Abusing Twitter Direct Messages, Spam and Classlessness

This morning I received a Twitter direct message from the official account for I hate JJ Reddick, one of the best Baltimore sports blogs I know of. I like these guys. I read the blog almost every day and follow many of the writers on Twitter. I live in Baltimore, or as we call it… “Smalltimore”. It’s a small town. You get to know people. You run into them all the time.

(To be fair, I have yet to personally meet any of them, but it’s only a matter of time. Most of the writers are one degree of separation away.)

As a Ravens fan, I am on board with them. I’m a fan. But I’m also a Red Sox fan, which makes for some good-natured rivalry with Orioles coverage. I’m not above a good-natured rivalry and it’s all in fun anyway. Or it’s supposed to be.

The Direct Message was simply:

Can you help me tweet out this link of Machado’s homer from last night? Appreciate it! http://ihatejjr.com/content/manny-machados-game-winning-homer-boston-last-night-was-glorious-gif

There are several things wrong with this DM.

For starters, on the superficial level, I’m a Red Sox fan. Machado’s homerun came against the Red Sox and it proved to be the game winner in the top of the 9th inning. My bio on Twitter is:

Author / Former Austinite / WordPress Developer / Football Fan / Ravens, Red Sox, Longhorns, Terps / Equality and Justice for All

Cut and dry. I label myself as a Sox fan. I tweet about the Sox. It’s obvious I’m a Sox fan. So when asked to spread a link that I don’t like, for fan reasons, I say no.

The second problem with this DM is the abuse angle. It’s a much more fundamental problem than simply a fan rivalry. Whoever sent this DM clearly didn’t know his audience, and it becomes painfully obvious that the account was simply sending a mass DM to all followers for the purpose of driving more traffic to the article. The article is written by a Bernaldo, who I don’t know and am not familiar with. For the sake of not making unnecessary accusations, I’m going to assume he was not the one behind the DM.

This tactic of mass DMming is frowned upon almost universally. The fact that it was to drive traffic, which is directly proportional to ad impressions, makes it spam. This is a much bigger issue than just a fan rivalry.

So I sent this response:

No. I’m a Red Sox fan. Please don’t abuse DM like this… ;)

Note the winky face, the international sign for… “Imma let you finish. I’m not mad, bro”

I also said, ‘Please’.

Within minutes, I receive another DM:

You’re a fucking loser just like your baseball team. Blocked.

And Orioles fans call Red Sox fans classless.

This is a small town. I’m surprised that any publication in this city would respond the way they have as, you know, word gets around. It’s just entirely inappropriate and unprofessional. No skin off my nose, really. However, when it’s pointed out that you made a mistake, complete with a ‘Please’ and winky face, I’d hope that most people would follow up with something more along the lines of: “Whoops. Sorry about that. Didn’t mean to spam you. Hope Machado does it again to your boys tonight”.

But hey, don’t let a little good-natured fan rivalry get in the way of a good money-making traffic push to 4500 of your closest friends?

[UPDATED] Ravens Fan and Game Watch Groups Around the Nation

I’m moving from Austin back to Baltimore today, and over the last two and a half years, I’ve been privileged to be able to participate in an incredible community of Baltimore Ravens fans deep in the heart of Texas. We’ve grown as a group to over 100 fans during peak games, while living in the shadow of the Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans.

When I moved to Austin, I was only aware of one Ravens fan group outside of Baltimore – and that was Atlanta. I was stoked to hear about the Austin group (We call ourselves the 512 Nest) and I have watched every game with this group except when I have been at the games themselves.

With the AFC Championship game this coming week, a lot of folks around the country will be jumping on the bandwagon of the Baltimore Ravens or the New England Patriots, the Atlanta Falcons or the San Francisco 49ers.

If you’re looking to cheer on the Ravens and are looking for a group of fans in your area – whether or not you are a Ravens fan is irrelevant, as long as you want to watch with other Ravens fans – here are my currently known list of groups:

