Tagged: Broadcasters

Daron on Eric and Derek

On The Dog Ate Daron’s Homework, the blog of new Arizona Diamondbacks broadcaster Daron Sutton, there are two articles, each of which feature snippets of Daron’s interviews with Eric Byrnes and Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Derek Lowe.

You’ll also be treated to some fine photographs, including one of Eric in his Licey Tigres uniform, back in the pre-long-hair days. (Young, sweet, innocent. Just another All-American boy with big dreams).

Why these two in particular? Read the articles and find out!

The Lowedown on Two Great Baseball Personalities

Eric and Derek Before the Battles

Daron is definitely getting his Diamondbacks career off on the right foot, as far as DTLFL is concerned. He’s shown he knows who the great interview on the team is. ;+)

ByrnesBlogger1

Byrnesie, Don’t Be Blinded By The (Moon)light!

Hey, Byrnesie!

An item in today’s San Jose Mercury News has me a little concerned.

Eric Byrnes is coming off a career year with the Diamondbacks and, at 31, figures to have plenty of baseball left in him. But since [recently retired football player Tiki] Barber is also 31, we’re reminded that it’s never too early to think about the next step.

Byrnes, who came from St. Francis High and started his major league career with the A’s, will have a once-a-month pregame spot on Fox’s Game of the Week and make regular appearances on FSN’s “Best **** Sports Show Period” for a segment called “Byrnes, Baby, Byrnes.” He’s also assigned to be an All-Star Game reporter (guess he doesn’t give much for his chances of being selected for the game).

http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/sports/baseball/mlb/san_francisco_giants/16685931.htm

I know you’ve appeared regularly on a station in Sacramento since your days with the River Cats. You’ve done a number of guest co-host gigs on KNBR in San Francisco, and this off-season you "graduated" to sitting in for Gary Radnich, one of the Bay Area’s sportscasting "stars", solo for three hours, and you’re hella better at talking sports than he is, even if I do take exception to your always referring to women as "chicks."

I know you’ve guest-hosted "Best ****" before. It was mentioned in the SI.com column about you and this blog back in May ’06, and back then it was said that offers were pouring in.

I know you had a successful off-season as a broadcaster. Ed Goren, president of Fox Sports, must love you to pieces. He figures that folks who might not normally watch sports analysis/talk shows will hear that you’re going to be on and will tune in to see what you’re wearing and how your hair looks, and stay for your funny and insightful commentary. All well and good when your team is out of the post-season.

But this is different. This is going to be national TV throughout the season. Are your teammates going to relate to you as before when they know you’re going to be on the tube periodically throughout year? Are you "one of the guys" or "one of them"? Already we heard, as Barry Zito closed in on a decision on where to sign, that he didn’t want to talk to you because you were part of the media. And he’s a good friend of yours!

No doubt you have the Diamondbacks’ permission to do this, but what is Bob Melvin really going to make of it? Is he going to question your commitment to baseball, perhaps silently, subtly? You know how he likes to play percentages. If it’s a choice between you or, say, Scott Hairston, against a particular pitcher and it’s a close call, will he start Hairston because Scott seems hungrier than you?

What’s most disturbing to me is the part about the All-Star Game. Granted, you have only a slim chance of making it. But last season’s 26/25 combined with a stellar first half of ’07 and the fact that the game is being played in your home region make it a distinct possibility, especially since you never know who is going to get injured right around that time. Or at least it was a distinct possibility until this morning. In taking this assignment, you are announcing before spring training gets underway, that you don’t expect to be considered for a game that won’t be played until the second week of July. You are giving up instead of shooting for it. You are saying that Tony LaRussa should just forget about you even before he starts to think about how he should fill-out the balance of the team not voted by the fans. That’s not the Byrnesie I’ve been rooting for. It makes me wonder what else you’re giving up on.

Yeah, the Mercury News is right; it’s never too early to start thinking about the next step. But there is a difference between thinking about it and being so invested in it that you trip on the current step and land flat on your face.

Be careful, Byrnesie. This is the most critical year of your baseball career. The 26/25 and 79 RBI season of last year can be the foundation for a 32/35 and 100 RBI season, or you can sink back into a mediocre 15/15 and 60 RBI season. The first type of year will give you the chance to test the free agent market from a position of strength, and get the lucrative, multi-year contract you want, with a team (preferably the Giants), who will want you as DA MAN in center or left. It will also enhance your cachet as a broadcaster. The second type of year will brand you a journeyman who had a couple of decent years, but who is now on the wrong side of 30, and at 4.5+ million, rather expensive. And on the tube? Bring on Vernon Wells; he’s a star!

