Social media. We all use it. We all probably share things and say things that we really don’t need to. Recently there has been a trend of players’ past Tweets being surfaced. Some of these go back to when the payers were teenagers. These are racially charged and just in general considered in poor taste. Jon Lester has come out and urged players to take the time to purge their social media of these things, or just get off social media in general. There are two schools of thought here.
One way to look at it is these guys were teenagers when they said these things. Teenagers, as we all know, think they know everything. So why are we going back and drudging up old stuff from, in some cases, a decade or more in the past? I was a teenager once. I thought I knew it all. Now, of course, I realize I know very little, but try telling a 16 or 17 year old kid that. Besides, if you haven’t changed your mind on anything from when you were young until now, you probably haven’t been doing very much thinking.
The other side of that coin is if you’re old enough to be on social media, you should be old enough to know better. Baseball is a pretty diverse sport, so if you do harbor some kind of ill will towards a certain race, it’s probably not the place for you. Did you know the most common surname is Martinez? Some of these guys get drafted when they are 17 and 18, so yeah, you should probably know better.
What responsibilities do current players, and let’s not forget media types, have now on social media? I’ve had a few interactions on Twitter with some people, some good, some not so much.
Oddly enough, the two good interactions I’ve had were with players. One was Vince Wilfork, former defensive tackle from the New England Patriots. It was just a quick one, and we were talking about his diabetes foundation. The other was actually a former player, then employee of ESPN Mark Schlereth, former Washington Redskin and Denver Bronco offensive lineman. Now we did not agree about the topic we discussed, but both Schlereth and I made our cases to each other and we were both civil and respectable.
The two bad, if you can call it that, experiences were with media guys. Remember way back when Cliff Lee was in Seattle, and he was the big fish at the trade deadline? Well, one Mr Robert Stanberry Olney, aka Buster, of ESPN tweeted out “Cliff Lee to the Yankees. Done deal.” I remember this like it was yesterday. Except it wasn’t a done deal because Lee ended up in Philadelphia. Now I get it, these guys only know what they are told by their sources, and those sources become very unreliable around the trade deadline. Teams feed the media false information to throw other teams off their scent. OK, fine, but when you punctuate it with “done deal” and it turns out not to be, I’m going to call you on it. I tweeted at Buster asking what happened. I may have called him a fraud. He blocked me. Oddly enough, this year at the deadline, Olney reported that his sources told him Bryce Harper would be traded. This didn’t happen, obviously, but the phrasing there was a lot different than “done deal.” I was also blocked by Colin Cowherd, then also of ESPN. Cowherd likes to do his “Blazing Five” during football season, where he picks 5 games (the easiest 5 on the schedule) against the point spread and then pats himself on the back about how great he is. He tweeted out that he was 4-0 and 1 tie one week. I tweeted at him that in some circles, a tie counts as a loss. Blocked. Oh I might have called him a douchebag too.
My moral to this story is, if you are any kind of a public figure on Twitter, you have to know that 25% of people are trolls, and you have to expect a certain amount of negativity. If you can’t handle it, stay off Twitter. Which leads me to my last story.
Curt Schilling tweeted about his daughter getting into college. A couple of trolls had made all kinds of threats against her on Twitter. Pretty ugly stuff. Schilling managed to track them down and they both lost their jobs and may have faced some kind of legal trouble over that. Now in no way do I advocate that kind of nonsense. Nor do I blame Schilling for tweeting the congratulations to his daughter. The story ran on Facebook, and I simply commented that if you aren’t on Twitter, that wouldn’t have happened. That doesn’t mean it was OK for these 2 scumbags to say what they said, or that Schilling had done anything wrong. It was just an observation. Kind of like if you leave your car unlocked and somebody steals your stereo. Leaving the car unlocked doesn’t give anyone the right to help themselves to whatever is in the car. But there is an old saying about keeping honest people honest. Anyway, the barrage of comments I got back from my post were staggering. I was accused of victim blaming ( I wasn’t, again I will repeat that in NO way is what the 2 idiots who made the threats justified), of being some kind of an advocate for cyber bullying, and of course, at the time I had my picture as my Facebook profile picture, so I was attacked on my appearance. Just in case you don’t know, I am overweight and not all that handsome. This is, of course, completely irrelevant to the topic, and somewhat ironic that I was being pasted for cyber bullying by people bullying me, but that’s what you get on social media. People have no problem saying the nastiest, dirtiest, most vile things you can think of to someone, things they would never say to your face. By the way, I’m 40+ years old, and mirrors were invented long before my time, so I know what I look like. No big revelations there.
Social media can be fun. You can stay in touch with friends and relatives, make new friends, and, if I’m being honest, if not for social media, I wouldn’t have this job writing about baseball and the Cubs. There’s a good chance you are reading this on social media. But what do athletes have to gain from it? It’s a good way to interact with your fans. It’s also a good way to take a lot of garbage from idiots. Gee, thanks for letting me know I shouldn’t have given up that home run, Mr. Egg on Twitter. If I were an athlete, I doubt I would be on Twitter. I can’t imagine the crap some of these guys take, and the worst thing they can do is to lash back at people. There’s another old saying about not feeding the trolls. Nothing good can come from it. Now I mentioned that I was blocked by a couple of people, and you may think I deserved it. My life isn’t any different by not being able to see Buster Olney’s or Colin Cowherd’s tweets, I promise. But there is also something to be said for if you’re going to put yourself out there, be prepared. Maybe Lester had it right at the end, when he said “get off social media altogether.”