The Pirates continued their impressive streak of bad PR today. On the heels of getting petty with a local bar, the team has silenced top catching prospect Tony Sanchez by forcing him to quit Twitter.
Tony tweeted today "see ya twitter. thanks fans for your continued support. Pittsburgh is the only goal and twitter standing in my way."
Dejan Kovacevic reported on his PG+ blog that he did this under order of Pirates baseball operations.
Tony found himself in a minor controversy just one week ago when he criticized an umpire for a call in a game that night.
Now, the Pirates have every right to be cautious about their employees crossing a line in social media. That said, this smacks of the Pirates not having a clue on how to connect with their fan base. I followed Tony on Twitter, and it was pretty cool keeping tabs on a first round draft pick who is destined for the big leagues as he works his way through the minor league system. He showed a lot of personality and was engaging to Pirates fans and local bloggers. Forcing him to shut down over some relatively harmless tweets, rather than simply giving him a talking to about keeping the company line, comes off as remarkably shortsighted.
The Pirates have a top young prospect building a fan base through social media as he approaches Pittsburgh, which is exactly the kind of buzz the team could use. But rather than encouraging his behavior, the Pirates pull the plug on him.
Examples such as these make Pirates PR seem like the whims of an egomaniacal individual, rather than a modern organization that sees the big picture, and is in stark contrast to the Penguins, who go out of their way often to create positive PR.
Update: Just to drive home the point of how far the Penguins have come since being taken over by ownership and management that has made a point of fostering their relationship with the fans, they are a nominee in the Sports Business Journal's Professional Team of the Year. Also nominated: Chip Ganassi Racing. While not based in Pittsburgh, Chip himself is a Fox Chapel native. Consol Energy Center is nominated for Facility of the Year.