Results tagged ‘ Twitter ’

Osama bin Laden: He gone!!!!

The text came in on May 2, 2011, as I was watching President Obama confirm what the wire reports had already told us: Osama bin Laden had been killed by a heroic Navy SEAL Team 6. The country celebrated, with impromptu “USA! USA!” chants popping up in ballparks stretching from California to New York.

Then I received a text from an Astros player who was relatively new to Twitter.

“Can I tweet, ‘Bin Laden. HE GONE!!!!!’” he asked.

I laughed and assured him that it was fine, that it was a very American thing to be happy about this news, and that while normally it wouldn’t be a good idea to celebrate death on Twitter, for this, it was entirely patriotic and very appropriate.

While I found our exchange amusing, I also was glad that he took the extra measure to check in. He wanted to make sure he wasn’t about to say something that would reflect poorly on him and subsequently, on the organization, and I appreciated it. At that time, we had already constructed a code of ethics regarding social media, a four-page explanation that was included in the Minor League handbook. But we were still in the process of educating players on the Major League level as to what was expected of them if they chose to be active on Facebook and Twitter.

During my time overseeing the social media side of the Astros’ operation from 2009 to 2012, I encouraged players to embrace social media but made sure they understood they needed to be smart about it. The upside of Twitter is that it’s a great way to interact directly with the fans, which in turn can reflect favorably on a player’s marketability. But it can also be dangerous, since there’s no filter between the players and the public.

Twitter is based largely on knee-jerk reactions, which can spell trouble, especially for a professional athlete in the public spotlight. Basically, it’s a free-for-all, where a brief short-tempered moment can turn into public controversy, creating unnecessary headaches for the players and the organizations that employ them.

This was recently brought to light by an unfortunate lapse in judgment by Ian Stewart, an infielder in the Cubs’ organization who is currently playing for the club’s Triple-A team in Iowa. Through a series of tweets, mostly coming from exchanges with inquisitive followers, Stewart unleashed a lot of anger directed in large part toward Cubs manager Dale Sveum.

To state the obvious, the Cubs weren’t happy. Citing a “loyalty clause” in Stewart’s contract, the infielder has been suspended without pay. Terms of the suspension will be announced at a later time, after the Cubs get through the legalities of the process.

It goes without saying (and Stewart actually did say it later, through a string of repentant tweets) that he’d like to have those 15 minutes back. Surely, he’d have gone about things differently and just vented to a buddy over a beer, or called his mom, or simply seethed inwardly, unnoticed. You know, the way we used to complain about our problems during the stone ages of the early 2000s, before social media.

What happened to Stewart should serve as a cautionary tale to all players. There are a few fights you cannot win, one of which is taking on your organization through social media, especially when you have accomplished little, if anything, in the big leagues. (The other is criticizing the fans, especially about low attendance, but that’s a topic for another day).

During my time with the Astros, I had a chance to speak to a few of the Minor League affiliates during my yearly trips to check out the organization’s top prospects. We also held media training sessions during Spring Training with eight to 10 of the young players in Major League camp who were expected to have a presence in Houston at some point within a year or so. My message: please, please please…think before you tweet.

“Before you tweet something, imagine one of the beat writers standing in front of you with a flip cam pointed at your face and a tape recorder running,” I’d say. “Now, say the tweet out loud. Are you comfortable with this being on the record?”

Tweets are most definitely suitable for public, and media, consumption. If reporters see something newsworthy on Twitter, it’s considered very much on the record and if it’s juicy enough, there’s a pretty good chance they’ll run with it. This is the world we live in today. Players may not like it, but they have to adjust to it. Some have done this better than others.

Prior to Spring Training in 2012, we designed large signs, in English and Spanish, to hang in the clubhouses at all of the Minor League affiliates, plus in the Major League clubhouses in Houston and Kissimmee. Titled “The Dos and Don’ts of Twitter” (with focus more on the don’ts), we explained the rules in an orderly, colorful fashion, using eye-catching graphics to illustrate what’s good and what’s bad. Some sections included smiley faces and a cartoon drawing of a “thumbs up” to show what is acceptable, while frowning faces and thumbs down were used in the “don’t do this” areas.

