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Get all of the “performance-enhancing” jokes out of your system up front. His performance this year, obviously, wasn’t very good.

Today, MLB announced that Marlon Byrd – recently released by the Red Sox – had been suspended 50 games after testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug (Tamoxifen). Byrd had been dealt to the Red Sox earlier this year by the Cubs in what was very much a pure dump, and was subsequently actually dumped by the Red Sox. His 2012 season numbers were abysmal, and he never seemed to recover after being hit in the face by a pitch last year.

Byrd has long been connected to steroid speculation – notice I did not say “long been connected to steroids” – because of his relationship with BALCO founder, and noted PED pusher, Victor Conte. Byrd was an open book about his training and supplementing with Conte, and stood firm by it even in the face of criticism from Commissioner Bud Selig.

Alas, now we’ll always wonder if Byrd became desperate after his struggles to end the year in 2011, or if he’s been a user all along.

It’s a real shame, for so many reasons, most of which are tied to how much I liked Byrd as a player. He was a great teammate, a hard worker, and a generally positive role model for younger players. Now I don’t know what I think. Fortunately for Byrd, years of PEDness in baseball have largely numbed me to news like this. Shrug.

As for Byrd, this could mark a very sad end to his professional career. He was probably going to struggle to find a job as it was, but with this black mark and a 50-game suspension hanging over his head? It could well be over.

  • Carew

    :’(

  • Fishin Phil

    Not the way you want to see things end for Byrd. :(

    • TWC

      Honestly, if he was doping, I’m quite glad his career may end in ignominy.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        But if it was one bad decision by a guy trying to hang on to the remains of his career, I feel somewhat bad for him.

        I doubt we’ll ever know for sure.

        • Njriv

          Yeah I feel the same way Luke, I lived Marlon’s work ethic, he was a really nice guy who really enjoyed the game, he was one of my favorites. But the way his career has been going as of late, you get desperate to save your job. Its not an excuse but it’s the truth. I don’t know what to think now.

        • Cubbie Blues

          It’s not one bad decision. It’s a decision made multiple times over a cycle.

          • Cyranojoe

            How do you come by that information?

  • King Jeff

    Wow, sad ending to Marlon Byrd it seems. I guess I’ll go ahead and make the obvious joke. If he was on steroids this year, I’d hate to see how he would have played without them.

  • Steve

    Tamoxifen makes your “berrys” start working again after a cycle of testosterone…basically a PCT.

    Someone….uh….told me that.

  • sm

    Must have been all those day games.

  • mudge

    don’t let your reputation hit you in the ass on the way out.

    • Leroy K.

      which Marlon Byrd do you know? Byrd grabbed an extra baseball and signed it for my 6 year old. He went out of his way to do that. He was very nice and rubbed my sons head. He was awesome. This makes me sad.

      • King Jeff

        It is sad. Especially for a guy who has been fighting the stigma of being a juicer for quite some time now. I don’t think anyone’s bashing his personality or fan friendliness, but this is a pretty big black eye to his reputation, and at the least makes him dishonest.

      • Carew

        Man thats good to hear about him

  • MightyBear

    I liked Marlon Byrd. He played hard.

  • Leroy K.

    He just wasn’t the same after that Boston game. Reminded me of Kirby Puckett.

    • Carew

      That was the worst HBP in the face i have ever seen. I had to go through it too, just not that severe, ir terrifying…I still remember the way Youk cringed…

  • Luke D

    They must have the wrong guy.

  • LWeb23

    I saw a tweet that Buster retweeted, saying that the drug is often used by steroid takers to mitigate steroid side-effects.

  • Andrew

    Hey lets not rush to judgment for all we know Byrd is as clean as Ryan Braun

    • Jp

      Yeah maybe it was just herp medication… If I’m Braun and that rumor starts flying I tell them it’s just tell MLB yeah it’s roids

  • Jax

    First off Tamoxifen is NOT a steroid!!! it is mostly known as Nolvadex and is an anti estrogen mostly used in women with breast cancer. HOWEVER, Nolvadex/Tamoxifen is also widely used at the end of a steroid cycles or during cycles to combat estrogen or estrogen related side effects that can occur and are associated with steroid cycles. Actually, I use it at the end of cycles………YES, i use PEDs and have been for several years now on and off and I have to say that if you know what you are doing and are safe and smart about it they are nothing short of AMAZING. :)

    Anyway, just thought I’d chime in since most people would know nothing about Tamoxifen and think it was a steroid………granted it is associated and used with steroid cycles. Tamoxifen is NOT a PED but instead is more than likely on the banned substance list.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Thanks for the details (and honesty), Jax.

