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The Diamondbacks are trying to nip a Twitter problem in the bud

Aug 5, 2011, 11:00 AM EST

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Social media is scary!  Anyone can say anything at any time!  Personal expression can flourish with no supervision!  This is something with which sports teams don’t typically do very well.

So, there are a couple of ways you can go if you run a sports team and are concerned about players saying inappropriate or otherwise sensitive things on Twitter:

1. You can be a dumb caveman, fight the tide of history and individual freedom and simply ban it; or

2. You can be sensible about it and make sure your players are hip to the sensitivities of the organization.

The Diamondbacks, recently stung by some minor leaguers tweeting about transactions that weren’t yet official and thus not really appropriate for public consumption, are taking the second tack:

Club officials say the faux pas tweets frustrated them more than angered them, and the missteps pale compared to incidents involving other teams.

But the Diamondbacks see it as an opportunity to educate. Farm director Mike Bell personally delivered words of warning to players in Reno when he was there last week and each of the club’s minor league managers told their players to exercise caution when interacting on social media.

Good point in the article: the most heavy Twitter usage, not surprisingly, is among minor leaguers, not major leaguers, so this kind of thing is only going to be more important as time goes on.

Also interesting: no mention at all of Kirk Gibson.  The same Kirk Gibson who, back in spring training, I observed had an almost pathological aversion to people carrying around and messing with smart phones.  Players and media alike. Indeed, the day before I was there he apparently got upset at a reporter texting or tweeting something around the training facility. The Dbacks beat reporters had some fun with Gibson the next day by putting all of their phones on Gibson’s podium before his daily press conference, as if they were surrendering them to him before he could get angry.

So, yeah, I wonder if Gibson will be OK with even a smart use of smart phone and social media technology when all of those kids make their way up to the big club.  Maybe he just goes full-Spurrier on them.

  1. hansob - Aug 5, 2011 at 11:34 AM

    Melvin Mora wasn’t appropriate for public consumption either, but they still stuffed him down D-back fans’ throats.

    • marshmallowsnake - Aug 5, 2011 at 12:22 PM

      Before the season, my bowling teammates predicted how many wins the D’Backs would have this year. None of us predicted them to win more then 75 games. They have been surprising this year…the fans here do not know it yet though.

  2. Charles Gates - Aug 5, 2011 at 12:05 PM

    I’m completely shocked that, as far as we know, teams havn’t had consultants come in and coach their players in social media savy. The immediate connection to the fans has to have a positive effect on both the team’s ticket/merchandise sales as well as the player’s marketability, ie endorsement deals.

    • atlsp - Aug 5, 2011 at 1:54 PM

      Back in January the Braves held a “Prospect Development Week” for 25 of their top prospects. I got invited as a STH to a Meet and Greet and Frank Wren filled us in on the week. Most of the focus was on off-field stuff and, sure enough, the team hired a group to come in and address media-related issues. They conducted mock interviews (trying to lead the players into “traps” with their questioning) and cautioned players on social media pitfalls.

      My favorite anecdote: the Braves provided the firm with email addresses for each of the prospects and the firm had “an attractive young intern” try to befriend each of the players on Facebook. Several accepted so the intern went trolling for any salacious pictures she could find and provided them to the team. When those pictures were shown to the prospects it was a humorous-yet-all-too-real wake-up call.

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