Major League Baseball had sent out its own memo to the players explaining what was acceptable and what wasn’t regarding social media, but we wanted to spell out the expectations of players on something that could serve as a daily reminder without any effort, other than looking at it hanging on the wall. Most importantly, we just wanted the players to read it.

Included in the “what not to do on Twitter” section: don’t call out teammates or air private disagreements with coaches/managers/front office. Don’t tweet after drinking alcohol and don’t use profanity/sexual innuendos.

Also, don’t comment on signings or trades before the transactions are officially announced by the team. During our Spring Training talks with the Minor Leaguers, we explained that for every promotion, someone on the Major League team was getting traded, or released, or demoted. Informing the Minor League player that he was going to the big leagues was just one step in the process, and likely, the first step.

So while you’re on Twitter celebrating your buddy making it to “the show,” we explained, there’s someone in the Major League clubhouse who’s about to lose his job. It’s usually in that order.

“Until you see it on my Twitter, it hasn’t happened,” I’d say. “I don’t care if a full 24 hours goes by between when it leaks out and when it’s confirmed. It’s unofficial until we say it’s not.”

On the list of “what to do on Twitter,” we encouraged players to show gratitude to the fans, to thank them for their support, and be humble. Talk about working hard and trying to improve. Speak of their teammates in a supportive manner, and talk about community events they’ve participated in.

In the middle of the poster, in a shaded box, was this:

BEFORE TWEETING, ASK YOURSELF:

* Is this something I want my parents/wife/girlfriend/relatives to know about me?

* Will this create conflict with my teammates/organization?

* Is this something I would be OK seeing quoted in a newspaper/online news site?

Finally, we gave examples of good tweets and bad tweets by professional athletes.

@JustinVerlander: My 2012 resolutions: Help Tigers get to World Series, meet more veterans, learn Spanish.

Good tweet.

@OakcliffBully (Kenyon Martin): All the haters should catch full blown aids and die! do the world a favor! and rid us of you all!

Clearly, a bad tweet.

Our intent wasn’t to stifle players or take away their freedom of speech. I wanted them to be themselves, to have opinions, to show their personalities and embrace the opportunity for a healthy give-and-take with the fanbase. But they also needed to understand that while they are representing Major League Baseball and the teams that are paying them, they are held to a higher standard.

There have been hiccups over time, sure. And it’s possible that another Ian Stewart situation will happen again. For the most part, though, I’ve been impressed by how ballplayers handle social media, especially during times of adversity when fans can vent their frustrations directly to a players’ Twitter account. These guys show amazing restraint, and I commend them.

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Hot temps, hot dogs and baseball: Astros welcome the start of summer.

Temperatures start feeling summer-like in Houston in April, so for those of us who live in these parts, it helps to actually look at a calendar when reminding ourselves what season it is.

School being out helps as well, and a combination of that, plus the calendar flipping to June, makes it officially unofficial: it’s summertime in the Bayou City.

Sure, summer doesn’t really start until June 21. But why wait? The Astros will open a homestand on Friday with a host of carefree activities as they “Kick-off to Summer” with a party near the park.

The Astros play NL Central division foe Cincinnati on Friday, but in the hours leading up to game time, the action will be at the Plaza on Crawford St., in front of Minute Maid Park.

Water, soda and $1 hot dogs and popcorn will be available to purchase during the event and several of the Astros partners will be present with giveaways and activities as well.

The Kick-off to Summer Party starts at 4 p.m. CT and will feature interactive activities including:
* A Velcro Wall, Rock Climbing, Bungee Run and more
* Fun Music
* Player Appearances
* Video Games

On Saturday, the Astros will host their very first tailgating event from 3 to 6 p.m. in Parking Lot C.

With a valid pass to that lot, you can bring your grill, food and beverage and hang out in the lot before the game. The Astros will provide a large tent, tables and chairs and several Astros partners will be on hand for the fun. Water, soda and $1 hot dogs and popcorn will also be available for purchase during the event.


You must have an Astros Lot C Parking Pass in order to bring a vehicle and/or food & beverage into the lot. Tailgating is not permitted in any other Astros parking lot or in any privately owned lots around the ballpark.

