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.