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What has Twitter done to sports coverage?

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You may or may not care about Twitter yourself, but all of sports media is consumed by it and the manner in which you get your sports news is influenced by it. For that reason, you may find this an interesting read:  The Big Lead took a survey of media professionals about their attitudes toward Twitter, what’s good, what’s bad and how it has changed sports coverage. The results and comments are all pretty interesting and it’s hard to disagree with most of the observations and conclusions.

I think the bit about it being addictive and stressful for reporters is interesting but maybe more of a transitional problem for sports media. The newspaper model is to have a beat reporter covering everything about a team or a sport 24/7. Which was fine when the sources the beats used for news were only available at certain times. If the coach is home sleeping, after all, the reporter can’t be expected to get a quote from him so he or she can sleep too. Now, however, there’s always a chance someone may tweet something that is news or close enough to it that it needs to be noted by the beat reporter, thus the stress and obsession.

But the 24/7 model doesn’t have to hold. If the news cycle is now truly 24 hours, the day should be carved up into shifts so it can be fully covered by human beings who may, on occasion, wish to sleep, eat, poop and the like. That’s why we here at HBT and the other NBC blogs have a rough sort of shift system. ESPN and other online-only outlets do too. Sure, I may be around at 9pm some evenings and if something big happens I may post something then, but generally speaking I’m able to shut down Twitter at 6pm and enjoy my evening and have some dinner or something, even if I am obsessively on Twitter during the day.

The rest of the stuff — people can be nasty, the overall vibe can be negative — are all legitimate concerns. Especially for women and minorities who, for whatever reason, take disproportionate abuse from the jerkwards. I would hope that over time the notion that idiots feel cool to act awful online abates, but it may not. And if it doesn’t, the greatest thing about Twitter — it’s interactivity between fans, the media, athletes and institutions — may go by the wayside. That would be a shame.

Overall, though? I think it’s hard to argue that Twitter hasn’t been fantastic for sports obsessives. Thoughts?

Royals pay tribute to late Yordano Ventura during spring training opener

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 12: Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals delivers a pitch against the Minnesota Twins during the first inning of the game on August 12, 2016 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
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The Royals honored former pitcher Yordano Ventura prior to their first Cactus League game against the Rangers on Saturday. Ventura was killed in a car accident in his native Dominican Republic in late January.

Rangers’ third baseman Adrian Beltre and center fielder Carlos Gomez paid their respects to the pitcher with a floral arrangement that was laid on the mound. Both teams stood along the foul lines during a pregame video tribute that highlighted Ventura’s tenure with Kansas City. Following the game, Gomez spoke to the media about his relationship with Ventura, describing their frequent conversations during the season and commending the pitcher for having “the same passion that I had early in my career” (via WFAA.com’s Levi Weaver).

A plaque dedicated to the 25-year-old was also presented to club manager Ned Yost as a more permanent commemoration of Ventura’s contributions to the sport. Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star reports that the plaque will be mounted in the club’s spring training facilities alongside tributes to members of the Royals’ 2014 and 2015 playoff teams.

The full text of the plaque is below, via MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan:

A brother and a teammate, Yordano Ventura, passed away on the morning of January 22 in his native Dominican Republic, at the age of 25. He signed with the Royals as a 17-year-old, eventually making the big league team in 2013 as a 22-year-old. On most days, he could be found laughing and joking with his baseball family in the clubhouse. However, on days when he pitched, that smile was replaced by a quiet confidence and an intense fire, which he brought to the mound for every start. He had many highlights in his abbreviated career, not the least of which was throwing eight shutout innings in Game #6 of the 2014 World Series to force a Game #7 vs. San Francisco.

Gerrit Cole named Pirates’ Opening Day starter

BRADENTON, FL - FEBRUARY 19: Gerrit Cole #45 of the Pittsburgh Pirates poses for a photograph during MLB spring training photo day on February 19, 2017 at Pirate City in Bradenton, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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Right-hander Gerrit Cole is set to take the mound for the Pirates on Opening Day, according to a team announcement on Saturday. It’s a spot that was most recently occupied by former Pirate Francisco Liriano, who made three consecutive Opening Day starts for the club before getting dealt to the Blue Jays last August.

The 26-year-old produced career-worst numbers during his fourth run with the Pirates in 2016, due in large part to bouts of inflammation in his right elbow. He finished the year with a 3.88 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 over 116 innings before getting shut down in September to avoid further injury to his elbow. When healthy, however, Cole has been lights-out for the Pirates. Prior to his injury-laden campaign last year, he touted a career 3.07 ERA, 2.2 BB/9, 8.5 SO/9 and cumulative 10.2 fWAR from 2013 through 2015.

Cole will go toe-to-toe with the Red Sox during Boston’s home opener on Monday, April 3. Right-hander Jameson Taillon is scheduled to make the second start of the year, while fellow righty Ivan Nova will cover the Pirates’ home opener against the Braves on April 7. The Pirates’ third and fifth starters have yet to be announced.