"I would say to Orioles fans, 'Man, enjoy what you're watching here. You're watching one of the best players in the game, and you have him here for the next two-and-a-half years. If you're looking at the clock when he leaves, you're going to miss the brilliance of watching this guy play every day. I mean, why worry about it? If it gets done, it gets done. …'"
That was FOX/MLB Network analyst Tom Verducci responding to a question I asked him about the contract future of Orioles third baseman (or is it shortstop?) Manny Machado during an appearance on Glenn Clark Radio June 3.
Let's get this out of the way as quickly as possible. Verducci is right. Orioles fans should do everything in their power to just simply enjoy the ability to watch Machado play night in and night out. We should delight in witnessing one of the greatest baseball talents our city has ever seen, and the uncertainty of his future should have no bearing on our appreciation of him today.
Yes, I used the terms "our" and "we" in that paragraph. If you're familiar with my career as a broadcaster at all, you're aware of my own appreciation for Machado. You might call it an "obsession." I wouldn't call it that. A lot of people have shrines in their basements and have named various pets "Mach," "Macho," "Macho Man," "Manny Mach," "Machado Man," "Manny Man" and "Mucho Macho Machado." I don't see how that's remotely weird. I also know my wife wants to get another dog, and "Man Macho Machado Man" has a nice ring.
Kidding aside, I think of myself as a bit of a spokesperson on this subject. Which is why I can comfortably explain that no matter how much we know better than to agonize over the future of the man who will almost certainly become a three-time All-Star this season, we're going to do it anyway.
I'm sorry, Tom Verducci. This is just too real to us.
We're going to freak out at every turn. We're going to overanalyze every quote given by anyone who even remotely seems like an "insider" when it comes to the topic. Hell, I recently popped in the 1999 Russell Crowe/Al Pacino flick "The Insider" just to make sure there weren't any Easter eggs to be found regarding the future of the then-7-year-old future superstar. You just never know.
Machado isn't set to reach free agency until after the 2018 season, but when you consider that the #KD2DC movement started somewhere around 2009 (or at least it feels like it), it's not all that strange Orioles fans would begin freaking out about Machado now.
We want to know anything and everything that can possibly be known. And we're just getting started. If you think we're unstable now, just wait until next season when an unfounded Twitter rumor pops up saying Machado's wife spent a day condo hunting in New York. We might go full-blown Howard Hughes at that point. I've already started stocking up on empty bottles.
You can tell me all you want about how the Orioles have extended the majority of their young, actual talent in the last decade. Brian Roberts, Nick Markakis, Adam Jones and Chris Davis are all examples with increasing price tags. Matt Wieters' future will again be in question this offseason, but the evidence largely backs the Birds' willingness to get something done.
But with all due respect to all of those players, none of them are Manny Machado. They're all players who are (or, in Roberts' case, were) very good and very popular when they got their contracts. But Machado is 23 years old, and yet many of us have already started looking into booking hotel rooms in Cooperstown, N.Y., for 20 or so years from this August. He's Cal Ripken Jr. … except we think he might be better. He's Brooks Robinson … except we think he might be better.
So, yeah. The next two-and-a-half years (or however long until the O's get something done to lock up the Miami native long term) are going to be rather shaky around here. We're in a happily committed relationship, but we just want to see that ring, you know? Until we do, we can't help but worry about being left at the altar, only to find out the love of our life ran off and married our older brother.
Oh, you think that's silly? Apparently, you never baseball-fan-dated Mike Mussina.
It's a weird analogy. I know. This is what Machado anxiety is doing to me.