Government & Politics

Tweeting Texas governor plays Dewey to KC’s Truman as Royals-Astros game turns

The photo of Harry S. Truman holding a copy of the Chicago Tribune, published early on Election Night 1948 with the headline “Dewey defeats Truman,” on Monday became fodder for a Twitter user to mock Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s premature tweet congratulating the Houston Astros for beating the Kansas City Royals in their American League Division Series. After the tweet was posted, the Royals rallied to beat the Astros 9-6 to force a decisive Game 5 on Wednesday night at Kauffman Stadium.
The photo of Harry S. Truman holding a copy of the Chicago Tribune, published early on Election Night 1948 with the headline “Dewey defeats Truman,” on Monday became fodder for a Twitter user to mock Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s premature tweet congratulating the Houston Astros for beating the Kansas City Royals in their American League Division Series. After the tweet was posted, the Royals rallied to beat the Astros 9-6 to force a decisive Game 5 on Wednesday night at Kauffman Stadium. The Associated Press

Somewhere, Harry Truman is smiling.

On Monday, someone with access to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s official Twitter account posted congratulations to the home-state Astros — roughly six outs before their playoff game with the Royals was over.

“Congratulations to the @astros on advancing to the ALCS!” the tweet said. “Hoping for an all-Texas #ALCS. Looking at you @Rangers.”

The Republican, or more likely someone in his office, may have been watching the Rangers game too closely. The Royals — as the world now knows — rallied to beat the Astros 9-6 to force a deciding fifth game in their American League Division Series at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Kauffman Stadium.

The Internet began to melt as the Royals’ runs piled up. Royals’ fans gleefully pounced on the governor’s unfortunate boast, while Houstonians blamed him for jinxing their squad.

“It’s all his fault,” one fan tweeted. “Everyone blame Greg Abbott,” suggested another. “Greg Abbott is a giant got-dang jinx,” said a third fan.

#AbbottCurse became a thing. Recall petitions were mentioned. Others urged Abbott to congratulate the Toronto Blue Jays, who enjoyed a comfortable lead over the Texas Rangers in their playoff game.

“In other news, Texas gov also congrats Davy Crockett for winning at the Alamo,” tweeted @glencraney.

The original Abbott tweet caused some Texas-size squirming in Austin as the game concluded. The offending tweet was attributed to a staffer and deleted — although it was saved for all eternity by Web-savvy baseball fans. Abbott took to his personal Twitter account to back away from the mistaken post:

“Hey @Astros fans. Unfollow --> @GovAbbott,” it said. “Follow the REAL Greg Abbott right here. No predictions. Just support.”

Kansas Citians weren’t prepared to let Abbott off the hook, though.

@KyleAyers tweeted a version of the famous photo of Truman from the 1948 election. Instead of “Dewey defeats Truman,” the headline was altered to read, “Houston Defeats Royals.” Kansas City Mayor Sly James retweeted the picture, with his own reaction: “THAT is just TOO #FROSTY.”

“Congrats to the #Royals! Not so fast, my friend, @GovAbbott. See you Wednesday. #TaketheCrown,” said a tweet from Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback.

The story moved quickly from a social media phenomenon to a mainstream media subject. Newspapers and TV stations across the nation reported on Abbott’s tweet and the reaction to it.

The tempest in a batter’s box served as a reminder, if one was needed, that politicians who live by 140 characters can die by them, too. Last year, Mike Schlossberg — an author, social media consultant and politician — published a book called “Tweets and Consequences.”

The book recalls the tale of a candidate for the U.S. Senate who told his Twitter audience that he was house-hunting in D.C. — a month before the election.

He lost. “Any candidate knows that you never, ever declare victory until the votes have been counted,” Schlossberg wrote.

To that advice, a footnote: As a rule, politicians should not claim a baseball championship until all 27 outs are recorded.

Dave Helling: 816-234-4656, @dhellingkc

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