Back when I was covering minor league ball in Scranton, I remember a player telling me that he was getting off Twitter because every time he tried to have fun with it — post something goofy, write anything that actually hinted at his true personality — he’d get attacked for one thing or another. Either he was labeled as immature, or accused of not focusing on baseball, or generally slammed by someone who just liked the idea of ripping a pro athlete who wasn’t a superstar.
The lesson, I guess, is the same for all of us: Social media is a sometimes bizarre world, especially for those who are unfamiliar with just how far it can reach and the impact it can have. For the current Yankees, I can’t help but think of Alex Rodriguez’s now infamous tweet saying that a doctor had cleared him to play in games, which set off Brian Cashman, who declared that Rodriguez needed to “shut the f—- up.”
If it weren’t such a tense situation to begin with, Rodriguez’s tweet might have been seen as innocent excitement. Instead, Rodriguez was seen as basically contradicting the Yankees own public statements — and perhaps going over the heads of the Yankees medical staff — which lit a fuse that was already far too short. Next thing you know: Kaboom!
This morning Christian brought the idea social media into a another short-fuse environment: The Bronx Zoo Yankees, who seemed to have little problem getting their messages into the public even without a 140-character platform.
So does the existence of Twitter — and non-stop sports radio, and instant-access information on the internet — make the situation more toxic or less toxic? My guess is it’s not better or worse, it’s just — like everything else — different.
One way or another, players who want to make their feelings known, are going to make their feelings known. Some have big personalities that require constant commentary, and some retreat from the day-to-day attention and are happy to operate in the background. Some grant interviews only when they feel its necessary, some speak any time they’re asked, some pass along information anonymously, and some hide in the trainer’s room while the press is in the clubhouse. Some are outspoken on Twitter, some use it only to promote their charities, and some act as if Twitter doesn’t exist.
It’s the same as it’s always been, just presented in a different format. Big personalities always find their way to the forefront, and otherwise innocent comments have always had the potential for stunning consequences. It’s a different world now, not necessarily different players.
But Twitter in the 70s would have been a sight to see (and not only because of the baseball players).
Associated Press photo