Major League Baseball’s Hot Stove is broken and no team seems particularly interested in reaching in there and fiddling with the pilot light. Ergo, the biggest names on the free-agent market sit by the phone, waiting in vain to hear it ring, living out the worst fears of the Babysitters Club.
The two biggest, of course, are Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. Every day brings a new rumor, but no action. It’s beginning to feel like Groundhog Day as pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training. Eventually, some team will pull the trigger. They have to, right?
One thing to come out of this is an amazing stat regarding Machado. He has now been a free agent, out on the open market, longer than he was a Los Angeles Dodger. He was traded on July 18 and the World Series ended October 28, a span of 101 days. One hundred eight days have elapsed since the Red Sox hoisted the trophy.
Whispers of collusion and the widespread realization that the system isn’t working is not good for baseball. That’s clear. This interminable uncertainty has managed to last so long that it voided a potentially contrarian take I harbored for awhile.
Big, splashy signings occurring in the usual timeframe delight a single fanbase. There was some validity to the notion that the speculation allowed more fans to dream and have some excitement for the possibility that Harper or Machado would be coming to town.
That’s in the rearview mirror now. Any fever has reduced to a low-grade sense of dread. It’s tough to keep people — even hardcore baseball fans — interested in this drama month after month.
This saga is tired and hemorrhaging any type of currency in the broader sporting world. Even in this awkward post-Super Bowl, pre-March Madness stretch, there’s no buzz.
Leave it to baseball to look a gift horse — two young marketable stars with drama — in the mouth and do nothing with it.