Interestingly enough, though the Bay Area sports media is often considered much softer and less intense than that of the big Northeast markets (Boston, New York, Philadelphia, etc.) they’re probably as tuned in to the internet, and take as full advantage of social media, as any contingent in the country.

Which in general makes sense, given the Bay’s ongoing love-affair with technology. Some tweet often with informative little updates, like the San Francisco Chronicle A’s beat writer Susan Slusser. Others, like San Jose Mercury News columnist Tim Kawakami, use it as an outlet to post short opinions or link to blog posts and columns. All in all, it’s a pretty diverse set.

In light of that, here are 10 of the best sports media personalities on Twitter, if you’re into that sort of to thing:

1)  Susan Slusser – Slusser is the Oakland Athletics beat writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. For my money she’s the best A’s beat writer in the Bay Area, partly because she’s so involved with the fan base. She addresses criticisms and concerns with her work from time to time both on Twitter and on the popular A’s fan blog, Athletics Nation, which I think both gives her greater credibility and endears her to readers. Above all, though, she’s great on Twitter for bits and pieces of useful information, like her latest tweet on starting pitcher Brett Anderson: “Anderson says via text that he gave two wound-be hits (no fielders behind him). His neck got better and better throughout.” Anderson threw a simulated game today that nobody was around for, and nobody else would have heard about. But it’s nice to know how it went, and Twitter’s kind of the perfect medium for relaying that little bit of info.

2) Tim Kawakami – Kawakami uses Twitter, like I said above, mostly for spouting off pithy thoughts and linking to his columns and blog posts. But he also interacts with readers a lot, providing many re-tweets and what have you. The Mercury News columnist is probably the most inflammatory voice in the Bay Area, our own little version of Dan Shaughnessy, in a way, and he gets a lot of reader feedback, both good and bad, through his blog that he updates pretty often and his Twitter that he’s very active on. He’s always got an opinion on Bay Area sporting developments, and, to his credit, he’s out there defending them through every medium possible.

3) Marcus Thompson – Thompson is the Bay Area News Group’s (Contra Costa Times, SJ Merc, Vallejo Times-Herald, Oakland Tribune, etc. etc.) roving Warriors writer. He’s one of the most active Bay Area sports figures on Twitter, providing both Warriors info, but also really utilizing Twitter to interact with other media personalities and readers. Most of his tweets are responses and retweets, and he also includes lots of personal information, like a recent picture of his daughter.

4)Mychael Urban – Urban’s another inflammatory, opinionated personality in the Bay Area scene. He was originally the oaklandathletics.com team beat writer, and then ventured out into radio, with lots of guest spots on KNBR. Now he does work for the Comcast Sportsnet website, as well as making television and radio appearances. He, like Kawakami and Thompson, likes to use Twitter to send a lot of responses to fans and the like.

5)CSNAuthentic – CSNAuthentic is just the official twitter of Comcast Sportsnet Bay Area. It’s useful to follow in that it will frequently link to the videos of highlights and news stories on their website. It’s also not bad for breaking news.

6)Geoff Lepper – Lepper is a Warriors writer for NBA.com and used to be employed by the Bay Area News Group before they downsized a bit. He, like Thompson, provides nice Warriors tidbits on Twitter, but also has more to say on the NBA in general than the others at times, which I like.

7)ChronLive – ChronLiveCSN is the twitter for the Comcast Sportsnet show Chronicle Live, a Bay Area version of Globe 10.0, if you will. It often asks those following ChronLive to tweet their thoughts on Bay Area stories that they’ll be discussing later on the show that night, and use it as part of the show’s programming, which is a pretty cool, interactive feature I think. It’s also good for knowing what will be on the show and whatnot.

8)Melissa Lockard – Lockard runs the A’s website oaklandclubhouse.com for the scout.com network. She’s one of the best A’s voices out there, especially with prospects and minor league information. Her twitter has been good for following spring training developments, though she mostly uses it to link to columns and such.

9)Damon Bruce – Bruce is a radio personality for KNBR. He’s kind of a shock-jocky guy for the sports types in the Bay Area, and loves to be real critical of the teams. On Twitter he interacts pretty well with his audience.

10)Ann Killion – Killion uses Twitter mostly just to post her columns, but the former SJ Merc columnist is a good read so I like following her to make sure I keep up with her thoughts.

Took a trip to Boston College’s Conte Forum to get insight into how the Northeastern fan group, the DogHouse, operates when it ventures away from the friendly confines of Matthews Arena.

David Carr? Yeah?

March 9, 2010

So the 49ers decided to get involved in the free-agency-without-a-cap-year-hoopla and signed……David Carr. The San Francisco 49ers, everybody:

The 49ers will have a new backup quarterback in 2010 with David Carr agreeing to terms Sunday for what is believed to be a two-year deal, according to a source close to the Carr family.

