Trending Topics is a new column that looks at the week in hockey according to Twitter. If you're only going to comment to say how stupid Twitter is, why not just go have a good cry for the slow, sad death of your dear internet instead?
There are people out there that think Twitter is stupid, and not in any way the future of journalism. The problem is that any time anything happens on Twitter, no matter who said it or how a rumor/story spreads, it's attributed to Those Idiots on the Internet.
Matthew Barnaby, former Buffalo Sabre and current ESPN employee, tweets that Timmy Connolly might've gotten popped in the eye by his own teammate at a charity event. Then he says well, okay, maybe that isn't what happened.
Fine. Mistakes happen.
But some people, like Buffalo News luddite John Vogl, will see that this VICIOUS RUMOR started on Twitter, and was therefore surely concocted by some idiot in his mother's basement who's probably wearing nothing but his underwear as we speak.
Says Vogl (after an edit that removed a reference to Twitter as a "world of feces"):
"The Roy-Connolly story began Monday night with 'rumors all over Twitter.' After putting on hip waders, rubber gloves, a gas mask and taking an anti-vomit pill, I ventured to the God-forsaken site and discovered what I expected to discover: One person posted the rumor, and a lot of other people copied and/or linked to the one comment, making it look like more than one person actually had an original thought."
Despite all the equipment, he can't have gotten more than a toe into the Twitter cesspool. Again, the "one person" who posted the rumor is someone who is presumably fairly plugged into the Buffalo organization, since he played parts of seven seasons there, and also works for the Worldwide Leader in Sports, the most trusted name in sports journalism of any kind.
(Coming Up: Mike Gillis hits softball, John Vogl becomes a Twitter meme and your pearls of BizNasty.)
(Also: here's a terrible and awful radio interview with Vogl on the subject in which the blogger "in his underwear" term is actually used, but Matthew Barnaby's name doesn't come up once.)
In the past, we've seen ESPN writers and contributors Tweet about something and later delete that message because the network has a stringent policy about sourcing and leaking rumors and all that stuff.
Somewhat recently, Bill Simmons posted on the site that Randy Moss would be traded to the Vikings, but erased the message later, even though he turned out to be right. An excellent explanation of that situation by Simmons, and ESPN's rules for things like this is here.
Gotta think Barnaby posted the information and must have believed it was more or less true, though with the caveat that it was unconfirmed. The foofaraw that followed was predicated not on the fact that some bonehead from Buffalo said, "I heard Derek Roy had Tim Connolly(notes) drawn and quartered," but because a long-time pro and nationally-recognized analyst at the biggest sports network on the planet reported it.
Not that these facts mattered. Vogl saw the opportunity for a nice little hatchet job on Twitter and all the Internet morons, and took it. He probably feels nice and proud of himself, since he got quotes from Lindy Ruff and Derek Roy that were all like "Jeez only a moron would use the Internet. I can't believe some idiot would say that!"
Because why let facts get in the way of running down an entire medium? It's not unlike swearing off television because one time you saw an episode of "Two and a Half Men" and it was terrible so therefore the whole thing is total garbage.
The whole mainstream media versus the Internet situation would go a lot smoother if the guys at newspapers didn't type things like, "If they had a thought, it should have been to go outside and enjoy the world rather than sit and stare at a computer screen."
Barnaby would likely tell you he made a mistake in posting what he did.
Vogl, no matter what facts he was presented with, would never do the same thing.
Let's toss Mike Gillis some softballs
For 15 minutes, fans got to ask Gillis any ol' question they wanted, though there should be little shock that not one was at all interesting or provocative. Instead, they included "What's your favorite part about living in Vancouver," (lots to do!), "Who's the most surprising team in the West," (Columbus!), and "What's the best part about being a GM," (you can accomplish your goals!).
I sincerely doubt anyone expected him to start fielding the many, many questions about the Luongo contract, but you'd have thought that maybe, just maybe, he'd have delved a bit deeper than "What motivates you?"
Because the answer is winning. Winning motivates Mike Gillis.
Not surprisingly, the whole Feces/Vogl incident drew the ire of some of the world's Tweeters, sparking the meme "Things John Vogl Enjoys," in which the many old-timey things a writer of Vogl's proclivities would take pleasure. Several of the better examples follow:
@Beechsack: "Senior coffees"
@Schoebdoo: "Maple Walnut Ice Cream"
@TheTickSP: "Leaded gasoline"
@RITBeast: "Pen pals"
@stratoholic: When men wore dress hats to hockey games"
@GoJays: "When candy bars cost a nickel"
@BlackAcesBlog: "Calvin Coolidge"
And your winner:
@saint_georgia: "Yelling at clouds"
Pearls of Biz-dom
BizNasty on people who don't think he should make the All-Star Game: "I agree with you. But ur still a douche."
If you've got something for Trending Topics, holla at Lambert on Twitter or via e-mail. He'll even credit you so you get a thousand followers in one day and you'll become the most popular person on the Internet! You can also visit his blog if you're so inclined.