Editor's note: The above video is from Oct. 4, 2015.
SCOTTSDALE — The Internet has created a sports world where players often find out about trades in odd ways, and those experiences are hard to forget. While taping a podcast Monday, I asked George Kontos if he had any good stories from his minor league days. Without skipping a beat, Kontos started talking about — in perfect detail — the time a reporter told him he had been traded.
“I was in, very briefly, the 2008 trade from the Yankees to the Pirates that sent Jeff Karstens, Daniel McCutchen, Jose Tabata and I think one other person for Xavier Nady and the lefty reliever (Damaso) Marte,” he said. “I was in that trade for about 12 hours. It was supposed to be myself and Phil Coke originally, and then I got a call the next morning as I was about to start packing my bags.
“I got a phone call saying, ‘Hey, the trade didn’t go through. You’re pitching tonight still, for us, for the Double-A affiliate in Trenton.’”
[PAVLOVIC: The Giants Insider Podcast: Episode 2 with George Kontos]
Kontos found out he was being traded when a local reporter came down from the press box to ask him about the deal as he charted pitches. The trade did in fact go through the next day, July 26, 2008. The final version was Tabata, McCutchen, Karstens and Ross Ohlendorf for Nady and Marte, and there are a couple of fan blogs online that make mention of Kontos originally being in it.
This, from bucsdugout.com, is a fascinating paragraph eight years later: “If Tabata and Kontos come the Pirates' way, they'd immediately become the second and third-best prospects in the system, behind Andrew McCutchen. Pedro Alvarez, if/when he signs, would obviously bump them down a notch, too.”
Kontos quickly got a chance for some revenge.
“I ended up not going to the Pirates and then I ended up facing them, my next start, back when I was a starter,” he said. “I faced them my very next start.”
Spend enough time in a big league clubhouse and you'll find that players often accidentally misstate large chunks of their best stories, but Kontos' memory on this is right on. He pitched the night he was pulled from the deal, and then his next start after it finally went through did come against the Pirates’ affiliate from Altoona. Eight years later, what does he remember?
“Eight innings, 13 punchies, no runs, one hit,” he said. “It was kind of like, ‘Here’s what you missed out on by not wanting me in that trade.’”
Yep. Here’s the box score.
If you really want to get baseball-nerdy, there are other layers here. Kontos ultimately got traded to the Giants for Chris Stewart, who ended up on the Pirates team the Giants beat in the Wild Card Game in 2014. Kontos ended up becoming teammates with Nady four years after the trade, and they won a title together in 2012.
Finally, there’s Altoona. It came up again in 2014 when two little-known prospects named Matt Duffy and Jarrett Parker were pulled off a Double-A trip to Altoona. They thought they were getting traded; they ended up getting called up to the big leagues. On their first day with the Giants, both expressed relief that they weren’t at the Altoona Super-8.
“It smells like a casino,” Duffy said.
For much more from Kontos, here's the full podcast, online and on iTunes.