This is hard for me. I'm a big fan of Eric's. I really am. But some things are going to need to change around here otherwise, I'm going to have to move on. I spent 16 years following Mike Piazza's Hall of Fame career and marveling at his talent and now that he is gone, I only have you to focus on Mr. Byrnes. The sad reality is, I could use a distraction.
My seats are approximately 25ft from where you stand. I come every day. Every day I see you run out on the field - you're always the first one. You sprint as hard as you can to center field as if it is your rightful position and wait for Glenn Sherlock to throw you the long ball. You take maybe 10 tosses and then, after your last one, throw your right arm up in disgust and wave him and his throws off. Every game you crouch. You sit out in the shadow of our championship banners and you look tired. I watch you pull your glove off between every swing. You hold it in your hand, let it breathe, and then, just before the pitch, you put it back on. I watch you hustle to back up Chris Young on fly balls you used to catch, i see the left centerfield gap grow wider day by day yet it stays the same size. I clap moderately when I see you back up Mark Reynolds on any play at third and stand when you throw behind a leading runner at second.
What I see, Mr. Byrnes, is your age showing. I know that you play on a team where the youngest guy was born in 1987 and the oldest guy was making his major league debut a year later. You are not even the median guy on this team though and it shows.
Where I used to get a thrill from you as you climbed the wall, I now marvel at Jeff Salazar's lizard-like abilities. Where I used to be impressed by your tumbling assists at home plate, I now struggle to comprehend just how strong Justin Upton's arm is. Where the dirtiest jersey on the field used to be #22 but is now probably #27. Where your range was more like Mays' and less like Jeter's.
Where have you gone Mr. Byrnes?
Did you run off during the off-season, get married, and forget how to be young? Does your Miss USA wife keep you out late or does she have you in bed by 9? Did your $30M pay check satisfy every need you ever had from baseball and now you just don't want it anymore? Does a radio show, tv show, internet show, and a baseball job just spread you too thin?
What is it? Please, let us know.
We cannot continue to watch you struggle. Your consistent 1-4 performance is not what we signed up for and not what we expected. We know you, at one time, hit a ball into Friday's Front Row. That was impressive but you need to be hitting more balls on the ground and less into the lights. Your at bats look more like Willy Mays Hays' than just Willy Mays. Every ball goes 200ft in the air and 2 ft in front of the plate.
Stop dropping your shoulder. Your hitting flaws are as obvious as Andruw Jones' and so is your ignorance (or stubbornness). If you're not the same fielder that you used to be, admit it, take a day off every week, and let Salazar play. He deserves the time and you deserve the rest. No one will think less of you for taking a break. You will perform better when you do play and your fans will not want to strangle you and throw their BYRNSIE license plates at your head.