Sunday, December 23, 2007

"Paul Byrd's Struggle to Walk with God," ESPN.com interview, 10/17/07. Book profits?

Paul Byrd's ESPN.com interview 10/17/07--a few days BEFORE he was outed:
  • From ESPN.com interview: Paul Byrd, "the author of "The Free Byrd Project," a finished manuscript that details Byrd's spiritual journey through the major leagues and the pitfalls that pious jocks must leap in navigating a ballplayer's lifestyle.
Byrd has managed to overcome his doubters ... in battling back from Tommy John surgery in '03 to win 37 games the past three seasons and
  • gutting out an ALDS-clinching win over the Yankees in Game 4.

On the eve of his ALCS Game 4 outing, Byrd took some time to talk about some of the topics he'll cover in his book, including his struggles with pornography, cheating, and sharing his faith with the media and clubhouse mates, and to discuss how religion can unify and, at times, divide a clubhouse.

  • I can help people by being honest.

Alipour: It's clear you have a lot to share, but will this book speak to non-Christians, readers who might not respond well to preaching?

Byrd: People who aren't Christians, like one of my good friends in the game who's an atheist, read it and was like, "Man, I've never heard somebody be open about this. They usually write about how they have it all together....So far, the response has been terrific. I have two publishers who have made firm offers, so it's officially going to become a book for next spring. What's cool is they're both major publishers with spiritual, religious divisions. And it's going to be available in both Christian bookstores and regular, secular bookstores like Borders.

Alipour: In what other ways does the game test your faith?

  • Byrd: Religion can go over into every area, like whether I should cheat out on the field.
  • I write about the desire to just make money at any cost.
  • I share about my temptation to spit on the ball,
  • put KY jelly on it or
  • scuff it,
  • to win more games and make more money.
  • That's a big temptation for me, being a guy who throws 82, who relies on movement. You have a pull, because you have a certain window up here that stares you in the face.
  • Are you willing to take steroids?
  • Because that's available. People viewed that as me being weak. Like, "This guy doesn't want to win."

I also write about what it's like to play on a team where you're trying to get a start and, in a weird way, you can start to pull against your teammates. You're like, "Man, I want my chance." And the only way you get your chance is if the other guy does bad. You have these thoughts, like "Man, that's not right. Why did that pop into my head?" These are the things you encounter when you try to walk with God.

  • Alipour: When you were pegged last week as the ALDS Game 4 starter, and not staff ace C.C. Sabathia, many questioned the decision.
  • Then you came in, pitched remarkably well in
  • perhaps the biggest game of your career, and proved the critics wrong.
  • It wasn't quite a miracle, but
  • it was a great achievement.
  • Do you feel your performance in that game -- and generally speaking -- was God's work?"

(Byrd doesn't respond directly about his being chosen for that game nor its outcome. He continues speaking of his spirituality in general terms).


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