Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Byrd pays big dividends

Almost two years ago, at the then-named Wyndham Anatole hotel in Dallas, baseball's winter meetings took place.

It was a slow time for the most part, certainly slower than the previous time owners and agents met in Dallas in 2000 and turned out Monopoly-money contracts.

The big-name signing was A.J. Burnett inking a five-year contract with Toronto, but a day earlier, there was a stack of copies with the Cleveland Indians' logo on them.

The gist of the news release: The Indians signed Paul Byrd to a two-year contract. That would be the same Paul Byrd that had handed the Chicago White Sox their only loss of the 2005 playoffs.

The signing was met with a yawn and, given the way Cleveland stumbled in 2006, it certainly did not look like a smart signing.

Then came Tuesday night when Byrd, who helped pitch LSU to its first national title in 1991, shut down the Boston Red Sox for the most part in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series.

Byrd has always been old-school. He won't pass many eye tests, but he's a winner. And because of his efforts, Cleveland has put Boston in the unenviable position of nearly having to duplicate its magical 2004 to reach another Fall Classic.


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