Just as it’s difficult to fathom that people actually eat at Arby’s, it’s astonishing to imagine that people used to watch sporting events with nothing in their hands but potato chips and beer.
Yes, fans actually sat cow-eyed, without smartphones in their hands. These days, that seems old-fashioned—like serving iceberg lettuce in a salad or rooting for Tiger Woods—because we now have Twitter.
Instead of just watching the astounding speed and grace of Derrick Rose, you can tweet—and read other tweets—about him during the game. Granted, most of the tweets you’ll see will be “OMG Derick Rose iz madd awezome!!!!1!11!” But if you follow the right people you might also get good insights.
And once the game ends, Twitter helps you get closer to some of the athletes themselves. The key word there, however, is some, because many jocks’ tweets are likely written by otherwise jobless journalism grads hoping their 140 characters of banality will get them jobs at Gawker. (Forgive me for being cynical, but I tend to doubt cabbie-punching, groupie-shagging Blackhawk Patrick Kane is writing “his” Mr. Rogers-caliber post-game tweets such as: Thank you fans for voting for me. And big thanks to Hoss for the assist. I had a lot of fun.)
But other times, instead of getting thoughts filtered through handlers, you get the actual people. And sometimes, that’s good. With that in mind, here are our favorite Chicago athlete tweeps, in no particular order.
Jay Cutler, QB, Bears
Twitter Handle: @JayCutler6
On the Field: The Bears’ QB since 2009, Cutler has led the team to a 25-17 regular-season record. Not exactly Tom Brady-esque, but hey, now he finally has a game-changing wide receiver in Brandon Marshall. Cutler is known for moping on the sidelines and berating his receivers. There’s a good chance you don’t like him.
On Twitter: Twitter makes Cutler more likeable. He’s surprisingly funny. Not Louis CK funny, more like “athlete-funny.” Still, he’s surprisingly conversational and loose, but a little quick to threaten to block people. Seems into food and dispensing grilling tips. Here’s one: Grill salmon over a really low flame — it keeps the fish moist. You’re welcome.
Most Representative Tweet: Probably a better question Billy, would be why do you follow me? RT@Bill_Breezy15: @JayCutler6 why do you suck so bad?
Stacey King, C, Bulls (retired)
Twitter Handle: @Sky21King
On the Court: A Chicago Bulls center from 1989 to 1994, King is now the color commentator for Bulls’ TV coverage. Back in the ’90s, King was little more than a hefty first-round bust who lucked his way into three rings with the Jordan-era Bulls. The best thing he did was get traded to Minnesota for Luc Longley in 1994. Fast-forward to today, and he’s an endearing Bulls’ broadcaster who combines a goofy, Santo-esque enthusiasm with actual basketball knowledge:
On Twitter: Funny, self-deprecating everyman, with a huge amount of D-Rose love thrown in. King interacts well with fans, but is a little too self-promoting about his T-shirt line (see his avatar).
Most Representative Tweet: Oh snap ‘Its Not Unusual’ by Tom Jones is now playing & its got me doing the Carlton Banks dance! I’m crazier then a #Roosterwithsockson
Brandon Bollig, LW, Blackhawks
Twitter Handle: @bollig87
On the Ice: What is the significance of “87?” Is that the…it can’t be…the year he was born? Good God. I’d already killed a man in Mitchell, S.D., and lived with a moose herd in the Yukon by then. But Bollig is not exactly known as “fast” or, you know, “good.” (Although his first NHL point came in Game 2 of the playoffs against Phoenix, which was nice timing.) Unlike most hockey pugilists, “Bollig is an enforcer who can actually skate forward and backward,” according to WXRT DJ and Hawks fanatic Ken Sumka. Bollig is most well-known for smiling when he fights. Which is often.
On Twitter: Jokey and self-effacing, Bollig often makes fun of fellow Blackhawks (and himself). He referred to apparent-mirror-loving teammate Viktor Stalberg as “pretty” and re-tweeted teammate Bryan Bickell’s vapid tweet, Thanks all the fans for a good year looking forward for the playoffs, with the comment, Well said, Bryan. Well said.
Most Representative Tweet: Mr. @10PSharp once promised me his first tweet would be about me scoring, if I had in fact scored a goal. Too bad I have#HandsLikeFeet.
Henry Melton, DT, Bears
Twitter Handle: @HenMel
On the Field: Granted, Melton, selected by the Bears in the fourth-round of the 2009 draft, isn’t exactly a household name, but he has earned some distinction as a player. He was a Pro Bowl alternate last year after tallying seven sacks—the third-most in the NFL by a defensive tackle.
On Twitter: Melton’s tweets are silly, fun, top-of-the-head thoughts on topics ranging from what he does when his flight gets delayed (answer back all these draw something’s) to philosophical musings (takes forever to get somewhere by walking). Even his re-tweets have a certain zen-wisdom to them. When someone tweeted about “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” Melton re-tweeted with the simple, Funny ass show. That’s deep.
Most Representative Tweet: It’s bout to get nasty, pork rinds
Gordon Beckham, 2B, White Sox
Twitter Handle: @gordonbeckham
On the Field: Beckham looked like a sure thing after his rookie year of 2009, when he drove in 63 runs and put up a respectable .347 OBP. But he’s cooled off considerably since then (he’s currently batting .180), and some believe he needs to post a solid season to keep his starting job.
