So the regular season is just memory now, and pitchers and catchers don’t report for three months. The confetti has settled in Philly. The last of the champagne-soaked jerseys have dried, and the flipped cars have all been righted. The Hot Stove is lit.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we have reached the months of News-Free News.
There’s plenty of action now, sure, but it’s all behind closed doors. Instead of news, we get hearsay parading as fact, conflicting reports published in tandem, recycled news reprinted with a headline change to freshen it up, and a good solid dose of pure fiction.
We read it. And watch it. And listen to it. And gnaw our own ankles in frustration, and then read some more.
It’s a special time. And it’s only just beginning…
A Diary of the Hot Stove Blues, November 2008
Day One: Go Phillies! The celebrations for my newly adopted team are barely over, but I’m already anxious for news of my own Red Sox, and their offseason plans. I scan a few official sites, some newspaper sports pages, and reputable blogs.
I read that the Red Sox have few needs. Their first priority will be the decision regarding Jason Varitek, sure to be a challenge because his agent is Scott Boras. There’s also a good chance the Sox will go after Mark Teixeira, and possibly also C.C. Sabathia or A.J. Burnett. Derek Lowe could be interested in returning to Boston. They could potentially trade Coco Crisp.
Translation: All that stuff we all said months ago might happen this off season, we still say might happen this off season. Three cheers for the Hot Stove.
Day Two: Two more papers report that Varitek is expected to file for free agency. Also, they write, the Red Sox will likely bid for Mark Teixeira. Both players are represented by Super Agent (of Darkness) Scott Boras, and negotiations will surely be lively.
Translation: We still expect those things to happen.
Day Four: Varitek has filed for free agency. There’s a quote from Theo Epstein, who acknowledges that Varitek is a free agent, and that the Sox will be talking to him.
Translation: See there? We predict the inevitable really quite well.
Day Five: There’s some discussion of Red Sox options at center. Schilling has filed for free agency. Buchholz is doing well in the Arizona Fall League. The Red Sox will have some important decisions to make, regarding free agent Jason Varitek. They may have interest in C.C. Sabathia and A. J. Burnett. And Mark Teixeira.
Translation: Nice weather today.
Days Six-10: Boras is believed to be asking for an outlandishly large contract for Varitek. The Red Sox will certainly not agree to such a contract. Something in between may well be the outcome, though negotiations are only beginning. The Red Sox are likely to pursue Mark Teixeira, also a Boras client.
Translation: Scott Boras is believed to be Scott Boras. The Red Sox are the Red Sox.
Day 11: Widespread rumors suggest the Red Sox are trying to trade Coco Crisp for Khalil Greene.
Translation: We need something to print, so we’re making stuff up.
Day 12: A Toronto journalist has it on good authority that the Red Sox, (worried that their own catcher is aging and struggling offensively), will be trying to sign Gregg Zaun (who is even older, and struggling offensively). Several media sources report that the Tigers may be interested in Varitek as a replacement for I-Rod. Several media sources report that the Red Sox may be interested in I-Rod as a replacement for Varitek.
Translation: Bob over in classifieds has been prank calling all the sportswriters again.
Day 14: “Varitek Tops Offseason List.” (This article includes the same Theo quotes from late October, but the headline is different, so it counts.) It seems Scott Boras is expected to ask for a large, long-term contract for Varitek. The Red Sox will likely offer something short term. Also, the Red Sox are likely interested in Mark Teixeira.
Translation: Yeah, we still got nothing.
Days 15-17: The Sox are likely to be pursuing Mark Teixeira, as are several other teams.
Translation: Right, so, we’ve got this bet in the office, see? And the idea is, whoever can get away with printing the same thing the largest number of times, without driving more than the pre-set number of readers to acts of violence, wins the pot. And, see, I’ve got a two point lead over Frank and Judith, but Judith just did the thing about Boston’s interest in young catchers from Texas again, and so I had to do Teixeira again to keep up, and…
Translation of Translation: Still nothing.
Day 19: The Red Sox have traded Coco Crisp to the Royals for reliever Ramon Ramirez.
Translation: News! Man, this is awesome! We get to report something today!! Drinks on me, guys!
Day 20-25: The Sox may be pursuing A.J. Burnett. Derek Lowe is interested in coming back to Boston. "Sources familiar with negotiations" say the Sox have offered a one year contract for Varitek. His agent, Scott Boras says they haven’t. Schilling may be retiring. Or he may not. The Sox are likely interested in Mark Teixeira. And maybe also C.C. Sabathia.
Translation: We got nothing.
It’s a long, long Hot Stove season. Anyone got a spare ankle? I’ve gnawed through both of mine.