Comment of the Day: We live for baseball gossip!

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My half-baked “Metafans” idea from this morning is being better received than I thought it would.  I knew I should have (a) put it in a book proposal; (b) cashed an advance check; and (c) never written the book and than changed my identity.  Way easier than working for a living, ya know? Because, as everyone knows, books about esoteric baseball-related subjects bring forth tremendous advances.  I’d ask Rob Neyer about it, but he’s too busy swimming in piles of book cash to listen.

Anyway, I’ve received a couple of comments like this one from reader nyetjones:

[W]hat you call meta-fandom seems also integral to fandom itself. Maybe not the world series posters, baseball cards and strat-o-matic playing, but certainly things outside the game itself – e.g. DUI stories, contract disputes, hall-of-fame arguments – imbue the sport with meaning. I think the game in abstract, absent these external stories, would be way less enjoyable for a lot of people.

If you pay attention, it’s amazing how much of the coverage of sports could be construed as so much sewing circle gossip. It gets dressed in terms of “distractions” or “affecting team chemistry,” but ultimately it seems to point to a required interest in the players-as-people and not just baseball machines. How much of the commentary about Milton Bradley is strictly worried with how much his off-field troubles affect the games in which he plays, and how much is just a buzzing, tantalizing tale that gives him sone humanity, however flawed?

I think it’s a lot of the latter, and we’re not always that aware of it and/or willing to admit it.

I can tell you, based on the traffic numbers for this site and others for which I’ve written, the stuff surrounding the game is just as much if not more popular than the actual baseball content.  It’s not a representative sample, no, because people who read HBT are here willingly and presumably like the stuff we write about anyway.  But there are enough of you to convince me that — yeah — people are interested in the sewing circle stuff too.

Inded, it’s why I’ve always laughed when a commenter tries to insult me by calling me a gossip columnist. I don’t deny it for a second.  We just happen to disagree on the value of gossip, that’s all.

Phillies, Red Sox interested in Carlos Santana

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The Phillies and Red Sox appear intent on pursuing free agent first baseman Carlos Santana, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports. Santana rejected a one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Indians on Thursday and is expected to draw widespread interest on the market this winter. The Mets, Mariners, Angels and Indians could make a play for the infielder, though no serious offers have been made this early in the offseason.

Santana, 31, is coming off of a seven-year track with the Indians. He batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and 3.0 fWAR last season, making 2017 the fourth-most valuable year of his career to date. Although he was primarily stationed at first base over the last year, he could step back into a hybrid first base/DH role with the Red Sox, who are hurting for infield depth with Hanley Ramirez still working his way back from shoulder surgery.

As for Santana’s other suitors, the Mariners are far less likely to pursue a deal after trading for Ryon Healy last Wednesday. Neither the Mets nor the Phillies have a DH spot to offer the veteran infielder, and the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins appears to be blocking the way at first base. Then again, Santana may not find a more enticing offer outside of Cleveland, where Edwin Encarnacion might otherwise be the club’s best option at first base. During the GM meetings, Indians’ GM Mike Chernoff said he “love to have both [Santana and Jay Bruce] back” in 2018, but hasn’t backed up that love with any contract talks just yet.