The Winter Meetings and the torrent of nonsense

The Star-Ledger-US PRESSWIRE

This is an article about Twitter and baseball rumors. If that's too self-indulgent for you, I don't blame you. Here's a link to a Dave Brubeck song, which is probably a better use of your time.

But you're also on Baseball Nation on December 5, so I'm going to assume you're a consumer of baseball rumors. If baseball rumors weren't legal, you would sit around with your buddies and talk about how awesome it would be to go to Amsterdam someday and read baseball rumors for a week. You know these are empty calories, but damned if you can just stop at one.

The tipping point has been found, though. Here's a rumor from Pedro Gomez on Tuesday:

Wow. That's a new one. The rumor involved two high-profile players, one of whom wasn't even on the trading block. These are the best rumors, the ones that come out of nowhere and make everyone run around like when Julie Hagerty asked if anyone can fly a plane1

The rumor was so hot that Ruben Amaro, Jr. responded to it almost immediately. He didn't actually use the words "goofy, whack-ass nonsense", but they were implied. Gomez was a Twitter star for an hour, which means defending the commotion you've started. His explanation:

Was discussed internally on one side. I can't … wait … no, it really says that.

I remember when I internally discussed dropping out of college on one side. I was with my buddy Gompers, and I was like, "Hey, we should start up a cookie delivery service. Like, that's it. Cookies. You call, and you get a cookie delivered to you in a half-hour. It'd be fresh-baked and warm and gooey. That's what we should be doing, man." And then I forgot about the idea and continued playing Madden because the original thought was verbal diarrhea. It just came out. It was just something I thought about briefly, and it was completely devoid of worth or meaning.

That's an internal discussion on one side. It's spitballing. And the spitballed idea might be stupid. The Royals have had internal discussions on one side about trading for Giancarlo Stanton. The A's had internal discussions on one side about bidding for Yu Darvish.

Gomez usually isn't in the habit of breaking rumors, as you can tell by his timeline. He didn't just make this up, though. I'd guess he heard "We were actually kicking around how an Upton/Cliff Lee deal would work" from someone whose health care is provided by a major-league team, and Gomez figured he would have the Twitter equivalent of a scoop.

I might have done the same thing. The explanation is still hilarious -- I'm laughing internally so much that my one side hurts -- but there was no sin with Gomez sharing the rumor. Assuming he didn't just make it up, he did what every other rumormonger does. Heard this, passing it on, take it for what you will.

The difference is that this sequence makes you step back, slowly take off your sunglasses, and mutter, "My god. This is what just about every rumor is, isn't it?" The explanation allowed for a peek behind the curtain. There's no sliding scale of importance, no way to make a rumor directly from a GM's mouth show up as a special green color in Twitter. Rumors come from agents looking to spread disinformation when it benefits their clients, teams looking to spread disinformation when it benefits their negotiations, and I'd wager that more than a few come from offhand comments from low-level people that make a rumormonger think, well, I gotta tweet something this hour.

This is all nonsense.

This makes me think of people sitting in a theater at the turn of the 20th century, excited to watch the moving pictures that everyone was talking about, and then freaking the hell out when they thought a train was going to come out of the screen and kill everyone in the theater. Except people got used to that technology. But the freakouts keep happening with Twitter. Over and over, at every trade deadline and every Winter Meetings.

I should be one Justin Upton rumor away from swinging a golf club around my head at a Target and yelling, "A SOURCE FAMILIAR WITH YOUR THINKING SAYS YOU SHOULD PROBABLY STAY AWAY." But you know what the Gomez tweet did? It made me think about what the Phillies would want with Upton, and what they would do without Lee. It made me think of what the Diamondbacks could do with their young pitching if they had Lee around -- the trades they could make. It made me think of just how much a team would be willing to pay Lee on a three-year deal if he were a free agent today. Probably close to $90 million, if not more, so he definitely has some value.

And, like that, a single tweet gets me thinking about baseball in December. The empty calories of a rumor sustained me for just a little bit, if only because I can't hibernate.

After the epiphany of nonsense, I got a cup of coffee, sat down, and scanned Twitter again.

HOT DAMN A FOUR-TEAM DEAL? WHAT WOULD THE ROYALS GET BACK IF THEY'RE GIVING UP WIL MYERS? this is the best IF THE DIAMONDBACKS WANT A SHORTSTOP AND THE INDIANS WANT AN OUTFIELDER, WHY DON'T THEY JUST TRADE WITH EACH OTHER? oh man i hate myself so much right now YOU HAVE TO WONDER WHY THE DIAMONDBACKS ARE SO EAGER TO GIVE UP ON TREVOR BAUER RIGHT NOW i hate you twitter BUT I GUESS YOU CAN SAY THE SAME THING ABOUT WIL MYERS i love you twitter

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