Breaking Balls: All aTwitter about Brandon McCarthy


Brandon McCarthy takes some time to send a tweet to Jed, among others. (Michael Zagaris/Getty Images)

Brandon McCarthy is a professional baseball player. Brandon McCarthy has never won a Cy Young Award. Brandon McCarthy has never pitched for my favorite team. Brandon McCarthy has never even been an All-Star.

So, then, just why is it that Brandon McCarthy is my favorite baseball player?


I don’t know if you’ve gotten the telegram, but social networking is taking over the world. With Twitter and Facebook and Pinterest and Instagram all out there connecting people in places that would have seemed incredible just a few years ago. Remote locations like Russia or Australia or even Seattle are no match for the power of social networking.

Each of the different networking platforms provides a unique experience for its inhabitants. Facebook helps bring people together who have been apart for decades or who have grown too busy to go out regularly or who saw your profile pic and thought you were cute.

Instagram lets you connect with people you know and don’t know who share their experiences with pictures of pets, food and manicures. They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, but on Instagram you’ll find that the thousand words are usually just synonyms for crap.

Pinterest is one of the more recent arrivals in the social networking community and, despite having it explained to me twice, I still don’t understand … how someone would care at all about it. Yeah, yeah, I get it! You “pin” pictures to “interest” boards. Very clever. I’ll pass.

And then there’s Twitter. It’s the fastest-growing of all the social networks, recently moving past 100,000,000 users worldwide. “Twitterers” have a cozy 140-character limit to talk about their breakfast or make a political statement or mention an encounter with a homeless person. You can “follow” almost any other user and, best of all, when someone “follows” you, you don’t have to follow them as well.

Twitter has become the social network of choice for celebrities of all shapes, sizes and merit. Actors, actresses, writers, directors, reality TV stars and athletes – all in various stages of their careers. In most cases, what a celebrity posts on Twitter is actually something that celebrity personally entered. And what makes Twitter even more fascinating is that after a celebrity posts something, you can respond to that celebrity. He or she may ignore you, but the chances are pretty good they saw what you said to them.

This is unprecedented access for fans. Yes, Alec Baldwin, tell me about your flight to L.A. Yes, Kim Kardashian, I want to hear all about how “busy” you’ve been. Yes, Lady Gaga, I have to know about that amazing burrito you ate.

Some Twitterers use the 140 characters only to make witty comments, jokes, puns or what have you. Stand-up comedians and writers really excel at this. And that’s how I found Brandon McCarthy. “Found” seems weird. Maybe “discovered” or “met.” No, how about “came across”? Yeah. Less weird.

On Twitter, I follow almost exclusively people writing funny “tweets.” One day, I was reading through my timeline and someone had re-tweeted something Brandon posted. And it was funny. Really funny.

I checked out the rest of his tweets and they were mostly really quite funny. I don’t mean funny compared to other athletes who generally tweet inconsequential nonsense riddled with awful grammar, barbaric spelling and non-existent punctuation. Brandon’s tweets were comedian-level funny.

Don’t get me wrong. I have spelling, grammar and punctuation missteps. The other day I spelled “butt” as “but” and not a day has not gone by that I haven’t thought about it.

So, I started following Brandon last year. Okay, “following” sounds weird, too. Very stalker-y. But that’s what it’s called, so let’s just go with that, and I’ll trust that you don’t think I’m involved in any sort of stalking or stalking-related activity.

When I started following Brandon, he was on the Athletics, but team allegiances don’t apply when it comes to humor. Humor matters when it comes to humor.

You gotta love a player who uses this image for his Twitter profile picture.

Brandon McCarty (@BMcCarthy32)
“If asked, I’d say the best part of the offseason is not having to end every day by showering with all of my co-workers.”

Brandon McCarty (@BMcCarthy32)
“Siri, how do you get Josh Hamilton out?”

See what I mean? And then towardsthe end of the season when he got injured, he kept his baseball and comedy fans updated regularly – keeping a very serious situation light.

Brandon McCarty (@BMcCarthy32)

Brandon has over a 100,000 followers, including many of the top writers and comedians on Twitter. Sure, there are athletes who have more and there are comedians who have more. The teeming masses have always had a thing for celebrities, and their number of followers can be somewhat astronomical (in the multi-millions).

A little while back, there was no way to know for sure if someone using a celebrity’s name on Twitter was actually that celebrity. So, Twitter created “verified accounts” so that when some celebrity starts rambling nonsense like Jim Carrey or just goes nuts like Chris Brown, then fans and non-fans know for sure it was actually Jim Carrey and Chris Brown.

Brandon is a very good pitcher who just happens to have had some bad luck with injuries. Those injuries have limited how much he has pitched over the last six years, so he has remained somewhat unknown to most besides baseball writers, fantasy baseball players or the more fanatical baseball fans.

But he is known on Twitter. Actually, if you Google search Brandon McCarthy, the first suggestion is “Brandon McCarthy Twitter.” He’s one of the few athletes on Twitter that people follow because he is genuinely interesting – not just because he’s famous.

The actual humans involved with sports sometimes make being a fan very complicated. I like the Red Sox and most of the players on that team. But what about players who used to be on the Red Sox who I once liked but who are now directly opposed to the success of the Red Sox? What about players I used to hate who end up on the Red Sox? What about players from my favorite college team? What about players from my hometown? What about players with same first name as me? What about players who are heavyset like me? What about players I think are super-handsome and charismatic but in just a platonic way?

And what about a player who is very good at baseball but also very good at making me laugh? Easy. I root for him. I don’t really have a choice.

He’s like the guy you went to school with who made it to the majors. None of the guys I went to school with made the majors, however, I have friends who went to school with guys who made the majors, and I can assure you that this is the proper allegory.

You’d want that fellow to succeed in his career and, besides, it’s kind of cool to have gone to school with a guy who just struck out Albert Pujols or just hit a home run off CC Sabathia.

I guess, after you “follow” someone on Twitter for a while, you do start to feel like you’re friends with the person. Most of the people who follow me on Twitter know more about the intimate details of my life than just about all of my “real-life” friends.

Look, I’m just trying to explain to you (and to myself) why it’s okay for my favorite player in my favorite sport to be someone who isn’t on my favorite team.

I’m not trying to say that Brandon and I are friends. That would be weird, right? I mean, come on, that’d be nuts. We’ve never even met or anything. What kind a freak would think that? Not me! Maybe some other weirdo who isn’t me.

I’ve never really considered myself a normal sports fan – or normal at all, really. And this whole Brandon McCarthy thing is just more proof of that.


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