Baseball: it’s better than killing Osama bin Laden

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The problem with the playoffs is that there’s only, like, one or two games a night and after you talk about them you sort of have to wait around all day for more games.

If you’re like me, you kill that time by reading a bunch of articles in which people who never ever write or even really think much about baseball try to put it into some sort of larger context.  Is it still the national pastime? Is it still the American game? Will it still take our people out-of- doors, fill them with oxygen and give them a larger physical stoicism?  That sort of thing.

Most of them these days come down on the side of baseball being only slightly more relevant to the American scene than phonograph needles and liberty cabbage because football is rich, modern and savage and all of the the things Americans are in the early 21st century (at least the 1% who control everything anyway).  That’s OK. We see what we want to see in these things, and if a lot of people draw such conclusions there’s probably some core truth to it.

Still, I’m a total baseball homer, so I like to see the articles that find some argument for the continued relevance or even the supremacy of baseball.  Even if they contain weird comparisons and analogies that distract you from reading the rest of the piece because they’re just so jarring:

Football is more popular and has more money; basketball attracts more young sports fans … Yet baseball’s magic, on view in the playoffs, excites and rejuvenates an angry and dispirited American citizenry as almost nothing else — even killing Osama bin Laden — can.

Got that? Baseball: more uplifting and rejuvenating than a black ops mission designed to terminate an enemy of the state with extreme prejudice.

Ah, who cares? I’ll take it. Score one for baseball!

The Orioles seem pretty serious about moving Manny Machado

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Orioles third baseman Manny Machado will become a free agent after the 2018 season and there has been no suggestion that the O’s and their young star have worked on a contract extension, strongly suggesting that Machado will test the open market next offseason.

While the Orioles have not said much about keeping him or trading him, yesterday considerable chatter filtered out here at the Winter Meetings suggests that they are serious about trading him now in order to get more than a draft pick in return when he eventually leaves Baltimore.

Jon Heyman reported yesterday that the Cardinals were a possible landing spot, and others have speculated that, at the moment, they’re the frontrunners for his services. Buster Olney, in a development that would make people go insane, I suspect, that the Yankees have expressed interest. It seems highly unlikely, though, that the Orioles would trade Machado within the division. Even if they did, they’d likely expect a premium from the Yankees that they would be unwilling to pay, especially given that they could easily wait Machado out until he was a free agent next year and give up nothing but cash for him. A couple of days ago we noted that the Phillies had expressed interest and the Orioles were doing their due diligence with respect to their farm system.

As far as the possible parameters of a deal, Ken Rosenthal reported that the O’s hope to acquire at least two controllable young starters in return. That’s a high price for a one-year Machado rental, but it makes sense for the Orioles to ask it. For Machado’s part, he reportedly wants to return to his original position, shortstop. He does not have no-trade protection, of course, so that may be a wish that is not fulfilled.

Machado had a down 2017, hitting .259/.310/.471, but still hit 33 homers and drove in 95 runs. In the two years prior, however, he posted OPSs of .876 and .861, and he’s still just 25. All of which is to say that the price for a team to acquire him will be high, even if he’s entering his walk year.