Miami Marlins owner Jeffery Loria
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There is a mystery bidder for the Marlins

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You’ve probably heard the “Mystery Team” thing around free agent and trade deadline time. It was a term invented by Jon Heyman at the 2010 Winter Meetings in Florida. That’s when he published a rumor in Sports Illustrated that then-free agent Cliff Lee was being courted by “the Texas Rangers, New York Yankees and a third mystery team.” He added — and I am not making this up — that “the mystery team remains a mystery and is also seen as a long shot.”

That was initially seen as a joke — and by some as Heyman trying to sound plugged in when he didn’t know anything — but he showed all of them when, the very next day, Cliff Lee signed with the Phillies who were, in fact, the “Mystery Team.”  With that a meme was born, and Heyman has owned it since then, mostly ironically, but certainly as a part of his personal brand. I’ve long been critical of Heyman for a lot of things, but the “mystery team” thing is kind of fun, actually. Takes some of the seriousness out of all of this.

Heyman may be extending his brand from free agents and trade targets to owners now. He doesn’t use the phrase “mystery bidder” in his latest report today about a potential new suitor for the Miami Marlins, but he really should have:

While people involved with sale talks involving the Marlins continue to suggest that one of the two leading groups – the Derek Jeter group and the Tagg Romney-Tom Glavine group – are “most likely” to win the team through negotiation, sources suggest that at least one other viable prospect owner has entered the picture . . . The third viable owner is not known at this time.

Heyman says that, according to Rob Manfred, a new Marlins owner could be in place by the end of next month. He’s also spending some time in there beating back rumors that the Marlins’ books are a mess, but there are few details. Based on well-reported stuff from places like the Miami New Times over the years, I sort of doubt those books look great, but what do I know?

Anyway, good job on the brand extension, Jon, and good luck to whoever is going up against Jeter and Glavine. Most people in competition with those two didn’t get the best of them.

Bryce Harper defeats Kyle Schwarber 19-18 to win the 2018 Home Run Derby

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Bryce Harper, who said he was tired after taking his cuts in the first round, certainly appeared gassed in the final round. So, too, did his dad, who was throwing to him. But Harper caught fire, going on a tear and tying Kyle Schwarber with 18 home runs before time expired in the final round of the 2018 Home Run Derby. Harper unlocked 30 seconds of bonus time by hitting two home runs at least 440 feet. With his second swing in bonus time, Harper homered to straightaway center field for No. 19. He tossed his bat in celebration, grabbed his trophy, then gave it to his dad before he was mobbed on the field by his All-Star teammates.

Harper hit 13 home runs in the first round, eliminating Freddie Freeman and advancing to the semifinals. In the semis, Harper topped Max Muncy 13-12 to advance to the finals. On Schwarber’s side of the bracket, he bested Alex Bregman 16-15, then defeated Rhys Hoskins 21-20.

Harper is the first member of the Nationals (or Expos) to win the Home Run Derby. Harper participated in the 2013 Derby but finished in second place behind Yoenis Céspedes. Harper is also the first left-handed hitter to win the Derby since Prince Fielder in 2012. The only players to win the Derby in their home park are Todd Frazier in 2015 and Ryne Sandberg in 1990.

As a spectator, the 2018 Home Run Derby was tons of fun. The four-minute clock adds a lot of tension and intrigue even to the initial rounds. Seeing teammates cheer and get excited for their teammates in the Derby is really fun. Of course, watching dinger after dinger is cool, too. Can’t wait for next year.