How the Social Media Explosion Has Forever Changed the MLB Trade Deadline
How in the world did we ever experience the MLB trade deadline before?
It wasn't that long ago—15 or maybe even 10 years—that the deadline wasn't an experience so much as it was a bunch of black ink in the transaction section of your local newspaper. That's how you found out who went where and for whom.
Sure, you could have caught an ESPN broadcast of Baseball Tonight on July 31, and there were websites that were reporting deals in a (fairly) timely manner, but it wasn't anything remotely resembling what we get to watch, read, hear and even sniff today.
So on deadline day in 2013, the question wasn't "How have you been following along?"—it was "How have you not been following along?"
Because, well, it's everywhere, all the time, isn't it?
On television, there's old standby ESPN as well as MLB Network, which is a more recent addition to the information arsenal as a 24-hour baseball programming and news-only channel.
On the computer, you can head on over to MLB.com to check on the team websites or venture over to MLB Trade Rumors and ESPN's Rumor Central. There's also this thing called Twitter that a few people use.
Heck, the pocket in which you're carrying your smart phone—complete with sports-news apps and notifications—probably has been buzzing enough to make people around you wonder just what you've got in there.
It's inescapable, really.
The biggest change to the way we get to both consume and digest trade deadline deals is, without a doubt, Twitter.
As long as you're following the right people, you're going to get a bit of everything. Twitter makes it practically impossible to miss even a single rumor, tidbit of speculation, back-and-forth banter—what have you. If you're the type who love the everything-at-my-fingertips ability to review every report, survey every story and, of course, click on every link, then it doesn't get much better.
Proving just how pervasive Twitter has become, consider this tweet from Buster Olney of ESPN:
On air with 34 minutes to go until the trade deadline...— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) July 31, 2013
So there's Olney, who is one of the best in the business, live on the set of ESPN's special trade-deadline broadcast of Baseball Tonight—a television program broadcast to millions of viewers—and he's simultaneously tweeting about rumors, deals and even his own 411.
How beautifully meta.
The best part about the Twitter experience on deadline day is that you can choose your own adventure.
Want to focus specifically on the latest about one player—say, San Francisco Giants outfielder Hunter Pence, who was long rumored to be on the move—well, that's plenty easy to do. Just read through this series of tweets, presented in chronological order:
Extra Baggs: The waiting is the hardest part for Hunter Pence, plus Brett Pill's peach fuzz and Kyle Crick's latest. http://t.co/IFzuHAsuow— Andrew Baggarly (@CSNBaggs) July 31, 2013
Is Pence going to be traded? Hard as it may be, he's just going to have to wait and see!
Things are so slow at THIS year's deadline that Hunter Pence might not even get traded!— Scott Miller (@ScottMCBS) July 31, 2013
Get it? Because Pence has swapped cities each of the past two Julys.
Pence raises both arms right at deadline, says "yes!!"— Alex Pavlovic (@AlexPavlovic) July 31, 2013
And Pence is just happy he's still in San Francisco.
Beyond the Pence drama, there was plenty of controversy surrounding Justin Maxwell—of all players—over the final hour before the 4:00 p.m. ET deadline.
Who is Justin Maxwell?, you're asking. Oh, just a 29-year-old journeyman-slash-fringe major leaguer with a .222 career average.
But upon news that he was being traded by the Houston Astros to the Kansas City Royals in exchange for pitching prospect Kyle Smith, as Dick Kaegel of MLB.com reported, Maxwell became a rather hot topic.
Jason Maxwell? WTF?— Rany Jazayerli (@jazayerli) July 31, 2013
That's Rany Jazayerli, Grantland baseball columnist and Royals superfan. The fact that Jazayerli mixed up Maxwell's first name—something he quickly addressed—only seemed to underscore how he felt about the deal.
JUSTIN Maxwell. Whatever. He fits right in with Humberto Quintero and Jason Bourgeois as "Astros the Royals acquire for no clear purpose".— Rany Jazayerli (@jazayerli) July 31, 2013
Congrats, Dayton Moore! You actually found a path even worse than standing pat: trading prospects while not actually getting better. Kudos!— Rany Jazayerli (@jazayerli) July 31, 2013
And just to show Jazayerli wasn't out there all by himself, here's John Sickels, prospect analyst for Minor League Ball of SB Nation:
Smith/Maxwell is shocking. Really. That would get vetoed by some fantasy commissioners— johnsickels (@MinorLeagueBall) July 31, 2013
The counterargument came from ESPN's Keith Law:
@jazayerli not understanding your outrage here. Smith's a 5th starter type in high-A. Asset value is pretty low.— keithlaw (@keithlaw) July 31, 2013
Maxwell/Lough platoon in RF looks like a pretty good, cheap solution for KC.— keithlaw (@keithlaw) July 31, 2013
When he woke up today, chances are Justin Maxwell didn't realize he'd be trending on Twitter, but that's what makes the social media-ness of the trade deadline so great.
Another great aspect of Twitter is how quickly news can break to the masses.
Not more than a couple hours after Bud Norris was traded to Baltimore Orioles, per Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com, the team's official Twitter feed had this:
Of course, it helped that Norris' former club, the Astros, already were in town for a three-game series, so Norris didn't have to go very far to join his new team.
That's the kind of trade deadline deal that was made for social media.
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