My first mention of a tweet in the Chicago Tribune on the Milton Bradley trade rumors was on July 28, 2009:
“It started when White Sox analyst Steve Stone tweeted that the Tigers were interested in trading for Bradley, adding, “Cubs fly him on a private jet.”
As a Twitter newbie who got into the app that month at the instigation of my employer, I didn’t know the correct verb to “tweet,” not “to tweet.” Regardless of the terminology, once the tweet started making the rounds on the blogs, Cubs beat writers had no choice but to talk to Bradley to get his reaction.
“I don’t pay attention to rumours,” he said. “There are always rumors about me. I am one of those multi-talented guys who can do a lot of things. I’m not surprised. “This is just a rumor.”
Following what’s posted on Twitter will soon become part of everyday life. The app we use, insult, curse, praise, focus on morning, noon, and night will change the way people follow sports, and in turn, the way we cover it.
If Twitter is indeed on its deathbed, as many have been predicting since the exodus of employees under Elon Musk’s reign, it will be a loss for everyone, but especially for sports fans who have been using it since its inception. bed, plus the occasional 3 a.m. bathroom break.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t get replaced right away, leaving us without @Super70sSports nostalgia, @KyrieIrving’s latest unfiltered thoughts, or someone’s high school rant from the stands.
Influencers will have no one to influence, trolls will be barred, and branded sports media stars will be stuck. If the “Woj bomb” falls on an empty twitter with no one to tweet, will it still make noise?
How did this happen?
In 2009, before I knew Twitter would change my career, I ran into Jack Dorsey, the original founder of Twitter, throwing out the first pitch before a Cubs-Cardinals game at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. After congratulating Dorsey on the success of the app, I expressed my disappointment that @paul didn’t join in time to make his handle the same as @jack.
Dorsey says some people will delete their account after a while, so keep checking back, maybe I’ll have one that I like on Twitter. Alas, @paul is facing a bitter end, former New York Times reporter who regularly received complaints about my Cubs articles due to allegations that @paulsullivan and @sullivanpaul mistook my personal information.
Unlike Musk, Dorsey’s purpose for the social media app seemed patronizing. His Twitter co-founder Biz Stone once told the Seattle Post-Spy that Dorsey had an artist’s mind.
“He sees the world as a giant product of his own making,” Stone said. “He once tweeted that 140 characters can change the world. It gives you an idea of his mindset.”
Sure, Twitter has changed the world, for better or worse, but its impact on the world of sports is huge. Baseball was a sport that changed time and time again with radio, television, and the Internet. Then Twitter came along and said, “Hold my beer.”
Want to get the information of your favorite team and athletes directly on your phone? And at no cost? The ability to let athletes or media know exactly how you feel about them while remaining anonymous?
What could be an easier sell?
Teams and athletes often know that image is important in selling their brand. Twitter can transform a moody, aloof star into a lovable, inscrutable person without having to deal with reality. Agents can divulge useful information about their clients without using their names. It was a win-win for everyone involved in the business.
Joe Maddon, then playing for the Tampa Bay Rays, was the first major league manager to adopt Twitter in 2009. Later that year, Maddon was followed by St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, whose accounts, backed by impersonation lawsuits, gained traction. Blue ticking has made the monthly fees that anyone would buy Musk meaningless.
When Ozzie Guillen of the Chicago White Sox became Twitter’s third manager during spring training in 2010, Cubs manager Lou Piniella asked if he would join him.
“I’m not really a Facebook or Twitter guy,” Piniella replied. “I’m a great guy with ribs and baked potatoes.”
Piniella wasn’t the only Cubs manager to avoid the program. Dale Sveum wasn’t a fan either, and when asked about something on Twitter, he responded with the mantra, “Those tweets don’t lie.”
One of Sveum’s players, Ian Stewart, complained on Twitter that Sveum was keeping him at Triple-A Iowa. The incident upset team president Theo Epstein, and Stewart became the first Cubs to leave the organization.
It’s safe to say that Twitter has gotten me into trouble more times than I care to remember. Some of the damage was self-inflicted, and in the 2010s I was accused of mindlessly tweeting.
Once, the letter “U” in the logo of the Chicago Cubs was turned upside down by club pranksters. After I tweeted the picture, the Cubs accused me of embarrassing the team by changing the logo.
When a pitcher with a teddy bear tweeted a picture of his expensive new locks in the trash, he threw them away, frustrated by his performance. Later, he blocked me on Twitter and had his last words.
I once tweeted a picture of a costumed head of Milwaukee Brewers mascot Bernie Brewer on the floor outside his locker room. Bernie Brewer’s severed head being delivered to the Cubs clubhouse was like a scene from Apocalypse Now. A Brewers employee threatened to kick me out of Miller Park if I didn’t delete the tweet.
Perhaps my favorite episode of Cubs Twitter came on August 12, 2011 in Atlanta, when pitcher Carlos Zambrano bombed the team after giving up 5 runs to the Braves at Turner Field. Manager Mike Quade later spilled the beans, saying, “I don’t know where he went or what he’s doing. I heard he’s retired or talking about retiring.”
When we started tweeting the news of Big Z’s retirement, like gunslingers in an old Western, the beat writers pulled out our phones and ignored Quade. (Spoiler alert: He didn’t.)
Rushing to tweet breaking news on some topic related to your beat was the biggest thrill of the old days of Twitter. But soon it’s overshadowed by the pain of dealing with anonymous trolls who don’t agree with your views. The biggest debate in the press boxes isn’t about manager strategy, but whether it’s better to block or silence trolls.
Most high-profile officials refrain from using their names on Twitter to avoid trolling. Rest assured that they all have apps and they all think they are worse than others.
White Sox general manager Rick Hahn complained on the NBC Sports Chicago podcast three years ago that “everything is negative” on the site known as Sox Twitter.
“The glass is always half empty and they want the rebuild to fail (feel) because they can say ‘I told you so’ rather than celebrate the championship,” Khan said. “And it’s sad. It’s all going to be forgotten next year or the year after, or whenever this run starts and we start getting closer to having a rally here.”
We hope to tweet about these demonstrations.
Or by then someone will invent a kinder, gentler app.