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Good morning from Day Two of the Winter Meetings

Dec 7, 2010, 8:08 AM EDT

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At least I think it’s morning. That ever-increasing light in the sky and the incessantly-beeping clock next to my bed says it’s morning, but my body is screaming at me that I require far more sleep than I just received, so clearly it must me, oh, midnight.  Oh well, the sky and clocks have been wrong before.

The first day of the Winter Meetings was highly eventful. Some deals got inked. Some deals fell through. Some deals got done but we’re all supposed to pretend they didn’t. One guy made the Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame, however, made itself look silly.  There’s also a notorious rumor floating around that a bald blogger and another writer were captured on video — with said video being taped by a third writer — in the hotel lobby singing “Laid” by James at around 2AM, high notes included. If you see such a video on the web today, rest assured, it is a pure fabrication.

In other news, one of the most striking things of Day One was that, though I didn’t believe it possible, the speed of rumor-dissemination has gotten even faster this year than it was last year.  A few years ago rumors started to get spread fast by reporters reading MLB Trade Rumors and then putting up stories about what they saw there. Last year, for the first time, a large number of writers were finally on Twitter.  This year everyone is on Twitter and most now have smart phones. As a result, rumors go from a single tweet to a widespread topic of conversation in a minute or two.

Yesterday, for example, someone at ESPN LA tweeted that the Dodgers had made an offer for Prince Fielder. Within the time it took for a couple of other reporters to make a phone call to confirm it, it had become a bona fide rumor everyone was writing about (us included). Then it was debunked quickly and everyone updated (us included). What to make of this?

The conventional reaction is for people to wring their hands and talk about irresponsible reporting and how back when they were riding dinosaurs to the newsroom, people did not play so fast and loose with such matters.  I’m not a fan of this reaction. Partially because it’s not true. People’s tongues wagged about everything back then and if they had the means to spread such things quickly they would have.  They were just left to wag their tongues in the lobby. That is, when drunk managers weren’t teaching people how to do a proper hook slide in the bar.

My view of these fast-but-then-debunked rumors is that they’re great fun. Let’s be clear about something: baseball is not national security. The fate of the Republic is not at stake. If some baloney gets thrown around a bit — at least as long as it doesn’t involve someone’s personal life or truly serious matters — no one is harmed. Not even the allegedly respectable and noble calling of journalism.  The fans — and we’re all fans — can have a few minutes of fun speculating on why the Brewers would take so little for Prince Fielder and wonder if the Dodgers are contenders in the West again.  Inventing things from whole cloth for cynical purposes is obviously horrible, but if someone runs with a rumor a tad too quickly, we will all survive.

Our view of such rumors at HardballTalk: to let you know what people are talking about. To give you context for the news and rumors so you can judge them for yourself between the time you hear it and the time the authoritative word comes down (and to understand the stuff after word comes down).  We want everyone to get their news right in the first instance, but in the event they don’t, we want to have fun with stuff.  Because this is baseball, and it’s supposed to be fun, dammit.

Anyway, back into the trenches for Day Two.  If Day One is any indication, we’re in for a ball.

  1. Jonny 5 - Dec 7, 2010 at 8:45 AM

    It was 20 degrees here when I woke up this morning. Enjoy Florida while you can.

  2. PanchoHerreraFanClub - Dec 7, 2010 at 9:02 AM

    Craig, nice job explaining why you guys are gossip columnists and not journalists. Back in the day, getting it right was more important than being entertaining. It is nice to read you being honest about what do. Gossip columnist is a step up from your last job as lawyer.

    • Reflex - Dec 7, 2010 at 10:08 AM

      Can you demonstrate that this was ever true? I often hear people assert this, but any serious studies on media have demonstrated the opposite, and terms such as ‘yellow journalism’ are from the previous century, not recent inventions.

      And everyone bashes lawyers. Until they need one of course.

      • Old Gator - Dec 7, 2010 at 11:37 AM

        Needing a lawyer is a lot like needing a vital organ transplant from a relative you can’t stand. It’s just a matter of prioritizing; one need not alter one’s predilections.

