Five baseball people I wish had Twitter

I recently signed up for Twitter (@grahamdude) to promote this site. Anyone who reads regularly knows I follow Jose Canseco, and sometimes, he apparently reads what I write, too.  Canseco is actually fairly entertaining and unhinged on Twitter as is Ozzie Guillen.  The famously flippant White Sox manager had several Tweets last Friday slamming actor Sean Penn for supporting Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, including a post in Spanish that translated roughly to, “That clown the gringuito that lives chevre in the United States well.”  Whatever that means.

Yes, baseball was a simpler game before online media and Guillen’s native country both went socialized.

All things considered, I find Twitter pretty vapid, one of those things that wouldn’t be missed were it to disappear tomorrow from the cultural landscape, like US Magazine or Ke$ha.  That being said, Twitter continues to overtake more and more of my time, and I’ve found myself wondering of late who else in baseball history would have made good use of the site. Here are five past baseball figures I would have clicked “Follow” on for sure:

(1) Casey Stengel: The longtime manager was also probably the all-time most quotable baseball personality, known for giving nonsensical interviews to sportswriters — who dubbed his language Stengelese — and Congress alike.  In 1958, as noted in Ken Burns’ Baseball, a 67-year-old Stengel testified before a Senate subcommittee hearing and helped kill a bill to formalize baseball’s exemption from anti-trust laws by rambling incoherently for 45 minutes.  I have to think Stengelese leads to Twitter at its absolute best.  Or worst.

(2) Satchel Paige: Another eminently quotable personality, whose many aphorisms, such as his list on “How to Stay Young,” would make excellent, concise Tweets.

(3) Lou Gehrig: Imagine the heartfelt remarks the fallen Yankee star would have for Lou Gehrig Day on Twitter.

Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about a bad break I got.  Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the

And that’s 140 characters, exactly, which is all Twitter allows for each posting.  If that’s not irony, I don’t know what is, perhaps besides saying you’re the luckiest man on the face of the earth when in reality, as Norm MacDonald once said during a parody sketch of Gehrig’s speech on “Saturday Night Live,” you have a disease so rare they named it after you.

If Gehrig had a Twitter account, it probably would have malfunctioned on him.

(4) Dummy Taylor: A deaf pitcher for the New York Giants in the early part of the 20th Century, Taylor would get a new voice through social media, much like @ebertchicago.  The film critic lost his ability to speak following cancer surgery a few years ago but Tweets and blogs regularly now.

(5) Babe Ruth: Knowing the Babe, this would probably have no less than three ghostwriters.  Still, I have to think it would be pretty entertaining.  And I imagine Ruth, the first heavily-marketed athlete would allow the level of scrutiny needed for a Twitter account to take off, seeing as he had a syndicated newspaper box during his career entitled, WHAT BABE RUTH DID TODAY.

The All Iconoclast Team: How They Did

In October 1992, Sports Illustrated published all-time Dream Teams. Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan were on the basketball team, alongside Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain. Vince Lombardi coached the football team. I don’t remember too much about the hockey team (who really remembers hockey?), except it featured Wayne Gretzky and Bobby Orr. The baseball team had Dennis Eckersley and Mike Schmidt rubbing elbows with Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth.

It was an interesting concept and it’s given me an idea. I imagined a team full of characters, those ballplayers who defied comparison and blazed their own trail. I call it the All Iconoclast Team. Included are legendary drunks, cheats and Casey Stengel.

At starting pitcher, we have Satchel Paige, who had his own rules for staying young, a good thing since he’d be at least 103 if he were still alive today (109 if some sources are to be believed.) Paige believed in avoiding fried foods, because they “angry up the blood” and also said, “Go very light on the vices, such as carrying on in society— the social ramble ain’t restful.”

Paige used to bring his infield in, say he would strike out the side and do it. Here he has help. His catcher is Mike “King” Kelly, who inspired a rule change after substituting himself in mid-play to catch a foul pop. At second and third, respectfully, are Billy Martin and Pete Rose, the team leaders in beers drank and bets placed. Rounding out the infield are Jackie Robinson at first base and Alex Rodriguez at shortstop. Robinson of course breaks the team’s color barrier, while Rodriguez is the first openly gay hitter. I’m kidding, of course. Paige already broke the color barrier.

Backing up the infield, we have outfielders Ruth, Cobb and Jose Canseco. Cobb and Robinson discover an immediate, mutual animosity toward one another, each vowing to kill the other before the season’s end. Meanwhile Ruth inquires about going drinking with Martin and offers to take care of any fried foods Paige can’t handle. For his part, Canseco shakes up spring training by giving his new manager Stengel steroids. “Jose Canseco is going to make you young,” the former Athletics slugger tells the aged Yankee skipper as he injects him in a locker room toilet stall.

The following is a time-line of the team’s only season:

April 1: The season begins. Much like 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings, the Iconoclasts begin on a tear, knocking out their opponent 18-1. The Tampa Bay Rays vow never to take part in such an exhibition again.

April 18: After beginning 8-0, the Iconoclasts lose their first game. Owner George Steinbrenner makes the first of many overtures about firing Stengel and promoting Billy Martin to player-manager.

April 19: Stengel inquires with Canseco about how he can get more steroids.

May 7: Back winning consistently, the Iconoclasts are having difficulty finding teams willing to face them. They destroy a Japanese All-Star squad and request to face the winner of the upcoming Little League World Series. Paige announces that when that day comes, he will call in his entire field and strike out every batter. The request goes unanswered.

May 18: Mike “King” Kelly is distraught after learning he’s been dead for 115 years.

May 29: It’s Free Bat Night at the Iconoclast’s ballpark (Veteran Stadium.) Tensions flare when Cobb goes into the stands after a heckler and receives a brutal miniature bat beating. Further trouble strikes later when Cobb learns that his $10,000 annual salary is less than 1/1000th of what Rodriguez earns.

June 4: Stengel confuses Rodriguez by attempting to speak Spanish, telling him, “Oye como va, Jose?”  Rodriguez just glares.

June 21: In a special match-up against the All Hapless Team, Rose re-enacts the thrilling conclusion to the 1970 All-Star Game by barreling, once more, into catcher Ray Fosse. “Ah nuts, we lose again,” Hapless manager Don Zimmer says.

July 16: Ruth films his first beer commercial, with Martin standing by. “They didn’t have this back in the Thirties,” an ecstatic Bambino tells Martin.

July 31: Amidst the madness that is his team, Robinson has quietly put together an outstanding, albeit infuriating season. Hitting .330, Robinson fumes when the trade deadline passes without any takers, even after Steinbrenner explains that All-Time squads rarely make deals.

August 14: Paige decides the social ramble is restful and that he can handle a small amount of fried foods.

September 6: With the season winding down, Canseco announces he will be penning a tell-all book. “You write about me, I’ll kill you,” Cobb tells him. “You kill him, I’ll kill you,” Robinson replies.

September 25: The final game over, Stengel sits in a hotel bar with a sportswriter, nursing a Scotch. “Let me tell you something,” Stengel intones. “I got a shortstop, kid from Miami doesn’t speak a word of English. My catcher is 142 years old. Babe Ruth cares more about Pabst Blue Ribbon commercials than this team. Can’t anyone here play this game? How the hell did I get addicted to steroids?”