      • Leroy K.

        yes. It is an anticancer drug…If Byrd wasn’t doping—and I’m not accusing him of it—-It would be interesting to know why he was taking it.

    • Andrew

      PEDs are pretty short of AMAZING

    • mak

      The real question is, is there any OTHER reason to take it other than to mitigate some of the side effects of PED (or, as stated, breast cancer, which is fair to assume he does not have).

    • Drew7

      Right, I think thats been mentioned several times (that it isnt actually a PED), but its a pretty glaring indicator of someone coming off a cycle.

    • Cyranojoe

      Informative, appreciated.

  • morgan

    does this mean the cubs are off the hook for his salary

    • TWC

      Pretty sure you’re still paid if you’re put on the Restricted List (but wouldn’t be if you were on the Disqualified List).

      • Leroy K.

        yup! (See: Carlos Zambrano)

  • Big Joe

    He’s been fighting the “stigma” of a steroid user for a long time, eh? Well…looks like there was a reason for that. I don’t feel sorry for him at all. He made millions by cheating. Good riddance.

    • Cyranojoe

      Good thing you know he’s been using steroids since before getting his contract. Smart guy, you.

  • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

    If ballplayers can get cortisone shots, lasik eye surgery, and ADD prescription medication, just let them get other ped’s with a prescription so we can stop talking about it.

  • JoeyCollins

    This does have that feeling of a desprate last grab at continuing a career. I’m sorry to hear this is how it happened and wish him the best i enjoied watching him as a cub and was sad to see his numbers diminish like they did.

  • Jim

    Very nice article Brett. It is truly sad to see someone as nice and hard working as Marlon Byrd go down the steroids road. I really wish he had retired after last season with his dignity intact.

  • CUB5

    I never was a Sammy fan, but liked Byrd and his positive clubhouse presence. While Byrd was fan friendly, so was Sammy. I don’t see the fan friendly part of him being greater than the PED part. His job is ultimately to play baseball and he knew the risks when he took the drugs. He’s destroyed his baseball career by testing positive; a man only has his reputation and no matter what else he does from here on out, he’ll have this attached to it in a big way.

  • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

    I’m just glad he isn’t with the Cubs right now- this is the last thing this team would need.

    • King Jeff

      I bet it would have been blamed on Theo somehow.

  • TH

    Sad…

  • Jax

    To mak,

    Actually, guys can get gynocamastia which usually starts off as a hard ball or bump under the nipple. (You see this alot in guys going through puberty). gynocamastia can cause breast cancer in guys…..YES….guys can get breast cancer. :) Some men are extremely sensitive to increases in estrogen which occurs normally in the body with increases in testosterone and with an increase in testosterone in the body your body will increase estrogen as well. Estrogen and testosterone work hand in hand so that is the reason why individuals would take an anti estrogen such as Tamoxifen/Nolvadex during or after (PCT) a steroid cycle.

    • mak

      thanks for info. I gather that any non-PED use is rare, but possible.

    • Internet Random

      Gynecomastia.

      And am I the only one surprised that he wasn’t taking Arimidex? Maybe it just clears faster.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        *whoosh*

        • Internet Random

          To make a long story short, it’s some geeked pontificating on why he got flagged for tamoxifen instead of Arimidex.

          Longer story: Arimidex is a newer-generation drug than tamoxifen and widely regarded to do the same thing(s) as tamoxifen, but much better.

          It’s a lot more expensive (at least it was the last time I was current on such things… which has been awhile), but I wouldn’t figure on that being an issue for a person with Marlon’s income.

