I owe Marc Topkin an apology.
He hasn’t asked for one, but with the benefit of time and reflection on the Evan Longoria trade, I said things that were out of line about what the beat writer was trying to tell us.
In my article, deftly titled “An Evan Longoria trade continues to make no sense whatsoever,” I wrote:
Marc Topkin is the last man standing. He was been with the Times and has been documenting the Rays from the start: he was on the story before there ever was an expansion team.
Twenty years later, you have to assume he has his finger on the pulse of Tampa Bay baseball. You have to assume he knows how the front office operates, and that to the extent they tip their hand to any journalist, they share information with him.
Topkin has dedicated his energy this offseason, in every other tweet and every other article, to proclaiming that the Rays are about to trade Evan Longoria. Seriously, check out his blog and Twitter feed: you’ll find “Longoria” and “trade” in the majority of posts.
And from there I began to pick at the main talking points, implying they were clickbait.
I was wrong.
DRaysBay may be the hub for blogging about Rays baseball, but it is just that. We are not professionals. Our writers do our best to stay well connected with friends and contacts in the industry, but none of us are on a daily beat. This is a hobby.
I fundamentally did not believe an Evan Longoria trade was possible, let alone probable, and had a visceral reaction when the deal was announced, laying all the fan-ship’s ire at ownership’s feet. (I’m not ready to apologize for that one yet, let’s see what this team becomes...)
Since that time, I’ve reached “Acceptance” in terms of understanding why the Rays could make the trade, but lingering in my mind have been my concluding words regarding the rumors from the article in question:
Perhaps Topkin really does know something we don’t. Maybe the Rays really are kicking the tires on a Longoria trade and have shared that information with him.
Or maybe Topkin realizes that “Longo Trade Rumors!” generates clicks and re-tweets. His speculation not only gets us Rays fans to check out his work; it also generates traffic as it is repeated by national outlets like MLB Trade Rumors
Which of these scenarios is more likely?
I laid out the reasons Topkin could have been trusted: his relationship with the team, his role doing the job we do not, and his track record of accuracy on player-trade predictions speak for themselves, and I wrote them off.
In that article, I was no better than any other person with a podium proclaiming FAKE NEWS when they hear a news report they do not agree with, and I was wrong.
I dismissed his work and his warning out of hand, without even doing the due diligence I would typically pursue to see if the rumors were even valid.
So Marc, if you’re reading this: As much as I regret the Longoria trade, I regret encouraging my readers to not trust your writing. I was wrong, I am sorry, and I specifically ask for your forgiveness.