Danny Duffy vs. @BHIndepMO: Twitter Fights, Royals, and A New Breed of Fan


May 03, 2012; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals starting pitcher

Danny Duffy

(23) delivers a pitch in the first inning against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Twitter is weird.

Last night the Royals lost yet another one-run game, this time to the Cleveland Indians 6-5 after the bullpen collapsed and the offense couldn’t cash in on late opportunities. It has been a season-long story for the Royals, now 13-17 in one-run games, who have not been able to produce the hit big hit or get the big out to reverse one-run losses into one-run wins.

Naturally, a one-run loss in the first game of a key 20-game stretch did not sit well with fans on Twitter. One of the major voices in Royals twitterverse is @BHIndepMO – Brandon H. – whose keen research abilities tend to unearth harsh realities about the current Royals and the Royals history from the last 20 years. Yes, his tweets trend negative but when the basis of his tweets are unearthing statistical facts about the Royals recent past there simply isn’t going to be a lot of positives. He’s not a guy who is going to say something positive for the sake of being positive, which is something that can very be polarizing for a fanbase whose investment in the team is based on hope and future potential.

One ultimate Royals fan is Danny Duffy, who happens to also be a rehabbing starting pitcher for the Royals. His intense positivity is the inverse of what Brandon brings to the Royals twitterverse. He isn’t going to bring you facts about why the Royals are going to turn things around, but instead focuses on positives and pumping up fans. It is incredibly hard to follow Duffy on twitter and not be excited about the Royals.

Last night saw those two perspectives clash on twitter.

What exactly got Duffy going is unknown. Duffy claims the offending tweets were deleted but I think these three tweets are really what got him riled up.  (UPDATE: See the tweet at the bottom of the post. It appears there were a few tweets about Duffy by Brandon.)

I gather this because Duffy later tweeted about how the team is playing their asses off but this is speculation on my part. There is a chance Brandon could have tweeted something personal about Duffy but I seriously doubt that was the case given the context of Brandon’s timeline and his twitter history. Duffy is a very loyal guy and reading Brandon’s tweets about the Royals hitters having not “won anything” seems like the most likely thing to have aggravated Duffy.

Of course this set off a twitter frenzy which ended with Duffy blocking Brandon and people taking sides on whether Brandon is too negative and not a real fan or that Duffy as a public figure and an entertainer who should never call out a fan. Even former 610 Sports radio host Nick Wright chimed in.

Twitter is a weird place.

It is the unfiltered mixture of voices which make up Twitter that makes it such a unique place to follow sports. Like the media, the individuals with a strong voice on twitter are determined by the value of the content they produce. But instead of a few companies determining which voices have the chance to be heard, Twitter allows everyone in the world to be in the mix: It is the masses who choose what content is the most valuable and not an editor at newspaper.

This is why you can have a guy who couldn’t be picked out a crowd commanding the attention of a locally famous professional baseball player.

Brandon’s following may be small but it is loud. He along with guys like Kevin Agee, Michael Engel, Craig Brown, Keith Blackburn, Kevin Scobee, The Artist Formally Known as Fake Ned and a few others together on twitter can help shape and direct the narrative of the Royals season/franchise as much as any other group of people. They are fans, yes, but they are a unique kind of fan that is new to the sports scene – voices that can have effects on players careers (see: Francoeur, Jeff and Getz, Chris) and general managers jobs. These fans have effects on what is discussed on radio shows and what is written in newspaper columns.

It is not surprising to me Duffy commented about Brandon because Brandon is part of this new breed of fan who holds influence – however small or large – over the way Duffy, his teammates, and organization are viewed. Duffy wasn’t attacking a fan so much as he was standing up against an idea which Brandon happens to be a chief voice in propagating. It isn’t fair for Brandon to be singled out by Duffy but it isn’t fair to define what Duffy did as attacking a fan either.

Yes, it would have been wiser for Duffy to have not said anything at all because public relations means almost as much in modern sports as winning does. But the relationship between athletes and fans is changing along with the definition of a fan.

What happened on Twitter last night is part of the growing pains of figuring out this new era in sports. Hopefully the Royals can start winning so Brandon and Duffy can have better things to tweet about, otherwise there will be more moments like this between the Royals and their fanbase.

Also, Twitter is weird.


Ed. Note: You can follow KC Kingdom on twitter @KCKingdomFS, Ben Nielsen @bdn723, Joel Wagler @jawsrecliner, Nathan Edwards @Prez04, Jacob Meysenburg @JacobMeysenburg, Josh Michaels @jishmichaels, and Aaron Reese @deviator77. To date we have had zero twitter fights but we are working on that.