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A Twitter Strategy From The Play-By-Play Booth

“I don’t just repeat or retweet things I may see on Twitter unless I know the source.”

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In this day and age, social media can be a useful tool, but if not used correctly it can end up being your worst nightmare. All of the popular sites are great resources to self-promote, give out valuable information or gather the same. Don’t approach social media, well don’t approach social media without an approach. I use most of the platforms, but the one I use most is Twitter, so I’ll gear this column towards that. 

My basic need while the game is going on is information sharing. Now, I don’t just repeat or retweet things I may see on Twitter unless I know the source. I make sure I follow credible sources for each Major League Baseball team: beat writers, beat reporters, radio announcers, television announcers and the teams’ various PR Twitter handles. 

For example, on the night of July 12th, I was doing a game in Oakland with the White Sox, there was something special going on a few hundred miles down the coast. The Angels were combining to throw a no-hitter in their first game at home since the tragic death of pitcher Tyler Skaggs. I was following along through the Angels account and several of their beat writers. It was an easy way for my listeners to know what was going on in Anaheim without me being distracted and looking all over the place for information. It was a special thing that I wanted my audience to be aware of. I use Twitter for just this reason, to provide up to date information on things of note that are going on around the league. 

Image result for angels no hitter

I make sure to return the favor when it applies. During a day game in Chicago on April 17th, the White Sox and Royals had the benches clear after Tim Anderson was hit by a pitch following a home run in which he ‘flipped’ his bat. A large gathering of players and coaches milled around the field while the umpiring crew tried to figure out who stayed in the game and who was to be ejected.

I tweeted the information so my fellow broadcasters and my audience that couldn’t be listening to the game would know what had happened. I also tweeted out a picture of the aftermath of the incident to supplement our coverage.  I did offer a few opinions about the decisions on ejections as well, because we were talking about it on the air after order had been restored. That’s just an example of the information during a game that I will tweet out. 

Before a game, I get to play reporter. Providing news from the pregame manager scrum, things I learned in the clubhouse that day and giving out information on official team releases as well. Plus, I get to tie in a promotion for my pregame show and guests and the game broadcast time and radio station. Free advertising for yourself and the flagship station is never frowned upon. I will from time to time use a photo of the field or something else going on at the park before the game to enhance the tweet. I especially include a picture when the weather is either beautiful or awful!  I think fans really appreciate those times you take them behind the curtain, showing them the inner workings of the broadcast and of the field before a game. 

Another thing to get in the habit of doing is ‘retweeting’ others. A lot of the time there is a guy in Chicago that is a master of the “nugget” during games. He’ll Tweet out excellent information that can’t easily be gathered. I admire his effort and will retweet him often with a comment. I feel like his information is accurate and credible, so give him credit. It also shows that you are willing to share someone else’s information for benefit of your audience. Promote others and they are likely to promote you when you have information that they don’t have. 

That’s the good of social media, but believe me there is a not so good side too. You will be told sometimes how bad you are, how many mistakes you’ve made and try to bate you into a retort. Best bet is to ignore it and move on. I’m sure your first thought is to fire back, but what good will it do you to engage a fan online? Live by this motto: THINK BEFORE YOU TWEET. If you remember nothing else, remember those 4 words, they could save you a lot of unnecessary headaches. 

Think about who is going to see the response, your friends, colleagues and more than likely your bosses. Is it worth it? Probably not. Is your job worth it? Again, likely the answer is no. A good portion of these active tweeters just do it to get a rise out of you. Don’t engage. Sometimes to get my anger out, I’ll open up a word document and type out a response just to get it off my chest and then delete. There are other occasions where it’s necessary to respond. Every once in a while, I’ll respond with a “thanks for listening, we appreciate it.”. More often than not, the listener will respond by ‘back peddling’ because they never thought you’d either see it or for sure respond. 

I’ll wrap this up by giving you a list of things that you should be thinking about doing and not doing on your social media posts. 

