Let's Make a Deal: 6 of Baseball's Strangest Trades

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These trades left baseball fans utterly confused.

1. HARRY CHITI FOR HARRY CHITI

You always see those mysterious "players to be named later" spring up in trades. There are usually restrictions on what players can be traded depending on how each team does. The best player named later, though, was Harry Chiti. At the beginning of the 1962 season, the Cleveland Indians dealt catcher Chiti to the New York Mets for cash and a player to be named later. In June, the two teams decided on the player: Harry Chiti. Essentially, Chiti was traded for himself and cash, making him a literal rent-a-player.

2. JOHNNY JONES FOR A TURKEY

Chattanooga Lookouts owner Joe Engel was a publicity hound and his promotions were headline-grabbers (he once gave away a house during a game). But perhaps his most unusual stunt was when he traded shortstop Johnny Jones to Charlotte. In return, Engel received a 25-pound turkey, which he prepared for the media. After trying the turkey, Engel declared that Charlotte had won the trade because the turkey was tough. Maybe if that turkey had been juicy, Chattanooga would have come out ahead.

Oddly enough, that isn't baseball's only player-for-food trade. In 1998, the Pacific Suns traded Ken Krahenbuhl to the Greensville Bluemen for a player, cash, and 10 pounds of Mississippi catfish.

3. MARILYN PETERSON FOR SUSAN KEKICH

Yankees pitchers Mike Kekich and Fritz Peterson were friends and, in the swinging 1970s had even allegedly engaged in some innocent wife-swapping. But in 1973, they took it a step further, literally switching wives. The ladies moved in to their new partners' houses, bringing the kids and even the dogs with them. Baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn said he was appalled when he found out, but the Yankees had a lighter look at it. GM Lee MacPhail laughed and said, "We may have to call off Family Day."

4. JOE GORDON FOR JIMMY DYKES

As GM of various baseball teams, Frank Lane built up a reputation as being quick to the trigger on any trade, earning him the nicknames "Frantic Frank" and "Trader Lane." He was famous for his fateful trade with Cleveland that sent star Rocky Colavito to Detroit, casting a supposed curse on the Tribe. But his most unusual trade came mid-season in 1960, when he traded his manager, Joe Gordon, to Detroit in exchange for Tigers manager Jimmy Dykes. The move was mostly a stunt (allegedly, he wanted to trade the entire team to Detroit, but was stopped by the commissioner of baseball) and didn't help either team: the Indians finished in fourth place in the American League, two places ahead of the Tigers.

5. JOHN ODOM FOR 10 BATS

When the Calgary Vipers realized that their new pickup John Odom wasn't going to be able to play for them, they decided to make the best of it. Due to a felony charge, Odom wasn't able to cross the border into Canada, thus making him pretty much useless to a Calgary team. So they dealt the pitcher to the Laredo Broncos in exchange for 10 maple bats. The team thought it was all in good fun; after all, they had once tried to trade a player for seats for their new stadium. But Odom took the high road, using the ridiculous trade as motivation to get better.

6. DAVE WINFIELD FOR DINNER

After amassing 3000 hits and a grand hitting career, you'd think Dave Winfield's value would be through the roof. But, in the waning years of his career, he was traded for dinner. The Minnesota Twins dealt Winfield to the Indians for a player to be named later at the trading deadline in 1994. But, two weeks later, before Winfield could play for the Indians, a strike ended the season. Winfield never played for the Indians and a player was never named. To settle the trade, executives from Minnesota and Cleveland decided to go out for dinner and the Indians picked up the check.

6 Times the Olympics Have Been Postponed or Canceled

Sander van Ginkel, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 2.0
Sander van Ginkel, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 2.0

The 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo have been officially postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan agreed to push the start date back to 2021 after Canada, Australia, and other countries announced they would not send athletes to the Summer Games this July.

The Summer Olympics is the biggest sporting event in the world, typically bringing more than 10,000 athletes from dozens of countries together every four years, The New York Times reports.

It's extremely rare for the Summer or Winter Olympics to be postponed or canceled. Since 1896, when the modern Olympic Games began, it has happened only six times—and it usually requires a war.

The Olympic Games were canceled during World War I and World War II. The 1940 Summer Games, scheduled to take place in Tokyo, were postponed due to war and moved to Helsinki, Finland, where they were later canceled altogether. The current coronavirus pandemic marks the first time the competition has ever been temporarily postponed for a reason other than war. Here's the full list.