  • Austin, Texas – The 512 Nest – The Upper Decks, 301 Barton Springs Rd, Austin TX 78704
  • Los Angeles/Hollywood – The West Wing, The Parlor Hollywood, 7250 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046
  • Atlanta, Georgia = ATL Ravens, Sports & Recreation, 942 Peachtree St, Atlanta GA 30309
  • Houston, Texas – Houston Area Ravens Fans, Pub Fiction, 2303 Smith St, #100, Houston, TX 77006
  • Ft. Lauderdale, FL – The Florida Flock (South), Maguire’s, 535 N. Andrews Ave., Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33301
  • Ft. Lauderdale (Juno Beach) – The Florida Flock (North), Kirby’s Sports Pub and Grill, Plaza La Mar, 841 Donald Ross Rd, Juno Beach, FL 33408
  • San Francisco, CA – Ravens in the Fog, Thieves Tavern, 496 14th St, San Francisco, CA 94103
  • San Diego, CA – Dirty Birds, 4656 Mission Blvd, San Diego, CA 92109
  • Denver, CO – Baltimore Ravens in Colorado – Chopper’s Sports Grill, 80 South Madison St, Denver, CO 80209
  • Orlando, FL – Orlando Ravens Flock
  • Jacksonville, FL – Duval Bad Birds, Blackfinn American Grille, 4840 Big Island Drive #05, Jacksonville, FL 32246

I know there are more. Please let me know of any I didn’t list. Enjoy the game Sunday and GO RAVENS!

Updated: Ft. Lauderdale, San Francisco, San Diego and Denver groups added per Dave in comments. Thanks!

Update 2: Added Orlando, Jacksonville, and a second Ft. Lauderdale location thanks to the Florida Flock.

Game Planning Super Bowl XLVI: Giants vs. Patriots

Super Bowl XLVI
Photo Credit: Carl Van Rooy

Super Bowl XLVI is upon us and everyone is bloviating about what needs to happen in this game for either team to win. I’m on the record as rooting for the Giants, which sets up the third year in a row of abandoning the AFC. I will always root for the AFC unless it’s the Steelers, Colts or Patriots – and guess who has represented the AFC in this and the last two Super Bowls… the Colts, Steelers and now the Patriots.

But putting personal football bias aside, there are keys to winning this game for both teams and I think it’s going to be a good game.

For the Giants to win…

The Giants have a difficult road ahead facing one of the most elite quarterbacks that has ever played the game of football. Indeed, they have a good quarterback (I’m still not ready to give Eli Manning the much-ballyhooed ‘elite’ status…) who is very capable of winning this game by himself. But he won’t win this game by himself. He’s going to need Brandon Jacobs, Hakeem Nicks and company.

The Giants defense has to step up. They have to get their blitz on on more than third down. Unfortunately, if you put 8 in the box all the time, you’re leaving Gronkowski, Welker and Hernandez undercovered. But I think they need to commit to the blitz early. Load up the box, get Brady scrambling. Brady has been known to throw interceptions and incomplete passes and generally is prone to some Really Bad Life Decisions(TM) when under pressure. You let him sit in the pocket, and it doesn’t matter how strong your pass coverage is… he will eat you for lunch.

On the flip side, they have to double team Gronkowski as much as possible. That, leaves Wes Welker and Aaron Hernandez open but based on their patterns, the Giants are more able to cover those two inside one on one, than leaving Gronk in one on one.

On offense, the Giants have to run the ball. They have to burn the clock and own time of possession. Brandon Jacobs needs a fumble-less game and as long as he can get 3-4 yards on every touch, the Giants should be able to accomplish this. And it shouldn’t be hard, considering the New England defensive line has allowed 4.51 yards average running. Of course, this also has the added benefit of setting up the play action to Mario Manningham or the long ball to Victor Cruz… both of which could be the difference between winning a tempo game.

For the Patriots to win…

The recipe for a Patriots win is what it often is – rely on Brady, get out to a fast start and get the Giants back on the defensive. Obviously, this all starts on the Offensive Line. Statistically, the Patriots line is weakest on the left side. That is the worst side to be weak on as that is Brady’s blind side. Matt Light has to do his job in protection because the Giants will blitz from that side. If Brady has time in the pocket, then it’s over.

The Patriots like to use the “Bunch” formation which stacks three recievers on one side of the line. This usually means a passing setup, where the recievers are able to explode off the line together before hitting routes, causing confusion (and maybe collisions) on the defensive side of the ball. Against the Cowboys earlier this year, the Patriots enhanced the bunch by using it effectively in the run game.

I don’t want to put too much weight on the Patriots running game. I think the Giants can handle BenJarvus Green-Ellis and keep him a non-factor. But if the Pats can effectively use the Bunch Run, they have a dangerous combination that will force the Giants to pay attention to the run, as well as the pass.

Obama or Rodgers?

Let Free Agency Begin

The 8th Circuit Court issued their ruling on the legality of the NFL lockout. They said the lockout was legal the injunction barring the lockout was not legal, but this money paragraph tells me that though players under contract can be locked out, those not under contract cannot as there is no employer-employee relationship.

