Social Media

Major League Baseball releases its social media policy — and it’s pretty good

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Part of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement reached last November was the implementation of a social media policy for players. They didn’t come up with one, actually, but they said they were going to.  Now they have, and it was just forwarded to me.

It’s in two parts, one for major leaguers and one for minor leaguers. It was accompanied by an explanatory memo.  Here are some highlights, starting with the memo to all players on 40-man rosters, which starts out in a surprisingly refreshing way:

While having a Social Media policy is important to protecting the interests of everyone involved in promoting the game, we hope that you will not view this policy as a blanket deterrent to engaging in social media. MLB recognizes the importance of social media as an important way for players to communicate directly with fans. We encourage you to connect with fans through Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms. Along with MLB’s extensive social media activities, we hope that your efforts on social media will help bring fans closer to the game and have them engaged with baseball, your club and you in a meaningful way.

Given the trend in the NFL and especially in college sports of teams and coaches strongly discouraging the use of social media and even banning it in some instances, this is pretty spiffy.  The memo goes on to tell players that they should use social media to interact with fans and to work on charity and promotional stuff.

The memo goes on to tell players (a) that just because you’re using your smart phone doesn’t mean that what you say on social media is private; and (b) to think before you tweet or post or whatever, because a statement on social media is no different than something said in a press conference.

This is simple yet essential and I’ve been saying it for years. Almost all of the hand-wringing about social media out there is based on it being new and different and scary and oh my stars and garters.  It’s not. Think of the Internet or your smart phone as a big microphone placed in the middle of town square and everything you say into it is heard by everyone.  It’s that simple, and I’m glad to see MLB and the MLBPA recognizing this rather than demonizing an entire swatch of human interaction simply because it’s new.

The policy itself is more of a legal document, but it basically consists of a list of ten prohibitions:

  • Players can’t make what can be construed as official club or league statements without permission;
  • Players can’t use copyrighted team logos and stuff without permission or tweet confidential or private information about teams or players, their families, etc.;
  • Players can’t link to any MLB website or platform from social media without permission;
  • No tweets condoning or appearing to condone the use of substances on the MLB banned drug list (which is everything but booze, right?);
  • No ripping umpires or questioning their integrity;
  • No racial, sexist, homophobic, anti-religious, etc. etc. content;
  • No harassment or threats of violence;
  • Nothing sexually explicit;
  • Nothing otherwise illegal.

That’s it.  Not terribly restrictive, especially considering that many employers’ rules about this sort of thing are way more harsh.  I don’t get the prohibition against linking MLB sites — note: you’re gonna want them to do this, MLB; it will be good for you — but everything else makes sense.

Also note: no ban about ripping the media. So that should be fun.

Finally, there is an enforcement clause saying that anyone who violates these rules is subject to discipline from the commissioner. Which, yeah, of course.

I’m guessing that social media experts who think more about this kind of thing than I do will find some fault or weirdness here. But to my two eyes — two eyes that read an awful lot of social media each day — this seems like a totally reasonable and smart policy.

And one which, in its encouragement of players to use social media is downright refreshing.

Shapiro, Murray defend Dellin Betances after arbitration feud

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 12:  Dellin Betances #68 of the New York Yankees and the American League pitches against the National League during the 87th Annual MLB All-Star Game at PETCO Park on July 12, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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The dust hasn’t quite settled after right-hander Dellin Betances‘ arbitration hearing with the Yankees on Saturday. The case was decided in the team’s favor, awarding Betances with a $3 million salary for the 2017 season instead of the $5 million he initially requested. Yankees’ president Randy Levine held a press conference to voice his outrage over the figure presented by Betances and his agency, saying it had “no bearings in reality” since Betances does not have the elite closer status required for a salary bump of that magnitude.

Needless to say, the comments caused some consternation within Betances’ camp. The reliever publicly addressed the outburst, telling the press that he was prepared to put his differences with the team aside until he heard what Levine had to say. Via MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch:

Players union executive Rick Shapiro and Betances’ agent, Jim Murray, also spoke out in the right-hander’s favor. Shapiro presented Betances’ case during the hearing on Saturday and called Levine’s comments “an absolute disgrace to the arbitration process and to all of Major League Baseball.” In a report from FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, Shapiro added: “The only thing that has been unprecedented in the last 36 hours is that a club official, after winning a case, called a news conference to effectively gloat about his victory – that’s unprecedented.”

Murray spoke exclusively to Rosenthal, accusing the president of effectively bullying the 28-year-old during the arbitration process and claiming that Levine had both mispronounced Betances’ name throughout the hearing and blamed the reliever for “declining ticket sales and their lack of playoff history.” Like Betances, Murray said that the agency was ready to accept the arbiter’s decision and move on before Levine’s decision to air his grievances to the media. “The only person overreaching in this entire situation is Randy,” Murray told Rosenthal. “He might as well be an astronaut because nobody on earth would agree with what he is saying. Even the others in the room would disagree with him.”

Royals will experiment with Alex Gordon in all three outfield spots this year

CLEVELAND, OH -  MAY 7: Alex Gordon #4 of the Kansas City Royals reacts to a fan while on first base during the sixth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on May 7, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Royals’ manager Ned Yost is shaking things up in 2017, starting with left fielder Alex Gordon. Yost told MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan that “every scenario is open,” and expects to utilize Gordon in right and center field this spring while he figures out where to position Jorge Soler and Brandon Moss.

Gordon, 33, hasn’t manned right field since a three-game experiment with the Royals back in 2010 and has yet to play center field during any regular season to date. The focus, however, isn’t on Gordon’s capabilities. Among the three outfielders, he carries the best defensive profile and appears to be the most versatile of the bunch.

According to Flanagan, Soler and Moss are average on defense and will continue working closely with Royals’ coach Rusty Kuntz as the season approaches. One arrangement could see Gordon in center field, flanked by Soler in right field and Moss in left, though Yost foresees Soler taking some reps at DH if his defensive chops aren’t up to snuff.

While Moss is prepared to see starts at either outfield corner, Yost appears to be set on keeping Soler in right field, at least for the time being. The club is hoping for a bounce-back season from the 24-year-old outfielder, who was acquired from the Cubs in December after batting a lackluster .238/.333/.436 and sustaining a slew of minor injuries throughout the 2016 season.