Trade Deadlines Often Spell the End of the Road for a Good Run

I’ve loved baseball since I was a little kid, though I was a less than stellar player until I got older. I love baseball as I do football and hockey and going to Cooperstown with TJ recently really amped my passion.

The game today is in its purest form, exhibited by amazing young talent like Judge, Freeman, Trout, Betts, Mullins, deGrom, Burnes, Soto, Guerrero, Jr., Tatis, the list goes on. If you love the game and don’t love Shohei Ohtani, go back to your own personal dugout and warm the bench.

What I love about baseball, however, comes plummeting down in the face of the trade deadline. I am not ignorant to the economics, player dependability and growth projection that goes into any sport, much less baseball. Especially with COVID laying waste to profits of most businesses, much less sports.

Yet I can’t help but be appalled and nauseated to watch the Washington Nationals begin to sell off veritably the franchise in the exact same manner as the Orioles did a few years back. Trea Turner, Kyle Schwarber, Daniel Hudson and 3-time Cy Young award winner, Max Scherzer, top tier talent, only the first to be traded away.

The Nats organization has already stated the whole team is negotiable outside of Juan Soto. The Nats have been back and forth in the win-loss column this season and have weathered enough injuries to prompt more fan groans and less “Whooos!” than Teddy Roosevelt getting tripped by Abe Lincoln in the home game tradition of the President’s Race. The message of this brutal selloff, however, says that if your team of quality, fan-enamored neo icons performs at or around .500, expect them to be put on the block. I supported the Nats with the O’s in recent years and I am pretty pissed seeing Mad Max, my favorite pitcher of the past two decades, get shipped off en masse with a full infantry of players their fan base long stayed loyal to. Scherzer and Turner now join the Dodgers, who operate similar to the New England Patriots, gobbling up last minute guns-for-hire to make a playoff push, then in many cases, cutting them loose after a year option.

Sports fans are fickle, yes, and rebuilds are miserable times to stomach, but like the Orioles, this is flat out betrayal of the contingency. It says the fans are as much of a commodity as the players. Just ask anyone still calling themselves a Miami Marlins fan. Soapboxing done. This year, I am an Ohtani backer.

How does this tie into the Roads Lesser Traveled theme? If Nationals Parks follows the same trend as Oriole Park at Camden Yards in light of the rebuild motif, let the stadium gates be your measure…

–Ray Van Horn, Jr.

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