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The Ace of Cyberspace
Joe Lemire
May 07, 2007
Curt Schilling talks straight to fans (and foes) on his blog
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May 07, 2007

The Ace Of Cyberspace

Curt Schilling talks straight to fans (and foes) on his blog

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CURT SCHILLING has never been shy about sharing his opinions, so there was little doubt last week that the 40-year-old Red Sox righthander would have something to say about Orioles play-by-play man Gary Thorne. During the April 25 Baltimore-Boston broadcast, Thorne said that the iconic bloody sock Schilling wore during the 2004 postseason—he pitched with sutures in his right ankle and beat the Yankees in the ALCS and the Cardinals in the World Series—was a fake. Thorne supposedly had it on good authority ( Boston catcher Doug Mirabelli) that the sock was soaked with red paint, not blood.

Schilling denied the claim and excoriated Thorne, but not through newspaper or TV reporters, the channels athletes used to depend on to communicate with fans. Instead Schilling pounded out a 1,549-word post for his blog, 38pitches.com. "It was blood," he wrote. "The people that need to believe otherwise are people with their own insecurities and issues." ( Thorne apologized and retracted his comments the day after he made them, saying he misinterpreted something Mirabelli said.)

Schilling launched his forum in March, and he has quickly become the highest-profile player among a growing number of athletes—including the Wizards' Gilbert Arenas and the Tigers' Curtis Granderson—with personal blogs. Schilling posts a few times a week, answering fan questions and providing batter-by-batter recaps of his outings within hours of their end. The posts are often insightful (he explained why he likes to start some hitters out with a changeup) and candid. "I thought Tim [Timmons, the home plate umpire] had a tough game," he wrote after one outing.

During spring training, Schilling even confirmed that Jonathan Papelbon was moving from the rotation back to the bullpen before the Red Sox could announce it, scooping the local media. And his online discourses on strategy and pitch selection could become must-reads for opposing hitters. "That's his prerogative," Boston catcher Jason Varitek says. "I don't divulge that, but I'm a different person."

Schilling has heard criticism that the blog is self-aggrandizing and self-promotional. (He does use the forum to promote his charities and a video game company he is launching.) One critic, Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy, wrote a parody of a Schilling Q&A session depicting his fans as uninformed and sycophantic. But for better or worse, the blog allows Schilling (who declined to comment on his online work to SI) to avoid contact with media types whom he feels might not give him a fair shake. "The best part," he wrote about Thorne, "was that instead of having to sit through a litany of interviews to 'defend' myself or my teammates, I got to do that here."

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