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By Murray Chass

January 20, 2019

Manny Machado hasn’t had a hit or driven in a run all winter, but he has attracted the most attention and the most comment of any free agent or any other player. By comparison, Bryce Harper has been invisible.

Early this month Machado was the central figure in the wildest rumor of the off-season. In widespread reports, he was said to be at Soldier Field in Chicago watching the N.F.L. playoff game between the Bears and the Eagles.

If that had been true, it might have been vaguely interesting. But there was more. Machado, the reports proclaimed, wasn’t simply watching the game. He was watching it with Jerry Reinsdorf, the White Sox chairman.

None of it, of course, was true, but it stirred the kind of talk that warms the Hot Stove League to a fever pitch.

On the heels of that rumor came another Machado matter, this one more rooted in reality but just as bizarre in its own right.

In what I believe was an unprecedented action, Machado’s agent, Dan Lozano, issued a statement harshly criticizing two well respected veteran baseball writers for their reporting of a White Sox offer to the All-Star shortstop.

Citing no sources, Buster Olney of ESPN and Bob Nightengale of USA Today both reported the White Sox offered Machado $175 million for seven years.

Olney tweeted:

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By Murray Chass

January 13, 2019

The news flashed across Chicago, landing most emphatically on the city’s South Side. From there it reverberated to Philadelphia and New York, then made a U-turn and swept all the way cross country to Los Angeles:

Manny Machado, the heralded free-agent shortstop, was at the Bears’ N.F.L. playoff game against the Eagles.

But wait; there was more. That was only part of this startling news development. Machado, the widespread reports rang out, was at the game with Jerry Reinsdorf, chairman of the White Sox.

What could this possibly mean, White Sox fans and others wondered. Only one thing. Reinsdorf was going to leave Soldier Field with Machado’s signature on a White Sox contract or at least a handshake agreement.

Alas, the report turned out to be fictitious. “Jerry was in Arizona on Sunday,” Scott Reifert, the team’s senior vice president for communications, told me last week. And then he thanked me for …

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By Murray Chass

January 6, 2019

The word collusion has become one of the most commonly used words in the English language today. “There was no collusion,” President Donald Trump proclaims on a virtually daily basis, referring to accusations that he colluded with Russians in his 2016 campaign. Even if there was collusion, Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, says just as often, “collusion is not illegal.”

In the Trump-Giuliani context, they are correct. There is no federal statute that says collusion is unlawful. In Major League Baseball, on the other hand, collusion is banned and has been banned for more than three decades. The collective bargaining agreement clearly and simply states:

“Players shall not act in concert with other Players and Clubs shall not act in concert with other Clubs.”

The ink was hardly dry on the signatures in the 1985 agreement, which first contained that stipulation, when the owners …

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