If you’ve noticed anybody around you acting weird, don’t worry – today is Friday the 13th, a day full of superstition.
Friggatriskaidekaphobia is what the fear of this day is known as, and a quick look at the baseball history books shows that many major league GM’s might be afflicted with it.
Today marks the 67th Friday the 13th since 1973 (thanks Wikipedia!). On the 66 prior Friday the 13th’s, baseball reference tells me that there have been a total of 159 transactions in the major leagues. And while an average of 2.4 transactions a day might sound like a good amount, keep this in mind: on what is being described as a pretty slow offseason, there were six transactions made on Wednesday (January 11th) of this week alone.
If we only include Friday the 13th’s during the season (i.e. April through September), the number drops to just over two per day (71 moves in 35 days).
On top of those numbers, a look at each of those moves tells us that the overwhelming majority were minor…very minor. Trades involving fringe prospects and bench players, and several lower tier players being signed to free agent contracts. A few moves of note from Friday the 13th’s past include the Rangers trading future Oakland ace Dave Stewart to Philadelphia in 1985, the Yankees signing amateur free agent Bernie Williams (also in ’85), Seattle trading David Ortiz to Minnesota for Dave Hollins (1996), and Cleveland trading away future Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry to Texas in 1975. However, perhaps the most notable move ever made on a Friday the 13th happened to be made by your Toronto Blue Jays.
Looking back through the annals of Friday the 13th’s, the Jays have made a total of five transactions in their history. Four of them were inconsequential:
- 1979: signed Jackson Todd
- 1994: signed an over-the-hill Dave Righetti
- 2006: traded Scott Schoeneweis to Cincinnati for Trevor Lawhorn
- 2009: signed the lovable but injury prone Dirk “The Garfoose” Hayhurst
But the fifth transaction, occurring on Friday the 13th 1996, was one of the biggest moves in franchise history. On that day the Toronto Blue Jays announced the signing of pitcher Roger Clemens. That one turned out to be a pretty good move – for both Toronto and Roger.
But why, other than the moves mentioned above, is there so little activity of consequence on Friday the 13th? Are MLB GM’s superstitious? Are they afraid of making big moves – afraid that something negative will happen? Or are they just simply afraid of the spirit of Jason Voorhees?
Hard to say.
But don’t fear. There are two more Friday the 13th’s in 2012, and both fall during the baseball season. One is in April, where we are likely to see little movement. But the second falls in July, just a few weeks before the trade deadline.
Will Jason prevent anything big from happening to contending teams on that day?