Stay classy, Los Angeles: The problem with the Dodgers’ tweet

The Dodgers’ satirical invocation of Anchorman on Twitter in the wee hours Friday, before the anger over Thursday’s brawl had begun to die down, has earned a lot of praise for its bold comic timing, with even U-T San Diego taking note.

I wish it didn’t make me uncomfortable, but it does.

The past two years have been an ongoing effort to rebuild the reputation of the Dodger fanbase following the 2011 attack by two men on Bryan Stow in the stadium parking lot. It should go without saying that the actions of those men don’t represent Dodger fans overall, but – with no small help from what had become a rough atmosphere in some sections of the stadium – we have needed to make the point over and over again. We support our team, but you have the right to support yours. Every city has its bad apples, but they don’t speak for us.

“You stay classy San Diego” undermines all that. The Dodgers themselves have told the world that it’s okay to label a city based on the unfortunate actions of just one individual.

And they’ve done so with an arrogance that, with the memory of the Stow tragedy so fresh, they shouldn’t necessarily possess.

The text on the Dodgers’ tweet, “See you on Monday in Los Angeles,” even seems to encourage confrontation.

Yes, some people in San Diego defended Carlos Quentin’s actions. And yes, the tweet was all in good fun – though clearly fun mixed with exasperation at what had happened. It rallied together the Dodger fan base, thousands laughed and even many outsiders now think the Dodgers have, if nothing else, good comic taste.

That doesn’t change the fact that the Dodgers have opened the door for anyone to mock the entire city of Los Angeles any and every time something goes wrong. I’m not happy about it.

Humor can defuse a fight, but it only exacerbated this one.

Perhaps I shouldn’t care what other people think of us, but I’ve got too much pride in Los Angeles, the Dodgers and their fans to just ignore perception. I’ve spent about four decades watching people make fun of a fan base for being dilettantes, even as evidence ceaselessly appears around the country of others acting in the same way. (Here’s but one example of many.) Following the Stow attack, the ridicule only intensified, drowning out the voices of those who were disgusted by the criminal behavior and support their team as well as anyone else in the country. In the eyes of countless baseball fans around the country, Dodger fans became thugs.

With better security, new ownership, improvements to the stadium and what I believe to be some level of collective soul-searching about behavior at the ballpark, I like to think the negativity surrounding Dodger fans is dissipating. Some wil never credit us for being great fans – certainly, many in our rival cities have no incentive to. But I do think it’s important to put our best face forward. This is a proud franchise with a glorious history, and it deserves to be seen that way. Not to mention the fact that the atmosphere at Dodger Stadium is best when everyone feels secure.

The city of San Diego did not fracture Zack Greinke’s collarbone. Carlos Quentin did. Yet the Dodgers themselves chose to make it about the city. Now, when almost inevitably someone in Los Angeles does something unthinkably stupid at a baseball game – perhaps as soon as Monday, when tensions toward the Padres hit a fever pitch – the rest of the baseball world will have carte blanche to make it about all of us. Will we still be laughing then?

  • Anonymous

    I think the Dodgers twitter feed was trying to sound like the Kings, but the Kings do it so much better.

  • http://twitter.com/hammertime9909 Michael Hammer

    Ever since the beginning of the season it feels like the dodgers twitter has been trying to do the same as the kings, I don’t have a problem with it.

  • Leo

    This might be beside the point, but in the context of sports, it is common to refer to a team by the city they call home. With not just Quentin’s actions, but some other players reportedly making fun of Greinke’s injury, I think the Dodgers were calling out the San Diego Padres, and not the entire city of San Diego. Still, generalizing is generalizing and is never a good thing.

    • http://www.dodgerthoughts.com/ Jon Weisman

      I understand that, but the quote itself refers to the city as a whole, so I’m not sure how easy it is to separate from that.

  • http://twitter.com/Javii86 Javier

    I attended opening day, and while going up the stairs to get to the Reserve section of the stadium I was behind a group of friends that were really excited and talkative. At one point, one of them says “which Giant is going to sleep?” Immediately, his friends shut him up though. I also attended the Sunday game vs the Pirates. Towards the end of the game, a Pirates fan got up and yelled at the Pirates “Come on, do something guys”. Somehow, this annoyed Dodgers fans in that section. They started booing and yelling things, but I did see a fellow Dodgers fan also turn around and tried to tell people to relax. I hope on Monday, we as fans give a good example of how we’re overall changing the attitude of the Stadium and its fans.

    • http://underdog.typepad.com/ underdog

      Well said, I hope so too. People should just be really loud in support of Dodgers, make it a positive about your team, solidarity, not a negative in attack. Don’t let it escalate.

  • http://twitter.com/BlueDogSportFan Jeff DeSurra

    While I understand your point, I disagree with your conclusion (at least on the basis you’ve put it on, read more below). The two people that beat up Bryan Stow were not affiliated with the Dodgers and don’t represent the Dodgers ownership or organization. If we had had better ownership in place at the time, it would have been handled appropriately and most likely wouldn’t have happened at all.

