Twitter Threats Real and Bullying – Tanna and Francesa

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It’s been an eventful week on Twitter with Mike Francesa threatening the people behind the parody account @mikefrancesaNY with exposure and a Mets fan arrested for making threats against the team, Citi Field and individual players.

Francesa’s threat was empty on several levels. To a degree, it’s easy to understand why he’d be annoyed that there was an account with his name on it and mocking him in a somewhat good natured way. In addition, he’s right in not wanting people who read the NY Daily News to see the tweets, not understand Twitter and think that the quotes are coming from him. But what good would following through the threat of exposure do anyone?

Let’s say he does reveal the names of the people behind the account and tells the public at large where they work. Unless they’re at Langley or Quantico working for the CIA or FBI, who cares? Is this going to be a revealing of an undercover operative like Valerie Plame with Francesa tearing a page out of the Karl Rove all’s fair in politics playbook?

I can see it now: “As I wahned ‘em, heah’s da names uh da guys behind dat twittuh account: One is named Jim from Rockville Centuh. He’s a managuh at Staples. Da othuh is Dave from Tom’s Rivuh. He’s a lawyuh. See? I toldja I’d do it.”

Um. Okay.

The entire purpose of a warning is that you’re telling the individual or individuals who are being warned that something will be done to affect their lives in a negative fashion unless they stop what they’re doing. Except in the cases of the aforementioned state secrets, I don’t see what good it will do for Francesa to expose people who the public at large will neither know nor care who they really are.

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The other Twitter activity was more serious. The man behind the account @danxtanna – since removed from the site for the time being – was arrested and charged with harassing, threatening and stalking the Mets.

When it comes to Twitter, you have to differentiate between a troll and a genuinely dangerous person. A troll will just be looking to get a reaction. A genuinely dangerous person is self-explanatory.

Which was Leroux?

I had my own interactions with Leroux. Initially I just thought he was a relatively harmless – albeit nutty – fan. Occasionally he would say something funny and reasonably intelligent. He’s got a bizarre obsession with former Mets player Wally Backman, insisting that he’s the one manager to turn the team around. Unfortunately for Backman and Leroux, the Mets don’t have any interest in him managing the team and the skills that Leroux sees in him are being simultaneously ignored by the rest of baseball as well. He’s Leroux’s version of Tim Tebow. Everyone should want him, but no one in a position of power does.

There are lots of fans who are bordering on certifiable, but it’s Twitter. You never know. I’ve encountered some great people, some horrible people and some truly crazy people. In most cases, the users are on the social media site as a diversion or to self-promote. Sometimes the reality is far better or worse than the online image.

You can call it catfishing, playing a role, fooling around or outright lying. All can apply depending on the amount of damage the individual does. There are many people who seem dangerous, but when there’s an actual personal relationship, they don’t come across as capable of harming anyone.

With Leroux, it’s not likely that he would either have the brains or the nerve to follow through on any of his threats. But with him, there was always the underlying possibility that a Mark David Chapman/John Hinckley-style of derangement could manifest itself. The Mets were right to have it investigated and handled.

You cannot threaten to kill people on Twitter. Can…not. There’s no way of knowing what a person is willing to do. These types of threats are serious and have legitimate consequences as Leroux is finding out.




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Mike Francesa’s Rant Against Twitter (With Video)

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Mike Francesa went on a semi-rant about Twitter a few days ago. The clip is below. In short, he’s against the concept.

Given the amount of ridicule Francesa receives on social media and that Twitter is specifically built for the quick witticism and has limited oversight, it’s understandable that he wouldn’t want to partake and, as he put it, wishes it never happened.

Francesa, like most old-school guys would prefer to go back to the late-1950s and a Pax Americana (basically peace on American terms in a Superman “truth, justice and the American way” concept). He openly pines for the long-lost hero of his youth, Mickey Mantle; reminisces about the days in which pitchers would throw at hitters’ heads; and wants reinstitution of the walls that separated people in sports from the common masses.

Part of it is absolute nostalgia and part of it is the marginalization of those who do what he does. Sports commentary was far easier on the commentator in the days of Dick Young, Jimmy Cannon and Tim Cohane when their views were in the newspaper and there were no 24-hour sports talk stations; no ESPN; no MLB package where every game could be watched; and the viewer wasn’t relying on the recaps of the writers and play-by-play of the broadcasters to know what was happening.

Obviously it makes his job harder when he says something totally ignorant like “I don’t know how much Andrew McCutchen is gonna hit” as if McCutchen is a sprinter placed in a uniform as Renaldo Nehemiah was by Bill Walsh of the San Francisco 49ers. The more the listener knows, the harder a Francesa-type has to work to make sure he’s being factual or, at least, logical.

On some level, I empathize with Francesa. For him to have worked his way up to where he is now—and he did work hard to get where he is now, like him or not—it must be draining to have to interact with people who’ve never picked up a baseball and decided that reading a stat sheet and understanding basic concepts of sabermetrics made them a baseball “expert”.

But he also has to realize that he’s benefited from this new technology. Francesa is known worldwide because of the YES Network simulcast; because of the ability to listen to his show via the web; because of social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and yes, Twitter.

Like anything else, it has its drawbacks but there’s nothing that can be done to stop it and complaining about it because of the negatives doesn’t make it worthless. You get out what you put in. Short-term attention grabs are exactly that: short-term. Working to gain and maintain an audience isn’t about splashy statements that may or may not be true or boring ruminations about one’s day, but about providing interesting content. The new mediums are making Francesa have to work harder. And that might be the underlying problem.

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