Be careful, too, Byrnesie, of not frittering away precious time. Because while you can be a broadcaster when you’re old enough to collect Social Security, (assuming we still have such a thing by that time), a baseball career is relatively short. Although, as the newspaper said, you still figure to have plenty of baseball left in you, it is also true that you are a full-fledged veteran. Mother Nature will make you half a step slower before you know it. Your stolen base/attempts ratio will decline. Balls you used to catch on a dive will skitter off your glove or hit the ground an inch in front of it. Someday the time will come to hang ’em up. And when that time comes you, and folks like me, will want to know that you were the best baseball player you could be. Becoming distracted during the season will detract from that. You’ve laid the groundwork for the next career and that’s good. But don’t make the transition too muddy or too early. 

I know baseball players have other things in their lives besides baseball. One of the reasons people thought Zito would end up with the Mets was that with his interests in photography and music, he could be part of the arts scene there. Bernie WIlliams has played guitar in Carnegie Hall. Miguel Batista has written a novel. Lots of players, Luis Gonzalez is one with whom you are familiar, are active in the community. But this somehow seems different.  You can choose when to schedule a concert, and when to rehearse for it. You can choose when to research a novel and when to write it. You can choose which community events you will attend and you don’t have to be there three hours in advance to prepare. But you have to hew much more to someone else’s deadlines in broadcasting. Make sure they’re not demanding too of your time during the season. I’d still rather see you on the field with a bat in your hand than a microphone.

It was a better off-season for you as a broadcaster than as a baseball player. On Oct. 23, you did an interview with Ralph Barbieri and Dave Fleming of KNBR, and Ralph said, "…I agree with Bruce Jenkins and I agree with Dave. We both think you have a brilliant future as a broadcaster. In fact, I don’t think there’s any denying it." (I still have the interview on my .mp3 player). And offers have been coming in backing up the fact that other people feel the same way. On the baseball side, the GM of the Diamondbacks told the AP when you signed your contract that "Eric played great for us in 2006. He’s a rare player who can impact the game in a lot of ways — with his power, with his baserunning, with his defense and certainly every day with his energy." But you had to settle for less money than you wanted, even though you weren’t asking for an outrageous sum, and more importantly, despite your desire to stay in AZ, they were totally reluctant to give you a multi-year deal. You wisely declined the year and a club option for a second year that they offered. They are clearly more interested in the rookies. And you don’t need to be anybody’s "just in case" anymore.

After what happened with the A’s after the good season of 2004, you must be wondering what you have to do to stick with a club as an everyday player. It hurts. (Though the size of the raise you just got, no doubt, cushions the blow). So you are looking to where people believe in you more. That’s only human.

But don’t forget: you are still a good major league baseball player. You can still get better. (I’ll get into that on your birthday). Don’t stop believing you can find your true baseball home. Another good year and you’ll have your pick. So stay focused.

"Visualizing 150+ STARTS",

ByrnesBlogger1

Results of TV Booth Poll

The statement:

I’d most prefer in the World Series TV booth…

No. of voters:

45

Results:

Thom Brennaman 0

Joe Buck 8

Eric Byrnes 19

Luis Gonzalez 3

Tim McCarver 2

Jon Miller 5

Joe Morgan 3

Jose Mota 0

Lou Piniella 2

Suzyn Waldman  1

None of the Above 2

Apologies to fans of Joe Girardi. We didn’t know that Fox was going to give him a TV tryout until after we started the poll.

And on that note, DTLFL is taking a little offseason of its own. But we are leaving you a Barry Bonds poll, since he is no doubt the biggest name in this year’s Hot Stove League.

K.R.

The BMC on Fox

The Byrnes Media Circus (his name, not mine) continues during the World Series on Fox. According to the South Florida Sun Sentinel, "Fox has added former Marlins manager Joe Girardi and Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Eric Byrnes to the pregame show for the World Series. Byrnes will provide on-site analysis from Detroit for Games 1, 2 and if necessary 6 and 7. Girardi will be in the National League city for Games 3, 4 and if necessary 5."

All the more reason to hope this World Series goes 7 games.

