Major League Baseball currently has no rule that forbids any player from having a Twitter account. What a shame, then, that new Toronto manager John Farrell not-so-indirectly suggested this week that his Blue Jays players stay off the microblogging platform, not because he's afraid fans will confuse the little blue Twitter bird with Ace, but rather because he claims social media can be dangerous for pro athletes in the public sphere:
"I think there's also some falseness to some of the accounts that might exist," Farrell said. "I'm not going to say it's identity theft, but there's certainly people that pose to be others that could be serving as an imposter-type vantage point that is out there. So they've got to be aware of all these things."
Farrell is off a little in his perception of the service. In fact, MLB and Twitter work hand-in-hand to verify that all of the player accounts out there are the real deal (well, almost all of them).
According to the list, there are about 120 active big league players who have taken a head-first dive into the world of blurting 140-character-long snippets of social media to their fans. Some of them even do it themselves! Unfortunately, not every baseball player on Twitter actually composes their own musings for fans to enjoy. Philadelphia Phillies fans can say that they follow Roy Oswalt(notes) on Twitter yet the @royoswalt44net account is nothing but a clearinghouse for Oswalt news and events.
We don't like that. We want to know what our favorite stars and scrubs are thinking, doing, and saying, not their handlers or P.R. rep or whoever is behind Nick Swisher's(notes) sanitized Twitter "musings". So to that end, I propose some guidelines for MLB players thinking about entering the Tweet-o-Sphere or those simply looking to up their social media cred.
Some dos and please-do-not-dos, if you will:
DO: Tweet about your food. The more off-the-beaten-path the restaurant is, the better, too. Just like this little hole-in-the-wall Mexican joint Ricky Romero found. But if you are stuck with a choice of two national franchises, at least pick some fan favorites, like the two places Brandon Phillips chose. Fact: baseball fans love burritos!
DON'T: Come off sounding like a total shill, however, like Cole Hamels(notes) did when he pimped his "favorite" restaurant in spring training land. Folks in the public eye have the right to make a buck as a spokesperson but we fans have the right to ignore it, too.
DO: Interact with your fans and play along with their silly jokes. Or in the case of Florida Marlins sophomore Logan Morrison(notes), interact with the opposition! Bonus points to Mr. Morrison for taking on a well-known Phillies blogger.
DON'T: Only use your Twitter feed as a repository for news items about yourself and promoting links for charitable foundations you are involved with. Don't get me wrong: Twitter is a great way to let fans know about important fundraisers and humanitarian undertakings. But throw your followers a bone and mix in some personal reflections, too.
DO: Keep it real. Something bad happen? Tweet about it, like Coco Crisp did. That doesn't mean you need to spill your guts and unleash a torrent of private information. But if you're feeling bad or sad or mad, it's okay to let us know.
DON'T: Worry about grammer or spelling. Most of youre followers won't no the difference.
DO: Compose every tweet so that you would not be embarrassed to have your grandmother reading it. Because even though you think your nana is a technophobe who doesn't know a Twitter from an apple fritter, chances are your crude but short dispatch will find its way to her in a way you least expect it.
Follow these simple rules and, although you may never reach the 100,000+ followers that Nick Swisher and his patented brand of blandness can claim, you'll at least have a personalized style and a neat way to interact with the little people.