With The Tweeting Frenzy Over, It’s Back To Baseball
The final 24 hours leading up to yesterday’s trading deadline were exhilarating, unpredictable and awkward, all at the same time; and in today’s world of instant communication, the tweeters were working overtime. By the time I arrived at the Coliseum Saturday afternoon, there was a flurry of Harden-to-Boston tweets filling the internet stratosphere. Of course, this was all news to the A’s pitcher, not to mention me. The wonderful invention of Twitter has empowered us to communicate messages faster than you can say Fautino De Los Santos. Accuracy? Well, that’s another matter. It seems many journalists and bloggers, some under heavy pressure from their editors, are more concerned about the speed in which they can “break” a story, even if time proves their facts flimsy and ultimately flat wrong. The Rich Harden story is a prime example. I always have to chuckle when transactions are reported on the internet or other medium, and you’re sitting in the eye of the storm and you know the deal is not done. And whether it’s a medical issue or a change of heart, many a deal goes sideways in those final hours.
As Saturday afternoon wore on, the media corps had asked Bob Melvin whether he could confirm the deal during his pre-game session in the dugout. Then during the game, beat writers and team broadcasters took turns approaching me –actually pleading with me–about when the story might be confirmed, and “please, oh please, don’t let Harden leave the clubhouse before we can talk to him!” I make light of it, but obviously these folks are just doing their job. But confusion is certainly the order of the day (or night as it were). It all went full cycle when Harden, standing at his locker, spoke with the reporters after the game, letting them know that he would be taking his normal turn in the A’s rotation Tuesday in Seattle. In other words, it was much ado about nothing.
Yesterday, meanwhile, started innocently enough. I arrived at the park around 9:30 a.m. Soon after, reporters entered the clubhouse and began taking inventory. Coco here? Check. Willingham? Yep. Bailey? Yeah, there in the corner. Then around 10 o’clock or so, Twitter Nation began to buzz again. There were reports out of Phoenix that the Diamondbacks were acquiring Brad Ziegler–our Ziggy –for first baseman Brandon Allen and minor league reliever Jordan Norberto. Soon thereafter, Assistant GM David Forst informed me that the trade would happen if there were no red flags in team doctors’ evaluation of Allen and Norberto. He projected that process would be completed by 11 a.m., at which time he, Billy Beane, Farhan Zaidi and Melvin would summon Ziegler into the manager’s office to break the news. Only problem, though, was Ziggy was in team chapel–held in the weight room on home Sundays–when our baseball braintrust got the green light from our doctors. So, I waited outside the weight room so I could direct Brad to Melvin’s office as soon as chapel ended. Once he was told about the trade, my assistant Mike Selleck made it official by sending out our press release and yes, tweeting the bare essentials for all to see. For me, the toughest part was saying goodbye to one of the most cooperative athletes I’ve dealt with in more than three decades of my career. Whether it was media interviews, community programs or season ticket holder events, you could always count on Zig. And yesterday was no different. After calling his family and Diamondbacks’ GM Kevin Towers, he agreed to come to the dugout for one final media session. He was still wearing A’s gear, although he took off his green cap as a subtle reminder that he was no longer an Oakland Athletic. After the questions ended, many writers came up to Brad and exchanged hugs. No question, he was their “go-to guy” after tough A’s losses. And then, I walked back through the tunnel to the clubhouse. But before I did, I caught one last view of Ziggy. He had stopped in the walkway near the dugout and was signing autographs and visiting with dozens of fans along the railing. It was an appropriate scene for one of the good guys in this business. Tweet that!