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December 14, 2012

Skewed Left

The Company They Tweet

by Zachary Levine

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It can be hard to learn a lot from a ballplayer’s tweets, which are mostly 140-character treatises on what you want to hear. Luckily, there is a column right next to his tweets that can reveal a little bit more. People tweet what they’re supposed to tweet, but for the most part, they follow whom they want to follow. Their follows are a window to their interests, their reading lists, their playlists and their senses of humor.

For instance, if you were to look at a certain Baseball Prospectus writer’s list of follows, you’d find that he’s inappropriately attached to two cities where he no longer lives, he’s the only 27-year-old on the planet who gets instantaneous thoroughbred racing news, and the only parody account he finds funny is this one.

Of course, sometimes you can’t learn much from baseball people’s twitter follows. Joe Maddon and Ozzie Guillen, men of many interests, follow pretty much only family members. A pioneer of tweeting managers, Manny Acta follows both Religulous filmmaker Bill Maher and megachurch pastor Joel Osteen, so gather whatever the hell you want to from that. And if your sleuthing can make any sense of these 21 follows from Bobby Valentine’s late twitter account, well, you should probably leave whatever you’re doing and put those skills to work as your town’s director of public safety.

But here are five baseball feeds—belonging to an owner, a GM, a current star, a Hall-of-Famer and the big twitter account itself—that do offer some insight into their hobbies, tastes, smut cravings and, in at least one case, whether they actually like baseball.

Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) Dodgers owner
Follows: 121
Best follow: The oh-so-smooth Jeffrey Osborne (@OfficialJayOh)

Weirdest follow: MAGIC Card (@OnlyMagicCard) Twitter bio: We’re the inspiring prepaid card by Magic Johnson. Need help? Tweet us or email us at help@OnlyMagicCard.com! Like Money. Only Magic.™
Follows the Bieb? Yes
What we learned: Not sure how to put this, but the face of ownership for the World Series co-favorites doesn’t seem to like baseball very much. Forget about the NBA, which is obviously his first pro sports undertaking and where he got the cachet to lead the conquering empire. He follows as many NFL-related accounts—11—as he does baseball accounts, the latter 11 being mostly Dodgers players and no baseball writers. This will come in very handy when the Dodgers start 2-4 next year.

Jeff Luhnow (@jluhnow) Astros general manager
Follows: 378, including dozens of fan accounts
Best follow: Capt. Mike Foreman (@foreman_mike) NASA Astronaut, Test Pilot, Aerospace Engineer. Flew on STS-123, STS-129. (NERD!)
Weirdest follow: A fake Jerry Dipoto account
Follows the Bieb? No
What we learned: The Astros general manager of a year and a week sure doesn’t seem all that sensitive, and God bless him for having this collection of follows during a 107-loss season and an offseason in which the Astros haven’t gotten much better. If you’re a prominent Astros blogger or particularly social media-savvy fan in Astrodom, your GM is probably following you. So be nice. For the most part, you have been. Or don’t be nice. He doesn’t care.

Bryce Harper (@BHarper3407) NL Rookie of the Year
Follows: 131, or about 800 fewer than his voracious AL compadre Mike Trout.
Best follow: Those Duck Dynasty guys.
Weirdest follow: Ohio State women’s soccer. An admitted fan of the Cowboys, Yankees, Lakers, Texas football and Duke basketball, you could say he’s had a rare down year, but at least he has these ladies that went 8-2-1 in the Big Ten to save him.
Follows the Bieb? No, but Miley Cyrus
What we learned: You really wanted this to be crazy, didn’t you? Porn stars and strippers and umm… maybe some of those porn stars who get their names on the club marquee for one-weekend appearances as strippers. Well, the first account he followed was Nationals PR, so you probably had a good sense of where this was going. Aside from a couple semi-controversial rappers that everybody in the world follows, it’s a pretty tame list. Stand down.

Wade Boggs (@ChickenMan3010) Hall-of-Famer
Follows: 228, or 12 adult websites away from his league-leading hit total in 1985.
Best follow: Ted Dibiase Jr. (@TedDibiase) Twitter bio: WWE Superstar, Leader of The DiBiase Posse, Child of God.
Weirdest follow: Maximum Hotties (@MaximumHotties) Twitter bio: If you like girls then follow me. If you don't, then go follow @Disney. - Thank you.
Follows the Bieb? Please
What we learned: If you wanted porn stars in the last one, all you had to do was be patient and let the Hall-of-Famer handle this. You can go check the list, which has excessive quantities of vice and pro wrestling. I honestly have no idea if it’s a real Wade Boggs account, but it has that check mark. Listen, Wade Boggs did two things really well—reach base and engage in general vice. That he still has one of the two simmering is sort of comforting.

MLB (@mlb) Professional sports league
Follows: 1,436, and they get more mind-numbing by the week. For instance, this week they followed something called Credit Donkey (@CreditDonkey) Save money w/ personal finance news and trends from CreditDonkey. donkey-proof (easy to understand) financial tips and deals to help you make informed decisions
Best follow: Well, I guess it depends on if you need donkey-proof financial decisions. I don’t presume any ability to judge that for you.
Weirdest follow: So many to pick from, but how about its fourth-ever follow, Drunk Athiest (@Drunk_Athiest): Twitter bio: All you need is a bag of weed
Follows the Bieb? No. Is that possible? Must have been an oversight.
What we learned: Strip away the quantity—the massive number of players and team PR staffers this account follows—and you’ve melted it down to what is really the worst of 2012 baseball. This list is what happens when MLB partners with Fox, which airs Glee, which stars Teeny McPopstar, who has an album to promote. They follow a who’s who of non-descript celebrities: Ashton Kutcher, Rob Schneider, Jim Cramer, Sam Miller, and that’ just the –ers. It’s also Justin Timberlake, Flo Rida, Snooki and Tim Tebow. If the same blessed soul who comes up with the groan-worthy lead-ins to video clips actually has to monitor these feeds, there would be a higher turnover rate than managing for Jeffrey Loria.

Oooh, that was a good line. Hey MLB twitter account guy, I got one for you.

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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