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I’m really not sure how many more times it can come up directly from a player before more fans “buy” it, but once again, a Chicago Cubs player is openly admitting that the alternating day-night game nature of playing a full season with the Cubs takes a toll on the body over the course of the season.

Marlon Byrd is many things, but a weakling who makes excuses is not one of them. I have no doubt that Byrd is a strong, confident, capable dude. I also know that, because he’s a baseball player, he’s keenly aware of the fact that any time he says anything that could be interpreted as an excuse, he’s going to be shredded. That’s how I know – know – that the day game issue at Wrigley Field is a real one.

“I don’t think [the impact of] day games are underestimated, I think it’s something you don’t know until you play there,” Byrd said of his years with the Cubs, according to Doug Padilla. “You know it’s day games and you know it’s Saturday noon games, but until you do it you really don’t know what it’s like.”

That’s exactly it: we don’t know what it’s like. I tend to believe Marlon Byrd knows more about the impact of day games on his body than I do.

Padilla goes on to point out the changes in Byrd’s statistical trends since coming to the Cubs:

Even though he missed six weeks last season after getting hit in the face with a pitch, Byrd still seemed to fade down the stretch, batting .250 in September and .182 in August. In his first full season with the Cubs in 2010, he batted .348 in April and .333 in June, but just .269 in August and .247 in September.

It’s not like he has always done the slow fade. While playing in the heat of Texas in 2009 he batted .311 in the final month of the season. His career September batting average of .278 is better than his career marks in April (.272) and May (.266).

You could read too much into a small set of stats like that, but it certainly comports with the suggestion that, at least for some players, the nature of the schedule playing for the Cubs grinds you down.

  • Ryan

    His average is dropping almost Fukudome-esque!

  • Fishin Phil

    Blah, blah, blah. Weenie.

    Brett, this is one you and I will never agree on.

    • Spencer

      agreed.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Say it to Byrd’s face…

      • Fishin Phil

        He wouldn’t hit a puppet.

        • Boogens

          “He wouldn’t hit a puppet.”

          That is hilarious!!! Nicely played!

          • Wilbur

            Are you sure! Some people hate clowns, others hate puppets …

        • bluekoolaidaholic

          These guys are all millionaires.
          Hah, let me have the greatest job on the planet playing a game I love for a living. Give me a few million a year and watch me work some odd hours and days and lose some sleep
          I’d do it in a heartbeat.
          Shut up and play.
          You Da Man, Dale.

          • DocWimsey

            And get beaten in the end by the other millionaires with the greatest jobs on the planet playing a game you love but with far fewer odd hours and days.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            These guys aren’t *complaining* about their job. They are explaining why the Cubs’ unique schedule makes it incrementally more difficult for them to produce as well as other players. Those are very different things.

        • Joe N

          If you wait to say it to his face until September, and you move around a little, he probably COULDN’T hit a puppet… haha

          Sorry… I replied to the link in what I thought was the appropriate spot, but apparently I missed…

    • Spencer

      “He feels good and everything has been going really well right now,” Sveum said, “That talk about all the day games and all that stuff is always the million-dollar question that guys wear out because of day games. But I don’t really believe in all that stuff.

      “People played in a lot of day games before lights got into baseball. That’s what you make of it and your lifestyle on and off the field is how tired you get on the baseball field.”

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        You know that I posted that yesterday, right? And you know that no manager in the universe is going to say “yeah, the day games wear my players out, but we’ll do our best,” right?

        And if Sveum really means what he’s saying (he doesn’t), he’s saying Byrd has lived a crappy lifestyle while in Chicago (he hasn’t).

        • Spencer

          there’s clear concern that some of the guys on the team may lead or may want to lead crappy lifestyles in chicago because of the statements theo made earlier this offseason about curbing nightlife activities and how they may negatively impact on field performance.

          there are more variables to declining performance throughout a full season of baseball than just day games. might they be an impact? maybe. but that isn’t the reason the cubs have suffered 103 years of futility. and before anyone says that that isn’t the point that is being made here, then why bother talking about it?

