Guess the naked baseball player from the cover of ESPN the Magazine

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ESPN the Magazine’s answer to the SI Swimsuit issue is its annual “Body Issue.”  Which is at least more honest than the Swimsuit Issue is in its intentions of giving you beef and/or cheesecake. I mean, it’s been a while since I read the Swimsuit Issue, but back in the day they had the prices of the swimsuits next to the pictures, as if anyone was reading it for the latest swimwear fashions.

Anyway, ESPN is also upfront about its desire to sell a bunch of magazines with this, so it makes multiple covers to appeal to multiple sport and/or softcore porn buying constituencies. There are covers with men, some with women, some with football players, some with basketball, etc.

The cropped pic I feature here is from the baseball player. Guess who it is.  When you give up, go here for the full monty, er, I mean the full picture and the answer.

Baseball comes back Friday, folks. Bear with us until then.

Rob Manfred blames Bryce Harper for going unsigned

Bryce Harper
Mark Brown/Getty Images
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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?