Trading Places

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Trading Places
Just a weird weekend. That's all I can say. The story in the Newark Star Ledger about how the team was close to trading me and three prospects to Cincinnati threw us all for a loop. That rumor spread to all the papers, the websites, SportsCenter... I got phone calls and text messages from other players (including one of the three guys I was allegedly going to be traded for), some emails. It is hard to describe the personal mayhem that original story created.

My kids literally freaked out. First, they said, I moved them down to Florida for 6 weeks when they could be home in New Jersey with their friends going to school and learning...stuff (they never tell me what they're learning). Now, I'm going to move them to America's heartland because I've been a jerk to my bosses (in baseball, those people are my manager and GM) and I keep writing a blog instead of speaking to the papers, websites, SportsCenter and telephones.

My wife Vanessa - my rock in stormy seas, my life coach, my crutch when I tweak a hamstring, my oxygen when I cannot breathe because a small piece of hot dog has found itself lodged in my throat - took it in stride like the veteran wife that she is by offering to drive me to a hotel after kicking me out of the house for doing all of the things my two adorable high school twin daughters described above.

I did what I do best in these situations. I called my superagent Jack Perry to find out the truth. After insuring me that yes, I do have a full no-trade clause to any American baseball team, I asked if it was possible that I could be traded to an American team in another sport, like the New York Knicks. I'd hate that. The Knicks stink. Jack said my value to teams in other sports was at an all time low. No need to concern myself with making the Bengals as their third-string punter for the '08-'09 season (NFL contracts aren't guaranteed like in baseball. I'd never earn a dime.).

What about Japan? Could I be traded to Japan? Jack said no. I could not be traded to Japan. I could be sold to Japan, however.

Oh my God, I thought, and said, and thought some more. I don't like sushi. I was doomed.

No need for any dooming, Jack said. After one call to the front office, he received confirmation that the rumor was just that, a rumor. I wasn't going anywhere. No Cincinnati chili in my or my daughters' near future. No highway hotel drive for Vanessa to make that night. I wiped the sweat off my brow and pretended I'd never been nervous in the first place.

Trade rumors are terrible, if you pay attention. I was traded once, back in 1994. That trade had been coming for about 6 months, and that was half a year that I'll never get back. The constant wondering about mine and my family's future. The worry about whether new fans will like me and cheer as much as the ones did in Chicago. Will I get along with my new teammates? My new manager? And on the flip side, the ballplayer isn't the only one being traded. When I was traded, Vanessa was traded too, along with twin baby girls. At least it was during the off season so I could help with the move. But talk to any player's wife and she'll tell you that when her husband is traded, or sent down to the minors, or sent up to the majors, her life is turned upside down just as much as her husband's. It's rarely fun. But it does work out. I've gotten two championships in New York since that trade and I'm still here. I'd say it was a good one.

So where do the rumors start? In this case, it could have been somebody, within earshot of the Star Ledger reporter, just threw out a suggestion. It could have been our assistant GM checking out the landscape and listening to another GM's suggestion. It could have been all b.s. as well, just a writer looking to make a name for himself, looking to draw attention to himself, looking to make the pot a little hotter for me because he's mad I'm not speaking to him on the record like I used to.

Whatever the reason, a rumor like this is one reason why I no longer speak to the press. You're not going to get something like this started from me. And if you want to know what I think, you'll have to come hear and read exactly what I wrote. You can't misquote me because I'm not talking and you can take anything you want out of context while knowing anyone who wants to can come here and see for themselves what's real and what isn't. This is a more accurate way for me to say how I feel about something than the old telephone game of me telling a reporter, him writing it out, his editor screwing around with it, someone else writing the headline, and then other media outlets reporting the final, inaccurate version as the truth. I don't blame reporters for this situation. I blame the system.

So next time you see a rumor about this guy going someplace for somebody else, keep in mind that what you're reading can't be any farther from the truth. And then come back here and ask me what I think. Your Uncle Jimmy will take care of you real nice. Real nice.
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