By David Scott
Boston Sports Media Watch

News this week of a Sporting News re-launch and re-focus brought equal parts optimism and pessimism. As we’ve chronicled here before, when Shots was part of the final staff to ever produce SPORT magazine, there were constant rumors that Sporting News would either be our partner in business or our partner in death.

Instead, SPORT was put in the hands of some flashy, funky Brits who never understood the magazine’s history and place in American sports and decided to kill it just weeks before a spirited re-launch was scheduled. Sporting News forged ahead – however feebly – and now, with the latest news that it will go bi-weekly and re-focus some electronic resources, TSN enters another of its nine (hundred) lives.

Good for them, especially the part about going bi-weekly. US News & World Report is doing the very same thing and it’s not unreasonable to think others will surely follow. If we may be so bold, we’d even suggest that venerable Sports Illustrated should do the same thing. They’re too proud to ever do such a thing, but it really does make a lot of sense.

. . . We were thrilled to hear one of the all-time good guys in the business, Florida Gator beat guy, Dave Curtis, of the Orlando Sentinel – as well as a Syracuse grad and a Rhode Island native – will be part of the new staff at TSN. Curtis, who will move to Chicago, will be sharing the national college football beat with TSN’s Matt Hayes. Curtis starts July 7 for TSN.

. . . Interesting to note that Deadspin’s Will Leitch will also have a column for TSN. We’re also hearing some other familiar names that will join TSN but until we confirm them, we won’t rumor-monger. But do stay tuned.

• The Fidgety Guy, Bill Simmons, took another not-so-subtle swipe at the conglomerate that is Disney this week in the introduction to his latest personal web page posting:

“. . . the good old days when I could poke fun at bad sports announcing. . . ” he wrote as a lead-in to a 1999 Digital City column.

An ESPN spokesman informed Shots earlier in the week that, “(ESPN) employees are currently permitted to write personal blogs, but it is a policy that is under review.”

Sounds like Simmons better get his woe-is-me-under-the-big-corporate-umbrella comments out now while he still can.

• The nastiness of commenters reared its head with John Tomase’s filings from Los Angeles this week. At some point, the venom will probably run out, but it won’t be any time soon.

• A new venture for ex-Herald scribe Mike Shalin, who is pairing with the incomparable “Danny V,” Dan Ventura for a high school-centric show over at (yes, they still exist) 1510 The Zone. Looks like some good early signings for Shales and the V-Man as “Hacks with Haggs” auteur, Joe Haggerty, is going to contribute regularly.

Shalin reminded us that, 23 years ago, he was part of the original SportsCall crew at WRKO. So he does know good radio – although good radio doesn’t seem to have much of a home in this market where The Meat Roars and The Dale Bores.

• I’ve got a new project I’m taking up. It’s the Derek Kellogg First Pitch at Fenway cause. He’s already been proclamated by his hometown, it’s time for him to get some love from his hometown team. Certainly if non-native Travis Ford got to toss from the shadow of the Monstah, DK should get at least that much – if not a luxury box for the day (to entertain blogger-types and other Beantown friends of the program).

• With new U.S. Citizen David Ortiz on the shelf, we got to thinking about what a Big Papi rehab stint in Pawtucket might look like for the PawSox. Who better to ask than Dan Hoard, the radio voice (along with Steve Hyder) of the PawSox?

“A David Ortiz rehab at McCoy would be on the short list of biggest nights in stadium history,” said Hoard in an email response to Shots. “Curt Schilling’s first rehab start last year was at McCoy and produced a season-high crowd of 11,227, and his popularity in The Nation obviously pales in comparison to Big Papi’s. The ticket demand would be so high that the PawSox would probably be tempted to sell my seat!

“In my opinion, the only events in stadium history that have generated similar hype are as follows:

“1. The resumption of the longest game in baseball history in 1981. Major league baseball was on strike at the time, so when they picked up the game in the 33rd inning, media from all over the world swarmed into Pawtucket.

“2. The Mark Fidrych vs. Dave Righetti game in 1982. It drew 9,389 into the “old” McCoy – an attendance record that lasted for 17 years until the renovated park opened in 1999.”

So there you have it – Papi in Pawtucket will be monumentally historic, should it ever happen.

NESN has lost its damn mind. Discussing the “Sox Appeal” dating dugout during the game? Please, stop it. Now. Enough is enough.

. . . We had wondered whether the expiration of Hazel Mae’s deal with the Network coincided with the deal that Tom Caron had signed at the same time of Mae’s extension. We’re told Caron’s deal was for a longer term and he’s not up for renewal any time soon, which is good news for NESN viewers, as Caron has become one of the steadiest studio/desk men in all the land.

. . . A billboard on Route 93 is touting Jerry Remy Day at Fenway. No truth to the rumor that the first 1,000 fans will get a pack of Remy’s favorite smokes.

• We’re not usually the museum-visiting type, but this Baseball as America exhibit that touches down at the Museum of Science starting this Sunday could lure us in.

There are four special programs that caught our eye and will likely do the same for you:

Saturday, July 12, 1:00 p.m.
Voices of the Game
Joe Castiglione, Red Sox radio broadcaster and author, and Curt Smith, author, columnist, and television/radio host
Cahners Theater, Blue Wing, Level 2, free with exhibit hall admission

Tuesday, July 22, 6:30 p.m.
Fenway and the New Generation of Ballparks
Janet Marie Smith, Senior Vice President of Planning and Development, Boston Red Sox
Cahners Theater, Blue Wing, Level 2, free

Saturday, August 2, 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.
Babe Ruth and Ted Williams: Behind the Legends
Leigh Montville, former Boston Globe columnist, former senior writer at Sports Illustrated, and author of “The Big Bam: The Life and Times of Babe Ruth and Ted Williams: The Biography of an American Hero”
Shapiro Science Live! Stage, free with exhibit hall admission

Babe Ruth: 1:00 p.m. | Ted Williams: 3:00 p.m.

Saturday, August 9 at 1:00 p.m.
The Spaceman on the Art and Science of Pitching
Bill “Spaceman” Lee, former Red Sox pitcher (1969-1978), author, and star of the 2006 documentary film, “Spaceman in Cuba”
Cahners Theater, Blue Wing, Level 2, free with exhibit hall admission

Seating is limited for all shows. First come, first served. . . . Museum members may reserve a limited number of free-seating tickets the week of the program by calling: 617-589-3169. Check with the MOS for more details.

• Lastly, we once again we remind you that Shots is attempting to raise some China Earthquake relief funds.

I have donated the equivalent of $150 to the China Earthquake Relief Efforts by offering a limited edition orange, rubber bracelet with the message, “5.12.08,” on it to the next 35 readers of this blog who forward me a Red Cross (or other earthquake charity) donation confirmation. The orange color is reminiscent of the rescue workers’ jumpers and the date is the day the quake struck. It’s a small gesture or remembrance, but one worth making.

The donation can be for any amount, just as long as it is directed to the China quake. Include your mailing address with the contribution confirmation in an email to me at shots@bostonsportsmedia.com, and I will send a bracelet to you via US Post.

It’s all just one little neighborhood we live in, folks. So help thy neighbor, please.

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

Scott’s first book, with Memphis Coach John Calipari, is scheduled for release in the Fall of 2009.