New app designed for sports fans on Twitter


New app designed for sports fans on Twitter

From Comcast SportsNet
CHICAGO (AP) -- When Philip Sanford goes to his favorite bar to watch his beloved Seton Hall Pirates, he brings along his phone charger so he also can follow the game on Twitter. Heather Carleton looks to the social media website for clarification when there's a disputed call involving the San Francisco 49ers. David Foreman likes to communicate with West Virginia fans across the country. More and more these days, when the game is on, so is the computer. Or tablet. Or cellphone. Sports fans around the world are following along on Twitter while they watch their favorite teams in person or on TV, and a new application from a San Francisco startup is designed to make that experience even easier for them. "Since I can't really listen to it since I'm at a sports bar, I like to read about what's going on from a journalistic point of view," said the 29-year-old Sanford, who lives in Charlotte, N.C. "I can learn about what's going from several different sources." There are signs all over that sports fans are using Twitter even while the game is going on in front of them. Sporting events are responsible for the majority of the top moments measured in tweets per second. The Champions League match between Barcelona and Chelsea on April 24 peaked at 13,684 tweets per second, second only to the 2011 showing of a movie in Japan. According to a study by the Perform sports media group, 26 percent of U.S. fans use social media platforms to follow their favorite sports, up from 15 percent in a similar survey in 2011. One-third of those fans say they use Twitter to follow sports, trailing Facebook (89 percent) and YouTube (65) -- based on 1,002 online interviews of adults conducted during February and March. Colleges and professional sports are paying attention to those numbers. Sunday's Pocono 400 Presented by (hash)NASCAR marked Twitter's first official partnership with a sports league. There are all sorts of official hashtags that allow fans to zero in on everything being said about their hometown teams at key moments. "It's really interesting to get more perspective on the game or whatever, whether it's golf or football, because I get to learn more about the players maybe the announcers aren't talking about," Carleton said. "So I think it's becoming more of a tool or resource than the social media part." Carleton, 34, a stay at home mom in Portland, Ore., goes to Mike Pereira whenever there is a questionable ruling in a 49ers game. Pereira was NFL vice president of officiating from 2001-09 and will weigh in on some controversial whistles on Twitter. "It's kind of nice to have that third party to see if you're being biased or not and then you feel vindicated if he says you're right," she said. Foreman, 40, of Lewisburg, Pa., likes the community aspect found on Twitter during sporting events. "I'm sort of an expatriate so a lot of time as I'm watching the Pirates game I am communicating with people in California and other far-flung locations, especially watching WVU," said Foreman, who works in development at Bucknell University. Will Hunsinger knows exactly what Foreman is talking about. Hunsinger, 42, is a proud Georgetown alum and avid follower of the men's basketball team. He was watching a game with his wife last year while communicating with a friend from Switzerland over Facebook and receiving text messages from his father when he came up with an idea. "I was like God, if I could just have this in my hand, where I was watching the game and do all this and see what people were talking about on Twitter ... it would make the game even more fun because now I'm connected with all the people I care about being connected with while I'm in the moment,'" he said. That was the beginning of SportStream, a free application for the iPad that was just approved by Apple and is expected to go live on Thursday. The new program offers curated Twitter feeds for major games that focus on posts from the most popular users based on an evolving credibility database. Fans also can check into games on Facebook and invite friends, as well as talk trash with others in another area of the app. "The concept is to enhance the live sports viewing experience rather than replace it," Hunsinger said. "Sports are inherently social. We want to connect friends, fans and foes, if you will, around the game action and enhance the viewing experience by allowing people to connect on whatever and socialize and consume the game conversation at whatever level that they're comfortable with." Hunsinger received a big lift from Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen right after he came up with the idea for SportService. The billionaire owner of the NBA's Portland Trail Blazers and NFL's Seattle Seahawks funded the new company with a 3.5 million investment through his firm, Vulcan Inc. Hunsinger and Allen are betting on sports becoming even more intertwined with social media in the future. "I think actually we're just on the front edge of a wave," Hunsinger said. "I think that it's going to continue to explode."

Jon Lester says Cubs haven’t done anything yet: ‘Nobody likes second place’

Jon Lester says Cubs haven’t done anything yet: ‘Nobody likes second place’

As Cubs players and generations of fans celebrated Christmas in October, Jon Lester had to be The Grinch for a moment. Sure, the Cubs would party from Saturday night into Sunday morning, probably get “a little bit” drunk and enjoy the franchise’s first National League pennant in 71 years. But the reality of the Cleveland Indians would set in once the Cubs got rid of this hangover.

“We ain’t done anything yet,” Lester said during the Wrigley Field celebration after the Cubs eliminated the Los Angeles Dodgers. “Nobody likes second place.”

There are enough Boston Red Sox connections in this World Series that Lester already knows what to expect, starting with Indians manager Terry Francona, who became a father figure as he dealt with a cancer scare as a rookie.

There are ex-teammates from those championship teams in 2007 (Coco Crisp) and 2013 (Mike Napoli, Andrew Miller) at Fenway Park. There is the accumulated experience from throwing 119 postseason innings (2.50 ERA) and becoming one of the best big-game pitchers of his generation.

“I don’t want to sound like a smart-ass, but we got a long ways to go,” Lester said. “I know that manager on their side’s going to be prepared. I know their coaching staff’s going to be ready. I know their players are going to be ready, just based on one player alone, and that’s Mike Napoli. I know what he brings to the table. He helped transform our 2013 team.