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            Come on, Spencer. Did I say the alternating day/night schedule was the only (or even a primary) cause of slumps? Just because it isn’t the ONLY cause of the Cubs’ struggles doesn’t make it not worth discussing. That’s pretty absurd.

            • Spencer

              Perhaps you missed by point; perhaps I poorly articulated. What I meant was this: If the whole point of this debate is not that the Cubs struggle because they play a schedule that is unique to the rest of MLB, then I do not understand why it continues to get brought up. Is that the whole point of this debate? It’s harder to argue if I don’t know what we’re arguing about.

              • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                I’ll be more explicit: the Cubs, historically, have struggled for many, many reasons. One of them is the unique schedule. That’s the debate – some folks believe the schedule has a neutral or even beneficial impact. I think such people are mistaken. And so does my friend, Marlon.

                • DocWimsey

                  The idea that an inconstant life can be beneficial has been falsified by numerous studies. This is not just about baseball, folks: in any profession, people who can keep to a regular schedule do better than people who cannot.

                  Across professions, hansman’s example is a good one: people with jobs demanding inconstant lifestyles fare more poorly in many mental and physical health ways than people with jobs allowing constant lifestyles.

                  Remember, the other team gets to go back to a life just as constant as all the other NL teams as soon as they leave Chicago. The Cubs never do.

                  • THEOlogical

                    I work a rotating shift, 7 on and 2 off, then 7 on and 1 off and so on and so forth. The pay is great, the schedule is brutal. I worked straight days before this job and I have to say, it’s very hard to maintain a healthy lifestyle. To be socially active and keep a relationship from falling apart are just as tough. Your body is constantly being stretched to limits and there are days where I have to stay up 6-8 hours past my desired sleeping habits just so I can get my routine ready for the next shift. They may have it bad, but not that bad. I would love to see more night games at Wrigley though.

        • Dougy D

          Alright, Brett. You have some support for your statement from before (Golf Clap). I don’t remember my exact words, but when I mentioned that a player should change their lifestyle, I meant to adjust to the circumstances that they are in. As the saying goes, “When life hands you lemons… tough shit. Deal with it.” I guess I’ll go with the old agree to disagree move.

      • WGNstatic

        The Sveum comments are interesting, but…

        1) On some level he has to say the day games aren’t an obstacle, do you really want the manager giving the team an excuse to fade/stink?

        2) The comment “People played in a lot of day games before lights…” is really irrelevant. The problem is going back and forth between night and day games constantly. Furthermore, when everyone played all day games the playing field was level, so to speak.

        3) Finally, and to me most interestingly, he basically refutes himself. He says that day baseball is not an issue and then go on to say that to succeed with day baseball you need to alter your lifestyle etc.

        I am not making excuses for the players. I do believe that there is some home field advantage that comes with the day games. But I also believe that there are extra challenges that come with the Cubs’ schedule (but I don’t believe that these challenges make up any more than a pittance of the reason the Cubs have stunk for so long.)

    • Jumpstart

      Can you honestly say that if you worked a day shift job and had to switch to night shift, back and forth, this wouldn’t mess with your sleeping patterns, routines, daily life and personal family stuff? This shouldn’t be used as a crutch to perform poorly, but to say that is has no impact is ridiculous. Baseball players are human beings, not machines, regardless of how much they get paid to do their job.

