Public Opinion on Manny Ramirez...via Twitter

| by Dr Gwenn
"Manny being Manny"? Not this time. This time, Manny has crossed a very serious line.

I actually learned about the the Manny mess via Twitter...which seems to be the place to get breaking news for me lately. I keep Tweetdeck up and running on my computer...often on a second screen...and now and again look up to see what's going on. Four days ago when the story broke, I saw two back to back tweets from @MeredithOBrien:

I have to admit, given Manny's past stunts while a Red Sox player, I wasn't shocked, although disappointed. Doping up is now way for a MLB player paid any amount to behave. I'm not sure the 50 games does justice to the incident. In my opinion, this is such a serious offense, it should be an automatic season suspension.

The court of public opinion has not been favorable towards Manny. Part of the issue is Manny's past behavior has worn on everyone. But, the other issue is the drug use to get ahead in the game. People have a zero tolerance for that, as I discovered by doing a search for "Manny" on Twitter. Twitter is a great source of not only tracking topics, called "trending topics" in Twiterease, but for gauging the public's reaction to a situation. In the case of Manny being caught red handed doing banned drugs, he was uniformly tossed under the bus. People do not want to see him in the on deck circle any time soon.

Manny is not helping his cause by trying to rationalize away the issue, or deflecting the blame back on others, like the physician who wrote the prescriptions for the drugs he took. Manny claims he's taking a "real" medication for a "real" medical problem". According to the LA Times, there is a hotline players can call to check if a drug is allowed by MLB and then apply for an exemption. Not only did Manny never applied for that exemption, he refused to see a MLB physician and went to a private physician instead. And, keep in mind, this is actually Manny's second positive test for the same substance, HCG, having tested positive during Spring Training. Not exactly up front behavior all around for a guy supposedly taking medications for a legitimate issue. I have no doubt there are many MLB players with sensitive medical issues and HIPPA alone would require those MLB docs to keep matters they treat players for confidential. Manny had nothing to lose had he seen a MLB doc...assuming the issue was a real one.

Manny should take a big step back and realize he's likely irrevocably trashed his public opinion for good this time. The Twitter Barometer of public opinion seems fairly accurate in assessing people's sentiments in a moment of time and no one is buying the explanation he is trying to sell. I have a feeling he'll find the days of warm receptions in ball parks are coming to an end, if not over all together. If he knows what's good for him, he'll return determined to put the "Manny being Manny" description well in the past.

With so many people wondering how applications like Twitter will play a role in the future, using trending topics and search to keep tabs on public opinion and also to be able to archive Twitter conversations could be very powerful and become invaluable as we grapple with figuring out what events in our lives mean. Twitter helped us recognize we were not focusing on the right issues with Influenza H1N1 recently...and Twitter gives a clear sign that the public has had it with the diva-like behavior of professional sports players. I predict this is only the tip of the iceberg for how we'll figure out how Twitter can be used in our lives as we move forward in this social media world of ours.