I thought Twitter and I loved each other but oh no, I was so, so wrong. A cautionary tale.
I thought Twitter and I loved each other but oh no, I was so, so wrong. A cautionary tale.
We’re living in a funny time right now with athletes doing more and more to reach out and communicate with their fans and friends. The advent of social mediums like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter have allowed people to get an inside look at what a team or an athlete is doing or thinking about day-to-day. Or at least what they want you to believe they’re doing and thinking day to day.
Talking closer to us, our sport of supercross/motocross is different than the mainstream ones but has also been touched heavily by these social mediums. Specifically Twitter, which has allowed fans to interact with their favorite riders more and more. Riders like Chad Reed have used Twitter to their benefit and reached a greater amount of people and with much more impact than a simple press release. It’s a two-sided coin though, for every person that thinks you’re the greatest thing since sliced bread, you have the people who spew hatred towards you as easily.
Twitter is changing the way the media covers the sport as well with many of the riders themselves now dropping hints about what is coming or what has happened on Twitter. it’s as easy to access and get information out as making a phone call. It’s commonplace to have a subscription to a bunch of riders Twitter feeds to see what they are up to. Of course you have to wade through the “doin work” Tweets, the inspirational quotes, the horrible misspellings but you do get some nuggets here and there. Twitter has helped this website you’re reading immensely as I get a lot of traffic from Twitter every month, my play by play calling of the races has helped me get going and it’s nice to be able to react instantly to whatever the news of the day is.
So now that I’ve instilled the virtues of Twitter to you, let me also stress that, just like when people have a pet bear for ten years and it one day mauls them, Twitter can do the same. It can strike you down faster than that bear and I’ll give you guys an example of the best and worst of this still-new social medium.
Smash cut a week ago or so when GEICO Honda’s Justin Barcia was Tweeting that he was going riding on a 450 which in itself isn’t a big deal, the 250 guys often practice on a 450 during the week for something different. The next day however, Barcia Tweeted a photo of an obvious Factory Honda 450 with a note about how much fun it is and how he wanted to thank the Honda guys for their help on this day.
Me being in the media, I received a couple emails and Tweets about Barcia’s Tweet and even though I’m not a math whiz, I put two and two together and figured that, with Kevin Windham’s withdrawal from the nationals and Josh Grant and Trey Canard’s injuries, maybe Barcia was going to fill-in at Factory Honda. That didn’t make that much sense but hey, stranger things have happened right?
A quick call to someone inside the GEICO team confirmed that indeed Honda was testing with Justin with an eye for him filling in if all went well. The person I spoke with had just gotten a call from the Honda guys saying everything went very well and Barcia was flying on the bike. The guy I spoke to was a little bummed because even though Barcia wasn’t having a great season (by his usual high standards) with Unadilla and Southwick coming up (two tracks that Barcia rides very well), Honda was taking their best chance to win. But this is what happens in this sport, when the mothership wants to come in and asks for help, you bow down and do what you can to help. No harm, no foul. The same arrangement with Trey Canard (although Canard wasn’t racing at the time) last supercross season was a massive hit for all involved. And looking further down the road, one could certainly see Barcia riding a factory Honda 450 very, very soon for the big team.
So armed with this information, I went out to Twitter universe and put this Tweet out there:
@pulpmx Steve Matthes Barcia to factory Honda at Unadilla? Yes, going to happen. Look for PR real soon. If I was FC, I’d b little upset. Only guy w a chance 2 win
So there you have it, sure maybe I was a bit harsh with the whole FC being upset thing but with team riders Wil Hahn coming back from being out for six months and Eli Tomac struggling to make the box, I took my thoughts and beliefs in Barcia’s speed (and holeshot ability) and deduced that it does suck for GEICO to lose a rider the caliber of Justin. Remember the GEICO source was also saying the same things! He wasn’t upset but agreed with me that Barcia is their best chance to win right now. But in my opinion, “best” should be changed to “only.”
This immediately started a shitstorm with Honda, its partners and probably I imagine Justin himself. This wasn’t anything official and Honda doesn’t like to jump the gun with any of this kind of stuff. To me though, Justin was a public track riding in front of hundreds of people, had posted a photo of a factory Honda 450 and thanked the guys for helping him out. I’m the media dude who was answering fans questions by doing some digging. However, no doubt feeling pressure from Honda, agents, parents, GEICO guys, girlfriend-whomever- Justin deleted his tweet and issued this mea culpa:
barcia17 justin barcia Not filling in everyone just trying the bike nothing in stone guess everyone got excited sorry.
Now here’s why people like (or hate me) on Twitter but my personality is one of having fun, we’re not curing brain cancer here and I’ve been around long enough to know that todays “crisis” will be tomorrow’s old news. So after Barcia issued that Tweet, I replied with this:
@barcia17 Yeah sure, see you at Dilla, ur now the first moto of the day btw.
