Okay, I’ll admit it: Writing a baseball blog during a pandemic, when there are no baseball activities to cover, is strange.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing, mind you, because strange can be fun. I wrote about some odd games before, from the Aaron Hicks diving-catch game, to its Black Lodge doppelgänger. I imagined the Yankees as characters from The Simpsons, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and Monday Night Raw. And who can forget about the time Gio Urshela transformed into Mike Schmidt?
One moment I keep coming back to, however, is when the Yankees acquired Giancarlo Stanton. I’ve said elsewhere on this site that the trade stands out as my favorite moment writing for PSA. It came out of absolute nowhere on a Friday night, and believe me when I say we had to scramble to get coverage. How did this happen? Is it a done deal? Oh, crap, Starlin Castro is going to Miami? Where are my glasses? That’s right, I don’t wear glasses.
Go to find out, the trade didn’t come out of nowhere. In fact, an hour before Ken Rosenthal reported that the Yankees were in the mix, Jim Leyritz proclaimed it a done deal.
Giancarlo Stanton to the yankees. It's done.— Jim Leyritz (@therealjleyritz) December 9, 2017
Yes, that Jim Leyritz. The one who played in parts of nine seasons for the Yankees, hit that home run in the 1996 World Series (yes, that one), and had a few run-ins with the law upon retiring. He got back on the straight-and-narrow, though, and in addition to foundation work, he apparently decided to dabble in the life of a baseball insider.
You may be wondering how a career 8.4 WAR catcher walked away with the scoop of the year. The Yankees apparently brought him back into the organization in 2012 on a personal service contract, where he served as a greeter in the suite level of Yankee Stadium. I’m going to guess that position doesn’t get you on the e-mail tree for transactions, though, not unless Steve from legal accidentally replied-all to the company-wide Listserv. I think we would have heard something about that by now.
Did Leyritz get a tip from a friend in the front office? That’s plausible. Anybody who handles privileged information could get tempted to leak it, whether in an I-know-something-you-don’t-know brag, or a you-gotta-keep-this-quiet-or-else-I’m-screwed-but-it’s-too-good-not-to-share situation. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that work talk with a pal prompted him to open up Twitter and break the timeline.
Or maybe it was a lucky guess. Jon Heyman suggested the Yankees as a landing spot two hours before Leyritz dropped the bomb. Tweet it out and see what happens, right? If you’re wrong, people forget. If you’re right, a bored sportswriter will blog about it two-and-a-half years later.
Leyritz has missed on other Yankees reports since. He said that a Gerrit Cole trade with the Pirates was done at the Winter Meetings, and that Manny Machado was “all but the signature” away from landing with the Bombers as a free agent. That leaves one of three possibilities:
- His source dried up after the Stanton trade.
- He never had one to begin with.
- The Yankees had blockbuster deals fall apart at the one-yard line in back-to-back years.
You can decide which one to believe for yourself.
As strange as it seems now, a former catcher breaking a blockbuster trade—arguably the main event of that offseason—kind of made sense in 2017. You may recall that news of the Jose Quintana trade first surfaced on Reddit, thanks to distinguished citizens “KatyPerrysBootyHole” and “wetbutt23”. Yeah.
Fake scoops and questionable sources have existed throughout the history of sports reporting, made only more prolific by Twitter. More often than not, they’re annoying, easy to spot, and get dumped into the waste basket. But for a short time in 2017, the strange reigned supreme, and even the most sophomoric Redditor or former big leaguer could have their Woodward and Bernstein moment.
I think about those days a lot, and I miss them. Long live the strange days of baseball internet.
Editor’s note: Jim Leyritz could not be reached for comment.