Silly me. I thought that when Bryce Harper finally signed a contract with an MLB team, he would cease to be the “headline of the day” until such time as he actually did something on a baseball field that affected the outcome of an actual baseball game. Actually, Harper followed up the news of his signing with two stories that made headlines. The first story came from the Westgate Sportsbook in Las Vegas; they posted the odds for players to win the MVPs and the Cy Youngs in both leagues. Harper led the way in the National League. Let me list the players with the lowest odds in all of these categories and offer a couple of comments:
- Bryce Harper PHI 7-1
- Nolan Arenado COR 8-1
- Paul Goldschmidt STL 10-1
- Kris Bryant CHC 12-1
- Manny Machado SDP 15-1
- Mike Trout LAA 3-1
- Mookie Betts BOS 4-1
- Aaron Judge NYY 10-1
- Alex Bregman HOU 12-1
- Jose Ramirez CLE 15-1
NL Cy Young:
- Max Scherzer WAS 5-2
- Jacob deGrom NYM 7-2
- Aaron Nola PHI 7-1
- Clayton Kershaw LAD 12-1
- Noah Syndergaard NYM 15-1
AL Cy Young:
- Cory Kluber CLE 7-2
- Chris Sale BOS 4-1
- Luis Severino NYY 7-1
- Justin Verlander HOU 12-1
- Carlos Carrasco CLE 15-1
A few comments about these listings.
- The odds-on Mike Trout dropped to 2-1 the day after they were posted when someone bet $4000 on Trout to win the Award at 3-1 odds. Money does move the line…
- The Westgate Sportsbook oddsmaker said the reason Harper was the clear favorite in the National League was that he would be playing in a “Little League park” and that he should post huge numbers there. The dimensions of the stadium in Philly and Washington are very similar so I am not sure I understand that sentiment.
- That is an awfully big jump in odds from Mookie Betts at 4-1 down to Aaron Judge at 10-1.
- I think Clayton Kershaw’s days as a Cy Young Award caliber pitcher are in the past; he will still be a good pitcher but not to that level.
- The Indians have two pitchers in the “Top 5” regarding the AL Cy Young Award plus Trevor Bauer as a starter. Not a bad rotation at all…
And then, Bryce Harper got himself involved in a kerfuffle with the management of the LA Angels when he said he would like for Mike Trout to come and join him in Philly when Trout’s contract is up with the Angels. People want to know if that is tampering which poses some interesting questions:
- Can “tampering” apply to players as opposed to teams and team management?
- How would tampering rules apply to players if the players involved were brothers? Or father and son?
- If Harper had privately called Mike Trout such that no one knew about it until months after the fact, does that make the alleged tampering less severe or more severe?
As I understand the rules in baseball regarding tampering, the punishment is a fine. Bryce Harper just signed a deal that guarantees him $330M. Leading up to this contract, my estimate is that Harper made $50M; I could be off by 10% there. Nevertheless, there is no reasonable fine that MLB might levy that would have any meaningful adverse effect on Bryce Harper’s exchequer.
Moving on … The NY Post reported that Jason Witten will leave ESPN and the Monday Night Football booth to return to the Dallas Cowboys and play tight end once again. I thought Witten had promise as a TV analyst, but he did not grow into the job very much as the season rolled on; many commentators were highly critical of his performance and they have rejoiced at this news. The question for ESPN now is where will they go with an announcing team for MNF?
- The word is that ESPN covets Peyton Manning in the booth. I think he would be interesting to listen to during a game, but I think he might demand that he never have to call a game where Eli was playing – – and ESPN is not really able to offer such a “guarantee”. [Aside: That is not “inside info”; that is just a sense that I get when I listen to the two brothers talk about one another.]
- There is work for ESPN to do over the summer. Joe Tessitore has to exhale and do some calming down between plays. Every 6-yard run off tackle is not worthy of hyperventilation.
- Booger McFarland might become a top-shelf analyst; he is knowledgeable and casually funny. However, ESPN must put the “Boogermobile” in the garage and lock the door on that baby. Booger needs to be in the booth interacting with his broadcasting partner(s).
If I were the ESPN decision maker here, I would look at the football folks already on TV in various places and here would be my order of preference:
- Louis Riddick: Measured, rational, intelligent commentary. He is “anti-bombastic”.
- Deion Sanders: Colorful, entertaining, candid. A latter-day Howard Cosell? Maybe not that outrageous…
- Steve Young: Cerebral, analytical and candid.
Finally, here is a comment on college football recruiting from Mike Bianchi in the Orlando Sentinel:
“In the span of a week, FSU has lost two big-time football recruits — not to Alabama, Ohio State or Georgia but to MARYLAND! This is like losing a ‘Battle of the Bands’ to Insane Clown Posse.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………