But please don’t pepper me with questions about what I think about Byrnesie’s hair, analysis or anything else, as my work schedule is going to force me to miss all of the pregame shows and even the games themselves unless there is a game on Friday, October 27. (I can follow the Gameday Screen intermittently at work and listen to ESPN radio on the way home). I am one of those folks for whom making a living gets in the way of living. And I don’t even make enough to afford a TiVO for times like this.

But the lucky ducks among you can enjoy the Series, and, of course, the BMC!

Kéllia "wishing Byrnesie were playing rather than analyzing the Series" Ramares
Oakland, CA

It’s World Series Poll Time!

But no, we are not asking about the team you think will go all the way. DTLFL wants to know who you’d most prefer seeing in the TV broadcast booth for the Fall Classic. Whether any of these people are actually available is irrelevant. We’d just like to know your preference. Please Vote!

The poll on Byrnesie’s ESPN Hair Fashion Statement drew 54 votes, by far the most on any DTLFL poll. This lends credence to the idea that the sillier the choices, the more people will vote on something. Here are the results:

I just washed my hair and I can’t do a thing with it.
3 votes

Rather than put my hair gel in checked baggage, I put it all on my head.
6 votes

I toweled off out of the shower, put on my suit and forgot to do my hair:
7 votes

I napped in the Green Room until 30 secs before air.
12 votes

Just because I’m in a suit, doesn’t mean I’m tame.
8 votes

One word: Roadkill!
18 votes.

Let’s Go Mets!

K.R.

Too Much of A Good Thing

Dodgers announcer Vin Scully, who has been broadcasting Dodgers’ games for 57 years, the longest tenure of any broadcaster with one team, is one of the greats of sportcasting. In fact, some would say The Greatest, since he was given the Sportscaster of the Century Award. He has won Emmies and is in both the Radio Hall of Fame and the Broadcasters’ wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame. (Ironically, he doesn’t get to vote for players to the Baseball Hall of Fame, even though he is considered one of the most baseball-knowledgable members of the media, because he is a broadcaster and not a writer).

But sometimes there can be too much of a good thing. That occurred to me last night as Scully broadcast the entire Dodgers-Diamondbacks game alone.

It wasn’t that Scully did anything wrong. It’s just that one voice, for over two hours, especially in a cyclical type of program like baseball, gets dull. I know that people come into the game at different times and so some information, such as the score, needs to be repeated.  But, for example, how often do people need to hear that Eric Byrnes is 6’2" 210 lbs and went to UCLA?

I sometimes dislike the "banter" of a play-by-play and color duo, especially when a game gets lopsided. Not that long ago, Thom Brenneman and Mark Grace of the Diamondbacks went into long discourses about their picks for the opening games of the college football season. The White Sox Ken "The Hawk" Harrelson and Darren Jackson are two huge "homers," especially Harrelson. I don’t mind a little homerism, but Harrelson is a bit much.

But when you have two announcers and they can generally keep the topic to baseball without going overboard for the home team, the announcing can be more interesting. The variation of voices over time and the conversation between two people can be interesting, especially if one of them is a former player who can explain strategies and how the players might be feeling or thinking in certain situations.

Last night, we heard the same voice for 9 innings. Since Scully had no one to talk to, he generally had no choice to fill in the time but to repeat the various facts he (or his producer) had researched about the players, such as their height and weight, birthplaces, and colleges. The one saving grace of last night was that Padres’ pitcher Chris Young was attempting to go for a no-hitter and Scully kept us abreast of the attempt. Had this bit of baseball news not been available, how many more times would viewers have been subjected to Scully’s canned "show prep"?

There is a difference between a good broadcaster and good broadcasting. Last night demonstrated it.

K.R.

Welcome Back, Peter Gammons!

Hall of Fame broadcaster Peter Gammons is back with ESPN three months after surgery for a brain aneurysm. The ESPN baseball analyst was at Fenway Park two days ago. ESPN says he is not back full time, but will be scheduled depending on how he feels.

The 61-year-old Gammons was reported to be sounding like his old self in filing reports for Sports Center and Baseball Tonight.

K.R.

Happy Anniversary, MLBlogs!

Since I live on the Left Coast of North America, it made sense to me to come into this celebration at the end. This is a more fun way to remember April 18th than the San Francisco Earthquake of ’06. I had to board op the KPFA Evening News today, and it was earthquake this and earthquake that. They keep talking about all the preparations we should make, but with all the oil, chemical and radiation places we have in the area, if we have the BIG ONE along the Hayward Fault, our collective goose will be cooked in a most unsavory broth.