On Twitter: Beckham’s tweets make him sound like a goofy, shit-kickin’, high-fivin’ guy. Whether he’s making fun of himself for leaving the sunroof open all night (#intelligence) or berating Arizonans for having an empty Chick-fil-A parking lot at 8:45 a.m. (#shameonyou), Beckham seems like the kind of guy you’d want to hang out and play pinball with. All of that said, Beckham gets serious points deducted for referring to President George W. Bush as THE MAN and #stud. (Not that we’re looking for the White Sox’s second baseman to be Christopher Hitchens, but come on.)
Most Representative Tweet: Is it bad that I woke up this morning and I had samoas girl scout cookies lying right beside me??
Ozzie Guillen, Manager, Miami Marlins
Twitter Handle: @OzzieGuillen
In the Dugout: (OK, he’s not in Chicago anymore, but he was for seven years and his tweets are still hilarious.) How you feel about Ozzie largely depends on your feelings about the White Sox. To some (present company included), he’s little more than an irritating curiosity, like a woodpecker outside your window at 4 a.m. He’s also quite the magnet for trouble—witness the recent “I love Fidel Castro” kerfuffle.
On Twitter: Ozzie’s Twitter feed is an unhinged amalgamation of rants, non sequiturs, and misspellings—like a stream-of-consciousness diatribe from a coked-up insurance salesman about to fall off the next bar stool.
Most Representative Tweet: Bed and bath I love this places
Luol Deng, SF, Bulls
Twitter Handle: @LuolDeng9
On the Court: Drafted in 2004, and once seen as an almost-bust, Deng has turned it around and was a first-time All-Star this year. Deng’s become a solid defender and developed a dependable outside jumper. A Sudanese native, Deng has worked tirelessly for the World Food Programme and the Lost Boys of Sudan. Which is totally great. We love it. But we have to say, we wouldn’t mind if he mixed that altruism with a little Jordan-esque killer instinct:
On Twitter: Deng is surprisingly glib and funny in tweets. He jokes with Bulls’ backup center Omer Asik and interacts with fans. Comes across as a solid, cool guy.
Representative Tweet: That’s what my ex wife said. Lol jk RT @LoveStonedFlowx:@LuolDeng9 should follow me (: I’d love him forever.
Mike Davies, F, Chicago Wolves
Twitter Handle: @MikeGDavies
On the Ice: A proud Wisconsin Badger, the speedy Davies plays on the Wolves’ fastest line and is regarded as one of the best stick handlers on the team (snicker). He’s also big in the community, frequently volunteering for the team’s “Read to Succeed” events. The lightning quick second-year forward tallied 23 points in 53 games this season.
On Twitter: Davies has mastered the art of social media. He wrote an entertaining blog about “The Bachelor,” and he tweets often enough to keep it interesting. Unsurprisingly, a lot of his tweets are about hockey. So if you’re a hockey fan, sign up.
Most Representative Tweet: When the pilot says to the flight attendants “prepare for cross check,” does anyone know what the hell that means?
Ian Stewart, 3B, Cubs
Twitter Handle: @IAN_STEWART_9 (Good God, man, stop shouting at us!)
On the Field: The Cubs’ new third baseman, obtained in the off-season for former first-round pick/bat-impalee Tyler Colvin. While his offensive numbers haven’t pointed to the resurrection the Cubs have hoped for, he has played solid at third so far, making this spectacular play in the opening series against the Nationals.
On Twitter: Stewart’s tweets aren’t exactly what you’d call…electric. This is more a case of quantity over quality. His profile quote refers to the Bible verse Phil. 4:13. ’Nuff said? But he’s a big wrestling fan. Seems like the best way to connect with him is to praise him or ask about his favorite wrestling finishing move. (It’s the “Stone Cold Stunner,” if you were wondering.)
Most Representative Tweet: Why thank u my dear RT @MarykathrynT: @IAN_STEWART_9 is the best MLB player at RTing and responding on twitter.
Kimberly DeJesus, Wife of Cubs’ OF David
Twitter Handle: @KimDeJesus9
In the Stands: Kim is…well, let’s just say she has a well-turned ankle. David was signed to be the Cubs’ right-fielder in the off-season, and he’s putting up decent—if not eye-popping—numbers. But it’s possible his va-va-voom wife is getting more attention. One blog introduced the signing with “Cubs Sign Kim DeJesus’ Husband to a 2-Year Deal,” while another site called her the “hottest baseball wife ever.” Not to be too bro-y/Maxim-subscriber-ish, but don’t judge. We’re only human.
On Twitter: Kim, a Wheaton Warrenville South alum, is apparently enjoying being back in Chicago, talking up the juice bar options, hitting up the Cubs’ family functions, and posing with amazing peeps after the Race to Wrigley. It’s an interesting look into a world filled with a son called Spidey, body detoxings, blessings, white tea, and exclamation points.
Most Representative Tweet: Sad we lost tonight… but Spidey and I were happy to find an organic juice bar at the stadium
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JOEL REESE often refers to himself as a “recovering journalist”—15 years of writing, reporting and editing for publications such as Spin, Details, Deadspin, Mediate, Texas Monthly, and Chicago magazine. He was a National Magazine Award finalist and had a story published in “The Best American Sportswriting” series. Learn more about Joel at www.joelcreese.com, and follow him on Twitter @joelcreese.