October 16, 2013

Twitter And Fans' Relations With Players

Yesterday, I tweeted this:

It was the single biggest reaction I've gotten out of a tweet, which is not surprising given some of the stupid stuff I tweet about. It actually came as an observation after watching a New York Rangers fan in my timeline send a message out to Martin Biron, a backup goaltender, hoping he stays with the organization somehow after being waived by the team.

It relates to baseball as well or better, though. I think that fan-player interaction on social media is an overall great thing. Of course, it has the potential to go south quickly, as a few Mets experienced this year, most notably an instance involving the harassment of LaTroy Hawkins. By and large, it makes fans feel closer to the game and to the teams they love, which of course is a good thing. However, it causes a type of odd dynamic where people become protective of a player despite his actual value of the team. Yesterday's discussion landed us on two perfect examples: Justin Turner, and the Marlins' Logan Morrison.

Turner is a fun, interactive guy on Twitter, and it's hard not to like him. He's enthusiastic after each win, and lumps praise on his teammates. He answers his fans, takes on his critics without being offensive, doesn't cross any lines with the organization, and is an overall example of a pro athlete "doing Twitter right".

Naturally, we all become a little attached to him. However, he is an expendable on-field piece. A utility player, he made some starts for the team to fill in for injured players before he went down himself. He's cheap, and relatively productive off the bench and as a pinch hitter, so I'm not suggesting the team get rid of him. Yet if they did, there would be an outcry from the fans that would be disproportionate to his importance to the team. If he was traded or cut, it would probably not swing the Mets in the direction of wins or losses by so much as a game, but people would be unhappy to see him go.

The best example comes out of Miami. Logan Morrison has been an under-performing outfielder for the Marlins, hitting under .250 for his career with not much pop. But when it comes to Twitter...

...the guy's just funny. Day in and day out entertaining. But he is not that great a player. He is, in the words of Rob from the site here, "The best example of mediocre player turned twitter all star." If he got traded for prospects (prospects the Marlins desperately need), all three Miami fans would be upset.

Player accessibility through social media, again, has been a good thing. But as fans, we have to temper our attachment to a player because of his likability. I like Turner; if he was put in a package that brought back an important piece the Mets needed, I would still like him. He wouldn't stop being a decent guy, and I wouldn't have to unfollow him. No amount of humorous tweets or pies to the face add to the win totals though. Home runs do, and I'll take a guy who tweets like Jon Heyman if he can hit thirty of them and drive in 120 runs.


  1. I'm sorry but THIS is the best Logan Morrison Tweet ever: