We cover the PED stuff pretty heavily because it’s news and that’s what we do. But I know a lot of you are sick of it. Maybe so sick of it that your overall view of baseball is soured. If so that’s unfortunate, because as Jonah Keri reminds us, baseball is flippin’ sweet at the moment:
There’s a lot more to love than to hate this season, as there is every season. For every player likely to be suspended this year, there are 10 more doing extraordinary things. For every team that could see its pennant chances affected by the Biogenesis case’s undertow, there are five more with amazing stories to tell. In short, baseball is fun as hell right now.
Jonah goes over the stories that are going underreported: the Pirates’ ongoing dream season. Ed Lucas. Yasiel Puig. Mike Trout somehow doing it again. Cabrera and Davis. I’ll add another thing to that list: we are seeing absolutely wonderful pitching performances every single night. Actually, five or six of them each night. I don’t think people are really grasping how much good pitching is going down these days.
Maybe those aren’t all underreported. But they certainly have been cast to the side in the past week or two. And while Biogenesis suspensions are going to continue to dominate the news for a while, they don’t tell the entire story of the 2013 season. That stuff never does. Because baseball is cool and is bigger and better than that.
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?