An enigma to the end, Byfuglien will always be loved in Winnipeg — Winnipeg Sun

The rhythm was often off-beat. Read More

An enigma to the end, Byfuglien will always be loved in Winnipeg — Winnipeg Sun

The rhythm was often off-beat.

The marching was far from an organized stride.

Dustin Byfuglien did his own thing.


It was his beat. His march. It only needed to make sense to him.

And just as his career began in an eccentric way — getting a phone call about rookie camp in Chicago and then going AWOL until someone from the Blackhawks organization tracked him down to get him there — it ended on a similar note.

You’d be hard-pressed to find someone willing to walk away from $14 million. Even professional athletes, who’ve amassed vast amounts of wealth over their respective careers, often want to maximize those earnings before their body won’t allow them to any longer.

But one of hockey’s most entertaining and enigmatic figures seemingly didn’t care about all of that in the end.

Money, reputation, legacy — these things simply failed to compute in a logical way for a player shrouded in as much curiosity as Byfuglien is (or was, at this point).

Byfuglien did Byfuglien. 24/7. 365 days a year, and he didn’t let his guard down on a leap year, either.

That mystique is a big reason fans embraced him so dearly, and why we media types were always searching for more.

Surely, he knew that.

Fans learned much about the man in the way he carried himself on the ice. That’s how he communicated with them. He was merciless to his opponents — just ask Mark Stone or Roberto Luongo — and fiercely competitive.

But he was also a consummate teammate — just ask anyone not named Evander Kane. And it’s not just his most recent teammates that speak his praises, but also his former colleagues in Chicago.

The story about Byfuglien’s first rookie camp came from long-time Blackhawks defenceman Duncan Keith a few months ago. Keith’s memories of Byfuglien as a teammate were glowing.

On the homefront, he took Josh Morrissey under his wing.

Byfuglien was the family protector, a job he did admirably, and a job his teammates admired.

Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff spoke Friday of an emotional ending that began back in early September on the eve of training camp. The months-long saga came to an end 219 days later as the NHL, the NHLPA and the Jets announced the termination of Byfuglien’s contract.

That Byfuglien was emotional back then is certainly believable, and one wonders if the finality of today wouldn’t have elicited similar sentiments.

While there are parts of the game — the media, particularly — that Byfuglien never seemed to enjoy, he most certainly relished playing the game, playing in big games, and being a part of the team. And those around him enjoyed it, too. He had that infectious trait about him.

That seeped into the fan base here in Winnipeg. Supporters would have loved for Byfuglien to play forever. That just comes with the territory when you have a player as popular, and as effective, as the 35-year-old was for the Jets.

If Byfuglien’s career is truly over, he leaves the game having hoisted the game’s holy grail. He completed the goal most prominent among every player that’s stepped onto the ice in the National Hockey League.

He also wasn’t a flash in the pan. He played nearly 900 games. He played on the biggest stages the game can offer. He thrived in those moments, too, much to the chagrin of Vancouver Canucks fans, and others throughout his career.

Perhaps most importantly, he did so in front of a legion of fans he earned through playing the game the way he wanted to play.

And if there’s a lesson to take for any player, young, old, and in between, it’s just that: you can be yourself, and true to yourself, while at the same time being good at whatever it is you do in life.

Byfuglien went out on his own terms, and not everyone gets to say that.

And judging by the reaction to the comments from Cheveldayoff on Friday, it sounds like many, if not all, fans accept Byfuglien’s terms.

We don’t have the full story. We may never hear Byfuglien’s side in this whole ordeal.

But unless Cheveldayoff was fibbing, Byfuglien remained loyal to the Jets until his final day as a member of the organization. He didn’t want to be traded, even when asked multiple times. It appeared that it was Winnipeg or bust.

In the end, Byfuglien chose both.

While pain once again ripples through the city, this is the Byfuglien the fans know and love.

And love, they always will.

Behind the Dream: Marcus Reyes is a relief pitcher from Vista, CA. He played at San Diego State University before being drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2017. Last season (2019), he played for the Class-A Lansing Lugnuts. — Ballpark Vibes

Q: What’s your favorite baseball movie? I’d probably say Major League because of the camaraderie they show in the movie and it’s just a bunch of misfits. They all ball out, but they are degenerates. It’s just a fun comedy baseball movie! Q: Who was your favorite team growing up? So, I had two favorite […]

Behind the Dream: Marcus Reyes — Ballpark Vibes

Q: Who was your favorite team growing up?

