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Tribe Social Deck: Another First

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The Tribe Social Deck is the Cleveland Indians' new marketing feature this season.

When Twitter was first created, I couldn’t understand the use for it. It seemed to me it was just a different way of updating a Facebook status. Since I already had a Facebook account, I saw no reason to create one on Twitter. For the next three years, I laughed at and teased anyone who used Twitter. After stating my newly discovered interest in a public relations career last summer, I was introduced to the Cleveland Social Media Club. I quickly learned that most of the group’s members, many of them in PR, were on Twitter. As the next six months went by, I discussed the benefits of having a Twitter account with my new acquaintances and this past February I finally caved. I spent an afternoon trying to learning the ropes of Twitter, but it was another three months before I understood the majority of its features. I’m still trying to figure out the benefits, though last night I earned one of them: a pass to the Tribe Social Deck.

On opening day of the Cleveland Indians season, two of my acquaintances turned friends in the Social Media Club “tweeted” about being the first people to have passes to the new “Cleveland Indians Social Media Deck.” Being a lifelong baseball fan, my interest was definitely piqued. I learned that it was a new section at Progressive Field on the homerun porch to the right of the bleachers. It was targeted toward people like myself who use social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. As the season continued, I began following any Indians-related Twitter names. In addition, a few more of my friends got to witness a game from the new Tribe Social Deck. With no idea how to get tickets to sit in this new section, I asked one of my friends about it and he gave me the e-mail address of Rob Campbell, the Indians’ public relations rep who oversees the section. Little did I know, I had been following him on Twitter all season long. After e-mailing Rob, he responded saying there would be an application on the Indians’ website soon, but he also asked me if there was a specific game I had in mind. I was stunned by that question. Was it really that easy to get into the Social Deck? I ended up meeting Rob at the last Social Media Club meeting and discussing it more with him. He explained the Tribe Social Deck is the first of its kind in all of professional sports. Tickets could not be bought for this section, rather obtained by filling out an application and proving to him that fans are worthy of sitting in a section dedicated to social media users. He told me to e-mail him when the homestand of the game I wanted to attend began. I suppose it was so easy for me because I had been following him on Twitter since the baseball season started and I pledged my loyalty to the Tribe relentlessly. Two weeks ago Rob confirmed two passes for me for last night’s game against the New York Mets, yet I had trouble finding a guest. Was it that nobody wanted to go to a game in the middle of the work week? Did everyone already have prior commitments? Or has everyone I know bailed on the Tribe because they aren’t playing well? Probably a combination of all three. Luckily I was able to find a guest in a family member at the last minute.

When we arrived at the Social Deck, I was pretty surprised right away. I expected the section to be like a VIP area with a locked gate or a security guard. Yet it seemed to be just like any other section, open to anyone but expecting an usher to check tickets for validation. From a view standpoint, I couldn’t see leftfield very well, but it was a closer view to the mound than where I usually sit in the bleachers. Also, what I would be missing on anything hit to left was fixed by the TV that was placed in the corner of the deck. There were also Wi-Fi access and power outlets for those who chose to bring computers to the game, but I chose not to, feeling it would be too distracting. The other people who had received passes to the Social Deck for that game arrived and the chatter began. On a side note, I really have seemed to come out of my shell since I started and then finished college. As a teenager I was extremely shy and unwilling to make any first moves talking to people. Over the years I learned to be more vocal and have developed into somewhat of a social butterfly, as my mom called me last week. So obviously had no trouble speaking with those with me on the Social Deck. I believe the relaxed atmosphere and common interest also helped move conversation along as well. When Rob arrived in the second inning, I and the other guests received another perk from the section, a packet of Tribe statistics the media receives and uses during the broadcasts. My eyes lit up at the sight as I used to create my own media packets for fun as a kid. I would do this by hand and reading magazines as this was before computers and the internet became popular. That media packet is an example of something I would love to do for a career. It is something I used to do and still would do for free I enjoy it so much. Naturally, two of the other guests started “tweeting” as the game continued, but having to pay for internet access on my phone and not having a computer, I could not. Luckily, this was not a prerequisite to sitting on the Tribe Social Deck.

Now, to a few game notes. The Indians took a decent early lead, but Justin Masterson was not as good as he had been his last three starts, giving up seven runs in seven innings. Travis Hafner hit his fourth homerun in the last six games. He really appears to be locked in right now. Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez, virtually knittable, gave up a two-run homer to Shelley Duncan in the ninth inning, but was able to hold on and close out the Tribe and give the Mets a 7-6 victory. Johan Santana, who had never beaten the Indians in his career before last night, rebounded from being roughed up early to pitch a decent game. Rookie Tribe shortstop Jason Donald was beat up all night long. He was the victim of many tough groundballs, a consequence from a sinker ball pitcher like Masterson. I have a great deal of respect for Donald after he hustled down the line to create the controversial call at the end of the “blown perfect game.” I really felt for the kid last night as he just could not catch a break and have a ball hit right to him. Each grounder was hit hard to either side of him and he finished the night with two errors and a few more wild throws. Mets third baseman David Wright is faster than I thought he was. Of his three hits last night, two of them were infield singles on hard hit groundballs.

Despite the Tribe’s second straight loss, my first time experiencing the Tribe Social Deck was a lot of fun and something I look forward to experiencing again. To any Tribe fans who use Social Media religiously, I strongly recommend applying for passes to this elite section of Progressive Field.

Credit for photo goes to http://www.waitingfornextyear.com

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