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Brian McCann’s free agency is everything wonderful/terrible about free agency

Nov 5, 2013, 9:29 AM EDT

Crols Gomez Brian McCann AP

Free agents can sign anywhere as of midnight last night, and one of the biggest free agents on the market is Brian McCann. And for good reason: he’s a good catcher who can hit a ton. What’s not to like? Many teams, including the Yankees, Red Sox and Rangers will be after him. He’s going to make bank.

Of course his free agency is also going to bring two free agency memes that I have grown to love in some twisted way. The first one is on display in this Daily News story:

McCann’s agent, B.B. Abbott, said Monday that the Bronx is “certainly a place that is on Brian’s radar. How could it not be? You’ve got an historic franchise and a great park, knowledgeable fans and a chance to win, which is what every guy plays the game for. From Brian’s standpoint, it would be an attractive place to listen to.”

That’s actually pretty strong as far as these sorts of endorsements go, likely because Abbott knows that the Yankees will be bidders. But it’s also a species of public comment about free agents we often see this time of year, and which often leads to fan and talk radio craziness.

In essence, it’s a player or his agent saying true, non-controversial things about a city because, really, what else does one say? Yet whenever someone says something fairly benign like this, it’s taken as some strong signal that the player is seriously, seriously interested. Indeed, anything short of “[city] is a cesspool” launches free agent chatter about this player being “linked” to that city. It’s right up there with “[Player X] will sign with [Team Y] because he grew up nearby.” Which rarely happens with top free agents.

By the way: Scott Boras can be annoying, but he’s also pretty brilliant. He was aware of this meme years ago, which is why he can usually be found saying things about his clients and certain cities. Remember when Johnny Damon liked calamari? That was to get Detroit people chattering and, hopefully, to make Detroit’s front office feel fan pressure.  If Abbott is wise, he’ll come out tomorrow talking about how much McCann likes chowder. The good kind, that is. Not that tomato-y crap.

The other thing I bet we’ll see at the end of McCann’s free agency is The Great Fan Turn. You know what I’m talking about: when a player who is loathed for some reason is suddenly seen in an entirely new light the moment he appears in his new team’s uniform. We’ll see it with McCann, I can bet you a million bucks. The same fans who made fun of McCann’s antics and yelling during the Carlos Gomez and Jose Fernandez home runs — the people who mocked him and forwarded Photoshops of McCann yelling during great moments in history — will suddenly come around to McCann’s “passion.” They’ll have some newfound perspective about it all, and will come to appreciate his fire.

And, of course, Braves fans who got all bent out of shape when people criticized McCann will begin to proclaim that they always really kinda hated that guy.

Which is fine. It’s sports and that’s how sports and sports fans roll. We’re irrational and we root for laundry and we can be talked into almost anything and anyone if they’re on our team. We may pretend we’re more objective about it — the folks who see McCann in a new light after he signs his contract will mostly claim that they’ve thought about it more rather than felt something visceral once he put on their teams cap at a press conference —  but after writing about sports and interacting with sports fans for seven years, the thing I am the most confident of is that the single most predictive piece of data for one’s position on any given issue in sports is what team one roots for.

So bring on the free agent rumors and signings. And bring on the fan reactions. All of it ads to the fun and chaos of the hot stove season.

Follow @craigcalcaterra

  1. dawgpoundmember - Nov 5, 2013 at 9:34 AM

    Sooo….are we in the 2014 season now?

    • Francisco (FC) - Nov 5, 2013 at 12:11 PM

      I think we had this conversation last year.

      • Old Gator - Nov 5, 2013 at 3:49 PM

        No, it was the year before.

        Or…was it the year before that?

  2. chill1184 - Nov 5, 2013 at 9:42 AM

    Absurd and crazy season is here you guys! On your mark……..get set……absurd contracts….GO!

    Any bets on which will the absurd contract of the season will be?

    • stex52 - Nov 5, 2013 at 9:59 AM

      It’s hard to say because “absurd” can mean one of several things, and we may see all of those things before the FA season is over.

      If, by “absurd”, you mean a very good player who gets a really hyped-up, super offer for way more than even he is worth, I’m going Robinson Cano with Brian McCann in second place.

      For dark horses, think Shin Soo Chu and Joe Nathan.

      • Old Gator - Nov 5, 2013 at 3:50 PM

        Gezundtheit!

      • stex52 - Nov 5, 2013 at 8:02 PM

        Danke, OG.

