This past off-season saw your Seattle Mariners lose several fan favorites to the ceaseless thresher of the Dipoto 3000, creating a vacuum in at least one local baseball blogger’s heart (may the road rise up to meet you, Brad Miller, and may you not TOOTBLAN upon it). But fear not! If your heart is aching with the knowledge you shall Lo No Mo, you may quickly begin seeking a replacement favorite player, simply by sifting through the
carnival of horrors vast playground of various social media platforms.
There is just one teensy little problem, and that is that athletes on social media are usually fantastic bores. Most of the bigtime guys use social media services that tightly monitor their clients’ brands to avoid embarrassing scenarios like Ohio State QB Cardale Jones expressing annoyance at his college’s myopic insistence that he attend those pesky classes, or David Price implying women can't drive in snow. What’s left is a string of tweets so devoid of personality and calculatedly inoffensive that they could be pureed and served up as institutional food.
As for the guys who don’t employ a team of social media strategists, so much of their time is sunk into their sport of choice that their accounts are whittled down to the bare minimum: faith, family, and golf. Always with the golf. (For athletes under 25, substitute "video games" for golf; sneaker collections are also heavily represented among this demographic, which also includes Joe Beimel, our own little lefty outlier.)
Being adept at social media is a skill, one that is born more than taught. The best accounts deftly toe the line between sharing and oversharing, are entertaining but not insistent; they offer a tantalizing glimpse into a different world and a fleeting feeling of connection. Striking this balance is tricky, which is why so many athletes retreat into a world of platitudes and glad-handing, just enough to satisfy the public’s desire for access while revealing little about the heart beating beneath that K Out Cancer tee. Like so many other things, being good at social media is part practice—practice in reading your audience, being a good enough listener so you can say what people want to hear—and part learning from mistakes, yours and others. It’s also part plain old natural ability, the same ability that causes certain people to be able to run faster or jump higher than others. Yet there is no talent development for social media, no Twitter Futures Game or Caribbean Instagram season, no scouting reports on this elusive sixth tool. Until now. Presenting your new Mariners Social Media Scouting Reports!
PLAYER: Boog Powell (@boogpowell15)
ACCOUNT TYPE: Twitter
FREQUENCY OF UPDATES: Near daily
ORIGINAL CONTENT TO RETWEET RATIO: About half-and-half, heavy to the "Athlete Inspiration" and "Because I'm a Guy"-type accounts
OVERALL DESCRIPTION: Video games, family, sports, exclamation points!
STRENGTH: Seems very excited to play baseball for the Seattle Mariners; interacts with fans; genuinely positive tweets suggests the cruel machinery of the Internet has not yet broken him.
WEAKNESS: Cowboys fan. Poor Boog.
GRADE: B, B- during football season
Dreams can be so random/wierd! I was in Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory and dinosaurs attacked....!— Boog Powell (@Boogpowell15) September 19, 2015
PLAYER: Justin De Fratus (IG: jdefratus)
ACCOUNT TYPE: Instagram
FREQUENCY OF UPDATES: Weekly-ish
OVERALL DESCRIPTION: Mostly a collection of movie clips, funny vines, and screenshots of what he's listening to at the moment. And Raiders fandom, bless his heart.
INSTINCT: Not great. More on that later.
STRENGTH: Surprisingly varied taste in music.
WEAKNESS: This doesn’t exactly count, but I’m 99% sure his dad wrote his Wikipedia page.
POTENTIAL RED FLAGS: Okay, so this is the bad part. De Fratus used to maintain a Twitter but no longer does because of controversy stemming over some of his tweets--one about Hobby Lobby, another about those activist feminists (always trying to politicize innocent traditions!), and one using the hashtag #AllLivesMatter. For this last one, Justin got lit the heck up by Bill Baer, to which he responded by doubling down on his belief in a fairly coherent and well-written response posted on Facebook, because of course it was. Since then, De Fratus seems to have backed off of politics or typing words, period, and stuck to light-hearted Instagrams, making this one time I will cheer for blandness.
BEST POST: A video of him playing guitar and singing "The Death of Queen Jane" from Inside Llewyn Davis that is actually quite captivating. It's good to have something to fall back on, I guess.
PLAYER: Evan Scribner (@evanscribner)
ACCOUNT TYPE: Twitter
FREQUENCY OF UPDATES: Monthly-ish
ORIGINAL CONTENT TO RETWEET RATIO: Mostly RTs.
INSTINCT: Sax-ual healing
OVERALL DESCRIPTION: Man, was this guy beloved by Athletics fans. And since his walkout music was "Epic Sax Guy," can you blame them?
STRENGTH: Seems to really love and support his teammates, as evidenced by his dedication to the "Eric Sogard Face of MLB" campaign (to be honest, seriously considered making this a weakness). Original content reveals a snarky, deadpan sense of humor. I could see him and Furbush really getting along.
WEAKNESS: Infrequent posts and mostly RTs. LET YOUR OWN VOICE SING, EVAN.
PLAYER: Nathan "Nate" Karns (@NathanKarns)
ACCOUNT TYPE: Nope
FREQUENCY OF UPDATES: Blahhh
OVERALL DESCRIPTION: Karns may be an exciting pitcher on the mound but his Twitter feed is the equivalent of being seated next to the guy at the reunion who wins the "shortest distance traveled to get here" award. If he is to become your favorite Mariner, it will be because he’s striking out fools with his hard curveball or maybe garnering a pitcher hit in interleague play.
GRADE: [sleeping emoji]
PLAYER: Anthony Bass (@anthonybass63)
ACCOUNT TYPE: Twitter
FREQUENCY OF UPDATES: frequent-ish
INSTINCT: Jesus of Death Metal
OVERALL DESCRIPTION: Good original content/retweet balance. A nice, positive sense of personality without being too bland. Enjoys: Michigan football, Jesus Christ, and the music of Sevendust, Shinedown, and something called Five Finger Death Punch.
STRENGTH: Able to laugh at self, which suggests a healthy mental makeup for a Mariners bullpen reliever.
WEAKNESS: Appears to have a life outside of baseball?
I've received mixed reviews on the Brigma look from last nights game. What do you think? pic.twitter.com/yPCeF76lnZ— Anthony Bass (@AnthonyBass63) May 13, 2015
PLAYER: Luis Sardinas ( IG: TheSardiSardi)
ACCOUNT TYPE: Instagram (and Twitter and Snapchat, all at the same @)
FREQUENCY OF UPDATES: Frequent. Unfortunately, it is always a variation on the same picture. But hey, that approach seems to work for Imagine Dragons.
OVERALL DESCRIPTION: Sardinas is a nifty shortstop who came to the Mariners in exchange for Ramon Flores. A three-tool social media athlete, Sardinas maintains a frequently updated Instagram, a less frequently updated Twitter, and a Snapchat I can’t figure out how to use because I’m old and can’t figure out Snapchat get off my lawn with your snaps. Although we often dismiss Instagram as just another shiny mirror in life's birdcage, it’s actually a great platform for fans and players to connect without having to worry about a language barrier.
STRENGTH: Might give Robinson Cano a run for his Best Smile Award.
WEAKNESS: You have to request to follow him on Instagram, but that really just lends an air of exclusivity to the whole affair.
GRADE: B-, mostly because I like to imagine the thin bead of sweat on Chris Taylor’s forehead when he realizes the Mariners have traded for another light-hitting shortstop.
PLAYER: Ed Lucas (@ELuke21)
ACCOUNT TYPE: Twitter
FREQUENCY OF UPDATES: Not enough
OVERALL DESCRIPTION: Baseball scouts, speaking of the greats they’ve discovered, often describe seeing these physical specimens for the first time as an almost religious experience. Even a mediocre talent scout knows when he or she is standing in front of greatness, a once-in-a-lifetime talent. Rejoice, Mariners fans, for we now have our very own Brandon McCarthy in the form of thirty-ish minor-leaguer utility man Ed Lucas.
STRENGTH: He didn't know North West was a girl, which I find charming. He makes jazz hands. HE MAKES PUNS.
WEAKNESS: Mentions he went to Dartmouth, like, a lot. Also on his Instagram he has a terrible pun about Cheetos and au jus. Wait I seem to have filed this piece of information in the wrong category. Also it should be noted his position with the team is not at all set in stone so potential for heartbreak is very high; however, we do not have space for both love and fear in our hearts so I say go with love.
BEST TWEET: They're all gold, but this one made me chuckle:
I asked Santa for more power this year, but he brought me intangibles. Sigh. I get intangibles EVERY year.
— Ed Lucas (@ELuke21) December 25, 2013
That's all for now, but I recognize I'll probably have to update this list as the machinations of Jerry are without end. Let us know in the comments if I missed anyone good!