Too bad they already made a movie called "Trading Places" with Hollywood actors. There's a better plot at the World Series starring the Los Angeles Dodgers and Oakland Athletics.
Tim Belcher, the Dodgers' starter in Game 1 Saturday night, was traded away by Oakland in late 1987 as baseball's version of a stand-in, the player to be named later."Yeah, I'm excited to pitch against them," Belcher said during Friday's workout. "Fourteen months ago, I was 21/2 years away from the major leagues as far as the Oakland A's were concerned."
Dave Stewart, a two-time 20-game winner, will open for heavily favored Oakland. He was traded by the Dodgers in 1983.
Another twist: Stewart and Belcher were both involved in trades for Rick Honeycutt, now an Oakland reliever.
Then there was the big deal. Dodgers general manager Fred Claire and Oakland counterpart Sandy Alderson went jogging last fall and talked about their team's needs.
At the winter meetings, they produced this: Bob Welch and Matt Young from the Athletics to Los Angeles with Jay Howell and Alfredo Griffin going the other way, part of a three-team trade with the New York Mets last winter.
All except Young, who missed the entire season with elbow problems, played major roles. Welch won a career-high 17 games, Griffin solidified the poroous Los Angeles infield and Howell gave the Dodgers a relief ace.
"When you make a trade, you always hope it works out well for both teams. This one did," Dodgers manager Tom Lasorda said. "When we made it, I told (Oakland manager Tony) La Russa, `we just traded you the American League West title.' He didn't say the same thing to me."
In a bit part, there's Mike Davis. He spent several productive years in Oakland and signed with the Dodgers as a free agent in December.
"I went out to dinner last night with some of those guys I used to play with," Davis said. "We talked about bragging rights."
Honeycutt said the talking will stop when the games start.
"I have a lot of friends over there," Honeycutt said. "But you forget that when the game begins."
Belcher said he was not carrying "a vendetta or anything."
"They never gave me a shot to play in the
major leagues and I regret that," he said. "But I never gave them a reason to put me there.
"I'm looking forward to playing against my friends and ex-teammates."
Belcher reached the Triple-A level with Oakland before Los Angeles traded Honeycutt to Oakland on Aug. 29, 1987. Five days later, Belcher was wearing Dodger blue.
Belcher went 4-2 down the stretch with his new team, and this year, his rookie season, went 12-6. He won twice in the playoffs against the Mets.
"When Belcher came to us in the deal, the reports said he was wild," Lasorda said. "He hasn't been that way with us."
Stewart enjoyed moderate success with the Dodgers before being sent to Texas in 1983. He then struggled on and off the field and, after being turned down by pitching-poor Baltimore, signed as a free agent with Oakland in 1986.
Stewart went 20-13 in 1987 and 21-12 this season. He beat Boston in Game 4 of the playoffs to clinch the American League pennant.
"I couldn't think of any better way to come back here," Stewart said. "I have a lot of good memories about being at Dodger Stadium."
"They know me, but I think I have a little bit of an edge," he said. "They probably still think of me as a predominantly fastball. They know I have a forkball, but haven't seen it."
Welch will start Game 3. He's consistently among the league leaders in earned run average for Los Angeles.
Welch went 17-9 with a 3.64 ERA. The Athletics led the league with a 3.44 ERA.