Great Moments in comparative media: the Orioles sign Garrett Atkins

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CTB readers knew this already, because Aaron wrote all about it on Friday. Orioles fans at large knew it because Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun originally broke the story the day before. This piece, in the Baltimore Sun, however, just popped up in my RSS feed, reporting that the physical has been passed and the deal is now done.

It’s the last one that has me appreciative of how the business of the hot stove league has changed in just the past few years. When I was at the Winter Meetings, I could tell which writers there were more blog-oriented and which were more hard copy-oriented by the way they talked about deals.  Hard copy guys would ask aloud “does anyone know if the Smith
deal is done yet?” Bloggers would say “well, yeah, that happened yesterday.”  The response would be “but is it official?” with the implication being that it’s not a story until it is.  The answer would be either yes or no, but the silent thought was “dude, we all blogged it yesterday, so it’s done. If he fails the physical or something, that’s a new story.”

I’m not suggesting that one approach is better or anything. Indeed, from the perspective of accuracy, it’s without question that the people waiting for the official announcements of deals do a better job.  Someone in this short attention span world has to be comprehensive, right?

But after blogging for three years, it’s pretty apparent that there’s a huge audience out there — probably the vast majority of the total audience — who wants to know stuff right now. Yesterday, even. For that audience, the story has run its course once it’s been blogged or tweeted by enough people without the report being directly contradicted by a team source. The official announcements come hours or sometimes days later. The physicals and paperwork as much as a week later. Maybe more (anyone heard where Nick Johnson’s press conference is?). By that time, the audience has moved on to the next six deals.

So I see today’s Garret Atkins report and scratch my head. Not about why it’s out there — it’s an essential part of the Official Record, as it were, and I’m glad the Baltimore Sun is keeping it.  No, I scratch my head because I’m not sure where it fits into the lightning quick news cycle that has developed in the baseball offseason.  If I post about it, I’m posting what most of you think is old news. If I don’t, I’m not posting the full story.  I’m not yet sure what to do with these things, actually.

Sorry for the meta navel gazing here, but it’s been a slow day since the Vazquez trade went down — remember that? It was hours ago — and I just felt like speculatin’ about a hypothesis.

Anyway, Garret Atkins is an Oriole.

Carlos Ruiz leaves a goodbye note for the Phillies

CLEARWATER, FL - FEBRUARY 26:  Carlos Ruiz #51 of the Philadelphia Phillies poses for a portrait on February 26, 2016 at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Florida.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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And then there was one. One player from the 2008 World Series champs, that is. Ryan Howard likely isn’t going anywhere so he’ll be the last one to turn the lights off, but today Carlo Ruiz bid adieu to the Phillies following his trade to Los Angeles.

Lost in all of the emotions the Dodgers are reported to be feeling about A.J. Ellis leaving is the fact that Ruiz was one of the most beloved Phillies players ever, by both his teammates and their fans. Yesterday Roy Halladay penned a heartfelt goodbye to Ruiz, suggesting that he was every bit as essential to his and the Phillies’ success as Ellis has been to Clayton Kershaw (and in pure baseball production, obviously, quite more).

Today Chooch left a message for his now former teammates:

A far-fetched sounding drug test scam

NES TSIONA, ISRAEL - JANUARY 22:  A laboratory technician checks human blood samples before placing the glass tubes on an automated testing line at the Maccabi Health Services HMO central laboratory January 22, 2006 in Nes Tsiona which is located in central Israel. The laboratory, which operates a fully automated system complete with advanced robotics, can test more than 50,000 blood samples a day. The lab is considered one of the most modern of its kind in the western world.  (Photo by David Silverman/Getty Images)
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Kevin Draper at Deadspin is passing along a story — and that’s not me editorializing; he’s admitting that it’s unconfirmed gossip at the moment — about a major league player paying a teammate $2.5 million to take the fall for him on a drug test. The story came via a tip from someone who, apparently, had a conversation about the drug test scam with a college baseball player who knew the players allegedly involved in the scam.

Here is how the conversation was recounted:

College Baseball Player: [MLB player’s star teammate] paid him to take his blood test. $2.5 million dollars.

Bar Patron: How does that even work?

College Baseball Player: [MLB player] and [MLB player’s star teammate] were getting tested the same day. They traded samples.

Deadspin says that the story is “probably bulls**t” but that some preliminary investigating they’ve done doesn’t disprove it and, to some extent corroborates it. How it’s been supported or not is left unclear and Deadspin couches all of this in a request for more information if anyone has any. Which, OK, fine.

I’ll offer that, on the surface, this seems like a bit more than mere “bulls**t.” It sounds structurally impossible. If it’s a blood test for HGH as the excerpt suggests, the samples are tested back in the lab to make sure they match up with previous samples. Meaning: the lab processing the sample knows if it’s your blood or not. If it’s a urine test, as Deadspin thinks it may have been, I’m not sure how samples could be switched given that urine tests are directly observed by testing officials. Yes, they watch you pee. They’d likely prevent you from peeing right next to your bro teammate, but even if you did, they’d see you exchange little plastic containers of urine with him.

I’m not going to say that this is 100% bull because we can’t really know for sure, but the scenario as described sounds highly unlikely, approaching the impossible. If someone had a story about bribing a sample taker with $2.5 million well, hey, maybe we’re getting somewhere, because that would get you over some procedural hurdles. For now, though, this all sounds like someone passing along a tall tale.

If it is true? Hoo boy, that’d be fun. At least for people like me who write about this stuff.