Yes, the Eagles have a Snapchat account

Yes, the Eagles have a Snapchat account

In an overcrowded, constantly changing media landscape, Snapchat is here to stay.  Alright, I don’t really know that for sure.  But my friends and I like Snapchat.  So hopefully that counts for something.

If you don’t know about Snapchat, here are the basics: You can send pictures or short videos, and friends can see them on their phone for 10 seconds before they disappear forever.  You can also enhance photos with captions and colorful doodles.

If I haven’t convinced you it’s more fun than texting, consult Buzzfeed’s 35 Most Powerful Snapchats of 2013 [and then rejoin us for the conclusion of this story].

The best thing about Snapchat is that you can use it for anything— like sending pictures of burritos to your cousin every time you’re at Chipotle (maybe), or taking video of yourself singing in the car (only at red lights, Nana), or drawing inappropriate body parts on the skeleton in the doctor’s waiting room (uhhh… I think that was somebody else).

And Snapchat is gaining traction.  Did you know the Eagles have an official account?  I was floored the first company I had heard of using a corporate Snapchat account happened to be the NFL team in my own backyard.

— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) December 24, 2013

I had to find out more, so I called up Linda Thomas, the Eagles’ digital and social media director.

It turns out the Eagles’ social media department was just like most offices, with coworkers using Snapchat for important matters like sending each other funny faces.  Then somebody came up with the idea to add the app to the team’s portfolio of social media platforms.

“Our team thinks that social media is a great way to connect with our fans,” Thomas said.  “People can connect with us and have a conversation with us.”

Sure, but people use Snapchat to take selfies in the club.  Do fans enjoy getting snaps from the Eagles?

As a matter of fact, they do.

“We didn’t do a great big media blitz,” Thomas said of the Snapchat launch.  They just posted about it on the team’s other platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus.  The response was immediate.

About 1,000 fans signed up within five hours, and the number grew to 7,000 in the first week.  Fortunately for the Eagles, signing up is easy.  Just search “eagles” and add the team.

Thomas said the following obviously doesn’t compare to the team’s 2 million Facebook fans, but the numbers are still surging.  And she said she’s been struck by the “intensity” of the fans who have added the Eagles on Snapchat.  “What’s funny is when we’re not Snapchatting regularly, we hear about it.  ‘Where are the Snapchats?’”

This shouldn’t be a surprise, Thomas is used to catering to Philly fans.

“We find with our Philadelphia Eagles fans, they are particularly passionate,” Thomas said.  “When we’ve lost a game they’ll tell us what we did wrong.  When we win, they’re very supportive.  These are fans that don’t go away.  Other markets— the fans— if you’re losing, they go away.  Our fans stay with us.”

So Thomas’s department feels an obligation to experiment with whatever the hot new medium is.  “We want to meet them where they are,” she said.

The Eagles Snapchat account is different from the ones you might have used to send me pictures of your dog wearing a Happy New Year party hat.  It mostly utilizes the My Story function, which enables users to combine photos and videos for a longer message.

Another key difference is that Eagles have opted not to receive pictures from followers.

So if you’re lying in bed striking a sexy pose in your Eagles Santa hat, you’ll have to keep it to yourself or your significant other(s).  Your picture won’t be opened by Swoop or DeSean Jackson or an intern in the communications department.

The Eagles are an early adopter when it comes to pro teams using Snapchat, but they are hardly alone in thinking about it.  The New Orleans Saints, for one, started an account earlier in the season than the Eagles.

And teams in other leagues are intrigued by the possibility too.

My friend Whitney Holtzman is a social media producer for MLB.com, so she develops social media strategies for the league itself and all 30 teams.

She said she expects MLB teams to start using Snapchat within the next few months.

“You don’t want to get left behind,” Holtzman said.  “With any emerging technology, you can’t bury your head in the sand.  You have to embrace it.”

She said her coworkers saw some early Snapchats from the Saints and have already started thinking about ways MLB teams could use the app too.

Holtzman said one team in particular reached out to MLB about starting to use it, and that she expects Snapchat to be a topic of conversation at an upcoming meeting with representatives from every big league club.

The Eagles are now Snapchatting everything from a video of the players singing “What Does the Fox Say?” after practice, to photos of gear you can buy at the online store.

So get used to the newest toy at the Eagles’ social media team’s disposal.  The photos may disappear faster than Chip Kelly calls in a play, but the use of Snapchat looks like it may last a while.

Mitch Goldich is a freelance sports writer originally from Philadelphia.  Follow him on Twitter at @mitchgoldich, mostly for ramblings about Philadelphia sports.

Cubs reward Theo Epstein for turnaround with 5-year extension

Cubs reward Theo Epstein for turnaround with 5-year extension

CHICAGO -- Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts had dinner with president of baseball operations Theo Epstein in Arizona around the start of spring training.

If Epstein had any doubt about a contract extension, it ended right there. And on Wednesday, it became official.

Chicago announced a five-year extension, rewarding Epstein for an overhaul that has the long-suffering franchise eyeing its first championship since 1908.

"He started it off by saying some really nice things about me that might have hurt his leverage a little bit, and then I returned the favor by telling him that even if we couldn't work out a contract it would get awkward because I would just keep showing up to work," Epstein said. "As an employee, I will. I kept ruining my leverage."

The deal comes with the Cubs wrapping up one of the greatest seasons in franchise history and their fans believing this just might be the team to end the 108-year World Series title drought.

Chicago reached 100 wins for the first time since 1935 and was a major league-leading 101-56 heading into Wednesday's game at Pittsburgh. The Cubs clinched the best record in the majors with more than a week left in the regular season.

"In the five years under Theo's leadership, he has brought in a strong executive team and acquired and developed some of the best players in the game," Ricketts said. "Now, the results are on the field."

