“Until a week and a half ago, Eric Byrnes was a Seattle Mariner,” writes the SF Chronicle’s John Shea of the former A’s/D-Backs d-bag OF making the transition to a Menlo Park burger joint‘s slow-pitch softball team, “so some might see this as a step down.” Not if they’ve been paying attention to the Mariners, recently, John, though if you wanna talk about guys who are stealing money, Griffey Jr. and Milton Bradley can barely compare to Byrnes being paid $11 million in 2010 to stay the heck away from big league ballparks.
Two Fridays ago, in extra innings of a scoreless game in Seattle, Byrnes pulled his bat back on a suicide squeeze, rendering teammate Ichiro Suzuki a dead duck at the plate. The Mariners lost 2-0.
Minutes after the game, Byrnes burst out of the clubhouse riding a beach-cruiser bicycle, blew past the media and almost ran down Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik, hurrying to the clubhouse to address his sinking team.
Two days later, Byrnes was cut, and he announced in a radio interview he was done with baseball for good but would be playing slow-pitch softball.
To the above reports, Byrnes pleads guilty, with an explanation. He hadn’t snapped; he merely flamed out, and retired from baseball with as much dignity as you can muster making your exit on a beach cruiser.
Byrnes’ version of events in Seattle vary from the news reports. On the failed squeeze bunt, he said the pitch was so far outside he said he knew he couldn’t reach it, so he pulled back and hoped to obstruct the catcher to allow Ichiro to score.
After the game, he was upset with himself, so after showering he hopped on his bike (he lived near the ballpark) and pedaled off, not deliberately blowing off the media and not seeing the GM.
“Ask any of my teammates if I gave a” darn, he said. “Ask Wakamatsu. Ask Mike Sweeney. … I didn’t give up on baseball. I played, in my mind, to the end. My time just ran out. … I busted my ass for 11 years, I gave this game all I had.”
We’re only in the 2nd week of May, and Seattle have watched a pair of veteran outfielders go AWOL, while the franchise’s most iconic figure (allegedly) took a siesta in the middle of a game. You think there’s any chance first-year GM Jack Zduriencik would like a do-over on acquiring Byrnes and Bradley, or bringing back Junior for a final season?