Passes and tickets can be obtained here:

If indoor activity is more your preference, you can join us for our second Social Media Night, featuring Chris Johnson. The event includes batting practice viewing from behind the Astros dugout, a game ticket in the Budweiser Patio, dinner, dessert, a t-shirt and the opportunity to win prizes signed and presented by Chris Johnson (@cjastros23) through Twitter Trivia.

The only stipulation is you must be on Twitter in order to win the prizes. Liking Blue Bell ice cream helps as well.

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Saturday notes: Social Media Night, Astros Twitter handles and some good eatin’ at Marlins Park.

Social Media Nights have become a staple at Minute Maid Park since we first introduced them in 2010, and with nearly half the team now regularly tweeting, it’s only fitting that we keep the tradition going this year.

One of our most active tweeters, pitcher Bud Norris (@budnorris20), will be the featured guest for our first Social Media Night, set for this Saturday (April 21). The event takes place in the Budweiser Patio behind center field and includes batting practice viewing, dinner, a game ticket, a t-shirt and the opportunity to win prizes through Twitter trivia. The prizes will be signed by Norris, and he will present them, in person, to the winners.

(NOTE: You must be on Twitter to participate in the trivia contest.)


Tickets for Social Media Night cost $45. The program begins at 3 p.m., in advance of the 6:05 game time. We’ll meet in the lobby of Union Station and the group will be escorted to the seats just behind the Astros dugout, where you’ll watch the Astros take batting practice. At 5 p.m., we’ll gather at the Budweiser Patio, and soon after, the Twitter trivia contest will begin. We’ll ask a question over the mic, and the first person to tweet me the correct answer will win a signed baseball.

Dinner (we’ll vote on what to serve in the next few days) will be served close to gametime. Everyone will receive a Social Media Night t-shirt, which includes the Twitter handles of all participating Astros.

You can order tickets here. Hope to see you Saturday!

__________________

A lot of you have asked for a full rundown of Astros players on Twitter. Here you go:

@cjastros23 Chris Johnson
@brianbogusevic Brian Bogusevic
@budnorris20 Bud Norris
@downstown16 Matt Downs
@JordanSchafer Jordan Schafer
@JDMartinez14 J.D Martinez
@J_Castro15 Jason Castro
@lucasharrell34 Lucas Harrell
@Carlos45Lee Carlos Lee
@realweswright Wesley Wright

And a few others who you’re familiar with as well:

@brettwallace29 Brett Wallace
@JB_SHUCK J.B. Shuck
@jordanlyles41 Jordan Lyles

And more:

@jluhnow Jeff Luhnow, General Manager
@astros Astros Twitter
@losastros Astros Spanish Twitter
@Astrosradio Brett Dolan, radio announcer
@FRomeroAstros Francisco Romero, Spanish radio announcer
@daveraymond4 Dave Raymond, Radio announcer
Hind_snatcher12 catching coordinator Danny Sheaffer

___________________

The hospitable folks who run the Miami Marlins culinary operation were kind enough to introduce a few of us to new food items served at Marlins Park this year. By “introduce us,” of course, I really mean “stuff our faces,” and we’re ever so grateful for their hospitality.

I would never post video on the internet of me shoveling food into my mouth, so instead, I solicited help from two friends from the broadcasting side: TV analyst Jim Deshaies and radio announcer Dave Raymond, each of whom have experience with food dribbling on their ties while on camera.

We’re putting the finishing touches on a future blog detailing the new eats at Minute Maid Park, but in the interim, take a look at a few Miami-centric food items that they’ve got cooking at the Marlins games. In a word: delicious.

The Mahi Tacos were unanimously voted by our panel of four as the most delicious item on the menu. Dave called them "stupid good."

The "Steak and Wedge": beef tenderloin, a dash of steak sauce, bleu cheese dressing, caramelized onion. Delish!

J.D. finishing off the Mahi: "I'm trying to pace myself, but I can't. So I'll keep eating."

Me: "Now, what's this called again?" Them: "Uh, Helmet Nachos." Ah. Right. Makes sense.

Lobster rolls, with the coolest baseball toothpicks holding everything together. A great touch for a delicious dish.

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