So earlier today the Chicago Cubs sent pitcher Ryan Tepera across town to the White Sox, in exchange for a lefthander named Bailey Horn.
I have never heard of Tepera. I have never heard of Horn. But I’m 100 percent all in on this deal.
In short, as a native New Yorker, I’ve always looooooooooved crosstown trades. The first time I experienced one was in the lord’s year of 1987, when the Mets sent shortstop Rafael Santana (one of my all-time favorite players) to the Yankees for a trio of minor leaguers—Darren Reed, Phil Lombardi and Steve Frey. On the surface, it wasn’t much of a swap. Santana was the weak link of the 1986 Mets—a solid-field, weak-armed, .218-hitting shortstop who (as reported in my book, “The Bad Guys Won!”) once got so wasted he took a piss on a bus seat. Reed, Lombardi and Frey, meanwhile, were fringe dudes. Reed played 26 games with the 1990 Mets, Lombardi 18 games with the 1989 Mets and Frey, well, Frey actually had a lengthy and productive career.
I think what I’ve always enjoyed about the same-city swap are the attached mental images: Finding out about the deal, suffering through a moment of sadness, then realizing, “Wait, I don’t have to move.” Entering the clubhouse for the first time and having someone say, “Uh-oh–the enemy has arrived.” Comparing notes between Yankees and Mets, White Sox and Cubs, Angels and Dodgers (though, really, the Angels are not in LA—so this one barely counts).
There’s also the stakes attached to those who agree to the transactions. Two years ago, for example, the Jets (happily) sent Leonard Williams, their recently-hyped defensive lineman, to the Giants for two draft picks. Fans of the green and white were thrilled. Fans of the big blue were bewildered. Leonard Williams? Really? It felt like one of those far-too-often scenarios where a franchise thinks, “This guy just needs a fresh start”—when, in reality, he’s simply a dog.
So the Jets got the picks, the Giants got Williams …
And, well, Williams is fantastic. He signed a new contract, he recorded 11 1/2 sacks last season. He’s pretty damn phenomenal. All it took was a change of scenery. Or, truth be told, a change of locker-rooms and uniform colors.
So, mazel tov to Ryan Tepera, mazel tov to Bailey Horn.
May your suitcases remain unneeded.