        Incidentally, it was in the 30s or so this morning up where Craig is.One more reason, APBA Guy, that I decided to stay put. I suppose we have our so-called Canadian “friends” to thank for this. The beaver has begun to hibernate as far south as Palm Beach. We’re safe so far here in Macondo, where it lingered in the high 40s. Still unnatural, still horrible, but I haven’t been forced to wear socks yet so we’re still ahead of the game.

      • JBerardi - Dec 7, 2010 at 1:10 PM

        Wow, another hilarious lawyer dig. What’s next on your hit list, airline peanuts? Take my wife, please!

  3. Joe - Dec 7, 2010 at 12:34 PM

    Hmmm…it seems to me that you need some real talent to pull off a serviceable version of “Laid” at 2 am, drunk.

    I’m pretty sure I’m glad I didn’t witness this.

  4. apbaguy - Dec 7, 2010 at 12:51 PM

    OG-admit it, you were just looking for a diplomatic excuse to avoid Mouse World. No Cafe Cubano, no ropa vieja, and you don’t know the words to any James songs (neither do I).

    Besides, I expect you two will find some time for comparing notes during Spring training.

    But 30 degrees? Hasn’t your new Governor outlawed that yet?

    • Old Gator - Dec 7, 2010 at 1:03 PM

      You know our new Guv. The citrus growers have to pony up first. I think it’s so funny that the decerebrated voters of the Penile Penninsula – the same ones who gave you eight catastrophic years of Shrub, remember? – actually elected a guy under active investigation for Medicare fraud that I can’t even view this fiasco-under-development in ideological terms anymore. I have to view it as a matter of eugenics. Only a polluted gene pool could produce such widespread imbecility.

      And I know exactly where to get Cuban food and drink in and around Orlando. Good, too. The Cuban diaspora reached cattle country and beyond way long ago. Would you believe that the best boliche I ever had was at a Cuban restaurant in Jacksonville?

      And what would be the point of a diplomatic reason? It’d only turn up on Wikileaks in a couple of days.

  5. 11hawkinst - Dec 7, 2010 at 3:30 PM

    I personally love all of the rumors… and appreciate it. Even though some can be outlandish (Prince Fielder) sometimes they are often true (Jayson Werth).

    I like the winter meetings because it makes baseball seem alive and well in the depths of winter and among all of the football/hockey/basketball news. It also makes me look forward to next baseball season, so keep the stories coming!

  6. PanchoHerreraFanClub - Dec 8, 2010 at 1:05 PM

    So, let me get this straight. It is okay to post lies, but not damn lies. A blind trade rumor does no harm? I’m not sure I agree with that. The one for Fielder certainly put the Brewers’ FO in a bad light and did probably more harm to their reputation than Chass’s piece did to Verducci as Chass is an idiot and the world knows it.

    The only differences between the two, is that one slams a member of the press and the other slams the Brewers’ FO. One was probably done as grudge (of course, you offer no proof) and other was done either to intentionally embarrass the Brewers or because the blogger was too lazy to work for a living.

    I don’t believe I quoted you out of context. Here’s the link and the readers can judge for themselves.

    The whole story

    We don’t really know how Verducci voted, do we? Of course, we have his word which is probably better than Chass’s source, but we know for a fact that the trade was false. Perhaps other members of the committee will confirm Verducci’s version or perhaps they won’t. Did you attempt to get confirmation from other committee members?

    In the final analysis, a journalist’s reputation rests on his ability to be trusted to get stuff right. If a journalist is often wrong in the small stuff, how can he be believed in the big stuff?

    The real problem in both cases is that the basics of journalism were tossed out the window. Ask for a comment/confirmation/denial from the people involved. Even “our call was not immediately returned” shows a professional attempt to make sure the story is right. And, yes, good journalists do get things wrong. We can cut them some lack when they do their homework. When they don’t , they aren’t good journalist.

    If you don’t see how those things are same, I guess we don’t see eye to eye on what professional journalism is. But, hey, it is great fun to bash reputations on unconfirmed hearsay. What else is the web for?

    • PanchoHerreraFanClub - Dec 8, 2010 at 1:08 PM

      Sorry, I posted this in the wrong page. It is reposted correctly in the follow link:

      My bad.

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