October is a slow month for a baseball team not in the playoffs. With a general gag order from the Commissioner’s Office and no free agents yet, the other 28 teams that didn’t make the Fall Classic are in a bit of a holding pattern with organizational meetings and preliminary talks with their own free agents.
So all we’re left with is the same old-same old. Jon Heyman rehashes the rumors. Ken Rosenthal tries to find some new angle. Only ESPN, it seems, refrains from going overboard with the “anonymous scouts” and “one AL executive” stories. In two weeks, of course, that resolve will be thrown out the window, but for now, at least one sports news organization seems to appreciate the World Series for the games, bad managing or not.
Nowhere is this lack of news more disturbing than in New York. The city’s tabloids thrive on the constant New York attention, and when a team from Philadelphia plays a team from Tampa in the World Series, New York must take second stage to the rest of baseball. Needless to say, no one paid to write likes that too much.
To sell papers, to keep people talking about the Yanks and about baseball, these papers and the bloggers that follow the team will post just about anything. Five years ago, hardly anyone had heard of the Arizona Fall League. Now, columnists and bloggers salivate over the daily results from an instructional league with little or no perspective on what those results mean.
Meanwhile, on the free agent front, any time a potential free agent — or a potential free agent’s teammate’s brother’s cousin’s former secretary — breaths a word about New York, it’s front page news. No free agents want to come to New York! None of the Yanks’ young prospects are any good! The sky is falling!
Over the last few years, folks in politics have had to adapt to a world in which the Internet exposes everything. Say something stupid in speech in California, and YouTube will have it available to the world within a few hours. Now baseball is suffering through the same problem. We have unfettered access to Minor League numbers and games. We have limitless access to everything but clubhouse insiders, and the response is overwhelmingly wrong-headed.
Instead of allowing for negotiating strategies — by saying you don’t want to go somewhere, you raise your asking price — instead of allowing for the struggles of youth, writers and bloggers write off General Managers while displaying a willful ignorance of the role a GM and his scouting staff plays. These same writers throw in the towel for 2009 before the free agent signing period even begins.
Right now, no one knows anything about the next few months. We know that the Yanks have a lot of money and a bunch of options on the table. We can speculate until the cows — or Eric Bruntlett — comes home, but in the end, it’s all meaningless. For now, we should just step back from the ledge, enjoy the World Series and worry about who’s signing where and what young kids will play a role next year in a few weeks. Anything else is just idle, uninformed speculation.