Requiem for the Tigers, Brewers, Phils … (who have I missed?)

Baseball’s July 31 trade deadline – Trade! Sell! Abandon Hope! – turns a perfect pastoral game into the dirtiest place in town. It’s the bathroom in a sketchy dive at closing time. (Step carefully, touch nothing, hold your breath as long as you can.)

And, so the Detroit Tigers, Milwaukee Brewers, Philadelphia Phillies, … have I left anyone out? … Atlanta Braves, Cincinnati Reds, Oakland A’s, and I can’t remember who else, sold or traded whomever they could, conceding the season, resigned to slide through the last 540 innings of summer as quickly and meaninglessly as possible.

Did your team just bleed out? Well, you’ll always have April, won’t you?

Hot teams feast on the bones of others, like vultures. But, vultures are pretty cool and, if you got to know them, you would find them sociable creatures who are simply recycling carcasses and protecting us from plague and terrible diseases.

General Managers are not vultures in the “pretty cool” sense.

They are cut-throat, not sociable at all. They move pitchers, swap batters, dump salaries, and make blockbuster deals like I change stations on the car radio (which is to say often and with little care).

Editor/Husband says I’m being too dark. “Remember Spaghetti Legs,” he says.

And, I smile wistfully, remembering the three heavenly months last summer with Andrew “Spaghetti Legs” Miller, the remarkable, shut’em down reliever, whom the Orioles greedily gathered up from the Red Sox, giving Boston in return a hot minor leaguer, who now is the Red Sox future, while Miller is now a Yankee.

andrew miller

© The Baseball Bloggess

Miller was a “rental.” By season’s end he was a free agent and the Yankees – of course, the Yankees – dangled pinstripes and bags filled with guilders, beads, and trinkets, and, just like that, Spaghetti Legs was gone.

But, not before he helped the O’s to the ALCS, which was amazing.

Sure, players expect to be jostled and juggled, wondering where they are going next.

Baseball has always done this. They sold and traded Babe Ruth, after all. Twice.

(Pitcher Octavio Dotel played for 13 teams during his 15-season career (1999-2013), making him the most travelled teammate in baseball’s modern era. Chances are he played for you.)

And, I like free agency that allows players to negotiate for their share of the millions that owners amass from their luxury boxes and $26 hot dogs.

“These are human beings, not pieces of meat. Really bothers me when I hear, ‘Are you buyers or sellers?’ Don’t use that around me. These are human beings that I am close with and I don’t look at them that way. I know it’s the reality of the business, but it’s not like we’re moving around slabs of bacon here. And I like bacon.” ~ Buck Showalter, Orioles Manager

I don’t like all the trading and moving people about like cattle at a stockyard, because it seems uncivilized and cruel – if making a few million dollars and moving from one comfy clubhouse to another can be deemed cruel.

What’s really cruel is the way it’s handled.

Orioles reliever Tommy Hunter was traded to the Chicago Cubs on Friday one minute before the 4:00 p.m. trade deadline.

Everyone thought it might happen. Baltimore’s bullpen is crowded, they need outfielders, and Tommy’s a free agent who’s having a not-bad season.

The trade deadline brought Hunter to the O’s in 2011. The 2015 deadline sent him on his way.

Tommy was gracious in his goodbyes.

But, here’s the thing.

The Hunter trade was leaked to reporters who promptly leaked it to Twitter, where I saw it scroll by on my feed at 3:59 p.m. … at the same time that … Tommy Hunter learned of his own trade through the same tweet.

Really? Tommy Hunter and I learn about his trade at the very same moment, from the very same source?

It seems a bit ugly and thoughtless. I don’t want to find out I’ve got a new job because my boss told a tweeter – and the rest of the world – before he told me.

And, Tommy’s not the only one.

On Wednesday night in the middle of a game, Mets shortstop Wilmer Flores learned he was being traded when fans in the stands who had seen Twitter rumors told him. He cried.

And, it broke my heart just a little.

That trade fell apart, which was just as well for the Mets since Flores hit a walk-off homerun for them on Friday night.

Good can come from trades. Some players now have post-season hopes – hopes they didn’t have a week ago. Some players find a change of scenery the spark they need.

Some players escape toxic clubhouses. And, some clubhouses escape toxic players.

(Good luck with Papelbon, Nationals.)

I just wish it didn’t seem so callous. So, cruel. So, business-like.

Goodbye Tommy Hunter. Goodbye Bud Norris. Thanks for the fastballs.

And, hello new Orioles outfielder Gerardo Parra. The O’s scooped you up from the Brewer’s fire sale.

