MLB players are using Twitter to speak out against the lockout and commissioner Rob Manfred, and they have every right to do so.
Major League Baseball began the ninth work stoppage in league history with a lockout on Dec. 2.
During a lockout, MLB team owners and executives are barred from contacting players, signing free agents, and trading big-leaguers. It differs from a players’ strike in that a lockout can only be initiated by the ownership side.
Among the many repercussions of implementing the lockout is MLB being unable to use player images or likenesses, as it is a violation of federal labor laws. As a result, player photos and articles about current events have been scrubbed from MLB sites and accounts.
MLB lockout: Players get petty revenge on social media
This is the first MLB work stoppage since 1994-95, and a lot has changed since then. Thanks to social media, players have a platform to express their feelings and show fans their side of the story. So instead of using the time to film cameos on iconic tv shows, several players are speaking out about how the lockout impacts them, throwing shade at unpopular commissioner Rob Manfred, and generally refusing not to stay silent.
Yankees starter Taijuan Walker, Red Sox starter Nick Pivetta, Twins catcher, and free-agent reliever Sean Doolittle were among the players who not only changed their Twitter avatars, but opted to tweet about the change as well.
Mets pitcher Trevor Williams changed his Twitter photo, and found the funny in a very un-funny work stoppage:
Perhaps the best move on Twitter came from Tyler Matzek, who did not change his photo, but instead, updated his bio to read: “Former Atlanta Braves #68 Player (as of now, thanks Uncle Rob),” a nickname for Manfred.
Matzek also shaded Manfred’s letter to baseball fans, and included a gif from the Disney animated classic Robin Hood, implying that MLB owners are greedy Prince John, the sniveling sycophantic Sir Hiss is Manfred, and MLB players are the poor folks of Nottingham.
Despite the owners opting for a lockout, MLB is doing everything it can to sway the court of public opinion in their favor and force the players’ union to cave to their demands at the bargaining table. In a pre-social media world, it might have worked, but fans getting to see the personal side of their favorite players, especially in a time of crisis, often only makes them increase their support.