Tag: Eric Byrnes

Ashes To Ashes: Is It Time for a Maple Bat Moratorium?

Eric Byrnes/Miguel Olivo – August 2006 

Don Long/Nate McLouth – April 2008

Todd Helton/Susan Rhodes – April 2008

Miguel Olivo/Brian O’ Nora – June 2008

Mike Napoli/Brad Ziegler – August 2010

Welington Castillo/Tyler Colvin – September 2010

The names and dates above link to six separate, highly publicized incidents in which broken or shattered maple bats have hit and or injured persons at an MLB game, both those on the playing field and off it.  In the most recent case, Colvin, a Chicago Cubs rookie playing in his first full season, was struck in the chest by the sharp end of Castillo’s bat and ended up with a wound that will prevent him from playing in any further action this year.  The injuries sustained by Long, O’Nora (pictured) and Rhodes were considerably more horrifying than Colvin‘s, but in spite of maple’s notoriety for emulating a cruise missile with Frisbee rotation, there has yet to be any action taken by the league.  I know I’m far from the first person to bring this up, but here’s what people aren’t talking about: it’s almost a certainty that the situation will get worse before it gets better.  According to an official quoted in the Byrnes/Olivo article, it would take years to end the production and use of maple bats if commissioner Bud Selig were to put the kibosh on them after this season. Here’s the 2006 quote from Chuck Schupp, an employee for the company that makes Louisville Sluggers:

Schupp, in his 24th year with Hillerich & Bradsby and the liaison between the company and the players, said he recently warned MLB not to make a hasty decision on eliminating maple.

“I told Major League Baseball if they say maple bats can’t be used anymore, do not do it until late 2008 or 2009,” Schupp said. “We already ordered everything for next year. You’ve got to cut the wood, dry it, process it. I can’t call the lumber mill and say I need 10,000 ash bats.”

Do the math and you see that maple will still be terrorizing ball fields for at least another 3 years; with a possible maple extermination looming, veterans will be racing to use whatever maple is still left in production at the time of decree.  That said, at least there is something being done – certain maple bats were banned in the minor leagues this year, and bat specifications were tweaked to promote bat strength.  It seems that the MLB is trying to root out the problem by applying the rules to all who have yet to make a 40-man roster, but the rule needs to be clarified considerably. An example: if a player spends his entire time in the minor leagues hitting with an ash bat, and then gets called up and wants to use a maple bat, can he? Sure, you would guess he would stick with what works, but if he thinks maple gives him added power over the contact he felt using an ash bat, wouldn’t he use it? More importantly, anyone who has already made it to The Show has free reign to use whatever they like, so the present rule would not completely eradicate the existence of maple until all of the players who debuted last year finish their careers. 

The unknown entity here is the stance of the MLB Players’ Association, which will most likely seek to retain the maple bats in spite of their dangers so that it can provide the best competitive advantage to the players who are members of the union.  As someone who owns a maple bat, I understand that perspective completely – maple seems sturdier and solid contact feels more pure than the same swing made with an ash bat.  The real issue, as McLouth pointed out, might be more psychological at this point, given how particular players are about the equipment they use; after all, this is the superstition-fraught sport that gave us Pedro Cerrano.

At the same time, there are extenuating circumstances here that say otherwise. When Colvin was struck, he was running in foul territory while watching to make sure the ball Castillo hit was not caught – he did not have any reason to think he was in danger of bodily harm, being that he was not in the field of play and not near the ball.  Had he run just a little bit faster, he might have been struck unexpectedly in the face, and that’s a fear no player wants to have while he’s trying to do his job. Likewise, Rhodes and Long were paying attention a ball in the field of play when they were hit; if fans and players alike are not properly protected during game action, they can’t be expected to watch/play at the risk of their own physical health.  Others writing about this topic have mentioned the additional netting put in place by the NHL after an errant puck fatally struck a 13-year-old girl, and it wouldn’t be a bad idea for Selig to at least consider having the same kind of netting put in place between the dugouts and the present backstop at each ballpark – though you can catch a high-speed foul ball, you can’t exactly stop a shattered bat with a baseball glove.

Given the preference for maple, it will not be easy to find a suitable replacement for SamBats and other popular brands used by the pros.  One thought would be to mandate a bat that is some combination of a composite handle and a maple barrel that would make the maple less likely to shatter in long, sharp fragments as it presently does.  Another idea is simply trying to find a different wood source for bats – many cricket bats are made of willow, which might be a decent alternative if it can be cut down to an easy-to-wield weight.    Whatever the solution, the decision needs to be made in winter meetings before the start of next season – it would not be wise or safe for the MLB to continue to allow its faithful patrons to risk their own livelihoods because they are unable to keep track of two divergent trajectories, hit ball and flying bat, at one time.  No other major sport forces us to do that on a regular basis.

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Credit to Yahoo! Sports, MLB.com, SB Nation, SFGate.com, ESPN.com and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for media and information used in this post.

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Report Card: Grading the Performance of the Mariners’ Off-season Pickups

Although cloudless days continue to appear in Seattle’s summer sky, locals are still advised to carry umbrellas… because Jack Zduriencik is quickly plummeting downwards.

Just months after being hailed as a hero in the Emerald City for his roster overhaul filled with top-flight players, the Mariners general manager is now being scrutinized for not meeting his team’s needs in the off-season. Much of the blame is being pointed towards Zduriencik for the lost 2010 season, which carried in high expectations but has completely faltered.

