Should MLB players have Twitter accounts?

I have had a Twitter account for a few months and use it mostly to talk about life, muse about things that bug me, and to get tips on some fantasy baseball news.  Recently, I put myself into the Twitter penalty box.  I decided that I had gone a little overboard on Twitter, and I needed a little break.  I was Twittering way too much at work, for one thing, and that can’t be a good idea.  Besides that, I had started to use it as a platform to grouse about how I believed someone else was misusing Twitter. 

That’s not what Twitter is for. 

That’s what this blog is for.

Twitter has wide appeal, and is attracting a remarkable number of new users every day.  People can use Twitter for many reasons, and be as active as they choose to be.  As a writer, Twitter has many different uses:

·         Twitter is text messaging to a mailing list. 

·         Twitter is a social media experiment that has grown into a marketing juggernaut. 

·         Twitter is micro-blogging for the ADHD-afflicted.

·         Simply put, it’s another way for people to get a message out.

As a reader, Twitter is a new way to ask questions, seek advice or get feedback from your peers.  You can use Twitter to get updates on your favorite stars, or keep up on the news from your area of interests.

Twitter has attracted a number of celebrity users, including a bunch of MLB players who now have their own Twitter accounts.  There are some accounts that behave as automated systems that repost any mention of a team name (called “retweet bots”), but after awhile learning about recent bird sightings in the Baltimore area gets old.  Some players are great at posting (@str8edgeracer, @BarryZito), some are not quite adept (@dougiebaseball), and some rarely post at all (@CC_Sabathia, @ChienMingWang).  There are imposters (@newjorgeposada), and some who have others speak for them (@NickSwisher).  Or so it would seem.

There have been rumors, accusations and judgements about how certain MLB players allow their Public Relations person make their posts for them.  Specifically, some of the conjecture is over whether or not Nick Swisher’s post actually come from him, or are they filtered through his PR agent.  While this is interesting twitter fodder, I don’t think that any of it really matters in the scope of the game.

So what’s my problem?  My problem is that I was blocked from following @NickSwisher’s twitter feed.  Not that this is a serious thing; if I want, I can just navigate my web browser to, or even set up my email client to automatically download the RSS feed that the site generates.  Blocking Nick’s twitter feed from my account is a limp-wristed attempt to chastise my retelling of these rumors regarding Nick’s PR agent, Kathy Jacobsen’s involvement in his status updates.

I was blocked because of my post criticizing the actions as “lazy and stupid”. It’s all pretty silly really.  The way the rumor came to me was that Nick didn’t “understand how to use Twitter”, so he would “text his updates to his PR person who would then enter them into Twitter.”  And to me, that IS lazy and stupid, IF no one told him all he had to do was to text to phone number 40404 . Sadly, 140 character limits don’t get you very far.  “Lazy and Stupid” was all I could fit in my retweet, so the meaning was really up-for-grabs. 

OK, so a bunch of you just put your heads down and sheepishly admitted that you didn’t know how to do that either.  It’s ok.  I don’t think many people do it anymore.

What’s the reality?  Nick probably shouldn’t be posting his own tweets anyway, not without filter and approval from his PR agent.  Of course the Social Media trend is for transparency, but it’s that kind of transparency that caused Trent Reznor to freak out on his followers Even Ashton Kutcher (@aplusk), the golden boy of Twitter followers, claims that there is a point where you can actually have too many followers, leading to over-exposure.  When there is no PR person filtering the message about you, or even filtering the message back to you, there can be serious damage to a person’s image.

That’s great, and I’m sensitive to that.  But Kathy, you’re doing it wrong.  Wildly overusing the “block” functionality to the point of abuse is a weak gesture and to what end? I can still get the feed. I can still post to my own twitter account. So what’s the purpose of the Twitter “block”?  I suggest that Kathy, in the spirit of this social media transparency trend, directly address any one of her (or Nick’s) critics and directly deal with her perceived problem.  I would have been happy to get a direct message from her asking for me to clarify my statement.  None came, and as a fan of Nick Swisher, I’m disappointed in her actions.

