I believe few will disagree that the Twitter as a social media technology greatly enhances the baseball watching experience in a way unlike anything we have had before, especially for us transplanted fans. We can now share with like-minded fans in a way that we used to at school, work and in the neighborhood.
That brings me to one of my favorite people, an absolute cornerstone in my baseball loving foundation: Roy Ferguson. I will never be able to call him by his first name. Mr. Ferguson was my next door neighbor when I lived in in St. Louis, and he was a Cubs fan. And not just a little bit. I mean BIG TIME. Every time we would meet, he would start the conversation with “Cards stink” to which I would respond with the obligatory “Cubs stink”. That usually led to a discussion about baseball or football, generally while he and my dad were playing grillmaster, cooking dinner for our respective families. Pork steaks would be the popular choice.
There was never any name calling, and it never got more heated than “Cards or Cubs stink”. Thannks to Mr. Ferguson, I learned a lot about Fergie Jenkins (the trade that brought him to Chicago), Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, Don Kessinger, Glenn Beckert, and his favorite: Ron Santo. More than that, he taught me how to be a rabid fan of a player, yet be respectful of others that didn’t share that perspective. He also taught me how to talk to others about a player, in the hopes that they might see things they had overlooked.
In 1968, Mr. Ferguson was my twitter and two yards separated by a rickety wood fence was our social media network.
So that brings us to 2012 and the current social media experience. It is one thing to share a game with a bunch of Cardinals fans, that is incredible. It takes on an entirely new dimension when you can also interact intelligently with fans of the opposing teams. It is like Twitter with a shot of esperesso. OK, maybe a bucket full of espresso. To get the most out of the experience, maybe we can all learn something from Mr. Ferguson.
1. Decide on and implement a social contract
If you are satisfied with just telling “Cards suck” and “Reds suck” with the risk that it will eventually become “you suck”, awesome. Carry on and I hope you enjoy the exchanges. It should be very easy to find a plethora of tweeps to interact with. After all, Twitter requires just a computer and an internet connection. Neither grammar nor maturity is required, but generally appreciated. If you do go down this path, don’t get mad when it does dissolve into personal name calling, because it will. Remember, you chose this type of conversation. Opt out is always an alternative.
If you want something more, you might consider how you tweet about the opposition. That doesn’t mean you can’t ride the emotional roller coaster, I certainly do. But if you want something more than “* suck”, perhaps you should start by offering more first.
If you do, a universe of rewards is waiting for you. Just before a series, you can get a very good read on who is hot, and who isn’t. You can tell what players to watch because your twitter buddies are already talking about them.
2. Brandon Phillips is not a douchebag
One of the more controversial topics, I’m sure. Let’s get something things straight, and right now. Brandon Phillips is, and has been for a couple of years, one of the most exciting players in the National League. Cardinals fans would put him on a pedestal if he played in St. Louis, as would fans of every other team. What’s not to like.
- He plays the game hard
- He plays the game well, both offensively and defensively
- He does not run away and hide when challenged
- He stands up for his team
- He takes it like a professional when things don’t go well
- And he acts like a professional when they do
- He interacts with fans on the very social media network that we are talking about
If we want Reds fans to respect Yadier Molina, why not start by showing Brandon Phillips some respect first. Admit it, the Lunchables tweet was truly funny, and it wasn’t aimed at any one person.
On the Brewers side of the world, a similar treatment towards Ryan Braun might go a long way in cultivating some good twitter buddies. What you will find out is that they actually laugh at most of the stuff we do. In fact, if you take the time to listen, they find a lot more stuff to yack about. Recent PED issues aside, he is one of their favorites, and that’s good enough for me.
That doesn’t mean you must avoid trash talking. That’s also part of baseball. Just that if you are going to participate in it, be as gracious as a receiver as you are a sender.