Forget that the secondary sucks and your already putrid offensive line has managed to get worse with the departure of average-at-best Tony Pashos. Let’s focus our efforts on a backup quarterback with the same flaws as our starting quarterback.

It’s just a little bit bizarre. David Carr’s not terrible or anything. He’s just a lot like Alex Smith. Disappointing #1 pick engineered to manage a deep-ball game but without the arm and too many errant throws to actually make it work. Effective at times in a pinch but has never proven to be able to play consistently well.

He’s redundant. Shaun Hill at least offered a change of pace from Smith. Hill, limited as he is, executes a productive enough short-range game. He should be the kind of quarterback Mike Singletary embraces, a workman who hands the ball off and can manage an offense when asked.

Redundancy

So, yeah, he’s just of no particular use. It’s curious that the 49ers front office would even bother to look into David Carr, let alone actually go out and sign him. Just when you think they might start making some sense they throw a head-scratcher at you. Not a difference maker, not necessary, just kind of spinning your wheels.

The media guys agree with me too. Ray Ratto:

After a day of seemingly meaningless jousting, the 49ers and Carr agreed to a deal Sunday that dooms Shaun Hill but in no other way makes San Francisco materially better. Now that he’s signed, Carr becomes nothing more than the new Hill, only Alex Smith is an easier hurdle to clear than Eli Manning was for Carr last year.

I don’t really think fans should be mad over rising ticket prices like Ratto. I think the current regime has shown enough commitment to turning things around, and enough signs of hope now exist, that they can raise the prices some if they so choose. But I don’t understand such a move without merit.

And Tim Kawakami:

And now that they have come to terms on a two-year deal with Carr, the 2002 No. 1 overall pick instantly becomes the flash point to larger questions: What are the 49ers doing at quarterback, and what makes them think Carr is a partial solution?

They can’t duck it: The 49ers have opened themselves to the scrutiny.

They’re the ones who lauded Hill’s leadership and game-management skills seven months ago, then declared that Smith was a natural long-term starter.

So what do they do? Woo and land Carr, who has all the tools but, so far, none of the NFL success or true grit.

Nobody seems to understand it. It’s pretty perplexing.

Photo by flickr user FLC and republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Adako's Army

Northeastern’s basketball team is going through one of it’s most successful seasons in years. After the glory days in the 1980s that featured NBA All-Star Reggie Lewis and legendary coach Jim Calhoun (currently with UConn), along with six NCAA tournament appearances, the program fell off a bit in the last 20 years.

In the past couple of seasons, however, the program has experienced a resurgence under coach Bill Coen and is poised to potentially win the Colonial Athletic Association this year and return to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1991.

The success, combined with the renovations to Matthews Arena, celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, have led to a completely new basketball experience not seen in some time at the school, and the crowds have gotten bigger and bigger as the atmosphere begins to resemble that which was common in the 80s.

Steve Garfield

February 10, 2010

We were paid a visit by nationally (perhaps I should say world)-renowned video-news-gatherer Steve Garfield on Monday. Steve’s had his videos posted everywhere, from the BBC to CNN. He’s also a reporter for rocketboom.com.

I thought what he had to say was pretty interesting, and what he had to show us pretty useful overall. What I gathered most from it is how engaging video can be as a news medium, and how in this day and age it can be ridiculously interconnected and widely broadcast to anyone, anywhere.

He took streaming video of our classroom that he was able to post live, at that moment, on the internet, that was able to be followed by any of his twitter followers, which I thought was a pretty nifty little thing to be able to do.

Imagine the possibilities, of, say, an Anderson Cooper broadcasting his live movements out in the field to the thousands upon thousands of people that turn to him for news? I think that’s a pretty wild concept.

He also made us think about the ethics involved with live video, giving an example of a video he made where a woman named Nancy Hogan interrupted an interview he was doing. She was probably not all right in the head, but her questions were surprisingly pointed and I think his overlying philosophy on the situation was spot on:

What I’m doing is I’m just capturing, just sitting back and capturing, letting the camera roll. She had come over the rope and interrupted, so you might turn off your camera. What I think is leave the camera going and capture it all. Some reporters are like ‘whoa that’s not right.’  In a public place like that there’s no expectation of privacy, and beyond that she came across the rope, she saw the cameras, she wanted to participate in the recording. I think it’s fine.

I think one of the best examples of first-person video reporting he gave us was his walkthrough at his Jamaica Plain voting center from election day 2008. He was told he couldn’t videotape anything, but he knew the law and tried to explain to the people there he could, in fact, videotape the surroundings. Ultimately he left, but getting the entire process on video like that provides insight that you can’t really express with words.

Through his dedication and love of the craft, he was also able to spin his work into various paying gigs, which is something most aspiring journalists should look into figuring out, or copying.

