Being that my role as an agent is to help guide, procure jobs and sometimes protect your clients, the world of social media has to be a world of restraint on what you can and can't do from time to time.
This week, one of my clients, Meghan Duggan of the US Olympic Women's Hockey Team was given the honor to throw out the first pitch at her beloved Boston Red Sox game with various members of the team out on the field behind her. Meghan was the 2014 Olympic Team Captain in Sochi and as everyone knows by now earned a Silver medal after a devastating loss in the Gold medal game to Canada.
We are now about 2 months past that and life moves on. If you play sports you have to have a thick skin because your not going to win every game unless you were the '73 Dolphins. Just ask the Patriots who were 1 defensive series away from being perfect, against the NY Giants in the Super Bowl. In sports, the incredible happens all the time and that is why it is the ultimate reality show, because it is not scripted and things that seem improbable happen every year. This past week during the Stanley Cup Playoffs in Columbus, the Pittsburgh Penguins had a 3-0 lead in the first period in Columbus and lost in OT, you have to move on or be consumed by it. As an athlete you know that, as a fan their is no playbook on that sort of thing honestly.
The perfect storm occurred this week. In an appearance that the Red Sox set up many weeks ago, April 24, 2014 was to be the night that Meghan and her teammates were to appear when the team hosted their hated rivals, the New York Yankees.
Meghan, a LIFE LONG Red Sox fan, a native of nearby Danvers, MA was on the mound to throw out the first pitch and Major League Baseball suspends NY Yankees Pitcher Michael Pineda for 10 games because of his use of pine tar that he had affixed to his neck at Fenway the night before. Pineda as embarrassed as he was didn't defend it nor did he or the Yankees try and appeal this because he was caught cheating. Pineda said on Yankees.com "I'll accept it because I know I make a mistake. That's it."
Any fan of a team once they are committed to them, is truly with them. Meghan decided to make fun of the situation by going to her neck simulating the Pine Tar Pitch of Pineda and then threw a strike to start the game. Did she flip the bird at the Yankees? No. Did she make light of something on topic that had been in the media that day? Yes.
This in itself could have just died right their but today, things like this can go viral and you really don't know what will or won't until it naturally happens on its own. This was not a selfie, this was not something her teammates were taking shots of ahead of time, this just was natural and happened.
As with any public figure who might be doing a first pitch or face-off drop at a hockey game, local and wire photographers will probably get a shot or two for the home team website and maybe will get some hometown local coverage out of it. Because it was the Yankees v Red Sox, the game had more photographers because of the significance with the suspension and 2 long time rivals. In this case, USA Today Images got the money shot and posted it first. Fans at the game whom might have been paying attention to it on the jumbotron or been low enough to see it posted about it.
It was not until the next day that this began to pickup legs and really start to move. Meghan began to retweet out some of the pictures that started to pop up, but the feeding frenzy was then on. It was picked up by Bleacher Report, NY Daily News, NY Post, NESN, CBS Sports, Fox Sports, NBC Sports, Yardbarker, The Hockey News, SB Nation, Yahoo! Sports and it just keeps going.
At the same time, Yankee fans have come out in full force with some truly vulgar things directed towards Meghan that I will give you a sample of because it is so bad that they need to be called out in a similar manner to how you have seen Jimmy Kimmel LIVE read tweets of celebrities that are about them that are just pretty awful as well. These tweets by Yankee fans are across the board guys and gals and certainly not just in the geographic NY - BOS area.
Fans and fanatics are closely tied together. If your city or country does well in sports it can certainly change your mood and feeling, if your city or country does not do well it can change your mood as well. Without a hard count, I can tell you that in this situation the pro-comments finding humor with it has been probably 70%-30% / 80%-20%. At the same time, the ugliness of some of the comments has been outrageous. For those that have been highly negative with their use of colorful language and examples well here you go.
