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Sam Taggart

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What We Can Learn About Branding from Stephen Strasburg’s Injury

Did we just witness the entirety of Stephen Strasburg’s professional baseball career in the span of mere months? I doubt it, given that the success rate of Tommy John’s surgery is over 90%, but it is a possibility.

Strasburg is one of the most hyped players in professional sports in recent memory and he was living up to the buzz in his first season. Not only was he delivering on the mound, with 98-100 MPH fastballs and dirty curveballs, but he was generating more television viewers, ballpark visitors, and straight cash for the game of baseball, a sport which is still struggling somewhat from the Steroids Era.

Many have called Strasburg’s injury a “sad day for baseball.” And it is. But let’s forget about the game for a moment and think about the individual. What a potentially awful day for Stephen Strasburg.

Considering that significant injuries happen all the time in sports (St. Louis Rams’ wide receiver Donny Avery tore his ACL last week, for example, and is out for the season), and that we live in a time where personal branding has become so important, is it foolish for any professional athlete, Stephen Strasburg or not, to not be focusing on building their brand off the field? [More…]

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Recap: Social Media Basketball

A couple of months ago, NYC-based social media agency Carrot Creative challenged the agency I work for, VaynerMedia to a game of basketball. “Hey @vaynermedia,” they tweeted, “Since our comps are the 2 best Sports Social Media Shops It is time to battle it out on the Basketball court! #challenge.” Of course, we accepted the challenge and played the game. VaynerMedia won, 61-41.

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A Twitter Guide to the 2010-11 NFL Season

The 2010 NFL season is quickly approaching. The preseason is already under way, and the regular season begins on Thursday, September 9th, with the Minnesota Vikings visiting the New Orleans Saints in a rematch of last year’s NFC Championship game. I love baseball and I’m a huge basketball fan as well. In fact, I really enjoy watching most sports. But there’s nothing like sitting on your couch on a Sunday afternoon with a couple of buddies, and a table full of junk food and beer, and watching nine straight hours of hard-hitting football.

So, why am I writing this article? Why a Twitter Guide? Twitter has become the best platform for up-to-the minute news and analysis in most arenas. If you want to stay on top of… anything you care about, Twitter is the place to do it (especially with “fast follow”). I’ll list a number of my favorite NFL-related accounts with a brief reason as to why they’re worth following. Enjoy!

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Alex Rodriguez and the Asterisk

Yesterday, Alex Rodriguez became the youngest player in Major League Baseball history to hit 600 home runs, only the 7th ever to hit that milestone… Finally (A-Rod had gone 46 at-bats after his 599th home run before breaking the 600 mark). At 35 years and 8 days old, Rodriguez beat Babe Ruth to number 600 by just over a year and a half. And to reach a milestone that only seven players have ever reached over the course of more than a century is absolutely amazing. However, the big home run wasn’t nearly the event it could or should have been, because of A-Rod’s 2009 admission that he took performance enhancing drugs.

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Pro-Athlete Bloggers

One of the first posts I ever wrote for SportsNetworker was about Gilbert Arenas, the true pioneer of the social media space for professional athletes. Shaq gets the credit for being the one who led the way, because of his use of Twitter, but Gilbert was in the space first. And Gilbert was a blogger! Forget Shaq writing 140-character tweets in 2008, Gilbert was writing blog posts that consisted of hundreds if not thousands of words… two years earlier!

Anyway, this post is not about Shaq or Gilbert Arenas or anyone you’ve likely heard of before. This post is about Swedish professional golfer Alex Noren and minor league baseball player Matt Antonelli. Why? They’re both professional athletes and outstanding bloggers. We focus so much on Facebook & Twitter as the tools athletes should be utilizing, but let’s not forget the power of the blog.

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Phollow Phriday: A Twitter Resource for the Philly Sports Fan

There are few things in life (family, friends, & my cat) that I love more than the city of Philadelphia and sports. I was born and raised in the city, and I’m a lifelong Philly sports fan. One of my first sports memories is Joe Carter hitting a three-run walk-off home run against closer Mitch Williams, propelling the Toronto Blue Jays into a World Series victory over his hometown Phillies. Sigh.

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Following NBA Free Agency

Over the past year, Twitter has shown us its incredible power when it comes to talking about and sharing “breaking news” and current events (not just in sports). For example, last year’s Iranian presidential elections completely dominated Twitter for a number of weeks, and became the medium for finding out what was happening in the Middle East. Other major news events, like the Hudson River plane crash and Michael Jackson’s death, have proven the same.

July 1 marked the start of one of the biggest summers in the history of the National Basketball Association. A number of the league’s premier players, including LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Dwayne Wade, became free agents. 2010 NBA free agency has been quite an experience, and Twitter has truly given fans an insight into free agency unlike we’ve ever had before. Like the events mentioned previously, Twitter has completely altered who controls the messaging and the way we gather information.

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The Nets’ Blueprint Wall: Extending the Story

Just before July 1, the Nets began to unveil a 225 foot x 95 foot painted sign on the side of a building at 34th Street & 8th Avenue in midtown Manhattan. The wall features prominent images of the Nets’ new owner, 6’8″ Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, and part owner & hip-hop legend, Jay-Z. Above their faces is the phrase, “The Blueprint for Greatness.” The Nets feel strongly about the direction their team is heading, and the wall is a tribute to the positive growth this organization continues to make.

The wall is part of an aggressive marketing campaign (along with several major digital and print advertisements), placed within walking distance of New York Penn Station, a major hub for the Nets moving forward. They will move to Newark for the next two seasons, at least, and then permanently to Brooklyn. Many, many Nets fans will pass through Penn Station in the years to come.

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Stephen Strasburg’s Social Media Potential

If you don’t know about Stephen Strasburg, let me introduce you. Strasburg is a starting pitcher for the Washington Nationals. He was the number one pick in the MLB Draft last year and made his major league debut earlier this week: 7 innings, 4 hits, 2 earned runs… and 14 strikeouts! Quite the impressive entry…

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CrowdZone Helps Fans Connect From Anywhere

From the App Store: CrowdZone is the best way to cheer for your favorite teams, win points, trophies & prizes while connecting with friends and other fans in stadiums or watching at home from all around the world. 3 out of 5 Stars (592 Ratings) as of May 13. CrowdZone is a sports-themed social platform…

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PLAYOFFS?! Yes, I’m Talking About the Playoffs!

I am, by no stretch of the imagination, a fan of hockey. While I absolutely love most sports (e.g. basketball, baseball, football, golf, tennis), hockey is one sport I’ve never been able to get into. However, last Saturday during Game One of the second round Boston Bruins vs. Philadelphia Flyers, you wouldn’t have known the…

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What You Need to Know About Facebook’s Recent Announcements

Note: While this article is heavy on tech and social media, the following information is very important, and the implications for all of us in the sports industry are clear. In case you weren’t aware, Facebook made some pretty big announcements at last week’s F8 Conference. Mashable‘s Pete Cashmore went so far as to say…

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