Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Suite life of CST's Doug and Tom

Social media is a tool that's brought us closer than ever to our well-loved sports' teams. It allows us to follow the innermost breakfast plans of our favorite athletes, who, it turns out, enjoy slices of banana in their Frosted Flakes just like us mouth-breathing commoners. How interesting!

The Cleveland Indians already have a reputation as being one of MLB's most Twitter-friendly teams. The Tribe upped the ante this year with the Indians Social Suite, billed by the club as “the first social media-only space in professional sports." The suite, situated along the left field line right above third base, gives attendees wireless Internet access from whence to send their undoubtedly insightful and entertaining electronic messages to friends and followers. Invitations to the social suite are distributed on a game-by-game basis. 

My initial taste of the suite was during last night's game against the Texas Rangers. As guest of CST webmaster Tom, the two of us sent out a handful of tweets and blog posts from Tom's Android phone.

Both the wi-fi service and the seats were pretty great. This was my first time in a Progressive Field suite, and I stared in caveman-like awe at the flat screen TV affixed to the wall inside the warm confines of the space. There was seating outside on the terrace, too, but with Tom wearing shorts on this chilly night, I quickly bundled him inside so he wouldn't catch his death of cold. Although Tom's bare legs were covered in goose bumps, he declined my offer of a deep-tissue massage to warm him further. Next time.

Tom and I were joined in the suite  by two fine gentlemen from Jobu Lives who made the trip up from Columbus. Another young guy on hand worked in digital media. His guest was a feisty college-aged girl who counted herself as a huge Tribe fan. She backed this point by cursing like a longshoreman with his genitals caught in a screen door every time something bad happened to the Indians. Tom and I were particularly scandalized by the girl's verbally acrobatic employ of a heavy duty curse word that's taboo in the U.S. but used prolifically in many other English-speaking countries. Let's just say the guys from "Trainspotting" would have been proud.

After Tom fanned me awake from my swear-induced swoon, a very nice Indians employee arrived to see how the group was doing. The young woman was part of the club's burgeoning social media department, carrying so many different jobs under her purview I have no idea how she does them all.

While the overall experience was cool, a bit more interaction would have been nice, to be honest. Why not treat bloggers a bit more like members of the press? I'm not asking for locker room access, but a tour of the inner workings of the stadium would have added to the evening and given bloggers something additional to write about.

The social media suite is an interesting experiment with room to grow. I have a cordial distaste of people having their noses stuck in a phone during ballgames, but promoting the Tribe through as many mediums as possible is always a good thing. Thanks again to the Indians for the opportunity!