(Or, A peak into the psyche of one of the most negative fan bases in the country)
This week’s Participatory News assignment is to report on breaking news via citizen media. Since I couldn’t be in Toronto for tonight’s Red Sox game, I decided to see if I could follow along via Twitter. This report was written entirely from the #redsox and #jays hashtags on Twitter, with occasional glances at theScore’s liveblog. I covered the event from the perspective of fans watching the game live and on TV, rather than relying on direct coverage like MLB.tv, TV, or radio. Almost, if not all, of the information here was attained by following social media. I censored most of the bad stuff, but the tweets below contain some sports fan humor.
With three losses already under their belt, a famously anxious fan base tuned into NESN for the Red Sox’s 4th game of the season.
Watching the #RedSox game. We NEED to win!
— Samantha McFarland (@S_MacXO) April 9, 2012
Blue Jays fans came into the game equally depressed by their local sports teams’ fortunes.
The air inside Toronto’s Rogers Centre dome was chilly.
Didn’t think I’d need to break out my rally snuggie so early in the season, but here we are. #RedSox
— Seamus Condron (@SeamusCondron) April 9, 2012
The game was Toronto’s sold-out home opener, giving the Jays the #domefieldadvantage.
The original start time of 7:07 PM was delayed for pre-game ceremonies, causing fans to focus instead on the facial hair and eyebrows of players and broadcasters alike.
— jjtierney (@jjtierney) April 9, 2012
Facial hair would remain a strong theme throughout the evening’s citizen commentary.
theScore’s liveblog established their comment policy early with some “unnecessary” “quotation marks:”
No obvious ‘trolling’ . Please avoid ‘team sucks’ ‘go team’ type comments. Put a little more ‘feeling’ into things and everything should sail along
The blog also censored discussion of non-MLB-approved audio streams of the game.
Beloved commentators Jerry Remy and Don Orsillo announced the game on NESN, while Jays fans tuned into SportsNet. Kids put off their homework , sons watched with their fathers, and fans from across the country watched on MLB.tv apps.
— Matt B. Arias (@Marias7715) April 10, 2012
The Blue Jays came out in new throwback uniforms, to widespread acclaim.
The crowd’s spirits were high, as they made much more noise than is usually expected at the stadium.
A few Red Sox players are booed during their introductions, and the stadium grows quiet for the Canadian national anthem.
24-year old Felix Doubront, the youngest player on the roster, threw the first pitch.
The first inning was uneventful for both teams. In the second, David “Papi” Ortiz hit a single through the shifted defense. The Jays worked Doubront’s up to 37 pitches, worrying fans with little faith in the Sox bullpen.
New Blue Jays arrival Colby Rasmus, already the talk of the town thanks to his wacky hair, followed up a web-gem defensive catch with a triple the next inning.
A NESN “Tour the Red Sox clubhouse” segment was mocked for including a watermelon, as many viewers made the connection to last year’s September collapse, blamed partially on non-starting pitchers eating fried chicken and drinking beer in the clubhouse while their teammates played.
Fruit in the #RedSox clubhouse this year…Anheuser Busch and Popeye’s Chicken stocks plummet on speculation of drastically lowered sales
— Luke Ferster (@lukeferster) April 10, 2012
They had fruit on the Titanic too. #redsox
— FenwayMae (@FenwayMae) April 10, 2012
Red Sox fans erupted online as Rasmus scored on a close play, with many claiming he never actually touched the plate.
I want somebody to show me where the hell Colby Rasmus touched home plate just there. #redsox
— I’m a Cat!!! (@KinielCat) April 10, 2012
A slow-motion replay over 20 minutes later proves these fans right.
The Blue Jays score again before the inning ends. The resulting conversation amongst the Red Sox fanbase is not happy:
April 9th, 8:29pm: Red Sox fans predict new manager Bobby Valentine will be fired by July.
The goodwill extends to Sox owner John Henry, who recently married a woman half his age:
John Henry should give up the #RedSox to an owner who actually cares about baseball instead of robbing the cradle.
— Bella (@bellalitta) April 10, 2012
Someone else collected more Red Sox fan misery in a Storify.
Down 2-0 with 5 innings left to play, Sox fans continue the drama:
Been a diehard #RedSox fan for decades. Fenway was my 2nd home. I’ve been to Spring Training. Defeat’s NEVER dampened my hope. Til Bobby V.
— Lin (@AKATriple) April 10, 2012
The Blue Jays fans’ feed, meanwhile, blows up with a tweet making a joke at the expense of two female fans wearing provocatively worded t-shirts. The image and user caption received well over 50 retweets and favorites:
A Ryan Sweeney ground-rule double re-energizes the Sox offense and the fans. Two runners are left stranded in scoring position, but not before a fight breaks out in the 100 section of the stands. A fan notes that these are more expensive seats than the upper 500s, where beer sales are limited.
Big fight in the crowd – where is security? #jays
— Kim Warner (@kewarner) April 10, 2012
— Dan Jacobs (@danjacobs_) April 10, 2012
— Hip (@BlueJayHip) April 10, 2012
Dustin Pedroia hits a solo homerun in the 6th, prompting a flood of tweets saying only “Laser show” (Pedroia hits hard line drives on a straight trajectory, even when they go over the outfield walls). Ethan points out that the tweets are referencing this press conference:
The link to the replay of the homerun is the only official MLB video content that emerges in the Twitter stream all game.
