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December 19, 2013

Skewed Left

The Company They Tweet, The Sequel

by Zachary Levine

When we last undertook this exercise, it brought us to some pretty unfortunate depths. Using the list of Twitter follows to probe baseball’s greats and sideshows taught us more than we’d ever like to know about Wade Boggs’ taste in porn stars, Magic Johnson’s apathy toward baseball, and Major League Baseball’s thirst for the 140-word dispatches of a company called Credit Donkey.

One year later, we’re back with a bunch more—some active players, a power-on-power couple of retired players, and one of your favorite writers and mine. What can we learn from only the list of people they follow?

A.J. Burnett (@wudeydo34): Free agent pitcher
Follows:
107
Best follow: UD Replicas (@udreplicas) in case he wants to buy any of the costumes from superhero movies.
Weirdest follow: Zombie Research Society (@zombieresearch) Led by @mattmogk ZRS is the largest zombie organization on the planet, with over 200,000 enthusiasts, artists, experts and survivalists in our ranks. Join us!
Follows the Bieb: No
What we learned: Well, we may have some insight as to why Burnett is considering retirement after 15 seasons. There are just so many zombies out there and so few capable men to hunt them down. In addition to the Zombie Research Society, Burnett follows “Call of Duty Zombies,” a “Former Zombies QA tester” and four different accounts affiliated with “The Walking Dead.” Any team that’s willing to sacrifice a few untimely walks for a good strikeout rate and an end to their zombie problem should probably inquire.

Yasiel Puig (@YasielPuig): Dodgers outfielder, savior, scourge
Follows:
194
Best follow: Allen Iverson (@AllenIverson), a perfect comp as the brash newcomer threatening to change the game as he dominates the sport/a boring tweeter.
Weirdest follow: Nike Westport (@NikeWestport) The official Wesport location for the latest Nike Running gear and service. Address: 69 Main Street, Westport, CT 06880 Phone: 203.226.2236
Follows the Bieb: Yes
What we learned: For all of his revolutionary and sh*t-stirring ways, the man who’s going to stick it to the man is really quite the company man. Of the 194 accounts he follows, 29 (!!!) are Nike or their various stores or brands within the brand. (Puig signed a Nike deal in the very early stages of his career.) The rest is a bland assortment of Dodgers, uber-celebs, and about the most boring list you could draw up. Has to be an imposter.

Roger Clemens (@rogerclemens): Future Hall-of-Famer, former Sugar Land Skeeter
Follows:
0
Best follow: N/A
Weirdest follow: N/A
Follows the Bieb: No
What we learned: Nothing, but I found this tweet the other day when I was looking through the sporadic feed, and it’s in my top five favorite tweets of all time, right down to the fact that the horse’s name is spelled wrong and the fact that he tweeted it 33 days after the great mare lost her bid for 20 in a row.

Taijuan Walker (@tai_walker), Mariners pitcher, hairstyling victim
Follows: 519—a lot, but about 144,000 fewer than Jose Bautista follows
Best follow: Foley’s NY (@Foley’sNY). Anyone who follows the official hangout of Baseball Prospectus is okay with me.
Weirdest follow: Montreal Expos (@Montreal_Expos) The official twitter des Expos de Montréal. News, stats, links, and history of Nos Amours.
Follows the Bieb: Yes
What we learned: He’s a quick learner. While Walker is a Chris Cotillo hipster, following the latest hot trend in reporting well before it was fashionable, he’s new to the Ken Rosenthal train. This is after he was duped by a trade report from a fake Kenny that had him shipped out in a Matt Kemp deal.

Fool him twice, though…

Sam Miller (@SamMillerBP), Baseball Prospectus writer, podcast hater, Californian
Follows:
117
Best follow: Jeff Sullivan (@based_ball) okay-looking baseball blogger
Weirdest follow: Based Had Balled (@based_hadballed) If somebody creates an account that just retweets @lookoutlanded tweets one year later... - @SamMillerBP
Follows the Bieb: No
What I learned: Do you know how demoralizing it is when one of your editors doesn’t even follow you on Twitter? It’s like, you think you have a pretty good thing going, you get some retweets, you get some faves. And then every so often you remember your boss doesn’t follow you on Twitter and you get that awful feeling in your stomach and wonder what it’s all for.

Am I doing something wrong? Does he have needs that my feed isn’t meeting? Do I not use enough lowercase? That’s what it is, Sam, isn’t it? Sullivan uses all lowercase and acts all too good for convention and you just eat that right up. “Why can’t he just be more like Sullivan,” you probably always say.

But come on, you’re only at 117 follows. What’s one more? I mean, you have room to follow KG, and he’s dead. So will you follow me on Twitter and pretend this never happened? No big deal, though. I’ll just be waiting over here.

Jose Canseco (@JoseCanseco): Free agent pitcher, American hero, hugger
Follows:
216
Best follow: The Iron Sheik (@the_ironsheik) Long-lost Canseco brother
Weirdest follow: The View (@theviewtv)
Follows the Bieb: Of course
What we learned: This is tough because the question is what we learned from the people he follows, not from the rest of his rambly, goat-filled, huggy Twitter account. At first the list looks full of the Canseco-esque randomness, but after a while you start to see a frightening pattern. Among the 216 people he follows are the following bios:

· NBC News Chief Foreign Correspondent
· White House reporter for the AP
· National Political Correspondent, NYT
· Political correspondent Slate/Political Director CBS
· White House correspondent ABC News
· U.S. Senate Majority Leader
· ABC News Senior Washington Correspondent
· Communications Director at the RNC
· Yahoo News senior editor for politics
· CNN Washington Bureau Chief
· White House Correspondent at the Washington Post
· Coverage manager, CNN political unit
· Pedro Guerrero
· CNN political director
· Chief Congressional Correspondent, CNN
· ABC Chief Political Correspondent
· CNN Anchor and Chief Washington Correspondent

I’m not sure why any of this is on his feed; it could just be a hobby to follow. But if it’s anything aspirational, the nation should be more than a little frightened.

Zachary Levine is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Zachary's other articles. You can contact Zachary by clicking here

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