On Tuesday, just after Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano was suspended 80 games for failing a drug test, Pirates outfielder Gregory Polanco started to receive concerned texts from his friends and family in the Dominican Republic. A fake ESPN tweet began to circulate online, suggesting that Polanco would also be suspended 80 games “due to steroids.”
Although there were some immediate red flags—“Pitsburg” (sic), omitting “games,” ESPN leading a bombshell breaking news tweet with “Hot News:”—Polanco told DK Pittsburgh Sports that he got back from Tuesday batting practice to more than 20 missed calls and 50 unread texts.
“Everyone was so worried,” Polanco told DKPittsburghSports.com Thursday afternoon. “My parents were crying. It was tough, man. I have to stay positive. It’s something that’s wrong. Don’t put my name on that. Stay away from me with that. I can’t believe someone would do that.”
Honestly, the notion that a report on Gregory Polanco would do those kind of Twitter numbers is what really gave it away as a hoax. The Pirates outfielder handled the ruse as best he could online: with a GIF.