Paulas: Leaks, agendas, and old-fashioned gossip: Inside baseball’s Internet trade rumor economy

From Rick Paulas at VICE Sports on August 30, 2016:

When Tim Dierkes started the site in November of 2005, the intention was simply to make things easier. Back then, if you wanted to read rumors about your favorite team, you’d have to dig through local sports sites, columns at the Worldwide Leader, your own self-curated RSS feed, and random message boards flung far and wide. But as Google allowed the Internet to cohere, for better and worse, MLBTradeRumors provided a single local to get all trade rumor news at once.

But discovering what info counted as “relevant, legitimate” took time to figure out. Dierkes first posted any and all scoops he was emailed. “It was ‘throw a lot of things at the wall’ style,” Dierkes told VICE Sports. Over the years, as the number of visitors grew and reporters began to litter more casually with their gossip, Dierkes became choosier. “If there’s an issue with a reporter having a lot of misses, we’ll sit on his scoop and wait for another report, so we’re acting as a filter,” says Dierkes. “We’ve been more careful about it, and it’s caused us to unfortunately sit on a few good ones.”

As Dierkes’ threshold for rumors heightened, so did the site’s reputation. When I covered the 2008 MLB Winter Meetings for ESPN the Magazine—including an hour-long stint in a bathroom stall trying to “break” my own rumor—I overheard a beat writer ask Peter Gammons about what sites he respects. MLBTradeRumors was one of the first out of his mouth, because he appreciated how it’s all just laid out, without bias or favor. If a baseball site gets the approval of Peter Gammons, it’s doing something right. In the years since, MLBTR has made believers of the rest, and emerged as the announcement board of choice for citizens of Trade Rumor Town: teams, agents, fans, other members of the press, and players themselves. And as it has, so has it become the place for coded messages to be spread.

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Originally published: September 2, 2016. Last Updated: September 2, 2016.