Terms were not disclosed.

It looks like Epstein isn't the only Cubs executive with a new deal. He said contract extensions for general manager Jed Hoyer and senior vice president of scouting and player development Jason McLeod will probably be announced in the next day or two.

Epstein, who was in the final season of a five-year deal when he left Boston in October 2011, had repeatedly said a new contract was a formality, that there were more immediate priorities. Ricketts had echoed that and indicated in the spring that he was prepared to make him one of the highest-paid executives in baseball.

"There was never any real drama throughout the summer," said Ricketts, adding the agreement was finalized a few days ago.

What took so long?

"We sat down at spring training, had a nice dinner, talked about getting an extension done," Ricketts said. "Basically, I told him I thought he was the best in the game at what he did. He told me no matter what I paid him he wasn't going to leave Chicago, so we were off to a good start. We checked back in on it a couple times during the summer. There was no real time pressure."

The new deal is a reward for a striking transformation that began with the arrivals of Epstein along with Hoyer and McLeod -- his friends from Boston -- following the 2011 season.

The Cubs tested some fans' patience by taking the long approach rather than going for a quick fix, but they have seen the benefits the past two years. Chicago is eyeing even bigger things after breaking out with 97 wins and reaching the NL Championship Series last season.

"When you have great leadership at the top, it usually filters through the rest of the group," manager Joe Maddon said. "A successful organization has that. We have that. I was very happy to hear the news. I'm very happy for Theo and his family and of course, us. It is great. It's a feel-good story. He deserves it. He's earned it. I'm very happy for him."

High draft picks such as 2015 NL Rookie of the Year Kris Bryant made big impacts, as did a number of trade acquisitions, including last season's NL Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta, All-Star first baseman Anthony Rizzo and potential Gold Glove shortstop Addison Russell.

The hiring of NL Manager of the Year Joe Maddon and signing of starter Jon Lester before the 2015 season showed just how serious the Cubs were about jumping into contention. And the additions of three-time Gold Glove outfielder Jason Heyward, pitcher John Lackey and veteran infielder Ben Zobrist along with the re-signing of outfielder Dexter Fowler this past offseason added to an already deep roster.

Throw in the emergence of Kyle Hendricks as a Cy Young candidate, and the Cubs are widely considered a postseason favorite.

There were missteps along the way, but the Cubs are in a far different and far better place than they were five years ago. And if they win it all under Epstein, it won't be the first time he helped end a long championship drought.

Before he took aim at the Billy goat curse, he took down the Bambino.

Epstein oversaw two World Series winners in nine seasons as Boston's general manager.

In Chicago, Epstein parted with high-priced veterans and loaded up the minor league system while expanding the team's scouting and analytics operation as part of an overhaul that saw the organization get stripped to its studs.

The Ricketts family also invested heavily in infrastructure in recent years, including new training facilities in the baseball-rich Dominican Republic and the spring training home in Arizona. They are also overhauling Wrigley Field and the surrounding neighborhood.

"There really wasn't anything important to me besides finding common ground, making sure that we could stay and see this thing through," Epstein said. "Our mission has not been accomplished yet."

Roman Quinn likely done for season; Aaron Nola is throwing in Fla.

Roman Quinn likely done for season; Aaron Nola is throwing in Fla.

ATLANTA – Roman Quinn spent Wednesday getting treatment on his freshly strained left oblique. The rookie outfielder will try to gauge his condition by doing some jogging and light throwing on Thursday, but all signs point to his being shut down for the remaining days of the season and continuing his bid to make the opening day 2017 roster in spring training.

“He’ll let me know tomorrow and be honest with me if he still feels it,” manager Pete Mackanin said Wednesday. "There’s no sense in him getting hurt with only four or five games left in the season.”

Quinn injured himself taking a swing in the fifth inning Tuesday. He blew out the same oblique at Double A Reading this summer and missed six weeks.

“I think he’s more scared than anything that it’s going to recur and he’s going to make it worse,” Mackanin said.

That should be enough to shut down Quinn right there.

“It’s definitely frustrating,” Quinn said.

Quinn was 15 for 57 (.263) with four doubles, six RBIs, eight walks and five stolen bases in 15 games before going down. He struck out 19 times but had a .373 on-base percentage on a team that struggles to get on base.

Mackanin sees Quinn as a player who could make the jump to full-time duty in the Phillies’ outfield as soon as April, but first Quinn must clear the injury hurdle that has cost him so much time since he was picked in the second round of the 2011 draft. Quinn has missed time with a ruptured Achilles tendon, a torn quad muscle, a broken wrist and oblique issues.

“He mentioned to me that because he’s so lean and doesn’t have a lot of body fat that might be part of the issue,” said Mackanin, referring to Quinn’s oblique issues. “They have so much health food available for the players that this could be a good way to make a change, so we can have a pizza and a burger once in a while.”

Mackanin got serious.

“With him, his big question mark is staying on the field,” the manager said. “That’s always going to be in the back of everybody’s mind because he doesn’t seem to stay on the field as much as you’d like him to. Resilience and reliability are important. So that’s going to be a big test for him next year. It’s obvious what he brings to the table as far as making things happen. He’s a catalyst for a lot of things, the least of which is coverage in the outfield, so it’s a matter of whether he can stay on the field or not.”

In other health matters ...
Reliever Edubray Ramos has a sore elbow and is day to day, and day to day at this time of the year might mean he’s done for the season. Mackanin said the elbow issue is not serious and could be a result of Ramos' pitching longer than he ever has in a season.

Also, Aaron Nola has begun to test his ailing elbow by throwing on flat ground in Florida. He will progress to a mound and eventually face hitters in the coming weeks as the club gauges whether he is fully recovered from his elbow strain or will require surgery that could cost him the 2017 season.