However, the atrocious 35-53 record should be linked to the under-performance of the players, especially those acquired last winter, not the man that signed them.

The All-Star Break is the perfect time to evaluate how the season has gone thus far. Similar to the end of first semester, it’s time to handout report cards and grade the newest Mariners based on their first-half play.

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Five Available Players the San Francisco Giants Should Pass On

It’s official. After a 1-0 loss to the Oakland A’s, the Giants should be in panic mode when it comes to upgrading the offense. Aaron Rowand isn’t cutting it at leadoff (though this isn’t exactly “surprising” news) and for whatever reason, Pablo Sandoval has suddenly transformed from budding-Vlad Guerrero to budding-Randall Simon. Add that with Bengie Molina starting to cool off and things don’t look good for the Giants and their playoff aspirations.

That being said, despite the Giants desperate (and I mean, “Elizabeth Berkley needing an actress role” desperate) need for offense, they should pass on the following five players who are available and could come at low-cost, but are too much of a risk to acquire.

(Note: to see the original article, check it out at http://remember51.blogspot.com/)

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Five Ways the Seattle Mariners Can Fix Their Hitting Woes

The Mariners’ hitting is, to be blunt, very bad.

As an Indians fan, I think of my team’s hitting, and think to myself, it could be worse. We could have the Mariners’ hitting.

They are last in runs, home runs, and slugging percentage, and nearly last in batting average, hits, and other categories.

So the question is, how do we fix this?

Clearly, the Mariners are still in the hunt in a tight AL West, so they aren’t out of it, and can afford to make some changes.

Here are five guaranteed ways to lift the Mariners’ spirits and get them back into things.

Note: The following list is satirical, and not a list of serious suggestions. Their minor league team isn’t hitting well either, so they don’t have many options available for modifying.

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Eric Byrnes Prepares for Life on the Adult Softball Field

As seen on Yahoo!’s Big League Stew , three days after getting shown the door by the Seattle Mariners, outfielder Eric Byrnes is headed for the adult softball field.  Awesome.

The man the Arizona Diamondbacks are paying $11 million this year in the final year of a three-year deal is going to star for a team sponsored by Dutch Goose, a burger and beer pub in Menlo Park, Calif.

“This is going to be a blast,” Byrnes said. “Playing with my buddies. I can’t wait for my first hit. I’m going to ask for the ball.”

Our guess is that Mr. Byrnes will fit in extremely well on the softball diamond.  He gave the whole mustache-thing a try, so he has that going for him.  Plus, he’s owed $11 million for the remainder of this year.  That will buy a lot of post-game Busch Light pitchers at the softball concession stands.

Besides the obvious “softballs are way bigger than baseballs” argument, we thought it was necessary to provide Mr. Byrnes with some insight into the real differences between life as a Major Leaguer… and life as an adult softball player.

Eric Byrnes Softball

Eric Byrnes Softball

Eric Byrnes Softball

Eric Byrnes Softball

Eric Byrnes Softball

Eric Byrnes Softball

Eric Byrnes Softball

Eric Byrnes Softball

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Seattle Mariners’ Troubled Offense, and How To Fix It

Four runs. That’s how many The Mariners managed to push across the plate in a three-game series that saw them get swept by the rival Texas Rangers. The lack of offense wasted not only a spectacular Seattle debut by Cliff Lee, but also another gem by surprise of the year thus far, Doug Fister.

Not that this is the first time this year that Seattle’s offense has let down a spectacular pitching performance. In fact, it seems to be an everyday occurrence at this point in the season.

Ichiro and Franklin Gutierrez are the only two in the lineup making any kind of consistent contact, hitting .320, and .317 respectively. After that, the next highest average on the team is .243, by light-hitting shortstop Jack Wilson. As a team, they have just nine home runs all together, and have gone one week since their last long ball.

Newcomers Milton Bradley and Chone Figgins have got off to horribly slow starts. Bradley hitting just .224 with 2 home runs, and Figgins at a dismal .209 clip. Mike Sweeney and Ken Griffey Jr. just look old out there. It pains me to say this about my hero, but Griffey simply does not have it any more. His bat is slow, and his knees are gone. It’s sad, but it’s true.

Seattle has the pitching to make a run, and a deep run at that. However they cannot do it without run support. So the question is how do they fix this?

I don’t want to sound like I’m panicking, I know it’s early, but they must act fast. If they wait till the trade deadline to do something, I fear it’ll be too late.

First, release Mike Sweeney and Eric Byrnes. I know everybody loves Sweeney, and Byrnes is a hard-nosed guy, but they simply are not getting it done. Go after Jermaine Dye or Carlos Delgado to fill the DH slot. Everybody knows they can still hit, and a shift to the DH role will keep them fresh.

Second, Figgins must get on track. If he can get on and they can put some offense in the middle of the lineup, they will score runs. I have faith that he will get his knocks, but it’s got to come soon.

Third, they got to relax. When you’re in a slump, you tend to try and force it, try and make something happen rather than just letting it come. It’s obvious to me that a lot of the Mariners hitters are doing this right now. They have to relax, remember what got them there, and above all else, have fun. It’s a game. Go play it.

The Mariners have the ability to go a long way this year. They must address the offensive problems however if they expect to climb to the top of the tough AL West. Pitching alone will not be enough. It’s time to move, no time to waste. Free agents, trades, minor leagues, it doesn’t matter, something must be done.


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