DO:

  1. Update your profile on the platforms regularly to make sure they’re current.
  2. Be consistent, during the baseball season, I’m all about baseball, people expect it.
  3. Interact with your audience, but again don’t respond to all the negativity. If you are asked a question, try to answer it to the best of your ability. 
  4. Just like during a broadcast, inform and entertain the audience. 
  5. Try new things, like polls, photos and GIFS.
  6. Be on your best behavior, be couteous on Social Media. Be conscience of who you are tagging in posts.
  7. Be careful on posting political opinions, you will likely alienate half your audience. Not saying you can’t, but be ready for the backlash.  
  8. Use your account for good

DON’T:

  1. Use improper grammar or spelling, makes you a less credible follow. Typos happen, so proof before tweeting. 
  2. Overshare things. If you have a podcast, or a blog post, don’t share it 25 times during the day. Maybe once in the morning, once in the afternoon and once at night. 
  3. Along those lines, don’t be a needy Tweeter. Oversharing, begging for followers or retweets is not a good habit to get into. 
  4. Retweet “fake accounts”. I’ve been burned a few times especially during baseball trade season with the copycat Ken Rosenthal account. Block them. 
  5. Provide fake information yourself either
  6. Come across as someone that knows everything and can’t be challenged on things
  7. Spend all your time on social media platforms, there’s a great big world out there

BSM Writers

First Take Wasn’t Built To Discuss Ime Udoka’s Suspension

“It was the biggest sports story on Friday morning. It warranted the amount of coverage that it got but giving it the “embrace debate” treatment was foolish.”

Demetri Ravanos

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Stephen A. Smith is the franchise at ESPN. First Take has probably eclipsed SportsCenter as the network’s signature show. Those are opinions made without any judgment. They are neither good things nor are they bad things. They are merely ESPN’s business model in 2022.

On Friday, social media exploded like an elementary school class breaking out in a simultaneous “uh-woo-woo” when the teacher calls out a single student. It didn’t matter who you thought was in the wrong, everyone was talking about the verbal sparring match Smith got into with Malika Andrews while discussing the Boston Celtics’ suspension of head coach Ime Udoka.

I don’t want to dwell on who is right and who is wrong between Smith and Andrews. I don’t think that matters. The answer to that question is less important than the fact that we are asking it at all.

First Take was not built to handle the nuances and delicacy of a situation like Udoka’s suspension. Clearly, the coach was involved in something that is not as cut and dry as two adults choosing to have sex with each other. We don’t have all the facts and there is no version of a responsible discussion of the situation that involves speculation.

It was the biggest sports story on Friday morning. It warranted the amount of coverage that it got but giving it the “embrace debate” treatment was foolish. I don’t know who that is on. 

Stephen A. Smith did not come out looking great in the exchange, but it seems too simplistic to point the finger at him. Malika Andrews came in ready for a confrontation, but again, to say just one person is responsible for making this feel icky is not addressing the issue at hand.

Matt Barnes of ESPN and All the Smoke posted an interesting message as an Instagram Reel on Friday. He said that his initial reaction to the news of Udoka’s suspension was to post a message on social media defending the coach. After someone that knew the details of the suspension spoke with him, he pulled the message down because he could not defend the things he was told happened.

We all speak with emotion on social media. That whole industry is fueled by users confusing their opinions and feelings as some sort of unimpeachable moral authority. It is a pretend space. It does not matter.

ESPN is very real. What is said on the network has consequences for the people talking and the people being talked about.

First Take is the centerpiece of a billion-dollar network. It is built to be a very specific thing. In a perfect world for ESPN, the show is the spark that starts the fire of every debate in sports. 

We have been having way too many conversations in sports lately that aren’t appropriate for that kind of platform. 

First Take isn’t, and frankly shouldn’t be, a show that deals in nuance. It is loud, passionate and fun. It’s supposed to sound like a bar or a barbershop. Surely Ime Udoka and what he did or didn’t do with female employees of the Boston Celtics will be discussed in those venues, just like sexual misconduct accusations against DeShaun Watson and evidence that Brett Favre helped orchestrate a welfare fraud scheme in Mississippi likely were. But barbershop discussions don’t play out on the biggest brand on cable TV. They have no consequences.

The Boston Celtics are coming off of a season that saw their young core finally start to look like the championship team we have been told they were for the last five years. They made their first Finals appearance since 2010. As a lifelong fan of this team, trust me when I tell you that if a suspension weren’t absolutely warranted, the front office would not be trying to scapegoat the head coach responsible for all of that.

Stephen A. Smith has to take a side. He has to have an adversary to every opinion he offers. It is his brand and it is what he does well. Like the rest of us, he is welcome to have an opinion on Udoke and the suspension. 

First Take does what it is supposed to very well, but it is never going to be the right forum for conversation that has to be more fact and almost no opinion.

