How does social media change the way fans interact with the game?

Whenever Josh Satin comes up to bat, you can be sure my family is paying close attention and rooting for him.

After an impressive 2013, my dad bought my mom a Josh Satin jersey in December, and so I tweeted a picture of the jersey to Satin. No more than 15 minutes later, Satin answered with a genuinely kind response, making me literally jump around while loudly saying “Josh Satin answered me!” to anyone who would listen.

Two months later, I was sitting in LaGuardia, ready to head to Port St. Lucie when I tweeted, “Josh Satin jersey packed and on the way to Florida!” Again, less than 15 minutes later, I got a notification that Satin had retweeted me.

Two days after that, my family was walking around the back fields of Tradition Field when I noticed Satin walking out of the clubhouse to the field to warm up. My family quickly ran over, got his attention, and showed him our Satin jersey. He then took the time out to take three separate photos with my mom, my dad, and me—definitely a highlight of my trip to Florida.

Twitter confirmed my opinion that Satin is one of the good guys in the game.

Being able to directly speak to a player on your favorite team has completely changed the relationship between fans and athletes. Though Satin’s not an everyday player, because he took a few minutes of his time throughout the year to speak to a fan, he’s become one of my favorites to root for.

Fans don’t need to have personal contact with players on social media for the technology to have a positive effect. Just looking at what an athlete does in their spare time gives the fans insight that would not have been available just a few years ago. I’ve seen plenty of photos of Mets players’ weddings from the offseason, rookies dressed up as bridesmaids (and Zack Wheeler as the beautiful bride), and behind-the-scenes photos of the clubhouse dining hall.

While tweets from athletes promoting a certain company or sponsorship may be annoying, social media can let fans know what kind of personality a player has that might not be visible on the field. Last year, I discovered Collin McHugh’s blog and found that he’s an analytical, descriptive, and impressive writer.

And then we get to Jordany Valdespin, infamous for his social media activity. But once you accept the fact that Valdespin just doesn’t “get it,” his Instagram pictures are purely entertaining.

Jordany Valdespin's Instagram Photo

Jordany Valdespin’s Instagram Photo

At first, there were controversies surrounding Valdespin on the field. “I’m the man right now!” he proclaimed after his major league debut in which he hit a three-run homer against Jonathan Papelbon to beat the Phillies. There was also the time he stared at his home run against Jose Contreras for a little too long as the New York Mets were down 7-1. The next day, Valdespin reportedly said he didn’t feel well enough to play, but Collins put him in the game. Valdespin got beaned and then threw a temper tantrum in the dugout. I also remember seeing on television during one of those marathon games against the Miami Marlins last season that Valdespin picked up a baseball that had gone foul. A few children in the seats above the dugout asked him for the ball, but Valdepsin just laughed, and threw the ball into the dugout, ignoring the children. Ruben Tejada just looked at him and shook his head.

Valdespin’s social media presence is no different. If he’s not posting selfies in bathrooms, he’s sure to be sharing photos of his personalized hats that say “Team JVI” or “Papivaldy”–his own nickname for himself, or photos of himself lying in bed. Early on, fans thought he may have potential and thought he would grow out of his antics, but his Instagram is proof that clearly, he has not. The feeling toward Valdespin has changed from fans shaking their hands, to just laughing at his sometimes incredulously inappropriate posts.

But most players are not like Valdespin, and in general, social media is a positive for fans.

I know that not only is Juan Lagares having a great start to the season, but that he has an adorable baby son. I know that Anthony Recker has a sense of humor after seeing a picture of him wearing a funny hat on one of his many trips to Disney earlier this year. And I know that Tim Byrdak is still hilarious as he continues to search for a pitching job.

Social media has truly changed the landscape of the fan and athlete interaction.

Tim Byrdak's Tweet

Tim Byrdak’s Tweet

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