THE STRIKE ZONE
Sometimes Sports, Sometimes Sportsmanship
Most of the time, when I read anything from the Sporting News, it's garbage. But this article actually had some merit to it.
Ryan Davis did an article back in August about the human side of trading players mid-season. He caught up with Sean Doolittle as he was being traded from the Oakland Athletics to the Washington Nationals, which is a pretty big jump when you consider the distance traveled in both residences and playoff standings.
Doolittle and his fiance both discussed the challenges they faced in relocating, specifically citing the attachments to their former lifestyles in Oakland. However, credit was given to the people involved in the process, such as the clubhouse attendants who did things like make sure their car was shipped as they hopped a flight, or that the lease on their place was assumed by another player.
It's easy for the fans to forget that the guys in our favorite uniforms are more than just assets being utilized for competition. These are people with families and feelings. The wave of emotions that can sweep through a person when he is traded is immense, ranging from anxiety to depression.
One of the most common feelings a traded player may experience is, "So my old team didn't want me anymore? They thought I wasn't any good?" Thankfully, this isn't usually the case in most trades, but it's a common human reaction.
In Doolittle's case, the A's traded him because the Nats wanted him, not because the A's didn't. They needed arms in the bullpen who were competent and could help them in their playoff push. The A's weren't going anywhere that season, and the opportunity to receive younger talent with a chance for success in the future was worth more to them than to covet an asset in his prime during a time when a championship was not in the realm of possibilities.
By contrast, consider the trade made between the Yankees and White Sox around the same time. One player who might have felt this emotion was Tyler Clippard. Clippard struggled for two months prior to the trade, so when the Yankees acquired David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle to upgrade their bullpen, Clippard was the pitcher who had to go based on his performance. The White Sox took Clippard back in the trade, which turned out to be smart on their part because they were able to flip him to the Houston Astros later to acquire more potential assets.
The fact of the matter is that we, as fans, owe it to the sport and the players to keep our fandom in check insomuch as it concerns remembering the human element the players face in these situations. If you ever had to pick up and move because a parent got a new job out of state, perhaps you can relate to what these players experience. Although, the massive salaries probably ease that burden...
Baseball player, umpire, coach, fan; professional musician; founder, President & CEO of The OSIP Foundation, Inc.