The Gold Rush: How I Almost Had a Twitter Feud with a Major League Baseball Player
By BLS Columnist, Justin Goldman
I’m something of a late adopter when it comes to Twitter. When the site became a thing, it seemed to me to be a dumbed-down version of Facebook where people would just be broadcasting their grocery shopping experiences to the world. I didn’t get an account until December 2012. What I discovered when I signed up, much to my surprise, is that Twitter, when used properly, is actually a pretty sweet, customizable newsfeed, one of the few technological developments that has been positive for journalism in the 21st century.
Among the many ways Twitter has changed the way we view culture and society is that it has expanded the access we have to famous people. You can tweet at Bill Clinton or Rihanna or whoever, and there’s a chance that person will actually respond to you. Of course, for the most part, they don’t. But it’s always pretty funny when someone of some repute does interact with you on Twitter—and they way you feel about these interactions says a lot about you.
For example, a few weeks ago, I replied to a tweet by Grant Brisbee, the author of the excellent Giants blog McCovey Chronicles and Brisbee wrote me back.
Sabean looks like he's attending Big Pussy's funeral https://t.co/MWMat6TXpR
— Justin Goldman (@jgoldsbrooklyn) April 19, 2015
@jgoldsbrooklyn got a lot of Don Sabean and capo comments
— Grant Brisbee (@mccoveychron) April 19, 2015
I was totally giddy about it. Brisbee has more than 22,000 followers, and he replied to me! But also, he’s just a guy who runs a baseball blog. It may be the best baseball blog on the Internet, but I really shouldn’t have been as excited about a Twitter reply from a baseball blogger as I admit I was.
Then, last week, I was looking at the boxscore after Corey Kluber’s masterful 8-inning, 1-hit, 18-strikeout effort, and I noticed his line was a palindrome. I tweeted this at Jayson Stark, a longtime national writer for ESPN who loves goofy stats, and then went to bed.
The best part of Corey Kluber's 18-strikeout game: His line was a palindrome: 8/1/0/0/0/18, Has that ever happened, @jaysonst?
— Justin Goldman (@jgoldsbrooklyn) May 14, 2015
In the morning, I woke up with about 100 emails in my inbox, all of them notifications from Twitter, because Stark had retweeted my random observation to his 425,000 followers. I told a few friends about it, and the reaction was, “That’s awesome!” Again, not something that was a big deal, but something that me and the people around me thought was pretty neat.
And then there’s the exchange that prompted this column. On Thursday afternoon, the Giants were up 2-0 in the 7th inning, going for a sweep and a third consecutive shutout against the Dodgers. Madison Bumgarner had started the game and pitched well (and HOMERED OFF OF CLAYTON KERSHAW), but some good Dodger at-bats had run his pitch count to 107. With right-handed hitting Enrique Hernandez coming up, Bruce Bochy elected to pull MadBum for reliever George Kontos. My reaction was this:
Removing Bumgarner from a game for George Kontos is never a good managerial decision. I don't even care if it works
— Justin Goldman (@jgoldsbrooklyn) May 21, 2015
As it happened, it did work, sort of: Kontos got Hernandez out, then gave up a hit to Howie Kendrick. Javier Lopez came in to retire Adrian Gonzalez, and the inning was over. It was a typical, boring series of bullpen matchups—not even one of the 10 most interesting things that happened in that game. (Again: MADBUM HOMERED OFF OF CLAYTON KERSHAW.)
As it happened, a few hours after the game, I saw this.
@jgoldsbrooklyn that's why you watch from the seats homie
— George Kontos (@G_Kontos) May 22, 2015
I wasn’t sure how to respond. My first reaction was to turn to my friend at the bar and say, “Really?” Because let’s count the ways that this is absurd.
1. My initial tweet wasn’t directed at Kontos, which means that he saw this either because he searched for himself or because he has an alert that goes off every time his name comes up (I’m guessing “George Kontos” isn’t a trending topic on Twitter too often.) Which, seriously dude, really? You’re that self-absorbed?
2. Kontos has more than 43,000 followers. Does he respond to everything people say about him? He must, because otherwise, why would he bother responding to me? I have 157 followers; pretty much the only people who read this column are my college roommates. No one cares what I think—about anything!
3. “That’s why you’re watching from the seats” is the lamest, least creative comeback ever. Yeah, I’m watching from the seats. I was also watching from the seats at Yankee Stadium last September for the one time all season I got to see the Giants live, when Kontos came into a tie game in the 7th inning and promptly gave up a grand slam to 68-year-old Alex Rodriguez. If I had tweeted about that, it wouldn’t have been nearly as calm and reasonable. Speaking of which…
4. You can’t really argue with the point I was making: MadBum is the defending World Series MVP, one of the best pitchers in the big leagues over the last few years. Kontos was in AAA as recently as last August. Kontos has pitched well this year, but no one on planet Earth thinks he is better than Bumgarner.
When I saw Kontos’s tweet, I thought about throwing some of the above shade his way, but then I was like, nah, I’m not gonna start a flame war with a baseball player—and certainly not one who’s on my favorite team. Instead I wrote what was a pretty inane, non-confrontational response.
@G_Kontos hahaha it's all love, yo. Good job today. Just saying, nobody's better than MadBum
— Justin Goldman (@jgoldsbrooklyn) May 22, 2015
And then this happened.
Some people just don’t have a sense of humor, you know?
I know this is a silly thing to be writing a column about. I just find it amusing how Twitter now allows the peanut gallery to interact with the performers. Sometimes it creates pointless bickering like my exchange. Sometimes it creates the greatest moment in the history of Internet:
Just remember, when you tweet something about a player, he might actually see it. He might actually care.
I hope Kontos has a long, awesome career, he continues to prove me wrong, and the Giants win the World Series a bunch more times. It’s just too bad I won’t be able to tweet my congratulations at him.