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On Wilmer Flores, the Mets and developing news

Mets shortstop Wilmer Flores looks on in the

Mets shortstop Wilmer Flores looks on in the dugout during a game against the San Diego Padres the game on Wednesday, July 29, 2015 at Citi Field. Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

Fifteen years into a new century with a more aggressive, fast-moving media culture, growing pains are inevitable, and sometimes feelings can get hurt. That is the reality of competitive journalism and the price of being a public figure.

So, sure, it had to be difficult on young Babe Ruth to pick up The New York Times on Feb. 3, 1915, and read an account from the American League meetings that reported, "as usual, the air was full of rumors of trades."

One had the Red Sox dealing one of two lefthanded pitchers, either Ruth -- then three days shy of his 20th birthday -- or Vean Gregg to the Yankees after New York scout Joe Kelley had "returned yesterday from a mysterious trip."

We don't know whether the Babe cried that day, but we do know neither man was traded that winter. So much for trade rumors. And so much for the notion that this century is all that different from the previous one.

Yes, young Wilmer Flores was done wrong Wednesday night by the Mets and the news media in a scene that would not have been possible in 2005, let alone 1915.

It was dramatic and ridiculous, a voyage into the funhouse mirror.

In 1977, the Mets traded Tom Seaver, then he cried. In 2015, Wilmer Flores cried, then the Mets did not trade him.

But did anyone really do anything wrong?

Well, OK, the Mets did. Not keeping manager Terry Collins in the loop on a potential trade with the Brewers was inexplicable and made it impossible for him to keep things under some semblance of control.

But reporters did what they do and have done since before 1915 -- share what they know when they know it. And fans did what they now can do thanks to the ubiquity of smartphones: follow the news in real time -- and, in this case, share it with the guy it affected most.

Is there a lesson to be learned from an incident that landed poor Wilmer on the back pages of all three New York tabloids, a rare day on which they all used the same back-page headline? (It was "Crying Shame," for those scoring at home.)

Maybe. Journalists have to be more careful than ever in how they share information -- and in how they characterize unfolding stories -- knowing the public will run with it on social media. And fans, too, have to be patient as they consume news that still is developing.

Anyway, that's what I will tell my journalism class at the community college when I retire. The real world is more complicated than that.

As for Collins complaining about how a lot of fans come to games and bury their heads in cellphones . . . good luck trying to stop that.

Twitter has been around since 2006 and the iPhone since 2007. Deal with it. Especially you, Sandy Alderson.

Speaking of Collins, there is one area in which things were different during that Ruth trade rumor. The Times reported that manager Bill Carrigan had been fully informed of the pending deal and was en route to New York to complete it.

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