By David Scott
Boston Sports Media (Watch)
This is why it is going to be hard closing down shop here at Shots. It was a comment from Dryheave this past Sunday:
What the hell are you writing?….a sequel to War and Peace?….The Great Wall of China was built in less time
Forgive me Sports Guy, but these are MY readers.
It was a fair question from a longtime commenter and THE Pete Shepard apologist.
I took a sabbatical and it’s turned into a residency. My first book has taken more of my time than I thought and it hasn’t stopped after the writing was completed as I naively believed it might. In fact, the post-writing responsibilities are more intense and probably more important than the actual creation. Marketing, revising and preparing for the September 8th release are daily focuses.
Those aren’t complaints by any means, those are realities of trying to maximize the oomph of book sales that all writers and publishers grapple with. It just doesn’t allow me to pontificate on Boston’s sports media in the depth I used to. Or to any degree at all.
So for all of that and a bit more, I’m posting at Scott’s Shots for the final time. Thanks, in all sincerity, for the opportunity to serve you.
I’m not sure many of you realize how long we’ve actually been together. This little blog started up when people were still asking, “What’s a blog?” And those people were just my technophobe family members. Now I’m going to feel like an outsider without my own blog.
The current BSM(W) archives only date back to March 2004, but if memory serves, we were with you by late 2002. We’re talking six and a half years of showing an odd, unhealthy obsession with the men, women and children who cover the local sports at all different levels. I aimed to be Jack Craig, Richard Sandomir and Rudy Martzke and I’ll never know why. It just seemed to fit and truth be told, I wasn’t half bad at it. Check the records – my philosophical thinking on the business was never that far off.
I’ll stop chest-puffing now and I promise to not get all-linky with you (browse the recent archives if you wish) and I’m not much for the extended goodbye.
If you paid attention, you know that Shots (through the magic of Bruce Allen Media) did contribute – in at least some small way – to this city’s evolution in Sports Web activities.
At first, I’ll admit that this space had more bluster than brains. I was a tabloid blogger for the most part – cheap shots and semi-informed opinions mixed with speculation and rumor. “The Track Gals” in a jockstrap, you might say. Oddly, it was very similar to a lot of the work put forth by the Deadspin-inspired bloggers of today. I was kissing Suzy Kolber and being with Leather long before that was even popular. (Way back to my SPORT magazine days, in fact)
Things changed however after about a year of tablogging and the thin-skinned and overlooked grunts who cover sports for Beantown’s nutty fandom began to discover a place to air their grievances privately and with protection. If they only knew, I used to think, that this space was nothing more than the continuation of college column at UMass which had been dormant for a decade. (I’m not ruling out a third incarnation at some point, so this is NOT a retirement announcement.) While my Campus Basement days were spent trying to woo unsuspecting co-eds to my lair through pithy columns and wild assessments, the 2002 version sought to tell every one how much they sucked at the jobs I knew I could do better than them and then try and woo unsuspecting ladies. (That part didn’t work in either decade, by the way.)
The Shots “community” really began to grow when I became less like Page Six and more like Romenesko (I wish). From there rhetoric eventually became reporting. Oh, sure I created messes for myself (Bonnie Bernstein) and explored messes made by others (Michael Gee, Ron Borges, John Tomase, Jessamy Tang). I stayed on top of the nearly-bloody Dennis and Callahan contract negotiations and had various levels of discourse with the aforementioned Bill Simmons, a recurring character who I began to find less and less appealing as he became more and more rambunctious with his lot in life as the World Wide Leader’s Teflon Don.
In other words, I did what the early blogists were supposed to do: I questioned why, commented on how and pushed the Fourth Estate’s Boston “toy department” to look in the mirror. I hate to think of how much of that early blogistry has been lost as we now traipse into all levels of un-charted territory with social media and technology walking hand-in-hand. There’s a lot of residue out there that needs be scraped away so the intelligent conversations can be heard. It’s a slow and tedious process for the most part.