Because let’s face it, we all knew it was going to happen. It’s not that big of a deal, if Justin got in trouble well that also wasn’t that big of a deal. We all knew that he was going to be on a CRF450 at Unadilla. Next up was this doozy of a Tweet:
50Beeks is Chris Onstott from Fox racing (known as Beeker by everyone) and he felt like it was rude of me to state my opinion on the Fox Racing-backed GEICO team. While a bit of a statement by me, yes I do feel like Tomac and Hahn cannot win a race this year. We’re eight rounds deep, a Pro Circuit Kawasaki rider has won every moto this year, every overall, the top three in points are all Pro Circuit riders and finally, I’ve seen every moto this year. While great riders, Hahn is coming back from an injury and Tomac is, well, I’m not sure why Eli hasn’t been up to the usual standards that I (and many others) thought he would achieve. Then there was this from Hahn himself, a guy that I really like and admire. I’ve also done quite a bit of media stuff with him as he’s well spoken, funny and knows what’s going on:
So I felt like I should respond but again, me being me, I responded with this to try and soften the blow a bit (mission failed though):
Hahn wasn’t having it and replied with this:
and the gear guy to the team who felt the need to get into this with me also chimed in again with this. Keep in mind please that this person is paid by the clothing company that wears his clothes and has to, at all times, no matter what, BRO down with all the riders so that they like him and he can keep providing that service with a smile that he likes to do:
So me being me, I’m not going to retract my statement because I really DO feel like Barcia is the GEICO teams only chance to win. Again, the stats back me up, I’m in the media and it’s not really my job to be friends with these guys although I do like everyone involved in this little saga. But I owe to it to myself and my readers to try to tell the story the best way I know how and that’s by being myself. This probably wasn’t the best way to reply but hey, again, it’s the truth:
Beeker’s job (and again, Beeker and I go way back and I always considered us friends) is not to report on the races. He’s there to be friends with the riders and do his job as a Fox rep. He once was Chad Reed’s best buddy when he worked for Thor, then got a job at Fox and promptly stopped all communication with Reed because he was now working for James Stewart. And then, you guessed it, James went to Answer and Reed went to Shift and magically, just like that, Beeker is now Reed’s friend again. When you’re in someone’s life everyday and truly friends with them like Beeker was with Reed and Stewart, how you can just cut them out because of a business deal is simply amazing but hey, it’s not my world.
This guy is not a fan of me right now. Photo by Lissimore
Ok back to Twitter wars. Barcia, the man that I basically paid a compliment to decided to get in and defend his friend Hahn and Beeker by airing out his feelings about me:
I was a little bummed on this because I always thought I got along with Justin pretty well. We speak here and there, I hung out with him at Bercy quite a bit as well. I was in his truck at Mt Morris and he was telling me that my Tweets were hilarious. Then I said well just remember this conversation when I make fun of you one day but clearly that went in and out of his mind. I’m lots of things (overweight, a shut-in, a bit of a loudmouth) but I do take my job seriously and try to do well at it. And judging by my reader/listener-ship, I’m doing a good job of it. Anyways, Hahn reinforced that the Hahn/Barcia/Beeker side was really in the know and I was wrong with this Tweet:
At this point, I just wanted this to all go away but hell no I wasn’t going to delete a Tweet or try to deny what I said. That’s not how I work but at the same time, Beeker and I have known each other for a while, I thought I was good with Justin (and his Mom) and like I said, Wilbur Hahn is truly one of the funniest guys in the sport so I put this out:
So it was sort of an apology. I don’t wake up in the morning and think about who I can piss off or make not like me anymore but again, I cover the sport for a living, I’ve been to every national this year and yes, still, even if I was getting water-boarded, I don’t believe Hahn or Tomac can win a race this year! So then Beeker wasn’t quite done with me at this point even though I was clearly sort of apologizing to the guys. Genius gear guy put this out there:
Oooooooooo, that’s it. A media black-out of Matthes for stating his opinion on something that, if you lined up 100 sane people, probably 85 of them would agree with. A guy that works for Fox Racing would be smarter than that one would think? Fox Racing, a company that has always been masterful with its PR over the years. Get more riders to do the same! I can imagine this conversation right now:
Beeker: “Hey Chad, Matthes doesn’t think Hahn or Tomac can win a national and he reported that Barcia’s riding a 450 because Justin Tweeted a photo of the bike and thanked the Honda guys for the awesome day. You should never talk to him ever again!”
Reed: “Yeah, that’s a great idea. For sure. What a dick that Matthes is and I’m not going to talk to him ever again. That will show him.”
So now I wasn’t really pumped on Beeker saying this, after all it really wasn’t his business and I thought we were friends. So instead of meeting him in an alley or dueling at dawn with pistols which is what real men back in the day would have done, I called him out on Twitter. Yeah I know, real gnarly stuff here:
Again going with the “forced to be friends” with people angle because really, that’s what Beeker’s job is. To be friends with people and the minute that Justin Barcia signs with another gear company, he won’t be friends with Beeker anymore. That’s how the industry works. Sad I know but trust me, I’ve seen it a hundred times and Beeker isn’t the only guy this happens to. So he hit me with this:
Sometime in the middle of this, Barcia put a sacastic Tweet saying he was riding a CRF50 and wondered if @pulpmx would blow that up. So of course, I did. Around this same time, Transworld Motocross put out a Tweet that said it was confirmed that Barcia was riding a 450 and I requested that if Justin was mad at me, he should be furious with TWMX because they have 10K more followers than me and are a “real media” outlet. But there was no reply to that.
So that was it, I closed the computer before I really started unleashing the bombs. I sent a text to Hahn but haven’t heard back, Beeker I guess we’ll see this weekend and Barcia, well this whole thing started with him and me complimenting him. The good thing is it was nice to know by the texts and Tweets that I received from innocent bystanders that indeed, I was not the crazy one in this ordeal.
Remember this the next time you want to get started on Twitter. Just like that bear you play in your backyard, Twitter can strike at any time!
THIS MESSAGE WAS BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE TWITTER IS NOT ALL GOOD FOUNDATION. REMEMBER KIDS, TWITTER CAN MAUL YOU.