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.