Eric Byrnes lands roster spot on softball team

15 Comments

byrnes-100505.jpgAfter going 3-for-32 and earning his release from the Seattle Mariners, it didn’t take long for Eric Byrnes to land on his feet.

The 34-year-old outfielder, who once stole 50 bases for the Arizona Diamondbacks (a feat the D-backs are still paying for), has earned a roster spot with a rec league softball team sponsored by Dutch Goose, a burger and beer pub in Menlo Park, Calif.

If you think this post is an audition for The Onion, you’d be mistaken. Here is Byrnes talking to Steve Gilbert of MLB.com:

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

That’s because there haven’t been enough hits for Byrnes the past three seasons.

Gilbert beat me to the punch line, but that’s OK as the Mariners should provide plenty more opportunities this season. As far as Byrnes goes, he’s provided enough already.

In addition to his poor hitting, Byrnes drew attention when he pulled back his bat on a suicide squeeze bunt, leaving Ichiro hung out to dry, then ducked the media by exiting the clubhouse on – of all things – a bicycle.

(I swear this isn’t an Onion story)

Byrnes says he expects that his MLB career is finished, and if so he’ll spend more time with his family (don’t they all say that?) and working on a clothing business that he founded with his wife. Also don’t be surprised to see him focus on a broadcasting career.

“I’ve always had two passions in my life,” Byrnes said. “One of them was playing sports and the other was talking about sports.”

Maybe Byrnes is an odd guy. Maybe he’s a free spirit. Maybe he’s just a “dude.”

Either way, his softball team should be pretty good this year.

Are you on Twitter? You can follow Bob here, and get all your HBT updates here.

Sign-stealing penalties could be ‘unlike anything seen in the sport’s recent history’

Getty Images
11 Comments

Early this morning we learned that Major League Baseball was planning to talk to former Astros Carlos Beltrán and Alex Cora as part of the sign-stealing investigation. Late this morning Jeff Passan of ESPN reported that the investigation is, actually, going to go much wider than that.

Passan reports that Major League Baseball will not limit its focus to the 2017 Astros, who were the subject of the report in The Athletic on Tuesday. Rather, it will also include members of the 2019 Astros and will extend to other teams as well. Passan specifically mentions the 2018 Red Sox which, of course, were managed by Alex Cora one year after he left Houston, where he was A.J. Hinch’s bench coach.

Oh, it also includes recently-fired Astros assistant general manager Brandon Taubman, who the league plans to interview but who, Passan says, has hired a lawyer. Which is sort of interesting in its own right, but let’s stay on topic.

Passan:

The league is attempting to cull tangible evidence from the widespread paranoia of front offices and teams around the game about others cheating and has indicated it will consider levying long suspensions against interviewees who are found to have lied, sources said . . . The penalties for illegal activity are determined by commissioner Rob Manfred, though if the league can prove wrongdoing, the severity could be unlike anything seen in the sport’s recent history, sources said.

The Cardinals were fined $2 million when an employee, Chris Correa, hacked the Astros computer system. Correa, of course, was permanently banned from baseball and served prison time. Former Braves GM John Coppolella was likewise given a permanent ban for lying about the team’s circumvention of international signing rules. If Passan’s source is right and the league is going to level heavy penalties here, that’s where you have to start, I imagine.

To me, the stuff about Coppolella’s lying and the bit about interviewees lying mentioned in the block quote is key.

Will anyone have the hammer brought down upon them for being responsible for stealing signs? Hard to say. But they likely will if they are not forthcoming with league investigators. Which is actually a pretty decent way to handle things when one is conducting an internal investigation. Maybe you don’t give amnesty to wrongdoers in the name of information-gathering, but you do signal to them that cooperation is incentivized and lack of cooperation will be punished.

It’s an approach, by the way, that Major League Baseball notably did not take in the course of its PED investigations a decade ago. That led to a final report that had massive gaps in information and caused the league to focus on and publicize only the lowest-hanging fruit. As I argued at the time, if information-gathering, as opposed to P.R. considerations was its true aim, MLB would’ve handled it differently.

In the early stages here, in contrast, it does sound like baseball is taking this seriously. That’s a good thing.