Monday, February 11, 2019

Would MLB collusion actually push Machado and Harper into spring training without a contract?

The gates will soon burst open in Tampa, Sarasota, Bradenton and various watering holes of the Cigar City Brewery, which are by far the preferred locations for baseball talk and philosophical discourse about who is dating Pete Davidson. With days - no, hours! - before spring training begins, the number - and the names! - of unsigned MLB free agents is staggering - no, damning! Something is rotten in the state of baseball. As soon as Bob Mueller finishes unraveling the sexual attraction between Trump & Putin, he should take up the pee tapes and dick pix that have Rob Manfred controlling Hal Steinbrenner. Somebody has something going, and it's not Calgon Bath Oil Beads. Inquiring minds would like to know!

At some point, any day now, the music will stop, unleashing a frenzy of teams and players becoming tethered to each other like Ahab to Moby - the whale, not the sensitive, 90s alt-rock sensation. For Yankee fans, the fear should be stark and sinister: That Boston, which has played dead snake all winter, suddenly leaps from its basket and snatches Craig Kimbrell and another stud player - maybe a Manny or a Bryce - turning our meager, microscopic gains this winter into a grainy, tasteless mush, the kind sold at Yankee Stadium food outlets. 

If I owned the Redsocks, and I wanted to deliver a dynasty, I would thank the Yankees for sitting out the winter of 2019 - choosing the comedy team of Tulo and LeMahieu - and sign Manny Machado to play 2B. A few Boston fans would whine - that is, until Mannny's first HR against the Yankees. From then on, everybody would be fine with his dirty play and lack of hustle.

I'm sure that the Yankee brain trust feels secure that Boston will not break the secret iron-fist collusion agreement that binds all the owners together in the drive to strangle the players union. But I would never sleep on a snake-infested Redsock campsite, and as the clock approaches midnight, anything can happen.

Last winter, the Yankees sat happily in Paul Lynde's center square, congratulating themselves on the acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton, and certain that we had become faves to win the 2018 AL East. Then Boston signed JD Martinez. The rest is history.

Little did we know that the signing of Stanton meant that the Yankees were done with long-term contracts, and that Machado and Harper were no longer future options. If the front office had reported this, fans would have approached the deal with far more wariness. 

So, today, we have Gio - whose image is already being fitted into an Ellsbury picture frame. If he fails to hit, or he gets hurt, make no mistake: He will be the next Jacoby - the player who absorbs all blame for not only the front office's decisions but its calls for austerity. 

Soon, the music will stop. That's when we learn who the 2019 Yankees are. Hal Steinbrenner is right when he asks not to be judged until all the deals are made. But that time is coming. And once it's hear, judgement might not be pretty. 

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