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It would suck if Adam Jones quit Twitter because of racist jerks

August 12, 2013
By

iFollowing a crucial series win on the road against the San Francisco Giants, Orioles center fielder Adam Jones took to Twitter to denounce the “slapdick” who threw a banana his way in the home half of the ninth inning.

“I want to thank whatever slapdick threw that banana towards my direction in CF in the last inning. Way to show ur class u jackass,” it read.

It’s already insane that, in 2013, an African American player has to endure a blatant act of racism, an act that  has a long and ugly history on the football pitch in Europe. But it’s almost equally crappy that Internet trolls stood up for the guy, which prompted Jones to tweet: “I love how some ppl are defending the actions by someone today. Shows how u really are also. All good wit me. I just #StayHungry.”

He followed it up with, “Good chance this means I get off social media soon.”

Now, it feels weird to lament a multimillion dollar athlete quitting Twitter. But truth be told, Jones’ departure would be an unfortunate loss. The athletes who use social media to get beyond sponsor-driven drivel or the Crash Davis playbook of generic post-game interview platitudes can actually be quite engaging. They reveal something about themselves that can’t be seen on the playing field or in the press.

For Jones, that meant opening a window into his personal life, through stories about his dog Missy or crushing meals — including lots of Popeyes — all around Baltimore. A bit banal, perhaps, but there was something enjoyable in its banality. He’s fun and honest. It might not always be the grand life we envision for a celebrity, but there’s little doubt it’s Adam Jones being Adam Jones.

There was plenty of baseball, too. Anytime he made a lousy play in the field or had a slumping night at the plate, Jones would be the first to say he needs to clean his “ish” up (among the reasons he’s won “Best Oriole” category in City Paper‘s Best of Baltimore issue). Combining his love of food and desire to win, he created the motto “StayHungry,” as seen above, which has become something of a catchphrase amongst Oriole fans plugged into web culture.

As fans, we’re not owed these things, but it’s certainly nice when our favorite players decide to interact on us on a level that goes beyond what’s expected. It’s as close as we’re going to get to the days of yore when our athletes were actually “members of the community,” living in our neighborhoods and working offseason jobs to make ends meet. I’m not sure how much of that is mythology, but  it’s pretty obvious we are far away from whatever it was. There’s something about the engagement some athletes, like Jones, put forth on social media that tries to bring that connection back, if to a smaller degree.

Unfortunately, like just about every other facet of the Internet (see: “comments sections, newspaper”), there are plenty of idiots willing to hide behind keyboards to lob out trite criticisms and, in uglier examples like what followed after the incident in San Francisco, ugly racism. Jones is far from the only athlete to deal with the constant pestering from these clowns. Retired Atlanta Braves third baseman Chipper Jones recently quit Twitter because of “too much hate and too many trolls.” Earlier today, golfer Lee Westwood took on some of his detractors individually in a long rant that went off the rails from time to time. He later apologized.

Players are used to facing criticism; it comes with the job. But the voluminous and sometimes ugly way it streams across their personal Twitter feeds has got to be tiring, maybe even disheartening. For the rest of us, that could mean other of our favorite athletes deciding to close up shop online — another instance of a good thing ruined by a few bad apples.

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