I’m not going to be able to name everyone I have read in the MLBlogosphere, but I will point out a few, and I wish Happy Anniversary to all, and a big welcome to the newcomers!

I’m a journalist and in early summer of last year, I blogged at another site for a short while about the subjects I generally cover: Peak Oil, Nuclear Proliferation, E-vote Fraud, Global Warming, you know, the stuff that generally puts a smile on your face and a spring in your step.

Then the A’s exiled Eric Byrnes to the cellar of the NL Worst…and while it was no surprise they sent him out–they had obviously been shopping him for a while and making A’s fans endure some "not ready for prime time players" as possible replacements–the way they did the P.R. around it was insulting. The A’s F.O. knew it would be an unpopular move, so they enlisted the help of third baseman Eric Chavez and a couple of local sportswriters to knock both Byrnesie and his fans. I was extremely ticked off and wrote two essays on the transaction and the way it was handled for the other blog. At that point I realized that I would rather write about baseball than Armageddon, even when the baseball news was bad, so I folded up the tent at the other place and joined MLBlogs in early August with Down the Left Field Line: Life, Baseball & Eric Byrnes.

The biggest thrill I’ve had here has been the opportunity to exchange some comments with Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson.  (I also enjoyed the fact that the one of the KPFA News Co-directors who is a baseball fan looked stunned when he saw that Brooks Robinson was answering my queries). Not only has he answered the questions I have left on his site, he once visited mine. I had reviewed the Cooperstown exhibit BASEBALL AS AMERICA. It includes the glove Brooks used in the 1970 World Series, when I and others just watched in awe at his demonstration of third base as played by a Human Vacuum Cleaner. I let Brooks know I had posted the review and he actually left a comment on my blog. I’m honored that he took the time to visit and comment.

Soon after I started the blog, I enrolled in a video editing class. I had looked around MLB.com and realized that it would just be so much fun, not to mention more remunerative, to drop public affairs journalism for life as a video editor for MLB. Unfortunately, I lasted only about a month in the class, not because I couldn’t handle the work, but because I knew I couldn’t afford the equipment I would need to develop professional level skills. It was a class in Final Cut Pro, a piece of software that at half-price would have cost me a month’s rent. And it was just for MAC computers; I work on a hand-me-down Pentium II. Heck, I don’t even have a DVD player yet.

But before that reality hit me, I had formulated my idea for the final project we were supposed to do: a short film on the evolution of the catcher’s mask. And I contacted Dan Holmes, of the blog "From Cooperstown," who gave me the name and number of the person at the Hall of Fame who could help me get pictures for it. It’s been great to know that if I have a baseball question, there are some very good resources here in the form of my fellow bloggers.

Another great thing has been the opportunity to encounter a number of baseball-savvy women, especially Cyn, author of Red Sox Chick, Diane of Diamonds Are For Humor, whose picture captions are just hysterical, and three big-time Cardinals fans: Tiffany, of Party Like It’s 1982, Mollie, author of Daddy Raised a Cardinals Fan, and Rachel of Rachel’s Redbird Ramblings. I miss Rorie the White Sox fan; I am reading a bit more of Arielle’s Dispatches from Red Sox Teen Nation.

It’s great to be in the company of women who know their baseball. Women long been marginalized both in terms of participation in the baseball industry and just for knowing the game, even though they help fill the stadiums. It’s about time a woman, Effa Manley, will be inducted into Cooperstown–I’ll write more about that when the induction is near–and I hope to see more. How about Joan Payson, founder of the Mets? (The team I rooted for as a kid).

As more women are drawn to this blogosphere, I hope there will be more frequent discussions of an expanded role for women in baseball. I really don’t like seeing all-male scouting sections in stadiums. Women have been scouting their male friends and relatives probably since the game’s earliest days. When I was a child, I remember reading a story in a set of books called "Childcraft" about the young Connie Mack wanting his mother, a proper Victorian lady, to see him play baseball, then considered a lower-class sport.  The title of the story was "Slide, Connie, Slide" and I remember that it ended with Mack’s mother telling him that his friends were to call him "Cornelius, not Slats." If women have been watching the game since at least the 19th Century, it’s time we got paid to watch it.

