You Can’t Stop Them, You Can Only Hope to Contain Them: Zach McCabe Fiasco

Iowa State basketball coach Fred Hoiberg didn’t hold back his displeasure towards social media during his press conference on Monday. After Iowa’s loss to Wisconsin, several Iowa fans typed out their frustrations at Hawkeye senior Zach McCabe. McCabe was called for a blocking foul (that could have gone the other way), and he air-balled a 3-pointer that could have tied or at least cut down the Badgers’ lead.

Fred, if you want to combat as many trolls on social media as possible, I suggest you start using your Twitter account a lot more. People will read it.

After listening to Hoiberg, and reading the great Mike Hlas‘ column about the McCabe meltdown, I do understand that fans have greater access to voice their feelings, and unfortunately at times, cross over the line.

But if a coach thinks that cutting off social media to his or her players is going to keep them from reading message boards, texts, and Twitter, I hate to deliver bad news…

…good luck stopping them from doing that, or in that matter, using it.

It’s ironic that the NCAA has now granted permission for programs to use Instagram, to go along with texting and social media as forms of “soft” recruiting. Athletic departments uses social media to promote and build an audience for their sports and brand.

I think it has become hypocritical of us, as fans and media, to expect and demand that student-athletes block out the “distractions” in the stands and on social media. Eighteen, 19, and 20-year old kids are going to read and hear everything, because their families, friends, and classmates are on Facebook and Twitter.

If we want them to block out distractions, then how come we can’t do it ourselves?

The onus is back on the coach. No longer can coaches use the old tired excuse of “I don’t read the papers/message boards/tweets/texts” and hope that it will go away. Social media experts have long advocated athletic programs and professional teams to educate and show athletes how to use Twitter and learn how to not take stupid and demeaning comments personally.

I don’t know what took place between McCabe and several posters, but I do know one thing: I don’t hide behind a fake name or a fake avatar. When I tweet, you see my name and my face.  I use social media as a way to learn something, contribute, and to have conversations.

John Calipari can rub a lot of people the wrong way, but how is it that he understands the evolution of college sports, athletes, and social media better than everyone else? Because he adapts to it.

Which brings me to an interview that was done last week, that I feel that you should listen to. John Calipari of Kentucky was asked last week by Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic about how he uses social media. Calipari’s response will rub a lot of coaches the wrong way, including Fred, but the more I thought about what he said, it made sense.

Cue to the 5:00 mark of the interview to hear Cal’s take.

It’s ironic that Fred Hoiberg has a Twitter account, but does he actually uses it, or is someone else tweeting for him? There is no question that Kirk Ferentz doesn’t use social media. That’s why he has a ban in place for his teams. it’s a chore that no coach wants..but they need to understand and be proactive about it.

See?

The very same social media users Hoiberg is blasting…includes him, Randy Peterson, Mike Hlas, Keith Murphy, and me. Fred could’ve used his Twitter account and posted his feelings about what happened to McCabe.
It would have elicit the same response, if not greater, as a way to stimulate conversation on how we can better use social media.

What a missed opportunity, Fred.

Shutting down Twitter is a short-term solution. It’s not going to stop your players from using it…and reading everything. Calipari was spot on when he said “If you’re reading (only) the responses (of what people say about you or the team), you shouldn’t use it.” If you can’t dismiss the negative comments and interact with others who don’t stoop to that level, then you’re not ready to use social media. It’s a conversation piece.

Which brings me back to the fans. I’ve said a few weeks ago, I’ll say it again. It’s time for fans to either start policing ourselves and curb-stomp the clowns who gives us a bad name, like Jeff Orr, and the “jihadic” wing of the Hawkeye Nation (h/t to Steve Deace).

Maybe it’s me, but it’s no wonder why I’ve started to sour on some Hawkeyes fans. For the most part, Iowa fans are loyal, dedicated, and supportive. There’s a lot of them I like and respect immensely thru social media (Graham, Schmitty, PSD, BHGP, etc), but there are too many assholes in that fan base for me to stomach. They give Iowa fans a bad name.

