquette lost his mind somewhere before the 2001 season.”

That one, from December 18, 2000, starts on Page 109 of the book.

The Guy on bostonsportsmedia.com and My Boss Bruce (MBB):

“I like when Bruce gets serious and writes those extended takes on things – his writing has really improved over the last couple of years. He’s like Tom Bosley on ‘Happy Days’ – there’s all kinds of chaos going on, and then Mr. C comes in the room, and everything calms down, and he says something simple and profound that put everything into perspective. That’s Bruce. With that said, it wouldn’t kill him to crack a joke once a year.”

(Shots is trying to determine who that is a greater tribute to: Mr. C or MBB? Yeah, you know me.)

• For Guy book signing stops still remaining: The Now I can Tour in Peace tour schedule.

• And lest we let a week go by without a few cheap and worthy Shots, we present a special “Let the Yankees/Sox Melodrama Unfold” nine-inning-plus-extra-innings-two/entry edition. And don’t forget to listen to the Meter Man on Half of Ball State-BC on Saturday. There’s a new league in town, ya know?

1. Hello Lippy Luppy Lupica. Sit in your designated seat please, and be still. Don’t gasp, squeak or shudder for the ensuing 27 innings. If you must appear on the Sports Reporters, do it quietly and let Basketball Bob speak his mind. You defer to Champions in their home park, understand that?

2. The Pulse of Boston? More like the Mouse – the meek, little, mouse afraid to get into a pissing match with the revamped Herald. Now, granted, the Herald is cash-short, but they’re getting web-smart. As sure as Shots will be paying 40 damn bucks to tailgate at Foxboro Terminals this Sunday, the Boston sports Internet landscape could radically change with just three to five “bold” and “progressive” moves by either the Pulse Peeps or the Tab Masters. . .

And Shots, inside the Seaside Shanty’s hermetically sealed cookie jar, has the answers. Contact info below. Rates and referrals available upon request. . . Oh, and does SportsPlus/Minus now go to SportsPulse? And doesn’t someone else locally already use SportsPulse – maybe CN8? What are the plusses and minuses of such discussion?

3. Here’s Shots Top 4 Scribes Guaranteed to Give Good Copy from the Fenway Press Box this weekend. Alphabetically presented to protect the true order:

Michael Morrissey, NY Post/Shots’ Umie Hall of Fame (As proof positive we present these three lead grafs from Thursday’s gamer: ”September 29, 2005 — BOSTON — Last night, David Ortiz morphed from an MVP front-runner into Carlos Beltran.
With one on and one out in the seventh and his team trailing by five, Ortiz squared to bunt and flushed a rally. Maybe he flushed the MVP hardware for himself, too.
It was a mind-blowing play that completely summarized a putrid 7-2 Red Sox loss to Toronto that dropped the Red Sox one game behind the Yankees in the AL East. . .”

Baseball Bob Ryan, Pulser
Mike Vaccaro, NY Post
Adrian Wojnarowski, Bergen Record

4. Lou Tilley had Steve Lappas on from Boston when Shots made a glancing blow by CN8 on Wednesday. Let me repeat that: Lou Tilley and Steve Lappas. Together. On TV.

Oh my word. How a techy didn’t just pull the plug on the whole thing is beyond me. And Lap is seemingly getting involved in broadcasting, according to Tilley. Folks, folks – have we lost our damn minds? My number’s in the book and while I didn’t coach DI ball, I did get a personality at birth. And managed to keep it – unlike say, a LAP, for crying out loud?

Percy the Dog, chowing on his Riddles’ meat bone, would be better TV than Lap in any capacity. Want to know just how bad Lap was? I just told you – he was on WITH Tilley.

This news comes on the heels of the FCC announcing that “Consumer complaints about indecency aired on broadcast TV and radio fell to 6,161 during the three months ending June 30, compared with 272,818 a year earlier, the agency said.”

Tilley and Lappy could bring that number back over a quarter-mill pretty quickly, friends.

5. Following the “Clubhouse” leader (at the Herald), Boston.com’s David Lefort launched “Extra Bases” this past Wednesday and by Thursday the Globies had their first, full-blown, error in judgment.

By allowing Dim Dog Steve Silva to “break” (at 3:20 p.m. on Thursday) the Mike Stanton story – which AP had moved just before 3 p.m. – Boston.com once again blurred the line between its “infotainment” division and its “news” division.

