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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?

Are the current Collective Bargaining Agreement talks too friendly?

Scott Boras
Associated Press
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Baseball’s current collective bargaining agreement expires on December 1. There have been comments from both commissioner Rob Manfred and MLBPA director Tony Clark suggesting that progress was being made and there has been no suggestion thus far that there are sticking points which could lead to a work stoppage. Heck, even a few acrimonious rounds of negotiation before it’s all said and done seem unlikely.

That’s good news for fans, but it’s not making certain agents happy. Smooth labor sailing likely means a new CBA that is pretty close in most terms to the current CBA. Agents — especially agents who represent veterans — don’t like that because they believe that the current rules regarding free agency, draft pick compensation, luxury taxes and qualifying offers penalize the players they represent. Today Ken Rosenthal has a story about that anger, talking to both anonymous agents and super agent Scott Boras about how baseball’s middle class is disappearing and baseball’s median salary goes lower and lower.

Major League Baseball counters that while the median salary is going down, the average salary is going up. And baseball is right about that. But it’s also the case that the average is propped up by a handful of superstar contracts while the somewhat less lucrative but still nice mid-level contracts for mid-level veterans are disappearing. The financial landscape of the game is morphing into one with a small upper class with nine-figure contracts and a large lower class of pre-arbitration players and veterans on shorter, smaller deals, squeezing the old veteran middle class out of existence.

Sound familiar?

Baseball, of course, is not the American economy. There are some good reasons why those mid-level contracts have gone away. Specifically, because they tended not to be very good deals for the teams who signed them. At the same time, baseball is far better able to tweak its rules to spread the wealth than the U.S. government can, and those rules — like the qualifying offer and luxury tax — have had a harsh impact on a lot of players.

There’s not a clear answer on what the best system is for free agents, draft pick compensation, draft bonus pools and the like actually is. I tend to favor the fewest restrictions on a player’s right to negotiate freely with teams, but I’ll also acknowledge that there is a less than perfect market at play in baseball given revenue disparities between teams and the need to maximize, within reason, competitive balance. It’s not an easy trick even before you get into the B.S. team owners tend to spew about pocketbook matters.

But it’s also the case that an all-too-friendly relationship between the union and the league — one in which a given set of rules is rubberstamped from CBA to CBA — is not an ideal situation. No one wants acrimony, but the fact is that the players and the union are slicing up a pie. If the person you’re slicing up a pie with is all-too-happy to keep slicing it the same way, it probably means that they’re getting a bigger piece than you. Maybe, if it’s your job to grab a bigger piece?

The agents Rosenthal talked to, who represent a good chunk of MLBPA membership, certainly think the union should be doing some more grabbing. I wonder if their clients do too.

Four baseballs autographed by Jose Fernandez wash ashore

MIAMI, FL - AUGUST 03: Jose Fernandez #16 of the Miami Marlins looks on during a game against the New York Mets at Marlins Park on August 3, 2015 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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This is just . . . ugh.

WSVN-TV in Miami reports that a black bag containing Jose Fernandez’s checkbook and four baseballs signed by him washed ashore on Miami Beach. Probably a bag to keep stuff dry while out on the water.

The bag was given to a lifeguard. Hopefully the bag finds its way back to Fernandez’s family quickly.