Wheeling and dealing/The Red Line
Technology and media in the 21st century have spent a lot of time attempting to make the argument that great athletes are “just like us.”
Of course, they aren’t, and no day underlines that more than Major League Baseball trade deadline day.
At no point in the professional careers of 99.9 percent of Americans will they ever be told their place of employment has been changed against their will, often times to the other side of the country, and have the national media see exactly what their employment is worth, whether in terms of labor of comparable quantity or financial compensation (or as it often called, “cash considerations,” one of my favorite terms in sports).
In a way, Deadline Day is our entire economic system writ large. Shortstops and relief pitchers cease to be shortstops and relief pitchers, but rather ‘assets’ or chips that can be packaged with less tangible commodities (prospects) and utterly intangible commodities (the infamous ‘player to be named later’).
Last night, I made a trade with the gas station, acquiring a few gallons of gas and a Coke Zero for “cash considerations,” but it is highly unlikely that I will be pulled into an office and told that I now work for, just for example’s sake, the Sault Evening News. Real life doesn’t work that way.
But if Deadline Day were a little bit more like the other 364 days of the year, what would that look like? Here’s some wheeling and dealing I’ve been working on. Remember, they’re all just rumors.
1. The Brewers trade Ryan Braun to Hattiesburg, Miss., for Brett Favre.
Let’s face facts. The 2013 Milwaukee Brewers are not going anywhere. They’re in last and they’re going to stay in last unless the Cubs somehow do worse over the last two months of the season, which is not exactly an accomplishment.
My belief is, if you’re going to be bad, be good at it. People still remember the 2003 Tigers in a manner akin to survivors of a train wreck remembering pulling bodies from the rubble. Yet several of those Tigers (Omar Infante, Carlos Pena, Fernando Rodney) have gone on to be All-Stars, while no one remembers the likes of Mike Rivera, Billy McMillon and Scott Fletcher, who have all been Opening Day starters for Detroit in my lifetime.
So, if your season’s going to the clowns, you might as well really make a circus out of it and figure out a way to get Brett Favre in the lineup. He probably wants the attention and you need something else to talk about than the guy who you’ll be paying for a long time who’s turned out to be so vile he drew national media attention to a Brewers-Padres series in late July.
2. The Packers trade a plugged nickel to the Vikings for Greg Jennings’ hurt feelings.
Since become the odd man out in Green Bay’s receiving corps, Jennings has had a lot to say about the Packers, though doesn’t appear to want to name names, using the Lord Voldemort treatment on the guy (Aaron Rodgers) who threw him two touchdown passes in Super Bowl XLV.
“For me, I’m such a team person, I’m going to defer to my teammates. … I’m going to defer to the team, to the team, to the team. And I think when you reach a point where you’re not deferring any longer, it’s no longer really about the team,” Jennings said.
Because when I think about team, I think about torching my ex-comrades to the media the first chance I get. It was such a great example of teamwork that his coach, Leslie Frazier, had to step in and tell him to defer his mouth and focus on training camp.
3. Alex Rodriguez and the entire Biogenesis scandal to a desert island far, far away for a gross of rotten coconuts.
I have long since come to the realization that no professional sports will ever be ‘clean’ until we get to the point in which the financial risk is no longer lucrative enough to be an incentive.
The punishments can be amped up infinitely: 50 games, 100 games, drawing and quartering, but people will continue to cheat, just like they did throwing spitballs in days of yore, because no way has been devised to undo a multi-million dollar contract.
A-Rod and his nine-figure contract can be taken out behind the proverbial woodshed, but that’s not going to purify a sport that was never lily-white to begin with (how many of Babe Ruth’s 714 home runs were hit off black pitchers?) Nor will it stop the witch hunt that has now apparently disqualified anything and everything accomplished in baseball in the last 25 years.
What is left is hysteria, which I don’t have time or patience for. I get enough of that from the NFL.
Brandon Veale can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/redveale.