Editor's note: This is an extended version of a story that appears in ESPN The Magazine's April 15 Photo issue. It is part of an ongoing collaboration between Klout and ESPN to highlight athletes with surprising social media influence. Subscribe to ESPN The Magazine and check out the Playbook Tech blog for additional content driven by Klout.
Diamondbacks pitcher Brandon McCarthy commands social media as expertly as his two-seam fastball, offering thoughtful commentary on topics from social issues to sabermetrics. Then there’s his, uh, unique brand of humor, which the righthander flashed even after a line drive fractured his skull last season. McCarthy worked deep into the 140-character count to explain his MO.
When I hadn’t heard from you 30 minutes after you were scheduled to call for this interview, I took to Twitter to complain. You called within minutes. Coincidence?
Well, no. I was sitting in front of the TV on Twitter and it popped up. It was a good move.
How often are you on Twitter?
Whenever I’m watching TV or driving. Wait, that was a joke. I’m a good driver. I’ll also zone out on Twitter when I’m at my locker or in the bathroom.
So tweeting on the toilet is cool?
It’s not cool; it’s a necessity. What else am I supposed to do? I used to read newspapers, but that’s antiquated. With Twitter, I can just bring my phone or my computer in there and next thing you know I’m still reading this interesting article on the toilet three hours later.
You’re one of the funniest athletes on Twitter. What’s your primary goal?
I do it because it cures my boredom and it’s fun for me to think up witty comments. The additional benefit is you get to interact with fans and really interesting people.
Your humor often features your marriage. How does your wife, Amanda, feel about that?
She seems to like it. We don’t take ourselves too seriously. We started tweeting when we weren’t together. We went back and forth, in a very unsanitized way, and people seemed to take to it.
When you were discharged from the hospital last fall after undergoing surgery for a skull fracture you suffered taking a line drive to your head, you tweeted about asking your wife for a threesome. Can you explain your thoughts there?
I don’t normally ask her permission before I tweet something, but I showed it to her and she said, “It’s fine, but you have to wait until you’re discharged.” It was the first time I’d ever stopped a tweet. But I sent it two hours later.
You often tweet about singer Richard Marx. Do you really like him?
I legitimately love Richard Marx’s music. But here’s the thing: Because he hasn’t responded yet, I feel like he thinks I’m being ironic, like some p---k baseball player. I really hope I meet him so I can say, “No, I’m being serious. I’m a big fan of yours.”
I’ll come clean, then: I once owned a cassette single of Richard’s “Right Here Waiting.” And sometimes I sing it in the shower.
That’s awesome. You have to dig into his library and go back to his early stuff. But good job.
How would you characterize your Twitter followers?
For a long while, the bulk of them were A’s fans. Then I tweeted, “They put two guys on the ‘Kiss Cam’ tonight. What hilarity!! (by hilarity I mean offensive homophobia). Enough with this stupid trend.” That blew up among the gay community last year. And I got a lot of followers when I was in the hospital. What’s that about? Why do people wait to follow you until you’re about to die? That’s weird. Like, “Oh, if he dies, maybe he’ll tweet it!”
Your policy on fans who beg for retweets?
Not happening. The power of the retweet just boggles my mind, especially when it’s not content- or quality-driven.
So, are you down with Facebook, too?
If my social media usage was a pie chart, Twitter would take up the entire pie, and a tiny sliver would be Facebook for the same reason as anybody else: All of our aunts, uncles, moms and dads are on Facebook. Now it’s a place you go to get in a bad mood, either because somebody linked something political or somebody misspelled an unbelievably simple word. I rarely get on there and think, “Boy, I’m happy I’m on Facebook.”
Are you using Twitter to introduce yourself to your new teammates?
No, but it helps. Some of my new teammates read my stuff on Twitter. But the best way to get to know them is by asking questions in person, not reading what they write on a computer.
Now you’re with the D-backs. In a way, can switching uniforms be a boon to one’s social media presence, because then you can pick up a whole bunch of new followers? Or do you lose the old fans when you move on?
Both, probably. Depends on where you go. If you go to the Red Sox, Yankees or Cubs, you’ll see a big jump no matter what. But if you’re an interesting tweeter and you can play for 10 teams, yeah, that’s an easy way to collect a lot of followers.
Your favorite and least favorite tweet abbreviations?
My favorite is FYI because you can be really condescending with it. I really hate LMAO and SMH. They really bug me. I had a big problem for a long time with LOL, and I still don’t use it except to be ironic or condescending, but just when I made peace with that we found more ways to say we’re laughing when we’re not actually laughing.
Your favorite follow among MLBers?
Sean Doolittle on the A’s. I like people who are completely real on Twitter. He’s not overacting. He’s got my vote.
One teammate you refuse to follow?
Anybody who retweets fans who ask for it or retweets every compliment that comes their way.
Favorite follow outside of athletes?
It’s an easy one but I still think it’s Rob Delaney, the comedian. He’s just super funny.
Your wife-approved Twitter crush?
Eireann Michael Dolan. Her avi is a picture of herself brushing her teeth. She’s super talented and really funny.
Fill in the blank: I’m stoked that I’m being followed by ___?
[Actor and comedian] Jim Gaffigan.
I wish ___ would follow me.
Richard Marx, of course.