      • hardtop

        this isnt day shift night shift comparison. both day games and night games are played within the course of a normal 16-18 hour day… more or less. say, to get to the park by 9 you need to wake at 7am and say the typical night game at home goes until around 10pm, Maybe you’re in bed by midnight. 7am to Midnight would be your schedule, the only difference, day in day out, is when you actually play baseball. Its similar to my normal schedule, and i can honestly tell you that if i worked from 8 to 5, or from 1 to 9, I dont think it would make a difference to me. Im not making the argument that these day-night schedule doesnt have some negative effect on the players, im just saying that working the “night shift”, where you have to completely change when you wake and go to sleep, is not a good comparison.
        Where the typical schedule can get thrown out of whack, as it were, is traveling after late night games and playing a day game the next day. but this happens to other teams as well, especially when coming into Wrigley, so, potentially, the Cubs aren’t at a disadvantage. what cubs players have to do that other players don’t is maintain a very disciplined sleep-wake schedule. they cant really go out on the town after a game, which is common practice among ball players. The Cubs really have to wait until off days if they want to maintain a regiment that limits the effect of a heavy day game schedule. its doable, just no one does it. I’ve discussed this personally with a few Cubs players and their feelings were similar. Its doable, but just not fun, and, though many try, most give up after a period of time. BUT, as i typed this realized this: 2 of the players that were part of the discussion were not every day players (backup catcher, 4th OF/FB) and 2 were pitchers, who have 4 games off between starts…. so, even though it makes sense to me, its not the best source to cite.

  • Sinnycal

    Yeah, people played in a lot of day games before lights got into baseball. And people used to ride horses everywhere. It’s just that now if you’re the only guy still riding a horse on the interstate, you’re at a competitive disadvantage since cars have gotten into commuting.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      EH HEM. BAM.

    • Spencer

      horses are legit.

  • Fishin Phil

    Just to be clear, I am not saying that Byrd is a weenie. I am just so tired of this particular excuse. There absolutely has to be a way to turn this into a homefield advantage. Perhaps start giving opposing teams guided tours of Rush Street.

    Edit to correct spastic spelling.

    • http://www.casualcubsfan.com hansman1982

      What is there to turn into home field advantage? Even a night game in Arlington will be similar heat conditions to a day game at Wrigley. This isn’t something that can be easily flipped on an opposing player, this is something that messes with the players internal clock, and if you come in for 3 day games at Chicago, that isn’t going to have the same effect on a player in that short of a time span.

      Look at Colorado, you hear players saying that the high altitude doesn’t get to them until the final game of the series, and that is a HUGE home field advantage potential but it barely affects the opponents. Then, when the Rockies go on the road to LA or San Fran, they have the huge advantage because they are used to playing with less oxygen.

    • Camiata2

      This is exactly why Mark Grace should be an ambassador for the Cubs.  Ricketts needs to get on that.

  • http://www.casualcubsfan.com hansman1982

    Didn’t Lee say something to this effect recently as well?

    I think if the Cubs had top notch facilities and a spacious clubhouse, it would help to mitigate the day games but when you combine the two together, it is a disadvantage.

    Take a look at nurses, my wife does a rotation where it is 2 weeks days, 2 weeks nights. While she isn’t a highly trained athelete and this is more extreme than day vs. night baseball, she is constantly sick or tired and just can never make her body feel right. You would think that she would get used to it as she has done this for a year and a half, but she never can get back to square 1.

    I would imagine Cub players would do well (and/or it wouldn’t be an issue at all) if they played strictly day games, but when you are constantly flipping between the two, I can only imagine the havoc it wrecks on their bodies. It is one thing to have a schedule that is thrown off only occasionally, it is another thing to not have a schedule.

  • Deer

    Is Byrd still buying from Conte? That guy must have some day game supplements.

  • Rich G

    If true it’s a real problem since it’s never going to change.

    (unless/until the Cubs move to a nice, big, new stadium out in the suburbs)

  • Kevin

    Exactly!

  • Kevin

    I love Wrigley Field, please don’t take me wrong. I want to see the Cubs win it all at least once before I die, something my father never had the pleasure of seeing. The question we must ask ourselves is how can the Cubs organization get approval to play as many night games as they want? If Wrigleyville or the City of Chicago does not allow such a change then, and unfortunately, the Cubs need to consider plan B.