So, I had two favorite teams. Obviously the San Diego Padres, just because I’ve lived in San Diego County since I was about 2 years old. But when my parents moved over [to the United States] from Cuba, they lived in New York and New Jersey, like right near Yankee Stadium, so a lot of my family grew up as Yankee fans, so that just trickled down to me. So basically, I was a Yankee-Padres fan. (Sorry to the Blue Jay fans!)

Q: Who is your current favorite player and your all-time favorite player?

Current favorite player… that’s kinda tough because after being drafted and meeting a bunch of people, you just realize that we’re all the same. We’ve all been down the same road, but I’m most excited to see Vladdy Jr. Obviously he’s in my organization and he’s so young. The dude is an absolute stud! I just want to see what he’ll do in a full season and healthy. What he did in the minors is just unreal, so it will be cool to see what he does in the bigs. Also, Tatis Jr. too because of the Friar Faithful, bringing it back to Petco.

All-time favorite player… I’d have to say Andy Pettitte. Since I’m a left-handed pitcher and grew up a Yankees fan, plus I don’t throw hard or anything. When I started paying attention to baseball, Andy Pettitte when at the top of his career, was a high 80s to low 90s pitcher, he’s crafty and that kinda stuff just resonated with me. So definitely Andy or even Cliff Lee when he was with the Indians and Rangers. They’re just guys who went out there and used what they had to win.

Q: Who/what has been your biggest inspiration?

I’d have to say my parents. My dad was a third-world country farmer and my mom came from the city, but more factory kind of lifestyle. Coming here with nothing but the shirts on their back and a little bit of money. So their hard work and where they’ve gotten to now, inspired me to push myself to try and be successful in everything that I’ve done.

Q: How did you get into baseball?

Marcus with his mother and aunts

I feel like every parent goes through this phase where they want their child to play a sport when they are young just so they can do something. My mom just signed me up for tee-ball when I was 5. She just said to my dad, “hey, I want him to play some sports just to see if he likes anything,” and she just signed me up. It’s funny because my dad is a big baseball fan, but ultimately it was my mom who got me into baseball.

Q: What advice do you have for younger players?

Don’t worry about the results so much that it affects the process.

Q: What’s your warm-up song?

My walk-out song is “More Love” by Rebelution. I had to text my friend and former teammate, Danny Sheehan right before season because that was his walk-up song all throughout college. So asked him, “hey dude, is it cool if I walk out to your song? We’re boys and I love that song and I want to ask you first,” and he was cool with it. I think I’m going to ride with that song for as long as I play because I absolutely love that song!


Behind the Dream: Marcus Reyes — Ballpark Vibes

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A’s minor-league manager Webster Garrison off ventilator in coronavirus fight — AP

A’s minor league manager off ventilator in coronavirus fight

A’s minor league manager off ventilator in coronavirus fight —
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Oakland Athletics minor league manager Webster Garrison has resumed breathing completely on his own for the first time in more than three weeks and no longer requires a ventilator as he fights the coronavirus, his fiancee said Thursday.
Garrison, hospitalized in his home state of Louisiana, wasn’t yet speaking when Nikki Trudeaux posted her latest update Thursday.
“Webster Garrison is off the ventilator,” Trudeaux wrote, using a series of exclamation points. “He is still weak and can’t say words. He’s mumbling a little bit. That’s expected with that tube down his throat for that length of time and also being on all those sedatives so long. However, being on a ventilator for three weeks and one day, he is now breathing 100% on his own and his oxygen saturation level is at 100%.”

Trudeaux has been asking for nightly prayers and using the hash tag “WebbyStrong” as the 54-year-old former major leaguer fights COVID-19.
The A’s haven’t identified Garrison but released a a statement late last month that “a minor league staff member has tested positive for COVID-19 and is under hospital care.”
Garrison managed the Class A Stockton Ports last season, and he is scheduled to manage in the rookie level Arizona League this year. The ex-infielder played five games for the A’s in 1996, never getting a hit in 10 plate appearances while drawing one walk. He is from Marrero, Louisiana.
Trudeaux said she also tested positive for COVID-19 and described the emotional toll of not being able to be with Garrison during his illness. On Wednesday, she shared the encouraging developments such as that his eyes were open — and Trudeaux was hopeful he would be off the ventilator.
“He is smiling,” she posted. “He is wiggling his toes. He is just doing great!”
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. Older adults and people with existing health problems can experience severe illness, including pneumonia and death.

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