The already intensifying rivalry between the Los Angeles Angels and Texas Rangers added a new log to the fire late at night on March 17th, when C.J. Wilson tweeted this (hat-tip to Logan Morrison of the Miami Marlins for re-tweeting since Wilson later deleted this tweet):
At first glance this appears to be a failed attempt at a direct message intended only for Mike Napoli to see. In reality, this was a prank that Wilson chose to pull on Napoli. The phone number Wilson gave out was not his own, but Napoli’s.
Wilson followed this tweet later on with an explanation:
This is in reference to a quote Napoli gave to the media, in which he said that when the Rangers faced the Angels, Napoli hoped to hit a home run off of Wilson.
There are many problems with Wilson’s “prank”. First, Napoli was not insulting or pranking Wilson by saying he wanted to hit a homer off of him. If asked a similar question, I guarantee Wilson would have said he would want to strike out Napoli. There was nothing for Wilson to retaliate to.
Second, giving out a personal phone number to more than 115,000 followers is not even close to being on the same level as responding honestly to a question asked by a media member. Prank wars often escalate to the point of being inappropriate, but in this instance Wilson jumped 8 steps to inappropriate before a prank “war” even existed. When one of Wilson’s followers pointed out that the two actions were not the same, Wilson gave the following response:
Napoli actually will earn $9.4 million in 2012. Wilson will make an even $10 million.
Third, Wilson and Napoli are no longer teammates, and Napoli is not a rookie in the league. In 2011, Jered Weaver set up a prank in which Mike Trout‘s cell phone number appeared on the big screen during a Spring Training game. The difference was that Weaver’s joke was between teammates, from veteran to rookie. Wilson’s attempted prank was between now division rivals, and veteran to veteran. Napoli deserves more respect than what Wilson demonstrated with this tweet.
Fourth, there may be an issue beyond common courtesy that should exist among professional athletes. Wendy Thurm, who is a former lawyer, tweeted this following the incident:
The social media policy does not define exactly what harassment is per se, but Wilson certainly instigated hundreds, if not thousands of text messages and phone calls to hit Napoli’s phone number. A case could be made that Wilson was an accessory to harassment, if nothing else.
I am certain that Wilson, who is an intelligent individual, felt that this would be okay because Napoli would take it well. From what I have seen and heard of Napoli, I think he does have the type of personality to let this roll of his back. But that doesn’t justify the action. There should be an unwritten code between all ball players, but especially former teammates and former battery partners, to not intentionally invade each other’s privacy.
I hope this is the last we hear of this matter. I want this to be settled on the field. And honestly, I want Napoli’s desire to hit homers off of Wilson to become reality.
I also hope that once Napoli has changed his phone number, he doesn’t share his new digits with Wilson.