And Dan Dakich is right…sadly. And I grew up a Hawkeye fan.

Baseball Bloviation

Greg Maddux will likely wear an Atlanta Braves hat to Cooperstown, but he will always be a Chicago Cub to me. (ChicagoNow.com)

Every year, it’s the same thing.

The Baseball Hall of Fame. Who gets elected and inducted into the hall in July.

Should be a simple thing, right?

Not according to the fools who continue to make this election process a long-running sham filled with controversy, stupid rationales, and pure unadulterated spite.

Let’s clear a few things here at the start: it was Deadspin who came up with the idea, not Dan LeBatard (DLB). Deadspin made an offer, and DLB accepted it. Deadspin offered to pay him, he refused any payment of any kind. If you don’t want to believe that, then let me direct you to the original post by Deadspin. They explained it as clear as day what their intent was.

A preface: there are members of the Baseball Writers of America who care about making the right selections, namely Richard Justice and Jayson Stark, are upfront about their decision, and clearly hope to do right by the fans and the players they choose. This group are the ones I will not lump in with the other faction I’m going to talk about shortly.

And three: people who have an opinion that is different that popular individuals are afraid to voice them, for fear of retribution. My feeling is that you shouldn’t ask for permission to say or write that you disagree with something. You can still respect then and their views, but don’t let that get in the way of something that you feel you have to respectfully go against.

This group is the real reason that every January, there is always drama about who is voted to the Baseball Hall of Fame. This group has idiots who treat their votes like a referendum against great players. And, they publish a list of their members for public knowledge.

Okay, here it goes….

The Baseball Writers of America (BBWAA) are the ones that all of you should be upset and mad at. There is a section of these writers, who are Hall of Fame voters, who are the most spiteful, petty, sanctimonious group of hypocrites ever to grace the earth.

A******s is a better word for them.

It’s not the system…it’s the people who vote. 

Murray Chass, Dan Shaughnessy, and several others are the ones who have given the BBWAA a black eye and worst, there is no one in the BBWAA who has the cajones to stand up to these clowns. For years this faction of arrogant jerks have continued a long, sorry practice of using and abusing their voting privileges to conduct their own personal agendas against players who are HOF candidates.

And Dan LeBatard is the bad guy?

To all of you who are sitting on your high horse and talking about how DLB made a mockery of his ballot, shut the hell up. Ken Gurnick made a mockery of his vote by essentially “playing stupid” with the “I don’t know who used what or didn’t use what, so I’m taking Jack Morris” excuse. Memo to Mr. Gurnick, Morris spent a little over 1/2 of his career during the “Steroid era”. Keith Olbermann pointed that out (see his monologue down the bottom of this post. Forward to the 1:34 mark).

I have no idea how much anguish Jack Morris, or anyone else, feels after being on a ballot for 15 years and never getting that call. (Rick Stewart/Getty Images)

Chass’ rationale is even more stupefying. He says Biggio used PEDs. It doesn’t take a hot dog, a bratwurst, a kielbasa, and an Italian sausage to know that if a player’s name didn’t pop up in the Mitchell Report, rumors, or various sources regarding PED use, then it’s likely he didn’t use it. If Biggio did use PEDs, then prove it with evidence.

Chass offers nothing and isn’t forced to provide proof.

How did Craig Biggio fall two votes short of being elected? Look no further than Chass and Gurnick. Chass is to the HOF ballot as Phil Mushnick is to a column…they don’t deserve to have either.

The BBWAA is the group that is so proud of the fact that they: have never unanimously elected a Hall of Famer (and swear that they never will); are brazen enough to put Armando Benitez and Jim Deshaies, and not Biggio, on their ballot and boast about it, without repercussion, and this is where I get real upset, when they decided that Buck O’Neil wasn’t worthy of being elected…by citing his career numbers.

No one cares about Buck O’Neil’s stats. That’s not what people know O’Neil for. He was known in being one of the greatest ambassadors for the game of baseball. The man loved baseball so much, he gave his life to the game and its history. He should have been elected as a contributor while he was alive. People cared about his passion for baseball.

