The emergence of Twitter has been revolutionary for me. As an avid sports fanatic, I am someone who is open to talking sports 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. However, aside from my father and brother, there are not too many fellow sports fans in my life. Most of my friends and family members loosely follow sports or do not follow them at all. Thankfully, Twitter has dramatically changed how I follow sports. I can now interact daily with people just as fanatical about my teams. I can even follow an assortment of media writers who provide the latest rumors and news via their Twitter accounts, keeping me as up-to-date as possible. Twitter has virtually changed how sports are discussed and reported and my fandom is better for it.
Of course, there is a negative side to this interaction as well. The boundary-less Twitter world has lead to some ugly moments for the media. While fans are often inclined to use Twitter to make jokes and be entertaining, some sports reporters seem to think that they should behave in the same way. Is this a double standard? Perhaps. But members of the media are paid to professionally report on the teams they follow, not to partake in failed attempts at standup comedy routines. It gets to a point where the fat jokes and name-calling from guys like Wallace Matthews (ESPN) and Jon Heyman (Sports Illustrated) and the attempts at armchair psychiatry with AJ Burnett from Joel Sherman (NY Post) get to be too much. Yes, the beauty of Twitter is that I can choose not to follow such inappropriateness. Unfortunately, this will not make their behavior any more professional.
In particular, Wallace Matthews has become infatuated with trying to garner humor through name-calling. Before even reading Wallace Matthews’ tweets, one is greeted with a avatar picture of the McDonald’s Hamburglar with Bartolo Colon’s face photoshopped in. Matthews especially loves to make fat jokes behind the backs of the New York Yankee players that he is he paid to cover. He has even called Yankee ace, CC Sabathia, a hippopotamus in the past. In addition to the fat jokes about Colon and Sabathia, other players get frequently picked on as well. Nunez is now referred to almost exclusively on Twitter as “NUNEEEEEEE” to mock his poor defense this season. Rafael Soriano is referred to as “that guy” or “the eighth-inning guy” more often than not because of post-game press conference comments that were blown out of proportion. Even Yankees manager, Joe Girardi, is called “Joey Looseleafs” or “Binder Boy” more often than he is called by his actual name. I encourage Mr. Matthews and his colleagues to use these insulting nicknames the next time that they interview one of the players or coaches that they so frequently mock from behind their computer screens.
A sample of tweets from Wallace Matthews over the last week:
Tweets from Matthews’ account from the weekend:
“Binder Boy looks like a genius as NunEEEEEEEEEEEEEE goes Monster, tie game in the fifth”
“That Guy in This Game? Uh-oh”
Matthews’ replies to fans who challenged his professionalism from the weekend:
“@###### hahahahahaha looser” (this was later deleted by Matthews)
“@####### I have read some dumb Tweets before but this might be the dumbest”
A simple search on Wallace Matthews’ name yields the following complaints from different Twitter users from the last week alone:
“How Wally Matthews remains employed continues to astound me”
“Is @ESPNNYYankees really Wally Matthews? For ESPN's sake, I certainly hope not”
“There's zero question that @ESPNNYYankees is Wally Matthews. Can't believe he got away with using that profile picture”
“@ESPN the fact that you have Wallace Matthews as an employee is a disgrace. Most unprofessional writer I have ever seen, bar none”
“Worst thing about Twitter is it's always informing me of what Wally Matthews writes”
“Why do you guys even read Wally Matthews articles?”
“Wally Matthews writing a negative-slanting article about A-rod? Well, I never”
“Wallace Matthews has never met a half-sourced non-scandal about ARod he doesn't immediately lap up”
Look, I’m not trying to say that there is no place for comedy on Twitter. There is nothing that I love more than a good sense of humor. But the reality is that these writers are not being paid to name-call. I wonder how my boss would like it if I were to make fun of our clients on Twitter. The simple fact is that sports writers are being paid to comment on sports and fans are not. This should ideally result in different levels of professionalism between writers and fans. Unfortunately, Twitter has blurred this boundary and some writers are both quick and willing to repeatedly cross the line in an attempt to get a few laughs. As a result, fans are subjected to unfunny jokes being run into the ground at the expense of the players and teams that they love to root for. Luckily, I can ignore it by unfollowing these tiresome writers and only following those in the media who get it right on a routine basis (THANK YOU TO PEOPLE LIKE JACK CURRY, MARC CARIG, AND KIM JONES). Unfortunately, the less professional writers will continue to condescend and name-call until someone loses a job. And someone will eventually lose their job over their Twitter account. Luckily, there are thousands of knowledgeable sports followers who would gladly take their place without an agenda and without constant condescending and unentertaining attempts at comedy.