Detroit, MI – Major League Baseball’s annual Trade Deadline occurred last week, an arcane ritual wherein teams destroy players and transform them into other players through twisted sorceries abhorrent to God and nature. Analysts said it was one of the most exciting and abominable deadlines in years.
The biggest act of dark magic was conducted by the Detroit Tigers, who turned two baseball players into a David Price. Baseball seers at ESPN and Fangraphs thought it would take the souls and viscera of no fewer than three baseball players to create a David Price.
“Our goal is the World Series this year,” said Tigers GM and necromancer Dave Dombrowski. “It’s hard to part with guys who’ve been a big part of our success here. But when you get the chance to get a David Price or a Jon Lester, you gotta pull the trigger and whet the bloodstone.”
A sellout Tigers crowd, adorned in traditional Trade Deadline giveaway crimson cloaks, gave center fielder Austin Jackson a standing ovation when he was pulled during the 7th inning. Cameras caught Jackson hugging teammates in the dugout, and on-field mics caught his screams as he was boiled down into fetid ichor in the clubhouse Transaction Nexus in preparation for the creation of a David Price.
The Trading Deadline is not without risks to the teams willing to dabble in its eldritch magics. The original players teams covet are, naturally, destroyed in the transaction. “If we get the David Price the Rays had all year, we’ll be in great shape for October,” Dombrowski told reporters, his voice hoarse after hours of incantations. “But obviously that’s impossible. We’re not gods.” Sometimes the player created does not perform as well as the source player. When transactions fail, general managers often suffer through the violent extraction of their souls and, in the following off-season, the loss of their jobs.
In 1998 the Houston Astros banished three players into the nether to conjure a Randy Johnson, an animated simulacrum of which had been pitching for Seattle. The new Randy Johnson (the third in his Line, the original being destroyed by Montreal to create a Mark Langston in 1989) was much stronger than the Randy Johnson Seattle destroyed. Despite being covered in corpuscles and attended by blood-eyed ravens, he went 10-1 the rest of the season, helping Houston reach the playoffs.
The abominations GMs conjure in front offices can make or break their careers. “It’s about doing your scouting and working the phones and the bone globes,” said feared Oakland sorcerer Billy Beane. The subtly with which he manipulates the Transaction Nexus’s obsidian portal is famous. “And when you’ve got another GM ready to deal, you have to be willing to rend players maybe you don’t want to rend.” The years Beane has spent toiling within the Nexus have taken a toll, as Beane’s necrotic heart and lungs can be seen pulsing with stygian light through the polo shirts he favors. Still, Beane defends it as vital to creating winning ball clubs. “Division titles are won covered in viscera prostrate before the spectral abyss. The playoffs are just luck.”
Other General Managers’ mastery of the blasphemous Trade Deadline ritual is less complete. This year its otherworldly siren calls overwhelmed Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr., who spent the deadline swinging on meat hooks above the Nexus and gibbering.
Staying focused while knowing one’s team is warming the emulsifying bellows can be stressful for younger players. “It’s good to talk to guys who have been through the Deadline once,” said Seattle infielder Nick Franklin. “But guys like Cliff [Lee], who’ve been turned into other guys three, four times, they just howl and claw at their eyes. So I’m trying to keep my focus on the field and not worrying about things I can’t control.”
At the Trade Deadline Seattle reduced Nick Franklin into a throbbing, effulgent ooze and conjured an Austin Jackson to plug their hole in center field.