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Jul. 29 2009 — 4:50 pm | 26 views | 0 recommendations | 6 comments

My life is in Twitter limbo

Twitter logo

Image by adria.richards via Flickr

Last week I logged in to my Twitter account only to discover that all of my followers had abandoned me. I had only one follower left — and that was me.

Did everyone I know suddenly decide they didn’t want to read my tweets? Was I really that boring? I was truly hurt, until I looked at the number of people I was following and discovered that it, too, had zeroed out. I was suddenly following no one. And the people that I follow are anything but boring. I would never abandon them.

So how did that happen? In my quest to find out, I have been placed in Twitter limbo. My account is suspended, I am unable to tweet and there’s no human being to ask what happened.

The road to limbo started with an innocent request sent to Twitter through one of the many help/complaint links on the site. I merely asked why the followers had disappeared and if they could be restored.

I received an instant response that if my account was suspended, I could request it be returned to active use. I didn’t think I was suspended, but how would I know? So I responded to the “suspended” link in the email, and asked to be reinstated if I was suspended. And by the way, could I have my followers back?

As it turns out, I wasn’t suspended at the time. Which didn’t explain why I lost my followers, but at least left me relieved that I still had an active account. A few people even signed up to follow me. I was up to three followers.

Hey, it’s a start.

But that stopped quickly. Twitter suspended by account. The message in the red block on my home page only stated, “This account is currently suspended and is being investigated due to strange activity. If we have suspended your account mistakenly, please let us know.”

I responded by asking to have my account reactivated, but the request went unanswered. I’ve asked again, and the request is now “pending.” In the meantime, Twitter’s troubleshooting section said a number of accounts have had their followers zeroed out. They’re looking into it.

So now I’m waiting. I don’t want to open a new account and start over. I want my account with my name and my small but loyal group of followers back.

Fortunately, I haven’t reached the point of obsession. Unlike some of my friends, I don’t need to tweet. I can live without it.

But why should I have to? Why, Twitter?

Jul. 27 2009 — 5:45 pm | 18 views | 0 recommendations | 10 comments

NASCAR’s credibility gap

Juan Pablo Montoya

Image by geognerd via Flickr

Juan Pablo Montoya’s instinctive first reaction to the news that he would be penalized for speeding on pit road during the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard race on Sunday was not to question the failure of his own equipment.

Instead, he openly questioned NASCAR.

“I swear on my children and my wife that I was not speeding,” Montoya said over his in-car radio, available for all fans and NASCAR heirarchy to hear. “There is no way. Thank you NASCAR for screwing my day.”

Montoya’s anger was understandable. He had dominated one of the most prestigious races in the Sprint Cup series up until that point and had a five-second lead on his closest challenger when he was penalized with 35 laps to go. It was his race to lose and, in his mind, NASCAR had just taken it away from him.

“It’s an absolute rip-off,” he said. “I hope [NASCAR president] Mike Helton is listening to this: You better double-check what happened because I got robbed.”

Here’s the curious part. Montoya didn’t grow up schooled in the history of NASCAR. He has been racing in the sport for less than three years. But apparently, that’s long enough for him to have developed some doubt about NASCAR’s credibility.

NASCAR has been accused of manipulating races for years. Indeed, the most vocal conspiracy theorists continue »

Jul. 27 2009 — 4:53 pm | 3 views | 0 recommendations | 6 comments

Michael Vick is welcome in the NFL, sort of

vickvertMichael Vick, who missed the last two NFL seasons after pleading guilty to a federal charge of bankrolling a dogfighting operation, was conditionally reinstated by National Football League commissioner Roger Goodell on Monday. The decision comes a week after Vick completed his sentence on July 20.

The decision makes Vick, 29, eligible to sign with a team, join it during training camp and play in the final two preseason games. But N.F.L. Commissioner Roger Goodell has not determined when Vick can return to regular-season games. That ruling is to come by Week 6 of the season, in mid-October.

