Albeit an outdated version, this copy of MLB's
Social Media Policy sheds light into how the
league is approaching the new world in which
social media and sports are intersecting
UPDATE: According to MLB, there has only been one copy of the social media policy, thus what is published here on The Biz of Baseball is the current version. According to the league, a bulletin has been issued that states no use of electronic equipment in the clubhouse or players areas from 30 minutes out until after the game has ended.
The minute Ozzie Guillen hit the “Tweet” button, he knew he was in trouble. Guillen had just been ejected in the 1st inning on Weds after having words with home plate umpire Todd Tichenor's third-strike call on Paul Konerko. The man who loves to talk did so, via Twitter. When he did, he knew the consequences.
"This one is going to cost me a lot of money, this is pathetic," said Guillen.
That got the attention of Major League Baseball. In a case of exploring the new frontier that is Major League Baseball and Twitter, Guillen was suspended on Friday without pay for two games and a reported $20,000 in cash for being in violation on the league’s social media policy and “other regulations regarding the use of electronic equipment.” Returning Sunday after serving the suspension, Gullien said to MLB.com, “It was good for baseball, myself and the integrity of the game. If MLB made any good moves in the last 20 years, it was this one. They don't make many good moves, but they did it this time."
But, what exactly is the league’s social media policy? When asked for a copy, the league responded by saying, “We do not make any of our internal employment policies public.”
Still, The Biz of Baseball has now come across a copy of the league’s policy. There is no date on the 2 page document or other identification.
If the policy has simply been tweaked, Guillen was likely suspended under terms from a bullitin that states social networking may not be used from 30 minutes before the game until the game is concluded item. It’s also possible that under the copy that BizofBaseball.com has in its possession, under item 2 of the “Prohibited Conduct” of the policy that reads:
“Displaying any disparaging or false Content or Content that adversely affects the business interests or reputation of any MLB Entity or Covered Individual.”
The policy that BizofBaseball.com has does not expand on what penalties, their length, or any fines that might be imposed. But, it does say that, “Covered individuals engaging in conduct prohibited by the policy may be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination.” The powers of the policy are deemed to be “consistent with the authority vested in the Commissioner by the Major League Constitution and the Major League Baseball Interactive Media Rights Agreement,” and implemented by Commissioner Selig.
(READ THE UNDATED VERSION OF MLB’S SOCIAL MEDIA POLICY)
According to the undated version, the policy reaches everyone across MLB, from high profile individuals such as Gullien to the rank and file working in front offices. In part of the prohibited conduct section, it’s noted that it is prohibited to link to the website of any MLB Entity on any Social Media outlet. The policy reaches across not only MLB, but also Minor League Baseball, the noted exception being players.
Twitter and Facebook have reshaped how athletes, those that coach or manage, executives and the rank-and-file in Major League Baseball, communicate. In reality, all businesses, not just sports businesses, are affected. Ozzie has figured it out the hard way, and it’s likely to happen to someone in the league, again. When word comes (and it will likely be on Twitter), we’ll let you know.
SPECIAL BUSINESS OF SPORTS NETWORK REPORTS:
The Labor Battle in the NFL. See BizOfFootball.com for details
Welcome to the 2011 Business of Sports Network Autism Challenge
Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, as well as a contributor to FanGraphs and Forbes SportsMoney. He is available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.
Follow Maury Brown on Twitter
Follow The Biz of Baseball on Twitter
Follow the Business of Sports Network on Facebook