Now that we’re in July – what better event to look forward to and start reading about than the trading deadline.
Few topics provide as much discussion as who we could trade for to make the team better.
But as any general manager knows, it’s never as easy to make a trade as it to simply come up with one.
And that’s where Fran Zimniuch’s new book Going, Going, Gone: The Art the Trade in Major League Baseball comes in.
The book provides an almost too thorough job of covering the history of what rules governed players and their contracts. It offers a good background of the reserve clause and the events that spurred both free agency and salary arbitration.
For me, most of this was ground that had already been covered by other books, and while always a good review and something that will most likely be very beneficial to many people who read this book, it was a bit of a recap of what I already knew.
It’s not until the end of the book that some of baseball’s most notorious trades are brought in for example, which may leave you feeling like the subject off the book isn’t really being addressed as advertised. While Zimunich covers the “trade” of Babe Ruth from the Red Sox to the Yankees in the early goings of the book, he also brings some other big name trades in.
As I read it though, I kept wondering when there would be more substance and examples of trades. Some of this might have just been perception, but as they say perception is reality – and while there are good clumps of trade examples, it does feel at times that I was going for dozens of pages covering backgrounds and the context in which trades happen instead of actual trades.
If anything, Going, Going, Gone falls victim to poor layout. Somewhere between this layout and the way that Rob Neyer lays out his books is a format that would be of tremendous benefit because it would better mesh the tremendous backstory and context that trades occur in with the examples that are used.
One of this book is some noticable errors in names — for instance referring to Seattle Mariners CEO Howard Lincoln as Howard Linder, misspelling sports agent Scott Boras as Boros, and Minnesota Twins’ infielder Nick Punto gets referred to as Nick Punta. Basic errors like these worry me about other factual aspects of the book, which I hope to go back and check at a later date.
Read Going, Going, Gone at your own risk – while it’s a good primer on the rules that govern player transactions, it certainly won’t make you feel like you’re ready to apply to be a GM. However, if you do nothing else than simply learning former GM Bing Devine’s four principles for a good trade, you’ll wind up a much more knowledgeable fan.
If you’re not well-versed in things like the National Agreement, the reserve clause, and the history of arbitration and free agency, this will provide a two-fold benefit for you; giving you that history as well as a good look inside what goes into making a trade happen.
My only request that this book didn’t fulfill is that it doesn’t temper the grandiose dreams of fans of trading away a virtually worthless player saddled with a big contract, or acquiring a star player for a significantly undervalued pakcage. I have a feeling that that kind of grandiose and unrealistic thinking is just something we’re stuck with as a by-product of trades even happening in the first place.