HERE’S WHAT HAPPENS WHEN A BASEBALL PLAYER IS WAIVED: AN EXPLAINER
By Chuck Bruce-Woolens
The baseball trade deadline passed a month ago, but now there’s all these rumors of players that can still be traded? There’s another trade deadline coming up? What is going on?
Don’t worry — we’re here to help. And, once you’ve got your baseball transaction lingo down, you’ll be the hit of your next baseball happening instead of shamed, degraded, and bodily thrown out into an alley filled with rotten rutabagas while they all laugh at you.
Why is the trade deadline called the “Non-Waiver Trade Deadline”?
Players from the off-season to the Non-Waiver Trade Deadline (it was July 31 this season) can be traded for other players or players-to-be-named-later or international bonus slot money or whatever the hell you can think of without having to go through waivers. Let’s say I have an extra pitcher named Trip Thowman and you’ve got a minor-league infielder named Dave Short-Stop. We can trade these players for each other and if the Baseball Commissioner asks if those players have been waived we can say “look at the calendar, bucko. I don’t need to waive anyone neither and you nor your lumbering Baseball Henchmen can do a thing about it.”
How is a player put on waivers?
Between the Non-Waiver Trade Deadline and the end of the season, all players who change teams must be put on waivers. This means that the team secretly puts him on a list that they send to Major League baseball under the highest security. Just think about it — a player going about his business with no way of knowing whether or not he has been waived unless the baseball courier is intercepted, the attaché case pried loose from the handcuffs, and the player receives a phone call from a disguised voice on the other end letting him know that he’s been waived. And it happens every day.
What happens to a player who has been waived?
No one knows for sure. We know that Major League Baseball collects the names on these waiver lists and stores them in the bowels of a special facility near Lake Oswego under the auspices of a secret baseball organization called FUNGO that monitors all waived players. MLB’s anti-trust exemption has foiled numerous attempts by former players and baseball watchdog groups to force them to open the vault and let us know what is happening to waived players. The only thing we know is this: all of the players from baseball’s original waiver system implemented in the 1920s are now dead.
What do we know about FUNGO, the shadowy organization embedded within Major League Baseball?
Some trace the origins of FUNGO to a failed Canadian filibuster cell formed in the 1860s to attempt a daring maritime invasion of Prince Edward Island. After the attempt never materialized, its members, experts in sabotage and infiltration, became a baseball secret society who fixed early matches by rubbing bats with poison sumac, staging beanball assassinations, and enmeshing players in foreign intrigues that required them to change their name and leave the United States under forged passports with names like “J. Poltish Harrumpher” and “Hercules Argle-Bargle.”
You used to be able to get hip to FUNGO activities in a Beckett baseball card value book. The PO Box number was always the current price of a 1966 Claude Raymond Astros card. I sent a postcard there and it was returned for no such address. But a week later, I came home to find the place ransacked and a man in a Panama hat with a red-stitched handkerchief waiting. He said he had heard about my inquiries into baseball transactions. He said he knew that it could be frustrating to see just that tiny line in the paper saying a guy was waived. Drove him nuts too, at first. Why can’t everyone know exactly what happens with waivers? But, he said, lighting up a cigarillo and taking off his hat to mop his bald head between the strands of a gossamer comb-over using another hankie, not the red-stitched one that stood attention in that front breast pocket, he soon saw that baseball was for holding this country together — it’s not just a game, you see, but it’s a guard, a caulk, if you will against all the things moving in: degenerates, communists, fellow-travelers, ‘zines, rockism, Gannagas cults, and the like.
You know, he said, we tried it once. We called in Duff Jansen and told him look, nothing’ll come of it, but your team’s gonna waive you. We showed him the waiver list. And we told him what that meant and he said ok fellers and shook our hands really cheery-like, like it was nothing. Then he went out there, and we didn’t follow him, that was sloppy, and next thing you know he’s talking to reporters and we got people, real people, not just those freaks, but taxpayers and crewcuts driving out to the park and they’ve got rakes and shovels and aerators and I looked and saw twelve-year-old with a tiki torch trying to light up some bunting and that was the end of it. Jansen was pulled back from waivers with a big apology, you know, mimeograph error, dumb secretary, all that horseshit, and then you know what that son-of-a-bitch mysteriously retired with a huge bonus and bought a fancy fishing boat that disappeared with him in the offseason. That’s what this is all about, he said. Maybe you should get into volleyball or horse racing. And then he got up and the bats started in on me and I woke up in a pile of rotted alfalfa sprouts.
How does this affect the post-season roster?