Latest on Manny Machado, Bryce Harper

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As the hot stove barely takes the chill off of this frigid offseason, let’s check in on the two blue chip free agents who remain unemployed:

  • Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports that the Phillies are expected to make another offer to Manny Machado this week. We do not know what the previous offer was and, while one presumes that Machado countered or another team also made Machado an offer because only morons bid against themselves, we don’t know the terms of that stuff either. It all remains a mystery, but as Salisbury reports, the Phillies seem more jazzed for Machado than Harper;
  • The White Sox have reportedly made an offer to Machado. The Yankees too, though as Ken Davidoff writes today, it’s thought to be something of a lowball deal, at least in terms of contract length. Davidoff mentions five-years, $130 million, but it’s not clear if he’s just speculating or if that’s what someone has told him. Either way, it sounds like New York’s interest is good on the average annual value but poor on the length and guaranteed dollars;
  • Even if they are more jazzed about Machado, the Phillies have a meeting with Bryce Harper scheduled for this Saturday in Las Vegas. Unlike the Winter Meetings confab between Scott Boras and Philly GM Matt Klentak, this is an all-hands-on-deck thing, with the Phillies owner, team president Andy MacPhail, Klentak, Gabe Kapler and, most importantly, Bryce Harper himself. Know what? If I was interested in Harper, I’d probably let it slip to the media that I was more jazzed about Machado too for negotiation purposes. Just throwing that out there!

Given that there’s a Saturday meeting, it seems obvious that Harper won’t sign anywhere this week. No one knows with Machado, but given that there are offers out there, it could happen whenever.

Now if you excuse me, I’m off to have these third-degree hot stove burns treated. Just scorching stuff. Wear oven mitts, kids.

Biden praises Braves’ ‘unstoppable, joyful run’ to 2021 win

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said the Atlanta Braves will be “forever known as the upset kings of October” for their improbable 2021 World Series win, as he welcomed the team to the White House for a victory celebration.

Biden called the Braves’ drive an “unstoppable, joyful run.” The team got its White House visit in with just over a week left before the 2022 regular season wraps up and the Major League Baseball playoffs begin again. The Braves trail the New York Mets by 1.5 games in the National League East but have clinched a wildcard spot for the MLB playoffs that begin Oct. 7. Chief Executive Officer Terry McGuirk said he hoped they’d be back to the White House again soon.

In August 2021, the Braves were a mess, playing barely at .500. But then they started winning. And they kept it up, taking the World Series in six games over the Houston Astros.

Biden called their performance of “history’s greatest turnarounds.”

“This team has literally been part of American history for over 150 years,” said Biden. “But none of it came easy … people counting you out. Heck, I know something about being counted out.”

Players lined up on risers behind Biden, grinning and waving to the crowd, but the player most discussed was one who hasn’t been on the team in nearly 50 years and who died last year: Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

Hammerin’ Hank was the home run king for 33 years, dethroning Babe Ruth with a shot to left field on April 8, 1974. He was one of the most famous players for Atlanta and in baseball history, a clear-eyed chronicler of the hardships thrown his way – from the poverty and segregation of his Alabama youth to the racist threats he faced during his pursuit of one of America’s most hallowed records. He died in January at 86.

“This is team is defined by the courage of Hank Aaron,” Biden said.

McGuirk said Aaron, who held front office positions with the team and was one of Major League Baseball’s few Black executives, was watching over them.

“He’d have been there every step of the way with us if he was here,” McGuirk added.

The president often honors major league and some college sports champions with a White House ceremony, typically a nonpartisan affair in which the commander in chief pays tribute to the champs’ prowess, poses for photos and comes away with a team jersey.

Those visits were highly charged in the previous administration. Many athletes took issue with President Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric on policing, immigration and more. Trump, for his part, didn’t take kindly to criticism from athletes or their on-field expressions of political opinions.

Under Biden, the tradition appears to be back. He’s hosted the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks and Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the White House. On Monday he joked about first lady Jill Biden’s Philadelphia allegiances.

“Like every Philly fan, she’s convinced she knows more about everything in sports than anybody else,” he said. He added that he couldn’t be too nice to the Atlanta team because it had just beaten the Phillies the previous night in extra innings.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was later questioned about the team’s name, particularly as other professional sports teams have moved away from names – like the Cleveland Indians, now the Guardians, and the Washington Redskins, now the Commanders – following years of complaints from Native American groups over the images and symbols.

She said it was important for the country to have the conversation. “And Native American and Indigenous voices – they should be at the center of this conversation,” she said.

Biden supported MLB’s decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to protest Georgia’s sweeping new voting law, which critics contend is too restrictive.