Claiming that Twitter has changed the landscape of sports reporting and journalism has become one of the more cliché statements of the past calendar year or so. In fact, it has become so cliché that referring to it as cliché is, in fact, cliché. Or something like that.
That being said, the ubiquitousness of Twitter cannot be overstated. After all, it was only a shade over two months ago that this happened:
In essence, Twitter has become the go-to source for breaking news, for all parties concerned – fans, journalists, professional athletes, and front office personnel utilize the 140-characters to garner as much information as possible, choosing the jumble of text and abbreviations over the larger bodies of analysis to which they link. The social networking giant has, in short, become the place for sports analysis, prognostication, rumors, and reporting. It is expected to be omnipotent, and it oftentimes is just that. Recently, however, #MysteryTeam has come to represent not only a veritable joie de vivre, but a somewhat frustrating outlier.
The #MysteryTeam phenomenon began, at least in a practical sense, with the Phillies signing of Clifton Phifer Lee. As late as Thanksgiving of 2010, most everyone ‘in the know’ was certain that Lee would be signing on the dotted line with either the Yankees or the Rangers. Some writers alluded to a ‘mystery team’ throwing a monkey wrench into the operation, yet it seems inevitable that one of the 2010 ALCS teams would win the bidding. As Yankees and Rangers fans remember, it was roughly three weeks later that Lee was hamming it up in front of cameras at his introductory press conference … as a Phillie.
Throughout this past season, it seemed as if every rumor was sprinkled with allusions to a ‘mystery team’ pursuing trade deadline targets, or planning their off-season around Prince Fielder, Albert Pujols, or the possibly opted-out CC Sabathia (some in a truthful sense, but most in jest). Over these past two months, the allusions to a ‘mystery team’ have evolved (or devolved) into #MysteryTeam being added into a substantial percentage of all rumblings and grumblings. And for all the prognostications about payroll flexibility, likely landing spots, and the like … #MysteryTeam won out with Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, and, most recently, Yoenis Céspedes. Jorge Soler, perhaps the last remaining prize on the market, has been linked to the Cubs, Yankees, Marlins, and, among others, #MysteryTeam.
What does this all mean? To be perfectly frank, I’m not quite sure it means anything at all. The likeliest lesson to be learned is that the leakiness of front offices has not quite kept pace with the insatiable appetite of the fans and media, and that the news breaking abilities of Twitter are as dependent on such leaks as any other medium – it’s simply instantaneous. This ‘phenomenon’ may merely be a product of players being more willing to follow dollars, or more willing to give ‘home town’ discounts. It may be a result of more teams being willing to enter the fray, and thus impeding the ability of journalists to stakeout the usual suspects.
Or it may just be nothing more than a joke transcended into news, albeit a far more prescient joke than most.
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