How trade deadline day has changed for’s Jim Bowden

Then GM of the Washington Nationals, current ESPN Insider Jim  Bowden talks to the media after the MLB trade deadline on July 31, 2007 in  Washington, DC. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
Then-General Manager of the Washington Nationals and current ESPN Insider Jim Bowden talks to the media after the MLB trade deadline on July 31, 2007 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

Each year as July comes to a close, ESPN’s deep roster of MLB commentators and Insiders work around-the-clock to provide MLB trade deadline news for viewers and readers.

ESPN’s trade deadline coverage includes a special program – SportsCenter Special: Baseball Trade Deadline – at 3 p.m. ET today to break down all the latest news and developments leading into the 4 p.m. deadline. On, readers can access trade rumors and updates at Rumor Central and participate in an all-day, interactive chat with Insiders Buster Olney, Tim Kurkjian, Jayson Stark, Keith Law, Jerry Crasnick and Jim Bowden.

Orioles GM Dan Duquette stops by the GM's Office to talk with Insider Jim Bowden.
Orioles GM Dan Duquette stops by the GM’s Office to talk with ESPN Insider Jim Bowden.

Bowden, who served as general manager of both the Cincinnati Reds and the Washington Nationals, knows quite a bit about the inner workings of trade deadline day. He spent a few minutes with Front Row to share his perspective.

Take us through the trade deadline experience as a general manager.
You basically don’t sleep the last two or three days until the deadline. You are set up in a war room. I often had my five closest advisors in the room with me. You’ve got all the monitors going for all the games being played. You are staying in touch with all of your scouts to make sure you have the latest information on any player you are trying to trade for – all the homework is there. And then you grind it out, 24 hours a day. Over that final day, you are probably down to three to five teams that you legitimately have a shot to make a trade with and you’re emailing, texting and calling to exchange ideas and to try to find a way to make a deal work for both sides. You don’t stop grinding until the very end, so you must order lots and lots of pizza – green pepper, mushroom and onion – and lots of bottles of water.

By the time you get to the end, you want your ownership available so you can get quick approval. You need your medical staff, the accounting department and lawyers on standby. It’s pretty intense when you get close to a deal or down to the deadline.

How has your perspective changed covering it now from the media side?
It’s completely different. When you are with a team, your focus is on talks with 29 other teams. As media, you have to build relationships with 30 teams and respect those relationships. When you are able to break a story or analyze a trade as soon as it is made, it’s a lot of fun. It’s less pressure but there’s much more going on when you’re covering all 30 teams. Sometimes media are used by teams for leverage, so you have to figure out when you are being used and when you are not being used. That balance is extremely difficult but you report what you know, work hard and then react and analyze the deal when it happens.

How has Twitter changed the deadline – for players, GMs, executives and media?
You have to be on there because it’s instant but it’s not always accurate. A lot of times it is legitimate sources that give you wrong information so you have to be careful but it’s very useful. If you hear a rumor on Twitter that someone is about to be traded to Team X, the GM might want to pick up and call that other GM and express renewed interest. It’s very important for the club to have someone sitting at a computer following the conversation on Twitter because if Buster or Jayson or Jerry tweet something – that’s information you need immediately.

Check out Front Row on Facebook to read about Bowden’s favorite deadline day memory, which involves a mini elephant and Marge Schott.

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