In a letter to Vick on Monday, Goodell noted that Vick’s margin for error was “extremely limited.” He wrote: “My decision at that time will be based on reports from outside professionals, your probation officer, and others charged with supervising your activities, the quality of your work outside football, the absence of any further adverse involvement in law enforcement, and other concrete actions that you take that are consistent with your representations to me.”

via N.F.L. Grants Vick an Opening – NYTimes.com

More than a few columnists have said Vick has paid his debt to society and has the right to play football again. But playing in the NFL is a privilege, not a right. By torturing and killing dogs, Vick gave up that privilege. Shouldn’t he have to earn it back? Shouldn’t he have to prove he is worthy of that privilege again?

At this point, it remains to be seen if any team will want Vick on its roster. Released by Atlanta, the team that once bestowed Vick with a $130 million contract, no other team in the NFL has hinted at being interested so far with training camps about to open.

Maybe teams will put character and image ahead of football for once and stay away from Michael Vick. But I doubt it.

Jul. 23 2009 — 2:03 pm | 145 views | 0 recommendations | 18 comments

Is LeBron turning into LeBrat?

LeBron James

Image by Keith Allison via Flickr

LeBron James and Nike made a big fuss about a video taken during a recent basketball pick-up game that showed Xavier’s Jordan Crawford dunking on him. After the game at the LeBron James Skills Academy, James and Nike confiscated several videotapes of the dunk, lest anyone think less of the greatest player in the game.

Naturally, it didn’t take long for rogue videos to appear. Here’s a look at the famed dunk, the shot James couldn’t let anyone see.

James already showed the world what kind of sport he was when he refused to shake hands with the Orlando Magic players after Cleveland was eliminated from the NBA playoffs this past season.  Trying to hide the video is just further proof LeBron has turned into LeBrat or, as the esteemed ESPN.com columnist Jemele Hill called him on Facebook, “LeBaby.”

Jul. 22 2009 — 2:07 pm | 360 views | 5 recommendations | 26 comments

Erin Andrews and the ugliness of judging beauty

Erin Andrews

Image by speedye via Flickr

Twice in the last month, readers who were unhappy with my posts on another web site went out of their way to email and tell me that I was ugly.

The first time I responded by joking that I didn’t like my picture, either. The second time, I wrote the emailer that I didn’t deserve the cheap shot, to which he (or she) responded, “If you don’t want comments about your appearance, take down your picture. Nobody would care what you look like if you didn’t put yourself out there like that.”

I was reminded of that when I read about Erin Andrews, the beautiful ESPN reporter whose privacy was violated recently when a peeping tom videotaped her while she was naked in a hotel room. The video wound up on the internet and now her attorney is trying to find the culprit while threatening those who post it.

Some are trying to put the blame on Andrews, pointing out that she has profited greatly from her appearance. Therefore, the argument goes, she should have to put up with this kind of invasion because she asked for it “… by putting herself out there like that.”

So Andrews is punished for being pretty. But somehow she deserves it, because everyone assumes the only reason she was hired by ESPN was her appearance. What people don’t realize is that puts Andrews in a position no male reporter faces on a daily basis: She has to prove herself on every assignment to demonstrate that she is more than a beautiful stand-in for a real reporter.

And at the same time, I am punished for not being pretty. Despite more than 20 years of experience as a sports reporter, I would never be considered for a job like Andrews’s precisely because of my appearance. Even as a print journalist, I face readers who can’t look past my picture to judge me by my words.

It’s 2009. Why are women still being treated like this?

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    About Me

    I'm a freelance writer based in Charlotte, N.C., a Yankee transplant in a Bible belt town that is home to Billy Graham, TARP-infused banks, stock-car racing and that signature Southern culinary abomination: Barbeque.

    I write mostly about sports as a regular contributor to The New York Times. I was a staff writer at the Detroit Free Press, Hartford Courant and other newspapers. Over the years, I have written for many publications and Web sites, covering everything from the Super Bowl to the Daytona 500. When it comes to sports, I am usually irreverent, occasionally indignant and sometimes intolerant of folks who take this form of entertainment too seriously. It's supposed to be a game, you know.

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    Contributor Since: March 2009
    Location:Charlotte, NC

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