Friday, November 11, 2011

Ryan Madson and baseball reporting

by Jason Wojciechowski

I don't like repeating myself. I understand that as an internet baseball writer, it's bound to happen, but I'd rather not do it consciously. But doggonit, sometimes you have to.

Baseball reporters, I've asked you before: please stop. Ryan Madson, I'm sure you all remember, was a done deal to come back to the Phillies for five years and $45 million. And then he wasn't. And then there was never a deal in place in the first place. And then, as The Common Man has already deftly analyzed, Jonathan Papelbon signed an even bigger deal with those same Phillies. (Until he didn't, anyway. Who even knows anymore.)

As usual, the result was wasted effort. Some blogs did analysis, some Tweeters snarked things about overpaying relief pitchers, some Phillies fans despaired, others cheered the deal, and ... then we had to take it all back, figure out what the slightly bigger deal to Papelbon means for the Phillies, where Madson could end up, how Papelbon's skills and makeup fit Philly as opposed to Madson's, and basically just do the entire exercise all over again. Also, everyone has to decide whether to delete their Madson analysis posts, because it's kind of embarrassing to have in your blog archives.

Add to this the impression many of us apparently have now that a deal "fell apart." Ken Rosenthal on the MLB Network just now (this is probably not live, but whatever) said that "nobody really knows what happened." Yet I've already seen at least one person on Twitter use the word "collapse." This misimpression (or at least "impression unsupported by actual evidence") does little objective harm, but whatever harm it does do could have been avoided with one simple step: stop reporting on deals that are not done.

And what was the upside? Nothing, as usual. If Madson had signed his contract, we could have run all the same stories, made all the same jokes, and cheered and sighed in equal proportion. Just two days later.


William Tasker - Caribou, ME said...

Here, here! But also shame on us for not waiting for the official word.

The 5.5 Hole said...

Unfortunately, waiting until the contract is signed leaves you behind. If you wait for confirmation and actual signings on every deal that's reported, your readers will be reading analysis that's weeks old when the contract is signed. Luckily, I didn't write about the Madson deal, only the Papelbon one. But had I written about both, I'd see no reason for apologizing. Am I coming from left field on this one?