Another portion of the injunction is not foreclosed by § 4(a). The district court enjoined not only the League’s lockout of employees, i.e., players under contract, but also the League’s refusal to deal with non-employees, i.e., free agents and prospective players or “rookies.” As to these latter groups of players, § 4(a) does not apply. The refusal of the League and NFL clubs to deal with free agents and rookies is not a refusal “to remain in any relation of employment,” for there is no existing employment relationship in which “to remain.”

An injunction with respect to the League’s actions toward free agents and rookies, however, cannot be issued except in strict conformity with § 7 of the NLGA, 29 U.S.C. § 107, because this is “a case involving or growing out of a labor dispute.” Id. §§ 101, 107. The present injunction does not conform to § 7

To me, that suggests free agency must open immediately. The only question is under which rules. Probably the 2010 rules, barring a new CBA. Free agents and rookies signed to contracts would then be effectively locked out… but they would have a contract and teams can start the free agency chaos.

Convergence of technology, journalism and sports

Sheer erudition — and erudition of a very specific type — throws up large barriers to entry. Too often, newer, younger, and more casual sports fans “can sort of get to a certain point of enthusiasm before they hit the ‘stat wall’ where discussion of sports becomes pedantic and quantitative for no discernible reason other than as a social indicator of investment/knowlegeability,” says Grantland’s Katie Baker. “In particular, I constantly see women driven away from sports because they are fed it as a zero-sum game: either you know everything about everyone or you don’t.” [via Tim Carmody]

Disparaging “Player” Fans

A lot of football around these parts lately, so let me stir things up… Again. I know I’m going to get the Haterade. I’m okay with that. I have opinions and they are ALWAYS right.

Let me gripe about a certain type of fan for a moment. These aren’t the fans that jump a bandwagon because a team wins the Superbowl, although I can go down that road too (I’m looking at you, Steelers and Patriots fans). These aren’t the fans that call themselves fans and can’t bring themselves to find a way to listen or watch their team on Sunday, instead choosing to go to brunch!

Nope… These are the fans that profess their love of players over teams.

Photo by Ryan Lejbak

This ain’t college people. Your dear player from your alma mater six years ago is now getting paid money to do his job on a pro level. Those teams are a conglomerate of players from many schools. It’s always good fodder internally among teammates. For instance, Ben Grubbs came from Auburn and Haloti Ngata came from Oregon. Better believe there was some internal team rivalry over the BCS Championship game.

But at the end of the day, they play as a professionally paid team of competitors.

I see this in big proportions in University towns like my own Austin, where college football is the name of the game and Texas players are supported vehemently.

Yes, we know Vince Young graduated from UT and led the Horns to a National Championship win. We also know he has sucked, overall, as an NFL player.

We know Ricky Williams was a Heisman trophy winner… but he’s also kinda sucked as a person since he went to the NFL.

Cam Newton? Yeah he won this years National Championship, but guess what Auburn fans… he’s a cheater and will have to send that Heisman trophy back, just as Reggie Bush had to. Just wait. But go ahead and root for the Bengals, who are likely to draft him (Carolina is already committed to Clausen, Denver is [foolishly] committed to Tim Tebow and the Bills have a great QB in Fitzpatrick leaving Cincy looking for answers at that position).

More so, when I see fans rooting for players instead of teams, it screams lack of information and real fandom. Now I know there are exceptions, but this is the perception that I see.

Look, we know you’re proud of your school and the players that have come from it. But that doesn’t make you an NFL fan once they get drafted. Get a spine, pick a team and stick with it.

Now… I face the firing squad. Bring it on. ;-)

Eight Best Sports Moments of 2010

I realize I’m a bit late on a 2010 wrap-up post but I don’t care… I’m a big sports fan. Sports is something that my life revolves around to a large degree. Here are my top sports memories (good and bad) of 2010. In no particular order.

Team USA Wins Group, Loses in Group of 16

World Cup soccer was at a fevered pitch around the world… and it wasn’t the Vuvuzelas… Or maybe it was. Regardless, the United States won Group C for the first time since 1930 with a 1-0-2 record, having knocked out Algeria and reaching a draw with England and Slovenia. They then lost to Ghana in the Group of 16 round ending early morning bar visits across the United States.

USA vs Norway - Mens Hockey - Canada Hockey Place - Vancouver British Columbia
Photo by Kris Krug

Cinderella Butler Loses in the NCAA National Championship

Who’s Butler? No one really knew, despite the school having visited the tourney 10 times, before they made a stunning run through the tournament in March. The impressive upstart Bulldogs found themselves in the National Championship game where they were beaten by the Duke Blue Devils… as Duke tends to do.

