Monday, March 19, 2012

Baseball, Social Media, and Douchebags

So, Mike Napoli of the Texas Rangers said he was looking forward to hitting some home runs off of former teammate (and new Los Angeles Angel of Whatever) C.J. Wilson. Wilson responded by posting Napoli's private number in a tweet and letting thousands of followers- to say nothing of the followers of anyone who retweeted it- know how to directly contact and harass Mike Napoli.

Seriously, douche move, C.J. Wilson.

At first blush, this seems like a story that just could not have happened ten years ago. Who the fuck knew what a "tweet" was in 2002? But really, when you get this down to the granular level, it's a little more familiar; jocks talk shit about each other, the talking turns into a full blown beef, and the beef extends until one of the jocks does something stupid, if ultimately not really that harmful. The big difference is that thanks to the internet and social networks, we're all privy to the entire story. Hell, we could have been PART of the story, had any of us chosen to call Napoli (and maybe you guys did, I dunno, I'm not your babysitter).

So, while jockey douchebags are always going to be jockey douchebags, the potential for mischief is certainly a lot higher, if only because the audience has much greater access to the douchebaggery. I rather suppose that it takes some of the magic away; I wonder if my dad would have ended up quite as big of a Yankees fan if he knew Mickey Mantle was basically doing keg stands between innings (though I guess that my dad would have been a BIGGER fan after he went to college).

But if new technology and social mores make the douchebaggery more prominent, it also adds a useful corrective- we all get to call Wilson a douchebag, often in a forum that he sees. As Big League Stew pointed out, fans pushed back at Wilson, and he responded to them. While Wilson did not concede that he went over the line, he at least responded to the complaints, and was clearly put on the defensive. That's good. Because young guys  with preternatural talent are always going to act like pricks once in a while. But now, we the fans can play an active roll in calling out that behavior.

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