Softball Notebook

The Softball Channel’s Fastpitch Blog

28  02 2011

Popularity Contest

Jennie Finch Tops the List of Softball’s Most-Tweeted

By Daniel Urban
TSC Analyst/Contributor

Twitter is a neat little website that allows users to create an account and post their thoughts in blocks of 144 characters or less. These posts are called “tweets.” The site has become wildly popular with all sorts of athletes, entertainers, musicians, and other celebrities, and their use of the site has given the average fan unprecedented access to the lives of many of the people they idolize and adore. You can go on the site, select someone whom you’d like to know better, click on the “follow” button, and then that person’s “tweets” will be posted to your personal wall. You can select to follow dozens of different people and their random daily thoughts will become a new website for you to peruse and enjoy.

Twitter also keeps stats about how many people “follow” its members. It’s a great way to gauge exactly how popular you are compared to other people. The person with the most Twitter followers is currently Lady Gaga with 8,425,674. In an effort to determine the most popular people and teams in the world of fastpitch softball, I present to you the following list of fastpitch athletes and teams ranked by the number of their Twitter followers:

NPF Teams
#1: Chicago Bandits - 1,700 followers
#2: USSSA Pride - 1,468 followers
#3: Akron Racers - 981 followers
#4: Philadelphia Force - 853 followers
#5: Tennessee Diamonds - 641 followers

Notable NPF and Team USA Players
#1: Jennie Finch - 24,976 followers
#2: Jessica Mendoza - 11,092 followers
#3: Cat Osterman - 9,056 followers
#4: Caitlin Lowe - 4,765 followers
#5: Danielle Lawrie - 4,077 followers
#6: Monica Abbott - 3,364 followers
#7: Natasha Watley - 2,817 followers
#8: Lauren Lappin - 1,854 followers
#9: Taryne Mowatt - 1,734 followers
#10: Andrea Duran - 1,731 followers
#11: Megan Willis - 1,715 followers
#12: Cheri Kempf* - 863 followers
#13: Vicky Galindo - 666 followers
#13: Eileen Canney - 666 followers
#14: Katie Burkhart - 653 followers
#14: Tairia Flowers - 353 followers
#15: Samantha Findlay - 109 followers
*NPF Commissioner

Other Notable Female Athletes
#1: Danica Patrick - 296,575 followers
#2: Michelle Wie - 39,781 followers

Notable NBA Stars
#1: Shaquille O’Neal - 3,554,762
#2: Dwight Howard -1,835,006
#3: LeBron James - 1,470,036
#4: Carmelo Anthony - 732,299

Notable NFL Stars
#1: Chad Ochocinco - 1,729,639 followers
#2: Larry Fitzgerald - 677,345 followers
#3: Michael Vick - 393,689 followers
#4: Drew Brees - 390,903 followers
#5: Mark Sanchez - 322,950 followers

Notable MLB Stars
#1: CC Sabathia - 80,796 followers

Nice data huh? Now for a few thoughts:

1. Even though the USSSA Pride won the NPF title last year, the Chicago Bandits are still more popular. But right now the Bandits’ lead is only 332 people! I am guessing that no matter how well the Pride do in the future, the Bandits will always be more popular because they are in a bigger market. Plus, the Bandits Twitter account is very active with news updates and other posts, so that will likely always give them an edge.

2. The lowly Diamonds have fewer followers than the Philadelphia Force. The Force (1) did not even play in 2010, (2) probably will never play again, and (3) never had the services of a superstar pitcher like Monica Abbott to help them sell the team. The NPF Diamonds are in real trouble people. And with a current roster that features washed up NPF nobody’s like Desiree Serrano and Amber Flores, it’s only going to get worse.

3. It is no surprise that Jennie Finch has more than double the followers of any other name in fastpitch softball, but Jessica Mendoza at #2? Cat Osterman is an easy pick for the #2 biggest name in the sport, but somehow Mendoza edged her out by more than 2,000 people. Both Mendoza and Osterman are very active tweeters, so that can’t be the reason for Mendoza beating Osterman. My only explanation is that Mendoza does a lot of broadcasting work for ESPN during the WCWS and for ESPNU during the college football season, so maybe that national exposure made more folks want to follow her thoughts on Twitter.

4. Monica Abbott should be the #3 biggest name in fastpitch, but she fell down to #6. Maybe it’s Abbott’s “Lotney ‘Sloth’ Fratelli-like” face or the painful number of spelling errors in her tweets that makes her fall down so far.

