WAGUESPACK: Some Trades Are Not Worth Making

A bad trade can haunt a team for a very long time.

For decades, any Red Sox fan would readily tell you about “The Curse of the Bambino” that haunted their team as a result of trading Babe Ruth to the Yankees for cash back in 1919. For the next 86 years, the Yankees won 27 titles before the Red Sox finally broke “the curse” when they won the 2004 World Series.

As a St. Louis Cardinals fan, I am especially fond of a bad trade made by our rival, the Chicago Cubs, in 1964. That year, the Cubs traded Lou Brock to the Cardinals for pitcher Ernie Broglio. Broglio pitched another ho-hum season or two for the Cubs before leaving the game of baseball for good. Brock went on to star for the Cardinals for the next 15 years and helped them win two World Series titles during his hall of fame career…thanks Cubbies. This is simply one of several curses to haunt the Cubs over the years with no end seemingly in sight.

There are countless other examples over the years that stand out as particularly awful trades for one side of the transaction and no sport is immune to this infliction.

The Dallas Cowboys dealt all-pro running back Herschel Walker near the end of his career to the Minnesota Vikings in 1989 in exchange for numerous draft picks that would fuel the Cowboys dominance in the 90s. The Lakers have won five NBA titles with Kobe Bryant thanks to a 1996 trade with the Charlotte Hornets for aging center Vlade Divac. In 1991, top hockey prospect Eric Lindros was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for cash and several players that would all go on to help the Colorado Avalanche win two Stanley Cup titles.

Bad trades rarely look bad on the day they are made and sometimes are impossible to grade until time goes by. When Mike Ditka donned a dreadlock wig and fired up a cigar on draft day in 1999, he did so to announce the Saints had agreed to trade every draft pick they had that year for the rights to running back Ricky Williams. He was a “can’t-miss” prospect and the type of running back that could change the face of a franchise for years to come. While New Orleans had some good moments and fun times with Ricky, the experiment in hindsight caused more head-scratching moments than jaw-dropping plays for Saints fans.

While trades in the sports world can be difficult to predict but often easy to second guess, a few trades outside the sports arena that have been announced lately warrant our careful consideration.

The most discussed example that comes to mind is the trade orchestrated between President Obama and the Taliban. In this one, the President traded five notorious terrorists from custody in Guantánamo in exchange for an American prisoner of war, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. Numerous reports have detailed the dangerous nature of these high-level terrorists and the likelihood they will rejoin the fight against America now that they are free. In comparison, mixed reports have surfaced about the intentions of Sgt. Bergdahl, the details of his capture and the level of appreciation he has for his country. Early reports seem to show this as a likely lopsided trade for the Taliban, but hopefully time will prove us wrong. For America’s sake, I hope that is the case.

A less discussed example is another recent trade designed and announced by the Obama Administration. In this deal, memorialized by new regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency, the President’s captive trading partner is the American economy. In exchange for new regulations on carbon dioxide emissions from power plants mandated from DC, the American economy will spend $50 billion a year between now and 2030, according to a study by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

This is a trade that we do not need to wait long to see who got the better end of the deal.

The U.S. Chamber study went on to state that these carbon regulations would lead to 224,000 fewer American jobs each year, increased electric costs by $289 billion through 2030, and lower total disposable U.S. income by $586 billion over that same time period. All the while, other countries will continue to talk a big game on climate while they do little more than watch the U.S. take self-imposed steps to bring our hard fought economic prowess back to the pack.

These trades come on the heels of other one-sided deals by this Administration, such as the time we traded our market-based healthcare industry for a government-driven model and the time we dealt our strong position with Russia in exchange for a weak one.

A lopsided trade can be fun in sports when you are on the better end of the stick, and even if not, it can be overcome with a little time, patience and luck. When it comes to America’s economic and national security, the novelty of analyzing and debating risky trades is not nearly as fun.

Our nation’s team, made up of the American people, is strong, resilient, and capable of playing at an extremely high level. At a minimum, we just need management to stop making harmful trades that strengthens our competition. Ideally, it is time for the President to make a one-sided deal in our favor, so that the American people can finally be empowered to lead us out of this lingering recession.

The solution is obvious. Next time, the President should simply propose a one-sided deal with his hometown Chicago Cubs. If history is any judge, I know we can pull a fast one on them.

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