I wouldn’t discount doing stuff because it’s free because you have to have experience and do things right now.

Good advice, I’d say. Want to do something? Do it, do it well, and chances are if it’s really worthwhile somebody will be willing to pay for it.

Belated as this may be, we were lucky enough to have Jennifer Lord Paluzzi ofCentralMassNews.com stop by last Wednesday and give a presentation on the burgeoning network of community-based news websites she’s been working on for us.

After getting laid off in October of 2008 from the MetroWest Daily News, Paluzzi started up thedailygrafton.com, which was itself an expansion of her earlier greater Grafton blog.

One of the inspirations for starting it up, she said, was because Grafton’s official town paper was one of those “funny newspapers from the town I went on vacation to,” and she thought the people of Grafton deserved better.

She got together with Jack Schoefield and turned her blog into the internet equivalent of a real, functional, daily newspaper.

Their venture soon expanded to other towns, like Millbury and Northbridge, and now they’ve got nine total, providing some of the most comprehensive local news in Central Massachusetts, if not the most comprehensive.

They’ve got videos, and photos, and real-time news that people who care about the goings-on of these towns can find instantly. It’s a pretty remarkable network for community-based journalism, really, and it’s the kind of network that I think will serve a lot of local communities on the internet in the future.

Said Paluzzi:

When I look at it I say ‘it’s just a small town why is it a big deal?’ But people in a small town want to know just as much about what goes on in their town as they do about Congress. This is what really affects people.

And she’s right, it really is what affects people. It’s what they care about on the most direct basis. She pointed out the difficulties in getting someone to understand what it means to be a journalist from a site like CentralMassNews.com, how they don’t really get the idea of a website with newspaper-like credibility.

But I think down the road, you’ll find that won’t be the case. And I think you’ll find a network like CentralMassNews.com will be more trusted than dinky hometown newspapers ever were.

Cold fatigue

February 10, 2010

One of the toughest things for me to deal with around this time of year is what I like to refer to as cold fatigue.

As a west coaster, I’m used to December, January, and February sucking. Those are the winter months, after all. But in the middle, sometimes end, of February you start to see those  kind of light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel kind of days that make you believe Spring is mercifully on its way.

Not so in Boston. Those do not exist. Not in February, at least. February is cold and it sucks. And then March is cold and it sucks. And then April, really, is largely cold and miserable.

It’s awful, I tell you. You associate March Madness with sunny T-shirt days and all of a sudden you make the brilliant decision to go to school on the east coast and all of that’s thrown out the window.

most pictures of winter and snow make it look majestic and inviting. not this one, this one gets to the heart of it. cold sucks.

My own charming self-pity aside, you probably wonder how this relates to Bay Area sports. Well, tenuously, really, but I do have a point here.

At this time of the year for Bay Area sports, and really sports in general, you get kind of a similar cold fatigue. The Super Bowl comes and goes, and you’re kind of left with the ho-hum portions of the NBA and NHL regular season.

Desperate for spring training to start, anxiously anticipating March Madness, and all you have to pass the time is the race for some of the most uninspiring playoff spots in all of professional sports – the bottom seeds in the NBA and NHL, where half the teams in the league make the playoffs anyway.

Like, congratulations, Miami, you made it into the playoffs despite being two games under .500, now go lose four games to LeBron James and enjoy your offseason.

And I don’t think sports cold fatigue sets in especially well in the Bay Area market, where, come February, you’re left with two of the most predictable teams in their respective leagues.

On the one hand, you have the Golden State Warriors (owners of a sparkling  13-37 record, putting them in an exciting race with Minnesota for second-worst in basketball) who you know are going to be bad. They’re bad every year.

Case in point: Golden State of Mind’s pre-game poll for Monday night’s game against Dallas asked fans whether they were rooting for the Warriors, and Don Nelson in his pursuit of basketball’s all-time coaching wins record, or Dallas, and the opportunity to ring another one up in the loss column as the Warriors chase second-to-last place to give them a better shot at landing Kentucky’s John Wall in the next draft.

The result? 63% of respondents (362 votes) were actively rooting against the Warriors just so they could improve draft position. The GSoM tone was equally optimistic:

You know the Mavs, you unfortunately know the Warriors too well. Hopefully the Warriors surprise us with a win. Don’t hold your breath though.

And then on the other hand you have the Sharks, who are remarkably good in the regular season year after year almost to the point where they’re boring. Especially since they flame out in the playoffs equally remarkably year after year.

It’s a little hard to get worked up about any regular season win with a team that has made it an annual tradition of racking them up  before they become most important.

So yeah, cold fatigue.

But at least pitchers and catchers report in 10 days.

Photo by flickr user turbulentflow and republished here under a Creative Commons license.