Tweets then slow down, on all fronts, heading into the 7th inning stretch. Baseball is a marathon. Martin Short is interviewed in his capacity as a judge for “Canada’s Got Talent!” It appears the broadcasters are well aware of these lulls in the game, and have already developed promotional content to fill the space.
We’re back, and all of the prior talk of David Ortiz’s significant offseason weight loss becomes relevant as he attempts to steal second, and is thrown out.
— Matt DeSales (@mdesales88) April 10, 2012
Sox fans revert to their earlier gloom.
The #RedSox are so ugly … yea I said it
— IG: xxOJay (@xxojay) April 10, 2012
A great defensive play by Adam Lind robs the Sox of a hit, but does trigger a wave of LINDSANITY jokes.
— Naiem Malik #8(@Naiem_Remax) April 10, 2012
With no outs in the 8th, Pedroia hits a high pitch and doubles, then steals third on a passed ball. Adrian Gonzalez hits a sacrifice fly to bring in Ortiz and tie the game as I feverishly reload Tweetdeck. The Jays fans turn on their closer, Sergio Santos.
Ughhh, is there anything more annoying than blown saves. C’mon man. #Jays
— Graeme Campbell (@gcampbellTO) April 10, 2012
Kevin Youkilis gets out, going 0 for 12 in the game and drawing similar ire:
Will Kevin You Kill Us put the ball in play for the #RedSox at all this year??
— HistoryGoon (@HistoryGoon) April 10, 2012
Ryan Sweeney singles and scores McDonald to put the Red Sox ahead. Sox fans know better than to celebrate, and instead request insurance runs.
— A Great American (@niveknaelo) April 10, 2012
The baseball gods comply, as a wild pitch from Santos allows Ross to score and give the Sox a 4-2 lead at the top of the 9th. One of the few safe-for-work Jays tweets:
— Ron C (@BoomerXXL) April 10, 2012
Sox fans await the bottom of the ninth with guarded optimism.
Finally, #RedSox showing some life, won’t breathe easy until the game is over, tho. Not sorry to see someone else’s pitchers struggling
— Amy E. Buttell (@lecreative) April 10, 2012
Farrell is brought in to replace Santos.
Alfredo Aceves comes out for the Sox, with the fans behind him:
— Megan Carney (@megcarney) April 10, 2012
I swear I will drive to Canada and break your arm if you blow this save Aceves #Redsox
— Stormont (@sex_muffen) April 10, 2012
He throws 96 mph pitches. Sox fans laugh that Aceves’s ERA is no longer “infinite” or “computationally impossible.”
In honor of the Fenway Park anninversary, Alfredo Aceves has lowered his ERA to 1912. #RedSox
— Mary, Morgan, Jim… (@MCandFriends) April 10, 2012
Jays fans turn dour.
Man, I hope the 17,000 people at tomorrow night’s game don’t have to endure a similar meltdown like that. #jays
— Daniel Squizzato (@DanielSquizzato) April 10, 2012
Rally caps, towels, are employed.
Aceves makes the save and Sox fans rejoice, mainly tweeting the score, while Jays fans narrow the target of the implosion, mainly blaming Santos, and compare the loss to the Maple Leafs and other Toronto teams.
— Leah Hennessy (@leahhen) April 10, 2012
- There were more tweets from Sox fans, providing me more to write about from their perspective. I imagine this would pose a challenge if I was covering a battle rather than a baseball game.
- It was fairly easy to tell if an individual was watching from home or at the stadium. Most of the non-televised content was provided by Jays fans present at the game.
- The vast majority of citizen photos uploaded by mobile had Instagram-like filters applied.
- A pet peeve of mine is to read a Storify and see a single tweet represented as the consensus of many. I’ve seen this with a number of activist Storify pages. As a result, I made the conscious effort to sample a single tweet only when there were several other tweets saying much the same thing (except on occasions where, for example, only one person saw an event take place). If curating others’ voices is part of the future of journalism, we should ask that the curators not distort those voices.
- In The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America, Daniel Boorstin fears that television’s many advantages in covering live events will prevent anyone from showing up in person. He didn’t account for fights, lewd t-shirts, and people ejected for drunkeness, all of which were censored by TV cameras but excitedly talked about by event attendees.
More facial hair jokes:
Big fan of Doubront…but not the neckbeard.The shaved chin-pubes have got to go. #RedSox
— Fitzy (@FitzyGFY) April 9, 2012
— dani (@dani_chali) April 10, 2012
Sergio Santos just because you rock the sole patch like BJ Ryan doesn’t mean you need to pitch like him #Jays
— Dan Lombardi (@DanLom) April 10, 2012
Can the #redsox trade Justin Thomas for Eric Thames’s beard and mustache, come Ben get on this
— Andrew Ellsworth (@Wurf12) April 10, 2012
— Richard Slate (@RichSlate) April 10, 2012
Flickr Photos I couldn’t use because they weren’t Creative Commons licensed:
Future sportscaster uploads postgame commentary immediately following the game: