Social media: MLB is breaking records

Major League Baseball is shattering records this postseason on social media.

Even before Thursday’s four potential elimination games and Friday’s two Game 5 matchups, MLB already had generated twice as many social media comments as it did during the entire 2011 division series.

There were 1.28 million social comments (Twitter and public Facebook posts combined) about the division series last year. In 2012, the number of comments stood at 2.6 million with six games still to play, according to data from Bluefin Labs.

Raul Ibañez came through in the clutch -- twice -- on Wednesday night in Game 3 of the Yankees’ ALDS against the Orioles. He also demonstrated how quickly records can be set and broken in the fast-moving social space, as Bluefin Labs’ data illustrates.

Ibañez’s pinch-hit, ninth-inning home run generated 38,549 social media comments within the five minutes after his game-tying performance. The equalizer was 2012’s most talked-about postseason social media moment. At least for about 40 minutes. Ibañez crushed the previous mark – and Orioles fans – when he hit a walk-off home run in the 12th inning. That performance at the plate sent social media into a frenzy, generating 74,972 comments within five minutes.

The postseason caps not only baseball’s season but also another year of social media initiatives that have sought to engage fans. MLB brought back the Fan Cave, adding a "Survivor"-style twist. Following up on another 2011 hit, the league scored big social media numbers by allowing players to tweet during the Home Run Derby and made history in allowing players to tweet during the All-Star Game. MLB created a viral buzz taking its Twitter page private three weeks ago. Most recently, the league partnered with Shazam to enhance fans’ second-screen experience.

Baseball has seen major growth, but still has some ground to make up on the NBA and NFL, which dominate social media in professional sports.

Among all sporting events involving the major U.S. professional leagues (MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL) over the past 12 months, the NBA and NFL are the only two represented in the top 30 with regard to generating the most discussion on Twitter, according to Social Guide Intelligence numbers. Social Guide tracks mentions from three hours before to three hours after game broadcasts. By those same numbers, the NFL and NBA are also the only leagues that have generated more than 1 million comments for any single event.

Recent Social Guide numbers show MLB is gaining. The Home Run Derby and All-Star Game – MLB’s two most socially geared and promoted events – hold the No. 1 and 2 spots, respectively, but the 2012 postseason is earning its spot on baseball’s all-time most social list.

The Orioles-Yankees Game 3 generated more social media comments (511,278) than any other regular-season or postseason game in MLB history. And six of the top 10 events on that same list are games from 2012’s still-young postseason.

With the World Series on the horizon and championship games/series traditionally the league’s biggest social media events of the year, MLB is certain to see even more social media marks surpassed in the coming weeks.

Around the NFL

Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes found himself in a bit of controversy after tweeting a joke about homophobia.

Broncos running back Willis McGahee took to the social media site to take the blame for Denver’s loss against New England.

Carolina Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams fired back at angry fantasy owners on Twitter.

After tearing his ACL, Texans linebacker Brian Cushing's first comments came via Facebook.

Elsewhere in the social mediasphere

Chelsea defender Ashley Cole accepted a misconduct charge this week from the Football Association. The charge stemmed from a tweet Cole posted in which he called the FA an expletive.

Greek soccer power Olympiacos announced that its primary social media platform will be startup KYCK. The club is the first sports team to partner with the digital company.

The New Jersey Devils aren’t letting a lack of hockey prevent them from producing their new online program, “It’s the Hockey Show!” The show debuted this month and will run biweekly at least through the lockout. If play resumes, the show’s schedule might change. The Web series will include engaging with fans via social media and will involve some Devil’s Army Generals, the team’s social media ambassadors.

St. Louis Blues captain David Backes learned that you probably don’t want to let your wife link her Pinterest account to your Twitter.

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