What Meghan did on the mound was meant to be funny. Honestly, I believe it was extremely funny and having humor in sports as in life is really important to be able to laugh at a situation. I am a Dodgers fan myself and don't have any skin in the NY v BOS battle but certainly understand the significance of it having grown up on the east coast myself. Meghan talked with NBC Olympics beat writer Nick Zaccardi and was very genuine about why she did it: “It was kind of a spur of the moment, funny thing to get the crowd going. I meant no harm by it. Certainly, I didn't think it would go viral”
Do we live in a politically correct world, no. I am not advocating fans not sharing their objections to it either. Banter is a part of sports. We hear it everyday on Sports Talk radio, but their is a level of taste that remains as well. Social media is the wild wild west and folks say things and don't really think about it. One AWFUL COMMENT, Meghan got was that someone wished that they were Boston Marathon'd referring to the bombing last year. Another Comment comes from the head of PR for the USTA that he brought up Olympic failure in Sochi. You would think a guy like this would get it, but apparently not.
WHERE DO YOU THINK SOCIAL MEDIA RESPONSES CROSS THE LINE ON BEING FUNNY OR JUST BEING VULGAR?
Here is a taste of this in the first 36 hours after the game on April 24:
@FAOSchwartzNYC: @MDuggan10 I'm glad now you and your pals gagged off gold in the Olympics mocking Pineda. You're an whore and a choker
@FAOSchwartzNYC: But the difference is the Yankees don't play for the country USA Girls hockey = choke jobs
@Ant95NY: @MDuggan10 please throw out more first pitches @ Fenway. you brought a lot of luck to your scrub team
@HomeOpt: @MDuggan10 @OPBluePride hope you get boston marathon'd, you bitch
@HomeOpt: @HaleyMoore9 @MDuggan10 dyke ass bitch
@HomeOpt: @AGMSports @MDuggan10 @MLBFanCave @MLB_PR Ugly bitch trying to be funny
@MarkZnidar: U.S. hockey Olympian Meghan Duggan had nerve to mock Pineda. Hey, your team choked in the big game, girl. Look for cover.
@Jaccen33: STUPID BITCH! U.S. Women's Hockey captain mocks Yankees' Michael Pineda before game via @forthewin
@MMCfor3: @MeghanDuggan is a stupid bitch
@ANOINTING_RADIO: @AGMSports @MDuggan10 @MLBFanCave @MLB_PR A member that CHOKED against Canada! Try winning Gold next time after all that trash talking!
@JackieDeLister: @MDuggan10 I would be more impressed if you didn't choke away the gold medal. #TypicalBostonCunt #BostonWeak @Deadspin
@NYCSuperBoricua: @MDuggan10 Yo! I read the New York Daily News. You mock Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda during Fenway Park first pitch. You bitch!!!
@GreatMonkeySuit: KrustySox: Meghan Duggan's first pitch pretty much sums up why Red Sox fans are dumb asses!
@AlonsoCrhs11: @mduggan10 what a cunt new york still beat the sox
@ProtectionJoe: @mduggan10 Maybe you should be concentrate on actually winning a medal for our country rather than being an ass-clown. no class
Interesting point about Tim is his twitter profile that he is in charge of Communications for the US Tennis Association:
Not THAT Tim Curry * Husband * Father * Son * Proud Univ. of Tennessee alum #VFL * USTA Dir. of Communications * Love tennis, volleyball, Olympics & pop culture
@ShaneG02: @MDuggan10 you stupid bitch #Yankees #fuckboston
@WatchThaJones: @mduggan10 should probly stop making fun of other athletes and focus on how to not blow a 2 goal lead with 3 mins left in a gold medal game
@MaulOfAmerica: If Meghan Duggan had used pine tar in Sochi, she might have held 2 goal lead against Canada with 4 mins left in 3rd. http://sbn.to/1pxON9g
@Colt_45F: Meghan Duggan, you still blew the gold medal game.
@ChrisThompsonNJ: @mduggan10 fuck you hoe! Yankees all day 14-5 who got the last laugh!
@TDAppel: @mduggan10 Forget about Pineda, you should have done a choking motion, in honor of your team's gold medal game performance
@ScottyHockey: Why is @mduggan10 getting press? She failed her country as a hockey player, so she tried to be a comedian, big deal.
@changyyyX: Wow Meghan Duggan #Classless #Masshole
Think About It.