December 24, 2018
In the midst of his best offseason as GM of the Phillies, Matt Klentak went and ruined it all last week with that embarrassing dog-and-pony show designed to woo free-agent canine Manny Machado.
And the worst news of all is maybe a week or so away, when the lazy infielder accepts the $300 million or more and moves to the worst possible city for his selfish antics.
There were so many things wrong with the epic four-hour beg session launched by Klentak and his front-office cohorts – including owner John Middleton and president Andy McPhail – it’s hard to pick the best place to start.
OK, let’s begin with the notion that any Philadelphia sports team has to plead with a star player to move here. Players with a true passion to win should know this is the best possible city to play, especially if there’s no concern for the negative reaction when times get difficult. There are tapes of the Eagles’ championship parade readily available, you know.
Still, I would be able to swallow the photoshopped message boards, the vast statistical breakdowns, the ignorance of his Johnny Hustle comments and all of the red-carpet frills if the focus of this adulation was Mike Trout, the kind of player who fits ideally into our culture. Machado isn’t even the best free agent for the Phillies right now; that honor goes to Bryce Harper.
All of which leads to the second part of this charade that was so nauseating. Machado doesn’t fit what the Phillies are trying to do – not at all. He has never won anything, anywhere, and he hit all of .182 playing for the Dodgers in the World Series. His post-season vow not to hustle and his spiking of Jesus Aguilar and Steve Pearce at first base were warning signals to any team willing to pay stupid money like the Phillies.
Unless Machado passes up tens of millions and goes where he belongs – to his beloved Yankees, who have no soul – all I can offer is what I have learned over nearly 30 years of studying the fans of Philadelphia. What will happen, in his very first year here, will make this the worst transaction in the city’s sports history.
The first time he doesn’t run hard on a ball that hits the top of the outfield wall, he will get booed. The first time he doesn’t bust it on a ground ball that turns into an easy double play, the customers will howl even louder. At $300-million, the target will be bigger on his back than any player who has ever played here. Bet on it.
Given his sour personality – when he’s not on tour looking for a huge contract, that is – he will only make the situation worse with his initial expressions of apathy and then, inevitably, with his inaccessibility. A year from now, the Phillies will be wondering how they’re going to weather nine more years of Machado’s me-first act.
The only thing that can save the Phillies now is a decision to shun the offer, but it is highly unlikely Machado will pass up the kind of historic contract the Phillies have already offered. His ego would not allow a number under $300 million, even if it means coming here.
So when will we know Manny Machado’s official answer?
Well, much like running to first base, he’s going to take his time.
• Has any NFL team received two worse officiating calls than the non-fumble the Eagles were victimized by on the first play in Dallas this season, and then the non-call on a blatant facemask penalty to Nick Foles on the two-point conversion yesterday? How do these inept officials live with themselves? Here’s an even better question: How does a billion-dollar corporation like the NFL accept shoddy work like this?
• There should be a police investigation into what is happening right now with Sixers bust Markelle Fultz. Out for 33 days so far with a mysterious injury that is being rehabbed 3,000 miles away in Los Angeles, Fultz has no timetable for a return. Really? Then is it asking too much to explain to the fans who fill the Wells Fargo Center for every game exactly what’s wrong with the No. 1 pick in the 2017 draft? Or is the front office afraid to upset his sensitive nature again?
• The biggest question since Carson Wentz sustained his latest injury, a cracked vertebra in his back, is what the Eagles franchise quarterback is thinking about this latest setback. It is a question that has gone unanswered because Wentz has not made himself available for two weeks now. Few athletes in recent Philadelphia history have received the warmth and acceptance that Wentz has gotten. He owes it to the fans to speak. It’s in his job description.
• And speaking of medical mysteries, maybe someone on the Eagles will offer an update on Chris Maragos, the terrific special-team player who required a second knee operation last week after tearing his ACL early last season. Teams love to declare surgeries successful, but clearly this time it was not. So, what happened? Is it asking too much to get an answer to that question?
• It’s very rare I get to say this on such an important day on the calendar. Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and happy holidays to everyone who has kept me employed all of these years on the radio and on PhillyVoice. I will never forget how lucky I am to work in a city where sports is such an important part of all of our lives.