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Tuesday (The Joe Mauer story) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand under Twins fans Updated: February 2, 2010 - 9:49 AM

It's hard to tell these days which is the greater force: Joe Mauer himself, the intensity with which folks here want him to re-sign with the Twins ... or a chain of information that sometimes runs like a runaway train, even when everyone has the best intentions. Yesterday, though, the three forces met somewhere in the middle. Let's take a spin back through some of the events:

*A little after 11 a.m., our guy Joe Christensen posted a blog entry under the headline "Some gut feelings and hot tips from TwinsFest." The first paragraph from the post was this:

Everybody I spoke with during TwinsFest believes the team soon will have Joe Mauer signed to a contract extension. Two people (on the fringes), who have their own information pipelines, claimed that the deal's basic framework -- the number of years and guaranteed money -- is already set, with the sides negotiating things such as deferred payments, etc.

This certainly advanced the story for an information-hungry crowd. In addition, though, it filtered through various channels like an electronic version of the old game called "telephone" and came out on the other side looking to some like a virtual done deal. As Joe noted in a later update to the same post, "Clarification: It's important to emphasize here that we have not confirmed that the framework is done. Fringe sources might think so, but those closest to the talks haven't confirmed."

*While Joe's initial post was being linked, analyzed and contextualized by both various major outlets and fans, newer reports gained steam. There was this one from an independent site, which claimed a source said Mauer would sign a 10-year, $220 million deal. We followed up with the author via Twitter and he said, "source is with the #twins & we've not had a reason to not trust I guess time will tell how "solid" we got it when #’s are released." It's plausible, but we remained skeptical.

*The bigger bombshell came around 3 p.m. (maybe a little earlier ...) when WCCO's Mark Rosen said he had sources indicating a 10-year deal was in place. The news came first via KFAN, and Rosen also put this on his Twitter: "looks like joe mauer is staying with the #twins. Sources tell me 10-year deal -- watch @WCCO at 5 and 6 for more!" Many saw the trusted voice (Rosen) plus the fairly firm manner in which it was being reported and immediately went into "done deal" mode. While some simply "re-tweeted" what others had heard on KFAN or Rosen's actual Tweet, others tweeted things like "so flippin excited that Joe Mauer is going to be a Twin into my 30's." It doesn't take more than a gust of wind to turn a camp fire into a forest fire these days.

*Multiple outlets, including Joe C. and ESPN's Buster Olney then went to sources who said the Rosen report was incorrect, or at least premature. At 4 p.m., Joe C. blogged this: "Two people familiar with the negotiations denied a report by WCCO-TV that the sides have reached preliminary agreement on a 10-year contract. That would not be a far-fetched finishing point for these negotiations, however, as Mauer has won three batting titles, two Gold Gloves as a catcher and an MVP award, all before his 27th birthday. Two people close to the Mauer family said they'd heard the framework of a deal -- number of years and guaranteed money -- may already be in place, with the sides simply ironing out details such as deferred payments. Those claims have gone unconfirmed by people close to the negotiations."

*After that, Rosen and 'CCO softened the story considerably. The site's online story noted that outlets were disputing the report, and this paragraph was inserted into the story: "WCCO's Rosen Monday afternoon reaffirmed that the framework of a 10-year agreement had been reached. He also noted that deals like this can fall apart late in the process and that the two sides were still working out final details on incentives."

If you're like us, the basic news in that last report sounds a lot like the initial report Joe C. had filed several hours Monday morning (though Rosen was reporting a length). It wouldn't even be shocking to think they have overlapping sources and both men interpreted and/or reported differently what they were being told. And it would hardly be surprising if everything turns out to be close to correct, even if some things were premature. The takeaways, we guess, are these:

1) The Mauer deal, which many people have believed from the start will get done, is not done but is getting there. While nobody will truly relax until pen is put to paper, the evidence suggests there is plenty of momentum in that direction.

2) We used to exist in a news cycle where days mattered. Five years ago, hours mattered. A year ago, minutes mattered. With how fast Twitter works, we're becoming increasingly convinced that seconds now matter. That means greater and quicker access to current information, but it also can mean less time to measure out words and decisions -- both for those who report for a living and those who repeat what is said. Mistakes are easily fixed, but sometimes the damage is already partially done. The exhilaration of competition and speed is the trade-off for most news appearing in electronic pencil instead of ink.

And you can re-tweet that.

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