Heyman’s Slapshot on Hamels


MLB “insider” Jon Heyman has once again hopped aboard the Cole Hamels Trade Rumors Hysteria Train, reporting today that “the Rangers and Phillies continue to remain in contact regarding star left-hander Cole Hamels.

As usual with these bi-monthly “Hamels To…” pieces offered by one reporter or another, the substance behind Heyman’s piece today is supported by information provided from one of the usual suspects: “people familiar with the talks.

Did you ever see the great 1977 hockey comedy “Slapshot” starring Paul Newman? At one point in the film Newman’s character, player-coach Reggie Dunlop, uses his influence with an impressionable news reporter to plant a story regarding the possible sale of the team to a Florida buyer.

In the classic hockey comedy “Slapshot”, Newman’s Dunlop is the “unidentified but reliable” source.

The article comes out with a headline: “Chiefs Sought by Florida Retirement Community“, and the players sit around at a bar reading it one night. The article begins with immortal reporter-speak: “Unidentified but reliable sources have informed the Times-Herald that a Florida retirement community is negotiating with the Charlestown Hockey Corporation for the purchase of the Chiefs.

Of course, there is no substance to the story. Dunlop was simply hoping for a result, a sale of the team to a group who would keep them together, possibly in a location with better economic prospects than the struggling Charlestown. He planted the story with a reporter who he knew would run with it, hoping to further his own agenda.

Now, I’m not saying that someone from the Rangers, or the Hamels camp, or the Phillies camp “planted” this story or is in any way “using” Heyman.

What I am saying is that we need to stop paying attention to headlines that come out of the blue every 2-3 weeks reading along the lines of today’s piece: “Rangers Talking to Phillies About Hamels, Though Nothing Appears Close.

What in the heck is that headline telling us, by the way? First, it says that the Rangers are talking to the Phillies about Hamels, which could mean almost anything. Who from the Rangers is talking to who from the Phillies? When did this happen last? Do the people doing the talking have any real influence on such a process?

Second, right there in the headline, they deliver the punch line: “...Though Nothing Appears Close.” So wait, you’re telling me that basically nothing is happening except someone has been talking to someone else? According to what I’ve always been told, people in front offices are regularly “talking” to one another.

The bottom line here is that there is no story at all regarding Cole Hamels, and yet a respected national reporter chose to put one out anyway. This stuff is getting a bit ridiculous. The media expected there to be a meltdown at Phillies camp this year, and it has not materialized. Their predictions of “distraction” and “controversy” with Hamels, Jonathan Papelbon, Ryan Howard, Cliff Lee (before his injury) and others simply has been wrong.

Once again, someone in the alleged mainstream media is doing what they do best: stirring up the bottom. I can see them sitting around a local Florida eatery now, swapping stories about rumors. Reporter: “Anything on the Phillies lately?” Source: “I hear they’ve been talking to the Rangers still, but nothing close.

Does that sound like news to you, something requiring an article published by a national reporter?

There is a very real chance that Cole Hamels will indeed be traded by the Philadelphia Phillies, and that it could happen any day now. Or next month. Or by the midseason trade deadline. Or next off-season. Or in the 2016 season. But it very well could happen.

But printing a story saying that “people familiar with the talks” have told you something is alive? No more reliable than Dunlop’s reporter printing what “unidentified but reliable sources” told him. How about, until something concrete happens, we just let Cole Hamels and the Phillies prepare for what is already likely to be a difficult season.