The hot stove has burned brightly these past few weeks, and Mets Twitter has responded accordingly. While there have been plenty of notable transactions to digest, it seems like a useless digression to recount them here. What follows, then, is a decidedly non-linear exploration of the various Twitter phenomena I observed throughout that time frame.
Actually, I’d like to begin with something I saw on Instagram. Lucas Duda, absurdly enough, has long been a deeply divisive figure among Mets fans. Plenty of fans, myself included, appreciate Duda for what he is: a very good major league first baseman, and an asset to the Mets. However, there is another sizable, often vocal, contingent of fans that thinks he sucks. You might offer up a fact for their consideration, such as, "Lucas Duda was the 18th-best hitter in Major League Baseball over the last two seasons by wRC+." It won't matter, though—there will be a retort. And the retort, at least as likely as not, will range in tone from the pseudo-logical to the odious, which is precisely how I would describe the Instagram fodder in question—comments on a picture of Lucas Duda that was posted from the Mets’ official team account. The comments read as follows:
"Get rid of him put wright at first base"
"Fuck duda lost us the world series"
Look at those things. Look at them and learn their ways, for they are the enemy and they must be defeated. They are deeply terrible comments, not least because of their utter disregard for grammar. I suppose the first comment at least presents a kernel of an idea that could be considered and debated, but the second comment can make claim to nothing but anger and ignorance. The world has too much of both, and it is revolting in any context. I am shaking my head at them as I write this, and I invite you to do the same.
Let's turn our attention back to #MetsTwitter. My first "research" session a couple of weeks ago yielded a group of tweets that were rather diverse in nature. I imagine if one coded them by theme and placed them on a scatter plot, the dots would be diffuse—with the exception of the cluster that represented Mr. Met/Coke Bear/New York Stock Exchange pictures and links. NYSE opening-bell ringing ceremonies are ostensibly intended to bestow a certain symbolic honor upon the ringers. It should follow easily that the flagship symbols of two corporate entities who had just closed a major sponsorship deal would be an intuitive fit for such pageantry, but it felt surreal in light of the several obvious jokes one could make about it, and which I will refrain from telling here.
The bench coach tweets, chock full of #hottakes though they were, wound up reigniting my serious interest in this project, for they revealed something important to me about my treatment of others, and our collective treatment of one another, on the internet. After Bob Geren resigned his post as the Mets' bench coach, there was an eminently predictable call among some fans—and, probably, media (I paid no attention)—for the front office to give the job to Wally Backman. I read through some "Backman deserves this" tweets and couldn't help but hold them up against the vitriolic backlash I had observed when the Mets tendered a contract to Jenrry Mejia. My first reaction to that juxtaposition was one of disdain: How could fans simultaneously be so supportive of one man with both a drunk-driving arrest and a domestic-violence incident under his belt, and so quick, on the other hand, to hold an apparently personal grudge against another man who had put exactly zero other people in harm's way by taking "performance-enhancing drugs?" What could possibly have happened to foment such widespread cognitive dissonance? The thoughts echoed for a minute, and then I realized what a mistake I had made—and what so many of us make when we attempt to characterize groups of people with opposing, or even different, views.
The fact was that I had no evidence whatsoever to support my assumption that the same people who were disgusted with Mejia were also clamoring for Backman. They might have been the same people, but they might not have. But in the immediate reactive moments that proceeded from my thought of Backman and Mejia—my subjective, self-constructed juxtaposition—the only thing that felt right was to ignore the possibility of nuance and consider a sweeping, mocking generalization about an imaginary group of people. These types of assumptions, and their resulting behaviors, are fundamentally lazy, if alluring, tactics for arguing a point; and while they are practically ubiquitous on social media, they are both disrespectful and self-sabotaging. The internet makes it easy to be an asshole—but it takes two to tango, as they say. I'll do better next time.
Let's come up for air and finish this round of #MetsTwitter shenanigans with some good ol'-fashioned chest-thumping from none other than Noah Syndergaard—because if this isn't what Twitter is good for, I don't know what is:
My bad https://t.co/S52IDAcKxV— Noah Syndergaard (@Noahsyndergaard) December 17, 2015