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Continued: Athletes gain pipeline to the public

"I thought about what I can talk about that will make people who know me or don't know me want to read this," Granderson said. "It's amazing how many people want to get inside you and know just a little bit about you."

Boston pitcher Schilling's blog, www.38pitches.com, includes detailed self-analysis of his starts that can extend much longer than the typical game story covering the same start in the Boston Globe. He also promotes his charity work. And he takes on fans during sometimes-feisty Q&A sessions, especially Yankees fans.

"That's the best you can do? Yankee fans everywhere should be ashamed to call you a member. Oh and install a spellchecker," Schilling responded recently when someone claimed he makes excuses and is washed up.

The advantage for the sports figures is that they can control and grow their relationships with fans through blogs. However, their posts sometimes can get them in trouble.

In 2006, Cuban, the Dallas Mavericks owner, was fined $100,000 by the NBA for criticizing the selection of referees for the playoffs on his site www.blogmaverick.com.

When Neshek was still in the minors in 2005, he wrote at the trade deadline that he was "very surprised" when the Twins didn't make a deal. He also has expressed disappointment when certain players were released. Twins General Manager Terry Ryan said he once heard complaints from his staff about a Neshek post but hasn't held it against him.

"As long as it doesn't interfere with his performance and as long as it doesn't go over the line," Ryan said. "As you can see, I don't really care."

So the proliferation of blogs and websites by athletes will continue -- though it doesn't appear likely that blogging about colonoscopies and trips to Wal-Mart will soon lead to a world without sportswriters.

"The tough thing is originality," Granderson said, "so I give [the media] a ton of credit for being diversified day to day, week to week, month to month with your stories because ... I can see how ideas can start to get a little stale."

La Velle E. Neal III • lneal@startribune.com

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