I have a confession to make, my name is Ryan and I Twitter. It's not something I meant to happen. It just kind of did one day. It started with one, then grew to a few tweets and now it's an every day thing. I've already been labeled a blogger, a child and a miscreant, in no particular order. But now I'm a tweeter, a twitterer or twit, however it is labeled.
First it was the blog, then it was facebook and now it's Twitter.
Despite my initial reluctance followed by absolute refusal to Twitter, I've relented and found it to be pretty entertaining.
I joined it a few weeks ago - @TNTmariners - and began posting news, links to Mariners stories and other baseball news, repeated links to the greatest piece of audio of this season and of course random observations and comments about games, Miguel Batista's hair and David Aardsma's boil.
It's actually kind of fun.
But I'm not alone. As has been well documented Matt Hasselbeck twitters, Jon Brockman twitters, Steve Sarkisian twitters. But on the Mariners, the only person that twitters is Ryan Rowland-Smith.
Does that surprise me? Not in a second.
The Mariners are an eclectic mix of personalities and backgrounds. From Ken Griffey Jr. good-natured teasing of clothing choices, to Mike Sweeney's earnestness and overall positive attitude, to Rob Johnson's small-town Montana outlook, to Erik Bedard's warm and outgoing and friendly, well, ok, maybe not so much there.
But of all the players on the roster, there might not be a more open, honest, interesting, well-spoken, well-liked and easier person to talk to than Rowland-Smith. The big Aussie is friendly, always willing to talk, has interesting opinions and has a good sense of not only himself, but of baseball and the larger world outside of it.
Because of that, it was really no surprise that Rowland-Smith has embraced on-line avenues of social networking like blogging and twitter, which brings him closer to baseball fans.
A year ago, Rowland-Smith's blog at Prolebrity.com became popular with fans as he offered a glimpse into his personal life. This year, he's joined the Twitter nation under the name hyphen18 and so far he has 1,667 followers. Me? I got like 150. I think we can understand the discrepancies for obvious reasons.
"I got talked into it," Rowland-Smith.
ESPN's Stacey Pressman, a friend of RRS, got him into blogging at prolebrity.com and then talked him into Twittering.
"She said you gotta set up a twitter account and just start writing random stuff," Rowland-Smith said. "I started doing it and getting followers."
It's not anything profound. In fact, he often worries about what to write.
"Half of the time, I can't think of anything worthy writing about," he admitted. "I think, 'Who the hell wants to read this?' If I think something I can write or someone interesting I'll write it."
Rowland-Smith writes about his starts, about the team, about himself, but mostly he answers questions from other twitterers, something he also does on the blog.
"If people ask questions, I'll answer them," he said.
Well that's what he's going to be doing today as well before the Mariners game with the Chicago White Sox. As part of the Mariners' Social Networking Happy Hour, Rowland-Smith will be part of a panel, including fellow Aussie Jenni Hogan of KIRO-TV, Lily Jang of Q13, Mike Salk of 710 ESPN radio and others, Rowland-Smith will be meeting with fans and doing a Q and A with fans, who purchased the special tickets.
When told that the event has received a lot of interest, Rowland-Smith responded, "that's awesome."
Fans who attend the event, receive the shirt above. RRS is hoping to snag a few for himself. "I've got my sister and family back home that want one."
But it goes beyond just one promotion. Rowland-Smith likes Twitter - maybe not to the extend of buddy and Rangers reliever CJ Wilson.
"I hung out with him at the ESPYs over the all-star break and he was on there every five minutes," Rowland-Smith said. "I was like, 'I'm never going to be like that, not a chance.'"
Instead he's trying to be similar to Hasselbeck, who he's gotten to know since being with the Mariners and through Pressman.
"He writes everything on there, and people really respond to him," Rowland-Smith said.
Rowland-Smith might not be as prolific as Hasselbeck in the quantity of tweets, but he understands the importance of something so simple as sentence under 140 characters, particularly to fans of the Mariners.
"For me it's a good way to have that sort of connection with fans and people interested in what I'm up to – in my own words. Not through you guys (the media)," he said laughing.
It's doubtful to think that Rowland-Smith would ever become some aloof, unreachable athlete. He gets it. He gets that it's a privilege to play baseball for a living and having fans care about you not only professionally, but personally. And that's why he twitters and continues to blog.
Because we deal with him on a daily basis, the local media has gotten to know Rowland-Smith, and to a person they will all say the same about what a good guy he is to deal with.
But through things like twitter, his blog and this latest social networking gathering, other people get to find out as well.