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?

Jonny Venters is still pitching

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Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.