Your first at-bat as an Oriole on Saturday night was a double.

Parra

It was a thing of beauty.

buck greets parra on friday

You may be a rental, but, like every teenage summer fling, we love you like crazy right now.

 

13 thoughts on “Requiem for the Tigers, Brewers, Phils … (who have I missed?)

  1. Rockies lost our poetry centerpiece of our infield – Tulo. No more clapping and chanting TULO from the stands, nor more beautiful spins and spirals in the air. Was a heavy loss to receive zero pitching – which is what we needed to get us out of the basement. So another year of waiting. high hopes each year and another surge of maybe this year we can resurrect it and then dashed hopes again! But as you say – we always have March! **sigh**

    • I felt bad for Rockies fans when I saw that Tulowitzky was traded. (I felt even worse for we Orioles fans when I saw he was traded to those pesky AL East Blue Jays.)

      That entire trade was sort of strange and I read that Tulo felt “blindsided” by the deal. He found out in the middle of a game, same as Flores, and could be seen sitting in the dugout looking distraught. Tulo’s yet another example of how ownership can be utterly lacking in common professional courtesy. Common decency, fellas, that’s all I’m asking …

      • He did get pulled in the last inning – leading the broadcasters speculating that perhaps he had tweaked something. So little did we know – as it ran as a crawl in the later hours of the night. Didn’t make the 10pm news even. They are requesting that at tonight’s home game ( first one since he left)
        – certainly NOT when the new guy goes to bat. Thinking its a proper sendoff he didn’t get. Agree with the common decency. He was well loved and respected – as we did endure some growing up pains with him, but knew he was worth it. Sorry about the new challenges with him in your league now! But he is worth watching in the field!

  2. As an Oriole fan who watched for fifteen years as they wandered through the wilderness, always saying “hope springs eternal” every April, it is nice to be on the other side for a change. Though I wonder if we on the up or the down this season. Up right now, but who knows come the end of September?

    • I think Gerardo Parra is a very nice addition for the O’s. And, it warmed my heart to watch him on Friday night show up in the dugout in the middle of the game — straight from the airport — and go from player to player to player to introduce himself and say hello. It had to be a rough day for him, but he just sucked it up and settled in. The double and run on Saturday didn’t hurt either! :)

  3. It’s a little disheartening to remember that big league baseball is both a game and a business. As a player, whether you ‘re good or bad, it doesn’t protect you from trades. It must be hard on families to be ready to move on short notice, but I suppose the same thing could be said for many military families. It really must be love of the game that keeps them and us coming back.

    • I know that many jobs transfer their employees from time to time. And, ballplayers are a fairly nomadic bunch, so they know it’s part of the life. Still, to learn of your trade through social media … or in the middle of a game … or from some fans … just seems so wrong. Come on, front office, how about a little professional courtesy?

  4. Went thru it for a long time here in Pittsburgh…seemed like we were the minor league affiliate of the upper tier teams. Enjoying being on the other side for a while. Although we won’t go after the big money players which is ok by me. I like the group that’s here now and should be a fun stretch the next few months.

    • I often think the Pirates are very similar to the Orioles … in regard to their market size, how they fill out their team, and how they often face up to much richer opponents (plus, a beautiful stadium!). The O’s Buck Showalter is always asked about trades, “how about this pitcher?” “how about trading for that person?” and he always says the same thing: “I like our guys.” (They had a tee-shirt made with “I like our guys” on it last season.)

      It sure is nice to have something to play for in August … and, hopefully, September. Good luck to your Pirates! :)

  5. The Tigers are flailing, but I do think they got some good prospects and re-build around. The biggest surprise was letting GM DD go. So really the question for Tigers fans isn’t if they’ve conceded the season, but has Illitch given up on this team totally? It will be interesting to see what the future brings in Detroit.
    -Mike

    • I’m still confused by the Tigers. It’s at this point in the season I look for vibrancy in a team … it’s the sense of enthusiasm and liveliness that I think shows that a team still has the energy to rally before the season ends. Teams that seem flat are just out of it … and then I’m not surprised when players are dealt, losses are cut, and they start to rebuild. But, the Tigers didn’t feel like that to me. I really think they could have contended. So, it must be disappointing when ownership just acts like they don’t much care about that.

    • I don’t think there was anything big the Sox could do at the deadline. There was nothing much they had in the way of free agents to dangle. No Andrew Miller burning a hole in their pockets. (Although I see they’re looking to get a little something out of De Aza now.)

      But, as I have said to one of my Red Soxian friends on more than one occasion this season — as long as you have a guy named Mookie on your team, it can’t be all bad.

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