Trade-deadline week is baseball's Shark Week. Everyone anticipates it for months, and you watch cold, calculating creatures - owners, general managers, managers, players and agents, in this instance - circle each other, sniffing out true intentions and potential weaknesses.
You tolerate plenty; after all, they're trying to survive. But occasionally, one such entity behaves in such a reprehensible manner that he doesn't come close to reaching the low bar.
Enter Roy Oswalt. You talk to officials around the game, and you hear large doses of disgust as to the way the Astros' ace has conducted himself.
First of all, to make sure we don't bury the lead: Will the Astros trade Oswalt by the 4 p.m. EST Saturday deadline? Most people think no, yet these situations can be fluid. The Phillies are pursuing the 32-year-old most aggressively, according to a person familiar with the situation.
Oswalt has been telling friends that, contrary to a widely held belief in the industry, he would not demand that his 2012 team option (for $16 million) be exercised, in return for waiving his no-trade clause. And that the Phillies would suit him just fine, if not as well as the Cardinals or Braves.
If that's truly they case, then there is some seriously bad information making its way around the industry. Not just to the media, but more important, to the other teams themselves.
He's one of the better righthanded pitchers of his time, and his 6-12 record this year exemplifies why a pitcher's won-loss mark carries as much value as a VCR player. Nevertheless, he has soiled his good name with his shenanigans of the past few months.
First, you should know that Oswalt has been whining about the mediocre Astros' fate virtually since the ink dried on the five-year, $73-million extension he signed in 2006. By 2008, at the latest, he was working actively behind the scenes, trying to get shipped to a contender. That those '08 Astros wound up contending, putting up an 86-75 record, didn't help his cause.
When Houston limped out to an awful start this season, Oswalt didn't hesitate. Before Memorial Day, he was on record with the old, "If it helps the team by bringing back young, talented players, I'll gladly abandon these guys" line.
Once the talks got serious, however, word circulated that Oswalt wanted the 2012 money guaranteed. So he created this situation, and then he exacerbated it? What chutzpah!
There's another problem with the Oswalt trade talks, however. The same reason that he received that lucrative extension four years ago, is why he might be staying put: Astros owner Drayton McLane.
You can question McLane's perspective and his wisdom. But he deserves some credit, no? In his world, there's nothing he'd like more than to retain Oswalt, and to keep paying him handsomely. He doesn't believe in rebuilding, and perhaps that's misguided. Perhaps not though, in the weak National League Central.
So the Cardinals, being NL Central neighbors of the Astros, won't get Oswalt. The Braves don't need him. The Dodgers probably don't have the cash.
The Phillies? Their farm system took some hits from big trades in recent years. Maybe they have enough left for this one.
If McLane lowers his asking price and pulls the trigger by Saturday, it might just be that he's tired of Oswalt's complaining, and dreading at least another year and a half of such.
Oswalt is a shark on the mound. Off the field? His act is weak.