Give Brett Myers Another Chance

If there’s one thing bloggers and the traditional media can agree on, it’s that Brett Myers is a terrible human being. He hit his wife in the face during an argument going back to their hotel in Boston when the Phillies were in town for an interleague series in 2006 against the Red Sox. Near the end of August last season, he verbally lashed out at a reporter when he made a snide comment about Myers’ performance against the San Diego Padres.

There is no question he needs to learn to better control his anger, or at least contain it so that he is not taking it out on other people.

This country is usually a forgiving bunch, but sports fans are staunchly unforgiving. And before I begin my defense of Myers, I would like to definitively state that I am not supporting anything he did to his wife or to that reporter; I am simply stating that I am forgiving him (but the leash is tight).

If any of these intangibles baseball purists talk about exist in a meaningful fashion that affects the outcomes of games, then Myers is definitely the kind of guy you want in the clubhouse, even if you’re a reporter. He’s always almost always open to an interview, he cracks funny jokes, and he’s self-deprecating. Take this, from an article written by Ryan Lawrence of the Delaware County Daily Times:

Brett Myers pitched seven strong innings Sunday in a 6-2 win over the Cincinnati Reds.

If he had his way, he may have gone nine.

“I’m mad as hell,” Myers said, wearing a sporty pair of sunglasses while sitting by his locker inside the clubhouse. “That shows no confidence in me. Really.”

Myers, as per usual, was joking. Less than a half hour earlier, however, the Phillies Opening Day starter was in serious, ace-like pitching mode.

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Afterward, he cracked wise about his own spring training approach — “If I think too much, dude, I’d be a mess” — and scoffed at the notion that the team’s offense has been ineffective and that the team’s approach, in his manager’s words, may be complacent.

If they both had equal production, would you rather have someone like Myers — outspoken, witty, and loyal — or an introvert who regurgitates the same tired lines interview after interview, provides nothing good or bad in the clubhouse, and has no visible care in the team’s success or failure? And don’t forget the prank Myers pulled on Kyle Kendrick.

The fact is that, even if this stuff doesn’t have a meaningful effect at the Major League Level, this stuff does matter to fans, and it makes for a more enjoyable game. Like him or not, Myers embodies everything you want in a teammate. He was more than willing to convert from starter to late-innings reliever when everyone else in the bullpen was injured or ineffective. Now, he’s more than willing to convert back to a starter, even though he has publicly stated how much he enjoys being a reliever.

This is all without mentioning that he’s a pretty good pitcher regardless of when he comes into the game: in 2005, he pitched 215 and one-third innings with 208 strikeouts, a 1.2 WHIP and a 118 ERA+; in ’06, he pitched 198 innings with 189 strikeouts, a 1.3 WHIP and a 120 ERA+. As a reliever in ’07, he threw 53 and one-third innings, struck out 64, had a WHIP of 1.18, and put up a 2.87 ERA.

Myers and manager Charlie Manuel recently disagreed on the team’s spring training performance. Manuel thinks the team is overconfident and isn’t taking spring training ineffectiveness seriously; Myers thinks the team just needs to start the regular season and they’ll start playing well.

As for the offense, Myers said, “These guys are switch guys, man. The big show starts happening and these guys come to play. They’re getting at-bats right now and they’re working on things. It’s something where they try working on stuff, and once they get into the season, it comes natural — muscle memory, I guess.”

Regardless of whether Myers is right or wrong (I think he is wrong, for the record), it is nice to know that Myers will always back up his teammates publicly. Loyalty.

Myers, like everyone else, is human, and he’s made mistakes. He has the unfortunate circumstance of being a public figure who makes mistakes, so he has to not only relive those moments more often than anyone should have to, he has to wear the Scarlet Letter he’s been given by fans who only know him from the two publicized incidents.

His wife has forgiven him, why can’t everyone else?

The judge noted the couple has been in marriage counseling since shortly after the fight. Kim Myers said the counseling has helped the couple, who have two children, and she denied other physical abuse.

“He’s a loving father, he’s a loving husband. This is not something that happens on a daily basis,” she said. “Or ever.”

If pulls any of these stunts again, fine, kick him to the curb where fans dispose of hated athletes. But until then, forgive Myers, enjoy his hilarious antics on and off the field, and enjoy the 2008 baseball season.