  1. 1916 Summer Olympics // Berlin, Germany
  1. 1940 Summer Olympics // Tokyo, Japan and Helsinki, Finland
  1. 1940 Winter Olympics // Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany
  1. 1944 Summer Olympics // London, United Kingdom
  1. 1944 Winter Olympics // Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy
  1. 2020 Summer Olympics // Tokyo, Japan

6 Surprising Ways Baseball Actually Favors Lefties

Left-handed pitcher Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers during game five of the National League Division Series in 2019.
Left-handed pitcher Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers during game five of the National League Division Series in 2019.
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

If you grew up playing baseball, tee-ball, softball, or any other derivative of America’s favorite pastime, you might be familiar with certain positions left-handed people are unofficially prohibited from playing—you’ll hardly ever see a left-handed shortstop or third baseman, for example, because they’d be facing the wrong direction for any throws to the right side of the field. However, there are plenty of other parts of the game that are equally important as efficiently making outs at first or second base, and some of them can even favor lefties. Read on to find out how left-handed batters, pitchers, and more have an edge against their right-handed competitors below.

1. Left-handed pitchers have a better view of first base.

Since a left-handed pitcher faces first base when he’s gearing up to pitch, he can easily see if a first base runner is leading off (i.e. taking a few steps off the bag, with the intention to steal second base). This makes for some pretty spectacular fake-outs where a pitcher will feign throwing a pitch and instead flip it to the first baseman, who can tag the runner out before he can get a foot (or finger) back on the bag.

2. Left-handed batters are closer to first base.

Left-handed batters are simply standing a little closer to first base than right-handed batters. As former MLB player Doug Bernier explained for Pro Baseball Insider, an extra step or so can be the difference between getting thrown out at first base or making it safely there, especially if it’s an infield hit. That said, not everyone agrees the slightly shorter distance to first base is enough to give left-handed batters an advantage on infield hits in general. In a 2007 article for The Hardball Times, John Walsh argued that since lefties hit more ground balls into the right half of the infield—giving first and second basemen a shorter distance to cover to make the out at first—their one-step head start isn’t statistically significant overall.

3. Left-handed batters’ momentum is already carrying them in the direction of first base.

Even if a shorter distance to first base isn’t enough to give a left-handed batter the edge on every occasion, he also has the laws of physics on his side. When a lefty swings, the momentum of the bat is moving to the right—i.e. toward first base—so he gets to run in the same direction he’s already moving. Righties, on the other hand, swing toward third base and have to break the momentum to sprint in the opposite direction. Dr. David A. Peters, a professor of engineering at Washington University in St. Louis (and baseball aficionado), calculated that lefties’ momentum means they’re able to travel to first base about one-sixth of a second faster than righties.

4. Left-handed first basemen are facing the right direction to throw the ball to another infielder.

If the ball is hit to a left-handed first baseman, he’s already in the ideal position—with his right foot closest to his target—to throw it just about anywhere else in the infield. This is especially helpful when there’s an opportunity to make an out at second or third base, which he’d usually prioritize over the first base out. A right-handed first baseman, on the other hand, might have to pivot as much as 180 degrees to get his left foot where it needs to be to throw it to another infielder.

5. Left-handed batters perform better against right-handed pitchers, which are more abundant.

In baseball, it’s generally agreed that batters fare better when hitting against opposite-handed (OH) pitchers, so much so that coaches sometimes stack their batting lineups with lefties when they know a righty will be pitching, and vice versa. “With the dominance of right-handed pitchers in the game,” Dan Peterson writes for gameSense Sports, “the left-handed hitter comes to the plate with a built-in advantage.” The advantage itself has to do with the direction of the pitches.

“With a right-handed release to a right-handed batter, the ball seems to be coming right at him,” Peterson explains. “The same pitch coming from the opposite side provides a better view across the body.”

6. Right field is shorter than left field in some parks.

detroit tigers comerica park aerial view
An aerial view of the Detroit Tigers' Comerica Park.
NASA, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

When professional baseball stadiums first started cropping up in the late 19th century, there wasn’t a league-wide set of dimensions to standardize their size and shape (in fact, for the most part, there still isn’t). Since the majority of batters were right-handed—and, as such, more likely to hit the ball into left field—some stadiums featured left fields that were significantly deeper than their right fields. Take Philadelphia’s Columbia Park II, which opened in 1901 with a 340-foot left field and a 280-foot right field. Those short right fields meant left-handed batters would have an easier time hitting home runs. While most modern stadiums have quite literally evened the playing field with more symmetrical dimensions, some of them still have discrepancies; the right field foul pole at the Detroit Tigers’ Comerica Park, for example, is a whole 15 feet closer to home plate than its left field foul pole.

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