The excitement surrounding contract negotiations reflects our cultural obsession with wheeling and dealing—and gives otherwise bored fans something to argue about.
Every week, our panel of sports fans discusses a topic of the moment. For today's conversation,Patrick Hruby (writer, Sports on Earth and The Atlantic), Hampton Stevens (writer, ESPN and The Atlantic), and Jake Simpson (writer, The Atlantic) and discuss the recent flurry of trades in Major League Baseball's offseason.
Josh Hamilton is on the move. Zack Greinke is set to fill the trust funds of his great-great-great-grandchildren. The New York Yankees just signed former Boston Red Sox hero Kevin Youkilis. Even the Kansas City Royals have been in the news. Baseball's hot stove is fully fired up, and for fans, this just may be the most wonderful time of the year.
In fact, I'll argue that it is.
The best thing about free agency in sports—well, besides the fact that various forms of labor rights-stifling collusion, including baseball's reserve clause, are utterly un-American—is that our offseasons are now as exciting as the games themselves. If not more so. And it isn't just baseball. Witness the mass hysteria over the NFL Draft, which has its own language and year-round Kremlinologists, and probably deserves its own television network. (Trust me: NFLDrafTV would crush CNN in the ratings. Of course, everyone crushes CNN. But still). Check out the NBA, where LeBron James's notorious "Decision" and Dwight Howard's recent indecision produced more ink and interest than anything either man has done on the floor. College football recruiting news is a growth industry; college basketball recruiting news is a thing; even the coaching carousels in various sports are a big, big deal.