I had one other “Kathy as PR person” related tweet regarding her players:  It just struck me funny that all three of them posted at the same time about Seinfeld-like nothings.  Sure, it could be true that Kathy had each of them on the phone in a “How you should use Twitter to improve your Brand” conference call, and they each happened to tweet about something non-MLB related.  But it also could support the rumor that Kathy is actually making all their posts for them. 

Either way, it doesn’t matter.  Kathy will continue to do what she does, without understanding her true customer: the fan.  Since the rant I made on my own Twitter account (@matt_danger) I have since had the block lifted, and I’m following @NickSwisher again, loyally.  And for myself, I am ending the self-imposed Twitter hiatus.

Take some time this week if you have it, and support Nick by adding him in as a write-in vote for the 2009 MLB All Star game.  Stop by for all the details.

How Raw Was Glavine’s Deal?

How Raw Was Glavine’s Deal?

It was a busy night for sports news in Atlanta. In the span of three hours on Wednesday June 3, 2009, the Atlanta Braves made three separate announcements that will likely set the team back on the path for post-season baseball.  The Braves, desperate to shake up a lack-luster first two months of the season, were one game over .500 and 4 ½ games out of first place.  In rapid succession, the Braves announced that Tom Glavine would be released from his contract, Tommy Hanson would be called up from the minors, and a trade was made with the Pirates acquiring Nate McLouth for Gorkys Hernandez and two other prospects.

Each of the announcements created a  lot of buzz around town, but none incited more emotion than the news about Tom Glavine. In the immediate wake of Glavine’s release from the Braves on Wednesday, Chris Dimino took the mic for his evening pre-game show, “Hardball” on 790 “The Zone” in Atlanta and went on a twenty minute rant lambasting the Braves management for “not doing a solid” to a guy who deserved more.

It got me to thinking, what does any team owe a player they release?

Let’s just run down the Glavine’s recent release: after a mediocre pre-season, Glavine is sent to the DL to take care of his old man’s body.  He makes two mediocre rehab starts in the minors, where he pitches 11 scoreless innings, but is generally not fooling any of the hitters.  Scouts think that there is little difference between his fastball and his change up, and that he won’t be able to make it through any major league lineup a second time.  Glavine is thereby released from his incentive laden contract, saving the Braves the million dollar “show up and pitch in the Majors” bonus.

Forget who he is for a moment.  If this was some young player who was just getting started out in the Bigs, it sounds like that treatment was a little harsh, but hey, that’s baseball.  That poor kid will need to figure out now what he’s going to do instead of baseball for the rest of his life.  On the other hand, if this were some 15-year veteran who played on the same team for his whole career, it would seem like the team was not treating a hometown icon with proper respect.  Although cutting him loose wouldn’t be so bad because the dough he’s probably raked in after a 15 year stint in the Majors has him and his kids set for a long time.

Now let’s sprinkle in a little of what we know about Glavine.  Bottom line is, he’s neither of those two guys.  He could have been the latter, but instead, he was the guy who took a deal to play for the Mets for a boatload more cashish than the Braves were offering.  He’s also the guy who by his own admission (this morning in an interview with Steak Shapiro on 790 The Zone) doesn’t know how much longer his arm will hold up.  He’s taking it “one game at a time.”  To me, this is a guy who has been around a while and knows that baseball is a business.

But are the Braves handling their business? Some have argued recently that they haven’t.  With the recent release of Glavine and Smoltz, die-hard fans are crying foul, wondering where the respect is for the players who gave the Braves their 14 year post-season run. By cutting ties so severely with Glavine, without compensation or offer of a consulting job, many wonder where the heart of the Braves Management really lies.

Braves fans criticize the team’s management for not being able to pull the trigger on the big deals, like not signing Mark Teixeria during his free agency, but rather settling on smaller fish like Casey Kotchman and Garrett “Grandpa” Anderson.  Those are the same fans who jump ugly when they hear about the “mistreatment of Tom Glavine.”  What they aren’t giving credit to are all the recent good acquisitions like Derek Lowe and Javier Vazquez.  Okay, so the jury is still out on Kawakami, but wouldn’t you say the trade for Jurrjens has worked out well? Sure,  a lot of money was wasted on Hampton, and maybe they should have known better, but I’m glad they ponied up the cash for Tim Hudson.

