This time of the year, especially this year where there is not much coal in the coffers and the usually hot off-season stove is colder than usual, rumors about impeding transactions fly left and right. I make a practice of neither propagating nor analyzing rumors (like there are not about 100 more places to go for that). I am not making an exception here with this post. I am just presenting it as an example of how rumors are propagated.
Case study: Delmon Young to the Mariners for Jake Washburn and Jeff Clement.
This rumor started here at 8:14 PM ET on February the second by John Hickey, a Seattle Post-Intelligencer reporter, who wrote on his blog: "One deal discussed in the last week or so involved sending Washburn and catcher Jeff Clement to Minnesota in exchange for 23-year-old outfielder Delmon Young."
At 8:46 PM ET, half an hour after the rumor was started. There was a compete analysis, including a major thumbs down here by Dave Cameron of USS Mariner, the most read independent Mariner's blog.
At 9:49 PM ET, Drew Silva of Tim Dierkes' MLBtraderumors.com picked up the rumor and posted it here at the MLB rumor mill clearing house.
One it got there, the most visited place by fans in the off-season, it started propagating like crazy with fans reaction abound: By 10:07 PM ET the first comment regarding it appeared at LEN3's blog, in an unrelated post about the MLB Network.
Next day, February the 3rd at 10:20 AM ET, Joe Christiansen, Twins Beat writer in Start Tribune, picks up the rumor and offers his thoughts
By 7:52 PM of the same day, Joe who is a real journalist, tried to confirm the rumor through his connections with the Twins who categorically said "no way" and he posts an entry on his blog to this effect. Kelly Thesier at MLB.com, piggybacks on Joe's post at 8:07 PM and ups the ante, contradicting Hickey, saying that the particular trade was never proposed.
At 8:37, Dierkes' team over the MLBtraderumors clearing house, picks Joe's article up and rehashes that the "deal" is dead.
You'd think that the rumor would be dead and buried by then, right? Nope. At 8:19 AM ET Today (February 4th), Yahoo's MLB rumor site, picks up and rehashes Christiansen's 10:20 AM post of the previous day, suggesting that the rumor is alive (but totally ignores to look at the second post that kills the rumor).
This is the main reason I do not try to propagate rumors here... In the days of internet and RSS, things that come out of a blogger's head move fast (and esp. if that blogger is affiliated with the traditional press) spread as truths everywhere (anyone remember the Cuddyer for Atkins rumors out of Denver?). It is better to wait and see something actually reported about a trade that happened that get nuts about a trade that might make sense if it happens.
The best think that came out of this particular rumor (the seed of course was planted by Sid Hartman and Charlie Walters in the early off-season) is the newest Twins-related internet site, Keep Delmon!. Go have a look and vocalize your support, it is a worthy cause :)