Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Advice for players who were traded
By Doug Glanville
OK, you have survived the first week. I am sure from the time you got the phone call or maybe tweet that you had been traded, your life has been upside down. Did you ship your car? Did your wife or girlfriend pull out half of her hair? How about breaking your lease? Well, at least it wasn't during the school year, if you have kids.
I doubt you have the time, but if you have a minute, here is my survival guide for those players who get traded in the middle of the night. After a week, you should be finally settling in, and now that it has all been digested, here is what you are going to realize.
1. You are both trash and treasure: For you to be traded, someone didn't want you for whatever price tag that was on your head (current or future). I am sure the Orioles could have traded Cal Ripken Jr. if they wanted to trade him, but they didn't because he was valuable to them (and the game, actually). So if you are being traded, someone is making a judgment that you are worth more in the pieces the team gets back. Sorry. On the other hand, the team that traded for you may think you are a cross between Ty Cobb, Willie Mays and Cody Ross. It could be love at first sight, so keep your head up. You can change minds and win games.
Lesson: You may be trash, but like on Craigslist, someone may still buy it and stick it right on their front door for the world to see, then re-post you at the end of the season.
2. Your car may not arrive in time: If you had to ship your car or have someone drive it out to you, it probably still hasn't arrived yet. Your high school buddy whom you commissioned to drive it out already has stopped five times to see all of his ex-girlfriends so they can see him driving your Ferrari with your vanity plates. He is claiming you gave him that car because of everything he taught you about hitting the slider. You may not want him to arrive anyway because when I was in Texas, everyone had two parking spots, then I was traded to the Cubs and the old Wrigley player parking lot had six parking spaces
for the entire organization.
Lesson: Take the train or get a ride to the park. Forget your car, just don't act spoiled and buy a new car with vanity plates that say, "TradeMeBack."
3. You will forget something in your old apartment: If you have been in the big leagues long enough, you should know that you are making a big mistake if you can't pack everything you own inside a Prius within 49 minutes of hearing about being traded. Eighty-five percent of the Prius' trunk space should still be empty because all your clothes, toiletries and furniture should fit inside a carry-on for your flight to your new team.
Lesson: You will still leave something. If you were smart, it is biodegradable, just like your career. Let it go back into the earth and get marked for history.
4. You are still bothered by getting a police escort out of the stadium: Yes, I was traded once during the season. I was with the Texas Rangers, and I loved playing there. A wonderful organization. After I got the news of my trade to Chicago, I packed up and then went to the stadium the next day to clear out my locker, get my uniform, and say goodbye. Surprise! When I got to the park, everything I had was already sealed in a box. My uniform was being sent off to a third-party vendor from which I would later purchase it back. It was a cross between hospitality and pushing someone out of a moving Jeep.
Lesson: The second you are traded, you are no longer with the club that just dealt you. You may have to say goodbye on Facebook, and you may have to buy your jersey on eBay. It is not personal, you are just part of the past.
5. What the general manager said to you to tell you about the trade was not in any language you recognize: It is uncomfortable for a GM to tell you that you are gone. Maybe he had to drink a mojito to gain the courage, maybe the team liked the work your wife was doing as a pillar in the community where you played. In my case, then-Rangers GM John Hart loosened things up by having me guess which former team I was traded to. He was very kind. He told me "it was not my fault." Then when I got off the phone, I realized that I wasn't totally sure what happened.
Lesson: You don't remember what the GM said, because you didn't want to hear it, or he had you guess it and you forgot your answer. Don't worry, it will be retweeted.
6. You wonder what will happen to all of your memorabilia that the team sells: In your mind, even if you were the offseason free-agent signee that no one covered in the media, you are a top-selling jersey in the concession stands because of that July you just had to be so desirable to your new team. In fact, you are sure your new team will now sell your new jersey and your old jersey for a premium.
Lesson: Get over it. Your old jersey was recycled and unless you are Josh Hamilton, it was used to insulate the dugout bathroom for the winter.
7. It was not a good idea to curse out the wrong coach: After a week up with your new team, you remember something that gnaws at you. You were playing every day and playing well. You read the following tweet the day before the trade "@yourname Rumor has it you will be traded tomorrow. The bullpen coach told me." You storm into the bullpen and find the bullpen coach in there. You curse, you throw the catcher's mitt he was polishing at that ridiculous watercooler you always hated hoping it will bounce off of it and take out that row of Rangers bobbleheads he kept on the pitching rubber for good luck.
Lesson: It would have been better to keep your cool and realize you may never know who actually made the decision to trade you. Keep in mind, it could have been you.
8. The guy you showed up last year is now your teammate: OK, it was the heat of the moment. You hit a grand slam in the third inning off of one of your new teammates two years ago, and you enjoyed it a little too much. It wasn't the bat flip where the bat landed on the roof of the dugout. It wasn't the tying of your shoelace on third base during your trot. And it wasn't the putting of salt on your arm to taste yourself at second base. What made your new teammate want to choke you was that you sent over a bat autographed to his son saying, "I am now your Daddy."
Lesson: There is nothing you can do. Stand in the batter's box while he is throwing his side work, let him hit you in the back and move on. This one will always have a grudge attached to it.
9. Being traded to a contender is overrated: Don't sweat it. You are 35 years old while hitting .319 for a team 17 games out of the wild-card race. You were starting every day, you are a rising free agent with some value. You will now be in contention. This new team is really good, but the only problem is it is good with you coming off the bench. Because an expanded roster will be in place in September, you are declared the situational lefty who hits in games on Saturdays with 60 to 65 percent humidity when the pitcher's last name ends in "Z." You will rot on the pine, but maybe finish the season a champion. So you put your ego aside even though selfishly you are mad, knowing it is hard to negotiate with six at-bats in the entire second half of the year.
Lesson: The playoffs are worth it. It lasts a lifetime even if it just shortened your career. But don't let anyone tell you that you should be happy going from starter to role player because you might win. Block them on Twitter if they do.
Well, you will have many more revelations than those I just listed. Just don't talk for too long with a former teammate during batting practice when you play your old team because you will probably play with that former teammate on a completely different team next spring anyway. So talk then.
The second you are traded, you are no longer with the club that just dealt you. You may have to say goodbye on Facebook, and you may have to buy your jersey on eBay. It is not personal, you are just part of the past.