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Let's Make a Deal: 6 of Baseball's Strangest Trades

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Now that the World Series is over, baseball's offseason has officially begun. There are plenty of high-power free agents, but the real drama is on the trade market. Jake Peavy is already being dangled, and it's a safe bet we'll see some other interesting names on the block. But those resulting trades won't be nearly as interesting as these.

1. Harry Chiti for Harry Chiti

Bowman, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

You always see those mysterious "players to be named later" spring up in trades. There are usually restrictions on what players can be traded depending on how each team does. The best player named later, though, was Harry Chiti. At the beginning of the 1962 season, the Cleveland Indians dealt catcher Chiti to the New York Mets for cash and a player to be named later. In June, the two teams decided on the player: Harry Chiti, Essentially, Chiti was traded for himself and cash, making him the literal rent-a-player.

2. Johnny Jones for a turkey

Bain News Service, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Chattanooga Lookouts owner Joe Engel was a publicity hound and his promotions were headline-grabbers (he once gave away a house during a game). But perhaps his most unusual stunt was when he traded shortstop Johnny Jones to Charlotte. In return, Engel received a 25-pound turkey, which he prepared for the media. After trying the turkey, Engel declared that Charlotte had won the trade because the turkey was tough. Maybe if that turkey had been juicy, Chattanooga would have come out ahead.

Oddly enough, that isn't baseball's only player-for-food trade. In 1998, the Pacific Suns traded Ken Krahenbuhl to the Greensville Bluemen for a player, cash and ten pounds of Mississippi catfish.

3. Marilyn Peterson for Susan Kekich

Yankees pitchers Mike Kekich and Fritz Peterson were friends and, in the swinging 70s had even engaged in some innocent wife-swapping. But in 1973, they took it a step further, literally switching wives. The ladies moved in to their new partners' houses, bringing the kids and even the dogs with them. Baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn said he was appalled when he found out, but the Yankees had a lighter look at it. GM Lee MacPhail laughed and said, "We may have to call off Family Day."

4. Joe Gordon for Jimmy Dykes

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As GM of various baseball teams, Frank Lane built up a reputation as being quick to the trigger on any trade, earning him the nicknames "Frantic Frank" and "Trader Lane." He was famous for his fateful trade with Cleveland that sent star Rocky Colavito to Detroit, casting a supposed curse on the Tribe. But his most unusual trade came in midseason in 1960, when he traded his manager, Joe Gordon, to Detroit in exchange for Tigers manager Jimmy Dykes. The move was mostly a stunt (allegedly, he wanted to trade the entire team to Detroit, but was stopped by the commissioner of baseball) and didn't help either team- the Indians finished in fourth place in the American League, two places ahead of the Tigers.

5. John Odom for ten bats

When the Calgary Vipers realized that their new pickup John Odom wasn't going to be able to play for them, they decided to make the best of it. Due to a felony charge, Odom wasn't able to cross the border into Canada, thus making him pretty much useless to a Calgary team. So they dealt the pitcher to the Laredo Broncos in exchange for ten maple bats. The team thought it was all in good fun; after all, they had once tried to trade a player for seats for their new stadium. But Odom took the high road, using the ridiculous trade as motivation to get better.

6. Dave Winfield for dinner

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After amassing 3,000 hits and a grand hitting career, you'd think Dave Winfield's value would be through the roof. But, in the waning years of his career, he was traded for dinner. The Minnesota Twins dealt Winfield to the Indians for a player to be named later at the trading deadline in 1994. But, two weeks later, before Winfield could play for the Indians, a strike ended the season. Winfield never played for the Indians and a player was never named. To settle the trade, executives from Minnesota and Cleveland decided to go out for dinner and the Indians picked up the check.

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Pop Culture
The Simpsons's Classic Baseball Episode Gets the Mockumentary Treatment
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Opinions vary widely about the continued existence of The Simpsons, which just began its 29th season. Some believe the show ran out of steam decades ago, while others see no reason why the satirical animated comedy can’t run forever.

