In honor of Jon Lester's inspirational comeback, I'll recognize one of his teammates for a Best Blog EVAH - Curt Schilling's now-famous blog, 38 Pitches.
OK, this one was easy, and now I look like just another homer 'sox fan who's crushing on Curt Schilling. (full disclosure: go sox, and I freakin' LOVE Schil. he works hard and he cares, so give the man credit.) But 38 Pitches is another great example of a person who has a brand and has used the blogosphere to protect that brand from perceived inaccurate or unfair treatment from the traditional media. It's a great case study.
Schilling follows in a long and proud tradition of Red Sox greats with sports columnist rivals. Curt Schilling's arch nemesis isn't someone from the Yankees, it's a Boston Globe columnist named Dan Shaughnessy. Shaughnessy has opinions about Schilling that aren't always flattering and has plenty to say about it in his columns. I doubt Shaughnessy was the only reason Schilling decided to speak for himself rather than through the media's filter, but I'm sure he was a big one.
But here's the thing: Schilling isn't the first athlete with a blog. He's not even the first baseball player with a blog. Why is his blog, and not others, a BBE?
First, it's authentic. Unlike some athletes' "official sites," you can tell his posts were written by him and not a PR flack like me - and it's not covered with flashy ads saying, "buy something with my name or number on it." (he has a link to a business of his on the site, but it's really not over the top.) He's also using wordpress, which also gives him some street cred with the open source techie crowd. So, CEO crowd: if Curt Schilling, who's legendary for the amount of time he takes preparing for games, has the time to blog, so do you.
Second, and this is big - it's a conversation, not a lecture. There are positive as well as negative comments on his blog and that's ok with him. He's interacting with his fans, much more than any sports columnist can in their given media. Companies can't panic every time a comment isn't 100 percent positive and lock down a blog, or they'll look like they're putting up walls between themselves and everyone else.
Finally, it's strategic. He started this blog for a reason - to get his unfiltered thoughts out - and he's stuck with it. He hasn't vented once or twice. He hasn't kept this out there as a defensive, crisis communications tool. He's doing exactly what he set out to do. Blogs aren't everything, but they're great when used for the right purpose.
It's also nice that he uses his celebrity and his online space to support his favorite charities, SHADE and ALSA.
When Dan Shaughnessy learned about 38 Pitches, he mocked Schilling. Now print is declining while online is ascending. I'm a huge sox fan and I read 38 Pitches more than Shaughnessy's column now. Since I live in Kentucky, I really can't get a paper copy of the Boston Globe. So if Shaughnessy decides he needs to write a blog to keep up his readership, he has to eat some crow first.
I guess we mock what we don't understand.
Of course, when Schilling or some other social-media-savvy player (or fan) decides he wants to twitter from the dugout, will MLB crack down like the NCAA did against bloggers?