The Cubs’ annual Social Media Night is always a little bit different. Sometimes there are scavenger hunts, sometimes there are trivia contests, Clark almost always makes an appearance. In 2020 we met on Zoom, but regardless of the specifics what is always clear is that the social media team who create content for the Chicago Cubs do an outstanding job engaging with fans and know how to manage an event that brings dozens of people together each year.
It’s so much more than one night, though. The content teams behind the Cubs and other MLB franchise accounts are online everyday mixing it up with fans on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok and they are excellent at their jobs. Just look at this:
Well, it turns out some of your favorite team social media content creators were actually employees of MLB and in a typically short-sighted move MLB has decided that those jobs are expendable. In a move that truly twists the knife we had to find out about these layoffs from the content creators of each account — MLB did not issue an announcement regarding the decision to eliminate these positions.
Richard Lee-Sam created content for the Toronto Blue Jays:
For somebody who was paid to do this, I don't have many words. I was let go by MLB today.— Richard Lee-Sam (@RLeesam) February 12, 2021
I'm very thankful for the league social crew and know they're all destined for bigger and better things.
Heather Rule created content for the Minnesota Twins:
Those relationships led me to develop and continue to grow my sports writing.— Heather Rule (@hlrule) February 12, 2021
I’ll keep plugging away, because as a dear friend once wrote to me: “Never stop writing, even if you run out of room!”
Thanks, as always, for reading.
Greg Garno created content for the Detroit Tigers:
There are a lot of people – far more talented than me – who also lost their jobs today. That's not fair.— Greg Garno (@G_Garno) February 12, 2021
I don't want pity because I HATE doing this here. Just needed to express how gutted I am my friends are without work.
Anyway, I'm gonna go test my liver now. I'll be back.
Mina Dunn created content for the Miami Marlins:
my position was eliminated in the latest round of layoffs at MLB. Connecting the sport i love to more people was entirely joyful, and doing it well was too. I’m so proud of what the small Marlins social team created in my time, and I hope to continue to help in whatever capacity pic.twitter.com/ptMJlXp066— mina (@maddc8) February 12, 2021
Lauren Pluim created content for the Los Angeles Angels:
I really appreciate every single person that was a part of the IGC program. You are all so wonderfully talented and I’m thankful to have learned from you and worked with you ❤️— Lauren Pluim (@LoPluim) February 12, 2021
Colton Denning created content for the Oakland A’s (and after seeing that GIF we really wish they would have beaten the Astros):
Lastly: you deserve to see the final score gif I was gonna use if they would’ve beat the Astros in that playoff series. It pains me greatly that we didn’t get to throw down this thunderous dunk as a family pic.twitter.com/6MaYhKcB4A— Colton Denning (@Dubsco) February 12, 2021
Annaliese Leon created content for the Texas Rangers:
I've spent the last four years working in baseball and am beyond grateful for the memories and experiences. I have watched some of the best baseball and met some of the best, uplifting, and whole-hearted people.— Annaliese Leon (@lieseleon) February 12, 2021
We’re awaiting news as to whether this impacted the Chicago Cubs social media tea, but this sums everything up:
Today is a sad day for baseball with the elimination of the MLB In-Game Social Media position.— Julian Valentin (@JulianValentin) February 13, 2021
I’m gutted for all the talented individuals who were let go. I’m also disappointed about the inevitable regression of club accounts. This was a great program that will be missed.
(There’s some useful information in the replies to that tweet, too, about the role of the IGC folks.)
It’s a move that is as shocking as it is appalling. These creators were given no notice prior to Friday’s layoffs, and surely many of them were in the process of crafting content for the coming weeks at spring training. Many team accounts had been busily posting spring training game schedules earlier in the day, in fact.
To understand this move, and who is responsible for it, requires some understanding of how social media roles function within MLB teams. Many teams have social media staff they employ themselves — paid for out of team payroll, not MLB payroll. Those creators are safe after today’s layoffs. See this, for example, from Ryan Delgado, who runs social media for the Tampa Bay Rays.
We did not have a MLB social staffer here w/ TB, but the game lost a whole lot of great talent today— Ryan Delgado (@_ryan_delgado) February 12, 2021
SM in the 162+ gm season is grueling. It was a honor to interact with you all
To those who may need anything, please don’t hesitate to reach out
The game is worse off today
The Colorado Rockies official account also assured fans the layoffs would not impact their core social team.
Seeing a lot of confusion because of this tweet, so to be clear: The MLB In-Game Social Media Coordinator position was unfortunately eliminated today. That is different than each team’s individual social team. These positions worked hand-in-hand. AtRockies remains in tact.— Colorado Rockies (@Rockies) February 13, 2021
The other group — those who lost their jobs today — were on the MLB payroll, filling a job known as In-Game Social Media Coordinator (or the IGC abbreviation mentioned in several of the tweets above). So while these social media coordinators worked for specific teams, they were actually employed by MLB directly, and it was MLB who chose to let them go.
Make no mistake about it, in a time when baseball claims it’s trying to find new fans, and appeal to younger audiences, this move is just about the stupidest thing they could have done. Social media teams offer a direct connection between MLB clubs and their fans, it’s the only way — especially now in such a disconnected world — a fan can reach out to their most beloved franchise and feel heard, seen, and cared about.
At the same time, the people running these accounts were the ones reading hate messages after difficult trades or long dry-spells. They were the ones being abused during cheating scandals, or when front office staff misbehaved. They were the ones offering a first line of every positive and negative sentiment directed at any given team on any given summer night.
On Friday MLB told them that work wasn’t worth saving.
Saturday, those employed directly by teams will wake up and still have their jobs, but they will also need to contend with the void left behind by colleagues they’ve interacted with in the digital sphere all season. For teams where there was a mix of team roles and IGC roles, it means going into spring training without beloved co-workers along with them. That is, unless teams decide to hire on these ousted employees and take them on under the team payroll. Savvy teams (we’re looking at you, Cubs) would do well to bring these content creators under their umbrella as soon as possible. It would be the smallest gesture to show fans that the work and connections In-Game Social Media Coordinators have made over the years matter to front offices, even if they don’t matter to MLB.
And what it means, more than anything, is that a multi-billion dollar corporation, who claims to care about connecting with their fans, has put a tiny amount of payroll savings higher on their list of importance than the one true connection they could offer fans.
Which says a lot more about baseball than any tweet ever could.