  • MichCubFan

    That just makes depth all the more important. Gotta keep guys as fresh as possible. You would also want to look for high energy guys.

    I have no doubt that a messed up schedule would mess with players, especially over time.

    They are human. Think about your work schedule. How would you like working every day for 7 and a half months with only one or two days off a month. Then between the travel, games, and practice, you get a super inconsistent sleeping schedule.

    I would not want a job like that…except maybe to be a major league baseball player of course.

  • http://www.casualcubsfan.com hansman1982

    I guess I file this with the managerial debate. While there may not be a big difference between an all-day/night schedule and the Cubs schedule, if it accounts for 2 wins and the manager accounts for 2 wins, and XYZ accounts for 2 wins, those things can add up pretty quickly before you start spending money on players.

  • JR Cubs

    I get how the day game thing doesn’t sound like a big thing to fans. But if a veteran such as Bird says it may have some effect, I am going to listen. Clearly the day games hasn’t been the only problem with the Cubs, but if there is a chance it puts them behind the 8 ball in any way it needs fixed.

  • Sparks

    While I agree that so few night games has an effect on players, it does not account for 103?? Years of frustration. Wasn’t the first night game in the Majors played in the 1940’s? that being said, I believe that the only solution is to move to the suburbs.

    • DocWimsey

      The first night games were played in the 1930’s. All of the other NL teams began playing night games by 1940. The Cubs have not been in a WS since 1945. Now, why the Cubs had gone 38 years without winning a WS at that point can be debated: I think that that they went 0-7 in WS over that stretch. (That probably was bad luck.) There is no debate about the subsequent 66 years: you cannot win if you cannot play.

  • DocWimsey

    One final point on the effects of inconstant schedules. For years, the SF Giants had the 2nd least constant schedule of NL teams. Because Candlestick was brutal at night, they played a lot more day games than any teams other than the Cubs. The Giants were more successful than the Cubs during that time: 6 post-season appearances in 41 years (1962, 1971, 1987, 1989, 1997, 2000). They had 11 post-season appearances in the preceding 57 years when the played pretty much the same schedule as everybody else.

    Occam’s Razor, anyone?

  • colocubfan

    Ron Santo commented more than once that the main reason for the ’69 slide was the constant abuse of hot August day games, plus the fact that Leo never gave them the day off. I never checked, but apparently their bench was a little weak that year.

  • TeddyBallGame17

    Having day games seems like it’s now a built-in excuse, which drives me crazy. For a 1:20 start players get to the field 8-9am. I know they’re used to playing night games when on other teams, but seriously?!? We’ve already lost if we view it as a disadvantage. Don’t go out when u have a day game the next day. I think that’s a reasonable request by Theo and Co. And I truly believe that’s the reason it has become a disadvantage. Be responsible, don’t get hammered and get ready for work the next day. I know, it’s hard to stay in when u have $$ and women are chasing u, but let’s turn the perception and change this into an advantage!!!

    • DocWimsey

      This has nothing to do with how players view the situation. It has nothing to do with players getting hammered the night before. It has everything to do with having one schedule one week and a different schedule the next week while other teams get a much more consistent schedule week-in and week-out. It also has to do with having to lots of games in heat and sunshine while the other players get to play under starlight.

      Again, this transcends baseball. People who get to lead constant lifestyles are more successful than those doing the same thing but without constant lifestyles.

      • Drew

        Nailed it. I’m not sure why people are having a hard time understanding this.

        • http://www.casualcubsfan.com hansman1982

          Because many people (and I do this on occasion) forget that these guys are human and just because they make millions they should be able to perform as if they were robots.

          • DocWimsey

            Also, I think that it is part of our cultural mythos that you can conquer any obstacle if you just set your mind to it. As a corollary, the obstacle never defeats you: you failed against the obstacle. Some of the posts here reflect that: failing to adjust to change isn’t because we have biorhythms, but because of some “moral” failing by the players.

