“When your enemy’s making mistakes, don’t interrupt him.”
- Billy Beane “Moneyball”
Growing up I loved to collect baseball cards. I had books and books filled with every player, each team roster represented between plastic folds preserving the righteous poses that graced that year’s edition of cards. I would pester my parents for a pack of cards every time we went to the store, pointing out that I also got gum involved with this transaction and essentially meant I was getting the 10 cards in the pack as well as a bonus piece of gum. It rarely worked as my parents would point out to me that I already had what could be hundreds of baseball cards in boxes that I never used or cared about. Parents and their logic huh?
But as I got older and made more friends that were into the same hobby as myself, I learned about the game of trade. It finally made sense to me to trade one of my extra Ken Griffey Jr. cards for one that I did not have enabling me to complete my set without spending money to acquire a pack that may or may not be what I needed. I learned about the art of the deal (no, not that one you’re thinking about) and how to approach a potential trade partner and put on the poker face, never wanting to let on that I valued that one card they may have more than they did while also trying to make the extras look more appealing than they were to me. Almost a con game in the end to be honest with you, I mastered the small talk that accompanied any transaction and perfected the “worried” look making it seem like I was really torn between the trade and keeping this amazing card. My best and most favorite trade was if I was able to get an undervalued card that I needed and only giving up an extra piece, an additional plus if I could somehow work some money or something else of value to “even up the trade”.
I certainly have made my fair share of mistakes, especially when I decided to start collecting Basketball cards as well as Baseball cards and made some deals that still haunt me to this day (I traded a Pete Rose card for some dumb basketball player who obviously didn’t pan out as I have forgotten his name) But I chalked that up to inexperience and vowed to never be on the wrong side of a trade again… but then came fantasy football and I resorted back to my 10-year-old self by trading gold for trash (You’re welcome Ryan).
With the non-waver trade deadline coming and going and so many players switching teams it made me start to wonder about how the GMs do it, and if maybe by chance I could step in and do better than some of the current MLB G.M.’s in the game today. It said that hindsight is 20/20 and I know I have been guilty of “Monday morning Quarterbacking” come August 1. We realistically don’t have an idea about the ins and outs of running an actual team of players that get paid big bucks to produce. The pressure that they face to make a team win now with such little room for error must be immense. There were a few trades this year that I thought would go down but didn’t. I thought Bryce Harper would be gone by now as the Nationals are currently in 3rd place in the N.L. East and the two teams ahead of them look like they should be able to hold on to the lead dashing the playoff hopes for Washington. They could have got a haul of prospects or young MLB players to build around and not look so foolish when he bolts for greener pastures.
I also thought that the Giants would do the same with Mad Bum and get some good young players to stock the system and then try to resign him when he becomes a free agent. The Rays finally freed Chris Archer and sent him to Pittsburgh to try and contend in the NL Central for a playoff spot. Why didn’t the Angels do the same for Mike Trout? The angels are not going anywhere this year or next few years and offloaded some vets but did not get enough back to turn the franchise around, essentially wasting the talents of the greatest player of this generation. Maybe knowing that you must go through Boston or New York for a wild card spot cooled some jets, but others should have been burning, you never know what happens in a 1 game playoff. Who knows what goes through these guys heads this time of year as the pressure to save your job and, sometimes, doing what is best for the franchise are not the same thing.
Some moves work and some don’t only time will tell who “won” the trade season this year. A trade for an MLB impact player for a no name prospect looks great until that prospect turns out to be one of the best players in the game a couple years after the trade, then it’s always the same question of “How could he make that move?”. But in a win now mindset you must make those gambles if you want to taste sweet sweet victory come October. Being older now and more mature (depends on who you ask) I have moved on from baseball cards to playing video game franchise but the same drive to make my team great by finding that diamond in the rough is always there and will be for my time on this earth. Go home, buy a pack of cards and reminisce about childhood glory and remember to Play Ball.