It looks like Adam Jones’s time with the Orioles has come to an end. The outfielder is a free agent for the first time in his career, and all signs are pointing to him landing a contract outside of Baltimore. That’s a bummer for many reasons. Jones has been a leader on the field, in the clubhouse and throughout the local community for more than a decade. While his roster spot will be filled, the O’s may find it impossible to totally replace the former “face of the franchise” so quickly.
During his time with the O’s, Jones had also become known for being active on social media, interacting (and sometimes arguing) with fans, showing off his most recent meal or trying his damndest to make Nike Monarchs cool via his @SimplyAJ10 handle on Twitter and Instagram. His willingness to be so public with his thoughts has stood out on recent Orioles teams that have lacked many other peers willing to do so.
Professional athletes are under no obligation to post anything online. They get paid to perform on the field and, in many cases, getting involved with social media can only cause problems. However, it’s just flat out fun to see your favorite players be active online and show some personality that won’t always appear on TV cameras during a run-of-the-mill baseball game.
So, we finally get to the point of this blog. If Jones does leave town, will there just be massive void in the Orioles social media world for years to come? Will a current player pick up the mantle? Is one of the new guys a secret Twitter fiend? Here are some possible candidates to take over the throne:
Richie Martin, infielder
One of the newest O’s does not appear to be an avid social media poster, but you can see the potential. Martin has a presence on the big platforms (Twitter, Instagram). But where he has an advantage over all others is his video gaming ability. Martin has a Twitch channel, from which he has broadcast a few times, and he even competed in a professional baseball Fortnite tournament at the most recent Winter Meetings. He would not be the first MLBer to gain a following on Twitch, but he would be a pioneer in Birdland.
Richard Bleier, pitcher
OK, this is just something I want to see happen. Bleier has an Instagram page, where he has a distinct dad-like style of posting, except he understands how hashtags work. But imagine how good he could be on Twitter. First of all, he’s a relief pitcher. That already makes him prone to being a little wacky. On top of that, he throws what I believe is a 64-mph fastball and still has a career ERA under two runs. There is voodoo going on there, and I want to learn more. Tell us about it on Twitter, Dick!
Branden Kline, pitcher
The hometown guy has a great story. He has fought back from injuries and now finds himself on the precipice of the big leagues. His Instagram is locked down, but you can follow him over on Twitter, where he likes to say “Oh my...” while watching sports.
The point is that he’s on Twitter, which feels like the biggest battle. His personality flashes on there occasionally. Add in some more frequent play-by-play commentary of Food Network’s Chopped and we have social media gold.
Austin Hays, outfielder
This has not exactly been a scientific study, but Hays seems to be the most frequent poster in the Orioles current crop of players. He has routinely provided updates on his injury rehab on Twitter, shows off his family on Instagram (as well as a sleeveless sweater he owns that says “Merry Christmas, Bitches”). If he bounces back from a tough 2018, there is a good chance he makes in to Baltimore in 2019. The former top 100 prospect still could end up being a pretty good major leaguer, and that’s worth something in the world of social media value.
Cedric Mullins, outfielder
The man that replaces Jones on the field is showing some of the same characteristics of his predecessor online as well. He likes his food, and he is making an effort to work with kids in his community. Over on Twitter, he has made it known that he’s excited for Toy Story 4 and he wants an updated release of Backyard Baseball. Be still, my beating heart.
Jimmy Yacabonis, pitcher
As far as I can tell, Yacabonis is only on Instagram. He does not post especially often, but he did put up a video of himself throwing a few day ago:
I want more of this! The headband. The weird camera angle. That slider! I am now convinced Yacabonis is going to be the best opener of all time and may even earn a few Cy Young votes. The power of social media at work!
That’s it. Those are the six candidates I have to be the next king of Orioles social media. Is there anyone better? We must know. This is an issue that needs to be solved. We cannot go on with a black hole of banter on Twitter or a lack of filtered photos on Instagram. The online beast must be fed, and as spring training draws near it only gets hungrier.