*Don't miss "The Spew" Weekdays at 9AM!*
Monday 12.2.13 - 8-11 PM
Tuesday 12.3.13 - 7-11 PM
Wednesday 12.4.13 - 10:30 - Mid
Thursday 12.5.13 - 7-11 PM
Friday 12.6.13 - 11-Mid
Sunday 12.8.13 - COUNTDOWN TO KICKOFF
View Previous Video Rantz
The Sportsman of the Day
Get Twitter Buttons
By BOB FRANTZ
It was the best of tech, it was the worst of tech, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness.
Sorry, Mr. Dickens. Had to edit your words a bit to make the metaphor work for Twitter. And, yes, it was done in less than 140 characters.
For professional athletes, celebrities, and politicians, Dickens’ paraphrased words are accurate no matter what the character count.
Just ask Chris Perez, the pitcher formerly known as @ChrisPerez54.
For so many who live their lives and make their livings in the public eye, the proliferation of Twitter, and to a lesser extent, Instagram and Facebook, offers a tremendous opportunity to connect with fans and constituents on a far more personal basis than ever before.
Politicians are able to speak directly to voters, if they choose, rather than into faceless microphones and cameras through standard press conferences and interviews. Actors and musicians can reach out to their followers and personalize their pleas to buy their music or watch their films. And athletes can talk to adoring fans about their performances, their teams, or their general philosophies on life.
The problem however, is that those fans can talk back.
Oh boy, can they talk back:
@ChrisPerez54 you dumb fat a**, we should trade your nasty a** beard a** b***h a** to the f******* cubs or pirates. We DONT need you #a**hole
Believe it or not, that was one of more mild tweets that drove the Indians’ closer away from Twitter.
Before the advent of social media, the only way athletes knew what fans had to say about them was to listen to talk radio or prick up their ears for the hecklers at the stadium. If they didn’t want to face a critical media, they turned off the radio and avoided the sports pages.
Especially the columnists.
Most of them claimed they did.
Today, however, players seem to relish the chance to interact with the fan base, but in doing so, they must prepare themselves for the worst. More often than not, they’ll get it.
Perez had been one of the most active Indians on Twitter, commenting not only on baseball, but on random thoughts and observations. He offered fans and followers his “Song of the Day”, featuring a musician and/or song that captured his mood or commented on a current event. He seemed to have fun with it.
The fun apparently began to wane last season after the emotional reliever vented some of his frustration at the sight of an empty ballpark night after night. For questioning the fans’ support of his club, Perez was immediately branded as the villain, and despite a second consecutive all-star season, he has been typecast in that role.
Even when Perez is busy converting 90% of his save opportunities, his detractors are coming for him. Allow a hit or baserunner on the way to a save? He stinks. Give up a meaningless solo homer that turns a three-run lead into a two-run victory? Get his fat butt outta town.
And heaven help us all when he actually blows a save outright and costs his team a game:
“As far as I’m concerned, @ChrisPerez54 is more of an enemy to Cleveland than LeBron. At least LeBron won us games...”
Never mind the fact that the hate-tweets are completely inaccurate. It doesn’t matter to them.
It doesn’t matter that probably 20 of the 30 teams in baseball are struggling night after night to find someone who can close games for them on a consistent basis.
Ask the Arizona Diamondbacks, whose bullpen has blown 11 saves already this season, if they’d like to have a Chris Perez slamming the door for them.
It doesn’t matter that, with the exception of the God-like Mariano Rivera, no one is considered to be automatic in the 9th inning. And it doesn’t matter that Perez has been just about as good as any of those who try.
To the angry fan with internet muscles, shouting insults and hate-filled expletives they would never have the guts to say to his face, Perez has become the enemy.
So Perez did the right thing. He did the smart thing. He walked away.
No more negativity, he declared.
“We have an extremely positive and supportive group of players, coaches and staff members in our clubhouse,” he said in his statement. “I want to participate in activities and routines that contribute positively to the culture we’re building here.”
Good for him.
Social media may indeed have a certain appeal to celebrities and stars, but the downside often far outweighs the advantages.
“I think Perez is mentally weak,” a radio caller told me Tuesday. “He let the Twitter trolls get to him.”
By deleting his account and choosing to direct his “Pure Rage” at opposing hitters instead of internet trolls, I think Perez showed more mental strength than he ever has.