These bastards, the BBWAA, waited until he was six feet under to “finally” elect him.

Shameful and pompous.

And Dan LeBatard is the bad guy?

Yeah, that’s what Gregg Doyel, Michael Wilbon, and Tony Korheiser thinks. I wonder what they would do with their votes. Oh wait, they’ve never had a vote in any sports hall of fame that I can think of. Carry on.

I’ve had my issues with Bob Costas in the past. I respect him, and I can disagree with him. His statement on Thursday on DLB’s ESPN radio show:

…was as insult to fans.

Excuse me, Bob, isn’t that what the voters have been doing? Voting for people they like, not because they like them, but to spite those they hate and loathe?

Are you telling me that fans are too stupid to understand sports? You expect us to sit down, keep quiet, and bark when you tell them to bark and agree with your view of “what sports should be”?

Elitists like Costas, George Will, and others, including some bloggers and media critics, need a dose of crow. Fans are tired of being preached at about how to watch, talk, and think about sports . This is why fans gravitate to sites like Deadspin, Awful Announcing, and other sports links to get their news and talk about what they’ve seen and heard.

Those places don’t “talk down” to their readers and listeners. Fans have more access, virtually, to what goes on in a game, locker room, and what sports media talk about.

Bob, you’re starting to sound like the crusty old white guys who are unwilling to evolve with the rest of the world. In most places, they’re known as Republicans, but this isn’t a political blog.

For those who act like you’re horrified by what Deadspin and DLB has done, spare me the moral speeches.

Because you would have done the same damn thing, or close to it, to make a statement about the BBWA. The great Richard Justice pointed this out:

and this one.

And Dan LeBatard is the bad guy?

It’s voters like Marty Noble who get away with indefensible excuses and hateful spite, that they are never admonished for it by their own peers. But they have no problems resorting to the “do as we say, not as we do” logic on DLB, which in my humble opinion is bullshit.

It is voters like Richard Justice, Peter Gammons, Ray Ratto, and Jayson Stark who have been trying to shed light on how their fellow voters abuse and uses their votes and ballots as vengeful tools and soapbox preaching. If anything, LeBatard and Deadspin gave them an added boost in getting the public to support their cause to change this ungodly and soulless manifest destiny.

Keith Olbermann, another guy I don’t agree with most of the time, nails it with this take:

Enough of this bloviation and fake outrage towards one person, so that a group could cover up the sins of their own fellow voters. The BBWAA has no one but themselves to blame, along with the Hall of Fame. The inability to police themselves is clear and evident.

They Made Social Media Fun: Lava Row

Lava Row helped make social media “cool” in my book.

It started as an idea. A simple idea.

How do you teach companies and entities how to use this new thing called “social media”?

Since 2007, Lava Row went out and taught companies and corporations not only how to use social media, but to learn about how powerful it can be…for good…and for bad.

Hillary Brown (Blue Compass)

Lava Row was no ordinary company. Never stale, rigid, they made social media sound and looked cool. I can attribute that to people who were behind Lava Row: Nathan Wright, Hillary Brown, and Norah Carroll.

This past Wednesday, Nathan announced that Lava Row will end its operations, as he has accepted the position of Digital Marketing and Innovation for Hy-Vee, Iowa’s largest grocery chain. Lava Row did what it was intended to do, but it did more than that: it put a face on social media.

They made it easy to embrace social media and get past the fear of it. From education to branding, Nathan, Norah, and Hillary made it fun and interactive. Even their pets got in on the act: Arlo the Corgi, Weezer the Beagle, and Woz the Hedgehog. There was always something interesting going on at Lava Row, and everyone wondered what was next.

Norah Carroll (Drake University)

It was either Nathan describing two guys at a suburban bar “popping collars” before a scrum, Weezer rooting for Iowa State and Hillary’s love for gymnastics, or Norah being wowed by a certain guy who got a crowd to stop talking at an magazine unveiling party (to paraphrase, she tweeted “that was so badass.”)