5. Caitlin Lowe ranks at #4. Sure Caitlin played for Arizona, led her team to two NCAA championships, has the stolen base record for the Cats, and won a Silver medal with the 2008 Olympic team, but is she really that big of a name in fastpitch? I don’t think so. It’s funny because most of the non-NPF Team USA players like Andrea Duran and Tairia Flowers are in the middle of the pack or lower, so it’s interesting that Caitlin would rank so high. Way to go CL!

6. I reckoned that Danielle Lawrie would have a lot of followers. She was a phenomenal NCAA pitcher, still plays with the USSSA Pride, and has really snazzy headbands on all the time, but I was shocked that she would have so many followers. She beat Monica Abbott by almost 1,000 followers! Never expected that.

7. I thought Megan Willis would be higher than #11. She is a current player, is well known for playing well with Cat Osterman, has a ton of endorsements and is one of the most attractive players in all of professional sports. I really thought that combo of qualities would put her near the top rather than near the bottom. Have people stopped giving preferential treatment to beautiful people all of the sudden? If so, then I’m in trouble!

8. Why can’t more people like Eileen Canney? All she ever did was play extremely well at DePaul and in the NPF, but no one ever gave her any love. She was never called up to join Team USA even though she definitely deserved it, and now only 666 people follow her. She’s easily the most underrated pitcher in NPF history.

9. Danica Patrick is really starting to grind my gears. Danica has only won one race in like 10 years, yet she is still one of the most followed athletes on Twitter and continues to get tons of undeserved endorsements. Danica has over 10 times as many followers as Jennie Finch, yet Jennie Finch has 10 times the accomplishments as Danica. Not only is Jennie hotter, but I bet if you strapped Jennie into an Indy Car and let her race as many times as Danica, Jennie would win at least TWO races. Get lost Danica.

9. Though entertainers like Lady Gaga and Ashton Kutcher are the kings and queens of Twitter, the NBA dominates among the athletes. Shaq is the #1-most followed athlete and #22-most followed overall. NBA stars like Dwight Howard and LeBron James have almost 50-times as many followers as Jennie Finch and quadruple the number of followers as other top male athletes like Drew Brees and Michael Vick.

10. Baseball needs to get with the program. CC Sabathia was the only MLB player I could find with a Twitter account, and he only has like 80,000 followers. More MLBers need to get on Twitter and start posting because it is great publicity for the game and for their own personal brand. I suppose it’s possible the MLB restricts its players from using Twitter, but if it had such a policy, CC wouldn’t have one. CC is easily the highest paid of all the athletes on this list yet he has only a fraction of the number of followers as other top male athletes. I don’t understand why baseball has lagged so far behind in the social media world, but they need to step up. Guys like Derek Jeter, Cliff Lee, Carlos Zambrano and Josh Hamilton all need to get their faces up on Twitter and start typing away.

There you have it! I hope you find my list informative and entertaining.

One Response to “Popularity Contest”

  1. You’ve inspired me to conduct my own popularity survey, using the numbers from the Fastpitch Forum message board…and the results are pretty interesting. Here are the three most-viewed topics from the Team USA, NPF, Jennie Finch and Chicago Bandits forums:

    Team USA
    Saving Olympic Softball - 746,845 views
    Picture of Team USA - 38,929 views
    Age knows no boundaries for Team USA - 18,499 views

    2009 NPF Draft - 2,800 views
    Pro Softball Hall of Fame - 2533 views
    How the NPF can gain popularity - 2,303 views
    *Open NPF Discussion forum. Excluded from the list is The Unthinkable Question (9,804 views) dealing with the more general topic of performance-enhancing drugs in pro sports.

    Jennie Finch
    Jennie Finch’s Career - 4,495 views
    Will Jennie be a Bandit Next Year? - 3,906 views
    Jennie to star in new TV show - 3,903 views

    Chicago Bandits
    Bandits Moving to Elgin - 9,664 views
    Jaime Clark injury - 2,886 views
    Judson plans take shape - 2,666 views

    A few observations:

    1. Team USA blows away every other forum, which is reflected in the enormous crowds it drew on its 2008 pre-Olympic Bound 4 Beijing Tour. And while many of those players migrated to the NPF, the popularity of Team USA has yet to carry over into the pro ranks.

    2. The 2009 NPF Draft seems to have peaked fan interest, which hasn’t been rekindled since.

    3. Consistent with what was stated previously, Jennie Finch is more popular than the NPF.

    4. Two of the three most popular Chicago Bandits topics are those dealing with the team relocating.

    5. The Olympics is more than 70-times as popular as any topic involving Jennie Finch, the NPF or the Chicago Bandits.

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