By David Scott
Boston Sports Media Watch

UPDATED 5 p.m. Wednesday:

ESPN has responded to the Lidle screw-up. In an email time-stamped 4:15 p.m., spokesman Paul Melvin apologized “for the delay,” saying he “wanted to be sure I found out what transpired.

“We apologize for the mistake. It was the result of an error in an automated data feed that ESPN.com receives from a third party, and we removed it from the site immediately upon becoming aware of it. We were first aware of this error at 7:30 this morning and and took action to remove it immediately. And again…we apologize for the mistake, because at the end of the day, this is our site and we are responsible for its content.”

Melvin declined to identify the third-party. “(W)e’re not looking to hang any of our third-party collaborators out to dry, and would not be proper for us to do so simply because they made an error.”

Shots’s only conclusion is that it must be an exclusive deal that ESPN has with the mystery “third party” because the transaction was not found anywhere else on the Internet.

. . . Several attentive readers also pointed out that the Yankee transaction reading: “Claimed pitcher Felix Heredia off waivers from the Cincinnati Reds,” was also bogus with Heredia out of baseball for sometime. That transaction did occur though, in 2003.

Under the heading of (Monday) March 24, 2008 on its “Transactions” Page ESPN.com was listing this transaction as late as 2:00 a.m. on Wednesday (bottom entry): (Toronto Blue Jays Logo) “Activated pitcher Cory Lidle from the 15-day disabled list.”

Lidle was tragically killed in an October of 2006 plane crash in New York. The error comes just two days after what would have been Lidle’s 36th birthday (March 22).

There was this March 24 Lidle news from a year ago (2007), but that appears to be coincidence. Lidle did, in fact, play for Toronto in 2003, but no March transactions occurred for the pitcher surrounding his time with the Jays.

The unimaginable gaffe is compounded by the fact that it has most likely remained on the site since some time on Monday, possibly as long as 48 hours as of this Shots’ posting.

There is no date of significance comparable to March 24 in Lidle’s transaction listing nor is there another “Cory Lidle” in the MLB database. The item doesn’t appear to be duplicated in any other spot across the Internet, solely at the ESPN.com “MLB Transactions” page.

Shots was alerted to the major media mistake by an alert reader who was quite offended by the oversight. The reader (who emailed Shots on Tuesday night) also said that he had alerted ESPN.com of the Lidle lapse via email.

We too, have submitted an email request, but ours is directly with the ESPN media relations’ staff. In fairness, we made our request for clarification as to how something like this could slip through the ESPN content-vetting process, at a very late hour (1 a.m.) We will be sure to update this post should they return our email during normal business hours on Wednesday.

It quite simply doesn’t seem like an “honest mistake,” but more like a prank launched, we’d guess, from inside the Bristol Castle.

. . . Shots does know of prior industry stories where bored copy editors try to slip bizarre goings-on into transaction pages or other agate type content. Media guides (especially college ones) are filled with “inside jokes” and false picture identifications. Once in a while at a newspaper, in a magazine or on a site, a place-holder will slip into a story or caption – something that was meant to simply hold the space until the true name can be verified.

But we’ve not heard of anything as gruesome and tasteless as an intentional Lidle-insertion would seem to be.

. . . One last thing, completely unrelated: Big ups to a former Boston Sports Review contributor and talented fella, Joe Lavin for his Canseco book find at an unnamed Cambridge bookstore. Lavin managed to get substantial credit from ESPN (and Deadspin, too) for his rare treasure trove of a discovery. [If anyone in publishing can explain how this would happen, please contact Shots. I'm perplexed but don't know enough about distribution and release to come to any conclusion as to how the book made its way onto a store's shelf. Unless it was planted???]

Regardless, Lavin’s greatest accomplishment may have been this kicker after excerpts from where he calls out A-Rod and arouses suspicion that a TV legend may have been looking to dabble in ‘roids.: “Yes, apparently, Mike Wallace could be juiced,” writes Lavin. “It makes sense. How else to explain how Wallace has stayed on top of his game well into his eighties? No word yet on whether Andy Rooney is juiced too.”

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

His work for CSTV.com can be found at the Hang Time blog.

Scott is currently at work on a book with Memphis coach John Calipari, titled “Bounce Back,” which is scheduled for release by Simon & Schuster’s Free Press in September, 2009. The book shares Calipari’s techniques and thoughts for overcoming job loss and thriving in life and career.