If not for Lava Row, individuals and companies would continue to wander in the wilderness, trying to make sense of how to market themselves, connect with a new niche of customers, and learn what not to post on Twitter.

Secondly, if not for Lava Row, all three (Nathan, Hillary, and Norah) wouldn’t be sought after social media experts in the Silicon Prairie, especially in Des Moines: with Nathan heading to Hy-Vee, Norah recently heading to Veridian, and Hillary going to Integer and now working for Blue Compass.

Nathan T. Wright (Quora.com)

Social media is not a form of science or convoluted procedure. It is an avenue, a form of communication to interact with people, gauge their interest, converse about like-minded interest, and to engage them in what they like, detest, and observe.

As companies move forward, it is imperative for them to open access to all lines of communication to their customers, vendors, and to their own employees, to foster ideas, address issues, and promote goodwill. Our society evolves with every new idea, an idea that is destined to make it better for us to communicate.

We’ve gone a long way from the Pony Express and telegraphs to blogs and iPhone Facetime to connect to our world.

Hopefully as the final chapter is written about Lava Row, it would be said that Lava Row was one of the leaders who helped with the creation and cultivation of the Silicon Prairie, assisted in the building of a community of collaboration, and importantly, the way we use social media in our daily lives.

As the signature logo, the Lava Row iguana, prepares to hang it up, let’s remember, for the good times, how much fun it was and the lessons we have learned and put it to use when it comes to social media.

Thanks Lava Row for making it cool.

Grounds For Divorce

I’m filing for divorce.

There, I said it.

I need time away to see if I want to continue this relationship as a Hawkeye fan.

Why am I doing this? Easy. There is a faction (a certain group) of Iowa fans and media that has made it hard for me to remain a fan.

The last three weeks should have been something to  smile and cheer about. The Hawkeyes men’s basketball team ended up playing for the NIT championship game on Thursday night. They finished with 25 wins, the first time the Hawks finished with 20 or more wins since 2006.  Fans have started to rally around this team and coach Fran McCaffrey.

But, most of that took a back seat to something that should have went away after a few days, but it continues to have legs.

An individual, who left this state in the spring of 2007 became the hot topic for Hawkeyes fans. I’m not going to say his name. I’m tired of hearing it. I’m not going to list all of the things that took place during that era, because most of you are well-versed in.

I never had an opinion of him either way. Nor do I care. It was time for a clean slate.

However, a certain group of fans, some members of the media, and others can’t seem to cut loose an albatross around their necks. A few days of it is okay, but like many topics, they go away, and a new topic comes up.

But, they are still talking about him and won’t shut up about it. We’ve wasted our time and are burned out.  It’s time to drop it, once and for all.

The more you talk about this individual, you downplay the efforts of what Fran McCaffrey has done to revive this program. The more you talk about “that guy”, the more you prove Dan Dakich’s point that we live in the past and can’t move forward.  The more you keep bringing up “that guy’s” name, you drive away loyal and sensible Hawkeyes fans with this drivel. 

Those fans have moved on from that era, but you won’t let them.

It’s time for the rest of you to do the same.

If you can’t, then that’s a “you” problem. You should appreciate how far this Iowa men’s basketball program have come from that sordid, tense, and acrimonious era. and the period after that.

As fans, we’ve seen the bottom of the barrel. We’re finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Sadly, some choose to keep lurking in the dark, obsessed over one guy. How dare you let your obsession of this individual take the fun away from the rest of us.

Herky has no time to live in the past. He should know. He’s seen the days of losing football and basketball before. He likes what he sees in Fran and the boys.

You make it hard to be a Hawkeye fan, especially when you can’t appreciate what you got now.

Jay Whannel, fellow Wartburg College alum, put it best:

“He’s not here anymore. It’s over. Move on.”

But, most of you refuse to do so, and it’s pissing me off.

I don’ t need to read Pat Harty’s column, watch Keith Murphy rant, listen to Ken Miller, and read Dan Bernstein’s troll tweets about this individual. Enough already about “that guy”. Yet, you keep poking us with a stick to get us to react to your opinion about him.

