Sometimes, we tend to forget that the athletes that we watch do their thing on the field are human beings, not robots. They put their pants on one leg at a time just like the rest of us and those gazillion dollar contracts notwithstanding, they have feelings and emotions, just like the rest of us.
The great ones can call their own shots with no-trade clauses built into their fancy contracts. But the others have no control and can be traded on a moment’s notice, with little concern for the impact it has on their lives.
Some years ago, Wilmer Flores, who had been signed by the New York Mets as a teenager and never played for any other organization, was playing shortstop one night with tears flowing down his cheeks. Through the magic of the internet, word had spread throughout the ballpark that he had been traded, sent packing from the only team he ever played for.
And so, he cried.
Turns out the trade fell through but within a year or two, Flores was gone, drifting first to Arizona and then San Francisco. He doesn’t cry anymore. He understands the business of baseball.
Pitcher Jordan Montgomery got his lesson in that at the trade deadline when the Yankees swapped him to St. Louis for outfielder Harrison Bader, who is sidelined until September with plantar fasciitis.
Montgomery had been a trusted piece of a somewhat shaky Yankees pitching rotation. He had been in the organization since being a fourth round draft pick in 2014. He viewed the Yankees as family so the news that he had been traded stunned him. And like Wilmer Flores, he cried.
He wasn’t the only one in the Yankees clubhouse to be shaken by the news. His best friend on the team, pitcher Jameson Taillon, was stung. They were inseparable in the clubhouse and on the road. Montgomery invited Taillon to his wedding in the offseason.
And just like that, Montgomery was gone.
Cardinal players welcomed the new pitcher in their clubhouse and that made the move a bit easier, at least for a couple of days. Then came the news that less than a week after the deal was made, Montgomery would be making his first start for his new team.
Just the kind of outing the shaky Yankee rotation could use.