We have all seen them, whether we realize it or not. The players that are stars that haven't had the chance to sparkle as brightly as they can, or their skills have diminished somewhat. But then the magic word comes up in a player's career: Trade. The buzz begins on ESPN and other sports media outlets. All the analysts begin speculating how the player's arrival will change the team they're departing, the team they arrive on, and the sport as a whole. Not every athlete succeeds in these scenarios, but there certainly are those who SHINE.
5: CC Sabathia
This guy wasn't having his best year with the Indians, and had a rough time in the ALCS the year before. He appeared to be at a crossroad in his career, and had a losing record. He needed something to help. How about a trade?
The Cleveland Indians were a sinking ship, and Sabathia was sinking with them. Faster than you can say National League, CC was in Milwaukee.
On July 8, Sabathia stepped up for his first game as part of the Brew Crew. And boy did he like it there.
Sabathia went on to lead the league in complete games, and had multiple shutouts. Not to mention the controversial near no-hitter that dominated baseball headlines for close to a week after it occurred. He was almost an automatic win every time he stepped on the mound for Milwaukee, going 11-2 and leading them into the playoffs. They were eliminated in the first round, but the team may not have even had the opportunity to play in the post season if not for Sabathia. Wherever he ends up next season will be glad to have him, and his contract is going to have a lot of zeros on it.
4: Pau Gasol
In Memphis? His career had no foreseeable future. In Los Angeles? That's a very different story.
His scoring and rebounding averages took a slight hit, but we all know the trade saved him. When he left Memphis and the awful Grizzlies mid-season and went off to the playoff bound team in the Lakers he was all the sudden the talk of the town, on magazines and with stars that was worth playing with. He scored 18.8 points a game with them and gave the Lake Show a much-needed post presence with his physical play. You have to think that, assuming he, Bynum, and Kobe remain healthy, this Laker team is primed for another trip to the Finals.
3: Brett Favre
Some might say that his career was already brilliant and there was nothing to salvage, but the month coming up to his trade provides evidence to the contrary. Favre looked like the most confused man on the planet, conflicted between his loyalty to the Packers and his desire to play for another team. He came out of retirement play for the Jets, and just about everyone thought the results would be ugly. So far, they're wrong.
The New York Jets have been a mediocre to sub-par team in the past few years, going 8-8 or 9-7 with a QB in Chad Pennington that never quite made it over the hump. Favre, however, immediately came in and rejuvenated a proud fanbase and franchise.
They are only 2-2 thus far, but the team has high hopes for the playoffs. Favre has already thrown for 12 touchdowns, averaging three per game. That is, of course, partially due to his record-setting six TD game against the Cardinals in Week 4. He has reshaped the destiny of this team, and has done so while maintaining his signature 'gunslinger' style.
2: Kevin Garnett
Don't get me wrong, Garnett was always a star, without a doubt. But as he got older and the Timberwolves failed to improve, it was clear that something had to give.
The Minnesota Timberwolves were mired in a rebuilding process, and Kevin Garnett was the piece they initially hoped to build around. But after much deliberation, the Wolves decided to part ways with Garnett in the summer of 2007, trading him for the young stars on the Celtics' roster.
The trade naturally garnered much press, as the team had acquired veteran guard Ray Allen via trade just days earlier, making them instant favorites to represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals.
Garnett led the Celtics squad with his trademark fiery demeanor, and quickly became the spirit of the team. His leadership and unyielding competitive attitude on the court inspired the younger players on the team, and gave the Celtics a swagger that led them to their conquest of the 2008 NBA Championship.
Garnett went for struggling with a dismal team in Minnesota to winning NBA Defensive Player of the Year, coming in 3rd in the league MVP voting, and finally winning the championship he longed for. Not a bad year, to say the least.
1: Manny Ramirez
He passed the last milestone that mattered in his career, which was home run number 500. His '07 and '08 seasons with the Red Sox were barely up to his normal standards, with Manny hitting only 20 home runs in '07 and barely playing in '08. He also had a few off-the-field issues, such as pushing down a team secretary and picking a fight with teammate Kevin Youkilis.
It was clear to Red Sox management that Manny needed a change of scenery. The team could not hold on any longer and a complicated deal with multiple teams was thought up. Manny Ramirez was to be shipped out to the Los Angeles Dodgers and Jason Bay would come to Boston.
Instantly, Manny changed as a player. He was a team player, one that was now known to go from 1st to 3rd on a play and steal bases. He hit 17 home runs in 2 months. Not only did his power excel, but he turned around the team (with some help from Casey Blake).
His inspired play was certainly a factor in leading the Dodgers into the playoffs, and he currently hopes to lead the team over Philadelphia for a trip to the World Series. Manny has clearly worked hard to make impressive strides with his new team. But if you ask him, he'll simply say he feels like he's on vacation.
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