Alas, the Eric Byrnes hair saga continues. He was supposed to be on KNBR in San Francisco co-hosting a show called "The Razor and Mr. T" from 3-7 today. Mr. T takes Mondays off. But then Eric cancelled, thinking he was cutting it too close with his flight. So he is expected to call in at 5:30. In the meantime time, Ralph Barbieri (the Razor) and substitute for the substitute Dave Fleming spent nearly 20 minutes ragging on Byrnesie’s hair, even taking phone calls. And they expect to ask him about it at 5:30. No, thanks, I’ll pass.
The World Series is tied at a game apiece, and there is a controversy over whether Kenny Rogers had pine tar on his hand in the first inning of yesterday’s game. Both Bay Area MLB teams are looking for new managers. The Oakland Raiders won yesterday. It may be the only game they win all season. The Monday Night Football Game–the Giants vs. the Cowboys–starts in just a few hours. Tiki Barber of the GIants is talking about retiring. Shawne Merriman of the San Diego Chargers has been hit with a 4-game steroids suspension. And here we have 20 minutes, with phone calls, on Eric Byrnes’ hair!
Where are your priorities, people? Is there not enough going on in the world of sports that you have to occupy yourselves with this trivia?
The only thing good about this discussion, if it had to be had at all, is the fact that it concerns a man’s looks. Women have had to put up with men, and other women, thinking that their looks are more important than their ideas or their job competence since time immemorial. Welcome to our side of the room, Byrnesie!
I don’t know what the deal is with what appeared to be too much hair gel on ESPN. I didn’t like it because it didn’t look like the real Eric, whose hair is dry and fluffy/curly and great that way. It may have been his rebellion against having to wear a suit and tie to talk sports. I may be wrong about that. But that is what the "rat’s nest" said to me.
He had the dry, fluffy, curly and uncombed look while interviewing Barry Zito about the late Cory Lidle on Best ****, and on the one Fox pregame and two Fox postgame shows I have seen. And it’s great, because it looks real. It looks like Eric Byrnes. I’ve seen pictures of Byrnesie with short hair. He looks generic that way. And he’s not generic, on the field or on TV.
The bottom line is that people are uncomfortable with someone who doesn’t look or act like the others around him. We’ve all been conditioned to this, but we should not give into it. While it may be cause for casual razzing on a sports talk radio show, discomfort with difference is also the basis of every "ism" and phobia in the world. Racism, sexism, ageism, homophobia, discriminations on the basis of religion or disability, etc. You look different. You don’t wear what we wear. Ergo you are not one of "us."
The issue, if there is one, should not be why Byrnes had too much gel in his hair, but why guys have to wear suits (and women, like Jeannie Zelasko, have to wear jewelry) to talk sports. But it’s not an issue I want to hear about for twenty minutes on a sports talk show.
Let’s talk sports, not fashion.
And this means you, those of you who are landing on this blog after Googling Eric Byrnes hair.
The MLBlogosphere wants to know: "What is YOUR bobblehead story? Would love to see lots of bloggleheads pausing here to share your thoughts and your pics, so we can bring you more attention and have fun with a very fun topic for baseball fans!"
My story is that I have never owned a bobblehead. Frankly, they make me cringe. I read a good article in the Oakland Tribune earlier this year about the A’s left field bleacher regulars who make sure they get to the park extra early on bobblehead days to make sure they can get their seats ahead of the people who just show up to certain games to collect a bobble. I would have linked to it here, except that when I tried to find it, the proceedings were so held up by some computer along the way looking for ads to serve me before I got to the newspaper’s archive that I gave up.
Chad L. of Peoria, AZ, a great Eric Byrnes fan, has been waiting for the long article I promised/threatened a while back. Due to matters delineated in my MWL post that will follow this one, I am not going to be able to finish it now until July. At that point, I’ll supply all the quotes and stats to back up the opinions I’ll state below. And if the situation has changed to the point that my position no longer appears tenable, I’ll say so then.
So let me cut to the chase (pun intended).
Eric Byrnes signed with the D’Backs on December 30, 2005 with the understanding that he would be the everyday center fielder in 2006. And he had a decent spring. But I don’t think D’Backs manager Bob Melvin believes in Byrnes as the everyday CF. He would rather have Jeff DaVanon, signed by the D’Backs on Feburary 8, 2006, in that role because he likes DaVanon’s "profile" as a hitter. This includes the fact that DaVanon is a switch-hitter. Melvin likes DaVanon to the point of even overplaying him given the "weak throwing shoulder" the D’Backs knew about when they signed him.
Although DaVanon is supposed to give all the outfielders a "rest" this really hasn’t been the case; the lion’s share of his playing time has come at the expense of the youngest and most energetic of the outfielders, i.e. the one who needs the least rest: Eric Byrnes. DaVanon’s hot start was accommodated largely by having him play CF instead of Byrnes, even when Byrnes was hitting better than Shawn Green, who was getting off to yet another slow start, and Luis Gonzalez.
I think we are going to see a lot more of DaVanon when he gets over his sore back. With Gonzalez, the face of the franchise, anchored in left, and Green, the $18 million dollar baby anchored in right, we are seeing a de facto platoon in center.
ALL players go through streaks and slumps in the course of the long baseball season. Some players, like Green, are allowed to work out of their slumps with little down time. Others, like Byrnes, are constantly looking over their shoulders because a slump could mean a long time riding the pine if there is another player on hand that the manager likes. And in this case there is, even though overplaying DaVanon could hurt him, given the weak throwing shoulder and the sore back.
The D’Backs have in the minors a center fielder named Chris Young whom they are seasoning in Triple A for a year. (This is why they signed Byrnes to begin with). They have another outfielder in Triple A, Carlos Quentin, who plays mostly right and left, but he can probably play center if needed. He was sent down at the end of spring training even though it was acknowledged that he had nothing more to prove at the Triple A level. They are also converting their 18-year-old phenom, Justin Upton, who may be the next Ken Griffey Jr., from shortstop to center field.