            And, quite frankly, the biggest reason why people don’t get it is that they’ve never been through inconstant schedules. Those of us who have (as several other posters here have attested!) know differently.

            • Drew

              I can see that. Kind of like a, “these a**holes dont know what tough is and they need to suck it up” type of attitude.

              Also, the numerous current and former Cub players arent making excuses, just pointing out something that gives them a competitive disadvantage. I just dont see anything wrong with that.

  • rocky8263

    The Cub’s will never move from Wrigley. To discuss it is pointless. What is the Cub’s record in night games? I remember Lou resting regulars to offset the day/night dilemma. Damn shame they couldn’t win a playoff game. Had a dream that Lahair, Soto and Soriano all started the season on fire. Cubs were a few games over .500 in June. I’m hoping we have nice weather for the opening homestand. Still have Milwaukee tickets (all four games) if anyone’s interested four seats section 208 row five. 20.00 ea. Great seats prime foul ball territory! Hit me up at rocky8263@gmail.com. I live and work on the far northwest side so we can figure out pickup/delivery.

  • Curt

    Well it’s like this Brett, I’m sure the alternating day/night schedule does not help the cubs but until changes the schedule so the cubs play what everyone plays what can you do about except take good care of yrself and do the best you can and stop putting it in the press that it bothers you, and make the best of it and somehow try n make it a plus instead of a negative, Byrd is probably right but is telling every other team coming in to wrigley that you might not be at yr best going to help either, just sayin.

    • DocWimsey

      Every team coming to Wrigley knows this, and they’ve been talking about it since at least the 1960’s.

  • Kevin

    Curt don’t be hating Brett, he’s simply stating the facts. If you don’t agree then it’s probably best to keep quiet.

  • scorecardpaul

    I have worked a rotating schedule, and trust me it SUCKS. I left that job and took a greatly reduced paycheck just so I could function again. Humans simply function better with a routine. I am quite confident that most, or all of the people on this board that are taking the other side of this argument have never worked a job that had a screwed up schedule.

  • Kevin Pawell

    Byrd is right, day games are killing this team down the stretch. Setting a curfew is a start but this should transition to night games so the players can get more rest and be geared up with more energy for the august and september push.

  • Jay Anderson Jr

    Day games are a bonus. Ever heard of third shift being call the graveyard shift. You body works better when you work during the day and sleep at night. A night game starts at 7 or 8 pm. If it starts at 7, it typically ends around 10. Post game showers and interviews last til 11:30 or 12. Most players have to eat after a game. By the time all that’s done and they lay down to sleep, its 2 or 3 am. If the games is at 8, its possibly 4 am. That’s not good for your body. If the games is at 1 pm, then you are home relaxing by 7 or 8. Also it leads to a better diet and conditioning. You can get a proper cooked meal, instead of the typical crap eaten at 2am.

    It’s also an advantage because you play a different schedule the everybody else. You should be used to it. The human body is known to adjust to its surrounding enviroment. Get used to it, stop whinning, start winning.

    • Shawon O’Meter

      The only way your theory is applicable is if the minor leagues and all the Major League teams adopt the all day schedule so that every team is on the same clock and forget about making money since all the fans will be at work and won’t be able to attend the games or watch them on TV…good luck with all that!

      • Jay Anderson Jr

        Don’t think the Cubs ever had a problem selling tickets.

        • TWC

          You mean outside of the fact that attendance has dropped every year since 2007, right?

        • Shawon O’Meter

          You just don’t get it, or maybe you do and don’t want to admit it. When it comes to fan support in baseball the Cubs are the exception to every rule. Let’s see the 29 other clubs adopt an all day schedule and watch attendance figures plumate, shall we?

