A story about Twitter engagement with televised sports shows that (a) half of all Twitter comments about TV shows are sports-related; but (b) baseball lags the other sports:
One league that should be somewhat concerned, however, is Major League Baseball.
In addition to the fourth-worst television ratings in history, the 2013 World Series failed to crack the top 10 in Twitter engagement. That’s troubling given the matchup between teams from major media markets in Boston and St. Louis that have especially engaged and long-standing fanbases, in addition to the nationally compelling “Boston Strong” storyline following the Boston Marathon bombing.
Setting aside the questionable metrics regarding and overall utility of “Twitter engagement,” the same flaws that infect every story about baseball and TV rankings infect this one as well: a failure to appreciate baseball’s hyper-local focus and fan bases and the disperse nature of baseball as a televised event compared to things like football. Baseball is on every day, with as many as 15 games playing. It’s championship is spread out over a week. Football is a one day a week event for the most part and its big event is the Super Bowl. It’s old territory we’ve discussed around here many, many times.
My experience with baseball on Twitter — which at this point is pretty damn extensive — is that there are extremely strong groups of users centered around specific teams. These groups are generally referred to by team names, actually: “Yankees Twitter,” “Red Sox Twitter,” etc., describing that fan base. Every beat writer is intimately familiar with team-based Twitter communities. Often because they are extremely vocal, sometimes hostile, but undoubtedly passionate. They follow games closely and “engage” I would say, even if I’m not 100% sure what Nielsen means by that term.
Put more broadly: I see no shortage of Twitter engagement in baseball. It tends to drive an awful lot of baseball coverage, marketing and everything else. I am skeptical, however, if whoever is measuring that stuff understands how baseball and baseball fandom work. If they don’t, they certainly wouldn’t be alone in that respect.
After 18 years, 12 winning seasons, seven postseason runs and three World Championships, Dave Righetti is no longer a pitching coach for the Giants. He was removed from his post on Saturday, when the team announced a few reassignments as they shake up their coaching staff. Heading into the 2018 season, Righetti will serve as special assistant to general manager Bobby Evans, former bullpen coach Mark Gardner will step into a similar special assistant role to “assist in pitching evaluations,” and former assistant hitting coach Steve Decker will take a special assistant role in baseball operations.
According to MLB.com’s Chris Haft, Righetti was the longest-tenured pitching coach in the big leagues. He helped shape the careers of notable Giants’ aces like Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain — all Cy Young contenders (and, in Lincecum’s case, a two-time winner) at various points in their careers. He was there to assist Ryan Vogelsong during his stunning mid-career comeback in San Francisco. He helped newcomers like Chris Stratton and Ty Blach flourish even as the team stumbled to the bottom of the division. He was there to take the credit when a sterling rotation clinched the Giants’ 56-year, drought-snapping championship title in 2010 — and, when things went so horribly south in 2017, he took the blame as well.
Hardly anything went right for the Giants’ pitching staff in 2017. Madison Bumgarner was shelved after sustaining a serious shoulder injury in a dirt bike accident, Johnny Cueto couldn’t shake a cluster of blisters on his right hand and Mark Melancon found it difficult to justify a $62 million paycheck after pitching through an arm injury to four blown losses/saves and a 4.50 ERA. It would be a lot for any pitching coach to stay on top of, and given the team’s rapid descent from 2016 postseason contenders to last-place finishers in 2017, it’s not surprising that Evans felt the need to switch things up.
Successors have yet to be named for Righetti, Gardner or Decker, though Murray hears that the Giants could have interest in former major league pitching coach Jim Hickey. NBC Bay Area’s Alex Pavlovic adds that Evans is searching for someone to “put a new voice” on the pitching staff and will likely target someone who, like Righetti, brings considerable experience to the role.