To make this memorable Cinderella run, Butler had to run the gauntlet of UT El Paso, Murray State, Syracuse, K State and Michigan State. They finally lost to Duke 61-59 in a game that ended up much closer than anyone expected. The tourney raises the question (again) of why the BCS still refuses to go to a playoff system that would allow such a story to develop in football.
Mike tells her to stay away from his plaque
Photo by Brad Ward

San Francisco Giants win the World Series

The San Francisco Giants paid another visit to the World Series in 2010 and finally won it all against the Texas Rangers. They did it with dominating pitching carried on the arm of Tim Lincecum… who looks like something right out of a hipster bar on the East Side of Austin or Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
The bleachers
Photo by Randy Chiu

Brett Favre’s Penis

Okay… we’re not going to talk about that. So instead, we take a look at the recipient of such junk, former Jets sideline reporter Jenn Sterger. Hubba hubba hubba.

Olympian Killed in Tragic Luge Accident

The Winter Olympics were not without tragedy, this year. Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili was killed in a practice run at British Columbia’s Whistler track when he lost control of his sled. The sled slid up the wall and he left the track hitting his head on a steel support pole. He was pronounced dead shortly afterwards.
Photo by Cheuk-man Kong

Canada Checks the USA, Sidney Crosby booed on Return to Pittsburgh

Speaking of the Olympics, Men’s Hockey was dramatic with a highly-viewed final between the USA and Canada. The USA tied the game on an empty net push just before the end of regulation and Goalie Ryan Miller had his breakout, playing stellar hockey throughout the tournament. On shootouts, however, Pittsburgh Penguin star (and Canadian) Sidney Crosby scored the game winning shot to hand Canada a 3-2 win. On his return to Pittsburgh, Crosby was booed at Carnegie Mellon Arena. It was kinda surreal and satisfying.
Photo by Allie from Vancouver

Mike Vick Kills the Redskins in Prime Time

Mike Vick is back and bigger than ever. In 2010, he dominated the Washington Redskins on Nov 15, 59-28 putting up numbers that were both awesome and ridiculous. He put up 300+ passing yards, 50+ yards rushing, 4 passing TDs and 2 rushing TDs. The Skins looked downright pedestrian.

Lebron James Defines Narcissist in Prime Time Announcement

Former Cleveland Cavaliers stars Lebron James made a spectacle of ego by holding a much-ballyhooed press conference to announce his intentions to return to the Cavs, or sign a deal with the Heat or Knicks. He announced he was “taking his talent to South Beach” and the Cavaliers owner promptly melted down. As did the fans.
LeBron James
Photo by Keith Allison

Ravens, Playoffs, Ho-hum

The Ravens have reached the playoffs in 7 of the last 10 years, an astounding number considering the strength of the AFC North (and Central pre-2002) and the lack of offensive talent that has been pattern of the team for most of those 10 years.

In this year, 2010, the Ravens are 11-4 with a game left to play. With only the 3-win Cincinnati Bengals remaining in the regular season, it’s a good assumption that the team will end the regular season 12-4. That number is important for two reasons:

  • 12-4 was the record of the 2000 Superbowl Ravens who snuck in as a wild-card only because, then-division rival Tennessee had a 13-3 record, and
  • Only one other playoff run has come off of a better record (2006 at 13-3)

But as a Baltimore fan who has the good fortune of supporting a team going into their third consecutive playoff appearance with a third-year head coach and a third-year quarterback, I feel a bit like an Atlanta Braves fan.

The Atlanta Braves visited the postseason 14 consecutive times from 1991-2005 (excluding the 1994 strike-shortened year) and it became “normal” to Atlanta baseball fans. So normal, in fact, that Atlanta homegames in the postseason were often not well attended. Braves fans expected the postseason!

Here’s the problem with the Braves Nation though. They expected the playoffs but didn’t expect to win. The reason was… they only won the World Series once (1995)!

Yesterday, with a workman-like victory over the Browns, Ravens nation should have been ecstatic to get to the playoffs. Imagine what is happening in Kansas City right now with a Chiefs playoff clinch? What would happen in Buffalo if that team, that is so close to being competitive, actually visited the dance?

To us, the playoffs are meh. We’ve been here. We’ve done that. We’ve won division titles. We’ve made it as a wildcard team. We even won a Superbowl.

But we need another Superbowl. Soon. I can sympathize a bit with the Eagles who made it to the dance so many times in the middle of last decade, but struggled to reach the ultimate game (or win it).

I love the fact we’re in the playoffs but you’re going to have to give me more to get excited about because right now, it looks like a cliché road to the playoffs with another cliché cast of characters. It looks like the road, for Baltimore, will go through Indianapolis, Pittsburgh and New England… We’ve seen this story before. I need a different result.