          The bottom line is that the Cubs are asked to be at a decided disadvantage due to Wrigleyville zoning laws and until the playing field is leveled (ie: have a schedule like the other teams whether it be at Wrigley or a new home that allows the Cubs to compete under the same conditions as the rest of the league), this argument will live on and on…

  • DocWimsey

    “You body works better when you work during the day and sleep at night.”

    Actually, your body works best if you keep a constant schedule. That’s the issue: the Cubs keep the least constant schedule of all baseball teams. People here are demanding that the Cubs players get used to not being able to get used to things. This is a logical contradiction!

    “The only way your theory is applicable is if the minor leagues and all the Major League teams adopt the all day schedule so that every team is on the same clock”

    Which, incidentally, are the conditions under which the Cubs won 9 of their 10 pennants. And even their 10th gets an asterisk: everybody played more day games during WWII to save power and from fear that the German would eventually develop bombers that could get to the east coast.

  • Adam

    They need to play more night games. I work first shift

  • Spriggs

    First of all, I don’t care at all what a phony like Marlon Byrd thinks. His opinion is completely irrelevent to me – something which doesn’t extend to all players. Some of their opinions on the topic must be explored, just not those opinions of narcassistic clowns like Marlon Byrd who only care about how they appear.

    I happen to agree with everyone who thinks the Cubs are at a disadvantage because of their schedule. Even if the disadvantage amounts to only a very small percentage of the total reason for their long drought — if you can do anything to fix it – you should. If your number 1 goal is to win a World Series, you should eliminate all obstacles to achieving that goal. If that means increasing the number of night games at Wrigley Field, moving to a new park, or something in between – you have to do something if you believe that the schedule is counter-productive.

    If you prefer to ignore the issue – call everyone pussies – and hope to win at Wrigley — well, that plan isn’t working. Yes, low OBP over the last 60 years might have contributed to the drought more than day baseball did… but maybe… just maybe, that wasn’t the only reason.

    • gocatsgo2003

      Wait. I don’t get it… Is Byrd a phony or does he have a legitimate point?

  • gratefulled

    This is all BS.

    If the Cubs came in last place every year, there might be some substance to this argument. But, the fact is that the Cubs have made it to the post-season while playing at Wrigley. What does the day/night schedule have to do with Ramirez and D. Lee laying down in the last two post-season appearances? Or, how did the schedule cause Gonzalez to bobble a tailor-made double play in the 8th leading 3-0?

    As far as I’m concerned Byrd can go find a team that plays their majority of games at night. Brett Jackson won’t be bitching about having to play a few more day games.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      This is tongue-in-cheek, right?

      The fact that a legless dude has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro doesn’t mean it wouldn’t have been a hell of a lot easier to do it with legs.

  • Curt

    hey Kevin not tht Brett can’t defend himself, but I wasn’t hating on Brett simply stating a fact tht yes day/night games do affect the players I’m sure but that until the cubs are able to work it so that their schedule is similar to other teams theirs nothing you can do about it , it is wht it is, so why talk to the press about it and confirm it for other teams, thts all I as saying , if Brett had something to say he’d say it to me , I normally agree with him do how about you mind yr own buisness , you really do a great job Brett, and here’s another thought though if the cubs are changing the culture then don’t make excuses (bird ). I know it affects them until it changes yu hve to deal with it.

  • Leo L

    I like that mountain and leg anology. just think about any job especially physcial jobs and doing it in the heat every day. it has its toll. now imagine it doing in the cool evening with nice facilities to reccover in. it makes a difference. I like to run marathons. when i run in the heat it wears me down. there is no doubt it takes a toll on the players and i think it especiallly affects pitchers because those inning seem to add. players get tired arms. a fews days rest and a nonpitcher can get rested. The pitchers get 5 days rest whether they pitched in 80 degree weather or if they pitched 100 degree weather in the sun. and if you do it more often than anyone else it will make a difference. not enough to overcome but why have a disadvantage. i love the day games and i hope they dont completely disappear. But it is a disadvantage and they will need nicer faciliities to help with that.

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