The Winter Meetings, for most fans of baseball, is a welcome retreat from reality. Rumors fly and die, and no one looks back. How can that be?
The Winter Meetings two days ago were rife with rumors of a three-way mega deal in which Noah Syndergaard became a Yankee and J.T. Realmuto a Met, along with a slew of others who went from one team to another. A quick check of today’s MLB Trade Rumors page reveals nary a mention of the trade. It’s as if the writer’s who claimed the supposed imminent trade was written with invisible ink, and now it’s time to move on in search of the next just around the corner trade.
We all learned I’m sure that in 1492, Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue, discovering America. Except, of course, he didn’t, missing by several hundred miles. That moment in history, though, is generally credited to Amerigo Vespucci, for whom America is actually named.
But who cares that we celebrate Columbus Day as a National Holiday, and we don’t call it Vespucci Day? No one. But it does hit home when it comes to trying to “cover” a story when you are not there, as in the same vein as not being “there” when the Nina, the Pinta, or Santa Maria touched land somewhere in the New Continent, but who really knew?
In yesterday’s story from the Winter Meetings, I cited two reports about the trade, both of which came from reliable and “in the know” reporters. Mike Puma covers the Yankees as an embedded reporter on the Yankees for the New York Post, and Joel Sherman has his pulse on everything baseball while having the good fortune of being present in Las Vegas.
Herein lies the trap for blog writers like myself, and thousands of reporters who write for local daily newspapers, who can’t afford, or aren’t privileged to be embedded with teams, or in this case at the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas. Carry it further, and it spills over to loyal readers, perhaps like yourself, who read my story from yesterday, took it home, only to find out this morning that maybe everyone sort of jumped the gun.
For the most part, no harm, no foul. And that’s because of the rumor(s) emerging as a point of thought and discussion among fans of baseball. Comments rained in from readers who saw my post on various Yankees and Mets Facebook Group pages. Exchanges between fans who would never otherwise speak to each other took place. And for that, there is value.
Also interrupting the fun sometimes is that trades at the Winter Meetings are often made as a leap of faith, and sometimes that faith is not deep-seated enough for one or the other general manager to pull the trigger. Something seems “off,” or perhaps a scout calls in at the last minute with a report that so-and-so is in the middle of a family crisis, or maybe the guy coming to you has spoken to friends about not wanting to play in the bright lights of New York City. It could be anything, but none of it has to do with the temporary validity of the rumor in its origins.
Occasionally, rumors do cause harm, as in the case when some wild-eyed reporter ventured to suggest Yankees first baseman, Greg Bird, was “soft,” and not willing to withstand the pain of his rehab from surgery. Teammates and fans immediately jumped all over the story, ultimately sending the author into reporter’s purgatory. Thankfully, those cases are rare.
And so it is today that nothing of consequence has surfaced from the Winter Meetings. “The big one,” if there is one, is still hatching in the far corners of the expansive Mandalay Bay Resort between two general managers, who carry the full weight of their team on their backs.
More likely, though, is the seed being planted at the Winter Meeting that grows into full bloom three or four months down the road into a trade when teams have a better picture of their needs, along with a snapshot of what their season is shaping up to be.
Even in baseball, caution is the better part of valor.
Written by Steve Contursi, Editor, Reflections On Baseball
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