Three weeks of this crap is enough. I don’t care if you support him or hate him. It’s time to bury the damn coffin and walk away.

Which is why I want a divorce.

This time, it’s not about me. It’s about you. You won’t let it die, and it’s killing us.

It’s not your problem anymore. It’s UCLA’s deal now.

It’s a sad state of affairs when a fan base spend more time talking about a polarizing individual than Eric May, Devyn Marble, and a group of kids busting their asses on the floor. We’re still picking at the healed scab, screaming to the rooftops to anyone about how much that scab hurts.

I’m fed up with it.

This guy and his team would prefer that you stop standing under that black cloud that you’re holding over yourself. It’s a new day in Iowa City. Take advantage, man, take advantage.

Fran McCaffrey and the Iowa program doesn’t need a black cloud hanging over them, but you keep pulling the cloud back over the program so you can continue to bitch about “that guy”.

Company loves misery.

I’m not down with that. A few others are with me on this.

So to the group of fans and media that’s still picking that scab known as “that guy”, I’ll see you this fall.

I’m willing to reconcile and get back together. I believe in the adage that time heals wounds and rebuilding trust.

But for now, get your shit together, get some counseling, or whatever you need, and stop talking about “that guy”.

You’re better than that.

The Value of “Skills and Expertise” on LinkedIn: What Does It Really Say About Me?

The fabulous Becky Mollenkamp posed a question this morning on Twitter

“Wow, I must be really good.  People I don’t know are endorsing me on LinkedIn. (Seriously, why would you endorse someone you don’t know?)”

I was wondering the same thing.  Not that I don’t mind being endorsed by people I know, but I have to ask myself about the skills and expertise that I profess to be great at. 

What am I an “expert” in? 

Let’s go down the list of the skills and expertise I’ve been “endorsed” for: 

Social media:  I know how to use social media, mainly for recreational use and to help plug a few people, things, and causes.  I know nothing about measuring the “return on investment” and “value” social media provides to a business, and the metrics of who follows what on social media.  I toss stuff on Twitter to see if it sticks.

Event planning:  I should clarify this.  I don’t consider myself as an event planner.  I don’t plan events.  I help “coordinate” events so that the logistics are in sync, people are where they should be and doing what they are assigned to do, as well as putting out small fires.  I’m not really a coordinator.  I keep things in order.

Fundraising:  the one area where I need the biggest improvement in.  I don’t know how to raise money (translation = get on my hands and knees and beg you to give money to a cause).  I suck in asking for money.  

Program management:  see event planning.  I keep things in order.

Editing:  I’ve never edited a book, magazine, or anything on a grand scale.  But give me a manual and ask me to proofread it or tweak it, yeah, I can do that.

Microsoft Office:  everyone knows how to use Microsoft Office.  It shouldn’t be considered a requirement on job descriptions, because we all use it as a function at work every day..

Social networking:  I network with people…socially.  I admit, I’m still having a difficult time learning how to use LinkedIn as a virtual business networking tool.  As far as networking in person, I’m still intimidated by people in high places (or are in better jobs/have better job titles).  What do I really offer as a service to them if we decide to network? 

I know there has to be a better way to use LinkedIn effectively, without using it as a way to collect virtual business cards from people to add to my online Rolodex.  I feel like a sleazy used car salesman doing that. 

Don’t misconstrue that I’m selling myself short on my skills.  I have to be honest in what I have done with my skills and how I have used them.  With that in mind, what does my “skills” tell others who see my LinkedIn profile?  Is it of value enough to be hired by employers?  Is it “business”-focused?  Does it offer “return of investment” for an employer? 

What does your “skills and expertise” really say to you when you read it?

Don’t Like It? Then Don’t Follow or Tweet About It

People have different ways to mourn and remember an individual.  I have learned that you can’t tell people how to mourn and remember.  Frankly, it’s none of my business to tell people that they have no business spending their time on something that isn’t a big deal to me.  

