It started as a Twitter rumor, as these things tend to do. Yesterday afternoon, word spread that Robinson Cano had failed a drug test, and his PED suspension would be announced soon. Because similar rumors have recently turned out to be correct, and because Cano is a superstar and a Yankee and playoff bound, this one got traction.
Peter Gammons said he'd heard the rumor, and wasn't willing to dismiss them out of hand. Cano was forced to deny it. His agent Scott Boras did too. Even an MLB official came out and said there was nothing to it.
Usually, these things stay confined to the internet. But this story made the jump to mainstream, appearing in the New York papers and national outlets today. Why? Because the source wasn't some anonymous message board poster, or untraceable crowdsourced Twitter whispers, but an actual reporter.
Dan Tordjman of WSOC in Charlotte is not a sports reporter, but he is a Mets fan and describes himself on his Twitter account as a "keen observer of NY sports." And yesterday, he went on a tweet spree that was somehow as assured as it was equivocal:
Can't confirm this but I'm hearing that Robinson #Cano tested positive for PEDs. Announcement from #MLB coming shortly. #Yankees
Again, expecting announcement from #MLB w/in next few hrs that Robinson #Cano tested positive for PEDs. @incarceratedbob u hear anything?
@JayDRice Sorry man. I'm pretty sure it's true. #Cano
Come talk to me in a few hours. #Cano RT @BrianSette: @DanTordjman Stick to NASCAR and independence high school football down in Charlotte.
Take a deep breath folks. I stated I "could not confirm" the #Cano PED report. Just.a rumor. Stay tuned. #MLB
Good God. Everyone calm down. Don't know how clearly I can state it - I HAVE NO CONFIRMATION THAT CANO PED RUMOR IS TRUE.
(I would love to embed the actual Tweets, but sometime yesterday Tordjman protected his account.)
It'd be reductive (and wrong) to say that if you can't confirm something, you shouldn't report it. But either Tordjman doesn't know how ubiquitous and useless most internet rumors are, or he doesn't care and really, really wanted to be first on the off-chance it turned out to be true. Well, reporters are a jealous set when it comes to breaking news, and if they'll grudgingly give credit when scooped, they'll eagerly call you out and tear you down when you're wrong.
Of course it could turn out that Cano does get suspended, á la CSN Bay Area's Andrew Baggarly on Melky Cabrera. Which wouldn't make Tordjman any more than a blind squirrel who found a nut, but the mea culpas from those who leapt to Cano's defense should be fun.