By Rich Levine
For the most part, I love technology.
And when I say "for the most part," that's a wide understatement 999 out of 1,000 times, I'm all for technology. Anything that enhances our lives, improves our world. Whatever it is. I'm in.
Why not, right? As I type this, I'm sitting in a random terminal at JFK with a wireless five-pound computer on my lap, which allows me to not only write this column, but also track my fantasy football team, follow the RavensSteelers game, listen to any song I've ever downloaded and watch videos of monkeys doing weird things to frogs . . . all at the same time!
I love technology. I'm completely whipped. I'm Tom. It's Gisele. I'm at its mercy.
But like I said, every once in a while it rubs me the wrong way; really wrong. Like the way Cameron's mom touches Mitchell on Modern Family. And it's times like that when I find myself pining for a time machine hot tub, Delorian, San Dimas telephone booth, anything that can bring me back to a simpler time, when not only the technology, but as a result, we weren't so damn crazy.
It doesn't happen very often, but when it does . . . well, it does.
And it happened this weekend.
Honestly, this Adrian Gonzalez trade should have been one of the happiest moments in recent Red Sox history. Can you think of anything that's happened since the 2007 World Series that tops this? This guy is an absolute superstar. He changes everything, even if the Sox don't make another impact move this winter. Essentially, Theo's bridge is now complete; it's time to get back to business, and this news should have been met with nothing but sheer adulation.
Instead, at least in this very moment, it feels a little dirty. It's not quite as happy. And it's because of technology. It's because of Twitter.
On one hand, I see the benefits of how everything played out. The way this story was reported with second-by-second updates on everything from how many years apart they were to what movie Gonzalez watched on his cross-country flight really makes the fan feel like he or she is a part of the process; it's like you're actually sitting at the negotiating table. The frustration you feel over which prospects the Padres are asking for or how many years Gonzalez is demanding, are the same frustrations that Theo feels. Never before have fans been so in tuned to the details and emotions of these multimillion dollar negotiations.
On paper, that's pretty cool. But if it actually is, then why was Saturday and especially Sunday such a miserable online experience? Why was the constant flow of absolutes the deal is DONE, the trade is OFF, Gonzalez is GONE and the berserk reactions that followed, all day, so unsettling, chaotic and off-putting? How did everything get so out of hand?
I'm still not sure, but at the very least, I hope it can serve as a lesson. And I don't mean that in a finger-wagging way. I was just as bad as anyone. I was riding the emotional roller coaster from the second the trade was announced until the moment it was murdered until the moment there were signs of life and until the moment I got the e-mail about Monday's press conference. I was yelling, and screaming like I was Tito going off on Joe West.
But when I take a second and look back at the day that was, it slows down and makes a little more sense.
It's just negotiation. That's all it is. It's two sides going back and forth. Each wanting to make a deal, but each also wanting to get the best deal they can. Nothing is brief or absolute, even though it's hard to take it any other way when presented in 140-character tweets.
In reality, what we saw Sunday was two parties come to a relative agreement on a multi-year, nine-figure contract in less than 48 hours. That's pretty remarkable. Have you ever tried to make a fantasy trade? Think about how frustrating and unstable those negotiations can be. Hell, in October I spent an entire week intensely negotiating a trade that revolved around Justin Forsett and JerMichael Finley. And it got UGLY. And we expect smooth sailing on a deal that could be worth around 160 mullin? Negotiation is never easy. The two sides never agree on everything at first. But we forgot. We overreacted. Did we think this stuff never happened before Twitter existed? That big-time deals used to be easy?
Of course they weren't. The difference was how quickly that information came out. Twenty years ago, all the same drama would have happened with Gonzalez, and would have eventually been reported, too. But it would have all appeared in Monday morning's paper, under the headline: RED SOX FINALIZE TRADE FOR ADRIAN GONZALEZ. We would have read it with the knowledge that it was already taken care of; that it was old news. It would have been fun and gossipy, but in the end insignificant.
Remember when ESPN did that special on Dan Duquette's courtship of Manny Ramirez? Remember how crazy that was? Can you imagine following that saga on Twitter? The Internet would have imploded. Which is almost what happened with Gonzalez.
The whole thing turned into this giant debate where moderators Heyman, Gammons, McAdam and Rosenthal would throw out a piece of information and then 500,000 people would all scream at the same time. That is, until the most recent piece of information proved false and it was time to move on to the next temporary fact. You had fans threatening never to attend games again. You had a Sox beat writer triumphantly calling his readers nitwits. You had people RTing RTs of RTs about Adrian Gonzalez RTs.
And in the end, it was all for not. It was a waste of energy. A lot.
It made people so mad. It had everyone so stressed. For me, it just took the fun out of a moment that should have been memorable for different reason. Maybe that can still be salvaged with Monday's press conference, although I have a feeling that until that extension is signed, nothing will be sacred.
And, really, I'm not saying it should be.
I understand why it's like this. And I'm not saying that we move away from this kind of coverage, or that the best and brightest baseball minds should put a cap on how much information they divulge or the immediacy with which they divulge it. That's the world we live in right now. I accept that. I think that world brings so many advantages, and provides so many benefits to the fan experience. I wouldn't change it for the world.
This is just one of those rare moments when I want to get away and unfortunately, I'm not flying Southwest.