We have reached a teenager-as-rumor-breaker bubble.
The accessibility of the Internet and social media being what they are, it’s absolutely possible for young people (God, I sound old) to be breaking big stories. And they have been for a couple years now. In recent weeks, however, it has almost seemed like folks are affirmatively seeking out young, rumor-breaking types, wanting to believe that the next 18-year-old breaker is this 15-year-old over here. And then the next is this 12-year-old over here. There is a five-year-old in Portland right now pecking away at an iPad about Brett Anderson possibly being close to a deal with an NL West team.
I don’t question the earnestness of these kids, or the legitimacy of (some of) what they’re hearing. What I do question is the process by which they filter the things they hear, by which they evaluate sources, and by which they decide what amounts to “a deal” or “close to a deal” or “an offer.” That’s not a criticism, of course. How in the world could we expect them to know and do things in a certain way? I’m not a traditional media person (and 33 years old), and I can tell you with confidence that I’m still learning how to most appropriately handle the rumors that are passed on to me regularly.
There is a reason that traditional media have developed the processes they have for breaking news and rumors, and there’s a reason there are certain folks who are more trustworthy than others (even if they are sometimes not “first”). I know it’s exciting to see the next big rumor blowing up courtesy of some random person on Twitter, but it’s just the updated version of the “next big rumor blowing up courtesy of some random person on a message board.” For me? I’ll always check that stuff out, but I’ll always regard it very cautiously.
So, to that end, why am I saying all of this in an Obsessive Jon Lester Watch piece? Well, a report made the rounds last night – quite widely – that the Red Sox were close (or maybe it was super-duper-extremely-kinda-maybe-possibly close) to finalizing a deal with Jon Lester. Because I’m not looking to blast the young man, or to lend credence to a report in which I have very little confidence, I won’t name the specifics here. But the report got around enough that traditional media folks, to their credit, started asking questions. Rob Bradford got denials from big league sources and Lester’s agents, and Gordon Edes got a full-on laugh denial from a Red Sox source, and an “irresponsible” from another.
That is all to say: if you got wind of the report last night and you were wondering why I didn’t mention it, this is why. It looked suspicious to me from thing one, and it sounds like there was good reason to be circumspect.
Moving on to slightly more reliable, even if less sexy, items …
- Peter Gammons heard from two NL GMs Sunday that Lester to the Red Sox was “close” to happening, though it sounds like Lester and his reps are still waiting to hear from the Yankees, and to meet with the Cardinals next week (not this week, as previously reported). Since it became clear that the Red Sox were deeply serious about bringing Lester back a few weeks ago, there haven’t been many positive signals for the Cubs, and this is probably the worst. (The entire Gammons piece, by the way, is an excellent read on how the immediacy of coverage these days creates very, very silly things like folks saying the Cubs are “offseason failures” because they didn’t get Martin (and/or won’t get Lester). It’s November.)
- The Edes denial, you’ll note, does include confidence from Edes that the Red Sox ultimately will get Lester. Edes added in a second tweet that his gut says Lester signs with the Red Sox. Obviously lots of guts out there were saying the Cubs would get Russell Martin, so these things aren’t exactly a science. But Edes has been very tapped into the process from the Boston side from thing one, so I do think that’s fairly notable.
- Buster Olney was on the radio in Boston yesterday, reiterating his earlier report that the Giants are now a serious entrant into the Lester sweepstakes. Olney also appeared to imply that the Red Sox (or possibly the Giants – it’s a touch unclear) are the favorites here by saying that it would be up to one of the other teams – Cubs included – to “step up.” I think that’s probably a pretty safe assumption at this point. It remains possible that Lester is the rare free agent that would leave a bunch of money on the table to go where he wants to go. Even “stepping up” might not change that.