Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Do Not Adjust Your Set

A time and a place

Curly R remains off-air for the time being. For the most up to date Redskins news, check out Hogs Haven and Curly R's pruned and refreshed blogroll at right. Welcome to Harry Hog, DC Sports Blog, War Cry!, Redskins AOL Sportsblog, Covering the Redskins, Redskins Huddle and the Washington Times Redskins 360. Goodbye Redskins Rumblings. If you come back on air, I'll add you back.

To search Curly R's Redskins coverage, click here. Enter your search term to the left of 'blogurl.'

Curly R will return to regular Redskins coverage.

Test pattern from here.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

We Won't be Denied

It turns out that Don Imus wasn't the only shock jock getting himself into on-air trouble last week. Another radio host inexplicably launched an on-air assault on one of our fellow sports bloggers. On Thursday April 5 ESPN Radio host Colin Cowherd launched a random denial of service attack on The Big Lead, a blog run by three twenty-something guys who write about sports of all sorts. Cowherd seemed to have no apparent reason to target sports blogs in general or The Big Lead in particular, yet he exhorts his listeners to bombard the site with so much traffic that it will be forced to shut down:

"Wouldn't it be great if we went and basically gave out every day, like a new young web site: Just blow it up...One that's annoying...I'm going to give you a Web site." (Listen to the rant at mgoblog)
Cowherd then names the Big Lead and tells listeners: "I want you to go to it as fast as you possibly can."

Cowherd's "fans" flooded the site with so much traffic that it was shut down and booted off its ISP's web server. The Big Lead was down for over 48 hours as the site's operators scrambled to find a new web hosting service. Cowherd later boasted to listeners: "We shut it down in 90 seconds...we don't even know thebiglead." He later asked listeners to "knock it out again, just for fun."

ESPN was quick to express its disdain over Cowherd's actions and ombuds(wo)man Le Anne Schreiber announced a zero-tolerance policy for these kinds of attacks in the future. I'm glad to see that ESPN is not condoning Cowherd's behavior, but I don't think this is the last incident we'll see of the mainstream media lashing out at sports bloggers.

Sports bloggers and the traditional sports media are on a collision course. The quantity of sports blogs means that mainstream sports media outlets are getting an ever-shrinking slice of the audience pie. The quality of the writing on many of these sites rivals or surpasses the writing on many mainstream sites. To use a cheesy metaphor, the playing field is getting mighty crowded, and I can see how personalities like Colin Cowherd could feel extremely threatened by a site like The Big Lead or any other quality sports blog.

2007 is quickly becoming the Year of the Sports Blog. When I started the Curly W in 2005 most of us sports bloggers toiled in relative anonymity, known only to our own small community. Over the past two years sports blogging has gained more and more attention as consumption of traditional media continues to decline. The consequences of this trend are still yet to be determined, but a few realities seem to be materializing through the fog.

Sports blogs, at least for now, can get away with things that the mainstream media simply cannot. Sports bloggers make liberal use of humor, satire, sarcasm and parody, devices that are generally off limits to ESPN and its ilk. Freedom from editorial control and obligation to corporate interests lets us spout off about pretty much anything as long as we don't blatantly threaten or defame the subjects of our rants.

There is also zero barrier to entry to becoming a sports blogger. All you need is internet access and a knowledge of sports. This means that there are literally thousands of sites capable of producing content that is as good or better than the content available through MSM outlets. Actually, the quality doesn't really have to be good as long as it's outrageous enough to pull in a bunch of eyeballs. Really, what does Colin Cowherd, who works for one of the most prolific sports outfits in the world, offer to sports fans that even an average sports blog cannot? Not a thing.

I'm not saying that sports blogs will ever eclipse traditional media sites. Sports blogs simply could not exist without the source material their mainstream counterparts provide. My prediction is that blogs will soon be absorbed into the mainstream itself, either through direct syndication of content (think WaPo Technorati links on steroids) or by simply reaching such critical mass that they effectively become traditional sites. Deadspin gets over 1.2 million hits per week- advertisers must be beating down the door to pay the site's editors for screen space. Obligations to these advertisers will soon require editorial control until, voila, another mainstream site is born.

The traditional media can either fight us and lose (the Cowherd approach) or embrace us and add significant value to their content. We in Washington are extremely lucky to live in the orbit of major news outlets that are embracing blogs in a big way. The Washington Post is leading the way, bringing blogging in-house while simultaneously including local bloggers in the conversation. We are very fortunate to have Dan Steinberg (and his editors) on our side. Beat writer Barry Svrluga has also seen the light, extending his excellent Nationals Journal blog into the regular season. It's extra work for Barry to blog in addition to writing the daily gamer, but news consumers in 2007 simply will not wait for the next morning's paper.

It's a great time for sports bloggers and for all who love the free exchange of information. There is simply no more room in the conversation for guys like Colin Cowherd; he's sad and obsolete. The rising tide will lift all boats- the Washington Post and Times get it; Cowherd does not.

Postscript: The Big Lead is back in business. You can read their reaction to the incident here. They used the opportunity to move off of a Romanian web hosting site to a host located right here in the good ol' U S of A.

This post was originally published at The Curly W.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Today, Manny-pedi

Tomorrow, new man purse

The Curly R continues its period of relaxation and rejuventation at the blogger dayspa. See you next week.

It's game on at the baseball site, and the Nationals are really bad (1-6), so feel free to head over there for some schadenfreude.

No-buff matte male manicure pilfered from here.

Friday, April 06, 2007

RIP Darryl Stingley

Darryl Stingley, 1951 - 2007

Darryl Stingley, the paralyzed football player whose injury catalyzed changes to on-field rules and league treatment of players with catastrophic injuries, died yesterday from pneumonia and heart disease aggravated by his paralysis.

Although Darryl and the man that changed his life, Raiders defensive back Jack Tatum never reconciled, Darryl became close with then-Raiders coach John Madden, who rushed to the hospital to see Darryl and then-Raider offensive lineman Gene Upshaw. Later as NFLPA director, Gene pushed for the league to improve its treatment of players former players whose careers were ended on the field, paving the way for the league to embrace and not shun former players such as Jets defensive lineman Dennis Byrd and Lions offensive lineman Mike Utley, whose careers were ended in paralysis.

Darryl was a 1973 first round pick from Purdue by the New England Patriots, was a key component to New England's offense and was in the process of finalizing a contract in the 1978 preseason that would have made him one of the highest-paid receivers in the league. Although Jack's hit was perfectly legal and there was no penalty on the play, after Darryl's injury rules were tightened to protect receivers in the open. Darryl's injury is the background context for the seasonal discussion and hand-wringing on the purpose and risks of preseason games.

After football, Darryl was executive director of player personnel for the Patriots, ran a foundation helping as-risk youth in his hometown of Chicago and wrote a book about his rediscovery of life titled Happy to Be Alive.

Darryl Stingley was 55.

Washington Post
New York Times
Boston Globe: Obit; Bob Ryan
Oakland Tribune (AP)
Wikipedia: Darryl Stingley

Darryl Stingley playing card from here.
Jack Tatum's paralyzing hit on Darryl Stingley: Ron Riesterer / Oakland Tribune via AP from NYT here.