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Picture this: You're a young athlete at the height of your game, hitting your stride with a Major League Baseball team. Your teammates feel like family. Your actual family has fallen in love with their home. The fans have accepted you as one of their own. Yesterday they gave out Chia pets with your face on them at the stadium (this is a common giveaway in Boston). You're home.
And then, in July... you're traded.
Suddenly you are thrust onto a new team, new city, new fans, new everything. Whoa.
I can only imagine what it feels like, but never will I actually know what it feels like to be ripped away from my community. Until... r/baseball came along.
In celebration of the real Major League Baseball trade deadline, which is approaching at the end of the month, the r/baseball subreddit has a trade of its own. Basically, redditors sign up to be traded from one baseball team's subreddit to another. Each Reddit baseball community has a "general manager" who converses with other GM's over who is being traded where. Then, when all the trading is done and the virtual dust has settled, the new trade acquisitions have to "play" for their new team. This means the traded redditors — and they all get traded -- subscribe to their new team's subreddit and watch one series of their new team with their fellow redditors. It is a game where redditors transform into Reddit Athletic Stars. I know this, because Endless Thread played the game.
When you listen to the episode you'll hear that we, u/endless_thread, were signed up to be traded. What you won't hear in the episode is what being traded on Reddit feels like: the highs and lows, the ups and downs, the upvotes and the downvotes. It got intense. I was assigned to follow and represent this podcast in our MLB Reddit trade game debut. Here is how it went:
My life as a self-described reddit "athlete" began when Amory signed us up to be on the Red Sox. Duh. We are based out of Boston. Also the Red Sox are winners, just like team Endless Thread. To be exact, the Red Sox are in the midst of their winningest season ever. If my bias isn't clear, I am a Sox fan.
I dare you to watch this clip from r/redsox and not immediately fall in love with this team:
Anyway... The reality stood that no matter which team we would be traded to, it would be a downgrade. As long as it wasn't the Yankees, we would be fine.
While the trade game was going on, I stirred the online pot by saying:
I wanted to be wanted, I'll admit it. Soon after, one of the Reddit trade rumor reporters (yep, those are a thing) rumored that u/endless_thread could be going to the San Diego Padres. Now for those who are not up to speed on their baseball knowledge, the Padres are in a whole other league. Literally, they're in the National League. They also stink. They are last place in the National League. At this point I am thinking, okay maybe the Yankees wouldn't be so bad.
Fast forward to five days later, the Reddit trade deadline has come and gone and I am preparing to watch the two worst teams in the National League square up: The New York Mets and my, now, San Diego Padres. Fun fact: The San Diego Padres have not won a World series in... ever. They are the oldest team to have never won a World Series. I learned that fact, because I am now a big Padres guy. Even before the first game, I went to the r/padres page and established that u/endless_thread was a big dog, and we were ready to play. I posted:
Any Sox fan would know that Don Orsillo, former Red Sox announcer, now Padres announcer, had a buttery voice that we still miss. With 70+ upvotes under my belt, I was ready to show that u/endless_thread would be a valuable trade acquisition for these Padres.
Game 1: The Mets were feeding us their ace Jacob deGrom. This seemed to be the focus of the r/padres Gamethread where we all congregate to comment on the game. With all eyes on the new guy, I made my first comment:
This was true. I was standing in line at Katz deli and I witnessed a very animated conversation about Jacob deGrom. I thought my new teammates would find it interesting and relevant and possibly inspire a twinkle of hope. I was right:
My first comment I wrote was almost as popular as when deGrom came out, and I wrote:
That comment got five upvotes and the Padres went on to win 3-2. Coincidence? You tell me.
Game 2: I'd be lying if I didn't say I had a little bit of swagger when I logged into Reddit to watch game two of the series. I was on a one-game winning streak so I had the momentum. While I was watching the game, I kept hearing these planes that sounded like they were landing in the stadium. I didn't know what was going on. Maybe this is a standard for Padres games, so I did NOT want to be out of the loop.
So I asked:
Tame first comment of the night. I established I was new to the subreddit and hoping to learn more about Padres culture. Until a longtime Padre responded:
Oh no! What a rookie error! I forgot the Padres were away at the Mets. I tried to recover:
But alas I couldn't bounce back, even when I went back to my puns after Wil Myers got a double in the ninth inning:
There was no comeback for me or the Padres. Mets won 6-3. I let the team down.
Game 3: This was my chance at redemption, but I could tell something in the air wasn't right. The game was at noon, so I had to watch it at work. And even though watching the game was technically my work, I still felt like I had to be discreet. I didn't want to explain my new Reddit athlete status to all desk passers-by, so I kept it low key. When there was a rain delay and I thought I was getting back into the rhythm of my game:
But I only fizzled out from there. I had nothing else to say for the rest of the game and "coincidentally" the Padres lost. I didn't leave it all out on the comment thread. I let my team down.
So we went 1-2 to the second worst team in baseball and my Reddit athletic career came to an end. (As I mentioned, the recommendation of the Reddit Trade Deadline "commissioners" is that you watch one series). Looking back at my time on the Padres subreddit, I leave with many a fond memory. I learned about a new team and I got a total of almost 30 upvotes, so I wasn't completely dead wood. But most importantly, I found a new family. And I will never forget them. Go Sox, but go Padres too.
To see an impressive collection of analytics from this year's r/baseball trade (compiled by someone from the CERN and the Large Hadron Collider), click HERE.
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