Twelve hours to spring training: 1976

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A fantastic road trip story from former major league journeyman pitcher John D’Acquisto. He tells of the twelve hours before reporting to spring training for the Giants in 1976. He, John Montefusco and Randy Moffitt in a Porche, racing to make it from Foster City, California to Phoenix in time to report to camp.

I picked up Moffitt at his place. Randy’s wife came out to see us off. I threw his bag in the trunk and handed him the keys for the long journey. With our history of aggressive driving, the willingness to air out these badass sports cars, and hell, just the general testosterone of dudes under 25, all the wives thought we were out of our minds to drive to Arizona. Count and Ed had followed us to Moff’s house as we mapped out the race. Moff and I shared a quick laugh watching the six-foot-seven Halicki trying to pack himself into Count’s Porsche.

“How’s that big son of a bitch gonna get himself in,” Moff laughed, scratching his head as he opened the driver’s side door to my car.

Along the way there is fast driving. There is silliness. There is also a pretty deep contemplation of how quickly youth is lost and how uncertain even the most seemingly cocksure young jocks can be.

Great story.

(link via BTF)

BREAKING: Manny Machado to sign with the Padres: 10 years, $300 million

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Jeff Passan of ESPN reports that Manny Machado has a deal with the San Diego Padres. Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reports that the deal is for ten years and $300 million with an opt-out after year five.

At the moment there is some disagreement as to how “done” this deal is, with Padres chairman Ron Fowler saying “We do not have a deal. We are continuing discussions.” Ken Rosenthal, however, says that’s “semantics” and that the financial terms are in place, with the deal requiring over some final touches on language and Machado’s physical, which will likely be a formality.

The Padres were a late entrant into the Machado sweepstakes, but they reportedly met with Machado last week. The club has obviously not won for a long time, but they have a strong farm system. While that usually mitigates against a big free agent signing, Machado’s age — 26 — means that he’s still likely to be a productive player when that core of prospects is mature. And if it doesn’t develop, hey, he’s made some serious bank and can still opt-out at an age when he might get another decent paycheck.

For the Padres, Machado represents the biggest single investment in a player in club history. Last year they spent too, of course, giving Eric Hosmer an eight-year, $144 million contract, but this is definitely next-level. As for the baseball side of things, it’s likely that Machado will be the full-time third baseman with Luis Urias handling shortstop. While all of the talk about Machado over the past several months has been focused on money and, sometimes, his alleged lack of hustle, the Padres are getting a player with a career line of .282/.335/.487 (121 OPS+), 175 career homers and a 33.8 career WAR in seven big league seasons. While he played shortstop last year and as a minor leaguer, his past and future is at third, where he is a superior defender. As for the hustle: it has almost exclusively been an obsession of the media, based on an ill-advised postgame quote in October. He has received no bad reviews from former teammates, all of whom speak highly of his game and his work ethic.

When the offseason began it appeared that the Phillies or the Yankees or, perhaps, the White Sox had the inside track on Machado. Everyone took a wait-and-see approach, reasonably believing that by waiting out Machado, a better deal could be struck. The risk of that approach, of course, is that it allowed the Padres to talk themselves into getting bold and, ultimately, swooping in to strike this deal.