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Kicking Rocks: Trade Deadline Blues

For as far back as I could remember,even before I was bitten by the fantasy bug, the MLB trade deadline was one of the most exciting times of the year. Hearing the rumors, listening intently as deals are announced and just the general wheeling and dealing that takes place as the year’s haves and have nots make arrangements for their respective futures. The experience has intensified over the years as the game has evolved, contracts have become what they are and free agency has taken center stage. And of course, now that I am neck deep in the fantasy racket, it has taken on a whole new life. But sometimes, this euphoric time of year that I long for each summer, can get awfully stressful and if the scales of justice are tipping one way and not the other, I find myself saddened and depressed as my favorite time of year just came up and kicked me in the groin.

Now mind you, the tale you are about to hear is 100-percent fact. Names have not been changed to protect identities nor have I, the author, invoked the use of artistic license for the sake of embellishing the truth in an effort to make this piece more entertaining. What you are about to hear has really happened.

I have been playing int he same 15-team, non-keeper, two-catcher NL only roto league for the last 14 years. Oddly enough, especially in this day and age, there has been no ownership turnover and to say that this group is ultra-competitive would be an understatement. For the most part, the rules are fairly basic with a few twists and nuances mixed in as the league constitution has gone through certain periods of adjustment. One of the more interesting aspects, and one that I wasn’t in favor of when it all went down, is that there is a cap on the number of trades you can make and the deadline for completing said trades is the Monday of the All Star break. Players can still be acquired via the FAAB process, but let’s face it, at this time of year, the wire has been picked cleaner than¬† a Thanksgiving turkey at our friend Mike’s house, an owner adoringly referred to as Fatty McButterpants (thank you Kevin James for that one; the only time you’ll ever hear me thank Kevin James).

Each year, we all sit helplessly when the trade deadline approaches. If you lose a player via trade to the American League, you earn a free pick from the disgustingness of the waiver wire. If multiple people lose players on the same day, the order is determined, not by place in the standings, but by order of when the deals were officially announced. Players traded to the National League that haven’t already been processed in the weekly FAAB distribution are all eligible.

Two weeks away from the deadline, nerves began to fray a little as the rumor mill was churning out all sorts of nausea-inducing reports. This guy is going here, that guy is going there and all the while I’m blankly staring at my roster, muttering some incoherent prayer. I can neither confirm nor deny anything is at stake beyond bragging rights, but when you’re in second place, just two and a half points out of first, you’re really pulling for stagnancy on your roster and upheaval on your friend’s.

And then it happened. You know…that moment in Jerry Maguire when regret for writing and distributing that memo mission statement sets in and the guy on the TV is counting down the bomb explosion? Yes. That moment. The days all seem to blend together but over the course of two weeks, things got downright ugly for me and as the deadline passed and the dust settled, my team looked like the aftermath of a nuclear holocaust.

Gone went Anibal Sanchez. Buh-bye Zack Greinke. Hasta la vista, Ryan Dempster. So long Geovany Soto. We hardly knew ya, Casey McGehee.

All of them, plucked from my roster and now in the hands of some unknown schmuck in some AL-only league somewhere, doing a little dance of joy.

And who was it that found their way into the NL when all was said and done? Jonathan “I’m a set-up man now” Broxton, Brandon “I’m useless” League, and Travis “forever to platoon” Snider. Even worse was that by our rules, I didn’t even have the opportunity to select Snider as the guy in seventh place had that claim after losing George Kottaras. Yeah, right?¬†George Kottaras.

Picking up the pieces from this nightmare is a virtual impossibility. The hitters are replaceable, but the damage to the pitching staff is irreparable. I can certainly try but anyone who’s been stuck in the mud in Georgia knows that one wheel keeps spinning while the other one does nothing. Third, fourth and even fifth place went relatively unscathed during this calamity and the standings are always tight enough that we all know what’s happening next. Yes, I’m totally looking forward to my little magenta-colored ribbon that says 8th place.

Sure, there’s a lesson to be learned here. Something about preparing for the future and knowing which players are most likely to be on the move, but I’m not listening right now. Where’s my Hunter Pence trade? Where’s my Shane Victorino deal? How come I’m the one that has to suffer here? Stupid Texas. Stupid Detroit. Friggin Angels. Damn Yankees. I’m shaking my fists, stomping my feet and am about thirty seconds away from taking my ball and going home. This is supposed to be fantasy, not reality.

Damn you, trade deadline. I love you so much. Why do you hurt me so…?