Martinez Twitter incident learning experience for Cards
Matheny discusses practicing social media responsibility with righty, then team
JUPITER, Fla. -- A day after Deadspin posted a list of pornographic images that showed up on the Twitter feed of Cardinals right-hander Carlos Martinez, the club addressed what manager Mike Matheny called "an embarrassment" and general manager John Mozeliak termed "a disappointment" to the organization.
Matheny met Tuesday morning with Martinez to discuss the nature of tweets that showed up as items he highlighted with the "favorite" button on his account. Then, for the third time this spring, the manager used his morning team meeting with players to discuss the need to be vigilant with the use of social media.
"It's part of being a professional athlete," Matheny said. "We're not looking for any sympathy from anybody, but anything that you do right now is one fraction of a second away from being all over the world. There has never been a time in history like this. It heightens our message. It heightens our urgency to make sure that we're diligent and we're disciplined to educate and to make aware that when something like this happens, it's going to be an embarrassment to you and when something like this happens, it's going to be an embarrassment to us. He's embarrassed, and we're embarrassed.
"The details of it, I'm not going to necessarily get into. But I am going to say that he acknowledges however it did happen, it was never his intention for it to happen that way, as far as it able to be broadcasted. He's confused on how that exactly happened. Nonetheless, it did. And he's willing to stand up and figure out how he's got to move forward."
The volume of inappropriate tweets and the times they were sent out suggested that Martinez's account "was either broken into or hacked to get it to the level that it happened," Mozeliak said.
However, Mozeliak added that that was not to suggest Martinez was entirely absolved.
"You think about the pitfalls or perils of social media these days, and people have to understand and be smart that it is a very large audience," Mozeliak said. "We're disappointed on one hand, but on the other, we expect it to get cleaned up and not happen again. ... He has to be aware of what he's doing on Twitter and understand that it's more than just what you tweet. If you're going to highlight favorites, people can find them or see what they are. He has to be a little more responsible on exactly what he's doing when he's using that."
Mozeliak and other Cardinals staff members became aware of the inappropriate material on Martinez's Twitter feed on Monday, before Deadspin, a sports website that offers commentary on various sports issues and athletes, brought national attention to the account.
It took some time for the Cardinals to reach Martinez, who had already left the complex. Once contacted, Martinez deleted the tweets from his page.
"[We need to] just make sure that they realize that the stuff that doesn't get to the entire world, there's very little chance that it's not going to come past my desk," Matheny said. "Not that that should be something I'm trying intimidate them on, but [they need to] realize we're paying close attention. We don't want distractions. We're going to do everything we can to help you guys, but you have to help yourself. You guys have to be on point all the time. If you let your guard down for a second, it's going to be a distraction to you as you're out here trying to compete, and it's going to be a distraction for us as we try to do what we're trying to do."
Matheny also cited the responsibility that baseball players have to be role models.
"My concern is I'm not trying to shove my morality down anybody's throat," Matheny said. "I'm making that very clear. But I also need these guys to understand that it's not just me that they need to be concerned about. There are a bunch of young eyes that absolutely admire these guys and watch everything that they do. And realize, is this something that you want your kids to see? Is this something that you want to be known for? And is this how you want to be remembered?
"I think the days of Charles Barkley saying, 'I'm not supposed to be a role model' -- that's gone. If that's what you want to do, you should have been a computer programmer sitting in your flip flops at home somewhere. We are, like it or not, role models. And that's the danger when this hits the area that it hits. There are a lot of young eyes that love the St. Louis Cardinals and our players and could be easily influenced.
"I think we all agree, regardless of where your moral compass points, those sort of things that we're talking about right now are not the sort of things that we want our kids in. Once again, that's just part of the embarrassment that goes on there. He gets it. Yesterday was not a good day for him."
In 2012, Major League Baseball began issuing a Social Media Policy, which the Cardinals make sure is given to all of their players. The organization has also written its own social media guidelines, and that is disseminated to players at every level.
This marks the second time in four months that the Twitter account of a player in the organization has become national news. During the World Series, a tweet by Minor League pitcher Tyler Melling drew attention to a supposed substance in the glove of Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester. Melling has not used his Twitter account since. The Cardinals will not require that Martinez stop using social media.
Incidentally, the Cardinals had previously scheduled a session on social media with its early-arriving Minor Leaguers on Tuesday. During that session, Martinez's missteps on Twitter were used as an example of how not to use social media platforms.
"It was just a poor choice of sites visited," Mozeliak said. "Again, it wasn't the smartest thing to do, but it happened, and we hope it doesn't happen again. We also hope that other people learn from it."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.