With that said, there has been a disturbing trend of certain people feeling the need to admonish or lecture people on social media (Twitter and Facebook in particular) about who to mourn, how to mourn, and telling them that one person’s death is more important as someone else’s death.  

Personally, I think it’s insulting and revolting.  No one person’s death is important that another person’s death.  In fact, there are no comparisons and should be no comparisons.   

Last I checked, I never tweeted, Facebooked, or told anyone that they should stop mourning Whitney Houston and mourn servicemen and servicewomen because they are more important than Houston. 

And neither should you.  If you don’t want to read the tweets or the posts about Whitney Houston, Jerry Sandusky, SOPA/PIPA, or anyone else, let me give you one advice: 

Get off of Twitter for a while, or better yet, stop bitching about it.  If I can ignore all of the Houston tribute tweets, why is it so difficult for you to do that?  No, you don’t have an excuse.  You can ignore and follow the threads or topics that you care about. 

But stop getting on social media and blasting people who care about things that you don’t care about.  I don’t care much for some topics, so I don’t tweet or write about them. 

It’s simple as that. 

People who complain and whine are individuals who look for something to complain and whine about.  If you don’t have a vested interest in a news story or topic, ignore it and move on.  Like an adult. 

Houston’s daughter has more important things to deal with. 

Like burying her mother. 

Not reading what jackasses like me are tweeting about. 

The Curious Case of a Trophy Gone Wrong

Here's an idea: use this trophy to promote and honor farm families at halftime of the Iowa/ISU game.

Alright…let’s get this out-of-the-way. 

  • The new Cy-Hawk trophy was head-scratcher to see.  It’s a good idea…for a wrong topic.  See my idea in the picture caption above.  There are ways to still use the trophy above and still tie it to the game…for better reason, if we want to honor our heritage and tradition of being an agricultural state. 
  • The people got what they wanted…a new trophy.  Now do us a favor, fans: don’t get too crazy.  A simple nice design will do. 
  • This is only my opinion:  I felt that Iowa and ISU threw the Iowa Corn Growers Association under the bus by not coming out immediately and defending them.  Both schools approached the ICG about sponsoring (remember, ICG was asked to sponsor) a trophy, had ample input into what they (schools) wanted in the new trophy, and had no issues with the design.  Today, at the presser, both schools tried to take some guilt for the fiasco, but for the flak that the ICG received, much credit is given to the ICG for explaining what went into the process, taking the criticism, and being open to come up with a new design. 

They owned it, when the schools didn’t want to.  Again, that’s my opinion. 

I didn't think it was a bad trophy. Today, fans understand how lucky we were to have this. Better support the new one that we vote for.
  • A sports talk show host attempted to blame the governor for propelling the ICG to do an about-face.  Correction, hombre.  If you stick a microphone in a person’s face and ask them for their opinion, guess what?  They will give your their opinion.  We, the fans, wanted to know, and ye shall hear it. 

Plus, it’s a bit juvenile for said show host to block or refuse to take calls on this topic.  I know that radio hosts always have the last word (see Jack Trudeau), but they show a lack of class by cutting off the audience. 

You are hired to talk local sports.  People care about the sports in their state and hometown.  Nobody cares about the New York Jets or the Winnipeg Jets. 

The opinions of the audience have a far greater impact than what a guy sitting behind the microphone thinks.  Thank goodness Murph and Andy understand the audience and let them voice their opinion. 

  • And please, for the love of Francis X. Cretzmeyer and Gary Thompson, stop with the “they turned a positive into a negative” line.  It’s clichéd and redundant.  Iowa Corn Growers did what they supposed to do:  take stock of the opinions of their customers and the public. 

Every company, organization, entrepreneur, and others have to do this on a daily basis.  If they don’t, people who are on Twitter will not be afraid to say it and pass the word. 

It’s called listening to your audience, even if they don’t use their product.  ICG did their job.  Nothing more, nothing less.  Now, get off of their backs and help them out with putting together a new trophy. 

I rest my case.