Earlier this month, the Florida Panthers gave away bobblehead dolls of goalie Tim Thomas, which wouldn't have been totally cool except for the fact that they had traded Thomas to the Dallas Stars only a few days earlier. Whoops!
On the one hand, it makes you wonder why a team would ever hold such a promotion right after the trade deadline. On the other hand, it'd be pretty awkward if a player obviously wasn't getting a bobblehead promotion because their team was planning on trading them. And poor Pau Gasol -- guys like him would never be able to enjoy a bobblehead night since they've essentially been on the trade block from birth.
That being said, the post-trade bobblehead is horribly uncomfortable for everyone involved. How uncomfortable? Here's a list of post-trade bobblehead nights, graded for awkwardness:
2002: Ryan Dempster night gets cancelled
In the summer of 2002, the Miami Marlins (then known as the less-loathsome "Florida Marlins") traded Ryan Dempster to the Cincinnati Reds for Juan Encarnacion, Wilton Guerrero and Wilton Snare. It was only after the Fish made this trade that they realized they had 15,000 Dempster bobbleheads in waiting to be used in a promotion. The Marlins ultimately decided to house the bobbleheads, though they admitted they had no idea what to do with them.
"We'll find something creative to do with them," a club spokesman said. "We're not going to burn them, though. That's for sure."
Awkwardness Rating: 1/10
The trade was a much bigger deal for all parties than the scrapped promotion. With the help of Encarnacion, the Fish went on to win the World Series in 2003, which must have sucked for Dempster. On the bright side, Dempster did get a ring last year with the Red Sox, so it's not all bad.
2009: Victor Martinez misses two promotions
It wasn't such a surprise that the floundering Indians would trade Victor Martinez to the Red Sox for their future ace Justin Masterson at the 2009 trade deadline. What's more of a surprise is that the Indians would schedule not one, but two Victor Martinez-themed giveaways the week after the trade deadline. Fans got a painful reminder the day after the trade in the form of a bobblehead and some salt for the wound six days later in the form of a Martinez chest protector backpack.
Awkwardness Rating: 9/10
At the end of the day, the Indians now have a new, younger catcher in Carlos Santana who's considered one of the best hitting backstops in the baseball. Still, two promotions.
2012: Andrew Bogut leaves the Bucks
The Bucks made a surprising move in March of 2012, dealing Andrew Bogut -- who they'd once selected with the No. 1 overall pick -- to the Golden State Warriors for Monta Ellis. (The trade deadline had been pushed back, thanks to the lockout. Normally, trades can't occur in the NBA in March.) And sure enough, the Bucks had planned to give away bobbleheads of Bogut in April, which they went ahead and did anyway.
Awkwardness Rating: 2/10
If anyone was pissed about the trade, it was Warriors fans, who were so upset to see Monta Ellis leave that they mercilessly booed the owner at a halftime event mere days after the trade went down. For their part, Bucks fans demanded the team give out the bobbleheads anyway. And the Warriors fans got a Bogut bobblehead of their own soon, so everyone won in the end. Right?
2012: Hunter Pence wins the World Series
The Philadelphia Phillies turned into sellers at the 2012 deadline and traded Hunter Pence to the San Francisco Giants for a bag of magic beans and Nate Schierholtz. This left the Phillies with a dilemma, as they'd already procured 45,000 Hunter Pence bobblehead dolls for a promotion in August. Ultimately, the Phillies went ahead with the promotion and handed out the anachronistic figurines, which I'm sure the Philly fans received with their usual grace.
Awkwardness Rating: 9/10
Even though Hunter Pence hadn't been in Philly long, he had already become a fan favorite, enough so that he'd even established an endearing catchphrase: "Let's go eat." In fact, Pence was so beloved that the Philadelphia Zoo had even named a kangaroo after him: "Hunter Bounce-Pence Bouncepants." (Seriously, that's what they called it.)
To make matters worse, Pence won a championship with the Giants that very year, turning the souvenir into a bitter reminder of what could have been.
2014: James Livingston scores two goals...for the opposing team
Earlier this season, the Los Angeles Kings acquired minor leaguer James Livingston for a conditional seventh round pick in 2016. Clearly, in NHL circles, this was not a major move. But in Worcester, home of the Sharks' AHL affiliate, the news had repercussions. Sure, you can't blame the Sharks for a trade their parent club executed. But you also can't blame Livingston for showing up to his own bobblehead night as a member of the other team and scoring two goals.
Awkwardness Rating: 8/10
"I was flattered to be chosen to make a bobblehead of me. It was a little awkward being traded (a few days) before it was going to happen, but I guess that's the business," Livingston said. "It's unfortunate they're out a couple bobbleheads."
2014: Tim Thomas pumps his own tires and leaves
You know the basics: Tim Thomas was traded to the Stars and his bobblehead day went ahead anyway. What you might not know unless you're a big hockey fan: Thomas' trade was necessitated by the Panthers re-acquiring former goalie Roberto Luongo, who Thomas had faced and famously feuded with during the 2010-11 Stanley Cup Finals. Luongo joked about the potential tandem on Twitter, but it was not to be.
Awkwardness Rating: 9/10
2014: Scooter Gennett replaces Norichika Aoki
Norichika Aoki was all set to have his bobblehead day this June 29. Then he got traded to the Royals this December, giving the Brewers a long time to think about their next move. And in typical Milwaukee fashion, they called up a prospect to take the departing veteran's place. Scooter Gennett, who batted .324 in just 69 games, is getting his own Brewers bobblehead. He does have a tremendous minor league bobblehead pedigree (seen above).
Awkwardness Rating: potential 10/10 The Brewers are taking a big chance here. Coming off a .380 BABIP, there's a good chance Gennett regresses and finds himself back in the minors by June 29, creating a unique demotion-before-bobblehead scenario. Combined with the fact that he's the sub for a former beloved player, Gennett could find himself at the center of a situation of Ricky-Gervais-in-The-Office-level awkwardness.