Despite a warning on the Dirt Dog page that “Boston Dirt Dogs is a fan site produced by Boston.com. The Boston Globe newspaper and its Sports Dept. do not oversee the site and have no role in its production. BDD’s content is solely the responsibility of Boston.com,” visitors are also inherently expected to understand what this “disavowing” means in terms of news vs. Silva spoof.

That’s asking an awful lot from people who find comfort in listening to sports talk radio and buying sports memorabilia as anniversary gifts.

This has all come up before, and actually led to the implementation of the Whiner Line-esque “He don’t speak for us” disclaimer at the home page. Globe sportswriters have let it be known loud and clear that they don’t want to be associated with Silva, his enterprise or his creative endeavors. In any way, shape or delivery platform.

And yet, no sooner does the Pulse Peeps’ blog launch and we have entries from “legit” guys like Gordon Edes, Eric Wilbur and Chris Snow, right along side the less legit, Silva. How on earth do you expect an average fan to know the difference when a smart aleck like Shots can hardly separate the wheat from the chafe? Keep Silva at the Kiddie Table or you risk compromising the integrity of the Adult Table. No joke. . . This is all, of course, more of the “Reiss Residual” where both of the city’s major dailies have been shown by newbie Globie Mike Reiss just how valuable a consistent, well-executed blog can be. The next step is for each entity to try and distinguish themselves a bit more. Having the line-up cards or injured lists isn’t enough for playoff time Sox coverage. Get creative, take some chances and see what happens. But take the next step now, while it’s happening. Soon, it could be over and you’ve wasted a huge chance to establish yourself. It was, we should not, encouraging to see that In-Game blogging could be occurring within Extra Bases. We love a good EvBlog, you know that!

6. Shots has pleasantly avoided almost an entire week of Boston Sports Talk Radio and we’d like to thank the WUMB Folk Festival for contributing to our near clairvoyant state. We haven’t been able to get enough of Lori McKenna, Patti Griffin or Kris Delmhorst since Sunday. What a sneaky, great event that festival is. And what a sneaky great campus UMB has transformed into. It was an Admissions Brochure Day on Sunday, complete with a sailing race and old hippies swaying and smiling. It was beautiful man. Beautiful.

7. We’re not even a huge Curb Your Enthusiasm enthusiast, but this week’s season premiere was just too freaking good. And for the record, the Larry David sandwich was right up Shot’s alley. LD was mishoogie to try and get rid of it.

8. I almost thought this week of the San Diego-Doug Flutie angle would have brought out the Scab Factor that my My Buddy Paulie Brookline has been moaning about ever since Dougie came home. But, no – just more of what a great teammate he was. Which is fine, of course. But you know there are guys who don’t forget. Won’t forget. Can’t forget.

9. The recent spate of the region’s White Male Sportswriter on White Male Sportwswriter word crime has warmed the Shots’ cockles – wherever they may be. Competitors ripping each other with subtle swipes is what this business was built on! Keep it going Tommy Cee.

Extra Innings
• Shots heard from a few dial surfers about a two (or more) hour outage that affected ESPN Radio Boston 890 AM on Thursday afternoon. Considering Shots had to batten down the hatches at the Shanty, we can understand if the ERBers got knocked out.

But it does bring up the big question for Radio Mike Felger Underwood Belichick: If a radio station that nobody hears loses its signal, does anyone hear them losing that signal?. . . Felgie – we kid because we’d make a good guest host if you ever need a fill-in. No, seriously. I’m like Mike Adams without the luggage. (Not that I don’t have luggage, mind you. It’s just not known about yet.)

• Is there a Hogan’s Heroes tunnel out to the Sox bullpen? They keep pulling up guys and throwing them in: Harville, Norville, Crawford, Crawville, Bradford, Bonneville, Papelbon. . . I am NOT Red Sox Nation if I can’t even name the bullpen.

• “The energy here was phenomenal tonight,” said Kevin Millar in the NESN postgame last night just before Gentleman Bill Mueller sat on set and talked about the possibility of 163rd game. Cool stuff. Especially after another PapiWalkOff.

• No matter how gut-wrenching the weekend inevitably turns, just remember that the alternative is being what we used to be: Bitter losers.

Bitter winner sounds so much sweeter.

David Scott writes from a seaside shanty on the shores of Hull, Mass. and can be reached at shots@bostonsportsmediadotcom