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BSM Writers

Seller to Seller – Yaman Coskun, Yamanair Creative

Jeff Caves

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Why don’t more sellers hit the street armed with spec spots? Yaman Coskun says it is one of the most effective tools that radio uses far too rarely.

iTunes: https://buff.ly/3ysYv3H

Spotify: https://buff.ly/3BhdpNE

iHeart: https://buff.ly/3J24oK9

Google: https://buff.ly/3z9TJIA

Amazon: https://buff.ly/3PBlsJo

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BSM Writers

The Difference Between Sports Media Nepotism and Following In Your Father’s Footsteps

Just because you’re hired simply because of your last name and obvious connections built within the business, it doesn’t mean you can’t be fantastic.

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Growing up, I often felt envious of friends who had a family business. It sounded perfect. You didn’t have to decide what you were going to do in life, what your interests were, or how you were going to make a living. Your destiny was decided. I didn’t know nepotism was really a thing.

Later in life, I changed my tune. I can only imagine the stress of having to follow in someone’s footsteps, or be questioned “that’s not the way your old man did it”. It would bother me greatly.

As a new generation of sports media talents ascend to higher profiles, I can’t help but notice familiar names rising the ranks. Collinsworth. Eagle. Golic. Just to name a few. And while there are charges of nepotism, it isn’t anything new. But to me, there’s a difference between sports media nepotism and following in your father’s footsteps.

For instance, I was fairly critical of NBC after they named Jac Collinsworth their lead play-by-play voice for Notre Dame football coverage. I still feel justified in my criticism, mostly because network television isn’t the place for on-the-job training. Collinsworth has been roundly criticized for his work during NBC’s first two broadcasts of Notre Dame football. He lacks the command and pacing of a polished play-by-play announcer, and it’s apparent throughout the broadcast.

I’m certain had I been a sports media pundit in 1994, I would have roundly criticized Joe Buck for being hired as a play-by-play announcer for FOX’s NFL coverage at the ripe age of 25. Because, like Collinsworth, Buck’s hiring reeked of nepotism.

However, just because you’re hired simply because of your last name and obvious connections built within the business, it doesn’t mean you can’t be fantastic. While a divisive presence on broadcasts, I would venture to guess the majority of viewers believe Buck to be one of the best announcers in sports. Being great takes time. That’s a fact for basket weaving just as much as it is for sports announcers.

My personal favorite broadcaster is Ian Eagle. He’s the cream of the crop, in my eyes, and he and his son, Noah, are in the same boat that Jack and Joe Buck and Marv and Kenny Albert were in the 1990s. Noah Eagle has risen to prominence as the radio announcer for the Los Angeles Clippers, but I’ve recently heard more of his work as a college football announcer for FOX Sports. Truth be told, I find Noah Eagle’s work fantastic. First of all, he sounds just like his father. Not in his vernacular, which is close, but his actual voice is incredibly similar to Ian’s.

But the handle that Noah Eagle has on broadcasts at such a young age is incredibly impressive. His talent is obvious, and I think it’s probably why you didn’t hear many charges of nepotism when he became the Clippers radio voice at age 22.

Doing quality work is the easiest way to quell nepotism accusations. To be completely transparent, as a sports radio program director, the station I ran switched from CBS Sports Radio to ESPN Radio in 2018. The first voice heard on my station when we flipped on Labor Day? Mike Golic Jr. and I immediately hated him. In my close-minded view, the only reason he was on the show, or had any presence on ESPN Radio in the first place was because of his last name.

But Golic Jr., maybe better than anyone I’ve ever heard, didn’t defend himself from claims of nepotism. He embraced them. And in retrospect, it’s such a fantastic way to deal with those accusations. Because anyone who doesn’t like you is going to immediately tell you “the only reason you have that job is because of your dad”. And, in all likelihood, those critics would be right! So why run from it? Why hide from it? Why defend your talent when you’re not going to win those people over immediately in the first place?

It was a brilliant maneuver by GoJo. One that started to win me over. But like his father, Mike Golic Jr. is a fantastic radio, now podcast, host. His ability to relate to both younger and older audiences is one of his best qualities. He quickly became one of, if not the best, ESPN Radio hosts to deal with serious subject matters. I couldn’t have been more wrong about him during my early days working with ESPN Radio.

I think that’s the difference between nepotism and following in your father’s footsteps. You’re going to be faced with the accusations. You might as well embrace them, and if you’re talented enough — like Buck, Albert, Eagle, and Golic have shown — they’ll fade away in due time.

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Barrett Media Writers

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