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Hickok SportsThoughts

Sports historian and author Ralph Hickok of www.hickoksports.com sometimes meanders on about current happenings in sports and sometimes looks back in languor.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Deadline Trades Weren't Headline Trades

Manny Ramirez at least made it interesting.
The week or so before major league baseball's trading "deadline" can be a frenzied and frenetic period for fans, not to mention general managers, as contenders try to improve their rosters at the expense of teams that are pretty much out of it.
The teams that have given up on the season, meanwhile, typically try to pick up young prospects while ridding themselves of older players and excess payroll.
The air is full of rumored trades, some made in heaven and some merely made in the media.
But not this year. Less than a week before the deadline, the biggest name being mentioned in the rumors was A. J. Burnett, who is considerably less than a household name.
In fact, the names being tossed around belonged to such nonentities that more interesting stories were coming out of NFL training camps as they opened.
Then Manny came to the rescue. A story broke in Sports Illustrated that he wanted the Red Sox to trade him. The Red Sox said they'd try, and evidently they did try. For a while, it looked as if Ramirez was going to the Mets in a three-team deal. But that didn't happen.
Manny decided he never wanted it to happen, anyway. And then, of course, he did his Hollywood bit, coming up the bench less than an hour after the deadline had passed to get the game-winning hit Sunday.
The biggest trade of the weekend was probably the one that sent Matt Lawton from the Pirates to the Cubs in exchange for Jody Gerut. If that doesn't stir your cockles, it's understandable.
Why no blockbusters this year?
The main reason is that at least 20 of the 30 major-league teams are within reach of the playoffs, so there were twice as many buyers as sellers.
That ratio seemed to inspire the sellers to get greedy. With at least three teams interested in Burnett, the Florida Marlins insisted on packaging him with third basemen Mike Lowell. But nobody wanted to take Lowell, who has a big contract and a low batting average, so Burnett's still with the Marlins.
Theo Epstein, the Red Sox general manager, said it was like going to the store with a $5 bill to buy a gallon milk and finding out the price was $100.
He went home without the milk. Fortunately, Manny was waiting and all was forgiven on both sides.