Can you believe we're already through one day of winter meetings? I certainly cannot, because A) nothing happened yet B) the amount of 3G bandwidth consumed by the discussion of these nothings is dizzying.
Used to be the Winter Meetings were nothing more than a job fair and conference put together by minor league baseball with the big league GMs tagging along. After a few years some business gets done because there isn't anyone around to bother them and presto: media event. Not a media event as we see it now; just a way for the grimy grunts to get away from the wife after two months house arrest. Enjoy a couple rounds of "Punish the Peeler" at the local Romanian ballet and swap bullshit stories with the assistant to the traveling secretary about Reggie Jackson's contract demands. No big deal.
But now the 24 hour news cycle-beast needs feeding. So the Winter Meetings are a big deal (just like the Fall League), full of credentialed reporters hounding GMs to an uncomfortable extent. The emergence of Twitter not only swells any scintilla of a hint of a rumor into a full blown story &mdash complete with official denials &mdash in a matter of minutes, Twitter also provides a nice opportunity to tsk and tsk again. Even writing about twittering is a cottage industry unto itself; though its an awful precarious position to take when your website features nearly 50 posts during day one of the meetings, the longest of which checked in at 5 paragraphs.
That the beat guys are chasing any story around for in hopes of screaming FIRST like a mouth-breathing messageboard commenter is just sad. That GMs refuse to host press briefings in their own room for fear of writers staking it out to track who comes and goes is even worse. (If only Tiger Woods were so discreet. Topical!)
The whole thing plays out like a pathetic popularity contest. Writers want to break the story to get their chance at a Baseball Tonight segment. The Twitterverse stands poised to heap scorn on any and all moves (for example, I only learned of Ivan Rodriquez to the Nats through snarky "takes" on the Nationals decision making.) Writers "innocently" tweet tidbits of information with asides like "start the rumor mill!" Guess what friend, you just did.
Is this the nature of reporting in the digital age? Are fully trained and accredited journalists now flying by the seat of their pants, grasping at straws just like the bloggers they're so quick to denigrate? Is this a case of the market setting the standard? IS Twitter the US Weekly of sports journalism?
Probably not. As soon as the newspapers and wealthy benefactors realize, as Craig Calcaterra intimates above, they can't effectively capture revenue from the twitterfeed of a reporter in their employ; most speculation and innuendo will go under lock and key much like the very information itself. Through the looking glass we will be! Reporter pit against reporter, each one vying to leverage The Power of The Written Word into a 4% pageview increase to keep their editors at bay.
Perhaps CC and the Circle the Bases team are laying down a new template: overwhelm the RSS crowd with dozens of posts requiring new clicks each and every time. That'll certainly keep the impression rate up. Meanwhile the teams will issue such strict gag orders to keep instant outcry from queering every deal bigger than the Rule 5 draft. Until that time we're left to sift through the glut of information for a morsel of quality. That isn't better, frankly that is worse. Wake me when something actually happens.