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Johanna's View
by Johanna Wagner
Matt Harvey and the Twitter Response

Matt Harvey posted a pic to his twitter account, giving a gesture from his hospital bed.  His mother took the photo an both thought it was fun and funny.  The Mets didn’t agree.  They asked him to remove it, and in response Harvey deleted his account. He turned his back on a forum that allowed him to connect to his fans in a meaningful way.

“I thought the whole reason for having a Twitter and an Instagram was to be yourself,” Harvey said. “It’s my personal account. I thought the whole reason to have a Twitter was to put out there a little bit of fun and show your personal side a little bit. But I guess when that gets questioned from a picture or so many wrongdoings, there comes a time when you have to get rid of it.

“I honestly didn’t think there was anything wrong with it. You listen to the radio and you hear a lot of rap music and things that are a lot worse than what I was showing — genuine excitement and a little bit of laughter toward a picture that I was looking at this morning. I guess to stop the controversy, deleting the Twitter was an easy out of not worrying about it anymore.”  (Quote from this piece from Anthony DiComo.)

He’s right, that is exactly what it is for.  And he is also right, that there are much worse things out there.  David Ortiz famously used the F word on the broadcast of the first game at Fenway after the bombings. Even the FCC said that his use was appropriate, and we are moving into a place where that is going to be more so.

But I also know of a case of a player who took a photo making a gesture, and a high school principal called the President of the team to complain.  That photo was removed, but the player did not delete his account.

As I pointed out yesterday, certain gestures and certain words can be taken in the eye of the beholder.  The message- particularly on twitter- can be seen by not just the intended audience but by others, and you have no way of knowing their value system.

In some sports, the athletes can be a little more controversial and worry less about that third party.  Baseball is much more conservative.  It just is.  If you are very good, you can get away with a lot.  But as soon as you slump, if you have been making waves, you will be replaced.  Simple as that.

My advice though, if you make a slip up.  If you do something that you are then asked to take down- just take it down. If you think you want to leave twitter behind, just delete the ap from your phone for awhile.  Don’t delete the account.   You have grown the audience there for a reason, don’t just throw that away.  Take a break.  It can be a day, a month or a year, but just take a break. Will you lose some followers, yes.  But you won’t lose them all.  And when you are ready to use your account for good again, those loyal folks will still be there.

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Johanna's View
by Johanna Wagner
Fights, F-bombs and Aftermath

The Pirates and the Brewers got into quite a melee yesterday- and good old fashioned brawl, like we don’t see too often anymore.  Here is a link to the Adam McCalvy piece with video- and video from all three different broadcasts involved.

If you read the article first, you get a far different picture of the scene than the video shows.  Part of that is that the players are so heated during this fight, that they don’t have a sense of actually what happened, I’m sure.  They are speaking about their perceptions of what happened.  The Managers are smart enough to say they haven’t seen video, even if they had.  The reality though is that neither team should have been speaking about the incident- it should have been left on the field and in the MLB front offices who will hand out punishments in the next day or so.

The other thing that becomes clear in this is that while Gomez said he heard pitcher Gerritt Cole drop an F-bomb, Cole denies having done so.  That word is incendiary.  And if Cole used it, even without intent, it could be the thing that sets off Gomez.  Its a fighting word.  And young men have become so accustomed to using it casually, it rolls out of them when they are emotional without a thought.  Cole could have said it, and because it wasn’t the main point of what he was trying to say he didn’t even realize it.  But Gomez heard it.  We all hear that word when it is said.  We all focus on that word.  And for that reason, we have to remove it from our language.  It should be a big deal when it is used, not a casual throw in.  If used, it should have intention behind it.  Then, and only then will their not be confusion about what the user is saying.  Gomez would not have heard something and thought one thing, and Cole thought another.  That word should be used instead of a punch- or as a punch.  Not as a pre-cursor to a punch, or worse as a casual throw in to a thought. In the video, Gomez appears to take the first swing.  But, perhaps he is responding to the verbal swing we don’t hear.

After the game, the players also need to realize that they don’t need to keep the words going.  The fight is over- outcomes are out of their hands now.  Nothing one can say after the game is going to make the situation better.  No one is going to see the error of their ways by anything said to the media after the game.  Leave the building and offer to talk about it tomorrow.  Perhaps a nights rest will give everyone some perspective.  It doesn’t make reporters happy, but it also doesn’t make the situation any worse- which some of their comments after the game certainly could.

