Rumors, not reality, fuel media

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Posted July 28, 2009, at 9:18 p.m.

Roy Halladay to the Boston Red Sox, Julius Peppers to the New England Patriots, Grant Hill to the Celtics …

What do these trade/signing rumors have in common? All got big play and significant shelf life, but none have come to pass. What’s next? Sidney Crosby to the Bruins?

The Halladay-to-Boston rumors started because virtually every big-name player possibly available in a trade is almost always linked to the Sox, Yankees and Dodgers because they’re big-market, big-budget teams. That’s understandable.

What isn’t is why the Halladay-Sox rumors have persisted as a daily ESPN-ESPN2 staple on every SportsCenter broadcast for the last month.

Granted, Sox general manager Theo Epstein would be nuts not to at least test Toronto’s trade waters and do his due diligence, but the Jays literally want the farm for their ace and the Sox already arguably have one of baseball’s top starting rotations.

Yes, Boston’s a massive media market and the radio talk shows, newspapers, Web sites and TV stations addressed the rumors, but the Halladay watch has taken on an entirely different veneer as a cable sports network-driven “story.”

Makes one wonder whether they’re actually trying to break news or make it.

The Patriots’ procurement of Peppers would spice up New England’s defense and seems reasonable. The Pro Bowl linebacker wants out of Carolina, admires Bill Belichick and fills a Patriots need (pressure and pass rushing). Not to mention the Pats have not only the money, but a pervasive, much-envied, take-one-for-the-team player mentality that routinely results in players — stars and grunts alike — restructuring contracts or taking less than market value to allow the team more salary cap flexibility.

The problem? Those Peppers rumors began months ago and — five months later —Peppers is still with Carolina, albeit with a one-year deal that could lead to free agency in 2010.

Of all these scenarios, Hill coming to the Celtics as a free agent was the most plausible. Boston was on his short list along with New York and Phoenix. Hill would have fit right in with Boston’s veteran-dominated locker room and provided plenty of presence and leadership on the court as well as a valuable player off the bench, and he wouldn’t have broken the salary cap bank, but he chose to return to the Suns.

The allure and popularity of trade rumors are understandable. It’s fun to speculate and dream about certain players in certain uniforms, but there is such a thing as beating a dead horse, and the horse named Halladay is not only still in Toronto’s barn, it likely will still be there at the end of the week.

Speaking of the Celtics, a second-round NBA draft pick is anything but a guaranteed success in that league, but Glen Davis has far outpaced the low expectations for the former Louisiana State University star at his first pro camp in 2007.

“Big Baby” went from averaging 4.5 points, 3.0 rebounds and 0.4 assists per game in 69 games (one as a starter) in 2007-08 to 15.8 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.8 assists in the 2009 playoffs. And his reward? Well, he will be getting a massive pay raise as a restricted free agent this offseason, but with veteran forward Rasheed Wallace, 34, already signing Boston’s mid-level exception contract offer, there may not be enough room or cash to retain the 6-foot-9, 289-pound forward.

A young, “home-grown” guy not only shows huge improvement from one season to another but also becomes a clutch player in the playoffs, and the end result is his replacement by a notorious hothead who gained infamy six years ago for an epithet-laden tirade accusing the NBA of racism.

That just doesn’t sit well.

http://bangordailynews.com/2009/07/28/sports/rumors-not-reality-fuel-media/ printed on July 29, 2014