I would also like to see, or rather hear, women do play-by-play. (I’ve been wanting to try it myself since college). The Yankees have a woman color analyst and the Red Sox have recently added a woman to the Remdawg and Don broadcast team; Tina did the on-field interview of Mark Lorretta after his walk-off homer. But I want to hear a woman do play-by-play. It may sound strange at first because it would be new, but folks will get used to it, and future generations born to it will think nothing of it. (If we don’t blow ourselves up and thus prevent the existence of future generations enjoying baseball on the radio). I remember that in the late 60’s my parents and I were in our car, traveling through North Carolina near midnight, when we heard a female disk jockey on the radio for the first time. My parents thought it sounded weird. Little did they, or I, know that I would end up in radio, though mostly in news/public affairs rather than in music. Perhaps we can get some of the broadcasters at MLBlogs, such as Daron Sutton, of The Dog Ate Daron’s Homework, to talk about what someone, female or male, has to do to break into baseball broadcasting.

Of course, there are some wonderful male writers as well. Part of what is great about this blogosphere is that the community sticks together even if the teams change. So, while I was devastated that Eric Byrnes was non-tendered by the Orioles, to this day I still exchange comments and email with Oriole fan Daryl, of Daryl’s Place. In fact, Daryl was the one who broke the bad news to me, and there is no one else I would rather have heard it from first. (No one at KPFA said a word to me about it).

Daryl’s a terrific, thoughful writer and baseball fan. I only wish he had more time to write for his blog. But apparently I am part of the reason he doesn’t. I write long articles, like this one, and he actually takes the time to read them!

Daryl and Cyn have provided me with some great field shots of Eric Byrnes. I don’t display them now because he’s in the Orioles uniform and I prefer more up-to-date D’Back shots like the ones Mark Newman added to my Spheroid. I guess that’s the newsie in me (or my desire to forget Byrnes’ abysmal, aberrant 2005). But if you didn’t see them before, take my word for it: the Byrnes-as-a-Bird pix are great shots, better than anything I could have done. Daryl and Cyn have digital cameras; I don’t.

My visitor counter was suggested to me by Bobby, of Deep Fried Fish. So I will back up a story he told recently on Mark Newman’s MLBlogosphere to Lisa, of For Love of the Astros, on one of the fun parts of the counter: It allows you to see from where the visitors came. And we get some people who arrive via Google queries that really have nothing to do with baseball. Because Bobby’s blog is called Deep Fried Fish, he gets visitors from Google who want to know "how to fry fish." (Special instructions on how to cook Marlin: Grill in open air at 90 degrees or higher for two to three hours a day for six months. Turn over frequently). In one of my essays on New Orleans as Katrina approached–the blog is called Life, Baseball & Eric Byrnes, after all–I recalled my visit to that great city and the fact that I had eaten a muffaletto sandwich there. This is a sandwich that is a pride of New Orleans. Someone in Atlanta landed at Life, Baseball & Eric Byrnes because s/he had googled for a recipe for a muffaletto sandwich. (Not here, except for my opinion that they should be made with San Francisco Sourdough).

Thanks to that counter page, I think I know when some familar folks in and out of the Blogophere visit. My one disappointment is that more people don’t leave comments. I can see people googling about Byrnesie from as far away as Taiwan. It would be great if more of Byrnes’ fans let me know they’ve stopped by. I have encountered a number of his good fans via MLBlogs. I’m not the only person who cares about the fortunes of a so-called "average" player. (Bobby, I haven’t zinged you for that one because of technical problems in commenting about anything on your blog for days now! But consider yourself zinged, both by me and another Bay Area Byrnes fan!)

I look forward to the MLBlogs becoming more technically sophisticated. I really, really want to build a directly-linked list of great Byrnes plays, especially the defensive gems. I’m a Leo; I have a taste for good drama, and to me, Byrnesie hurling himself into the gap to rob someone of an extra-base hit is drama at its best!

There are also some other things I want to write about, such as naming rights, ticket prices, being a player’s fan versus (or along with) being a team fan in the free agency era, etc. (Yes, believe it or not, I don’t always write about Eric Byrnes, even though he’s my favorite subject). If I ever hit the Lotto, I might be able to do all the baseball writing I want. If only all I had to do was to sit around watching baseball games, and writing about baseball without having to concern myself about paying bills!

