Twitter and its Terrible Dangers

Joe Robbins

Jay Bruce is struggling.

Last season, Bruce was an All-Star and hit 34 home runs.

This season, Bruce has hit one home run and probably won't be an All-Star.

Like a lot of public figures, Bruce has a Twitter account. Like a lot of public figures, Bruce can't resist the urge to see what people are saying about him. Tuesday night, Bruce apparently got overly tired of what some people were saying about him and dispatched a series of tweets that seems pretty innocuous to me, but did raise the hackles of Cincinnati sportswriter Paul Daugherty:

Social media are also a bomb waiting to go off. One detonated in St. Louis Tuesday, right in Jay Bruce’s fingertips.

The problem with social media – one problem, anyway – is that they’re not social at all. They promote a pseudo intimacy, from a safe distance. Ask Manti Te’o.

They’re perfect for people who want to release their Inner Snark, with absolutely no consequences. Not every Twit is a guy in mom’s basement, with a laptop, an opinion and a bag of Cheetos. It just seems that way. At least a website such as Deadspin, which prides itself on snark and distance, uses bylines.

If you are Jay Bruce, you shouldn’t be reading tweets, not when you spent April hitting just one home run and had a league-leading 40 strikeouts. It’s a little like a 5-year-old playing with matches.

Geez, brother ... Condescend much?

Also: Really? The ol' laptop-in-mom's-basement-eating-Cheeto's gag? I thought that went out of style with Nehru jackets and beehive hairdos. But maybe everything's coming back, like tank tops and vinyl record albums.

Anyway, enough about that. We can always revisit at the end of the year. What really caught my eye was this

The agreement between Baseball and its players union puts no restrictions on players tweeting. The Reds simply follow that guideline. Brandon Phillips has 758,000 followers. Almost all @DatDudeBP’s tweets are harmless or mindless or some combination thereof. It’s a good way for Phillips to connect with his fans.


Jay Bruce (63,000 Twitter followers) is a 26-year-old guy off to a slow start, who let the Twits bug him, then bag him. He’ll know better next time. Maybe he’ll tweet an apology. Or close his account. It’s a highly disposable form of communication. If you don’t take it seriously.

First, it's at least a little strange to write a serious column about Twitter, and then recommend that nobody take it seriously.

Second, the idea that the Collective Bargaining Agreement includes "no restrictions on players tweeting" is just straight flat 100 percent wrong. Maybe Daugherty was asleep last March, when MLB released the collectively bargained social-media policy to the media and everybody wrote about it?

Among the many restrictions: You're not allowed to criticize the umpires via social media. Earlier this week, David Price criticized umpire Tom Hallion via Twitter. Based on the evidence at hand, I predicted that Hallion would be fined. But I should also have predicted that Price would be fined, as he has been. Because the restrictions on players tweeting includes a rule about criticizing the umpires.

Actually, what Price did was worse. He didn't merely criticize Hallion; he questioned Hallion's integrity. And that's just not something that Major League Baseball can or should tolerate. There is perhaps nothing more central to the viability of professional sports than the integrity of the on-field officials. But it's not the players' place to publicly question that integrity; any questions should be asked privately, then dealt with by the league.

Hallion's been fined, too. As he should have been. Jeremy Hellickson and Matt Moore were fined, too; Hellickson for getting ejected from the game, and Moore for ... Well, I haven't figured that out yet. But the fine amounts were undoubtedly low enough that neither Hellickson nor Moore will even notice when their next paychecks arrive.

The same is probably true for Price and Hallion, both of whom are exceptionally well-compensated. But nobody likes to be told they were wrong, and both of these guys did wrong. There are policies, and there are restrictions. Hell, even a Cheetos-loving guy like me knows that.

For more about the Reds and the Rays and other scary things, please visit SB Nation's Red Reporter and DRaysBay.

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