    But Carlos Quentin DOES represent the Padres. Based on his salary and place in the organization, he is the face of the Padres. He is their highest paid player, and his actions, however individual, represented the organization. That’s why so many players backed away from his comments and basically called him an idiot. His actions spoke for and directly represented the rest of the team and the ownership. In any other company, he would have been fired because his actions directly the reputation of the company. Making that equivalent to what the Dodger fans did is like equating that to something that happened in a company parking lot by customers that weren’t affiliated with the company. It’s apples to oranges.

    Now, all that said, I actually think what makes the tweet inappropriate is what Kemp did after the game. His actions were just as wrong for the exact same reasons that Quentin charging the mound was wrong. Kemp embarrassed the team and directly represented the team by taking the conflict off the field and almost getting into a brawl in the parking lot. That’s where the beef is, and that’s what puts the tweet into bad context. Once that happened, the Dodgers twitter managers should have pulled the tweet. And I actually think the Dodgers should internally suspend him for his actions after the game. I’m a little surprised that MLB did not.

  • http://twitter.com/FeelinKindaBlue Dustin Nosler

    I usually agree with the things you write/say, Jon, but I don’t in this case. Let me preface this by saying I don’t live in Los Angeles (though I would like to) and am not as connected with the city as you are.

    Having said that, people already make fun of Los Angeles for EVERYTHING. One tweet from the Dodgers’ official Twitter isn’t going to make things worse.

    It was funny as hell. It doesn’t make me think San Diego is a horrible place, it made me think about Anchorman and how I’d like to watch the movie again.

    I’m so tired of the cookie-cutter, politically correct Twitter accounts. It’s nice to see a little humor and creativity from this account. It certainly didn’t make me want to dislike San Diego or even write/say anything derogatory about the city..

    Twitter, while a great source of news (given the right sources) and seriousness these days, is also fun. I applaud the Dodgers’ Twitter account for having a little fun. If people are encouraged by a tweet commit an act of idiocy (not saying that’s what’s going on here), then they were already going to commit said act.

    Just my 2 cents. Disregard as necessary.

    • http://underdog.typepad.com/ underdog

      I love, love that their twitter is having fun, not just there but in general these days. Maybe not as well done as Kings feed but still fun. That said, as I said above, I think there was a way to do that tweet in similar vein, using Anchorman, that was slightly less confusingly about San Diego. About Quentin in particular. (And people would’ve gotten that it was based on the SD line from that SD-set movie that everyone’s seen.)

      Of course, it’s good they didn’t use that line from Anchorman that starts with “GFY, San DIego…” ;)

    • http://www.dodgerthoughts.com/ Jon Weisman

      ” It certainly didn’t make me want to dislike San Diego or even write/say anything derogatory about the city..”

      To be fair, that’s not the issue. It’s about how it makes people from San Diego feel, including people who otherwise felt that Quentin was in the wrong.

      • http://www.chadmoriyama.com/ Chad Moriyama

        Same way you handle anything when the side you support does something wrong? Agree and shut your mouth.

        During the Bryan Stow thing, I know that’s what I did. Also tried to tweet out whatever relevant information. Sure, people were calling Dodger fans terrible things, but hard to argue, right? So I didn’t.

        Obviously this is completely different and nowhere near as serious, but any Padre fans who felt he was wrong and changed their minds because of a joke were never much for thinking to begin with.

    • http://twitter.com/DiamondFischer diamond

      Ding Ding Ding!

      It was obviously a harmless jab and a brilliant one. There will be haters till the end of time and if you pander to the overly sensitve you’ll be dull. There’s a reason the Dodgers social media has a stronger reach (according to measurement services like Klout and Radian6) than any other team or the official MLB channels, it is because their social team understands what they’re doing. Weisman is worrying about the trigger happy easily offended and they’ll always be there, you can’t let them stop you from doing a good job.

      • http://www.dodgerthoughts.com/ Jon Weisman

        I’m not just worried about the easily offended. You’re missing part of the point, which is that it helps fan the flames.

        People are ignoring the fact that the tweet is introduced with “See you in Los Angeles.” To me, that’s not lighthearted. That’s unmistakably an invitation to renew the confrontation.

        Some people are acting like if not for this single tweet, comedy would be dead in America. That’s hardly the case.

        • Gerry Miriello

          And yet after this tweet, sportsmanship lives on. It’s a message to generate buzz and get attention, which is the main purpose of promotional Twitter accounts as far as I can discern. I guess you’re right that it’s not JUST lighthearted but also a sort of “to be continued” preface for Round 2, but c’mon, this is a competitive realm and one that calls for some edgier theatrics.

