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MLB denies Twitter crackdown, but facts say otherwise

Apr 28, 2010, 10:15 AM EDT

After posting my story last night about MLB.com writers being banned from using Twitter for non-baseball topics and MLB players being told their tweets will be monitored, I was contacted by a spokesperson for MLB who essentially said I was 100 percent wrong. In fact, he went so far as to say my story was so “factually inaccurate” it had the good folks at MLB “mystified by all of this.”
Prior to posting the story I spoke to multiple MLB and MLB.com employees, each of whom made it very clear that the beat reporters were told to cease using their current Twitter accounts for anything other than coverage of the team. Several MLB.com writers even made announcements to that effect on their Twitter pages, although within hours those messages had (coincidentally, I’m sure) been deleted.
Beyond that, it was the talk of press boxes across baseball last night, with dozens of non-MLB.com beat writers tweeting about the fact that their MLB.com colleagues could no longer post non-baseball notes on Twitter. White Sox third baseman Mark Teahen also spoke to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times about the players angle. In other words, the notion that my story could have possibly “mystified” anyone at MLB was absurd and struck me as an attempt to mislead.
Eventually the MLB spokesperson pulled back the reins a bit on the denial, but still insisted that no policy changes have been made. That flies in the face of everything I was told by multiple sources involved, all the notes posted on Twitter last night by both MLB.com and non-MLB.com reporters discussing the issue, and the fact that several MLB.com beat writers chose last night to create new, personal Twitter accounts.
I asked MLB for an official statement, but they refused and simply continued to insist my story was inaccurate. If and when they’d like to clarify things on the record I’m willing to clarify, update, or correct my reporting, but in the meantime what’s going on here seems rather obvious and I’m more than comfortable letting things speak for themselves.
UPDATE: In addition to deleting any tweets about the Twitter ban issue, MLB.com writers have now deleted their posts about creating new, personal Twitter accounts. Just another coincidence, I’m sure.

  1. David - Apr 28, 2010 at 10:34 AM

    It’s phenomenally absurd how paranoid professional sports leagues are about players on twitter, and slightly less absurd how paranoid individual teams are. I remember following Kevin Love on twitter until he accidentally broke a story that Kevin McHale was gone. Ever since then he’s been completely cut off from twitter. Of course, we can still follow Johnny Flynn, but, well, it’s not quite as, uh, interesting.

  2. Jonny5 - Apr 28, 2010 at 10:44 AM

    They must have seen my other post. “Censorship is unamerican. Even if it’s not Government censorship. How can a sport that claims to be Americas pasttime, or Americas game, employ censorship? I never thought I’d see the day where MLB became Unamerican in how it decides to do buisiness. First they pull the whole baseball card bullsh!t, now this? I don’t like this one bit. Not because I care about what they have to say on a more personal level, but because some people do care what they have to say on a more personal level. This is like my employer telling me what I can and can’t tweet, it’s bullsh!t and censorship, and I don’t like it.” Ya know because MLB gives a crap about how i feel and all…… ;>P

  3. Old Gator - Apr 28, 2010 at 11:01 AM

    MLB probably ought to stop obsessing about that elaboration-challenged joke of a system and just be grateful that they haven’t caught A-Rod and Madonna on a bedroom minicam podcast direct from the White House.

  4. d - Apr 28, 2010 at 11:08 AM

    yup, and the Ranger’s sale is imminent!
    appropriate:
    to dodged

  5. Smit - Apr 28, 2010 at 11:13 AM

    Dude you’ve made it…. well I know this isn’t the actual moment… but your important enough for the MLB itself to call and lie to you. Grats!!

  6. d - Apr 28, 2010 at 11:27 AM

    and from Geoff Baker – Seattle beat writer:
    http://www.twitlonger.com/show/1260vs
    On Tuesday 27th April 2010, @gbakermariners said:
    reply
    http://tweetphoto.com/20193132 MLB bans MLB.com writers from tweeting non baseball stuff. Cool, I’ll be at Gates BBQ here in KC celebrating later.
    Maybe the MLB is mis-remembering what they said?

  7. CallieJo - Apr 28, 2010 at 11:30 AM

    I don’t get why this is a big deal. The employees have been told they can’t use WORK accounts for non-work communications. Welcome to the real world boys & girls. If they want to talk about personal stuff then use a personal account. Duh!

  8. makes sense - Apr 28, 2010 at 11:52 AM

    Why wouldn’t baseball writers be expected to tweet about baseball on their mlb.com twitter accounts? If you want to talk about non-baseball stuff, do it on your personal account.

  9. Cyn - Apr 28, 2010 at 12:03 PM

    As an example, Ian Browne’s twitter account name is his name only, nothing to do with MLB. Twitter accounts are also free. So how can those accounts be considered “MLB” or “work” accounts?
    The fact that no one at MLB is fessing up to this is proof enough for me that they realize how stupid it is.

  10. Jonny5 - Apr 28, 2010 at 12:18 PM

    BINGO!

  11. NJJimInHI - Apr 28, 2010 at 1:02 PM

    Normally I’d agree with those posting complaints about how paranoid MLB is being here, but then again you have this racist immigration law recently passed in AZ, which is leading to many calling for boycotts of anything AZ – including the D-Backs, where the picket lines are already at the gates – and I can see the rationale for MLB to be out in front of this. For years the racist pigs in AZ wouldn’t recognize Martin Luther King day. The NFL, working with the NFL Players Union, enforced a ban on AZ hosting the Super Bowl until the racist pigs recognized MLK day. And the NFL and the Players Union did this relatively quietly, and it worked without igniting any additional fires. This latest AZ mess – their racist, illegal “immigration” law – could very well get quite ugly and so I feel that MLB is doing the right thing with their “social networking media policies”.

  12. Maury Brown - Apr 28, 2010 at 1:29 PM

    Aaron, Has anyone been willing to send you an email or some sort of memo that details the policy change? Get someone to send off-record. Short of the aggregating to MLB.com, it would be a shame to have the writers pull back due to, well… “no issue”

  13. JWG - Apr 28, 2010 at 1:59 PM

    I understand the censorship (not that I agree with it), but the cover-up is childish. Employers can control their employees’ tweets on company accounts. Why not just come out and confirm it?

  14. Stephen - Apr 28, 2010 at 2:04 PM

    For an organization who embraces social media, not having a policy in place for their writers and subsequently being completely (over)reactionary sure is short-sighted.
    This is a Rodger Goodell-esque move.

  15. d - Apr 28, 2010 at 2:40 PM

    who’s to say the accounts are owned by the “company” – if so, then MLB should control each account.

  16. Chris Simonds - Apr 28, 2010 at 2:56 PM

    Rhetorical question: when will certain people wake up and realize that the biggest threat to their freedom isn’t Big Government, it’s Big Business

  17. Stone - Apr 28, 2010 at 3:18 PM

    This is exactly why my interest in MLB is quickly fading away. I get enough disinformation and denials of truth from my government, thank you very much. I don’t need to be lied to or ignored by a spectator sport that I spend money on. MLB does very little to improve the format of their sport, including the maintaining of guaranteed contracts for players (A. Soriano, you are a disgrace), not instituting some type of instant replay, continuing to have games that last over 3 ,and sometimes 4 hours, forcing a manager to not wear a hoodie, only to change their mind the next day, using the same bats that continue to disintegrate and cause injury, and etc, etc. etc. It goes on and on. Baseball thinks they are the same sport that held a captive audience in the 1930’s. Well MLB, you’re losing this customer. See you later.

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