But I have gotten a few more tech hours at KPFA, and some other "serious" journalism projects are coming up, so I might actually have to pull back a bit here, at least for a while. Though be warned that I’m working on another big Byrnes article. I’ll try not to pull back too much, though. Baseball, and the chance to write about it here, helps keep me sane in an otherwise crazy, crazy world, where not all the signs of an impending Armageddon are as benign as the Cubs winning the 2006 World Series.

Go Byrnesie! Go MLBlogs!

Kéllia "We’ve had two straight days without rain" Ramares
Oakland, CA

Huh?

I just got back from a workout at my local gym. As I’ve said before, they have big, color, wide-screen TV’s in the cardio area. A couple of them were tuned to ESPN.

How is it that we have the regular baseball season going, there are games being played, and ESPN is showing poker? I am sure that gambling gets some people’s hearts beating faster, but since when did poker become a sport?

Kéllia Ramares
Oakland, CA, where the sun is actually out today!

Like Kissing Your Sister: Yankees 3- D’Backs 3

The second exhibition game between the Yankees and the Diamondbacks at Chase Field ended in a 3-3 tie. This is another game that the Snakes should have won: the Yankees’ third run was unearned, coming after an eighth-inning error by shortstop Jerry Gil. He had put the D’Backs ahead 2-1 in the fifth with a homer. The irony of all of this is that Gil is not a homer hitter, but had said that he guarantees he will win a Gold Glove sometime in his career. He was sent to minor league camp after the game.

The first half of the game was a brilliant pitchers’ duel between the Yankees’ Shawn Chacon and the D’Backs’ Miguel Batista. Chacon, rescued last year from the pitcher’s he11 that is Coors Field, has been a revelation to the Yankees, who needed help with so much of their rotation injured. Batista showed the form that, if continued, indicates his return to the D’Backs starting rotation, after being traded to Toronto, where he was the closer, will be good news for the Snakes. Batista allowed just one run in 5 2/3 innings. His removal with two out in the 6th seemed to be a pitch count issue, rather than any trouble that inning. After seeing only light action in the WBC, he still feels a little behind schedule.

Batista was a member of the 2001 Diamondbacks’ World’s Championship team. Luis Gonzalez, a hero of that championship team, drew 3 consecutive walks yesterday, great for the OBP, before being replaced by a pinch-runner.

Another player who figured prominently in the 2001 World Series, Yankee closer Mariano Rivera, made an appearance in the 6th inning yesterday. Before Game 7 in 2001, he had guaranteed that the Yankees would win that championship if they could get the ball to him. Instead, he gave up the game-winning hit. (I was in Texas during that trip and was very happy with the outcome. I grew up in NYC, and, as I’ve said before, Mets fans don’t often root for the Yankees. I did root for the Pinstripers in the 2003 series. I haven’t been able to warm up to the oft-traded Marlins. Sorry, Bobby! So I used my New York nativity as an excuse to root for the Yankees in a largely pro-Marlin newsroom full of regular season rooters for the A’s, the Giants, and the Cleveland Indians).

In this exhibition game, Rivera was crisp and efficient. One of his victims was Eric Byrnes, who struck out on 6 pitches after running the count full. This is the third time in two days that Byrnesie has struck out after getting the count to 3-2. The frustration here was that Byrnesie swung at and missed the 4th pitch, which even the Yankee announcers said was high and out of the zone. To get the K, Mo blew a fastball by Byrnes; he couldn’t catch up to it. Sometimes you get the bear; sometimes the bear gets you. And Mo Rivera is the best closing bear in the majors.

Byrnes also flied out to left in the 2nd inning and popped foul to the catcher in the fourth. Thus he went 0-7 during these last two spring games. The 0-7 dropped Byrnes’ spring BA to .286. If he were to end the regular 2006 season with that average, it would best his previous high of .283, but fall way short of my .303 benchmark. Byrnes ended the spring with 4 homers and 14 RBI.

I’m seeing too much uppercut in Byrnesie’s swing–level swing, Byrnesie, please–and he seems to have returned to being too far away from the plate. (Contrast Damion Easley, who I thought was in the right spot to reach everything comfortably).

If a Byrnes hit is an occasion of good cheer, then consecutive o’fers is an occasion for knots in my stomach. The last thing he needs is a slow start to the season, with switch-hitting Jeff DaVanon (0-1 yesterday) on the bench and hot prospect Chris Young seasoning in Triple-A.

