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Updated: October 10th, 2013 9:31am
P.J.R.: Twitter is both the greatest, and very dangerous

P.J.R.: Twitter is both the greatest, and very dangerous

by Patrick Reusse
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Julio Ojeda-Zapata is the technology reporter at the St. Paul Pioneer Press. He's beyond knowledgeable and so into it that it makes him a great character. He was onto what Twitter would become early-on, releasing the book "Twitter Means Business'' in 2008.

Jay Kolls was my co-host for the short-lived "Reusse and Company'' morning show (January 2009-February 2010). Kolls had Ojeda-Zapata on the air previously as a guest expert, and told me that any excuse we had to book an interview with Julio should be acted on.

Twitter was the most-frequent excuse. I thought it was the goofiest thing ever - in name alone, much less the idea of sending along opinions and information in 140 characters.

If I've earned any reputation in 34 years as a Twin Cities sports columnist, it's for an approach that doesn't rush to make the point. Newspaper editors have lobbied with me for years to include a "nut graph'' - meaning, a paragraph very early that details the subject of the column or article.

"I'll try,'' I've said for decades, without really doing so.

Even right now ... we're not close to getting to the actual subject, except that it's going to involve Twitter.

Kolls and I interviewed Ojeda-Zapata every few weeks in 2009, and he always left us laughing. But he also got me intrigued, to the point that I got a Twitter account through the radio station and started to send out a few Tweets by texting on my flip phone.

I might have been the world's slowest Twitter participant. My friend, the Great Babu (@NadineBabu), tried to help, but it was an agonizing process to get up to speed.

Four years later, I can say two things about Twitter:

One, it's the greatest invention in mass communication since Johannes Gensfleisch Gutenberg came up with the printing press in the 1400s; and two, I'm grateful that Twitter did not exist in my drinking days, or what has been a long career in the media wouldn't have made it through the '70s.

A person has a tendency to lose the governor on comments on Twitter, even without alcohol.

Which gets us to the point (after 362 words):

The Twins have been driving me crazy for at least four years for this ethic where players miss games routinely.

Every time I've read a quote in the morning Strib from manager Ron Gardenhire, saying he was going to give an important player a Wednesday off, because Thursday was also a day off, and then said player could get two days off ... well, I would scream a couple of obscenities, and my bride would say, 'What's wrong down there?'', and I would say, "Nothing you would understand.''

And, let's face it: Since 2011, when you talked about the Twins and missing games, the symbol for this became Joe Mauer ... even in 2012, when he played often at first base, or DHed, and thus wound up playing a lot.

The latest irritant for me in this area came on the week-long homestand that ended another pathetic season for the Twins. Oswaldo Arcia bumped his knee against a Target Field wall in batting practice on Monday.

No damage reported ... just soreness. He DHed one of the final seven games, and had one pinch-hit appearance. To me, the last message the Twins gave Arcia in his rookie season was, "You don't really have to push it to play around here. If you're sore, sit.''

I went nuts on this subject near the end of the highly-rated [The] Sports Show (Ch. 23, 9:30 p.m., Sundays) on Sept. 29. I said loudly and repeatedly in reference to the Twins, "Play you sissies.''

I carried it over on Twitter a day later, after being reminded that Prince Fielder had not missed a game since signing with Detroit ... that the extra-thick Prince had a streak over 500 games played.

I described Joe Mauer as the "poster boy'' for the ethic that had taken over the Twins' clubhouse, and Prince was the same with the Tigers (in a great way). I also pointed out the similarity in their huge contracts, and said if you sign Fielder you get him for 100 percent of games, and if you sign Mauer, you get him for 70 percent. Those were fact-based percentages.

Regrettably, I included the hashtag #playyousissies. You can now find many references to Reusse having called Mauer a sissy for not playing with a concussion.

This was supposed to be directed at the lousy work ethic that has overtaken the Twins as a group, not at Mauer specifically for missing the final six weeks of the season after being diagnosed with a concussion.

More evidence that, great though it is, Twitter and its 140 characters can be dangerous. This could be especially true for a guy who has a tough enough time getting to his point in a 710-word column.


Patrick Reusse has been covering sports in the Twin Cities since 1968. He co-hosts SportsTalk from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. and hosts The Ride with Reusse from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays. He also co-hosts "Saturday Morning SportsTalk" from 10 a.m. to noon on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Patrick | @1500ESPN_reusse | The Ride with Reusse