Friday Baseball Blogging: Here's to the Trade Deadline
I bash Bud Selig quite a bit so I should take this opportunity to mention one terrific success of the Selig-era: trading deadline mania. Young'uns may not know that the annual frenzy we currently have only began in the late 1980s or so. The system didn't emerge by design, but Major League Baseball has done a great job of making it as much fun as it is -- or at least not ruining it.
Here's a question, though: What time should the trade deadline be?
When I was living in Oakland, California, the deadline used to be midnight (Eastern time), and it worked out well for me (and others on the West Coast) because of the time difference, but I understand why it wasn't ideal for the rest of the country. Then the deadline was moved a few years later to the afternoon.
I guess I'd like the deadline to be set just a little later, say at 9 p.m. EST. For one thing, that would get it out of the workday for most people. Another reason is that more teams are playing at that time, which increases the chance of having to pull traded players off the field -- one of the very best deadline-day rituals.
Anyway, one of my favorite topics is the rhythm of the baseball season, and the trade deadline is a key part of it. The one thing I liked about interleague play, back when there was an extended interlude for it, was how it broke up the schedule. Interleague play sort of marked the end of the beginning of the season. Then the All Star Game (and the two or three weeks before the game when we all get to argue about it); and then the trade deadline.
To me, at least, it's nice to have those kinds of signposts during the long season. As much as I love the baseball season, it's even better with some markers along the way. A better structured schedule would help (wouldn't it be nice if Labor Day marked the end of non-division play, with the last four weeks always reserved for games between division rivals?). But the trade deadline works well, with this implicit announcement: We now know the shape of this season. Let the contenders commence their pennant drives!
Preferably with more healthy players, but I'll leave that for another time, I suppose.
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