Newsflash! The Miami Marlins are meeting with Albert Pujols's agent, who plans to meet later with the Miami Heat, the Harlem Globetrotters, Sporting K.C., and the St. Louis Cardinals—"Momentum," says Buster Olney, "continues to build."
This is true inasmuch as Google Trends will require me to write more posts about Albert Pujols and the Miami Marlins for SB Nation St. Louis this morning, which will lead other people to click on and tweet about Albert Pujols and the Miami Marlins, which will lead to other people writing more about Albert Pujols and the Miami Marlins, which will—okay, there's a smudge on this part of the napkin, but at the end, here, this big awful katamari of search-engine-optimized blog posts and retweets leads to the Marlins signing Albert Pujols, because so many people are talking about it. Momentum!
I love the Winter Meetings, I love the Hot Stove League, and I love baseball rumors. If there's something more exciting, on the baseball calendar, than hearing that your team is about to reshape itself for the next five years by signing a player you've watched elsewhere—or, maybe more exciting, one like Yu Darvish who you haven't watched elsewhere—it probably involves the actual throwing or catching of a baseball.
But our desire for baseball coverage, as consumers who need something to read on their phones and Twitter feeds and occasionally on actual paper and as producers who need to fool advertisers into believing that people really do want to read five separate and identical articles about Albert Pujols having once been seen in the jarringly Miami Vice colors of the Marlins' new jerseys has wildly outstripped the ability of baseball to produce novel stories about the players and stories that garner the most clicks.
This is just like the Pujols age-gate stories from a few weeks ago—ostensibly trained journalists are confusing the echoey sounds of their own voices with the breaking of news, and inadvertently magnifying themselves until their repetition of old tropes becomes its own story. Until readers become willing to pay for content on the internet on a large scale, this is probably inevitable, but I'd hate to see the demands of the online advertising market warp our idea of how stories work and what words mean.
This morning, there's no momentum building in the case of Albert Pujols and the Miami Marlins—there's just more stories about it. If Buster Olney has evidence that something new happened in this 30-minute Marlins meeting, one of a number on Dan Lozano's world tour dedicated to paying his upside-down mortgage on sleaze mountain, we'll hear about it—until then, we'll be stuck hearing about the possibility of hearing about it, and worse off for it.