Weekly Recap: Kirk & the Quake, Social Media in Pro Sports & Baseball Withdrawals

Happy Sunday night from the library!

Between bouts of studiousness, I decided to recap my favorite readings from the week – lots of good stuff in the baseball, social media and college football worlds.

As great as this weekend was in college football (or not great, depending on how you look at it – the guys at The Solid Verbal aptly termed the ‘Bama-LSU showdown the “Lame of the Century”), I have to admit that I miss baseball. Desperately. There is something about it that’s more constant than football.

Sure, no one’s going to sit on the couch and watch baseball games for a whole Saturday, and unfortunately the season isn’t filled with World Series Game 6-style contests. Football provides an exciting burst every weekend for a few months, but it’s nothing like the steadiness of baseball that can occupy your thoughts from March to October.

My grandpa frequently tips me off to interesting articles, including this NPR story by Glenn Stout that touches on those baseball-withdrawal emotions. It will resonate with baseball fans. Take heart, he reminds us: it’ll be back soon enough.

Speaking of baseball, I was lucky to stumble upon a blog series hosted by the Social Media Club. During the first week of every month, they feature posts on a specialized topic, and November was focused on social media use in professional sports.

Wednesday’s post looked into the Cleveland Indians’ social media efforts, specifically their hugely successful Tribe Social Deck promotion, which launched in 2010 (now named the Indians Social Suite). Rob Campbell, former digital media coordinator for the team (talk about a dream job title), detailed how social media impacted the team. Some eye-popping stats:

  • In a sentiment analysis conducted prior to the implementation of their social strategy, they found that online sentiment about the team was 50% positive, 10% negative and 40% neutral. Two years later, an analysis measured a near 80% positive rating.
  • By using a unique approach to social media-based promotions, the team increased its social media revenue by over 125% this year. They offered their Twitter followers and Facebook fans a ticket discount, but offered them a greater discount if they shared it with friends.

I also learned a lot from Kevin Saghy, a public relations and marketing specialist for the Chicago Cubs. His post looked at how the Cubs enhance the fan experience by expanding online relationships; for example, if someone tweeted that they were at their first Cubs game, someone from their PR team would ask for their seat location and bring them a small gift. How cool is that?! It’s awesome, but he stressed the importance of meeting fan expectations before trying to exceed them – something that can be easily forgotten when you’re rushing to make a big impression.

And now for one frivolous item:

I hate to make fun of this face, because I'd freak out if an earthquake happened while I was on live TV. But Herbstreit's earthquake eyes make me laugh.

A few weeks back, after attending College GameDay in Eugene, my roommate Miranda developed a crush on Kirk Herbstreit. She didn’t express interest during the actual taping, but we had ESPN on the tube later that night and she revealed her affections. Our conversation:

Miranda: Who’s that guy on the far right?
Me: Kirk Herbstreit.
Miranda: Kirk Herbstreit?
Me: (jokingly, but knowing she wouldn’t ask for no reason) Yeah. Why, Miranda? Do you have a crush on him?
Miranda: A little bit! (A minute later, after Googling) Oh my gosh, he’s 42!

You can only imagine how adorable she found his reaction to last night’s earthquake in Stillwater, Oklahoma. “His eyes got so big!” she exclaimed. I know this video has made its way around the Twitters today, but I found it hilarious and had to include it anyway. (I’m so glad Yahoo!’s Graham Watson pointed out how long Fowler’s question was to begin with; the first time I watched it, I couldn’t believe how much he rambled. I wouldn’t have blamed Herbstreit for asking him to repeat it, even without the quake.)

If you’d like to divulge your television broadcaster crush (mine is Brian Williams) or share any interesting tidbits or articles you read this week, I’d love to hear!

0-1.

A blog is nothing if not a home for mindless ramblings, right?

Well, tonight it becomes a home for my thoughts on the Oregon Ducks’ season-opening loss to LSU (wow, talk about words I never wanted to write).

We lost our season opener and have essentially lost our hopes of returning to the BCS title game. LaMichael James probably won’t win the Heisman, either.

I hate the "at least we have cool uniforms" line in defense of poor play, but our unis really were sick. (Photo credit: Bruce Ely, The Oregonian)

Dozens of other teams will face those same realities this year. Eventually, most teams that had BCS potential and most players who were named to a Heisman watch list will have to accept that they fell short.

Such was the fate of both the Ducks and LaMichael last year: the team didn’t win the BCS title, and LaMichael finished third in Heisman voting. But we had all of September, October, November and most of December to believe that both of those achievements were possible. We spent nearly four months on top of the college football world.

Now it’s September 3, and we already know we have little chance of reliving last season’s dominance. Yeah, I’m probably being a little dramatic, but this loss will sting for awhile.

Of course, Duck fans still have a lot to look forward to (that list doesn’t include Andrew Luck, however. If we can’t beat Jarrett Lee, I’m terrified of facing Luck). De’Anthony Thomas got some big-game experience and showed promise, and the defense looked impressive at times. I’m not a football analyst, so I can’t break down all aspects of the game, but I know we still have 11 (maybe 12) chances to prove ourselves out there. And while it’s not quite as fun if your team’s not doing well, there is a lot of great college football waiting for us every Saturday.

It just plain stinks to start the season off on a low note, but when the Ducks run out of the tunnel at Autzen Stadium next Saturday, you better believe that we’ll be cheering our hearts out.

Early game recaps:

True talk from ESPN.com’s Ted Miller: “We can debate the details of the SEC’s ascendancy, but it’s meaningless when you don’t beat them.”

We really missed Cliff Harris in this game, and Pete Thamel of the New York Times reminds us just how much we missed him.

Bryan Fischer of CBS breaks down how and why LSU won.

Ben Kercheval of CollegeFootballTalk works in a pretty bad pun with Jerrett Lee’s name.

Get another look at those stunning uniforms in these photos from The Oregonian’s Bruce Ely (including the photo above).