It would be hard for any of us to let that go so quickly. It is important to remember that.  But getting out of the environment is the first step to putting the situation in perspective.  Perhaps some of the players involved will watch the video too- giving them a chance to change their own perspective.  Suspensions will be here quickly.  But this is a fight, that probably carries on into the rest of the season.

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Johanna's View
by Johanna Wagner
Bryce Harper

Happy Not doing a regular Sunday morning reading edition this week- as I have been on the go a little too much to collect stories.

But big news in that Bryce Harper was pulled for ‘lack of hustle’ because he didn’t run hard to first on a come-backer to the pitcher yesterday against St. Louis. Later, in the bottom of the 9th, Harpers spot in the order came to bat with two men on and a chance to win the game.  Unfortunately, he wasn’t the one in that spot. Manager Matt Williams said after the game, that he had an agreement with his team that no matter what they would all run hard and play with 100%.  Problem is Harper was nursing a sore quad.  Perhaps Harper was saving the quad on that play.  But if Williams is expecting everyone to give 100%, than Harper shouldn’t have started with a sore quad.

What is wonderful though is the brash baseball wunderkind actually supported his manager’s decision to the press.  He “absolutely” understood.  Was he upset that he couldn’t help his team in the 9th?  Yes.  But he also said “I respect what he did.”  That is is critical.  It is critical that the star player support the manager if the team is going to win.

It is also critical that the star player not be treated any differently than any other player- and by pulling Harper yesterday, Williams showed he isn’t afraid to pull anyone.

Harper and Williams probably had a different conversation outside of the media- but the important thing is they look to be on the same page on the field and in the media.  Critical stuff if you want to be winners.  And the Nationals could be winners.

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Johanna's View
by Johanna Wagner
Speaking about Jackie Robinson

On Tuesday, baseball once again celebrated Jackie Robinson’s breaking of the color barrier at the Major League level in each ballpark.  Players around the league all wore the number 42 on their uniforms to honor Robinson.  And while I often have written that I think mandating that each player wear the number doesn’t really have the meaning that it should, my tune is starting to change.

Some of that is following players on twitter- and seeing how they individually spoke about Robinson, in their own words, and on their own time.  That shows me the personal feelings that exist all around baseball.  Tweets are just sound bites.  But they aren’t edited, and they aren’t obligatory quotes from the player in front of his locker.  They are real.

This piece by Jordan Bastian also asks two players to speak more in depth about what Jackie Robinson means to them.  Mike Aviles speaks so well of what Robinson’s legacy, you wonder why other writers find the need to get quotes from as many players as possible- find one or two and let them do the talking.  Perhaps those writers can’t find a Mike Aviles.  Michael Bourn’s reverence also comes through in the piece.  Even though he seems to have only the recent movie 42 to guide him to the historical facts, he is really honest when he says the trials that Robinson experience would have “broken” him.  That’s real.   And when you hear a player speak with that kind of honesty, it makes the entire celebration much more significant, at least for me.

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Johanna's View
by Johanna Wagner
It’s Not Replay that S*cks….

It isn’t the replay that is ruining baseball, it is the adaptation of the rules to make replay clearer for someone not in the stadium that may ruin it.  Because the umpires in the booth in NY can’t hear the ball hit the mitt, as an umpire in the building can, baseball cleaned up its definitions of a catch.  This came into play with John Farrell and the Red Sox over the weekend.  And Tony LaRussa, one of the designers of the system,  tried to explain in this piece by Jayson Stark why Farrell was confused over the ruling.  There is a discrepancy over the way a catch used to be called, and how it now is.

But this isn’t the only way that the definition of “a catch” has changed. Dave Cameron at Fangraphs writes about how to clarify what a catch is, the ball has be transferred cleanly to the throwing hand. Cameron shows great video of examples, including one where an outfielder clearly catches the ball, has control of the ball as he takes several steps but loses the ball once he tries to transfer it to throw it in.  That is ruled to NOT be a catch.  For us who have watched baseball for 40 or more years, that seems ridiculous.  And that, in my opinion is what will ruin baseball.

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