On Hot Stove Rumoring For The Sake Of Rumoring, Or "Hey, Did You Hear About The Yankees And Max Scherzer?"

Scherzer vs TOR Has everybody had a chance to check around the Yankosphere and baseball blog circuit yet today?  If you have, you were no doubt bombared with stories about the Yankees and Max Scherzer kinda, sorta, maybe, possibly being linked.  Via Jon Heyman:

"So far this offseason, there hasn't been much that's new and interesting tied to the Yankees-- baseball's most storied franchise and usually among its most active winter players.

And there has been very little, if anything, that's been linked to right-hander Max Scherzer -- baseball's top free-agent pitcher.

So it shouldn't surprise anyone that there's a chance that the Yankees and Scherzer may start becoming tied together, at least in terms of talk. It's a match that might make sense."

At face value, no.  That wouldn't be a surprise.  Big money players are always linked to the Yankees during hot stove season, and they have a very apparent and widely-known need for starting pitching.  It's not too hard to connect those dotes.  Here's the thing though.  There's nothing in those 3 paragraphs or anywhere else in that entire Heyman article that constitutes real evidence that the 2 sides are actually becoming tied together.  It's 100% pure speculation, hidden under the guise of being a real, fact-based hot stove rumor.  The closest thing to anything resembling support for the idea is the reference to the Yankees and Scott Boras speaking after the GM meetings, and even then there's nothing specifically referencing Scherzer.

So what's the point of this?  To stir the pot, of course.  To give the non-existent rumor mill for the Yankees and Scherzer a shove into motion.  Because that's how guys like Heyman make their living.  That's what gets them clicks and pageviews and retweets, and all they have to do is chum the waters a bit with a fake rumor story like this and the sharks will come in no time.

Just look around at what's happening today.  MLBTR has a link to the Heyman story on their page in a section about AL East notes.  Yankee writers are taking the article and using it as the foundation for their own Yankees-Scherzer-based stories that they will post, tweet about, and hopefully garner more readers from.  Other Yankee blogs are writing free agent profiles on Scherzer and laying out just how well he fits for the Yankees.  The rumor has been created, it's spreading, and now everybody gets to reap the benefits of something that has yet to even be confirmed as a legitimate rumor.  The hot stove machine has fed itself, the rumor is out there, and now it can be easily re-accessed at any point for the rest of the offseason until Scherzer signs.

If you read between the lines of those first 3 paragraphs of Heyman's original story, he's basically telling you right to your face that he's making this up because there are no real stories to talk about with respect to the Yankees and Scherzer.

"So far this offseason, there hasn't been much that's new and interesting tied to the Yankees-- baseball's most storied franchise and usually among its most active winter players.

And there has been very little, if anything, that's been linked to right-hander Max Scherzer -- baseball's top free-agent pitcher."

Translated:

"The biggest team and the best player aren't doing anything, so I don't have much to write about."

And the second part:

"So it shouldn't surprise anyone that there's a chance that the Yankees and Scherzer may start becoming tied together, at least in terms of talk. It's a match that might make sense."

Translated:

"Ooh, I know.  Wouldn't it be totes cool if the Yankees and Scherzer had something going on TOGETHER???  I should write about that."

Heyman doesn't even do a good job of hiding the fact that he's spinning this himself.  He uses  "a chance", "may", "at least" and "might" in a 22-word stretch to make clear that there's no real evidence to support what he's saying.  This isn't something he's heard, something he's asked anybody about, or something he's currently following up on.  It's an idea.  An idea that he wants you and me and all the other writers and readers out there to take and remember, and most importantly remember that it started with his article of quasi-hypothetical speculation.

Not that there's anything wrong with any of this.  That's part of how the hot stove season works in a 24/7 media coverage world and an increasingly competitive Twitter reporting landscape.  It's just funny to see how quickly it gets blown up into something much bigger than it really is and rightfully should be.

The only piece of concrete, reporting-based evidence we have as it relates to the Yankees and Max Scherzer is Mark Feinsand's report from 2 weeks ago about the team having "no plans" to pursue him or the other big money guys.  And sure, the Yankees may not have been 100% truthful when they made that statement and yes, their plans could have changed in the 14 days since.  But none of that is clarified in Heyman's article and so it's of little use as an actual piece of hot stove rumor reporting.  As far as facts are concerned, there's nothing going on between the Yankees and Scherzer.  Nothing has changed in the last 2 weeks.  And yet here we all are, reading and talking about it as if something new has developed.

P.S.- No, the fact that I just wrote a 900-word post about the Yankees and Max Scherzer and used Heyman's article as the jump-off point for it is not lost on me.  I never said I was immune to the hot stove rumor machine.