Friday, December 08, 2006

Trade Paperback

Dodgers sign catcher Mike Lieberthal

My mom loves to tell this story. It's the summer of 1994, and I've just graduated from high school. In our family, on special occasions like birthdays, the person who's celebrating gets to pick somewhere to go for dinner that evening.

My family asks me where I want to go to celebrate. I'm sure they expected me to want to go to The Pub, a steakhouse I liked over in New Jersey, or something along those lines. But no, there was somewhere else I wanted to get dinner.

"Are the Phillies in town? I want to go to the Phillies game tonight."

So off we go, my whole family, still dressed up from the graduation ceremony, to Veterans Stadium, where my mom proceeds to tell every single person in the stands that her daughter just graduated with high honors, blah blah blah blah blah. I don't really remember the game that well. The Phillies lost, and John Kruk hit a home run, and my mom went on about how cute Darren Daulton was, and I said something like, "Down with Daulton!"

A week later, indeed, down with Daulton, as he broke his collarbone or something. Up with Mike Lieberthal, who replaced Kevin Stocker as my Phillies rookie crush.

Two months later, I moved away to Pittsburgh for college, and never lived in Philly again. A week after that, baseball went on strike, and I ended up pretty busy with classes and whatnot for the next four years, only going to one or two games a season (usually when the Phillies came to Pittsburgh). As the years went by, the Phillies roster changed, and eventually, only one name had stayed the same all along. And now there are none.

It feels like a lifetime since I moved away from Philadelphia. I suppose if you use catcher knees as a timepiece, it has been.

Phillies trade Gavin Floyd to the White Sox for Freddy Garcia

Here's another story. It's May of 2003, and I'm debating what to do for my birthday. The Yankees are in Seattle from the 6th to the 8th, and my birthday's the 7th. As it happens, the music band They Might Be Giants are also playing in town on May 6th and 7th.

One of my friends suggests I go to the TMBG concert on my birthday and the Mariners game the day before or after. That way, just in case the Mariners lose the game -- I rarely seem to actually see the home team win on my birthday -- it won't ruin the day for me. Seemed like a sound plan, so we went with that and got tickets accordingly. The concert rocked, and the next day I get together with a bunch of friends for the game; we get junk food, drinks, find our seats, and have a blast. Edgar Martinez hits a sweet home run in the first inning, the Mariners get a 3-0 lead, everything's peachy.

And then Freddy Garcia gives up nine runs to the Yankees in the third inning. They're just coming up to the plate and hitting him like a printer in Office Space. Julio Mateo comes in to stem the bleeding, and the Yanks ultimately score ten runs total by the time the dust clears.

So we spend the rest of the game watching the stadium empty out and betting on how many runs the Yankees will score total, as the Mariners were eventually completely mauled to the tune of 16-5. It sucked.

A few weeks later we were at pub quiz with a group, and one of the trivia questions that came up was, "Which pitcher holds the record for giving up the most home runs in a season?"

As a joke, I yelled out, "Freddy Garcia!"

It got a good laugh.

Mariners trade Rafael Soriano for Horacio Ramirez

It's the end of August 2006, and I'm in a huge debate over what the hell to do with my fantasy baseball team before heading off to Japan for a few weeks. I know I've got to put it into low-maintenance mode, as it's unlikely I'll be able to switch out my bench players more than once or twice a week, rather than once or twice a day. So I'm culling it down to 9 position players and a whole bunch of starting pitchers.

My favorite fantasy buddy Eugene and I are chatting about it, as I'm tossing players on their ass left and right. Chris Duncan gets the axe, Esteban Loaiza gets a spot. I decide to cut some of my middle relievers too so that it's all closers or starters. I drop Burgos for Broxton. I drop Lowe for Lowry. I look at what's left, and I've got to cut either Scot Shields or Rafael Soriano for another closer. Eugene recommends Tom Mastny, who I know absolutely nothing about, but everyone knows Cleveland's closer situation is somewhat akin to the 80's music video for Godley and Creme's "Cry".

So, what the hell, I ditch Soriano for Mastny. "I'm betting Soriano's totally going to get shut down soon anyway."

The very next day, I swear to god, Soriano gets hit in the head by a line drive by Vladimir Guerrero, and is hospitalized with his condition being reported from anywhere from concussion to hairline skull fracture.

I'm freaked out. I send Eugene an IM. "When I said he was getting shut down, I did NOT mean he should get the Ray Chapman treatment!"

He replies, "Well, look on the bright side. Think of all the Alfonso Soriano owners reacting to the headlines."

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