Happy Birthday, Kyle!

Kyle and Steve Photo by Donna Ellis courtesy of Kelly O'Connor

Kyle and Steve Photo by Donna Ellis courtesy of Kelly O'Connor

Regular readers of the blog had to know this was coming at some point this year. If you’re new to the blog, rest assured I do more than write about a pitcher who isn’t on the team right now…but Kyle is special and for today you’re going to have to deal with my ramblings about him.

There aren’t many players who I can pinpoint when I became a fan. Many I just “followed” (See, Timlin, Mike, when he was with Toronto) but with Kyle, I can narrow it down to the first time he pitched for Boston. A spot start in June 2006 against the Washington Nationals. As I’ve written before, I was at the game, sitting in right field with a perfect view of the bullpen, fielding many messages from friends who wanted to point out that the “new guy” was a Bronson Arroyo lookalike.

With the trade of Arroyo still a fresh, open wound for me at the time, I don’t know if my friends thought it would be a positive or a negative that they thought Kyle looked like him.  They are, to this day, two of my favorite active players and I STILL don’t see any resemblance except that they’re both tall with (when Bronson isn’t over-processing) dirty-blonde, curly hair.

Just coming off of being DFA’d by the Kansas City Royals, not many expected much from him.  So I decided to send the positive vibes.  Just because he hadn’t pitched that much (because of injuries) and the Royals dfa’d him, that didn’t mean he couldn’t produce for the Red Sox.  He ended up pitching 5 innings and giving up 4 hits and 3 runs.  But he also struck out 6 and didn’t walk anyone.  Javier Lopez was one of the relievers who came in to help out (Mike Timlin got the save), and Kyle got his first win as a Red Sox pitcher.

And I was hooked.

In 2007, he busted his ass to make the team – and he did.  We got to see him pitch in person in New York, in the only loss of the weekend for the Sox, but he pitched really well, even in defeat.  That night KellyO and I actually met him and got to congratulate him on how well he did.  Add to that, his good-naturedness in September of 2007 (on his birthday, no less) in posing for a picture with KellyO’s “Steve” in Baltimore as well as his signing said picture in October after the World Series win…and he has etched a spot in heart of me and many of my friends.

This year he added to his “mystique” by signing a jersey of his I bought “game worn” off of eBay (I bought it before he was dfa’d and only because I could’t find one to buy anywhere else that would get it to me for Opening Day) the same day he received his World Series ring in Pawtucket (as well as that being the day he signed Steve’s homemade Kyle Snyder jersey for KellyO!).   It is no exaggeration when I tell you he’s my favorite player.  He works his ass off and still makes time for the fans.  Both times I saw him in Pawtucket this year, he also, seemingly, made time for his teammates.  Never did I see him NOT talking, joking, having a good time, with his teammates.  It couldn’t have always been easy for him given all he went through this season, and you’d never know, by the way he carried himself, that he was having a rough time this season.

In following Kyle’s progression this season, I found that there are many other Kyle Snyder fans out there.  Folks I don’t know, who found my blog and wanted to keep tabs on Kyle as well.  And we have.  🙂

Now, it seems, Kyle’s season is over.  Last year on his birthday he was in Baltimore (and I was on a train home from Baltimore, missing out on the historic taking of the picture!) with the Red Sox.  This year, he might very well be cleaning out his locker.   When Kyle was dfa’d back in April, I was truly devastated.  Sure, it’s silly.  I don’t “know” Kyle.  He has his own support system, family and friends who I’m sure helped him deal with it all, he doesn’t need me…but it hit me pretty hard.  So I wrote a post for Kyle.  To this day, it stands as the post that I’m equally happy with and embarrassed by.  For, basically, the same reason.  It’s the post that I’ve probably put the most into emotionally, forgetting that people outside MY support system actually read my blog.  Many would probably read it and see it as a rambling mess of a post, sounding fangirlish and silly.  My friends, thankfully, saw something different.  🙂 My embarrassment doesn’t come from writing the post, just from my sharing my emotions so fully here on the blog.  I try not to get personal and I re-read that post and am stunned that I published something so raw.  I’m normally nothing if not guarded, so to let my guard down in such a way shows how emotional I was that night.

I have no delusions that Kyle has ever read my blog, but in the absolute off-chance that he ever did (or does), I hope he realizes that he has a fan.  Not some groupie or nut, just someone he touched by being so nice and by just playing as honest and hard as he could.

And as for the rest of you, yes, you will still be met with the occasional Kyle update, even in the off-season…as long as I can get them.  🙂

Happy Birthday, Kyle.  You might not be where you expected to be this year, but you accomplished a lot this year and should be proud of what you overcame.

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