Both sides will no doubt have something to say about the episode airing Sunday, October 22, which reframes the premise of the show’s classic “Homer at the Bat” installment from 1992 as a Ken Burns-style mockumentary titled Springfield of Dreams: The Legend of Homer Simpson.

As Mashable reports, “Homer at the Bat” saw Montgomery Burns launch his own baseball team and populate it with real major league players like Wade Boggs, Steve Sax, and Jose Canseco to dominate the competition. In the one-hour special, the players will discuss their (fictional) participation, along with interviews featuring Homer and other members of the animated cast.

It’s not clear how much of the special will break the fourth wall and go into the actual making of the episode, a backstory that involves guest star Ken Griffey Jr. getting increasingly frustrated recording his lines and Canseco’s wife objecting to a scene in which her husband's animated counterpart wakes up in bed with lecherous schoolteacher Edna Krabappel.

Morgan Spurlock (Super-Size Me) directed the special, which is slated to air on Fox at either 3 p.m. EST or 4:30 p.m. EST depending on NFL schedules in local markets. There will also be a new episode of The Simpsons—an annual Halloween-themed "Treehouse of Horror" installment—airing in its regular 8 p.m. time slot.

[h/t Mashable]

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Big Questions
Why Do Baseball Managers Wear Uniforms?
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Basketball and hockey coaches wear business suits on the sidelines. Football coaches wear team-branded shirts and jackets and often ill-fitting pleated khakis. Why are baseball managers the only guys who wear the same outfit as their players?

According to John Thorn, the official historian of Major League Baseball since 2011, it goes back to the earliest days of the game. Back then, the person known as the manager was the business manager: the guy who kept the books in order and the road trips on schedule. Meanwhile, the guy we call the manager today, the one who arranges the roster and decides when to pull a pitcher, was known as the captain. In addition to managing the team on the field, he was usually also on the team as a player. For many years, the “manager” wore a player’s uniform simply because he was a player. There were also a few captains who didn’t play for the team and stuck to making decisions in the dugout, and they usually wore suits.

With the passing of time, it became less common for the captain to play, and on most teams they took on strictly managerial roles. Instead of suits proliferating throughout America’s dugouts, though, non-playing captains largely hung on to the tradition of wearing a player's uniform. By the early to mid 20th century, wearing the uniform was the norm for managers, with a few notable exceptions. The Philadelphia Athletics’s Connie Mack and the Brooklyn Dodgers’s Burt Shotton continued to wear suits and ties to games long after it fell out of favor (though Shotton sometimes liked to layer a team jacket on top of his street clothes). Once those two retired, it’s been uniforms as far as the eye can see.

The adherence to the uniform among managers in the second half of the 20th century leads some people to think that MLB mandates it, but a look through the official major league rules [PDF] doesn’t turn up much on a manager’s dress. Rule 1.11(a) (1) says that “All players on a team shall wear uniforms identical in color, trim and style, and all players’ uniforms shall include minimal six-inch numbers on their backs" and rule 2.00 states that a coach is a "team member in uniform appointed by the manager to perform such duties as the manager may designate, such as but not limited to acting as base coach."

While Rule 2.00 gives a rundown of the manager’s role and some rules that apply to them, it doesn’t specify that they’re uniformed. Further down, Rule 3.15 says that "No person shall be allowed on the playing field during a game except players and coaches in uniform, managers, news photographers authorized by the home team, umpires, officers of the law in uniform and watchmen or other employees of the home club." Again, nothing about the managers being uniformed.

All that said, Rule 2.00 defines the bench or dugout as “the seating facilities reserved for players, substitutes and other team members in uniform when they are not actively engaged on the playing field," and makes no exceptions for managers or anyone else. While the managers’ duds are never addressed anywhere else, this definition does seem to necessitate, in a roundabout way, that managers wear a uniform—at least if they want to have access to the dugout. And, really, where else would they sit?

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