We still don’t know the entirety of the group that’ll be there, but Chicago Cubs pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training in just one week. It’s the unofficial official kick-off to the 2018 baseball season, and I am thoroughly stoked.
… I am also … intrigued. Because, as you’ve seen all around baseball, it’s kind of a weird time right now. Tons of free agents are unsigned, fightin’ words are being tossed around, and those grainy early-reporting Spring Training pictures are almost nonexistent. Usually, we’re gettin’ all the “whoa, look how many guys are ALREADY in camp” stories long before now. This year? Not so much. That’s not to say there aren’t players there – some are! – I’m just not sure there are as many as usual, and moreover, the climate is such that it just doesn’t feel like an on-tone talking point.
So, I don’t really know how the rest of this week is gonna look, and I don’t really know how next week is going to look either. I think it’ll *probably* be fun, like usual? But unless there’s a crazy wave of free agent signings in the next few days, the offseason stank will be heavy on the early part of Spring Training, if not longer.
Like I said, it’s just a weird time right now. Sufficiently weird that, as I was typing up this post, the Players Association is out there dropping statements like this one without anything in the way of context or explanation or action:
Statement of #MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark Regarding the Integrity of the Game
— #MLBPA (@MLB_PLAYERS) February 6, 2018
What exactly is supposed to be the takeaway there? It just reads like the MLBPA is once again saying, “A lot of our players aren’t signed, owners are doing well, tanking is bad, so sign our players.” Sure, it uses words like “fundamental breach” and “threatens the very integrity of our game,” but what exactly is the plan here? I still don’t know.
UPDATE: And the strange war of words nets a response from MLB:
Major League Baseball issued the following statement today in response to the comments made by MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark: pic.twitter.com/JE2AFRpEDZ
— MLB Communications (@MLB_PR) February 6, 2018
The league is blaming agents for failing “to accurately assess the market.” This won’t go anywhere pleasant.