“Come Tuesday, we got to put the gloves back on. We got to get ready to fight and grind and do what we’ve done well all year. We got four more games to win.”

After limiting the Dodgers to two runs in 13 innings, and being named the NL Championship Series’ co-MVP along with Javier Baez, Lester should be a worthy Game 1 starter opposite Corey Kluber, the 2014 American League Cy Young Award winner.

This is why Lester took a leap of faith with Cubs bosses/ex-Red Sox executives Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer and chairman Tom Ricketts’ family and what had been a last-place team in 2014.

Two seasons into the $155 million contract that signaled the Cubs would be serious about contending – and not just in the Baseball America/Baseball Prospectus prospect rankings – the franchise has won 200 games and four playoff rounds and remained in position to dominate for years to come.

“Theo and Jed and the front office and Tom and all these guys had a belief,” Lester said. “I believed in that belief. The talent here speaks for itself. I didn’t do anything – I came here because I wanted to win in Chicago. I’m just happy to be here and be a part of this and get to this point.

“(But) we’re four hard wins away from doing what we set out to do in spring training.”

[SHOP: Buy a "Try Not to Suck" shirt with proceeds benefiting Joe Maddon's Respect 90 Foundation & other Cubs Charities]

As bright as the future looks on the North Side, Lester will be 33 next season and his left arm has already accounted for more than 2,000 innings during his decorated career. John Lackey turned 38 on Sunday. Jake Arrieta only has one more season before becoming a free agent.

The Cubs built their franchise around young hitters, with the idea that they can figure out the pitching later with free agents, change-of-scenery trades and bounce-back guys. Easier said than done. They have a true No. 1 starter now in Lester, who as a free agent watched a recruiting video that imagined what it would be like when the Cubs win the World Series.

“This isn’t it,” Lester said. “It’s been a tough playoffs for us to this point and it’s only going to get tougher. We’re going to enjoy it. We’re going to show up Tuesday in Cleveland ready to play. We’ll see what happens.”

Three quick fixes for some Bears woes while searching for a turnaround

Three quick fixes for some Bears woes while searching for a turnaround

Positives were difficult to find in last Thursday’s 26-10 loss to the Green Bay Packers. So maybe the place to look for improvement lies in just getting rid of a few negatives.

As far as positives, Leonard Floyd would be the obvious one, with two sacks, one a strip and fumble recovery for a TD. Ka’Deem Carey would be another, with 10 carries for 48 yards, his second straight game with high-impact running; Jordan Howard has been shackled for two weeks, so the Bears have needed another backfield-committee member contributing. Jeremy Langford may have trouble finding work when he comes back from his ankle injury.

But negatives have far outweighed positives, which is how you get to 1-6. Fixing three of those will go a long way toward improving their chances against a Minnesota Vikings team that appeared eminently beatable in losing at Philadelphia on Sunday:

Stop the penalty hemorrhaging

For the third straight game the Bears had 10 penalties walked off against them. This "streak" started after eight infractions in the win over Detroit. The 10 in Green Bay cost the Bears 108 yards in a game where their offense netted just 189. Seven of the penalties were charged to the defense, six of which gave the Packers first downs.

The three offensive penalties were mental. A wide receiver (Alshon Jeffery) lined up offsides. The quarterback (Matt Barkley) drew a delay flag. An offensive lineman (Ted Larsen) was illegally downfield.

All of which point to a discipline problem getting worse, not better. Whether the fault lies with players losing focus or coaches not instilling a mindset is a debate, but meaningless if the problem is not addressed. “There were a lot of penalties out there,” said cornerback De’Vante Bausby, who committed three of those penalties. “We had a good scheme and plan but we just didn’t finish in the second half as a group.”

Stop the dinking

While Brian Hoyer replacing Jay Cutler scaled back the downfield element of the offense, the loss of an emerging Kevin White should not be understated. The de facto rookie may not have gotten in the end zone but he was leading the team in receptions before he suffered a broken leg in the win over Detroit.

Since the loss of White, however, the offense has shrunk. The Bears averaged 7.5 yards per pass attempt through four games with White. Without White the average is 7.0, and that is including the blip in Indianapolis, which stands as a complete anomaly. The average was 5.9 in the Jacksonville loss and 5.0 in Green Bay.

Hoyer’s ball-security orientation has been a positive, but also a limiting factor. Cutler last year had one of the best ball-security seasons of his career, yet the offense was able to average 7.5 yards per attempt.

The Bears scored two of their three rushing touchdowns in games with White, who may not yet be the field-stretcher his 4.35 speed but the prospect of White arguably made for a more threatening offense than even with the contributions of Cam Meredith.

Stop the Vikings

The Minnesota Vikings have suffered injuries at a rate like the Bears’ but have overcome them. Until Sunday in Philadelphia, when the Eagles sacked Sam Bradford six times and hit him more than a dozen other times. The Vikings never sacked Carson Wentz, who wasn’t special but was good enough while Minnesota was self-destructing.

The Vikings have beaten the Bears the last three times they’ve met, the first time that’s happened since 1999 and 2000, which is also the last time the Bears started 1-6. And the Bears have lost three straight.

The Bears were able to end the first three-game skid by focusing on one game: the Lions. The result was shutting down a very good offense, the lowest yardage-allowed (263) of the season and the firmest commitment to the run game (29) attempts.

Morale inside the locker room can only be revived by a win. One game. This game.