I very much enjoy Twitter. One of the reasons I enjoy Twitter is because of the (seemingly) unfiltered, straight-from-the-horse’s-mouth comments you get from athletes in 140-character snapshots. Yes, some comments can roll over into two (or five) tweets, but what we used to need sports reporters for can now be found straight from the source. In addition to that, if you have a question for an athlete on Twitter, you can ask him. You! You don’t have to hope John Fay or Lance *spit* McAllister happens to ask what is on your mind – YOU have access to guys like Todd Frazier and Jay Bruce, and they just might answer your question for the world to see…
…and maybe that’s where the crux of the situation resides. The whole world can see what you ask and how the target reacts. I use the word “target” because the question asker so often is not asking as a fan, but asking to get a reaction from the rest of the Twitterverse. I’ve seen twitterers question an athletes sexual orientation, tell him he stinks and even wish harm or death on the athlete and his family. It doesn’t always stop with the athlete, either. Players wives are common targets of hate-tweets.
So this takes us to Tuesday night and a “fan” of Jay Bruce. In a tweet directed at Jay, the tweet pointed out that Jay had stuck out 40 times in April and was on pace to break Drew Stubbs’ MLB strikeout record for a single season. Jay’s response (which has since been taken down) was light-hearted and said something related to being on pace to smash the record and record 250 Ks in 2013. Then Jay went on to post five tweets directed at the “haters” on Twitter:
For whatever reason, Jay has caught some flack in the local media about these tweets. 700WLW has listed the tweets on Facebook for a larger audience to see and many have left comments, both in favor of Jay and to bash him. My favorite cookie-cutter comment is when someone says “Jay should spend more time in the batting cage and less time on Twitter”. I’m not qualified to be a major league batting coach, but I highly doubt that checking your mentions at midnight changes your job performance and is the reason for his strikeout total.
An athlete on Twitter is going to get hate-tweets no matter where he plays and if he doesn’t hit a home run in his last at bat of the game. As I see it, an athlete has three reactions to these types of tweets: Ignore them, respond with agreement and say he’ll do better, or respond with pity/anger for the hate and question the motives. Being a follower of Jay’s on Twitter, I can say that he has used all three styles of responses to the haters.
I like athletes being on Twitter. I like the Reds front office being on Twitter. I don’t understand why Reds “fans” would turn against people in their club’s organization for a cheap laugh. Fans feel like they have “a right to voice their displeasure” but all they are really doing is driving away the athletes that give the Reds a chance to win on any given night.
I applaud the way Jay handled his critic on Tuesday night. However, if I was an All-Star athlete like Jay, I’d have to question if it is worth it to be on Twitter at all.
If you have a comment or question about this or any other topic for Head First Slide, please leave a comment or find me on Twitter at @GeoffreyHoman.