BOSTON.Â This town, known for its cynical sportswriters and diehard sports fans, has always been tough on professional athletes.Â Ted Williams, the last man to hit .400, sarcastically referred to sports reporters who covered the Red Sox as "Knights of the Keyboard"; the terms the ink-stained wretches used to refer to Williams are not printable on a web site that does not offer parental controls.
Williams:Â "Well, Bob, I'm seeing the ball well these days, andÂ I'm smelling your bad breath."
But not until the invention of the Internet have Boston's sports heroes had a weapon they could use toÂ fight back against the men and women who, as A.J. Leibling once put it, buy ink by the barrel.Â And the first cyber-savvy jock to do so is Curt Schilling, hero ofÂ the 2004 World Series who pitched the Sox to victory in game 2 with a still-bleeding ligament sutured down to the outside flank of his right ankle.
Schilling's Bloody Sock
Schilling's blog, which appears at www.38pitches.com, has turned the tables on sportswriters who dump on athletes who lose balls in the sun, or miss slam dunks, or drop passes in the end zone.Â Schilling is a man of letters who can deconstruct an errant turn of phrase with the best of them, a skill he uses with special pleasure in picking apart the prose of his nemesis, the Boston Globe's Dan Shaughnessy.
EverettÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Shaughnessy
Shaughnessy was dubbed the "Curly-Headed Boyfriend" by former Sox outfielder Carl Everett, a slugging outfielder known for his skepticism about dinousaurs and the Apollo moon missions.
"Hey Carl--I'm a dinosaur, and I'm going to the moon!"
Here's what Schilling had to say about Shaughnessy's column in today's Globe.
"Hey there, just catching up.Â Did you see the CHB's hackneyed cliche 'Ainge has a bull's-eye on his back after last week (sic--and how I love to use that little word) moves.'Â Where does he get this stuff?Â Re-runs of Ted Mack's Original Amateur Hour?"
Ted Mack:Â "You didn't win, but the consolation prize is a year's supply of Serutan--the laxative that is 'Natures' spelled backwards."
Schilling has set himself up as the E.B. White of sports prose, prodding scribes to push themselves in much the same fashion as sportswriters demand peak performance day after dayÂ from highly-paid athletes.Â "Steve Buckley couldn't change Red Smith's typewriter ribbon," Schilling noted on Monday afterÂ the Boston Herald columnist had split an infinitive in his haste to file a story from the West Coast last week.Â "I don't think I'm the first person to notice that he also ended a sentence with a preposition during interleague play."
E.B. White:Â "This isn'tÂ Charlotte's Web.Â Get your stinking butt off my manuscript!"
Visitors to Schilling's site say they prefer his writing to that of the many sourpuss scribes who follow the Sox around the country, their guts hanging over their belts from lack of exercise, their complexions blotchy from too much greasy airport and ballpark food.
William Bendix, as Chester A. Riley, and Curt Schilling, as his own bad self.
"You've got to take care of yourself if you want to survive in the sportswriting game," says Schilling, who is said to be a direct descendant of William Bendix, star of the long-running 1950's television show "The Life of Riley".Â
Bob Ryan:Â Don't stand between him and the buffet.
"You don't get a body like mine overnight," Schilling said as he shook his head while watching the Boston Globe's Bob Ryan chow down on the post-game buffet in the Sox' clubhouse.Â "It takes years of neglect."
Copyright 2007, Con Chapman