Ian Stewart ended his Cubs career 140 characters at a time, going viral and becoming a national story.
The Cubs haven’t announced how long Stewart will be suspended without pay for blasting the team on Twitter. The players union will have a voice in that decision. But the team quickly killed one rumor on Wednesday that had the third baseman “rotting” at Triple-A Iowa traveling to Chicago to meet with Theo Epstein.
People who know Stewart describe him as a good guy lacking in self-awareness. He usually came across as polite and thoughtful in interviews with the media, speaking in full paragraphs.
There were many late-night tweets about professional wrestling, and Stewart hit the point of no return by ripping manager Dale Sveum and the front office. But the interest in social media seemed to come from a good place, remembering what it was like as a kid in Orange County, Calif.
[RELATED: Cubs suspend Ian Stewart for Twitter rants]
“I like interacting with people,” Stewart said during an interview last year in spring training. “I was a huge baseball fan growing up. Me and my buddies would send letters to different guys in the clubhouse and just see who we could get responses from. (It) would do wonders for us.
“(Now) it’s cool because if someone says, ‘Hey, it’s my birthday today, I just wanted to know if you could retweet this,’ you just write happy birthday. People will be like: ‘Oh my gosh, I can’t believe you actually responded to this! It’s like the best birthday present ever!’
“It makes me happy that I can do that for somebody – (something) as little as that, which took no time.”
The Cubs had long ago lost patience with Stewart, who stands to lose roughly $11,000 a day while suspended on his one-year, $2 million contract. But when Epstein addressed the situation on Tuesday, the president of baseball operations didn’t want to make it personal.
“We’ll see what happens,” Epstein said. “I do wish him the best. I hope he can turn his career around. I’m rooting for him. He made a mistake. He apologized for it. We’re taking some disciplinary action and it’s over at that point.”
[WATCH: What to make of Stewart's rant]
You can’t blame all this on Twitter. As Epstein said, these players are grown men responsible for their own actions. The frustration had been building for Stewart as he felt buried at Iowa, with no chance of getting called up to the Cubs.
Stewart used social media for news and sports updates, and to get information on everything else from restaurants to pop culture. Sitting at his locker inside the HoHoKam Stadium clubhouse last year, he talked about the range of reactions he’d get on Twitter.
“You get a little bit of both,” Stewart said. “It’s so stupid because it’ll be like six o’clock at night and I’m like: ‘Oh, I just had a great dinner at (this restaurant) or I’m playing a video game.’ (They’re) like: ‘Why aren’t you in the cage hitting?’
“Most people are nice and helpful and informative. And then you get the one idiot that’s like trying to be a cool guy or something.”