Winter Solstice. Blackouts & Eric Byrnes
(Listen to KPFA.org or, in Northern and Central California, 94.1 FM on Friday, Dec. 30th at 6:30 pm Pacfic Tme for a special program by Kéllia Ramares on nuclear weapons).
[In light of MLBlogs.com highlighting this space for its holiday posts, and in light of my realization that of all the articles I have written about Eric Byrnes, there are three that matter most: "Some Answers for Eric," "Eric Byrnes - Making Sense of 2005," and "More Answers for Eric," I am doing some reorganization of this blog to put these articles closer to the top for easier reading. Then I am going back to editing my nuclear weapons radio program. Yeah, peace on earth and all that good stuff!]
A Happy Winter Solstice to my Pagan cohorts at mlblogs.com and to those who see the lengthening of the days as meaning spring training cannot be far behind.
I am one of the KPFA News Department utility players who helps keep the place running this time of year. So you likely won’t be hearing much from me from now until just after New Year. My neighborhood has also been suffering blackouts; I was writing to Red Sox Chick about Johnny Damon last night when it happened again and my comment went poof. So over the next few weeks, I’ll write my baseball stuff offline and put it all up after the New Year. Perhaps the electrical problems will be fixed by then. (‘Til Peak Oil grabs us all by the throat, that is!)
Winter Solstice is the longest night of the year and indeed that is the way it will feel today for me. I awoke to the news I had been dreading for days; that Eric Byrnes was non-tendered by the Orioles.
Intellectually, I am not surprised. If you look at the way things have been going this offseason, you know that all teams are jettisoning players who struggled. And 2005 was Byrnes’ abysmal, aberrant year.
But emotionally, I’m devastated. I am finding it hard to type and hard to breathe. I am only grateful to have first gotten the news from Daryl of Daryl’s Place. This Orioles season ticket holder has provided me the photos with which I have illustrated my articles on answers for Byrnes’ hitting woes.
And while I am here, thanks again to Red Sox Chick for her photos of Byrnesie, one of which I used in my To Eric Byrnes article. Hers are in the field rather than at the plate, which is why I haven’t used a lot of them. But they are great, too.
Anyway, I digress.
I think the worst of it for me was that Daryl said Eric was the only one of the Orioles last group of arbitration-eligible players who was non-tendered. They even signed the weak-hitting David Newhan to a one year deal on the 19th, in lieu of arbitration. Newhan fell from an even loftier 2004 batting average (.311 to Byrnes’ .283) to an even more dismal low (.202 to Byrnes’ .226). (Well, I guess some guys who struggle do get contracts). The Orioles gave up on Eric, and rather quickly; he joined them on July 30th; I think they wrote him off in early September.
Mind you, I don’t begrudge Newhan his contract. He was a reliable glove and I certainly commiserated with the struggle he had last year. But in light of signing Newhan, I can’t see why they non-tendered Byrnesie, who had better numbers. Newhan and Byrnes should have either been both signed or both let go. But the Orioles gave Newhan a one-year deal and have signed Jeff Conine; manager Sam Perlozzo says he will play some first base, DH and left field. (It looks like Javy Lopez is history, doesn’t it?)
Somebody, please take Eric Byrnes! You won’t regret it. The hitting issues are fixable! Surely I cannot be the only one to see that!
Byrnesie, don’t give up! I know that, publicly, you will be stoic. You will acknowledge the reality of the bad year and talk about how baseball is a business. But it’s got to hurt, deeply. Still, don’t give up. That would be the easy thing to do now because you have other choices. You are articulate. You could walk away from this and land a job in radio or TV tomorrow. You probably have money to spare and could disappear for a year doing whatever you please. But I am begging you not to do that. Bounce back, even if it means a trip back to the minors, or a year in another country. Bounce back, not just for fans like me, but for yourself most of all. You love to play baseball. You are in great shape and you still have years left. Don’t let it end this way.
I know that earlier this offseason, you were expecting to be tendered. It has to be a shock to be the only one of the remaining group not to be. Another move must feel like the last thing you need. But as David Ortiz and others know, sometimes these things work out well for the player. May it be that way for you. It may be only fortune cookie wisdom, but what I once saw on a fortune cookie rings true: The greatest pleasure is in doing something others say you cannot do. Show those who have given up on you what a mistake they’ve made!
I feel short of breath; I’m fighting back tears and my hands are trembling. This is indeed the longest night of the year. The way I feel right now, we might as well have another blackout in the Adams Point neighborhood of Oakland today. It’s been raining for days and it’s very cloudy now. How appropriate, given how I feel at the moment. But as we Pagans know, Winter Solstice means the light is coming back.
I still believe in Eric Byrnes.