The Power of Social Media: MLB Pitcher Traded, Learns Through Twitter

* This is the second article that I have written for the website Business 2 Community. It was originally published to their site on Thursday, Dec. 29. For your convenience, you can read it on my blog as well as on their site. Enjoy!

Thanks to social media, sports fans from all around the world can follow their favorite athletes online. While some athletes use Facebook and Twitter sparingly, others take the time to talk about their weekends, their team’s victory from the night before. Some even take the time to interact with fans directly and answer questions.

As we all know, social networking can open doors for more than just communication. Harassment, false accusations and made-up rumors may spread like wildfire in today’s digital-first world. The problem with a site like Twitter, for example, is that a trade rumor about an athlete can easily go viral, making countless people believe it to be true. On the contrary, a trade can be confirmed as accurate and shared on Twitter – without one of the athletes involved knowing beforehand.

Earlier this month, that exact scenario occurred. A baseball trade between the Oakland Athletics and Arizona Diamondbacks was announced and confirmed by numerous baseball writers and analysts on Twitter. However, Craig Breslow, one of the five players in the deal, was caught off guard completely, despite the trade’s legitimacy.

On Dec. 9, tweets poured in telling the left-handed pitcher Breslow that he was leaving Oakland for the deserts of Phoenix. Neither team broke the news to him, nor did his agent. Twitter did.

Upon hearing the news, Breslow confirmed the deal and cited Twitter as his source for finding out about the trade. Here’s the tweet:

Twitter certainly has the power to break news, but rarely does it break news directly to the person who the news is about. As a sports fan, my instinct is that this won’t be the last time an athlete finds out he has been traded via social media.

Granted, the 31-year-old Breslow doesn’t have the name recognition of someone like Albert Pujols or Alex Rodriguez, but as Breslow himself attested to, social media cannot be taken lightly anymore. It is relevant.

The main positive behind this is that it affirms social media as a fixture in our society. While the circumstances are not necessarily ideal for Breslow, the point is that news that would normally take hours to be shared with the public is now out there for all to see in a matter of minutes. In regards to sports, tweets announcing trades are out there practically as soon as the players themselves have been notified. In this case, the tweet came before the phone call.

It used to be the news anchor on television that broke the news; now it is the tweet or Facebook status. Times have changed thanks to social media and Breslow finding out about his own trade is surely just the tip of the iceberg.

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