The trade deadline was yesterday, and to most of us it came and went swiftly, with the Red Sox making a single minor move, sending Pat Light to Minnesota for Fernando Abad. I, however, lived and relived the trade deadline over and over and over, much like Bill Murray reliving February 2nd in ‘Groundhog Day,’ and I’d like to make some observations.
First off, holy crap! It’s August 2nd! Do you know how many trade deadlines I lived to get to this point? I’m guessing it was something like 100,000 of them, though I lost track somewhere around 876. Or maybe it was 8,760. As I said, it’s been a while.
In some ways it was an existential nightmare, of course: much like the fictional Phil Connors, I used my seemingly immortal powers for good and bad before just wishing for an end to it all. Every day I watched @OverTheMonster count down to the deadline, minute-by-minute, and hoped it was the timer to the end of my suffering. It never was. I couldn’t even level up in Pokemon Go because I always lost my progress.
On the bright side, like Murray/Connors, I learned to play the piano and became a killer ice sculptor -- no small feat in the middle of summer. Holler at your boy this winter if you need to. My rates are reasonable, and I can provide my own chainsaw.
Anyhow, back to the point of this column -- the trade deadline. Heading into yesterday (the first yesterday), a source said that there was a less than 5 percent chance Chris Sale would be traded. This was a good call: Again, it’s hard to keep track when your notes reset from day to day, but I’d imagine that Sale was actually traded about 3 percent of the time.
Almost all of these times he was traded to the Red Sox, though the time he was inexplicably traded to the Brewers was by far the most entertaining day of my 100,000+ trade deadlines. You wouldn’t believe what you all wrote on Twitter.
Similarly, in those few times the Sox did nab Sale, it was never, not once, for Yoan Moncada. Every single time the deal started with Andrew Benintendi, but the details changed after that. The takes largely stayed the same. Everyone was happy with Sale, but there was a lot of prospect hugging with Benintendi, and with good reason. Dude is pretty special!
On the other hand, there is, and only will be, one Chris Sale. In the whole history of baseball there has only ever been one Chris Sale. He is a sentient auto-dealer inflatable arm-flailing tube guy that throws 95 miles per hour and creates the craziest scandals in baseball history. That’s not hyperbole: Cutting up the retro jerseys your team was scheduled to wear that day is America’s Next Top Lunatic behavior, and I dig it.
On his Friday podcast, so many years ago, Bill Simmons said he worried about Sale on the Red Sox. He said, likely correctly, that Sale wasn’t a great fit for Boston. Okay and all, but you know who else wasn’t a great fit for Boston? Roger Clemens. And Manny Ramirez. And Jonathan Papelbon, which reminds us it’s not all bad.
The reality is that the urgency of now is always upon the Sox, and justifiably so. They are a legitimate championship contender, and would be at least a semi-favorite with Sale added to the rotation. This season is alive as ever, and midseason acquisitions have a way of folding themselves into the fabric of the narrative of World Series teams that make the whole thing look like fate.
For the Red Sox, I’m talking specifically about Dave Roberts, Orlando Cabrera and Doug Mientkievicz in the 2004 World Series season (to say nothing of Pokey M’F’ Reese), three players acquired at the trade deadline who are inseparable from the memory of the entire event of the year. In retrospect, almost any move you make in a World Series winning year is going to look brilliant, regardless of merit.
The problem is that that only ever applies to one team. Fail to win it all, and the bill comes due, often focusing on the deals not made. It’s a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t scenario for almost every team out there, and unlike everyone else stuck in the same day over and over (and if today’s your day, be sure to drink a lot of water), you don’t get near-infinite chances to make things work. You just get the one. The die has finally been cast for the Red Sox, and for me. Rise and shine, campers: There’s no going back now.