I spent Friday night trying madly to keep up with updates from what could go down as one of the most momentous trades in Boston sports history. A friend of mine who becomes my roommate Saturday spent it sending me texts with questions about what shower curtain I preferred.
Yes, Red Sox fans, a world exists outside of Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and the like. The rest of society has much more pressing matters than hearing whether the Dodgers will eat the salaries the Sox would love to shed.
But at some point, those who are somehow immune to the craziness that is the Boston sports cycle will start to hear about this trade. They'll ask what happened, and why it was a big deal (pun intended). And in that regard, it's time to put this trade in perspective, because this one was a whopper.
The word I keep hearing is "blockbuster," and I'm already sick of it, because it does nothing to define the situation. (When's the last time you went to a Blockbuster, anyway?) This trade is different than any big trade before.
I'm hunting for some context.
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe says this may be "the most historically significant" deal Boston has swung since Babe Ruth. I'd have to agree — it's not every century you see a pitcher who has been the backbone of a rotation, the guy who holds together the middle of the order and has posted MVP numbers, and a marquee left fielder being shipped to another team for a load of prospects. This signals a new era for the Red Sox, and it sends some loaded messages.
Adding to the significance of the trade is where Gonzalez is at in his contract. He hasn't even made it past his second year, and he's pulling in well over $100 million. The last (and probably only) player of that worth in a trade would be Alex Rodriguez, who left Texas over salary concerns after the Rangers jumped in too deep in signing him. Players who make that much money just don't get dealt at this point in their contracts — ever.
Big deals happen at the trade deadline every year, but this would eclipse even the biggest from the big-money era of baseball. What makes the move even more insane is that it happened well into August, when moving pieces is that much harder. A lot of strings had to be pulled and stars aligned to make a monster trade come out of a couple of waiver claims — you won't likely see something like this ever again (unless, of course, we're empowering a new generation of front offices to redo their rosters now that they've seen the Red Sox do it).
The most impressive part of this deal, of course, is the raw gutsiness of it all. When explaining what happened the night of Aug. 24 to your grandma, cat or son, you can talk about the gravity of Gonzalez as a player, and how unlikely it was that he moved. You'll talk about Beckett's contract and how the season went, and how it was miraculous to find him a home at this point in the season. You'll mention Carl Crawford, and the struggles and promise he's had in town, but how it looked like he was settling in until a once-in-a-lifetime trade went down. You can mention trade deadlines, the $272 million that is headed west and the prospects the Dodgers had to hand over.
But the craziest part of this deal is that it even happened. It's one thing to throw this together on paper, moving players like fantasy numbers or trading cards. But to actually give up two great hitters and a dynamic pitcher for another team's prospects — in a year when you're getting eaten alive for not winning — is just downright bold. The thing that will stand out from this trade for years to come will not only be the ingenuity of the Sox dumping contracts, the immenseness of which players left and who returned, or the raw dollars and timing of the deal — all of which make it historic on several levels.
When Red Sox fans remember Aug. 24, 2012, they'll just shake their heads, because in a town as sports-crazy as Boston, this kind of thing takes the cake. This deal took all of the "blockbuster" deals of the past, with their salary numbers and prospects and stars, and gave birth to the biggest blockbuster deal ever. This was no run-for-the-playoffs, grab-some-guys-whose-contracts-are-expiring situation. This was a complete revamp, with one team cleaning its closet and the other taking home the surprise garage sale wares with a giant smile on its (now expensive) face.
Go ahead, find someone wandering near Fenway or across Cambridge this afternoon and ask them if they've heard about this trade. If they haven't, try to find a way to explain it.
You have to be deep in this sports world to know how much has changed in just a day, starting with a couple of perfunctory waiver moves. The Red Sox are completely different going forward, with so many moves and possibilities that will be rippling for years.
A Ruthian bargain, a trade for the ages — what the heck. Let's go get a shower curtain.
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