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.

  • KyleNovak

    Unfortunate news.

    A bit off topic, but then again. . . sort of related.

    I know it has become a yearly ritual to hear numerous players upon their arrival to Spring Training (usually the aging veterans coming off a “down year”) proclaim that they are in “the best shape of their life,” and that with a recently discovered and carefully planned workout routine/dietary change/sleep schedule adjustment/trip to Germany for a blood centrifuge injection into the knee/etc., it fixed a myriad of past problems.

    It would be interesting to see if all of the preseason hoopla from these baseball players actually improved their performance. Anyone know of any articles that have discussed this at all?

    I bring this up because of Marlon Byrd’s absolutely awful season and the fact that it coincided with his sizable 40 lb. weight loss leading into camp. There are numerous other players dealing with the same problem, where large, supposedly “healthy” weight loss was involved. Tim Lincecum supposedly lost 30 lbs. on a new diet plan and has been pitching horribly. His metrics point out that he is quite unlucky, especially with an incredibly low LOB%, but his fastball continues to slow down and he is absolutely atrocious pitching from the stretch. He is now being told to put more weight on.

    Unfortunately, that could be the problem with being “pro sports healthy” and “normal person healthy.” Another example would be that an NFL lineman who is 6’5″/320 would definitely be much more healthy in the long-term if he was fifty pounds lighter. But if that were to happen, he wouldn’t be able to perform as well at his position. Would Prince Fielder be as good of a hitter if he was fifty pounds lighter? Mo Vaughn’s hefty frame ultimately was a huge factor in his back problems that cut his career short, but would he have won an MVP if he was much smaller earlier in his career?
    I honestly have no idea, but there are more and more examples that are making a case to look into this.

    I’m no doctor, but Byrd’s gluten intolerance clearly caused him loads of discomfort, and in the scheme of life, quality of your days in the long term and health always trump anything short term. Whether it was the HBP, his power getting sapped due to his frame shrinking, or just an older athlete declining and falling off a cliff, it’s unfortunate that his better physical health didn’t translate to better performance this year.


    • Cyranojoe

      Holy crap, how did Lincecum lose 30 lbs from that skeletal frame? Wow.

  • Dustin S

    Like others, I’m curious when this started. Was this going on throughout his whole career, did it start after he was recovering from the HBP last year, or just recently when he has been struggling to keep a job? The answer to that would help clear up how his career is remembered. Hopefully he is straightforward with his response.

    His weight loss in the off-season does kind of point to this being something after the HBP. But his SLG did increase pretty noticeably around 2006 all of the sudden, so a person could make a case for this being a long-time thing.

  • Doctor_Blair

    Sad…. I really liked Marlon Byrd. I kinda dug his new tattoo featuring part of the speech “The Man in The Ring” he got during the off-season and was pretty pumped about him losing weight and getting in shape, but was glad to see him dumped when he left. I am also glad I didn’t buy one of those “Byrd is the Word” shirts during my few visits to Wrigley.

    Also, how pissed are the BoSox right now? We take their GM, give them a pitcher who needs surgery in return, and then dump a non-producing PED using player on them? I’d be pissed off if I were a Red-Sox fan.

  • TherealPattyP

    Marlon the carpetbagger Byrd. pure scummy lowlife cheater. He just plays so hard though. blah blah blah. He sucked anyway

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  • Joshua Edwards

    This is a witch hunt. C’mon, there’s no such thing as as a “positive result” for PEDs!

    Besides, everyone knows Byrd will hire the same dude that got Ryan Braun off the hook and remind us all how flawed and unjustified the MLB process is for understanding the results of a piss test.

    How dare you guys for pointing the finger: no one cheats at baseball in order to make a few million measly dollars!

    • wax_eagle

      Would it be wrong of me to point out that MLB has taken steps to change the factors that got Braun off the hook? Including dismissing the arbitrator that ruled in his favor? (and changing the procedures to be slightly less strict).

  • @cubsfantroy

    I was saddened by this when I read it. I didn’t think he was the kind of guy to use anything. If it was in a prescription, why didn’t he just let the front office know and then let MLB know right away. I’m sure if it was something that was needed for medical reasons MLB would not have suspended him, or monitored it in someway. Oh well, great guy, but he cheated and he got what he deserved. I am still saddened by it though.

  • auggie1955

    I’m all for eliminating the use of PEDs, but one thing I find very curious is that whenever MLB announces a 50 suspension of player it’s always when that guy is not currently playing. It’s either the off season, in Braun’s case, or when he’s on the DL in the Manny Ramirez case, or when the guy isn’t on any MLB roster in the case of Byrd.

    It all appears pretty shady to me. Almost as if Selig, the union and the owners have a wink and a handshake agreement that these are times any of these suspensions will be handed out.