I think that in September the Arizona bench is going to be crowded with outfielders, and especially if the D’Backs are not in the race, the coaching staff and F.O. will want to look at the young’uns. I think that if Eric Byrnes is still with them by then, he’ll be the odd man out.
Last look at my "Should Byrnes Be Traded Poll" shows 20 votes split 5 yes and 15 no. Sure, now with him playing alot and batting around .300, a bunch of No votes have come in. I voted yes when I set up the poll and still feel that way, provided he can go to a team that really needs him as the everyday CF. I just don’t trust Bob Melvin to play Byrnes regularly once DaVanon is back to health.
Pat, one of my regular readers and another great Eric Byrnes fan, suggested Byrnes should go to the Giants; that makes a lot of sense. (And I am not saying this because I live in the Bay Area. His coming here would actually reduce my chances to watch him. MLB.tv would black out the live casts, I don’t have cable, and I can’t afford many trips to a park that charges $25 for a third deck seat!)
Byrnesie, now 30, would be a true youth movement on a team who’s outfield is downright ancient by baseball standards. Alou, on the DL as I write this, turns 40 on July 3, Bonds, a medical and legal case, turns 42 on July 24, Steve Finley is 41, back up outfielder/1B Mike Sweeney is 40. Only Randy Winn (a relatively youthful 32) and Bonds’ pinch-runner, Jason Ellison, 28, are not outfield geriatric cases. The Giants should be looking to create an outfield of Ellison in left, Byrnes in center and Winn in right.
Trivia: Recently Mets third baseman and MLBlogger David Wright told a commenter that he went back to full length pants after committing three errors the day he wore his socks high. I understand that. But he also said that his teammates ribbed him about the high socks, saying it was a high school or college look, not a professional look. So was he trying to change his luck by changing his look, or just trying to conform to what the veterans thought was professional style?
I noticed the other day that Byrnes appeared to be the only D’Back fielder who was wearing the high socks. They are fine, and I hope no one on the D’Backs is ribbing him about them. A) they are a nice touch of tradition on a thoroughly rad dude. B) they look great on him, and C) they might provide a small advantage. I was looking at him the other day and thinking that the high socks make him look a little taller. Byrnes likes to hit higher pitches, so looking taller might induce the pitcher to throw a little higher, as in the pitcher might think Byrnesie’s knees are higher off the ground than they actually are.
Just a thought.
Yesterday, MLBlogosphere got into the subject of blog names. Mark Newman asked:
"What are your favorite blog names here and around the blogosphere, and what was the thinking behind your own?"
Life, Baseball & Eric Byrnes, the short title, was listed on the graphic panel accompanying the post, so I thought I ought to answer. This morning I decided to post here what I wrote in the comment section there, only this time, I will add some links.
"Some Favorite Blog Names (by no means a comprehensive list): Kyle Farnsworth is My Bodyguard, Deep Fried Fish, Daddy Raised a Cardinals Fan, DiamondHacks, Obviously, You’re Not a Golfer, and Some Ballyard.
I was one of many who recommended to Dan Haren that he keep Haren’s Heat.
And obviously, I like my blog name also. The full title is Down the Left Field Line: Life, Baseball & Eric Byrnes.
I have two raglan (baseball style) shirts, one in Baltimore colors and one in Arizona colors, designed especially for me by a graphic artist friend, that have the title and URL on them.
I think I was the first MLBlogger to put the name of an active player in the title.
The Down The Left Field Line part refers to three things: 1) Byrnesie was playing left field when I started the blog in August 2005. (He’s now back to his natural position at CF, which is very exciting). 2) Byrnesie is a right-handed hitter who pulls many of his well-known doubles (8 now this year) "down the left field line". (Though I’m glad to see he is using more of the field this year). 3) Politically, I am proud to be a leftist and while I try to keep politics out of the blog, there is a link from the blog to my journalism site, where my politics are obvious. And every now and then, politics shows up in baseball, e.g. the U.S. gov’t’s attempt to keep Cuba out of the WBC. So my politics are and will be obvious in a few of my entries.
While the much underestimated and underappreciated Eric Byrnes is my favorite topic, I never intended for the blog to be solely a fan shrine to one player. So "Baseball" is part of the title, to denote the fact that I discuss other baseball topics and players, e.g. what I wrote about the World Series, my opinions on the position of "closer", and the clutchness of Pujols and Ortiz.
Baseball is at once our "National Pastime," i.e. our escape from the cares of the everyday world, and a part of that everyday world itself. The word "Life" appears in my title to denote the other things that are a part of and apart from the game between the white lines and the people who play it. Whether it’s birth (babies for Brandon and Alicia Webb and Casey Daigle and Jennifer Finch), death (Steve Howe), illness and injury (the DL), or the devastation wrought by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and MLB’s responses to it, I’ve tried to acknowledge some of those issues, insofar as I have had the time.
So there you have it:
Down the Left Field Line: Life, Baseball & Eric Byrnes.
A long explanation for a long title, but by now, you know to expect that from me!"
P.S. Mark later confirmed that I was the first MLBlogger to include the name of an active player in my title.
As I work on an article about a baseball game, my email chime rings periodically. In amongst the junk mail and the bad news from the world outside baseball comes updates on today’s NFL Draft…courtesy of Market Watch Weekend Edition bulletins brought to us by Dow Jones.
Yup, in amongst the stories about the stock market and the price of crude oil come these reports about who picked whom.
So now you can see if your projected picks matched what actually happened while you decide whether or not it makes sense to add some of those new silver ETFs to your portfolio.