From a fan's perspective, the trade deadline is one of the most exciting times to follow baseball. Imagine, however, what it must be like for the players.
It's difficult, nearly impossible for me to feel sorry for any millionaire professional athlete, but for the players whose names are flying around the rumor mill, this has to be a difficult time. As much as I can't fathom being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars every week, I also can't imagine what it would be like to uproot your entire life on the drop of a hat.
A lot of players surely try to ignore the chatter, but when that happens players can be blindsided, like Chicago Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster was when he heard through the media that he was going to be traded to the Atlanta Braves.
Dempster is lucky enough to hold no-trade authority, but what happens when a player has no say on where he's dealt?
Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times wrote about a similar situation in which the player didn't have a no-trade clause:
Kotchman, then with Atlanta, was hanging out in the home clubhouse in his Braves shorts when he saw on the television scrawl that he had been traded to Boston for Adam LaRoche.
Kotchman's agent, Casey Close, had given him a heads up that something might be happening, but Kotchman still had no answers for his teammates, who kept approaching him at his locker with questions.
"I was like, 'Do I go to batting practice, or do I get ready for stretch?' " Kotchman said. "You're in a holding pattern."
From what Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote recently, it would appear more players are plugged in rather than passive when it comes to deadline rumblings.
"There's a certain anxiety in the clubhouse, and as one longtime observer put it this week, 'It's the only time of year when guys take batting practice with their cell phones in their back pockets.' Transition is in the air, the victims' identities unclear."
And the extra anxiety doesn't effect just the players. Yesterday, John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer wrote about how the deadline can make a manager's job difficult. Here's what Dusty Baker had to say about the deadline:
"I call them (players) in for something else and they think they’ve been traded.
I wish it (the deadline) would come and go. It’s always a tough this time of year because guys always wonder. Some people welcome it. Some don’t."
A lot of fans (especially in Atlanta) are confused at why Dempster wouldn't take the opportunity to go from the dismal Cubs to the contending Braves. Who knows for sure, the only thing that really matters is he has earned the right to make that decision.
For the majority of other players, they have to wonder, keeping their phones close and hoping to not get called into the manager's office.
It's important to remember, too, that some of the guys getting dealt aren't millionaires. They're kids in their early 20s who are making minor league wages and trying to save as much of whatever bonus money they have.
Many minor leaguers are room with their teammates or even have host families in the lower levels. Being traded to them not only means moving to a new city and changing jerseys, their entire support system could be completely altered.
That's just another reason why when it comes to the trade deadline, it's good to be a fan.