Ben Zobrist left yesterday’s game with back spasms. But before the Rays could get that information out, one prankster on Twitter set off a firestorm that left media members “from Seattle to Tampa Bay” thinking Zobrist had been traded.

It started when somebody, who apparently sits next to the Rays dugout, claimed on Twitter to see Zobrist hugging teammates in the dugout after being pulled from the game. This was not seen on either team’s television broadcast, and it was not mentioned by any media members or broadcasters. But the interpretation was that Zobrist had been traded and was saying goodbye.

The prankster later admitted he never saw any hugs. And normally, that might have been the end of things. But this is where the dumb reached the hilarious.

Before coming clean, at least two writers at a Rays fan blog had passed along the fake news as if it were fact and even vouched for the guy as a good source.

That’s when two trusted writers, Jonah Keri of and a writer for, saw the tweets from the Rays bloggers, and in turn, passed along the information to their readers, appearing to reach the conclusion that Zobrist had been traded…

From Keri:

If the Rays have actually struck a Ben Zobrist deal (hugging guys, etc), given his contract/ability, it better be for something really good.

From Mike Axisa:

Ben Zobrist was just taken out of the game and is hugging dudes in the dugout. Something may be up.

At this point, according to Buster Olney of, the Zobrist hug “set off cell phones from Seattle to Tampa Bay,” and the trade rumor was everywhere, including sports radio.

There was just one problem. There were never any hugs. The Rays finally told everybody Zobrist was removed from the game because of back spasms. The above writers retracted their comments. And the rest of us, including Zobrist himself, had a good laugh.



  1. SeanDubbs says:

    This was the tweet that started it all. From a season ticket holder whose seats look right into the Rays dugout. He got us all.

    • Sarah says:

      So was this fan messing with us, or did he really think he'd seen some sort of hugfest?

      • SeanDubbs says:

        He went on to tweet that he made it up and got us all. He's known for constantly tweeting what's going on in the dugout but this is the first time (that I know of) that it wasn't true.

  2. Amanda says:

    "At this point, according to Buster Olney of, the Zobrist hug 'set off cell phones from Seattle to Tampa Bay,' and the trade rumor was everywhere, including sports radio."

    HAHAHAHAHAHA. Hey Olney ... I learned in J-school that you're supposed to verify that something actually happened before you report it, especially if it comes from an unfamiliar source, such as, oh, someone you don't know. It would have taken you one call to the GM to find out if the hug, or any of this nonsense, actually happened. But no: You valued speed over accuracy. But that's what I expect from ESPN, and why I haven't watched it's news programming since 1997.

    Thanks for posting this Cork ... I needed a good laugh. I was blacked out from the Rays coverage on, and the Orioles had their B broadcast team in, so it was practically unwatchable. I had no clue that any of this happened, except when I checked in once, and they said that Zobrist left with back spasms. They didn't mention anything else.

  3. petethehat says:

    Woulda been a sin, Zo has given everything for this team... hate to lose him!

  4. rich says:

    So where did all the "prognosticators" have Zobrist going to??


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