Given a choice between the two, I would prefer Bryce Harper over Manny Machado. I have explained the reasons ad nauseum and, hopefully, please, please, please one of the two will sign with a new team soon in order to stop the speculation madness. Manny, you promised you’d come to a decision after the New Year and, just in case you missed the glitzy ball drop in the Big Apple, it’s 2019.

Make up your mind already. You have grown men reading Tweet leaves trying to figure out what you’re going to do.

Uh, oh, he’s following the YES Network on Instagram. That must mean he’s about to sign with the Yankees. Wait a second, the Yankees have signed the oft-injured but incredibly talented Troy Tulowitzki. Maybe that means Manny is leaning toward the Phillies.

It has been clear for some time that the Phillies’ first choice is Machado and it’s safe to assume they have an offer on the table. It will not be the end of the world if Machado pledges his allegiance to the Yankees or stuns us all and signs with the Chicago White Sox, where he would become teammates with his brother-in-law Yonder Alonso.

In fact, if Machado does make up his mind in the near future and opts to go somewhere other than Philadelphia, it would open the door for the Phillies to go hard after Harper. NBC Sports Philadelphia reported that the Phillies plan to meet with Harper out in Las Vegas in the near future. Of course, there is also speculation that neither Machado nor Harper really wants to play in Philadelphia.

Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer of the Baltimore Orioles ripped free-agent infielder Manny Machado when he did not run out a ground ball during the 2018 NLCS.
Associated Press
Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer of the Baltimore Orioles ripped free-agent infielder Manny Machado when he did not run out a ground ball during the 2018 NLCS.

In theory, all this Hot Stove publicity is good for baseball, but at some point you have to wonder if people are growing tired of waiting to find out where these players are going to get their “stupid” money. MLB cannot compete with the NFL on its best day and pro football is about to begin the best tournament in sports.

Please forgive the mild rant. Let’s get back to the subject of Machado. While it sure sounds as if his dream scenario is to play in the navy blue pinstripes, there also seems to be a sentiment among a lot of Phillies fans that they could care less if Machado ever plays a home game at Citizens Bank Park.

That, too, is stupid.

Much of it is fueled by Machado’s turbulent postseason during which he became forever known as “Johnny Hustle” and was also called a “dirty player” by National League MVP Christian Yelich after clipping the ankle of Milwaukee first baseman Jesus Aguilar in Game 5 of the NLCS.

The social media attacks against Machado were relentless with the most noteworthy coming from Baltimore TV analyst Jim Palmer, the Hall of Fame pitcher for the Orioles who watched Machado play his entire career before being traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers last season.

Plenty of people have piled on Machado since, but let’s make this a local story. Which Phillies superstar in recent history was most often criticized for a lack of hustle? Hint: Google Jimmy Rollins and lack of hustle.

Now answer these questions: Do you remember Rollins more for his lack of hustle or for being the best shortstop in franchise history? Would the Phillies have won the World Series and five straight division titles without him?

It’s funny that Machado was also called a dirty player. Which Phillies superstar in recent history was most often criticized for being dirty? Hint: Google Chase Utley and dirty player.

Just a day before the Aguilar incident, Machado took out Brewers shortstop Orlando Arcia in an attempt to break up a double play. After a replay, it was decided he had violated the new “safer” slide rule and the runner at first was also ruled out, resulting in a double play. That slide rule, in case you have forgotten, is named after Utley for his slide during a postseason game against the New York Mets in 2016.

Answer this question: Was Utley a dirty player or merely a great one who played the game hard?

The hope, of course, is that Manny Machado learned from his postseason mistakes regardless of where he lands in free agency. He’s not the first 26-year-old to do and say some stupid things. Machado is, however, one of the most accomplished 26-year-old players in major-league history. Only 25 players had more home runs at the age of 26 than Machado’s 175 and 12 of them are in the Hall of Fame.

As difficult as Machado’s postseason was with the Dodgers, he still hit three home runs and knocked in 12 runs in 16 games. He’s a superstar entering the prime of his career and coming off the best season of his career. It is just plain foolish not to want him.

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