Why is truck day such a big deal all of a sudden?

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They’ve made a mini-celebration out of “Truck Day” in Boston — that day when the semis full of gear leave Fenway and head down to Ft. Myers — for the past ten years or so. Kinda silly, but a nice enough little ceremony. Better than the groundhog as far as harbingers of spring go anyway.

This is the first year, however, where I’ve heard of other teams — or fans of other teams — making hay over their own Truck Days.  The chatter on this has been growing all week.  MLB.com has a whole article about it today, talking about various trucks leaving various parks for various spring training destinations.  Which leads me to ask two questions:

1) Has this always happened? I’ll grant that I may have missed it in the past — I’m obviously following things a lot closer this winter than I did back when I was a working stiff — but I have no memory whatsoever of anyone but the Red Sox making a big deal out of it before this year, and even then it was a really minor and relatively recent phenomenon;

2) If I’m not imagining it and it is a new thing, do we give the people at MLB credit for coming up with a new marketing/promotional thing, or do we heap scorn on them for synthesizing some phony fan event, ripping off the Red Sox or whatever?  Because I’m kind of confused about it.

Phillies owner John Middleton is in Las Vegas with Bryce Harper

Bryce Harper
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Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports that Phillies owner John Middleton flew to Las Vegas for a meeting with Bryce Harper on Friday. Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, it’s “more of a meet-and-greet than a sign-a-deal” affair, but as the club is still at the forefront of trade rumors involving the All-Star slugger, there remains a possibility (however slight) that something could be completed in the days to come.

Even now, the Phillies aren’t alone in the race to sign Harper, but recent rumors have helped whittle down the competition from five or more teams (Phillies, Nationals, White Sox, Giants, and Padres) to three strong contenders. The Giants are said to be interested in a lucrative short-term deal with the outfielder, while the Padres remain in the conversation despite inking Manny Machado to a mammoth 10-year, $300 million contract this week. It’s not yet clear just how far either team would go to outbid Philadelphia as talks with Harper intensify.

As for the Nationals and White Sox, the former officially bowed out earlier today, and MLB Network’s Jon Heyman adds that the latter won’t make a strong play for Harper as they feel the asking price and competing offers are “getting too high” for the 26-year-old’s services. If a mystery team is still in the mix, there’s been no word on their standing with Harper in the last month or so.