For 13 years Eric Byrnes's life was shaped by professional baseball. What to eat. When to report. How to handle failure. How to exercise. What to avoid. What to embrace. It had almost as many daily details attached to it as a presidential schedule.
And then, poof, it was gone. On May 2, 2010, the Seattle Mariners released Byrnes. Thank you for your service and there's the door to the rest of your life. His days were free of structure, and Byrnes embraced the openness of it.
Oakland A's Eric Byrnes, right, gets a high-five from teammate Scott Hatteberg after hitting a home run in the fifth inning against the San Francisco Giants in San Francisco in 2003. PD FILE, 2003
Arizona Diamondbacks' Eric Byrnes shares a moment with Oakland Athletics catcher Jason Kendall at home plate in the first inning. The Diamondbacks defeated the A's, 3-1, at McAfee Coliseum in Oakland, California, Sunday, July 2, 2006. (Bob Larson/Contra Costa Times/MCT)
Colorado Rockies center fielder Eric Byrnes, front, confers with the team's general manager, Dan O'Dowd, in the Rockies' dugout during batting practice on Tuesday, July 26, 2005, as the Rockies prepare to host the New York Mets. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Colorado Rockies center fielder Eric Byrnes heads in from the outfield after taking part in batting practice on Tuesday, July 26, 2005, as the Rockies prepare to host the New York Mets. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Eric Byrnes of the Oakland Athletics on February 28, 2005 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
Eric Byrnes of the Oakland Athletics is brushed back off the plate by Diamondbacks pitcher Russ Ortiz, Monday March 7, 2005. AP FILE, 2005
Eric Byrnes of the Oakland Athletics grabs his helmet in frustration as Chone Figgins of the Anaheim Angels, left, celebrates after Byrnes popped out to end the game, Saturday, Oct. 2, 2004 to give the Angels a 5-4 victory and the American League West title. PD FILE, 2004
Eric Byrnes is high-fived by Chris Singleton (CQ) right, and other A's players after scoring on an Eric Chavez Double in the second inning at the Oakland Coliseum during the second game of the American League Division Series, Thursday Oct. 2, 2003. PD FILE, 2003
Eric Byrnes and the rest of the Oakland Athletics take high fives from the crowd in Oakland after clinching the AL West in 2003. PD FILE, 2003
Oakland Athletics Eric Byrnes at spring training in 2003. PD FILE, 2003
Eric Byrnes works on hand eye co-ordination at Papago Park in Phoenix in 2002. PD FILE, 2002
"I surfed and played some golf and softball," Byrnes said. He saw moonrises and sunsets and all his friends said the same thing: Dude, chill, you got it all.
Live the casual life. That would be fine except Byrnes doesn't do casual very well.
Byrnes got the nickname "Crash Test Dummy" for his lack of fear chasing fly balls in the outfield in the 11 years he played for the A's, Rockies, Orioles, Diamondbacks and Mariners. He bounced off walls with reckless enthusiasm and the fans loved him for it.