Happy New Year! Well, not really.
You know how I expected to spend New Years Day? I expected to spend the day scouring the internet for the best price on a brand new Manny Machado or Bryce Harper Phillies jersey. I thought I’d spend some time coming up with possible lineup combinations for the 2019 team that included one of the free agent superstars. (or even both!) Instead, I spent the holiday reading reports about who follows who on Instagram, and whether Nick Foles or Carson Wentz should be the Eagles’ quarterback of the future. (To be fair, I’m pretty sure that neither Harper nor Machado would have done much to stave off those stories.)
Do you know why my holiday was filled with such disappointment? Because neither Machado nor Harper had agreed to contract terms with the Phillies. At the time, I assumed the reason they hadn’t signed them was because the team obviously hates me, you, and every other fan of the team.
Perhaps my expectations were set too high. Perhaps this is really my fault for having an unrealistic vision of how this offseason was going to go. In my defense, that’s what happens when a team spends three years heavily hinting that they’re just biding their time until the 2019 offseason when they’re going to go after every free agent on the market.
And maybe I shouldn’t have taken the owner’s talk of spending stupid money the wrong way. Apparently, “stupid” means signing an above average free agent outfielder and a solid reliever to reasonably-priced deals. It doesn’t seem to mean going the extra mile (and contract years) to bring in free agent pitchers like Patrick Corbin, J.A. Happ, Charlie Morton, or Andrew Miller. And it certainly doesn’t mean making an offer that Machado or Harper simply can’t refuse.
Over the past few days, I began to experience a change of heart. (If nothing else, life as a Phillies fan has caused me to hold onto hope even when all logic says none should exist.) I began to consider the possibility that the Phillies don’t actually hate their fans. I began to believe that the reason the Phillies haven’t signed Macharper (h/t John Stolnis) yet is because they love us so much.
That may seem counter-intuitive, but bear with me: Many Phillies fans are also fan of the Eagles - a team that happens to be the reigning Super Bowl champions. While the Eagles have qualified for the NFL playoffs, as their conference’s sixth seed, the chances of winning another title seem remote.
When the Eagles’ inevitable defeat finally arrives, most sports fans in Philadelphia are going to have to come to grips with the fact that they no longer cheer for the reigning champions. Knowing the fans of Philadelphia, they aren’t going to take this very well. They’ll likely turn to the city’s other sports teams for solace.
The Flyers aren’t going to make anyone feel much better about anything right now, and while the Sixers are playoff-bound, they still look to be a few pieces short of title contention. That leaves a huge void in our hopeful hearts that the Phillies could easily fill with news of a free agent signing (or two).
As long as the Eagles remain alive, we can count on Nick Foles to buoy our spirits. But once his magic finally wears off, I fully expect news of a Machado or Harper signing to come just a few days (if not hours) later.
So fear not, Phillies fans. The failure to sign Macharper isn’t due to those players preferring to go elsewhere, or because the team isn’t offering enough money. It’s simply because the Phillies care about you and your mental well being. That’s one classy organization!