Phillies fans are anxiously awaiting any news involving the two biggest free agents this offseason — Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. So late Sunday, when an account using the name Jeff Evans claiming to be an on-air contributor to 97.3 ESPN tweeted that the Phillies had an agreement with Harper, excited fans began sharing the post.
There’s just one problem: It’s a fake account, with a headshot stolen from the homepage of Allebach Photography in North Wales, Montgomery County.
“He does not work here, never did. I have no knowledge of who he is,” 97.3 ESPN program director Mike Gill said of Evans. “We are aware and have contacted Twitter, and the Phillies have been in contact.”
The obvious signs of a fake Twitter account are easy enough to notice for those who took the time to look. First of all, the individual claims to be a Phillies insider for KTV, an abbreviation for karaoke television. There’s also the lack of a blue check mark (denoting a verified account). The account was only created in October.
But that hasn’t stopped the fake account from having its posts widely shared. Sunday night’s post has been re-tweeted more than 730 times, and according to the social media tracking service Social Bearing, the account’s various fake tweets over just the past 39 days have garnered more than 80,000 impressions.
Twitter suspended the fake account early Tuesday morning after both 97.3 and the Phillies filed reports. But another account using the same name but with a slightly different Twitter handle — @JeffEvansmIb — remains active.
If you want real facts about the Phillies, stick with the reporters and columnists you know and trust (I’d recommend my colleagues Matt Breen, Scott Lauber, and Bob Brookover), always look for the blue check mark, and remember — if a tweet about Harper or Machado involving the Phillies seems too good to be true, wait for the known experts to weigh in.
ESPN is committed to Baseball Tonight ... just not nightly
Earlier this month, ESPN remained mum on rumors that its flagship MLB studio show — Baseball Tonight — might return to a nightly schedule after the network’s deal to syndicate the MLB Network show Intentional Talk lapsed after just one season.
But an ESPN source has confirmed a report by Awful Announcing’s Ben Koo that the network is no longer considering the move, opting instead to keep Baseball Tonight on Sunday nights as a lead-in for Sunday Night Baseball. Interestingly, Koo reports that ESPN’s contract with MLB dictates the network air a certain amount of studio broadcasts (which led to the rumors in the first place), but MLB has let that requirement slide.
Despite the decision, ESPN has made a lot of moves recently on the baseball front, most notably poaching Yahoo’s Jeff Passan to act as the baseball equivalent of football analyst Adam Schefter. The network has also signed new contract extensions with several analysts, announced games this season in Tokyo, London and Mexico, and held discussions with former Phillies slugger Ryan Howard, though nothing is on the table at the moment.
The Phillies will lead off ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball schedule in the upcoming season on March 31 against the Atlanta Braves at Citizens Bank Park.
• Credit to Crossing Broad’s Kevin Kinkead for noticing that a recent article on Fansided about the Sixers was penned by Larry Mendte, the former CBS 3 anchor who served six months of house arrest after he was convicted in late 2008 for hacking the email account of his former co-anchor, Alycia Lane. Turns out Mendte — a lifelong Sixers fan — has been writing about the team for Fansided since May of last year.
• According to my colleague Keith Pompey (who is in Los Angeles to cover Tuesday’s Sixers-Lakers game), you’d never know the Rams are in the Super Bowl by listening to local sports talk radio.
• Big surprise: Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy and Pardon My Take co-host PFT Commenter (real name Eric Sollenberger) were both escorted out of the NFL’s Opening Night in Atlanta by security on Monday. Portnoy — an outspoken New England Patriots fan — did get the opportunity to confront several Rams players before getting tossed, including defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh, whom he warned to stay away from Tom Brady.