Brewers Spring Training: Beyond the Game - How Rumors Get Started
Ever wonder how rumors get started in major league baseball? Here is a classic example.
After completing our Sports Central show on Monday night at Maryvale Baseball Park, Jeff Falconio and I met up with Zack Manasian and John Steinmiller to watch the Milwaukee Bucks game at Majerle's Sports Bar in Scottsdale.
Manasian is the Brewers Director of Pro Scouting and Steinmiller is the Media Relations Manager. Both spent the Brewers off-day on a boat zipping around a lake outside of Scottsdale. Imagine Manasian's surprise when - while on the lake - he received a text message from General Manager, Doug Melvin regarding the Brewers reported interest in right handed pitcher, Aaron Harang.
Ken Gurnick of MLB.com reported the Brewers potential interest in the veteran right hander after seeing a member of the Brewers scouting staff on hand at the Dodgers spring training game on Monday. Melvin saw the piece and reached out to Manasian for more information.
The network of team scouts blanketing spring training is robust - and it's not very difficult to determine who is a scout and who isn't. The guy with a radar gun sitting in the seats behind home plate? He's a scout. The guy with a folder of information and a stop watch hanging around his neck? He's a scout. The guy with a fire engine red polo shirt that says "SCOUT" on the right chest? He's a scout. They are all over the place and easy to find.
Writers look for scouts at every game and try to draw parallels to a particular player or players. In this case, Gurnick knows the Brewers have a young, inexperienced staff, and are one Yovani Gallardo groin flare-up away from Marco Estrada being the team's number one starter. When Gurnick saw a brewers scout at the Dodgers game, he put two and two together and came up with a story. Melvin saw the story and was miffed.
The truth is, the Brewers are not interested in Harang, but there was indeed a member of the scouting staff at the Dodgers game on Monday. Why was he there? Because he was driving by the stadium, knew there was a game, and wanted to watch it. That's it. There was no hidden agenda.
There are a few takeaways from the story.
First of all, General Managers pay attention to the rumor mill - especially when their team is involved. Secondly, writers at spring training are looking for an angle - any angle - to craft a story. Always consider the source when reading about rumors, and look for key buzzword phrases such as "potential interest" or "may be interested". Finally, remember that rumors are just that - rumors.
I certainly don't think any damage was done by what Gurnick wrote, but I can envision the potential danger associated with the rumor mill. While not every player pays attention to rumors, I'm sure the player's agents do. The last thing the Brewers want is a fruitless rumor distracting a young pitcher trying to lock down a spot in the rotation. After all, 90% of the game is half mental.