Dimino gets it.  He doesn’t like what happened or how it happened, but he gets it.  He admits that the Braves are a better team now, without Glavine, than they were earlier this season.  He wishes that it could have been handled differently, but he knows that the Braves have a better chance at seeing post-season baseball than they did before.

So what could the Braves really have done better? Would it have been a better public relations move to keep Glavine in the fold, as a part of the Braves family, showing up for appearances and signing autographs?  At first glance you would think, yes, definitely.  The Bravos are bringing Greg Maddox back this summer for a celebration of his career.  Why wouldn’t that be a good idea for Glavine?

I’ll tell you why, and it’s so simple you’ll smack yourself on the head.  Glavine has irritated as many fans as he has endeared.  Glavine is the “class act” people say he is, no argument there.  He is a straight shooter, an honest man, and a good baseball player.  But he’s the “traitor” who left the Braves for their division rival in search of more money.  He’s also the man who was the player’s union rep during the last major baseball strike.  In a non-union city, that and eight bucks will get you a beer at Turner Field.  In fact, many still hold him responsible for the strike, and have yet to forgive him or Major League Baseball for letting it happen. 

Releasing Glavine was the right decision.  Overall, I think that the Braves could and should have done something for Glavine that would have eased the pain of his separation – and not just for Glavine, but for the fans as well.  In a year when it’s difficult to get the butts in the seats, you need to do all that you can to bring people in.  Regardless, it was still the right move and Glavine probably doesn’t need the money he would have made this year.

Who Do You Think You Are?

I know what you’re thinking, another Yankee blog.  I’m sure that there are countless other Yankee blogs here, and there will be many more to come.  But this is one that you’ll want to come back to.

Yeah, yeah, so what’s the big deal? What’s so different or interesting about you?  Who the heck do you think you are?
Good question.
I was born in Queens. Lived in New England most of my life. I was brought up a Yankee fan in a household of Mets fans. I went to school in Red Sox nation long enough to know how to properly use the term “wicked” and have never once stepped foot in Fenway Park. After celebrating the Yankee win in the Subway Series of 2000, I accepted a transfer with my job and moved to Atlanta Braves country.  It’s here that i live and love, and it’s here where i’m replanting my roots.
I think that I have an unusual perspective on baseball, especially when it comes to American League vs. National League.  Sure, there are lots of transplants from the North who have relocated to the Deep South.  We’re not that rare.  But I am one of the few who have earned the title of Damn Yankee by marrying one of their native Southern Belles.  
I wear my Yankee pinstripes with pride when I visit Turner Field, but I admit I had to break down and buy a Larry “Chipper” Jones t-shirt after my daughter puked on me during a game.  I have owned more Yankee caps than I can count, and they are almost all exactly alike: fitted XL, and broken in.  I used to own a Dimaggio replica jersey before I *ahem* grew out of it. Now I sport a Matsui, and I cringe every time he limps to first base.
I believe in second chances, but don’t expect it to be easy.  I believe that tuna should be cooked as rare as possible, and if you don’t like it that way, go home and just open up a can yourself.  I believe that socks should not be worn with sandals.  I believe that the existence of all-you-can-eat buffets are not permission to actually eat all that you can.  I believe that Giambi’s mustache is what gave him his power.
I believe in the DH, because most pitchers can’t hit.  I also believe that a pitcher should be used as a pinch runner if he’s skinnier than Sidney Ponson.  I believe in stealing bases late in a game no matter how far ahead or behind you are.  I believe that you don’t understand the game if you aren’t paying attention to the weird stats.  I believe that steroids sully the game, but I’d rather that we never heard about it.
So here I am, with a keyboard and a bad attitude.  I have opinions and I’m not afraid to use them. Got some feedback for me? I’d love to hear it.
First post: in the books!