Tony Sanchez Stops Tweeting; Post-Gazette Blames Front Office

BRADENTON FL - FEBRUARY 20: Catcher Tony Sanchez #82 of the Pittsburgh Pirates poses for a photo during photo day at Pirate City on February 20 2011 in Bradenton Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)

Dejan Kovacevic's recent blog entry on Tony Sanchez being a Twitter quitter was pretty interesting. Apparently the Pirates have been pretty heavy-handed about players breaking news on Twitter:

That's yet another sign of how insecure and thin-skinned this management team is.

Some background: When one prospect tweeted that he and another player had been promoted from Class AA to AAA last summer -- before the Pirates had announced this seismic news -- that prospect was verbally reprimanded to the extreme that he was threatened to not be promoted. Then, a couple weeks ago, when a player was being promoted from Indianapolis to Pittsburgh, there was a team meeting -- a team meeting! -- to instruct everyone not to tweet the news in advance.

I have a feeling that Kovacevic calling Neal Huntington and Frank Coonelly "insecure and thin-skinned" is going to turn out to be the most-talked-about part of his post, but let's leave that aside for now.

While it seems extreme to have a team meeting to tell players not to talk about a player being promoted, keep in mind that public relations are important for a baseball team. If that team wants to make sure that it breaks the news, I think that's fine.

As for Sanchez being silenced - well, it's unclear to me whether the team told him to stop tweeting or whether Sanchez just decided himself, but Kovacevic would know better than I do. If the Pirates told him to stop tweeting, though, that might turn out to be a prescient move on their part. As a fan, I'm all for athletes having Twitter accounts and saying what they think, but for teams, there can be unfortunate consequences, like Rashard Mendenhall saying really stupid stuff about Osama Bin Laden or Reggie Bush joking/"joking" about the NFL lockout being vacation time. Sanchez has already proven he's too smart (or too unwilling to self-censor, or too independent-thinking) to avoid trouble - he recently had a mini-controversy of his own when he used Twitter to criticize Eastern League umpires.

As a fan, I want Tony Sanchez on Twitter. But Sanchez is an employee of the Pirates, and he's a public figure who represents the team. If the team doesn't think he can do a good job representing it on Twitter, then it probably does make sense for them to shut him down. I think it's very likely that in a couple years most pro sports teams will be doing that to their players anyway, as a matter of course. Which stinks, but the fact that the Pirates are apparently doing that now doesn't make them the KGB or something.

Oh, I almost forgot. There was also this Kovacevic tweet:

Bottom line: Every second anyone with wasted on tweets was time they could have been finding/developing a shortstop.

Well, why not take it a step further and say that every second anyone with the Pirates wasted on Tony Sanchez tweets or finding/developing a shortstop was time they could have spent climbing trees to save kittens, or looking for a cure for AIDS? Come on. The Bucs probably spent less than an hour worrying about Tony Sanchez tweeting. And everyone occasionally spends a few minutes of their day sub-optimally. That's absurd to link their decision about Sanchez to their pursuit of a shortstop.

UPDATE: Cory Giger of the Altoona Mirror writes that Kyle Stark says the Bucs have not silenced any players from using Twitter. (Thanks to El Duce.)

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