But make no mistake, this thing is about to go in some wacky directions.
The message is no longer controlled by the guys with the ink and the paper – it can now be controlled by each individual athlete, coach, entertainer or random Tweeter. For better, for worse and undoubtedly forever. The battle to control the message will become more significant than the message itself and if you ask me, the whole model will be flipped on its head.
It is that brave new world into which I’m soon to be headed and the reason I have to give up this weekly therapy session I coyly passed off as a blog/column. But even if I wasn’t going to uproot the Shanty and pack most of its contents for a trip down south, it would be time to end this vice I’ve had for the last half-decade-plus. The thrill is gone a bit if you must know – my critical eye became no more than a glazed over one and you deserve more than that.
Bruce Allen has built this site and his “network” into a portal he should be very proud of. Where once I thought of him as the tech and links guy and site founder, I know think of him as the valuable media critic in a city where that title actually means something. [ASIDE: Outgoing note to Joe Sullivan, the hamstrung sports editor at the morale-less Globe: Give Chad Finn the media column permanently and let him really roll with it. There is room for more Dan Steinbergs at important websites and Finn could fiddle with that better than anyone on staff. BTW (that's by the way for the non-texters like yourself), thanks for all your correspondence over the years, Joe. Your job is tougher now then when I started this column and that's saying something because you were left on your own to try and figure out the Web without the proper resources or background. The print section (and boston.com/sports to a lesser extent) has been playing catch-up ever since. It's not beyond salvation, but it's not in very good shape either.]
I watched a changing landscape that revealed some truly sad examples of journalists (Borges, Ken Davis, Ken Powers) and sports-entertainers (Big Show meatheads/Butch Stearns/Steve Burton) in our midst. Fortunately it was also populated by some of the most genuine and down-to-earth people you’d ever want to know.
I have marveled at watching Mike Reiss go from the aw-shucks UMass baseball press box announcer to one of the most respected writers on the NFL beat. To watch his rise firsthand and to see the success he enjoys because of his sincerity is uplifting and reassures my faith in doing good unto others. Bob Ryan’s depth of knowledge astounds me at least twice a month. Gerry Callahan’s all-too-infrequent writing makes me wish sports talk radio never started spending stoopid money on actual talents. I know Lenny Megliola got a raw deal and Gee got (and provided) a lesson in how very careful you need to be in the Internet Age. If it were a perfect world, we’d have more of Charlie Pierce on sports and less of Bob Lobel anywhere.
My observations have led be to believe Michael Holley doesn’t get enough credit and that Glenn Ordway gets too much. I’ll never understand how 890 AM exists and I’ll likewise never know why NESN is run with such shortsightedness – but I’ll always applaud them for Heidi Watney and Tom Caron. I’d guess the Herald is in for a rude-awakening if their website doesn’t advance past the stone age and I’ll openly admit that WEEI.com has yet to become the game-changer I thought it would be. From my work here, I know live-blogging has not yet reached its potential and I wonder what the “next Twitter” will be.
More than anything though, I know that I poured my heart and probably way too much of my time into this endeavor and while it didn’t make me fabulously wealthy, it did prepare me well for the days to come. I may not have led the revolution, but I have no qualms proclaiming I was part of it. We all learned together, I’d like to think. Maybe we all grew a bit too. It’s been a remarkable experiment in new media on the micro level and one I don’t mind having been a part of.
In fact, I’ll really miss this outlet. I’ll miss the haters who scold and the likers who agree. I’ll probably even miss Dan Shaughnessy’s Mad-Libs (thankfully others will continue to keep tabs on Danny Boy).
I used to end the UMass incarnation of Scott’s Shots with what I now realize was my “catch-phrase” or “tag” and for old times sake I’d like to do the same now.
Keep your feet in bounds, and your eyes on the ball.
(Yeah, it never made sense back then either. See you on the shores soon.)
David Scott writes from a seaside shanty on the shores of Hull, Mass. and can be reached at shotsATbostonsportsmediaDOTcom.