ESPN’s Keith Law’s Attempt to Defame Me Highlights Dangers of Social Media Overreactions

I was watching the White Sox game on Monday night when something on the replay of a Jimmy Rollins double caught my attention. What I assumed was a young fan, glued to their phone, head down, while Rollins ripped the pitch into right field. I took a screen shot and made an average at best joke…

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It seemed pretty harmless to me. My intentions were simple, we look at our phones too much, myself included, and miss a lot of life that is happening right in front of us. I meant nothing more, nothing less. That was 11PM ET.

There were a couple of remarks and then I went to bed. This morning I woke up to much more.

There was a disparaging remark about my ERA (the usual). Then a few millennials somehow turning this into me insinuating that their generation was dumb and uses their phones too much (we all do).

Then it got weirder. I started getting remarks about asking me why I thought women couldn’t buy their own seats behind the dugout. That was strange. I never even said the person was a woman. It was pretty clear that I believed this person was a teenager.

So I tweeted this…

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I poked fun at fake Twitter outrage and how silly it was that people could take something from nothing. I thought it was over. It wasn’t.

I started seeing mentions that also had ESPN’s Keith Law tagged in them. I don’t follow Keith, but respect his work. I assumed he just retweeted me and moved on. But the more tweets I saw I wasn’t quite so sure. So I decided to check it out and found this…

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Keith has a huge Twitter presence with over 450,000 followers. He has strong social media influence. He was way off in his assumption. Who outside of the trolls said anything about women?

His tweet didn’t bother me despite the fact that he was taking this in a direction that had no validity. What did bother me was that he quote tweeted me, which means he commented in front of the retweet so that all of his followers could see his comments and then my tweet. He didn’t want to share his opinion with me and make me reconsider what I tweeted or start constructive dialogue, he wanted nearly a half a million people to believe that I was being sexist.

It was unfair and I addressed it with him. He didn’t relent.

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I used color splash on the Aviary app to highlight the person in the front row. Color splash turns a photo black and white and then uses the original color anywhere you tell it to. I highlighted our front row fan, to simply show what that person was doing at the time of Jimmy Rollins double. The colors are all original, I didn’t change the hat to pink, it was pink. It seems Keith felt the color was also sexist. I saw this…

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The picture highlighted gender? I don’t see a face, I don’t see a body. I see long hair and pink hat. Oh, boys are not allowed to have long hair or wear pink hats? OK, got it. Which one of us is stereotyping gender?

You can make something out of nothing if you try hard enough and that is what Keith did here. Safe to say he is oversensitive to sexism, especially in the sport that he covers. So instead of being objective, he was blinded by he his likely hatred for sexists athletes and quickly tried to throw me in that group and under the bus.

It wasn’t right and it certainly wasn’t fair. The attempt to defame me was a huge disappointment, especially when it came from another analyst in this business. None of what Keith insinuated is true.

I can appreciate people standing up for one another and taking on a cause that does not directly effect them. But we have to be better. Trigger phrases like sexist, racist or homophobe are hot button topics that are difficult to defend without getting shouted down. We throw these terms around way too loosely.

Ultimately we are doing the people affected by real bigotry an injustice. The world becomes desensitized to the topics and accusations the more we try to accuse those that are not actually guilty. Then when it really matters less and less people will give the claims the attention they deserve. Just like the boy who cried wolf.

Be careful what you say and post about others online. And if you really care about a subject, a serious one, address the person with the respect you want back from them. Screaming, yelling and quote tweeting lies doesn’t solve anything and it certainly doesn’t bring us a place of civil discourse, which is the only place where anything gets resolved.

Despite the absence of an apology you’re forgiven Keith.

Also, I have to block you on Twitter since you wrongly took one of my tweets and tried to smear my name to 450,000 people. I’ll miss you. No hard feelings.