    • 18thstreet - Nov 5, 2013 at 12:45 PM

      I think we’re all going to be shocked how much someone is willing to pay Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

  3. raysfan1 - Nov 5, 2013 at 9:49 AM

    99 days til pitchers and catchers report.

  4. gibbyfan - Nov 5, 2013 at 9:54 AM

    We’re irrational and we root for laundry and we can be talked into almost anything and anyone if they’re on our team…………………..

    Craig,
    You said a mouthful there… other than gamblers, why would so many grown men, myself included, care so much about hundreds of spoiled young multi millionaires who have no real interest or connection to us whatsoever……In this way professional sports is a true enigma. But for whatever reason we are all hooked and as you say……irrational

    • natstowngreg - Nov 5, 2013 at 10:35 AM

      Always remember, fan = fanatic.

      • ptfu - Nov 5, 2013 at 11:24 AM

        In addition, a fan is something that blows hot air in an attempt to be cool.

    • indaburg - Nov 5, 2013 at 12:05 PM

      There are lots of us irrational lady fans too. It’s not just grown men, y’know.

      I often ponder the same. Why do we care so much?

      • Francisco (FC) - Nov 5, 2013 at 12:17 PM

        Sally, sent you a secret message. Get back to me when you can.

      • gibbyfan - Nov 5, 2013 at 1:47 PM

        Yes Inda –over the past decades as women began to move away from their tradiional roles they seem to be increasingly afflicted by the same odd syndromes……..but to their credit, at least from what Iv’e seen, they seem to be bit more rational —not quite so immersed in the nonsense. Has to be some wierd unmet need in our lives but as much as ponder it can’t seem to change it……….although as you get older it thankfully does seem to abate somewhat

  5. sdelmonte - Nov 5, 2013 at 9:55 AM

    McCann is going to be one. Anything longer than three years for a catcher with a history of injuries is not wise, and I bet he gets five years.

  6. The Common Man - Nov 5, 2013 at 10:10 AM

    As one of those photoshoppers, I can promise you that I will find Brian McCann just as ridiculous tomorrow as I do today and did a month ago. Of course, I’m also a Twins fan, and there’s no way he’s signing in Minnesota, so…I guess I don’t have a point.

  7. amhendrick - Nov 5, 2013 at 10:16 AM

    “Photoshops of McCann yelling during great moments in history”

    How did I miss these? Links, please.

    • The Common Man - Nov 5, 2013 at 10:40 AM

      Obliging: http://www.fangraphs.com/not/brian-mccann-fun-police/

  8. churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Nov 5, 2013 at 10:18 AM

    Don’t forget the third part, the lesser known corollary to “your trade proposal sucks” in that “your free agent contract ideas suck”. The Yanks won’t offer Cano a 6/$100M contract. Ellsbury isnt signing for 4/$60M. These guys are going to get paid, as evidenced by the Pence/Lincecum deals.

    • temporarilyexiled - Nov 5, 2013 at 12:55 PM

      Free agents will be paid, but probably not by the Giants, mentioned twice at the end of your post.

      Because keeping the team intact worked great last year…wait…

  9. clem1980 - Nov 5, 2013 at 11:31 AM

    Yankees.

  10. dluxxx - Nov 5, 2013 at 1:44 PM

    It won’t happen because the Brew Crew has Lucroy, but I’d love to see McCann end up in Milwaukee.

  11. NYTolstoy - Nov 5, 2013 at 2:18 PM

    One day I hope and always dreamed of was a player being asked about a city and team let’s say McCann was told that the Indians were offering him the most money and years, and he goes off in disgust screaming “oh god they wanna sign me? I’m not that dispret, Jesus that city is disgusting I rather play in hell forever before I step into there rags they call uniforms” I know it won’t ever happen but imagine the hate? That’s fresh stuff right there.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Nov 5, 2013 at 3:25 PM

      Not exactly FA’ing, but keeping up with the Cleveland theme:

      “To tell the truth, I’m not excited to go to Cleveland, but we have to,” Ichiro said through an interpreter. “If I ever saw myself saying I’m excited going to Cleveland, I’d punch myself in the face, because I’m lying.”

      http://seattletimes.com/html/sports/2003742764_marinotes11.html

  12. rg3zacharm - Nov 6, 2013 at 1:47 PM

    McCann yelling at those guys was great. No knowledgeable braves fan will ever say they hated Brian McCann.

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