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For the first time, a Major League Baseball player has been punished for using social media during a game

Pablo Sandoval sits on bench after suspension
AP Photo/Jon Barash
Phoning it in.
Published This article is more than 2 years old.

For Boston Red Sox baseball player Pablo Sandoval, the phrase ”get your head in the game” has taken on new meaning. On June 18, Sandoval was suspended by his team for one game after he was caught ‘liking’ a photo on Instagram during the previous night’s ball game, according to ESPN.

Sandoval owned up to his mistake the same day. “”I know I f—ed up,” he told ESPN. “This is a thing that I pushed the [‘like’] button at the wrong time. I hit a ‘like.’ I was in the bathroom, I pushed it at the wrong time… I just grabbed my phone and checked it.”

The incident came to light thanks to a blogger for sports news site Barstool sports, who exposed the mishap on Twitter.

The third baseman, who signed a $95 million contract with the Red Sox this summer, has plenty of company when it comes to professional athletes making social media blunders on the job. In 2010, former NFL football player Chad Ochocinco was fined $25,000 for tweeting during a game, which violated the league’s social media policy. J.R. Smith, a basketball player who used to play for the New York Knicks, was also caught liking a woman’s photos on Instagram while sitting out an injury in December (probably unrelated, but he was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers a month later).

Despite many leagues’ rules against it, athletes have some incentive to use social media at playtime. For example, when the Daytona 500 came to a stop in 2012 due to a crash on the track, NASCAR driver Brad Keselowski gained over 200,000 followers in under two hours by tweeting updates from his parked race car.

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