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Fat Jokes and Twitter-Baiting…

April 19, 2012 Leave a comment

Tony Kornheiser, of PTI fame, has repeatedly said that the reason he’s not on Twitter – other than being too old to know how to use the google machine – is that he knows two minutes in he’d say something stupid that would end up ruining his career. For all its greatness, Twitter is a medium that leads people to shoot from the proverbial hip, when perhaps they should take a moment to exhale.

Jays catcher JP Arencibia found himself embroiled in a little controversy this morning, when he responded to a baiting tweet by calling his combatant fat. Eric Mirlis, a sports talk show host was the subject of this tweet from the Jays embattled catcher,

@themirl please have one more donut, looks like u need it!

Most of the commentary around Arencibia’s tweet, including from the Getting Blanked guys here, has taken the stance that Arencibia was in the wrong for making a fat joke about the guy. And, I guess they are right, he probably should have simply exhaled, remembered that he’s a young, attractive (cough-at least according to my wife – cough), wealthy baseball player. Early season struggles or not, his life is pretty good. So, you’d like to think that JP would be above reacting to Twitter riff-raff goading him, plus a joke about the guy’s weight does probably cross some sort of line, but here’s my question, why in the world was a professional sports pundit tweeting to Arencibia to denigrate his play anyhow?

Scary bad stat line: @jparencibia9 ranked behind guys like Mike Morse and V-Mart so far this season…and they have not played.

You could say that this is an innocuous tweet, and that fat jokes are in bad taste, and yes, Arencibia is a professional athlete who should be above such petty repartees, but isn’t that exactly what the guy was looking for? Why else was he tweeting @ Arencibia? What’s the upside? In reading Eric Mirlis’ twitter feed, it seems that after his comment, he’s been lambasted by Arencibia fans, to which he’s responded with comments like,

Respect is a two way way street.

and,

It is about accountability. There is none on Twitter.

Mirlis is right, it is about accountability and respect. he showed neither when he chose to include Arencibia in his tweet. He’s certainly justified in posing the question to his radio listeners and he is probably justified in tweeting the question, but doesn’t including Arencibia in the tweet cross into some form of baiting? I understand that athletes are paid a lot of money, and thus have to accept some backlash and criticism as part of the job, but do they need to have that criticism rubbed directly into their face? Twitter – and the internet in general – breeds this kind of vitriol, both Mirlis’ baiting and Arencibia’s retort, but does that mean that like Mr Tony we need to just avoid it all together? Shouldn’t there be some sort of decorum required? If not from the casual (trolling) fan, then from the professionals?

Of course, as a talk show host, perhaps this is the level of decorum that Mirlis subscribes to,

To @jparencibia9 and his fans who think they are funny…my show is on this Sunday night at 10. Call in and come get me. I’m right here.

After all, as he himself says,

The down side of Twitter…even the bottom feeders can use it.

I’m sure Arencibia is thinking the same thing.

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