One more thought on Brian Wilson

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The George Lopez Show stuff from the last post inspired an offline conversation with someone who wondered whether people might think that Brian Wilson has gone overboard or jumped the shark or whatever.

To this I have to offer an emphatic no.  Wilson may be completely over the top, but I don’t get the sense that he’s putting on some act simply to get noticed.  I get the sense that he is truly a goofball, and is simply enjoying himself now that he’s learned that people don’t mind it when he lets his freak flag fly.  It would be totally different if he was a phony who was out to get attention.  I don’t see that at all.

Not that this will stop someone — be it a blogger, columnist, radio show host or whoever — from soon declaring the shark jumped.  That’s just what we do.  Indeed, when Brian Wilson loses effectiveness as a closer — as all closers inevitably do — I am 100% certain that someone will write the “perhaps Brian Wilson should have been working on his game more than his act” column.  And when I read it I’ll die inside a little.

By its very nature — by virtue of the development process and the kinds of guys who are drawn to it — baseball lends itself to way more conformity than other sports.  The stuff Bouton described in “Ball Four” wasn’t just a 1950s-era hangover.  There’s a big premium placed on not sticking out. There are more coaches who are ex-players who — accurately or not — will say that when they played things were “done the right way” or whatever.  As a result I get why ballplayers are more conservative than their NBA or NFL counterparts.

But there are hundreds of normal workaday ballplayers in the game.  There’s usually only one Bill Lee, Mark Fydrich, Jose Lima or Brian Wilson going at any given time.  When one of them comes along and adds some color, our lives are better for it.

I hope no one gets their nose out of joint over the George Lopez thing. Or the Showtime Series featuring the Giants that will air later this year.  Even if it’s too much for some, it’s enjoyable as hell for a lot of us, so let’s just let it be, OK?

Rob Manfred blames Bryce Harper for going unsigned

Bryce Harper
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Commissioner Rob Manfred spoke with the media today. Naturally, he was asked various questions about the landscape of the sport, given that superstars Manny Machado and Bryce Harper remain unsigned as spring training begins. Per The Athletic’s Brittany Ghiroli, Manfred said that he thinks the free agent market will begin to move once spring training exhibition games begin. Manfred also said that Harper’s camp suggesting that he wants $400 million back in 2016 was “an impediment” to discussions throughout the offseason.

No word on why Machado is also as yet unsigned, as he did not have a reported $400 million ask.

Manfred’s job is to look out for ownership, so it’s not surprising to see him point the finger at Harper. Consider:

Manfred’s comment comes just months after the Red Sox won 108 regular season games and the World Series with baseball’s largest payroll. And ongoing evidence that there is indeed a positive correlation between dollars spent and team success. We often hear justification for tanking/rebuilding because the Cubs and Astros did it and won championships because of it. When the Red Sox use financial muscle to win a championship, it’s crickets.

Manfred didn’t stop there, however.

An easy way to get baseball’s “glow” back would be for two of the game’s best and most popular players to be in uniform playing games. The first spring training exhibition game will be played on February 22, so it’s not looking like that’s going to happen anytime soon.

Baseball’s “glow” would also come back if more teams were actively trying to win. Instead, one-third of the league is “rebuilding” or otherwise coasting on revenue-sharing. For fans of the Rangers, Orioles, Royals, and Marlins — to name a few — the outcomes of their favorite teams’ seasons have already been decided, so what is there to get excited about?