One of the major upsides I’ve heard so far to the Cubs signing Marlon Byrd as their new center fielder is that he’s a guy who comes with great character. Quality as a person through and through, the kind of guy the Cubs should be welcoming into a clubhouse that has seen it’s share of in fighting, finger pointing and broken Gatorade coolers in recent years. I reached out to Texas fans on Twitter the other day to find out their POV of what we’re getting in Byrd and one of the responses I received read, “[Byrd is] an awesome team player who never quits! He’s a player that will run out everything even if it’s a routine groundball. He will make plays that will astound you in the outfield! I am sad to see him go. He will be a player that I will watch and root for wherever he goes.” Sounds like the kind of person we should be thrilled to have as a Cub in 2010. Let’s hope he’s the kind of player we’d like as well.
Cubs hitting coach Jamarillo had Byrd for a few years and thinks very highly of him. He has Byrd pencilled in as solid five hole guy in the Cubs batting lineup to start the season and mentioned he’s a great leader in the clubhouse and a great teacher. Seeing that Byrd averaged .295 over the three years he worked with Jamarillo in Texas, it would appear that he understands the tools Jamarillo uses to teach so another solid leader improving our lineup from 1-9 couldn’t hurt. We lost too many games last year due to an ineffective offense, run production way down from the year before. Time to get back in form and match the success of ’07 and ’08 with division crowns. Only this time, match that success with positive results in the playoffs (aka: don’t get swept by LA).
Sure Marlon’s last name obviously helps recall a guy like Andre Dawson whose nickname is the Hawk, but it’s the quality people see in his character that I’d like to focus on here. Even Ryne Sandberg mentioned in his Hall of Fame acceptance speech that Dawson was once of the classiest teammates he ever had and that Dawson played the game the way the game was supposed to be played. Sandberg said, “Andre Dawson, the Hawk. No player in baseball history worked harder, suffered more, or did it better than Andre Dawson. He’s the best I’ve ever seen. I watched him win MVP for a last place team in 1987 and it was the most unbelievable thing I’ve ever seen in baseball.” The intangibles should be focused on when it comes to voting players into the Hall of Fame in addition to their career stats. Andre Dawson should be a no-brainer to be voted in this year seeing that he has been on the ballot for nine years now and is long overdue. He brought speed, power, defense and character to the ballpark year in and year out…starting with his first year as a Cub where he agreed to a blank contract and let the Cubs decide how much they wanted to pay him after he’d already agreed. He loved the game of baseball and loved being a Cub. Time for the BBWAA to show some love back.
After doing some research I came across a copy of the Hall Of Fame ballot sent to voting members of the BBWAA: