I spend an embarrassing amount of time each baseball season dedicating my time to the Chicago Cubs. Between going to games, watching them on TV, and writing about them on almost a daily basis, it’s safe to say that when the off season rolls around, it’s a time that I cherish.

Sure I miss watching the Cubs but I enjoy the off season for a variety of reasons: my stress level is much lower, I get to enjoy somewhat of a social life, and I also get to yell at my 4-year-old for being bad instead of yelling at Tyler Chatwood for being bad.

I rarely have to spend much time digging into statistics of my favorite Cubs players trying to find a unique angle for a story, rather, my off season attention shifts to much “lighter” topics such as new hair styles.

Yikes.

This off season has gotten off to a rocky start due to the fact that every morning when I jump on social media, I am slapped in the face with report after report about what is cooking on the ever present MLB “hot stove,” which if you’re unaware, is “the time around the Winter Meetings when free-agent signings and trades are most prevalent.”

It’s essentially baseball people from all walks of life gossiping with each other like high school girls.

The problem with the “hot stove” is literally anyone, at anytime, from anywhere, can throw ANYTHING on the hot stove and because we live in the day and age of social media, any unfounded rumor can take off and somehow gain traction.

This usually happens when you attach the word “source” to something you say online. For example, “A source is telling me that Jessi Spanno would have been a better girlfriend than Kelly Kapowski.” We all know that’s a lie but you second guess yourself because you’re thinking, “Who the hell is the source that said that?”

I’ve been writing about the Cubs at Sports Mockery for three years now and while technically I’m a journalist, I’ll always say that I’m just a fan who enjoys writing about the team. Granted, I’ve been lucky to make a good amount of connections to people on the inside and I’ve gotten access to the team that I never thought I’d have but I’ll never get used to how bad the hot stove can get. (usually from anonymous “sources” providing information)

And the hot stove this season has been one to forget.

In the span of a week, I was told Bryce Harper was going to be on the South Side for the next decade and Kris Bryant was being dangled as trade bait because somehow he just became an “average hitter.”

What. The. F*ck. Is Going On Right Now?

Harper is arguably the biggest free agent in the history of baseball so we don’t need to talk about how awesome he is. I would be remiss however if I didn’t mention that in addition to being a once-in-a-lifetime talent, the man also has quite the majestic beard.

via GIPHY

One team will undoubtedly land Harper and all of his glory and I find it funny that the experts continuously tell me how many teams are interested in Harper. No shit Sherlock, isn’t everyone interested in Harper? Just because teams are interested in him doesn’t mean that everyone has a shot. I’m interested in Beyonce but there’s no shot in hell that I’m going to call her up and ask her if she wants to go to Olive Garden with me. So why is it difficult to focus on the teams that have a realistic shot to land Harper and write great articles about that? (FWIW, I think he’ll end up in Philly.)

The Harper to the White Sox bomb didn’t explode until just a few days ago when a picture surfaced with a Bryce Harper jersey on the world famous Jordan statue paired with someone snapping a picture of a Bryce Harper scrolling banner at the United Center. That combination of pictures blew up White Sox twitter.

Look, was Bryce in Chicago to get pitched by the Sox?

Probably.

Does that mean he’s going to end up on the South Side?

F*ck no.

I think it’s great that Rick Hahn shot his shot at Harper and if he doesn’t end up on the Cubs, I’d be OK with him on the Sox because it gets him out of the National League. It also only puts me about 30 minutes away from being able to see a future Hall of Famer play every single day even if that means I have to sit at the G spot a few times a week.

The crazy thing about the Harper to the White Sox talk is that as much as I don’t think it’ll happen, Sox fans are quick to tell me it’s a done deal because they have the money and the prospects. I personally don’t think he’ll go to the Sox because I believe the Sox are not as close to contending as everyone thinks (no shade.)

I had a Sox fan tell me that Harper “doesn’t care about winning” and that he’ll for sure go to the Sox because they’ll be “the highest bidder guaranteed.” True, Harper will get paid regardless of the city he plays in but please don’t disrespect him and say that he could care less about winning. If that was the case, stay in Washington and continue to underachieve as a team like the last five years.

Listening to Sox fans and the baseball world buzz about Harper visiting Chicago was annoying but it didn’t bother me too much because at the end of the day I really don’t care what moves the White Sox make — Harper or not. However, when you start talking about trading former MVP Kris Bryant, you’ve got my attention.

I was sitting at work when the “Cubs willing to trade Bryant” notification popped up on my phone and I swear to God, this was my reaction….

via GIPHY

The notification was idiotic by itself but when I dug a bit deeper, my brain almost exploded from how stupid this entire story was. Theo Epstein gave an interview and said that nobody on the team was “untouchable” when it came time to talk off season moves so of course, good ol’ ESPN picked up on that and ran the headline,

The kicker of this is that I actually think Buster Olney is a pretty solid reporter. I don’t know if the headline was his idea or even the story itself but c’mon man, this idea is just outlandish. Here’s the actual quote that Olney (or some intern) read from Epstein that some how equated into the Cubs being fine with trading their former MVP.

“We’ve never operated with untouchables,” Epstein said. “I think it sends the wrong message. The guys who (would be), given what we’re trying to accomplish, (it) would be virtually impossible to envision a deal that would make sense to move them…”

Yet here we are.

Epstein responded to Buster’s story (which was retweeted by Jesse Rodgers) and promptly shit all over him. Epstein stated that the Cubs are lucky to have impact players and they are always looking to add more, not “subtract them.”

The story was so bad that even KB’s partner in crime, Anthony Rizzo, felt the need to tweet his thoughts about it. And much like myself, Rizzo scoffs at “sources.”

So here’s your update: Cubs twitter is melting down because they think Kris Bryant is going to get traded and White Sox twitter is blowing up because they think Bryce Harper is going to hit tanks into empty bleachers in right field.

What a time to be alive.

I like gossiping as much as the next guy but I’m not comfortable putting my name on some shit that is completely unfounded. I remember reading article after article from 2017 about all the landing spots for Kyle Schwarber. First he was going to Colorado because of the thin air, then he was going to the Mets for pitching, then he was going to the AL where he could just be a DH. Were teams “interested” in Schwarber at that point? Of course. But why fan the flames of something that holds little to no weight. If that’s the case, please run a report on every time a player gets discussed between GM’s when they’re golfing or in casual conversation. Talking about players doesn’t equate to making moves.

Look, I get it.

Some reporters make a name for themselves trying to break stories and stir up controversy (Stephen A. Smith, Skip Bayless, Colin Cowherd, etc…) so I’ll let guys that like keep getting paid for saying literally anything and hoping something they said sticks to the wall.

I’ll just step away from the hot stove this winter until there is something with a shred of truth to it — like Javier Baez’s sweet hair extensions.