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13 January, 2011

My Teams and the Social Media

John Elway tweeted me this week.

John Elway
Meeting with Rick Dennison and Dirk Koetter later today. We’ve got our questions, but what’s the one thing you’d ask?

Not so long ago, Sandy Alderson chatted with me (and every other
Met fan)... on-line.
He also held a Q+A session with bloggers and answered fans'
questions supplied to him on Twitter.
  Suddenly, my two favorite teams want to know what I think,
and I think that's great.
  I am one of those people who says "we" and "my" when talking
about the teams I root for. I am also one of those people who think
people who say "oh, you play for the Mets now?" need to walk
away before I shove a rosin bag down their throat. For all I have
invested in my teams:  my time, my emotions and my finances,
you better believe they are MY team.
For years I have had opinions about who the coach should be,
how they could treat fans better, who they should take in the draft,
how to improve parking, etc. Now I have a direct outlet to voice my
opinion that actually gets heard.
OK, so John Elway didn't tweet me directly, but he did ask my
opinion and I gave it to him.
  Currently, my two teams stink. They combined for a .466 win
percentage last year. Not awful, but certainly nothing to get enthused about.
I have been fortunate. The Denver Broncos and New York Mets
have won championships in my life time. I never lose appreciation for
that. Granted, it's been a while for both of them, but I know it could
be worse. However, my expectation of both teams is that they be
competitive on a regular basis and give me reason for optimism.
Feeling a Mile High about
the Broncos in '06
  In 2006 things were looking up.
 The Broncos were coming off an AFC title
game appearance, Jay Cutler took over at QB,
Brandon Marshall was looking like an All-World
wideout and Mike Shanahan was, well, Mike Shanahan.
The future was bright.
After a 7-2 start, a 2-5 finish.
Optimism waning a little, but I believed.
The next four seasons gave me a 27-37 record,
Travis Henry, SD 52- Den 21, 6-0 turns into 8-8,
Oak 59- Den 14, Cutler, Marshall,
Shanahan and even McDaniels all gone.
Now optimism lies in the hopes John Elway runs a team as well as
he ran an offense.
  In 2006 the Mets were a Carlos Beltran swing of the bat away from the
World Series. It was only just the beginning. Young stars, power bats,
Johan Santana, Let's Go Mets! Two seasons of terrible September
collapses, missed bases, "Willie come west so we can fire you,"
Luis Castillo dropped pop-up, concussions, Ollie P-U and K.O.-Rod.
Optimism now lies in the hopes that Sandy Alderson still knows what
he's doing and that the 11 years Terry Collins has had between gigs
somehow makes him a better manager.
  So with optimism teetering on the brink and both fan bases worried
that their teams are stuck in the dumps, both teams are acting like a
concerned mother whose son just had a bad breakup; they're reaching
out to let us know that everything is going to be all right.
  When the Broncos interviewed Josh McDaniels the only thing I knew
about him was he looked like he took time off from recess to interview
and that he worked for Bill Belichick. The first time I heard him speak
occurred when he was being introduced as the Broncos coach. Now the
Broncos are putting videos on their website in American Idol fashion
giving us a chance to get to know the coaching candidates.
It's a unique look behind the curtain. We actually get to hear what these guys
have to say about wanting to lead our team and if they sound like a coach.
It allows us a chance to get a feel for these guys and help us determine if
they could be "our guy."
  This matters.
I am terribly invested in the Broncos as a fan and want to be emotionally
invested in who the next coach is. This media device the Broncos are using
affords me that opportunity. So when John Elway took to Twitter and asked
me (and anyone else who follows him) my thoughts, I fired off my question
right away. The odds it got used were 4th and long, but I felt like I had a say.
  This matters.
  When Sandy Alderson took the Mets job he immediately made himself
available to the traditional and new-wave media alike. He had special
interview sessions with the bloggers. The Mets used their players to solicit
questions on Twitter that Alderson would address. We, as fans, were now
having direct interaction with our front office.
  This matters.
  Of course there is an inherent danger in all of this. The more teams get
involved with social media the more they can use it to control their message.
The Timberwolves Kevin Love recently came back to Twitter after a long hiatus.
A hiatus he took because, as he said,
"Guys like Freddy Hoiberg would call me up and say, 'Tweet this,' or 'Don't tweet that.' They were always bugging me about Twitter. I said, 'Whatever happened to the First Amendment?'"
  So if teams are trying to use their players to deliver their messages,
you have to wonder about messages that come directly from them.
  I'm not naive enough to think that members of the mainstream media
haven't been used through the years as well, with GM's or owners floating
stories and rumors to reporters to see how they play in public.
I'd like to think that I am sophisticated enough as a fan to decipher each and
every message on its own merits.
  So just as teams are evolving how they interact with their fan bases,
I will learn to read between the lines and take each tweet, chat
and video for what it is.
  For now, here's what I know:  I've spent a life time investing in my teams.
It's nice to finally feel like I'm getting a return on that investment.

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