I am writing this in the evening of February 6, 2019 and Bryce Harper and Manny Machado are still free agents.
After a long night of #108ing at the #fromthe108 and #soxmachine soxfest after party I attended the Saturday morning Rick Hahn / Rick Renteria session regarding the upcoming season. I listened intently for any clue as to Harper and / or Machado news. At the end of the session I felt there were a couple of messages that were clearly communicated. The first is that the White Sox were not going to sign both players, which any real fan already knew. The second message is the sticking point to me. Rick Hahn mentioned that he would be disappointed if they were unable to land one of the big two free agents. I took this to be “doubling down” on their efforts to land one. I was feeling exhilarated walking out of the session.
The more I thought about this the more I started thinking about other comments, some made in an off the cuff passing manner. The one that sticks out to me is that the Sox are in the ballgame and how it’s a great step for the franchise when they weren’t even in the top 6 in Vegas at the beginning of the offseason. This statement stuck with me, but I could not put my finger on what it was about this statement that bothered me. Then I read a tweet from my friend Bill Demantes. He was quoted in the Tribune talking about the Rick Hahn double speak, and it hit me. Was this not “doubling down” but laying the groundwork for the Sox if, or when, Machado and Harper sign with other teams? Was the victory in this not signing the player, but being “at the table”?
I hope that Machado or Harper do sign with the team. I have written about how the organization needs a jolt from signing a player of this caliber, in particular Bryce Harper, but I cannot escape thinking about this after reading Bill’s excellent summation.
Is Rick Hahn talking about a “morale” victory, which in the context of this is the losers lament, in my opinion. It would be one thing if Harper and Machado are blown away by “stupid money” but given the fact that it is February 6th and neither has signed yet I do not think that has happened. It is also obvious that the White Sox are not Manny Machado’s first choice. They are the safety date for prom in case the one that he wants to ask him out, The Yankees, don’t. When you lost 190+ games the last two years that should be expected.
The White Sox make it very hard to be a fan of this franchise at times. They are in the 3rd largest market in the country. They have a sweetheart stadium deal. There is NO EXCUSE for this franchise not dominating the AL Central when the other team markets are much smaller in comparison. There is no excuse for the fact that this team has NEVER made back to back playoff appearances when every other team in the division, all smaller markets too, have.
Morale victories? This division is there for the taking. The Indians are basically mocking the other teams in the division with considering trading Kluber or Bauer. They aren’t afraid of any of these franchises. The White Sox organization should take this for the slap in the face that it is and be embarrassed about it. It is there for the taking but my concern is that the team will be satisfies with a morale victory. If the team were to look closely, they would see that a large part of their attendance issues come from their desire for morale victories, not actual ones.
The time for morale victories has passed, it’s time for actual victories in the front office and on the field.