This week, the highly regarded and competitive Northwoods League (college summer baseball) sent out an email threatening every player who interacts with Foul Pole Sports on Twitter or Snapchat.
In the interest of full disclosure, Baseball Fam has no business stake in Foul Pole Sports. The FPS guys grinding over there are just good friends of Baseball Fam. We’re just both small companies with a passion for the game and for making baseball fun again.
If you haven’t been tuned in, Foul Pole Sports has offered up Snapchat takeovers to different summer ball teams from leagues such as Cape Cod, Prospect, Coastal Plain, as well as Northwoods. The guys “raise some hell” with clips from BP, clubhouse, parties, etc.
Recently, Matt Bomberg, listed as Vice President, Business Development of the Northwoods League, sent out this email to the General Manager of each team in the league.
General Managers – The below email was sent out earlier in the season. It seems that a good number of players are currently tweeting to, retweeting, liking and favoriting the twitter account @foulpolesports. There have also been unauthorized takeovers of this handle’s Snapchat account where players are posting videos from the field during the game. Please inform all members of your organizations of the below policy and also that ANY type of postings, retweets or favorites to these accounts that can be attributed to your front office personnel, on-field personnel or players will be dealt with harshly.
I had to read this several times before I was convinced that this was a serious email. I honestly can’t believe a man sat and typed out such a pretentious email like this with a straight face. I wonder if he wrote it from his throne.
You know who else controls what kind of content his people can consume and interact with? Kim Jong Un.
I can’t be sure which particular content they’re most upset about. If you’re not familiar with Foul Pole Sports, you should be. If you visit their site, these are the headlines of some articles you will see.
“Savannah Banana’s manager ejection shows why they’re the most electric summerball team”
“Top 5 Big Swingin’ Dick performances from 2017 season”
“Top 5 Helen Keller performances from the 2017 season”
“Wisconsin Rapids Rafters unfortunately already clinch spot in playoffs in Northwoods”
Their content is laid back, goofy, super niche, and all out of love for baseball & the goal of making baseball fun again.
If you’ve played in one of these college summer ball leagues, this content resonates with you. You get it. You understand the comedic themes. You understand the light hearted fun. And you definitely understand the sweaty, sleepless, and starving grind of summer ball.
Where the league might have a problem is the stuff you’ll see on Snapchat, as they stated in the email. I’ve been tuning in for weeks, and have been laughing my ass off the entire summer.
Here’s the real issue here… do some of the players act like jack asses on the Snapchat? Yes. Do some guys cross the line? Probably. Should the league be able suspend players who cross the line on social media? Yes! Players agree to a social media policy. Should Foul Pole Sports be held accountable and deserving of a league wide ban because of said jack asses? Absolutely not.
The only thing crossing the line here is Mr. Bomberg sending out nothing short of a threatening email attempting to police the type of content these amateur athletes consume and interact with online. Instead of an email saying something to the effect of “we’re watching what happens online and players will be held accountable for inappropriate action” … Mr. Bomberg decided to trash the Foul Pole boys instead, and reign down in tyranny.
“Unauthorized takeovers” …? I’m sorry, Mr. Bomberg, I didn’t realize amateur athletes needed to ask permission to post, like, or favorite content on the internet. I haven’t read the player agreement, but I’d bet my company on it having nothing in it about the type of content a player can CONSUME. Is it a reasonable expectation that these athletes while representing your organization conduct themselves in an appropriate manner? Sure! But this is 37 levels beyond that.
Opinion: You want to know where I think the league has a problem with what’s happening on Foul Pole? The daily life of these summer ball guys is finally being exposed. One player was recently suspended for a tweet of a plate of mac’n’cheese and a breadstick captioned “mac and cheese and bread for dinner…thanks for taking care of your players @NWLbaseball”
If this was chicken and rice with broccoli, with the same exact caption, do you think a suspension would’ve been handed down? 100% not. He was suspended because it’s a really really bad look for the league when guys broadcast their PB&J dinners 6 days a week. It seems to have become a running theme actually…
You can shoot the messenger all you want (Foul Pole, Baseball Fam, whoever) but what happens inside the league is going to get out. These guys live a GRIND away from home for two months every summer. It’s a grind that only those who have been through it can understand. I learned through a year playing in the Prospect League. If it’s a bad look, fix it. If the league thinks it’s appropriate, then there should be no problem with it being broadcasted to the world. Sure, there are worse scenarios to be in. I don’t mean this to come off as whiny and ungrateful. This post didn’t start with a campaign to keep players in fancy hotels with 3 course meals 3 times a day. This is only coming up because the players now feel like they’re being ruled over concerning one of the few sources of original entertainment left in the dog days of July…fun with the boys.
A Northwoods League player was also recently suspended for posting this video on Foul Pole Snapchat
— Foul Pole Sports (@FoulPoleSports) July 16, 2017
Listen, Mr. Bomberg… I might be tooting our collective horn a bit here, but players all over the country at all levels love the nature of content coming from guys like Foul Pole and ourselves. It’s raw. It’s real. It’s loose. It’s relatable. It’s honest. It’s not fake news. This is a battle that nobody wants to fight. The Northwoods League has a good reputation, and can be one of the best experiences of a guy’s summer ball career. Don’t start a war. Let’s come up with a solution. Make summer ball great again.
UPDATE: July 19 6:47pm
I spoke to President of the league, Gary Hoover regarding the situation. When I asked what content was the original problem, he stated [verbatim] that the league does not have an agreement with Foul Pole Sports, only an agreement with the players. In their agreement it says they’re prohibited from posting derogatory content.
I asked him about the piece in the email that notes “unauthorized takeover”. Does this mean players need permission to contribute to blogs or social media accounts? He directed me to the previous statement that players are prohibited from posting derogatory content.
When I asked if they’re sticking with the total ban (liking, favoriting, etc) of Foul Pole Sports, he declined to take a position on that and noted that he will look into it further. I got the same answer when asked if the league plans to reach out to FPS to come to a solution.
I’d be interested to hear if the tweet the player was suspended for would be seen as “derogatory” if the picture was chicken and rice.
Thank you to Mr. Hoover for reaching out and being generous with his time.