You have to work extra hard to hate on A-Rod these days

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I don’t know why I read Lupica, but I do. I suppose there’s no helping me and that I get everything I deserve. Today’s is fun, though. It’s basically a scene-setter, focusing on A-Rod battling his former team, the Texas Rangers.

What makes it fun? The way in which Lupica tries to paint A-Rod as one of the people who “sent the Rangers into bankruptcy,” before nothing that, well, he wasn’t the only one [note: A-Rod has zero responsibility for that; if Tom Hicks offered you that crazy money, you’d take it too and if Tom Hicks hadn’t otherwise mismanaged his affairs the Rangers could have afforded it].  The way that Lupica feels it necessary to reference  A-Rod’s postseason woes before mentioning that, actually, he’s been outrageously clutch in recent years. You can tell that he’s disappointed that he can’t write this up as “Greedy A-Rod seeks redemption.” Despite the fact that he’s already won rings and MVPs and, for whatever quirks and issues he has, has been a fantastic baseball player who has now played longer in New York than he did anywhere else. Query: is he even a True Yankee yet?

Whatever. I hate storylines. I hate the manufacturing of interpersonal drama. It’s baseball. What’s so hard about looking at this series in those terms?

Bryce Harper will not be discussing his impending free agency with the media

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Bryce Harper is entering his walk year and it is widely expected that the Scott Boras client will, indeed, test out free agency next fall rather than engage in any substantial way with the Washington Nationals about a contract extension. There were some “casual conversations” between the parties in the early fall of 2017, but the Nats came away from that, quite reasonably, believing that Harper, who stands to land the largest contract in baseball history, will shop around.

For his part, Harper met the media on his first day of spring training workouts and let everyone know that, no, he does not plan to answer questions about his potential free agency every day between now and November. From MASN:

“Just want to let you guys know I will not be discussing anything relative to 2019, at all,” said Harper. “I’m focused on this year. I’m focused on winning and playing hard, like every single year. So if you guys have any questions about anything after 2018, you can call Scott and he can answer you guys.”

Makes sense. The alternative would be for Harper to give the same canned “I’m only focused on our next game” responses in front of his locker 150 times this summer, and that doesn’t serve anyone.

Thinking back to any other impending free agent’s comments about his free agency, I can’t remember a story along those lines which was worth much of anything. The genre generally consists of headlines which oversell an innocuous or offhand comment from a player as a means of guessing where his head is at with respect to his current team. I can’t think of any story in which a player, during his walk year, said something that concretely and definitively signaled his intensions in free agency one way or the other.

Reporters covering the Nationals who are curious as to how Harper feels about his current team at any given time would be better served just observing and inferring, with particular attention paid to how Harper and his teammates view the Nats’ competitive position as the season goes on, how they react to trades and stuff like that. There’s a lot of guesswork in all of that, but it sure beats trying to get a media savvy player like Harper to admit, after going 1-for-4 against the Phillies, where he plans to spend the next seven to ten years of his professional life.