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Philly sports scene: Harper/Machado saga continues

I’m going to be candid with this: I’m absolutely sick of hearing about Bryce Harper and Manny Machado.

For months now, rumors have been circulating about whether or not the Philadelphia Phillies would make a move to sign one of these superstar free agents. Every day, so-called “expert” sports talk radio hosts and baseball writers come out with a new spin about where these guys are going to end up, and yet, no official signings have been made. Now here we are, about a month away from spring training, and the Phillies still haven’t made an offer to either player. I’m fed up.

This past week, the hype surrounding Harper reached a tipping point when the popular video game “MLB The Show” released a tweet on Monday saying, “You’ll want to keep an eye on this account tomorrow … just saying. Get hyped.” The tweet included a photo of Harper in a neutral white hat.

Many baseball fans and media personnel alike saw this tweet and took it to mean that Harper, the cover athlete for the game, would announce who he is signing with by simultaneously releasing the cover photo for the game depicting Harper in his team’s new digs.

By Tuesday morning, the odds-makers at the popular sports gambling site, OddsShark, and other sports books lowered the Phillies’ future odds to win the World Series from +1600 to +1200—  tied with the Chicago Cubs, Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals. Several sportsbooks in Las Vegas also took their destination bets for Harper off the board, leading people to believe that he had made his decision.

I, as well as many other people on Twitter, assumed that this meant that the bookies in Nevada knew where Harper was going to sign. That same morning, a friend of mine at work said he heard someone on 94 WISP call in and say that Nick Foles had sold his house to Harper over the weekend. I spent the entire day anxiously checking Twitter to see the reveal, only to be disappointed when MLB The Show tweeted out their big reveal, which was the game’s release date and a trailer featuring the ever chunky-hunky pitcher Bartolo Colon.

That was the final straw. If the Phillies don’t land a superstar after the ceaseless speculation dating back to last July, I won’t pay to see a single game at Citizens Bank Park in 2019.

Phillies’ owner John Middleton went on record during the beginning of the offseason and said that the organization was going to be “a little stupid” about how they spend their money. Well, Middleton, your front office has been stupid all right: stupid not to open the checkbook! With $68.9 million allocated to guaranteed contracts in 2019 out of $128.1 million dollars in total payroll, the Phillies have the financial means to sign both of these players without a doubt. Given the fact that general manager Matt Klentak can offer one of these guys up to $60 million a year for however long they want, it would be an absolute travesty if the Phillies did not get at least one of them. 

Harper is probably the best player in Major League Baseball. With baseball viewership down and the Phillies attendance numbers in a dismal state, Harper is the savior Philadelphia has been waiting for. Harper was the National League MVP in 2015, National League Rookie of the Year in 2012 and is a six time all-star. His lifetime batting average is .279 and in addition to winning the Home Run Derby last year, Harper also has 184 homeruns in his career. If Klentak can sign Harper, betting on the Phillies to win the National League would be like betting on the sun to come up. 

Bringing in Machado wouldn’t be a bad move either, but to be honest, I don’t want to hear anything about Machado until I first see a headline that reads, “Harper rejects $50 million offer to play in Philadelphia.”

Harper is a once in a generation type talent, and wherever he goes next will likely be his home for the next five to 10 years. Long and short of it, an opportunity like this rarely, if ever, comes around for an organization. I was disappointed when the 76ers weren’t able to persuade Lebron to come to Philly over Los Angeles, but I will be devastated if I don’t see Harper in red and white pin stripes come this April.

Andrew Heller is a second-year graduate student majoring in English.

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