  • http://underdog.typepad.com/ underdog

    While I admit I thought that was quite funny at first (when we were all still in shock and needed a laugh, and probably to scapegoat), yeah in hindsight that wasn’t the most professional of tweets. As I said on Twitter, I wonder if it would’ve been better if they’d referenced same but changed it to “[Carlos Quentin]“–made it more specific to the perpetrator in question rather than bringing a whole city into it, which just opens up the danger of making that rivalry more irrational and dangerous. I think there’s a way they could’ve done it–and admittedly as someone who has used social media for work I know it’s a challenge to be spontaneously clever but still professional, but that’s what they should’ve done… Referenced Anchorman but less broadly. I don’t know, maybe even warrants an apology but with a sense of humor, too.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=544657456 Lex Steppling

    Jon, I have always appreciated your response to the stereotypes (from dilettante to thug) that Dodger fans endure. It’s a fan base that I take a lot of pride in and share your disappointment with the Dodger feed resorting to that kind of silliness. One of the things I have always treasured as a Dodgers fan, and it starts with Vin, is that there has rarely been a sense of gimmickry or the manipulation of emotions to sell anything but the game, and this is an example of both of those things. Thanks again Jon.

  • http://www.chadmoriyama.com/ Chad Moriyama

    I do get what you’re saying, but anybody offended by that needs to get a grip on reality. Either they would get offended by anything but the tamest of jokes, or they simply have never seen the movie.

    The Padre fans you mention are those who are looking for reasons to hate the Dodgers to begin with. For example, one of the guys you quoted is gloating on Twitter about the Zack Greinke injury and calling Matt Kemp a bitch. So … there’s that.

    The thing with these people is that they just need A reason, ANY reason, to criticize the Dodgers. If it’s not some tame joke, they’ll find something else. Hell, they’ll fabricate crap in their delusional minds.

    Nothing will stop them, so why pander to them? I mean, we’re not talking about some grave offense here. We’re talking about a screencap from Anchorman.

  • tg

    A belated welcome back to you, Jon. This thoughtful post reminded me why DT was my favorite Dodgers blog to follow before the hiatus. I think you’re absolutely right and there’s no excuse for the club to publicize a potentially incendiary message. It paints the club and the fanbase as a self-centered, hypocritical collective, especially following the parking lot and Kemp incidents. Or the way Kemp behaved after that game. This is not the right way to start the first full post-McCourt season.

  • http://www.dodgerthoughts.com/ Jon Weisman

    Look, if you’re not worried about how this affects perception of the Dodgers or their fans or their city, then you’re right — there’s nothing at all to worry about. But I do worry about that perception, and I do think this has the potential to make things worse. I agree that I might be overthinking it, but I just can’t shake how much negative stereotypes about Dodger fans bother me, or how much it bothered me for Dodger fans as a whole to be lumped in with the Stow assailants.

  • Jonathan Hawks

    Everyone in sports marketing knows that the Los Angeles Kings have revolutionized the way a Twitter account can be used to interact with a fanbase and an opponent’s fanbase simply by giving the account its own opinion. There is no “face” of the Twitter account per se, but it’s no longer a boring wall that merely spews information about giveaways or team charity events like most official pro sports Twitter accounts. I think the Dodgers are trying to imitate this style

    • http://www.dodgerthoughts.com/ Jon Weisman

      I have nothing against this, but it’s not a license to tweet without thought of the consequences. The idea that my post is a rant against being clever is a big stretch. There are other ways for a Twitter account to be clever.

  • http://www.linkmeister.com/wordpress/ Linkmeister

    When every opponent’s fans begin screeching “Beat LA” it’s pretty clear from context they mean the Dodgers, not the city. I think most sensible people should recognize that the “stay classy” tweet was directed toward the Padres, not the city. The ones who do so otherwise do so willfully and with malice.

  • Anonymous

    Slightly off the twitter topic but wasn’t it classy how Vin handled the entire situation and completed the game?

  • Anonymous

    As far as the twitter “tweet” IMHO it was stupid. You almost take the entire incident and trivialize it. Not too smart IMHO. I liked Magic’s tweet as that emphasized solidarity not comedy.

  • Anonymous

    Let’s not forget that a San Diego politician actually tweeted his praise for Quentin and mocked Greinke with a #brokenclavicle hashtag or something similar. The Anchorman photo is a perfectly justified response from the Dodgers twitter.

  • http://www.linkmeister.com/wordpress/ Linkmeister

    If I post this movie review in the “42″ thread it won’t be seen by anyone, so I’m posting it here and asking forgiveness. It’s from the Think Progress site.

    http://tinyurl.com/d9k3fvk

  • http://www.dodgerthoughts.com/ Jon Weisman

    NPUT

  • Gerry Miriello

    I have no problem with it, but then again I reject this postmodern notion that we have to consider everyone’s feelings and our own public perception with every gesture and comment. I mean, it’s fun. Sports is entertainment, it is supposed to be lighthearted. People in my family who don’t even follow baseball enjoyed it. I think the Dodgers were trying to be clever, yes, but also defuse an unfortunate situation with some levity and (gasp) showmanship.

  • Shawn Cardin

    Does Quentin’s standing ovation last night change your mind any?

  • joe doughnut

    This is a good article and i am a giants fan. But how about 1 Freaking apology from the dodgers organization or some kind of statement regarding Brian Stow. Maybe i missed it but that would be nice as well as listening to some still making really pathetic jokes about the Stow situation (which i dont think represents most dodger fans).