Two men obsessed with Mike Piazza-as-a-Marlin collectibles

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Mike Piazza played five games and amassed 19 plate appearances as a Florida Marlin. But such are the things from which obsessions are borne. From Ken Belson of the New York Times:

One is a corporate lawyer from Southern California with few hobbies and only the mildest interest in sports. The other is a college student from Miami who is less than half his age and has amassed a stash of memorabilia that matches his love of baseball. Yet from opposite ends of the country they share one peculiar passion: collecting trading cards of Mike Piazza in a Florida Marlins uniform.

That’s like collecting only Delaney & Bonnie-era Eric Clapton stuff. Or focusing intently on John Tyler’s vice presidency. Neat, I suppose, but says more about the enthusiast than the object of the enthusiasm.

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?