PAYING THE TROLLS

Lance Zierlein: Every spring, people on Twitter hate me

Lance Zierlein: Every spring, people on Twitter hate me
Titans adding help for Marcus Mariota? Nope. Fuel for trolls. Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The term “troll” has become an infamous addition into our country’s lexicon thanks to the anonymity of social media - most notably Twitter. By now, we know that the world is filled with miserable people who use Twitter as a method of intentionally attacking others in an attempt to elicit a response.

Since being hired by NFL.com in the fall of 2014, I’ve been lucky enough to handle draft analysis for the website which includes draft profiles, team needs for all 32 teams, and television and digital broadcast duties at the Combine and during the NFL Draft.  It also includes mock drafts.

Mock anger

Nothing, and I mean nothing can prepare you for the angry hordes and Twitter trolls that you will be faced with when you release a mock draft on a national scale. For starters, you have to develop a feel for which prospects are really first-round worthy. Figuring that bit of information takes studying draft history, learning positional value and then understanding player evaluations in that particular draft.

Secondly, you have to have a feel for team needs and you have to understand that teams often pass on drafting what the fanbase considers to be the “top need” in order to draft a good player at another position. There is no way for any normal mock drafter to know the narrative of what a team needs most and who they are most likely to draft like a hardcore member of the fanbase. So when you make a selection that doesn’t match the narrative of need or player, get ready.

The NFL’s twitter account has 24.6 million followers. When the NFL tweets my mock drafts out to that many followers, I ready myself for a barrage of angry fans and hopeful trolls looking to assail me with gifs of trash cans on fire, people dying of laughter, and little children vomiting. I typically take four to five hours to finish a mock draft. I put an excessive amount of time and effort into my mock drafts and get vomiting children for my hard work.

When the initial deluge of gifs finishes, I’m left with at least one angry fan base. After my mock 3.0 was released, the Tennessee Titans fans were the offended party because I gave them tight end Hayden Hurst from South Carolina. Apparently many mock drafts are pushing tight end to the Titans and the fans are beyond fatigued with it.

I gave them tight end because Delanie Walker’s contract is up and the Titans will need to find another tight end who can help as a run blocker and pass-catcher for Marcus Mariota. This didn’t align with Titans fans and they’ve spent the last 20 hours telling me how lazy and stupid I am and that I’ve lost my credibility. Sometimes I wonder if they even realize that this isn’t their actual pick.

Show recommendation

Catastrophe - When  my wife and I were in Chicago visiting friends last summer, one of our friends suggested we watch Catastrophe on Amazon Prime Video. For starters, he said that the combination of Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan was absolutely hilarious as couple who has a one-weekend stand and are forced to make life decisions after she gets pregnant. They decide to marry and give it a shot and the show revolves around their relationship (abroad in England) and her pregnancy.

The show moves forward with different story-lines over the next two seasons, but if you are married you will probably recognize many of the conversations and situations they find themselves in. The show is written and acted by Delaney and Horgan and they capture real conversations and real issues in a unique and effective way.

 

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

ESPN Houston 97.5 FM
Have the Astros turned the corner? Photo by Jack Gorman/Getty Images.

One presumes the Chicken Littles have stopped clucking about the Astros’ season being a goner, or if not gone, on life support. It wasn’t when they were 7-19. It wasn’t when they were 12-24. It certainly isn’t now that they’ve won six straight games and eight of their last nine. Another three or four weeks of inept play could have doomed them, but the worm has turned. A 20-25 record is no cause for celebration, but it has the Astros within four games of first place. Yes, getting to play the A’s four times this week helped. And?

I detailed the schedule issue on our Stone Cold ‘Stros podcast this week. The Astros were flat lousy for the season’s first six weeks. But… Starting the week the Astros had played a whopping 32 of their 40 games against teams with a winning record as of Monday. The Seattle Mariners had played 23 such games, the Texas Rangers only 16. The Philadelphia Phillies have been sensational so far and are fully legit. But… The Phillies entered the weekend having played three games vs. teams now sporting a winning record. Three! Out of 45 games. Going into this weekend's series only the Blue Jays, White Sox, and Angels had played more games against winning teams than had the Astros. It’s not mere coincidence that the Blue Jays, White Sox, and Angels are the three last place teams in the American League. The Astros were not up to the challenge of their first quarter schedule, but by no means did it render them dead, particularly in the thus far Mild, Mild, American League West.

A good Brewers team visits Minute Maid Park for three games this weekend. The Astros beat their best starter Friday night. Next the Astros get the pathetic Angels here for three before a three-game series at Oakland. Meanwhile the West leading Mariners start a ten-game road trip this weekend: three at the excellent Orioles, four at the excellent Yankees, three at the respectable Nationals. The Astros stand a good chance of overtaking the M’s by the end of this month if they can win the four-game series they open Memorial Day in Seattle.

Meanwhile, the Texas Rangers snapped a five game losing streak Wednesday to eke back over .500 at 23-22. The reigning World Series champs hope to get somewhat well vs. the Angels in Arlington this weekend but dropped the series opener to drop back to .500. For their sake they better because the Rangers then hit the road for Philadelphia and Minnesota.

Naturally, many Astros fans are upset with Ronel Blanco serving a 10 game suspension for illegally using whatever substance on his glove and non-pitching hand. The suspension is basically automatic. The suspension is also not a big problem. Blanco has been fantastic since getting a starting rotation spot only because of Justin Verlander’s delayed start to his season. It’s said that all life owes us is opportunity. Man, did Blanco seize his. With just seven big league starts to his name before entering this season as a 30-year old, Blanco has made eight this season with a sparkling 2.09 earned run average. So, what’s that about the suspension is not a big problem?

Blanco will miss one start and have another pushed back a day or two. That’s just not a big deal. In fact it may be helpful in the bigger picture. With last year being the first time in his professional career that Blanco topped 100 innings pitched (125 1/3), the Astros need to be wary of Blanco’s workload which is on pace to blow past last year’s career-high innings total. J.P. France probably pitched over his head for a while last year, but went well past his prior career-high innings total and faded badly. Cristian Javier was tremendous in 2022 while pitching more than in any previous year, but he pitched even more in 2023 and faded badly.

Alex Bregman lives! After being nearly inconceivably inept through the first quarter of the season, the Alex awakening in the Oakland series was not shocking but most welcomed. Over his first 37 games Bregman had a paltry seven extra base hits. Even with a feeble .201 batting average and .534 OPS, that Bregman had scored just eight runs over those 37 games was hard to believe. Then Monday and Tuesday saw five extra base hits and four runs scored.

In a trade not commanding any headlines, Dana Brown Wednesday sent outfielder Corey Julks to the White Sox for 20-year-old low minor league pitcher Luis Rodriguez. There is now no reason to call it a great Astros trade but Brown made a smart deal. Julks had no future here, hence he would have been released if no deal was struck. Taking a flyer on a young arm can’t hurt. Frankly, the White Sox are dumb to trade a young arm of any promise whatsoever for a 28-year-old outfielder with limited value. Julks was a nice story for parts of last season. The Clear Brook High School grad and UH product had a couple windows of production, highlighted by a sizzling nine game 17 for 34 stretch straddling June and July. Alas, not two weeks later Julks began what would become an 0 for 36 nightmare. He was sent to the minors for good in late-August.

*Catch our weekly Stone Cold ‘Stros podcast. Brandon Strange, Josh Jordan, and I discuss varied Astros topics. The first post for the week generally goes up Monday afternoon (second part released Tuesday) via The SportsMap HOU YouTube channel or listen to episodes in their entirety at Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome