Essay: Watching the Trade Deadline

In real-time, on Twitter. Fun, wasn’t it?

Before I get going, I know what you want me to address, and I agree: FanGraphs’ analysis of all the deadline’s happenings was top notch. I’ll be honest: I’m no longer surprised by the quality of the staff’s work. I’ve met those guys, I know what they’re about. (They’re about baseball.) Together, they are a baseball-writing machine. A factory, even. And it’s all free. All the time. For you, and for me. Life is good.

But the deadline. Let’s talk about the deadline. Ubaldo Jimenez, Carlos Beltran, Orlando Cabrera, Derrek Lee, Michael Bourn, Edwin Jackson, Kosuke Fukudome, Erik Bedard, Koji Uehara, Hunter Pence, and Colby Rasmus, just to name a few, all have new summer homes. Action!

From a Twitterer’s perspective, it was fantastic to watch. Analsyis from the heavy hitters who use Twitter and use it well — the Olneys, Morosis, Laws, etc. — followed by instant fan reaction.

For supporters of the Toronto Blue Jays, myself included, Wednesday was a whirlwind of emotions. Something, oh, like this:

Anthopoulos is trading for Edwin Jackson? And Mark Teahen? Oh, well, that’s unfortunate. Jason Frasor’s gone? Sad, such yeoman service. At least he’s going home. Oh, no. No. Not Zach Stewart. What’s that? They’re going to flip Jackson for Colby Rasmus? The Colby Rasmus? Seriously? Of course! Anthopoulos is a goddamn genius! Oh, bless you, bitter, twisted Tony La Russa. What? Dotel? Octavio Dotel? And Corey Patterson? Corey f*cking Patterson? Amazing, although I’ll miss Scrabble. But Colby. Colby Rasmus! I need a drink. I need to celebrate.

Blue Jays fans likened it to Christmas in July. I read at least two “Merry Rasmus!” tweets. By the time Anthopoulos took to the microphone to “officially” announce the two trades, it was old news. Blue Jays faithful were already drunk in the streets, dusting off their old Brian Tallet jerseys, and buying new Rasmus ones.

Through all the tweets and deadline mayhem over the past week, I had two distinct thoughts:

1. I sincerely hope the day doesn’t come where I’m not surprised by what Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos is able to pull off. In baseball, we’re often excited, as we should be, by what we see on the field, on the mound, and in the batter’s box. And we are, in Toronto; Ricky Romero, Jose Bautista, Yunel Escobar, we’re covered, all over the diamond. But it’s impossible to not be thrilled by the Blue Jays’ front office. Whether it’s the trade deadline, the draft, or the off-season, Toronto’s being aggressive, and taking risks; they’re dealing excitement. Anthopoulos has reminded me of my love for gambling. I put it out into the world on Twitter in the moments after Rasmus became a Blue Jay: Every Wednesday afternoon should be that exciting.

2. What the hell did we do without Twitter? I remember the good old days, when, on trade deadline day, I’d be constantly refreshing, the Canadian ESPN, to see if the homepage had been updated, and a trade had been made. I remember spending my summers off from school, every fourth one, usually, in New Delhi, India, and reading, in July 2000, that the Blue Jays had acquired Esteban Loaiza in exchange for Darwin Cubillan and Michael “He My Team!” Young. Great trade, I thought at the time.

Chained to my desk Wednesday afternoon, I couldn’t help but think about how Twitter had changed the game. Think of a beat writer today that doesn’t have a Twitter account. Do you know one? I’m going to wager (gambling!) you don’t. I’ve sat in a newsroom where we were told to tweet. Mandated to tweet. For journalists, it’s become part of the job description. Tweet, or else. Well, not “or else,” but: tweet, or they’ll find someone else who will.

The whole thing — life before Twitter — reminded me of another, similar thought I’d once had: the Internet-less office. How did anything get done in the days before Microsoft Outlook? Before the Internet. Imagine: no emails, no calendar, no Twitter. Nothing. No Internet. Oh, the humanity.

I’ve come to think of Twitter as an invaluable news service. This year alone, seven months in the books, I’ve “watched” on Twitter in real-time as people have taken to the streets, as governments have fallen, as bills have been passed, as bombs have exploded, and as baseball players have hugged in the dugout, traded away in the middle of a game. If you’re connected to the right accounts, and use the information responsibly, there’s no better outlet for breaking news.

Image credit: Foreign Policy.

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Navin Vaswani is a replacement-level writer. Follow him on Twitter.

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Jack Moore

Morosis sounds like some sort of terrible disease.