Social media: MLB set for All-Star Week

July, 6, 2012
7/06/12
12:00
PM ET
Matt KempRich Pilling/Getty ImagesLast All-Star Game, Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp tweeted during the Home Run Derby.
Major League Baseball will make social media history next week as the league allows players to post to social media during the 2012 All-Star Game.

Maria Burns Ortiz logo
True, professional athletes and managers from across sports have posted in-game updates before, but this time, they have the go-ahead from their league.

MLB generated online buzz last year when it allowed players to post to social media from the field during the Home Run Derby. Looking to build on that success, the move from the Home Run Derby to the All-Star Game was a logical, albeit progressive, step in the evolution of sports and social media.

After all, the Home Run Derby is an exhibition event. The All-Star Game determines home-field advantage in the World Series. Deciding to give players the power to post during an event that has actual meaning was not something MLB took lightly. The league solicited input and approval from its digital media arm, the players’ association and its broadcast partners (including ESPN). Ultimately, everyone signed off.

“At the end of the day, the social media undertaking is about giving fans more access, giving them a deeper connection to what’s going on during the event,” MLB executive vice president of business Tim Brosnan said. “We think we achieved a pretty significant level of success with those goals last year on Home Run Derby. The challenge this year is a lot different. … [The goal] is the same, but we needed to do that in a way that doesn’t compromise the competition.”

In other words, don’t expect to see R.A. Dickey live tweeting from the mound or Jose Bautista posting updates from the outfield. Players won’t be allowed to access their social networks until after they’ve come out of the game. Still, connecting players and fans during the actual event is a significant nod to just how powerful a part of sports social media has become.

The league also allowed fans to vote via Twitter to select the final two players on the All-Star roster. Yu Darvish and David Freese claimed the final two spots.

While the All-Star Game evolves, the Home Run Derby, which generated more than 100,000 mentions in 2011, will continue to lead the way when it comes to All-Star festivities and social media visibility. After all, as Brosnan pointed out, “The Home Run Derby is what got it started.”

Batter up.

Account to check out

The Wimbledon Roof has become the latest inanimate sports object to join Twitter.

This week’s social media faux pas

The NHL apparently caused a minor commotion when it posted a “Happy 4th of July” message on its Facebook page. It was not the actual update that had fans up in arms, but the hockey league’s failure to acknowledge Canada Day on July 1 with any kind of mention on the world’s largest social network that left fans north of the border feeling slighted.

Elsewhere in the social mediasphere

Soccer fans set a new record for tweets tied to a sporting event, posting more than 15,000 tweets per second at one point during the Euro 2012 final.

U.S. swimmer Ricky Berens discovered that he was going from Olympic alternate to Olympian via Twitter.

The Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League closed practice to fans after determining that too much information was being shared via social media sites.

Got a story we should feature? Have a site we should check out? Who's on your must-follow list? Tweet me at @BurnsOrtiz. If your idea gets mentioned in this column, so will you. Follow Playbook on Twitter at @ESPNPlaybook.
Maria Burns Ortiz covers social media for ESPN Playbook. She began writing for ESPN.com in 2006, covering college soccer for ESPNSoccernet.

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