Marlins apologize for making a Steve Irwin joke in Twitter exchange with Rays

The Miami Marlins have one of the most creative, engaging social media teams in all of baseball. Over the weekend they got into a Twitter sparring match with the Tampa Bay Rays, who swept the Marlins in two games. And the Marlins may have gone just a tad too far with a joke about Steve “The Crocodile Hunter” Irwin.

It started with the Marlins posting a highlight from their Saturday night loss to the Rays, and the Rays responding.

The Marlins jabbing the Rays for their bonkers Montreal timeshare plan seemed to be the end of it ... until the Rays won on Sunday. Then they renewed the feud.

That led the Marlins to tweet this, which some found distasteful and disrespectful.

The tweet, in isolation, is actually funny. It wasn’t making fun of Steve Irwin in any way, or even making light of his death. Irwin died in 2006 after being stabbed by a stingray while snorkeling, so the reference in the tweet is factual. The mascot of the Tampa Bay Rays is the same animal that killed the Crocodile Hunter.

But it seems like some people took the tweet very seriously. Seriously enough that the Marlins noticed, and issued an apology.

This can happen in the era of pervasive social media. Brands and sports teams want engagement, which means their social media interacts with other accounts like it’s a human. But that can also lead to, well, human mistakes. The Marlins account itself also apologized.

But plenty of people responded to that tweet saying that no apology was necessary.

As of now, The original Steve Irwin tweet is still up. It hasn’t been deleted, and that’s a good thing. It can live on as a tweet that many people found funny, but maybe also as a cautionary tale for social media managers everywhere: be careful when you joke about beloved dead people on Twitter.

"The Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin was the subject of a joke between two baseball teams about the sea creature responsible for his death. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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