Today felt like it could have finally been the day we got some movement in the frigid pursuit of the two top free agents in baseball, but it was not meant to be. Despite what felt like all of Philly Twitter trying to will it into existence, Bryce Harper did not sign with the Phillies on Tuesday. Why was anyone so sure that this would even happen?
It started, god help us, with a video game—one that’ll have Bryce Harper in his new uniform on the cover when it comes out. In a tease on Monday that didn’t amount to anything, MLB The Show told followers, “You’ll want to keep an eye on this account tomorrow.” You could have kept your eyes literally anywhere else.
Two other social media posts stoked the fire, the first being an alleged leak on Facebook from the set of SportsCenter on Monday night that showed ESPN prepping for a Philadelphia signing.
The other was a tweet from something called “Vegas Gambling Steam,” which has nearly 22,000 followers and claimed Harper-related prop bets had been taken off the board in Vegas because Bryce was signing with the Phillies.
This was verifiably false. Though one could hypothetically bet on Harper’s future team somewhere else in the world, in Vegas, Nevada law limits prop bets specifically to only events that happen on the playing field and can be verified in the box score. There never would have been any Harper prop bets on the board in the first place.
Still, that rumor spread, getting retweeted over 1,000 times, and flawed attempts at debunking it likely only helped to provide a signal boost. Smartass journalists and cops with a rudimentary understanding of photoshop didn’t calm the anticipation, either.
Thankfully, Jon Heyman tossed a wet blanket on the fire, leaving the Harper fever to rise up in Pennsylvania some other day.
There are only 13 days until Spring Training begins. Can some team just step up and end the madness already?