Pablo Sandoval was benched for browsing Instagram during a game on Wednesday, but, though bizarre, the case isn’t the first time that social media has gotten a player in deep water.
Sandoval was caught red-handed during the Boston Red Sox game on Wednesday, liking a woman’s photo during the team’s 5-2 loss to the Atlanta Braves. He was benched for Thursday’s game, and admitted that his Instagram cruising came at the wrong time.
“I know I f—ed up,” Sandoval said Thursday. “I made a mistake [Wednesday]. I learned from that. I’m a human being, I made a mistake, so I apologize to my teammates, to the team, to the organization, the fans support.
“This is a thing that I pushed the [‘like’] button at the wrong time. I hit a ‘like.’ I was in the bathroom, I pushed it at the wrong time…. I just grabbed my phone and checked it.”
Sandoval said he apologized to manager John Farrell and has since set his Instagram to private. He has also vowed to learn from it.
“It was the first time, so I take the mistake and learn from that. I move forward to try not to do it anymore,” Sandoval said. “It’s one thing I let my teammates down. Ain’t going to happen no more, so I learned from that.”
While Pablo Sandoval got benched for using Instagram during a game, other players have gotten in even deeper trouble for social media mishaps. In 2010, Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco was fined $25,000 for tweeting a little more than an hour before a game, violating the NFL’s social media blackout for players that lasts 90 minutes before kickoff to the end of post-game interviews.
He’s not the only one to be spanked for a Twitter slip-up. In 2012, New York Knicks forward Amar’e Stoudemore was fined $50,000 for using an anti-gay slur.
Other players have noted that social media can open the door for trouble, especially when fans are able to interact so closely with players.
“The pros are all the ways players and teams can have fun interacting directly with fans, plus the ability to control your message and talk directly to fans in your own voice,” said Oklahoma City Thunder forward Nick Collison in a Q&A with Edelman Digital. “The cons are that you might say something that offends people and it can result in negative press, become a distraction for the team or even lead to fines or suspensions.”
Most teams now have their own social media policies in addition to league rules on exactly when and what players can post. Unfortunately for Pablo Sandoval, it took getting benched for using Instagram to learn his team’s policy.
[Image via Getty Images/ Jim Rogash]