          So then I was wondering if he was taking Arimidex, too, and it just cleared from his system faster than the tamoxifen… and so he didn’t get flagged for it.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            I love not only that you knew what I meant by “*whoosh*”, but also that you went to such specific lengths to answer. Also, your comments are missed.

            • TWC

              Shit yeah! Tamiflu and all that! We need more IR ’round these parts.

              • Internet Random

                Aww, shucks.

  • paxson43

    Seems extra goofy to me that someone who openly discussed his relationship w Conte on national TV and talked about feeling like he had a target on his back would knowingly screw himself by taking something on the no-no list.
    Then again, sometimes the loudest opponents are compensating for something. See Jimmy Swaggert, Larry Craig, Jim Bakker, Raffy Palmiero, Marion Jones, Pete Rose, , Lance Armstrong? etc.

  • http://bleachernation.com #1lahairfan

    I feel sad but hope we do not have to pay his salary

  • Cubs Dude

    This sounds insensitive, but I could care less about Byrd testing positive for some banned substance. Yes, he was a good guy and played hard, but so what. I remember him being terrible for the Cubs, (mostly) although he did play well at times. Now he is getting paid to sit on his ass. Hell, the only thing we got for that guy was a dude we DFA’d a couple weeks later. I am all about hearing how we can fix the this team and make it competitive, not worry about dudes like Byrd.

    But I do have to say, I find it weird that we got a guy we drafted and are developing (Brett Jackson) and everyone is murdering him over his k’s. When by all accounts he is working his tail off to be an asset to the club. But people feel bad about why Byrd may or may not have cycled.

  • Big Joe

    Why feel bad for him? I’d feel bad if he was diagnosed with cancer. I’d feel bad if his child got sick, or his house burned down. I’d have a lot of sympathy for him if he was in a car accident, and could never play again. But…this was a conscious decision. Good guy??? He lied to his employer, his fans, and his industry. Yeah, he scribbled a few autographs, and patted a kid or two on the head. But, baseball made that possible. Baseball helped him create that image and persona. He cheated. That’s the end of any fond memories of Marlon Byrd for me…

    • RY34

      Well said!

  • Leroy K.

    I just don’t think he ever was the same after his injury and tried to cheat to get his preinjury form back.

  • Cyranojoe

    I’m really sad, perhaps most of all because this cannot be that surprising. I think many of us looked at Marlon, especially his physique coming in to this year, and questioned how he could have improved his body so dramatically without the drugs that his buddy/trainer Conte was so well known to provide. But we overlooked it, told ourselves it came from his intense work ethic, his focus, his drive — these he showed on his sleeve in spades. It’s just so sad that, at some point in all this, under that sleeve were needle tracks. (Or pills, or whatever.)

    All those fond memories, stained. Sure, he sucked horribly this year, but now even his best days on the Cubs bear the potential stench. Especially considering how vociferously he argued against PED use in the past. If he were still a Cub, I’ll be honest, I’d probably be trying to find excuses for him, though I think I’d admit that that’s what I was doing. Thank god he went off to the Sox and then DFA’d… much easier to let go under these circumstances.

    Sigh.

  • Big Joe

    @Cyranojoe: I don’t have to know WHEN he started using. AND, since I don’t, it’s plausible that he’s ALWAYS been using. He’s a cheat, now. There are plenty of them. Probably a lot of “nice guys” in prison…guilty of, non-violent, white-collar crimes…but that’s where they belong. He cannot justify his actions, and neither can anyone else.

    • hansman1982

      The only thing in baseball that is old school is cheating…

    • Cyranojoe

      Plausible he’s been doing it the whole time, yes, that’s reasonable, but assuming he’s been doing it the whole time, no, that’s foolish. :P You’re mad and feel betrayed, that’s why you want to justify overreacting. Not a big deal, but not cool, either.

      • Big Joe

        No overreacting here. I have always had a zero tolerance stance on the subject. You may be more forgiving than I, but no more right or wrong, with all due respect.

  • baldtaxguy

    Nice guy, but I have to agree, he cheated and got caught.  I think its so wrong he gets paid after defrauding his employer.

  • Tommy

    Sad to hear. I always liked Byrd.

    On a positive note: mark this up as a plus move for the front office on getting rid of him and actually getting something in return, albeit not much.

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