3. Carpenter, Cueto and Morgan
OK, I think everybody gets this one. Reds fans are never going to like Chris Carpenter. I don’t thing Cardinals fans will ever like Johnny Cueto. And rain is still wet. One thing we can all agree about is that we enjoy reminiscing about Scott Rolen a lot more than watching him play today.
As for Morgan, I think if the truth were to come out, Brewers fans dislike him more than Cardinals fans. They have to watch him play a lot more, and when he does stupid things, it reflects poorly on a franchise they adore. Just as much as we do ours.
It might also be helpful to remember that the Cardinals closet of unliked players isn’t exactly bare. Garry Templeton did things when he was first promoted to the major leagues that would make Brandon Phillips and Nyjer Morgan look like saints in comparison. Perhaps more in the Brandon Phillips case, Joaquin Andujar was never one to miss an opportunity to shove something in the face of an opponent. And like Phillips, if it got ugly (let’s say like in Game Seven of the 1982 World Series), he had had the integrity to face the consequences, even if it meant losing a tooth or not seeing clearly out of one eye for a while.
4. A Difference of Opinions is not Whining
Ahhh, the 2012 All Star Game selection process. We have learned that Dusty Baker does not like that a couple of his players were not invited to play in midsummer classic. And ?
I’m upset that Kyle Lohse did not get an invitation. He deserved it, probably not as much as most who were invited, but more than, say Lance Lynn. This is probably his best chance, but it did not happen. That I lament this oversight does not make me a whiner. I haven’t seen much on this topic from the Reds fans I follow, nor has there been a lot of angst regarding Zack Greinke from Milwaukee. Some, to be sure, but it was well tempered and understandable.
Let’s leave the fire fanning and argument baiting for those in the media, for they do it well. It is their job. Some choose to go the way of the snark, some rise above it and do some research and tell it as it is, without inflammatory comments, inciting trolls. You do know the internet has trolls, right ? You aren’t one, are you ? Good.
Fans of every team have a laundry list of players they thing should have been invited to an All Star Game. Every year. Instead of calling them whiners, why not ask why they think that player should go, and you might get a new perspective on that player. Or not.
5. How to Find good Brewers and Reds Tweeps ?
More times than not, they will find you. But if you are looking, the Baseball Bloggers Alliance is a great place to start. The membership list is organized by team affiliation, making this incredibly easy.
For Brewers fans, start out with The Brewers Bar and Disciples of Uecker (formerly Bernie’s Crew). Both have Twitter accounts and the Brewers Bar also has a Facebook page. Start by following @TheBrewersBar, @JP_Breen and @JaymesL. From there, start following people they are interacting with.
As for the Reds, it will take a bit more effort to find like minded fans. Start with a couple of good ones, @boilermike1208, @diamondhoggers and @baseballcincy. The latter two have associated blogs, but I don’t believe they are associated with the BBA. A couple of other good follows are @MisterRedLegs (@MtsRedLegs needs to get on Twitter), @WiseDonald and @KaseyBeckham. As with the Brewers, start following other tweeps that they interact with.
Over the next couple of weeks, I will put together a link exchange (a project I’ve been wanting to do for quite some time). If you come across any Brewers, Pirates or Reds fans that you think should be on this list, send me a private DM on Twitter (@CardinalTales) or place it in a comment to this posting.
One more great place to find bloggers and tweeps is Daniel Shoptaw’s Playing Pepper series. He asks and answers questions from others blogging about various teams. This year he did Reds Country and Bernie”s Crew. Generally, if somebody is willing to put in the effort to post articles to a blog, they are worth following and interacting on Twitter.
A suggestion to help grow your personal community – participate in the Twitter Follow Friday (hashtag #ff). List out your favorites for each team, letting us know who you enjoy following. Finally, pay attention to others #ff postings as they are a very good way of expanding your community.
Last August and September were a lot of fun, and thanks to @JaymesL and some of the other Brewers fans for all of the great conversions. I’m hoping we can repeat that with the Reds this year.