GLENDALE, Ariz. — Yes, it’ll play in Peoria.
The Manny Machado show, that is.
In Peoria, Arizona, that is.
Twelve miles from the White Sox’ spring-training facility, Machado — the $300 million man — will lace ’em up for the Padres, with whom the superstar infielder reportedly agreed Tuesday to a monster 10-year free-agent deal. For the next five weeks, the story of the Cactus League will be Manny mania and his upstart team.
It came oh, so close to being Manny mania and the upstart Sox. But we know how it goes, don’t we? Some teams just can’t have nice things.
“You’ve got to give it to them,” Sox vice president Ken Williams said. “They are in a similar trajectory as we are. And they were after him for the same reasons we were after him.”
What do the Sox do now?
Well, they keep moving forward. The future still appears to be bright — bright-ish? — for the Sox. It’s still difficult to turn around at Camelback Ranch without bumping into one of their highly touted prospects.
But Sox fans won’t want to hear any of that. Not yet. Not so soon after this mother of all gut punches.
Machado’s brother-in-law, Yonder Alonso, and close pal Jon Jay may not want to hear it, either. Do they still get to cash their Sox checks?
Give credit to the Sox — no, really — for taking a real run at a free agent of Machado’s stature. It’s usually easy to say it’s the Cubs’ world and the Sox are just living in it, but at least the Sox went for it. The Cubs, despite all their inherent advantages, cried poor and stood pat.
Around these parts, it’s the Padres’ world now. Boom, just like that. Until, you know, Bryce Harper signs with the … dare we even imagine it?
Nope, we dareth not. Some teams just can’t have nice things.
I’M JUST SAYIN’
• Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts spoke in platitudes Monday about the organization, which he described as the best in sports, and about his father, to whom he referred as a “great man.”
The word “dubious” comes to mind.
You probably don’t need another run-through of the public-relations fiasco created early this month when emails to and from billionaire patriarch Joe Ricketts were published by Splinter News. Let’s just say the emails were laced with bigotry and ignorance, both in such abundance that Tom now must twist himself into a rhetorical pretzel insisting his old man has no greater role within the Cubs organization than the Queen of England or your cousin Earl.
“We are related,” Ricketts allowed. “He is my father.
“The dollars that ultimately were used to purchase the Cubs were created by the wealth that he created. [But] this has always been an effort by myself and my siblings, and he has no operating position or economic interest in the team at all.”
Accurate or not, Old Joe managed to author the most scandalous episode of the Cubs’ not-so-feel-good offseason.
One platitude uttered by Tom, about his surprise at the emails, struck me like an errant peanut bag to the noggin:
“I’ve never heard my father say anything that was even remotely racist.”
Really? Never? Joe Ricketts — a 77-year-old white man in America —never uttered a single remark, crack or uneducated observation that crossed a line? Is he that rare of a bird? Is he actually a unicorn?
• Are the Blackhawks locked in a thrilling race for a wild-card spot or are they meaninglessly biding their time in last place?
Either answer pretty much works.
• Illinois fans love to call me a “hater.” Why, I couldn’t tell you. But I’ll fuel the fire in regard to the Illini’s losing streak to Wisconsin, which reached 15 games — the most against any opponent, ever — Monday night in Madison. The number is both galling and pathetic.
What’s more, the Illini — playing much better of late than their 10-16 record would indicate — will make the NCAA Tournament next season. Wait, that wasn’t hater-like at all. But really, I’m buying into the young nucleus of Trent Frazier, Giorgi Bezhanishvili, Morgan Park alum Ayo Dosunmu and incoming New York big man Kofi Cockburn.
If I’m wrong, I’ll deny ever having said it.
• “Team Lauri”? “Team Otto”? “Team Wendell”?
I’m just trying to see if I can successfully imagine an NBA All-Star team with a Bull in the role of captain, a la LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Shocking update: I cannot.
• Hat tip to Twitter pal @AB1132 for asking why any school would continue calling its women’s teams the “Lady” fill-in-the-blanks. It’s a great question. If you’re Bulldogs, be Bulldogs. If you’re Tigers, be Tigers. If you’re offended, hurry back before 1979 realizes you’re missing.