Byrnesie made a nice catch in right-center. The Yankees broadcasters said he was "very energetic in center field." It is the center fielder’s prerogative to catch anything he can. The speedy and aggressive Byrnes, who came to the majors as a center fielder, exercises that prerogative to the fullest.

Other Notes: This two-game exhibition between the Yankees and the D’Backs was part of the Randy Johnson deal. The D’Backs asked for it when they traded The Big Unit to New York. They requested, and got, a similar exhibition from the Red Sox when they traded Curt Schilling to Boston.

Chase Field with the roof open during the day creates some vicious shadows that crawl across the field from left to right. They are a factor early in the day, not late in the afternoon. It was very hard to see plays in the shadows on TV.

The Casey Daigle-Greg Aquino competition for the last spot in the D’Backs bullpen went to the more experienced Aquino.

Polls: The Diamondbacks’ official web site has a poll today asking voters about their expectations for the D’Backs this year. The choices are: World Series or Bust, National League pennant, just get in the playoffs, let’s make it to .500, and let’s make some noise. I was voter no. 1090 and I sided with the plurality (41%) that picked just get in the playoffs, though my heart was with World Series or bust (10%) and I would be happy with National League pennant (10%), those who dare not hope for much (31%) voted that their expectations were for a .500 record. Those who are still recovering from 2004 are making noise at a 9% clip.

The poll on March 29th asked who should play center field. Eric Byrnes, Jeff DaVanon, or a combination of the two. Byrnesie got 68% of the vote, the combination got 25%, DaVanon alone got 7%. I was voter number 1864. Needless to say how I voted.

I don’t want to see DaVanon get too many splinters on his rear end, but I’m uncomfortable with all this talk of him playing center field when I know he can play all three outfield positions. He can spell the 38-year-old Luis Gonzalez in day games after night games. In the DH-less National League, this switch-hitter can be a versatile pinch-hitter. In games in American League parks, such as the three-game series scheduled for Oakland as June becomes July, he can be the DH. Also, if Bob Melvin is looking to play the hot hand and Shawn Green, who had a lousy spring at the plate (.224) is having trouble, right field is a possibility. OK, I’ll even go so far as to say DaVanon should have 12 starts in center. (My Benchmarks for Byrnesie for games played in 2006 is 146, the number he had in 2004. But I would like to see him play even more. Twelve games for DaVanon in center would give Byrnes 150).

My D’Backs/Byrnes-22 T-shirt arrived yesterday. Between that, my road cap, and my Byrnesblog T-Shirt, I’m pretty much ready for the season. Tickets are another story and another article. I might be changing hours at the KPFA news department and that will have a bearing on whether and when I can go to a game, since I have yet to win the Lotto. [And, of course, if there’s a wealthy D’Backs fan out there who would like to give me an authentic Byrnes/22 jersey, my email address is on this blog. :+) ]

Spring Forward: Does setting our clocks forward an hour bring us that much closer to the Opener?

Still too much rain in Oakland: it isn’t actually raining as I write this, but the sky is solid gray and the forecasters have called for an inch to an inch and a half today and rain through Tuesday. The much-anticipated Barry Zito-Randy Johnson matchup scheduled for Monday might be postponed. The Yankees’ only visit to the Coliseum is this weekend, so a day-night doubleheader Tuesday or Wednesday is possible. The weather is playing havoc with the A’s final roster decisions. Outfielder Bobby Kielty has been sent to Triple-A Sacramento to make room for an extra pitcher. (I love the picture of Kielty that accompanies Mychal Urban’s article on the move. If you want a laugh, click on the link I put under Kielty’s name). Yankees manager Joe Torre said yesterday that if they are asked to play a doubleheader on Tuesday, it’s not as if they can say they’re tired.

The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament comes down to UCLA v. Florida. Go Bruins! (Eric Byrnes went there). Congrats still to George Mason and LSU for having made the Final Four. Some people didn’t even think that mid-major George Mason belonged in the tournament. But we play the games because we don’t know what’s going to happen until it happens. The LSU Tigers looked toothless and clawless against the Bruins, but, no doubt, they were a point of pride to hurricane-devastated Louisiana for having gotten to the Final Four. LSU also made the Women’s Final Four. The other three teams in that tourney are Duke, North Carolina and Maryland, all from the ACC.

Go Byrnesie! Go Snakes! GO AWAY, RAIN!

Kéllia "Soggy" Ramares
Oakland, CA