Marlins on deck for Showtime series “The Franchise”

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UPDATE: Confirming what Variety reported last month, MLB officially announced today that the Marlins will be Showtime’s subject for this season of “The Franchise.” New episodes are expected to begin around the All-Star break.

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Last year Showtime featured the reigning World Series champion Giants on their documentary series “The Franchise” and they’re close to naming the Marlins as the subject for the show’s second season.

Jon Weisman of Variety reports that “Showtime and Major League Baseball are believed to be close to a deal” that would allow the cameras to follow the Marlins around for the season, which could be pretty amazing television considering the presence of Ozzie Guillen and Carlos Zambrano, Heath Bell and Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes and Hanley Ramirez, and Logan Morrison and his Twitter account, not to mention the new ballpark and new uniforms.

According to Weisman the series drew an average of 651,000 viewers per show last year, with eight total episodes chronicling the Giants’ unsuccessful attempt to repeat as champs.

I’m hoping following the Marlins around goes so well that Ozzie gets his own spin-off show and maybe even does some crossover guest appearances on “Shameless.” I think he’d have great chemistry with Emmy Rossum.

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.